Category Archives: RESEARCH

TSU President Glenda Glover Announces Creation of Two New Colleges in State of the University Address

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover gave an upbeat assessment of the state of the university Monday announcing the addition of two new colleges for the coming academic year, but said much work needs to be done in the areas of retention and graduation.

At 60 percent, the 2013-2014 first-time freshman retention rate showed a 1 percent increase over the previous academic year. The 2015 graduation rates are still pending, but she said a 1 percent increase in graduation in 2014 is not where the university wants to be.

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Faculty and staff listen as President Glenda Glover gives her State of the University address in Kean Hall Monday. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“We have to do better than that,” Glover said as she announced several new initiatives to improve retention and college completion. “We must do everything possible to help students do better and make them want to stay and graduate. This is fundamental to why we are here not to mention that graduation and retention are key to our funding.”

President Glover announced the addition of the College of Life and Physical Sciences, acting upon recommendations from faculty and students with the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents. The new college brings all of the STEM degree courses under one umbrella. The new college will include biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, the only non-degree program.

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Dr. Lonnie Sharpe is the dean of the newly created College of Life and Physical Sciences at Tennessee State University. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, a long-time TSU professor and Massie Chair of Excellence, has been named interim dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences. Sharpe is also the executive director of the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which recently won a $987,000 National Science Foundation award to increase the number of minority students who earn Ph.D., in STEM education.

Glover also announced the elevation of the TSU Honors Program to a college level program. Like all the other academic units, the Honors College will exist as an equal collegiate unit within the university structure, with a dean reporting to the vice president for academic affairs.

In another move, the president announced the change in the name of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs to the College of Public Service, while Early Childhood Education is moved from the College of Agriculture to the College of Education.

“The recommendations for these changes have been reviewed by us and found to be appropriate and sound academic steps, and with the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents, we are implementing them,” Glover said.

On other institutional achievements, the president touted recent national accolades TSU has received, such as the no. 1 ranking among the Top 10 HBCUs that Produce Teachers; no. 1 among Most Affordable Colleges Online in Tennessee; and no. 34 of the 100 Most Affordable Universities. She also spoke about the university’s expanded marketing campaign through billboards, social and print media promoting its programs, offerings, community college and distance learning initiatives.

Glover announced upgrades in dining with the adding of Starbucks on the main campus and POD and coffee shop on the Avon Williams campus, which received a rousing chant of approval. A 2-percent across-the-board salary increase retroactive to July was also announced.

With nearly 1,400 new freshmen expected, Glover called on faculty and staff to “join hands” in making sure the new students receive all the support necessary to make their fall freshman move-in Tuesday successful.

“Let all of us show up and give our new freshmen and their parents a rousing TSU welcome during the freshman move-in tomorrow,” Glover 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.

TSU Computer Science Program Filling Critical Need for IT Professionals with Advanced Training

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – High-performance computing and bioinformatics, and cyber security and networking are two of the fastest growing areas in the information technology industry, but few universities are offering advanced degrees with these unique concentrations to meet the demand of students and professionals seeking career advancement or employment. But Tennessee State University has joined a handful of institutions that have answered the call.

Last fall, the University began offering a Master of Science in Computer Science degree with a focus on providing training that is on the cutting-edge. TSU is the only public higher education institution in Nashville offering the M.S. degree in Computer Science.

According to Dr. Ali Sekmen, chair and professor of the Department of Computer Science, the new degree program is also suitable for students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree in Computer Science or related fields. He added that courses are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate working IT professionals.

shutterstock_59508448Sekmen said students could complete either the high-performance computing and bioinformatics, or cyber security and networking concentrations by pursuing a non-thesis option that requires 33 hours of coursework, or the thesis option that requires completion of 27 hours of coursework and a thesis. The thesis option is strongly recommended for students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree, he said.

“The demand for high performance computing (HPC) in industry and research has significantly increased in recent years,” Sekmen said. “HPC has become a dominant paradigm due to the rapid developments in computer architecture such as multi-core, multi-processer, graphic process units.”

Additionally, Sekmen said the global bioinformatics market has been growing in “double digits” with increased demands in medicine, healthcare, and life sciences.

“HPC and bioinformatics are driving the medical industry’s search for novel systems that will result in innovative therapies. As a result, it is highly important that TSU, as with many other universities, begin to provide opportunities for students to pursue this area of expertise,” Sekmen said.

Although enrollment in the TSU program has doubled initial projections since it started a year ago, it is still a small part of the huge demand. According to the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer science job-opening forecast for 2010 through 2020 is 2.4 times larger than the number of computer science graduates. There will be about one million more jobs than students by 2020.

Between 2010 and 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security increased its cyber-security workforce by 500 percent, but the agency’s demand for more expertise in these critical areas remains very high, with a grim outlook. The U.S. is not producing enough people with the right skills set to make progress in the search for more cyber-security trained experts. When it comes to compensation, Sekmen said Computer Science is among the highest-paid fields in science, technology, and engineering, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects that it will continue to be one of the fastest growing occupations for the near future.

“Employers seek professionals with strong skills in programming and software systems, and development, areas that are strongly emphasized in our Master of Computer Science degree program,” Sekmen added.

For more information on the M.S. in Computer Science program contact Dr. Tamara Rogers at trogers3@tnstate.edu or (615) 963-1520.

Expo Highlights TSU’s Growing Agricultural Outreach as Officials Recognize Tennessee’s Top Small Farmers

University Holds Position for “Biggest Extension Network” Among HBCUs 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Highlighting its broad Cooperative Extension program that now touches more 50 counties in the state, Tennessee State University Thursday recognized four individuals as the “top small farmers” in Tennessee. The recognition, which also included the presentation of the “Small Farmer of the Year” award, marked the conclusion of the 2015 Small Farms Expo that brought together more than 400 agricultural experts, farmers, students and officials from across Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Tennessee 2015 Top Small Farmers are, from left, Steve Malamatos, “Alternative Enterprise”; Ken Drinnon, “Innovative Marketing”; Trent McVay, “Most Improved Small Farm”; and Christopher Mullican, “Best Management Practices.” Ken Drinnon received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“These individuals are the ‘best of the best’ in farming in Tennessee,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, as he presented plaques to Ken Drinnon, a beef cattle producer in Cheatham County, recognized for “innovative marketing; and Trent McVay, a vegetable and cattle grower in Shelby County, recognized for “most improved small farm.”

Also receiving plaques were Steve Malamatos, who owns a poultry processing business in White County. He was recognized for “alternative enterprise,” and Christopher Mullican, a beef cattle producer in Sumner and Davidson Counties, who also runs a non-profit therapeutic service for children and soldiers with disabilities.  He was recognized for “best management practices.”

Drinnon, who owns 82 acres of farm land and leases another 60 acres, where he runs a freezer beef business selling wholesale or retail to local restaurants, received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award.

“It is quite a humbling experience to receive this award,” Drinnon said. “My family and I are very thankful to this university and the state for not only working with farmers but also recognizing our contributions in such a public manner. We try to do the best to do a very good job.”

Candidates for recognition were nominated by either their extension agents, government agents or officials in each honoree’s county.

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Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, talks to a reporter minutes before the opening of the Expo. He says that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to Reddy, the recognitions and awards are an indication of TSU’s expansive outreach across the state in helping small farmers recognize their own potential and hone their skills through research, and introduction to new farming techniques, equipment and production methods.

“This annual Expo, now in its 11th year, is a way for Tennessee State University and our partners on the federal and state levels to recognized the role farmers and agriculture play in the state and the nation,” Reddy told reporters earlier.

As the nation celebrates the 125th anniversary of 1890 Morrill Act that created the second land grant system that include Tennessee State University, Reddy announced that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. He said in seven years TSU’s extension program has grown from 10 counties to more than 50.

“This is quite an achievement that could not have been possible without the support of our TSU leadership under President Glenda Glover, and partners like UT-Knoxville (University of Tennessee), the USDA, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and all of the agencies represented in the state,” Reddy said.

He attributed the success of the Cooperative Extension Program to the workers under the leadership of Dr. Latif Lighari, associate dean for Extension.

“We are grateful to Dr. Lighari for his leadership, and his team for the work they are doing, and for ensuring another successful Expo,” Reddy added.

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Natalie Owens, Extension Agent and Food and Nutrition Education Program specialist in Shelby County, demonstrates how to prepare nutritious blueberry crumble without artificial ingredients. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

At Thursday’s Expo, visitors, including students, saw exhibits, displays and new discoveries that not only showcased the impact of agriculture and its future in the state, but also the educational potential of the University and the level of research it conducts.

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Elementary and middle school students prepare to go on a farm excursion during the Expo. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Organized by the Cooperative Extension program along with several agencies and institutions, the 2015 Small Farms Expo exhibited a biodiesel fuel production unit that farmers can use to turn crops into fuel for their equipment, a greenhouse emission reduction system for field crops, community gardening, meat goat production and genetics, beekeeping demonstration, and 4-H and adult agriculture.

Workshops included organic vegetable production techniques, pesticide handling and safety, food preservation, and soil and plant tissue sampling, among others.

Lighari, who has headed the Expo since its inception, recognized his fellow organizers, the various farm managers and research leaders, small farmers, schools and students for their participation.

“Your input and participation made this event very successful,” Lighari said. “We thank you and especially the small farmers who are the lifeline of what we do.”

Other speakers included TSU Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy; Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young; State Rep. Harold Love Jr.; Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson; and Dr. Tim Cross, dean of Extension at the University of Tennessee.

Other TSU partners, Expo organizers, agencies and sponsors present were the Tennessee Farm Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

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.

21 Incoming Freshmen, Rising High School Seniors Get Exposure to Cutting-edge Research During Summer Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – From studies in understanding hypersensitive response of tobacco plants to comparing DNAs in chickens and Guinea fowls, 21 incoming college freshmen and rising high school seniors spent their summer receiving exposure to real-world scientific work and cutting-edge research.

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Kayla Sampson, an incoming freshman, presents her research on “Understanding hypersensitive response of tobacco plants to elf-type and GFD-labeled strains of Erwina tracheiphilia.” (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The students, from Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Indiana and Georgia, spent five weeks at Tennessee State University engaged in various laboratory and field experiments under the mentorship of university professors and scientists. Their finished works were presented as scientific papers and research results during a standing-room only audience of parents and guests in the Ferrell-Westbrook Complex on TSU’s main campus on July 2.

“These students are really the best we have recruited in the seven years of the Summer Apprenticeship Program,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, referring to the USDA-funded program intended to expose students to the many career opportunities in agriculture, bio- and environmental sciences.

Kayla Sampson, an incoming freshman from Jackson, Mississippi, who wants to major in biotechnology, said the summer programs gave her a better understanding of her career choice.

“Although I have always wanted to go into biotechnology, I came here not knowing much about it,” said Sampson, who will attend TSU this fall. “This Summer Apprenticeship Program has really opened my eyes and fueled my interest. The mentors and program coordinators were very helpful and encouraging.”

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Kobe Leonard, left, Paige Madison and Arthur Carey present their combined research on “Sustainable seafood.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

From Ivori Scheley, an incoming freshman, whose dream is to engage in groundbreaking research, to Christopher Green, also an incoming freshman with an interest in biotechnology and environmental science, many of the future scientists say their month-long interaction with each other and college professors was an eye-opener for their future careers.

“Biotechnology is certainly where the money is, which makes it a very enticing career choice,” said Green. “I also see animal science as another potential career choice.”

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Christopher Green, an incoming freshman with interest in biotechnology and environmental science, presents on “Comparison of pectobacterium caratovora strains for virulence detection.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

According to William F. Hayslett Sr., coordinator of the Summer Apprenticeship Program, the objective of the program is to dispel the “myth” that agriculture is farming. “Our goal here is to make students aware of the academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences and the many career opportunities available to its graduates.”

Reddy, who is dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, encouraged the students to consider careers in STEM and agricultural sciences, as “lucrative” areas for employment.

“Here at TSU we offer a variety of opportunities in agribusiness, environmental sciences and many other areas that are in high demand,” he said.

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Terrell Boykin, with a focus on mite prevention, presents his research based on “Greenhouse practices.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

He thanked parents for encouraging their children to enter the program, adding that the program offers a “positive” avenue for youths to spend their summer in experiential learning. “It is also intended to give community college and recent high school graduates the opportunity to learn values essential for environmental stewardship at the local, state and national levels,” Reddy said.

Other students who participated in the program were: Malaika Greer, Jasmine Stringer, Kevonte Askew, Amarius Daniels, Demetria Hayes, Asia Hooper, Darrius Lawson, Devinn Pauley, Sydnie Davis and Arthur Carey. Also participating in the Summer Apprenticeship Program were: Kobe Leonard, Paige Madison, Terrell Boykin, CheKenna Fletcher, Isiah Cunningham, Whitney ‘Abbey’ Anderson, Shakarah Nelson and Darian Majors.

Each of the students who participated in the residential program received a $1,000 stipend.

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 Professor Wins Prestigious American Society of Agronomy Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University professor, noted for his mobile biodiesel demonstration to farmers across the state, has won the prestigious American Society of Agronomy Early Career Professional Award for 2015. Dr. Jason de Koff, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, was recognized for outstanding contribution to the field of agronomy in education and research.

The award will be formally presented at the ASA’s awards ceremony during the scientific society’s annual international meeting Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis.

“I am very honored to win this award,” de Koff said. “Receiving this kind of acknowledgement means I am making important contributions in my field.”

FEATURED_Biodiesel mobile UnitDe Koff, now in his fifth year at TSU, has received more than $1.3 in grant funding as principal investigator and co-PI. His responsibilities in extension and research focus on using switchgrass and winter canola for bioenergy production. He is a research-focus group leader for 20 faculty members, and serves as assistant program leader in the Cooperative Extension Program at TSU. As a state extension specialist, he has developed a series of workshops, videos, factsheets and a mobile demonstration for on-farm biodiesel production.

“Dr. Jason de Koff is very deserving of this ASA award,” said Dr. Samuel N. Nahashon, interim chair of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at TSU. “He is one of our outstanding faculty who is well-rounded in teaching, research and outreach. He has developed courses, secured funding and established an excellent program in bioenergy, an effort that is benefitting our students and stakeholders.”

The ASA Early Career Professional Award, which comes with a $2,000 honorarium, recognizes young professionals who have made outstanding contributions in agronomy within seven years of completing their final degree.

De Koff received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2008. He came to TSU in 2010 after post-doctoral work with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

“I plan to continue my efforts in extension, research and teaching to enhance opportunities for both TSU students and Tennessee farmers,” de Koff 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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 Ranks in “Top 25” HBCUs; Listed among 100 Most Affordable Universities in the Nation

2015-Rankings-of-Best-Historically-Black-Colleges-Universities-300x244-1NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is one of the top Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation, according to College Choice, an independent online publication that helps students and their parents find the right college. In its 2015 ranking of the Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the publication listed TSU number 16 of the top 25 in the nation.

TSU was noted for fostering “a rich educational atmosphere by ensuring collaborative learning, meaningful student-faculty interaction, and opportunities for community engagement.” According to the publication, TSU also graduates the highest number of African-American bachelor’s degree holders in agriculture, agriculture operations, and agriculture-related sciences.

“The College Choice ranking for our programs and offerings reflect the success Tennessee State University has achieved in providing students with the experiences and education they need to make a difference in our world,” President Glenda Glover said. “We are especially gratified that leaders in higher education across the country gave us top marks for our academic programs and the learning environment we provide to students.”

The College Choice ranking, which considers factors such as academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market, is just one of many national recognitions TSU has received this year. The University has also been recognized as the top provider of online programs in Tennessee.

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Additionally, Best Value Schools, which focuses on gauging college
affordability, ranked TSU number 34 of the 100 most affordable universities in the nation. “From Aeronautical and Industry Technology to Urban Planning, from Architectural Engineering to Speech Communication, TSU simply offers too many course options for you to ever be bored,” the publication noted.

“While the United States grapples with the problem of providing college students a quality education at an affordable price, we are able to offer students attending Tennessee State University a wide variety of academic programs that employers demand,” said Dr. Mark Hardy, vice president for Academic Affairs. “We are doing this while keeping the expense of those programs at an economical level.”

Last year, The College Database, a free, non-commercial website that provides future and post-secondary students and their families with “accurate and valuable” college and career-related information, also said that TSU graduates enter the workforce earning an average $42,000 per year. The report gave TSU a top ranking among colleges and universities in Tennessee with tuition rates below $20,000, adding that the University offers the best return on financial investment when compared to other post-secondary institutions in the state.

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In another listing this year, Affordable College Online, which focuses
on distance learning nationwide, ranked TSU number one in Tennessee among colleges and universities with online programs. It highlighted the University’s 18 fully online programs for undergraduate and graduate studies focused on professional studies with concentrations in leadership, nursing, teaching and more. While naming TSU as the university with the lowest tuition among its peer institutions in the state, the publication also pointed to a number of professional licensure programs offered by the institution.

“Tennessee State University prides itself on offering affordable and quality on-ground and online degree programs,” said Dr. Evelyn E. Nettles, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, whose office handles distance and online education. “Students are guaranteed exposure to a highly qualified faculty, a wide-range of student and academic support services, and reliable technology infrastructure, at a reasonable overall cost.”

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 Alumna and Former Vice President Maria Thompson Named President of Coppin State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Maria Thompson, a Tennessee State University graduate, and former vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs, is the new president of Coppin State University, a part of the University System of Maryland.

mariathompson
Dr. Maria Thompson

USM Chairman James Shea announced Thompson’s appointment recently, describing her as a “top-level academic leader.”

“Dr. Thompson’s earlier experience in building a research enterprise at an urban historically black institution positions her well to advance Coppin as a vital institution in Baltimore and the state,” Shea said.

TSU President Glenda Glover said the TSU family is “extremely” proud to see one of its products excel to such a high profile position in the academic world.

“We congratulate Dr. Thompson on becoming president of Coppin State University, a sister HBCU institution,” President Glover said. “We are very proud of her outstanding achievements and demonstration of excellence. The faculty, students and staff of Coppin State are very fortunate to have one of our finest to lead that great institution.”

Thompson, whose appointment takes effect July 1, is the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at the State University of New York at Oneonta. From August 2009-July 2011, she served as vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU. Prior to that, she served in many other research capacities at TSU.

At SUNY, Thompson was credited with oversight of accreditation reaffirmation, and academic development for more than 6,000 students. At Tennessee State, she helped to secure more than $45 million in sponsored research funding from external resources.

“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders of Coppin State to continue the university’s commitment to preparing graduates who are analytical, socially responsible and lifelong learners,” Thompson said. “Urban higher education plays a vital role in shaping the future of local, national and global communities and I am excited about joining a campus with a rich legacy of community engagement.”

Thompson is a 1983 graduate of TSU with a Bachelor of Science degree. She holds an M.S. from The Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

 

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

Team Including TSU Astronomers Discover Planetary System Much Closer to Earth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A team of astronomers using ground-based telescopes in Arizona, California, and Hawaii recently discovered a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away from our solar system. All three of its planets orbit their star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the Sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.

The astronomers, from Tennessee State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California Observatory found the planets using measurements from the Automated Planet Finder (APF) Telescope at Lick Observatory in California, the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the TSU APFs at Fairborn Observatory in the Patagonia Mountains of southern Arizona.

The TSU moonlight telescopes at the Fairborn Observatory in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona helped researchers discover a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away from our solar system. (courtesy photo)
The TSU moonlight telescopes at the Fairborn Observatory in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona helped researchers discover a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away from our solar system. (courtesy photo)

The team discovered the new planets by detecting the wobble of the star HD 7924 as the planets orbited and pulled on the star gravitationally. The APF and Keck Observatory traced out the planets’ orbits over many years using the Doppler technique that has successfully found hundreds of mostly larger planets orbiting nearby stars. In coordination with the APF and Keck Observations, the TSU APF made crucial brightness measurements of HD 7924 over nine years to assure the validity of the planet discoveries.

TSU has also been developing and operating robotic telescopes for over 20 years.

“The robotic telescopes are a wonderful advancement,” said TSU astronomer, Dr. Gregory Henry, who oversees the operation of seven robotic telescopes for his research. “They take away the tedium of all-night, manual observing sessions and produce far more superior data.”

One of the TSU robotic telescopes discovered the first transiting extrasolar planet in 1999, providing final proof of the existence of other planetary systems.

The Keck Observatory found the first evidence of planets orbiting HD 7924, discovering the innermost planet in 2009 using the HIRES instrument installed on the 10-meter Keck I telescope. This same combination was also used to find other super-Earths orbiting nearby stars in planet searches led by UH astronomer Andrew Howard and UC Berkeley Professor Geoffrey Marcy. It took five years of additional observations at Keck, a year-and-a-half campaign by the APF Telescope, and nine years of APT monitoring to find the two additional planets orbiting HD 7924.

According to Henry, the Kepler Space Telescope has discovered thousands of extrasolar planets and demonstrated that they are common in our Milky Way galaxy. However, nearly all of these planets are far from our solar system, he said.

“Most nearby stars have not been thoroughly searched for the small ‘super-Earth’ planets (larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune) that Kepler found in great abundance,” Henry added.

This discovery shows the type of planetary system that astronomers expect to find around many nearby stars in the coming years.

“The three planets are unlike anything in our solar system, with masses 7-8 times the mass of Earth and orbits that take them very close to their host star,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Lauren Weiss.

Henry added that TSU automated telescopes will also make an important contribution to automated planet discovery.

“The APF measurements of the planetary host star’s brightness will allow us to determine whether star spots are mimicking the presence of a false planet,” said Henry.

The robotic observations of HD 7924 are the start of a systematic survey for super-Earth planets orbiting nearby stars. University of Hawaii graduate student B. J. Fulton will lead this two-year search with the APF as part of his research for his doctoral dissertation. Henry will measure any brightness changes in the same stars with the TSU APTs.

“When the survey is complete, we will have a census of small planets orbiting Sun-like stars within approximately 100 light-years of Earth,” says Fulton.

The paper, “Three super-Earths orbiting HD 7924,” has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. Other authors of the paper are Howard Isaacson (UC Berkeley), Evan Sinukoff (UH), and Bradford Holden and Robert Kibrick (UCO). The team acknowledges support of the Gloria and Ken Levy Foundation, NASA, NSF, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the University of California for its support of Lick Observatory and the State of Tennessee through its Centers of Excellence program.

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

NAACP Leader Tells TSU Graduates to be Change Agents as More Than 300 receive Advanced Degrees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 300 students received advanced degrees Friday during Tennessee State University’s first graduate commencement, but not before hearing a strong appeal from the leader of one of the nation’s top civil rights organizations calling on the graduates to be agents of change.

“By completing your education and achieving at this level you have prepared yourselves to be the hopes and dreams of tomorrow’s generation,” said Dr. Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Society cannot now hand you anything that you cannot handle.”

Brock Glover
Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover presents a plaque to Dr. Roslyn M. Brock in appreciation of Dr. Brock’s “inspiring” address at the University’s first Graduate Commencement Friday.

Brock, the youngest person to lead the 106-year-old civil rights organization, said the current wave of issues facing the nation will only be solved with everyone involved and playing their part.

“Our nation and communities are faced with economic imbalance, issue of race, unemployment and hunger. It is incumbent on you to recognize and ensure that all Americans have access to quality education, jobs and a fair legal system,” Brock said. “Become proactive and not reactive in addressing the issues going on in the country.”

Saying that success is achieved “by us helping one another,” Brock akin her remark to an African parable of a migration of a herd of elephants trying to cross a river, where the bigger elephants line themselves in the form of a bridge to help the smaller elephants get cross.

“So too as you have succeeded, do not forget to get back in the water to help somebody make it to the other side. Never forget that life is about others,” Brock told the graduates, adding, “The future is in your hands; you are going somewhere, don’t stop now.”

Earlier, before address the graduates, the NAACP leader extolled the “remarkable leadership” of President Glenda Glover, describing her as an “extraordinary woman doing great things at Tennessee State University.

“This is a remarkable woman who is doing great things at this university and molding students who are exemplifying the Tennessee State University motto of “Think, Work, Serve,” she said.

Brock’s remarks highlighted the first part of a dual 2015 spring commencement ceremonies. On Saturday, Memphis, Tennessee, Mayor AC Wharton, will give the commencement address when nearly 1,000 undergraduate students receive their degrees during a ceremony in Hale Stadium.

Those graduating Friday received master’s degrees; education specialist degrees, and doctorate degrees including Ed.D., and Ph.D.

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

Memorial Service Planned for Noted Medical Pioneer and TSU Alumnus, Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A memorial service for Dr. Levi Watkins, noted medical pioneer and TSU alum, will be held in Baltimore on Tuesday, April 21. Dr. Watkins died Friday after a massive heart attack and stroke. He was 70.

The service will be held at 1 p.m., at Union Baptist, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21217. The phone number to the church is (410) 523-6880. Arrangements are being entrusted to the Redd Funeral Home, 1721 N. Monroe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21217. (Tel: 410-523-1600).

A behind-the-scenes political figure and civil rights activist who broke many racial barriers, Dr. Watkins was the first black chief resident of cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was known as much for fighting the injustice faced by African-Americans as for his groundbreaking medical work, such as the creation and implantation of the Automatic Implantable Defibrillator (AID). The device detects irregular heart rhythms and shocks the heart back to life.

“Dr. Levi Watkins changed the world with his passion for medicine,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “The University family extends sincerest condolences to the Watkins family during this difficult time. Dr. Watkins not only impacted the field of medicine, but he also inspired African-Americans to become doctors as he broke down the color barrier at two of the nation’s leading medical institutions. TSU will always remember his service to others, professional achievements, and dedication to his alma mater. He leaves a tremendous legacy that will surely inspire our students and others that follow in his footsteps.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Watkins was outspoken yet humble. He never took his success for granted and worked tirelessly to help create the next generation of African-American doctors and activists.

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Levi Watkins Class Photo 1965-1966 (Courtesy Photo)

Dr. Watkins was born in Kansas, the third of six children, but grew up in Alabama, where he got his first taste of the civil rights movement. He met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the age of 8 when he and his family attended Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, where Dr. King was the pastor.

He attended Tennessee State University as an undergraduate, studying biology. He then made history at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he became the first African-American to study and graduate from the school with a medical degree. It was an experience he described over the years as isolating and lonely, but would be the first of many milestones.

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Dr. Watkins started a general surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1971, where he became the first black chief resident of cardiac surgery. He left Baltimore for two years to conduct cardiac research at Harvard Medical School before returning to Johns Hopkins.

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 42 undergraduate, 24 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.