City of Valdosta Receives Grant from Georgia Tech’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge – VSU Professor Serves as Research Partner

In 2020, the City of Valdosta was awarded a Georgia Smart Communities Challenge 2020 grant for their proposal “Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Traffic Monitoring and Communication System for the City of Valdosta and Its Communities to Improve Safety, Connectivity, and Efficiency”.  Dr. Hojjatie, Professor of Engineering Studies and Coordinator of the VSU Engineering Studies program, has been serving as Research Partner as part of the collaborative team led by the city. With the City of Valdosta and Project Manager Patrick Collins (City Engineer and Director) leading the efforts, other project partners include Valdosta State University, Lowndes County, Temple, Inc., Applied Information, Inc., and Research Partner Dr. Baabak Ashuri with Georgia Tech.

According to the proposal, the focus of the project is to “create new capabilities for the City of Valdosta’s Traffic Management Center”.  Through this project, the City of Valdosta is working toward the vision of a smart traffic management system in which the 128 major traffic signals found within the city communicate with one another, resulting in improvements in traffic flow, increased road safety, and a reduction in the number of traffic accidents.

At left: student David Yoo presents at the Connected Vehicles Roundtable Discussion held at Valdosta State University on June 23, 2021.

Dr. Hojjatie summarized the importance of the work by highlighting the impact it has had on the community as well as the collaborative efforts that went in to the project.  “I think that the project was very special because it resulted in improvement of traffic signals and safety in Valdosta, was a collaborative work with GA Tech, city of Valdosta and two High-Tech industries, and more importantly, a total of 8 of Valdosta State University engineering students including females and underrepresented as well as international engineering students were actively involved in the project. Furthermore, based on external feedback received from many including GA Tech, the work of VSU Engineering was a success.”

At right: Dr. Barry Hojjatie presents at the Connected Vehicles Roundtable Discussion held at Valdosta State University on June 23, 2021.

Click here to read the project’s proposal in its entirety.

To view a webinar about the project which took place on September 23rd, 2021, please visit https://youtu.be/c9nI29cpeDE.

To read more about the Georgia Smart program, click here.

The College of Science and Mathematics congratulates Dr. Hojjatie and other participating VSU faculty members and students on their contributions to this project. We are excited to see the continuing impact the effort by students and faculty of the engineering program will have on the Valdosta community through this collaborative effort.

Meet Dr. Hojjatie:

Dr. Hojjatie received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida and also holds a PE licensure (Professional Engineer).  He is the coordinator of the VSU Engineering Studies program, highlighting the Regents’ Engineering Pathway Program (REPP) connection to Georgia Tech. His research interests include computer aided design/engineering (CAD/CAE), computational/experimental mechanics and heat transfer analyses related to dental materials and other biomaterials, pulp and paper manufacturing, and paper physics.

PAGET’s Dr. Quarles’s Research May Lead to Finding Other Systems Like Ours

Dr. Billy Quarles, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics, recently co-authored a paper titled “Exomoons in Systems with a Strong Perturber: Applications to α Cen AB” that was published in The Astronomical Journal in July 2021. Dr. Quarles and his associates propose that if moons orbiting a planet exist within Alpha Centauri (believed to be the nearest star system to our sun), then they should be detectable utilizing current technology.

According to Dr. Quarles, the Alpha Centauri system is used as a prototype because it is the closest stellar binary to us and is suspected to harbor some exoplanets, though that has yet to be confirmed. He and his colleagues propose that if exomoons (exosolar moons) exist within the Alpha Centauri system or any other stellar binary, they should be detectable using the current technological technique of transit timing variations, or TTVs. TTVs allow for the accurate transit timing information from modern observations and from there, researchers can determine whether a transit is occurring sooner or later than it should.

How could this research possibly lead to the discovery of other planets and systems similar to our own? Click here to read more: https://phys.org/news/2021-09-earthlike-planets-solar-moons.html.

The full abstract can be found here: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/ac042a.

Meet Dr. Billy Quarles:

Dr. Billy Quarles is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics in the PAGET Department at Valdosta State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington.

“My research involves the observation and theoretical study of planets with multiple suns.  Like Tatooine, such exoplanets orbit a pair of stars and these exotic worlds are no longer science fiction or theoretical curiosities.  The Kepler Space Telescope has discovered around a dozen binary stars that host at least one circumbinary planet (CBP), where the stellar binary orbit lies completely within the planetary orbit.  Additionally, I am interested in planets that orbit only one star out of the stellar binary.  The nearest star to the Solar System is Proxima Centauri, which orbits the binary star system Alpha Centauri AB.  My work explores how an Earth-like planet would orbit either star in the binary and the consequences for life as we know such a world.”

“I became interested in science from an early age and grew to appreciate astronomy greatly throughout my childhood.  My interest in planets evolved from watching science fiction dramas like Star Trek: TNG and Contact due to their exploratory nature of alien worlds.  As a graduate student, I discovered that it was possible to have a career exploring alien worlds, no starship required.  From there, I became interested in the dynamics of planetary orbits and the possible origins of planets.”

VState Chemistry Student Recognized by the American Chemical Society

The College of Science and Mathematics is proud to share the accomplishments of Chemistry student Danielle McKay.  In December 2020, Danielle was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Student Leadership Award and was subsequently invited to attend their nine-month Leadership Institute Experience.

She is nearing the end of her time in the ACS’s Leadership Institute Experience and, according to the news release written by Jessica Pope, VSU Communications and Media Relations Coordinator, McKay said she is “truly honored to have been chosen for this life-changing opportunity.”

Danielle anticipates graduating in December 2021 and during her time at VSU, she has served as president of SMACS, is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, helps manage the Chemistry Department’s stockroom, and has served as a lead student peer mentor with the GUIDES peer mentoring program.  After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career as a cosmetic formulation chemist.

For more information about Danielle McKay and her participation in the Leadership Institute Experience, click here: https://www.valdosta.edu/about/news/releases/2021/09/danielle-mckay-recognized-as-emerging-leader-by-american-chemical-society.php

PAGET Professor and Students Have Paper Accepted by Peer-Reviewed Journal

PAGET’s Professor of Geography Dr. Jia Lu and her students, Anthony Oliveira and Marcus Ben Singletary, recently co-authored a paper titled “Pharmacy Disparities in Rural Georgia” that was just accepted by the peer-reviewed Journal of Rural and Community Development. (To find out more about the Journal of Rural and Community Development, click here: https://journals.brandonu.ca/jrcd/about).

The study analyzed geographical patterns of spatial equity of pharmacy using GIS technology. Results suggest that many pharmacy deserts exist in Georgia, and large urban areas have more access to pharmacies than rural areas and small cities. Rural areas could experience the adverse effects of pharmacy deserts more than non-rural areas. There is a clear, positive relationship between rural counties and a lower number of pharmacies. Relationships between pharmacy locations and various racial and demographic variables were also explored. Policy suggestions were proposed to increase access in pharmacy deserts.

Want to know more about the authors? Their biographies can be found below.

Dr. Jia Lu holds a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from Ohio State University with minors in Geography, GIS, Quantitative Analysis & Urban Economics.  She teaches courses in Regional Planning and Environmental Management, Urban Community Planning, World Regional Geography, Introduction to Land Forms, and GIS Applications in Planning and her research interests include population and employment analyses, urban modeling, spatial analyses, GIS applications in planning and transportation, geography of China, city planning and urban development, and environmental analyses.

Anthony Oliveira received a B.S. in Psychology in May 2021 from Valdosta State University and intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.  He works as a Registered Behavior Technician for The Conner Group for Pediatric Therapies, conducting ABA therapy for children diagnosed with autism.  His interests include learning languages (having familiarity with nine), reading books, learning about psychological principles, spending time with his family and girlfriend, teaching his dog new tricks, and studying Christology and the historicity of religion.

Ben Singletary received a B.S. in Environmental Geosciences from Valdosta State University in August 2021.  He is currently working at the Southern Georgia Regional Commission as a GIS analyst where he carries out mapping and data services for Valdosta, Lowndes, and surrounding communities.  His hobbies include rock collecting, mainly variants of quartz such as amethyst, and astrophotography.

The College of Science and Mathematics congratulates Dr. Lu, Mr. Oliveira, and Mr. Singletary on their accomplishments!

VSU Confers Title of Professor Emeritus to Dr. Kenneth Rumstay

The College of Science and Mathematics wants to congratulate Dr. Kenneth Rumstay on his recent designation of Professor Emeritus.  This title recognizes Dr. Rumstay’s honorable and distinguished service to the University. He has served as both Professor of Astronomy and Physics and as the Director of the Valdosta State University’s Planetarium and Observatory.

To review VState’s process and recommendation for Emeritus status, please visit https://www.valdosta.edu/academics/academic-affairs/emeritus-status.php.

Dr. Rumstay holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy from The Ohio State University and his research interests include star formation, the interstellar medium, and active galaxies.  He joined Valdosta State University as a faculty member in 1984, and in 2017, he received the VSU Presidential Excellence Award for Teaching.  Dr. Rumstay holds memberships in numerous professional organizations to include the American Astronomical Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Georgia Academy of Science, and The Planetary Society.  In addition, he has an extensive list of professional publications and presentations.

To read more about Dr. Rumstay’s accomplishments, please visit his merit page at http://meritpages.com/kennethrumstay.

Congratulations Dr. Rumstay, on your well-deserved appointment to Professor Emeritus.

Chemistry Students Participate in the NSF’s I-Corps™ Program

Above: Khyati Patel, Teighlor Livingston and Taylor Macera are in the lab preparing some materials for experimental work.

Four current and recent VSU students are involved in an experiential learning and research project through the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program.  The NSF describes their program as follows:

“The National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business or industry requirements and challenges. I-Corps enables the transformation of invention to impact. The curriculum integrates scientific inquiry and industrial discovery in an inclusive, data-driven culture driven by rigor, relevance, and evidence. Through I-Corps training, researchers can reduce the time to translate a promising idea from the laboratory to the marketplace.  NSF is developing and nurturing a national innovation network to guide scientific research toward the development of solutions to benefit society.”

(Read more about the NSF’s I-Corps™ program here: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/)

Two of the students have co-authored a paper that is submitted to a peer reviewed international journal.  It describes the new compound that was tested by the National Cancer Institute.  While the NCI tested it against nine types of cancer, the student group is focusing on lung cancer, which has an 80% mortality rate.

Former VSU student, Teighlor Livingston, says, “The NSF’s I-CORPS program allows students to move out of the lab and into the industry. I enjoy the program because it provides the opportunity to discover and face potential challenges in innovation development, while advancing interpersonal skills.”

Photo above: Teighlor Livingston and Taylor Macera are making their weekly presentation to the National Science Foundation related to their efforts to commercialize a cancer drug developed at VSU.

Dr. Adam Safer’s Herpetology Class Assists with Turtle Survey

Dr. Adam Safer’s summer herpetology class is featured in the most recent bulletin published by Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Back in June, they had the opportunity to help biologists check turtle traps located on the Alapaha River and the results are in – they logged four different types of turtles, with the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as the targeted species, the largest of which weighed nearly 40 pounds!

Students were able to assist in obtaining data on these snappers including sex determination, weighing, measuring upper and lower shell lengths, and marking them with a transponder. This information will be integral in helping assess the species’ status.

Check out the bulletin in its entirety here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/GADNR/bulletins/2ee21e9.

Dr. Safer’s summer herpetology class – photo by Chris Coppola, USFWS.

Biology Graduate Student Kenyanna Taylor Wins Presentation Award

Current Biology graduate student Kenyanna Taylor was recently awarded second place in the Graduate Oral Presentation Competition at the American Peanut Research and Education Society Conference held on July 11-14. The title of her presentation was “Effect of Mixing Elemental Sulfur with Demethylation Inhibitors (DMI) and Quinone Outside Inhibitors (Qoi) on the Management of Late Leaf Spot (Nothopassalora personata) and Rust (Puccinia arachidis) of Peanut (Arachis hypogaea)“, and her graduate advisor is Dr. Emily Cantonwine in VSU’s Department of Biology.

The purpose of the study was to assess whether or not adding elemental sulfur would increase the efficacy of two types of fungicide (DMI and QoI) used to treat two fungal pathogens (late leaf spot and peanut rust) of Arachis hypogaea (peanut).

CONGRATULATIONS KENYANNA!

CoSM Welcomes New Dean, Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely

Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely

The College of Science and Mathematics welcomes new Dean, Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely, from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, MA, where he was the Chair of the Science & Technology Division.

Dr. Cornely received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and brings to Valdosta State unique corporate and academic experiences with a focus on student success, team building, and community engagement.

Welcome to VSU, Dean Cornely!

Promotions Received by Five CoSM Faculty Members

The College of Science and Mathematics wishes to congratulate the following five CoSM faculty members on their recent promotions. As outlined by the University, promotion is awarded to faculty members who demonstrate superior teaching; outstanding professional service to the university and/or the community; outstanding research, scholarship, creative activity, or academic achievement; and professional growth and development. Promotion to the rank of associate or full professor at a regional university like VSU requires the earned doctorate or its equivalent in training, ability, and/or experience.

Congratulations to Biology faculty member Dr. Corey Anderson for his promotion to Full Professor! Dr. Anderson’s research interests lie in spatial ecology and spatial genetics, and he teaches courses on ecology, evolution, and spatial analysis.

Congratulations to Chemistry faculty member Dr. Alexandrina Focsan for her promotion to Full Professor! Dr. Focsan’s research interests are all about carotenoids, and she teaches courses on physical and computational chemistry, as well as carotenoid research.

Congratulations to Mathematics faculty member Dr. Shaun Ault for his promotion to Full Professor!  Dr. Ault serves as the department head, and his research interests lie in algebraic topology and computational mathematics. He teaches courses on set theory and topology.

Congratulations to Mathematics faculty member Dr. Sandra Trowell for her promotion to Full Professor! Dr. Trowell’s research interests include mathematics classroom norms & proportional reasoning, and she teaches courses on curriculum & methods for teaching mathematics.

Congratulations to PAGET faculty member Dr. Dereth Drake for her promotion to Full Professor! Dr. Drake’s research interests include plasma stability and planetary entry modeling for Jupiter and Titan. She also teaches courses on plasma physics and thermodynamics.