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
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
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
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.
Dr. Kimberly Corum, 2020–2023
Assistant Professor Kimberly Corum joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics in 2017 after earning her Ph.D.
in Mathematics Education from the University of Virginia. She holds a B.A. degree
in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia, and a Master of
Arts in Teaching (Mathematics) from Bard College. Her research aims to understand
and advance students’ mathematical thinking and to support the preparation of mathematics
teachers. Specifically, she plans to help future teachers develop their technological
pedagogical content knowledge of digital resources such as makerspaces, successfully
integrate these resources into their instruction, and ultimately help transform mathematics
Dr. Corum’s current research agenda focuses on two main questions: (1) how can makerspaces
be utilized to support the teaching and learning of mathematics?, and (2) how do we best prepare teachers to be able to integrate makerspaces into their
classroom instruction? She and her colleagues Diana Cheng, Kristin Frank and Sandy
Spitzer established the Making and Modeling Lab in 7800 York, which provides students
and faculty with access to 3D printers, robotics kits, circuitry tools, and craft
materials. She is also a Co-PI on an NSF-funded grant (Transforming Mathematics Teaching Through Making, Modeling, and Mentoring) which supports the redesign of an existing course offering (MATH 626: Technology in School Mathematics Teaching and Learning) to integrate emerging technologies commonly found in makerspaces (e.g., paper circuitry,
3D fabrication, coding, robotics, and Arduino).
Dr. Corum has published several peer-reviewed manuscripts and conference proceedings
related to these questions, and has successfully engaged at least six students in
these publications. In 2018, she was accepted into the Association of Mathematics
Teacher Educators’ STaR (Service, Teaching, and Research) Fellows program – a nationwide
program that accepted only 30 fellows into its 2018-2019 cohort.
Dr. Corum serves as the faculty co-advisor to the Mathematics Education Club, and
she tutors mathematics in the Goucher College Prison Education Partnership.
Dr. Anne Estes, 2020–2023
Assistant Professor Anne Estes joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2017. She earned her B.S. and M.S.
degrees from Auburn University, and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining Towson University Dr. Estes was
a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Genome Science, University of
Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Estes’ recent research addresses differences between the microbiomes of larval
and adult dung beetles – insects that provide an important ecosystem service by breaking
down and recycling animal waste. Specifically, her research investigates whether
the insect’s microbiome harbors antibiotic resistant microorganisms – a question that
could have significant public health implications.
Dr. Estes has mentored at least six Towson University undergraduate students, providing
them numerous opportunities to co-publish and co-present their research at professional
meetings. She is also very active in outreach activities, and maintains a Twitter
account, @MostlyMicrobes, with more than 3,000 followers.
Previous Fisher Endowed Chairs are:
Dr. Lin Deng, 2019–2022 Dr. Jacqueline M. Doyle, 2019–2022 Dr. Lindsey-Kay Lauderdale, 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 NguyenDepartment 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