December 1, 2023
GGS ASSIP Mentors
This #FacultyFriday showcases a few of the GGS faculty members who participated as ASSIP mentors over summer 2023.
The ESTC team of the GGS Department, led by Professors John Qu, Xianjun Hao, and Qian Liu mentored six ASSIP interns who focused on the impact of climate change on the African Water-Energy-Food-Health Nexus. All six interns participated in the GMU-UNEP Training workshop in June 2023 and subsequently submitted abstracts, all of which were accepted, for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Annual Meeting in 2023.
Mr. Aryav Gogia, Captain Jim Gallagher and Edward Oughton, Assistant Professor, developed a codebase named the Segmentation Mask Transfer Technique (SMTT), which automatically segments and labels image object classes in multispectral imagery collected from both ground and air-based drone platforms. What makes SMTT novel is its ability to replace the time-consuming manual process of drawing bounding boxes and labeling training data for machine learning object detection, which can take weeks, with an automated process that completes this laborious task in less than a day.
Assistant Professor Taylor Anderson worked together with GGS graduate student Emma Von Hoene and CPH faculty member Amira Roess to mentor ASSIP student Shivani Achuthan. They used open data to learn why people behave differently when deciding how to protect themselves during a disease outbreak—often such differences are noticed geographically. The team developed an innovative model to predict people's health behaviors based on their traits and perceptions of the disease, and collectively, how these decisions affect disease outcomes. This work was recently published in the ACM computer science proceedings: A Framework for Simulating Emergent Health Behaviors in Spatial Agent-Based Models of Disease Spread. This past month, Shivani attended the 31st ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems (ACM SIGSPATIAL 2023) in Hamburg, Germany to present their work.
The Mobility Observatory and Data Analytics Lab (MODAL), directed by Assistant Professor Alireza Ermagun, hosted a dozen students from the East Coast to the West Coast this summer. These rising high school students engaged in research on equity of access to transportation infrastructure, affordable housing, and gentrification. Their eight weeks of hard work and training paid off, and they will present their findings at the 103rd Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. This event is the largest of its kind, attracting thousands of transportation professionals worldwide. For Dr. Ermagun, it was a great journey, and he has built fabulous friendships with many of his mentees.
November 17, 2023
Geospatial Intelligence Experts
Today's #FacultyFriday highlights our Geospatial Intelligence experts, Dieter Pfoser, Bryan Weaver, and Steven Jackson. The Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science offers an MS degree and a Graduate Certificate in Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence preparing our students with the necessary skills to pursue careers in the federal workforce, intelligence community, and beyond.
The GEOINT program addresses the emerging demand for scientists trained in the collection, organization, analysis, and dissemination of information about physical features, man-made structures, moving objects, people, and events that are geo-referenced or geo-located.
This program focuses primarily on the computational approaches that support the synthesis and analysis of diverse types of data in order to identify and monitor complex events and phenomena that manifest over space and time.
November 10, 2023
GGS BAM Advisors
This #FacultyFriday highlights three Geography and Geoinformation Science (GGS) faculty members who are vital in supporting students pursing the Bachelor's-to-Accelerated Master's (BAM) program. Nathan Burtch, Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator, Lori Mandable, Instructor, and Christine Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor and BAM Coordinator.
Whether you plan to teach or simply know the direction your career is headed, you can make quick work of your graduate studies and earn a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years. The GGS program offers a few BAM options, including pathways to an MS in Geographic and Cartographic Sciences (GECA) and MS in Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOI).
The best time to apply is during the fall of your junior year, or the semester before you will have obtained at least 90 credits of undergraduate coursework.
If you’re interested in applying, email the BAM coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 3, 2023
GGS Remote Sensing Experts
We kick off our Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science spotlight with this #FacultyFriday featuring our remote sensing experts: Professors Paul Houser, John Qu, Donglian Sun, Konrad Wessels, and Xianjun Hao.
These faculty members use remote sensing to conduct all kinds of research, such as: Houser, whose research focuses on local to global land surface-atmospheric interactions, hydrology and snow. Qu’s major project focuses on the development of integrated early warning and decision-support systems for a sustainable Water-Energy-Food-Health (WEFH) Nexus. Sun uses remote sensing to track natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. While Wessels focuses on scaling up machine learning for image analyses, forest and savanna vegetation structure and biomass estimation. And Hao, who uses remote sensing data analysis and applications for climate data records and climate change.
The topic of remote sensing, also known as Earth Observation, uses imagery and data from satellites, aircraft and drones to study the Earth system and human impacts on the environment and gather geospatial intelligence. Thanks to these incredible researchers, it’s clear that our GGS Department is leading the way in remote sensing.
October 27, 2023
Benoit Van Aken
The final #FacultyFriday of October features Benoit Van Aken, Associate Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Van Aken’s primary research interests have focused on the development of molecular biology methods for various environmental applications, including bioremediation, biofuel production, and water quality surveillance. He is currently conducting research in two major areas: (1) the molecular response of organisms exposed to environmental stressors (toxicogenomics) and (2) the development of molecular biomarkers for the detection of harmful aquatic organisms, including pathogens, invasive species, and toxic algae.
Recently, Vak Aken began conducting stream monitoring in the City of Fairfax, alongside PEREC researchers, to analyze samples for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, specific conductance, turbidity, nitrate, nitrite, total phosphorous, and E. coli.
Van Aken has also recently received funding from 4VA@Mason for his latest project, “Protection of RNA by Association with Macromolecules Implications for Wastewater Based Epidemiology”
October 13, 2023
This #FacultyFriday highlights Megan Erb, Associate Professor and Associate Chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Erb is currently working with students to turn green fluorescent protein (GFP) into yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) through mutagenesis. Eventually, they will get to every color of the rainbow. Along with this research, Erb works closely with Associate Professor Barney Bishop to revise the undergraduate Biochemistry Lab curriculum.
Erb has been at Mason for 10 years now, so she has seen hundreds of students come through the Chemistry program and pursue their careers in STEM. Erb is incredibly proud of our students’ accomplishments and watching them succeed continues to motivate her to help them achieve their goals.
The collaborative environment and the opportunities to learn and innovate makes Mason a great place to be a scientist, according to Erb.
October 6, 2023
This #FacultyFriday highlights one of the newest members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ozlem Dilek, Assistant Professor.
Dilek works in the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research (IABR) on the SciTech Campus, where they focus on developing transformative fluorescent probe and click chemistry technologies, by leveraging the lab’s unique multidisciplinary strengths in organic synthesis, fluorescence spectroscopy, and cell biology. The lab’s research projects are divided into three areas: (1) developing fluorescent tools using click chemistry for imaging cancer and other human diseases, (2) developing new visible-light photocatalysis methods for pro-drug conjugation systems, and (3) developing fluorescent imaging metals in biological systems.
The satisfaction of developing a new and useful chemical tool with your team to overcome a challenge in biomedical sciences is what drives Dilek’s passion for her research. As a professor, she encourages her students to pursue science that will help build new and transformative technologies for the benefit of our society.
While she’s only been with Mason for a short time, Dilek is already impressed with the quality of our #MasonScience students. Them, along with our cutting-edge research and technology development, is what sets Mason apart. She’s found her home within the Chemistry Department, thanks to the unique and warm community her colleagues have created.
September 29, 2023
Ian M. Rodway
This #FacultyFriday highlights Ian M. Rodway, Adjunct Professor for our Forensic Science Program. Rodway has been an adjunct professor at Mason for twelve years now and has had the pleasure of seeing and contributing to the growth of the program, both in quantity and in quality.
Outside of his adjunct position, Rodway is a lawyer by occupation– he has practiced law for over 50 years, primarily as a prosecutor. Thus, he brings the ‘law’ to the Forensic Science Program. He believes it’s important for the Forensic Science students to learn about the legal underpinnings of the system along with its real-life applications.
His years as a practicing attorney in criminal law has given Rodway the opportunity to see forensic science go from subjective to scientific. When he first started out as a prosecutor in 1968, using DNA was not even a thought– now, it leads the way in forensic science. Rodway prides himself on knowing the history of forensic science while also knowing the details of the criminal justice system.
September 22, 2023
We conclude #NationalForensicScienceWeek by highlighting Deborah Leben, Adjunct Professor for the Forensic Science Program.
At an early age, Leben was intrigued by crime-solving television shows and investigations. Years later, she pursued a career in forensic science and was fortunate to have mentors whom she worked with during her academic studies. Her mentors played a significant role in how she approached her career as they shared their experiences and lessons learned. Today, she is working on a project to help students follow a career path that aligns with their strengths and personal interests. When people work to their strengths and follow their interests, they can accomplish more and can have a greater impact on their careers.
During her time in government, Leben partnered with George Mason University to create internship opportunities where students worked alongside practitioners to create efficiencies in the laboratory while providing exposure to the Agency's culture and the type of work conducted daily in the crime lab. The Forensic Science Program continues to expand by bringing in industry and subject matter experts who connect real-world experiences to academic studies. These experiences allow students to make informed decisions on their career paths and make better choices in how they approach future employment, setting it apart from other programs that exist today.
These academic offerings bring diversity and a well-rounded perspective to students pursuing a career in forensic science. Thanks to our program, Leben knows the next generation of forensic scientists are on the right track.
September 15, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Alexa Genalo, Adjunct Professor for the Forensic Science Program at Mason. Genalo is a proud #MasonScience alum who earned both her BS and MS from our Forensic Science Program and is currently working on her PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Genalo has been an adjunct professor for the program since Fall 2021. She also has experience as a Forensic Scientist in Toxicology for the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS), where she analyzed biological fluids and tissues for the presence of alcohol, drugs, and other chemicals for array of casework such as medical examiner cases, DUI/D cases, sexual assault cases, overdoses, etc.
Genalo came back to the Forensic Science Program for the people. From her time as a student to now as a faculty member, she continues to be inspired by her fellow colleagues and the amazing work they are doing. She wanted to be a part of it, so coming back to teach and earn her PhD was an easy decision. Now as a PhD student, she hopes to contribute with her own Forensic Chemistry-based research. As a professor, the enthusiasm from her Forensic Science students is contagious. Seeing their excitement reminds her why she loves this field so much.
September 8, 2023
Today’s #FacultyFriday welcomes the latest addition to our Forensic Science Program, Associate Professor, An-Di Yim. Yim is currently working on finishing up projects he started a few years ago, including developing and testing protocols to quantify shape change in the human limb skeleton during growth, investigating the education and training of forensic anthropologists, and a collaborative project studying the casework demographics and methods accuracy of forensic anthropology.
Yim loves teaching and interacting with motivated students. Collaborating with other scientists to exchange ideas and make an impact drives his passion for his work.
Yim joined #MasonScience thanks to all the opportunities here. Given our location, the opportunities for collaboration have opened the door for a multitude of research and funding support. With all the exciting initiatives happening in the program, like the new Forensic Science Research and Training Laboratory, more is yet to come.
September 1, 2023
Kelly Knight and Georgia Williams
For the first #FacultyFriday of the month, we congratulate our Forensic Science experts Kelly Knight, Associate Professor, and Georgia Williams, Assistant Professor, for contributing to the recently published textbook, “Methods in Molecular Biology: Forensic DNA Analysis, Methods and Protocols.”
Both scientists contributed to two chapters of the book. Knight was the lead author for the chapter, “Quantitation of DNA Using the Applied Biosystems Quantifiler® Trio DNA Quantification Kit,” where she describes in detail how to prepare and process quantitation reactions using the Quantifiler®. While Williams was the lead author for the chapter, “Applied Biosystems’ GlobalFiler™ PCR Amplification Kit,” where she discusses the typical preparation and PCR amplification of human forensic DNA samples, using the GlobalFiler™ PCR Amplification Kit.
August 4, 2023
We kick off the month with this #FacultyFriday featuring Hoda Bidkhori, Assistant Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences. Bidkhori’s research focuses on data analytics, optimization, and artificial intelligence. Her goal is to utilize data to drive efficient decisions and tackle emerging social, environmental, and public health challenges. Some of her recent projects include studying robust AI for kidney exchange and organ allocation, and developing data-driven decision-making frameworks for complex systems and environments.
August 11, 2023
This #FacultyFriday highlights one of the latest additions to the Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Assistant Professor Mariia Belaia. Her research includes fostering the use of data science for the design of efficient and sensible climate policies. She looks at the universe of climate policy instruments, including mitigation, adaptation, carbon removal, and solar geoengineering. Belaia is proud to be contributing to solar geoengineering research, which is still in a nascent stage but is receiving increased attention as evident from the recent reports by the UNEP and the congressionally-mandated report by the White Hoyse Office of Science and Technology Policy. Overall, Belaia is optimistic about what can still be done to reduce the global risk of climate change— this is what keeps her passionate about her research.
August 19, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Eduardo López, Assistant Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences. His general interest is in collective phenomena in various forms, specifically around socio-economic systems. Collective systems are constituted by many entities that interact with each other— it is that interaction that generates new phenomena. Some of his current initiatives include (1) theorizing an explanation for the dynamic patterns of human communication, (2) studying and forecasting the collection of careers that occur within large organizations, (3) exploring what population-scale patterns of social features drive the face-to-face interaction of people in cities, and more.
August 25, 2023
Our final #FacultyFriday of the month highlights one of the latest additions to the Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Damon Dade, Assistant Professor. His research interests include emerging technologies, artificial intelligence ethics, and artificial intelligence in healthcare. Dade is fascinated with technology and what it has to offer to society, and understanding how emerging technology can be used to help solve social issues. He’s a firm believer in innovative uses of technology to help society grow.
Anne Scherer and Sasha Stoddard
July 7, 2023
For this week’s #FacultyFriday, we highlight two genetic experts, Dr. Anne Scherer, Associate Professor, and Sasha Stoddard, Lab Manager, Department of Biology. These two work together in the 311 Genetics Lab to teach and create engaging experiments for Biology students. In addition to genetics, Scherer teaches two research-based courses that are part of SEA-PHAGES, a national organization sponsored by the HHMI and the University of Pittsburgh. Along with managing the 311 Genetics Lab, Stoddard also manages the 453 Immunology Lab and teaches at least one lab per semester. Much of her ongoing work includes ensuring student experiments run smoothly, in addition to expanding experiments.
Elisabeth Epstein and Bonnie Madden
July 14, 2023
This week’s #FacultyFriday highlights our Microbiology Lab leaders, Dr. Elisabeth Epstein and Bonnie Madden. These two are currently investigating the capacity for interspecies crosstalk by natural microbial communities using quorum-regulated bioluminescence of Vibrio campbellii and other screening methods. They also work together in Microbial Diversity (Biology 407), an ever-evolving course that gives undergraduates the opportunity for hands-on exploration of microbes from the environment (often with unpredictable results).
Charles Madden and Krista Knieriem
July 21, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features our Cell Biology lab scientists, Dr. Charles Madden, Professor, and Krista Knieriem, Lab Manager. These two work together in BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function, where they introduce students to cell chemistry, metabolism, and genetics. In addition to coordinating and teaching BIOL 213, Madden teaches microbiology, infectious disease, and biotechnology courses as well. Knieriem manages not only the Cell Biology lab but also the Introductory Biology lab courses. Currently, she is working to design and implement new lab activities.
Allison Tomsom and Kevin Quant
July 28, 2023
The final #FacultyFriday of the month features our Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) scientists Allison Tomson, Professor, and Kevin Quant, Lab Manager and Adjunct Faculty, Department of Biology. As the new coordinator of BIOL 124/125 A&P, Tomson is working hard to make these courses and labs the best they can be. She aims to create a solid foundation of knowledge for students hoping to enter the healthcare field, as well as for anyone hoping to learn more about our bodies and how they work. In addition to managing the A&P lab, Quant serves as an adjunct professor for the department. He is also earning his graduate degree in Forensic Science, with a concentration in Forensic Biology. Quant earned his Bachelor’s degree Neuroscience, with a minor in Psychology.
Sean Lawton and Harrison Bray
June 2, 2023
Our first #FacultyFriday of the month features two key MEGL leaders, Dr. Sean Lawton, Professor, and Dr. Harrison Bray, Assistant Professor, both in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. The Mason Experimental Geometry Lab (MEGL), founded by Lawton in 2014, is a research and outreach program in mathematics, part of the international network Geometry Labs United. With MEGL, students access mathematics research early in their careers via computation and experimentation in semester-long projects mentored by faculty and graduate students. On the outreach side, MEGL has a mathematics enrichment curriculum led by Dr. Ros Toala. Since 2014, they have reached over 11,000 K-12 students.
Rebecca Golding and Matt Holzer
June 9, 2023
This week’s #FacultyFriday features two faculty members who significantly contribute to our Department of Mathematical Sciences, Dr. Rebecca Goldin, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, and Dr. Matt Holzer, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions. Goldin is currently working on the geometric properties of Hessenberg varieties, a large class of subvarieties of the flag variety. Holzer is an applied mathematician interested in traveling waves and pattern formation problems using tools from differential equations and dynamical systems.
Daniel Anderson, Sarah Khankan, Gary Lee Antonio De La Pena, and Catherine Sausville
June 16, 2023
This week’s #FacultyFriday features four Mathematical Sciences faculty members who are instrumental in our undergraduate mathematics program. These four include Daniel Anderson,Sarah Khankan,Gary Lee Antonio De La Pena, and Catherine Sausville. Their recent efforts and initiatives include undergraduate advising in mathematics, coordinating the creation of new concentration options within Mathematics degree programs, AI proctoring for online tests, proctoring for virtual classes, and revamping the Math Placement Test.
Timothy Sauer and Gabriela Bulancea
June 23, 2023
We continue our Math spotlight with this week’s #FacultyFriday highlighting two essential mathematics instructors and researchers, Dr. Gabriela Bulancea, Term Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Teaching and Equity, and Dr. Timothy Sauer, Professor. Sauer’s research interests include applied dynamical systems and computational mathematics. Recently, Sauer received funding for the project: "Predictive Personalized Public Health (P3H): A Novel Paradigm to Treat Infectious Disease." Bulancea recently began her role as the department’s Associate Chair for Teaching and Equity and was awarded the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award last fall. She consistently incorporates new teaching approaches in the classes she teaches in-person or online.
June 30, 2023
The last #FacultyFriday of the month features Dr. Igor Griva, Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Director of the Mathematics Industrial Immersion Program (IIP). As director of IIP, Griva facilitates connections between math students and industrial partners. Every year, he assists in organizing a student/alumni conference where former math students have the opportunity to share their experiences after graduation.
May 5, 2023
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. Jennifer Whitney , Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences Program (GeorgeSquared) , and Georgetown University. Whitney also serves as the Director of the Special Physiology Master’s Program at Georgetown. With a deep desire to educate, Whitney motivates and mentors her students toward success, that's why she joined the GeorgeSquared (G2) program. G2 is a unique program with built-in time for students to do additional activities outside of their academics, like gaining real-life experiences, participating in clinical work, and volunteering.
May 12, 2023
This #FacultyFriday highlights Nivana Poonacha , Instructor, Advanced Biomedical Sciences Program (GeorgeSquared) . Nivana joined the GeorgeSquared (G2) program because she related to the experience of the students in the program. The G2 program helps students gain the skills necessary to be a strong applicant to medical, dental and PA school.
May 19, 2023
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Divyansh Sharma, Instructor, GeorgeSquared. Sharma is incredibly fond of the GeorgeSquared (G2) program because it offers many students a second chance to succeed in their academic goals. The G2 students are motivated, and they complete the program with a newfound confidence, which they may have lost throughout their undergraduate years. Sharma feels lucky to have the opportunity to play a role in these students’ academic careers.
May 26, 2023
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. Josh (Lewis) Watson, Associate Professor, GeorgeSquared and Georgetown University. Watson serves as Director of the Master's in Physiology program and teaches Cardiovascular Physiology. His research interests include the use of Drosophila to explore metabolism, diabetes, and receptor trafficking in the cardiovascular system. He joined the GeorgeSquared program to support students who needed additional assistance after undergrad and to inspire the next generation of medical professionals.
April 7, 2023
Our first #FacultyFriday of #EarthMonth features Dr. Jennifer Sklarew , Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP). Sklarew, also known as Dr. Jen, coordinates the department's MS Concentration in Energy and Sustainability Policy and Science, which she developed. Her research examines how institutional relationships and catastrophic events combine to drive energy and environmental policymaking and change. This work includes collaborating with rural, agricultural communities to identify and address challenges to food, energy, and water systems, including effects from climate change; and working with students on a hydropower micro-turbine project she initiated to leverage the power of George Mason University 's Fairfax campus’ storm water system.
April 14, 2023
Dr. Younsung Kim , Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) , is this week’s #FacultyFriday highlight. Kim’s research lies at the nexus of governments and businesses on the topics related to environmental sustainability and carbon management.
T. Reied Nelson
April 21, 2023
This week’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. T. Reid Nelson , Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) . Nelson is a fisheries ecologist with research interests in basic fields of ecology, applied aspects of fisheries and aquatic resource management, and the intersection of these two avenues.
R. Christian Jones
April 28, 2023
This #FacultyFriday, we congratulate Dr. R. Christian Jones for earning the Earle C. Williams Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact ! Jones is a professor of aquatic ecology in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy , which he co-founded in 2000 and led as its first chair. He is also the founder and director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) at the Potomac Science Center.
March 3, 2023
We kick off our Physics and Astronomy Department Spotlight with this #FacultyFriday featuring Dr. Erhai Zhao, Professor. Zhao is a theoretical physicist with a research interest in quantum matter. Specifically, solids, fluids, or gases that exhibit counter-intuitive behaviors on the macroscopic scale due to quantum mechanical effects. For example, ultracold quantum gases, which are about one trillionth to one billionth degree above absolute zero temperature, are trapped and manipulated by laser light to serve as quantum simulators to address open questions in quantum many-body physics.
March 10, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Rob Cressman, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Cressman’s overall research goal is to better understand the normal and pathological functions of the human brain with specific applications to epilepsy, migraines, and sleep. His research is structured into three main thrusts that include the development of sensors for studying the brain, developing dynamical-systems based approaches to investigate real-world problems, and studying neuronal dynamics computationally and experimentally.
March 17, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ernest Barreto, Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who has taught classes ranging from introductory physics through graduate-level courses. Barreto’s research is at the convergence of physics, mathematics, and biology. He is currently focusing on mathematically understanding the behavior of large populations of coupled oscillators, especially populations made up of simple mathematical models of neurons.
March 24, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Chi Yang, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Yang’s main research interests are in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) with focus on the development of computational methods and tools for marine hydrodynamics applications, including wave hydrodynamics; ship resistance and propulsion; large-amplitude motions and extreme loads on ships and ocean structures; dynamics of ships, underwater vehicles and offshore structures; fluid-structure interactions; and ship design optimizations
March 31, 2023
Our final #FacultyFriday of the month features Dr. Jie Zhang, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Zhang specializes in space weather and solar physics research, and his team is currently working on multiple research projects funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
February 3, 2023
We kick off our Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Science (AOES) department spotlight with new faculty member Dr. Brittany Hupp, Assistant Professor. Hupp joined the AOES department thanks to the welcoming environment, supportive community, the abundance of avenues for collaboration, and the opportunity to teach our diverse and dedicated Mason Science students.
February 10, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features new faculty member, Dr. Luis Ortiz, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences. Ortiz’s research centers on advancing our understanding of how cities interact with the atmosphere in the context of a changing climate, and the impacts these interactions have on people and infrastructure. His work considers cities as complex systems of environmental, human, and engineered domains. For example, he recently studied air-conditioning. Due to the urban heat island effect and global warming, there is an increasing demand for AC.
February 17, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Geoffrey Gilleaudeau, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. His research focuses on the ocean-atmosphere chemistry and its effect on biological development through Earth's history. His research group uniquely blends various geological areas of study and uses a range of geochemical tools applied to marine sedimentary rocks, spanning from the Proterozoic Eon to the current Holocene epoch.
Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill
February 24, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences. Currently at Mason, she serves as one of the Principal Investigators in a collaboration, funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation, between six main research institutes in the U.S. The collaboration aims to investigate astrochronology and Solar System dynamics, while also addressing known inequities in science.
Greta Ann Herin
January 13, 2023
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Greta Ann Herin, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). Recently, Herin has been researching the effect of environmental pollution on neurotransmitter receptor function. Her research has found that lead (Pb) inhibits a neurotransmitter receptor that is important in forms of learning and memory. To some degree, this may explain why children who have been exposed to lead exhibit behavioral issues and learning impairments, even after their bodies have been cleared of lead.
January 20, 2023
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. Gwendolyn (Wendy) Lewis, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). Lewis is a teaching-focus faculty member and the IPN undergraduate coordinator, so she focuses on teaching the process of research and making research experiences accessible to undergraduate students. Two of her biggest contributions to the program include the launch of NEUR 406: Zebrafish Neurodevelopment Laboratory, a research-based course where students use zebrafish embryos to study the development of the vertebrate nervous system.
January 27, 2023
This #FacultyFriday highlights Dr. Frank Krueger, Professor, Neuroscience Program (IPN) and GMU - School of Systems Biology. Krueger is interested in understanding the psychoneurobiological underpinnings of human-human and human-machine trust by combining methods from psychology, ergonomics, and neuroscience. His primary research focuses on the psychoneurobiological mechanism of interpersonal trust.
December 30, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ancha Baranova, Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB). Baranova’s research focuses on the dissection of molecular networks underpinning common human illnesses. The strongest aspect of her research program lies in its transdisciplinary nature. In over 20 years in academia, she has developed an expertise in a variety of research fields. Her lab has discovered many biomarkers for chronic liver diseases, cancer and other illnesses, a biosynthesis of the melanin in human adipose, two novel properties of cell-free DNA, and a variety of novel functions for known biomolecules. Recently, her lab has entered a field of anti-aging research.
December 23, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Dmitri Klimov, Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB), Director, PhD Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB-PhD). Klimov’s lab, alongside Dr. Chris Lockhart, Research Assistant Professor, and four BCB-PhD students, use biomolecular simulations to study important biological problems at the atomistic level. The lab focuses on two main areas of research.
Monique van Hoek
December 16, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Monique van Hoek, Professor and Associate Director, School of Systems Biology. van Hoek’s research focuses on antibiotic-resistant and biothreat bacteria. Currently, her three main research initiatives include i) Inventing Antimicrobial peptides against Antibiotic Resistant bacteria using AI/ML, ii) Francisella tularensis microbial physiology, and iii) Antibiofilm compounds. Recently, van Hoek was a part of the team that was awarded an R21 Trailblazer NIH grant. This project, alongside engineers Dr. Jeffery Moran and Dr. Rémi Veneziano from Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing, aims to tackle bacterial biofilms.
December 9, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ramin M. Hakami, Associate Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB). Working within SSB has been a rewarding experience for Hakami. He feels a great appreciation for the opportunity SSB provided him to set up his lab and academic research program. The deep support SSB provides their graduate students has also made a significant impact on Hakami’s lab, “our graduate students are the bedrock of our research work,” Hakami goes on to say.
December 2, 2022
This #FacultyFriday kicks off our School of Systems Biology (SSB) spotlight with Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon, Associate Professor, SSB. Pierobon’s research team focuses on improving treatment options for cancer patients, especially those affected by advanced disease, using a personalized approach. Personalized (or precision) medicine is built on the idea that we are different and experience diseases differently. Her team has participated in several precision medicine initiatives using molecular information to select anti-cancer treatments for patients with metastatic disease.
November 25, 2022
Our final #FacultyFriday of the month features Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science researchers Timothy Leslie, Matthew Rice, and David Wong. These three take an interdisciplinary approach to their research, using GIS elements like geospatial methods, remote sensing, and spatial analysis to conduct their projects.
For instance, Leslie is an urban-economic health geographer with experience in applying quantitative and geospatial methods to understand and address the influences of socioeconomic and place-based factors on outcomes and inequities across the health and economics domains.
Rice’s research team develops, implements, and tests systems for rapid reporting and assessment of navigation obstacles and looks at how quality assessment metrics, derived from remote sensing and GIS, can be applied to map-based geocrowdsourcing activities.
And finally, Wong has broad research interests, ranging from the technical areas in geovisualization, to the more social-oriented issues in spatial epidemiology. His primary research interests are spatial analysis, statistics, and population analysis, particularly in measuring segregation.
GGS Remote Sensing Experts
November 18, 2022
We continue our Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science (GGS) spotlight with this #FacultyFriday featuring our remote sensing experts: Professors Xianjun Hao, Paul Houser, John Qu, Donglian Sun, and Konrad Wessels.
These faculty members use remote sensing to conduct all kinds of research, such as: Hao, who uses remote sensing data analysis and applications for climate data records and climate change. Houser's research focuses on local to global land surface-atmospheric interactions, hydrology and snow. Qu’s major project focuses on the development of integrated early warning and decision-support systems for a sustainable Water-Energy-Food-Health (WEFH) Nexus. Sun uses remote sensing to track natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. And Wessels focuses on scaling up machine learning for image analyses, forest and savanna vegetation structure and biomass estimation.
The topic of remote sensing, also known as Earth Observation, uses imagery and data from satellites, aircraft and drones to study the Earth system and human impacts on the environment and gather geospatial intelligence. Thanks to these incredible researchers, it’s clear that our GGS Department is leading the way in remote sensing.
GGS Mobility & Infrastructure Researchers
November 11. 2022
This #FacultyFriday features a handful of our Geography and Geoinformation Science researchers. Professors Taylor Anderson, Edward Oughton, Alireza Ermagun, Dieter Pfoser, and Chaowei Phil Yang all take a multi-disciplinary approach to their research, covering areas like infrastructure, mobility, urban systems, spatiotemporal data, and more.
Some of these research projects include: Anderson investigating the role of novel computational approaches that leverage spatial data science and geosimulation for urban health. Oughton developing decision-support models of digital infrastructure. Ermagun studying critical infrastructure network resilience, access, equity, and urban space-time structure, and the links between built environment, travel behavior, and social inequity. Pfoser using urban analytics to create urban mobility models. Yang working on the NSF Spatiotemporal Innovation Center to build the national and international spatiotemporal infrastructure.
While their research spans across multiple topics, all these faculty members agree that our GGS department is top tier for geoinformation research.
November 4, 2022
We kick off our Geography and Geoinformation Science Department spotlight by highlighting all our GGS advisors: professors Ruixin Yang, Nathan Burtch, Maction Komwa, and Christine Rosenfeld. These faculty members thoroughly enjoy advising students thanks to the interaction as mentors for students, the participation in engaging dialogue, building academic plans, watching students grow and blossom overtime, and seeing the student achieve their own definition of success. Outside of advising, these professors participate in variety of research areas such as housing dynamics, hurricane intensification, climate change impact, spatial-temporal data analysis, and food systems transformation challenges. This research is driven by their passion for GGS, which extends from natural curiosity, the interdisciplinary approach of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and the need for humans to live sustainably in environments across the world.
October 28, 2022
This #FacultyFriday highlights Lee Solomon, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Solomon’s research focuses on protein design in two distinct but related areas: individual proteins and protein materials. In the protein material section, his lab is developing a new type of electrically conducting protein polymer, and also developing new wound dressings and blood substitutes for traumatic injuries. In the individual protein section, they have two major focuses: design of DNA binding proteins and design of artificial kinase proteins. Together these two classes of proteins are responsible for a vast number of genetic and regulatory processes and Solomon's group hopes to use their proteins to treat genetic and metabolic disorders. Outside of chemistry, Solomon is leading a science policy program within the College of Science. This program strives to bridge the gap between scientists in the lab and those in government who administer it to the public through legislation and policies. The program is currently open and accepting students! If you are interested in making a difference in the world with your advanced scientific skillset, contact Dr. Solomon at email@example.com.
October 21, 2022
This #FacultyFriday welcomes new faculty member Jessica Callus, Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Callus came to Mason thanks to the welcoming spirit of the chemistry department and access to opportunities an R1 institution provides. Her research focuses on curriculum development for general chemistry courses. More specifically, she is interested in the support of students’ development of engaging in argument from evidence to make informed decisions. Callus was drawn to chemistry during her undergraduate research experiences, which led to her passion of chemistry education. She now uses that passion to better understand how students learn chemistry and how instructors teach it.
Sarah Ward and Patrali Banerjee
October 14, 2022
This #FacultyFriday highlights our Chemistry Club Faculty advisors, Assistant Professors Sarah Ward and Patrali Banerjee, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Ward was a key factor in reinstating the Chemistry Club this Fall. Thanks to enthusiastic students and her positive memories from chemistry club in her undergraduate studies, the decision to advise this organization was an easy one. One of her favorite memories so far was working with the students at Mason’s Space Day, where they designed DIY lava lamps to discuss gas formation.
Banerjee was not only new to Mason, but also new to the country. When Department Chair Gerald Weatherspoon approached her with the initiative to advise Chemistry Club, she knew it was an opportunity she could not pass up. Thanks to the members of the organization, she has learned more about the culture and the students in her classes.
Fei Wang and Yun Yu
October 7, 2022
Wang, Assistant Professor, researches the theory and computer modeling of electron and energy transfer in solar cells and light harvesting complexes. Currently, he produces simulations on supercomputers utilizing parallel computing platform.
Yu, Assistant Professor, leads a research group with focus on the use of electrochemical methods to understand the energy conversion chemistry of low–dimensional materials. This research aims to address fundamental questions in (photo)electrocatalysis and develop new material platforms for next–generation energy applications.
Emily Rancourt and Kimberly Rule
September 30, 2022
This final Forensic Science #FacultyFriday features our two CSI experts: Emily Rancourt, Professor, Associate Director, and Kimberly Rule, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Coordinator. Rancourt started at Mason as an adjunct professor while she was the Civilian Crime Scene Investigator for the Prince William County Police Department, where she investigated homicides, police involved shootings, child abuse, serial crimes, and more.
Rule had walked a similar path to find herself at Mason. She began as an adjunct professor while she worked as a Crime Scene Specialist for the Prince William Police Department. As a CSI, she worked hundreds of death investigations, child abuse, sexual assault, robbery, and burglary cases.
Brian Eckenrode and Steven Burmeister
September 23, 2022
This #FacultyFriday highlights two of our elite Forensic scientists: Brian Eckenrode, Associate Professor, and Steven Burmeister, Associate Professor.
Eckenrode is a former research analytical chemist with the FBI’s Research Support Unit in Quantico, VA. He dedicated 23 years of his life to the FBI and went on to earn the FBI Director’s Award for Scientific Achievement.
Burmeister spent the first few years of his career in different crime and toxicology laboratories. He later entered the FBI as a Special Agent, where he focused on explosive analysis in terrorist cases.
Kelly Knight, Mark Wilson, Georgia Williams
September 16, 2022
Today’s #FacultyFriday features our Forensic Science DNA experts. Kelly Knight, Associate Professor, is the Principal Investigator for the Mason Forensic DNA Laboratory, where they evaluate methods for low-level and low-quality DNA samples and new methods for body fluid identification. Georgia A. Williams, Associate Professor, currently researches ways to improve and develop new methods of DNA extraction from low-level forensic samples, such as bone. Mark Wilson, Associate Professor, focuses in three main areas of research: DNA extraction from bones, mixture deconvolution, and genetic genealogy.
Joseph A. DiZinno
September 9, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Joseph A. DiZinno, Associate Professor, Forensic Science Program. After practicing dentistry for approximately six years, DiZinno pursued his dreams of becoming an FBI Special Agent. Over his 22 years of service, he worked in different roles on multiple high-level cases; he went on to retire as the Director of the FBI Laboratory. DiZinno came to Mason to use his real-world forensic experience to teach aspiring forensic scientists. As the Forensic Science Research Coordinator, he continues to be inspired by the curiosity, intellect, and energy his students display on a daily basis.
Mary Ellen O'Toole
September 2, 2022
#FacultyFriday features Mary Ellen O’Toole, Director, Forensic Science program. O’Toole has over 30 years of experience within the forensics industry. She grew up with a passion towards human analysis, which led her to becoming a criminal investigator. She was later recruited by the FBI as a Special Agent, where she worked on some of the most infamous cases in modern history, such as the Unabomber Case, the Green River serial Murder case, and the Zodiac Case.
August 26, 2022
Dominic White, Assistant Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, is today's #FacultyFriday feature. White is a computational paleontologist. He uses new methods in computational and data sciences to study old animals. His research has focused on the evolution of quadrupedality in dinosaurs, and the phylogenetic analysis of serially homologous structures.
August 19, 2022
This #FacultyFriday highlights Estela Blaisten-Barojas, Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Director, Center for Simulation and Modeling. After 30 years at Mason, Blaisten-Barojas has been an integral part of the growth and success of the CDS department and the College of Science. She has mentored dozens of graduate students while continuing her internationally recognized research. Currently, her research analyzes a group of linear polymers from the perspective of atomistic simulations, helped with machine learning techniques. One of these polymers, PEG2000, is an inert constituent of the COVID-19 vaccine. While she may have her hands full with her research and mentees, she will always dedicate time to chat with her students and colleagues.
August 12, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Arie Croitoru, Professor, Department of Computational Data and Sciences. Croitoru's current research focuses on spatio-temporal data processing and analysis. Due to the unprecedented wealth of spatio-temporal data, his interests lie in the process of multi-dimensional trajectory data, with the overall goal to develop an algorithmic foundation that will allow the utilization of spatio-temporal data and the need to facilitate various tasks.
August 5, 2022
This #FacultyFriday highlights Robert Axtell, Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences. Axtell works at the intersection of computational, social, behavioral, and economic sciences. His research group combines agent-based computing with micro-data to build large-scale models having high verisimilitude with the real-world. Axtell and his team have worked on variety of policy issues from housing, fisheries, sustainability, and more.
July 29, 2022
#MasonScience welcomes new faculty member Ferah Munshi, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. She joins Mason thanks to our unique location for astronomical research and our collaborative and welcoming spirit. Here at Mason, Munshi continues her research on galaxy evolution and the use of galaxies to constrain the nature of dark matter. With the help of supercomputers, she builds galaxies to simulate how they form and evolve. She draws her inspiration for astronomy from her desire to understand the universe and hopes to continue to inspire future generations by making science more equitable.
Fereshte Ghahari Kermani
July 22, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Fereshte Ghahari Kermani, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Her research focuses on understanding quantum phenomena in low dimensional materials with a focus on graphene-based nanostructures. She studies novel quantum phases in these structures by a combination of nanofabrication, quantum transport and scanning probe measurements. Throughout her career, her passion has been to discover new physical phenomena in quantum materials and better understand the world around her with hopes these discoveries make the world a better place for generations to come.
July 15, 2022
This week’s #FacultyFriday features Nirmal Ghimire, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. His research focuses on discovering and understanding novel emergent phenomena in quantum materials via designing and synthesizing materials and measuring their magnetic and transport properties. Currently he is studying topological materials that are a new state of quantum matter beyond the classical metals, insulators and semiconductors, and have potential for smaller, more energy efficient, and faster devices. The impact these materials can have in transforming the current technology is what drives Ghimire’s passion for designing and discovering new materials.
July 8, 2022
Igor Mazin, Professor of Practice, Department of Physics and Astronomy, is today’s #FacultyFriday feature. His primary research falls between magnetism and superconductivity, especially the less common manifestations of either such as altermagnetism and Ising superconductors. As a practical theorist, he is always inspired by new experimental findings and challenges they present to the theory- Mazin has always been fascinated by the opportunities to look deep into various phenomena at a level that is impossible in pure experiment. As a professor, he encourages all to ask questions and seek explanation of what we see around us. One tip of advice Mazin offers: “one should not fall into a trap of concentrating too much on your own narrow field. A true researcher, who thinks outside the box, is, perforce, a thinker in the general arena of sciences and humanities.”
Physics and Astronomy Mentors
July 1, 2022
Shobita Satyapal, Joe Weingartner, and Peter Plavchan
In his 2022 College of Science Degree Celebration speech, Michael Reefe, Department of Physics and Astronomy alum and former SPECTRUM President, highlighted three faculty members that greatly impacted his journey towards a B.S. in Physics. Joe Weingartner, Associate Professor, was the academic advisor who first supported Reefe’s decision to change majors. Peter Plavchan, Associate Professor, gave Reefe the reassuring advice, “I don’t expect you to know everything, you’re here to learn,” when Reefe first joined his research group. And Shobita Satyapal, Professor, leader of Reefe’s most recent research group, provided the enthusiasm and encouragement Reefe needed to publish his research and complete his undergraduate degree.
June 24, 2022
#FacultyFriday highlights Vincente Notario, Professor, Director, Division of Radiation Research, Co-Leader, Molecular Oncology Program, Georgetown University, Affiliate Faculty, GeorgeSquared ABS Program. Notario’s research focuses on studies of molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis and the effects of environmental chemical carcinogens and radiation on mammalian cells. Within the GeorgeSquared program, he enjoys teaching future graduate and medical students the intricacies of cells and microscopic anatomy.
June 17, 2022
Today's #FacultyFriday features Susan Mulroney, Affiliate Faculty, GeorgeSquared ABS, Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, Associate Dean for Preclinical Sciences and Interdisciplinary Medical Programs, Georgetown University. Mulroney’s biomedical research focused on kidney growth and development, mechanisms of diabetic renal damage and hypertension. She now focuses her research on pedagogy, specifically for using active learning methods and technology in graduate and medical courses. She has also helped design courses on how to teach science courses effectively. While she originally went to Georgetown for biomedical research, she found her passion for teaching. This passion has transferred to her work in the GeorgeSquared program, where she has helped dozens of student cohorts achieve their educational goals. Mulroney is also co-author (with Adam Myers) of Netter's Essential Physiology, Netter's Physiology Coloring Book, and Netter's Essential Physiology Flash Cards.
June 10, 2022
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Allison Tomson, Instructor, Department of Biology, GeorgeSquared Advance Biomedical Sciences Program. Tomson has written and published multiple Anatomy and Physiology lab manuals for the Biology department. When she’s not in the classroom teaching, she performs cadaver dissections and presentations to various groups at Northern Virginia Community College. Tomson is also helping design the future cadaver lab at the SciTech campus. With GeorgeSquared being such a unique program, she’s happy to help ease students’ transition from undergrad to their graduate and medical journeys.
June 3, 2022
This week’s #FacultyFriday features Robin Couch, Associate Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry, GeorgeSquared Advanced Biomedical Sciences Program. With more than 20 years of experience, Couch’s research is centered upon the purification and characterization of biomolecules. He is interested in how the biochemistry of life works and believes if we can understand the life processes, we can correct them to treat or cure diseases. As a GeorgeSquared faculty member, his course in cell and molecular physiology provides students a solid foundation of biochemistry to prepare them for the rigorous coursework of medical school.
May 27, 2022
Today’s #FacultyFriday features Anne Verhoeven, Associate Professor, Biology. As a biology PhD alumnus, Verhoeven’s research focuses on molecular and microbiology, specifically infectious diseases. She leads the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Mason and coordinates the undergraduate immunology lecture and lab. We also congratulate her on winning the 2022 Chair's Special Recognition Award.
May 20, 2022
This week’s #FacultyFriday features Elisabeth Epstein, Assistant Professor, Biology. Epstein has made a significant impact on our biology program by reviving our introductory biology courses with an emphasis on experimental learning. The new introductory biology courses give students the tools to be informed and evidenced-based decision-makers when they inevitably face choices that intersect with biology in the future. Her goal is for students to develop a critical perspective, an understanding of the scientific method, and a curiosity about how life works.
May 13, 2022
This week's #FacultyFriday features Daniel Hanley, Assistant Professor, Biology. Hanley has found a rich array of untapped questions relating to color perception and decision-making. Consequently, he leads the Hanley Color Lab, studying the function and evolution of natural colors. Specifically, the lab uses avian brood parasitism as a model system for experimentally testing decision-making in wild, untrained animals. If you want to talk birds, stop by his office at the SciTech campus.
Biology Advising Team
May 6, 2022
#FacultyFriday highlights our Mason Biology advisors: Lorelei Crerar, Associate Professor, Malda Kocache, Professor, Charles Madden, Professor, Valerie Olmo, Assistant Professor, and Deborah Polayes, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor. In addition to conducting innovative research and teaching rigorous science courses, these faculty members go the extra mile to ensure our students receive the necessary support to succeed here at #MasonScience.
April 29, 2022
As we wrap up #EarthMonth, we feature Esther Peters, Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Policy. Peters specializes in the study of diseases in corals and other invertebrates by using histopathological techniques. She had a key role in researching the Stony Coral Tissue Loss disease in Florida’s Coral Reef and continues to conduct research to fight disease outbreak amongst coral reef organisms. Peters not only feels inspired by her students, but also energized by their eagerness and passion to change the world.
April 22, 2022
This week's #FacultyFriday features Vivek Prasad, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy. An ESP PhD alumnus, his research focuses on how humans affect the environment and the use of geographical information systems to study global climate change. Prasad also works as an innovation advisor with the Agriculture Global Practice of the World Bank, where he focuses on issues such as rural livelihoods, climate change resilience, Agri-Tech, spatial data analytics, and data visualization.
April 15, 2022
Our #EarthMonth celebration continues with this week’s #FacultyFriday highlight, Jennifer Salerno, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy. Salerno’s research focuses on symbiotic and free-living microorganisms and the role that they play in maintaining and destabilizing organism health and ecosystem function. When she is not teaching Environmental Microbiology and Coral Reef Ecology courses, she leads the Salerno Lab at the Potomac Science Center.
April 8, 2022
#MasonScience continues to highlight #EarthMonth with this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, Natalie Howe, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy. Howe’s research focuses on disturbance and recovery in urban plant and lichen communities of urban areas in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. In addition to educating students on mushrooms and molds and society, she works as an Agriculturist at the USDA, where she helps make sure that the fresh food plants we trade with other countries are not carrying pests or diseases that could harm farms. Most notably, Howe helped create and deliver an innovative botanical education program for the State Prison System in New Jersey.
April 1, 2022
We kick off #EarthMonth with Travis Gallo, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, as this week’s #FacultyFriday feature. Gallo leads the URBANxNATURE Lab here at #MasonScience, where they use theories and principles in ecology and conservation science to sustain and restore biodiversity in urban ecosystems. Gallo has recently collaborated with scholars from the John Mitchell, Jr., Program for History, Justice, and Race at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution to create an online exhibit highlighting and acknowledging the hidden history of enslaved naturalists. The exhibit aims to promote narrative change by introducing the contributions that enslaved African Americans have made to our understanding of, and inextricable relationship with, the natural environment.
March 25, 2022
Joanna Jauchen, Instructor, Associate Chair for Teaching, Mathematical Sciences, is this week's #FacultyFriday feature. Jauchen specializes in intersectional, critical feminist STEM education research on faculty engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) service. While they have always enjoyed math, they fell in love with the beauty of the discipline in their undergraduate studies, “It sometimes feels magical the way things work together in mathematics and I like understanding how the magic works,” they said. As an educator, she finds joy in talking to students about their own understanding of mathematics.
March 18, 2022
This #FacultyFriday, features Anton Lukyanenko, Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Lukyanenko studies the quirks of non-Euclidean geometry through the lens of familiar concepts like distances, shadows, and optimal paths. He then applies this theoretical work to collaborative projects with researchers in robotics, computer science, and quantum computing. In addition to research, Lukyanenko works to engage students and the public in experimental mathematics and visualization by directing the Mason Experimental Geometry Lab (MEGL). Watch this video to learn more about MEGL.
March 11, 2022
This #FacultyFriday features Mahamadi Warma, Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Warma is currently working on two major research projects with approaches based on the rich and fruitful mathematical apparatus offered by PDE, functional analysis, controllability, optimization, and numerical approximations. He has published a total of 79 papers, with seven of those published in 2022. Warma is very active in the Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence (CMAI) at Mason. His passion for math started in high school and continues to grow as he faces new challenges with an eagerness to solve them.
March 4, 2022
Our first #FacultyFriday feature of the month kicks off with Rebecca R.G., Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. R.G.’s research is in commutative algebra, a field of math that involves studying the behavior of algebraic objects like rings and modules. R.G. is passionate about supporting students and creating a space for everyone to do math. As a result, she worked with colleagues to organize several programs including the New PhD Mentoring Program, the Graduate Learning Assistants (GLA) Program, and the PhD Launchpad Program. R.G. is a big advocate for active learning, reflected in her newly designed course, History of Math (joint with Jessica Otis). Be sure to stop by her office to see crocheted models of hyperbolic planes and a Sierpinski triangle shawl.
February 25, 2022
This week's #FacultyFriday features Paul Betka, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences whose research focuses on the rates, timing, mechanics, and deformation styles of the Earth’s lithosphere in response to the motion of its tectonic plates. Betka currently leads the Structural Geology and Tectonics Lab and is actively recruiting graduate students with an interest in geology.
February 16, 2022
"Better forecasts. Better decisions,” is the motto for today’s #FacultyFriday feature, Kathy Pegion, Associate Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. Pegion currently leads the Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) - a national, multi-institutional, and multi-agency research project that focuses on understanding and improving predictions on the subseasonal (2 to 4 week) timescale. In addition to leading the project, she developed and maintained the real-time forecast visualization tools and performed the comprehensive skill evaluation. When not conducting research, you can find her enjoying the outdoors.
February 11, 2022
This week’s #FacultyFriday features Benjamin Cash, Research Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, and researcher for the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies. According to Cash, getting coffee and walking around campus talking research with colleagues is probably his favorite way to work - there’s nothing quite like it for sparking interesting ideas. Just ask him about his current work developing NOAA’s new Unified Forecast System. He also continues to research the predictability of seasonal rainfall and will present on the Cape Town “Day Zero” drought next week at the International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography (ICSHMO).
February 4, 2022
To kick off this month’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences spotlight, this #FacultyFriday features Yunyao Li, Research Scientist, AOES and Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems (CSISS). Since joining #MasonScience, she has worked alongside Daniel Tong, Associate Professor, AOES, on biomass burning emission and air quality modeling. Li led the charge of developing the wildfire ensemble forecasting system and the Mason daily air quality forecast system. Currently, she conducts research on evaluating and simulating the impact of wildfires on air quality and human health.
L. Ren Guerriero
January 28, 2022
This week we highlight new faculty member L. Ren Guerriero, Assistant Professor, Neuroscience. Guerriero conducts sleep-related research and has taught several courses regarding the subject since joining #MasonScience in August 2021. This semester, Guerriero plans on starting a teaching focused lab where they will be investigating novel-sleep related genes in fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. If you’re interested in sleep research, register for NEUR 424: Sleep & Circadian Rhythms with Guerriero this semester.
January 21, 2022
Today we feature Nadine Kabbani, Associate Professor, School of Systems Biology, Neuroscience. Kabbani’s research centers around the discovery of mechanisms underlying brain disease, with an emphasis on cholinergic signals in cells. There are still a few seats available for Kabbani’s NEUR 101: Intro to Neuroscience course. This course fulfills the Mason Core Natural Science Non-Lab requirement- register now.
January 14, 2022
Today we highlight William Kennedy, Co-Director, Center for Social Complexity and Associate Professor, Computational and Data Sciences. After serving in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, Kennedy went on to earn his PhD in Information Technology at George Mason University. Now, he teaches both computational data and computational social science courses, all while conducting research in cognitive processes and behavior using cognitive and agent-based models.
Monique Van Hoek
January 7, 2022
#MasonScience congratulates Monique van Hoek, Professor, Associate Director of Research, School of Systems Biology, for earning the Dean’s Impact Award. Her research focuses primarily on antibiotic-resistant and biothreat bacteria, with an emphasis on exploring novel antimicrobial and anti-biofilm compounds. In addition to her research, van Hoek plays an important role in SSB leadership—acting as interim associate director for research and serving as a mentor to PhD and MA students.
December 31, 2021
#MasonScience congratulates Chao Luo, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, who earned the Dean’s Research Scientist Award. Luo’s area of study focuses on rechargeable batteries. His three primary areas are (1) structure design and material fabrication for organic alkali-ion batteries, (2) high-energy lithium sulfur batteries, and (3) all-solid-state lithium batteries. By exploring inherent properties of the nanostructures, he will be able to address environmental energy challenges and develop improved functional devices.
Jason M. Kinser
December 24, 2021
Today we feature Jason M. Kinser, Associate Professor, Chair, Computational and Data Sciences. His current research focuses on data science and modeling, though he’s taught courses across several disciplines including Physics, Bioinformatics, Forensics, and even Biology. At our #ScienceConnect event this past fall, Kinser spoke about our one-of-a-kind CDS department.
December 17, 2021
This week’s #FacultyFriday, highlights Brian Colchao, Term Instructor, Computational and Data Sciences. Colchao, a Mason graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and an MS in Data Engineering, initiated the computational and data sciences BS degree program at Mason Korea.
December 3, 2021
This week’s #FacultyFriday highlights Anamaria Berea, Associate Professor, Computational Data Science. Berea recently received a Frontier Development Lab Award of Merit, acknowledging outstanding contribution in the field of artificial intelligence for space exploration and humanity. As a Mason alumna and now faculty member, Berea feels privileged to see how the CDS department has grown and evolved over the years, much like the complex living systems she is studying in her research.
November 19, 2021
With #GISDay2021 behind us, we conclude our celebration by highlighting David Wong, Professor, Geography and Geoinformation Science. Wong’s research focuses on population, spatial statistics, public health, and more. Recently, he received funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the project: "An intersectional approach to improve family and social support measures of county health - Incorporating racial-ethnic and age dimensions."
November 12, 2021
With #GISDay2021 around the corner, we highlight Taylor Anderson, Assistant Professor, Geography and Geoinformation Science, for this week’s #FacultyFriday feature. Over the summer, Anderson was a Summer Team Impact Project (STIP) mentor, guiding #MasonScience students conducting research in areas such as disease modeling, COVID-19 genome data, human mobility prediction, and more. Watch her discuss her experience here.
November 3, 2021
For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, we highlight one of our new faculty members, Benjamin Schweinhart, Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Schweinhart’s research focuses on problems in applied, stochastic, and computational geometry and topology, with applications to materials science, physics, and biology. Currently, he is looking for graduate students to conduct research in the areas of stochastic topology and/or development of methodology for the quantification of materials geometry. If you are interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 29, 2021
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s fitting to highlight #MasonScience researcher, Virginia (Ginny) Espina, Research Professor, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM). Espina dedicates her research to finding a cure for breast cancer by deciphering mechanisms of cell signaling, drug-protein interactions, and host-pathogen interactions. Currently, she directs the CAP-accredited clinical proteomics lab at the Science and Technology Campus. Espina recently appeared in the Grand Challenges panel at President Washington’s Investiture event.
October 22, 2021
In honor of #NationalChemistryWeek, we highlight Sarah Ward who joined the department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in August 2021 as an assistant professor of organic chemistry. Her research focuses on synthetic organic chemistry, examining the total synthesis of marine natural products, with cytotoxic properties against human colon carcinoma.
October 15, 2021
We conclude our #HispanicHeritageMonth celebration with Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, Director of Educational and Career Pathways. Her research focuses on identifying systemic inequities in STEM education and career readiness for undergraduate transfer students. She serves as co-PI on our Rural and Diverse Student Scholars and Noyce Scholarship Programs, along with leading multiple initiatives at Mason including our STEM access partnerships, our Science Learning Community, our program for Transfer Equity and Success, the First-Generation Task Force, and Mason’s FamilyU student-parent initiative. Hilker-Balkissoon is committed to paying it forward by supporting Latinx students at Mason and beyond, from serving as faculty advisor to Mason’s SACNAS Chapter, to her ongoing service as a Board Member with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN).
Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill
October 8, 2021
Our #HispanicHeritageMonth celebration continues as we highlight Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill, Research Assistant Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences. Caballero-Gill is a geoscientist whose research focuses on climatic and oceanographic change in the geologic past. Currently, she is the director of The CycloCohort Program - an early-career springboard for inclusion, diversity, equity and justice focused leadership in geoscience & astronomy. She is also the co-founder of GeoLatinas, an organization that empowers Latinas to pursue and thrive in careers in Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Eduardo Lopez Atencio
October 1, 2021
Eduardo Lopez Atencio, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Professor, Computational and Data Science, is this week's Faculty Friday feature and Hispanic Heritage Month highlight. His research focuses on flow processes in networks, along with quantitative laws in social, economic, and technological systems. When he's not teaching CDS 292 or an advanced graduate course on network models and their algorithms, he advises students in computational sciences and informatics graduate programs.
September 24, 2021
#MasonScience continues to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month by highlighting Liana Chafran, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry. Chafran started at Mason two years ago as a Research Associate specializing in biomaterials. Now an assistant professor on Mason’s SciTech campus, she continues her research on the synthesis of smart biomaterials for biomedical applications. Both inside and outside of the lab, Chafran strives to create opportunities for her students.
September 17, 2021
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, this #FacultyFriday features Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm. While serving as Dean for the College of Science, he continues to teach for the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences and conduct research in hydrology and water engineering. He recently published a study titled "Water is the middle child in global climate policy."
September 10, 2021
Karen Akerlof, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, studies how communities interpret scientific information and bring experience, values, and local knowledge to making decisions. This summer, Akerlof led a research team at the 'Ai'opio Fishtrap in Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawai'i surveying visitors about their sun protection behaviors, awareness of environmental impacts from sunscreen, and exposure to NPS outreach and education programs.
September 3, 2021
This Friday, #MasonScience features Hamdi Kavak, Computational and Data Science Assistant Professor, for receiving the 2021 Young Simulation Scientist Award from The Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS). The award recognizes scientists and engineers under the age of 35 who demonstrate excellence and leadership qualities in the field of modeling and simulation.