Missouri State University
CNAS NewsWatch
An online publication for the alumni and friends of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences

Biology alum featured in community paper

Fresh water musselsAndy Roberts, who received both his BS and MS from Missouri State, was recently featured in the Columbia Missourian for his work with mussels.

Roberts has been surveying area mussel populations in order to justify their placement on endangered species lists. Placement on these lists helps ensure that mussel populations are protected and makes it easier for researchers to qualify for financial assistance.

Roberts became interested in mussels when he became Dr. Chris Barnhart’s teaching and research assistant at Missouri State.

Read the article online.

Posted in Biology, CNAS | Leave a comment

Student receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Shannon Dulz
Dulz presenting research at the 229th American Astronomical Society meeting in January 2017.

Senior undergraduate student Shannon Dulz was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. These competitive fellowships fund graduate student research and recipients represent a wide range of disciplines.

Dulz’s research centers on exoplanet systems and their properties.

“Exoplanets or extrasolar planets are planets not in our solar system,” said Dulz, a Kirkwood, Missouri native. “By gathering information on the types of systems in the universe we can build our understanding on how these systems formed and what they are like. Ultimately that helps us to understand how our own solar system formed, too.”

In order to receive the funding, Dulz had to write a “Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement” as well as a “Graduate Research Plan Statement.”

A double major in physics and mathematics, Dulz will graduate in May 2017. She will be joining the Physics Ph.D. program at the University of Notre Dame in the fall.

Posted in CNAS, Physics Astronomy and Materials Science | Leave a comment

Dozens of students to present at Undergraduate Research Day

Students talking about a research posterFrom human-powered bicycle generators to salamander territorial behavior, this year’s CNAS Undergraduate Research Day is guaranteed to be a fascinating experience.

The celebration of student research will begin on Friday, April 28 at 1 p.m. Students from departments across the College of Natural and Applied Sciences and the cooperative engineering program will present their abstracts and posters from 1-3 p.m.

After the student presentations, Dr. Nick Gerasimchuck, professor of chemistry, will speak to attendees before the awards ceremony. Each department will then award prizes for first ($100) and second place ($50).

Over 60 students presented during last year’s event, resulting in over $1,000 in prizes. All current CNAS students are invited to attend.

Some of the student research will include:

Human-powered bicycle generator

Electrical engineering students Jeremiah Fox, Freeman Lee and Andrew Campbell wanted to find a way to get younger generations interested in electrical engineering. To do that, they needed to design a simple system that would be easy to explain.

Enter the human-powered bicycle generator.

Similar to a power grid, the kinetic force applied to the bicycle’s pedals transfers to an induction motor, which acts as a generator. Additionally, the bicycle features metering information that allows the use to calculate the power they are producing in real time.

When territorial salamanders cheat

Salamander neighbors aren’t always the best of friends. Once territory boundaries are established, however, the “dear enemy” hypothesis states that salamanders will show reduced aggression toward one another.

But what happens when a neighbor “cheats” and crosses those territorial lines?

This is the question Kenzie Medley, a biology student, wanted to answer. Through using mirrors to simulate both cheating and cooperating neighbors, Medley’s research revealed that salamanders were significantly more aggressive toward cheating neighbors.

Identifying variables related to domestic violence

Geography, geology and planning students Tim Datema and Michael Ruether understand that domestic violence is a complex problem in today’s society. In an effort to identify potential trends in domestic violence crimes, their research sought to evaluate how different variables affect the frequency of domestic violence in Missouri.

Through combining their own data with data from 15 other studies, Datema and Ruether’s research focuses specifically on the level of urbanization, the presence of domestic violence shelters and the strength of local law enforcement.

Their research will provide a basis for future analysis of domestic violence, its causes and prevention initiatives.

For more information, contact Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, at 417-836-5249.

Posted in Biology, CNAS, Engineering, Geography Geology and Planning | Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Reed honored for outstanding faculty research

Mike ReedAstronomy professor Dr. Mike Reed has been selected to receive the 2017 Director’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Research from the Honors College.

“I had no idea this was coming. It has really been my pleasure to work with this excellent group of students,” said Reed. “During early spring is when graduating students determine their after-graduation plans and this year has been especially rewarding in our department.”

In astronomy, all three graduating seniors have been accepted to graduate programs.

“This last year our research has been focusing on using data from the Kepler Space Telescope to do two very different things,” said Reed. “Most of my research students are doing stellar seismology where we use small light variations to see inside stars and determine their structure. Our other project is using Kepler data to search for Transit Timing Variations that can be used to look for unseen planets.”

Reed is proud of the work his undergraduate students have accomplished thus far and is honored to be receiving the award.

About the award

“The Director’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Research recognizes the exceptional research accomplishments of MSU’s Honors College Faculty. This award recognizes a faculty member’s research excellence and is meant to acknowledge those Honors College professors who serve as the best example of the ideal scholar/teacher who has not only made a significant contribution to their own field of research, but who have also helped to expand the growth and development of honors education at MSU. Director’s Award recipients have made major contributions to their own research fields and have participated in the ongoing success of Missouri State University’s Honors Program.”

Posted in CNAS, Physics Astronomy and Materials Science | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Local high school students to participate in annual Pummill Relays

Students at the Pummill RelaysEvery year Missouri State University invites local high school students to participate in the Pummill Relays, a series of math competitions held during a single day in spring. The relays let high schoolers get a look at campus and assist with the competition, which can provide valuable resume experience for aspiring math teachers and others.

Now in its 45th year, the competition will again include the Calculus with Clickers, an event where both accuracy and speed are valued. In addition, there are four other restricted individual events, four open individual events, four traditional team events, a computer-programming event, a challenging problems event and the Math Mania event.

What: 45th Pummill Relays

When: April 12

Where: Hammons Student Center, 731 Bear Blvd.

For more information about the event, parking information and results from the competition, visit the Pummill Relays webpage.

Posted in CNAS, Mathematics | Leave a comment

Giving back through nature

Dr. Barnhart with a student

Dr. Chris Barnhart from Missouri State University recently received the Missouri Department of Conservation Outreach and Education 2016 External Partnership Award for his work at the Springfield Nature Center.

At the Nature Center, Barnhart, a distinguished professor of biology, provides lectures and other resources for interpretive programs about insect and pollination biology, endangered species and invasive species.

“I’m very grateful to be part of a community that values wildlife and conservation,” said Barnhart. “The Department of Conservation provides great opportunities for collaboration in research and education.”

Dr. Barnhart with his award
Dr. Barnhart and Joanie Straub, Outreach and Education Division Chief.

Linda Chorice, manager of the Nature Center, had this to say about Barnhart’s contributions:

“We are so happy to have such a great working relationship with Chris. We respect and admire him immensely.”

This isn’t the only award Barnhart has received for his conservation efforts. In 2010 Barnhart received the Collaborator of the Year award from the Department of Conservation, Resource Science Division “for outstanding collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation to further the conservation of freshwater mussels and other natural resources in Missouri.”

For more information, contact Barnhart at 417-836-5166.

Posted in Biology, CNAS | Leave a comment

Faculty, students attend national geological meeting

Grant Spoering
Graduate student Grant Spoering presenting at a previous GSA meeting.

Several faculty and students from the department of geography, geology and planning recently attended the North-Central/South-Central Joint meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) March 19-21 in Pittsburgh, PA.

In attendance were Drs. Kevin Mickus, Kevin Evans, Charles Rovey and Doug Gouzie with graduate students Mo’amen Almaz, Grant Spoering, Wes Weichert and Ben Lockwood. All faculty and students presented research at the meeting. Each graduate student is working toward their MS in Geospatial Sciences in Geography, Geology, and Planning in the Geology track.

“These meetings are helpful for recruiting new graduate students and sharing information on research methods and techniques,” said Gouzie, professor of geology. “For instance, I updated one professor from another school on a method we use here and I learned one or two methods from others.”

The meeting had an organizing committee that included alum Wendell Barner (BS 1982, MS 1988), who currently works in Pennsylvania and helped organize the meeting. Also on the committee was per course faculty member Nancy Williams who is currently section secretary of the North-Central section. Missouri State is working toward hosting a similar GSA North-Central and South-Central combination meeting in 2021.

Posted in CNAS, Geography Geology and Planning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Students attend national mathematics conference

Cheek HallTwo mathematics students, undergraduate Hayley Hutson and graduate Kelsie Stewart, attended the 19th Annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM) Feb. 3-5 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“I presented my research from my summer REU, or Research Experience for Undergraduates,” said Hutson. “At this REU, I worked with my partner, Savannah Bates of Jacksonville University, and mentor, Dr. Jorge Rebaza of Missouri State University, to study global stability and bifurcations of a model of Zika virus.”

The largest portion of the conference was undergraduate presentations and posters. The conference also had lectures, panels and breakout sessions that covered a wide variety of topics including how to apply to graduate schools, exploring careers outside of academia and dealing with life and sexism surrounding a career in mathematics.

“Conferences like this one give undergraduates a great opportunity to present their research to an interested and non-judgmental audience,” said Hutson. “Also, since this conference was for undergraduate women in mathematics in particular, it was an amazing opportunity to meet and network with some truly inspirational women in a field I’m passionate about.”

Hutson is grateful to the mathematics department at Missouri State for hosting her REU and for providing funding for herself and Stewart to attend NCUWM.

Posted in CNAS, Mathematics | Tagged | Leave a comment