School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering

Highlights of MSE Faculty & Student Accomplishments

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(May, 2014 Update)



Dr. David Starkey accepted an Assistant Professor of Biology appointment and will join the faculty in the fall.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

The chemistry department officially changed its name to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to better reflect the degree offerings through the Department.

Dr. Betsy Leverett and Dr. Rafael Adrian are currently undertaking a major curriculum revision of the general chemistry and organic chemistry laboratories to better articulate content topics to the standards of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, the department is working on its five-year review to establish short and long term goals for the department and identify ways to better serve the UIW community.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry co-sponsored with the American Chemical Society (ACS) local chapter and the Chemistry Chemclub a chemistry demonstration for more than 200 students and people for the community to raise chemistry awareness and its applications. The department also held its renowned breakfast-advising session to provide academic advising to Chemistry majors and to strengthen the sense of community and camaraderie amongst chemistry and biochemistry majors.

Dr. Brian McBurnett, Jones Endowed Professor of Chemistry, gave a community presentation on his activities during his tenure as endowed chair to the UIW community.


Curriculum approval was granted for the Department of Mathematics to offer an Actuarial Science minor. This initiative was largely the work of Dr. Joleen Beltrami, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.

The Department sponsored a seminar by Dr. James Stamey from Baylor University, "Accounting for Unmeasured Confounding in Cost-Effectiveness Analyses".



A tour of the Broadcast Meteorology Lab was conducted during February for 22 students from Northeast Lakeview College who are currently on an S-STEM scholarship and considering transferring to UIW. They were all freshman and sophomores in college.

Enhancements to the Meteorology Departments capabilities were reported in "the Word Online", Mar 11th, 2014. The article was titled, UIW's Meteorology Department Expands Capabilities.  (

Facilities and Equipment

The interface equipment to link the Meteorology Department Broadcast Studio with the UIWTV cable head-end was installed in both the BSH and AD buildings.  This will allow the UIWTV newscast to include live interaction with the Broadcast Meteorology Lab and reach all of the campus UIWTV cable displays.

The high speed cable pulled between the Broadcast Meteorology Lab and the BSH Lobby display was completed with the addition of the interface point connectors.  The last piece of interface equipment for this line is on order.  The monitor was upgraded and activated with temporary equipment.  Besides displaying weather forecast data, it will display the student weather broadcasts, and other MSE School news.  The weather broadcasts will allow rapid feed back to the students learning weathercasting from fellow students on everything from the accuracy of the forecast, presentation techniques and personal appearance, thus enhancing the Weathercasting Class learning experience.

Display in the Henry Bonilla Science Hall Lobby

A new set is under construction in the Broadcast Meteorology Lab. All materials and labor were donated by the Meteorology Department faculty.  This brings the number of sets to five.  Each set is characteristic of a type of studio environment in US TV stations broadcasting weather forecasts.

Both of these efforts are designed to be integral elements of the Broadcast Meteorology and Operational Meteorology Capstone Projects under development.  The Capstone projects are currently scheduled to start in the Fall 2014 semester as Special Topic courses.  They are part of an enhancement of the Department of Meteorology offerings for the students.  Planning and dry runs are anticipated to start after Spring Break with the students on a voluntary basis.


The nutrition department celebrated the 20th anniversary of the dietetic internship program on March 30, 2014.  They invited all of their alumni to participate.

School Activities

The Sonia Kovalevsky Day, a grant funded activity for middle school girls, included presentations by several professors: J. Beltrami, M. Frye, C. McCarron, A. Rakowitz, S. Tek, and A. Whittemore. The purpose of this day is to encourage girls to pursue the study of Mathematics. Dr. Theresa Martines, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, is the grant project director.

The UIW Title V Stem Grant, Dr. Sara Tallarovic , Project Director, sponsored the following workshops for MSE faculty:

Dr. Brian McBurnett, Jones Chair, conducted a five week workshop "Foundations of Cooperative Learning"workshop for faculty in MSEDr. Saundra McGuire led the following workshops on March 27 and 28, 2014. Dr. McGuire is a distinguished chemist and the director of the Center for Academic Success at LSU. She is recipient of the NSF sponsored Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2007.

Workshop for Peer-Mentors, Tutors, LC staff   Title:  Meeting the Challenges of Providing Effective Tutoring and Study. Description:  Many tutors and study group leaders are frustrated that students seem less interested in learning than in being "shown" how to do problems and answer questions.  This session will discuss the role of metacognition in effective study groups. Participants will collaboratively develop concrete strategies that will make tutoring sessions and study groups more effective for all participants.

Workshop for Students Title:  Metacognition:  The Key to Acing Courses (and Everything Else!) Description: All students who are admitted to college have the ability to ace  their courses.  However, most students did not acquire effective learning strategies in high school, and resort to memorizing information just before tests. This strategy usually yields poor results, with students earning grades much lower than their ability.  This interactive workshop will introduce students to cognitive learning strategies that help all students experience meaningful, transferable learning, resulting in A's in STEM (and all other) courses!

Workshop on Metacognition for General Faculty Title: Get Students to Focus on Learning Instead of Grades:  Metacognition is the Key! Description:  21st Century students come to college with widely varying academic skills, approaches to learning, and motivation levels. Faculty often lament that students are focused on achieving high grades, but are not willing to invest much time or effort in learning. This session will focus on the importance of helping students acquire simple, but effective learning strategies based on cognitive science principles. We will engage in interactive reflection activities that will allow attendees to experience strategies that significantly improve learning while transforming student attitudes about the meaning of learning.

Workshop for STEM Faculty Advisors and Professional Advisors Title:   Using Appreciative Advising to Help Students Excel Description:  Students often come to universities with high aspirations, but with inadequate preparation to excel.  This interactive session will present a recently developed advising technique, appreciative advising, that has the potential to facilitate more effective academic advising of these students

Title:  Motivating STEM Students:  It Might Be Easier Than You Think! Description:  Motivating today's students to actively engage in learning activities proves challenging for most faculty.   Very often millennial students do not respond as did students in the past to extrinsic motivators such as bonus quizzes and extra credit assignments.   However, as James Raffini presents in 150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom, when the psychoacademic needs of students are met in creative ways, student motivation soars.  This presentation will engage faculty in a discussion of addressing student needs for autonomy, competence, relatedness, self-esteem, and enjoyment in order to significantly increase student motivation.

Dean Carlos Garcia hosted a student Town Hall Meeting for all MSE majors and a Graduating Seniors Reception. Both events were held in the ATT Science Building and were well attended.

Faculty Accomplishments



Dr. Veronica G. Acosta was invited to offer a presentation at the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. Her visit showcased the research and her experience working with undergraduate students at a predominantly undergraduate institution (PUI). Dr. Acosta was also given the opportunity to meet and discuss her experiences at a PUI with graduate students in the RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) program attending either the Ponce School of Medicine or Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, a Roman Catholic predominantly undergraduate institution. The title of her talk was, ""Neural Regeneration and Plasticity: Making Heads or Tails of It Using an Invertebrate Model System."

Dr. David Foglesong is a Co-Principal Investigator in a proposal submitted to the

National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation, "Acquisition of a Quadrupole Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer for Research". He also had the following research presentations.

1.    Foglesong, P.D., Nair, R.S., and Gupta, N.K. Levels of DNA Topoisomerases Induced by Interleukin-2 in HuT 78 Cells, Annual Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, San Diego, CA.

2.    Foglesong, P.D., Nair, R.S., and Gupta, N.K. Amounts of DNA Topoisomerases Induced by Interleukin-2 in HuT 78 Cells, 117th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science, Galveston, TX.

Dr. Richard Peigler published a peer-reviewed paper, "A new species of Samia (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) from Vietnam, with taxonomic updates for the genus" by Stefan Naumann1, Richard S. Peigler2 & Swen Löffler3, in The European Entomologist, volume 5, number 1.

Dr. Alakananda Chaudhuri and Dr. Bonnie McCormick received a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for preparation of teachers of science in the amount of $90,000.

Dr. Jessica Ibarra had the following research presentations:

Experimental Biology 2014, San Diego, CA, April 23-30, 2014. Quercetin ameliorates hyperglycemiainduced inflammation and apoptosis in the retina and lateral geniculate nucleus in a rat model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. JM Ibarra, MC Bland, M Gonzalez, and CA Garcia.

Experimental Biology 2014, San Diego, CA, April 23-30, 2014. PhUn week training session; Physiology understanding week: the five P's of working with a K-12 educator. JM Ibarra

6th Annual Southwest Teaching and Learning Conference, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, April 4-5, 2014. A physiologist's perspective partnering with K-12 educators. JM Ibarra

6th Annual Southwest Teaching and Learning Conference, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, April 4-5, 2014 "Learning through service exposure. JM Ibarra, SS Barbieri, S Hall, and RS Coates.

Panel presentation

Focus Presentation, 2014 Tech Fair, University of the Incarnate Word, April 9, 2014. "Instructions anywhere, anytime" J. M. Ibarra and A. T. Hutchison.

Dr. Ibarra was also awarded the following: Fellow, 2014 Physiology Education Community of Practice (PECOP), The American Physiological Society (year-long, online, professional development training for undergraduate educators)

Dr. VG Acosta, Dr. Robert Miranda and 6 students - Robin Sunsong, Gicel Aguilar, Joanna Ortega, Travis Parker, Javier Arjona-Soberon, and Pompeyo Quesada attended the Texas Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting in Galveston , TX, March 2014. The following poster abstracts were presented:

The Effects of Segmental Regeneration on Neural Morphallaxis in the Aquatic Oligochaete, Lumbriculus variegatus. R. C. SUNSONG, G. J. AGUILAR, J. R. DEWS, *V. G. MARTINEZ ACOSTA  Dept. of Biology, Univ. of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX 78209.β-catenin mRNA identification and analysis as a regenerative marker in Lumbriculus variegatus P. R. QUESADA, R. A. MIRANDA, V. G. MARTINEZ ACOSTA  Dept. of Biology, Univ. of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX 78209.

The following Oral Presentation was given in the Neuroscience Section and was awarded an HONORABLE MENTION for the Undergraduate Oral Presentation Category, which included judging in all TAS section categories. Gicel Aguilar was the Presenting Author.
Cellular and Molecular Correlates of Nerve Regeneration in a Novel Model System, Lumbriculus variegatus: A possible role for the WNT pathway. G.J. Aguilar, P.R. Quesada, and V.G. Martinez Acosta.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Brian McBurnett received the Presidential Teaching Award which recognizes teaching excellence. Dr. McBurnett is the first recipient of this award amongst the chemistry faculty and only the second awardee since the creation of the award in 2005, to come from the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering.

Dr. Rafael Adrian

Received Tenure. Presented his research entitled "Synthesis, characterization, and structure of copper(II) and zinc(II) metal complexes of 4′-chloro-2,2′:6′,2″-terpyridyl" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Alaka Chaudhuri

Received a grant for 2104-2105 San Antonio Science and Mathematics Collaborative (in partnership with UTSA) Teacher Quality Grant Program. Total Funding: $375.000 Funding awarded to UIW: $120.073Presented her research entitled "Assessing teacher efficacy in content knowledge and teaching practices in K-12 chemistry and environmental science through a two-year inquiry-based professional development experience" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Julian Davis

Presented his research entitled "Synthesis and characterization of N-benzyl nipecotate and isonipecotate derivatives as potential acetylcholine esterase inhibitors" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Robert Garner

Published a paper in ChemMedChem, a top journal for research at the interface of chemistry, biology and medicine. The publication is titled "Inhibition of Cathepsin Activity in a Cell-​Based Assay by a Light-​Activated Ruthenium Compound."

Dr. Edward Gonzalez

Presented his research entitled "Assessing teacher efficacy in content knowledge and teaching practices in K-12 chemistry and environmental science through a two-year inquiry-based professional development experience" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Betsy Leverett

Paper submitted to Journal of Dietary Supplements was accepted for publication. The publication is titled "Black Currant Nectar Reduces Muscle Damage and Inflammation Following a Bout of High-Intensity Eccentric Contractions."

Dr. Brian McBurnett

Presented his research entitled "Synthesis and characterization of novel Robson macrocycles" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. John Stankus

Presented his research entitled "Chemical expertise demand inventory: An analysis of chemistry employment ads" at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas.


Dr. Javier Arjona gave a presentation on water purification from windmills at the annual Earth Day conference.

Dr. Alison Whittemore was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.

Dr. Michael Frye attended a conference on ABET certification.

Dr. Sreerinjini Nair accepted an Assistant Professor of Physics appointment, which starts in the fall 2014.


The presentation "Effects of a Classroom-based Authentic Research Experience on Learning Genetics Concepts" was a poster presentation at Research Week at UIW authored by Dr. Christy A MacKinnon and Dr. Jesus Cuellar Fuentes.

Dr. Sulyeman Tek published the following peer-reviewed paper, "Korteweg–de Vries surfaces, Metin Gürses, Nonlinear Analysis: Theory, Methods & Applications Volume 95, January 2014, Pages 11–22.

He also had a conference paper, "Opening the Black Box: A Critical and Comparative Investigation of Solvers and Methods in Conventional and Next-Generation Reservoir Simulators, Suryansh Purwar, Cenk Temizel, Baris Hancioglu, Serkan Dursun, Suleyman Tek, International Petroleum Technology Conference, January 19-22, 2014, Doha, Qatar

Dr. Tek also presented the paper, Surfaces from Deformation of Parameters, at the MAA Texas Sectional Meeting, April 3-5, 2014.

COL Paul Messina,  Associate Professor of Mathematics, was board selected (Department of the Army) to assume his new role as the Commander of the 7304th Medical Training Support Battalion located at Joint base San Antonio, TX.  COL Messina has served in the United States Army and United States Army Reserve for a total of 26 years.


UIW  7th Annual Research Week – Thursday Night Live Round Table February 20,  2014. Dr. Gerald Mulvey participated as a panel member and discussed methods of research and commonalities in approaches to research between arts, and science.

Dr. Mulvey's latest paper was published in January 2014 Hill, Jerry D., Gerald J. Mulvey, 2014: Resources and Guidance for Ethics and Personal Conduct in Meteorology. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,95, 164–167.

An additional paper to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has been submitted and is under peer review.

Abstracts for four conference papers are under development with other faculty members and outside meteorologists.

Student Accomplishments


Marisa DeGuzman, May 2014 graduate, accepted a position in the Neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado Denver, Anscutz Medical Campus.

Brittany Ramirez, Kelsey Reyes, and Melanie Torres each received an   UIW Undergraduate Research Awards (UGRA) in the amount of $1800.

Hannah Peterson received an award for Best Overall Honors Thesis.  Her mentor was Dr. Bonnie McCormick.

Grisseth Gomez – accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, May 27-July 23, 2014.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chemistry Club students Michael DeLomba, Gabriella Gonzales, Stephanie Larios, An Vu and Ashley Whiteside, put on a show of chemistry demonstrations to create awareness about chemistry. The event, that took place in the Bonilla Science Hall Auditorium, drew a crowd of more than 200 people from UIW, Northeast Lakeview College communities and the Local American Chemical Society chapter. Brayan Quintela, chemistry major, was elected for the first time as the Student Government Association Vice-President. He was also designated as Student Leader for Meet the Mission Spring Break Edition. Ashely Whiteside, biochemistry major, was accepted to the Feik School of Pharmacy to start this coming August 2014. John Acton, Daniela Canales, Trystin Greiman, Brayan Quintela and Andrea Ramirez presented their research projects together with UIW chemistry faculty at the 247th ACS National Meeting & Exposition held from March 16-20 in Dallas, Texas. Bahinah Callahan, Jenna Davis, Fernando Flores, Nicole Kolmeier and Ashley Whiteside received the Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, while Bryan Salazar received the Bachelor of Science  in Chemistry, all at the May 11th UIW Commencement ceremony.  Congratulations!


Students in the MS in Applied Statistics attended the Fall Technical Conference (Fall 2013) in San Antonio and the Conference of Texas Statisticians at UT-Dallas (Spring 2014).

Erica Johnson received the UIW undergraduate research grant.

Recent graduate (2013) Judith Arriaza worked on a study as a McNair Scholar study with Dr. Zhanbo Yang and Dr. Flor M. Garcia-Wukovits as mentors. The article "Growth Patterns of Ethnic Groups in Bexar County with Dynamic Leslie Models" resulted from that study has been accepted for publication by "Applications and Applied Mathematics: An International Journal (AAM)" in spring of 2014.

Recent graduate (2013) Annalist Moore worked on a study as a McNair Scholar study with Dr. Zhanbo Yang as the mentor. The article " Public Health Policy and Managing Bioterrorism" resulted from that study has been accepted for publication by "Far East Journal of Mathematical Sciences (FJMS)" in spring of 2014.


Christopher Coignet, UIW graduate, left his position at UIW to take a full time position as an Environmental Consultant / Meteorologist at Source Environmental Sciences, Inc. in Houston.  He reported that performed work as a student employee was key in securing the position.  In addition meteorology graduates Zachary Elkins and Lauren Ruff have found jobs in meteorology.  Inquiries into the details of their employment have been initiated.

Michael Saenz, a 2013 graduate in Broadcast Meteorology, was profiled in "the Word Online", Mar 11th, 2014 in an article titled, An Atmosphere of Success.  ( )

Cardinal Academic Fair - March 1, 2014 Organized displays and coordinated with Meteorology Major volunteers to present videos, meteorological instrument displays, and written materials to prospective students.  Meteorology Club gave away club Tee shirts.

The Meteorology Club sponsored a field trip to ImpactWeather Inc. in Houston. There were 12 members of the club (freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors) on the trip.  Dr. Mulvey accompanied the club. ImpactWeather is an operational meteorological company which is part of a Norwegian firm providing weather forecasting services around the globe.  The students received informal briefings from the four area weather forecasting on-duty forecasters at their workstations as well as other members of the staff.   The tour also included a stop in their broadcast studio where focused forecast videos are prepared for selected clients during high impact events. The students got a chance to see an actual work environment and broaden their view of the duties assigned to operational meteoro0logists.


Faculty Granted Sabbatical for 2014-2015

Dr. Christy MacKinnon was granted a one-semester sabbatical leave for fall 2014.