Category Archives: Research and Sponsored Programs

NASA’s Nationwide Technology Infusion Tour Makes Two-Day Stop at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Tennessee State University hosted a two-day workshop to provide HBCUs and minority-serving institutions a platform to seek research funding from NASA.

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John Barfield, Director of Engagement and Visibility in the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, center, makes a point at the NASA Technology Infusion workshop. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour, on its third HBCU stop, is designed to strengthen research enterprise at historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions by providing opportunities for faculty and students to engage in significant research activities.

The tour is also designed to help NASA and large prime contractors meet and/or exceed the agency’s mandated HBCUs/MSI goals.

“We want HBCUs and minority-serving institutions to be actually involved with the next type of technology that will get us beyond earth or tomorrow,” said Dr. Joseph Grant, NASA’s deputy program executive for Small Business Innovation Research. “These technologies are going to be developed by minds of students like those here at TSU and all over the country.”

Grant said HBCUs have a unique way of looking at solving problems that are not always tapped into.

“So what we are trying to do is to bring all the voices to the table to help us solve some of the complex problems that we are going to have. I know what the expertise are, where they lie, how we look at things, and how we attack a problem,” he said.

TSU Associate Vice President for Administration, Dr. Curtis Johnson, in a welcome statement on behalf of President Glenda Glover, said the NASA tour brings “new knowledge and opportunities to TSU.”

“We thank NASA and all of these other agencies for bringing this road trip to TSU,” Johnson said. “We are counting on our faculty and staff to fully maximize the benefit of this opportunity.”

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young is TSU’s chief research officer and vice president of Research and Institutional Advancement. She said the NASA tour is “very critical” because HBCUs and MSIs have not had the opportunity to significantly participate in their share of federal funding.

“So this is going to teach them strategies on how to be successful in getting that funding,” Crumpton-Young said. “Our expectation is that through this tour and many other efforts, we are going to help strengthen the research enterprise, not only at TSU, but throughout the country.”

Before TSU, the NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour stopped at Tuskegee University and North Carolina Central University. The next stop is Jackson State University. Seven agencies and participants from 14 HBCUs attended the workshop at TSU, according to Crumpton-Young.

Tabisa Taliwaku Kalisa, program manager of the Office of Small Business Programs at NASA, said the agency wants to find ways to engage with more minority-serving institutions in its “industrial base.” She said NASA is not reaching its 1 percent goal of doing business with HBCUs and MSIs.

“We are having a hard time meeting those goals because most of our prime contractors cannot find schools that are capable of doing the work,” Kalisa said. “I truly believe that the schools are there, but we have to figure out the synergy to get those schools more engaged, to be able to know about opportunities, and be able to participate.”

Gwen Johnson is director of Small Business at Parsons, a prime contractor. She was part of a group of participants who toured research facilities and classrooms at TSU as part of the NASA visit, and was “very impressed.”

“I look forward to sharing this information with Parsons’ technical experts and connecting them specifically with the TSU Center of Excellence in Information Systems Research in areas of cyber security, data analytics and advanced control and identification systems,” she said.

Among other agencies and contractors at the workshop were the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Department of Army.

“The event allowed faculty to expose their students to research at a higher level, to conferences, internships and maybe even a new career as many of the agencies and companies represented are looking to add new talent to the workforce,” said John Barfield, director of engagement and visibility in TSU’s Division of Research and Institutional Advancement.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, Cheekwood, Nashville Mayor Announce Partnership to Offer Students Paid Internships

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A partnership between Tennessee State University, Cheekwood and the mayor’s Opportunity Now program will provide paid internships and hands-on horticultural training to TSU students interested in careers in the environment.

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President Glenda Glover makes remarks following the announcement of the TSU partnership with Cheekwood and Opportunity NOW. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, TSU President Glenda Glover, and Jane MacLeod, Cheekwood president and CEO, announced the partnership Wednesday at a news conference at the Cheekwood Estate and Garden.

The partnership is part of a Cheekwood Career Readiness Initiative, designed to “inspire a new generation of horticulturalists and outdoor educators,” according to MacLeod.

It offers horticulture/landscape training and job skills development. Interns also receive one-on-one mentoring with leading horticultural experts, access to nationally acclaimed plant collection, and paid compensation.

“It is just great to see Tennessee State University and Cheekwood, two great institutions in our city to form this partnership that can lead to long-term jobs or careers in horticulture,” said Barry, whose Opportunity Now initiative aims to provide young people ages 14-24 in Davidson County access to employment.“

President Glover said with new concepts and advances in the field of horticulture, Cheekwood provides the necessary training environment and job-skills opportunity for TSU students.

“As a premier land-grant institution with an outstanding college of agriculture, TSU takes this partnership very seriously” Glover said. “TSU ranks among the best schools for job placement and we tell our students that a degree earned from TSU will land you gainful employment. That is why this partnership is so important. It helps us to continue our commitment to excellence.”

In welcoming remarks, MacLeod said the partnership with TSU and the mayor’s Opportunity NOW program was part of a strategic effort to raise appreciation and awareness for horticulture particularly among students as a career.

“This effort is also part of Cheekwood’s commitment to reach further out in the Nashville community to support initiatives to better our city, and engage with an increasingly diverse audience,” MacLeod said. “We are extremely glad to work with TSU in furthering these initiatives. The first TSU students who interned with us were exceptional and show great interest in learning what was put before them.”

Tariq Muhammad, a junior plant and soil science major, is one of three TSU students from the College of Agriculture who interned at Cheekwood as part of the partnership. He said the experience was quite different from what is taught in the classroom.

“It was amazing just to work with people who really love to do what they do,” said Mohammad, who worked in the gardens. “That was really a motivation for me. People were always there to help you. I was able to learn so much – the esthetics, the upkeep of the gardens.”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the TSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Sciences, referred to Cheekwood as a ‘jewel in Nashville’ that is very beneficial to TSU.

“They (Cheekwood) are so focused on horticulture which is one of our main focuses at Tennessee State University,” Reddy said. “We are so excited to enter this agreement with them. We are also thankful to President Glover, who has been on the forefront with Cheekwood and the mayor in getting this partnership together, which will not only benefit our students but also our faculty.”

Other TSU students who participated in the six-week internship at Cheekwook are: Jill Mullican, senior, Plant Sciences; and Whitney “Abby” Anderson, sophomore, Agricultural Education.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU President Glenda Glover says university focused on student success, no longer a ‘school of last resort’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU President Glenda Glover says the university is focused on student success, and is no longer a “school of last resort.”

logoThe president was part of a panel of educators, community and business leaders that spoke at a Black History Month luncheon on Feb. 8 organized by Cable Nashville, a leadership organization for women’s professional advancement.

The theme of the event was “Leadership Vision in Challenging Times.” Besides Glover, the panel featured the presidents of Nashville’s other historically black higher education institutions: Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, and American Baptist College.

Glover said, as an HBCU, Tennessee State has always opened its doors to all students, even those rejected by other institutions. But she said the university has shifted its focus “exclusively” to student success.

“Excellence remains our top priority, but we can’t be the school of last resort,” Glover said.

In October, Glover announced that TSU is raising its admission standards and enhancing student success initiatives to increase retention and graduation rates. Beginning this fall, all students must have a 2.5 GPA and a 19 on the ACT for admission to TSU. The previous admission scores were 2.25 or a 19 on the ACT for in-state students, and a 2.5 or 19 ACT for out-of-state students.

“The day is over when you can call and say, ‘I have a good student with a 1.9 GPA and has promise,’” Glover said. “Well, this may not be the time you want to apply to TSU. We are raising standards because I believe that quality attracts quality.”

Janet Rachel, a member of Cable and a 1977 graduate of TSU, attended the luncheon. She said she fully supports Dr. Glover’s “bold” decision on student success and the spike in admission standards.

“I believe that at the core of helping blacks succeed is not just education but quality education,” said Rachel, who is the talent acquisition manager for diversity relocation and career navigation at Vanderbilt University. “I am really glad about what I am hearing from Dr. Glover. I hope the alumni will step up and become more engaged and more involved.”

The other HBCU presidents on the panel were Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, Meharry Medical College; Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr., American Baptist College; and Frank Sims, Fisk University.

Susan Allen Huggins, president and CEO of Cable, said it was important to bring the HBCU presidents together because of the partnership and the important role their institutions play in the community in terms of diversity and molding minds.

“We (Cable) were founded because of our strong understanding of and belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion,” Huggins said. “The Nashville community wouldn’t be what it is without these historically black institutions and the tremendous contributions they are making.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

More than 300 TSU Students, Volunteers Participate in MLK, Jr. Day of Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is continuing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an MLK Day of Service.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, more than 300 TSU students and volunteers participated in various projects around Nashville that included working with kids, assisting elderly residents, packing food, painting and hanging photos.

The MLK Day of Service at TSU is organized each year by the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement to give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to celebrate King’s legacy through service.

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TSU students Courtney Couser, left, and Cochilla Wright move boxes at Madison Middle School on MLK Day of Service. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The center was one of six organizations to receive federal and matching funds two years ago from the Corporation for National and Community Service to mobilize volunteers to honor King’s memory through service projects.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in service, and this initiative falls in line with not just his belief, but TSU’s motto – Think. Work. Serve,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We’re proud that TSU was selected as one of six institutions to help lead this national service project.”

Like the other institutions, TSU mobilizes students and community volunteers to take on projects around the city.

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TSU students and volunteers clean the playground at Grace M. Eaton Child Care and Early Learning Center. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Barbara Dudley, a senior economics and finance major, was one of about 25 students who cleaned windows, sanitized chairs and shelves, moved trash and cleaned the yard and the parking lot at Grace M. Eaton Child Care and Early Learning Center on Saturday.

“It feels really good to give back,” Dudley said. “I have always had a passion for service and for children and to be able to help at a day care just makes it more meaningful for me.”

Mahalia Howard, the executive director of the center, agrees.

“I think it is wonderful for young people to give back to the community,” she said. “What they are doing for us here today is a blessing because we are a non-profit. We don’t have the funds to pay for the things they are doing. What they are doing is helping to support at-risk students.”

In La Vergne, Tennessee, more than 30 volunteers performed various chores for elderly residents at AHEPA 343, an independent living apartment complex for seniors. They cleaned living areas, moved trash, hung pictures, and moved furniture.

Linda Tynan, 68, a six-year resident, who just needed company, was moved to tears by the students’ willingness to help.

“I think its terrific to see these students take up their time to come and lend a hand to people they don’t even know,” Tynan said. “What they are doing today might not seem much to them, but I appreciate every minute of it.”

Dr. Linda Guthrie is the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. She said the MLK Day of Service is one of the most exciting events the center has ever undertaken.

“It is an honor to lead 11 other HBCUs throughout the southeast region of the country in serving our communities,” she said. “We should feel challenged and act on the challenge to do something good every day to make a difference in the lives of others.”

“We want people to realize that Dr. King’s holiday is not just a day off,” said Shirley Nix-Davis, director of a youth empowerment program at TSU and one of the MLK Day of Service project directors. “But it’s an opportunity to serve, and continue serving throughout the year.”

For more information on the MLK Day of Service, contact the TSU Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

18 Graduate From TSU New Management Training Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure all its employees holding management positions are proficient in their areas.

On Jan. 12, TSU President Glenda Glover presented certificates to 18 managers who completed the first in a series of management training programs aimed to bring participants up to speed on university processes and procedures.

The 10-week, 30-hour management-training program is for recently hired middle and senior management staff and others who have been in their positions for less than two years.

Glover said the program is part of the university’s effort to ensure excellence in all areas of operation.

“This effort is geared toward ensuring that we have continued improvement in staff performance, which is so important on our campus,” Glover said. “I am proud of all of the participants and I look forward to the level of productivity that comes with this training opportunity.”

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University officials and staff attend a reception in the President’s Dining Hall for participants in the university’s new management training program. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

Linda Spears, associate vice president of Business and Finance and director of Human Resources, said a focus group of representatives from all divisions came up with the curriculum and topics for the training program after meeting for three months.

“This is something we felt we needed and so Human Resources responded,” Spears said.

She said the intent is to acclimate new managers and administrators to TSU because many of them are not aware of certain operational procedures and processes.

“I would say that participants’ skill levels have certainly increased with this training,” Spears said.

Adrienne Frame, director of budget, has been at TSU for four years but became a director a year ago. She said the training opened her eyes to many things she didn’t know before.

“I learned a lot that I didn’t know going in as a supervisor,” Frame said. “I feel much more prepared as a new supervisor.”

Spears said the management-training program will be offered twice a year, in the fall and spring.

Among those receiving certificates were Dr. Lucian Yates, dean of Graduate Studies and Research, who started at the university in July; and Dr. Coreen Jackson, who assumed the role of interim dean of the Honors College about a year ago.

Others were: Phyllis Danner, director of Research and Sponsored Programs; Natasha Dowell, employment manager; Peggy Earnest, chief of staff in the Division of Student Affairs; Dr. Cheryl Green, assistant vice president of Student Affairs; Albert Hill, director of Business Operations, Facilities Management; Dr. William Hytche, executive director of Residence Life; Angela Jackson, associate registrar; and Valencia Jordan, associate director and senior women’s administrator.

Also receiving certificates were: Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to the president and liaison to the TSU Board of Trustees; Ben Northington, assistant director of fiscal accounts; Julius Proctor, area coordinator of Residence Life; Sonja Revell, Student Affairs coordinator for programming and mediation; Sheila Riley, director of Enrolment Services; Bradley White, associate vice president for Financial Services; and Valerie Williams, associate director for Learning Services.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University part of cutting-edge research aimed at reducing cancer disparities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This holiday season, cancer survivor Navita Gunter has a lot to be thankful for, mainly her life.

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Navita Gunter

But she’s not content with her own personal survival. Understanding her own struggle when she was stricken with cervical cancer several years ago, and finding little compassion and help, Gunter has vowed not to let that happen to another woman.

“My struggle gave me purpose and compassion for others,” she said.

Gunter, founder of the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee, has joined TSU as head of the community advisory board for a four-component cancer research project at the university.

The U54 Partnership to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities, refunded recently by the National Cancer Institute for another five years, is a coalition involving TSU, Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University. Its goal is to create a model for eliminating disparities in cancer through education, prevention and treatment.

The components of the project are community outreach and engagement, smoking cessation, breast cancer awareness, and cancer research education.

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Mariam Boules, a senior biology major, works in Dr. Margaret Whalen’s research lab. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“The intent of this award is to reduce health disparities,” said Dr. Margaret Whalen, professor of chemistry, who heads the cancer research education component. “The specific disparities we are looking at is the disparity between the vast majority of people and certain groups, like African American, in terms of cancer incidence.”

Whalen’s role, she said, is educating students to get them interested in doing cancer research to try to broaden the number of individuals who engage in cancer research.

“If we have more people from different backgrounds engaging in cancer research who are able to understand and deal better with the disparities, they will be more interested in trying to address the situation.”

Although there has been substantial progress in cancer treatment, screening, diagnosis, and prevention over the past several decades, addressing cancer health disparities—such as higher cancer death rates, less frequent use of proven screening tests, and higher rates of advanced cancer diagnoses—in certain populations is an area in which progress has not kept pace, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Documented cancer health disparities include substantially higher rates of prostate cancer incidence and death among African American men than men of other racial/ethnic groups; and higher rates of kidney cancer among American Indian and Alaska Natives than other racial/ethnic groups.

Mariam Boules is Dr. Whalen’s student and a senior biology major with minors in psychology and chemistry. She said exposure to the cancer research has been enlightening.

“The research is teaching me a lot of new things,” Boules said. “Having to do hands-on in the lab for about eight hours a day and enjoying the stuff you are doing and learning about; all those compounds and how they affect our system and our cells is just amazing.”

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Dr. Rebecca Selove

In the case of smoking cessation, TSU scientists are looking at tobacco use and the health disparities it presents, especially the incidence of lung cancer death rate among African-American men.

“Our role at TSU is the design of behavioral intervention,” said Dr. Rebecca Selove, a clinical psychologist and research associate professor, who heads the smoking cessation component of the project. “This entails telling people about the program, and giving them information in general about how important it is to get that support if they are tobacco users.”

Selove said the intervention would be designed along with the Cancer Outreach Corp, and would involve counseling people about cessation and motivating them to sign up and stick with the program.

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Dr. Oscar Miller

Dr. Oscar Miller, chair and professor of sociology, heads the outreach component. He coordinates and maintains the activities of the community advisory board, which is comprised of experts in government and community organizations, whose mission is to help reduce cancer disparities and also to disseminate cancer research findings and information.

“One of the things we do is look at the researchers, or the research that is ongoing, and try to find community partners who have some expertise in that,” Miller said. “We meet about four times a year to discuss upcoming research projects, new areas of research, and help the researchers at the three institutions on how to include the community findings in their research.”

Gunter is excited about the cancer research, and what the future holds.

“The TSU project has expanded the research effort in this area and helped me touch more people than what I was touching before,” she said.

TSU’s involvement in cancer research, in particular, is far-reaching. Recently, renowned cancer specialist and TSU alum, Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, was part of a panel that made recommendations to help speed the development of cancer cures.

The Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific leaders and cancer patient advocates was formed to provide direction for Vice President Joe Biden’s National Moonshot Initiative, which aims to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving efforts to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

“As members of the panel, we were able to take what we know from experience and working with cancer research to come up with these recommendations, which we are certain will help the vice president in his work,” Mitchell said.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Dr. Edith Mitchell, Noted Cancer Specialist, TSU Graduate Named to Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Renowned cancer specialist and TSU alum, Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, is part of a panel that recently submitted 10 cutting-edge scientific recommendations to help speed the development of cancer cures.

Mitchell, clinical professor and director of the Sidney Kimmel Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at Thomas Jefferson University, served on the Blue Ribbon Panel of scientific leaders and cancer patient advocates named to provide direction for Vice President Joe Biden’s National Moonshot Initiative.

President Obama announced the $1 billion initiative as part of his State of the Union Address in January and named Biden to head it. The Moonshot aims to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving efforts to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

In September, Mitchell’s panel submitted their report, with recommendations aimed at the Moonshot goal of making 10 years of progress in five years.

“Serving on the Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel is one of the most exciting things that has occurred in my career,” said Mitchell, who is also outgoing president of the National Medical Association. “As members of the panel, we were able to take what we know from experience from cancer and working with cancer research to come up with these recommendations, which we are certain will help the vice president in his work.”

The panel recommended that the Moonshot consider the following:

  • Establish a network for direct patient involvement
  • Create a clinical trials network devoted exclusively to immunotherapy
  • Develop ways to overcome resistance to therapy
  • Build a national cancer data ecosystem
  • Intensify research on the major drivers of childhood cancers
  • Minimize cancer treatment’s debilitating side effects
  • Expand use of proven prevention and early detection strategies
  • Mine past patient data to predict future patient outcomes
  • Develop a 3D cancer atlas
  • Develop new cancer technologies

Mitchell, a retired Air Force brigadier general, is one of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s nominees for Tennessee State’s University Board of Trustees.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

More Than 500 Graduates Receive Degrees at Tennessee State University Fall Commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 500 received undergraduate and graduate degrees Dec. 10 when Tennessee State University held its fall commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the university’s main campus.

Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump gave the keynote address.

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A participant in the TSU fall 2016 graduation ceremony peruses the commencement program as she waits to receive her degree. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

He told the graduates that with their degrees they have the foundation to chart any course in their lives.

“Many of you graduating today already have solid foundation from your upbringing,” Crump said. “With your graduation today, Tennessee State University has added value to that foundation that will determine your path and success in life.”

Crump is the noted Florida lawyer who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Terence Crutcher in police shooting cases that made headlines around the world. Crump was also an advocate in the Robbie Tolan police brutality U.S. Supreme Court case, as well as the Martin Lee Anderson boot camp death case.

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More than 500 graduates participated in TSU’s fall 2016 commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on Dec. 10. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“You graduates are the very best that we have to offer. You are the hope of your grandfathers and grandmothers,” Crump said. “Like many before you, your are going to face situations you cannot control. But the only thing you can control is your attitude and your perspective at how you are going to address whatever situation you find yourselves in.”

On social justice, he referred to the graduates as “the fortunate ones” with the moral obligation to stem out injustices and abuse in their communities.

“You’re the ones who are going to have the good jobs, you have the education, you have the talent, and if you don’t speak up for our community, if you don’t stand up for our community, if you don’t fight for our community, then who will,” Crump said.

Jeremy Johnson, who received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, was touched by Crump’s assertion about abuse and injustice.

“His speech is a wake-up call to action,” Johnson said. “There is so much injustice around us everyday but many of us do nothing and behave as if everything is fine.”

TSU President Glenda Glover described Crump’s speech as “thought-provoking and very inspiring.” She congratulated the graduates for their accomplishment.

“You have endured and prepared yourselves to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Dr. Glover said. “You must always remember that you did not accomplish this goal all by yourselves. There were parents, relatives, friends and mentors who helped you along the way. Remember to thank them.”

Ravyn L. Morgan, a criminal justice major, was recognized for graduating summa cum laude, with the highest grade point average. She was presented with the Student Academic Excellence Award for her accomplishment.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Students Build Wheelchairs for Disabled Canines

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Pugsly the Pug has a new wheelchair.

Born with a spinal deformity that makes it difficult to stay on its feet, the 15-year-old Dutch mastiff has a new lease on life, thanks to a team of occupational and physical therapy students at Tennessee State University.

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The Dog Wheelchair Competition winning team members and their professors are, from left standing, Jake Armstrong, Blaine Martin, Dr. Rita Troxtel and Dr. Karen Coker. Squatting with Pugsly are, left, Reagan Worth and Erica LaFollette. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The students, along with some of their peers from the Art Department, designed a special wheelchair that allows Pugsly to take long strides without wobbling or falling.

Dr. Rita Troxtel, assistant professor of occupational therapy and Pugsly’s owner, organized a wheelchair competition that challenged the students to develop wheelchairs for disabled dogs that are low cost, lightweight and easy to maneuver.

The competition was held Nov. 29 in the university’s Floyd-Payne Student Center. About 80 students and their advisers participated.

They came up with 17 different concepts and designs that were tested on Pugsly before a panel of judges. The winning wheelchair went to Pugsly. Troxtel said the other wheelchairs in the competition will be donated to organizations that specialize in adopting or providing sanctuary for animals with disabilities.

A team of two occupational therapy and two physical therapy students came up with the winning design made of PVC pipes, with two big back wheels and two smaller front wheels for turning; a push handle, and stretch fabric with four round openings for the feet.

“Pugsly is grateful for his new wheels,” Troxtel said.

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Another team of competitors fit Bugsly in their invention, a two-wheeler. (photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Karen Coker, assistant professor of physical therapy and one of the judges, said the winning design “offered ease of getting in with just one person.”

“The fabric is flexible and soft; it won’t poke anywhere, and the wheelchair has a push handle so that the owner won’t have to bend over,” Coker said. “It is the perfect mix.”

Blain Martin, a graduate physical therapy major, was on the winning team. He said the goal was to develop a wheelchair that was easy to use.

“We all collaborated and we had a group message going in,” Martin said. “We met up several times to make sure we were on the same page with our project. It was great teamwork.”

Other winning team members were Reagan Worth, occupational therapy; Jake Armstrong, physical therapy; and Erica LaFollette, occupational therapy.

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The other wheelchairs in the competition will be donated to organizations that specialize in adopting or providing sanctuary for animals with disabilities. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Second-year graduate occupational major Amber Alexander’s team did not win, but she was impressed with the exercise.

“Participating in this competition gave use some real-world exposure to our various disciplines,” she said.

Mike Carter, a Ph.D. physical therapy student, said he enjoyed the teamwork.

“Collaboration was great in our group,” Carter said. “In fact, one of the guys in the group was skilled in making things. He actually has a shop where he builds all kinds of stuff. So this was right up his alley.”

Dr. Hamid Hamidzadeh, head of TSU’s Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department, lauded organizers for having the competition.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to get hands on experience,” said Hamidzadeh, who was also a judge. “The students will really get the opportunity to go beyond the limit of the classroom.“

Troxtel said the skills the students learned from creating the dog wheelchairs will transfer to developing technology for humans.

“The TSU OT department is considering purchasing a 3D printer to build prosthetic limbs,” she said. “I also plan to hold a competition again next year, but it will focus on building assistive technology for human use.”

For more information on TSU’s various therapy programs in the College of Health Sciences, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU engineering students are making sure Nashville bridges are safe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – How safe are the bridges in Metro Nashville that you drive across everyday?

The answer may be in the work Tennessee State University engineering students are doing around the city.

A team of six graduate and undergraduate students, along with their professors from the Departments of Civil and Architectural Engineering, recently conducted a study on five bridges around the Nashville Fairgrounds to assess their structural integrity.

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Kevin Nguyen, a graduate civil engineering major, left, and Abram Musinguzi, a Ph.D. student in systems engineering, are two of six TSU students and their professors assessing bridges around the Nashville Fairgrounds to ensure their structural integrity. (Courtesy photo)

As part of the fairgrounds improvement project, the students’ findings were submitted to the city’s structural engineers and will be used to determine future use of the bridges.

The dean of the College of Engineering said the involvement of the students in the project is part of Mayor Megan Barry’s “innovative” vision and strategy to get more high school and college students working on real-world projects that enhance their skills and employability.

“TSU and the College of Engineering are playing an integral part of this strategy by providing our students with practical experience that complements their classroom learning,” Hargrove said.

Abram Musinguzi, a Ph.D. student in systems engineering, is the student coordinator on the project.  He said part of the inspections involve measuring the bridges’ dimensions to identify any structural damage, or distress, and compile a report.

“The purpose of the project is to assess if there is any need for renovation or repair of the bridges,” Musinguzi said.

Dr. Farouk Mishu, professor and interim chair of the civil and architectural engineering department, is one of two faculty members who worked with the students.

“These bridges have been here for a very long time,” Mishu said. “We are assessing them to see what kind of remediation we need to do to make them safe. This gives the students real-world experience before they graduate.”

Overseeing the students and their professors’ work was a field engineer from the fairgrounds project management team, who said he is impressed with the student’s skill level and attention to detail.

“What they are doing is pivotal to deciding what kind of money will be spent on either the repairing, the removing or replacing of these bridges,” said Jonathon Schneider of the project management team. “Their performance is remarkable.”

The students’ work is not TSU’s first involvement with the fairgrounds improvement project.

Last year, Hargrove served as a member of the review team appointed by Mayor Barry to make recommendations for the $12 million renovation of the fairgrounds.

Other students on the bridge project were: Kevin Nguyen, a graduate student majoring in civil engineering; and undergraduates SiVon Jiles, civil engineering; Matthew Miller, architectural engineering; Dwight Pullen, architectural engineering; and Darren Evans, civil engineering.

Dr. Catherine Armwood, assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering, was the other faculty member on the project.

For more information about TSU’s College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.