Department of Natural and Physical Sciences

Park Faculty publishes paper on improving concrete in waste containment

Alexander Silvius (Assistant Professor of Physics) along with colleagues at the Univeristy of Missouri-Kansas City and Lindenwood University have published a paper titled, "Semipermeability of concrete for hazardous waste containment," in the journal Environmental Geotechnics 3(6) 408-419 (2016).

This work talks about ways to improve containment structures of hazardous materials to prevent leakage into unprotected envrionments.

The paper can be found at:

Park Faculty Publish Paper on Fossil Teeth

Brian Hoffman (Professor of Biology and Mathematics), Scott Hageman (Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences & Associate Professor of Geology), and Gregory Claycomb (Associate Professor of Chemistry) published a paper titled, "Scanning electron microscope examination of the dental enameloid of the Cretaceous durophagous shark Ptychodus supports neoselachian classification," in the international Journal of Paleontology 90(4): 741-762 (2016). 

Shark teeth are extremely important to interpreting the long history of sharks.  This paper makes use of scanning electron microscope images to confirm the composition and three-dimensional layering of the teeth for a rare group of sharks that have “shell crushing” teeth.  This paper confirms that this group of sharks may have teeth that look similar to older, more primitive sharks but with SEM analysis the modifications of the teeth reveal the teeth were designed for a specific environment/diet, making them more advanced in teeth formation.

The paper can be found at: 

Students present poster at annual Botanical Society of America Meeting

Botany_2016_StudentsUndergraduate students Shelby DeWitt (Biology Junior), Margarita Araiza (Education Junior), and Brooke Kelly (Biology Junior) presented a poster titled, "Species diversity and seasonality in a high-latitude Permian ecosystem," on Monday August 1, 2016 in Savannah, GA. The project compares consecutive layers of fossils from Antarctica to determine if the dominant plant of the Southern Hemisphere 260 million years ago had both male and female structures on one plant or separate plants as well as when during the season the reproductive structures were produced. There is nothing on the planet today that resembles the plant studied and there is no environment today to compare plant growth making this study important in understanding how plants grew in Antarctica when the earth was warm enough to support life at the South Pole.

The abstract is available at:

Faculty publish paper on fossil plants found on Park's campus

Brian Hoffman (Professor of Biology and Mathematics) and Scott Hageman (Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences & Associate Professor of Geology) along with colleagues at the University of Kansas have published a paper titled, "A new Pennsylvanian pollen organ from northwestern Missouri with affinities in the Lyginopteridales," in the journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 234 (2016) 136-146.

This paper names and describes a plant pollen organ that is 306 million years old. This plant does not exist today and there is nothing like it on the planet today either. It is a rare find due to the exceptional preservation quality.

The paper can be found at: 

Scott Hageman, associate dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences and associate professor of geography, and BrianHoffman, Ph.D., professor of biology and mathematics, presented posters at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers in San Francisco, March 29-April 2. Hageman presented “Multidisciplinary Approach to Cemetery Analysis by Park University for the City of Parkville, Mo.” The poster was co-authored by Hageman, Jonathan Brock, senior geography major, David Fox, assistant professor of geography and program coordinator of geography, geology and global studies, and Becky Stuteville, Ph.D., associate vice present of academic affairs. In addition, Hoffman presented his poster on “Using Total Mortality Data to Determine the Impact of the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic in Kansas and Missouri Counties.”

Student Participates in American Chemical Society's International REU (2015)

by Allison Davis

 This IREU program allows you to apply to work in various countries including Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and Singapore. The program starts with an orientation in Washington D.C. where scholars learn about the research process, how to publish work, how to network and build your resume, and how to become a leader in the sciences. The program pays for 10 weeks of research abroad, room, board, and the plane ticket to get there. Once there, the student is paired with a graduate student in the lab of choice and works on a small project. This program also provides funding for the student to travel to the National ACS Meeting the following spring and present the work completed abroad. I personally worked in Perugia, Italy where I did an analytical project assessing the practical use of using metal nanoparticles as biosensors. This is a wonderful internship for those who are interested in traveling abroad.


The University of Oregon REU

by Allison Davis

This Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program pairs you up with a graduate student in a lab of choice and provides 10 weeks of paid lab work, room, board, and weekly seminars that include graduate school prep info, leadership in science workshops, and chemistry career information. I personally worked in Shannon Boettcher's lab working on an inorganic materials chemistry project. This internship was great because I got to learn so many different instruments such as SEM, XRD, photoelectrochemistry, and profilometry. Also a great internship for people who like the outdoors, as Eugene is very accessible to many outdoors activities such as hiking, biking, camping, paddleboarding, and rock climbing just to name a few.

Student Participates in North Dakota State University REU (2015)

by Ayla Parham

Parham 2015

I was fortunate enough to receive a research internship looking at biology education at North Dakota State University through the National Science Foundation. I worked under Jennifer Momsen, PhD. looking specifically at cognitive alignment within introductory biology course assessments in attempt to assist her in her body of work, and build my own research project with her mentorship. At NDSU I was able to improve my skills in research and work on my data analysis skills. I gained a better understanding of what all goes into the professional side of the scientific research process from hypothesis to review, to funding, to publishing an article.