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Faculty and Student Research

The academic activities in the DEEGS are devoted to both teaching and research. Below is a listing of selected works created by our faculty and students.

Faculty Research

Dr. John Bang, Professor in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences, brings his expertise in both Environmental Engineering and Biomedical Sciences and Engineering to North Carolina Central University. His research is focused on characterizing the behavior of small particles including nanomaterials from both synthetic and natural resources and applying the knowledge for finding solutions on various environmental challenges and biomedical issues. His work related to exposure and risk assessment of environmental pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), developing remediation techniques through nanofabrication for clean water and air, and pollutant exposure induced free radical studies for understanding common pathological mechanisms related to various types of diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease, have been supported by North Carolina Biotechnology Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and other agencies. His group often involves inter-institutional and international collaborative work. Students have an opportunity of receiving a formal training from collaborators’ labs and schools.

Dr. Caressa Gerlad, Assistant Professor, is currently investigating airway pollutants such as hog barn dust, and 1,3 butadiene as well as other occupational hazards on the respiratory health (i.e. inflammatory response) of humans. Dr. Gerald is in the midst of conducting nematode studies with various environmental contaminants. For example, we are examining the reproductive and chemotactic behavior of C. elegans when they are exposed to impaired watersheds in Durham County. The C. elegans are microscopic worms that are non-parasitic and can be found in soil. They are also great models because they have been thoroughly researched.

Dr. Gordana Vlahovic, Professor of Earth Science, received a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Zagreb, Croatia. Her research interests include seismicity, tectonics, and geohazards. She is also passionate about increasing diversity in STEM and GEOINT education. Currently, she serves as co-PI on NSF RISE Enhancement of Research and Education Infrastructure in Environmental Science (2018-2021), and DHS funded Homeland Security-Center for Research, Education, and Sensor Technology (2016-2019). Recent graduate student and postdoctoral fellow research projects have included study of geomorphological indexes and seismology-hydrology relationship in the eastern Tennessee seismic zone and seismic hazard analysis of the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant site and Kosovo region.

Recent student and postdoctoral research posters presented at American Geophysical Union, European Geoscience Union, and European Seismological Commission meetings include the following:

  • Neo-deterministic Seismic Hazard Assessment in Kosovo at the Regional and Local Scale (ESC 2018)
  • Insights from Seismicity, Hydrology, and Displacement Relationships in the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone (EGU 2017)
  • Neo-Deterministic Seismic Hazard Assessment at Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant Site, Tennessee, USA (AGU 2017)

Dr. Timothy Mulrooney is a 1995 graduate of Columbia University in New York City. He earned his Master’s Degree in Geography from the University of Idaho in 2002 and earned his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in 2009. He has a vested interest in all forms of GIS and mapping, including GIS data standards, GIS education, and subject areas in which GIS can be implemented at the college and high school level. Whether we realize it or not, we all use GIS in some form or another on a daily basis. Every phenomenon has a spatial component and the use and application of GIS software and data can aid in a variety of different disciplines and communities. He sees GIS as a powerful tool to reinforce STEM research or to bridge social science research with STEM disciplines and feels that GIS is an effective technical skill that can set job applicants apart from those who do not have these skills.

His recent and current work has included the following:

  • A grant project through the NCDOT (North Carolina Department of Transportation) to measure the accuracy of geospatial roads data to determine if it matches with imagery, field data, and engineering documents. Errors in the data were catalogued, and this information was used to prioritize database corrections for future NCDOT projects.
  • A 3-year grant provided by the USDA to use GIS to measure facets of rural food security, or one's ability to have safe and reliable access to affordable and nutritious food. The term 'food desert,' which represents low-income areas far from fresh food, has been used to delineate food-insecure regions and serves as the focus of this research.
  • Developing and leading an NSTI (National Summer Transportation Institute) for local high school students. This project used STEM technologies and field trips to expose students to transportation-related careers where NCCU students served as counselors.
  • Proliferating metadata standards throughout the state. NCCU faculty and students have been providing workshops and education in support of the newest geospatial metadata standard across the state. Metadata serves as the technology by which geospatial data are catalogued.
  • Mapping of UAV (Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle) laws by county and municipality. Students are researching and mapping these laws and will be delivering interactive online maps that can be accessed by anyone.

Student Research

Students in our programs have a wide variety of interests and skill-sets that lead to further graduate study or work in the profession arena.  Examples of research include but are not limited to the following:

 
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