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Vandal Science News-June 2015

A Newsletter for Alumni and Friends June 2015

Dean's Message

June is a great time of year here on campus in Moscow. We're still basking in the glow of commencement, of course. It's always a great experience to see students receive the degrees for which they've worked so hard. As we always do, we were able to recognize several of our most outstanding graduates with awards at our post-commencement college reception. Of particular note are

  • Peter Brown (Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, Philosophy), winner of the John B. George Award as the college's outstanding graduating senior.
  • Matthew Pennell (Ph.D., Bioinformatics and Computational Biology), winner of the Diane Haynes Memorial Award for the outstanding graduate student in the college, and
  • Kelly Deobald (Microbiology), winner of the college's Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award.

You can read more about these superb students in this edition of Vandal Science News.

Spring is also a time for recognizing faculty members. As usual, we had several faculty members win university–wide awards this year. Peter Fuerst (Biological Sciences) and Michelle Wiest (Statistical Science) were awarded the university's Mid-Career Award, and Associate Dean Mark Nielsen (Mathematics) won the Faculty Excellence in Advising Award. Additionally, the College of Science recognized Paul Hohenlohe (Biological Sciences) with the Early Career Award, and Professor James Foster (Biological Sciences) with the Distinguished Faculty Award. We also had a tremendous national honor given to a member of our faculty: Professor Tom "Doc" Bitterwolf (Chemistry) was recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. You can read about Tom's well-deserved recognition in this newsletter.

Summer gives faculty the most time to work on their research, so while campus sidewalks seem less hectic, there is much going on in our offices and labs. You can read about some of the ground-breaking research our faculty have been doing recently here in the Vandal Science News. I'll make special mention of a new and very important initiative spearheaded by Professor Holly Wichman (Biological Sciences) that is now underway. The Center for Modeling Complex Interactions, funded by a $10.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, features cooperative teams of faculty from several different disciplines. Team members will bring their different strengths together to address important biomedical research problems. The center will build on our already strong research focus on computational aspects of the biological sciences.

I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse of some of what is going on in the College of Science. As always, thank you for your continued support.

- Dean Paul Joyce

Digging Into the World of Copper

UI professor’s research reveals new patterns in how economically important copper deposits are distributed across the Earth.

Read about Yanites's research

Chemistry in the Classroom

Longtime professor “Doc” Bitterwolf named AAAS Fellow for dedication to teaching, research

Read about Doc's achievement

Menopause and Microbiomes

A partnership with a multinational consumer products company helps improve women's health.

Read More

2015 College and Department Award Winners

The College of Science and Departmental Awards for the Class of 2015.

Congratulations to the 2015 award winners!

Discover Idaho’s Wildflowers with New App

University of Idaho’s Stillinger Herbarium joins Northwest partners to make plant information available to the public.

Learn about Idaho's Wildflower App

A Better Prosthetic

UI biology researcher models complex muscle interactions to help make prosthetic devices less painful

Read More

Vandal Science News Puzzler

The puzzler for this issue of the Vandal Science News is a really fun logic puzzle. At first reading, it doesn't seem like there's enough information given – but there is! Can you put it together?

Jeff takes Abby and Brian to a lot where a dozen autos are parked, one of them being his. The autos in the lot are as follows:

  • 2 Chevrolets (red and tan)
  • 1 white Ford
  • 3 Jeeps (black, white, and tan)
  • 1 red Toyota
  • 2 Nissans (red and tan)
  • 1 white Hyundai
  • 2 Buicks (blue and white)

He tells Abby the color of his automobile and tells Brian its make, and challenges the two of them to figure out which one belongs to him without revealing the make or color directly. The following conversation then occurs:
Abby: “I don’t know which one belongs to Jeff.”
Brian: “Even knowing that you don’t know, I still don’t know.”
Abby: “Oh! Now I know.”

Which auto is Jeff’s?


Jeff owns the white Jeep.

The table here helps to organize the logic.

  • Abby knows the color, so when she announces that she doesn’t know which car is Jeff’s, everyone can eliminate the blue and black cars – that is, the pink-shaded columns are thrown out.
  • Now Brian only has to consider the three remaining columns, so when he says that knowing the model still isn’t enough, that means we can throw out the rows that have only a single car still in consideration, shaded here in blue. (Note that we can throw out the Buicks because even though there are two of them, one of them was already eliminated by Abby’s statement – if Jeff’s car were the white Buick, Brian would know it.)
  • So now Abby only needs to consider the six remaining cars, highlighted here in yellow. She says that she does now know which car is Jeff’s, so it must be the only remaining car of its color. But there are still two red cars and three tan cars under consideration. The only choice with a unique color is the white Jeep!


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science