Exposing Students to High-Frequency Data Science

Dr. Manoj Jha, an associate professor in A&T’s Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, has teamed with researchers from Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt University to expose students to real world high-frequency data. The data, primarily environmental in nature, will be collected in real time at labs on the Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt campuses and shared with students in their coursework.

“Data is a dominant feature in any curriculum, but exposure to real-world, real time data, such as is collected during a weather event, is another matter altogether,” explains Jha. “Our students will gain exposure to immediate real-time information which will help them develop urgency in their decision making processes which is so useful in today’s world.”

This NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education research project, inspired by a recent National Academy of Sciences report on Data Science for Undergraduates, is a collaborative effort among investigators at the three universities. This unique effort aims to improve data science-related learning outcomes of students representing a variety of majors including engineering, computer science, environmental science and biology.

Two unique, high-frequency data monitoring labs – Virginia Tech’s Learning Enhanced Watershed Assessment System Lab and Vanderbilt’s Smart City Lab, are the key entities that will support the proposed data science-related intervention in various courses and the related STEM learning research activities.

An interdisciplinary project team including faculty and graduate students focused in STEM education research and curriculum design, hydrology and water resources, computer science, ecology, and environmental science will work together closely to accomplish the project’s three goals:

  1. Integrating real-world data into eight relevant STEM courses at all three institutions
  2. Conducting research on student learning across various disciplines, institutions, gender, ethnicity, and academic settings
  3. Developing and implementing a learning module portability plan to broaden the breadth of the impact of this project beyond the partnering universities


Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium Earns High Marks

A&T’s Alumni-Foundation Event Center was the setting for yet another successful undergraduate research symposium. Each fall and spring, undergraduate students who are pursuing research, accompanied by their faculty mentors, gather for a poster competition, oral presentations, keynote address and research-oriented workshops. This fall’s symposium also featured a real-time research survey exercise to measure student screen time habits over a 24-hour period.

Around 100 students attended the event, representing research initiatives across all N.C. A&T Colleges. Emeka Anazia, N.C. A&T alumnus, presented the keynote address, inspiring students to achieve academic success through his program Acing the Undergrad. “Our fall event sets the stage for the year’s research,” explains Lando Little, the event’s coordinator. “It is a great indicator of student research involvement for the academic year, and we are pleased to see our highest participation levels in the history of the symposia.”


N.C. A&T Student Takes Second Place at SHARE Conference Hackathon

Akeem Brooks, a junior in N.C. A&T’s College of Science and Technology, finished in second-place at the SHARE Conference’s Hackathon Challenge held in Providence, Rhode Island in August 2017. The challenge featured 16 different programming “challenges” with participants working alone under a two-hour deadline. Brooks, his faculty mentor Dr. Cameron Seay, and five additional N.C. A&T students attended the conference and competed in the Hackathon Challenge.

In addition to the programming competition, the SHARE Conference features an exposition, networking opportunities, as well as keynote addresses and roundtables addressing the trends facing the mainframe computing industry. Hundreds of employees from across the nation attend the SHARE Conference to attend technical sessions and to hear about the future of the mainframe.

SHARE is an independent volunteer-run information technology association that provides education, professional networking and industry influence. It began as the first-ever enterprise IT user group back in 1955, and continues to deliver important avenues of professional growth for the mainframe computing industry today.

N.C. A&T’s College of Science and Technology is the intellectual and academic core of STEM education, research, and discovery at the university. The College has approximately 1300 undergraduate and 300 graduate students within nine departments.  Its academic departments are Applied Engineering Technology, Biology, Built Environment, Chemistry, Computer Systems Technology, Energy and Environmental Systems, Graphic Design Technology, Mathematics, and Physics.


A&T Undergrads Participate in Summer Research and Internships at Prestigious Locations

A&T undergraduates conducted research at University of California, Irvine during their summer break. Kamaria Bush is a rising junior biology student at N.C. A&T. At UCI, she conducted research in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology under the lab of Dr. Cascade Sorte, studying the efforts of climate change on intertidal organisms. Evans Pardue is a junior biology major, minoring in philosophy and physics.  At UCI, he conducted research with Dr. Laurence Muller at the Ayala School of Biological Sciences, and his research focused on the analysis of the Smurf phenotype as a potential harbinger of death among Drosophila cohorts. Natasha McMasters is a senior biological engineering student with a concentration in bioprocess engineering. She worked with Dr. Manny Azizi and Jordan Balaban at UCI on a research project that examines the Temperature Efforts on Muscle Biology and Locomotion in Fence Lizards. Adiya Moore is a junior biology student. She worked with Dr. Adriana Briscoe under the mentorship of Aide Macias-Munoz on gene duplication and expression, and cis-regulation within Heliconius Melpomene butterflies. Cameron Hopkins-Harrington is a second-year biology master’s student worked with Dr. Adam Synechococcus in the Indian Ocean.

The Leadership Alliance is a national consortium of more than 30 leading research and teaching colleges, universities, and private industry with a goal to train, mentor, and to inspire a diverse group of students from a wide range of cultural and academic backgrounds into competitive graduate training programs and professional research-based careers. This past summer four N.C A&T students participated in research experiences at various universities through The Leadership Alliance. Mary Omotoso, junior, bioengineering major, conducted research at Stanford University in the Material Science Department with Dr. Sarah Heilshorn as her faculty mentor. Her research involved upscaling the production of intestinal organoids for drug testing. Mary worked on developing sacrificial scaffolds which included making CAD drawings, 3-D printing, and preparing the printing components. Asha McElroy, sophomore, nutrition major, conducted research at Howard University in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Her research involved neurological tracing and the effects on the brain.  Joshua McDuffie, sophomore, civil engineering major, conducted research at Brown University under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Fischer who studies the structure and dynamics of Earth’s interior. Oluwatomi Ladipo, junior, bioengineering major, conducted research at New York University.

Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, seven undergraduate students were selected to complete an internship at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida this past summer. The students represented the College of Engineering and the College of Business and Economics. Undergraduate students Javier Brown, Avery Harris, Gabriel Jenkins, Destiny McElroy, Jonathan Perry, Chanise Taylor, and John Wilson, held various positions in: Information and Configuration Management, Meeting and Board Support, Operations and Test Management (OTM), Program Logistics Engineering, Systems Engineering & Integration, Program Logistics Engineering, Project Management, Software Engineering and Project Management, Systems Engineering & Integration.

Undergraduate students represented N.C. A&T in the NRL HBCU/MSI Undergraduate Internship Program. This program is a highly-selective, premier program that attracts the best and brightest students from across the nation. Only 34 students were selected and five students hailed from N.C. A&T. The student interns were Sakilae White, sophomore, chemistry student from Phoenix, Arizona; Rayonna Gordon, senior, bioengineering student from Richmond, VA; Kwame Simmons, senior, mechanical engineering student from Christiansted, St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands, Jasmine Flowers, sophomore, chemistry student from Raleigh, NC and Isata Barrie, senior, chemical engineering student from Lanham, Maryland.

RTI International internship places premium on creating opportunities for hands-on experience and engaged learning. Kierra Jenkins conducted research with the School Services team within the Education and Workforce Development unit at RTI International. During the summer, she researched trends, wrote literature reviews, conducted interviews, supported peer networking events, and completed a Year One report.  Kierra is a senior and works as an undergraduate researcher in the Collective Health and Education Equity Research (CHEER) laboratory on campus.

Erica Robinson interned with Davidson College as a lab assistant in the Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) Summer Research Program. Erica worked in Dr. Sockol’s Mood, Attitudes and Parenting Lab. She conducted literature reviews on eating disorders and related symptoms among college students. Erica’s research will contribute to Dr. Sockol’s further investigation of college students’ eating behaviors and attitudes. Erica will present her research at the Davidson College Fall Research Symposium in September. Erica is a sophomore biology major with goals to pursuing a master’s degree in psychology and then a M.D. degree.


Amirah Burton Discusses SOLAR Program

amirah-burtonN.C. A&T master’s student Amirah Burton hails her summer research experience at Chapel Hill as one of the greatest decisions she has ever made. Burton was chosen to represent A&T last summer in the UNC SOLAR program, which stands for Summer of Learning and Research. It’s a 10-week program for underrepresented college students from across the nation wanting to participate in biological and biomedical research, for which Chapel Hill is known.

Burton served under Dr. Jean Cook, a UNC-CH researcher and associate professor in the biochemistry and biophysics department. Dr. Cook is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Education at UNC-CH. Cook’s lab focuses on studying cell activities such as growth, duplication and division as they relate to cancer. “It was great being part of such important work,” explains Burton. “I benefited from understanding the processes and techniques that occur daily in a lab setting. Dr. Cook’s lab was truly impressive and I got a very accurate idea of what a world-class research lab offers students. It was a great experience.” Burton, a native of Greenwood, South Carolina, wants to get her PhD in Nutrition; she is interested in studying how nutrition impacts the human body, including the role of various foods in the prevention or formation of disease.

In addition to enjoying the daily lab experience, program participants prepare for grad school entrance exams, present in a final poster forum, and enjoy weekly journal clubs and social interactions with other students from across the country. For N.C. A&T students who are interested in the UNC SOLAR program, she says, “Be ready to work, be confident in your academic strengths yet willing to learn and absorb from those around you, and network while you’re there because the weeks really fly by!”


Undergraduate Researchers and Faculty Participate in CareerLink Workshop

oak-ridge-tripSeventeen undergraduate researchers from N.C. A&T and their sponsors traveled to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a full day of networking and workshops. The program, CareerLink, served both student and faculty researchers with concurrent programming tracks.

The undergraduate students had an extensive facility tour as well as ample networking time with peers from across the country and ORNL researchers. Student programming focused on writing a competitive employment application in the technical research field, choosing a research area of interest and learning how to best convey laboratory skills and competence in a written resume.

The faculty and staff in attendance (Dr. Christopher Doss, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Kenneth Flurchick, associate professor in the Department of Computational Science and Engineering; Mr. Paul Tuttle, director of proposal development within the Division of Research and Economic Development) were given technical guidance on how to collaborate effectively with ORNL researchers based on shared research interests. Each faculty member was assigned an ORNL mentor to work with in the coming months to select ideal research topics for collaborative pursuit.

This ORNL-sponsored career development opportunity is one of many available to both students and staff who are interested in pursuing research opportunities during their time studying and/or working at N.C. A&T.