Halmos College Faculty Participates in ASBMB Virtual Conference on Online Teaching

This summer, Halmos College faculty member Santanu De, Ph.D. represented NSU in a one-day virtual conference on “Best practices in online teaching for BMB classrooms”. Organized by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Student Chapters, this Zoom meeting was attended by over 120 faculty from institutions across the world.

The purpose of this meeting was to provide direct access to experts in online teaching. There were presentations and discussions on topics such as synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid teaching along with virtual labs and assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is an international nonprofit scientific and educational organization. With over 11,000 members made up of students, researchers, educators and industry professionals, the ASBMB is one of the largest molecular life science societies in the world. Founded in 1906, the ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology and to promote the understanding of the molecular nature of life processes.

Halmos Student Wins Marine Industries Memorial Scholarship

This June, Halmos College marine science graduate student Marissa Mehlrose was awarded the Frank Herhold Memorial Scholarship from the Marine Industries of South Florida (MIASF). The award was recognized in the MIASF 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting and Awards Event on June 24.

In her second year as a master’s student, Marissa thesis research is on the shortfin Mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus). They are an extremely important apex predator within the ocean environment, but their popularity as a commercial and sport fish has resulted in severe population decline.  Her research will be the first to examine the Mako shark population structure in the Atlantic using whole mitogenome data, which will provide a far more comprehensive and accurate view of the population than previous sampling methods.

Created in 1961, MIASF is a not-for-profit trade organization focused on the sound growth of the marine industry for the benefit of its members and their customers, local communities, and the environment. MIASF is comprised of more than 500 members in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties and is the owner of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Skin Microbiome Could be Used as Evidence

When mapped to the environments we interact with daily, the 36 million microbial cells per hour that humans emit just from our skin leave a trail of evidence that can be leveraged for forensic analysis. A group of researchers, including Halmos College faculty member Jose Lopez, Ph.D., affiliate NSU professor George Duncan, Ph.D., collaborated with microbial ecologist principal investigator Jack Gilbert, Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego.  Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Justice (NIJ), the research applied 16S  rRNA gene markers to characterize how distinctive human skin microbiomes really were, and determine if they could identify individuals.

Besides researching if the skin microbiome could identify an individual, another question was asked: How long would the microbiome “signal” last at a potential crime scene? The team has now published a new paper in the journal, Forensics Science International, describing the NIJ study. They found that the human microbiomes of volunteer participants contain rare microbial taxa that can be combined to create unique microbial profiles. Using mock burglary data, it was possible to detect the correct burglars’ microbiota as having contributed to the invaded space of the residents. Unfortunately, the predictions appeared very weak in comparison to accepted forensic standards and therefore the 16S tools cannot be used as “as a reliable trace evidence standard for criminal investigations” at this time.

Halmos Undergraduate and Faculty Present at the American Astronomical Society

This June, Halmos faculty member Stefan Kautsch, Ph.D. and marine biology major and physics minor Kyle Hansotia virtually presented at the 236th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Kyle and Dr. Kautsch presented the concept of mass distribution in space and how to instruct students on the concept. In addition to the presentation, Dr. Kautsch served as a judge for the conference’s

Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards. This award is for an achievement in astronomical research made by research students. The key factor in deciding the recipient will be that the work contributes to the advancement of the science of astronomy. The award consists of the Chambliss medal.

The AAS was established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC. The membership of about 7,700 consists of individuals whose research and educational interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The society is the publisher of the Sky & Telescope magazine, as well as several scientific journals.



Halmos College Assistant Dean Co-edits Book for Springer

In Spring 2020, Springer – International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine released “Advances in Artificial Systems for Medicine and Education III”, co-edited by Halmos assistant dean and professor Matthew He, Ph.D.

This book discusses the latest advances in the development of artificial intelligence systems and their applications in various fields, from medicine and technology to education. It comprises papers presented at the Third International Conference of Artificial Intelligence, Medical Engineering, Education (AIMEE2019), held at the Mechanical Engineering Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, on 1–3 October 2019. Covering topics such as mathematics and biomathematics; medical approaches; and technological and educational approaches, it is intended for the growing number of specialists and students in this field, as well as other readers interested in discovering where artificial intelligence systems can be applied in the future.

Join The Marine Environmental Education Center Webinar Series, June 23

The Marine Environmental Education Center has always striven to bring the ocean to the classroom! In this Zoom webinar series, we will be collaborating with different marine scientists to cover a variety of environmental topics every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 p.m. These webinars are appropriate for students ages 10 and up, but all are welcome! Just click the link at the scheduled time to join.
Email us at meec@nova.edu with any questions!

Blacktip Shark Migration
Stephen Kajiura
June 23, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Professor Stephen Kajiura is proof that you can appreciate the ocean regardless of your location; his first encounter was during college! He currently works in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University, studying sharks. Join our webinar this week to learn about his research in Blacktip Shark Migration!
Link: https://nova.zoom.us/j/95899248883


Sharks 4 Kids
Jillian Morris
June 25, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

The Founder and President of Sharks 4 Kids, Jillian Morris, has spent thousands of hours in the field working and diving with sharks across the globe. She is a marine biologist, shark conservationist, scuba instructor and educator. Join this webinar to learn all about sharks
from a shark expert!
Link: https://nova.zoom.us/j/98751266799


Marine Invertebrates 
Alexa Annunziata
June 30, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm
Alexa is a Marine Conservation Biologist who worked in the Invertebrate Zoology Department at the Smithsonian. Join this week’s virtual field trip to learn all about the amazing marine invertebrates of the world and the critical role they play in our ecosystem!
Link: https://nova.zoom.us/j/93912998929


Rehabilitation at Gumbo Limbo
Whitney Crowder
July 2, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Whitney Crowder is a Sea Turtle Coordinator & Rehab Facility Marine Turtle Permit Holder and a Florida native with tons of turtle experience under her belt! She will be discussing sea turtle rehabilitation at Gumbo Limbo and the human impacts associated with their journey!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/94646895894


Sawfish Biology and Concervation
Dean Grubbs
July 7, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm
Dean Grubbs is the Associate Director of Research at FL State University Coastal/Marine Lab and the NOAA Office of Protected Resources’ Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team. He will be discussing his many years experience with the elusive sawfish!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/96654034029


Shark Morphology and Movement
Marianne Porter
July 9, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Marianne Porter is a Biology Sciences Professor at FAU with a specialty in shark biology and movement! Join this Zoom meeting to learn all about these apex predators and their specialized morphology that allows their efficient (and often deadly) movement!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/94242802127


Florida’s Hawksbill Turtles
Larry Wood, Ph.D.

July 14, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm
Dr. Wood’s lifelong interest in biology and reptiles fueled his career with sea turtles in Florida for over 25 years. He established the Comprehensive Florida Hawksbill Research and Conservation Program in 2004, the first and only long-term study of Hawksbills in Florida, and  is currently working with the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation.  Join this week’s Zoom to learn all about Florida’s Hawksbill Turtles!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/92538595792


Dolphin Biology and Concervation
Jessica Powell
July 16, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Jessica Powell was able to live in 11 different states or countries and attended 12 different schools while growing up, fostering a love of the ocean along the way! She began her career as a dolphin trainer at Mote Marine Laboratory and is currently a biologist with NOAA Fisheries.She will be discussing dolphin biology and conservation!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/99558125773


Manta Rays in Florida 
Jessica Pate
July 21, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm
Jessica Pate graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and FAU, then went on to pursue a career studying the amazing manta ray! Following this passion, she has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and has become a dive instructor! Join us to learn all about her research with manta rays!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/91445496729


Octopus Behavior and Biology
Chelsea Bennice
July 23, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Dr. Chelsea Bennice grew up in Ohio but has always loved the ocean and its animals. She is a Marine Biologist and the Assistant Director of ASCEND (a STEM education program) at Florida Atlantic University, as well as a scientific writer for the non-profit OctoNation. Join us this week to learn about the behavior of the amazing octopus!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/95689982577


The Big Turtle Year
George L. Heinrich
July 28, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

George is a field biologist and environmental educator specializing in Florida reptiles. His work currently focuses on the conservation of gopher tortoises at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, anthropogenic threats to diamondback terrapins, and distributional surveys of the Suwanee cooter. Join us this week to learn about The Big Turtle Year initiative to help conservation awareness!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/96136086425


2020 Sea Turtle Nesting Season
Curtis Slagle
July 30, 2020   1:00pm-2:00pm

Curtis Slagle is the current project manager and permit holder of the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program. In this Zoom, he will be recapping the 2020 Broward County sea turtle nesting season and discussing sea turtle conservation!
Zoom: https://nova.zoom.us/j/91815031235

Halmos Faculty Represents NSU at HAPS Annual Conference

This summer, Halmos college faculty member, Santanu De, Ph.D. represented NSU at the 2020 Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) Virtual Annual Conference. Organized by Pearson Education, a Zoom meeting at this conference consisted of Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) faculty from across the US. The topic of discussion was “Teaching A&P Online: time-saving strategies for effective instruction”.

The mission of HAPS is to promote excellence in the teaching of anatomy and physiology. HAPS is open to anyone interested in Anatomy & Physiology Education, and currently includes over 1,700 members from high schools, two- and four-year colleges, universities, and private businesses in the United States, Canada and throughout the rest of the world.

The annual HAPS national conference, regional conferences, the HAPS Educator and HAPS Institute courses provide members with an important means of updating their knowledge, improving technical/pedagogical skills, investigating new technologies for the laboratory/classroom, as well as networking with a growing international contingent of peers.


Honors College Students Present Family History Narratives at Virtual Class Symposium

This April, students in the honors seminar course Genetics and Genealogy presented their family history narratives in a virtual Class Symposium. As part of this course, students shared inspiring stories of survival, migrations, family traditions, and perseverance. Each student learned something new about their families and where they come from and how they have evolve.

The class research was twofold: students completed genetics studies showing their ancestral markers and also completed a genealogical research project to uncover historical records and other documents. These projects allow students to have a personal connection with historical events. Genetics and Genealogy is unique in that it is taught collaboratively from both a humanities and science perspective by professors James Doan, Ph.D. from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Emily Schmitt Lavin, Ph.D. from Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

In addition to these faculty members, the students collaborated with the Alvin Sherman Library to access genealogy resources. This was done with the help of Nora Quinlan, Director of Reference and Instruction. She created a genealogy library guide: https://nsufl.libguides.com/genealogy.

This course is offered through the Honors College under Dean, Don Rosenblum along with a variety of other unique course offerings: https://honors.nova.edu/honors/courses.html

Since the completion of the course, several of the  students have contributed their work to the NSU Works Genealogy Reports Site located at https://nsuworks.nova.edu/genealogy-reports/.

Halmos Undergraduates and Faculty Abstract Accepted in Chemical Symposium

This spring, undergraduates Brian Kim, Rohan Muchintala, Owayne Haughton, and their faculty advisors Santanu De, Ph.D. and Arthur Sikora, Ph.D. had their abstract “Novel assessment strategies for biochemistry courses using the research-based Biochemistry Authentic Student Inquiry Lab (BASIL) model” accepted by the South Florida Section American Chemical Society’s Chemical Sciences Symposium, 2020 organized by Larkin University, Miami, FL. Unfortunately, the symposium was cancelled due to COVID-19 shutdown.

Their abstract is as follows:

Recently, many academic units have started implementing Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) to increase student research opportunities. CUREs offer the key advantage of course integration that enables all students to participate in a research project, irrespective of economic or time constraints. A major obstacle hindering further expansion of CUREs centers around the design of assessments. Designing more effective content and assessment tools for this growing group of courses presents unique challenges. New adopters often struggle with important pedagogical decisions while shifting from traditional cookbook biochemistry labs featuring predetermined answers to ones that focus on student-driven discovery demonstrating the scientific method. Nova Southeastern University recently implemented a CURE-based laboratory course using the discovery-based BASIL (Biochemistry Authentic Student Inquiry Lab) model. Students hypothesize and test functions of enzymes with no known function, through wet-lab and computational approaches. Using established Anticipated Learning Outcomes (ALOs) established for BASIL, specific assessment questions were created. Likert scale analysis was employed to analyze responses from students enrolled in the biochemistry course to determine mastery of the ALOs. Identification of deficiencies in understanding permits targeted intervention using lab procedure changes and assessment optimization. The complex nature of ALOs frequently demand diverse assessment design. While assessment tools were tailored according to the varied ALO statements, interesting patterns were observed. Student responses indicated notable improvement in comprehension of bioinformatic concepts by the semester’s end. Several ALOs were detected as areas requiring improvement. This allowed for better designs of experimentation, questionnaire and explanation. Understanding the fundamental problems students face when first entering research will help attract more talented students from diverse backgrounds to vital chemistry/biochemistry courses. This preliminary study can expose undergraduate students to the experience of participation in a research project, guide the transition of ALOs to VLOs (Verified Learning Outcomes), and lead to novel assessment strategies towards standardized adoption of CUREs across educational institutions and curricula, potentially transforming the way chemical sciences are taught. The BASIL project is funded by NSF IUSE 1503811 and 1709170.



NSU Faculty Research Concierge Health Care Service

NSU associate professors Louis Nemzer, PhD of The Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography and Florence Neymotin, PhD of The H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship teamed up to study concierge doctors using machine learning. Concierge care in the United States represents an important part of the rapidly increasing “Velvet Rope Economy,” in which premium service is available for the privileged few prepared to pay a hefty price. Similar to the system of first class on airplanes or box suites at a football game, instead of a regular practice, these physicians charge large annual retainers. In return, patients can get priority attention with less time spent in waiting rooms. The use of machine learning methods in Economics is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the field of health care, which has huge amounts of data waiting to be analyzed. For this project, the faculty members scraped thousands of patients reviews from the website healthgrades.com and performed a machine learning sematic analysis to determine which words were most associated with concierge doctors in California and Florida, as compared with conventional family or internal medicine physicians. They found that technical words, like “staff,” and “diagnosis” are more likely to be on the minds of consumers of concierge care, who are paying for rapid access. In contrast, patients of conventional doctors mentioned “concerns” and “listen”, which show a greater concern for bedside manner. The work is published in Health Economics, which is classified as a first-tier journal by the Harzing Journal Quality List. Future work may include extending these semantic analysis methods to other online feedback sites.

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