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KEEP Foundation Grant School of Architecture & Planning

Morgan State University Receives $15,000 Architecture Design Grant from KEEP Foundation to Conduct Industry Advancing Research in Geological Agriculture

by Morgan State U
May 06, 2022

Morgan’s SA+P to Spearhead New Area of Research Rooted in the Study of Plant Cultivation Void of Soil or Fertilizers


BALTIMORE – Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) received a $15,000 architecture design grant from the Atlanta-based nonprofit KEEP Foundation to be used for Geological Agriculture (GeoAg) research on developing protocols for sustainable rooftop green space for the built environment. GeoAg is a new area of research that focuses on the process of growing fruits, vegetables and flowers in rock and nonconventional environments. 

The grant is a direct result of the School’s showcase of GeoAg engineering and architecture at a USDA-funded conference in April of 2021 where Morgan faculty members introduced their GeoAg research publicly. Dr. Samia Rab Kirchner, interim chair of the Department of Undergraduate Design at the SA+P at Morgan, serves as the Principal Investigator on the grant.

Dr. Samia Rab Kirchner“We are excited to design and test GeoAg methods in rooftop environments on our campus,” says Dr. Kirchner. “We are just beginning to understand through exploring GeoAg methods of cultivating plants in rocks without soil and without fertilizers. The question now is how we can refine GeoAg methodologies for rooftop gardens, urban agriculture and green homes that are safe, predictable and effective.”

Expected to take up to two years, the research—performed by Dr. Kirchner, consultants, other faculty, and students—will entail an in-depth observation and study of assorted vegetation and their behavior within a soilless climatic environment atop Morgan’s Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies (CBEIS).

“Based on preliminary findings, GeoAg rooftop systems may be a more effective approach to creating resilient green spaces with a range of design and impact.” said Dr. Kirchner.

GeoAg is a relatively new area of research under investigation by Dr. Kirchner and over 100 HBCU faculty around the country in collaboration with GeoAg founder Richard Campbell. The implications surrounding GeoAg and the research presently underway are boundless. The demands for sustainability and methodologies that promote renewable, tenable approaches to all aspects of 21st century life, including agriculture, are paramount in both the private and public sectors. As the effects of climate change, increased urbanization and strains on conventional farming erode longstanding agricultural practices, refining new techniques to promote plant cultivation in unattainable settings are even more critical.

Keep Foundation Grant
Keep Foundation Grant
Keep Foundation Grant

Morgan has been at the forefront of this pioneering effort and transformative new look at the future of sustainable agriculture. Nearly a dozen Morgan faculty have presented GeoAg research and activity at conferences and in information sessions from 2019 to the present. More than 50 Morgan students have been exposed to GeoAg research, including 30 who had the worthwhile opportunity to participate in the aforementioned GeoAg conference funded by the USDA. Other faculty who have presented GeoAg research from Morgan include Dr. Raymond Terry from the School of Community Health and Policy (SCHP); Dr. Oludare Owolabi and Dr. Arthur Willoughby from the School of Engineering (SOE); and from Morgan’s School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (SCMNS), Dr. Jiangnan Peng, Chemistry Department; and Dr. Richard Demoah, Physics Department.

About the KEEP Foundation

An Atlanta based non-profit organization that supports Kids, Education and Entertainment programs, including geological agriculture-based research. The KEEP provides grants to HBCUs engaged in GeoAg research to advance and refine the science for use with kids and the community.

About Morgan

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering nearly 140 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit

Media Contacts:

Larry Jones or Cheryl Stewart