News Article | December 1, 2015
Joshua Mann is something of an anomaly in the technology industry. He’s a black engineer. In a report in the International Business Times, Mann, who is on his way to earning a PhD at Purdue to eventually go on to design rocket engines that could transport humans to Mars, is held up as an example of the appalling lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. It’s with good reason. Well-publicized diversity reports reveal the numbers of black, hispanic, and female employees at companies such as Intel, Google, and Facebook remain low. Some minority leaders felt that investing in diversity was a good first step. After Intel made its $300 million pledge, Shellye Archambeau, a tech industry veteran currently serving as CEO of MetricStream, told Fast Company, "By putting a specific target that they’re trying to achieve, by putting money behind it, it’s going to make them hold themselves accountable to make some changes. I hope others will follow their lead." The chronic excuse continues to be that there is a lack of qualified candidates. However, the IB Times reports that African-Americans earned 4.4% of master’s degrees in engineering and 3.6% of engineering PhDs in 2014, according to the American Society for Engineering Education, which brings the talent pool to nearly 5,000 each year. There are an additional 745 graduates with undergraduate or master's degrees in computer science. The problem therefore, is the pipeline, but not because it isn’t full, as Michael Learmonth reports in the IB Times. It’s actually broken. He writes: Gary S. May, dean of the college of engineering at Georgia Tech, which produces more black engineers than any other institution in the U.S., says the schools of choice for Silicon Valley recruiters continue to be Stanford and Berkeley. This is despite the fact that 28% of all engineering degrees awarded to blacks are earned at historically black colleges and universities, according to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The problem therefore, is the pipeline, but not because it isn’t full. It’s actually broken. Yet even as Google claims 35% of its black engineers come from historically black colleges, they are farming those with the most recognizable names, and not Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, or Tougaloo College in Mississippi, both of which have historically produced STEM grads. Another issue is the lack of role models. Joshua Mann did two internships at SpaceX and another at Blue Origin, the rocket startup founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Although he says he felt welcomed and valued, Mann told the IB Times that he was only one of two black engineers. The others who worked there were mechanics or held other roles. The problem of being the only person of color, or one of a very few, has an impact as the employee tries to rise through the ranks. In a recent conversation with Fast Company, the CEO of Cooler Heads Intelligence, Lauren Tucker, said she’s observed that many female, African-American, and hispanic colleagues leave companies while at the top of their game—but who are not quite able to crack the glass ceiling of the C-suite. Tucker says their moves were always prefaced by the same refrain: "I need to go where I see people like me being successful at the top." The reason, she believes, is that existing executives aren’t comfortable putting their social, political, and cultural capital behind a candidate who doesn’t share a common background. Another reason for the lack of diversity, according to this report, is that while Mann and other graduates have coding skills, they are more likely to graduate with mechanical or electrical engineering degrees, which are not as marketable at software-dependent tech firms. Karl Reid, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers, countered this with the following statement: "It’s not what you learn that matters; it’s how you learn and how you solve problems. That is classic engineering education." To address this at the applicant level, one company is taking a different approach. Saama Technologies recruits candidates who don’t have computer science degrees but do have quantitative skills in math, physics, statistics, or even psychology to go into a four-month paid training program before hiring. If more companies adopt this practice, it could eventually impact another isolating factor that doesn’t help attract diverse candidates. People tend to live near where they work. Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are mostly white. As former Google employee Jamesha Fisher told Fast Company, when she landed in the Bay Area, she became aware of a systematic stigmatism for being both black and female, which made her feel like "the odd egg." She had to work to develop a support circle of peers and mentors, in part through social media, so she could feel more a part of a community. Though an important glimpse into the current lack of diversity among the fastest moving businesses in our economy, the report also illuminates how much work still needs to be done to change the ratio. We know that diversity is good for innovation and therefore a business imperative. Laura Weidman Powers, CEO of Code2040, put it best when she told Fast Company: "It’s not [the tech industry’s] problem. It’s our problem. It’s everybody’s problem."
Niu L.,Claflin University
Proceedings -Design, Automation and Test in Europe, DATE | Year: 2011
In this paper, we present a system level dynamic scheduling algorithm to minimize the energy consumption by the DVS processor and multiple non-DVS peripheral devices in a hard real-time system. We show that the previous work which adopts the critical speed as the lower bound for scaling might not be most energy efficient when the energy overhead of shutting-down/waking-up is not negligible. Moreover, the widely used statically defined break even idle time might not be overall energy efficient due to its independence of job execution situations. In our approach, we first present an approach to enhance the computation of break even idle time dynamically. Then a dynamic scheduling approach is proposed in the management of speed determination and task preemption to reduce the energy consumption of the processor and devices. Compared with existing research, our approach can effectively reduce the system-level energy consumption for both CPU and peripheral devices. © 2011 EDAA.
Niu L.,Claflin University
Proceedings - 16th IEEE International Conference on Embedded and Real-Time Computing Systems and Applications, RTCSA 2010 | Year: 2010
While the dynamic voltage scaling (DVS) techniques are efficient in reducing the dynamic energy consumption for the processor, varying voltage alone becomes less effective for the overall energy reduction as the static power is growing rapidly. On the other hand, Quality of Service (QoS) is also a primary concern in the development of today's pervasive computing systems. In this paper, we propose a dynamic approach to minimize the overall energy consumption for soft real-time systems while ensuring the QoS-guarantee. The QoS requirements are deterministically quantified with the window-constraints, which require that at least m out of each non-overlapped window of k consecutive jobs of a task meet their deadlines. Necessary and sufficient conditions for checking the feasibility of task sets with arbitrary service times and periods are developed to ensure that the window-constraints can be guaranteed in the worst case. And efficient scheduling techniques based on pattern variation and dynamic slack reclaiming extensions are proposed to combine the task procrastination and dynamic slowdown to minimize the energy consumption. In contrast to the previous leakage-aware slack reclaiming work which never scales the job speed below the critical speed, we will show that it can be more energy efficient to reclaim the slack with speed lower than the critical speed when necessary. Through extensive simulations, our experiment results demonstrate that the proposed techniques significantly outperformed the previous research in both overall and idle energy reduction. © 2010 IEEE.
Golkar Z.,Claflin University |
Bagasra O.,Claflin University |
Gene Pace D.,Claflin University
Journal of Infection in Developing Countries | Year: 2014
The emergence of multiple drug-resistant bacteria has prompted interest in alternatives to conventional antimicrobials. One of the possible replacement options for antibiotics is the use of bacteriophages as antimicrobial agents. Phage therapy is an important alternative to antibiotics in the current era of drug-resistant pathogens. Bacteriophages have played an important role in the expansion of molecular biology and have been used as antibacterial agents since 1966. In this review, we describe a brief history of bacteriophages and clinical studies on their use in bacterial disease prophylaxis and therapy. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of bacteriophages as therapeutic agents in this regard. © 2014 Golkar et al.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2012
The targeted infusion project of Claflin University has as its goal to enhance the scientific teaching and research infrastructure in the Department of Chemistry at Claflin University. This will be achieved with the upgrade and redesign of several chemistry laboratories and incorporation of summer and academic year undergraduate internships. As a result, Claflin University is expected to improve student retention in several gatekeeping chemistry courses, enhance the critical thinking skills of chemistry students and increase the overall retention rate of chemistry and biochemistry majors by 15%. Ultimately, the activities proposed for Claflin University will not only expose students to cutting edge research in the chemical sciences, but will also improve their capacities to compete for highly coveted undergraduate research opportunities. As such, it is expected that a significant percentage of Claflin students will, subsequently, matriculate into STEM graduate degree programs, thereby contributing to the diversification of the US STEM workforce.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Molecular Biophysics | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2011
Understanding how to redesign enzymes to function at different temperatures is critical to increasing the efficiency of many industrial processes including the production of biofuels. It is also crucially important to understanding the basic principles of protein folding, adaptation, and stability. This project tests and applies two novel hypotheses in protein adaptation and stability: 1) that protein adaptation is Fold-Specific, meaning that the molecular adaptation strategy taken to alter an enzymes temperature range is dependent on its specific enzymatic fold and 2) that increases in the stability of the native state of a protein can be achieved by limiting the conformations accessible in the unfolded state through steric exclusion of non-native like conformations - a novel mechanism termed Entropic Stabilization. Already, many mutations that have no apparent effect on the folded state structure have been observed to increase thermostability, and the hypotheses stated above are proposed as a fundamental mechanism to explain this phenomenon.
In the process of testing these hypotheses, several enzymes (alpha-glucosidases and cellulases) in the most common protein fold, the 8 stranded alpha/beta barrels, will be redesigned to function at the high temperatures consistent with the needs of promising industrial processes. Using high throughput, low error rate, random mutagenesis and chromogenic selection, several enzymes which show increased thermostability will be selected. In order to achieve higher catalytic rates and efficiencies, enzymes from psychrophilic, or cold-loving, organisms will be used as a starting point. From multiple attempts of this process, a structural map of hot spots in the alpha/beta barrel architecture that show a high probability of involvement in temperature adaptation will be generated. These hot spots will be compared to those identified from a structural database, developed by this project, of all known alpha/beta barrel structures from mesophilic, thermophilic, and psychrophilic bacteria to posit general, fold specific rules for protein design.
In a complimentary approach, those thermostable mutants that exhibit no obvious structural mechanisms for thermostability in the native-state will be compared using hard-sphere steric ab initio molecular modeling to enumerate all possible sterically-allowed conformations for tetra-peptide sequences in the protein. These will be classified as native-like and non-native and will then be compared to similarly calculated conformational space ratios for the structurally equivalent regions of wild-type enzyme and correlated to their propensity for increasing thermostability. In order to classify which conformations are ruled in or out, and which are native-like and non native, a novel 3D Ramachandran Map-like tool that graphically represents different tetrapeptide conformations will be developed.
In 2009, Forbes ranked Claflin University as the Best Historically Black University in the nation. Over 90% of the student body is African American and 60% are first generation college students, making Claflin a vital part of the regional and national effort to recruit minority students into advanced degrees in STEM fields. By incorporating this research into four different project-based lab courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels, students will learn traditional techniques such as protein purification, PCR, kinetics measurements, and bio computational analysis, and will apply them in semester-long projects. In order to stimulate enthusiasm, the top-performing students (with the largest number of successful mutants or best computational results) will earn one trip to a national research conference to present their results. Thus, this project encourages over 40 African American and first generation students per semester (all biology and biochemistry majors at Claflin) to participate in and learn about cutting edge bio fuel research. The project will introduce the field to a whole generation of students, while at the same time supporting the development of sustainable energy by unlocking a critical step in biofuel production.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 1.09M | Year: 2014
Implementation Projects in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities - Undergraduate program provide support to design, implement, study and assess comprehensive institutional efforts to increase the numbers of students and the quality of their preparation by strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and research. This implementation project at Claflin University focuses on the disciplines of biology, chemistry, computer science and mathematics to provide an array of computational technologies in order to support and educate the next-generation of data scientists who can work in a multi-disciplinary environment. Claflin University has a proven record of graduating a significant number of African-American students in STEM fields and through this implementation project that number is projected to increase. The project is guided and informed by an on-going evaluation.
The goals of the proposed project are to increase graduation and placement rates of students in the STEM workforce; to infuse research and education in a STEM-based computational curriculum; to promote computational science research to improve the quality of experiences and prepare STEM students to compete in a global society; and to use the strengths and assets of core partners to propel students towards a STEM career. The project will create relationships with federal and national laboratories, industry and other universities. The project involves faculty and undergraduate students to conduct research in the areas of metabolites and biomolecules using analytical instrumentation and methodology; in methods for retrieving and analyzing biological data; as well as in optimization, computational complexity, statistical modeling and machine learning.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 50.27K | Year: 2014
An award is made to Claflin University for the purchase of an automated nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) sample changer to do NMR-based metabolomics research. The field of metabolomics focuses on changes to the small molecules that make up metabolism upon some stressful event or condition. NMR serves as an excellent detector of these small compounds; and statistical analysis is applied to many NMR sample replicates to increase the robustness of the metabolomics technique. The addition of an automated sample changer to Claflin?s existing 700 MHz NMR not only will make metabolomics research more efficient, but also the NMR will be more user-friendly. Specifically, the SampleCaseTM is mounted to the instrument at user height and eliminates the use of a ladder. Undergraduate students will gain more access to collecting NMR data and be trained in cutting-edge NMR-based metabolomics research. Claflin University has the third highest field NMR laboratory in the state of South Carolina, just behind the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML). Although a predominately undergraduate university and HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), Claflins NMR facility is becoming a state and nation wide shared facility with six collaborative metabolomics projects and plans to secure major users of the instrument from other future collaborative partners. The automated sample changer will enhance the current instrument capabilities, and is in line with the chemistry departments mission to not only become a state level shared NMR facility, but to support and enhance undergraduate research participation. With the addition of an automatic sample changer, Claflins NMR facility will be more attractive to outside users as well as be able to accommodate multiple undergraduate metabolomics research projects. Housed in the Molecular Science and Research Center (MSRC) on Claflin?s campus, the extraordinary collection of state of the art instrumentation, including the 700 MHz Bruker NMR spectrometer, is unmatched by any other HBCU. PI Boroujerdis laboratory specializes in NMR-based metabolomics research; however, with such a high field magnet, the capability to collect and analyze large bio-molecular samples via NMR is possible and open to any external users.
Claflin undergraduates love NMR-based metabolomics research. PI Boroujerdi is the newest biochemistry faculty member at Claflin, and since the beginning of her tenure three years ago, her metabolomics group has grown exponentially (currently with to 14 undergraduate students, 4 graduate students, and 1 staff). The nature of metabolomics lends itself to collaborations which is ideal for Claflin undergraduates whose research interest are spread far and wide in basic biology research. With 6 collaborators across the nation, and the recent interest in metabolomics research at Claflin, the demand for the 700 MHz NMR has dramatically increased to the point of saturation. With automatic sample collection, the large number of routine one dimensional 1H spectra can be collected more efficiently, and the extremely inefficient personnel time wasted on manual sample insertion and data collection will be refocused on bench work and data analysis, further increasing the quality and quantity of data produced by the metabolomics group. In order to accommodate the increasing number of undergraduates participating in metabolomics research, which includes the requirement for science majors to write and defend a senior thesis prior to graduation, many projects and collaborators have been established, which translates into a large number of NMR samples and a need for more efficient NMR data collection. Sample preparation, interpretation of results, manuscript writing, and presenting results will be increased with the addition of an automated sample changer. Instead of devoting personnel time to manual routine NMR data collection, while data is collected in automation, PI Boroujerdi can devote her time to training undergraduates in metabolite extraction techniques, statistical analysis of NMR data, and combing the literature to understand the biological implications of the metabolomics results.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2011
The Claflin University Start Partnership for Improving Mathematics and Science (CUSP-IMS) is focusing on development of a sustainable infrastructure and a model for an integrative approach to deepen students conceptual knowledge and improve their achievement in mathematics and science at the elementary school level in South Carolina. The partnership brings together science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education faculty and researchers at Claflin University and Voorhees College (both of which are minority-serving institutions) with public school educators and curriculum developers in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 and Bamberg School District 2, located in rural settings in one of the most underserved regions in South Carolina. The CUSP-IMS project is enhancing Claflin Universitys and Voorhees Colleges existing collaborations with local school districts, as well as expanding the partnership to include additional minority-serving colleges and universities and non-urban, underserved school districts.
The project is exploring creative and transformative strategies for building a cohesive partnership to design, implement, and evaluate curricular materials that integrate mathematics with science, and to prepare teachers with the necessary pedagogical and content knowledge to use the materials effectively. The MSP-Start Partnership planning period is being used to conduct a needs assessment and design a strategic plan for a suite of activities that include, 1) review of existing elementary school science and mathematics curricula and classroom experiences and the extent of their alignment with project goals; 2) assessment of teachers most critically important professional development needs, particularly as they relate to mathematics and science content; 3) development of evaluation tools that will improve the science and mathematics achievement of elementary school students in the rural communities served by the partnering institutions; 4) evaluation of the district partners resources to achieve the project goals and how they are being distributed; and 5) establishment of a set of working guidelines and core values from which the developing partnership will operate. The evaluation of the CUSP-IMS is using qualitative and quantitative approaches to document the process of developing a sustainable partnership model, and the readiness to develop a full MSP-Targeted Partnership project.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 331.38K | Year: 2015
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. The project at Claflin University seeks to increase the diversity in the geosciences and geospatial intelligence workforce while congruently offering interdisciplinary and synergistic human-physical geography curricula. A combination of traditional, online, and field based training will be used to provide the foundation in the geosciences for future professionals destined for diverse careers during the first two years, whereas the third year will be allocated to the development of the new course, its approval process, and the planning for its first year implementation as well as to student mentorship.
The proposed projects overall goal is to foster, advance, and strengthen interdisciplinary development and applied training in geosciences and geospatial intelligence of a diverse workforce. The goal will be reached by achieving the following cognitive, affective, and behavioral objectives: Cognitive: Students will (a) learn principles and methods for describing both physical and human earth features; (b) decode, comprehend, analyze (quantitatively and qualitatively) and place maps in their proper spatial and chronological contexts; (c) utilize modern technologies to collect web-based and field data and; (d) create and interpret discipline specific maps. Affective: Students will: (a) be sensitive and aware of a maps spatial, chronological, and cultural context to identify possible bias(es) and the ethics behind manipulation intents; (b) value the role of geospatial literacy in todays job market; (c) understand and appreciate the relevance of minority involvement in geospatial decision-making and; (d) have positive feelings toward geoscience and geospatial intelligence careers. Behavioral: Students will: (a) interact with geospatial phenomena in their natural state; (b) apply/incorporate geospatial concepts and skills into their teaching and other chosen career; and (c) utilize acquired know-how for decision-making at the community, national, and maybe international level.