CMU College of Science & Engineering Spring 2023 Newsletter

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Salma Abdelgawad Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Andrew Paxson M.S., Physics

Dear CMU Science and Engineering Family University

employees have a saying that you don’t know a new job until you have been through an entire academic year because then you will have seen everything at least once. I have been Dean of CSE (College of Science and Engineering) for a year and a half, so I have officially arrived! I am so impressed with the contributions of our students, staff, and faculty. We continue to be a college that provides worldclass learning experiences with a personal touch.

As you will see in this newsletter, we are starting exciting new academic programs like the B.S. degree in Cybersecurity and the InSciTE (Integration of Science, Technology, and Engineering) certificate. The latter will turn the usual educational model on

its head, with faculty serving as coaches to multidisciplinary teams of students working on “grand challenge” problems.

Our students continue to pursue their passion for extracurricular activities that give back to the community and help prepare them for their future.

You will read about Central Sustainability, a student-driven office now physically housed within the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, that has had a remarkable impact over a short time.

Our SAE student vehicle teams, Baja and Formula, were part of an October CSE recognition event at a Chippewas football game.

They are pursuing opportunities for electrification and other concepts in advanced mobility critical to the state of Michigan.

On the faculty side, Dr. Carl Lee of the Department of Statistics, Actuarial, and Data Sciences won the Distinguished Professor of the Year Award from the Michigan Association of State Universities, showing how incredible the CSE faculty truly are.

Finally, we continued to build research in the college, surpassing the $7 million mark in new external grants in 2021.

I wish you a happy and healthy new year and Fire Up Chips!


Cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand job markets in the U.S. in 2022

In2004, the President of the United States and Congress declared October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month to help individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more commonplace.

While the word “cybersecurity” may cause you to envision a hacker on a computer in a dark room in a faroff land, cybersecurity is actually something that you’re likely involved in every single day whether you realize it or not.

The annual proclamation released by President Biden declares that Cybersecurity Awareness Month aims to “highlight the importance of safeguarding our Nation’s critical infrastructure from malicious cyber activity” as well as raise awareness for “simple steps Americans can take to secure their sensitive data and stay safe online.”

Qi Liao, computer science faculty member and professor for Central Michigan University’s College of Science and Engineering, shared

his expertise on cybersecurity, what is being done to combat Cyber Threats and how CMU is educating future cybersecurity professionals.

Since it is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, why is cybersecurity so important? Why should most people care?

“Thirty years ago, we computer scientists only focused on making things work, such as early versions of Windows, emails and websites. Security was only an afterthought. Nowadays, there is no need to convince anyone security is important. Security is in everyone’s daily life. For example, if one falls for a phishing scam they may suffer major financial loss, malware infections may cause major business interruptions and huge financial loss. On a larger scale, security breaches in national infrastructures could cause large-scale power outages, water poisoning, nuclear disasters or more issues.”

What are cybersecurity professionals doing to combat issues?

“Traditionally, cybersecurity industries come up with malware signatures, like a vaccine in medicine, whenever a new computer virus comes out. To combat the vulnerabilities, professionals adopt behavioralbased mechanisms utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learnings techniques. While AI/MLbased automations are important, researchers have also used data visualizations to bring humans into the loop for better decision making in terms of cybersecurity situation awareness and investigations. Viewing cybersecurity as a purely technological problem sometimes results in a never-ending arms race between the good and bad sides. Often, economic principles and game theoretical modeling may be helpful to analyze the dynamic interactions between attackers and defenders, ultimately removing the root cause (i.e., financial incentives) of many cybersecurity criminal activities.

We need to train professionals to build safe, secure, and dependable systems, and to trace and fight cyber-criminals. On the other hand, we cannot win the war if we only rely on military soldiers. The vast majority of security incidents are not overly technical but are performed on unaware users so we need people to have security built into their mind. Even simple security education such as: don’t click on links on suspicious emails, don’t type in passwords on phishing websites, don’t set up a Wi-Fi router without a password, etc., can help. A heavily fortified front door is meaningless if the back-door is left open. Security always depends on the weakest link.”

How can people get educated on cybersecurity?

“Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing and in-demand job markets in the world. The worldwide cybersecurity market was valued at $156.24 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $352.25 billion by 2026. According to Cyberseek, there was an annual talent shortfall of 39,000 information security annalists from May 2021 through April 2022. There are currently 534,548 additional openings requesting cybersecurity-related skills, and employers are struggling to find workers who possess them.”

This fall, CMU introduced a new cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program through the Department of Computer Science, which compliments the university’s cybersecurity graduate program and cybersecurity graduate and undergraduate certificates. The cybersecurity major is interdisciplinary, involving mathematics, management of information systems, computer science and information technology, and integrates closely with the computer science curriculum so students are trained with security in mind. The cybersecurity major prepares students for a variety of in-demand cybersecurity careers, dedicated to securing vulnerable data and information infrastructure and stopping

CSE Highlight

The College of Science and Engineering at CMU is assuring the rigor and relevance of its programs by aggressively pursuing external accreditation.

In the past year, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) continued the accredited status of our Computer, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering programs for a full six-year period.

cyberattacks in the digital environment.

Cybersecurity public awareness, education and training opportunities at local community levels and K-12 students at schools also have broad impact on public cybersecurity education.

What can we expect in the future of cybersecurity?

“While I wish I had a crystal ball to predict the future of cybersecurity, I do not, but my research in cybersecurity will focus on the following areas. First, while we are more and more relying on AI/ML-based defense mechanisms, the security of AI/ML is largely unknown. As we move to Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles, research on adversarial attacks on AI/ML-based mechanisms is promising. Second, as we are transitioning to quantum computing, we need to design new security protocols and cryptographic framework. Our current cybersecurity curricula also need to be rewritten under this revolutionary change. Lastly, data-selling ransom ware is inevitable so my nearterm research will focus on building prototypes of preventive encryption and deception to defend against it. We must always prepare to be one step ahead of potential attacks.”

Our Computer Science program passed the “Readiness Review” stage of initial ABET accreditation, leading to a campus visit. The outcome will be known in summer 2023.

@ CmichSE @ CmichSE @ CmichSE

CSE Professor Honored for Teaching Excellence

Carl Lee among MASU’s 2022 Distinguished Professors of the Year

CarlLee, founding chair and faculty member in the Central Michigan University Department of Statistics, Actuarial and Data Sciences, has been recognized by the Michigan Association of State Universities as a recipient of the 2022 Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award. The award recognizes the contributions and dedication of faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students. Lee is one of three 2022 recipients.

In the award announcement, MASU recognized Lee’s significant impact on undergraduate student learning through hands-on learning activities, applied research, experimental learning and innovation. Lee implements what he calls the P.A.C.E. model of teaching, which emphasizes projects, hands-on activities, cooperative learning and exercises. Lee says his motivation lies in conducting research to investigate how students best learn quantitative concepts.

“As a professor, you must find ways to get students interested and motivated,” Lee said. “One way I have been successful is by finding activities that really associate with their daily lives and piques their interest.”

Lee is known for designing the undergraduate statistics and actuarial science program at CMU, in addition to creating an interdisciplinary program on campus in data science. This involved coordinating a new degree and major with faculty from four colleges and nine academic departments, said Lee.

Lee said data science has a variety of different applications. “We want students with different levels of experience to have a chance to learn the basics of data science,” Lee said. “Using data evidence for decision making is very important in the business industry as well as our daily living, so we think students in all areas should have the opportunity to do that.”

Lee said he believes education provides students with hope.

“As a professor, seeing students come into class with disadvantages or high levels of talent they aren’t aware of, you want to encourage them to aim higher,” he said. “I strongly believe that education, regardless of level, is to provide students with hope and help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Of the award, Lee said he is simply grateful to be recognized.

“There are many outstanding faculty deserving this recognition at CMU.” Lee said. “I am fortunate and honored to represent our outstanding faculty to receive this award.”


Continues to be at the forefront of what We Do!

The College of Science and Engineering continues to be a leader in research. Over the last fiscal year, new external grant funding increased from $6.25 to $7.15 million. The largest single new grant was for $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for the nuclear astrophysics work that CMU Physics faculty members Georgios Perdikakis, Alfredo Estrade, Matthew Redshaw, and Mihai Horoi are conducting.

Notable accomplishments include:

Central Sustainability, an innovative team of change-makers committed to developing sustainability practices at CMU and beyond, found a permanent home in CSE with office space in the Geography and Environmental Studies department.

This student-led organization has done amazing work in moving the campus to more sustainable practices and has been recognized with national awards.

Since its launch in May 2020, Central Sustainability has been successful in carrying out a number of sustainability projects and initiatives.

• The passage of a university Sustainable Purchasing Policy

• The on-campus Ethnobotanical Garden

• Establishment of a university sustainability website

• Submission of the STARS reports, which earned a prestigious “Gold” rating

• Stakeholder engagement efforts

Scan the code to learn more about Central Sustainability at CMU.

CSE Highlight

Dr. David Ford, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at CMU, was named to the CMURC Board of Directors, starting in August of 2022.

CMURC is a 501(c)(3) organization with professional and diverse co-working space and accelerator programs.

It is focused on product and strategic development for entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Dr. Ford aims to increase the number of entrepreneurial science and technology companies that spin out of CSE through synergies with CMURC programs.

Causes you’re passionate about paired with the experience you need
@ CmichSE @ CmichSE @ CmichSE

Magnetic Molecules

Physics professor, Juan Peralta, along with undergraduate student Alex Koke, is developing computer software to better understand molecular magnets


Peralta, Ph.D., a professor in the Physics Department, along with undergraduate student Alex Koke, is developing computer software that simulates the quantum behavior of special molecules. This project is being funded during the summer by a grant from the Department of Energy.

Peralta and Koke’s research focuses on “building and improving computational capability to predict the properties of molecular complexes.” These complexes are also referred to as molecular magnets and are the smallest known materials to have magnetic properties. Because of this, there are many potential technological applications and understanding the properties of these molecules is integral to the development of future technology.

Koke is working on building a computational scheme, using existing software and developing his own, to find the quantum energy levels of these molecular magnets. This is among one of the problems when researching molecular complexes because they are so small. “One of the remarkable characteristics of this problem is that its dimension scales exponentially with the number of magnetic atoms. For example, for a simple complex containing 28 Iron atoms, the number of solutions is the same as the number of stars in the universe!”, says Peralta.

Koke is testing methods that can find the most important solutions, which is like finding a needle in a haystack, but using physics, mathematics, and computer software. Pictured above left to right: Alex Koke, Duyen Nguyen, and Lucas Aebersold.

Our new interdisciplinary certificate, InSciTE (Integration of Science, Technology, and Engineering), has made great progress over the last months. A formal interdisciplinary council of faculty was formed, with every department and school of the College represented. Biology faculty member

Wiline Pangle was appointed head of the council and director of the program. Through consensus building, the council developed the following program mission, “to create an equitable student-driven environment for undergraduate students to develop skills on interdisciplinary communication, collaboration and real-world problem solving to become culturally competent and effective leaders”, established on the five core values of equity, collaboration, relevance to real-world problems, being learner-centered, and supporting creative problem solving. Designed as a certificate to complement existing majors, InSciTE consists of five skill-based courses taken over a four-year period as a cohort. Students take one course every spring as a cohort until their senior year, during which they complete an interdisciplinary, team-based research project over the full school year. The certificate builds on specific sets of transferable skills, starting from collaboration and conflict resolution, building with communication, data and time management, and culminating in an authentic student-driven research experience. Working with Advancement, the program has raised $30,000 to date, with a few major gifts pending. The first cohort of students is piloting the first course of the program this Spring. We are excited to see how this program will grow!


How Climate and Infrastructure Affect Flood Risk

School of Engineering and Technology Faculty Member, Rod Lammers, Provides Insight

Thesummer of 2022 has seen several devastating flooding incidents across the United States. Michigan is no stranger to flooding either. Detroit regularly faces the hazards of flooding. Sanford is two years removed from flooding caused by dam failures. And in June 2017, Central Michigan University was impacted by significant flooding after six inches of rain fell overnight and caused millions of dollars in damages to buildings and grounds.

Rod Lammers, assistant professor in Environmental Engineering at CMU, researches ways to improve the management of our water resources –including how to reduce flood risk. He shared his thoughts on some of the biggest questions and concerns surrounding flooding today.

How do you see climate change affecting flood risk?

It is pretty clear from the data that the rainstorms have become more intense and this trend is expected to continue with climate change. When more rain falls in a short period, flood risk increases. Most of our flood control and drainage infrastructure (think big things like dams and reservoirs, but also the storm drains on your streets) was designed decades ago, using outdated rainfall data. That means this infrastructure is not prepared to handle the more intense storms of the present, and certainly not of the future.

Q: How much of a factor does the infrastructure of cities play into the severity of flooding damage?

There are two ways. First, floods are natural, but flood damages occur when we build in areas that are prone to flooding. Most cities are built along rivers, lakes, or the ocean and therefore have infrastructure in areas that are likely to flood. Secondly, all the buildings, roads, and parking lots in cities prevent rainfall from soaking into the ground. This increases the amount of water on the surface, making flooding worse.

Q: What types of things can local governments and states do to try to get ahead of these issues and improve their current systems?

One thing is to use updated rainfall data in infrastructure design. Many cities are still building their infrastructure based on decades-old data. This would benefit from federal investment since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collects and analyzes this data nationally. Using newer data and forecasts of what rainstorms may look like in 20, 50, or 100 years can help us build new infrastructure that is prepared for the climate of the future.

There has also been increasing recognition of the value that so-called “natural” infrastructure can play in flood management. Forests and wetlands act like sponges, soaking up rainfall and reducing flood risk. Floodplains store a lot of water, reducing flooding downstream. Protecting and restoring these areas can help reduce flooding and protect our other built infrastructure.

And finally, floods can’t damage infrastructure that isn’t there. Cities and states can do a better job of planning where infrastructure gets built, and keeping people from building homes and businesses in flood-prone areas.

Q: Are there any simple things people can do to help prevent flooding in their areas?

The simplest thing people can do is to be aware of their own flood risk. There are tools available to help you understand your level of risk, and how climate change may alter this risk. Another simple action is to make sure your storm drains are clear of leaves and debris. Finally, advocating to protect wetlands and floodplains from development can help maintain important natural infrastructure in your area.

Faculty, Students Team Up for Infertility Research

Jennifer Schisa, Ph.D., received a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department for Health and Human Services to research RNA binding in immature eggs.


Schisa, Ph.D., a professor in the biology department, received a grant from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the United States Department for Health and Human Services for her project ERK-Medicated Regulation of RNA Binding Protein Condensation During Female Germ Cell Development. This is the fifth grant Schisa’s lab has received from the NIH since 2006.

This 3-year-long research project looks into ways to allow oocytes, or immature eggs, to maintain their viability throughout development. In human ovaries, there is mRNA inside of the developing oocytes long before the actual fertilization of the egg. This mRNA is necessary for oocyte growth and the development of the embryo; however, unregulated mRNA has the potential of leading to birth defects and infertility.

When the mRNA is unregulated, granules of RNA can form, ultimately leading to infertility. Schisa’s research studies the use of a protein to regulate the granule formation in oocytes. This research is done on C. elegans, or roundworms, and will provide an understanding of mRNA that can be used to maintain egg quality.

Schisa prides herself on having an educationally innovative lab, as this research allows several student researchers to get involved, and integrates genetics, cell biology, and microscopy. This research will be done with a team of two Ph.D. students, two master’s students, and at least nine undergraduate students, allowing opportunities for students to present their work and co-author research articles.

“We know getting students involved in cutting-edge research has many positive outcomes,” said Schisa. “Our results will provide a foundation for future biochemical studies so we can eventually design novel interventions for infertility.”

Jason Keeler, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has been working with undergraduate student Brian Rakoczy to develop an algorithm that automatically detects and tracks gust fronts and thunderstorm outflow in a series of idealized simulations. Thunderstorm outflow is the spreading out of air that has been cooled by evaporating rain and melting hail in the storm. The rush of cool air that is experienced at the leading edge of the outflow is the gust front. These simulations are working to determine what factors make it more likely for there to be a storm, specifically when there was a storm previously in the day.

The favorability of the atmosphere for thunderstorms is referred to as instability. The more unstable the atmosphere, the more likely there is to be a storm. Keeler’s simulations test several different factors, such as soil moisture or solar radiation, to see how the air on the cool side of the gust front changes due to alterations in these factors. It is usually assumed that when the air is cooler, it is less favorable for storms. However, other factors can increase instability levels.

This research is part of a 3-year grant funded by the National Science Foundation. Central Michigan University is the lead institution on this research, working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The goal of running these simulations is to determine what conditions favor development of instability in outflow so that in the future, meteorologists can better determine the likelihood of a second storm following the first.

Jason Keeler, Ph.D., from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has been running simulations to determine what factors make it more likely to storm


The Department of Mathematics wrapped up another successful Integration Bee organized by our AMS Graduate Student Chapter! Nearly 50 attended this year, including our special guest CSE Dean Ford. About 36 students took part in the competition.

In the undergraduate bracket, the grand integrator was Margaret Hartmann and the runner-up was Grace Osiri. Both Margaret and Grace are Calc II students in Fall, 2022.

In the graduate bracket, the grand integrator was Koksal Karakus and the runner-up was Tony Sheikhnavassi.

Thanks to the judges Dr. Sivaram Narayan and Dr. Ben Salisbury. Special thanks to the department for sponsoring pizza and soda.


John Allen, Ph.D., received an award from the Disaster Resilience Program to research wind and hailstorms in a warming climate

Allen, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, received an award from the Disaster Resilience Program to fund his project, Quantifying the Risk and Impact of Windstorms and Hailstorms in a Warming Climate. The Disaster Resilience Program is a joint fund through the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.

According to Allen, agriculture and infrastructure are vulnerable during windstorms and hailstorms. The storms represent a hazard to electricity distribution and production networks, like wind turbines. This can lead to “localized cascading outages of water supply, automotive fuel, and heating/cooling systems.” Every year for the past decade has had at least 10 billion dollars of losses due to the storms.

Allen’s project will focus on determining the when and where of hail and wind extremes, as well as the long-term impacts of climate change on the storms.

The goal of his project is to develop improved building and infrastructure design practices, codes, and standards by combining his findings with climate change information.




in the Fall 2022, we have a new program: Computational Mathematics & Analytics Minor, shortened as CM&A.

It comes as an interdisciplinary program between mathematics and data science. It covers the basics of data analysis, real-world modeling, and numerical techniques for solving mathematical and data-involved problems.

Here is the story behind it. As part of the University-Wide Data Science Program, an initiative headed by Dr. Carl Lee of the Department of Statistics, Actuarial, and Data Sciences (STADS) and funded by the President’s and Provost’s Fund for Program Innovation and Excellence, a new data science major was developed. While this major is housed in STADS, nine minors in nine different departments were created to complement the major and CM&A created in the Mathematics Department is one of them.

The CM&A minor contains 12 credit hours of data science courses ranging from introduction to data science to data visualization and programming until applied analytics. The mathematics trainings are included in 13 credits distributed in Calculus III, differential equations, numerical analysis, and optimization.

All mathematics majors can take this minor. By mastering analytics in data science and computing techniques in mathematics, the students taking this minor will possess a larger toolkit to analyze and understand data, and thus have a higher marketability. Data science is turning out to be an integral part of the twenty-first century world, and it is exciting for the Department of Mathematics at CMU to contribute through the CM&A minor.


TaoZheng Ph.D., a faculty member in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Central Michigan University, is developing a method for tracking carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a livable temperature. However, an excess of greenhouse gases can have negative effects on the environment, such as climate change and global warming.

Dr. Zheng received a grant from NASA to investigate the artificial and naturally occurring sources of carbon dioxide over North and South America. To efficiently track carbon emissions, he is using an atmospheric modeling system and satellite observations. The atmospheric modeling system is a set of complex computer codes that simulate the governing physics of certain atmospheric processes,

such as radiation. The satellite observations provide information on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while the atmospheric modeling system links the carbon dioxide to their sources. The simulation is run on High-Performance Computers.

The project is in the initial stages but is expected to be completed in three years. The findings from this research will be combined using sophisticated numerical methods and will provide scientific support for implementing carbon emission regulations aimed at reducing climate change.

According to Dr. Zheng, “The project has been developing a global carbon dioxide inverse modeling system based on National Center for Atmospheric Research’s latest atmospheric model MPAS (Model Predictions Across Scales). The newly developed system will enable high-resolution CO2 flux estimation at high resolution using multiple sources of CO2 observations, including NASA’s OCO-2/3 satellites and airborne and tower measurements.”

Matthew Liesch, faculty member and Chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies added, “Tao’s research will be useful for helping scientists and policymakers understand how carbon dioxide travels around the atmosphere.”

CMU Baja and Formula Racing Teams Take Center Stage

This past October, the School of Engineering and Technology’s Baja and Formula racing teams were featured during a CMU football game in Kelly-Shorts Stadium.

If you’re not familiar with the Baja or Formula racing teams, each year our student engineers fabricate and race their creations against other universities at events across the country.

After finishing in the top 1/3rd in the nation last year, our Baja Team is busy making adjustments and improvements to bring home another trophy while our Formula Team is busy creating their first 100% electric Formula racing car.

Your CMU College of Science and Engineering - growing tomorrow’s scientists and engineers in today’s classrooms and laboratories.

Hi again,

I would like to personally thank you for your support for the College of Science and Engineering.

Support like yours is not only deeply appreciated, but it also makes an enormous difference in the education that we’re able to offer our students.

Help from alumni and friends like you allows us to provide stateof-the-art resources, facilities, and opportunities for our students to learn, grow, and exceed even their own expectations.

We are truly grateful for your continued commitment to the success of our students and the advancement of science and engineering at CMU.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students within the College of Science and Engineering at Central Michigan University, thank you!

Scan the code to the right to explore giving opportunities within the College of Science and Engineering.

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