Tennessee Tech University


Tennessee Tech University - Cookeville, TN

TTU biochemistry students take sleuthing back to school

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thumb_biochemgroupGive Casey McCormick and his fellow biochemistry students a blender, some green peas and 100 high school students and you have the perfect recipe for inspiring more youngsters to study science.

Through a recent two-day DNA fingerprinting program, Tennessee Tech University undergraduates gave area high school students an introduction to the real-world capabilities of the technology commonly used by researchers, criminologists and health care workers in genetic identification.

After outlining the procedures involved in extracting and purifying DNA, it was time for some hands-on participation, said McCormick, a junior biochemistry major and teaching assistant.

“The fun really began with the extraction of DNA using a blender, green peas and reagents purchased from a local grocery store,” said McCormick.

TTU’s chemistry and biology departments joined to support the project, but it was TTU’s Undergraduate Affiliate Network, populated by student members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, that led more than 100 high school students from Monterey and Cookeville in the outreach project. TTU’s student group was selected by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as one of the top three chapters in the United States based on activities and leadership.

The DNA project was even featured recently in a “Communities” column in the Washington Times.

McCormick said another activity allowed students to identify the possible perpetrator of a crime from a pre-prepared and developed agarose gel.

“It definitely challenged the students and made them feel like real crime busters. Students had to identify the different samples in the gel using the DNA ladder. In addition to pinpointing the correct suspect, students compared the DNA fragments of each possible suspect,” he said.

McCormick said his group is committed to helping reach younger students and nurture their interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

“The entire exercise was designed to give students insight into the procedures of real science, and many were surprised at how fun and involved it was,” said McCormick.

“Students often have misconceptions about the level of complexity and the amount of time needed during scientific endeavors, something we like to nickname the ‘CSI effect.’

“We really thought about this, because a lot of things, especially in biochemistry, take hours to do. It took me 10 hours to prep some of these things for them to do,” he said.

McCormick says the UAN group hopes to use the Millard Oakley STEM Center, scheduled to open this spring, as another resource to expand the outreach program for wider, more regional impact. They plan to continue this program on an annual basis, providing new activities each year.

“We look forward to serving as a model for science outreach among all UAN institutions,” he said.

Jeff Boles, TTU’s chemistry department chairperson, said, “This chapter does a wonderful job championing science. Beginning last year, they also judged at the Upper Cumberland Regional Science Fair and presented two awards on behalf of the ASBMB.

“I've been their adviser from many years and have witnessed this club grow in service activities. I'm very proud of their accomplishments.”


TTU television spot wins CASE III award

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Tennessee Tech's latest 30-second television commercial was recognized with a Special Merit Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District III as part of its annual award competition. The spot, titled "Every College has these …," was written and produced by staff in the Office of Communications & Marketing.

"It is always great to be recognized for our efforts to promote Tennessee Tech," said Monica Greppin, associate vice president for Communications & Marketing. "We were able to produce this TV spot very economically, using our internal staff and a freelance motion graphic designer. To see it hold its own against universities much larger than TTU, or those created by advertising agencies, is a testimony to the talent we have here on our campus."

This marks the second year in a row the office's work has been recognized by CASE District III (the second largest district in CASE, with more than 4,000 members). Last year, the office was recognized in the Improvement in Design category for its work on the 2008 Appalachian Center for Craft Summer Workshop Catalog.


Last call for regional science fair entries

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The deadline is fast approaching for entering the Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 19-20.

All exhibits must be pre-registered to compete in the fair.  Registration forms must be received via the online registration form by the fair director by March 12. Forms can be found on the www.tntech.edu/stem web site.  Any student in grades four through eight, who has received an award in a school fair, and all students in grades nine through 12, are eligible to compete.  A student whose school does not have a science fair may enter the regional fair directly.

For more details, read the complete description or visit http://www.tntech.edu/scifair/home/.

Contact Bethany Stevens with questions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 931-372-3541.








Save the date for Celebration of Craft

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thumb_Glass_Blowing_demoKick off spring with the 12th Annual Celebration of Craft on Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Tennessee Tech’s Appalachian Center for Craft overlooking Center Hill Lake near Smithville. Admission is free.


This open house event invites you to experience craft demonstrations in all studios, hands-on craft projects for children and more:


  • Take in live musical performances by The Ballinger Family Band and Gypsy Pompe. Sponsored by TTU Center Stage.


  • Build-a-Bowl in support of Habitat for Humanity. Sponsored by Synergy: Mind Body Fitness Studio.


  • Enjoy discounts while shopping for one-of-a-kind works in The Gallery, 10 percent off everything – 20 percent for TTU employees.


  • TTU’s Visual Art Society, a student art organization, presents its annual spring sale during the celebration.


  • Support educational art outreach programs in Middle Tennessee while you participate in the annual Silent Auction. Silent Auction items are generously donated by Craft Center-affiliated and other regional artists.


“Proceeds from the Celebration of Craft directly serve the Craft Center’s educational outreach programs, serving thousands of students in Middle Tennessee each year,” said Gail Gentry, outreach coordinator for the Friends of the Appalachian Center for Craft of Tennessee.


The Appalachian Center for Craft is conveniently located approximately six miles from Interstate 40 at Exit 273 (Smithville /McMinnville). Go south on Hwy. 56; turn left immediately after crossing Hurricane Bridge. This drive leads to the Craft Center.


For more information about the 2010 Celebration of Craft, contact Andre Ballard, workshop and event coordinator, at 931.372.3051 or visit the Craft Center’s web site at www.tntech.edu/craftcenter.


Apply for $2,500 Rotary Scholarship open to any major

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The Cookeville Rotary Club invites applications for a $2,500 Rotary Scholarship for 2010-2011 academic year from outstanding TTU students (any major) who are long-time Putnam County residents. The deadline for applications is April 8, 2010. To be eligible applicants much have graduated from a Putnam County High School; including home schools; be currently enrolled full-time at TTU; enroll as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at TTU for the 2010-2011 academic year; and not have a parent or guardian who is a Rotarian.

The following items should be submitted: two-page essay which addresses achievements; financial obligations; income and goals; resume that includes service, leadership, and extracurricular activities; two letters of reference (at least one academic); up-to-date college transcripts.

Submissions should be made to: Francis Otuonye, Box 5036, or call 372-3233.


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