Measuring drag force in Newtonian Liquids


The Biology and Physics departments are currently in their fourth year of a Science education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This grant, focused on the integration of biology, physics, and quantitative analysis, has provided for the development of two new courses, Molecular and Cellular Biophysics, taught by new faculty member and biophysicist, Dr. Edwin Li, and Biomechanics, taught by Dr. Jonathan Fingerut (Biology) and Dr. Piotr Habdas (Physics). The Biomechanics course has provided access to new instrumentation and technologies to Biology and Physics majors enrolled in the class.

For example, in one laboratory experiment, students use high-resolution force sensors and an accompanying graphing datalogger to measure drag forces exerted on objects moving through different liquids. Changing the shape, velocity and even the medium through which they are moved allows students to isolate each factor and emulate and quantify the physical forces that different organisms face in their natural environment. The graphical interface provided by the PASCO Explorer GLX datalogger allows students to isolate specific portions of their data, easily visualize changes over time, and quickly identify problems in their setup and data collection protocols. The GLX are designed to work with over 70 different probes useful to many disciplines including the physical (e.g. force, magnetic fields), chemical (e.g. pH, temperature) and biological sciences (e.g. dissolved oxygen, light levels).

Blackboard Workshops for Jan-Feb 2012

Quick note:
All faculty are enrolled in the Bb tutorial site (BB_0000_000_200320). The Bb tutorial site has step by step instruction on Bb features. I hope you will find this site very useful.

Blackboard 9.1 Getting Started

This workshop will provide an overview of Bb 9.1 and will cover the “Student View”, Building course navigation and uploading Content and the Control Panel features.

Upon completing the workshop, attendees will be able to perform basic operations in Bb9.1.
The Bb9.1 “Getting Started” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Wednesday Jan 25, 3:00-4:30     Bb Getting Started    Merion 275
Tuesday Feb 7, 11:30-1:00         Bb Getting Started   held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.

Blackboard 9.1 Campus Pack, Blogs and Wiki

This training session will focus on how students can use blogs and wikis to communicate and collaborate in class.  You will learn how to create wiki, blogs, and journals for your students.  You will also learn the appropriate application of each of these tools.

Upon successfully completing this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Create Blogs, Wiki, and Journals in a Blackboard class space

The Bb9.1 “Campus Pack, Blogs and Wiki” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Tuesday Jan 31, 11:30-1:00        Campus Pack, Blogs and Wiki     held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.

Wednesday Feb 29, 3:00-4:30     Campus Pack, Blogs and Wiki    Merion 275

Blackboard 9.1 Bb Wimba

Wimba can be utilized by those instructors that need to communicate with their students online in real time.

Wimba takes Blackboard’s “Virtual Classroom” tool to the next level by adding voice, video, and application sharing

Upon successfully completing this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Have a general knowledge of  how to communicate with students online using tools in Wimba.
  • Have a working knowledge of  how to synchronously share content and web sites with students online.

The Bb9.1 “Wimba” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Thursday Feb 2, 11:30-1:00        Bb Wimba  held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.
Wednesday Feb 8, 3:00-4:30     Bb Wimba    Merion 275

Blackboard 9.1 Bb Rubrics

The Bb Rubrics tool allows you to specify criteria and performance levels for grading, providing clear guidelines for students, instructors, and teach assistants.

The Bb9.1 “Bb Rubrics” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Thursday Feb 23, 11:30-1:00     Bb Rubrics  held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.

Blackboard 9.1 Bb Assessment

This workshop provides a hands-on introduction to the assessment function of Blackboard Learn, with a focus on creating and grading tests.  There are five major stages, you will experience a test as a student, you will learn how to create, deploy, and grade assessments.  We will also discuss best practices in online assessment, and explore how statistics can help evaluate the effectiveness of assessments.

The Bb9.1 “Bb Assessment” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Thursday Feb 9, 11:30-1:00   Bb Assessment  held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.
Wednesday Feb 22, 3:00-4:30     Bb Assessment    Merion 275

Blackboard 9.1 Grade Center

The Blackboard Grade Center is more than just a way to record students’ grades; it is a dynamic and interactive tool.  The Grade Center can record data, monitor student progress and communicate information to students.  Use this valuable tool to help understand student progress and make informed decisions on how to improve educational performance.

The Bb9.1 “Grade Center” workshop will be repeated on the following dates:

Thursday Jan 26, 11:30-1:00       Bb Grade Center   held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.
Thursday Feb 16, 11:30-1:00       Bb Grade Center  held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.
Tuesday Feb 21, 11:30-1:00         Bb Grade Center  held in the Library-Instruction Lab, on the main floor.

Source: Al Labonis, ITDL

Technology in the General Education Program Natural Science Laboratories


Connelly Hall 220 and 230 are two of St. Joseph’s University’s latest technology-equipped science laboratories.  They are home to the General Education Program lab-based natural science courses for students who are not majoring in science.  Currently, these courses include “Exploring the Earth” (Env106), “Exploring the Living World” (Bio165) and “Exploring the Physical World” (Phy113).  These labs are overseen by Dr. Brian Forster, GEP Natural Science Lab Coordinator.

Both of these labs have computers at each student station.  This allows students to perform weekly experiments and use the computers to assist them in data collection and analysis.  In addition to Microsoft Office, these computers have software programs installed specific for each of the GEP lab courses.  A Leica microscope has been installed in Connelly 230.  This microscope connects directly to the room’s AV system, allowing all students to see microscopic organisms as large as life on the classroom’s projectors.  This also eliminates the need for students having to line up waiting to look through a microscope.

In “Exploring the Earth,” students use the computers to log into the SJU Biodiversity Lab’s Fish-Cam to complete an experiment on the social behavior of goldfish.  The computers also have a global climate change module, allowing students to analyze weather data.

In “Exploring the Living World,” student microscopes have a camera that links to the computer.  By taking these pictures, students learn how to measure organisms smaller than the eye can see.  Biology students use BioPacs to learn about factors that can alter heart rate.  In the ecology lab exercise, students use Bio-Sim software.  This program allows students to learn how the environment controls population size.  Students can manipulate reproductive rate and environmental factors to see how lion, meerkat and impala populations survive in a localized region.

The labs also utilize Xplorer GLX readers.  These readers are used to analyze soil and water samples that our students collected.  These samples were collected from both on and off-campus locations.  The readers will also be utilized by students taking “Exploring the Physical World” this Spring.

To learn more about these labs and their technology, please contact Dr. Brian Forster (

Dr. James Watrous – Conference Speaker at International Conference on high performance computing, networking, storage & analysis

Seattle, Washington  Nov 12-18.

Dr. Watrous was invited to give a major presentation to computer science, biology and chemistry faculty on the use of SNNAP as a modeling tool for neuroscience research and education.

Examples presented included details of single neurons, how to connect them with chemical synapses and how to construct more complex networks.

The talk ended with a brief introduction to two areas of research: networks that simulate epilepsy and the neurons that control circadian (~24 hr) rhythms.

Turning Storm Water Challenges into Opportunities: A Workshop for Homeowners

To celebrate the anniversary of the installation of Saint Joseph’s University’s first green roof, the University partnered with Lower Merion Conservancy in inviting homeowners from the surrounding areas to a free workshop funded by a grant from the Department of Energy on November 18-19 — “Turning Storm Water Challenges into Opportunities: A Workshop for Homeowners.” The workshop was considered a success and well attended.

On Friday night, a keynote address was delivered by Carol Franklin,Principal of Andropogon Associates – ‘Metropolitan Paradise- The Wissahickon Valley.’  On Saturday, throughout the day, participants had the opportunity to attend panel discussions on storm water solutions, toured SJU’s green roof system and learned about rain gardens, rain barrels and meadows as management systems for storm water issues.  The workshop concluded with a tour of Villanova’s storm
water management system. Presenters included members from Saint Joseph’s University, Lower Merion Conservancy, PA Environmental Council, Philadelphia Water Department, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Natural Lands Trust, Cramer Design Associates, Andropogon Associates, Montgomery County Conservation District & Villanova University.

Dr. Mike McCann explained how, “Green roof systems provide a wide range of benefits including reduced energy use and increased energy efficiency.  Basic green roofs usually involve a structure built on an existing roof that includes a waterproofing membrane and additional layers of root barrier and drainage systems.  Growing medium and specialized plant vegetation is then added to that structure.”

SJU’s green roof system on the Science Center permits the direct, side by side comparison of four green roofs.  This novel, ‘many roofs on one building’ approach will provide valuable data on the various systems in use in Southeastern Pennsylvania”. “What really makes the roof unique is that built into it are sensors and other instruments that measure and track factors such as heat retention, heat flux inside and outside the building, water retention and more. Over time, Dr. McCann said, researchers, including SJU students, will be able to study whether there are “real performance differences.” Green roofs are said to lessen the urban heat effect, help in storm water management and decrease building energy.

Using Safari for Zimbra Web Mail — Reply Gets a Blank Message Window

Several Mac users have reported an intermittent and infuriating problem with Apple’s Safari web browser when replying to messages in Zimbra web mail. Clicking Reply often results in a blank message window. Clicking in the message window does not get a text insertion cursor. However, closing the message window and trying to reply again usually works as expected. No amount of troubleshooting, short of using a different web browser, relieves the problem.

The Zimbra developers forum acknowledges that a lot of people see this problem when accessing the current version of Zimbra with the current version of Safari. Thankfully, you will not need to migrate all your bookmarks to Firefox or Chrome because there is a convenient workaround.

  1. After logging in to view your Zimbra web mail, click Preferences in the light gray tool bar.
  2. Click the Composing tab.
  3. In the Compose: section, select the check box for “Always compose in a new window.
  4. Click the Save button on the left side.


Introducing Duane Glover

duane_gloverIt is my great pleasure to announce that Duane Glover has joined our staff as the new Technical Support Specialist of the College of Arts and Sciences. Duane has been in the Information Technology support field for over 20 years and has extensive experience supporting educational institutions.

Duane was born and raised in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. He was educated in the Philadelphia Archdiocesan School System and received his undergraduate degree from Spring Garden College and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Information Technology Leadership from LaSalle University. Duane is married with three children. He volunteers his time to provide Information Technology consultation to local non-profits and community organizations. He is also an avid sports fan and has coached youth basketball for the past ten years. He and his family currently reside in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia.

Please join me in welcoming Duane to Saint Joseph’s and the College of Arts and Sciences! Duane’s office is located in Merion Hall, room 173. His email address is and he can be reached at x1128.

The John P. McNulty Scholarship Program for Excellence in Science and Math


The John P. McNulty Scholarship Program for Excellence in Science and Math is an innovative, multi-faceted experience that supports young women’s academic and professional development. Beginning with the awarding of a four year full-tuition scholarship and continuing with a five-prong approach to the college experience throughout the scholar’s four years at Saint Joseph’s University, the program inspires the woman scholar to reach the top ranks of science and math professions. The scholarship is awarded to incoming women freshmen with a declared major in actuarial science, biology, chemical biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, mathematics or physics after a competitive application and interview process.

By creating a challenging environment the program is designed to ignite the desire in bright young women to strive for leadership roles in science and math. The program pays tribute to John P. McNulty’s personal commitment to excellence, his commitment to supporting and challenging women to achieve and reach their fullest potential, his energy, and his leadership contributions.

Women in leadership roles, women at the top, are underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. With its multi-faceted experience, the scholars are immersed in an environment that provides the young woman scholar the skill set to take her place on a path leading to excellence and leadership.

A McNulty Scholar is epitomized as someone who dares to be the best! A McNulty Scholar is a young woman who will make an impact!

For more information about the program, please visit the McNulty Scholars website at:

How to Insert Special Characters

As global communication expands, it becomes increasingly necessary for us to type characters that are not on the traditional American keyboard. Have you ever wondered how to add special characters and accents to a documents or e-mail? For instance, you have a colleague named José, but you were unsure of how to add the acute é in an e-mail.  If so, the tips below will guide you through the process.

How to type accent marks and special characters on a computer running Windows:

There are two ways to type accent marks and other special characters on a computer running Microsoft Windows. The first is to use ALT+ commands. In order to use these commands, you must have the NumLock function on. You must also use the numeric keypad, often located on the right hand side of the keyboard. These functions can be used in word processing, e-mails, and online. For a comprehensive list of ALT +Ctrl commands, please click here.

The second method of inserting special characters and accents mark is exclusively used in Microsoft Word. By using the CTRL+ shortcuts, you can easily add special characters in your Word documents.

How to type accent marks and special characters on a computer running Mac OS:

Similar to the Crtl+ commands in Windows, on a Mac running OS X, you can use the Option+ commands to type accents and special characters. These commands can be used both online and in word processing. For a comprehensive list of Mac OS X commands, please click here.

Install PDF Browser Plug-In from Schubert-IT

Mac users have been having a lot of problems viewing PDF documents in Blackboard and one of the best solutions is to install the Schubert PDF Browser Plug-In. The plug-in is free for educational use and easy to install.

There are different versions of the plug-in depending on your Mac operating system version, so follow our steps below to identify your Mac OS version, download the correct plug-in, install and activate it.

  1. Identify your Mac OS version.
    1. Pull down the Apple menu at the upper left corner of your screen and select About This Mac.
    2. 2macv

    3. The About This Mac window will display Mac OS X with your operating system version number listed below. Typically this will be 10.6.8 or 10.5.8.
  2. 1macv

  3. Download the appropriate version of the PDF Browser Plug-In.
    1. In Firefox or Safari view:

    2. 3schubertlit

    3. For Mac OS 10.6 you must download PDF Browser Plugin 2.4.2.
    4. For Mac OS 10.5 you must download PDF Browser Plugin 2.3.2
    5. Save the download and verify the location this file will be saved to, such as your Desktop or Downloads folder.
  4. Install the PDF Browser Plug-In.
  5. 3plugin

    1. Double-click the file you downloaded to mount the PDF Browser Plugin installer disk image.
    2. 5plugin

    3. Double-click the PDF Browser Plugin.mpkg installer package.
    4. Click Continue at the Welcome screen.
    5. Click Continue at the Important Information screen.
    6. Click Install at the Standard Install screen.
    7. Enter your SJU user name and password to approve the installation.
    8. Click Close at the Successful Installation screen.
    9. If Firefox or Safari is still open, quit and relaunch it.


  6. Activate the PDF Browser Plug-In License.
    1. View the web page that has an embedded PDF file, such as your BlackBoard course documents or an SJU page with links to documents and forms.
    2. 6license

    3. Click the button for Educational use only and click OK.
    4. 7license

    5. Click OK at the message regarding non-commercial use.
    6. 8license

    7. The upper edge of the PDF window has clickable buttons to save, print, advance through pages, rotate and so on. If you position your cursor over a button, a small text box will pop up and display the button’s function.