Norfolk, VA, United States

Norfolk State University

www.nsu.edu
Norfolk, VA, United States

Norfolk State University is a public four-year, coed, liberal arts, historically black university located in Norfolk, Virginia. The University is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Virginia High-Tech Partnership. It has been placed on "warning status" by its regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for "financial and governance issues." Wikipedia.

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Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 218.15K | Year: 2015

Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing research programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty members research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at her home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences. The award to Norfolk State University has potential broader impact in a number of areas. The project will focus on constructing a mathematical model to investigate the role of social behavior in the transmission dynamics of HIV epidemics. The outcomes of this work can inform public health officials when analyzing and determining the impact of social behavior in the transmission of HIV epidemics. This project will also enhance the research experience and training of undergraduate students at Norfolk State University.

This project will focus on developing mathematical models, in the form of deterministic systems of nonlinear differential equations, to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the role of risky behavior on the transmission dynamics of HIV/AIDS in a population. Studies have established a strong correlation between risky behavior and the acquisition of HIV infection. Some of these behaviors are associated with substance abuse. Although it is understood that there are different degrees or stages of substance abuse, the impact of such heterogeneity on the overall disease transmission process has not been rigorously studied. This project will investigate these dynamics and their role in the transmission dynamics of HIV/AIDS in a population. To achieve this objective, new realistic mathematical models, which incorporate the essential features of HIV disease as well as the dynamics of relevant risky behaviors, will be developed. These models, which will be rigorously analyzed using techniques from nonlinear dynamical systems, such as asymptotic stability and bifurcation theory, to gain insights into their dynamical features, will be parametrized using available relevant public health and demographic data. Detailed uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, using suitable sampling techniques such as Latin Hypercube Sampling and Partial Rank Correlation Coefficients, will be carried out on the parameters of the models to assess the impact of uncertainty in the estimates of the parameter values used in the simulations on the overall simulation results obtained, and determine the most important parameters that drive the disease transmission process.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CENTERS FOR RSCH EXCELL IN S&T | Award Amount: 992.42K | Year: 2016

Center for Renewable Energy and Advanced Materials

With National Science Foundation support, Norfolk State University will establish the Center for Renewable Energy and Advanced Materials. The Center consists of an interdisciplinary endeavor to help achieve an affordable, sustainable and clean supply of global energy. The Center will develop advanced materials and devices for renewable energy, such as solar, thermoelectric, battery and high-performance low-energy-consuming devices and sensors.

Center activities are comprised of three research thrusts (i) Renewable energy harvesting, (ii) Energy storage, and (iii) Low energy consumption and high performance electro-optic and sensor devices. Renewable energy harvesting efforts are devoted to the development and fundamental study of nanostructures based energy materials such as semiconductor nanocrystals, perovskite organic-inorganic lead iodide-based solar cells, organic-inorganic thermoelectric materials, magnetoelectric composites and their measurements of all physical properties, including transient and intensity decay of time-resolved spectroscopy, and simulation and modeling in order to understand the mechanism. These efforts will advance several major energy applications, in particular, solar cells, thermoelectric generators, and other optoelectronic applications.

Energy storage research efforts focus on the development and computational study of nanomaterials based Li-ion battery, supercapacitors, and bimetallic cellulose embedded energy storage device and high-performance energy storage devices. Research on the development of energy or power-efficient devices, will focus on biosensors, as well as optoelectronic and energy conversion devices based on artificial nanostructures.

The Center for Renewable Energy and Advanced Materials will develop educational materials for the high school, community college, science museum and university levels to advance understanding of sustainable energy technologies, practices and clean energy alternatives to shape the work force and talent pool of the future. Center activities will also enhance the quality of training for a large number of African Americans in this interdisciplinary area.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 197.73K | Year: 2015

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 needs 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, Norfolk State University (NSU) will conduct research aimed at understanding how bacterial pathogens adapt to divergent hosts in a variety of environments. The project will help NSU build its research capacity and enhance the educational and research experiences of their undergraduate students. The project has the potential to be a model for increasing the number of minority students pursuing degree programs and careers in bioinformatics and computational biology. The research and educational efforts will contribute to the Universitys goal to establish itself as a regional and national leader in STEM research.

This study proposes to use S. parauberis as a model for studying environmental generalist bacteria, as it can survive in soil, water and in warm-blooded (homeothermic) and cold-blooded (poikilothermic) hosts. The goal of this project is to define how host environment impacts global gene expression in a model species of Streptococcus: S. parauberis. This will be accomplished by: 1) establishing the set of genes that are differentially expressed during growth of S. parauberis at temperatures mimicking a mammalian (bovine) host and in a fish host; and 2) establishing the set of genes that are differentially expressed during growth of S. parauberis in serum from a mammalian (bovine) host and from a fish host. This project could help determine the mechanisms by which Streptococcal bacteria adapt to their host environment and will contribute to our knowledge base regarding the basic cellular processes that support microbial survival. This work will be applicable in controlling microbial growth as well as understanding the emergence of Streptococcal pathogens in new hosts.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 399.97K | 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 science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) graduate programs and/or careers. The project at Norfolk State University seeks to infuse cybersecurity within the social science undergraduate curriculum through experiential learning. The activities and strategies are evidence-based and grounded in a theoretical framework, and a strong plan for formative and summative evaluation is part of the project.

The overarching goal of the project will be developing, implementing and assessing a set of laboratory and lecture modules which will integrate cybersecurity into sociology and criminal justice courses. The project has the specific objectives to: integrate cybersecurity into existing undergraduate sociology and criminal justice courses; host workshops to train social science faculty to teach cybersecurity content; replicate the modules beyond sociology and criminal justice programs; and create a new socio-cybersecurity course. The project will provide increased learning opportunities for an academically diverse population of undergraduate students in cybersecurity as these student do not usually pursue cybersecurity courses. The project has a strong collaboration with the Department of Computer Science.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: HIST BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIV | Award Amount: 396.41K | 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 Norfolk State University seeks to raise the passing rate of pre-calculus by actively engaging students through implementation of the flipped classroom. As HBCUs produce the vast majority of African Americans entering the STEM workforce, these efforts will not only help this trend but also produce STEM graduates who are better prepared. These efforts will have a big impact on bolstering students completion of STEM degrees, thus increasing the number of STEM majors entering graduate schools and the work place. In addition, this course structure will also be presented to secondary education professionals in workshops in the community.

The overall goals of the project are to increase the success rate in the STEM pre-calculus course and to deepen math connections to boost student learning. The specific goals are to: 1) increase the passing rate in pre-calculus; and 2) to provide a strong foundation in pre-calculus to bolster an increase in STEM major retention. Through the more hands-on approach via the flipped model, this project will strive to strengthen quantitative abilities, reasoning and critical thinking skills. The benefits to STEM education and NSU in achieving these goals include greater retention of undergraduate majors in STEM fields with a stronger foundation in STEM topics and development of autonomous learners which leads to a higher rate of students obtaining degrees and entering the workforce.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ENG DIVERSITY ACTIVITIES | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2016

The National Science Foundation uses the Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) funding mechanism to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This EAGER project was awarded as a result of the invitation in the Dear Colleague Letter NSF 16-080 to proposers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to submit proposals that would strengthen research capacity of faculty at the institution. The project at Norfolk State University aims use a novel optical non-contact cell stretching method to create a controlled stretch in biological cells. Accordingly, the project outcome can unveil mechanisms governing heart electrical abnormalities via modeling and relate the electrophysiological measurements to mechanical stretching by enabling reproducible stretch conditions in vitro to mechanistically characterize various human disorders including heart failure.

Excitable biological cells, such as heart cells, exhibit mechano-electric sensitivity by which their electrical behavior is modulated by mechanical stimuli or stretch. This is especially critical in chronic diseases such as heart failure where increased stress may induce life-threatening abnormalities, called arrhythmias. Specialized stretch-activated ion channels in cells are thought to be responsible for this phenomenon. However, these channels are not well characterized, partly due to a lack of efficient cell stretching and simultaneous electrical recording techniques. In this project, a novel optical non-contact stretching method, using counter-propagating laser beams, is proposed which is capable of producing a controlled stretch in biological cells in the most realistic condition. A microfluidic platform for performing automated, high throughput electrophysiological recordings from cells will be designed. Tightly focused laser beams will be used to stretch the cells while simultaneously performing the patch clamp recordings. The proposed optofluidic chip will be used to systematically characterize the stretch-activated ion channels in cardiac cells. The experiments combined with advanced computer-based modeling will provide useful insights into the mechanisms of arrhythmias in heart failure conditions. The cell-stretching technique could be extended to study several other diseases such as cancer, brain tumors, Parkinson disease and even plant disorders.

This EAGER project is funded by the Engineering Directorate.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2016

This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project has the potential to improve health and safety of individuals in society. The ability to detect harmful substances and disease is critical to human health and safety. Multiple detection technologies are currently used to detect harmful substances and disease. Colorimetric methods are preferred for field detection because they are low-cost, easy-to-use, and field-rugged; however, their utilization is limited by a lack of sensitivity. While more complex detection technologies have excellent sensitivity, their field usefulness is limited by their high cost, complexity of use, and fragility. The proposed innovation enables amplification of colorimetric detection, thereby improving the perceived sensitivity of the technology. As a result, the proposed innovation has the potential to enable new low-cost devices that detect harmful substances and disease. The results of this effort will also provide further insight into the understanding of both fundamental and applied aspects of nanostructured materials. This multi-disciplinary effort involves transformative research which will further the integration of composite materials into real-world sensor applications. The intellectual merit of this project is the demonstration of a color amplification strategy which would improve the detection limits of any colorimetric chemistry by one to three orders of magnitude. The main objective of this effort is to demonstrate colorimetric response amplification via the use of synergistic composite materials from nanomaterials and colorimetric thin film sensors. Methods to be employed include thin-film deposition and electron beam lithography for the production of nanostructured materials. A composite approach involving nanomaterials and thin-film coatings potentially offers significantly enhanced colorimetric sensing capabilities through color amplification. The intrinsic absorption efficiency of a colorimetric indicator defines the maximum potential performance of that indicator in a passive sensor. The proposed innovation aims to artificially increase the absorption efficiency of colorimetric indicators, and thus render sensors made from these materials significantly more sensitive to chemical analytes of interest. Nanomaterial-functionalized flexible substrates will be designed and fabricated, on which thin-film colorimetric sensing coatings will be deposited. The colorimetric response of these thin-film composite sensors will be evaluated as a function of exposure to chlorine gas. Colorimetric response enhancements will be assessed based on spectroscopic reflectance data.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CENTERS FOR RSCH EXCELL IN S&T | Award Amount: 999.85K | Year: 2016

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-RISE) activity within the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program supports the development of research capability at HBCUs that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. HBCU-RISE projects have a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s) and the institutional mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students in science and engineering. With support from the National Science Foundation, Norfolk State University (NSU) aims to: 1) renew the curriculum of the graduate programs in materials science and engineering; 2) expose students to entrepreneurship and innovation concepts and practices; and 3) further students professional preparation through fellowship applications and outreach activities development. This project will develop the infrastructure to increase NSU research competitiveness and capacity to offer relevant and modern education and professional training to graduate students. Through its synergy with existing projects and alignment with NSUs strategic plan, RISE-LightMat will offer a roadmap for STEM academic programs enhancement. This project will serve as a framework that will enhance recruitment and retention of African-American students in the broader materials science community.

The proposed research involves the study of novel physical effects related to the enhancement of light-matter interactions in the conditions of strong coupling of excitons, surface plasmons and electric carriers. The research objectives are to: 1) develop plasmonic structures and metasurfaces with the most efficient plasmon drag effect (PLDE); 2) explore possibilities to control the PLDE with nanoscale geometry; and 3) characterize sensitivity of PLDE to local dielectric environment (for sensors based on PLDE effect). The proposed multi-scale effort will advance fundamental knowledge in the area of plasmonics and potentially bring new possibilities for unprecedented control of classical and quantum properties of hybridized coupled systems of ensembles of molecules, electrons, and localized and propagating surface plasmons and photonic modes in cavities. Results from this research will have many applications in optics and optoelectronics and have potential to bring revolutionary advances to future plasmonic-based electronics, novel operational principles for sensors and new ways to control light matter interactions. Students will obtain hands-on experience in optics, plasmonics, and materials science combined with training in entrepreneurship to use these and future research products for small business development. The knowledge gained within the RISE-LightMat research programs will be transferred to a broad community of scientists and engineers in fields as diverse as catalysis and imaging.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CM - Cybermanufacturing System | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2016

The semiconductor industry is undergoing a shift towards creation of value-added products and services, rather than simply focusing on advancing the state-of-the-art in integrated circuit technology, with Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) expected to play an increasingly important role in the new era. The design and development of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems entails sophisticated Computer-Aided-Design tools, elaborate microfabrication facilities, and extensive packaging infrastructures. Such technological barriers limit the abilities of innovators and entrepreneurs to access and use MEMS technologies. This award supports research to enable a novel, cloud-based MEMS design, development and manufacturing platform that is web-accessible, low cost, expansible and interactive. If successful, this research will foster cybermanufacturing innovation by enabling a new manufacturing service infrastructure that allows a wide range of customers and entrepreneurs to prototype their Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems efficiently and at low cost, thereby directly benefitting the U.S. economy and society. This research also will lead to new curriculum in the rapidly emerging areas of cloud computing, electronics, microfabrication, and sensors. Educational, training, and outreach activities envisioned by this research will entail development of hands-on instructional material for minority and underrepresented high school students.

The CloudMEMS platform will establish a novel Design Anywhere, Manufacture Anywhere approach in the design and development of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems via standardized processes and materials selections from leading semiconductor foundries easily made available to clients, designers, and entrepreneurs. The multi-university research team will systematically investigate process constraints in the Design-for-Manufacturing of next-generation Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems toward enabling component design and fabrication using standard semiconductor foundry processes. The team will investigate sophisticated mathematical models and scaling laws capable of handling Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems designs based on different structural materials and processes. Pertinent multi-pronged approaches for aiding Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems design will be explored by (1) Fusing commercial Computer-Aided-Design packages into a cloud server and (2) Studying Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems scaling laws for cost effective re-engineering of pre-simulated and pre-decomposed devices. The project will foster distinct design cycles for expert users and non-expert users who lack process knowledge. The CloudMEMS platform will be made accessible via Internet to bridge the cyber and manufacturing domains, thereby promoting leadership of the U.S. in cyber-driven microsystems and manufacturing.


In conjunction with the Committee on Curriculum Renewal Across the First Two Years (CRAFTY) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), a consortium of eleven institutions will collaborate to revise and improve the curriculum for lower division undergraduate mathematics courses. A key element of these innovations will be interdisciplinary partnerships, with partner disciplines directly involved in decisions about curricular needs. Collectively, the consortium will impact over 52,000 undergraduate students and 200 college faculty from a wide array of disciplines through implementing major recommendations from the MAA Curriculum Foundations (CF) Project and changing the undergraduate mathematics curriculum in ways that support improved STEM learning for all students while building the STEM workforce of tomorrow. The project will also foster a network of cross-disciplinary faculty in order to promote community and institutional transformation through shared experiences and ideas for successfully creating functional interdisciplinary partnerships within and across institutions. Materials and ideas generated by the curricular changes and the interdisciplinary collaborative process will be widely disseminated through workshops at national conferences, two journal special issues, extensive publications, and open webinars.

This project will be based on research about the needs of partner disciplines, as identified in a series of 22 workshops organized by CRAFTY. At each of the eleven participating institutions in the project, mathematics and partner discipline faculty will collaborate to better understand the CF recommendations, determine how these recommendations can be used to effectively improve the content of affected courses, introduce modifications in pilot sections, work with a central evaluation team to measure the effectiveness of new approaches (especially as it pertains to students from underrepresented groups), offer workshops and support for instructors using these new curricula (locally, regionally, and nationally), and scale-up these new offerings within the consortium and through dissemination to additional campuses. The central evaluation will yield extensive, consistently-collected data to accurately determine the effects of innovative partnerships and resulting curricular changes. Additionally, the project will contribute significantly to the Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) knowledge-base and generate a greater understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of mathematics within the broader undergraduate curriculum.

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