Recent Faculty and Department Highlights

Ernest Steele, Catherine Martin Dunlop, Robert Javonillo, Viji Sitther, Yuejin Li & Erika Whitney

On April 3, 2019, Drs. Yuejin Li, Robert Javonillo, Ernest Steele, Viji Sitther and Erika Whitney of the Biology Department, together with Dr. Catherine Martin Dunlop, Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, presented their paper, "Investigating the Impact of an Intervention on Students' Self-Efficacy and Metacognition in Undergraduate Biology Courses," at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching's 92nd International Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. (April, 2019)


Dr. Alexander Samokhvalov of the Chemistry Department has delivered two oral presentations, on April 3 and on April 4, and research poster at the recent Spring 2019 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Orlando, FL, USA. The ACS is the world's largest scientific society, and thousands of scientists and others from around the world attended its meeting. Both oral presentations and poster by Dr. Samokhvalov are about new advanced instrumental methods of analysis, the solid-state synchronous luminescence spectroscopy that were pioneered in his research lab. (April, 2019)


Dr. Alexander Samokhvalov of the Chemistry Department has published a paper, "The solid-state synchronous vs. conventional fluorescence spectroscopy and complementary methods to study the interactions of aluminum metal-organic framework Basolite A100 with dimethyl sulfoxide," in the Journal of Luminescence. The Journal of Luminescence is high quality peer-reviewed journal ranked #144 among 925 (the top 15%) chemistry journals. (March, 2019)


Dr. Gaston N'Guerekata, Associate Dean of SCMNS and University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, has been invited to deliver a mini-course, "Semi-groups of linear operators and applications," at the AIMS-Cameroon Research Center from March 19th to 21st, 2019. (March, 2019)


Dr. Gaston N'Guerekata, Associate Dean of SCMNS and University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, has been selected to serve on the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) in Mathematical Sciences (2019-2020) of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) for the advancement of science in developing countries. The TWAS works to support sustainable prosperity through research, education, policy and diplomacy. Since its founding in 1983, TWAS has grown from 42 elected fellows (nine of them Nobel laureates) to over 1,200 representing over 100 countries. TWAS Fellows are some of the world's most accomplished scientists and engineers, and they are the foundation for all of the Academy's work. As a member of the MAC in Mathematical Sciences, Dr. N'Guerekata will help evaluate candidates for election into TWAS membership. (March, 2019)


Dr. Viji Sitther of the Biology Department has published an article: Tabatabai, B., Fathabad, S.G., Bonyi, E., Rajini, S., Aslan, K. and Sitther, V. 2019. Nanoparticle-mediated impact on growth and fatty acid methyl esther composition in the cyanobacterium Fremyella diplosiphon. BioEnergy Research, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12155-019-09966-9. (Febrauary, 2019)


Dr. Ramesh C. Budhani of the Physics Department has won a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in the amount of $584,186 for his research project entitled, "Nanostructures of Magnetic Dirac Metals for RF Electronics." (February, 2019)


Dr. Gaston N'Guerekata, Associate Dean of SCMNS and University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, has been recognized as the Network of Minorities in Mathematical Sciences's Black History Month 2019 Honoree. (February, 2019)


Dr. Ramesh C. Budhani of the Physics Department has won an Innovation Gap (I-GAP) Award from the Office of Technology Transfer for his project, "Sensors for Macromolecules Based on Oxide Interfaces." (February, 2019)


Professor Charlita Woodruff-White (Mathematics) and Drs. Jean-Pierre Liamba (Mathematics), Asamoah Nkwanta (Mathematics), Lisa Brown (Biology) and others have co-authored a paper, "Wedded Bliss: Lessons Learned from Uniting Math Placement and Math Pathways," in the State of Maryland's First in the World Maryland Mathematics Reform Initiative (FITW MMRI) Monograph, 2019. (February, 2019)


Dr. Yucheng Lan of the Physics Department has won an Innovation Gap (I-GAP) Award from the Office of Technology Transfer for his project, "Biosensor Using Nano-Cone Arrays." (February, 2019)


Dr. Asamoah Nkwanta of the Mathematics Department hosted Dr. Gi-Sang Cheon of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) of South Korea as Visiting Research Professor January 22 to 25, 2019. Dr. Cheon gave a presentation, "A New sufficient condition for the Riemann Hypothesis," in the Department of Mathematics. (January, 2019)


Drs. Asamoah Nkwanta (Mathematics), Cleo Hughes Darden (Biology) and others have co-authored a book chapter, "Interventions Addressing Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minority Groups in Undergraduate STEM Disciplines," in Culturally Responsive Strategies for Reforming STEM Higher Education: Turning the TIDES on Inequity. (January, 2019)


Drs. James Wachira (Biology), Cleo Hughes Darden (Biology) and Asamoah Nkwanta (Mathematics) have published a paper, "Investigating Cell Signaling with Gene Expression Datasets" in CourseSource. (January, 2019)


Dr. Gouping Zhang of the Mathematics Department presented a project, "Micro-local Analysis and Image Reconstruction I," at the Howard University Partnership Development (HUPDD) Project held at Virginia State University on January 25, 2019. This is a proposed research and educational project between Morgan State University and Howard University. If funded it will provide students and faculty from the HUPDD clusters of HBCUs in the Mid-Atlantic Region with mathematical tools that can be applied to many areas of research, including image processing. (January, 2019)


Dr. Lisa D. Brown of the Biology Department has won a subaward in the amount of $41,159 under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Research and Academic Careers Development Award (IRACDA) Program. The grant funds the ASPIRE (Academic Success via Postdoctoral Independence in Research and Education) Program to train postdoctoral researchers in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and Coppin State University. (January, 2019)


Dr. Alexander Pankov of the Mathematics Department has published two papers:

  • S. Akduman, A. Pankov, Exponential estimates for quantum graphs, Electronic Journal of Differential Equations, 2018 (2018), no 162, 1-12.
  • A. Pankov, Traveling waves in Fermi-Pasta-Ulam chains with nonlocal interaction, Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems, S, 12 (2019), 2097-2113. (January, 2019)

Dr. Viji Sitther of the Biology Department has published an article, "Production of transgenic Camelina sativa via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of shoot apical meristems," in the American Journal of Plant Sciences. (January, 2019)


Dr. Yuejin Li of the Biology Department has been awarded a grant in the amount of $120,000 from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for her proposal, "Impacts of Lights on Human Perception." (December, 2018)


Dr. Viji Sitther of the Biology Department delivered an invited presentation, "Biofuel from cyanobacteria: From lab research towards commercialization," at the University of Madras, Chennai, India. (December, 2018)


Dr. Eric Sakk of the Computer Science Department has won a grant from the Intel Corporation in support of curriculum development for his proposal, "Mindshare Module Development for Data Science and Machine Learning Curriculum." (November, 2018)


Dr. Md Rahman of the Computer Science Department has won an I-GAP Prototype Grant from the Office of Technology Transfer to develop a prototype software tool for the detection of skin cancer under his proposal, "Retrieval-Based Decision Support System to Enable Automated Diagnosis of Multiple Skin Cancer Types from Dermoscopic Images." (November, 2018)


Dr. Alexander Pankov of the Mathematics Department delivered a colloquium presentation, "Fermi-Pasta-Ulam Lattices - Traveling Waves" at the University of Texas, Dallas Mathematics Department. (October, 2018)


Prof. Alicia Latten of the Mathematics Department and Dr. Akinyele Oni of the Biology Department are joint Principal Investigators on a $25,000 NIH ASCEND award to redesign MATH 120. (October, 2018)


Dr. Alexander Samokhvalov of the Chemistry Department has published a paper, "Exploring the electronic structure of aluminum metal–organic framework Basolite A100: solid-state synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy reveals new charge excitation/relaxation pathways," in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP), with student researcher, Mr. Cole Grinnell, as first author (Advance Article, 2018). PCCP is within the top 5% Chemistry journals (#40 among 802), with high journal h-index of 187. (October, 2018)


Dr. Alexander Samokhvalov of the Chemistry Department has published a paper, "Aluminum metal–organic frameworks for sorption in solution: A review," in Coordination Chemistry Reviews (Issue 1, November 2018). Coordination Chemistry Reviews features a high journal h-index of 244 and is within the top three review journals in Chemistry, according to the SCImago journal ranking. (September, 2018)


Dr. Alexander Pankov of the Mathematics Department was the organizer of a special session, "Recent Advances in Nonlinear Schrödinger Equations," at the Fall Eastern American Mathematical Society Sectional Meeting at the University of Delaware, Newark. (September, 2018)


Dr. Bhamini Nayar of the Mathematics Department submitted a paper, "A Study of Generalized Continuous Functions," has submitted a paper that was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Advances in Mathematics. The paper is co-authored with Industrial and Computational Mathematics PhD candidate, Zeinab Bandpey. (September, 2018)


Dr. Edward Dillon of the Computer Science Department has won a Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates Program Award funded by the Computing Research Association - Women, with support from the National Science Foundation. The award provides stipends and support for travel and equipment for three Computer Science students conducting research under Dr. Dillon's mentorship. They are: Stephen-Michael Thompson, Joy Elias and Deaundrae Howard. (September, 2018)


Dr. Jiangnan Peng of the Chemistry Department has published a paper, "Chemical Structure and Composition of Major Glycans Covalently Linked to Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibodies by Middle-Down Nuclear Magnetic Resonance," in Analytical Chemistry. (August, 2018)


Dr. Ramesh Budhani of the Physics Department has published a paper, "Pseudomorphic spinel ferrite films with perpendicular anisotropy and low damping," in Applied Physics Letters. (August, 2018)


Dr. Viji Sitther, Associate Professor of Biology, has recently published the following papers:

  • Sitther, V., Tabatabai, B., Enitan, O.,and Dhekney, S. 2018. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Camelina sativa for production of transgenic plants. Journal of Biological Methods. 5: e83.
  • Tabatabai, B., Chen, H., Lu, J., Giwa-Otusajo, J., McKenna, A., Shrivastava, A., and Sitther, V. 2018. Fremyella diplosiphon as a biodiesel agent: Identification of fatty acid methyl esters via microwave-assisted direct in situ transesterification. Bioenergy Research. DOI: 10.1007/s12155-018-9919-y.
  • Sitther, V., Garrido Haro, P. A., Molineros, J. E., Garzon, C. D., and Jiménez-Gasco, M. M. 2018. Genetic diversity of apple- and crabapple-infecting isolates of Venturia inaequalis in Pennsylvania, United States, determined by microsatellite markers. Journal of Forest Pathology. DOI.org/10.1111/efp.12405.

She also has a non-provisional patent application, "Composition and Method for Enhancing Photosynthetic Efficiency of Microorganisms." (June, 2018)


Dr. Richard Damoah, Lecturer in the Department of Physics, has been awarded a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship for his project, "STEM Research Involving Earth Observation Data and its Analysis for Climate Change Monitoring in West Africa." Dr. Damoah will carry out his collaborative research project with Dr. Sharon Sappor at All Nations University College in Ghana. Dr. Damoah's research applies observations (remote sensing and in-situ), global 3D models (CCM and CTM) and radiative transfer models to quantify the impact of atmospheric pollutants on air quality and climate. He is also interested in the interactions between climate and human health.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program, now in its fifth year, has selected 43 African Universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda to host 55 African-born scholars to build partnerships between home and host universities and address priority needs at host universities and countries. The program is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi, Kenya, which coordinates the activities of the Advisory Council.

The visiting Fellows will work with their hosts on a wide range of projects that include controlling malaria, strengthening peace and conflict studies, developing a new master's degree in emergency medicine, training and mentoring graduate students in criminal justice, archiving African indigenous knowledge, creating low cost water treatment technologies, building capacity in microbiology and pathogen genomics, and developing a forensic accounting curriculum.

Designed to increase Africa's brain circulation, build capacity at host institutions, and develop long-term, mutually-beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada, the successful initiative has now awarded a total of 335 Fellowships since its inception in 2013. (May, 2018)


Dr. Farin Kamangar, Associate Dean and Professor of Biology has recently published five papers (March, 2018):

  • "Hot Tea and Esophageal Cancer," in Ann Intern Med. doi 10.7326/M17-3370. A study following over 450,000 participants for a median of 9.2 years, finding a significantly increased risk of esophageal cancer among users of alcohol and tobacco who drank hot tea.
  • "Feasibility of Mass Screening for Colorectal Cancer Using Fecal Immunochemical Test in Iran," in Arch Iran Med. 2017;20(12):723-725. http://aimjournal.ir/Abstract/aim-1873. An invited editorial on the feasibility of colorectal cancer screening in Iran using the current health infrastructure.
  • "Prospective Epidemiological Research Studies in Iran (the PERSIAN Cohort Study): Rational, Objectives, and Design," in American Journal of Epidemiology, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwx314. A paper on the methods of a new cohort study with 180,000 participants.
  • "Association Between Socioeconomic Status and Tumor Grade Among Black Men with Prostate Cancer," in Journal of the National Medical Association, Vol. 110, Issue 1, Feb. 2018, pp. 53-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnma.2017.06.019. A paper on prostate cancer disparities.
  • "Improving Participants' Retention in a Smoking Cessation Intervention Using a Community-based Participatory Research Approach," in Int J Prev Med. 2017 Dec. 19;8:106. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_303_17. A paper from the CEASE Project comparing the differences in retention when smoking prevention efforts are offered in community settings vs. clinic settings. 

Dr. Birol Ozturk of the Physics Department has published a paper, "Individually grown cobalt nanowires as magnetic force microscopy probes," in Applied Physics Letters. SCMNS Physics Department co-authors include: Drs. Abdellah Lisfi and Yucheng Lan (faculty), Drs. Sabin Pokharel and Ilyas Unlu (postdoctoral researchers), Joshua Samba (graduate student), and Shuaa Alotaibi (graduate alum). (February, 2018)


Drs. Pankov, Cai, Kemajou-Brown, Zhang, and N'Guerekata of the Mathematics Department have published papers in a special issue of the International Journal of Evolution Equations in memory of Professor Zhikov. Drs. N'Guerekata and Pankov are co-editors of the issue. (January, 2018)


Dr. Kendra Pleasant of the Mathematics Department has won the Best Speaker award for her presentation during the Haynes-Granville-Browne Session of Presentations by Recent Doctoral Recipients at the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meetings. The award includes funding to participate in a one-week workshop at participating mathematical sciences institutes. (January, 2018)


Dr. Gaston N'Guerekata has published a new book, Generalized Fractional Programming, with Nova Science Publishers. (November, 2017)


Dr. Elisabeth Kemajou-Brown of the Mathematics Department won a $75,000 subaward from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for her project, "Modeling and Estimation in Urban Transportation Networks." (November, 2017)


Dr. Jonathan Farley of the Mathematics Department has been featured in an interview with Chalkdust Magazine as a part of Black Mathematician Month 2017. (October, 2017)


Dr. Gabrielle McLemore has published an article, "Microwave Heating of Crystals with Gold Nanoparticles and Synovial Fluid under Synthetic Skin Patches," in ACS Omega. (September 2017)


Dr. Yucheng Lan's new book, Advanced Thermoelectrics: Materials, Contacts, Devices, and Systems, has been published by CRC Press. (September 2017)


The School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences has been awarded a grant from Johns Hopkins University to support Extreme Science Internships and Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments research projects for Dr. Kadir Aslan, Dr. Yucheng Lan and Dr. Birol Ozturk. (July, 2017)


Dr. Hongtao Yu has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research for his project, "Recruiting and Mentoring a Materials Science Faculty at Morgan State University." (July, 2017)


Dr. Lisa D. Brown has been awarded a $249,544 grant from the National Science Foundation for her project, "PERSIST - Pathways to Enhance Retention of Students in Science to Transition." (June, 2017)


Three SCMNS faculty have been granted Morgan State University's ASCEND Center for Biomedical Research Awards (April, 2017):

  • Mathumathi Rajavel, Ph.D., "Deciphering Phage Resistance Mechanisms for Intelligent Design of Phage Therapy"
  • Mingchao Cai, Ph.D., "Numerical Simulation of Brain Edema Using Poroelastic Models"
  • Md Rahman, Ph.D., "Developing a Retrieval-based Diagnostic Aid for Automated Melanoma Recognition"

Dr. Mingchao Cai has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the NSF for his project entitled, "Research Initiation Award: Fast Solvers for Variable-Coefficient Poroelastic Models." (April, 2017)


Professor Gaston N'Guerekata's manuscript, Spectral Theory for Bounded Functions and Applications to Evolution Equations, has been accepted for publication by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. (April, 2017)


The Traveler's Companies have awarded a grant of $322,000 in support of the Travelers EDGE program at SCMNS and the Pipeline Access to Actuarial Science program. (March, 2017)