Fisher Endowed Chairs
Fisher Endowed Chairs are highly promising researchers in the early stages of their teaching and research careers, who exemplify distinction in their field, and who are committed to the engagement of undergraduate students in their research work. The appointment is normally for a three-year period. Meet the current Fisher Endowed Chairs.
Dr. Daniel Caetano, 2023–2026
Assistant Professor Daniel Caetano joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2022. He earned his B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of São Paulo, his M.S. in Ecology from the University of São Paulo and his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from the University of Idaho. Prior to joining Towson University Dr. Caetano was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Arkansas and then the University of São Paulo.
Dr. Caetano’s research lies at the interface of evolutionary biology, statistics and computational biology and he seeks to answer important questions in macroevolution while also developing new statistical approaches and software to help the entire field move forward. Specifically, Dr. Caetano is developing and implementing novel Phylogenetic Comparative Methods (PCMs) of trait evolution using multivariate datasets. These tools will be developed and applied to questions on the macroevolution of pollination syndromes in flowering plants and shape change in the vertebra bones of frogs and toads. Broadly, his work has implications and applications for understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its persistence in a future challenged with human-induced habitat loss and climate change.
Dr. Caetano teaches Biodiversity, Introduction to Ecology and Evolution, and Introduction to Bioinformatics and has mentored several undergraduate students since joining TU. The Fisher endowment will be used to purchase high performance computers for students to use, to generate data necessary for grant proposal submissions to the National Science Foundation and will support additional undergraduate student researchers.
Dr. Neda Saeedloei, 2023–2026
Assistant Professor Neda Saeedloei joined the faculty of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences in 2019. Dr. Saeedloei has a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Sharif University of Technology and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas. Prior to joining Towson University, she previously held faculty positions at the University of Minnesota and Southern Illinois University and has postdoctoral experiences from the Naval Research Laboratory, INRIA in France as well as the University of Texas.
Dr. Saeedloei’s research focuses on safety critical systems – those systems for which failure could cause serious harm, loss of life, or significant economic impacts. Examples include cruise control in automobiles, air traffic control systems, medical devices such as infusion pumps, etc. These safety critical systems are a complex of integrated sub-systems that interact with each other and the environment. As the complexity of these systems increases, it becomes more challenging to ensure their correctness. Dr. Saeedloei and her students are working on a toolset for design, specification, and verification of safety critical systems by pursuing three related tasks culminating in model verification and optimization.
Dr. Saeedloei teaches courses in computer science and cyber security. Dr. Saeedloei has worked extensively with students in her research program. She will use the endowed chair funds to support additional undergraduate researchers, to revisit course materials, engage in professional and university service, and will lead to future external research proposals.
Dr. Hervé Nganguia, 2022–2025
Assistant Professor Hervé Nganguia joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics in August, 2021. Dr. Nganguia holds a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from CUNY College of Staten Island, an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Towson University, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Santa Clara University and an assistant professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Nganguia’s research utilizes neural networks – computational algorithms that seek to simulate the activity of a brain. These algorithms are used in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. Dr. Nganguia’s current focus using this approach is on modeling the behavior of simply viscous and shear-thinning fluids, and he has recently been awarded a major National Science Foundation grant entitled, “Mathematical modeling of targeted drug delivery: Unifying Lighthill and Taylor theories.”
Dr. Nganguia teaches calculus, linear algebra, mathematical models, and experimental methods. He also serves on the organizing committee for the undergraduate research conference at Towson University. Dr. Nganguia will use the endowed chair funds and his NSF funds to establish the Mathematical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, with a goal of involving as many underrepresented undergraduate students in the project as possible.
Dr. Khanh-Hoa Tran-Ba, 2022–2025
Assistant Professor Khanh-Hoa Tran-Ba joined the Department of Chemistry in 2018. He earned his B.S. degree in Material Sciences from Justus-Liebig University, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Kansas State University. Prior to joining Towson University Dr. Tran-Ba was a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University.
Dr. Tran-Ba conducts laboratory experiments to investigate molecular and particle dynamics at various liquid-solid interfaces and within complex soft matter systems like hydrogels and polymers. He has built a wide-field fluorescence microscope to carry out single-molecule tracking measurements here at Towson University, and his studies may be applied, for example, to the behavior of surfactants in oil-water-solid systems or to drug delivery and release. His research on the oil-water interface has received grant support from the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Tran-Ba teaches general chemistry and physical chemistry, and has mentored 17 undergraduate students since joining TU. The Fisher endowment will be used to generate data necessary for a major National Science Foundation grant proposal and will support additional undergraduate student researchers.
Dr. Michelle M. Casey, 2021–2024
Assistant Professor Michelle M. Casey joined the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences in 2019. She earned her B.S. degree in Geology with Honors from Macalester College, her M.S. degree in Geosciences from Virginia Tech, and her Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University. Prior to joining Towson University Dr. Casey was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Kansas, and then an Assistant Professor at Murray State University in Kentucky.
Dr. Casey studies ecological responses to environmental disturbances, utilizing biogeochemical, stable isotopic, and other ecosystem data. Specifically, she and her students are studying the predation behaviors of certain marine snails, both today and in the fossil record. The research involves field work to collect live snails and laboratory feeding behavior studies, with the aim of understanding predation, cannibalism, and omnivory (deriving food from multiple trophic levels) within the living and fossil communities.
Dr. Casey teaches physical geology, historical geology, environmental geology, and paleoecology. She has mentored three undergraduate students at Towson and will engage four to six more with the Fisher Chair award. Dr. Casey demonstrates a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and recently completed the extensive National Science Foundation-sponsored Unlearning Racism in Geoscience curriculum.
Dr. Weixian Liao, 2021–2024
Assistant Professor Weixian Liao joined the faculty of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences in August 2018. Dr. Liao holds a B.S. in Information Engineering from Xidian University, China; a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Mississippi State University; and a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. His current research involves security and optimization in distributed machine learning, cyber physical systems, and wireless networks.
Dr. Liao has published eight conference papers, eight journal articles, and two book chapters since joining Towson University. His research on a detection framework for unforeseen cyber attacks has received extramural support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Dr. Liao teaches courses in computer science, data mining, and big data analytics. Since joining TU he has involved more than 30 undergraduates, 10 M.S. students, and three doctoral students in his research team.
Dr. Jing Tian, 2021–2024
Dr. Jing Tian, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics in August 2017. Prior to joining Towson, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of South Florida. She earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the China University of Mining and Technology, a M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Texas - Pan American, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Texas A&M University. Her research is in the theoretical analysis of partial differential equations and numerical analysis, including computational fluid dynamics and machine learning. These topics provide many opportunities for research mentoring with undergraduate students in applied mathematics.
Since joining Towson University Dr. Tian has published nine journal articles and two conference papers. She has made 11 conference or seminar presentations and has organized three sessions at international conferences.
Dr. Tian has taught calculus, differential equations, partial differential equations, real analysis, and asymptotic and perturbation analysis. She was a 2018-2019 Diversity & Inclusion Faculty Fellow with a focus on mentoring women in mathematics.
Previous Fisher Endowed Chairs are:
Dr. Kimberly Corum, Department of Mathematics, 2020–2023
Dr. Anne Estes, Department of Biological Sciences, 2020–2023
Dr. Lin Deng, Department of Computer & Information Sciences, 2019–2022
Dr. Jacqueline M. Doyle, Department of Biological Sciences, 2019–2022
Dr. Lindsey-Kay Lauderdale, Department of Mathematics, 2019–2022
Dr. Melike Kara, Department of Mathematics, 2018 – 2021
Dr. Wendy Nelson, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, 2018 – 2021
Dr. Christopher Cornwell, Department of Mathematics, 2017 – 2020
Dr. Mary Davadas, Department of Chemistry, 2017 – 2020
Dr. Nathan McNew, Department of Mathematics, 2016 – 2019
Dr. Nam Nguyen, Department of Computer & Information Sciences, 2016 – 2019
Dr. Keith Reber, Department of Chemistry, 2016 – 2019
Dr. John Sivey, Department of Chemistry, 2015 – 2018
Dr. Elana Ehrlich, Department of Biological Sciences, 2014 – 2017
Dr. Petra Tsuji, Department of Biological Sciences, 2013 – 2016
Dr. Joel Moore, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, 2013 – 2016
Dr. Matthew Hemm, Department of Biological Sciences, 2011 – 2014
Dr. Meghan May, Department of Biological Sciences, 2012 – 2013
Dr. Elizabeth Duncan-Vaidya, Department of Biological Sciences, 2010 – 2011
Dr. Timothy Brunker, Department of Chemistry, 2009 – 2012
Dr. Jennifer Scott, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, 2007 – 2010
Dr. Joy Watts, Department of Biological Sciences, 2006 – 2009