May 2010 - Vol 1, Issue 1
In This Issue
Program Highlight
Department Happenings
Alumni News
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Dean Rogerson                                                            Assoc. Dean Harmsen

Welcome to the first issue of our electronic newsletter - with its highly imaginative title 'The Newsletter' (we are willing to change this and suggestions are welcome!).  We shall send this out every three months to inform you about happenings within the College of Science and Mathematics at Fresno State. We also invite you to send information our way - any news you would like to share with our alumni, emeriti and friends. In this way we aim to stay connected with all who have an interest in the College. In this edition we showcase alumnus Diane Anderson (class of 1976) but we welcome future news or comments from recently retired graduates or faculty as well as friends of the College.
I am about to enter third year as Dean at California State University, Fresno. I am helped by my experienced Associate Dean, Fraka Harmsen, who has been at the University for 25 years. Much has changed within the last decade and for the College a major challenge is to ensure our graduates have the skill sets to succeed in tomorrow's technology-rich workplace.  We are committed to building a content-focused curriculum to provide students with the most knowledge and highest level of skill in occupationally important areas. To do this we must achieve two goals: (1) provide  ample opportunities for undergraduate student to have a hands-on research experience in the laboratory or in the field and (2) build our research graduate programs.
The value of university research to the nation is enormous and the benefit to students is without question. As such, the College has added 44 outstanding new faculty members in the past five years who are all committed to establishing productive research laboratories involving students. Last academic year the College generated $4.8 million in external grants and contracts and in just 6 months of the current year we have reached $4.3 million. To facilitate research success, the College recognizes the advantages of interdisciplinary research and has established several Centers or areas of emphasis.  

Several faculty from across the College and University are involved in biomedical research focusing on, for example, breast cancer and asthma. The biomedical facility is the consequence of a RIMI (Research Infrastructure for Minority Institutions) award of $4.5 million from National Institute of Health to promote biomedical research and address health disparity in the region.
The Central California Autism Center provides Fresno students with training and experience in behavioral treatment for children with autism. The Center conducts research in autism and provides the community with outstanding behavioral therapy options.
The Science and Mathematics Education Center provides workshops, funds projects, and offers scholarships and research experiences all designed to improve the quality of science and mathematics education in our regional schools.
The High Energy Physics group studies the properties of the most fundamental constituents of matter using accelerator based experiments. Fresno State is the only CSU member involved with the ATLAS program housed at the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility, Switzerland. Typically, 5 students are involved in summer research programs at CERN each year.
The Forensic Biotechnology Institute has recently secured donated space from APPL Laboratories in Clovis and is offering a research experience to students interested in molecular forensics.
The Central California Analytical Facility continues to provide centralized analytical instrumentation to support ongoing research within the College.
The Institute of Climate Change, Oceans and Atmosphere (ICCOA) is a partner on a $12.6 million dollar grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to study a range of topics such as air quality, satellite technology, and climate change. The Institute recently partnered with the City of Fresno to produce the first comprehensive document on the implications of climate change on agriculture, water, air quality, and energy on the Fresno region.
Andrew Rogerson,                                         Fraka Harmsen
Dean and Professor of Biology                    Assoc. Dean and 
                                                           Professor of Geology

For further information on the Dean and Associate Dean please go to the College of Science and Mathematics website
Program Highlight
Fresno State wins $1.4 million grant for geosciences
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.4 million grant to California State University Fresno for a project to increase diversity within the academic disciplines that make up the geosciences, including geology, environmental science, hydrology, air quality and atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, and climatology.

The grant has created the Geoscience Mentoring, Education, Teaching Research and Outreach (METRO) Center at Fresno State. Fresno State Associate professor of Chemistry, Dr. Alam Hasson, is directing the project. The center will involve faculty members from three departments at Fresno State (Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, and Geography) and two community colleges (Fresno City College and Reedley College).
The center is providing research opportunities within Fresno State Geoscience research laboratories to undergraduate students. They also receive intensive mentoring and career guidance to prepare them for graduate study and the workforce. The center provides education and training resources to K-12 teachers and students. Fifteen METRO students are currently working within the Center, which will be built up to its capacity of 24 students by Fall 2010.

The grant is just one example of a concerted effort across campus to address issues in the geosciences. The university has hired a number of new faculty members in this area in recent years, and the newly-formed Institute of Climate Change, Oceans and Atmosphere has been working to help coordinate research and educational efforts in climate change, oceanography and atmospheric science.

The METRO Center is currently accepting applications for the Fall semester. Application forms and more information can be found at:Geosciences Metro Center

Department Happenings


The 2009-10 Biology Colloquium meets every Friday at 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM in Science II, Room 109.
Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of National Center of Science Education recently presented on "Why the Fuss about Darwin and Evolution." Dr. Scott is best known for championing the teaching of evolution in the United States and for providing leadership to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The National Academy of Sciences recently selected Dr. Scott to receive its most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal, awarded annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good. The Consortium for Evolutionary Studies at Fresno State presented this special lecture as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", sponsored by the Tri-Beta Biology Honors Club, the Noyce Scholars Program, the Natural Sciences Student Club, and Associated Students Inc.
The Department of Biology, Consortium for Evolutionary Studies and Tri-Beta Biology Honors Club also hosted UC San Diego protein chemist, evolutionary biologist, and member of the National Academy of Science, Dr. Russell Doolittle. Dr. Doolittle addressed the Colloquium on Step-by-Step Evolution of Vertebrate Blood Coagulation.
In other news:
Biology faculty member, Dr. Larry Riley received a grant from the US Department of Agriculture, Endocrine Control of Appetite and Growth during Stress in the Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). Tilapia is an increasingly important aquaculture fish species worldwide and in the US, and Dr. Riley's research will be of significant value to aquaculture in this species with regard to their stress, appetite and growth.



Forensic Student Wins National Award
The Society for Wildlife Forensic Sciences (SWFS) recently named Michael Gonzalez, our first Hispanic forensic student, recipient of the 2010 student prize for outstanding work in the wildlife forensic sciences. Mike shares this award with a Ph.D. student in bioinformatics at the Medical University of South Carolina. As you may know, the FBI sponsored the presentation of Mike's work at an international symposium in Florida this past summer. Mike will receive a monetary award and an invitation to present his work at the inaugural meeting of the Society in Oregon this coming April. The following statement was issued by the Deputy Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory to Society membership about Mike's work:

"Michael V. Gonzalez, Masters student at California State University, Fresno, is developing a computerized hair database for class characters analysis which began in September of 2008 with hair specimens from the collection of the Biology Department at California State University, Fresno. Currently, the database includes over 200 species of mammals from all over the world. The results of this pilot work were presented at the Trace Evidence Symposium in Florida held in the summer of 2009. The goal for this computerized on-line database is to ultimately contain over 2,000 mammal specimens and to provide a valuable digital resource for researchers and forensic investigators."

In other news:
The president of our Chemistry Club,  Steven Chabolla, has won one of 15 National Awards for Leadership awarded nationally by The American Chemical Society. The award provided a stipend to attend a special conference in Fort Worth in January, where he got to meet the Past President, current president, and president elect of the American Chemical Society, which is the world's largest scientific society.


Computer Science

2009 Comp-X Summer Camp

This is the second year that this Computer Exploration (Comp-X) Summer Camp in Robotics has been offered by the Department of Computer Science. A group of students between 12-17 years old had the experience to learn more how to build a robot, create the code that operates the robot, as well as demonstrate it to others. The camp was organized as half-day sessions for the month of July. Students were equipped with Lego® MINDSTORMS® NXT style robotic kits and desktops. Robot construction and graphical language as well as programming languages was introduced along with individual (e.g., Balloon Buster) and team (e.g., Simon Says via a wireless network) robotic projects. The ultimate goal was to motivate students' interest in Computer Science by establishing creative robots and realizing entertaining projects step by step. more details


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Students, Professors presented at National Geological ConferenceGSA Photo
Professors and students from the California State University, Fresno Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences presented 25 papers at the Geological Society of America's (GSA) annual conference in Portland, Oregon.

The papers, 15 of which were co-authored by students, were presented and then published by the GSA. Topics included the importance of water in the Central Valley, Fresno's air quality, earthquakes in California and the formation of Yosemite National Park.

Once published by GSA, the papers can be picked up by the world's industry-related journals.

"This is a great opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students to attend the conference, meet professionals in the field, present their hard work and get published," said Dr. Fraka Harmsen, associate dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Harmsen said the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences has made an effort to encourage more published work and research by undergraduate students.

"When students get the chance to present their work, they are finally able to see the outcome of all their efforts," said Harmsen. "We strongly believe in giving undergraduates research opportunities that will allow them to learn and grow in the field."

In other news:

Dr. John Suen was named Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Kerry Ford and Sue Bratcher led another successful 4-day EES 3 field trip to Mono Lake and Mammoth Mountain for 50 students. Even the snow did not cool the spirits of the students.


The Department of Mathematics is committed to meeting the needs of students in the University with high quality mathematics education. The faculty are actively involved in research and grant writing.

Their service component includes remedial mathematics courses, general education courses and several courses for Liberal Studies majors. The Department has more than 200 undergraduate mathematics majors and is now offering an undergraduate research experience.

Single Subject Credential Program (recently approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing) is producing more than 20 highly qualified mathematics teachers per year.

The Master's Program is offering two degrees to an increasing graduate student population: the traditional track and the teaching option. The NOYCE Foundation's grant is a great opportunity for students who wish to enroll simultaneously in the Master's Program and the Credential Program.



The 2008-2009 academic year was a busy and productive one for the Department of Physics. Dr. Yongsheng Gao, the leader of the physics departments high energy particle physics program, was awarded a National Science Foundation EPP grant of $460,000 to fund his work on the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Gao has also been building a CSU wide high energy physics consortium with the aim of sending students from around the CSU to Geneva during the summer to carry out research on the ATLAS experiment. Last summer Dr. Gao sent 5 students to Geneva - 4 from Fresno and one from Sacramento State University.

Last year also saw the acceptance of the Medical Physics program, headed by Drs. Amir Huda and Charles Tenney, as an official major at Fresno State. The Medical Physics program is the first undergraduate program of its type in the country and has been supported through a $600,000 grant from National Institute of Health (NIH).

The department's condensed matter program had an active year. Dr. Pei-Chun Ho received her funds from the Research Corporation Grant to do research work on exotic superconductors.  Two of Dr. Ho's students - Dulce Romero and Ulises Urbina - gave talks on their research work with Dr. Ho at the APS CA-section meeting in Monterey this past October.

Dr. Steve White continued to do an outstanding job in the area of outreach through his running of the Downing Planetarium and Downing Museum, both of which had daily visits by grade school and high school students for planetarium shows and museum tours.

Dr. Fred Ringwald established the Sierra Remote Observatory which is a remotely controlled research observatory in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. For examples of work by Dr.Ringwald and students go to




Dr. Matthew J. Sharps recently released his new book, Processing Under Pressure, Stress, Memory and Decision-Making in Law enforcement, from Looseleaf Law Publications.  Written in plain, accessible language, this book should be of interest to officers, commanders, attorneys, scholars, and anyone else involved in the worlds of law enforcement or forensic psychology.

News from Alumni, Emeriti and Friends

Diane Anderson, a graduate from the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science and Mathematics, is President and founder of APPL Inc (Agriculture & Priority Pollutants Laboratories). Located in a 20,000 square foot complex in Clovis, California, APPL, Inc. is an analytical chemistry laboratory with over 25 years of experience with a variety of projects, including remedial investigations, well monitoring, drinking water analysis, irrigation runoff, and wastewater treatment plant influent/effluent analysis.

Ms. Anderson graduated in 1976 prior to the proliferation of personal computers.  "Fresno State taught me critical problem solving techniques that I have used throughout my career.  I have the ability to solve problems that did not exist 30 years ago due to the skills I learned in the College of Math and Science.  Computers were not widely used then but the basics were known and taught to us by the professors.  The professors were well prepared and well read.  We learned from books and in the laboratories but also from the examples set by the instructors.  This information was easily transferred to the outside world after graduation.  I am very proud to say I am a Fresno State graduate."

 In October 2006, APPL Inc. was awarded the 2006 Central California Excellence in Business Award, and in late 2009 the company became the first Laboratory accredited by ACLASS for the Department of Defense (DoD) Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP). APPL, Inc. has a staff of over 55 employees, many of whom are graduates from the College of Science and Mathematics. more info

Centennial CelebrationCentLogo

Fresno State launched its Centennial celebration on Friday, April 16, with a proclamation and then with hundreds of students, staff, faculty, alumni and future alumni forgoing lunch to gather in the campus amphitheater for a birthday photo op.

The festivities - part of the kickoff of the annual Vintage Days at Fresno State - are an invitation to the community and alumni to return to campus during the 13 months until the 100th Commencement in May 2011 to celebrate at one of numerous events planned for the Centennial.  More information will follow soon.