Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics


Dr. David Ownby Received the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Outstanding Regional Chapter Member Award

David OwnbyPortland, Oregon (November 11, 2010) — "David currently serves on the SETAC NA Board of Directors and has been active in the Carolinas Regional Chapter, the Ohio Valley Regional Chapter and the South Central Regional Chapter before joining the Chesapeake/Potomac Regional Chapter (CPRC) in 2008. While a member of the South Central Regional Chapter, David served on the Board of Directors, was Vice-President of the board and Co-Chaired the 2007 SCRC Meeting. As a member of the CPRC, David has served on the Board of Directors (BOD) since 2008. In addition to his contributions on the BOD, David showed outstanding leadership in 2010 by serving as the lead organizer and host of the annual CPRC Meeting at Towson University in April, 2010. David coordinated logistics for the meeting space and resources at Towson University, helped formulate the technical program, made arrangements for the keynote speaker, and contributed to 3 technical presentations. David's professional affiliation with the American Chemical Society (ACS) broadened the attendance at the meeting and generated opportunities for future professional collaboration with the local ACS chapter. David has clearly demonstrated a history of outstanding service at the regional-chapter level in SETAC."


Towson University and Visiting French Students Get First Hand Look at Oil Spill

Gulf of mexico Trip  
Dr. Jeff DeQuattro of the Nature Conservancy explains water movements in Mobile Bay to Biology graduate student Karey Harris (black hat), undergraduate Sarah Buhlman (black scarf), two of the visiting French students and Dr. Nelson.

Gulf of Mexico (August, 2010) — Dr. Jay Nelson, a Towson University professor of Biological Science, led a group of Towson students and visiting French students and faculty to the Gulf of Mexico this summer to observe first-hand the scientific efforts directed at understanding the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Funded by the Fisher College of Science of Mathematics and the Department of Biological Sciences, the students visited sites in Alabama, Louisiana and Florida.

In reaction to her visit, Towson University biology graduate student Genine Lipkey said "Holding a tar ball in my hand that I had scooped up off the white sandy beach in Pensacola, FL, was a real eye opener to the immediate impacts this oil spill has had, not only on the ecosystem, but the communities in the Gulf Coast region. However, it's the long term impacts that the scientists in the region are really concentrating on investigating. What was unique about the trip were the different perspectives of the oil spill we were able to experience. Each Institution we visited had a different focus, which allowed us to get a very comprehensive view of how the scientific community in the region is responding to the oil spill. As a person who has always been intrigued by the marine ecosystem and how human interactions impact this ecosystem, the trip was one of the most rewarding educational experiences I have ever had the pleasure of taking part in."

For a "Photo Essay" see the


TU selects Dr. Elizabeth Duncan-Vaidya as Fisher Endowed Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Duncan-Vaidya Towson University (August 16, 2010) — Dr. Elizabeth A. Duncan-Vaidya, Assistant Professor of Biology, joined the faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences in August 2008. Professor Duncan-Vaidya previously served as an Intramural Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in Baltimore, Maryland. Professor Duncan-Vaidya earned her B.A. degree in Biology, magna cum laude, from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prof. Duncan-Vaidya teaches Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II. Her research is designed to investigate the neural mechanism, or underlying brain circuitry, involved in motivational disorders such as drug addiction and binge eating. Working with rats, she is exploring the impact of caffeine exposure on the motivation for sugar, as well as the role of the molecule interleukin-2 in the motivation for alcohol. Prof. Duncan-Vaidya published a 2010 article with two undergraduate student co-authors in Brain Research reporting her research.


NMR Spectrometer Offers New Possibilities for TU Faculty and Students

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer

Towson, MD (June 16, 2010) — This spring, with more than $307,000 provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, TU acquired a 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer now located in the Department of Chemistry. The NMR spectrometer is a powerful analytical instrument used by research chemists to characterize the structure of molecules. Principal investigator Clare Muhoro and co-principal investigator Lev Ryzhkov, working collaboratively with other department faculty, expect the NMR acquisition to expand the department's research capabilities and enhance its productivity to allow for better integration of faculty research with undergraduate education.

By enhancing efficiency and productivity within the lab, this spectrometer will also offer valuable research experiences to undergraduate students pursuing degrees certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS). It is anticipated that the NMR will also attract quality faculty to the department, thus facilitating the overall growth of the program and the college as a whole.


Ribbon Cutting at the New Towson University Field Station

TU Field Station Ribbon Cutting  
(left to right) Provost Marcia Welsh, Dean David Vanko,
Director Donald Forester, Suzie Henneman and Al Henneman

Monkton, MD (May 15, 2010) — The Towson University Field Station celebrated its Grand Opening on Saturday, May 15 with a free event for students, faculty, alumni and community members. Under a partnership agreement between Al (class of 1966) and Suzie Henneman and Towson University, the Field station will be available for outdoor pursuits and studies. The Field Station will be used for various environmental projects conducted by TU undergraduate and graduate students as well as long-term ecological monitoring by faculty. Among potential programs are: behavioral studies of salamanders, biodiversity surveys and GIS site mapping. Dr. Don C. Forester, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the director of the TU Field Station.

"Our students will be exposed to applied research in a pristine outdoor laboratory," said Dean David Vanko.


Patricia Schriver Steeg Presented with 2010 Dean's Recognition Award

  Dr. Patricia Schriver Steeg
  Mr. Lou Dollenger (president, TU Alumni Association)
Dr. Patricia Schriver Steeg and Dean David Vanko

Towson University (May 13, 2010) — Dean Dr. David A. Vanko presented Dr. Patricia Schriver Steeg with the 2010 Dean's Recognition Award. After graduating in 1975 from the Department of Biological Sciences, Patricia earned a Doctorate in Zoology at the University of Maryland and today is renowned for her ground-breaking research in the field of breast cancer. Patricia is the Chief of the Women’s Cancers Section of the Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology at the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Currently, she investigates the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis. She has numerous scientific publications and she has won many awards, including the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 2008 Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science. Dr. Steeg also serves as President of the Metastasis Research Society. She has truly helped women live with, survive and conquer this devastating disease through her research, her community outreach and her volunteer spirit.

Dean Vanko said "All of the above was written before I had the chance to meet Pat Steeg. Earlier today she presented a research seminar to the faculty and students in the Biology Department, and let me tell you it was a wonderful talk. I learned that Pat is a gifted communicator and an energetic, funny person. I envision her lab as probably one of the most fun places to work at NIH."


Fisher College of Science and Mathematics Honors Its Students

Towson University (April 25, 2010) — The Fisher College of Science and Mathematics held its 20th Annual Honors Convocation where outstanding students in the college are recognized for their scholarship. In his opening remarks, Dr. David A. Vanko, Dean of the College, described the day saying "This is, indeed, a day of celebration! We are gathered to present awards to many of the most outstanding students in our College. We honor you for your scholarship and we honor you for your leadership. Your identification as individuals who have reached a high level of excellence surely represents the culmination of many years of hard work, and although you probably had the support of family, friends, teachers, or community, we know that one common ingredient that you all have shown is determination. So, just as teachers don't give grades - you have to earn them; we don't simply give out honors, awards and scholarships - you have had to earn them, too. Congratulations on a job well done."

Dr. Marcia Welsh, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, addressed the audience with some very encouraging words for all of the students present.


TU Students Successfully Fend Off Cyber Attack

Dr. Michael O'Leary  

TOWSON, Md. - A team of Towson University students won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cyber-Defense Competition held at the Science Applications International Corporation's (SAIC) Conference Center in Columbia, Md. from March 11-March 13. They will advance to the National Collegiate Cyber-Defense Competition (NCCDC) finals, to be held in San Antonio from April 16-18.

The NCCDC is the world's largest college-level cyber defense competition. It provides information technology students with opportunities to test their knowledge in an operational environment and to network with industry professionals. Fifteen teams from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia participated in the initial round of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cyber-Defense Competition. Towson's team was one of five that advanced to the regional's three-day final competition.

The TU team, coached by Mike O'Leary, director of TU's Center for Applied Information Technology and professor in the Department of Mathematics, includes junior Madeline Pelkey (team captain); graduate student Brian Haar; senior Shane Lester; graduate student Felix A. Mercado; senior Brian Namovicz; senior Finn Ramsland; senior Bryan Sizemore; and senior Jon Wiseman.

O'Leary says during the regional finals, each of the student teams had to operate and maintain the IT infrastructure of the fictional town of Avalon. Teams had to run and support a range of technologies including email, multiple web sites, multiple databases and a disaster management system-all while under constant attack from a "Red Team." The Red Team consisted of a mix of professional penetration testers and students of offensive network warfare who attempted to attack the students' systems in a variety of ways, from launching network attacks to wireless attacks to surreptitiously using microphones and camera equipment aimed at the student teams.

While this was going on, students were given "business injects" requiring them to complete various tasks. As an example, the students were told a (fictional) earthquake had damaged one of their servers which had to be replaced during the competition. To win the competition, student teams needed to keep their systems up and running, keep the Red Team hackers out of their systems and simultaneously respond to all of the business injects over the course of the competition-over two full days of attacks.

This was the fifth year O'Leary took a team to the competition and the first time they've won. "After last year's team was bounced out of the competition short of the regional finals," says O'Leary, "Brian Namovicz and I organized a cyber-security student club that met weekly, beginning in February 2009, to begin preparing for this year's competition. We ramped up preparation during the fall term, with student team meetings twice each week.

"Our extra preparation and hard work during the past year paid off."


Dr. David A. Vanko appointed Dean of the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics

  Dr. David A. Vanko

Towson University (February 2, 2010) — After talking with departmental chairs, directors, faculty and staff, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David Vanko as Dean of the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics effective immediately. Dr. Vanko has served as the Acting Dean of the College since 2007 and has accomplished a great deal during that time including:

  1. establishing the FCSM Advisory Board;
  2. devising a strategy to spend $600,000 of one-time funds in support of STEM initiatives;
  3. worked with University Advancement to obtain a gift of $160,000 from the Robert M. Fisher Memorial Foundation;
  4. created the TU Robert Noyce Scholarship Program which is funded by a five-year, $900,000 NSF grant;
  5. helped conceive and propose the Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teachers programs funded through NASA; and
  6. spearheaded a successful Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) proposal to the NSF for $1.87 million.
He also worked with the Associate Provost in negotiating the MOU with USM to absorb the UMBI Education and Outreach Unit into Towson University, which was accomplished on January 13, 2010. He has demonstrated both leadership and creativity in the position as "acting" and we look forward to even more accomplishments as we all work to move the Towson agenda.

Please join me in congratulating Dean Vanko on his appointment.

Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

The Jess and Mildred Fisher
College of Science and Mathematics
Smith Hall, Room 312 (campus map)
Phone: 410-704-2121
Fax: 410-704-2604

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Many interesting and informative activities and accomplishments of the faculty and administration in the Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics are published in a monthly newsletter.  Read the current newsletter or browse through previous newsletters.



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