The Synapse

Updates from the Sciences at Loyola University Maryland

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June 2020 | Issue 21

This month we celebrate the accomplishments of the class of 2020 as well as the years of dedication and lifelong impacts of retiring faculty and staff. While these members of our community are moving on to their next chapter, we know they will forever be Loyola greyhounds.

Summer classes are in session, the Hauber summer research program has begun, and there are opportunities to connect with club events and the Cosmos and Creation conference in the coming weeks.

Share your news, photos, or inspiring stories for a future issue. While we're apart, share what you miss most about being on Loyola's campus. Send a photo, short statement or video that we can include in the next newsletter to Jen Sullivan at

Highlights and General Announcements

Class of 2020 Honors and Awards

Congratulations to the following outstanding seniors graduating with degrees in Natural and Applied Sciences who received medals at this year's commencement:

The Choudhury Sarkar-Dey Natural and Applied Sciences Medal

Sarah Thayne Kujala, Summa Cum Laude

Mathematics Medal

Jerry F. Armstrong, Summa Cum Laude

Carrell Biology Medal

Daniela Colavita, Summa Cum Laude

Forensic Studies Medal

Daniela Colavita, Summa Cum Laude

James D. Rozics Computer Science Medal
Sarah Flaherty, Magna Cum Laude

Biochemistry Medal
Alyssa Leigh Hubal, Summa Cum Laude

Physics Medal
Zachary B. Metzler, Summa Cum Laude

Madeleine Freimuth Memorial Award for Chemistry

Colin John Ness, Summa Cum Laude

Engineering Medal
Jacob Benjamin Rombach, Summa Cum Laude

Statistics Medal

Jacob Sebastian Russo, Cum Laude

McNeal Chemistry Medal
Marin Wiltse, Summa Cum Laude

Whelan Medal (university medal for highest GPA for Loyola student in all courses)

Daniela Colavita, Summa Cum Laude

NAS students making a difference in diversity and community service

During Loyola University Maryland’s 2020 Commencement, the Natural and Applied Sciences academic division awarded for the first time the Choudhury Sarkar-Dey medal to an outstanding graduating senior who has shown remarkable commitment to diversity and community service during their time at Loyola. We are proud to share with you the reflections submitted by the finalists, nominated by their faculty and departments, in a series of posts on the Art of STEM blog.

This month we highlight biology major and medal recipient Sarah Kujala, '20. Congratulations, Sarah, and thank you for your commitment to fostering a diverse community at Loyola and advocating for others.

Diversity and Community Service: Loyola student encourages “Next Step” for special needs and disadvantaged youth

Engineering student authors conference paper

Chet Pajardo II, ’20, co-authored a paper entitled, “Implementing Stochastic Bayesian Inference: Design of the Stochastic Number Generators,” which was published in the Proceedings of the International Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems (MWSCAS) conference in August 2019. The abstract for Chet’s work can be viewed online. Chet began this research as a Hauber Research Fellow in the summer of 2018 under the guidance of Dr. David Hoe in the department of engineering at Loyola University Maryland.

Read more here >>>

Prehealth student cares for others as nursing assistant

Pre-health student and track and field athlete Carly Spinnler was recently featured in The Baltimore Sun for her running and her work as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in her New Jersey hometown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more at the Baltimore Sun >>>

See Carly's interview @PatriotLeagueTV >>>

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Retiring Faculty & Staff from Natural and Applied Sciences

We recognize and celebrate the following retiring faculty and staff from Natural and Applied Sciences who have made a tremendous impact on the lives of students, colleagues, and friends during their many years of service at Loyola. Please join us in congratulating them on their retirement and wishing them the very best!

The comments below were curated from the university's celebration page where the community is invited to share memories, found here:

Margaret Daley, Administrative Assistant for Engineering and Computer Science

Margaret Daley started work for Loyola on August 28, 1972 – and she leaves us after 48 years of service. Loyola merged with Mt. St. Agnes the year before so the first few women were on campus. Loyola had only about 750-800 students in total.

Margaret started in the Jenkins Science Center - now called Beatty Hall. She worked with the Biology and Chemistry departments. When Donnelly was built and opened in 1978 she moved there and was with ENCSAP - Engineering, Computer Science and Physics. After that she provided administrative support for the MES Masters program in engineering.

Engineering/Physics was in Maryland Hall until they moved to Donnelly. CS was a fledgling under Engineering until finally they came into their own - about 30 years ago.

Margaret graduated from Loyola in 1981 with a BA in Sociology. She has provided administrative support for both Computer Science and Engineering for many, many years. She will be greatly missed, and we wish her the best of Loyola memories and a healthy and happy retirement.

Gregory Derry, Associate Professor of Physics

Known for his surface physics and office organization

When Greg Derry joined the Physics Department 34 years ago, the department had recently split into three departments: Physics, Engineering Science and Computer Science. The three-member physics department consisting of Greg, Helene Perry and Randy Jones was preparing to move into our new home in the just-finished Knott Hall. We were all concerned that Greg would be severely challenged in establishing his surface physics research at Loyola, since these programs typically are found in large research institutions with graduate students, post-docs and staffed machine shops. Less than two years later, however, Greg had secured his first research grant and a year after that he published his first article based on research at Loyola. A year after that, he published his first article with a Loyola student coauthor. Clearly, Greg had found a way to keep a successful surface physics program going at Loyola!

But Greg was not content to be merely a surface physicist. While he has continued his surface physics research, with over 25 published research articles, he has pursued many other interests from the interplay between science and religion, to the application of chaos theory to the timing of human menstrual cycles. When department discussions about the goals of the science component of the Core Curriculum revealed a dearth of satisfactory textbooks on the subject, Greg wrote his own, What Science Is and How It Works. He obtained funding from the Metanexus Society in order to found the Baltimore Science/Religion Group so that he could bring people from many disciplines together for discussions. He participated at every level in Loyola, from rewriting the first-year physics lab manual to chair of the department to co-chair of the Board on Rank and Tenure and he chaired most every important university committee in between. Greg is in many ways the idealization of a faculty member at a liberal arts institution; a successful researcher, but also a true polymath, with interests and expertise ranging over a huge swath of human endeavors.

Greg was known to have a somewhat haphazard organizational structure in his office, having papers and books stacked precariously on every surface, sometimes as much as 4 feet high. Greg claimed that he could lay his hands on any document in his office within seconds and, in fact, we all witnessed this at one time or another. One weekend, somebody broke into the office next door to Greg’s and stole a VCR (old fashioned video recording device). When security came to investigate, they did a quick search of nearby offices and came back to report: “they stole the VCR from your office, but they completely trashed the office next door”. Needless to say, it was just the status quo for Greg’s office.

Wayne Elban, Professor of Engineering

Dr. Wayne Elban retires after 35 years of service to Loyola. His long history with the department is filled with points of notice:

Dr. Elban was hired in the Fall 1985 semester expressly to help the engineering department obtain national (ABET) accreditation, with an emphasis on his experience in engineering practice and research experience. He was a key principal in the University’s successful first self-study and application for ABET accreditation. This effort put our engineering program on the national stage. He has led and/or participated as a principal over the years in the periodic reviews and administration of five (5) different, formal engagements with ABET.

Wayne’s continuing participation in the ABET assessment certification process for engineering at Loyola has helped assure its continuance. We recognize that the administration of audit materials by Dr. Elban is unparalleled and a high bar for all of our faculty.

Dr. Elban taught 16 different undergraduate engineering courses for us, including several he developed and taught for the first time at Loyola. Our materials engineering laboratory experiments are essentially all his creations.

Dr. Elban has been continuously active in materials research and especially in student research. He has 43 peer reviewed journal papers and 39 conference papers during his tenure. Three of these publications are co-authored by our students. Additionally, Wayne has participated in the National Educator’s Workshop since 1994, authoring 16 conference publications and presentations including 5 with our students. He continues to research and follow his expertise in hardness testing and historic wrought iron characterization with our students.

Wayne Elban’s review and editorial skills are legendary in our department and the University, and he participated on Fulbright and Goldwater review committees over a 27-year span that has yielded 32 awards or fellowships. He was a Core and/or a Major advisor for students for all but one of his 35 years at Loyola.

Dr. Elban was department chair for seven (7) years. His analytical skills have been of great importance to the University and department as he has scheduled and maintained the complex landscape of all of our engineering course offerings and revised and edited the department’s annual contribution to the undergraduate catalogue.

Post retirement, Dr. Elban has offered to continue to teach as a per-course instructor. He will bring continuity in our materials engineering courses in this role. He also intends to continue his research projects. His continuous and constant engagement in research guarantees this activity.

We look forward to the continuing engagement of Dr. Wayne Elban in an instructor role and as a researcher in the Engineering Department, and we will continue to benefit from his presence.

Chrstopher Morrell, Professor of Mathematics & Statistics, Director of Data Science Program

Chris Morrell was born, raised, and educated in Cape Town, South Africa. He originally thought he'd come to the U.S. for a one year graduate program in Statistics, but while at the University of

Wisconsin he met his future wife Claudia, and the rest was history.

His research has been in Statistics, both in theoretical development, and in applications such as his three decade consulting work with the National Institutes of Aging. In 2010 he received the rare honor of being elected as Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Chris taught at Loyola for 34 years, and influenced the University and his department. He was chair of Mathematics and Statistics, helped create the Statistics major, and helped start, and direct, the graduate and undergraduate programs in Data Science. But I'm sure his contribution that is closest to his heart, was the graduation of two of his daughters from Loyola.

Engineering department hosted Industrial Advisory Board meeting

The Engineering department hosting their Industrial Advisory Board meeting in May.

Upcoming Events

Student Club Events

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Join us virtually for the 38th Annual Cosmos & Creation Conference

The 38th annual Cosmos & Creation Conference will take place on June 12 - 14, 2020 with several keynote lectures available to the public as well as member discussions via Zoom.

The conference began in 1982 with the vision that working scientists would find it fruitful to share their religious awareness with other scientists, to discuss and share their vision of God and the world, based on their scientific training, reading, and working experience.

This year's keynote speaker is Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor at Claremont School of Theology. The topic of his talks is "In What Sense is the World Spirit?"

All are welcome and invited to attend the public lectures, but registration is required to receive the Zoom login details.

Visit for details and registration.


COVID-19 Student Action Fund to Support Students Committed to Social Action

Launched by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) COVID-19 Student Action Fund will support select students at universities around the world who are committed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund will provide at least $100,000 in total funding to students who are developing social enterprises, awareness and prevention campaigns, infectious disease monitoring and response systems, and other emergency response initiatives to provide immediate support during this global crisis.

Apply by June 3 with your commitment to take action at

Resources for remote teaching from Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching

A note to faculty from Dean Roughani:

During Friday, May 29, I attended the Summer Institutes (SI) Happy Hour for the first time, and I found the event to be very well organized and useful. The topic of the last week’s SI happy hour was teaching labs remotely. As an example, I have included the following links just for your information showing what was discussed during this event. Moreover, SI Happy Hour has established a mechanism for the interested faculty from various institutions to collaborate on developing or revising courses of common interest to better prepare for fall teaching in view of COVID-19. If you are interested to sign up for a collaborative Slack workspace that matches your interest, please let us know. There were more than 250 participants with 23 breakout sessions, discussing various topics related to lab-based courses for fall 2020.

Click here to access a working document on: Discipline Specific Resources_ Lecture Lab Assessment

Below is an incomplete list of resources discussed and/or shared during last week’s SI happy hour:

Visit the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching website if you are interested in monthly newsletters and future webinars.

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