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California State University, Long Beach
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

October 2010: Volume 2, Issue 1

Dean's Message and Highlights

Dean Laura Kingsford

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We in the college office missed working on and getting out the CNSM Highlights last year. This certainly wasn't because we didn't have a lot to celebrate! Faculty, staff and student accomplishments were as great as ever, if not more. However, with furloughs, we found some things had to be put aside and the CNSM Highlights was one of them. We are very pleased to have the newsletter going out again, with two issues planned for each semester. When you have something to share or know of achievements of others (students, staff, faculty, and alumni), please let us know and we'll include them in the newsletters. You can send news items or suggestions for articles to Margaret Karteron at

Speaking of furloughs – I want to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to our students and their success last year. Being furloughed 2 days per month with a 10% pay cut was truly stressful and difficult for all, including our students who had fewer class days for their courses and less access to services. All of you, however, did a truly outstanding job of making it work. After a tense start of the semester when furlough days had to be decided on and approved, things settled down and everyone gave their best. Thank you so much for making the year a successful one in spite of the furlough challenge. As I write this, it looks very promising that we will finally have a State budget in the next couple of days and some permanent money restored to the CSU.

We are very excited about the Hall of Science (HSCI) being finished soon. Mark Zakhour, the senior construction manager, anticipates signing it over to the college in January 2011. We have lots of people and "things" to move during the spring and summer and will be working with departments to coordinate this. We look forward to the building dedication early in the fall of 2011.

Our faculty members continue to be highly competitive for external funding and are successful in bringing in funding for research and student programs. Maryanne Horton, along with many of you, has worked hard and we exceeded our development goal for 2009-2010. Our students and faculty continue to be recognized for their outstanding achievements as you will see in this newsletter. I look forward to a great school year and am pleased we can share the excellent work of our college family through the CNSM Highlights.

Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.
Dean College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach

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Physics at the Beach. Can you tell which one of us is a physics teacher?

Congratulations to Co-PIs Chuhee Kwon and Galen Pickett of Physics and Astronomy and Laura Henriques of Science Education on receiving a 3-year grant totaling $287,000 from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC). CSULB is one of five universities funded to develop their physics teacher education programs into national models. Awardees demonstrated a capacity for large increases in the number of physics teachers graduating from their programs, as well as strong departmental and institutional support for teacher preparation efforts. PhysTEC is a joint project of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) with additional support from the American Institute of Physics (AIP). To mark the beginning of the grant funding, the CSULB PhysTEC project is hosting an inaugural open house for middle and high school physics teachers from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, October 16, in the PH-1, Room 141. Teachers are invited to bring two students to hear guest speakers and participate in learning activities.

The CSULB PhysTEC project PhysTEC logoaims to build a physics teaching community that partners faculty members of the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Science Education with high school teachers and physics students to bring about long term sustainability that will help increase the number of credentialed physics teachers graduating. CSULB prepares 6% of California's secondary science teachers and a large number of pre-secondary teachers. During the last three years, CSULB has graduated an average of 3.5 credentialed physics teachers per year.

The grant funding focuses on area high schools and community college students who are interested in teaching physics, along with current science teachers who want to improve their physics teaching capabilities. CSULB student participants will be known as PhysTEC Scholars, and two new classes have been added to the curriculum to support the goal of graduating physics teachers at the middle school and high school levels. A junior-level physics class, PHYS 390, Exploring Teaching Physics, supports student exploration of physics teaching through tutoring other students, serving as CSULB physics lab assistants, and observing local high school physics classes. A senior-level class, PHYS 490 – Special Topics, will offer a physics-specific teaching methodology and will focus on students who have committed to become physics teachers as well as help current science teachers become more proficient in physics. This class will have a different topic each semester and can be taken multiple times.

The CSULB PhysTEC project draws on components proven successful in the national PhysTEC project. PhysTEC Teacher-In-Residence Rod ZiolkowskiOne of these is the Teacher-in-Residence (TIR), a local high school teacher recruited to be a partner in project activities, as well as mentor, recruiter, and co-instructor in the new courses. CSULB's first TIR is Rod Ziolkowski, Science Department chair at Whitney High School in Cerritos. Another component is the Learning Assistant (LA) program, a required part of PHYS 390 for junior-level PhysTEC Scholars. Senior LAs, selected after taking PHYS 390, will be paid from the grant.

The National PhysTEC collaboration, now funded by a five-year $6.5 million National Science Foundation grant and the APS 21st Century Campaign, came about in 2001 as the result of observations made that the popular science subjects taught in U.S. schools, biology and chemistry, resulted in a correspondingly high number of future scientists and teachers in these areas. Predictably, the converse observation was made about the less popular subjects of physics and physical sciences: an expected result of less future physics scientists and teachers. In addition, a number of teachers teaching physics had neither majored nor minored in physics or physical sciences. At CSULB, Chuhee Kwon, Phystec PIGalen Pickett, Phystec PILaura Henriques, Phystec PIthe leadership team (the three PIs, the TIR, and the coordinator) will work together to advise, mentor, and track the PhysTEC Scholars as they explore physics teaching and move into a teaching career, creating a strong support group of new teachers to mentor the next generation of physics teachers.

To register for the open house or learn more about CSULB's PhysTEC program, visit

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Named Facilities in the Hall of Science

One of the 80-seat lecture halls on the first floor will bear the name of 1973 math alumna Georgia Griffiths in recognition of her $117,000 gift to the Math Department in 2008. On the third floor, the Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory will bear the name of Signal Hill Petroleum Inc. in recognition of a $250,000 pledge this past spring. Naming opportunities in the new Hall range from $25,000 to $500,000.

View of Hall of Science taken from the Microbiology Building 10/7/10 View of Hall of Science main entrance taken 10/7/10 Hall of Science, artist rendering
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Fellows Colloquiums - Dean's Briefings

Bridges to Stem Cell Research Biotechnology Program—Science, Ethics, and Applications

Beth Eldon Lisa Klig

October 13, 2010 @ 4:00 p.m.

Biology culturing stem cellsprofessors Beth Eldon and Lisa Klig will be featured in a Fellows Colloquium on stem cell research on Wednesday, October 13 at 4:00pm in the Pyramid Annex. The duo will provide an overview of the medical, biological, and technological advances of stem cell research. They will also explore the science, ethics and applications of stem cell research in the context of their $1.3 million California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) grant which funds the CSULB Bridges to Stem Cell Research Biotechnology Program. For more information contact Nikki Algarin-Chavarria at

Could this "Trojan Horse" help end the war on Alzheimer's?

Vasanthy Narayanaswami

November 16, 2010 @ 7:30 a.m.

Join us tumeric, source of curcuminon Wednesday, November 16 at 7:30 a.m. in the Pyramid Annex as Biochemistry professor Vasanthy Narayanaswami discusses her research into developing a nanovehicle disguised as HDL to carry therapeutic concentrations of curcumin across the blood-brain barrier to treat Alzheimer's Disease (AD). She studies the role of apolipoprotein E in relation to cholesterol transport in the vascular and the central nervous system, particularly in cardiovascular and age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. According to the Alzheimer's Association, it is anticipated that 25 million individuals worldwide will be affected by the year 2025. Scientists are encouraged, however, as studies show a promising correlation between lifetime consumption of curcumin, a bioflavonoid found in the curry spice turmeric, and a significantly lower incidence of AD in Southeast Asia. The challenge is to find a way to move this bioflavonoid nutraceutical from blood to brain, long a major hurdle for many therapeutics – but possibly not for high density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good cholesterol". For more information contact Nikki Algarin-Chavarria at

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Highlighting New Faces

Welcome to Highlighting New Faces – our way of introducing you to new people in the college. We hope that this will give you a little insight into the person along with his/her professional background and achievements. At the very least, it will give you something to talk about when you introduce yourself to the individual.

This time up for "New Faces" is Dr. Ashley CarterAshley Carter, Assistant Professor Evolutionary Biologist . Ashley was hired as an Assistant Professor for the position in Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences in Fall 2008. He comes to us with lots of experience! He completed his B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin in biology, chemistry, and mathematics with a minor in physics. He then moved on to Yale University where he completed a M.S. degree in biology, a M.Ph. in biology, and a Ph.D. in biology. He did four years of postdoctoral work (as a Post-doctoral Associate and a Ruth L. Kirschstein Post-doctoral Fellow) at Florida State University with Dr. Thomas Hansen. Ashley's research involves the investigation of processes that influence evolvability, the capacity to evolve. He studies this problem at the population genetic, quantitative genetic, and whole organisms levels. He uses both empirical and theoretical approaches to the problem. Much of his work has been with the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

Ashley was born in Kuwait and has lived (in the following order) in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Florida, and presently in downtown Los Angeles. He likes to travel and not to just the usual places! Recently, he and his partner traveled to Morocco for 17 days with no reservations or arrangements made beforehand just for the "improvisational adventure" of it. He's visited Iceland, Amsterdam, India, Ireland, England, Morocco, Dominica, and more. His near-term (1-6 years) travel aspirations include Panama, Cuba, China, Tibet, North Korea, and more of Africa.

His hobbies and interests are pretty varied and include watching foreign and independent films as well as running. He took kite-surfing and motorcycle lessons in preparation for California living. He likes collecting antique science books and is interested in science fiction and fantasy fictions books and films. He likes eating the unusual – claims to have eaten Rocky mountain oysters, goat, emu, alligator, and lion. He prefers unpasteurized cheese. Oh, and he is a fan (and shareholder) of the Green Bay Packers NFL team!

Last, but certainly not least. Ashley has a number of pets (in a very small apartment). These include 4 cats (Luna, Mona Soda, Sifo Dias, and Needles) and a Roomba (Wally).

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Faculty Research Highlight

Dessie L. A. Underwood, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Dessie Underwood, Director of the Stream Ecology and Assessment Laboratory (SEAL)

Since 2005 the Stream Ecology and Assessment Laboratory (SEAL) at CSULB has been under contract with the California State Water Boards to assess the health of the freshwater streams and rivers within the Santa Ana and San Jacinto watersheds (Region 8). This long-term project, funded by the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program, is innovative as it simultaneously provides two fundamental public services to the State of California, assessing the biological health of some of our State's freshwater resources and training the next generation of freshwater biologists. To date, this project has brought $1.3 million to CSULB via funding from five contracts, and has been awarded a renewal contract for $258,000 through March 2013.

Biological health is quantified using bioassessment techniques that involve describing the biological community (numbers and types of species present) of a given freshwater system and statistically comparing that community to ecosystem benchmarks of biological health. Graduate students Danny Cuellar and Raymond Macias conducting bioasses-ment in the Santa Ana and San Jacinto watersheds (Region 8)At each stream site the physical habitat and water chemistry are characterized and a random sample of benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs) are collected for laboratory processing. The species composition of the BMI community is useful in gauging the past and current conditions of both the water and the physical habitat of a stream because many species are very sensitive to the common stressors that typify poor quality streams. Very often these stressors are anthropogenic in origin, such as those associated with agricultural and urban runoff, e.g. unnaturally high levels of nutrients and sediments. This impairment to the natural condition can be detected in "signals" reflected in the structure of a BMI community. For example, impairment is correlated with a decline in the number of species, and the types of organisms shift from being mostly insects to those that are not insects. Quantifying the local regional status of our freshwater streams is the first step in identifying the specific stressors that are causing poor stream health and, of course, improving our region's stream health will require that we identify what is causing stream impairment.

SEAL Raymond Macias and Danny Cuellar analyzing data in the fieldalso provides hands-on training in the science of bioassessment for both undergraduate and graduate students at CSULB. Typically SEAL employs approximately ten undergraduate and graduate students at any point in time. Students are trained in three areas: 1) appreciating and gaining an understanding of the terminology and industry standards used by bioassessment professionals, 2) learning laboratory and field skills relevant to freshwater bioassessment, and 3) designing and conducting scientifically defensible experiments in stream ecology. Industry standards in bioassessment demand strict adherence to laboratory and field protocols, including data entry requirements, sample processing, and assessment of error rates. Proper data entry and execution of bench tasks demand that students learn and follow our Quality Assurance Protection Plan (QAPP). Most agencies and private firms also employ project-specific QAPPs and they seek job candidates that are familiar with this paradigm. The SEAL training program is hierarchical with progressive stages that incorporate increasing levels of sophistication and responsibility. Students are also trained in both field and laboratory skills. Bioassessment includes collecting data and samples while in the field and processing these data and samples in the laboratory. Field crews learn standard techniques in quantifying the physical characteristics of a stream, measuring in situ chemistry, describing the surrounding riparian vegetation, and obtaining a random sample of BMIs. In the laboratory, students learn how to obtain random subsamples of each field-collected sample of BMIs and how to process these samples for subsequent taxonomic analyses. Emily Corona and Danny Cuellar collecting samplesAdvanced students are trained in the taxonomic identification of BMIs and the analysis of these data. The third area of student training is in the design and execution of ecological experiments, including statistical analyses and interpretation of results. This last area of training provides graduate students with the laboratory and field skills that they can use when they begin to conduct independent research in freshwater ecology for their Master's thesis, apart from the bioassessment employment.

In 2008 SEAL joined the Stream Monitoring Coalition of Southern California and is participating in an ambitious multi-year regional monitoring project comprising efforts from six counties and two regions of the State Water Boards. Freshwater streams from Ventura County south to San Diego County are being sampled using bioassessment, the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM), and algal assessment. Water samples will be analyzed for pesticides, heavy metals, and toxicology. This project is the first of its kind in its success in integrating and coordinating efforts across numerous agencies. Previously these agencies worked independently of one another and data were rarely shared. The SMC project employs a sampling design that focuses on entire watersheds rather than politically defined boundaries.

Members of the lab: (l-r, Back) Danny Cuellar, Richard Watson, Raymond Macias, Marty Lewis, Nick Carreon, Matthew Schlibe, Jose Caprile, Emily Corona, Lauren Fah, (l-r, Front) Nsve Yaya-lar, Ganyoon Chao, Emily Ferrill, and Director Dessie Underwood
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SAS Center Highlights Student Involvement

The Jensen SAS Center Some of the 45 posters presented at the
Student Research Symposiumis off and running this fall semester! In addition to hosting recently held events such as the CNSM Research Symposium, and STEM Transfer Day, we are about to starting advising the over 600 incoming CNSM freshmen and assist with the advisement process of over 160 incoming transfer students. We coordinate numerous programs in the SAS Center, including a few new ones this academic year: the Western Regional Noyce Conference to be held in Spring 2011; the recently awarded Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) in addition to the ongoing Bridges to the Baccalaureate and Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) grants. Plus, we continue to coordinate the RISE program, and are assisting in the outreach efforts for the Physical Science Mathematics (PSM) Scholarship grant. Some recently awarded grants: the California Wellness Foundation grant for the Health Professions Advising Office, and an Alumni Association grant to help build our Peer Tutoring infrastructure. In addition, we continue to provide health professions advising, general education advising, peer tutoring and mentoring, and opportunities for freshman involvement. For more information, visit us at

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Save These Dates!

*Monday, March 1, 2011

CNSM Student Council presents:
33rd Annual Nobel Laureate Lecture

Mario Capecchi

Mario R. Capecchi, 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

University Student Union Ballroom
General Lecture 11:00 –12:00 p.m.
Technical Session 4:00—5:00 p.m.

*Friday, March 4, 2011

3rd Annual CNSM Faculty Research Symposium

Faculty Research Symposium banner

University Student Union Ballroom
12:30-5:30 p.m.

"Call for Abstracts" will be in November 2010.

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