College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Drury participates in national citizen science project to study eclipse

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., August 15, 2017 — Two Drury University physics professors and two of their students will take part in a national effort to observe and document the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Drs. Greg Ojakangas and Bruce Callen have been tapped to be one of 68 teams to work with the National Solar Observatory’s Citzen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) Experiment to document the sun’s inner corona during the eclipse. Along with Drury students Ryan Wedermyer and Katelyn Morrison, they will travel to Hermann, Missouri to be in the path of the eclipse totality and make their observations.

Professors Bruce Callen (left) and Greg Ojakangas

The Citizen CATE project aims to capture images of the eclipse using a network of telescopes operated by citizen scientists, high school groups, and universities. Volunteers are using 68 identical telescopes, software, and instrument packages spaced along the 2,500-mile path of totality. Each site will produce more than 1,000 images, and the resulting dataset will consist of an unprecedented 90 minutes of continuous, high-resolution images detailing the sun’s inner corona – a region of the solar atmosphere typically very challenging to image.

“I have been waiting for this for 38 years,” says Ojakangas, whose previous work with NASA provided a connection to the Citizen CATE project. “I get goosebumps almost every time I think of it!”

“An eclipse of this nature is a rare occurrence,” Callen says. “The chance just to witness it three hours from where I live and work is exciting enough, but the chance to contribute to a big national effort that will possibly advance our understanding of the sun is a great opportunity.”

The Citizen CATE project has been several years in the making. Teams will have no more than 2 minutes and 40 seconds – the time of the total eclipse as seen from the Earth’s surface – to capture their images. Ojakangas and Callen will be available for interviews during practice sessions on Wednesday and Friday morning outside of the Trustee Science Center on the Drury campus, starting at approximately 9 a.m.

ALSO: A Musical Angle

There’s also an artistic angle on this scientific story. Ojakangas’s daughter Celka is a 2015 Drury music graduate who is now studying music composition at the University of Southern California, one of the top graduate schools for music composition in the country. Inspired by her passion for both art and science, Celka and her brothers Kieran (a 2014 Drury alumnus) and Lian will perform a piece of her original music that is synchronized exactly to the timing of the eclipse, accompanied by a computer-generated background tone generated by Ojakangas.

“The tone drops 6 octaves as totality approaches, in precise relation to the rate that sunlight is diminishing, then rises again afterwards. Celka’s composition is a musical palindrome based on a Greek Orthodox chant celebrating the light of Christ,” explains Ojakangas.

Celka, Kieran and Lian Ojakangas will perform as an electric string trio at the site where the Drury team will conduct their CATE observation work. The site is located at Hermann Hill Village, 165 Missouri Hwy 100. More information on the location and festivities sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce are online at http://visithermann.com/2017-solar-eclipse/.

For more information about the musical composition, contact Celka Ojakangas via email at ojakanga@usc.edu.

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Media Contact: Mike Brothers, Director of Media Relations: (417) 873-7390 or mikebrothers@drury.edu.

Dr. Rabindra Roy inducted into Drury’s Sciences Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 19, 2016 — Dr. Rabindra Roy was honored for his contributions to Drury University’s legacy of teaching and learning on Saturday when he became the inaugural inductee into the College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences Hall of Fame. A professor of chemistry, Roy retired from full-time teaching in May at the conclusion of his 50th year as a Drury faculty member.

Roy and his wife, Dr. Protima Roy, were joined by more than 100 colleagues, friends and current and former students during a reception and dinner at Trustee Science Center. The invited speakers praised Roy for his exacting standards, boundless energy and relentless positivity. Roy was lauded as a teacher and mentor, and for two accomplishments in particular that have defined his career: his dedication to undergraduate research and the founding of the Hem Sheela Model School in his native India.

Rabin Roy headshot 2016

During his tenure at Drury, Roy developed an innovative model for undergraduate research that has trained hundreds of future scientists and healthcare professionals. Thanks to this model, Roy and his students have made 485 scientific presentations at regional, national, and international conferences. He received grants and contracts totaling more than $4.5 million dollars to fund his research, and has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Roy has received numerous awards including the American Chemical Society National Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution in 1998. Roy has conducted collaborative research with more than 60 scientists around the world including Nobel Prize winners William Giauque and Johann Deisenhofer. Deisenhofer attended Saturday’s ceremony.

In 1995, Dr. Roy and his wife, Dr. Protima Roy, founded Hem Sheela Model School in Durgapur, India with 350 students. The two campuses of Hem Sheela have grown to 24 acres and now enroll more than 5,000 students. It is one of the most prestigious K-12 schools in India, routinely scoring at the top of national exams in science and math. It is a sister school of Drury University. In 2007, the Roys also founded a tribal school for first-generation learners.

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Drury student studies genetics thanks to selective national grant

Anna Brinck is getting the best of both worlds when it comes to science research as an undergraduate student.

As a junior majoring in chemistry, biology and Spanish at Drury, Brinck has been able to conduct research in an intimate, small-school setting with faculty mentors by her side. And this summer, she is getting the chance to take to the lab at a large research university – the University of Georgia – thanks to a program funded by the National Science Foundation.

Brinck is the latest Drury student to be selected for the highly competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. About a dozen Drury students have been selected for REU positions over the last three years.

Description: Drury University senior Chemistry, Biology, and Spanish major Anna Brinck of Nixa, Missouri working with a pipette at a bench in Genetics professor Allen Moore's lab at the Davison Life Sciences building. Brinck is taking part in Summer Undergraduate Fellowships in Genetics (SUNFIG), a national research program that places undergraduate science majors in large universities to work on summer research projects. Date of Photo: 6/28/2016 Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia Photographic Services File: 34013-058 The University of Georgia owns the rights to this image or has permission to redistribute this image. Permission to use this image is granted for internal UGA publications and promotions and for a one-time use for news purposes. Separate permission and payment of a fee is required to use any image for any other purpose, including but not limited to, commercial, advertising or illustrative purposes. Unauthorized use of any of these copyrighted photographs is unlawful and may subject the user to civil and criminal penalties. Possession of this image signifies agreement to all the terms described above.

Drury Chemistry, Biology, and Spanish major Anna Brinck working in a lab at UGA. Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia

The Nixa native is spending her summer conducting research on the behavior of beetles that bury carcasses beneath soil as a food source for their larvae during reproduction.

“My specific project is looking at burial depth of the carcass and different gene expressions and reproductive tradeoffs in the beetles that may differ in shallow burials versus deep burials,” says Brinck. “The general idea is correlating genetics with a variable of the burying behavior.”

The size and scope of the lab setting is much different than at Drury, Brinck says, but the fundamentals of research are the same. She says Drury prepared her well for the work she is doing this summer through REU. She’s been conducting research of some kind since her freshman year, mainly focusing on genetics.

“Drury is a place where almost anything you want to do is possible,” she says. “It’s a network of truly supportive peers, professors and other faculty and staff, so if you want to do a specific type of research, it can happen.”

When comparing her experience to other undergrads participating in REU projects, and even graduate students earning their Ph.D. at UGA, it’s clear to Brinck that she’s had more opportunities for meaningful research than many of her peers.

“They came from larger schools where you have to be an upperclassman to be considered for research or you have to know the right people in order to get into a lab group,” she says. “Since I have had a lot of research experience, I already have a basic research skill set that is extremely valuable.”

Previous Drury REU participants tell a similar story of being well prepared for the opportunity, yet coming away with an advanced level of experience and knowledge thanks to working in larger labs. Abby Delawder graduated from Drury this spring with a chemistry degree. She conducted medical research at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, in 2015 as an REU participant. Prior to that, she spent many hours in the labs of Drury’s Trustee Science Center working with chemistry professor Dr. Madhuri Manpadi.

“I was able to see a broad picture of how groundbreaking research at that particular level works and how my research in the future can benefit the entire community,” Delawder says of her time at Scripps.

Delawder heads to Washington University in St. Louis this fall, where she will begin work earning a doctorate in chemistry. Her goal: help find new ways to combat the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“I have Dr. Manpadi to thank for accepting me into her lab and teaching me valuable lessons, not only in the textbook but real-life applications of the text material,” she adds.

Brink at UGA2

Brinck, at UGA, says that in addition to those research skills, one of the underlying values Drury’s science faculty has taught her is curiosity.

“A lot of research is very tedious, so the desire to solve the questions puzzling you is a necessity to be successful,” she says. “The liberal arts experience has definitely given me the cognitive capabilities to be able to ask the right questions and to further my research curiosity. Every professor I have ever had at Drury has not only encouraged me to be curious, but have also been great examples of curious people themselves.”

Brinck wants to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and will be applying to graduate schools this coming year as she completes her studies at Drury.

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Story by Mike Brothers, Director of Media relations. 

Drury & Cox College to launch dual degree nursing program in Fall 2016

Program Information: Drury.edu/pre-health/nursing-program

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 26, 2016 — College students seeking a career in nursing will have a new degree option in the fall, thanks to a partnership between Drury University and Cox College of Nursing & Health Science.

The two schools have seamlessly blended academic offerings to create a unique dual degree program that allows traditional undergraduates to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Drury’s highly respected science faculty, and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Cox College – all in the span of a four-year college career.

Drury will host a Nursing Day event for prospective students from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday April 29 at Trustee Science Center on the Drury campus. The day will include speakers, tours of facilities on both campuses, and lunch. Registration is required and can be done online at Drury.edu/admission/nursing-day/.

Students receiving this dual degree will have the benefit of excellent professional education coupled with a liberal arts foundation. The BA in Biology provides a strong foundation in the natural sciences and improved analytical and critical thinking skills. Completion of a liberal arts degree will provide nursing students with strong writing and speaking skills as well as an enhanced understanding and appreciation of diverse individuals and cultures. The BSN degree provides a broad foundation in technical nursing skills. This blend of natural sciences and liberal arts makes the program an excellent option for students who may want to pursue advanced practice degrees or move into administrative and leadership roles in the future.

Other benefits of the program include:

  • Students have access to a traditional college experience, including campus activities, athletics, Greek life and more
  • Advising and mentorship from both Drury and Cox College faculty
  • Access to Drury financial aid and scholarships throughout college career
  • Opportunities for hands-on work with under-served populations in the area through the Drury Health Service Corps
  • Seamless integration – all scheduling and business transactions are handled by Drury

“We’re very pleased to be able to partner with Cox College to combine the strengths of our two institutions for this program,” says Beth Harville, Dean of Drury’s College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences. “It’s a natural fit, and it fills a need by going beyond technical skills and ensuring that graduates understand the human and cultural side of healthcare.”

Officials at healthcare organizations in the Ozarks and across the country have pointed out the incredible need for more highly qualified nurses as the field continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says more than 1 million new nurses will be needed nationwide by 2022.

“As the need for medical professionals continues to rise, this dual-degree collaboration presents both a great opportunity and a valuable resource,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth’s president and CEO, who is also an alumnus and trustee at Drury University. “We want to make sure the people of this community are cared for. This venture does that by ensuring that there are high-quality medical professionals locally, and by providing a new way for our friends and neighbors to develop professionally.”

The program begins in fall 2016. For more information go to Drury.edu/pre-health/nursing-program, or contact Dr. Mark Wood, director of pre-health sciences, at mwood@drury.edu.

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Media contact: Dr. Beth Harville, Dean of the College of Natural & Mathematical Sciences: (417) 873-4085 or bharville@drury.edu.