Faculty Research

Faculty Proposals

Submitted Spring 2006

Dr. Sharon Young Prof. Dennis Siegfried Prof. Mark Winslow

Dr. D. Ed Neuenschwander Dr. Kenny Wantz Dr. Daryl Cox

Research Report and Proposal to Catalysts

February 2006

Dr. Sharon Young

Thank you for supporting my work on the insect collection in Costa Rica over the past three years. Your donations have provided equipment and supplies that enabled students, colleagues and I to assemble a permanent collection of which we can be proud. The Chacon’s Ecotourism business and the QERC attract a large number of scientists from around the world and many of them visit the QERC lab and museum. The insect collection is the most visible and permanent evidence of all the projects done there. To the extent that it is well preserved and meets standard conventions, it lends credibility to our facility.

Catalyst-funded insect equipment is stored in a large locked trunk and we can set up our lab and start pinning and drying insects on the day we arrive. The six Cornell museum display cases purchased with your grant are filled. The specimens from last year’s trips have used up the remaining space. We are in critical need of additional storage boxes.* There are many more species yet to be collected. There are not many duplicate specimens -- this supports the ecological principle that near the equator there are more species and smaller populations of each. Also we have a policy of not killing more individuals than necessary.

One of the goals of my original proposal was to produce a photographic field guide to the insects of QERC and San Gerardo de Dota. Two years ago, I showed Catalysts a large number of photographs of pinned insects. I believe we can do better by using digital images of live specimens. Additionally faculty and students can use digital photos for power point presentations to scientific meetings. Dr. Wes Hanson has become an excellent photographer. One of his pictures is included in the last years OKC Zoo calendar; and several of his high resolution digital photographs of animals are now hanging in the Biology Department. I hope that Dr. Hanson and some of the students will become involved in the photographic field guide project. Sam Bader who is also an excellent photographer may also return to Costa Rica this summer after his graduation from our Environmental Science program. Thank you for the lap top computer you funded last year. It was very useful in indexing previous research papers done at QERC. My own attempts at digital photography last month (January 2006) were not as successful as I had hoped, but I did document the problems we are having with controlling mold in the humid environment. I and others will continue to make good use of the laptop computer purchased with Catalyst funding. The laptop is used both in Costa Rica and for student labs on the Bethany campus.

We are much in need of a room size de-humidifier. The silica gel that I dehydrate and replace in the insect trays can not alone prevent mold. Some of our best specimens were ruined between June and December, 2005. A set of moths and butterflies collected by the Micah Warners, son of sabbatical resident researcher Dr. David Warners had no mold, but was damaged by dermestids and psocid insects. To successfully preserve the insect collection in the cloud forest environment, we need an air-tight Cornell cabinet and 7 additional closed Cornell cases which can be treated for invading live insects, and also de-humidified ambient air.

Quote from last year’s request:

“In the future it would be helpful to have a one-room dehumidifier, a better dryer, and a small freezer.”

We have been able to purchase a very small freezer that will suffice for a professor and a few students using it at the same time. The improvised dryer (light bulbs with grommets in canvas over a wooden frame) will work unless we set the building on fire.


Research Proposal to Catalysts

Dennis Siegfried

Department of Biology

The role of Geological Information Systems (GIS) in the Biological sciences has become a major development within the last 5 years. Part of that development has been the use of hand-held Geographical Positioning System (GPS) units. These units allow researchers to take spatial data that can be incorporated into a GIS database to account for spatial variability. However, a limitation of these units has been their inability to effectively receive a signal through foliage. Traditionally, additional antennas were used that went above the foliage.

At the Quetzal Educational Research Center (QERC) most species of birds, including the resplendent quetzal, nest and or feed under canopy. Since the canopy in the mature cloud forest reaches a height of 30-40 m, additional antenna length is impractical. This makes it very difficult to accurately map the location of nest sites and some feeding stations. These sites are necessary to assess the development of the population of nesting birds at the QERC.

As the Environmental Studies program develops, students will need to be comfortable using GPS units and transferring data from them to GIS. Most employers are looking for candidates that have both GIS and GPS experience. As part of the program development in both of these areas will be a requirement.

Garmin Ltd. has developed a GPS unit that can receive a signal under canopy. The GPSMAP 60CSx is designed for rugged conditions and wet environments. It also allows the user to store locations on a micro-SD card so that information can be easily uploaded to a GIS.


Research Report and Proposal to Catalysts

Mark Winslow

Department of Physics

Many thanks to the Catalyst donors for their support of my research work this past year. I’ve been working with Jody Bowie, a Science Education Major in retooling an astronomy planetarium lab manual. We are updating the labs to work with current software and make the exercises more versatile for any location in the US rather than only at OKC. The Catalysts grant supported purchase of the new software. Jody and I plan to present our work at a National Science Teachers Association meeting in December. The title of our presentation is “Teaching the Nature of Science through Astronomy” in keeping with the theme of the conference.

I’m continuing my doctoral dissertation work in Science Education at Kansas State University. My research centers on studying how Christian college students assimilate evolution into their beliefs system. Funding from Catalysts allowed me to purchase research materials and attend a conference entitled “Views of Creation and Evolution” at the University of Oklahoma in October. Continued funding in the coming year will enable me to attend conferences and carry on my research work. Thanks once again for your support.


Catalysts Proposal

Dwight E. Neuenschwander, Department of Physics

February 4, 2006

The encouragement of The Catalysts offers a beautiful model of university faculty sustainability, one that we deeply appreciate. SNU may be small in size but your support helps us remain large in our thinking. May I express 106 thanks.

Your support in 2005 included these two projects, on which I offer this report:

* A history of modern cosmology, beginning with Albert Einstein’s 1917 application of General Relativity to the cosmos, which triggered a discussion that let to Edwin Hubble’s 1929 discovery of the expansion of the universe. Especially intriguing is the historical role of Einstein’s “cosmological constant,” which has resurfaced since 1998 as the enigma of “dark energy.” A working draft on the full range of these topics now exists, and will be completed in a 30-page version by this summer. That version will be published as a series of four articles, in installments, in The SPS Observer, published for the Society of Physics Students by the American Institute of Physics, starting next fall. This project also appears destined to expand into a larger work.

* A curriculum tracing analogous and concurrent developments in art and physics. This project was completed in the fall, with its most visible product a PowerPoint presentation, already delivered by invitation last semester to two Fine Arts courses (with standing invitations to return), as well as presented in “Science, Technology, and Society” classes. The premiere presentation was delivered, with pride and pleasure, at the Catalyst Luncheon of Homecoming 2005.

For 2006

I call your attention to our determination to make Southern Nazarene University a serious player in teaching of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to undergraduates.

It has been often observed that it takes about a century for cutting-edge physics research to percolate into a regular feature of the undergraduate curriculum. This is now happening with General Relativity, and SNU has been among those universities showing how to do it.

Beginning in the late 1980’s, we have taught a course in GTR under the course heading “PHYS 3191-Selected Topics in Physics: General Relativity.” Beginning with the 2000 catalog this course was expanded into

PHYS 4311-2 General Relativity (1-2 hours)

A rigorous introduction to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Review of Special Relativity and Minkowski spacetime; the metric tensor; covariant and contravariant tensors; the affine connection and covariant derivatives; the Principle of Equivalence, Principle of General Covariance; the Riemann and Ricci curvature tensors; Einstein’s field equations. Applications to gravitational red shift; deflection of starlight by the Sun, precession of perihelion, the Schwarzschild metric, cosmology. With the second credit hour, we also examine gravity waves, Kerr metrics, stellar collapse and black holes. Spring semester, alternate years. PREREQUISITES: General Physics for Scientists & Engineers II (PHYS 2214) and Calculus III (MATH 3164).

This year PHYS 4322 will be offered in the fall 2006 semester, because a Selected Topics course this spring features a GR subject preliminary to it: “PHYS 3191-Selected Topics in Physics: Black Holes.”

We now have a cadre of students keenly interested in GR, and for a specific focus are putting together a research program on the gravitational field produced by an electrically charged, spherically symmetric, rotating body. The product of this work may be publications with student authors, but it will certainly include presentations at regional and/or national meetings.

Towards these ends I have some contacts with colleagues in Oklahoma and Texas who can serve as sounding boards for ideas.

I have also been invited to attend an American Association of Physics Teachers Topical Conference this summer, called “Teaching General Relativity to Undergraduates,” at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, July 20-21, 2006. The organizer is Charles Holbrow of Colgate University. Commenting on my Black Holes and General Relativity courses, and our track record here with alumni and publications, Professor Holbrow told me on January 26 of this year, “Clearly you can be a valuable contributor and I hope you will come.”

Respectfully submitted,

Dwight E. Neuenschwander, Department of Physics


Catalyst Report & Proposal

Kenneth L. Wantz

February 2006

In February 2004, Catalyst generously provided a $600 award to enable me to remain engaged in mathematical research. This award and a similar award in 2000 have been valuable in helping me meet my research goals over the last six years. Since my last Catalyst award I have had an additional source of funding to assist me in these endeavors. This substantial award came from the Oklahoma NASA Space Grant Consortium in recognition of my labors on their behalf. I mention it due to its effect on the way in which I have used Catalyst funds.

Since 2004, I have used less Catalyst funds for travel expenses to do collaborative research. This is partially due to the fact that the NASA grant funded an extended research trip. In the future, I would like to use more Catalyst funds on such collaborative efforts.

Since my last report this work resulted in one published journal article coauthored with Dr. Ron Baker of Charleston, West Virginia which appeared December 2005. My current research stems from an SNU senior research project of a former student now at the University of Arkansas. Funds will be used to continue contact with this individual, as well as Ron Baker. A similar research project involving a current SNU junior has just begun, but it is not yet clear how Catalyst funds will be of assistance.

In 2004, Catalyst funds made it possible to complete the purchase of a laptop computer which was partially funded by the NASA grant and a Math department donor. This equipment has been very useful in providing for personal and departmental needs, including research needs.

Within the past year, I have attempted to use Catalyst funds to acquire mathematics texts which are important to my research. Unfortunately, my attempts have not yet been successful, as many are out of print. My goal is to renew these efforts. I also want to explore the idea of using funding to gain access to online journal resources. Finally, I continue to benefit from the use of these funds to purchase copies of reference materials from OU Mathematics Library.

I gratefully acknowledge Catalyst's support of these endeavors on each occasion that it is utilized.


End Report for Catalyst Funds 2005-2006

Principal Investigator: Daryl G. Cox

During the 2004-2005 school year 4-6 students are involved in the following research projects:

1) the isolation of cholesterol esterase,

2) the synthesis of cholesteryl furylacrylate ester derivatives

3) development of a method for detecting the cholesteryl furylacrylate ester derivatives using HPLC

This year has been a very productive year. We had a major set-back in that the resin used to isolate our enzyme is not longer available. This required Keith and Bryan (both seniors) to modify our isolation procedure. They almost have it working without problems. The synthesis of cholesteryl esters using the new DCC method has worked well for the sophomores Bethany and Stephen. They are now completing a method to purify the product. Terrance (sophomore) and Lucas (junior) are just starting to work on the HPLC method.

Undergraduate Research Proposal - Catalyst Funds 2006-2007

Continued The Development Of A Non-Radioactive Assay

Principal Investigator: Daryl G. Cox

The research funds needed for the 2006-2007 school year will be used to purchase the items listed below:

1) Supplies and reagents

2) HPLC column

With the isolation of significant quantities of CEase we plan to continue to develop our physiological relevant spectrophotometric assay. Our preliminary studies with the water-insoluble substrate, cholesteryl furylacrylate, incorporated into an egg phosphatidyl choline vesicle, show that the maximum difference in extinction coefficient between the ester and the furylacrylate anion occurs at 303 nm. This cholesterol esterase catalyzed hydrolysis reaction, monitored at 303 nm, is linear over a five-fold enzyme concentration range.

The aim of this proposal is three fold.

1) to continue to develop our spectrophotometric assay,

2) to synthesize cholesteryl derivatives of the furylacrylate esters and

3) to develop an HPLC method for the detection of our newly synthesize esters. This method will be quite tricky to develop because of the lack of chromophores in some of the reactants.

More and more of our students are asking to be involved in research so that they can be competitive when applying to graduate school or MD PhD programs. The continued support of Catalysts is very important in maintaining student involvement in research on campus.