Faculty Research: Dr. Suresh Sharma

Dr. SharmaDr. Suresh Sharma is a faculty in Civil and Environmental Engineering at YSU. He is originally from Nepal. He worked as a Civil Engineer in Nepal government before deciding to come to the United States for his PhD at Auburn University in 2008. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue University before joining the faculty position at YSU in 2013.

Recently, Dr. Sharma, in collaboration with City of Mentor and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, has received a gracious grant from the EPA. The grant was given to him because of his research with the Mentor Marsh. The Mentor Marsh watershed, along the Lake Erie coastline, has the potential for future economic development via eco-tourism related activities, which have strong and positive impacts on the local economy.

“In 2016, we established the monitoring stations from the upland watershed with some grant support from the Ohio Sea Grant and Lake Erie Protection Fund. However, this study was conducted in the upstream tributaries using two monitoring stations, which only provides some basic information from the upland sub-watersheds,” said Dr. Sharma. “Therefore, additional monitoring stations were needed in the Mentor Marsh, especially in the downstream region, to develop a separate hydrodynamic model for the complete investigation of salinity inputs within this watershed. We wrote a proposal to EPA to establish nine (9) additional monitoring stations and couple a watershed model with a hydrodynamic model to fully understand the salinity intrusion mechanism in Mentor Marsh.”

The grant from the EPA was, in total, $187, 959 for three years. In terms of using the grant, Dr. Sharma and his team will be monitoring the additional sites that were added to the Lake Erie coast. They will also be recording the stage of the stream and developing models. With the addition of more sites, Dr. Sharma will be adding new students to his research team after reviewing various applications from interested candidates.

Aside from his research, Dr. Sharma is also the faculty advisor for the Nepali Student Organization on campus. The organization was created to help Nepali students become used to the multi-cultural setting at YSU. There are currently about 40 students in the organization. To learn more about his research and involvement at YSU, please take a look at his website http://ssharma06.people.ysu.edu/. To find out more about the Nepali Student Organization, contact the club President, Romit Thapa at rthapa@student.ysu.edu.

Faculty Faction: Joshua Blackann

Mr. BlackannMr. Joshua Blackann is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology at YSU. He is originally from the Austintown area. He received a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from YSU and then used his degree in the workforce for several years before coming back to YSU to complete his Master’s degree in 2011.

His first industry job was at Canfield Connector in Boardman, Ohio.  His main job was to integrate micro-controllers so the company could stop using various discrete parts to create their products. Blackann worked at Canfield Connector for five years before he was hired at Turning Technologies in downtown Youngstown. Here, he helped develop clickers for academic uses and audience responses. Blackann designed the electronics for the clickers and also helped develop the software that made them operate. After working at Turning Technologies, Blackann found an open teaching position at YSU and was hired.

Blackann decided to teach at YSU because of his own experience as a student and how hands-on the engineering technology program currently is. When he was in the electrical engineering program, he saw that there was not much focus on micro-controllers and he felt as though they have increasing importance in his field. Blackann wanted more students to learn about them and he wanted to be able to convey the knowledge and experience he obtained from his years in the workforce to his students.

Currently, Blackann is teaching Electronics 2, where students learn about various electrical components, and Microprocessor Technology, where students learn about coding.

“I feel very welcome at YSU. My fellow colleagues have been very helpful when it comes to content for my courses and advice for tests and lectures,” said Blackann.

Students may contact Mr. Blackann by emailing him at jablackann@ysu.edu or visit him in his office.

In his free time, Blackann enjoys various outdoor activities like snowboarding, biking, and running. Running helps him deal with stress and shut off his brain from the work day and relax.

Recent Publication: Engineering Group

Title: “3D Printed Smart Molds for Sand Casting”

Authors: Jason Walker, Evan Harris, Charles Lynagh, Andrea Beck, Rich Lonardo, Brian Vuksanovich, Jerry Thiel, Kirk Rogers, Brett Conner, Eric MacDonald

Date Published: February 15, 2018



Additive manufacturing, also commonly referred to as 3D printing, stands to transform sand casting with binder jetting technology that can create sand molds with unmatched geometric complexity. With printed sand molds, castings can be optimized with regard to the strength-versus-weight trade-off and structures such as periodic lattices are now available within molds that are not possible with traditional casting technology. However, an increase in design complexity invites more challenges in terms of understanding and managing both the thermodynamics and physics of the casting process. Simulations of castings are more important than ever, and empirical in situ sensor data are required to validate high fidelity computer modeling (e.g., MAGMASOFT®). One novel solution is to leverage the design freedom of CAD-based solid modeling to introduce unique mold features specifically for housing sensors (Internet of Things) within the mold to enable the collection of a diversity of data at manifold locations: temperature, pressure, moisture, gas chemistries, motion of the molds and internal cores (shifting or rotation), and magnetic field. This report describes a proof of concept in which unprecedented levels of process monitoring were integrated—both wirelessly and wired—at strategic locations throughout a printed mold and inside of internal cores. The collected data were used to validate the quality of a casting in situ as well as to provide feedback for optimizing the casting process, mold design, and simulations. A trade-off was explored between sensor survivability and disposability.

Recent Publication: Dr. Snow Balaz, David Bernand, & Research Group

Title: “Support structure effect on CO oxidation: A comparative study on SiO2 nanospheres and CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx catalysts”

Authors: Shaikh Tofazzel Hossain, Yazeed Almesned, Kefu Zhang, Elizabeth T. Zella, David T.Bernard. Snjezana Balaz, & RuigangWange

Date Published: January 15, 2018



The effect of support reducibility and reduction treatment was studied in SiO2nanospheres and CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx (0 ≤ x ≤ 1) catalysts on CO oxidation. CuO nanoparticles were impregnated on SiO2 nanospheres and CeO2nanorods using thermal decomposition method and then the samples were oxidized in air at different temperatures (400–600 °C). The sample oxidized at 400 °C was also further reduced under hydrogen atmosphere to compare the effect of reduction treatment on the catalytic activity. Detailed XRD, Raman, H2-TPR, and CO oxidation analyses were carried out to understand the effect of CuOx-support interaction and different CuOx species on the catalytic performance. Compared to SiO2 nanospheres supported CuOx catalysts, both CuO/CeO2 and reduced CuOx/CeO2 catalysts exhibited superior catalytic performance in terms of CO conversion and low-temperature hydrogen consumption. The enhanced activity of CeO2 nanorods supported CuOx catalysts was correlated strongly to the surface defects on CeO2nanorods and interfacial structures.

Several STEM Faculty Members Receive Research Professorship Award

Several STEM faculty members have been awarded a Research Professorship Award for the 2018-2019 school year. We would like to congratulate all the faculty that received this award. We hope you do great things in your research efforts!

Below is the list of STEM faculty who received the award, along with their research interests:

  • Christopher Arntsen, Chemistry; “Prediction of Band Gaps in Novel Materials Using Stochastic GW” — Awarded 6 Hours
  • Jonathan Caguiat, Biological Sciences; “Cloning and Sequencing of Three Penicillin Resistance Genes from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia OR02” — Awarded 6 Hours
  • Kyosung Choo, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; “Single Bubble Collision on a Heated Surface” — Awarded 9 Hours
  • Pedro Cortes, Civil/Environmental & Chemical Engineering; “Development of novel fiber metal laminates based on continuously reinforced 3D printed composites” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Thomas P. Diggins, Biological Sciences; “The Eastern Deciduous Biome in the 21st Century – Forests of Unintended Consequences” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Douglas Genna, Chemistry; “Synthesis of Stable Silyl Rh(III)-hydride complexes for alkene functionalization reactions” — Awarded 9 Hours
  • Jai K. Jung, Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering; “Determination of Soil Secant Modulus for Soil-Pipe Interaction” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Lucy Kerns, Mathematics & Statistics’ “Statistical Approaches for Assessing Adverse Health Effects of Chemical Mixtures” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Alina Lazar, Computer Science and Information Systems; “Efficient Clustering Algorithms for Real-time Streaming Data” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Holly J. Martin, Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering; “Bonding Polyetherimide to Magnesium to Improve Corrosion Resistance” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • John Martin, Mechanical Engineering; “Exploring Applications and Benefits of 3D Printed Ceramic Shells for Investment Casting Using the XJet” – Awarded 6 Hours
  • Suresh Sharma, Civil/Environmental & Chemical Engineering; “Investigating Salinity Variation across the Marsh Basin Using Coupled Hydrodynamic and Watershed Model for Ecological Benefit” – Awarded 9 Hours
  • Feng Yu, CSIS; “Developing a New Index Structure for Fast Columnar Data Processing in Out-of-Core Environment” – Awarded 9 Hours

Faculty Faction: Dr. Coskun Bayrak

Dr. Coskun BayrakWith great excitement, we would like to introduce the new Chairperson of the Computer Science and Information Systems Department, Dr. Coskun Bayrak.

Dr. Bayrak has a unique background. He was born in Gumushane, Turkey but was raised in Trabzon, Turkey. Geographically, Trabzon is in the northeastern part of Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea.

Dr. Bayrak finished his high school education in Turkey and completed his degrees at Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, Slippery Rock University, Texas Tech University, and Southern Methodist University. Even though he attended several universities, he kept a common interest in Computer Science, leading to each of his degrees reflecting that interest.

Dr. Bayrak first started teaching at the University of Texas at Dallas. He then progressed to teach at Benedict College in South Carolina, Troy University in Alabama, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and now Youngstown State University.

“After so many years in academia as a research-intensive faculty, coordinator, and chair, it was time to put the knowledge and experience to good use,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I felt like it was time to take advantage of the opportunity at YSU where I could pay back to society.”

As the new Department Chair for CSIS, Dr. Bayrak hopes to make the existing CSIS programs amongst the best in the state. He wants to provide selective educational environments where students can be trained to excel in the real world. He would also like to strengthen undergraduate and masters programs in CSIS and create PhD programs as well.

“I want to develop a competitive, fruitful learning environment and an efficient work environment to CSIS students and faculty in the department,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I would also like to address issues on campus with timely communication and resource management.”

In his short time at YSU, Dr. Bayrak has already made a tremendous impact. He oversees an independent study course and mentors six students within the Choose Ohio First program. He is also working on two grant proposals for NSF and NIH. In addition to these tasks, he keeps a busy schedule with his collaborations with the Honors program, STEM program, and International Affairs Office. He is also adamantly pushing to build relations with local industry, forming an advisory board, and working with area high schools to create stronger relationships with them.

“It has been only 4 months, but I feel like I have been here for 4 years,” said Dr. Bayrak. “I love the atmosphere and the people I work and interact with.”

In his free time, Dr. Bayrak said that he loves to read, write, plant, restore, play soccer, and go fishing. What an awesome man!

Want to meet with Dr. Bayrak? Students may schedule an appointment to meet with him, or stop by every Friday from 12:00pm-1:00pm where they can “Meet the Department Chair” and ask him any questions they may have. He also has an open-door policy, so if students can catch him, Dr. Bayrak encourages that they come to him with any questions or concerns. His office is in Meshel Hall, Room 339A. He is also reachable by email at cbayrak@ysu.edu or by phone via 330-941-3134.

Recent Publication: John Martin & Anna Martin

John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in June 2017 with assistance from Anna Martin of Kent State University.

Title: “Work In Progress: The Effects of Embedded-Formatting Applied to Statics”

Authors: John Martin and Anna Martin



Worked examples have been shown to be very effective in order to reduce cognitive load (Carol 1994), however there are many instances where worked examples may be ineffective. One instance is where a worked example may contain a number of unique pieces of information, each being incomprehensible to the learner in isolation, therefore the learner must mentally integrate each piece in order to understand the instructional material. A classic example of this is having a picture of a graph consisting of lines and then separately below having a list of equations for each line. There is a need for the learner to mentally integrate the two different sources of information, which asserts an increased burden on cognitive load therefore stifling the learning process. This is what is referred to as the split-attention effect (Sweller 1998). One way that has been shown to alleviate this problem is the use of embedded-formatting (Mayer 1990). Embedded formatting is where the unique portions of information are physically integrated with one another in order to reduce cognitive load. So, for example the graph with line equations described earlier could be shown where the equations are displayed on the graph directly next to the line that it is defining, so that the reader does not have to integrate the two mentally – it can be done visually.

Statics is typically the first core engineering course civil and mechanical engineering students take, therefore much of the information in this class is novel to the learner. Worked examples are often used in textbooks and are very useful, but they generally consist of a free-body diagram (FBD) and then a separate list of accompanying equilibrium equations for that specific FBD. This requires the learner to mentally integrate the two novel sources of information in order to make sense of the worked example, which can cause cognitive overload or an overload on working memory. This study will focus on identifying the effectiveness of using embedded-formatting with regards to engineering Statics worked examples.

For this study a quantitative quasi-experimental pretest-posttest study will be utilized to gain a better understanding of the effects of applying embedded-formatting to worked examples of Statics problems on student learning. Students within two separate engineering Statics courses will be considered, where the first groups/class will be given worked examples utilizing embedded-formatting and the second group/class will be given traditional worked examples as part of their instructional material. Additionally, a subjective measure of cognitive load will be used to quantify between group cognitive loads, while a posttest will measure student learning of the topic in general. The instructional technique will serve as the independent variable consisting of two groups; while the engineering concept knowledge of Statics, along with the subjective cognitive load scores will serve as the dependent variables to be measured using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).

Recent Publication: John Martin & Anna Martin

Mr. John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in June 2017 with assistance from Anna Martin of Kent State University.

Title: “Work In Progress: The Effect of Partially-Completed Worked Examples Applied to Statics”

Authors: John Martin and Anna Martin



Traditionally, instructional strategies used for teaching engineering subjects revolve around a scaffolded type framework, where problems are solved in-class by the instructor whom provides guidance to students that are simultaneously engaging in the problem solving with the instructor. This type of learning strategy is based off of a guided problem-solving approach. After a number of problems are solved in this manner the next step is usually to assign problems for the students to solve entirely on their own, taking away all the instructor support from the problem-solving approach. Research suggests that entirely removing all guidance too soon generally results in a situation where student learning must then rely on randomness. This is where the learning process is accomplished by randomly combining elements of information and then determining which combinations are effective (Sweller 2004), which is very inefficient.

This type of learning technique is very common within engineering subjects, as well as many other subjects and is based off of what is sometimes referred to as discovery learning (Bruner 1961). Research has suggested that making use of partially-completed worked examples can reduce cognitive load by decreasing the burden on working memory (Carrol 1994, etc.), in turn leaving more memory capacity to acquire knowledge. In partially-completed worked-examples learners are given a problem where certain portions of that problem are missing and they are required to fill in the missing steps. Implementing this instructional strategy can serve as a bridge between fully guided problem-solving and completely unguided problem solving. Adding the use of partially-completed worked examples to fill the gap between worked examples and independent problem solving has proven to be very effective in prior research (Paas 1992).

This study will examine the effectiveness of implementing partially-completed worked examples when directly applied to the field of Statics. This study will specifically examine whether or not the use of partially-completed worked examples create a more efficient and complete learning process when learning Statics.

We will utilize a quantitative quasi-experimental pretest-posttest study to gain a better understanding of the effects of partially-completed worked examples of Statics problems on student learning. Students within an engineering Statics course will be divided into two groups, where the first group will be given partially-completed worked examples along with traditional problems, where they are to solve the partially completed problems first and then the traditional problems afterwards. The second group will be given only traditional problems to solve. Additionally, a subjective measure of cognitive load will be used to quantify between group cognitive loads, while a posttest will measure student learning of the topic in general. The instructional strategy will serve as the independent variable consisting of two groups, while the engineering concept knowledge of Statics, along with the subjective cognitive load scores will serve as the dependent variables to be measured using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA).

Firm student understanding of fundamental courses such as Statics is crucial for their success in subsequent courses, and is also vital in providing solid background knowledge to appropriately comprehend more advanced topics. In order to maximize the learning process a clearer understanding of how the role of guidance during problem solving impacts student learning is necessary. This study hopes to shed light on the way in which instructional delivery impacts learning of engineering concepts.

Recent Publication: John Martin

Mr. John Martin, an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, published this article in November 2017.

Title: “Exploring Additive Manufacturing Processes for Direct 3D Printing of Copper Induction Coils – Symposium on AM: Novel Applications session.”

Author: John Martin



The production process of creating custom induction coils is often a tedious and time-consuming procedure, which is largely due to the fact that the coils are created by hand for the most part. Generally each coil is a specialized size and shape depending on customer requirements so there is very little repeatability involved in the production process of these products. This paper looks at the practicality of printing copper induction coils that could provide appropriate material properties, such as electrical conductivity. The paper also focuses on which printing method(s) might be the most efficient and/or practical. There has been little research done on the 3D printing of copper material compared to other metals such as steel, and the majority of research that has occurred focuses on material properties; mainly thermal conductivity. This study focuses on the practicality of the printing of the physical shapes, specifically a hollow curved or spiral shape. The most common and successful method that has been used thus far utilizing additive manufacturing (AM) for the production of copper parts is investment casting, where the mold is created using AM. While this method has merits, it isn’t a directly printed part. Also successfully casting a hollow curved or spiral shape would be extremely difficult and likely not practical. Induction coils can take on a seemingly unlimited amount of shapes and sizes. However, typically there tends to always be two main characteristics for a coil, those are: some type of hollow tubing is utilized for water cooling, and the existence of curved paths. These two characteristics in combination present some difficult hurdles regarding the physical printing of the part. Another major difficulty is the fact that the final material must be very dense in order to afford the superior electrical conductivity properties, which standard copper used for electrical purposes has. The main processes inspected for this study are powder bed fusion, namely selective laser melting, selective laser sintering, electron beam melting as well as direct energy deposition, using either powder or wire for the material feed. After considering all the various techniques for applying additive manufacturing to create induction coils, the selective laser melting process seemed to be the most practical and showed the most promise.

Faculty Faction: Dr. Richard Deschenes

Dr. DeschenesDr. Richard Deschenes is an Assistant Professor in the Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering Department. He graduated with his Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. He was born in New Hampshire but later moved to Maine for 4 years, and then moved to Arkansas for 10 years before coming to Ohio.

This is Dr. Deschenes first university teaching experience. “I have always been interested in teaching and academia,” said Dr. Deschenes. “I felt that YSU had that perfect balance of research and teaching for me.”

He enjoys that YSU does not stress research as heavily as many other big-name colleges in the country. Dr. Deschenes wants to focus on teaching in his first few years at YSU. He is excited to get to interact more with his students because of our smaller class sizes. He wants to promote more practicality in his courses, especially in lower level courses where the students usually do not have the opportunity to be hands-on.

“I believe that having more practical classes will help students to build a strong foundation for their future,” said Dr. Deschenes.

He also plans to begin his research in concrete durability and structural engineering. With that being said, he also wants to apply for research grants, both public and private, so that he can provide funding to his student researchers.

This semester, Dr. Deschenes is teaching Statics for engineering students as well as Structural Analysis 1 and its Lab. In the spring, he will be teaching Statics again, but will move forward to teaching Strength of Materials Lab and Structural Analysis 2.

In the future, Dr. Deschenes wants to get involved with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation at YSU and to stay involved in the university while also maintaining ABET accreditation for the Civil Engineering Department. He also wants to potentially co-advise the YSU Student Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) with the department head, Dr. Islam. He then plans to help establish a student chapter of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) here at YSU.

Dr. Deschenes spends his free time jogging and hiking. He also enjoys cheering on the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox. He has 9 siblings, 8 of which are younger than him. And, he’s not the only civil engineer in his family! Two of his siblings are also civil engineers. Isn’t that cool?

To reach Dr. Deschenes, you can email him at radeschenes@ysu.edu, or visit him during his office hours from 9:30am to 11:15am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Dr. Sharif Gets Additional Funding Through NSF Grant

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Dr. Bonita Sharif, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Youngstown State University, has recently been awarded a Community Research Infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation.

This project grant, totaling $527,806 over three years ($237,196 to YSU and $290,610 to KSU), began in June 2017 and is expected to finish in June 2020. This project relates closely to Dr. Sharif’s CAREER award research on eye-tracking from last year and is in collaboration with a team at Kent State University.

“The purpose of the award is to build infrastructure to help support incorporating eye tracking within the developer’s work environment,” said Dr. Sharif.

Basically, Dr. Sharif and her team are creating an extension for integrated development environments (the platforms developers use for coding) that will allow developers to track their eye movement within the platform. They will be able to replay the eye tracking data to learn from how they look at code.

Dr. Sharif says that this software and research is important because it will help developers’ self-awareness (to learn from their own work and become more efficient) and because it will help educators teach students better. It will also help researchers to conduct large-scale studies in the industry with minimal effort.

“We can show novices how experts fix bugs by what they look at first,” said Dr. Sharif.

It is her goal to release a beta version of the software by the end of the first year and to involve other researchers in beta testing and technical briefing sessions.

“At this point, many researchers have seen a demo of our system,” she said, “but really it’s still just a prototype. We want to make it to a point where it is production ready and people can just download it, install it, and use it. I believe the joint effort with Kent State will be great in moving this forward.”

The full project title is “CI-New: Collaborative Research: An Infrastructure that Combines Eye Tracking into Integrated Development Environments to Study Software Development and Program Comprehension.”

The students involved are undergraduates Ashwin Mishra, Alexander Bonnette, Nicholas Iovino, Chris Hardaway, and graduate student Sahaj Bhattarai.

View the abstract for the project and the full details of the award here.

Biomedical Research Series: Dr. Chet Cooper

Dr. Chet Cooper

Within the Department of Biological Sciences at Youngstown State University, there are many areas of research being explored by faculty and students alike. In a monthly series, we will highlight faculty research that covers various aspects of biomedical efforts from DNA to bacteria, fungi, and more.


Dr. Chet Cooper is a Professor of Biological Sciences at YSU. He holds a BS degree in Biology from Pitt-Johnstown. He earned his Master and PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas.

Dr. Cooper researches a fungus that effects AIDS patients in Southeast Asia. The fungus cannot be found in soil or vegetation but it is known that it affects bamboo rats and humans. The only way a human can be infected by this fungus is by traveling to Southeast Asia and being HIV positive. The fungus is breathed in and can live in the body for several years before symptoms are observed.

The fungus, Talaromyces marneffei, was first discovered in the 1950s and brought to greater attention in the 1970s and 1980s when the AIDS epidemic occurred in Thailand. In some places in this country, up to 30% of AIDS patients contracted the fungal disease.

The fungi start attacking a person with AIDS by first giving the patient pneumonia. The infection then will spread to the skin, giving the patient skin lesions. After that, the infection will spread to the organs of the body and can be 100% fatal if it is not treated.

Dr. Cooper started researching fungi in graduate school. His first position out of graduate school was in a state health department in New York. He became familiar with different types of fungi through that position. Soon after, Dr. Cooper was asked to study how this fungus that attacks AIDS patients reacts to anti-fungal agents. His colleague from Thailand worked with him, and his research has progressed since.

“There are only 4-5 labs that study this around the entire world,” said Dr. Cooper. “People come from different countries to earn their PhD at YSU and work in the lab with this fungus.”

“There are several anti-fungal drugs that can be used to treat people who contract the fungus,” said Dr. Cooper. “But we are seeing more and more people experience side-effects and resistance to the drugs.”

At room temperature, the fungi grow filamentously. When the fungi are in the body, it is a single-celled organism that takes the form of a yeast. Dr. Cooper has recently been focusing on genes that could potentially be linked to the yeast phase of the fungus.

“A great co-worker of mine, Dr. Min, developed a software package for the entire genome of fungus,” said Dr. Cooper. “It will tell you the gene products that are pushed out of the cell.”

This software found 538 tentative genes that could potentially be connected to the fungi.

“It is also very important to know that fungi get their nutrition by sending enzymes out of the cell, digesting the substance, and absorbing,” said Dr. Cooper.

Undergraduate students that work with Dr. Cooper are developing a method using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to identify genes and see a particular gene is on the list of 538 tentative genes. They have used a different form of PCR to see if the genes were specifically expressed in the yeast phase or both the yeast and room temperature phases. The purpose of this was to find solely the corresponding yeast phase genes. It turns out that they found genes that were like this.

This gives evidence that those types of genes are being expressed.  In a future study, Dr. Cooper and his undergraduate students will grow the fungus in the yeast phase and examine it for the proteins produced. If they find the same types of protein in the fungi it will prove the gene is associated with it.

Ultimately, Dr. Cooper wants to determine the genes and proteins that are produced by the pathogenic form, which can lead to treatments and potential cures for this fungus and many others.

Some people who contract the fungus go into remission following initial treatment. However, they must take an antifungal drug for the rest of their lives because the fungi take hold in their immune system. If the drug is not taken, the person will become sick again because the body will not attack its own immune system.


To contact Dr. Cooper about his research, you can email him at crcooper01@ysu.edu.

Faculty Faction: Dr. Christopher Arntsen

Dr. ArntsenDr. Christopher Arntsen is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at YSU. He holds a BS degree in both Math and Chemistry from the University of Connecticut. He continued to graduate school at UCLA where he obtained a PhD in Chemistry.

At his time at UCLA, Dr. Arntsen was a TA in the Chemistry department. Following the completion of his PhD, Dr. Arntsen taught at the UCLA extension for one semester.

“I loved the idea of being able to teach and do research,” said Dr. Arntsen. “I really felt that YSU had a great mix of both.”

Dr. Arntsen is currently teaching General Chemistry I and the Physical Chemistry Lab. As a researcher, Dr. Arntsen is a theoretical chemist, meaning he deals with computation and theoretical calculations. Once he gets more settled at YSU, he would love to investigate the bandgap modulation of solar cell perovskites. He wants to study what makes them efficient solar cells and find ways to apply his findings to future research.

“I think science education is on the verge of changing to a more project and discovery-based learning,” said Dr. Arntsen. “It’s important for students to learn hands-on skills. I really want to implement more project-based learning in my classes. It would be beneficial for students in higher level classes to have more open-ended projects.”

“I have noticed that the atmosphere at YSU is very friendly, vibrant, and energetic,” said Dr. Arntsen. “I have really enjoyed it in the short time that I’ve been here.”

In the future, Dr. Arntsen wants to get involved with the YSU Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“I am an enthusiastic Celtics fan,” said Dr. Arntsen. “I will be enthusiastically rooting against the Cavs this year!”

To contact Dr. Arntsen, you can find him at office location in Ward Beecher 5034 on Mondays and Tuesdays from 1:30-2:30 and Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30. You can also email Dr. Arntsen at carntsen@ysu.edu.

Recent Publication: Dr. Jack Min

Dr. Xiangjia “Jack” Min, Associate Professor in Biological Science, published a research article in Computational Molecular Biology in September 2017.


Title: Comprehensive Cataloging and Analysis of Alternative Splicing in Maize

Author: Dr. Xiangjia “Jack” Min



Gene expression is a key step in developmental regulation and responses in changing environments in plants. Alternative splicing (AS) is a process generating multiple RNA isoforms from a single gene pre-mRNA transcript that increases the diversity of functional proteins and RNAs. Identification and analysis of alternatively splicing events are critical for crop improvement and understanding regulatory mechanisms. In maize large numbers of transcripts generated by RNA-seq technology are available, we incorporated these data with data assembled with ESTs and mRNAs to comprehensively catalog all genes undergoing AS. A total of 192,624 AS events were detected and classified, including 103,566 (53.8%) basic events and 89,058 (46.2%) complex events which were formed by combination of various types of basic events. Intron retention was the dominant type of basic AS event, accounting for 24.1%. These AS events were identified from 91,128 transcripts which were generated from 26,669 genomic loci, of which consisted of 20,860 gene models. It was estimated that 55.3% maize genes may be subjected to AS. The transcripts mapping information can be used to improve the predicted gene models in maize. The data can be accessed at Plant Alternative Splicing Database (http://proteomics.ysu.edu/altsplice/).


Full article link:


Recent Publication: Biology Team

Dr. Michael Butcher, Associate Professor in Biological Science, in collaboration with Dr. Gary Walker, Chairperson and Professor of Biological Sciences, Mr. Julio “Ed” Budde, and student Dylan Thomas published a research article in Journal of Applied Physiology in September 2017.


Title: Ontogeny of myosin isoform expression and prehensile function in the tail of the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica)

Authors: Dylan R. Thomas, Brad A. Chadwell, Gary R. Walker, Julio E. Budde, John L. VandeBerg, Michael T. Butcher



Terrestrial opossums use their semiprehensile tail for grasping nesting materials as opposed to arboreal maneuvering. We relate the development of this adaptive behavior with ontogenetic changes in myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform expression from 21 days to adulthood. Monodelphis domestica is expected to demonstrate a progressive ability to flex the distal tail up to age 7 mo, when it should exhibit routine nest construction. We hypothesize that juvenile stages (3–7 mo) will be characterized by retention of the neonatal isoform (MHC-Neo), along with predominant expression of fast MHC-2X and -2B, which will transition into greater MHC-1β and -2A isoform content as development progresses. This hypothesis was tested using Q-PCR to quantify and compare gene expression of each isoform with its protein content determined by gel electrophoresis and densitometry. These data were correlated with nesting activity in an age-matched sample of each age group studied. Shifts in regulation of MHC gene transcripts matched well with isoform expression. Notably, mRNA for MHC-Neo and -2B decrease, resulting in little-to-no isoform translation after age 7 mo, whereas mRNA for MHC-1β and -2A increase, and this corresponds with subtle increases in content for these isoforms into late adulthood. Despite the tail remaining intrinsically fast-contracting, a critical growth period for isoform transition is observed between 7 and 13 mo, correlating primarily with use of the tail during nesting activities. Functional transitions in MHC isoforms and fiber type properties may be associated with muscle “tuning” repetitive nest remodeling tasks requiring sustained contractions of the caudal flexors.


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