Nashville, TN, United States
Nashville, TN, United States

Fisk University is a historically black university founded in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The 40-acre campus is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.In 1930, Fisk was the first African-American institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditations for specialized programs quickly followed. Wikipedia.

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Fisk University | Date: 2015-08-06

According to one embodiment, a scintillator includes a host material having the chemical formula: A_(2)BX_(6), where A includes a monovalent ion, B includes a tetravalent ion, and X includes a halide ion.

Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC and Fisk University | Date: 2014-08-07

A combined thermal neutron detector and gamma-ray spectrometer system, including: a first detection medium including a lithium chalcopyrite crystal operable for detecting neutrons; a gamma ray shielding material disposed adjacent to the first detection medium; a second detection medium including one of a doped metal halide, an elpasolite, and a high Z semiconductor scintillator crystal operable for detecting gamma rays; a neutron shielding material disposed adjacent to the second detection medium; and a photodetector coupled to the second detection medium also operable for detecting the gamma rays; wherein the first detection medium and the second detection medium do not overlap in an orthogonal plane to a radiation flux. Optionally, the first detection medium includes a ^(6)LiInSe_(2 )crystal. Optionally, the second detection medium includes a SrI_(2)(Eu) scintillation crystal.

Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.80K | Year: 2016

Radiation detectors that sense gamma and neutron radiation are critical to the exploration of planetary surface composition. Among the key technological challenges is to have a suitable detector that not only can be used for both gamma ray and neutron detection, but also satisfy the many highly desirable and essential for spaceflight properties: good energy resolution, high efficiency, high radiation tolerance, low power consumption, low volume, low weight and operation without cryogenic cooling. We propose a room temperature semiconductor detector (RTSD) using a single material that can detect both gamma radiation and neutron particles. The novel materials we propose are mercurous halides, Hg2X2 (X=Cl, Br) - mercurous chloride (Hg2Cl2) and mercurous bromide (Hg2Br2). The development of these spectroscopy grade mercury halide-based radiation detectors are especially relevant to future NASA missions to any solid body in the solar system, including the Moon, terrestrial planets, asteroids, comets, and the moons of the other planets. Our goal is to deliver a breakthrough in detector technology that can lead to spectrometers that are capable of performing both gamma and neutron spectroscopy.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: AGEP | Award Amount: 452.61K | Year: 2016

Vanderbilt University, Fisk University, and Wake Forest University will collaborate to develop, study and refine a model to recruit, retain and advance historically underrepresented minority (URM) women from doctoral degree attainment to postdoctoral fellowship to tenured track positions in STEM. This alliance was created in response to the NSFs Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program solicitation (NSF 16-552) The AGEP program seeks to advance knowledge about models to improve pathways to the professoriate and success of URM graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in specific STEM disciplines and/or STEM education research fields. AGEP Transformation Alliances develop, replicate or reproduce; implement and study, via integrated educational and social science research, models to transform the dissertator phase of doctoral education, postdoctoral training and/or faculty advancement, and the transitions within and across the pathway levels, of URMs in STEM and/or STEM education research careers.

As our nation is confronted with a STEM achievement gap between URM and non-URM undergraduate and graduate students, our universities and colleges struggle to recruit, retain and promote URM STEM faculty who serve as role models and academic leaders for URM students to learn from, to work with and to emulate. Recent NSF reports indicate that URM STEM associate and full professors occupy 8% of these senior faculty positions at all 4-year colleges and universities and about 6% of these positions at the nations most research-intensive institutions. URM women hold smaller shares of these academic STEM positions and an increase in their representation is essential since female URM undergraduate students, enrolled in STEM majors, outnumber their male peers. The current AGEP project has potential to advance a model to improve the representation of URM women in STEM faculty positions, eventually providing URM STEM role models to a STEM undergraduate and graduate students at postsecondary academic institutions.

The project includes activities to transition postdoctoral fellows into faculty positions, or a postdoc-to-faculty bridge program, to provide junior faculty with mentoring and to assist junior faculty in developing strong scholarly identities. The integrated research will include cross-sectional surveys, three-year longitudinal surveys and small-group interviews to gain a better understanding of the processes facilitating the choices women and URMs make in their STEM careers. Variables to study include gender and race differences, social relationship influences, the academic-professional culture and the institutional context. Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities will institutionalize the key model interventions, stage the model components for implementation at Wake Forest University, and disseminate the model to the network of 40 institutions represented in the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research. The National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Diversity Fellows program will work with the alliance to identify and recruit promising postdoctoral associates for project participation. The Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest will conduct scale up and dissemination activities for the alliance. Formative and summative evaluation work will be performed by an external evaluation team, via a subaward from Vanderbilt to the Institute for Broadening Participation. An external advisory board will provide advice to the project team through annual consultation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 376.84K | Year: 2016

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 Fisk University seeks to incorporate quantitative biology methods and embed authentic research into lecture and laboratory components of cognate and upper division life science courses. Fisk University, an HBCU, has over 98% students of color, and more than 90% of these students are African-Americans, resulting in a direct impact on this population. The proposed project will provide students with a strong foundation in core scientific skills, particularly quantitative skills such as computation, modeling, problem solving, and data analysis. The proposed activities are expected to increase students interest in STEM related fields, increase retention and progression in STEM disciplines, and will serve as a possible replicable model for other institutions that share a similar mission.

The overall goal of the project is to innovate the curriculum and pedagogies employed in order to better prepare students in the life sciences for an increasingly multidisciplinary research landscape. This goal will be accomplished through the following specific objectives: 1) develop an introductory physics for life sciences course which strikes an appropriate balance between physics core concepts and life science applications; 2) create a biophysical chemistry course that focuses on the structure, thermodynamics, and kinetics of biological macromolecules; and 3) develop modules for upper level biology courses that reinforce the connections between life and physical sciences. This interdisciplinary approach will synergize with several ongoing initiatives at Fisk University and have a transformative effect on student training for careers in STEM disciplines.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 299.95K | Year: 2016

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) Research Initiation Awards (RIAs) provide support to STEM junior faculty at HBCUs who are starting to build a research program, as well as for mid-career faculty who may have returned to the faculty ranks after holding an administrative post or who need to redirect and rebuild a research program. Faculty members may pursue research at their home institution, at an NSF-funded Center, at a research intensive institution or at a national laboratory. The RIA projects are expected to help further the faculty members research capability and effectiveness, to improve research and teaching at his or her home institution, and to involve undergraduate students in research experiences. With support from the National Science Foundation, Fisk University will conduct research aimed at isolating novel chemical entities from marine micro-organisms. This project represents a new area of research (Marine Natural Chemistry) at Fisk University, a small liberal arts HBCU with over 94% under-represented minority undergraduates in STEM. This project will be used to enhance teaching and learning at Fisk across several disciplines (chemistry, biology, mathematics (statistics) and computer science) and thus, provide experiential learning to a wide undergraduate student population. In addition, Fisk University is transforming its STEM pedagogies to include authentic research in course-associated laboratories, where this work will serve as a model in both organic and analytical chemistry courses, thus having a broader impact on the STEM majors, their professional development, and retention.

The goal of the proposed study is to identify new bioactive chemical entities from a newly isolated yellow-cream Gram-negative, rod-shaped Pseudomonas stutzeri bacteria (strain 35M3) whose identity and uniqueness was confirmed from 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. The specific aims of this project are to: 1) to use high information density analytic tools to identify novel chemical entities from the newly identified strain of Pseudomonas 35M3 and the impact on this strains metabolome by co-culture experiments (with Gram-positive bacteria Rhodococcus wratislaviensis, Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli, and fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae separately) or after antibiotic selection; and 2) extend bioactivity analysis beyond the typical assessment of bacterial and mammalian cell cytotoxicity to include the impact of these novel compounds on dopamine neuron development and protection against induced dopamine neurodegeneration using C. elegans as a model system. This study has the potential to identify 16S rRNA gene sequences of newly identified microbial strains. The data generated from this work will inform the design of future experiments that explore other metabolomes and/or dissect cellular pathways central to normal homeostasis of cell development, signaling, cell-cell communication, and other processes. This project will be conducted in collaboration with Vanderbilt University.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 377.65K | 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 Fisk University seeks to develop and implement a two-semester integrated course-laboratory experience in polymer chemistry as an alternative to the traditional General Chemistry two-semester course for undergraduate students. The lecture/discussion and research-embedded laboratories will be interdependently linked to serve as a basis for engendering excitement about the impact that scientific discovery has on society and to build research skills that would be relevant for students continued engagement in research as an undergraduate STEM major and beyond. Fisk students are disproportionately under-represented minorities; thus increasing student interest and efficacy in STEM will have the direct effect of broadening participation in STEM careers.

The goal of the proposed project is to further enhance student learning and academic outcomes in Chemistry, and to increase student retention in STEM. Specifically, the goals are to: 1) deepen student learning of core concepts in General Chemistry via an Introduction to Polymer Chemistry two semester course sequence integrated with authentic research as an option for meeting the requirements for General Chemistry; 2) develop enduring materials to permit replication of this course (classroom, laboratory and Supplementary Instruction) nationally; and 3) utilize assessment of student outcomes, broadly defined, as embedded educational research. The benefits of achieving the goals of this project include increased student deeper learning of fundamental concepts in General Chemistry, whetting students interest in STEM fields as a major and as a career.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: OFFICE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY AC | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2014

The underrepresentation of minorities in STEM fields is one of the major challenges facing the United States workforce. Although underrepresented minorities (URMs) make up approximately 30% of the U.S. population, this cohort accounts for only 4 percent of astronomy Ph.D.s awarded in the U.S., as well as just 3 percent of faculty members. Indeed, an average Ph.D. granting program in astronomy will graduate fewer than 1 URM Ph.D. recipient per decade. Recognizing this problem, the ?New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics? Decadal Survey, published by the National Academies, noted that a promising way to address this problem is to encourage strategic partnerships between minority-serving institutions and research universities, national centers, and national laboratories.

This award will provide continued support of the GO-FAAR partnership between Fisk University and Vanderbilt University, which is a pathway to the Ph.D. that substantially broadens the participation of underrepresented minorities in astronomy. The principal component of GO-FAAR is the extraordinarily successful Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-Ph.D. Bridge program. Fisk students establish one-on-one relationships with faculty at Vanderbilt, engage in substantial astronomy research projects, and many ultimately end up pursuing Ph.D. programs at Vanderbilt. The program has been particularly effective to date, becoming the top producer of URM Ph.D.s in astronomy and astrophysics in the country.

This renewal award will institutionalize the program at Fisk and Vanderbilt, and establish its methods as a national model. NSF funding will support the following key objectives:

(1) To fully institutionalize the relationship between Fisk University, Vanderbilt University, and other research partners, and to firmly embed Fisk as a major contributor to the astronomical research community;
(2) To increase by 75% the number of URMs earning astronomy and astrophysics Ph.D.s in the US, to sustain this level, and to diversify the U.S. astronomy and astrophysics workforce.

(3) To offer the Bridge methodology to Affiliate institutions (to be recruited nationally) through a program components toolkit, training workshops, and on-going consultation and supervision. The effect of NSF funding is therefore multiplicative, since it is expected that numerous other Bridge programs will result;
(4) To launch a nationally competitive postdoctoral fellowship program at Fisk, which is designed to launch URMs into faculty careers.

Other research partners involved in GO-FAAR include the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center, National Solar Observatory, University of Chicago, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Lowell Observatory/Tennessee State University, National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Southeastern Universities Research Association, and South African Astronomical Observatory.

Support for this award is provided by (1) the Division of Astronomical Sciences Partnerships in Astronomy & Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE) program; (2) the Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (OMA) in the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences; (3) the Division of Physics Education and Interdisciplinary Research (EIR) program; and (4) the Division of Human Resource Development Historically Black Colleges and Universities - Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP).

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: POLYMERS | Award Amount: 254.74K | Year: 2015


The objective of this CAREER project is to develop novel membrane materials for fuel cell applications and integrate this research into polymer education through appropriate courses and laboratory experiences. The research and education plan for this project will be achieved by: 1) Designing and preparing new fuel cell membranes for transport of electric charges; 2) Evaluating the properties and performance of the novel materials; 3) Modifying the materials to improve their properties; and 4) Merging polymer chemistry with general chemistry concepts by designing an Introduction to Polymer Chemistry: General Chemistry Concepts lecture and lab course for freshman students. The proposed research significantly enhances Fisk Universitys current and future research capabilities in polymer science through the introduction of this course that is deeply imbedded in the research objectives of this proposal, but simple enough to arouse students interest and learning. Furthermore, the proposed two-semester introductory polymer course/inquiry-based lab experience, which is a student-selected alternative to traditional General Chemistry, will facilitate the enhancement of learning and research skills for undergraduate students. Introduction of authentic research beginning in the freshman year should also increase the retention of undergraduates (including underrepresented minorities) in STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) and increase the pipeline of underrepresented talent for STEM careers.


The objective of the proposed research is to synthesize hybrid copolymers of disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone)s (PAESs) by incorporating a post-modifiable unit, 2,4,6-trichloro-1,3,5-triazine (TT), into the polymer backbone. The significance of this approach is that the properties of the proton exchange membrane for fuel cells could be engineered for precisely tailored performance by tuning the microstructure of the copolymer backbone using varying and distinct structural/functional features. The disulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone- 2,4,6-Trichloro-1,3,5-triazine) (PAES-TT) hybrid copolymers will be prepared to form linear, high molecular-weight materials after optimizing the required synthetic steps. Subsequently, PAES-TT membranes will be prepared and characterized to evaluate their structure-property relationships and performance in proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell applications.

The educational component of this proposal is centered on developing an Introduction to Polymer Chemistry: General Chemistry Concepts lecture and lab course for freshman students as a means to incorporate student research experiences into the regular academic-year curriculum. Exposure of students to research, mentoring of students, broadening participation of underrepresented groups in science, and increasing the pipeline of underrepresented talent for STEM careers are other major components of the broader impacts of this project.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2016

Center for Biological Signature and Sensing

With National Science Foundation support, Fisk University, will establish the Center for Biological Signature and Sensing. The Center will conduct collaborative interdisciplinary research in the area of biological, chemical, and nuclear sensors for biological applications. The overarching theme is the development of novel biosensors to address a variety of biological testing needs. Center efforts are organized into three research subprojects that engage multidisciplinary teams of natural scientists partnering with mathematicians and computer scientists to develop or adapt new tools to solve high profile biological problems.

Dopaminergic neurons are found throughout the animal kingdom and are responsible for fundamental biological functions such as motor control, cognitive function, and behavior. Little is known about the modulation and transcriptional regulation of these signaling components. Subproject 1 researchers will test the hypothesis that the approach of combined transcriptional network analysis, microfluidics tools for sensing changes in response to added stimuli or genetic variation, and mathematical/ computational modeling will result in gaining valuable new knowledge and pose new research questions towards a better understanding of dopaminergic neuron function.

Manganese is essential for numerous biological processes as a cofactor, structural stabilizer of protein structure, and messenger of signal transduction. By integrating biochemistry, polymer synthesis, and microfluidics, Subproject 2 researchers will develop a sensor to reveal the fundamental role of manganese in essential cellular processes and optimize this sensor for monitoring heavy metals in the environment.

Traditional nuclear sensing devices employed in biological applications rely on detection technologies that are still performed with large, awkward scintillator and photomultiplier tube-based instrumentation. Subproject 3 will integrate nuclear, polymer chemistry, computation, and mathematical optimization to develop and utilize novel radiation sensors for biological applications.

The Center for Biological Signature and Sensing will serve as a research and education venue for transitioning under-represented minority Community College students to a four-year degree program at Fisk University with experiential learning that sustains participation as STEM majors and in STEM careers. Mentoring together with innovative learning modules, will assure a successful pathway of under-represented minority talent moving from Community College through the Ph.D, and thus serve as a model for national replication.

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