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Tri-Beta recognized as top chapter for eighth time

Members continue to work on research for upcoming contest year

By Allison Price
On April 4, 2014

ASU's Epsilon Sigma chapter of Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) biology national honor society has been named the recipient of the Lloyd M. Bertholf Award. The award indicates that Tri-Beta was the top chapter in the nation for the 2012-13 academic year.

"There aren't many words to describe the excitement I felt for our chapter," Tri-Beta president Jazmin Humphreys said. "Our 2012-2013 year was an amazing year for research and service thanks to our dedicated members and officers who worked almost nonstop."

This is the eighth time the group has received the award over the last 25 years, Tri-Beta faculty adviser Dr. Crosby W. Jones said. No other school has won the award more than four times.

Humphreys said Tri-Beta is one of the most recognized organizations on campus. There are three goals that Tri-Beta sets: scholarship, dissemination of scientific information and the promotion of biological research.

"We are also an organization that is dedicated to helping out our community," she said.
There are 570 Tri-Beta chapters in the nation and to know that ASU's chapter is one of the top is an amazing feeling, Humphreys said.

"First and for most our chapter has a long history of success," she said. "We hold our heads high knowing that we are the number one Tri-Beta chapter in the nation and have been named so eight times."

Jones said there are two different categories within the honor society: an associate level and an honors level. Even though there are different levels, anyone interested in biology is welcome to join.

"At the associate level, anyone can join with any kind of grade point average (GPA)," Jones said. "The honors category requires a biology major or minor and a particular GPA, and those people are registered at the national offices as permanent members of Tri-Beta. The associates never get to that point unless they meet the requirements later. Most honor societies don't have that other category, and I think that is one of our strengths. We can bring people in as freshmen and show them the ropes so they can work their way up in the organization."

Jones said Tri-Beta members conduct research throughout the school year, and those projects are shared and submitted for the award.

Undergraduate research is promoted to members and it is the students job to go talk with faculty about project ideas and topics.

 "Generally, the students pick the faculty member they had before and the area they studied," Jones said. "The students don't usually walk in with a project in mind. The faculty member will give them an idea of a project that they can do."

Humphreys said she did not conduct any research that was included in the application of the Bertholf award. However, she did start research over the summer with Jones.

"I am working on the effects of steroid hormones on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, [a common bacterium that causes disease in animals, including humans], mudcoidy and fluorescent pigment production," she said.

Aside from school functions, Tri-Beta reaches out to the community by hosting more events each year, Humphreys said.

"Some of the community projects we do are two blood drives each academic school year," Humphreys said. "We also participate in science days, science nights, SAFE recycling, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Eco Fair, Reach Out and Read, Helping Hands and the Spring Chicken Affair. One of our main goals of the service projects we do with schools is to promote learning in children and their families."

Jones said he began teaching in 1978 at ASU and was approached by students asking him if he would like to be the faculty adviser for the group. In 1979 he became the adviser and has been in the position ever since.

"It is one of those things that I did by volunteering, and I don't get any extra for doing it other than the enjoyment and satisfaction of seeing the students do things as well as they do," he said.

One of Tri-Beta's strongest supporters is Dr. Russell Wilke, Department of Biology chair, Jones said. Wilke was a student of Jones' and after getting his PhD. he came back to ASU where he was hired.

"He is one of our strongest supporters because he grew up in the organization," Jones said. "I am also fortunate that I have colleagues within the department that support what the organization is all about."

Humphreys said she was elected as president of the organization in  April 2013 and plans to easily pass on the legacy to the next set of officers.

"I have been a member of our chapter for four years and each year we seem to grow not only in quantity, but in the number of service activities we attend and researchers we have," she said. "

The Tri-Beta members will be presented the award April 4 through 6 at the Tri-Beta South Central Regional Convention in Kingston, Okla.


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