Towson, University (August 7, 2008) — The National Science Foundation continued its support of research in the area of Urban Environmental Biogeochemistry by funding an undergraduate research site at Towson for the summers of 2008 through 2010 ($212,238). This summer the first cohort of students completed a 10 week research experience working with faculty mentors from the departments of Chemistry, Biological Sciences and Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences. Mentors included Ryan Casey (Director), Susan Gresens, Steven Lev, Clare Muhoro, David Ownby, Joel Snodgrass and Joy Watts. Participating students came from Towson University, Virginia Tech, University of Minnesota, Western Washington University and Colorado State University. The research was highly interdisciplinary and had students working with multiple mentors in different departments. The students finished the program with a poster session in which they presented their work to their peers and the College community.
NSF Awards a $190,000 Grant to Fisher College of Science & Mathematics
Towson, Maryland (August 1, 2008) — The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $191,709 to Towson University for support of the project entitled "ADVANCEment Towards Institutional Transformation at Towson University." The intent of the Towson University (TU) IT-Start program is to collect historical and baseline information needed to develop a strategy to proceed with institutional transformation related to women faculty in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines (either independently or via an ADVANCE IT grant). The overall goal will be to identify roadblocks for female faculty members and major issues involved in their recruitment, retention, and advancement. It is anticipated that the problem will show itself to be some combination of small obstacles related to institutional, career, and family issues and that these issues may differ across important individual and family characteristics.
This project is under the direction of Professor Gail E. Gasparich and co-directors Dr. Alex Storrs, Dr. Jay Zimmerman, Dr. Ryan Casey, Dr. Paz Galupo; and it is effective through July 31, 2010.
Dr. Clare Muhoro receives a $58,000 Research Corporation Grant
Towson, Maryland (May, 2008) — Dr. Clare N. Muhoro, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, was awarded a Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award for $ 57,603 in May 2008. Her research project “Phosphanyl(organyl)boranes: Synthesis, Characterization and Applications” will support studies on the discovery of new synthetic methods of preparing phosphanyl(organyl)boranes, which are compounds with potential applications in the synthesis of polymeric materials. The grant will support undergraduate researchers in her laboratory during the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Professors in the the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics are Awarded Over One Million Dollars in Grants
Towson University (February, 2008) — Dr. John S. LaPolla (Department of Biological Sciences) and Co-PI's: Sean G. Brady (Smithsonian Institution) and Steve O. Shattuck (Australian National Insect Collection-CSIRO) were awarded $500,000 over four years for A Global Monographic Revision of the Ant Genus Paratrechina through NSF's Revisionary Synthesis in Systematics Program. The ant genus Paratrechina is a diverse group of 158 species; however, as many as twice that number remain to be discovered by scientists. Several Paratrechina species are already of quarantine concern, and this research will provide the tools needed to protect areas from the accidental introduction of species, and will inform decisions about agricultural biocontrol efforts.
Dr. Joel W. Snodgrass (Department of Biological Sciences), Dr. Ryan Casey (Department of Chemistry), Ed Landa (U.S. Geological Survey), and Steve Lev (Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences) were awarded a $188,000 grant for Integration of Stormwater Management Ponds into Urban Communities: Long-term Water Quality Protection, Wildlife, and Environmental Awareness. Small ponds are created by human to retain stormwater runoff from surface in urban and suburban landscapes, and protect surface waters from the pollutants carried by runoff. This project will take an integrative approach to investigate the long-term effectiveness of ponds, their use by wildlife, and their perceptions by citizens.
Dr. Richard A. Seigel and Co-PI's: Dr. Donald Forester, Dr. Joel Snodgrass, Dr. Colleen Sinclair (all from the Department of Biological Sciences) were awarded $287,000 over three years for Responses, Movements, and Survival of Relocated Box Turtles During the Construction of the Inter-County Connector. Large-scale construction projects necessarily result in major modifications to the habitat within and adjacent to the project footprint. Given that habitat for native wildlife species has been shrinking rapidly for decades in the US, there is widespread public support for measures that mitigate the impacts on wildlife species. One of the most commonly used mitigation measures are relocations, where animals or plants are removed from the direct path of the construction footprint and are either released adjacent to the construction area (on-site relocation) or well away from the construction zone. However, actual data testing the effectiveness of this mitigation method are sparse. We will test this methodology with an important and well-known part of Maryland's native animals, the eastern box turtle.
Dr. Linda Cooper and Dr. Ming Tomayko (both from the Department of Mathematics) and Dr. Martin Roberge, Dr. Jay Morgan, and Dr. Paporn Thebpanya (all from the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning) were awarded a $63,000 grant from The Maryland Higher Education Commission for their College Preparation Intervention Program proposal The Geomatics Academy at Fairmont Heights High School.
TU to receive $141,000 in federal funding for Forensic Chemistry Institute
Unique institute will train scientists in bomb analysis
Towson University will partner with local, state, federal and private crime labs to create the Forensic Chemistry Institute, which will specialize in education, interdisciplinary research, training, testing and consulting in forensic science. The new institute will focus on training scientists in bomb analysis. Currently, there are only 100 bomb analysts in the nation.
Last year, Congress passed the America Competes Act to help fund or improve professional science master's (PSM) programs nationwide. Currently, Towson University is only one of four schools in the nation to offer a two-year professional science master's degree in forensic science. Towson also offers the only baccalaureate forensic chemistry degree in Maryland, focusing on DNA technology and analysis.
There is currently a serious lack of qualified forensic scientists in the nation, affecting law enforcement and homeland security. It is estimated that our nation needs 10,000 new forensic scientists to meet its homeland security and law enforcement needs over the next decade. The National Institute of Justice has estimated that 90% of DNA samples are awaiting lab analysis due to lack of trained personnel.
"We are fortunate in Maryland that Towson University is at the forefront of training forensic scientists who will be able to meet our nation's homeland security and law enforcement needs," said Senator Cardin. "I strongly support programs such as the Forensic Chemistry Institute because it is critical that we educate and train more scientists who will help keep our nation safe."
"Towson University is one of our state's premier institutions of higher education," said Rep. Sarbanes. "This federal funding will help Towson to stay on the cutting edge as advances are made in forensic science."
"As Maryland's growth campus, producing Maryland's workforce, Towson University is educating the forensic scientists needed to meet the demands of law enforcement and homeland security," stated President Caret. "These funds are an integral piece in creating the Forensic Chemistry Institute which will grow our program and training initiatives and further expand our relationships with federal, state, local and private partners."
TU Professors Lazar and Hochheiser Draft Policy on Internet Accessibility
New York (January 16, 2008) — ACM Groups Urge Actions To Broaden Web Accessibility
As information on the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) becomes more critical for an array of commercial and leisure activities, several ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) groups have jointly developed a statement to encourage equitable and inclusive access for everyone including people with disabilities. Acknowledging that a majority of private and commercial Web sites have some access limitations, the ACM groups have committed to being leaders in the call to improve access to the Internet and Web. Their goal is to increase Internet access as a means to attract broader participation of talented people in the global economy.
The ACM groups have issued a statement urging the following actions
Signatories to the statement are the U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) and members of ACM's Special Interest Groups on Accessible Computing (SIGACCESS), Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), and Hypertext, Hypermedia and the Web (SIGWEB). Also signing the statement is the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), launched by ACM in 2005 to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to get students interested in computer science careers.
"The technical community has the resources to make commercial Web sites accessible without undue regulatory and monetary burdens," said Harry Hochheiser, a member of the USACM Executive Committee and Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University. He cited the work of the World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative and its accessibility tools as well as the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, which includes standards to assure accessibility to users with certain disabilities.
The USACM joint statement stresses that the benefits of universal access to the Internet and Web go beyond helping those with perceptual and motor impairments. “Striving for universal access results in streamlined Web site design that relies on clear, simple language, consistent navigation mechanisms, and text descriptions for graphic elements,” said Jonathan Lazar of ACM SIGCHI, a signatory to the statement. “It also assures enhanced access to knowledge for users of all ages and expands e-commerce opportunities for all users,” said Lazar, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University, and director of its Universal Usability Laboratory.
Additional information about universal Internet accessibility policy recommendations and a fact sheet on the dimensions of the issue and the resources currently available to address it are at
NSF Awards $580,000 Grant to Fisher College of Science & Mathematics
Towson, Maryland (September 19, 2007) — The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $580,920 to Towson University for support of the project entitled "CoSMiC — Computing, Sciences, and Mathematics in College." This project establishes undergraduate and graduate need based scholarships for students majoring in: (a) Computer and Information Sciences, (b) Mathematics, (c) Forensic Chemistry or (d) Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics (MB3).
This project is under the direction of Professors Joyce C. Little, Gail E. Gasparich and Martha J. Siegel; and it is effective through August 31, 2011.
Fisher College of Science & Mathematics at TU Receives $2,000,000 NSF Grant
Washington, DC (July 27, 2007) — Dr. Katherine Denniston with a team of collaborators from Towson University and Baltimore City Community College have received a $2,000,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education for support of the project entitled "Towson Opportunities in STEM (TOPS)." In addition to Dr. Denniston, the team included Dr. James Saunders, Dr. Jane Wolfson, Dr. Boon Loo, Dr. David Vanko, Ms. Alfreda Dudley-Sponaugle and Mr. Art King all from Towson University; and Dr. Carolyn Dabirsiaghi, Dr. Joanne Settel, Dr. Jack Taylor and Ms. Marianna Gleger all from Baltimore City Community College. The Program Director will be Dr. Jane Wolfson of Towson University. This award runs from August 2007 through July 2012.
The primary goal of the TOPS project is to increase the number of high school students entering STEM programs at Towson University (TU) and Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) and graduating from Towson University with degrees in STEM disciplines. This project aims to provide multiple, smooth pathways from Baltimore area high schools through the baccalaureate degree in STEM disciplines at Towson University. Strategies will include among other activities:
TU selects Dr. Jennifer Scott as Second Fisher Endowed Chair
Astronomy professor’s research focuses on quasars and the intergalactic medium
Towson, Maryland (July 5, 2007) — Jennifer Scott, assistant professor of astronomy in Towson University’s Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, has been selected as the second recipient of the Jess and Mildred Fisher Endowed Chair in Biological and Physical Sciences. Her three-year appointment will commence on August 15.
As holder of a Jess and Mildred Fisher Endowed Chair, Scott will be provided a monetary award of $20,000 for each of three years that may be used for, but is not limited to, a summer faculty stipend, professional travel, research equipment and supplies, and undergraduate student research support.
Scott received her B.S. (Highest Honors and Highest Distinction) in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University Research Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute of Johns Hopkins University and as a National Research Council Fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Her research focuses on quasars – the distant, powerful galactic nuclei powered by accretion onto super-massive black holes – and the intergalactic medium, the gaseous matter between galaxies and the reservoir of material from which they formed. She has authored 15 peer-reviewed research papers published in top tier astronomical journals.
As one of the Fisher Endowed Chairs, Scott’s research plans include studies of quasar environments; examinations of the connections between galaxies and the intergalactic medium; and refinement of measurements of the ultraviolet background radiation field. She will conduct much of this work in close collaboration with her undergraduate students. Scott also intends to use the visibility of the Fisher Chair to promote community outreach and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education efforts by creating the first Project ASTRO network in the Baltimore-Washington area. Project ASTRO links astronomers to teachers by bringing inquiry-based astronomy activities to K-12 classrooms.
The Jess and Mildred Fisher Endowed Chair in the Biological and Physical Sciences was established in June 2005 as part of a $10.2 million gift to the College of Science and Mathematics from the Robert M. Fisher Foundation. Its purpose is to honor the memory of the Fisher family by incorporating research opportunities into the undergraduate learning experience through the support of the scholarly growth of highly promising faculty researchers in the physical and biological sciences who are in the early stages of their careers at Towson.