Month: March 2020

UCO Biology Alumni Success: Joshua York

Joshua York (BS 2010, MS 2014) has successfully defended his PhD thesis in the Department of Biology at the University of Oklahoma. Josh’s thesis research involves groundbreaking developmental and genetic studies on the role of neutral crest cells in the evolution of vertebrate animals. His presentation and examination also broke new ground by being the first ever in the OU Biology Department conducted electronically.

Faculty Spotlight: Pam Rollins

Pam RollinsDr. Rollins currently serves as Professor, Assistant Chair, and Sarkeys Endowed Chair for the Department of Nursing at the University of Central Oklahoma. Areas of interest include public health, leadership, complex adaptive systems, community engagement, social/emotional intelligence, and experiential learning. Having retired from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) with 28½ years of service, Dr. Rollins served in a variety of state and county level leadership positions. She has been recognized at the state and national levels for professional activities, being named Oklahoma Nurse of the Year and receiving the AANP Award of Excellence. Since entering academia in 2012, Dr. Rollins has been actively involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, as well as the neuroscience of learning. Acknowledged by the University as a Most Distinguished Teacher-Scholar, a SOTL Scholar, and a Service-Learning Scholar, Dr. Rollins continues to strive for excellence in Transformative Learning, as well as continued involvement in Public Health practice. Dr. Rollins and a colleague received the 2017 Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the implementation of the “Making-a-Difference Capstone Project” for graduating seniors in the nursing department. Also, Dr. Rollins and Sadie, a trained therapy dog, serve the UCO Community as a member of the Broncho Barkers.

From the Desk of the Dean

Dean Wei R. ChenDear CMS Alumni and Friends,

Greetings from the Dean’s Office. I hope you had a great winter break and a wonderful holiday season.

Spring always brings us a new spirit and fresh ideas, and often new challenges. This spring, we are facing a crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic that affects our health, our lives, and our education. However, in Chinese, “crisis” is composed of two characters: “danger” and “opportunity”. The current crisis is not an exception. While we are preparing to face down the danger, we are also looking for opportunities to carry on our duties: producing needed STEM graduates. The CMS faculty and staff are working hard to prepare for alternative methods to deliver classes. Our faculty and students are resilient, resourceful, and dedicated. Nothing will defeat us. Please rest assured that our students will receive the education they deserve and they will graduate on time!

The heart and soul of the team that is always prepared to overcome any obstacles are our faculty. CMS has the best faculty in the country. I cannot brag enough about them. I would need to write a book in order to include all their achievements. Here I just want to mention a few wonderful people in our college.

Dr. David Bass, a 35-year veteran biology professor, was selected to receive the 2020 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence award. This is considered the highest award in public education. Dr. Bass was selected because of his dedication to teaching and mentoring students. He will receive a medal and a glass sculpture, “Roots and Wings”, designed by the late Oklahoma Artist Ron Roberts. His award will be sweetened by a $5,000 check.

In my nomination letter, I described Dr. Bass this way, “Even though Bass has been a professor at UCO for 35 years, he still works as if he were a green Ph.D. starting his first semester of teaching. He treats each class as a new adventure, constantly revising lecture notes, adding new content, and experimenting with new delivery approaches.” I am sure the faculty and students who know Dr. Bass would wholeheartedly agree with me.

More information can be found at the following websites:

Medal for Excellence Winners

I am also pleased to report to you that in the past five years, in addition to Dr. Bass, two other CMS professors have received this high honor: Dr. Wayne Lord, a professor with joint appointments in the UCO Forensic Science Institute and the Department of Biology (2019) and Dr. Bill Caire, a professor emeritus of the Department of Biology (2016). I am also certain that people in CMS and outside CMS would agree with me that we have many more professors who deserve this recognition.

I am looking forward to sharing more wonderful news in the near future.

Wei R. Chen, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Mathematics and Science

David Bass, Ph.D. Receives 2020 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching

David BassDr. David Bass, Professor of Biology, is the recipient of the 2020 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at Regional Universities and Community Colleges. Dr. Bass joined the Department of Biology at UCO in the fall of 1985. He is an internationally respected aquatic invertebrate biologist, who brings his vast real-world experience into the classroom to enrich the learning opportunities for his students. His passion and energy for teaching are clear to his students and we congratulate Dr. Bass on this well-deserved honor.

UCO Biology Alumnus Received 2019 PepsiCo Science Award

PepsiCo Science and Technology Award winnersDr. Toby FitzSimons, who worked with Dr. Bidlack on photovoltaic solar cells (MS from UCO in 2010) and went on to complete a PhD at the University of Arkansas, has been working as a Senior Research Scientist at PepsiCo after receiving his doctorate. Dr. FitzSimons recently received the 2019 PepsiCo Science Award and continues to impress the company. Pictured here (from left to right) are René Lammers (Chief Science Officer), Mac McWilliam (UK Manager), Patricia Ouimet (Senior Citrus R&D), Toby FitzSimons (Senior R&D Scientist), and Ramon Laguarta (PepsiCo CEO).

Dr. David von Minden to Retire in May

David von MindenDr. David von Minden has announced his intention to retire at the end of this semester. He has served the Department of Chemistry for 24 years. Dr. von Minden grew up in La Grange, Texas, which is about halfway between Austin and Houston. After earning his BS degree in Chemistry from Texas Tech University, he began his graduate work at the University of Nebraska. He worked in organic chemistry with a focus on mass spectrometry. After completing his PhD, he served in post-doctoral positions for four years. He then began a 19-year career in the Navy focusing on toxicology. After retiring from the Navy he worked a few years as a toxicologist for a medical laboratory. He Joined the UCO Chemistry Department in 1996, filling a need for more support for the Department’s forensic science program. Early in his career at UCO, Dr. von Minden served as faculty advisor for the Chemistry Club, and students were enthusiastic about his devotion to the club. Dr. von Minden also helped students create the Forensic Science Club, which includes both undergraduate and graduate students. He enjoyed cookouts with the clubs. Dr. von Minden also contributed his time to the UCO chapter of the American Association of University Professors, including serving a term as President. Dr. von Minden is well-known for his chili, which he would bring to cookouts and department and college potlucks. For a long time, he enjoyed gardening in his back yard, and often shared his plentiful chile peppers and heirloom tomatoes with his colleagues. In his classes, Dr. von Minden enjoyed including the history of chemistry in his General Chemistry lectures, so students understood the human side of the discipline. He would also try to convince promising students to switch their majors to chemistry, and a few students did switch because of this encouragement. Dr. von Minden reports that he spent more time at UCO than any other job, and he has lived in Edmond longer than he has anywhere else. He plans to remain in Edmond upon retiring, so if you are in the area he would be happy for you to contact him.