Category Archives: Research and Sponsored Programs

National Medical Association President, Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, Former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., to give spring commencement addresses at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The President of the National Medical Association, Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, and Former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., will be the keynote speakers at Tennessee State University’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Mitchell, a retired Air Force brigadier general, will speak at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6, at the graduate commencement in the Gentry Complex. Ford will address the undergraduate class at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, in Hale Stadium.

More than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines.

“I congratulate all of our graduates and wish them the very best as they enter a new and exciting chapter of their lives,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Commencement is an exciting time for the university because it highlights the academic achievement of our students and the commitment of faculty and staff in their educational and social development. TSU students are prepared to work and serve in the global marketplace.”

Mitchell, a 1969 TSU graduate with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry, is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, and Program Leader in Gastrointestinal Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, Aerospace Medical Association, Association of Military Surgeons, and the Medical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Last year, she was elected president of the NMA, the nation’s oldest professional society for African-American physicians.

In addition to her medical achievements, the retired brigadier general served as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Command Surgeon for U.S. Transportation Command and Headquarters Air Mobility Command at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. In this capacity, she served as the senior medical Air National Guard advisor to the command surgeon and was the medical liaison between the active Air Force and the Air National Guard.

Ford, a five-term former member of Congress from Tennessee, was chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. He served on the Financial Services and Budget Committees and worked to balance the budget and promote free enterprise for the House Blue Dog coalition, the organization that gave then Governor Bill Clinton his start in national politics.

As president, Clinton once referred to Ford as “the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century.” Ford is a longtime supporter of small and mid-size businesses, as well as a staunch advocate for fiscal and economic reform. Since leaving office in 2007, he continues to work diligently to promote healthy non-partisan debate on today’s most pressing issues.

Currently, Ford serves as a political analyst and contributor for CNBC and MSNBC, and a professor of public policy at the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

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Matthew Edwards is graduating from TSU with a degree in Agriculture. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Matthew Edwards is among the undergraduates who will receive their degrees on May 7. He said he’s glad TSU invited Mitchell and Ford to speak, and he believes they will inspire students to continue to strive for success beyond college.

As for his experience at TSU, Edwards said the university has faculty and administrators who really care about students’ success. He said TSU officials provided him with resources to overcome some hardships when he transferred from another university, and he encourages high school graduates to consider TSU as an option for getting a higher education.

“They transferred all the credits, made sure everything was set, and provided me with a work-study scholarship,” said Edwards, who is getting a degree in Agriculture. “I went from not having a place to go, to having a place to call home and a nice steady job in an area that I liked.“

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, 22 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 Astronomer Part of Team that Discovers Planet with Eccentric Orbit

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Dr. Gregory Henry

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Dr. Gregory Henry is part of a team of astronomers who have discovered an extrasolar planet scientists say has the most eccentric orbit ever seen.

The new planet is referred to as HD 20782 b and is about 117 light-years from Earth. It appears “elliptical or oblong” as it orbits around its star, astronomers say, which is unlike other planets in the solar system that have nearly circular orbits.

“The planet moves in a nearly flattened ellipse, traveling slowly far from its star and then making a fast and furious slingshot around the star at its closest approach,” Henry said. “At the furthest point in its orbit, the planet is separated from its star by 2.5 times the distance between the sun and Earth.”

At its closest approach, scientists say the new plant ventures as close as 6 percent of the Earth-sun distance, which is much closer than Mercury orbits the sun.

In congratulating Henry and his colleagues, TSU’s director of the Center of Excellence in Information Systems Engineering Management referred to Henry as “the first piece of TSU’s astronomy team.”

“Dr. Henry led an effort to establish the world’s first fully robotic observatory in collaboration with Fairborn Observatory in Southern Arizona,” said Dr. Matthew Muterspaugh, who is also professor of Physics and Astronomy at TSU. “Several of these telescopes were used to monitor the new planet’s host star to characterize the star’s properties and eliminate potential sources of false discovery.”

The team of astronomers, led by Steven Kane of San Francisco State University, say extrasolar planets like HD 20782 b pose “a wealth of questions” for astronomers.

“When we see a planet like this in an eccentric orbit, it can be really hard to explain how it got that way,” Kane said. “It’s kind of like looking at a murder scene, examining blood spatter patterns on the walls. You know something bad has happened, but you need to figure out what caused it.”

This new planetary discovery is just one of many involving TSU in the past.

For more than 25 years, Tennessee State University astronomers have been developing and operating a fleet of robotic telescopes in the mountains of southern Arizona.

In 1999, one of TSU’s robotic telescopes discovered the first transiting (eclipsing) exoplanet, providing the final evidence needed to prove the existence of other planetary systems.

“Our robotic telescopes have played a part in the discovery of over 150 extrasolar planets and planetary systems,” said Henry.

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, 22 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.

Frances Williams, Distinguished Professor and Administrator, Joins TSU As Associate Dean in College of Engineering

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Dr. Frances Williams

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Frances Williams is the new associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Tennessee State University.

In her new role, Williams will manage the graduate programs, provide oversight and coordinate research grants and contracts, as well as identify and initiate new research opportunities and collaborative partnerships for the college.

Before coming to TSU Williams was a faculty member and director of the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University. She also was the director of Norfolk State’s Micro- and Nano-technology Center Cleanroom, a premiere research facility for fabricating micro- and nano-scale devices.

Her research focus is in the areas of advanced materials and devices, biosensors, and nano- and micro-electromechanical systems processing and devices. She has received grants totaling $14 million as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator. In 2010 she received a U.S. patent for developing a micromachined sensor for monitoring electrochemical deposition.

Williams has received various awards including the 2013 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, the highest faculty award given out by the state. In 2012, she was named an “Emerging Scholar” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine. She also received Norfolk State’s top distinguished faculty award, the University Award of Excellence in 2010.

Williams is a member of several professional societies. She volunteers in various community programs that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for students from elementary to college age.

Williams holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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, 22 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.

Longtime AP Reporter Joins TSU as Director of Media Relations

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Lucas Johnson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Lucas Johnson, a longtime reporter with the Associated Press, has joined the communications team at Tennessee State University as director of Media Relations. He replaces Rick DelaHaya.

“I am very delighted to announce the addition of Lucas Johnson to our staff as the new director of Media Relations,” Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president of University Public Relations and Communications, said. “For more than two decades as a reporter with the Associated Press Lucas has established himself as a capable and respected journalist. I am thrilled to have him join our media department.”

Prior to joining TSU, Johnson worked for 24 years with the AP covering local, state and national news. For the last 10 years he covered the Tennessee General Assembly as a beat reporter. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Johnson holds a B.A. in journalism from Middle Tennessee State University.

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, 22 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.

Four TSU Professors Receive USDA Capacity Building Grants for Research and Extension Services

USDANASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has divided its annual funding awards for capacity building in teaching, research and extension. With nearly $1.4 million, Tennessee State University is among the highest recipients of this year’s $18 million allotted for the 20 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities that submitted successful proposals.

The capacity building fund, attained through a competitive grant writing process, is an initiative intended to increase and strengthen food and agriculture sciences at the schools through integration of teaching, research and extension.

Four professors in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences will share this year’s awards in research and extension services, according to Dr. Carter Catlin, associate dean for Research. They are John Hall, Agnes Kilonzo-Ntheng, William Sutton and Samuel Nahashon.

“These grants help us build our capacity in new frontiers of research and education,” Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of CAHNS said.  “We have immensely benefited from this program by adding teaching and research capacity in many new areas such as biofuels, remote sensing, urban forestry, biotechnology, to name a few.  Our faculty have been doing a superb job of competing and securing these funds at the highest rate possible.”

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Dr. John Hall

Hall, assistant professor in Extension Services, received $455,923 to design a state-of-the-art mobile education trailer to increase agricultural literacy in urban communities across the southeastern United States. Additionally, the funding will support the creation and implementation of a comprehensive plan to recruit students for all degree programs in CAHNS as well as develop leadership training program for youth, collegiate, and adult audiences.

“This is an integrated project that seeks to meet teaching and extension needs,” Hall said.

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Dr. Agnes Kilonzo-Ntheng

In research, Kilonzo-Ntheng will use her $350,000 award in a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to implement Good Agricultural Practices certification programs for small and medium-sized produce farms, and determine risk practices and profiles for generic E. coli, Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae in produce farms. She will also conduct risk communication workshops for small and medium-sized scale growers, and increase students’ participation in food safety outreach.

“Produce growers have come under increasing pressure to ensure that their products are safe, wholesome, and meet the proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act, said Kilonzo-Ntheng, associate professor of Family and Consumer Sciences. “While the goal for GAPs certification is clear, limited-resource growers often do not pursue the certification due to the costs. However, to succeed in the 21st century economy, these growers must be GAPs certified and empowered to meet food safety requirements.”

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Dr. William Sutton

For Sutton, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, his $400,000 research award will study how landscape alteration in the form of forest management impacts wildlife conservation.

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Dr. Samuel Nahashon

Nahashon, professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, received $100,000 to research new and emerging areas of biotechnology such as transcriptome analysis and computational bioinformatics. He will collaborate with an expert in computational bioinformatics at the University of Georgia to determine the mechanisms and modes of action of probiotics in conferring beneficial effects to poultry.

“This project is also an effort to continue strengthening the biotechnology research and teaching program in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at TSU,” Nahashon 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, 22 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.

School Teaches Farmers to Brew Own Biodiesel

Courtesy: Domestic Fuel

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Dr. de Koff, professor of Bioenergy Crop Production, and Project Director for the MBED demonstrates biodiesel production to students at Cheatham County High School on Sept. 19, 2014.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Farmers are known to be a pretty independent breed, and a school is teaching them to be energy independent by brewing their own biodiesel. This story from RFD-TV says Tennessee State University’s Agricultural Research and Education Center has a unique outreach program that teaches farmers about making their own on-farm biodiesel.

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Dr. Jason de Koff

“This is something where they can grow it, and they can make it themselves and they can use it on the farm,” says Jason de Koff, an assistant professor in agronomy and soil science at Tennessee State University. The school’s mobile demonstration trailer – think of it as a workshop on wheels – is making waves across the volunteer state.

“We were awarded a grant by the USDA back in 2012,” de Koff explains. “The grant was to create a demonstration that we could use to talk to farmers about producing their own biodiesel on the farm.”

TSU created this mobile biodiesel demonstration trailer at the university’s Agricultural Research and Education Center…where they even grow their own canola.

“The reason why we wanted to do this,” says de Koff, “is because we’ve estimated that anywhere between 1 percent and 3 percent of the farm acreage can be devoted to growing some of the oilseed crops for biodiesel production. The farmer can produce enough biodiesel from that to power their diesel equipment for the entire year.

“The canola seeds are stored here inside this bin and then they funnel their way down through this tunnel on the equipment. You can see that the seeds are then pressed for their oil, dripping down into this container. Down here on the end is everything that’s left over, something that can break off and be used in your animal feed. Once we’ve got the oil from the seed press, we can take it and put it in this biodiesel processor. This is where the actual conversion and actual production of biodiesel take place.”

The article points out that the cost to produce biodiesel on the farm is just $2.90 per gallon, a savings from buying at the pump. And farmers can apply for a Rural Energy for America grant program to help pay for 25 percent of the brewing equipment costs.

College Graduates Must Impact Society Beyond Personal Success, TSU Commencement Speaker Says

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President Glenda Glover and Dr. Lomax, the Fall 2015 Commencement speaker, lead the graduation procession in the Gentry Complex. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College graduates are expected to be leaders with capabilities that impact society beyond their families and personal careers, the keynote at Tennessee State University’s fall commencement told more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students who received degrees in various disciplines Saturday.

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said by working so hard and achieving a university degree in spite of difficult and insurmountable odds, position graduates to be leaders who are “doers, makers and shapers of events and outcomes.”

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The Fall 2015 Commencement celebration begins in the Gentry Complex. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“America and the world need active and engaged citizens who are not just satisfied with their personal success,” Lomax said. “As leaders you must see that some part of your life, some portion of your personal power, and your leadership are invested in work beyond yourself, your family and close friends.”

While challenging the graduates, Lomax, leader of the nation’s largest provider of scholarships and other educational support to African-American students, also called for strengthening of the educational system if those leaving institutions of higher learning are to have any chance to succeed.

“The global, technology-driven knowledge economy demands that educational institutions be more effective and efficient in producing measurable student outcomes and graduates who can transition smoothly from the classroom to the workplace,” he said. “Those (graduates) who either don’t have the advanced skills or cannot attain them will be punished with low-wage jobs at the bottom of the employment ladder.”

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Many TSU staff were among those receiving advance degrees at the Fall 2015 Commencement. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Among those receiving degrees were the first graduating class of the university’s 12-month Accelerated MBA Program in the College of Business. The program started in January 2015 with 14 cohorts. Also receiving degrees was a mother/daughter team, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Psychology, respectively.

Chelsea Marlin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was recognized for achieving the highest GPA among her fellow undergraduates.

Lomax, under whose leadership the UNCF has fought for college readiness and education reform, said, “The increasing emphasis on test is to confirm that students are learning, building the knowledge and skills they will need to advance and compete and demonstrate that their diploma is more than a piece of paper.”

He extolled the leadership of TSU under President Glenda Glover, calling her an “exemplary leader.”

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More than 500 undergraduate and graduate students received degrees in various disciplines at the Fall 2015 Commencement. (Photo by John Cross)

“The challenge of building and maintaining a 21st century university is great,” he said. “This calls for leaders who can envision the future, set bold and challenging goals and guide the institution through disagreements and controversies toward attaining its goals. This is the work that TSU’s dynamic, determined, focused and keenly intelligent president, Dr. Glover, is called to do.”

Earlier, President Glover thanked Lomax for agreeing to be the fall commencement speaker. She presented the UNCF leader with a plaque as a token of appreciation from the university. She congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments.

“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.”

Friday night, Glover hosted a reception in honor of Lomax at the President’s Residence. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry; TSU graduate and Vice Chair of the UNCF Board, Kevin W. Williams, were among guests, including university administrators, alumni and friends who attended the reception.

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, 22 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.

With Engineering Clinic, TSU Students May Soon Design and Build Computer Games, Small Machines

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A new “engineering clinic” will allow students to design and build products related to their discipline. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Engineering and computer science students at Tennessee State University may soon be able to design and build products such     as hand-held computer   games, mobile robots, computer apps and small machines, thanks to a new funding from the National Science Foundation.

A $1.7 million, four-year grant intended to revamp the curriculum and increase the graduation rate of African-American males in engineering, will also include the creation of an “engineering clinic,” which will allow students to design and build products related to their discipline.

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Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

“We are developing an innovative way of learning that would enhance students’ persistence and better prepare them for the rigors of the engineering coursework,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering and principal investigator of the NSF funding.

According to Hargrove there is a demand to produce a more diverse workforce by developing curriculums that reflect theoretical and practical knowledge and allow graduates to immediately make a contribution to industry. But incoming freshmen are less prepared for the rigors of the engineering curriculum in such areas as math. Only 5.5 percent of black eighth-graders completed calculus five years later, and a mere 1.1 percent of the nation’s black college freshmen enrolled in engineering programs in 2010, an analysis by the National Association of Black Engineers shows.

With the new funding, Tennessee State University, the largest producer of African American engineers in the state, is responding to this workforce demand, Hargrove said.

Dr. Sachin Shetty
Dr. Sachin Shetty

“We have developed a pre-engineering sequence of courses for freshmen that students must take before embarking on the traditional four-year curriculum,” he said. “These courses are infused with hands-on design projects to motivate and inform students about the discipline, and promote team dynamics and engineering fundamentals.”

Freshman Mechanical Engineering major Isaiah Pirtle, a beneficiary of the pre-engineering program, has seen great progress in his performance.

“I was fortunate to participate in the ‘Engineering Concepts Institute,’ a summer pre-college program,” Pirtle said. “That experience gave me an excellent academic background for the mathematics required in my major.”

According to Hargrove, with that preparation, Pirtle and his fellow classmates’ program for the next five years will focus on more design-related projects with the development of the engineering clinic.

Dr. Sachin Shetty, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Co-PI of the NFS fund, will manage the project and the development of the clinic. The project will also support a retention study on the attrition of African-American students, with particular emphasis on black males. Faculty from the Department of Sociology Department and College of Education will coordinate the study.

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, 22 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 to Host Fifth Annual Tennessee Local Food Summit Dec. 4-6

LogoJPEGblueNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will be the site for the Fifth Annual Tennessee Local Food Summit. The summit, to be held Dec. 4-6, will feature seminars and experts on a wide range of topics from backyard gardening, organic agriculture and rural economics to cooking, nutrition and climate change. More than 200 participants are expected to attend.

Sponsored by TSU and the Barefoot Farmer, LLC, the summit will also feature some of Nashville’s best chefs offering delicious, locally grown organic meals during a full-day of educational workshops, networking, and “the celebration of another great growing season,” organizers said.

Flyer with 3 logos[2]“Tennessee State University is pleased to host this important summit,” said the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, Dr. Chandra Reddy. “It comes at a time when Nashville and Tennessee are moving toward healthy eating habits, protecting the environment and developing the local economy. This conference also provides an opportunity for our faculty and students to share their research and innovation in this field.”

Organizers say the annual summit is intended to make Middle Tennessee viable again as “the farmland that once fed Nashville.”

Speakers will include nationally and internationally recognized food and farm experts and consultants from Tennessee, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Australia, as well as TSU faculty members like Dr. An Peischel, Dr. Sandria Godwin, Dr. Lan Li, Dr. Dilip Nandwani and Dr. Arvazena Clardy.

For more information and to register for the summit, visit http://tnlocalfood.com

 

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, 22 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.

 

Safe Drinking Water: TSU Student and Faculty Research Help to Keep Nation Water Supply Free of Pollutants

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JeTara Brown crawls through Mammoth Cave toward a water sampling sight. (Submitted Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student and faculty-led research findings are helping to keep the nation’s drinking water safe. According to reports from the recent National Cave and Karst Management Symposium in Cave City, Kentucky, two TSU graduate students and their professors presented findings on ways to improve water quality in the karst landscapes, a unique and fragile set of ecosystems that are dependent on clean stormwater recharge. Two-thirds of Tennessee has karst or karst-like landscape, including all of middle Tennessee. Their findings at Mammoth Cave have application to Nashville and the surrounding area.

Graduate students JeTara Brown and Hung Wai Ho, along with their professors in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, partnered with federal agencies to investigate management practices that improve storm runoff from parking lots and spills in the Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. The cave and karst systems serve as a habitat for unique ecosystems and sources of drinking water for much of the population.

According to Hung Wai, their research focused on the assessment and treatment of different pollutants in stormwater runoff in an urbanized area.

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Hung Wai Ho conducts a tracer study with Rhodamine dye in Mammoth Cave. (Submitted Photo)

“Water is a vital part of the environment but anthropogenic activities have been causing impairment to the water quality, especially in the karst regions of Tennessee and Kentucky,” Hung Wai said. “Additionally, the National Park offers a dynamic and interactive environment for us to apply our academic knowledge in a real-world situation.”

 

The research was part of an agreement among TSU, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Western Kentucky University Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, to aid in understanding the transport of contaminants into the karst system.

“Over half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater as a source for water supply,” said Brown, a first-year graduate student. “Unfortunately, when it rains, contaminants can be transported into the groundwater through sinkholes and fractures that are unfiltered.  The more we understand how karst systems work, the better we can find ways to protect them.”

Dr. Tom Byl is a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. For the last 20 years he has partnered with TSU conducting environmental research and teaching occasional classes.  Brown and Hung Wai are among the more than 150 students he has mentored.

“My students have conducted studies on a wide variety of topics, ranging from groundwater remediation to wetlands and cave systems,” Byl said. “Students bring new insight and energy to research projects.  Involving TSU students in field studies and lab research helps them understand that they can have meaningful careers in earth and environmental sciences.”

On the quality of the research, Dr. Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, said it is “incredibly” important to the science of caves.

“We have been incredibly impressed with the students Dr. Byl brings from TSU,” Toomey said. “They have been involved in helping to provide us with critical information on park management and finding interesting patterns in pure science such as water chemistry change. Their work has been very valuable and we hope it is also providing educational opportunities for the students.”

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Dr. De’Etra Young crawls through Mammoth Cave toward a water sampling site. (Submitted Photo)
Byl said as a result of the students’ “outstanding” work, Brown and Hung Wai, along with their faculty advisors, have been invited to present their research findings at the Karst Water Institute in Puerto Rico in January 2016. The students were each awarded $200 toward travel expense to the conference by the prestigious Karst Water Institute.

“JeTara and Hung Wai are great examples of our talented students at Tennessee State University,” said Dr. DéEtra Young, a faculty advisor. “As coordinator of the College of Agriculture Dean’s Scholars Program, I’m working diligently to increase research opportunities for our students. It is our goal to actively foster the academic and personal development of our students in preparation for the workforce or the many graduate opportunities available.”

“There are very few minority scientists in this very important field of cave and karst management. TSU’s Ag and Engineering colleges are trying to train and fill this gap,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.  “Our faculty, Drs. De’Etra Young and Tom Byl, do an outstanding job in training students and the invitation they received to present at this important national meeting is a good indicator of that.”

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, 22 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.