Category Archives: Research and Sponsored Programs

TSU receives $2.3 million grant to combat maternal mortality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Tennessee State University is set to address the increasing death rate of new mothers across the state and the country with a grant $2.3 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The five-year grant will support the establishment of a research center dedicated to applied maternal health disparities research. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maternal mortality rose from 861 maternal deaths in 2020 to 1,205 maternal deaths in 2021, a 40% overall increase.

 Dr. Wendelyn Inman, TSU’s Interim Public Health Program Director, addressed the urgent need for action as the United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths across the globe.

Interim Public Health Program Director Dr. Wendelyn Inman, right, discussing research on maternal mortality with second-year Master of Public Health student J’La Jenkins. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

“That should be unheard of,” Inman said. “Part of it is because we don’t have culturally competent providers. Providers aren’t sensitive to their needs.”

TSU has been allocated $483,400 of the HRSA grant for the first year. Inman, who is the principal investigator for the grant, noted the significance for underrepresented women, emphasizing the importance of being part of research from the beginning, rather than entering at a later stage, when it might be too late.

“That will make a big different to some women’s life, and some child who gets to keep their mother.”

The CDC is categorizing maternal mortality as death while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy. This is irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes. Statistics from the World Health Organization, from 2021, revealed “the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black (subsequently, Black) women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic White (subsequently, White) women (26.6.) Rates for Black women were significantly higher than rates for White and Hispanic women.”

TSU second-year Master of Public Health student J’La Jenkins believes cultural competency is important, even within her program.

 Dr. Wendelyn Inman

“Especially being a Black woman of childbearing age, knowing the importance of how high the rates of maternal mortality are among Black women that look like me,” Jenkins said. “It is important that we have TSU, which is in the heart of a Black community, to be the research center for this work.”

Jenkins added that receiving this grant enables TSU to increase the public health workforce representing underserved communities. She said the numbers are declining and that receiving this grant from HRSA shows the University’s commitment to turning those numbers around.

“Not only is this going to impact me, but generations after me. I was astonished at how the university is currently underfunded, but we are still able to be the house of this research center,” she said.

From 2017 to 2020, the State of Tennessee reported that 113 women died during pregnancy or within a year of pregnancy from causes related or aggravated by pregnancy. These pregnancy-related deaths accounted for 35% of all deaths during that period. A published report from the State also saw a 2.5% increase in birth related deaths for non-Hispanic Black women compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Cardiovascular diseases, compounded by disparities, emerged as leading causes. TSU, along with 15 other HBCUs, received funding to establish research centers. Dr. Inman expressed the importance of involving the community in the research process to ensure a diverse and inclusive approach from the ground up. Inman said this research, alongside other HBCUs, will create research turned into interventions to help within the community.

Dr. Quincy Quick

“We are going to have research centers so we can train doctoral, master’s level, and undergraduate students to join the public health workforce and the health care workforce to make a difference from the inside out. HRSA knows that if we can get more African American providers out there, we will see better outcomes. This will also highlight the pivotal role it plays in addressing the root causes of maternal mortality.”

Dr. Quincy Quick, TSU’s Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs, stressed the grant’s significance.

“Receiving funding from HRSA at TSU will bolster our capacity and capabilities in public health research, specifically as it relates to maternal mortality rates,” he said.

“This is particularly significant given that the state of Tennessee has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.”

Both Inman and Quick believe the HRSA grant, and HBCU maternal mortality research initiative will place underrepresented women at the forefront. Just as important, it positions TSU to provide groundbreaking research to address this health disparities and to train a diverse and inclusive public health workforce that can bring the meaningful change needed to save lives for the state of Tennessee and beyond.

TSU first-year graduate student awarded poultry industry scholarship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – After working at a local animal hospital in Nashville years ago, Alexis McDade’s passion for the animal industry was fueled. Additionally, McDade’s recent involvement with TSU’s food and animal science program has led her to a unique career path in the poultry sector.

TSU graduate student Alexis McDade received a scholarship from the Tennessee Poultry Association based on her exceptional performance in the poultry research area.

Currently, she is a first-year graduate student at TSU, majoring in food and animal science within the College of Agriculture. She has just received a scholarship from the Tennessee Poultry Association (TPA) based on her exceptional performance in the poultry research area.

McDade expressed her gratitude for becoming a TPA award recipient. “(When) I saw the news, I was ecstatic and even got a little emotional because I know how competitive scholarships can be,” McDade said. “This was my first scholarship award in this setting, so it felt both humbling and rewarding. I’m very proud of myself.”

McDade, who has been in the animal field for eight years now, also noted that she appreciates the university’s helpful insights related to her career path. “TSU offers plenty of opportunities for students like me to gain valuable real-world experience,” she said, “which is why I’m eager to explore ways to optimize the poultry industry.”

McDade found herself captivated by the balance between science, agriculture, and animal health within the poultry industry. She was particularly intrigued by the role that nutrition played in shaping the health and productivity of poultry. “I had the pleasure of participating in Ag Day on the Hill at the Tennessee Capitol, where I met inspiring individuals from the poultry industry who motivated me to continue my hard work on my research,” she said.

Samuel Nahashon, the Department Head of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the TPA has been awarding TSU students this scholarship for the last two years. “The scholarship that Alexis McDade received is based on her being in the poultry science research area and aspiring to be in the poultry career,” Nahashon said. He noted that McDade’s advisor within the department, Dr. P. Maharjan, did not hesitate to write a reference letter on her behalf based on how she has excelled in the field. McDade is one of 23 scholarship recipients across the state. The scholarship amount will be disclosed at an upcoming award ceremony at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The Nashville native aims to thrive in the poultry industry and pursue a Ph.D. in poultry nutrition. She also looks forward to conducting further research on gut health within the poultry industry.

About TPA

The Tennessee Poultry Association’s mission is to be a collective voice for the integrated broiler/breeder industry in Tennessee, supporting the promotion of education, policy, and public relations for the industry’s sustenance. TPA collaborates with growers, producers, companies, educators, researchers, universities, state agencies, and agri-businesses to promote and protect the commercial poultry industry in the state.

Tennessee State University reaches over $100 million in research awards, second among nation’s HBCUs

Continues path to obtain R1 status with record-setting external funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has reached a historic milestone, with the institution receiving over $100 million in research awards. The $100,031,082 million in funding is the second highest total among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. According to TSU President Glenda Glover, the record-setting awards are a part of the University’s plan to reach R1- research status.

“I applaud our Research and Sponsored Programs division for the implementation and continuation of a robust program that speaks to TSU’s commitment to changing the world through our research,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We understand that a significant increase in research expenditures is the key metric to obtain the R1 designation, the highest research classification for institutions.”

Anthony Thai

Some of the funding will focus on innovations in renewable energy, sustainable technologies, and global food security. University officials believe these research efforts will continue to transform lives and shape the future of TSU students.

“The aim of research in general is so that research will have a societal impact across the board from a local, state, regional and national level,” said Dr. Quincy Quick, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“All of the research that was awarded from the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences to all the awards in the College of Agriculture will have a huge impact.”

In 2021, TSU’s external research funding was just over $70.7 million and has increased by 34% since then. This includes an $18 million United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) NEXTGeneration grant awarded to the College of Agriculture that helped to propel TSU to the new record setting total.  

“The USDA/NIFA grant isn’t just a financial fortune, but it is a transformative opportunity that will propel TSU to new heights and academic excellence,” Dr. Quick added.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, right, with Dr. John Ricketts, left, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with the College of Agriculture, is the principal investigator for the NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the “Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP)” grant funded by USDA/NIFA for $18 million.

Quick also received a $2,970,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, adding to the total. The award will be used for the renovation of Harned Hall in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, which houses (13) research labs and (2) teaching laboratories.

“We have hit the highest total in grant awards in the institution’s history. This puts TSU in the upper echelon of research funding among HBCUs.”

Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is to ultimately reach $150 million in total grant awards within the next five years. TSU has had record awards in three of the last four years, $54 million (2019-2020); $70.7 million (2020-2021); and over $100 million (2022-2023).  

The R1 status is the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university. Currently, TSU is one of only 11 HBCUs with an R2 designation under the category of “high research activity.”

TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture received a total of $65.9 million awards of this year’s total.

Here are the top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. John Ricketts – College of Agriculture, $18,000,000 (USDA NIFA)
  • Dr. Kimberly Smith- RSP, $10,444,445 (TN Department of Human Services)
  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick –RSP, $2,970,000 (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 

TSU awarded record-setting $95 million plus in research funding on road to R1 designation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has reached a new milestone in research awards with over $95 million from various funding agencies and sponsors, for the 2022-2023 academic year. From groundbreaking discoveries to innovations in renewable energy and sustainable technologies, university officials believe these research efforts will continue to transform lives and shape the future of TSU students.

“I applaud our Research and Sponsored Programs division for the implementation and continuation of a robust program that speaks to TSU’s commitment to changing the world through our research,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

In 2021, TSU’s external research funding was just over $70.7 million. The University has experienced a 34% increase since then. This includes an $18 million USDA/NIFA NEXTGeneration grant awarded to the college of agriculture that helped to propel TSU to the new record setting total.  

“We have hit the highest total in grant awards in the institutions history this fiscal year,” said Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs Dr. Quincy Quick.

 “This puts TSU in the upper echelon of research funding among HBCUs.”

“The USDA/NIFA grant isn’t just a financial fortune, but it is a transformative opportunity that will propel the TSU to new heights and academic excellence,” Dr. Quick added.

Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is to ultimately reach a $150 million in total grant awards within the next five years. The R1 status the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

“Research expenditures is the key metric for going from R2 to R1,” Quick said.

To date, TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture have received a total of  $65.9 million awards of this year’s total.

Here are some of the other top awards received in 2022-23: 

·       Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 

·       Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 

·       Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 

·       Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 

·       Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 

·       Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 

·       Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 

·       Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 

·       Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 

·       Dr. D’Etra Young – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA) 

·       Dr. Robbie Melton – Academic Affairs, $1,000,000 (Apple/Hewlett Packard) 

·       Dr. Catherine Armwood – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 (NSF) 

·       Dr. Dafeng Hui – College of Life & Physical Sciences, $1,000,000 (NSF) 

·       Dr. Lin Li – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 – (NSF) 

·       Dr. Hongwei Si – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA/NSF) 

·       Dr. Richard Mu – RSP, $1,000,000 (NSF) 

TSU leads conference to enhance research among nation’s HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently co-hosted an HBCU conference to highlight the groundbreaking research these institutions are conducting and to expand corporate partnerships. The main goals of the HBCU Engage conference co-hosted by University-Industry Demonstration Partnerships (UIDP), were to increase collaboration between HBCUs and corporate engagement. TSU, Fisk University and Meharry Medical College were co-hosts for the two-day event. 

 Dr. Quincy Quick, the Associate Vice President  of Research and Sponsored Programs, spearheaded the event on behalf of TSU.

 “This is a platform to make sure HBCUs are able to engage with corporate industries and partner with government agencies,” Quick said. “Ways that academic institutions can partner with corporate industries and help them develop products.”

The collaboration included representatives from federal agencies and corporations such as the Department of Energy, Amazon, and IBM. The event aimed to engage, educate, and exchange ideas among representatives from industry and higher education, as well as to facilitate learning from peers in government program leadership and research administration. 

Quick said his goal is to broaden the scope of the research enterprise at TSU to pursue the nation’s top research echelon with an “R1” designation under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

“This platform is new and innovative,” he said. “In a sense, HBCUs have not had a platform available to them like this before.”

The first day of the conference consisted of federal grant writing, meetings with sponsored research contracting, and partnering with nonprofit funders. Day two consisted of panel discussions, collaboration, and best practices for building research capacity through industry or government partnerships.

Overall, the event moves TSU a step closer to ‘R1” status as the university mobilizes its research enterprise – including teaching faculty, researchers, graduate school, staff, and students – to support its vision for the coveted designation.

About UIDP and its HBCU initiative:

UIDP is a recognized leader in addressing issues impacting academic-corporate collaboration, providing a unique forum for our member representatives to find better ways to partner. An increasing number of companies and R1 universities wish to pursue or strengthen collaborative research partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Many HBCUs are interested in utilizing partnerships to bolster research opportunities. The purpose of the UIDP HBCU Initiative is to develop guidance that provides company representatives and R1 universities with the necessary contextual information and best practices for developing a mutually beneficial HBCU engagement strategy.

TSU students, faculty showcase ground-breaking research at symposium 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 100 TSU graduate and undergraduate students presented their groundbreaking research during the Tennessee State University 45th Annual University-Wide Research Symposium. With cash prizes ranging from $50-250, students delivered thought-provoking insights on a wide range of research topics, including the use of essential oils on strawberries, and analyzing estrogen receptor response to breast cancer cells.  

J’la Jenkins, a second year public health masters student, speaks with another student about her research on promoting cancer health equity. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The symposium, which is largely composed of presentations from the science, engineering, business, and humanities disciplines, was a week-long event sponsored by TSU’s Division of Research and Sponsored Programs. The symposium featured research and studies conducted by faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.  There were over 20 oral and poster presentation winners placing in first, second and third during the symposium award ceremony. 

“The research symposium continues to be a cornerstone for showcasing Tennessee State University’s student and faculty research talent,” said Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs Dr. Quincy Quick. 

“The Division of Research and Sponsored Programs is always excited and overjoyed to support and sponsor this annual event across the university and look forward to the novel and innovative contributions presented.” 

Pallavi Rathore, a second-year masters student, speaks with another student about her poster presentation during the university-wide research symposium. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Students were judged on originality, organization, presentation, knowledge and overall.

Pallavi Rathore, a second-year masters student studying plant sciences, won 1st place for poster presentation in the “graduate agriculture,” interdisciplinary category. 

“It was really nice winning an award,” Rathore of India, said. “It was a boost of confidence, and the first award I’ve ever won at the University.” Rathore research was a study on root system architecture traits, with the goal bringing new plants into the world to fight climate change. Rathore said she looks forward to receiving her PhD after graduation, studying plant molecular biology. 

Anarra Williams

This year’s symposium theme is “Ascending to New Heights,” something that Anarra Williams did as she achieved a new level of success by winning first place for the undergraduate oral presentation interdisciplinary category.  Williams is a senior from Ohio, studying food and nutritional science with a minor in English. Her research was related to ‘reversing the entrepreneurial curse: Assessing issues faced as a self-employed juicing business owner.’ 

Williams owns her own juicing business, “A Dose of Wholesomeness.”

During the award ceremony, Williams was shocked about winning first place within her category. “As a senior, it is good to know they were interested enough to present me with first place … I am lost for words,” she said. “You never know where these competitions will take you.” Williams will be attending Virginia Tech for her master’s to pursue a career as a food chemist. 

Keynote speaker TSU alumna Dr. Maria Thompson being awarded a gift on behave of the Research and Sponsored Program, presented by the program’s chair, Reginald Cannon. (Photo by Celeste M. Brown)

Keynote speaker for the closing event was TSU alumna Dr. Maria Thompson, who is the former president of Coppin State University and previously served as the vice president of Research and Sponsored Program at TSU. Thompson gave a heartfelt speech about how she started her research as a freshman at TSU, not knowing its longevity within her professional career. 

“Research can be a foundation for your career, but also an approach to your whole life,” Thompson said. 

Thompson expressed how proud she is of the students and their research. 

“The whole world is before them,” Thompson told the University. “Once they have their foundational education and their research experience here at Tennessee State University, there is no door they can’t open, there is no experience they can’t create.” 

Thompson was then awarded a gift on behave of the Research and Sponsored Program, presented by the program’s chair, Reginald Cannon. Cannon noted that the 45th Research Symposium is a chance to bring the internal research community together. “It is excellence to showcase how well our students are doing.” 

See the full list of participants for the symposium at For more information on research at TSU visit the research and sponsored program site at

TSU College of Agriculture’s Center of Excellence trains students to take on climate change and other global issues 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s wetland is crucial to the health of both water resources and wildlife in North Nashville. TSU graduate student Devin Moore said that’s why he is grateful to be able to participate in research of the TSU wetland project, ultimately benefiting local Nashville communities.

Moore’s study of TSU’s wetland is made possible through a $6 million grant from the 1890 Center of Excellence Land. The award is for three years and will provide critical research on creating a quality environment that mitigates the impact of climate change in Tennessee, across the nation and globally.  

“Through the funding from the Center of Excellence (COE) we have been able to measure and analyze some of the toxins in the water through new progressive technology,” Moore said. 

Devin Moore placing teabags in the TSU Wetland to absorb and test toxins found. (Photo submitted)

Moore is receiving a master’s degree in agriculture with a focus on environmental sciences and is currently researching harmful algal blooms in the TSU Wetland and at the Ted Rhodes Golf Course in North Nashville. 

Wetlands have their own distinct ecosystem that can help advance the knowledge and resolutions to complex problems, including those related to climate change. According to scientists, extensive training and research is needed to solve these environmental issues.  

“I am excited for the research that I am doing,” added Moore, who obtained his bachelor’s degree from Yale University. “As someone who came from a social sciences background, it is nice to be around people who are experts in their field and are willing to sit down with me and bridge the gap,” he said.  

“It feels like what we’re doing could have some big global implications. I am grateful and thankful for the COE and everything they have enabled us to do.” 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

College of Agriculture Dean Chandra Reddy, who also serves as director of research, said the university was granted this opportunity in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to its faculty expertise and capacity to manage the funds.  

“Using our expertise within TSU and with our partners, we want to come up with some ideas and concepts, ways that we can mitigate the impact of climate on our famers and citizens. That’s the bigger goal, but to achieve that you need long term research, continuous support and build at capacity,” Dr. Reddy said. 

The COE consists of more than 20 faculty members, scientists, PhD, master’s, and undergraduate students. It is an investment that helps increase rural prosperity and economic sustainability of food systems in underserved farming communities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Acting Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. 

“Our goal is to really get the data generated, analyzed, and shared with the public and the funding agencies, and impress them in such a way that we get additional funding to create a physical space for students and experts to conduct extensive research in some of the most pressing environmental issues facing society,” Reddy said.

Agriculture master’s students Champagne Cunningham, right, and Faith Perry collecting water quality measurements from the TSU wetland. (Photo by Joan Kite)

Experts at the Center of Excellence are working on a variety of research projects ranging from renewable energy to animal sciences. TSU scientists are currently researching national issues such as how climate change impact seagrass production and greenhouse gas emissions. University scientists are also researching winter canola oil varieties that will work well for Tennessee farmers, and new export crops for the region such as grain amaranth used as chicken food. 

Champagne Cunningham, a master’s student who plans to become a freshwater ecologist after graduating this May, is also doing research in Nashville on harmful algal blooms. 

“Being able to say I am a part of a research group or a center that is doing such outstanding real-world groundbreaking research is interesting,” Cunningham said. “We get lots of hands-on experience. Because of TSU, I am learning techniques that will help me long term and secure a job as an ecologist.” 

TSU’s College of Agriculture is collaborating with four other HBCUs that make up the 1890 Center of Excellence. They are Alabama A&M University, Southern University, Florida A&M University and Langston University, to host the 1890 Center of Excellence.

About the Center of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced this investment in 2022.

This will provide collaborative opportunities among 1890 Institutions to develop management practices that will promote natural resources, explore renewable energy sources, and develop climate smart agricultural production practices to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and improve environmental quality and sustainability, according to NIFA.

TSU to get major boost with infrastructure needs, research and increased federal aid  for students with final funding bill of 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students and those enrolled at historically black colleges and universities across the country will see an increase in Pell grants. Eligible students will receive an additional $500 as a part of the $1.7 trillion 2022 Omnibus Bill unveiled by congressional leaders. The final funding bill of the year also includes increased funding for research and infrastructure for HBCUs.

President Glenda Glover

This is a major boost for TSU as the university undertakes several capital improvement projects, as well as efforts to achieve an R1 Carnegie research designation.

“We are thankful to Congresswoman Alma Adams, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the White House, and all others who were instrumental in getting this legislation passed,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. 

Included in the funding are several programs that will benefit TSU: $50 million for HBCU, TCU, and MSI Research and Development Infrastructure Grants, a program originally included in the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act.

 “I am proud to have secured significant wins for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the federal omnibus for Fiscal Year 2023,” said Congresswoman Adams (D-NC), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus.

“These planning and implementation grants are designed to promote transformational investments in research infrastructure at four-year HBCUs, TCUs, and other MSIs.”

Glover, who also serves as the vice chair of President Joe Biden’s Advisory Board on HBCUs, added that the funding aligns with TSU’s plans for long-term growth and sustainability. 

“I am pleased to have helped with advocating to lawmakers and others the importance of the bill that makes HBCUs stronger and helps our institutions continue the work of strengthening our communities by providing a quality education to our students,” Glover said.

“We currently have major capital infrastructure projects and increased research activities underway, This bill will provide additional resources to assist TSU in successfully reaching our goals of enhancing and upgrading our campus footprint and becoming an R1 research institution.” 

TSU is in the middle of a major facelift to academic buildings, improvements to outdoor lightings and interior décor as part of a campus-wide infrastructure upgrade initiative that is expected to last through 2023.

The increase in Pell grant awards is the largest since the 2009-2010 school year. Approximately 65 percent of TSU students depend on some type of financial aid, including the Pell grant. Nationally, about seven million students, many from lower-income families, receive Pell grants every year to help them afford college.

Terrance Izzard, TSU’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, echoed President Glover’s sentiments that the boost in funding for Pell grant award will help financially struggling students stay in school.

“Coming out of a pandemic, along with tough economic times, this increase in funding could not have come at a better time for parents and students,” Izzard said. “This certainly is big relief and lessens the added burden of students trying to achieve their educational goals amid high cost of tuition and other needs.”

For a detailed summary of the Congressional bill, visit

TSU home to Tennessee’s first FBI Collegiate Academy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) Tennessee State University has the distinction of having the state’s first-ever FBI Collegiate Academy. The academy gives students a behind-the-scenes look at careers with the federal agency and how it operates. Twenty-one students participated in the program, following a rigorous registration process. 

Dr. Robbie Melton, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, center, and Dr. Rodney Stanley, left, Interim Dean of the College of Public Service, welcome Douglas M. Korneski, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI Memphis Field Office. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

On November 7, the select group attended the academy’s first training session conducted by Douglas M. Korneski, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI Memphis Field Office. Students, who ranged from sophomores to seniors in various disciplines, received an overview of the FBI, and participated in drills on crime scene investigation, intelligence program presentation, and crisis negotiation and management. The training concluded with resume and interviewing tips from the experts.

Lia Barnett, a criminal justice major, and David Allen III, a political science major with a minor in computer science, were among those who participated in the academy. Barnett’s career goal is to join the FBI, while Allen is open to employment in federal law enforcement. They said the academy was “eye opening.”

Twenty-one students ranging from sophomores to seniors in various disciplines, participated in the daylong FBI Collegiate Academy. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Today, I have learned the steps I need to take to get to the FBI, which has been a longtime goal of mine,” said Barnett, of Cincinnati. “I have learned the background and certain facts that not everybody would know. The academy was educational, and I am extremely happy to be a part of it and to know that my university was selected for this first academy.”

For David, of Memphis, he said the workshop cleared out many myths he had heard about the FBI.

FBI special agents Stephen Fogarty, left, and Lowanda F. Hill conduct a crime scene investigation with TSU students. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We hear a lot about crime scene but today was eye opening. It was amazing to see how footprint and fingerprints can be detected with stuff like paper,” he said “I actually grasped that concept. The  hands-on activities were very helpful.”

Agent Korneski said the goal of the academy was to bring about more awareness to the FBI’s operation, and to recruit top candidate from all sectors.

“For a number of reasons, the FBI has been making a lot of push from a recruitment standpoint, to attract more females and minority candidates to have our organization better reflect the communities we serve,” Korneski said. “Also, we want to take away some of the mystique or stigma or preconceived notion people may have about the FBI. So, we are trying to educate and recruit top quality candidates. “

Lia Barnett.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said it was exciting and fortunate that TSU was selected for the first FBI Collegiate Academy.

“You couldn’t have selected a batter place for the inaugural academy. This is a great opportunity for our students to have first-hand communication, first-hand glimpse into the FBI,” Melton said. “It gives them the opportunity to ask questions, and to serve as ambassadors for others. So, coming here to TSU is not only a win-win, it is an opportunity for us to help move our students forward.”

According to Korneski, the FBI recruits from all backgrounds and academic disciplines. “Lots of people who study criminal justice may gravitate toward federal law enforcement, which is great, but we are also looking to attract history, political science, computer science and people in other areas.”

David Allen III.

Dr. Rodney Stanley, interim dean of the College of Public Service, whose office coordinated the academy, said the academy is an extension of years of effort in criminal justice to open career opportunities for students.

“We see this as a good partnership between the FBI and students. We hope this is a continuance program that students participate in every year that can help them land potential jobs with the FBI,” Stanley said.

Dr. Kimberly Triplett, associate professor and coordinator of the public service program, worked directly with the FBI as part of her “JobTalk” initiative that brings different agencies on campus to help students find career opportunities.

“The FBI was one of the agencies we partnered with, for students to meet in a more informal setting for career readiness and job opportunities with the bureau,” Triplett added.

The FBI is actively looking for qualified candidates and has a host of jobs listed on its site.

New TSU, NASA partnership promotes STEM education in Middle Tennessee high schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Some of the next generation of NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers may just have their beginning at Tennessee State University. TSU and the federal agency are expanding an existing STEM education program to include high school students in Middle Tennessee. The new initiative is funded with a $480,000 NASA grant over a period of three years.  

Dr. Trinetia Respress

“We are moving into Middle Tennessee to work with high schools,” says Dr. Trinetia Respress, principal investigator of the MUREP Aerospace Academy at TSU.   

“The goals of our project are to inspire, engage and educate students and their families about the infinite possibilities in STEM degrees and careers.  Basically, we want to provide them with STEM education that will support them in their pursuit  of STEM degrees prior to entering college.”

Under MUREP or the Minority University Research and Education Program, the NASA-funded initiative had served only K-8 students, teaching them to design, build, and program robots, as well as learn simple mechanics, sensor functionality, and automation. With the new funding, TSU’s College of Education will target grades 9-12 students in Middle Tennessee. The goal is to get students interested in STEM careers when they enter college.   

Dr. Janet Finch, interim dean of the College of Education, says she is thankful to NASA for expanding the MUREP program to the high school level.   

Cayla Jeff

“Given the successes that have already been achieved with grades K-8th, we look forward to including high school students in our STEM efforts,” says Finch.   

TSU students from different disciplines, specifically the STEM area, will be recruited to participate in the program as mentors to the high school students.  Londee Boyd will be one of them.  The Memphis native is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership, with a focus on PreK-12.   

“As a teacher at heart, I have enjoyed partnering with the project to encourage, educate and equip our youth with dynamic learning experiences immersed in STEM,” says Boyd. “With the growing demand for STEM-related careers, it is vital to have accessible programs, like the MUREP project, lead the charge in preparing our youth to become future leaders.”   

Cayla Jeff, a senior biology major from Cleveland, will also mentor the high school students.   

“I have enjoyed working with the MUREP project over the last four years. I am very excited to continue moving forward to interact with more students and grow even bigger as a team. I cannot wait to inspire our youth and show them they have so many options to be successful in the future.”   

Sosiak Makonnen will handle overall implementation of the project.

Dr. Jennifer Berry, MNPS’ director of STEAM and Science, says that the new NASA program under the university’s MUREP Aerospace Academy will help enhance Metro schools’ STEM initiatives.     

“This program will benefit our students as they will have an opportunity to engage with professionals in STEM with innovative STEM activities that will pique their interest in STEM degree and careers,” says Berry.  

Respress, who is also professor of educational leadership in the College of Education, says TSU will recruit 100 high school students from MNPS and the surrounding Middle Tennessee areas for the program.

“We have had a long collaboration with MNPS, but it has been with students in grades K-8, so we are excited to continue our partnership with MNPS by moving into high schools,” says Respress.

Dr. Kisha C. Bryan, professor in the College of Education, is one of the co-principal investigators of the new interdisciplinary NASA project.  

“I’m excited about the opportunity to expose Nashville’s diverse high schoolers to a culturally responsive STEM curriculum,” says Bryan. “It is my hope that this community-based, cross-college partnership results in a more racially diverse population of high school students pursuing STEM education degrees. “   

Other co-PIs are Dr. Ranganathan Parthasarathy, assistant professor in the College of Engineering, and Dr. Owen Johnson, professor in the College of Health Sciences. Sosiak Makonnen, program manager in the College of Education, is responsible for the overall implementation of the new program.  

The program will start January of 2023. For more information, contact Dr. Trinetia Respress at [email protected] or Ms. Sosiak Makonnen at [email protected].