Towson, MD, United States
Towson, MD, United States

Towson University, often referred to as TU or simply Towson for short, is a public university located in Towson in Baltimore County, Maryland, U.S. It is a part of the University System of Maryland.Founded in 1866 as Maryland's first training school for teachers, Towson University has evolved into a 4-year degree granting institution consisting of 8 colleges with over 20,000 students enrolled. Towson is one of the largest public universities in Maryland and still produces the most teachers of any university in the state.The U.S. News & World Report ranked Towson University 8th in the Public Universities-Master’s category for its 2010 America's Best Colleges issue. Forbes included Towson University in its 2009 list of the top 100 public colleges and universities in the United States. Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine named Towson University one of the top 100 best values in public colleges for the 2008-2009 academic year.As of 2013, Towson University has a 52% acceptance rate. Wikipedia.

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Accounting for energy use by fishes has been taking place for over 200 years. The original, and continuing gold standard for measuring energy use in terrestrial animals, is to account for the waste heat produced by all reactions of metabolism, a process referred to as direct calorimetry. Direct calorimetry is not easy or convenient in terrestrial animals and is extremely difficult in aquatic animals. Thus, the original and most subsequent measurements of metabolic activity in fishes have been measured via indirect calorimetry. Indirect calorimetry takes advantage of the fact that oxygen is consumed and carbon dioxide is produced during the catabolic conversion of foodstuffs or energy reserves to useful ATP energy. As measuring [CO2] in water is more challenging than measuring [O2], most indirect calorimetric studies on fishes have used the rate of O2 consumption. To relate measurements of O2 consumption back to actual energy usage requires knowledge of the substrate being oxidized. Many contemporary studies of O2 consumption by fishes do not attempt to relate this measurement back to actual energy usage. Thus, the rate of oxygen consumption (M˙O2) has become a measurement in its own right that is not necessarily synonymous with metabolic rate. Because all extant fishes are obligate aerobes (many fishes engage in substantial net anaerobiosis, but all require oxygen to complete their life cycle), this discrepancy does not appear to be of great concern to the fish biology community, and reports of fish oxygen consumption, without being related to energy, have proliferated. Unfortunately, under some circumstances, these measures can be quite different from one another. A review of the methodological history of the two measurements and a look towards the future are included. © 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 348.18K | Year: 2015

The predicted shortage of ~135,000 geoscientists in the US by the year 2022 means that it is essential to increase recruitment and retention of geoscience majors as well as improve preparation for the workforce or graduate school. This project is increasing undergraduate geoscience major recruitment through three mechanisms: 1) through partnerships with regional high schools and community colleges, and 2) through introductory geoscience classes by increased use of hands-on, active learning practices, and 3) through improved publicity about geoscience career opportunities, including teaching at the K-12 level. This project is improving retention through 1) academic advising at a program level to reduce barriers and foster learning communities, 2) developing peer networks, and 3) building of connections between Towson University (TU) geoscience students and the broader geosciences community. Cohorts of undergraduates engaged in faculty-mentored research serve as a core around which the geoscience programs at TU are being strengthened and grown. The cohort experience serves as a major tool to recruit and then retain students to geoscience majors. Undergraduate research experiences have been demonstrated to improve academic outcomes, interest in graduate school, and the percentage of students working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-related careers. An increase in the number and diversity of students entering geoscience careers will help meet workforce demands for the U.S. economy.

This project builds on existing best-practice methods for recruitment, student engagement, and professional development to increase the number and diversity of students entering geoscience careers. Faculty from TU and partnering 2-year community colleges (2YCs) and high schools are working together to publicize geoscience majors and career opportunities to increase recruiting into TU geoscience majors. TU and 2YC faculty also are seeking to establish transfer pathways into TU geoscience majors, since 42% of current incoming TU students enter as transfer students. Evaluation of the results of these approaches is advancing knowledge of methods to broaden pipelines for geoscience students transferring from 2YCs to four-year institutions and serves to inform other institutions working on these transitions. Qualitative research of student experiences offers insights into which best-practice methods are most effective and why. This project will contribute to the relatively thin literature on extracurricular geoscience research experiences for students. By the end of the project, at least 18 students will be affected directly through the research cohorts. In addition, tens of students per academic year will be reached through the field trips and >500 students per year will be reached through recruiting efforts and pedagogical reform of introductory geoscience courses. Smoothing pathways from 2YCs to TU for transfer students will reduce the time students spend in college and the financial costs they incur, including students pursuing secondary teaching certification in Earth-Space Science. Underrepresented group participation in TU geoscience programs will be increased through recruitment from 2YCs with a higher percentage of minority students than TU and through the selection process of the cohort program, where consideration will be given to diversity and academic performance.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SYSTEM SCIENCE PROGRAM | Award Amount: 340.94K | Year: 2016

Small mammals graze on the vegetation of the Arctic tundra. Although this grazing may influence many aspects of tundra ecosystems, current models do not include grazing by small mammals. In this project, the abundance of voles and lemmings will be varied experimentally using fenced plots. The investigators will observe the responses in the plots, especially focusing on changes in the cycling of carbon and nitrogen. To understand how the current climate controls the importance of grazing by small mammals, the investigators will conduct their studies at three sites in Alaska located in the Seward Peninsula, the foothills of the Brooks Range, and on the Arctic coastal plain. The natural abundance of voles and lemmings will be studied at these sites to provide background for applying the experimental results throughout the Arctic. The results will be used to expand a mathematical model of tundra ecosystems to include grazing by small mammals, which will improve the predictions that can be made about how the Arctic may change in the future. The research will involve a number of undergraduate students and investigators will integrate their research into classes and other educational programs. In addition, they will present a radio program in Barrow, AK.

The investigators will investigate the importance of herbivory by small mammals in controlling the cycling of carbon and nutrients in the rapidly changing Arctic tundra. Through studies at three sites along a latitudinal gradient, the investigators will employ both observations and experiments to quantify the role of grazing by rodents (voles and lemmings) in the functioning of tundra ecosystems. The observations of rodent population dynamics along with ecosystem function will provide key new information relevant to understanding the feedbacks of the Arctic tundra to the global climate. The manipulation of rodent density through exclosures and enclosures will show how potential changes in rodent populations may influence the tundra ecosystem response. In corporation of the observational and experimental results into a quantitative ecosystem model will enhance predictions of future changes and feedbacks with climate.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 530.54K | Year: 2016

The scanning electron microscope requested in this proposal is an instrument capable of obtaining images of various materials and biological specimens with extremely high (nanoscale) resolution. The instrument also includes capability for analyzing the chemical composition of materials with high precision. The proposed instrument will be used to advance research in several areas of biological, chemical, geological and physical sciences, involving faculty and students across multiple departments in the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics at Towson University (TU). The ultrahigh resolution imaging and chemical analysis offered by the new scanning electron microscope is expected to enable break through discoveries that will impact the fundamental science in these diverse disciplines while also contributing to several technologies that are key to societal advancement and sustenance. Examples from the proposed research projects include enhancing our understanding of how and what chemosensory information is detected, analyzed, encoded, and responded to by the insect nervous system, exploring and manipulating the behavior of materials at extremely small size limits that underlie nanotechnology, harnessing the power of meta materials to achieve superconductivity at high temperatures with the potential of revolutionizing many technologies including power transmission and quantum computing, developing catalyst materials that are essential for achieving viable renewable and clean energy technologies, and understanding the mineral biosignature preservation in geological systems which is the key to finding life forms in extraterrestrial habitats. These projects will provide opportunities for active participation of undergraduate and masters students at TU and collaborating institutions, who will be trained and supervised by the faculty members on the use of this advanced instrument for interdisciplinary research. Student research will result in their authorship in journal publications and conference presentations. The research and professional careers of participating students is expected to benefit greatly from the hands-on experience and training on this advanced instrument. In addition, the instrument and the research it enables will also be employed to enhance class room and laboratory instructions in several undergraduate and masters level courses offered by the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences. The K-12 partners will benefit through outreach activities, such as site visits and demonstrations, involving the instrument.

This award from the Major Research Instrumentation program supports Towson Universitys (TU) acquisition of a state-of-the-art low vacuum 30keV Schottky field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) with capabilities for nanometer resolution in scanning transmission mode (S-TEM), in-situ e-beam patterning, and elemental analysis via energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The instrument is crucial to meet the needs in ongoing and future research projects in inorganic, electronic, environmental, forensic, entomological and geobiological material. The FESEM will make a decisive impact in generating advanced scientific understanding, increased speed of research turn-around, and technological innovation by researchers at TU and its committed users from neighboring institutions, namely Loyola University of Maryland and Goucher College. Besides being a flexible tool catering to the ongoing inter-disciplinary research at TU, it will fill a void by serving as an in-house imaging, characterization, and structure fabrication instrument. The project addresses distinct research questions in individual and cross-disciplines, while sharing common characterization and fabrication needs. In short, these are: (1) image cuticular structures on the surface and within subsurface pores in biological samples using beam deceleration; (2) the ability to image with nanometer resolution zero-, two- and three-dimensional objects to understand optical property changes; (3) resolve with high resolution quantum sized nano clusters, ferro-fluids, metamaterial superconductors, perovskite catalysts, in S-TEM mode; (4) the ability to obtain high resolution lithographic patterning, and (5) elemental analysis using EDS. This suite of imaging, fabrication and chemical analysis capabilities within the instrument will allow researchers at TU, and its neighbors, to bolster ongoing research activities with student co-authors, while also propelling new learning outcomes in courses. It will equip students with an understanding of key technologies. This educational emphasis of primarily undergraduate institutions, like TU, affords unique opportunities for such training.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 280.71K | Year: 2015

Cybersecurity has critical political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, and information implications for our nation. Effective cybersecurity solutions require initiatives that not only prepare computer scientists to be cybersecurity professionals, but extend security education to all majors to produce a cybersecurity prepared workforce. As cyberspace has become ubiquitous, cybersecurity has become everyones business. A comprehensive cybersecurity education model needs to reach all students and disciplines impacted by cybersecurity issues.

Cyber4All presents a scalable model for Interdisciplinary Cybersecurity education that includes: (1) An interdisciplinary cybersecurity minor--A multidisciplinary team of industry and academic experts will design an interdisciplinary cybersecurity minor that will include foundational security knowledge based on guidelines in cybersecurity education. The minor will also include tracks in critical application areas within the disciplines of health care, e-business, criminal justice, and information technology. This minor will be designed using courses common at most institutions and implemented so all students across all majors can complement their undergraduate degrees with cybersecurity knowledge. (2) A library of interdisciplinary cybersecurity modules? The multidisciplinary team of industry and academic experts will design modules that target core cybersecurity issues that are pertinent to that discipline. Modules will be designed using the Security Injections@Towson framework, which has demonstrated success introducing secure coding in computer science classes. (3) An interdisciplinary cybersecurity ecosystem to build and sustain the curriculum? An ecosystem will be created to include a Cybersecurity Ambassador working with faculty fellows to champion cybersecurity education across the disciplines - health care, e-business, criminal justice, and information technology. Cyber-seminars and workshops will be held to increase faculty interest in cybersecurity, foster diverse perspectives, and promote the minor.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: GeoPRISMS | Award Amount: 39.09K | Year: 2016

The process by which the Earths continental masses split apart to form new oceans is a central tenet of the plate tectonic paradigm. This project focuses on one of the most important features of continental rifted margins - that is the origin of magmas that are erupted within them. While the construction of oceanic crust late in the rifting cycle requires voluminous magmatic activity, there is a growing understanding that magmas also play a pivotal role earlier in the rifting process. Infiltration of magma into the tectonic plate during rift initiation contributes to the rifting process by weakening and focusing strain. However, the process of melt generation during rifting is poorly constrained. East Africa, the geographic focus area of this research project, is the classic example of a continental rift, and insights gained here have global application. Using geochemical techniques on erupted lavas, this project seeks to determine how magma is produced during continental rifting to improve our understanding of the range of contributions from various mechanisms to generate melt. The results will have important implications for understanding magma generation during the initiation and evolution of rifting, and for our understanding of the contribution of lithospheric, upper mantle, and deep mantle sources. Constraining the mechanisms which control the structure and characteristics of rifted margins has broad societal and economic benefits given much of the worlds population and hydrocarbon resources and located along rifted continental margins.

This proposal outlines a plan to obtain new geochemical and geochronological data in order to better understand the sources of rift lavas. The temporal variation in the role of a mantle plume and easily melted portions of the lithosphere in melt generation processes will be evaluated. The study region, in the eastern branch of the East African Rift, is a focus site of the GeoPRISMS program. The hypothesis to be tested is that volcanism in the study region has been plume influenced since the Eocene. This hypothesis will be addressed by examining the following questions: (1) What are the geochemical characteristics of the different sources of rift lavas; and (2) how have contributions from these source(s) changed over time? These questions will be addressed through a geochronological, geochemical, and paleomagnetic study of lavas with a goal to construct a detailed geochemical characterization of the sources of within-rift lavas and determine their spatial distribution and temporal variation. The study of continental rift lavas throughout the long-lived extensional process along the East African Rift has the potential to improve understanding of the range of contributions from various melt generation mechanisms. While many studies focus on isolated periods of melt production, the work proposed here would examine the temporal development of melt reservoirs and how contributions from these reservoirs evolve over time as rifting matures. Establishing how fundamental rifting processes, and feedbacks between them, evolve in time and space is one of the four key Rift Initiation and Evolution questions identified in the GeoPRISMS draft science plan, thus the result of this project will interface with other GeoPRISMS efforts across disciplines to examine rift development. This project has been supported in part by the Office of International Science and Engineering at NSF.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MARINE GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS | Award Amount: 46.53K | Year: 2016

The subduction of oceanic plates at deep-sea trenches around the globe leads to powerful earthquakes, dangerous volcanic eruptions, and economically important hydrothermal mineral deposits. This project will investigate some of the least understood aspects this globally important process: what causes it to start, what kind of crust is produced after subduction starts, and what materials are released from the subducting slab as it initially sinks. The International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 352 drilled 1.22 kilometers of volcanic rocks at water depths of 3.1-4.8 kilometers in the Bonin fore-arc in the western Pacific Ocean to investigate the start of subduction. This research performs a complete geochemical and petrological characterization of drilled fore-arc, seafloor, mafic, volcanic rocks, (i.e., basalts and boninites) recovered during the drilling expedition to better understand how subduction zone volcanism begins and evolves. The rock sequences encountered in the Bonin fore-arc are remarkably similar to those found in many ophiolites (ocean crust and upper mantle rocks found on the continents), so this project will also provide insights into the origin of ophiolites as well. This project supports and expands the extensive international scientific collaborations developed during Expedition 352 to include additional top-flight female scientists as well as undergraduate and graduate researchers. Results from this project will become part of classroom resources supported by an ongoing NSF-funded education project. It will also provide funding to researchers at institutions in three EPSCoR states (Iowa, Utah, and Rhode Island) and foster international collaboration with Australian scientists.

The overarching goal of this research is to document the nature of the first crust produced after subduction initiation in the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc system. Samples collected from four sites drilled during the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 352 to the Bonin fore-arc will be analyzed. Drill cores from two of the sites primarily recovered fore-arc basalts and two recovered boninites. This research, in collaboration with that being done by other members of the shipboard scientific party, will comprehensively analyze the recovered volcanic rocks, providing geochemical data on the major and trace element compositions of volcanic glasses. It will also complete analyses of oxygen isotopes, water and CO2 concentrations in the volcanic glasses; measurements of water concentrations in pyroxenes; Fe ratios in glasses; concentrations of fluid-mobile elements and B-Li isotopes in whole rocks and glasses; radiogenic Re-Os isotopes and PGE abundances in whole rocks and glasses; and major element and trace element compositions of whole rocks. Resulting data will be used to constrain melting processes and understand variations in the fluid, solid, and magma fluxes through the nascent mantle wedge from subduction initiation onward as the mode of magma generation changes from decompression melting to flux melting. The data will be used to address four principle scientific questions: (1) are fore arc basalts generated by decompression melting in a unique high temperature, low-pressure environment during rapid sea-floor spreading related to subduction initiation; (2) are the mantle sources of fore arc basalts and boninites unusually depleted and do they exhibit signatures of ancient recycled mantle or continental components; (3) were low- and high-Si boninites from drilling Sites U1439 and U1442 generated in succession from depleted mantle left after generation of fore arc basalts as spreading rates decreased and the involvement of subducted fluids increased; and (4) did magma generation migrate landward with time and to lower pressures. These questions align with the principal objectives of the NSF-funded International Ocean Discovery Programs Initial Science Plan, including testing the validity of the ophiolite model and understanding the initial origins of continental crust. Additionally the work will address questions in the NSF-funded GeoPRISMS science plan that focus on what the physical and chemical conditions are that control subduction zone initiation and the early development of arc systems.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING | Award Amount: 105.07K | Year: 2017

Title: CAREER: BrCl and Other Highly Reactive Brominating Agents in Disinfected Waters: Implications for Disinfection By-Product Formation and Control

PI Name: John D. Sivey

Proposal Number: CBET - 1651536

Bromide is present in virtually all natural waters. When these waters are disinfected prior to use as drinking water or in swimming pools, bromide can be converted into several highly reactive brominating agents. The primary objective of this project will be to understand how these brominating agents can react with naturally occurring organic compounds to generate potentially toxic disinfection by-products. In the educational outreach program sixth-grade math students will explore how linear functions are essential to science and engineering. The overarching goal of this program will be to use inquiry-based, hands-on water chemistry activities to help sixth-grade students connect the mathematics they are learning to real-world scientific questions and careers.

The reactive bromine species in chlorinated drinking water is typically assumed to be HOBr; nevertheless, several additional bromine species can readily form when bromide-containing waters are disinfected with chlorine, including BrCl, BrOCl, and Br2O (collectively, BrX). Despite being highly reactive toward a range of organic compounds, the influence of BrX on formation of brominated disinfection byproducts (DBPs) has received little attention. This project will quantify the influence of individual BrX species on formation rates, yields, and product distributions of several classes of DBPs, including trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, halophenols, and halosalicylic acids. Humic acid, natural organic matter surrogates, and natural surface waters will serve as sources of organic DBP precursors. Experimental data will be used to develop models describing the effects of bromine speciation on DBP formation. By evaluating the influence of bromine speciation on DBP formation, the PI will seek to improve our understanding of DBP generation and control measures. As human activities, population growth, and climate change increase halide levels in drinking water (which can, in turn, promote formation of BrX), the importance of understanding bromination processes will be particularly acute. Increased understanding of DBP chemistry will promote societally relevant outcomes, notably the sustainability of drinking water supplies as well as environmental stewardship of other disinfected aqueous systems (e.g., wastewater, ballast water, desalination systems, and swimming pools). The educational component of this project will involve an interdisciplinary K-12 outreach program, entitled The Mathematics of Color and Light. This program will deliver hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities to sixth-grade math students and will emphasize concepts of light absorption and linear functions. The program will emphasize the role of bleach in water treatment. High school science students, undergraduate researchers, and K-12 teachers will serve as co-facilitators of this program. In total, this project will impact approximately 600 middle school students, 60 high school co-facilitators, several K-12 teachers, and 12 undergraduate students over five years.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 382.74K | Year: 2015

With this award from the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities (CRIF) programs, Towson University will acquire a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) system. The system will be used to analyze the composition of complex materials obtained from various sources including samples from environmental sources, chemical reactions or biological origins. In this system, the liquid chromatograph (LC) separates the mixture into its individual components. Then the mass spectrometer (MS) ionizes the components and determines their mass by measuring the mass to charge ratio (m/z) of the ions. This is a widely used analytical tool to identify what is the composition of a mixture or material. The instrument will be used by students in their research, training them with sophisticated, modern instrumentation. Students in laboratory courses will be trained to use it including students in the only BS Forensic Chemistry program in Maryland.

The award will be used in research projects, such as (a) investigating the formation of disinfection by-products in drinking water resulting from reactions between so-called inert constituents of herbicide formulations and chemical disinfectants; (b) analyzing chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols; (c) improving polymer-based controlled-release technology for anti-herpetic drugs; and (d) improving traceability of cocoa through chemometric analysis of chemical signatures.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS (CPS) | Award Amount: 153.90K | Year: 2014

The goal of this project is to establish a theoretical and empirical foundation for secured and efficient energy resource management in the smart grid - a typical energy-based cyber-physical system and the future critical energy infrastructure for the nation. However, as a large distributed and complex system, the smart grid inherently operates under the presence of various uncertainties, which can be raised from natural disasters, malicious attacks, distributed renewable energy resources, plug-in electrical vehicles, habits of energy usage, and weather. These uncertainties make the development of a secured and efficient energy resource management system challenging. To address this challenging problem, a novel modeling framework and techniques to deal with these uncertainties will be developed. Threats and their impact on both system operations and end users will be studied and effective defensive schemes will be developed. The outcomes of this project will have broader impacts on the higher education system and national economy and will provide a scientific foundation for designing a secured and efficient energy-based critical infrastructure.

The contributions of this project include: a theoretical framework, techniques, and toolkits for smart grid research and education. Specifically, a modeling framework for secured and efficient energy resource management will be developed to quantify uncertainties from both the cyber and physical power grids. Techniques based on statistical modeling, data mining, forecasting, and others will be developed to manage energy resources efficiently. Based on the developed framework, the space of attacks against system operations and end users from key function modules, attack venue, abilities of adversaries, and system knowledge will be studied systematically. Based on the deep understanding of attacks, novel schemes to prevent, detect, and attribute attacks will be developed. An integrated cyber and physical power grid simulation tool and testbed will be developed to evaluate the proposed modeling framework and techniques using realistic scenarios. This project will integrate research, education, and outreach. The outcomes of the project will be integrated into curriculum development and provide research and educational opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students, including underrepresented minorities and CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service students.

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