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Academic News 2020


Dolan, Harris Guide Students with NASA Project

Dr. Dolan and Mr. Harris

Congratulations to Dr. Maureen Dolan (left), associate professor of molecular biology and director of the biotechnology program, and Shea Harris (right), outreach director, Arkansas Biosciences Institute. They are serving as advisers to a team of A-State students who made a successful research proposal to NASA. A-State's team is one of five selected nationally that will prepare an experiment to be run on the International Space Station. Details are online.

Alam and Gilmore Publish on Antibiotics

Dr. Mohammad A. Alam (left) and Dr. David Gilmore (right)

Dr. Mohammad Abrar Alam (left), associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. David Gilmore (right), professor of microbiology, are lead authors of an article published in the journal Antibiotics, "Narrow-Spectrum Antibiotics: How Can They Help in the Fight against Antimicrobial Resistance and How Can We Get More of Them?" They describe 25 new pyrazole-derived hydrazones that are potent and specific growth inhibitors of the problematic bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii.

Boves and Team Study Songbird Species

Dr. Than Boves

An article co-authored by Dr. Than Boves, associate professor of wildlife ecology, and a team of his fellow collaborators has been published in The Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences. In their study, the researchers explored and documented conflicts between parents and offspring in 18 species of songbirds. They analyzed the optimal time for young birds to "grow up" and leave the nest.

Endowment Gift Recognizes Harp's Influence

Dr. Than Boves

A former student of Dr. George Harp, emeritus professor of environmental biology, has established a scholarship endowment in recognition of Harp's positive influence. Dr. Sam Kallsnick of Lee's Summit, Mo., made the gift to establish the Dr. George Harp Honorary Scholarship for a pre-professional student in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, preferably pre-dentistry. Harp was a faculty member at A-State from 1967 until his retirement in 1999. Details are online.

Gustafson Joins Biological Sciences Faculty

Dr. Kyle Gustafson

Dr. Kyle Gustafson, assistant professor in biological sciences, is teaching courses in the fields of zoology and conservation, including mammalogy, parasitology, and conservation genomics. He conducted research on carnivore genetics during his post-doctoral work at the University of Wyoming, and developed parasitological expertise while completing his Ph.D. at Oklahoma State. His lab will focus on the parasitological diseases and conservation genomics of local Arkansas species.


Sikkel's Research Featured in Scientific American

Dr. Paul Sikkel

Research by Dr. Paul Sikkel, associate professor of aquatic biology, and associates has been featured in the latest edition of Scientific American. The magazine reported on their work referencing "storm-surfing parasites" documented during the 2017 hurricane season. Sikkel and his team have had their work published in several top publications in recent weeks, including Oceans, Marine Biology, Ecosphere and Scientific Reports. Details are online.

Artim's Goal is More Research for Undergrads

Dr. John Artim

Another new full-time faculty member this fall at A-State is Dr. John Artim, lecturer in biology. Most recently he taught in a temporary capacity. Before earning his Ph.D. in environmental sciences at A-State, he worked as a software engineer. His current research focuses on coastal marine ecology, and one of his goals in his new position is developing research projects involving his undergraduate students.


Lorence Researches Growth of Rice Grain

Dr. Argelia Lorence

Congratulations to Dr. Argelia Lorence, professor of metabolic engineering and Vaughn Professor in Science, who co-authored a major paper from a National Science Foundation research project. She and colleagues are examining the effects of heat stress on growth of rice. The team describes a gene that controls the size of rice grain under the stress of high nighttime temperatures. Their paper was published online in New Phytologist.


Lorence Co-Authors Vision for Plant Science

Dr. Argelia Lorence

Dr. Argelia Lorence, professor of metabolic engineering and James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Professor, was a member of the Plant Summit 2019 team that developed a vision for the advancement of plant science during the next decade in the United States. Their peer-reviewed paper is "Plant science decadal vision 2020-2030: Reimagining the potential of plants for a healthy and sustainable future." The abstract is online.

Boves' Study Gets Funding from Kays Board

Dr. Than Boves

A grant proposal by Dr. Than Boves, associate professor of wildlife ecology, has been approved by the Kays Foundation board. The $8,400 grant will support his project, “Uncovering the factors associated with host-switching of specialized parasites,” which is a study of one lineage of feather mites and a set of 50 closely related avian host species of warblers to examine how parasites can switch hosts or even species.

Bellis and Marsico are Co-Authors of Study

Dr. Travis Marsico

A study co-authored by Dr. Travis Marsico, professor of botany and associate chair, Biological Sciences, Dr. Emily Bellis, assistant professor of bioinformatics, Computer Science and Arkansas Biosciences Institute, and colleagues was published Monday in Scientific Reports. In the project with the U.S. Forest Service, the researchers found significant environmental risks associated with nonnative seeds that arrive in U.S. ports on refrigerated shipping containers. The article is online.

Neuman-Lee is PI for Science Foundation Grant

Dr. Lori Neuman-Lee

Dr. Lori Neuman-Lee, assistant professor of herpetology, is the principal investigator for a conference grant of $46,586 awarded by the National Science Foundation. Working with colleagues at Iowa State and Minnesota-Morris, the researchers will develop a workshop on improving diversity, equity and inclusion among professionals and students in the field of herpetology. The workshop will be next year during the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.


Sikkel Co-Authors Article on Fish Study

Dr. Paul Sikkel

Dr. Paul Sikkel, associate professor of aquatic biology, and three of his Ph.D. students, Matthew Nicholson and Gina Hendrick, A-State, and Andres Pagan, University of Porto, are co-authors of an article in Marine Biology. The researchers, who were studying damselfishes of the genus Stegastes, found that bacterial communities residing on the skin of these fishes were related to taxonomy, environment and ontogeny. Their results align with earlier analyses of the dynamics of fish skin microbiomes.

Teaching Award: Dr. Virginie Rolland

Dr. Virginie Rolland

Dr. Virginie Rolland, associate professor of quantitative wildlife ecology, College of Sciences and Mathematics, was named recipient of the Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching. Rolland, who came to A-State in 2011, earned her doctoral degree at the University of Paris VI. Also nominated for this award were Dr. Ryan Kelly, teacher education, and Amber Wooten, diagnostic medical sonography.

Faculty Co-Author Water Treatment Research

Dr. Hashim Ali

An article co-authored by Dr. Hashim Ali (left), associate professor of chemistry, Dr. Benjamin Rougeau, instructor of chemistry, and Mohd Kotaiba Abugazleh, Ph.D. student in Ali's lab, has been published in the Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering. Based on research Abugazleh conducted, their U.S. work introduces an alternate method for removing organic contaminants from wastewater, improving the quality of recycled water for general use.

Medina-Bolivar Receives Technology Patent

Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar

Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, professor of plant metabolic engineering, along with Dr. Tianhong Yang, a former molecular biosciences Ph.D. student, and a colleague from Indiana University have obtained a U.S. patent on “Stilbenoid prenyltransferases from plants.” With the protected technologies, bioactive compounds with potential benefits for human health can be produced in additional ways. The research was conducted at Arkansas Biosciences Institute with funding from USDA and ABI.


Izadyar is Conducting Biosensor Research

Dr. Anahita Izadyar

Dr. Anahita Izadyar, associate professor of chemistry, is principal investigator for a research project funded by Arkansas Biosciences Institute. The goal is development of a fast, sensitive and reliable biosensor for detecting glucose. She and her colleagues have introduced a novel enzymatic biosensor using recombinant plant-produced manganese peroxidase (PPMP), a corn enzyme produced in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Hood, co-PI.

Koizumi Writes Article on Electronegativity

Dr. Hideya Koizumi

Congratulations to Dr. Hideya Koizumi, associate professor of chemistry, who is author of an article that has been published in Chemical Physical Letters. Koizumi re-examined electronegativity introduced in the general chemistry course, using modern quantum mechanical methods. He concluded the power of an atom to attract electrons from hydrogen atoms to itself is quantified by direct computations. The article also is available online.

Boves and Students Research Bird Collisions

Dr. Than Boves

Dr. Than Boves, associate professor of wildlife ecology, is co-author of an patent article published in Conservation Biology. Researchers in three countries analyzed bird collisions into buildings, estimating almost a billion birds die annually as a result of flying into windows. Assisted by several A-State students, Boves and associates in Canada, Mexico and the United States gathered data to identify the species most at risk, along with habitat variables.

Bouldin and Cooper Lead in Aquatic Group

Dr. Jennifer Bouldin

Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, professor of environmental biology and director of the Ecotoxicology Research Facility, and Rebecca Cooper, research assistant at the facility, are founding members of the Aquatic Toxicology Testing Interest Group (ATTIG) within their professional group, the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. They are co-chairs for an ATTIG session at the annual SETAC meeting at Fort Worth in November. Bouldin also is on the SETAC planning committee.

Milad's Research Project Selected for Funding

Dr. Mohamed Milad

A proposal by Dr. Mohamed Milad, assistant professor of statistics, has been selected by the Faculty Research Awards Committee to receive support from the Faculty Research Fund. Milad's research project develops a parametric statistical approach for epigenetics, based on logistic regression to detect predefined deferentially methylated genes or regions. He will compare the performance of this approach with alternative methods.

McGregor Receives ACWHE Scholarship

Porsha McGregor

Congratulations to Porsha McGregor, academic coordinator, College of Sciences and Mathematics, who received an Arkansas Council for Women in Higher Education Scholarship for 2020. McGregor is completing a master's degree in psychological science at A-State. As coordinator, she assists sciences and mathematics majors, and also coordinates the college's ambassadors and tutoring center. A staff member since 2010, she serves on several shared governance committees.


Alam and Gilmore Report on New Antimicrobials

Dr. Mohammad A. Alam

Dr. M. Abrar Alam, associate professor of chemistry, and co-author Dr. David F. Gilmore, professor of microbiology, have had two manuscripts accepted describing the synthesis and antimicrobial properties of novel compounds. The articles, in Journal of Antibiotics and in Molecules, describe the synthesis and effectiveness of two families of pyrazole derivatives including compounds that are highly effective against drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Results are based on a patent awarded in March.

Izadyar to Review Green Chemistry Text

Dr. Anahita Izadyar

Dr. Anahita Izadyar, associate professor of chemistry, has been invited to review a textbook manuscript, Introduction to Green Chemistry, published by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. Izadyar developed a graduate-level green chemistry course in 2017 for Ph.D. and M.S. programs in environmental science. The interdisciplinary nature of the course helps students recognize how to apply principles and methods from one field to another.

Sikkel Studies Storms' Impact on Marine Life

Dr. Paul Sikkel

Dr. Paul Sikkel, associate professor of aquatic biology, is co-author of a paper in Scientific Reports documenting changes in population genetic structure of a marine parasite after back-to-back hurricanes. With National Science Foundation support, the study also examined the impact of major bleaching events in these same organisms on the Great Barrier Reef. The researchers are believed to be the first to document these effects on marine parasites.

Fluker is Co-Author of Genetic Diversity Study

Dr. Brook Fluker

Dr. Brook Fluker, associate professor of aquatic ecology, co-authored an article in Conservation Genetics with Brittany McCall, an environmental sciences Ph.D. researcher in his lab. This work, part of McCall’s research as a master's student in biology, describes genetic diversity of the Caddo Madtom, a species of catfish found only in the Ouachita River drainage in Arkansas. It is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Ahn's Research is Published in Math Journal

Dr. Jeongho Ahn

Congratulations to Dr. Jeongho Ahn, associate professor of mathematics, whose research has been published in the international Journal of Applied Mathematics and Physics. In the article, Ahn presents a mathematical and numerical analysis of a differential equation system that describes the motion of elastic buckling bodies with an irreversible growth of a symmetric edged crack. His article is now available online through Springer Nature.


Mullin is New Chair in Biological Sciences

Dr. Stephen Mullin

Welcome to Dr. Stephen J. Mullin, who becomes chair of Biological Sciences, effective July 1. Mullin completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, his master’s at the University of South Florida, and his Ph.D. at the University of Memphis. Since 2015, he has served as a professor and department chair at Stephen F. Austin State University. More details on Mullin and his research are online.

McKay Co-Authors Mosquito Research

Dr. Tanja McKay

Dr. Tanja McKay, professor of entomology and director of programs in environmental science and molecular biosciences, is co-author with her graduate student, Sofija Todorovic, of an article just published in Veterinary Parasitology. Based on research Todorovic conducted, their work examines how mosquitoes tend to aggregate at doorways, and their potential to transmit heartworm disease to animals. Todorovic is now in her second year of vet school.

Medina-Bolivar's Lab Research Published

Dr. Fabrico Medina-Bolivar

An article co-authored by Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, professor of plant metabolic engineering, was published in Molecules. The first authorship is shared by Medina-Bolivar’s research assistant Lingling Fang and former molecular biosciences student Dr. Tianhong Yang. Their online article describes an improved method for the production of prenylated stilbenoids, natureal products with applications in human health, in hairy root cultures of peanut and its wild relative species.


Marsico and Cunard Co-Author Biodiversity Research in PLOS One

Dr. Travis Marsico

Dr. Travis Marsico, professor of botany and interim department chair, Dr. Chelsea Cunard, postdoc researcher, and graduate student Jennifer Reed are co-authors of an article published in PLOS One. The researchers partnered with various federal, state and private interests to evaluate the floristic composition at the Garden City Terminal of the Port of Savannah in Georgia. They conducted the study to demonstrate the collaborative relationship building between researchers and industry, and to develop a framework for biodiversity conservation.

Schulz and Marsico Analyze Invasive Pests

Dr. Travis Marsico

Ashley N. Schulz, a Ph.D. candidate in the environmental sciences program, is lead author, and her adviser, Dr. Travis Marsico (left), professor of botany and interim department chair, is co-author of a paper that is published in the journal NeoBiota. Their research involved development of a standardized protocol and scale for aiding managers and policymakers with more consistently determining the impact of invasive non-native insects.


Lorence Elected to NAPPN Executive Board

Dr. Argelia Lorence

Dr. Argelia Lorence, James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Endowed Professor, and professor of metabolic engineering, was elected to serve on the executive board of the North American Plant Phenotyping Network (NAPPN) for 2021-22. NAPPN is an association of scientists and researchers in the rapidly evolving area of plant phenomics. Among its major goals, NAPPN seeks to accelerate the impact of advanced plant phenotyping research and facilitate research collaboration.


Carroll Recognized by NASA for Outreach

Dr. Ross Carroll

Dr. Ross Carroll, associate professor of physics, has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to serve as a Solar System Ambassador for 2020. JPL Ambassadors provide public engagement in space science and solar system exploration primarily through outreach events. Carroll, along with the Red Wolf Space Program student club, will hold a series of astronomy and astrophysics demonstrations at A-State and Northeast Arkansas.