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Pott College of Science & Engineering Spring 2011

The Periodic Review University of Southern Indiana

Volume 4, Issue 2

Two academic departments to join Pott College T

he departments of Teacher Education and Physical Education will be integrated into the Pott College of Science and Engineering, effective July 1. The departments will not physically move, nor will students see immediate changes in their academic programs or services. USI President Linda L. M. Bennett made the announcement. “The repositioning is intended to strengthen collaboration between teacher education and disciplines critical to educating our community,” she said. “Those disciplines include math and the sciences as well as social sciences, history, and humanities. The professional development of teachers is a Universitywide responsibility.” National concern for teacher preparation “This step we’re taking aligns with suggestions offered by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to deeply ground

students in the subject matters the students plan to teach,” said Provost Ronald S. Rochon, a national expert in the teacher education field, who also holds two degrees in science. “There is nothing more important than our children and their future,” Rochon said. “With this move we are investing in the process of faculty collaboration, both methodology and discipline-based instruction, so new teachers can master the content of the subjects they’ll teach while instructing more effectively.” Dr. Scott A. Gordon, dean, welcomes the departments to the Pott College. “This merger will establish new collaborations and partnerships across campus and within the region,” he said. “The training of new teachers and continued professional development of practicing teachers will be enhanced by the tighter relationship between pedagogical practice and content area expertise. In physical education, the natural ties between the sciences and areas of kinesiology and exercise science will

Top high school students explore STEM majors at USI

Dr. William G. Wilding, associate professor of mathematics, leads visiting high school students in a simulation estimating the success rate of a strategy for the game “Say Red.” Highachieving prospective students received invitations to the first USI Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Expo. Visitors participated in hands-on activities in labs, met faculty and current students, learned about STEM majors, and attended a cookout.

result in exciting new partnerships and curriculum opportunities for our students. I believe this will be a win-win partnership for all involved.” Bennett said, “The constant cry from employers is for more workers in the STEM fields. Indiana needs talented teachers to instruct students working toward a career in those areas.” Numerous reports conclude the American education system is not adequately preparing the next generation of employees for advanced manufacturing careers that require skills of computer literacy, reading, math, and reasoning abilities. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED), and the Indiana STEM Resource Network, USI has established the Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center in the Pott College to assist educators with current techniques and tools to prepare students for 21st century jobs. Continued on page 2

in this issue Letter from the Dean....................................2 Jeanne Barnett, Pamela Spelbring Retire.......3 Daniela Vidal, Phenomenal Woman Award... 3 Awards for Steven Geiss, Sunny Huang.......4 Around the College.....................................4 SwISTEM Activities.......................................5 Early Undergraduate Research Program.......5 Alumni Elements.........................................6 Concrete Canoe Competition.......................7 Indiana Space Grant Consortium Award......7 Faculty Promotions......................................7

Pott College of Science & Engineering “Education” continued from page 1

Letter from the Dean


he spring semester has been productive—and busy! As you will read in this edition of The Periodic Review, the Pott College is expanding. We are excited to have the departments of Teacher Education and Physical Education join us and look forward to developing the natural synergies within the expanded college and between the other academic units at USI. We will be working to establish new collaborations and partnerships with our constituents throughout the region and state in order to provide students and faculty with greater opportunities and experiences. This past fall more than 100 educators from throughout the region attended our inaugural Ohio Valley STEM Educators Conference featuring dozens of presentations, demonstrations, and exhibits. The 2011 conference will take place November 5. Gordon Also, this year we added another event to our college’s successful cadre of competitions—the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) SeaPerch competition. Our Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair continues to grow with approximately 550 student participants. The work of our Southwest Indiana STEM (SwISTEM) Resource Center is remarkable with more than 1,200 teachers and more than 65,000 students impacted by the activities, competitions, camps, and professional development workshops. In summer 2011, another cohort of students will participate in the college’s National Science Foundation-sponsored Early Undergraduate Research Program. Thirty-six students and more than 20 faculty will conduct research and deliver seminars on their research progress Also this summer, the SwISTEM Resource Center staff and several college faculty will conduct over a dozen on-campus professional development workshops enrolling over 200 regional K-12 STEM teachers. The increasing enrollments in these workshops and the tremendous workshop reviews have solidified the Pott College as a statewide leader in science and math education and professional development. This year, we have been fortunate to receive funding for several initiatives. The Alcoa Foundation has provided funding for the Girls Only (GO) STEM! Camp and engineering scholarships. A Math and Science Partnership grant with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation will support summer professional development workshops for K-8 teachers. The Department of Engineering is completing its first year in the new Business and Engineering Center which provides much needed workspace, access, and equipment expansion for this rapidly growing program. We continue to work on developing combined programming for business and engineering and look forward to the development of new curricula and degree programs during the next couple of years. In this newsletter, you will read about some of our outstanding faculty, staff, and student activities and accomplishments. Visit for additional information on these and other items.

Dr. Scott A.Gordon Scott A. Gordon, Dean

Pott College of Science and Engineering

The Periodic Review • Fall 2010


Pott College’s STEM initiatives align with an interdisciplinary approach to teacher education. Curriculum planning and implementation will be a joint endeavor between faculty in teacher education and faculty in other academic disciplines across the University. Physical education The physical education curriculum offers programs in coaching, kinesiology, sport management, and physical education classes. “Physical education has broadened the curriculum and the class offerings will interact well in the sciences,” Rochon said. Teacher preparation “Teacher preparation has a celebrated history at USI and has been continuously nationally accredited since 1973,” said Rochon. “Teaching is a prestigious career choice, and USI is committed to preparing student teachers to lead the modern classroom. The repositioning of the departments will bring together brilliant minds to elevate teacher preparation so student teachers can both master the subjects they plan to teach and also learn the best teaching methods.” Continuing education for teachers “The University already has a strong reputation for continuing education opportunities for teachers in STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—and in other fields such as history through Historic Southern Indiana’s Lincoln workshops,” Bennett added. “USI is a site for the National Writing Project program to improve writing and reading.” Council to form Rochon announced a university Teacher Education Council will be formed. “The council will include representatives from the deans, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community to chart a course of action,” he said. More than 4,400 alumni and a current student population of 1,115 undergraduates and 98 graduate students are in the departments joining the Pott College. Bennett also announced the repositioning of the Department of Social Work. It will join the College of Liberal Arts.

Jeanne Barnett retires after semester in England 22 years as faculty member in biology, academic advisor


r. Jeanne Barnett, professor of biology, taught three courses during spring semester as a visiting professor at Harlaxton College in England. The experience at the study-abroad campus marked her last semester as a USI faculty member. She retires July 1 after 22 years. Five of 15 students in Barnett’s class on diseases and Barnett plagues throughout the ages in the United Kingdom were from USI. They learned about diseases and experiences that have had an impact on the UK and the world, including bubonic plague, typhus, influenza, foot and mouth disease, and the potato famine. Barnett also taught courses in immunology and in human genetics and society. At USI Barnett has taught and advised students in the areas of premedicine, immunology, and virology. She is a past coordinator for the Presidential Scholarship Program and the Baccalaureate/Doctor of Medicine Program. “Jeanne has provided many years of outstanding service to USI and the Biology Department, said Dr. Scott A. Gordon, dean. “Her involvement with the Presidential Scholar Program, outstanding advising, close student ties, and excellent classroom presentation skills will be missed.”

During retirement she plans to spend more time with her husband and extended family, travel, and resume some volunteer activities that did not fit with her USI schedule. “My participation in the college choir here,” she said from Harlaxton, “has rekindled my interest in singing with a group.”

Pictured with Daniela Vidal and her husband, Alfonso R. Vidal at the recognition ceremony are her mother, Pilar Tirado M.S.O.T.’06; and the couple’s children, Martin E. (4), Alfonso E. (11), and Isabella (9).

Daniela Vidal named Phenomenal Woman


Dr. Jeanne Barnett, right, led students from Harlaxton College on a trip to Ireland to visit sights associated with the potato famine. The ship here is a replica of one that transported immigrants to North America during the height of the famine. USI students include (beginning third from left) Ashish Arshanapalli, Kolin Kramer, Andrew Walker, Steven Geiss, Patrick Harmon, and (next to Barnett) Samantha Shirk. Barnett ‘s husband, Dean, is at left.

Pamela Spelbring, physics instructor, to retire Students in the lab surround Pamela Spelbring, instructor in physics. Spelbring will retire July 1 after 12 years with the University. Dr. Scott Gordon, dean, said, “Pam has been a consistent force in providing countless numbers of students with high-quality laboratory instruction in physics. Her dedication and passion for the physics discipline will be missed.”


aniela Vidal M.B.A. ’00 is among 10 women honored recently at the 10th annual Phenomenal Women of USI and the Community Recognition Ceremony. Vidal was recognized in the faculty category. She is program coordinator for the USI Engineering Department’s advanced manufacturing program and an instructor in that program. In 2003, she and other community leaders created HOLA (Hospitality and Outreach for Latin Americans), the first area nonprofit organization focused on the Hispanic population. Vidal also was involved in the creation of the Juan Diego Latino Center, which offers outreach services to the Latino community. Vidal served on the Small Business Development advisory board from 2007-09, the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) implementation team, and the USI Big Read program steering committee. The Phenomenal Women awards program honors women from all walks of life who have made contributions to diversity in the USI and the Evansville communities. Sponsors are the USI Multicultural Center, Old National Bank, and the American Association of University Women.

University of Southern Indiana

Pott College of Science & Engineering

Steven Geiss, Sunny Huang receive University’s top awards


wo graduating seniors majoring in programs offered by the Pott College were selected this spring for top awards presented by the University. Steven Geiss, biology, received the President’s Medal in recognition of his academic performance and his exemplary co-curricular involvement at USI. The medal is the Geiss highest award presented to a graduate at Commencement. A University Honors Scholar, Geiss holds the Edward F. Harrison Presidential Scholarship. He maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout his college career. He has held offices and positions

of responsibility with Student Ambassadors, College Mentors for Kids, AMIGO orientation leaders, the Honors Program, Pre-Professional Health Club, and Camp Eagle. During spring semester he studied in the United Kingdom at Harlaxton College. Geiss will study medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in the fall. Sunny Huang, chemistry, is the recipient of the Trustees Distinguished Merit Award, the most prestigious award presented during the honors convocations held for each college during March. Huang holds the Robert A. and Carol D. Rust Endowed Huang

Presidential Scholarship. An Honors student, she is president of the student chapter of the American Chemical Society. Huang has interned at Mayo Clinic, conducted research at Indiana University School of Medicine, and presented research at national and international conferences. She also is recognized by faculty for her expertise in drawing and creative writing. She plans to attend medical school. The Trustees Distinguished Merit Award, which includes a $1,000 stipend, recognizes outstanding achievement in not only a student’s major, but also in the liberal arts and sciences that form the core of a university education. Geiss and Huang are from Evansville. The Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate selects the recipients of the two awards.

Around the college DNA expert speaks to genetics class

Castle High School, Newburgh, Indiana; and Catherine Fritchley of Central High School, Evansville. In the junior division, Grand Award winners were Phillip Tyler and Hannah Minasian, both of Castle South Middle School, and Anna Harris of Castle North Middle School. In the elementary division, both Grand Award winners—Ashlyn McWilliams and Christine Scheller—represented North Elementary School in Posey County. Twenty winners qualified to enter the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair in April in Bloomington, Indiana. Huang qualified at the state event to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair May 8-13 in Los Angeles.

Dr. John M. Butler, an international authority on forensic DNA typing, spoke recently to students in a genetics course. Butler leads the efforts in human identity testing at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. During a two-day campus visit, he delivered the inaugural Marlene V. Shaw Biology Lecture in addition to making the classroom presentation.

Approximately 200 awards valued at more than $40,000 were presented to students with outstanding projects.

Science Fair draws more than 500 projects

The 2011 Tri-State Science and Engineering Fair attracted 555 students from throughout the region. Grand Award winners in the senior division were Tony Huang of Reitz High School, Evansville; Brianne Neeley of

The Periodic Review • Fall 2010


Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center Grabert named interim director

Allison Grabert ’02 has been named interim director of the Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center. She was previously science coordinator. Grabert joined USI in 2009.

Summer workshops for K-12 teachers

Visit a mine, re-think fractions, analyze a Super Soaker water gun from an engineering perspective, explore the science and technology used by combat troops—these are the kinds of activities that await K-12 teachers in STEM fields who register for summer SwISTEM workshops. The 2011 lineup includes several workshops that will take place in Pott College facilities and three at the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division in Crane, Indiana. One of the Crane workshops will involve real-world scenarios and data sets from NSWC Crane to develop projects for use in both high school science and mathematics classes. A complete description of the real-world issue will be presented along with an explanation of how that issue is of national interest. Workshops include stipends or classroom resources for participating teachers. Online registration is available at the SwISTEM Resource Center website. Grabert

Save the date for STEM Educators Conference

The second annual Ohio Valley STEM Educators Conference on November 5 will bring together PreK-16 educators to share new and innovative pedagogical strategies, discover hands-on, inquiry-based activities, and network with fellow STEM educators. The conference will be held in the Science and Education Center at USI. Tours of the Science Center, the Engineering Department, and the campus will be offered. Vendors will exhibit their products and services.

Call for proposals

STEM educators are invited to share ideas for teaching and learning by presenting a conference session. Proposals for presentations or workshops are due June 1. This year’s conference will focus on these strands: embracing technology in the classroom, meeting state standards, utilizing resources for hands-on learning, and sharing best practices in STEM education

Twenty-two teams enter SeaPerch competition

Twenty-two teams representing 12 middle schools and high schools competed in the inaugural Southwest Indiana Regional SeaPerch Competition. Participants designed and built remotely operated underwater vehicles for the competition which took place in the pool at the Physical Activities Center.

Engineering student Ken Schnautz helps a young SeaPerch competitor launch his underwater vehicle.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)


Early Undergraduate Research Program

18 freshmen selected forighteen NSF-funded research students majoring in science,


technology, engineering, or mathematics have been selected for the third class of the Early Undergraduate Research Program. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the program provides two summers of research in Pott College facilities with a faculty mentor as well as an opportunity to continue the relationship during the intervening academic year. The program is designed to engage students interested in STEM fields in hands-on research early in their academic careers. Participants attend weekly seminars to present research updates and learn from guest speakers. They tour area STEM industries on field trips. The program provides students a $3,000 stipend for each summer of participation as well as room and board in campus housing. The following students completing their freshman year begin work with their faculty members in May. • Yena Choi and Brittany Verble— Dr. Brent Summers, biology • Chelsy Calhoun, Joshua Long, and Gavin Norton—Dr. Jeff Thomas, science teaching • Christian Duncheon and Alec Kelley—Dr. Rich Bennett, biology • Eric Dockery—Dr. Brandon Field, engineering • Danielle Eckert—Dr. Marco Lara Gracia, engineering • A lison Konieczki and Sarah Schwartz—Dr. Jeff Seyler, chemistry • William Miller and Joseph Tadros— Dr. Harold McCarron, chemistry • Meghann Reardon and Craig Roberts—Dr. Landon Moore, biology • Eric Tepool—Dr. Eric McCloud, biology • Aaron Williams—Dr. Glen Kissel, engineering • Louis Volz—Dr. Julian Davis, engineering Eighteen students who began the research program last summer will return for their second and final summer in the program. University of Southern Indiana

Rich Bennett fulfills goal of returning as faculty


hen Rich Bennett ’01 graduated from USI with a bachelor’s degree in biology, he knew that some day he wanted to return and teach in the Biology Department. And he did: Bennett joined the University as assistant professor of biology last fall. An Evansville native, Bennett attended graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, earning a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology in 2007. Afterward, he was a post-doctoral fellow working in biodefense at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Cincinnati. “I worked on two projects. The first involved investigating the genome-host interactions between human macrophages and Bacillus anthracis in an effort to discover novel genes that are involved in anthrax toxicity. The second project involved interrogating the role of the centrosome in radiation-induced DNA damage as a way to discover new path-

ways involved in radiation poisoning.” He and his family returned to Evansville to be near family, and to USI because Bennett appreciates the University’s balance of teachBennett ing and research. His research interests are centrosome biology and the impact of p53 localization to the centrosome. “Plus, it’s where I envisioned being a PhD,” he said. It’s been an adjustment. “One thing I had to get over quickly was calling everyone ‘Dr. This’ and ‘Dr. That.’ It is strange to be calling your old professors by their first names.”

Bennett visited campus once during his Cincinnati years, in 2007, to give a run-through of his doctoral defense. In addition to the obvious physical changes on campus, he has noticed changes in the department. “There seems to be more of an emphasis on research,” he said, “and the curriculum has changed a bit.” Bennett teaches cell biology and Anatomy and Physiology II. In addition, he is developing a cancer biology lab. “I’m considering making it an introductory level course,” he said. “Everybody has a relative or knows somebody who has cancer. I think this would get people interested in science if the course had a cancer base, where you learn about cancer but also biology and science in a context people can relate to.” Bennett’s wife, Michelle, is pursuing a degree in business administration at USI. They have three children: Jakob, 9; Claire, 4; and Tate, 2.

Bruce Yoder honored for doctoral thesis Dr. Bruce Yoder ’02, chemistry and Spanish, has received an award from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne for the best thesis of the year. He finished a doctorate in physical chemistry at the university in Switzerland in July 2010 and is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He will return to Lausanne in June to be recognized for the award. In his PhD research Yoder used lasers to control reactions between gas molecules and catalytic surfaces. His work was aimed at a fundamental Yoder understanding of methane reformation to produce hydrogen fuel. Part of his doctoral thesis was published as an article in the July 30, 2010, issue of Science. His research in Vancouver will focus on contributing to the field of atmospheric science by producing a better understanding of ultrafine aerosol particles. At USI Yoder held the Harold W. Ashley Endowed Presidential Scholarship. He visited campus in December to renew acquaintances with faculty and friends.

Andrew Smith introduces Vincennes students to Pott College groundwater monitoring lab Geology graduate Andrew Smith ’04, center, brought students from an environmental science course he teaches at Vincennes University to USI to learn about the Geology Department’s groundwater monitoring laboratory. Dr. Paul Doss, left, professor of geology, describes the studentcentered research projects conducted in the lab and the hydrogeologic characteristics of the local bedrock aquifer.

The Periodic Review • Fall 2010


Help strengthen the Pott College of Science and Engineering Your gift to the Pott College of Science and Engineering strengthens programs and provides support for students and faculty. Apply my gift in the following way. (You may choose more than one.) p P ott College of Science and Engineering (where the need is greatest) p Biology program p Chemistry program p Engineering program p Geology and Physics programs p Mathematics program p Other (Specify__________________________________)

ASCE members compete with concrete canoe

Engineering major Nancy Newcomer mists the surface of a concrete canoe designed and built by the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Fifteen chapter members traveled recently to Milwaukee for the organization’s Great Lakes Regional concrete canoe competition. Teams from 18 universities vied in design, racing, and other contests.

Engineering student receives INSGC scholarship Matthew Harms, a senior engineering major from Bone Gap, Illinois, is the recipient of a $1,500 scholarship for 201011 from the Indiana Space Grant Consortium (INSGC), which funds scholarships for students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Recipients are chosen on a competitive basis. Harms was the sixth USI engineering student to receive an INSGC scholarship for 2010-11.

Eric Tharp, a mathematics teaching major from Portage, Indiana, has been named an Indiana Outstanding Future Educator by the Indiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Tharp was honored in April during a recognition day in Indianapolis. He completed his student teaching at Central High School and Helfrich Park Middle School in Evansville.


Eric Tharp honored as Outstanding Future Educator

Clip form and mail in envelope

Amount committed: $______________________________ Method of Payment: p Check enclosed (Payable to USI Foundation) p Bill me in ________________________ (Specify month.) p Enclosed is my matching gift form p Charge to my credit card p Visa p MasterCard p Discover p Personal Credit Card p Company Credit Card Cardholder Name__________________________________ Card Number______________________________________ Exp. Date__________ Signature_________________________________________ Name____________________________________________ Address___________________________________________ City, State, Zip_____________________________________

Trustees approve three for promotion

Telephone _________________ Email __________________

Dr. John Donnelly, Dr. Kyong-Hee Melody Lee, and Dr. Rex Strange will be promoted from assistant professor to associate professor, effective August 16. Donnelly and Lee teach math; Strange teaches biology. The USI Board of Trustees also approved tenure for them.

Electronic checking, savings, and credit card deductions are available at Make your tax-deductible check payable to: USI Foundation, 8600 University Boulevard, Evansville, IN 47712. p Contact me about an estate gift. A contribution of $25 or more to any USI Foundation fund makes graduates active members of the USI Alumni Association.



To learn more, visit



2011 Calendar of events

May 9–July 1  Early Undergraduate Research Program

GO (Girls Only) STEM! Camp

Workshops for K-12 teachers Each workshop is two to five days long. Visit for details and registration. Sponsored by Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center

November 5

Second annual Ohio Valley STEM Educators Conference

Summer teacher workshops offer ideas for engaging students Dave Ellert, instructor in engineering and coordinator of engineering outreach for the Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center, demonstrates in one of last summer’s teacher workshops how building a bridge from spaghetti can help middle school and high school students understand engineering principles. A session in hands-on engineering design is among teacher workshops this summer. See page 5 for more information or visit

University of Southern Indiana 8600 University Boulevard Evansville, IN 47712 Dr. Scott A. Gordon, Dean Dr. Shelly B. Blunt, Associate Dean Dr. R. Brent Summers, Assistant Dean Biology Department Chemistry Department Engineering Department Geology and Physics Department Mathematics Department SwISTEM Resource Center

812/464-1977 812/465-1268 812/461-5405 812/465-1084 812/464-1701 812/464-1877 812/464-1701 812/465-1689 812/228-5019 University of Southern Indiana is an affirmative action/equal employment opportunity institution. Shaping the future through learning and innovation

Scott Gordon, Dean, Pott College Betty R. Vawter, Newsletter Editor

University of Southern Indiana

Pott College of Science and Engineering A publication of the

The Periodic Review

June 5–10 June 1–July 29

POTT COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING University of Southern Indiana 8600 University Boulevard Evansville, Indiana 47712 P10-5234


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Pott College of Science and Engineering