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success without limits ANNUAL REPORT 2017

Science at Mason

Building Momentum

Our physics students describe momentum as the property or tendency of a moving object to continue moving. Our College of Science fuels Mason’s momentum, with 32 percent of Mason’s research portfolio—the largest share in 2017—and an increasing student population. The college’s 2017 incoming class had a 24 percent increase in freshmen, 16 percent growth in transfer students, and an impressive 20 percent growth in master’s students. Yet, as scientists, we want to take this visionary growth a step further. As the largest public R1 university in Virginia, Mason’s vision is one of continued growth in enrollment and funded, multidisciplinary research of consequence. The College of Science subscribes to a motto of Understand. Innovate. Succeed. This drives our curiosity; as scientists, we strive to better understand the world around us. This problem-solving mindset creates a community constantly innovating in and across our disciplines, building new models, diagnostic tools, and learning opportunities for now and for our future. Consider our efforts in emerging fields like materials science and urban analytics. We don’t create classes to capture the latest buzzword. Our approach builds on a curriculum and research portfolio that is both broad and deep with established expertise to understand both scientific fundamentals and future trends to position Mason students for success in the workplace.

In our ever-changing world, Mason’s scientists are constantly looking at what might happen next. As you may have seen in the New York Times, on your local TV news, or via Facebook Live, we are conducting research to solve problems, inspire students, and foster an interest in STEM-related learning within our community. Read about our faculty, researchers, and students leading the charge—winning competitions and even establishing unprecedented innovative partnerships within the public sector, NASA, and the Department of Homeland Security. Our incredibly accomplished and insightful advisory boards, engaged alumni, and college leadership guide our endeavors. I am grateful to them for their insights and appreciate the time they dedicate to our scientific and academic mission. And as we build momentum, we know the best is yet to come!

Peggy Agouris Dean, College of Science @PeggyAgouris @GMU_COS #MasonScience

contents RESEARCH: HOW WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE Sustaining a Safer World World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..................................... Entering a New Era of Universe Exploration Exploration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...................... Monitoring Future Illness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Illness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dragon Blood Could Lead to Medical Breakthrough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Breakthrough . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2 4 5 6

UNIQUE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES Mason Science Classrooms, Anything but Typical Typical. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................. 8 Student Successes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Labs See Nearly $2 Million in Upgrades Upgrades. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

BRINGING THE FUTURE TO TODAY Mason Women in Science Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................... Popular FOCUS Program Expands Expands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ............................ Future Science: What’s Next? Next?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................ Energy Efficiency: Green Roof Project Project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..........................

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GLOBAL IMPACT Tuberculosis Global Game Changer Changer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Fighting Disease in Costa Rica. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Engaged Alumnus Shows Students the World World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

FACULTY UPDATES Award-Winning Faculty Faculty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..................................... Introducing College of Science Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..................... Chairs and Program Directors Directors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................ Research Centers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Female Physicist Leaves Lasting Legacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Legacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advisory Boards Boards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...........................................

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CELEBRATING CONTRIBUTIONS Mason Climatologists Establish Data Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Mason Unveils New Potomac Science Center Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

COLLEGE OF SCIENCE ANNUAL REPORT 2017 For more information, contact Tracy Mason, Assistant Dean of Strategic Communications | 703-993-8723 Production Support | Kerone Wetter, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Production Support | Andrew Brown, Graphics Specialist Writer | Lauren Back, Marketing and Communications Assistant

Printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.


success defined Our Strengths: Original, Novel, and Transformative Research Steady research growth: The College of Science has developed a strong reputation for innovative, multidisciplinary research at all academic levels.

College Research Expenditures*

Total University Research Expenditures* Other $7.1M CHHS $4.3M


ACAF $7.3M CEHD $9.1M


COS $33.3M

7% 9%

Data $12.5M

Health $11.4M








17% CHSS $16.8M


VSE $22.1M

Sustainability $9.5M


*All data is FY 2016-17




total research expenditure growth over the past five years

increase in non-federal research expenditures in the past five years

of the total university research proposal value

R1 Status Top-Tier Research University

The College of Science received year, an 8% increase.

287awards last

Strong in Science—Diversity The power of many perspectives: We embrace a multitude of people and ideas in everything we do, and our diversity sparks innovation; new ideas emerge when different points of view come together.

56% female enrollment 61%

diverse university in the #22 most United States (#1 in Virginia) U.S. News and World Report

leadership team are women/minority

Reykjavik, Iceland Millport, Scotland

Rome, Italy Kathmandu, Nepal

Bogota, Colombia Global Student Exchange Partnerships

Nairobi, Kenya

Iquitos, Peru

Santiago, Chile

Songdo, South Korea

Puerto Maldonado, Peru Cape Town, South Africa

Perth, Australia

Enrollment Growth: Our Secret’s Out Popular programs building momentum: College of Science experiences strong growth, increasing by 11% since 2014, and 17% vs. 2016.

College enrollment increase since 2016

24% Transfer 16% Master’s 20%



of incoming class are transfer students

Research How we make a difference

Sustaining a Safer World With the advancement of the dark web and social media, keeping our country safe has become even more complicated. Mason scientists have entered this arena in a big way. In August 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) selected Mason out of a highly competitive pool of applicants to lead the Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis (CINA) Center of Excellence (COE). One of 10 officially sanctioned DHS COEs in the United States, CINA combines universities and law enforcement agencies to investigate patterns of criminal activities and forensics, and to develop strategies to predict and disrupt transnational crime.

The DHS uses these COEs to develop innovative customer-driven tools and technologies to solve real-world challenges. The 10-year, multimillion-dollar grant was among the largest research awards the university has received, with $3.85 million committed for its first year of operation. “Mason, as a top-tier research university, has demonstrated a culture of excellence across the different disciplines required for this high-impact center,” noted Dean Peggy Agouris of the College of Science. “Our innovative research and programs in geospatial, forensics, and computational social science continually push boundaries in these important emerging fields.”


Anthony Stefanidis, former chair of the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science in the College of Science, served as the principal investigator of the submission and directs CINA. “We took a fresh new approach to this difficult problem and were honored to receive this highly competitive opportunity,” Stefanidis explained. “Mason established our expertise as a National GeospatialIntelligence Agency Center of Excellence; our team of computational social scientists can tap innovative methodologies to bring cyber into the physical science world.” The leadership team of this multidisciplinary effort includes Mason College of Science

faculty, working alongside Mason researchers in social and natural sciences, policy, and engineering. The center also includes the University of Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Michigan State University, Purdue University, and Rutgers University among its research partnerships. Currently, the center focuses on four primary research areas: criminal network analysis, dynamic patterns of criminal activity, forensics, and criminal investigative processes. “DHS selected Mason to lead the CINA Center of Excellence because this group of researchers was both willing and qualified to develop the

data-driven research needed to combat transnational criminal organizations. Mason and its partners will work with DHS and others to analyze criminal networks across multiple domains: physical, cyber, and via social media. Federal and state law enforcement needs this knowledge to address the serious problem of violent criminal organizations,” said Matthew Clark, director of the DHS Science and Technology’s Office of University Programs. CINA and DHS brought the teams together for the kick-off last fall within days of announcing the award, immediately recognizing the value of quickly and effectively mobilizing this transdisciplinary effort.

“This Mason team is uniquely qualified and will apply decades of FBI and CINA members’ expertise,” shared Mary Ellen O’Toole, director of Mason’s Forensic Science Program and member of CINA’s Science Leadership Team. “This important research can help sustain a safer world.” For more information, visit Written by John Verrico, edited by Lauren Back.


Two of five new pairs of rare supermassive black holes recently identified by Mason astronomers using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Wide-Field Infrared Sky Explorer Survey (WISE), and the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona. Credit: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart.

Entering a New Era of Universe Exploration Mason College of Science astronomers embarked on a quest to better understand “The Force,” the strongest gravitational wave signals in the universe. Physics and Astronomy professor Shobita Satyapal and her research team identified five pairs of supermassive black holes, each millions of times the mass of the sun. These black hole couples formed when two galaxies collided and merged with each other, forcing their supermassive black holes close together. Before their discovery, less than 10 confirmed pairs of growing black holes were known, with their detection based mostly on chance.

The discovery occurred when NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the WideField Infared Sky Explorer Survey (WISE), and the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona all combined their data. This research can help astronomers better understand how giant black holes grow. “Now is an exciting time to be researching merging black holes,” says Satyapal. “We are in the early stages of a new era in exploring the universe.” NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations. This past year, three scientists from the Laser Interferometer GravitationalWave Observatory (LIGO), one from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and two from California Institute of Technology were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work with gravitational waves. This research adds to the value of the work our scientists at Mason are doing. Interested in starting your own astronomical quest? Join us for an “Evening Under the Stars” at the Mason Observatory. Learn more at cos.gmu. edu/observatory. Originally written by Molly Porter, edited by Lauren Back.

Monitoring Future Illness In the southwestern United States, dust storms can disrupt everyday life, affecting transportation and agriculture. These storms can also create upper respiratory health issues for area’s residents. According to a recent study from Daniel Tong, a research professor at George Mason University’s Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems (CSISS), dust storms may also be correlated to Valley Fever Infection. Tong’s research reveals a 240 percent increase in dust storms between the 1990s and the 2000s in the southwestern United States, a region that also has an 800 percent increase in Valley Fever Infection. Valley Fever Infection has been known to thrive in dry conditions, so the correlation is being monitored closely. The research team, funded by NASA, comprises scientists from Mason, University of Texas, NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The team is concerned that both warmer sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific and colder waters off the coast of California were likely culprits. These conditions lead to drier and cooler north winds blowing into the southwestern United States, which also create drier soil. This NASA project has an ambitious goal to build a broad consensus of the dust trends, so that a baseline can be developed to watch for future dust anomaly. Mason scientists use satellite sensors, ground monitors, and computer models to create state-of-the-art topographic imaging to help civic leaders and local citizens track the dust storms, and to reveal not only the long-term trend, but also the climate forces behind it. For more information, visit Edited by Lauren Back.

Mason scientists use satellite sensors, ground monitors, and computer models to create state-of-the-art topographic imaging to help civic leaders and local citizens track the dust storms, and to reveal not only the long-term trend, but also the climate forces behind it.


Dragon Blood Could Lead to Medical Breakthrough What could make a wound heal faster? Komodo dragon blood. Inspired by the Komodo dragon blood’s germ-fighting abilities, Mason scientists have created a new approach that might kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria while spurring the body’s cells to heal cuts faster. Microbiologist and Mason associate professor Monique van Hoek explains that synthetic germ-fighter peptides are

a new approach to potentially defeat bacteria that have grown resistant to conventional antibiotics. Van Hoek collaborated with Mason chemistry professor Barney Bishop on the research effort.

published the study, which stems from a $7.57 million research contract from the federal government’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to discover new bacterial infection-defeating compounds in the blood of Komodo dragons and the crocodilian family of reptiles, which includes American alligators. These reptiles eat carrion and live in bacteria-rich environments but rarely fall ill, suggesting they have strong innate immunity.

Media from around the world has turned its attention to this study and its gamechanging benefits. The Nature partner journal NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes

The College of Science team’s research is initially designed to help soldiers heal faster and protect them from bacterial bioweapons. Findings could eventually


also apply the same leading principles to bandages that help heal more mundane cuts and scrapes. The inspiration for Mason’s synthetic germ-fighter, called “DRGN-1,” came from a peptide first found in a Komodo dragon at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida. The peptide was chosen for its promising combination of antimicrobial and anti-biofilm properties, and the modified, synthetic version of it is able to attack the sticky biofilm that protects the bacteria and helps it grow in wounds.

Along with the American alligator and Komodo, the Mason team has studied peptides from gharials, salt-water crocodiles, Chinese alligators, and Siamese crocodiles. They expect to research peptides from sharks, bats, and vultures, to see if the same potential exists. To support this research, visit For more information, visit Originally written by Michele McDonald, edited by Lauren Back.

Monique Van Hoek meets the Komodo dragon inspiration for Mason’s synthetic germ-fighter called “DRGN-1.” The next phase of their research will be sharks, bats, and vultures.


Unique learning opportunities Learning opportunities

Mason Science Classrooms: Anything but Typical Hands-on learning is more than just a catch phrase for Mason student scientists. The college has offered many innovative learning environments to immerse students in their field of study, from biohazard research labs to crime scene houses.

The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) occupies part of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia. Nestled alongside the Shenandoah National Park, the entire facility covers 3,200 acres of forest, grassland, and pastures. SCBI is an active research facility, housing a range of endangered mammals, birds, and amphibians, which creates a compelling and engaging learning environment for program participants.


The greenhouse classrooms located on the roof of Exploratory Hall provide students with the opportunity to work with a wide variety of plants, from species indigenous to Virginia, to rare plants from Madagascar. Our greenhouse, under the direction of the Biology Department in the College of Science, uses new technology such as a fully automated climate control system, a drip irrigation system, and automated shades and vents to simulate the various growing environments. The Biology Department also maintains the Ted R. Bradley Herbarium, a collection of dried, pressed plant specimens used for teaching global research.

Mason’s Biomedical Research Laboratory (BRL), classified as Biosafety Level-3, allows scientists to research infectious diseases as well as both emerging and potential bio-threat agents. The BRL supports research programs of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID), and provides students the opportunity to perform groundbreaking research on diseases such as the influenza virus, Rift Valley Fever, Zika, HIV, Bacillus anthracis, and more.

Mason’s Crime Scene House offers real-life experience for forensic science students to immerse themselves in evidence collection from a variety of authentic mock crime scenes. These graduate students practice processing evidence in the Crime Scene House.

Written by Lauren Back.


Student Successes Mason College of Science students constantly find ways to innovate, working together to develop new technology, securing funding for ground-breaking research, and competing in science fairs and competitions to showcase their innovative ideas. These are a few of our success stories.

Hackathon Victors Traffic congestion. Safety. Mobility. Autonomous Vehicles. In their 2017 Transportation Hackathon, Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation asked student and professional teams to bring forward solutions to address these issues. The College of Science student team won the competition and its $3,000 prize.

Science Slam The College of Science hosts Science Slam to encourage student scientists to share their research. Students face off in three preliminary rounds to see who can best communicate their research purpose, methodology, and impact to a nonexpert audience. Since the audience gets to vote, it pays to get the most laughter and applause, making their research both fun and relatable. The winners of each preliminary round compete in a final science showdown. Congratulations to environmental science and policy major Marieke Kester Jones, who won the $1,000 grand prize.

Student Researchers Receive NSF Fellowships Fourteen thousand: that’s the applicant pool for graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation—and there’s only a 10-15 percent acceptance rate. The stakes are high, and competition is stiff. Selected based on both the intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed research, students receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, with an additional $12,000 allowance paid to the institution attended. College of Science students received four out of the five NSF Fellowships awarded to Mason with work covering a

wide spectrum of disciplines, including math, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and psychology. The 2017 NSF winners for the College of Science are Zuzanna Abdala for biological oceanography, Jenna Cann for astronomy and astrophysics, Ann Money for environmental biology, and Catherine Ray for topology.

ASSIP 10th Anniversary: Girl Power The George Mason University Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP) celebrated its 10th anniversary. The extremely competitive program creates a pathway for high-potential STEM-focused high school and undergraduate students to perform real-world research on problems not yet solved. Rachel Naidich, Rebeca Woodhouse, and Kshamata Neupane presented their ASSIP project in the Built by Girls competition, a forum for girls in STEM to present their research and technology ideas. Out of the 450 teams, the ASSIP students were selected as one of five finalists to present their patent-pending Smart Sleeve technology in San Francisco.

Once in a Lifetime Scholarships The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation presents a learning opportunity for student scientists and conservationists unlike any other. Congratulations to biology majors Kyle Carver and Jude Maraka, who were selected to receive $5,000 scholarships from the Office of the Provost for the spring semester in-residence program in Front Royal, Virginia.


Five Years in Three Minutes Our graduate students spend years working in labs to either prove or disprove their hypothesis. Many publish research papers describing their discoveries and experiences. At Mason, we also encourage them to share their science. Mason launched its campus-wide version of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT), an annual research competition first held in 2008 at the University of Queensland, Australia. 3MT has quickly spread to more than 350 universities in 58 countries around the world. Graduate students compete to see who can best captivate an audience while using only one visual to recount their years of research in three minutes or less. At Mason’s first competition, two of the top three prize winners were College of Science students. Chelsie Romulo, PhD candidate in environmental science, received $1,000 after presenting her research. Another environmental science and policy student Rachel Golden Kroner took the runner-up spot. “You have to pick what really stands out from your research that will be most interesting to a broad audience,” Romulo said. “It’s really hard because everything seems so important.”

Labs See Nearly $2 Million in Upgrades Research technology constantly evolves, and our classrooms and labs do, too. Here are some of the College of Science’s major equipment upgrades allocated over the last year, along with how these improvements will impact the student experience.

BD Biosciences Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter FACS Aria Fusion The National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID) received a BD Biosciences Fluorescence activated cell sorter FACS Aria Fusion ($292,000), which will enable measurement of multiple single-particle parameters including size, fluorescence signal, population identity, and enrichment. Students and postdoctoral fellows can now receive hands-on experience in flow cytometry, which is widely used in cell biology, immunology, bacteriology, virology, and nanoparticle technology. “The cell sorter has significantly enhanced the quality of our research,” said NCBID Executive Director Charlie Bailey. “Its location in the only room within the BRL that can be switched from Biosafety Level-2 to Biosafety Level-3 provides for maximum flexibility for the most scientists.”

Thermo Scientific Orbitrap FUSION ETD with Nano LC Mass Spectrometer The Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine obtained a Thermo Scientific Orbitrap FUSION ETD with Nano LC Mass Spectrometer ($722,767). The Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometer will allow science researchers to detect, analyze, and identify proteins, peptides, and post-translational

modifications. The enhanced capabilities of the Orbitrap Elite will enable investigators to expand the scope of their research to take on new challenges and explore new hypotheses previously inaccessible, increasing sponsored research opportunities at Mason.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department acquired a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer ($400,000) to characterize novel organic molecules and allow for 2-D experiments. Both undergraduate and graduate students will use the equipment to perform NMR experiments. The NMR allows the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department to publish research in high impact journals, where they previously could not due to the requirement of an NMR on novel compounds. “The Thermo Fusion Tribrid mass spectrometer offers an immediate positive impact on research, dramatically enhancing our ability to analyze biological samples for the detection of potential disease biomarkers,” said Barney Bishop, associate professor of chemistry. “As a result, my group can perform sophisticated analyses to detect and identify novel antimicrobial peptides from alligator and Komodo dragon plasma.” Written by Lauren Back.

Anna Kapp conducts research with Mikell Paige, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, by using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to analyze the structure of chemically synthesized products on the SciTech Campus in the Institute for Biomedical Research.


Bringing theto today future Mason Women in Science

Natalie Burls

Kylene Kehn-Hall

Climate change: Many talk about it, but Natalie Burls, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, wants to change the way we look at it. A research scientist for Mason’s Center for OceanLand-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), Burls received a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Ocean Sciences. The Sloan Foundation selects its research fellows from oceanography, physics, and the other branches of science to “represent the most promising scientific researchers working today” whose “achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders.”

There aren’t many accolades Kylene Kehn-Hall, the latest Dean’s Impact Award winner, hasn’t received since she came to Mason in 2009. Among her recent accolades, Kehn-Hall received the 2013 Mason Emerging Researcher/Scholar/Creator Award, the George Mason University Impact Award, and the 2017 OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award. A member of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and an associate professor in Mason’s School of Systems Biology, Kehn-Hall received her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the George Washington University. She did her postdoctoral research at the FBI Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Lab, focusing on application-based science and assay development.

Burls’ research is focused on improving our understanding of the key processes determining Earth’s climate and climate variability on a variety of timescales ranging from seasonal, to decadal, to much longer geological scales. Burls focuses on the climatic role of ocean general circulation, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and cloud dynamics. Burls received her PhD in physical oceanography from the University of Cape Town in 2010. From 2011 to 2014, she worked as a postdoctoral associate in the department of geology and geophysics at Yale University. Burls then joined Mason as an assistant professor in January 2015. Her research efforts acknowledge that to fully understand, model, and predict changes in climate characteristics that have a large impact on society (especially temperature and precipitation patterns), a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere perspective is needed—one that accounts for changes in important variables such as the thermal structure of the slowly adjusting ocean. Complementing observations with theory, she endeavors to accompany complex simulations of climate phenomena with simple models capturing the essential dynamics required to explain unanswered questions within climate science.

In 2007 she took a research scientist position in Dr. Sina Bavari’s laboratory at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, where she worked toward high throughput assay development and the identification of novel therapeutics for hemorrhagic fever viruses. Kehn-Hall has served as a principal investigator on grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, Commonwealth Health Research Board, and Defense Threat Reduction Agency. She has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and serves as an academic editor for PLoS ONE. Written by Lauren Back.


From left, Danielle Blunt Craddock, MAIS ’11, founder of Girls Inspired and Ready to Lead (GIRL) Inc.; Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, professor of mathematical sciences; and Kelly Knight, forensic science professor, created both Mason’s FOCUS Camp and the new FOCUS Academy. Not pictured: Biology professor Claudette Davis. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Popular FOCUS Program Expands White. Affluent. Male. Too often, these words are synonymous with success, even while they exclude millions of the brightest minds, especially within the technology industry. George Mason University seeks to change that, one summer at a time, with weeklong camps that expose underrepresented and at-risk girls to STEM fields. Enter Mason mathematics professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, who saw this as a problem to solve. He reached out to Mason alumna Danielle Blunt Craddock, founder of the nonprofit Girls Inspired and Ready to Lead Inc. (GIRL), which empowers teen girls. Craddock introduced the idea of a summer camp for rising sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade girls. The camp, called Females of Color and those Underrepresented in STEM (FOCUS), takes place over the course of one week during the summer. Mason biology professor Claudette Davis and forensic science professor Kelly Knight also help lead the program. “Engaging the students in real-world problems and using concepts from STEM topics the girls have learned in school made the experience much more meaningful and powerful,” Seshaiyer explained. FOCUS, run in partnership between College of Science’s STEM Accelerator

Program and GIRL, offers sessions in biology, engineering, chemistry, geology, cybersecurity, design and innovation, forensic science, and more. Camp participants are taught to apply critical thinking methods to creative problemsolving activities. The leadership and entrepreneurship component introduces them to successful women who work for leading organizations or run their own businesses, such as Battelle Corporation senior biostatistician Patricia Braschayko, White House cyber chief and WJLA meteorologist Veronica Johnson. Digital service expert Clair A. Koroma of the U.S. Digital Service in the Executive Office of the President attended FOCUS last summer as a part of our Women in STEM speed mentoring session. The camp, which began in 2014, receives ongoing financial support from donors such as the Business Women’s Giving Circle of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia. Enrollment has grown each year with continuing program expansion. In 2017, 100 girls attended, thanks to funding from the Battelle Foundation Fund at the Columbus Foundation. Registration fees cover some costs, and funding received from primary sponsors support scholarships and expenses like food and supplies. Because of the camp’s popularity, a FOCUS Academy was introduced for high school girls in 2017.

Knight has taken the lead on organizing FOCUS, and the Mason Accelerator Program and GIRL run the camp together during the week. Peer mentoring provides support to engage current Mason students, too. Camp counselors are all College of Science undergraduate students, and session speakers and presenters are made up mostly of Mason faculty. Knight says professors are eager to be involved as they understand the challenges facing female STEM students, often because they once faced their own. While scholarships are available to families who can’t afford the $200 camp fee, the team has a vision that one day the camp should be free for all. Future plans include camps for elementary school and high school girls and to expand to also include boys. For more information, or if you would like to support the FOCUS Camp and opportunities to promote STEM education to underrepresented and atrisk youth, contact Kelly Knight at For more information, visit Originally written by Cathy Cruise, edited by Lauren Back.



Future Science: What’s Next? The well-established core science curriculum for Mason students delivers basic and applied scientific principles across biology, chemistry, physics, geography, and mathematic domains. In addition to these scientific fundamentals, College of Science leadership continues to explore emerging fields, establish new centers, and offer world-renowned faculty expertise. We set our sights on expanding programs across the scientific domains of material science, data science, and urban science, laying a foundation for others yet to come.

Data Science

Materials Science

Urban Science

Big data permeates both the public and private sectors. In 2017 the College of Science launched its DataLab, with a data science focus to train students and create advanced data analytic driven partnerships. DataLab Director Nektaria Tryfona engages researchers across Mason working on computational and data sciences. Mason students and researchers translate data into actionable knowledge, deploying the data science, visualization, data security, and blockchain encryption essential for fields including medical and life sciences, computational social sciences, earth systems, geointelligence, and transportation to formulate evidencebased policy. By engaging multiple disciplines, data scientists and their students seek to transform data into decisions, policy, and economic value.

Materials science represents the scientific study of the properties and applications of materials of construction—and materials innovation is required for almost all technological advancements. In this inherently multidisciplinary field, scientists focus on understanding how the mechanical, optical, electronic, and magnetic properties of matter can be tuned by adjusting the size and/ or the composition of the material. In addition to our longstanding Center for Simulation and Modeling, the college has also established the Quantum Materials Center (QMC) to expand on the innovative approach to materials discovery. By combining machine learning, experimental physics, and electronics device fabrication expertise at Mason, the QMC is well-poised to expand the pathway for materials design, discovery, and development. We anticipate the QMC, a recent winner of Mason’s Center for Advanced Study competition, will provide a host of entirely novel quantum materials that will form the basis of next-generation electronics technology.

How do we create the smartest city? Urban science explores urban spaces in an effort to understand how people function in megacities. A combination of data science, computational social science, logistic efficiency, and geographic information science link citizen-centric issues such as health, well-being, the environment, policy, and economics. This multidisciplinary opportunity allows students of any major to analyze the effects of urban science in their field.

A highly engaged advisory board offers Datalab scientists professional development opportunities and helps expand curriculum development to explore holistic problem-solving data analysis across the entire data science life cycle. The DataLab recently announced a chief data officer training program. The first of its kind, the mostly online program will build data and leaderships skills for those looking to fill the data executive’s role in the C-suite.

The College of Science inaugurated this new initiative built on its strengths and intends to expand through an ongoing recruitment effort of several faculty members across several departments. To learn more about our centers, visit Written by Lauren Back.

For more information, visit


Energy Efficiency: Green Roof Project Recently, George Mason University’s Rappahannock River Parking Deck got a new roof—a green roof, to be specific, as part of a graduate research project. So what is a green roof? Imagine a roof of a building or structure partially or completely covered in vegetation and a growing media that is built over a waterproof surface. Andrew Sachs, an accelerated master’s environmental science and public policy student, works with green infrastructure and wants to see how structural aspects of the roof, like insulation and storm water prevention, can make the roof more efficient. Though not a lot of research has been conducted on green roofs, Sachs believes they will be vital in an effort to green cities nationwide. The project, led by professors Paul Houser in the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, Viviana Maggioni in the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering, and Dann Sklarew in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, examines different aspects of environmental sustainability in infrastructure. Sachs collaborates on the project with Alia Gholoom, a master’s student in civil and

infrastructure engineering. The green roof is interdisciplinary, bringing together students from geography, engineering, and environmental science programs to examine the possible impacts of a green roof on a community. The professors received funding for the project last spring, with education and research grants totaling $40,000 from the Dominion Foundation and the Patriot Green Fund. The grants, according to Maggioni, have helped fund the tools to create the roof and instrumentation to collect assorted data. “In the ever-challenging realm of climate change and urbanization, it’s going to be a lot more important for regulatory use to know exactly what [elements of the roof] are contributing to [which results],” Sachs said. Learn more about sustainable projects at For more information, visit Written by Alexa Rogers, edited by Lauren Back.


Mason graduate students Andrew Sachs and Alia Gholoom collaborate on the construction of a green roof atop of the Rappahannock River Parking Deck. Photo by Evan Cantwell.


Global impact

Tuberculosis Global Game Changer A killer problem: According to the National Institutes of Health, one-third of the entire world population is infected with tuberculosis (TB). More than 10 million people every year will come down with active symptoms of tuberculosis, and 1.4 million people die from it. Mason scientists have developed a test that aims to help reduce that number rapidly, not only in the United States, but in underdeveloped parts of the world. Alessandra Luchini, an associate professor in Mason’s College of Science, and Lance Liotta, co-director of the college’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, were recently highlighted by Science Translational

Medicine for their discovery of a sugar molecule called “LAM” in the urine of TB patients. LAM, which comes from the surface of the TB bacteria, can be measured in the urine of all patients with active tuberculosis regardless of whether they have a simultaneous infection with another pathogen. “The more severe the disease, the higher the sugar concentration in the urine,” said Luchini. Cutting-edge nanotechnology makes this diagnostic process much less invasive than current testing options, which allows it to be more readily deployed. The global collaboration includes scientists from Mason, Johns Hopkins University, Peru, and Italy. The team


discovered that special copper dye test binds and captures the TB LAM sugar with incredibly high affinity. Luchini describes the technology as “a cage with a chemical bait inside; it works like a lobster trap.” George Mason University biotechnology partner Ceres Nanosciences will be commercializing the technology, with the aim of making the test available worldwide. Across the college, Mason faculty and students use their scientific skills to tackle big problems. This research, supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, served as the

Alessandra Luchini (left) and Lance Liotta head an international team that has developed a nanotechnology that for the first time can measure a sugar molecule in urine that identifies tuberculosis with a high degree of certainty, setting the stage for a rapid, highly accurate, and far less-invasive urine test of the disease that could potentially save millions of lives. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

basis for the subsequent breakthrough by a group of Mason students to develop a cost-effective, less invasive “dipstick” TB test method. These Mason students will eventually head to Peru to begin testing their device with hundreds of patients for their research study. “We know the research path forward,” Luchini said. “We have everything in place to do our best to deploy this technology and help people in the world.” To learn more about this research, go to Originally written by John Hollis, edited by Lauren Back.


Pictured from left to right: Costa Rica’s Ambassador to the United States Román Macaya Hayes, College of Science Dean Peggy Agouris, Assistant Professor of Systems Biology Aarthi Narayanan, Associate Professor of Systems Biology Kylene Kehn-Hall, George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera, Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government Mark Rozell, and National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases Executive Director Charles Bailey.

Fighting Disease in Costa Rica The global Zika epidemic struck fear into the hearts of people worldwide. In 2017, 85 countries reported outbreaks of Zika; the United States alone had 996 reports, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After years of relationship building, Mason established a formal partnership with Costa Rica in March 2017 to share information and resources, allowing a greater study of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Zika, Dengue fever, and Chikungunya, which have a significant impact on Costa Ricans. Costa Rica became interested in a partnership when Costa Rican ambassador Román Macaya Hayes became aware of research already underway at the Mason-based National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases.

Mason’s College of Science offers many unique opportunities like this to pioneer research of infectious diseases through our Biomedical Research Lab (BRL), one of twelve regional biocontainment laboratories in the United States. The BRL, managed by Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, focuses on host-pathogen interactions using proteomics and nanotechnology, and then applies it to diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine development. Discussions began in 2015, notes College of Science Dean Peggy Agouris, followed by an exchange of visits to the center by Costa Rican officials and cabinet members and trips to Costa Rica by Mason scientists. “This partnership is proof that exciting things can happen when visionary scientists connect,” she said.


Mason President Ángel Cabrera and Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera signed the agreement on the university’s Arlington Campus. “What we have been working on is truly significant for the country of Costa Rica and, I hope, for science in general,” Solís said. “If we can make progress dealing with these diseases and discovering treatments, it will be great for many, many thousands of people, not only in Latin America, but in different countries around the world.” Originally written by Buzz McClain, edited by Lauren Back. For more information, visit

Alumnus Ryan Valdez at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy of Kenya in a bittersweet moment sharing time with Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in the world. Sudan recently passed away on March 19, 2018, leaving two female rhinos to represent the remaining population.

Engaged Alumnus Shows Students the World The College of Science selected Ryan Valdez, PhD Environmental Science and Policy ’15, as the recipient of its 2017 Mason Distinguished Alumni Award. Currently the senior manager for conservation science and policy for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Valdez facilitates the application of interdisciplinary science focusing on air/climate, energy, landscapes, water, and wildlife toward conservation strategies to help protect U.S. national parks. He has managed ecological programs throughout the Americas and East Africa, and holds a strong interest in applied geographic information systems. While on a doctoral research fellowship with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Valdez’s advisor was Biology Department chair Larry

Rockwood. To enable his international research, Ryan started a Kenya wildlife study-abroad trip in 2010 and has since shared that international experience with more than 70 Mason students. He continues to participate in the winter break course, helping to connect Mason to strategic conservation partners in East Africa such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, African Wildlife Foundation, Mpala Research Center (a Smithsonian affiliation), and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, East Africa’s largest black rhino conservancy. As a Mason alumnus, Valdez is both committed to helping Mason build strong alliances in conservation science and devoted to Mason student success. After having taught many courses and labs at Mason, Valdez is someone students

frequently look to for advice, networking, and letters of recommendation, and they will even visit him at his NPCA office in Washington, D.C. “As alumni, our experiences, accomplishments, and networking become incredibly valuable to Mason students,” Valdez explained. He gives back to Mason’s College of Science by continually bridging Mason to future conservation partners and remains accessible and available to help mentor and guide students in need. Visit to explore study-abroad programs in the College of Science. Written by Lauren Back, edited by Tracy Mason.


Faculty updates Award-Winning Faculty Lance Liotta It only seems fitting that the first time Mason honors research faculty with its Beck Family Medal for Excellence in Research and Scholarship, it goes to Lance Liotta, co-director and co-founder of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM). His team at CAPMM studies the proteomics of human tissue, cultured cells, and body fluids, using this set of novel technologies. Also a founder of Theranostics Health and Ceres Nanosciences, he works tirelessly to promote student research scholarship through Mason’s signature Aspiring Summer Scientists Internship Program. Liotta has more than 100 issued or allowed patents and more than 690 publications. He is an ISI highly cited investigator and the recipient of numerous awards for biomedical research, including the 2015 Outstanding Virginia Faculty Award (SCHEV), the Flemming Award for Cancer Research, the Warner-Lambert Parke Davis Award, and the Surgeon General’s Medallion. He is board certified in anatomic pathology and is medical director of the Mason CAP/CLIA certified clinical proteomics lab.

Patrick Vora Patrick Vora, assistant professor of physics, received the 2017 Dean’s Award for Early Career Excellence. In his fourth year at Mason, Vora has been highly engaged, demonstrating excellence in all three areas: teaching, research, and service. He directs Mason’s new Quantum Materials Center. He published six peerreviewed articles in the last academic year alone. Actively submitting proposals, Vora has a $330,000 grant from the Office for Naval Research, as well as an NSF grant. Vora actively engages Mason’s undergraduate and graduate students in his research. He currently mentors three PhD students and four undergraduate students in his laboratory, two additional OSCAR students, and three ASSIP students. Known for his tireless energy, Vora also helped organize the physics and astronomy component of the college’s ScienceConnect open house last fall and the Food Truck for Physics in spring 2017.

Evelyn Sander Many faculty serve on the editorial boards of professional journals as thought leaders who influence academic and research trends in their given fields. Evelyn Sander, professor of dynamical systems and differential equations in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, serves as editor-in-chief of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems. According to ResearchGate, the SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems (SIADS) publishes research articles on the mathematical analysis and modeling of dynamical systems and its application to the physical, engineering, and life sciences. Sander also engages students through SIAM, leveraging Mason’s premier location to lead student advocacy Hill Days with the U.S. Congress and create national megabooths at the USA Science and Engineering Festival.

John Kwiatkowski and Anton Stocker

Written by Lauren Back.

For decades, Mason researchers and NASA scientists have partnered for pioneering work in space exploration and the geo-sensory domains. Each year, the Sciences and Exploration Directorate of NASA awards researchers for contributions in their field. This year two College of Science researchers were recognized. John Kwiatkowski, associate director of Mason’s Center for Earth Observing and Space Research (CEOSR), was presented the 2017 Robert H. Goddard Honor Award for Science. Anton Stocker, a research scientist and systems programmer also with CEOSR, received the 2017 Robert H. Goddard Honor Award for Engineering.


Introducing the Newest College of Science Leadership Department chairs and program directors provide the vision to engage students, faculty, and partners within their various disciplines. We asked our newest leaders (at right) to answer the same question we ask our student scientists: “When did you know you wanted to study science?” Please contact our college or department leadership to discuss ways to enhance our students’ learning and expand college programs.

A high school earth science class inspired Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences Chair Jim Kinter’s passion for science.

Written by Lauren Back.

Chairs and Program Directors


Biomedical Sciences

Larry L. Rockwood

William J. Hahn

Environmental Science and Policy (ESP)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Gerald Weatherspoon

Forensic Science

Mathematical Sciences

Mary Ellen O’Toole

David Walnut

Physics and Astronomy

School of Systems Biology

Paul So

Iosif Vaisman

Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Alonso Aguirre

Dieter Pfoser, who chairs the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science, says he knew his professional course at 12 years old, thanks to watching his father’s research pursuits.

Cody Edwards

Neuroscience Program Director Saleet Jafri always loved science. His science interest peaked in fourth grade when his teacher really began to explain science to him.

When Computational and Data Sciences Department Chair Jason Kinser’s first-grade teacher told him what scientists did, he instantly knew he would study science.


Major Research Centers in the College of Science Research centers are chartered organizations in the university. They are foci for larger groups of scientists and support staff organized around specific research areas. Our research mission is to produce science that enhances society, creates clear career pathways for students, and enhances economic development in the region and the nation. Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) Lance Liotta/Emanuel Petricoin, Co-Directors

Center for Intelligent Spatial Computing for Water/Energy Science (CISC) Phil Yang, Director

Center for Collision Safety and Analysis (CCSA) Steve Kan, Director

Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) James Kinter, Director

Center for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Rainald Löhner, Director

Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology (COMPLETE) Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Director

Center for Earth Observing and Space Research (CEOSR) Peggy Agouris, Director Center for Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Arie Croitoru

Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems (CSISS) Liping Di, Director

Environmental Science and Technology Center (ESTC) John Qu, Director MicroBiome Analysis Center (MBAC) Patrick Gillevet, Director National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID) Charles Bailey, Director Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) Chris Jones, Director Quantum Materials Center (QMC) Patrick Vora and Qiliang Li, Directors

Center for Simulation and Modeling Estela Blaisten-Barojas/Dmitri Klimov Co-Directors

Female Physicist Leaves Lasting Legacy The George Mason University Department of Physics and Astronomy honors the pioneering professor who founded the department with a memorial scholarship in her name. The Eugenie V. Mielczarek Scholarship Endowment recognizes this trailblazer who made lasting contributions as Mason’s first female physicist while playing a pivotal role in paving the way for other women to follow in a field where they are typically underrepresented. More affectionately known as “Jeannie,” Mielczarek spent 35 years at Mason before retiring in 1999.

Eugenie V. Mielczarek

“This is what Jeannie would have wanted,” said Peggy Agouris, the dean of Mason’s College of Science. “She was a person who was so influential in how women were viewed in fields generally dominated by men at that time—and still are in some cases.” Mielczarek’s two children, Mary Mielczarek and John Mielczarek, each made significant contributions to help initiate the scholarship, and a number of faculty members from the Physics and Astronomy Department have also contributed. “The goal is to eventually have the scholarship endowed to at least $75,000,” said department chair Paul So. Mielczarek died June 26, 2017, at the age of 86. Her children said they couldn’t have asked for a better way to see their mother remembered. Support the Eugenie V. Mielczarek Scholarship Endowment: Written by John Hollis, edited by Lauren Black.


Advisory Boards The College of Science established two advisory boards comprising academic, industry, and government bodies. The advisory board members provide invaluable counsel on academic program development, research partnerships, and student opportunities. The Dean’s Advisory Board provides direction and guidance on program development, industry trends, and workforce development needs. Their insights and time-shared are very much appreciated.

College of Science Dean’s Advisory Board Robbie Barbero, PhD Chief Business Officer, Ceres Nanosciences Horace Blackman Senior Vice President, Veterans Health, Leidos Health Richard Byrne Senior Vice President, Programs and Technology, MITRE Corporation Vikas Chandhoke, PhD Professor and Founding Dean, College of Science, George Mason University Bryant Dunetz Chief Operations Officer, Side-Out Foundation Ross Dunlap Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ceres Nanosciences

Nicole Geller Founder, Wiljax, LLC Anne Gruner Vice President, J. K. Gruner and Associates, Ltd. Faisal Hasan General Manager, Data Acquisition and Public Policy, CARFAX Inc. Crystal R. Icenhour, PhD Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Aperiomics

Hon. John “Chap” Petersen Virginia State Senator, 34th District, and Attorney, Chap Petersen & Associates Geoff Stearn Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Ligado Networks Peter Stearns, PhD Provost Emeritus and University Professor, George Mason University

Saralyn Mark, MD President and CEO, SolaMed Solutions, LLC

Jeanne Tisinger Deputy Director for Support, Central Intelligence Agency, and Founder, JTC Consulting

Walter McLeod Managing Director, Eco Capitol, LLC

Chris Tucker, PhD Principal, Yale House Ventures

Mason DataLab Advisory Board Dmitri Adler Data Society Johan Bos-Beijer Office of the Naval Inspector General Aaron Black Inova Translational Medical Institute Dr. James Ecklund Inova Michael Eichler Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Michelle Gregory Fairfax County Health and Human Services, Fairfax County Government

Mamoon Saeed International Monetary Fund

Ellen Hamilton The World Bank

Ernest Moy Centers for Disease Control, National Center of Health Statistics

Faisal Hasan CARFAX Inc.

Peter Walton CGI Federal

Richard Heimann Cybraics Inc. Rodney Lusk Fairfax County Economic Development Authority


Celebrating contributions

Mason Climatologists Establish Data Partnership The science of weather prediction continues to evolve. Mason scientists from the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) have partnered with Ligado Networks to increase public access to critical weather and atmospheric data in real-time, which will help our students and scientists research, track, and predict weather. Mason’s College of Science includes the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic,

and Earth Sciences (AOES) and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA). Both AOES and COLA offer research programs, undergraduate, and advanced degrees for atmospheric science, ocean, and estuarine science and paleontology. The collaboration will demonstrate the feasibility of delivering National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) realtime satellite data to more users across


the country at a lower cost, using a cloud-based network. AOES chair Jim Kinter said, “Since this partnership began, our Mason researchers in the College of Science have reviewed the data for accuracy and are developing tools for analyzing and visualizing the data.” Mason and Ligado will compare the conventional delivery of the weather data from NOAA satellite systems with the new cloud-based content delivery network. This includes measuring the speed and reliability of data delivery to users across the country. The initiative looks to use satellite-based data to

The first of its kind, the GOES-16 became operational in December. The satellite is a source of critically important real-time weather information for the Mason/Ligado partnership and now provides lightning data. Credit: NASA.

review and improve the accuracy of weather forecasting models and the detection of formations of tornadoes and dense ground fog. Additionally, new information extraction tools will be made available to the public for free.

U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (Virginia) also applauded the agreement. “This partnership between George Mason University and Ligado Networks will facilitate innovative uses of important weather data,” he said.

“It’s such a cutting-edge project,” declared Doug Smith, Ligado Networks’ president and chief executive officer. “The network we’ve developed gives George Mason University unprecedented access to real-time public weather data, making it possible for the school’s weather research programs to better study our atmosphere and develop useful tools that will benefit the broader American public.”

For more information, visit Originally written by Ashley Durmer, edited by Lauren Back.


Mason Unveils New Potomac Science Center Not far from the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 95 in Woodbridge, Virginia, there is an oasis where the Occoquan River joins the Potomac River called Belmont Bay. Ospreys, herons, river otters, and other creatures thrive there. People like it, too, and housing developments have sprung up nearby. In fact, George Mason, the namesake of our university, made his home, Gunston Hall, not far from there. Mason science professor and freshwater ecologist Chris Jones will tell you there isn’t another place like it on Earth, and he means it. “The area is environmentally unique. It is a freshwater tidal basin. The salinity of the water is basically zero, and it has unique flora and fauna.” This special place provides the setting for the university’s newest research facility, the Potomac Science Center, which opened this past fall. The $32 million, 50,000-square-foot waterfront building is home to the College of Science’s Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC). In addition to dedicated labs for researchers, the new facility has two teaching labs, a geoinformatics training center with a visualization lab, classrooms, a hands-on discovery lab for K-12 students, faculty offices, a public display area/exhibit space, and a large multipurpose meeting room that will also be available to the community, according to Jones, who is the director of PEREC. “We have an international reputation for both of these areas of research,” says Peggy Agouris, dean of the College of Science. “It is a great

opportunity for the College of Science to have a facility that can house these two areas of inquiry together. They are linked, but also distinct, in the sense that by working together they can address human-centric problems, nature-centric problems, and all the areas in between.” For more than 30 years, PEREC researchers have been studying this ecosystem with the goal of developing greater understanding of the ecological conditions of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A multidisciplinary center, PEREC includes scientists from the Departments of Environmental Science and Policy, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences. Eight of those researchers have state-of-the-art labs in this new building. Since 2009, Mason scientists have delivered watershed educational experiences to more than 92,000 middle school students in the Prince William County and Fairfax County public schools. Mason graduate students serve as field interpreters for these field trips, helping youth gather and identify aquatic invertebrates, such as insect larvae, and conduct water chemistry measurements to better understand watershed health. “I envision this building to be a showcase of the world-class environmental research our scientists do at Mason,” said Agouris. For more information, visit Written by Colleen Kearney Rich, edited by Lauren Back.


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Profile for George Mason University College of Science

COS 2017 Annual Report  

As scientists, we want to take visionary growth a step further. Contents: Research: How We Make a Difference Unique Learning Opportunities...

COS 2017 Annual Report  

As scientists, we want to take visionary growth a step further. Contents: Research: How We Make a Difference Unique Learning Opportunities...

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