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Flyer for the Taking a Bite out of Crime event

College of Sciences and Mathematics Hosts High School Lab Days, Reaches Over 200 Students
students hunched over a science experiment

girl, wearing safety goggles, smiling and holding a test tubeIn a continued tradition of community outreach and educational events, the College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM) at Belmont University hosted a number of high school laboratory and science-based experiences for area students. The CSM faculty and staff are dedicated to introducing high school students to advanced laboratory techniques and the inter-connectivity found between the sciences, business, social sciences and the humanities. More than 200 students participated in the lectures, laboratory exercises and expositions throughout 2017. These STEM centered activities are slated for continuation in 2018 as high school students are given the opportunity to explore new, faculty-led laboratory exercises and take on the challenges of hypothesis-driven research.

One event hosted 45 A.P. Chemistry students from three different area high schools in an interactive lecture on titrations led by event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education. The program also held a high school psychology camp thanks to Dr. Linda Jones’s senior capstone project. Jones, chair of the department of psychological science, led 20 A.P. Psychology students in week-long projects involving psychological experimentation techniques and statistical analysis. These students then designed their capstone project, which is required for graduation from Metro Nashville schools, with these tools in mind. Currently, all 20 students are utilizing borrowed equipment to run experimental subjects in their own high schools. Jones and her colleagues engage students monthly and the high school partners will present their findings at the Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium in April.

Additionally, Dr. Lori McGrew, biology professor, hosted alumnus and Davidson Academy science teacher Jim Garrett in her neuropharmacology research lab. Garrett and two of his current students utilized Danio rerio (zebrafish) to investigate learning and memory. With the students’ help, Davidson Academy plans to establish their own zebrafish colony. The work completed by Garrett and his students will also facilitate collaborative data collection between Davidson Academy and Belmont.

Perhaps the biggest event of the semester was the “Celebrating the Women of Physical Science” outreach event for high school students, coordinated by the Department of Chemistry and Physics STEM Committee. The event provided a tour of the chemistry and physics labs, a hands-on chemistry activity, a physics demo and presentation, a talk on “The Legacy of Marie Curie” and a keynote address titled, “With the Right Shoes You Can Do Anything.” Fifty high school students from 15 schools in Middle Tennessee attended.

boy conducting a science experimentFinally, Dr. Steve Murphree, biology professor, coordinates free laboratory experiences for the home-schooled community of Middle Tennessee and conducted two programs in 2017. In November, home-schooled children were able to investigate animal behavior during the program titled, “Explorations in Animal Behavior – Betta Fish.”  In December, students were able to compare human anatomy to that of cartilaginous fish in an exercises titled, “Shark Anatomy.”  In October, a group of 150 middle school students from Lead Academy Middle School toured Belmont’s science labs.


Women in Science Host Chemistry of Food Event

Students participate in a Women in Science Baking Event held on Belmont's campus.Members of Belmont’s Women in Science Club recently hosted a baking night led by Dr. Kimberlee Entsminger, professor of chemistry in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Members were able to make their own souffles´ while learning the chemistry behind the process.

As participants learned, beating eggs is all about science — and it’s physics and chemistry that make a souffle´ rise or fall. The first step in making an egg dish like a souffle´ is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat. Beating egg whites relaxes the proteins by causing conformational changes. Sugar is then added to act as a “glue” that holds the egg white structure together in its relaxed state. When the egg mixture is baked at 350 degrees, air bubbles expand, making the souffle´ rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle´ from collapsing.

President and Founder of Women in Science Crystal Lemus said, “While I have taken several biology, chemistry and biochemistry based courses and learned the ins and outs of proteins and fats, I never knew that it could be so applicable in the kitchen. Their truly is a scientific art to cooking and baking process.”

Hawley Published in The Physics Teacher

Dr. Scott Hawley, associate professor of physics, recently had his article, “Visualizing Sound Directivity via Smartphone Sensors”, published in The Physics Teacher (TPT). TPT publishes peer-reviewed papers on the teaching of introductory physics, contemporary physics, applied physics and the history of physics. Dedicated to strengthening the teaching of introductory physics at all levels, including secondary schools colleges and universities, TPT provides peer-reviewed content and materials to be used in classrooms and instructional laboratories.

Since publication, Hawley’s article has begun receiving favorable reviews on the “Audio Educators Forum”.


Belmont Celebrates Marie Curie’s 150th Birthday with Women in Science Symposium
Students participate in the Women in Science Symposium held on Belmont's campus

Belmont University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics celebrated scientist Marie Curie’s 150th birthday with a Women in Science Symposium held Monday, November 6. The event, “Celebrating the Women of Physical Science” welcomed 50 local high school students, from 15 area high schools, who participated in lab tours, demonstrations and hands-on lab activities before Belmont faculty member Dr. Krista McBride led a short talk on the legacy of Curie’s life for the attendees and Belmont of birthday cake for marie curie

photo of 3 Belmont students wearing their Women in Science shirtsImmediately after, Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross shared a keynote presentation, “With the Right Shoes, You Can Do Anything.” Iriarte-Gross is responsible for bringing Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), an international program bringing hands-on STEM experiences to girls, to Tennessee and is the recipient of the first American Chemical Society (ACS) Women Chemists Committee ChemLuminary Award for Most Innovative Recognition of Women in the Chemical Sciences.

A student watches a presentation at the Women in Science SymposiumEvent organizer and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education Dr. Danielle Garrett said the Department hosted the event as a way to highlight the continued underrepresentation of women in the physical sciences, make physical science more relatable and accessible to students and heighten publicity of Belmont’s science programs. Citing research that shows women receive more than 50% of bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences but only 39% in physical sciences (and the number decreases when considering chemistry and physics), Garrett and the rest of the Department’s STEM Outreach Committee are committed to emphasizing the importance of women in STEM fields.

Belmont’s Beta Chi Club Volunteers at Light the Night 5K

Photo of Beta-Chi club members participating in the Light the Night 5k

Student members of the Belmont University Beta Chi Club volunteered and participated in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night 5k on Friday, October 20 at Nissan Stadium. Participants carried a “Belmont Beta Chi” sign while they walked in the event.

The Beta Chi student organization exists to promote research in the area of biochemistry and molecular biology through seminars and laboratory opportunities, while providing a social setting for networking and volunteering.

Hawley Releases Single and Music Video

Scott Hawley Album coverWhen Dr. Scott Hawley, associate professor of physics, came to Belmont in 2006 to fulfill a career goal of teaching physics, he moved his second passion of making music to “the side.” Since then, he’s done a substantial amount of physics, but the music has been largely dormant. In August, however, Hawley released the single and music video for the song “Atlantis” from his upcoming album, “How You Ache.”

This album has been a true Belmont effort with significant contributions by faculty, alumni and current students:

  • Mixed by Audio Engineering Technology Professor Justin Dowse
  • Mastered by former Music Square East Facilities Manager Luke Gilfeather
  • Music video directed by audio engineering technology and film alumnus Seth Kays
  • Marketing plan developed by Clyde Rolston’s students, who selected “Atlantis” as the first single based on market research.

The full album will be available in late September. The video is available on YouTube at and the single is available by clicking here.

Thousands Enjoy Eclipse Totality on Belmont’s Campus
The Eclipse Experience at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. August 21, 2017.

Photo of the solar eclipse

More than 6,000 free solar eclipse glasses were handed out at Belmont this morning as droves of students, faculty, staff and family members descended upon the campus to experience the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse with the University community. Below are links to a timelapse video of the event (from three difference perspectives) along with a link to a photo gallery from the event.

Timelapse Video of Total Eclipse at Belmont University

Photo Gallery of Total Eclipse Event at Belmont University

Transfer student Crystal Rose just started her first year at Belmont, and the eclipse was her first event on campus. She said, “It was a humbling, breathtaking experience, and it was beautiful to see so many people celebrating together.”

Faculty Experts Speak to Media

Photo of Scott Hawley appearing on CNNDr. Scott Hawley, associate professor of physics, spoke live on CNN and CNBC about the eclipse, providing expert input on the science behind the event. Meanwhile, Dr. Davon Ferrara, assistant professor of physics, lent his expertise to an early morning interview on the Fox Business Network.

In addition, prior to Aug. 21, Belmont Professor of Biblical Studies Dr. Mark McEntire, Assistant Professor of Art Christine Rogers and College of Science and Mathematics Dean Dr. Thom Spence were featured in local media to discuss the upcoming eclipse. McEntire explained to WSMV that eclipses were historically viewed as “omens or signs,” signifying the coming of a tragedy or doomsday. Watch the full story here. Rogers, a professor of photography, asserted that filtering the lens of your camera is just as important as protecting your eyes form the sun’s light. Find her advice on taking the perfect eclipse photo here. In the Tennessean, Dr. Spence published an editorial about the history of solar eclipses and what witnesses can expect next Monday. Read his piece here.

High Schoolers Experience Eclipse on Belmont’s Campus
Photo from Eclipse Talks

 A number of high school students from the region also came to Belmont’s campus this morning to hear lectures from College of Science and Mathematics faculty and to experience the totality event.

~~Dr. Patrick Morse, Psychology, presented "Does the Full Moon make us (werewolves) Weird?"
~~Dr. Scott Hawley, Physics, presented "Celestial Mechanics and Solar Physics" and even performed a song he wrote for the Eclipse!
~~Dr. Ryan Fox and Dr. Brad Schleben, Mathematics, presented “Well, isn't that special: The mathematics of measuring celestial objects”

Garrett Published in The Chemical Educator

Danielle Garrett Headshot
Dr. Maria Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education, recently published an article titled “Wavelength Analysis of LEDs using Handheld Spectroscopes” in The Chemical Educator, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on laboratory experimentation and teaching methods.

The article stemmed from her work with 4th grade students through the American Chemical Society Science Coaches program. This work gave Garrett the unique opportunity to collaborate with her father, Jack B. Garrett, PE, a licensed professional engineer with more than 20 years of mechanical engineering experience, who currently serves as vice president of capital asset management for HCP Incorporated in Franklin, Tennessee.


Paula Fairfield, Game of Thrones Sound Designer, Visits Campus
The photo shows L-R CSM dean Dr. Thom Spence, Dean of the College of Sciences & Mathematics, Paula Fairfield, Dr. Scott Hawley, Physics professor, and Rob McClain, owner of OmegaLab studio and former Belmont student.

(Pictured L-R: Thom Spence, Paula Fairfield, Scott Hawley and Rob McClain)

Emmy award winning and “Game of Thrones” sound designer Paula Fairfield, in town for a Game of Thrones convention, visited Belmont on Thursday, June 29. Fairfield met with College of Science and Mathematics Dean Dr. Thom Spence, Physics Professor Dr. Scott Hawley and Belmont alumni and owner of OmegaLab studio Rob McClain.

Hawley and McClain are part of the ASPIRE Co-op, a research co-op where members of the Nashville community–academics, entrepreneurs, engineers, musicians and enthusiasts– collaborate on innovative projects involving audio, acoustics and engineering. McClain arranged Fairfield’s visit to campus.

Fairfield toured the acoustics research lab in the Janet Ayers Academic Center, Belmont’s audio and film production facilities and the new Gallery of Iconic Guitars museum. The group also visited Dave Warburton, Curb College, who showed the Atmos theater in the Johnson Center, and Ocean Way Studios where director Pat McMakin gave them a tour of the facility.

Student, Faculty Present Physics Research at ASPIRE Meeting
Students work in a lab at Belmont

Engineering physics major Brynn Yonker and Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Scott Hawley presented at a recent ASPIRE meeting, a “research co-op” where members of the Nashville community can collaborate on innovative projects involving audio, acoustics, engineering and more. Hawley presented on he and Yonker’s recent participation at the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics in Canada and Yonker presented on her undergraduate research with Hawley. The research involves sound diffraction measurements using a Polar Pattern Plotter.

Tamara Baird, a Belmont alumna and a Lipscomb Nursing faculty were present and shared an update and demonstration on a DIY digital stethoscope project. Byron Williams, a Belmont alumnus, discussed his loudspeaker construction project and home studio build. The meeting was held at OmegaLab.

Dr. Danielle Garrett Leads Please Pass the Salt:  Chemistry – It’s “Saltsational” Workshop for High School Teachers

Photo collage of high school teachers working in the lab during the green chemisty summer 2017 workshop

“Great knowledge and incorporation of labs that I can take back to my classroom.”

“A fantastic workshop with very clear resources.  I am overly impressed with the ability to modify each lab up and down.”

“It was fun to be a student again.”

These are just a few comments from attendees who continue to enjoy the hands-on chemistry lab experiences and professional development offered through the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Belmont University’s annual It’s Easy Being Green:  Budget-Friendly Safety-Conscious Chemistry Labs for the Science Classroom of Today summer workshop series for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers.

Event organizer, Dr. Danielle Garrett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education, held three day-long workshops in the advanced chemistry lab during the month of June.  “I really enjoy being able to develop and host these workshops for teachers,” Garrett said.  “These days are full of networking, comradery, sharing of ideas, and of course – chemistry!  This year has been especially exciting for me as I saw an increased attendance of almost 24%, with 52 attendees, from 12 counties, participating in hands-on science at Belmont.”

The workshop this year, titled Please Pass the Salt:  Chemistry – It’s “Saltsational,engaged participants in lab work focusing on mixtures, limiting reactants and colligative properties.  All attendees received a complete instructor-student lab manual and built a budget-friendly separatory funnel that they were able to take back with them for use in their classrooms.  While data analysis always plays a large role in the day of activities, this year, Garrett placed extra emphasis on in-depth discussions of error analysis.  “This year I really wanted to develop a lab that pushed students to think about why their results varied from theoretical calculations, forcing students to engage in collaborative discussion about error – not just typical errors resulting from measurement, which must always be considered, but errors based on scientific assumptions that may not be valid under all sets of lab conditions,” Garrett said.  “Students are so used to being presented with ideal or ‘perfect’ data to analyze and work problems with, that I think they sometimes lose the essence of what real science is.  They can get so focused on the process of doing calculations to get an answer that they often forget to stop and think about the physical meaning and conceptual relevance behind the experiment itself.”

Hawley and Yonker Participate in Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry Workshop

Dr. Scott Hawley, Physics, and Engineering Physics major Brynn Yonker recently attended the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. They participated in a workshop on laser Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry (ESPI) taught by Dr. Thomas Moore (Rollins University, FL), the inventor of the ESPI method used in undergraduate universities worldwide.   Yonker and Hawley attended the conference in order to gain insights on how to improve Belmont’s ESPI system to better study guitars, as shown in the photo, and other musical instruments.  During one break, Dr. Moore introduced Hawley and Yonker to legendary acoustician and physics educator Dr. Thomas Rossing ( Dr. Rossing had been told of Hawley’s “Polar Pattern Plotter” iOS app – the subject of Yonker’s summer Belmont SURFS research – and was interested in using it in his musical acoustics work at Stanford University.  This meeting was particularly meaningful given that Hawley’s paper, about the iOS app and published in The Physics Teacher journal, began with a reference to the Rossing Prize in Acoustics Education!

A photo of Dr. Thomas Moore and Dr. Scott Hawley                       A photo of ESPI being used to study  guitars  A photo of Dr. Thomas Rossing and Belmont student Brynn Yonker
Dr. Thomas Moore and Dr. Scott Hawley Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry (ESPI) being used to study guitars Dr. Thomas Rossing and Belmont student Brynn Yonker

Belmont’s Department of Chemistry and Physics Hosts Workshop for High School AP Chemistry Students

“This is a great product for any family who wants a cheap substitute for mainstream brands with picky kids!!!”   “Bringing comfort back to your life.”

These are just a few of the catchy slogans students from Stewarts Creek High School developed during “Back Titrations:  Neutralizing Agents – How Basic is It?,” a guided inquiry workshop for Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry high school students.

Photo of high school students working in the lab on an experiment .jpgAfter piloting this workshop in December, Belmont’s Department of Chemistry and Physics recently hosted another offering on May 12, 2017.   Event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education, held a half-day workshop in the organic and advanced chemistry labs in the Janet Ayers Academic Center.  Thirty AP Chemistry students attended from Stewarts Creek High School.  After an interactive discussion covering topics including neutralization reactions, acid-base indicators, direct titrations and back titrations, each student worked to determine the effectiveness of commercial products used to reduce stomach acid. After collecting and analyzing their data, students worked in groups of 4-5 to create persuasive brochures, marketing the most effective neutralizing agent out of the various commercial products that were tested.  The students were then treated to lunch, where they got the opportunity to visit the campus bookstore, and later returned for a tour of the CSM lab facilities.Photo of four female high school students working at a table on their project.jpg

Dr. Thom Spence, Dean of CSM, and Tyra Avery, rising senior chemistry major, were both on hand to help with the workshop.  This fall, Tyra will be doing her senior research project with Dr. Garrett.  She will be working to develop green laboratory options for the high school chemistry classroom.  Dr. Garrett was thrilled that Belmont undergraduate science students are starting to take an interest in developing safer quality lab options for high school classes.  “I’m glad Tyra was able to volunteer for this outreach event.  Seeing students work in the lab, engaging with the students and answering their questions help provide a unique perspective on the intentional planning that must go into developing articulate, coherent and comprehensive laboratory instructions for students,” Garrett said.  “I think this experience will be of great benefit to Tyra as she beings her own project this fall.”

Dr. Garrett looks forward to continuing these AP Chemistry workshops for local schools.  “Putting a guided-inquiry spin on the labs gives students the opportunity not only to get excited about science but also to explore their creativity through scientific analysis,” Garrett said.  “The students at Stewarts Creek took this creativity to heart and developed some very compelling marketing lines to promote their experimental results.”

Students Research Forensic Topic in LCC Course

As part of their linked cohort course (LCC) experience this semester, students in Dr. Danielle Garrett’s CEM 1620 LCC worked on small group projects, researching forensic science/investigation topics, one of which was bloodstain analysis.  As a follow-up, students recently spent time in the lab investigating the impact of distance and angle on simulated blood stains and patterns.  Students used their results to try to interpret and recreate a simulated blood stain pattern from a fictional crime scene.

Photo of students working in the lab Photo of simulated blood stain patterns Students working in the lab

Students and Faculty Attend and Present at American Physical Society (APS) meeting

The American Physical Society March Meeting is the largest international meeting of physicists in the world.  This year, the meeting was held in New Orleans, LA from March 13-17.  Three senior Belmont physics majors attended.  Dr. Davon Ferrara, Physics, also attended and presented a poster titled, “West Coast Swing Dancing as a Driven Harmonic Oscillator Model”.   The research was conducted with Belmont students Marie Holzer and Shirley Kyere during the 2016 Belmont summer SURFs program. In this project, they hypothesized that a driven harmonic oscillator model can be used to better understand the interaction between two west coast swing dancers since the “stiffness” of the physical connection between dance partners is a known factor in the dynamics of the dance.

From the APS website ... Physicists at the APS March Meeting 2017 contributed to an outstanding scientific program consisting of more than 10,000 attendees, 105 invited sessions and approximately 600 contributed sessions at which over 8,100 papers were presented. Dr Ferrara counted at least 3 Nobel Prize winners in attendance!

Hawley Publishes Paper and Releases New Acoustics App
Dr. Scott HawleyFor a Study Abroad program in May 2016, Dr. Scott Hawley, Physics, wrote an iOS app, "Polar Pattern Plotter" for measuring sound directivity of loudspeakers and microphones.  The app was released on the App Store last year (at He also wrote a journal paper on the app, "Visualizing Sound Directivity via Smartphone Sensors," (written in collaboration with Nashville sound engineer Robert McClain, Jr.) that has just been accepted for publication by the journal The Physics Teacher.  A pre-print of the paper is available on the server at  

Hawley has now made the app Open-Source in order to foster its development as a community tool. The code is available at and the acoustics education community has received it favorably.

Department of Chemistry and Physics hosts Workshops for High School Chemistry Students

Students doing experiments at high school chemistry dayThis February, Belmont’s Department of Chemistry and Physics hosted its second annual guided-inquiry chromatography workshop for high school chemistry students.  Over a two-day period, 39 high school chemistry students from 11 different schools attended “Sweet Sweet Chemistry:  A Chromatography Challenge.”  Several students traveled from as far away as Jackson, TN and Clarksville, TN to participate in this hands-on workshop. 

Students doing experiments at high school chemistry dayAfter an interactive discussion covering topics including polarity, solubility and chromatography, each student worked to extract dye from candy and develop the best solvent system for separating the dye mixture.  This year, sophomore BMB major, Christopher Hansen, was on hand to help answer student questions.

Event organizer, Dr. Danielle Garrett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education, was thrilled to be able to host this workshop again. These workshops are intended to provide the students with a fun and engaging full-length chemistry lab experience that also requires critical thinking.  One teacher mentioned how much she enjoys events like these: “I love being able to let my students stretch their chemistry legs and be exposed to other things that I cannot do in our lab and time frame.”    

“Developing anStudents doing experiments at high school chemistry dayd teaching these workshops gives me the opportunity to share my love for teaching chemistry in a unique and interactive way, not only with the high school students but also with Belmont students,” Garrett said.  “I think these workshops also provide a wonderful opportunity to engage our students here at Belmont in becoming agents of science – giving them a greater understanding and appreciation for how individuals can engage in efforts to make a positive difference in how science in seen by their community.”


LCC Students Visit US Space and Rocket Center
Students visiting the US Space and Rocket CenterStudents in Krista McBride’s Physics and Maggie Monteverde Science Fiction LCC pairing visited the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville on Saturday, February 11th.  While there they were given a guided tour of the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, which houses among its many artifacts from the space program a giant Saturn V rocket of the type that sent men to the moon! They also saw a film about the manned Mars mission scheduled for 2032 and had the opportunity to walk through a mock-up of the International Space Station.  The visit gave students the chance to learn about both real world applications of physics principles as well as ways science fiction is becoming science fact when it comes to space exploration.  The trip was funded by a BellCore LCC instructional grant.

Garrett Participates in ACS Science Coaches Program

Photo of red LED spectroscope showing wavelength

Through her work with the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science Coaches program, Dr. Danielle Garrett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education, recently spent time teaching 4th grade students at Donelson Christian Academy about wavelength and visible light.  In her lesson “Wavelength Analysis of LEDs using Handheld Spectroscopes,” forty-nine 4th grade students engaged in a lab activity to determine the wavelength of red, yellow, green and blue LEDs.  Based on their measurements and class discussions about the relationship among wavelength, frequency and energy, students were challenged make predictions about the wavelengths of other colors of visible light.  This is the 3rd year that Garrett has partnered with 4th grade teacher Ellen Deathridge through the ACS Science Coaches Program.

Chemistry/Physics Department Hosts Workshops for High School AP Chemistry Students
“Back Titrations:  Neutralizing Agents – How Basic is It?” a guided inquiry workshop for Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry high school students, was recently hosted by the Department of Chemistry and Physics.  Event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education, held two half-day workshops in the chemistry labs in the Janet Ayers Academic Center on December 5 and December, 7, 2016.  AP Chemistry classes from Christ Presbyterian Academy, CPA, (Nashville, TN) and Clarksville Academy (Clarksville, TN) had 29 students participating.  In these hands-on workshops, students learned how to perform back-titrations and used this technique to compare the effectiveness of neutralizing agents in commercial products sold to reduce stomach acid. The student participants worked in groups to determine the most effective commercial neutralizing agent in 3-4 commercial products, based on evidence including both effectiveness and cost. 

High school AP Chemistry students doing experiments during workshopAfter the workshop, students from CPA (picture left) and Clarksville Academy (picture right) got the opportunity to meet with Chemistry/Physics Department Chair, Dr. Robert Magruder, and CSM Dean, Dr. Thom Spence, for a tour of the lab facilities.  One of the teachers noted that her students found the event to be a “fantastic field trip experience.” 

“This workshop directed towards AP Chemistry students was developed in response to requests from several teachers who attended my “It’s Easy Being Green…”workshop series for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers.  In my outreach work, I strive to develop and implement labs that are not only interesting for students but that also serve to enhance their skills – whether that be trying a new lab technique, working with equipment they have not used before or expanding their critical thinking skills by challenging them to make connections,” Garrett said.  “These were great groups of students – very hardworking, motivated and not afraid to ask questions.  I’m looking forward to making this an annual event for AP Chemistry students.”

chemistry week
The Belmont Chemistry Department celebrated National Chemistry Week with several events. During the Chemistry Colors our World convocation, Dr. Danielle Garrett and members of Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) discussed the chemistry behind tie-dying and guided students in tie dying t-shirts.
chemistry colors the world chemistry colors the world

During the Hey! Look at that Awesome Science convocation, Belmont students from National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and SMACS lead demonstrations, explained various science experiments and discussed why things behave as they do.

awesome science awesome science

mole day

SMACS members also had a fundraiser in the 4th floor atrium of JAAC to celebrate Mole Day with Mole Day Scrabble and Cupcakes.

Belmont Hosts High School Chemistry Day

high school chemistry dayLocal high school students were invited to celebrate National Chemistry Week as the Chemistry Department at Belmont University hosted Belmont High School Chemistry Day 2016 on October 21st, from 8:30 AM-2:00 PM. There were a total of 23 high school students from five metro area high schools that participated.


high school chemistry dayDuring Chemistry Day, Belmont students performed chemistry demonstrations and lead participants in a variety of hands-on activities showing how chemistry is used in the real world.  The Belmont students that participated are: Bailey Rose, Londyn Eberhardt, Anna Margaret McDonnell, Hannah Burnette, Hope Kramer, Nick Orji, John Longenecker and Hannah Peterson, representing Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience majors.  Dr. Rachel Rigsby and Dr. Alison Parker, Chemistry, gave the students tours of the chemistry labs. Participants also enjoyed lunch in the cafeteria and were given a campus tour.  

*images by Belmont student Sarah Cannavino

SMACS Annual Cookout and Pumpkin Carving at Dr. Parker's House
pumpkin carving cookout

pumpkin carving

Dr. Parker again hosted the annual cookout and pumpkin carving for the SMACS club. 

*images by Belmont student Sarah Cannavino

Belmont Well-Represented at Acoustical Society of America Meeting
Several Belmont students, alumni and faculty showed up among the crowd at the September meeting of the Music City Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) on September 21. The meeting was held at OmegaLab Studio and centered on the theme, “Cinema Sound.” Belmont Professors of Audio Engineering Technology Drs. Wesley A. Bulla and Jon Lechner were invited to speak at the meeting. Bulla spoke about the history of sound reproduction leading up to and including the Dolby Atmos, which is a leading-edge surround sound technology. Lechner spoke about sound design. Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Scott Hawley hosted the meeting and is the current president of the Music City ASA Chapter.

The OmegaLab Studio was chosen as the location for the meeting due to its unusual off-the-grid setup. The studio is housed inside a surplus army tent in the woods and runs its array of speakers and lights by the use of car batteries, which are recharged by a current that runs from an adjacent house. The studio’s Owner and Engineer Rob McClain spoke about the unique sound opportunities this setup has due to the lack of sound reflections and other extraneous noises. This idea led way into a discussion between ASA members of what acoustical specifications should be made in mixing rooms to produce the best recordings possible.

Hawley Featured in 'SacredSpace' Video Blog
hawleyAssociate Professor of Physics Dr. Scott Hawley was recently interviewed in a new video blog, “SacredSpace,” to discuss how he has kept his faith while working in a primarily atheist field. The video was shot in Belmont’s Janet Ayers Academic Center Chapel by successful music producer, songwriter and guitarist Rex Schnelle. Schnelle has worked as a producer at Sony for 25 years and is a pastor and worship leader at Christ Community Church.

The purpose of Schnelle’s blog is to highlight individuals who successfully show their Christian faith through their vocation. Schnelle hopes to integrate faith and vocation in a way that is real and authentic. “In these interviews and blogs, I hope to use the bridges of sharing human experiences through art, science, conversation, debate and such to reveal God’s Spirit crossing over on them and being empirically present,” Schnelle said.

In his interview, Hawley discussed how studying the sciences strengthened his commitment to worship as he experienced the wonder of God’s power and creation. This is the philosophy that sparked Schnelle’s interest in interviewing Hawley for SacredSpace. “Scott Hawley is a dear friend, and when we first met I was intrigued by the fact that he had a Ph.D. in relativity and is such a passionate and intelligent-thinking Christian, as well as an artist,” Schnelle said.

Hawley’s finished video interview can be viewed here.

Department of Chemistry & Physics Hosts Workshop for Middle and High School Teachers
greenBelmont’s Department of Chemistry and Physics recently hosted its second annual “It’s Easy Being Green: Budget-Friendly Safety-Conscious Chemistry Labs for the Science Classroom of Today” workshop series for middle and high school physical science and chemistry teachers in the Middle TN area. Workshop themes for this year were “Cranberry Chemistry:  Science with Superfruits” and “Spice Up Your Chemistry Lab with Neutralization Reactions.” Event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education, held four day-long workshops in the chemistry labs in the Janet Ayers Academic Center during the month of June. During these workshops, 42 attendees from 13 counties participated in hands-on science. All participants received a complete instructor-student lab manual, and teachers attending “Cranberry Chemistry:  Science with Superfruits” each built a budget-friendly colorimeter that they were able to take back for classroom use.

greenNot only were participants pleased with the workshop format, but they were also excited that the labs tied into content-specific learning goals, finding the workshops “practical, organized and fun,” “easily reproducible” and full of “excellent content.”  One teacher was quoted as saying, it was the “best workshop I’ve attended in several years!”

green“When developing and planning my workshops, I strive to develop cost-effective and fun labs that provide reproducible results and are easily integrated into the curriculum, while meeting TN state standards,” Garrett said. “The positive and enthusiastic responses and feedback from local teachers have been very encouraging.  I’m already looking forward to developing new ideas for next year’s workshops!”

NSTA Students Take Science to Nashville's MLK High School

nstaBelmont's National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) student chapter recently took science on the road by bringing a series of physical science and chemistry demonstrations to students at Nashville's Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School.

NSTA President Katlin Stodard (Biology), Vice-President Sarah Cannavino (Chemistry), Secretary Ilyana Ilieva (Philosophy) and members Mary Barber (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), Lindsey Dennis (Biology) and Chris Burdette (Chemistry) performed fun with liquid nitrogen, the iodine clock reaction, magic pepper and "elephant toothpaste." Faculty sponsor and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Danielle Garrett said she hopes this will become an annual event, allowing Belmont students to share their passion for science with the community.

When asked why events like these are important Stodard said, "Being able to share the joy of science with others is the primary goal of NSTA. That's what happened during the demos at MLK -- students learned that science is fun! As a future teacher, watching students engage with the activities was a beautiful sight."

McBride has paper published in The Physics Teacher

Dr. Krista McBride, Physics, recently had a paper published in The Physics Teacher. The Physics Teacher journal “is dedicated to the strengthening of the teaching of introductory physics at all levels. The Physics Teacher provides peer-reviewed materials to be used in the classrooms and instructional laboratories.”  McBride’s paper is titled: “Linking Science Fiction and Physics Courses”. Here is a link to the article:

Magruder and Robinson have paper published in Physics Journal
Drs. Robert Magruder and Steve Robinson, (Physics), co-authored a paper that was recently published in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms journal. The paper is titled: "Effects of excess oxygen on the 4.5–6.3 eV absorption spectra of oxygen-rich high purity silica." Here is a link to the paper:

Hatch Receives Research Funding from DOE

Dr. Duane Hatch, Chemistry, has been awarded funding from the Department of Energy Office of Science for his recently submitted research proposal. He will perform his research at Los Alamos National Laboratory during summer 2016. The award is part of the DOE Visiting Faculty Program and is valued at $29,000. Dr. Hatch will also take and fund two Belmont undergraduate students, Ambrose Rice, a rising senior biology major, and Sherif Helmey, a rising junior biology major, to help perform the research outlined in the proposal. Dr. Hatch has also been reappointed as a guest scientist at Los Alamos National Lab.

Below is a summary of the research proposal:

Project Title: SeTrp Study of LiP

Cellulosic ethanol is a type of bio-fuel produced from biomass (lignocellulose) that is now being produced commercially. Non-food biomass is a viable raw material for bio-fuels and has brought increased attention to the need to remove lignin, which is as much as 25 wt % of non-food biomass (1). However, lignin deconstruction and removal presents a significant challenge as lignin's notorious recalcitrance frustrates the utility of lignocellulose as an economical source of bio-fuel raw material (2-4). Nature uses oxidative enzymes (peroxidases) to breakdown lignin (5). There are three major peroxidases used for lignin degradation: lignin peroxidase (LiP), manganese dependent peroxidase (MnP) and versatile peroxidase (VP). All these enzymes possess a heme group and an interesting catalytic tryptophan residue. Importantly, LiPs are strong oxidants with high-redox potential that chemically react with both phenolic and non-phenolic components of lignin. We are proposing to gain an intimate understanding of the LiP peroxidases mechanism and use this information to enhance its activity by mutating the catalytic Trp residue for a more polarizable amino acid, selenatryptophan (SeTrp). We will characterize the effects of SeTrp on the electron and radical delocalization and open the door for the use of these types of unnatural amino acids on the elucidation of complex enzymatic mechanisms.

Ferrara Gives Talk at Adventure Science Center

Dr. Davon Ferrara, Physics, recently gave at talk at the Adventure Science Center’s Science Café.  The Science Café is a series of informal discussions on current issues in science and provides an opportunity to share your opinions, ideas and thoughts with other science lovers and to meet local scientists in a fun, casual setting. The title of Ferrara’s talk was: Physics and Ballroom Dancing. He discussed how basic physics concepts can be used to better understand the advanced techniques of ballroom dancing, while relating the theory to the results of a student-driven project using an iPhone to study the physics of cheerleading that can help make physics more interesting and relatable for students.


Engineering Physics Alumni Working at NASA


lafranceKayla LaFrance (class of 2009 – Engineering Physics major and Math minor) started a job at NASA in October, fulfilling a lifelong dream.  She is the newest flight controller of the ISO -- Inventory and Storage Officer Team.  She is located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

To quote from Kayla’s Linked In page: I live my dream every day at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. After 18 years of dreaming and dedication, I now have the joy of working with manned space flight. I currently work as a contractor for NASA in the Flight Operations Directorate, training to be an ISO (Inventory and Storage Officer) Flight Controller for Mission Control. My future is wide open and I hope to find myself as a Flight Director, finishing my education with a Ph.D, and helping design the new mission ops concepts for future Mars Missions. And yes, I was on the TBS reality competition show, 'King of the Nerds.' Yes, I won, so yes, I am King of the Nerds.


ReLeafing Day is the Nashville Tree Foundation's fall planting, held every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  On Saturday, November 21, ReLeafing Day was held in the Northwest Nashville neighborhoods of Bordeaux, Haynes Manor, Haynes Park, in public parks and along Titans Way with the Cumberland River Compact. Volunteers across the county come to plant trees in public spaces and private yards.

Belmont student members of Beta- Beta-BetaECO, and SMACS , along with Dr. John Niedzwiecki, faculty advisor for ECO, participated in the tree planting. They planted four trees with the Nashville Tree Foundation. In partnership with Nashville Electric Service, the Tree Foundation has planted hundreds of trees that coexist with power lines since ReLeafing Day began in 2002. 

releafing   releafing
  Nancy Le(L) and Dora Geving(R)

Hawley Delivers Acoustics Instruction in Song

hawleyAt the 170th Acoustical Society of America meeting in Jacksonville, FL, November 2-6, 2015, Belmont Associate Professor of Physics and songwriter Dr. Scott Hawley shared one of his science education songs.  In his song "Baby in Hertz (Simple Harmonic Motion)," the chorus consists of spelling out an equation for oscillation (as a mathematical homage to R&B songs such as "R-E-S-P-E-C-T.")   Hawley notes, "Simple Harmonic Motion is a fundamental paradigm for understanding a variety of phenomena not only in acoustics, but throughout physics."   Accordingly, the lyrics of the 2nd verse of the song point out, "This phenomenon's so universal, I can't overemphasize it: Any force, for small displacements, you can prob'ly linearize it!"  

In the photo, Hawley is on guitar/vocals, and undergraduate Brandon Olmos, of Columbia College of Chicago's Bachelor in Acoustics program, is on drums.

Belmont Students and Faculty Participate in Drug Take-Back Event

drugOn September 26, 2015, five Belmont undergraduate students and Belmont faculty member Kimberlee Daus, Chemistry, participated in the Dickson County Drug Take-Back.  This event was held on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and was coordinated by Vanderbilt University and the Dickson Police Department.  Working alongside faculty and students from Vanderbilt and Lipscomb University, Belmont Pharmaceutical Studies students cataloged and counted more than 50 pounds of medication.  Students participating included: Mack Ogle, Teaghan Chen, Mackenzie Watson, Unique Ellis, and Allison Lane.


The National Drug Take-Back Day, set by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), provides a service to the community through safe and responsible disposal of unused medication. Additionally, these events help to educate the public about the potential drug abuse associated with these medications.

Dr. Hatch and Students Participate in
Summer Research at Los Alamos

hatchDr. Duane Hatch, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was selected to participate in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Visiting Faculty Program (VFP) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the Summer 2015 Term. Dr. Hatch submitted a proposal in January for the research that he has been working on here at Belmont. This is a highly competitive program that allows faculty to collaborate with some of the most talented scientists in the world. Selected faculty and participating students spend 10 weeks at a DOE national laboratory engaged in a research project under the guidance of a laboratory scientist. Faculty members build collaborative relationships with DOE research scientists, become familiar with DOE sponsored research programs, scientific user facilities, and potential funding opportunities. Students participate in enrichment activities, including career professional development workshops (e.g. technical and scientific writing skills development, poster, or oral presentation activities, etc.), laboratory tours, scientific lectures and seminars. Host laboratories may provide laboratory tours, scientific lectures and seminars, workshops on accessing DOE scientific user facilities. Dr. Hatch’s collaborator at Los Alamos National Lab is Dr. Pete Silks and he will be hosting them in his lab.

Two Belmont undergraduate students, Ryan Agh, Chemistry major - Mathematics minor, and Ambrose Rice, Biology major - Chemistry minor, joined Dr. Hatch. They worked directly with him on his research and received $5,000 each plus travel expenses for 10 weeks this summer. The total value of the proposal was $25,000.

This program is renewable for up to 3 years and opens the door for further student involvement with LANL. Here is a link to information about the program:

Former Physics Students Renovate Choir Room at C.P.A.

Two of Dr. Scott Hawley’s former PHY2010 students were just involved in acoustical renovations for the choir room at Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA). Tanner Roman and Gary Lancaster, both AET majors, teamed up with Randall Griffith of Harrison Entertainment Group to design and construct the new choir room. 

Before..... After ......
before after



The Physics department is now using the idle time on their desktop computers in their McWhorter labs through the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). BOINC is a program that lets you donate your idle computer time to various science projects. After installing BOINC on your computer, you can connect it to as many of these projects as you like. The intent of BOINC is to make it possible for researchers to tap into the enormous processing power of personal computers around the world.

Belmont has enlisted its lab computers' idle time by joining the Einstein@Home project to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. This will put Belmont in the top 1% of BOINC users in the world.

Chocolate: The World's Perfect Food
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) and Dr. Kimberlee Daus, Chemistry Professor, hosted a convocation event on the chemistry elements of Chocolate. Nutrition researcher Michael Levine, among others, has described chocolate as being the world's perfect food—chemically speaking. During this standing-room-only event, they talked about the six different possible crystalline states that are possible for chocolate – Stage V is desired for the ultimate physical characteristics (shiny with the nice “snap”) and demonstrated how to achieve it through tempering. They also discussed why Hershey’s chocolate has such a distinct taste and looked at the different chemicals responsible for the “feel good” aspects of chocolate. During this fun event, they explored the chemistry of chocolate, what makes chocolate really the perfect food, and had chocolate chemistry fun!

AET Students Build Speaker Cabinet for Physics
Acoustics Lab Isolation Booth

aetStudents in Dr. Scott Hawley’s PHY2010 course, Physics for Audio Engineering, built a ported speaker cabinet for the new isolation booth that was obtained for the College of Sciences & Mathematics Acoustics Teaching Lab. AET majors Ryan Yount, Chris O'Brien, and Ryan Morris are pictured taking measurements of the telescoping speaker cabinet they built as part of a class project. The students built a ported speaker cabinet, for which the resonant frequency (of the port) was tunable by varying the interior volume of the cabinet -- i.e. they created a tunable Helmholtz Resonator.  The isolation booth was secured by CSM faculty Drs. Thom Spence, Robert Magruder and Scott Hawley for use with student undergraduate research and class projects which require more precise acoustical measurements than is afforded by a regular classroom environment. 

Physics students attend meeting of the Music City Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA)

Belmont physics students and faculty attended the January Meeting of the Music City Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), a division of the American Physical Society.  The meeting was held at Omega Lab, a studio owned & operated by Belmont alumnus Robert McClain (Music Business with Production Emphasis, ’82).  Omega Lab has received worldwide recognition not only for its uniqueness – the structure is a large army tent, powered via car batteries & car amplifiers, and boasts a set of IMAX speakers for 7.1 studio monitoring – but also for producing the Mando Blues radio show and for recently recording two of the Top-10-rated regional albums of 2014 according to the Nashville Bridge magazine.  The meeting topic was a discussion on studio calibration for film and cinema production.  In attendance were Belmont students Chris Waggy and Austin Arnold, both currently enrolled in PHY2250 “Electronics & Circuit Theory’, and Belmont Physics professor Dr. Scott Hawley, who serves as the Vice President for the organization.   Nashville’s ASA Chapter is open to students, scientists, audio engineers and musicians, has monthly meetings in the Nashville area, and has grown to roughly 40 members since its inception in June 2014.  For further information, visit

Chemistry Students Participate in STEM Poetry Slam Competition

poetry slam
Five students from Dr. Kimberlee Daus’ Organic Chemistry I class competed in the first ever Middle Tennessee STEM Poetry Slam Competition held November 5th at the Bistro at Emma, Nashville, TN.  The contest, open to area high school and college students, was presented by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub.  Poems were invited that either explained a challenging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) concept or inspired young people to pursue STEM-related fields.   All poetry had to be written and performed by the entrant. All students in Daus’ class were invited to enter the contest as a quiz challenge to address difficult content in organic chemistry.  Sydney Gangluff, Angel Brothers, Sarah Cannavino, Miranda West, and Kathryn Hook (L to R in pic) were selected as 5 of the 16 finalists.  Kathryn Hook and Miranda West were selected as top winners in the science category.  Their entry, entitled “Mechalicious,” explained the difference between SN1 and SN2 reaction mechanisms. Here is a link to their video:

Daus Receives Chaney Distinguished Professor Award


CAS associate dean of sciences and professor of chemistry, Kim Daus, was named the 2014-15 Chaney Distinguished Professor. The Chaney Distinguished Professor Award, determined on the basis of superior teaching, is presented each year to a faculty member who best represents the vision of the university to be a “premier teaching institution.” Of the honor, Daus said, "For me, receiving the Chaney Teaching award is truly a reflection of the best of Belmont – the amazing students who work so diligently to learn, the wonderful mentors and colleagues who encourage and inspire me in my teaching, and the strong administration who support and value classroom teaching. I am very honored and humbled to be this year's recipient of the Chaney Teaching Award."

Better Eating Through Chemistry


Dr. Kim Daus led a Maymester Junior Cornerstone course titled "Better Eating Through Chemistry: Using Chemistry to Improve Local Cuisine".  The course is a great way to get non-science majors excited about organic chemistry while also encouraging better eating habits in college students. The course met five days a week for three weeks and included lectures, readings, problem solving assignments, research, field trips, experimentation and intensive group work and assessment.  eatingEach week students received a challenge that set up their research and collaboration for the following days. For example, students ate lunch locally at La Hacienda and Mas Tacos Por Favor and then were challenged to research and prepare a healthy, vegetarian Hispanic meal as one of their group projects. In addition to presenting their plates to the class, each group also had to explain the rationales for the recipes they created before all the participants got to test their research through a class meal. Field trips included visits to Noble Dairy Farm, Delvin Farm, and the Nashville Farmer's Market.

Physics Students Present "Circus"



Members of the Society of Physics Students recently presented a "Physics Circus" convocation event.

The students presented various intriguing and exciting physics demonstrations. Physics students showed and explained the science behind phenomena such as beautiful Chladni patterns, the "ring launcher" device, alien-looking ferrofluid formations, and more.  Dr. Scott Hawley, Associate Professor of Physics, serves as the faculty advisor for this student organization.

CSI: Belmont


Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Alison Moore and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) led an interactive crime-solving event for students during a recent convocation event. With a theme reminiscent of the popular CBS TV series “CSI,” students were challenged to play the role of Crime Scene Investigators and draw conclusions about a hypothetical crime based on their research.


Students looked at evidence including fingerprints, DNA analysis and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, which identifies different substances within a test sample. The students also investigated footprints and the ink chromatography of a note to evaluate suspects in a supposed murder. Evidence was used to include or exclude suspects during the investigation.


Earlier in the week, the “CSI: Belmont” experience also offered a visit from a training specialist from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), who talked about the educational background required to work in crime investigation as well as the training investigators go through after they get the job.