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The following College of Science faculty have been nominated for a George Mason University 2020 Teaching Excellence Award: Tina Bell, Gwendolyne Fondufe, Malda Kocache, Valerie Olmo, Deborah Polayes, and Brenda Tondi, Biology. Hao Jing, Rebecca Jones, Pritha Roy, and Benoit Van Aken, Chemistry and Biochemistry. Andrew Crooks and Jason Kinser, Computational and Data Sciences. Amy Fowler, Chris Jones, Jennifer Lewis, and Jennifer Salerno, Environmental Science and Policy. Steven Burmeister and Kelly Knight, Forensic Science. Dieter Pfoser, Christine Rosenfeld, and Andreas Zufle, Geography and Geoinformation Science. Harbir Antil, Karen Crossin, Rebecca Goldin, Joanna Jauchen, Dmitri Kaznachey, Mary Nelson, Glenn Preston, Sean Lawton, Mathematical Sciences. Jane Flinn and Wendy Lewis, Neuroscience. Benjamin Dreyfus, Joseph Pesce, Joseph Weingartner, Physics and Astronomy and Frank Krueger, Systems Biology.
Karen Akerlof, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $266,628 for Sun Protection without Ecological Harm: Promoting Reef-Friendly Visitor Behavior in National Parks by the Resource Systems Group, Inc. Prime Sponsor: National Park Service.
Ancha Baranova, Systems Biology, co-published two papers, one describing human mRNA-miRNA interactome in Nucleic Acids Research and another on beneficial polypharmacy delaying cognitive decline in PLOS One.
Zafer Boybeyi, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, was awarded $2,500 for theAnnual GMU Conference on Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion Modeling 2019 by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Arie Croitoru, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Geospatial Intelligence, along with Co-PI, Andrew Crooks, Computational and Data Sciences, was awarded $199,850 for A crowdsourced gazetteer for monitoring cartel activity by the State Of Maryland. Prime Sponsor: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Timothy Delsole, along with his Co-PI Benjamin Cash, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, was awarded $414,800 for Collaborative Research: Physics-Based Machine Learning for Sub-Seasonal Climate Forecasting by the National Science Foundation.
Lulia Deneva, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $64,583 for Eleven Steep-Spectrum Millisecond Pulsar Candidates in the Galactic Center Bulge by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
Virginia Espina, Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $7,637 for Thrombus proteomic analysis by the Mayo Clinic.
Harold Geller, Physics and Astronomy, was interviewed in October by two members of the Oral History Program, Special Collection Research Center of the George Mason University Libraries about his 37 years on campus at George Mason University. He also spoke to the Exxon/Mobil Retirement Association about Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places, and spoke to Ms. Weeks’ 5th grade class in Muscatine, Iowa via Skype. In November, he spoke to Ms. Latimer’s 11th and 12th grade class in Ipswich, Massachusetts via Skype.
Geoffrey Gilleaudeau, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, was awarded $55,000 for Redox gradients in Lower Mississippian black shales of North America: a test case for uranium isotope behavior by the American Chemical Society – ACS.
Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, College of Science, has been selected to receive a national award as one of the four NISTS Transfer Champion – Catalyst Award Winner. This is a very prestigious award for those who make a significant impact at all levels.
Cing-Dao (Steve) Kan, along with Co-PI Dhafer Marzougui, Physics and Astronomy, Center for Collision Safety and Analysis, was awarded $145,000 for Crash Test Stone Faced Concrete Bridge Rail by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Kan along with Co-PIs Rudolf Reichert and Chung-Kyu Park was awarded $444,178 for Crash Simulation of FMVSS No. 214 Safety Performance and $381,171 for Measuring Steering Column Motion in Frontal Rigid Barrier Test by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, Kan was awarded $25,000 from Big River Steel – Transportation Safety via the George Mason University Foundation.
Kylene Kehn-Hall, Systems Biology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, along with Monique Van Hoek and post-doctoral fellows, presented a poster as co-authors at the 2019 Chemical and Biological Defense Science & Technology (CBD S&T) Conference in November titled, “Innovative Magnetic Nanoparticles Preserve the Stability of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus in Blood for Laboratory Detection.” Kehn-Hall, along with doctoral student, Bibha Dahal, and other collaborators at Mason, published a paper titled, “EGR1 upregulation following Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus infection is regulated by ERK and PERK pathways contributing to cell death” in Virology.
James Kinter, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies was awarded $110,000 for CISESS: GMU Contributions to NOAA’s Next-Generation Global Coupled System for Week-3 and Week-4 Weather Prediction by the State Of Maryland. Prime Sponsor: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Lance Liotta, Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $4,485 for Mass spectrometry analysis of protein interaction domains by the American Type Culture Collection.
Robert Meier, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $45,000 for Next generation modeling of E-region electron production by the Computational Physics, Inc. Prime Sponsor: National Science Foundation.
Emanuel (Chip) Petricoin, Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, along with Co-PI Valerie Calvert, was awarded $102,000 for RPPA analysis of Tissue Cell Samples Provided by G1 Therapeutics, Inc.
John Qu, along with Co-PI Xianjun Hao, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Environmental Science and Technology, was awarded $103,704 for CISESS: GMU Supporting the NOAA Atmospheric Temperature Climate Data Record from POES Microwave Sounders to JPSS/ATMS by the State Of Maryland. Prime Sponsor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Claudio Ricci, along with co-PI Shobita Satyapal, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $65,657 for 1ES 1927+654, the first optically-identified changing-look AGN caught in the act – Destruction and recreation of the X-ray corona by the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
Shobita Satyapal, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $166,099 (TO 858) for Academic Fellowship Program for the U.S. Naval Observatory, US Department of the Navy. Additional awards from the same sponsor are: $137,435, (TO 854), $166,099 (TO 811), $9,992 (TO 811), $126,221 (TO 855), and $13,000 (TO 855).
Lee Talbot, Environmental Science and Policy, was appointed to the International Jury for the 2020 Harold Jefferson Coolidge Medal of the IUCN. The IUCN is an international environmental body with over 1,300 member governments and organizations throughout the world. It awards the medal for international conservation achievement at its international meetings every three years. Talbot was himself the 2016 recipient of this prestigious award. https://esp.gmu.edu/2016/09/dr-lee-m-talbot-receives-distinguished-2016-harold-j-coolidge-medal-at-iucn/
Quansong (Daniel) Tong, Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems, was awarded $120,415 & $405,917 for CISESS: George Mason University: Improving Dust Weather Hazard Forecasting with JPSS aerosols and land products by the State Of Maryland. Prime Sponsor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Monique Van Hoek, Systems Biology, gave a talk at the World Anti Microbial Resistance Congress in Washington, D.C. in November 2019, highlighting the antimicrobial peptide discovery work, titled, “Pitch and Partner: Discovery of Antimicrobial peptides from Alligator and Komodo Dragons against multi-drug resistant bacteria.” Van Hoek, along with Kylene Kehn-Hall, Systems Biology, as a co-author, presented a poster at the 2019 Chemical and Biological Defense Science & Technology (CBD S&T) Conference in November titled “Nanotrap particles enhance detection of bacterial biothreat pathogens.
Chaowei (Phil) Yang, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Intelligent Spatial Computing for Water/Energy Science, was awarded $100,000 for I/UCRC NASA Goddard NSF Spatiotemporal Innovation Center Membership – Planetary Defense by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center. Yang was also awarded $100,000 for Work for Membership to the Spatiotemporal Thinking, Computing, and Applications (STC) Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers Program (I/UCRC) – Big Data Learning Platform by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
Alonso Aguirre, along with co-PI Joris van der Ham, Environmental Science & Policy, was awarded $47,000 for Enhancing Scientific Data Collection and Management of Natural Resources in the National Capital Region through Student Internships by the National Park Service.
Robert Axtell, Computational and Data Sciences, was awarded $32,000 for Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program for Joseph Shaheen by Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Prime Sponsor: U.S. Department of Energy.
Ancha Baranova, School of Systems Biology, co-published two papers, one on the Quality metrics for Next-Gen Sequencing in Nucleic Acids Research and another on Pan-schizophrenia gene collection analysis in Scientific Reports.
Barney Bishop, Chemistry and Biochemistry, was awarded $4,533 for New Hampshire IDEA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence by New England College. Prime sponsor: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bishop also, along with Monique Van Hoek, School of Systems Biology have released their findings on sequencing the Komodo dragon genome, revealing multiple clusters of antimicrobial peptide genes that could prove instrumental in the fight against multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Natalie Burls, Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences, along with Benjamin Cash, Erik Swenson, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, and David Straus, and Abdullah al Fahad (Climate Dynamics PhD student), published a paper titled “The Cape Town ‘Day Zero’ drought and Hadley cell expansion” in Npj Climate and Atmospheric Science.
Center for Advancement of Human-Machine Partnership (CAHMP) and Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities (CRASC) were the winners of George Mason University’s 2019 Center for Advanced Study Competition. College of Science faculty are participating in both these centers.
Benjamin Cash, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies was appointed to lead the NOAA UFS Public Release Workflow Focus Team.
Susan Crate, Environmental Science and Policy, was among the more than 100 authors from 30 countries to produce the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s “Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).” Crate contributed as a lead author on Chapter One of SROCC which framed the rest of the report. https://esp.gmu.edu/2019/09/dr-susan-crate-part-of-a-u-n-special-report-that-warns-of-dire-consequences-if-global-climate-change-goes-unchecked/https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/home/. https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/home/
Tiange Cui, School of Systems Biology PhD alumni, was one of the four winners of the NF (Neurofibromatosis) Hackathon challenge for his PreDist software developed for his Thesis. https://www.ctf.org/news/nf-hackathon-san-francisco
Kim de Mutsert, Environmental Science and Policy, was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Gulf Research Program’s Early-Career Fellowship. She was one of 20 scientists selected from around the nation for this year’s fellowship. https://www2.gmu.edu/news/579266
Ben Dreyfus, Physics and Astronomy, co-published a paper titled “Splits in students’ beliefs about learning classical and quantum physics,” in the International Journal of STEM Education. https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-019-0187-y
Harold Geller, Physics and Astronomy, spoke at the City of Fairfax Regional Library on 19 September 2019 about “Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places.”
Amanda Haymond, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, is the lead author of the study of Protein-Painting Technology which is funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Innovative Molecular Analysis Technology. This work on protein-painting technology was featured in a variety of news articles. https://www2.gmu.edu/news/580066
Kathleen Hunt, Biology, was awarded $142,954 for Collaborative Research: A New Baseline for Antarctic Blue and Fin Whales by the National Science Foundation.
Lance Liotta, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $130,000 for a Mass Spectrometry by Life Diagnostics, LLC. (MOU agreement)
Thomas Lovejoy, Environmental Science and Policy, is the recipient of the 2019 Virginia Outstanding Award for being one of the founders of the thriving scientific field of conservation biology and discovering the potentially devastating effects of global warming on biodiversity. He is the first George Mason University faculty member to receive this honor. https://www2.gmu.edu/news/579781
David Luther, Biology, co-published the following papers: “Incorporating local habitat heterogeneity and productivity measures when modeling vertebrate richness” in Environmental Conservation, “Evidence for differing trajectories of song in urban and rural populations” in Behavioral Ecology, and “ Effects of habitat management on overwintering grassland bird communities” in Journal of Wildlife Management and Wildlife Monographs.
Emanuel Petricoin, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, was awarded $63,587 for Novel Degraders of the Androgen Receptor (AR) and AR Splice Variants (AR-SVs) by the University of Tennessee. Prime Sponsor: US Dept. of Health and Human Services. Petricoin was also awarded $50,000 for Effectively map the signaling architecture of Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer by the University of Arizona.
Alaric Sample, Environmental Science and Policy, was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources. His participation is related to his work on the role of forest ecosystems in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Karen Sauer, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $183,988 for Magnetometers for detection of explosives in car portals by Manufacturing Techniques Inclusion. Prime Sponsor: US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Direct.
Timothy Sauer, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded $459,053 for Spiking Neural Networks with Delay Learning by the U.S. Department of the Army.
Cynthia Smith, Environmental Science and Policy, received the Prince William Conservation Alliance’s 2019 Wildlife Champion award. “Honoring Dr. Smith’s leadership in creating outdoor wildlife and watershed education programs that have reached over 100,000 youth. A talented visual storyteller who inspires people to take a close look at nature.”
Lee Talbot, Environmental Science and Policy, received the 2019 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.
Biology Assistant Professor Alexandra Masterson won a University Teaching Excellence Award for her immersive approach in her Biology 124: Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology classroom. Students actually act out physiological processes. For example, “in large lecture classrooms, we dramatize the cardiac cycle in a repetitive series of groups on the stage,” Masterson said. Multiple demonstrations mean the students have opportunities to change roles, as well as to view the process many times in order to grasp all steps involved in a single heartbeat.
“Skills taught in lecture are heavily reinforced by active participation,” added Masterson, who has over 28 years of clinical pharmacy experience, primarily in hospital settings both in the federal government and private industry. She also advises Mason’s Pre-Pharmacy Honor Society.
Save the Date: December 3, 2019, 3:30 – 4:30PM, Exploratory Hall 3301
Democracy Demands Data
The importance of statistical ethics in the cradle of democracy and around the world
Official statistics provide to large scale societies a tool to know themselves—a mirror—and allow for democracy to operate in large nation states. Official statistics enable the functioning of checks and balances, democratic accountability and the representativeness of democracy. Official statistics provide also an opportunity for those who want to manipulate that mirror. And if the mirror is not showing what they want it to show, they can and do follow various approaches, including violence on official statistics and the people that produce them. The issue is how to preserve the reliability and objectivity of official statistics so as to safeguard democracy: thus, the importance of statistical ethics and the institutions that support these ethics.
About Andreas Georgiou
For 21 years, Andreas Georgiou worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC, of which the last 6 years he worked in its Statistics Department. When the Greek debt crisis hit and Greece began teetering toward bankruptcy, he applied to run the National Statistical Office, which had recently become an independent authority and renamed as Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). The main task was to rebuild ELSTAT and clean up Greece’s official statistics that had been persistently misreported for years and contributed to the Greek and broader European debt crisis. He got the job, and in August 2010 he moved to Greece for a five-year term as president of ELSTAT. His revision of the country’s government deficit and debt statistics according to EU statistical legislation in force and statistical ethics revealed the true magnitude of Greece’s fiscal problems and formed the basis for EU and international financial assistance to Greece in the years from 2011 till today. However, in the process, Georgiou became a scapegoat for the economic difficulties of the Greek debt crisis by big parts of the Greek political system. He is subjected to multiple prosecutions within Greece for this statistical work, although the statistics produced by ELSTAT under his watch have been consistently validated since 2010 by the statistical office of the EU (Eurostat) and are used in the past nine years for all official business of the government in Greece.
Andreas Georgiou now lives in the US and is an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University where he taught COS course 402/602 on Statistical Ethics and Institutions during the Fall 2019 semester. He is also Visiting lecturer and Visiting Scholar at Amherst.
By Lauren Huey
Mason researchers Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin and Shane Caswell connected across disciplines to address a slippery problem: diagnosing and monitoring concussions.
Diagnosis for concussions and the decision on when a person can resume normal activities often rely on the subjective observations of care providers. Trauma that is sub-concussive, but still potentially harmful, is even less observable. Petricoin, university professor in the College of Science and co-director of the Center of Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) and Caswell, professor in the College of Education and Human Development and executive director of the Sports Medicine Assessment Research & Testing Laboratory (S.M.A.R.T. Lab), aim to reconstruct the diagnostic and monitoring standard with measurable thresholds of protein biomarkers in the saliva of the potentially concussed and sub-concussed.
Petricoin and his team were looking for new applications for a nanotechnology he and his colleagues in CAPMM invented that collects and traps ultra-low abundance biomarkers that are spread out in a sample, similar to how a crab trap attracts and holds crabs spread out on the surrounding seafloor. Caswell had an interest in improving the health and safety of youth and scholastic athletes in Virginia. The two combined the cutting-edge technology and the difficult problem of concussions, resulting in sideline saliva collection and rapid detection of novel biomarkers that indicate concussions.
“The study is completely unique in the world,” Petricoin said. “Previous studies have looked at blood and spinal fluid for concussion markers, which require invasive sampling and lack the ability to identify low-abundance markers.”
The team aspires to a test, much like a pregnancy test except using saliva, that can be administered in the field using saliva collected after a hard impact. Such a test would have applications beyond student athletes, including in the U.S. military after blast exposure. When the biomarker concentrations return to normal, it would be a quantifiable indication that a person is ready to get back on the playing field or return to military duty without compounding the injury.
For now, they are working with local sports teams to collect samples and determine baselines for the biomarkers of interest; they have already identified a handful of proteins from samples of athletes with concussions that do not appear in samples from athletes that are not concussed. Sports teams participating in the research wear accelerometers on their helmets that help determine how many impacts are sustained during play and how hard those impacts are. The team of researchers has collected and stored hundreds of samples, making George Mason University home to first and largest biobanks for salivary samples of sports-related brain trauma. These samples are the stepping stones to non-invasively and objectively diagnosing and monitoring concussions and sub-concussive events.
In the summer of 2019, senior bioinformatics major Nicky Solares landed a prestigious internship at the Allen Institute of Immunology in Seattle, Washington. The Institute fosters research about the human immune system and researches cures for immunological diseases.
Solares spent the summer working with single cell transcriptomic data, examining genes in individual cells in certain populations. Her work in cell-labeling contributed to the Institute’s in-house database.
Solares’s achievements didn’t come easily or quickly. When she started at George Mason University in 2014, she wanted to be a pre-med student. Through her coursework, she realized she wasn’t pursuing her passions to the fullest and decided to switch her major.
“I wanted to find something that combined my love for science and data,” Solares said. She found that combination in Bioinformatics and declared her minor in Computational Data Sciences (CDS).
Switching disciplines is not always an easy task but Solares was supported by her professor and mentor Dr. Joseph Marr. After taking CDS 130 with him in 2016, Marr asked Solares to participate in one of his medical informatics research projects and join the department’s Students, Teachers Assistants and Researchers (STARS) program of learning assistants. The STARS program gave Solares the opportunity to help other students while expanding her own knowledge and data science skillset.
Solares credits Marr with her confidence in her abilities. “Under his leadership I have learned a lot about myself and about the industry,” she says. “He taught me how to be a leader, how to become an actual researcher, and how to have confidence in myself.”
Because of this self-confidence, Solares felt comfortable enough to apply for her first internship. At AstraZeneca in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Solares performed immunological research in its Respiratory Inflammation and Autoimmunity unit. Her supervisor was so impressed with her work, she offered Solares a summer position at the Allen Institute of Immunology.
According to Biology Department Chair, Geri Grant, “Nicky’s work ethic is strong, and she continues to take advantage of learning opportunities throughout the semester.” In November, Solares will attend a bioinformatics hackathon in Dallas, Texas. Solares and other students who share her passion for science and data will be working in teams to solve different medical problems and cultivate medical research ideas.
“Nicky Solares embodies all that we are looking for in our students.” Grant added. “Her passion about her work, her exceptional intellect, and her ability to take smart risks to grow create a great success story.”
College of Science. Eight recently retired faculty were awarded the rank of Emeritus professor. Edwin Schneider, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences; Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Computational and Data Sciences; Robert Jonas and Albert Torzilli, Environmental Science and Policy; Kathleen Alligood and Stephen Saperstone, Mathematical Sciences; and Maria Dworzecka, Physics and Astronomy.
Alonso Aguirre, Environmental Science and Policy, coordinated and hosted the 2019 RCN EcoHealthNet Workshop “Emerging Threats to Global Health”, in June at George Mason University. EcoHealthNet is an undergraduate and graduate-level global research coordination network, funded by the National Science Foundation, to bring together world-class research scientists from medical, ecology, veterinary, epidemiology, virology, anthropology, climate science, data science, and economics fields to advance One Health research and education. He also delivered the opening keynote “Conservation Medicine and Transdisciplinarity: Gaps in Science and Policy in Wildlife Health and Conservation” at the 4th Wildlife Disease Association Latin American Section Meeting, in Museo del Jade, San Jose, Costa Rica. Aguirre was a senior author of two articles: “The One Health approach to toxoplasmosis: Epidemiology, control and prevention in humans, animals, and ecosystems” published in EcoHealth and “Transdisciplinary and social-ecological health frameworks—Novel approaches to emerging parasitic and vector-borne diseases” published in Parasite Epidemiology and Control. He also co-published an article titled “Operationalizing One Heath employing social-ecological systems theory: lessons from the Greater Mekong Subregion” published in Frontiers in Public Health.
Karen Akerlof, Environmental Science and Policy, is one of the recipients of the 2019 Provost’s Curriculum Impact Grant (CIG) competition. This seed grant program supports the generation of innovation curricular ideas and pilot programs that enhance Mason Impact and other cross – unit, multi – disciplinary undergraduate and graduate curriculum development activities. Akerlof and colleagues from CHSS and Schar, were awarded for their project, Minor in Environmental and Ecological Consulting.
Harbir Antil, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded $100,000 for Collaborative Research: Multilevel Methods for Optimal Control of Partial Differential Equations and Optimization-Based Domain Decomposition by the National Science Foundation.
Laura Antonia Balmaceda, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $247,320 for The Role that Coronal Shocks and Cross- Field Particle Transport Processes play in the Observation of SEP Events by NASA- Goddard Space Flight Center.
Raphael Attie, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $80,000 for Coronal Heating of Plumes and Fan Loops by the NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center and $80,000 for An Integrative Study on the Structure and Dynamic of the Solar Network Using Small-Scale Eruptive Events by Catholic University of America. Prime Sponsor: NASA. Attie was also awarded $37,531 for Evaluating and Validating Heliospheric Models Against Data and Each Other by Catholic University of America. Prime Sponsor: NASA.
Tyrus Berry, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded $395,425 for FRG: Collaborative Research: Non-Smooth Geometry, Spectral Theory, and Data: Learning and Representing Projections of Complex Systems by the National Science Foundation.
Dieter Bilitza, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $169,744 for Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) Science Support by Catholic University of America. Prime Sponsor: NASA
Benjamin Cash, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, gave an invited presentation on “Understanding our Changing Climate: Impacts on Health” at the EcoHealthNet 2019 workshop held at George Mason University in June. Cash also joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Unified Forecast System Verification and Validation Working Group.
Kim de Mutsert, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $76,000 for Gulf Research Program Early – Career Research Fellowship – Kim de Mutsert by The National Academies of Sciences. de Mutsert was also awarded $732 for Assessment of fish passage use and success in facilitating movement of regionally vulnerable and invasive fish species in Norther Virginia portion of the Potomac River by the Friends of Accotink Creek. She also co-published a paper titled Investigating Fishing Impacts in Nigerian Coastal Waters Using Marine Trophic Index Analyses” in Marine and Coastal Fisheries. https://doi.org/10.1002/mcf2.10077. She also organized a workshop in Florida as part of her NGOMEX project, which was featured on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/with-second-workshop-nccos-continues-focus-on-hypoxias-effects-on-fish-and-fisheries/
Evan Del Duke, College of Science, was selected to receive the School of Business’ Prominent Patriot award, which will be recognized at Mason’s Annual Business Celebration in October. This award recognizes alumni who have proved to be engaged citizens, well-rounded scholars, and prepared and resourceful innovators and entrepreneurs.
Kenneth Dere, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $30,000 for CHIANTI database and software maintenance by the NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center.
Liping Di, Geography and Geoinformation Science, Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems, was awarded $50,500 for Disaster Resilience Pilot 2019 (DRP-2019) by Open GIS Consortium, Inc.
Paul Dirmeyer, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, was awarded $249,969 for Parameterizing the effects of sub-grid land heterogeneity on the atmospheric boundary layer and convection: Implications for surface climate variability and extremes by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Harold Geller, Physics and Astronomy, received a Certificate of Achievement from Major General Cedric Wins of the United States Army Combat Capabilities Development Command for his participation in science and engineering judging. In June, Geller spoke at the Gum Spring Library in Stone Ridge, Virginia and at the Purcellville Library in Purcellville, Virginia. In July, Geller hosted students of the Global Research Frontiership in Astrobiology from South Korea at the George Mason University Observatory and spoke at the Rust Public Library in Leesburg, Virginia. In August, he spoke at the Montclair Community Library in Montclair, Virginia.
Joanna Jauchen, Mathematical Sciences, was appointed to the Program Committee for the International Conference on Technology for Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM).
R. Christian Jones, along with Co-PIs, Amy Fowler, and Kim de Mutsert, Environmental Science and Policy, were awarded $85,122 for An Ecological Study of Gunston Cove: 2019-20 by County of Fairfax.
Nadine Kabbani, School of Systems Biology, was featured in EveryONE:The PLOS ONE blog. https://blogs.plos.org/everyone/2019/08/29/everyone-nadine-kabbani/
Cing- Dao (Steve) Kan, Physics and Astronomy, Center for Collision Safety and Analysis, was awarded $625,000 for TOPR2: Operate and Maintain the Federal Outdoor Impacts Laboratory (FOIL) by the U.S. Department of Transportation and $120,000 for Training Program for Automotive Engineers for Hyundai Motor Company by Hyundai Motor Company. Kan was also awarded $650,000 for TOPR1: Provide Analysis & Evaluation Research Support for Roadside Safety Team by US Department of Transportation.
Kylene Kehn – Hall, School of Systems Biology, National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, was awarded $75,600 for Mosquito Poll Testing for viruses through qRT-PCR- 2019-2020 by Prince William County Government.
Jim Kinter and Jagadish Shukla, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, reached a new record enrollment in their class, CLIM 101: Global Warming – Weather, Climate and Society. 209 students are enrolled in Fall 2019 course satisfying the Natural Science requirement, which is nearly double the enrollment in Fall 2018.
Dmitri Klimov, School of Systems Biology, was awarded $167,005 for DNA Origami-based Bio-scavengers for Nerve Agent Sequestration by Parabon NanoLabs, Inc. Prime Sponsor: US Army.
Barry Klinger, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, co-authored Ocean Circulation in Three Dimensions (Cambridge University Press) with a Johns Hopkins professor. The book is based on the George Mason University graduate course CLIM 7`52 Ocean General Circulation.
V. Krishnamurthy, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, was invited to contribute to the American Geophysical Union’s special issue on Nonlinear Systems in Geophysics: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges. This peer reviewed and an open access paper entitled “Predictability of Weather and Climate” appeared in July. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2019EA000586
Frank Krueger, School of Systems Biology, was awarded $155,078 for Developing a web-based substance-use intervention to enhance patients’ insight and motivation for continuing treatment by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
David Luther, Biology, co-published a paper titled “Funding and conservation actions for vertebrate species listed under the Endangered Species Act, is it enough?” in Endangered Species Reports.
Julia Manganello, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, published a paper entitled, “Assessment of Climatology and Predictability of Mid-Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Landfalls in a High-Atmospheric-Resolution Seasonal Prediction System” in Monthly Weather Review that was highlighted by the American Meteorological Society in “Papers of Note.”
Yuri Mishin, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $359,992 for NSF-BSF: Architecting metallic nanoparticles for ultimate strength by the National Science Foundation.
Dusan Odstrcil, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $250,000 for Integrated Real-Time Modeling System for Heliospheric Space Weather Forecasting by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
Mikell Paige, Chemistry and Biochemistry, was awarded $871,851 for Anti-Bacterial Compounds by the U.S. Department of the Army.
Emanuel Petricoin, School of Systems Biology, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, along with Co-PI Julia Wulfkuhle, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, were awarded $120,372 for Early Detection of Tumor Relapse in Triple Negative Breast Cancer by Eastern Virginia Medical School. Prime Sponsor: USAMRAA (US Army).
Peter Plavchan, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $21,000 for TESS Mission Follow-up by Vanderbilt University.
John Qu, Geography Geoinformation Science, was awarded $39,000 by USGS Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Agreement- John Qu by the US Geological Survey.
Ling Ren, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $95,520 for Characterization of Phytoplanton Community Changes in Barnegat Bay Related to the Closure of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Combining Next Generation Sequencing and Microscopic Analyses by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium.
Jessica Rosenberg, Physics and Astronomy, is one of the recipients of the 2019 Provost’s Curriculum Impact Grant (CIG) competition. This seed grant program supports the generation of innovation curricular ideas and pilot programs that enhance Mason Impact and other cross – unit, multi – disciplinary undergraduate and graduate curriculum development activities. Rosenberg and her colleagues from VSE, were awarded for their project, Professional Development in Teaching and Communication for STEM Graduate Students.
Evelyn Sanders, Mathematical Sciences, was awarded $42,000 for Computation and visualization of dynamical structures by Simons Foundation.
Shobita Satyapal, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $48,000 for Unveiling a Population of Buried Dual AGNs: An XMM/NuSTAR Follow-up by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and $15,746 for Academic Fellowship Program for the US Naval Observatory – TO 663 by the NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center. Satyapal was also awarded $114,962 for Academic Fellowship Program for the US Naval Observatory – TO 716 by the NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center and $3,286 for Academic Fellowship Program for the US Naval Observatory – TO 646 by the US Department of the Navy.
Bohar Singh, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, PhD alumnus, was mentioned in a news story entitled “Satellites see hurricane winds despite military signal tweaks,” in the Journal Science. The article discussed recent work with NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS). A Colorado State University (CSU) professor, who is mentoring Singh as a post-doctoral research associate, wrote, “Bohar described evidence from CYGNSS that persistent winds boost ocean evaporation under a 3000-kilometer-wide set of rainstorms, sustaining them. That finding could help scientists forecast how the storm belt will change in a warmer climate.” https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6445/1019
Cynthia Smith, Environmental Science and Policy, was awarded $58,500 for FCPS Watershed Education AY 2019-20 by Fairfax County Public Schools.
Cristiana Stan, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, was invited to serve as one of the two co-leads of the newly formed National Weather Service Unified Forecast System Applications Team.
David Straus, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, along with Co-PI Kathleen Pegion, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, were awarded $471,763 for Ensemble Prediction and Predictability of Extreme Weather via Circulation Regimes by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Quansong (Daniel) Tong, along with Co-PI Junmei Tang, Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems were awarded $382,981 for NAQFC Community Emission Testbed (NCET): Accelerating anthropogenic emission updates for NAQFC FV3-CMAQ through community collaboration by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
Laurie Trenary, along with Timothy DelSole, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, were featured in a Research Spotlight article in Eos. Trenary and DelSole led a team examining several climate models to evaluate how human-caused factors like greenhouse gases and aerosols might have affected the potential intensity of hurricanes. Human-induced global heating is expected to intensify hurricanes in the future, so the question of how much stronger and more damaging hurricanes will become has generated great interest among scientists and policymakers. Trenary, along with others, showed that different climate models simulate inconsistent changes in hurricane potential intensity in response to human emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, so it is not possible yet to attribute changes in hurricane intensity to human activity. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GL081725
Joris van der Ham, Environmental Science and Policy, is one of the recipients of the 2019 Provost’s Curriculum Impact Grant (CIG) competition. This seed grant program supports the generation of innovation curricular ideas and pilot programs that enhance Mason Impact and other cross – unit, multi – disciplinary undergraduate and graduate curriculum development activities. van der Ham and colleagues from CHSS and Schar, were awarded for their project, Minor in Environmental and Ecological Consulting.
Robert Weigel, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $95,000 for Heliophysics Application Programming Interface (HAPI) Standards and Software by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
Jie Zhang, Physics and Astronomy, was awarded $60,000 for Solar Spicules and Their Magnetic Reconnection by NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center. Zhang, along with Co-PI, Bradley Taylor Cox, Physics and Astronomy were awarded $62,704 for Developing DKIST Level-2 Products: Inversions of HE I 1083.0nm – Bradley Cox by Association of Universities for Research. Prime Sponsor: National Science Foundation. Zhang, along with CO-PI Suman Kumar Dhakal, Physics and Astronomy, were awarded $69,824 for Developing DKIST Level-2 Products: Inversions of HE I 1083.0nm – Suman Dhakal by Association for Universities for Research. Prime Sponsor: National Science Foundation.
George Mason University researchers Monique van Hoek and Barney Bishop and their collaborators have released their findings on sequencing the Komodo dragon genome, revealing multiple clusters of antimicrobial peptide genes that could prove instrumental in the fight against multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Their work, which was published in the latest issue of BMC Genomics, identified key clusters of Komodo dragon antimicrobial peptide genes, which are protein-like molecules that contribute to the front line defense of its immune system.
Komodo dragons are resilient reptiles with robust immune systems that regularly dine on dead and decaying flesh and whose saliva is known to be rich in bacteria.
“They appear to be unaffected, suggesting that dragons have robust defenses against infection,” the two scientists wrote in the paper.
Major classes of the antibacterial peptides found in Komodos and other vertebrates include cathelicidins and beta-defensins. Their analyses revealed novel Komodo dragon defensin genes that appear to be unique to these animals. These cathelicidin and defensin antimicrobial peptides may contribute to the Komodo dragon’s robust immunity and apparent resistance to infection and could provide critical clues to aid in the human fight against multi-drug resistant bacteria, which is an emerging medical crisis in health care, and spur faster wound healing.
“The hope is that this could lead to something that could be developed into medicine to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said van Hoek, a professor in the School of Systems Biology in Mason’s College of Science.
She and Bishop, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Science, reported the sequencing, assembly and analysis of the Komodo dragon genome, with a focus on innate immunity genes and biomolecules that contribute in defending against infection, particularly antimicrobial peptide genes.
The two scientists had previously identified unique antimicrobial peptides in the plasma of Komodo dragons and alligators, and have now added to their earlier research by identifying antimicrobial peptide genes in the Komodo’s genome.
Van Hoek and Bishop have been collaborating since 2009 to study antimicrobial peptides and their activity against important bacterial pathogens. More information about their collaborative work can be found at adr.gmu.edu.
Mason has a long history with Komodo dragons. In 1992, on the Fairfax Campus, Mason biology professor Geoffrey Birchard watched over the first Komodo dragon eggs to be hatched in captivity in the United States.
Growing to lengths of up to 10 feet, Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards on the planet and are believed to have evolved in Australia. They are the sole survivor of the mega fauna that once populated Australia and south Pacific Islands, including those of Indonesia. Komodo dragons are endangered and actively conserved, with Komodo National Park in Indonesia being a UNESCO World Heritage site.
By John Hollis
On August 19, Dr. William G. Kennedy, Associate Professor in the Center for Social Complexity and Department of Computational and Data Sciences, presented in “Predicting the Immediate Civilian Reaction to a Nuclear WMD Event”, a webinar organized by the Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC). Watch the video or learn more.