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.
FCSM NEWS from 2009
Biological Sciences and MB3 Dual Major Awarded ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Washington, DC (November 2009) — The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Samantha Semenkow from Towson University as a 2009 award recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
This fellowship is aimed at highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers (Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D.) in microbiology. Fellows have the opportunity to conduct full time summer research at their institution with an ASM mentor and present their research results at the 2010 ASM General Meeting in San Diego, CA if their abstract is accepted.
Each fellow receives up to a $4,000 stipend, a two-year ASM student membership and reimbursement for travel expenses to the 2010 ASM General Meeting. Of the thirty-three awardees, eight students were from a master’s college and university institutions.
Dr. Barry Margulies from Department of Biological Sciences is Samantha Semenkow’s mentor. The title of the research project is: A Veterinary Use for Subcutaneous Implants to Treat FHV-1.
2009 FCSM Senior Gift Dedicated
Towson University (October 15, 2009) — As a result of the first annual Fisher College of Science and Mathematics (FCSM) Senior Gift campaign, a bench given by the class of 2009 was dedicated and placed in the lobby of the 7800 York Road building. This annual campaign is organized by the college's STEM Leaders, a group that consists of the officers of all student clubs within FCSM. Representing the STEM Leaders at the dedication were Steve Mark, Maggie Resh, Josh Giltinan, Andrea McGlond and Katie Grosso.
Computer Science Faculty Receive $178,000 Grant from NSF
Towson University (September 15, 2009) — A collaborative grant proposal submitted by Drs. Jonathan Lazar and Jinjuan Heidi Feng, both professors of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University and Dr. Libby Kumin, a professor of speech-language pathology at Loyola University Maryland, was just funded for $178,352 by the National Science Foundation. The name of the funded project is "Computer Interface Issues for Young Adults with Down Syndrome to Transition to the Workplace." One phase of this project will involve observation of young adults with Down syndrome who are successful computer users, to understand their usage strategies. The other phase of this project will be an evaluation of how social networking tools, and web-based security features, are currently used, and how the interfaces could be modified to better meet the needs of young adults with Down syndrome, to improve the likelihood of workplace employment.
This project is a follow up to their previous research on overall computer usage by young adults with Down syndrome in the United States, which won the Best Paper Award at the 2008 ACM ASSETS Conference in Halifax, Canada. (see below)
Computer Science Research Team Named a 2009 Innovator of the Year
The team, which includes TU faculty member Jinjuan Heidi Feng, along with doctoral student Graig Sauer and Jon Holman ’08, and former Computer Science faculty member Harry Hochheiser, developed and extensively tested HIPUU—the Human Interaction Proof Universally Usable—from 2007 to 2009.
The Daily Record will honor the group and other award recipients with a ceremony on Oct. 14 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
TU selects Dr. Timothy Brunker as Fisher Endowed Chair
Towson University (August 16, 2009) — Dr. Timothy J. Brunker, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry in August 2008. Professor Brunker previously served as a lecturer in chemistry at Boston University (Boston, Massachusetts), a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts), and a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire). Professor Brunker holds both the Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Chemistry degrees from the University of Oxford (Oxford, United Kingdom).
Prof. Brunker teaches Organic Chemistry, and his research focuses on the synthesis of novel chiral metal complexes and their potential applications as chiroptical molecular switches. Chiral molecules are those that can exist in both left-handed and right-handed forms - they behave identically in almost every way except that they can display different chemical properties if they interact with other chiral molecules. This behavior allows the design and synthesis of chiral molecules that can be switched back and forth, making them potentially useful for the storage of digital information.
Biology Course Taught In Costa Rica Features Service Learning Component
Towson University (July 2, 2009) — Dr. Sarah Haines (Department of Biological Sciences) has returned from Costa Rica after teaching a biology course targeting those interested in science teaching careers. The course is part of Dr. Haines’ work as a SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagement & Responsibility) Leadership Fellow. SENSOR is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. SENCER courses improve science education by focusing on real world problems and, by so doing, extend the impact of this learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society. Student coursework includes opportunities for civic engagement and service. While in Costa Rica, students planted trees on a cocoa plantation to provide forested corridors for local wildlife. Students also completed several service projects at a local school, including removing waste from the school’s soccer field, painting the schoolyard fence, and removing debris from the schoolyard. The course also included trips to Arenal volcano, Manzanillo Preserve, and the Institute for Biodiversity.
Fisher College Biologist Receives the Davis Medal as Maryland's Outstanding Young Scientist
Towson University (June 11, 2009) — Dr. John LaPolla (Department of Biological Sciences) has been selected as The Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) for 2009. The prestigious OYS award program was established in 1959 to recognize and celebrate extraordinary contributions of young scientists in Maryland. The award is sponsored by the Maryland Academy of Sciences and conferred by the Maryland Science Center in the hopes of encouraging the important work of young scientists in the state of Maryland, and to increase public awareness of their accomplishments. Many previous recipients of these awards have gone on to distinguished careers in science and engineering in Maryland. The award recipients receive the Allan C. Davis Medal and a cash award of $2,500. The Medal was presented to Dr. LaPolla at a dinner hosted at the Maryland Science Center.
Linda Rosenberg Wilbanks Presented with 2009 Dean's Recognition Award
Towson University (April 30, 2009) — Dean Dr. David A. Vanko presented Dr. Linda Rosenberg Wilbanks with the 2009 Dean's Recognition Award. A 1973 graduate of the Mathematics Program at Towson University, Linda earned her Masters of Engineering Science in Computer Science from Loyola College and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Linda currently serves as the Chief Information Officer for the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, DC. Prior to that, Linda was the CIO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Linda occupies a fascinating and highly important position. Last Tuesday, April 21, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States is "under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day." Well, Linda's National Nuclear Security Administration is part of the Department of Energy, and she tells me that the computer systems for which she is responsible are also continually being hacked by outsiders. In her House testimony last September, Linda spoke of literally millions of attempts to break into the computer systems that safeguard our nuclear secrets. She said, "Maintaining highly effective security for nuclear weapons, weapons components, special nuclear material, and classified and sensitive information is our highest priority. We recognize our enemies will not take a day off, and we cannot either."
Dean Vanko said "I am proud that a Towson University alumna is the chief cyber expert at the NSSA, and I am very pleased to present the 2009 Dean's Recognition Award on behalf of the Fisher College to Linda Wilbanks."
Science Educator Receives USM Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award
Towson, Md. (April 10, 2009) – The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents at its meeting today announced the recipients of the 2009 USM Regents' Faculty Awards. The awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. Presented in five categories, the awards honor excellence in teaching; scholarship, research, or creative activities; public service; mentoring; and collaboration. Each award carries a $1,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.
Dr. Cody Sandifer, associate professor, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, was recognized for excellence in teaching. Sandifer’s dedication to teaching extends beyond his own classrooms: he has redesigned and/or written curriculum material for four physical science and science education courses that have been used by many new and contingent faculty members, often with his direct supervision and support. Department chairperson David Schaefer said “During his seven years at Towson, Dr. Sandifer has almost single-handedly transformed our curricula for science education, helping TU’s efforts as the largest producer of elementary teachers in the state.”
Science Educator Named a Hub Site Partner in EiE Program
Towson University (February 15, 2009) – Dr. Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, has been identified as a Hub Site Partner — and thus Towson University was identified as one of seven national Hub Sites — for the National Dissemination through Regional Partners project for Engineering is Elementary (EiE; www.eie.org). The sites include: Kentucky, Maryland (at Towson University), New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin. This means that Dr. Lottero-Perdue and Towson University will be resources in the mid-Atlantic region for teacher professional development for EiE units. This comes with roughly $30,000 in money to support professional development and materials for teachers in the Harford County Public School (HCPS) system beyond the $100,000.00 Dr. Lottero-Perdue has already acquired with her HCPS partners through the Workforce One Maryland Program.
Mrs. Diane David Appointed Executive Administrative Assistant
Towson University (January 20, 2009) – We are happy to announce that the Fisher College dean’s office has a new, permanent Executive Administrative Assistant. After a thorough search involving more than 50 applications, Mrs. Diane David has been named to the position. Mrs. David is moving from the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences, where she has been the Administrative Assistant / Office Manager since 1993. Prior to that she raised a lovely family, and prior to that she worked for three years as the administrative assistant in the Department of Health Science. Mrs. David brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new position, and all in the dean’s office welcome her to our team. Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Diane David on her new position.