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This issue of NJIT Magazine shines a spotlight on the College of Science and Liberal Arts (CSLA), which is dedicated to instruction in the mathematical, physical and biological sciences as well as traditional liberal-arts disciplines. CSLA is home to internationally renowned research centers and award-winning professors. Its faculty also frequently partner with colleagues from NJIT’s other colleges and schools to engage in research that explores emerging frontiers. These interdisciplinary initiatives cut across disciplines including genomics, neuroscience, ecology, biomechanics, solar physics, photonics, environmental science, industrial mathematics, technical communication, social media and other disciplines to address the most complex challenges of our time. Assistant Professor Casey Diekman, Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Assistant Professor Alexei Khalizov, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, are working to expand the boundaries of our knowledge on two very different scientific frontiers. A common denominator in their respective work, though, is the recognition and support resulting from the significance of their efforts, including recent Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). CAREER grants are among the NSF’s most prestigious awards, offered specifically for the benefit of younger faculty who, in building their careers, have demonstrated outstanding potential as both educators and researchers. CSLA is unique among other science and liberal arts colleges due to its placement within a largely STEM-based university. In this issue of NJIT Magazine, Dean Kevin Belfield, who assumed leadership of CSLA in 2014, shares his strategic vision for the college, which includes increasing the number of liberal arts graduates with a solid foundation in and understanding of the STEM disciplines. As demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey’s coastline is vulnerable to the effects of the complex interaction of natural forces and human activity. The article “Coastal Perspectives” provides an overview of the research conducted by Nancy Jackson, a geomorphologist in the Department of Environmental Science. Jackson currently has funding under a Sea Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to evaluate dune-building processes and the protection that dunes provide. I hope you enjoy reading these articles, and I welcome your feedback.


Denise Anderson Associate Vice President Communications, Marketing and Branding Christina Crovetto M.S. ’03 Editor Tanya Klein Editorial Assistant Shydale James Contributing Editor Dean L. Maskevich, Tracey L. Regan Contributing Writers Babette Hoyle Production Manager Diane Cuddy Design Editorial Advisory Board Kevin D. Belfield, Reggie J. Caudill, Charles R. Dees Jr., Atam P. Dhawan, Urs P. Gauchat, Moshe Kam, Michael K. Smullen NJIT Magazine is published by New Jersey Institute of Technology, Office of Strategic Communications. Its mission is to foster ties with alumni, university friends and corporate partners and to report on relevant issues, particularly those in education, science, research and technology. Please send letters of comment and requests to reproduce material from the magazine to: NJIT Magazine Office of Strategic Communications University Heights Newark, NJ 07102-1982 Joel S. Bloom President Charles R. Dees Jr. Senior Vice President University Advancement Michael K. Smullen Director of Alumni Relations

On the web: Cover photo caption: NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts is moving into the forefront of many national research activities, from solar astronomy to mathematical modeling. Cover photo: Diane Cuddy

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SEEKING INSIGHTS INTO CIRCADIAN BEHAVIOR AND ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION Assistant Professor Casey Diekman, Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Assistant Professor Alexei Khalizov, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, are working to expand the boundaries of our knowledge on two very different scientific frontiers. PAG E 14

LEADING CSLA Dean Kevin Belfield discusses his vision for NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts. 18

PAG E 18

COASTAL PERSPECTIVES Nancy Jackson, a professor of geomorphology, evaluates dune-building processes and the protection that dunes provide, including protection against extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy.


NJIT news in brief

7 P OINT BY POINT Athletics update


NJIT development news


Calendar of events and more


Leading-edge achievements by faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of NJIT




From left: John W. Seazholtz, chair of the NJIT Board of Overseers; Rajesh Davé, distinguished professor of chemical, biological and pharmaceutical engineering, and Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT

Rajesh Davé, a distinguished professor of chemical, biological and pharmaceutical engineering, best known for reengineering tiny drug particles to make medications more effective, received NJIT’s Excellence in Research Prize and Medal from the Board of Overseers. Drawing on physics, chemistry

and engineering, Davé’s research into the behavior of particles is fundamental and his methods for adapting them are widely applicable. For example, by shaking granular or particulate materials along with nanomaterials, which form a thin coating around them, he has been able to optimize their

flow, among other processing improvements. Most recently, he has been reengineering drug particles to improve medications in a variety of ways: by increasing the absorption rates of drugs with poor water solubility, delaying the release of medications that degrade in the acidic environment of the stomach and masking the bitter tastes of drugs to make them more palatable for children as well as for adult patients who have difficulty swallowing. “Your work has affected science and technology in an unexpected and positive way,” said John W. Seazholtz ’59, chair of the Board of Overseers, in presenting him with the medal. In 2015, Davé won a major career award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the organization’s 2015 Lectureship Award in Fluidization, a process for agitating solids such as powders

and particles in order to make them behave like liquids. The same year, Davé received his ninth patent for coming up with a manufacturing process for coating fine particles less than the diameter of a human hair that does not require water, organic solvents or heat. A global health care company that develops both drugs and their delivery systems has licensed the technology, developed along with former NJIT students who are also named on the patent. In a nod to the many young researchers in the room, Davé, who is currently the site leader and one of the founders of the National Science Foundationfunded Engineering Research Center on Structured Organic Particulate Systems, which focuses on manufacturing processes for the pharmaceutical industry, noted, “I accept this on behalf of my students and post-docs. Without them, none of this would have been possible.” n

MULTIMEDIA BY PANASONIC NJIT celebrated the latest extension of its valuable partnership with Panasonic at the official opening of Multimedia by Panasonic, a state-of-the-art multimedia conferencing room described by its chairman and CEO Joseph M. Taylor ’11 HON as “the beginning of the conferencing room of the future.” Located on the third floor of Fenster Hall, Multimedia by Panasonic features the Cisco SpeakerTrack interactive video and audio conferencing system, which includes a camera that automatically focuses on whomever is speaking, and two ultrahighdefinition 98-inch display screens. The state-of-the-art lighting and shades system provided by Lutron, Panasonic’s partner, includes a remote control with presets for different room uses. The room is bring-your-own-device compliant; retractable HDMI and VGA cables are installed in each of the three table cubbies for connecting a personal laptop to the displays. “NJIT has counted Joe and Panasonic as supporters, partners and friends for many years,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “Our organizations have collaborated on a plethora of projects during that 2 NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017

time, and Panasonic has provided NJIT with more than $2.3 million in philanthropic support to date. They also have hired many of our graduates over the years.” In his remarks, Taylor said that he has enjoyed meeting NJIT students from diverse backgrounds who have “incredible obstacles to overcome” and who often work two or three jobs to finance their education. “The more time I spend here, the more I love the university,” Taylor said. “I’m happy to play a very small part. There is nothing I’m more thrilled about than being part of this university and the Board of Trustees.” n

Ten students will have the opportunity to pursue a college education at NJIT at no cost for tuition, fees, room and board, thanks to $200,000 in support from the Give Something Back Foundation (Give Back). Robert Carr, founder and chairman of Give Back, presented the award at a ceremony this fall at NJIT. Give Back is a nonprofit organization providing mentoring and scholarships to students of modest means to help them realize their full potential by achieving a college education. “NJIT is a distinguished institution that will provide our scholars with a technology-focused education,” said Carr. “We are very proud to partner with NJIT, particularly because of its highly regarded reputation with students from underprivileged backgrounds, and it is one of the best values for higher education in the state.” “We are very grateful

for the generosity of the Give Something Back Foundation and know well the impact it will have,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “NJIT has a rich history of successfully educating talented students who are from low-income households, underrepresented populations or are the first generation in their families to attend college. We have been ranked among the



Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT, and Robert Carr, founder and chairman of the Give Something Back Foundation

top 10 percent nationally of colleges and universities for graduating minority engineers, and we earned a similar designation for computer science recently.” Bloom added, “With help from generous supporters like the Give Something Back Foundation, we are able to provide the financial and academic support necessary for students to overcome those challenges

NJIT hosted a kickoff event in October to launch the Smart Cities Initiative. From left: Ali Faraji, CEO of Aptinet, Thomas Motyka ’81, senior executive director, Smart Cities Innovation; Ben Levin, executive director of MetroLab Network; and Donald H. Sebastian, president and CEO of NJII.

CITY SMART On Oct. 17, Newark officials joined with NJIT, the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) and corporate partners to announce a long-term program that would help propel the city into becoming one of the most technologicallyconnected cities in the nation. Newark is taking the necessary steps toward becoming a “Smart

City” as part of a sweeping White House initiative that brings together academia, government and business to innovate and create the next generation of urban technology and infrastructure. For communities like Newark, these solutions would permeate all parts of the urban experience for residents, daytime workers and visitors. “Imagine Newark as a city where technology enhances every

part of your life, wherever you may be,” said Donald H. Sebastian, NJII president and CEO. “Through the Smart Cities initiative, we will be reshaping and enhancing how the public experiences Newark. The open technology infrastructure we are creating will be a magnet to attract entrepreneurial businesses whose products will reshape urban life using the Internet of Things, and they will contribute greatly to the economic vitality of our city.” The city is part of the national MetroLab Network, which was launched by 21 founding cityuniversity pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part

and reap the rewards of an NJIT degree—nearly three job offers in hand by graduation at salaries that exceed national averages by almost 20 percent. Providing talented students from low-income families with a pathway to educational success can be transformative, not just for the student but for his or her family and generations of those families yet to come.” n

of the Obama administration’s Smart Cities Initiative, which NJIT and Newark have joined with 40 other regional city-university partnerships across the nation. The local program is called MetroLab@Newark. With smart city technologies, Newark can better tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. Funded by the Newark Downtown District, and supported by the city, an internet kiosk called Brand Newark will open on the site. Developed by Aptinet Inc., the kiosk will be a powerful Wi-Fi hub that will provide residents and visitors with the latest news and information on local businesses, traffic, mass transit schedules, local news, videos and other important features via a next-generation fiber optic network. n



HONORS COLLEGE RECEIVES TOP 10 RANKING NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College has been ranked among the top 10 honors colleges and programs in the United States in the book INSIDE HONORS: Ratings and Reviews of Sixty Public University Honors Programs, published by Public University Press. Inclusion in this top 10 listing was based on curricular and co-curricular requirements, class size, SAT, GPA, merit scholarships, prestigious fellowships, honors housing and more. The college received the highest possible ranking of 5.0 “mortarboards,” translating to top 10 status, following the publication’s data analysis of 60 public university

honors programs across the country. “Since being established in 1995 with about 120 students, NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College has grown to roughly 700 students who are sought after by many of the best universities across the country,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “These are students of great accomplishment whose scores on the math and critical reading sections of the SAT average 1420 out of 1600. They are choosing NJIT because, by attending the honors college at one of only 32 polytechnic universities nationally, they are in incredible demand by employers upon


graduation and are well prepared for career success.” The college is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, an affiliate member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology, and offers a full curriculum of honors courses, colloquia, study tours, dual-degree and study-abroad opportunities, internships, undergraduate research, community-service involvement and accelerated programs through partnerships with neighboring universities. Interim Dean John Bechtold,

who also is professor of mathematical sciences at NJIT, was the driving force behind the college’s first-time request to be evaluated for inclusion in this biennial publication and attributes the ranking to the college’s wide-ranging curriculum as well as the quality of students the college attracts—this year’s class had scored an average SAT score of 1420 in reading and math, the highest to date. “Prospective students are going to see we’re ranked so highly and will further consider us as one of their top college choices,” noted Bechtold. “They will realize the caliber of our students and the opportunities afforded to them. We are very proud of our ranking.” n

SOUNDS OF THE NATURAL WORLD The tuneful behavior of some songbirds parallels that of human musicians. That’s the conclusion presented in a recent paper published by an international team of researchers, among them David Rothenberg, distinguished professor of philosophy and music in NJIT’s Department of Humanities. “Temporal regularity increases with repertoire complexity in the Australian pied butcherbird’s song” was published online in Royal Society Open Science, a peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal launched in 2014. In the past, claims that musical principles are integral to birdsong were largely met with skepticism and dismissed as wishful thinking. However, the extensive statistical and objective analysis of the new paper demonstrates that the more complex a bird’s repertoire, the better he or she is at singing in time, rhythmically interacting with other birds much more skillfully than those who know fewer songs. Rothenberg, who provided his unique perspective, said, “Science and music may have different criteria for truth, but sometimes their insights need to be put together to make sense of the beautiful performances we find in nature.” The recipient of the NJIT Overseers Excellence in Research Award for 2010, Rothenberg has written extensively about the bond between humans and our surrounding natural world, a world we share with myriad other creatures. As a musician—he plays the clarinet and saxophone—Rothenberg has added the dimension of music to research connecting the living sounds of the natural world to traditions of global rhythmic innovation and improvisation. n



From left: Dax-Devlon Ross, executive director, After-School All-Star program; Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr.; Alicia Feghhi, assistant director of leadership and professional development, Albert Dorman Honors College; Dushyant Singh (freshman, computer science); Sainithin Kuntamukkala (freshman, undecided); Matthew Shpiruk (sophomore, electrical engineering); Constantine Baltzis (freshman, biology)

A butcherbird mid-song

Representative Donald Payne Jr. stopped by Camden Street School in Newark to chat with NJIT Albert Dorman Honors College scholars who are helping to cultivate supportive, experiential learning environments by mentoring middle-school students in the After-School All-Star program (ASAS). As part of a free STEM mentoring program, Honors College scholars, who are required to volunteer for 30 hours, help ASAS students with their math, science and reading homework before assisting with a DJ academy, cooking class, film criticism class and soccer club. The students in the after-school program, which focuses on health and fitness, career readiness and art and culture, were targeted because they either failed or barely passed the PARCC exam. “We

provide the students with vital skill development opportunities,” said Dax-Devlon Ross, executive director, ASAS. “We’re preparing students to transition from middle school to high school.” Samuel Garrison, the principal at Camden Street School, gives credit to NJIT scholars for the increase in reading scores, which exceeded the state average by a significant margin last spring. Before touring the DJ Academy, where the students blended sounds and beats using a mixing board, Congressman Payne took a moment to laud the Honors College scholars for a job well done. “I really commend you guys for doing this,” he said. “This means a lot, especially to young people who may not have the opportunity. This could be what really changes their lives.” n


KUDOS FOR STEM DIVERSITY The readers of Diversity in Action, a publication that highlights the achievements of current and future members of the diverse STEM workforce, have selected NJIT as the top 2016 “Dedicated to STEM Diversity” recipient in the higher education category. Additionally, readers have also recognized Janice Daniel, associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, as an advocate for diverse STEM professionals and students. Diversity in Action launched its first reader survey in May, allowing readers to submit the names of companies, nonprofits, government and defense agencies, institutions of higher learning and individuals that they believe are advocates for diverse STEM professionals and students. The results were published in the November/December 2016 issue. n

NJIT NAMED 2017 MILITARY FRIENDLY SCHOOL For the third consecutive year, NJIT has earned the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM JobsSM and Military Spouse. First published in 2009, Military Friendly® Schools is a comprehensive resource for veterans today. Each year, the list of Military Friendly® Schools is provided to service members and their families, helping them select the best college, university or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from Victory Media’s proprietary survey. More than 1,600 schools participated in the 2017 survey; 1,160 were awarded with the designation. NJIT will be showcased along with other 2017 Military Friendly® Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs® and Military Spouse magazine and on n

END NOTES MICHAEL EHRLICH, associate professor in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management and co-director of the New Jersey Innovation Acceleration Center, published an article on the National Science Foundation’s Lean Start-Up Push in Coller Venture Review. “The National Science Foundation’s Lean Start-Up Push: I-Corps as a Model for International Univenture” surveys initiatives and focuses in detail on I-Corps, a flagship program launched by the National Science Foundation in 2011. MELODI GUILBAULT, senior university lecturer in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management, published an article in the Journal of Marketing for Higher Education. The article reframes the debate about who the customer is in higher education using the framework of market orientation, customer orientation and service (including co-creation) and relationship marketing. MURAT GUVENDIREN, assistant professor in the Otto H. York Department of Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering, gave a keynote speech entitled “Designing Biomaterial Inks for 3D Printing of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds and Medical Devices” at the 2016 Symposium on Biomaterials held Oct. 24-25 in Iselin, N.J. BURT KIMMELMAN, professor of English, has published his ninth collection of poetry, Abandoned Angel (Marsh Hawk Press). MARGUERITE SCHNEIDER, associate professor of management in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management, has won


the annual NJPRO Foundation/ Seton Hall University Best Paper Award in Finance for her book chapter “Managerialism vs. Shareholderism: An Examination of Hedge Funds Activism.” RICHARD SHER, distinguished professor of history in the Federated History Department of NJIT and Rutgers University-Newark, has been appointed a Senior Warnock Fellow at Yale University for the 2016-17 academic year while on sabbatical leave. MING FANG TAYLOR, assistant professor in NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management, presented two papers during the American Accounting Association 2016 Annual Meeting. The titles of the two papers were “Executive Social Networks and Earnings Management” and “CFO Social Networks and Tax Avoidance,” both co-authored with Bill Francis, Iftekhar Hasan and Qiang Wu. MENGCHU ZHOU, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, co-authored a paper that won the Best Paper Award at the 9th International Conference on Internet and Distributed Computing Systems (IDCS 2016), Sept. 28-30, 2016, in Wuhan, China. “A Sliding Window Method for Online Tracking of Spatiotemporal Event Patterns” presents a fast-learning method to perform accurate online tracking of spatiotemporal event patterns encountered in Internet of Things-enabled environments from smart homes and smart buildings to smart campuses and smart cities.




Ky Howard

NJIT men’s basketball alum Ky Howard ’16 was selected by the Greensboro Swarm in the 2016 NBA Development League (NBDL) Draft. The Swarm is an affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets of the National

Basketball Association (NBA). Howard, who was taken with the 13th pick of the second round (35th overall), becomes the second Highlanders player to be claimed in the NBDL draft. The Philadelphia native joins Isaiah Wilkerson ’12, who was selected by the Tulsa Drillers in the eighth round (118th overall) in 2012. “It’s definitely a blessing being drafted. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the chance,” said Howard, who helped guide NJIT to 20-win seasons in each of the past two years. “NJIT put me in a situation that gave me a chance to grow and develop on and off the court. The staff and administration gave me the support and belief that anything was possible; and I can’t say enough about all my teammates.”

A four-year letter winner and three-year starter at point guard, Howard proved to be a tremendous all-around performer, He departed the Highlanders as the program’s all-time Division-I leader in career assists (416)­—a total that ranks second in the history of NJIT. Additionally, he is one of just three Highlanders to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a D-I career. His total of 1,139 points ranks fifth while his 535 rebounds rank third. In fact, the only game of the 113 in his career without a rebound was in his first as a freshman in a Big East road game at Providence College (Nov. 10, 2012). Howard’s career started in grand fashion. In NJIT’s final season competing in the nowdefunct Great West Conference (GWC) (2012-13), he finished as

both the second-leading freshman scorer (7.2 ppg) and rebounder (4.6) in the league. As a result, the 6’3” guard was selected to the 2012-13 GWC All-Newcomer team and as a finalist for both the Newcomer* of the Year and the Sixth Man awards (*included non-freshmen). As his career progressed, Howard was part of teams that upset No. 17 Michigan (Dec. 6, 2014), earned a two-seed for the conference tournament in the program’s first year as a member of the ASUN (2015-16), and advanced to the semifinals of the National Postseason Tournament in back-to-back years (2015, 2016). He finished his NJIT career averaging 10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 3.7 apg. n

BOTH NJIT SOCCER TEAMS RECOGNIZED FOR NSCAA TEAM ACADEMIC AWARD The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) recognized both NJIT men’s and women’s soccer teams for the NSCAA’s annual team academic awards for the 2015-16 academic year. The NSCAA annually recognizes college soccer programs that have excelled in the classroom, in addition to their work on the field. A total of 893 soccer teams (315 men, 578 women) posted a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, thereby earning the NSCAA College Team Academic Award for the 2015-16 academic year. Among these programs are 223 schools receiving honors for both their men’s and women’s teams. NJIT was among those 223 schools receiving honors for both men’s and women’s soccer. The men’s team posted a GPA of 3.20 during the 2015-16 academic year, while the women finished with a 3.34 cumulative GPA. The Highlanders were the only Atlantic Sun Conference team to have both programs recognized. n NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017 7

GIVING A STAR-SPANGLED CELEBRATION Four distinguished individuals were recognized for achievements beneficial to the state and our nation, as well as an organization exceptional for its commitment to NJIT’s mission, at Celebration, NJIT’s annual fundraiser for campuswide scholarship endowment funds, held Nov. 11 at The Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange. This year’s event, “A StarSpangled Celebration,” acknowledged the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of those who have served in our armed forces. Vanessa Williams provided the evening’s entertainment. Since its inception in 1995, Celebration has raised nearly $5 million in endowed scholarship funds, ensuring that top-quality higher education is accessible to talented, motivated students. “I am proud to say that NJIT students, on average, graduate with nearly three job offers in hand and starting salaries nearly 20 percent higher than the national average,” said NJIT President Joel S. Bloom. “That success continues throughout their lives, as has been documented by numerous external validations. It’s clear that an NJIT education can be transformational. That is why tonight is so important and why I am so appreciative of all of you, whose donations, ticket purchases, sponsorships and gifts in kind contribute to this important cause.”

From left: Raymond J. McGowan ’64, retired executive vice president at ExxonMobil Chemical; Michael Gadalla ’18; Marjorie A. Perry ’05, president and CEO of MZM Construction Co., Inc.; Theodore D. Cassera ’72, executive vice president at Bowman Consulting Group; Kevin Morrison, investment team lead at J.P. Morgan Private Bank; and Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT.

John McCann, operations executive with Con Edison Competitive Energy Solutions and a member of NJIT’s Board of Overseers, and Judy Valyo, dean emerita at NJIT and a member of the Board of Visitors for NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts, served as co-chairs of this year’s event. Raymond J. McGowan ’64, retired executive vice president at ExxonMobil Chemical, was awarded the President’s Medal for Lifetime Achievement for his leadership at the university and for his support, including two endowed scholarships. A member of the NJIT Board of Overseers and a former member of the NJIT NEXT Leadership Council, McGowan has previously received the Alumni Achievement Award, the Edward F. Weston Medal for Professional Achievement and the Outstanding Alumni Award. Known as one of the top engineers in New Jersey, Theodore D. Cassera ’72, executive vice president


at Bowman Consulting Group, received the Edward F. Weston Medal for Professional Achievement, given to an alumnus in recognition of outstanding professional and civic accomplishments, as well as support of the university. Cassera established a family scholarship in 2006. With a career that led her from teaching in the Newark public schools to receiving an MBA from NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management in 2005 to becoming president and CEO of MZM Construction Co., Inc., Marjorie A. Perry ’05 received the University Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Currently co-executive vice chair of the Board of Overseers of NJIT, she also has served on the Martin Tuchman School of Management’s Board of Visitors. Joseph M. Taylor ’11 HON, chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America, was presented with the Special Friend of the University Award. A member

of the NJIT Board of Trustees and an honorary degree recipient, he has had a 20-year association with NJIT through programs he helped develop, ranging from academic competitions to scholarships. Panasonic has provided NJIT with more than $2.3 million in philanthropic support to date. JPMorgan Chase & Co. received the Outstanding Corporate Partner Award for its partnership in working with NJIT to pilot and fund the health IT Entrepreneurial Connection Program, which targets growth-stage health care IT entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of innovative products and services. Kevin Morrison, investment team lead at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New Jersey, accepted the award on behalf of JPMorgan Chase & Co. At the event, Michael Gadalla ’18, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering technology who also is a cadet in NJIT’s Air Force ROTC program, underscored how scholarship support is enabling him to achieve his dream of becoming a pilot or combat systems officer in the Air Force. “As the second child in my family to go through college, tuition has not been an easy subject for my family,” Gadalla said. “To all of those who contribute and invest in the students of the future, on behalf of all students that receive contributions, thank you.” n

Joseph M. Taylor ’11 HON, chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America, was presented with the Special Friend of the University Award.

Make a decision today that will create a better tomorrow.

R. Cynthia Pruett ’55 had originally planned

and included New Jersey Institute of Technology

to go to MIT, but it wasn’t admitting women

in her will.

in the 1950s. However, an excellent institute

“My estate will mostly go to charity — and my education piece will go to NJIT,” Cynthia said.

of technology closer to home was — and in gratitude, the retired engineer has established a scholarship, created a charitable gift annuity,

Become a lifelong 1881 Society member by including NJIT in your will.

“I feel I need to give back something because I got such a great education.” To learn more, visit or contact Monique Moore Pryor, Esq., assistant vice president of planned giving, at 973-596-8548 or








Assistant Professor Casey Diekman, Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Assistant Professor Alexei Khalizov, Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, are working to expand the boundaries of our knowledge on two very different scientific frontiers. But a common denominator is the recognition and support each has received that highlights the significance of their efforts­­—support which includes Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). CAREER grants are among the NSF’s most prestigious awards, offered specifically for the benefit of younger faculty who, in building their careers, have demonstrated outstanding potential as both educators and researchers. 1 0 NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017

suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, a brain component consisting of some 20,000 neurons in the hypothalamus. The SCN receives information about the daily light-dark cycle from the external world through the retina, input that can affect circadian behavior. “The job of this part of the brain is to know what time of the day it is,” Diekman says. But the SCN can perform this function without direct light-dark exposure, and it is this capability that can be linked to conditions such as jet lag. Diekman explains that this may be part of our evolutionary heritage, possibly the evolution of distant mammalian ancestors that spent daylight hours inactive in dark spaces, “instinctively” emerging at night to avoid

predators and forage safely for food. “You want a system that is robust enough so that the internal sense of time will override confusing ‘noise’ in the environment, such as heavy cloud cover, yet respond appropriately to changes in the environment. So we experience jet lag because the robustness of the clock that serves us well under some circumstances also has ‘inertia’ which can cause us to lag in adjusting to environmental changes.” Our circadian behavior over the course of the day is the cumulative product of the interplay of ionic currents within SCN neurons that generate electrical activity. This activity, occurring on a millisecond time scale, is influenced by daily oscillations in gene expression

within the SCN. Gene expression is the process by which DNA is translated into proteins, and proteins are the engines of most physiological functions, including circadian behavior. Experimental neuronal data for Diekman’s mathematical modeling comes from Professor Hugh Piggins and Research Associate Mino Belle at the University of Manchester in England. A key objective for Diekman and Matthew Moye, a graduate student in mathematical sciences at NJIT, is to integrate this data into a comprehensive physiological model that simulates neuronal activity on the order of microseconds and clarifies the role of various ionic currents in daily circadian patterns. PHOTO: BRITTANI BRUNDAGE

DELVING DEEPER INTO CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS Diekman is studying the circadian rhythms that harmonize our behavior with the daily cycle of light and dark, and with seasonal change. These rhythms are among the most powerful physiological forces that humans and many other living organisms experience each day. Increasingly, our culture is also challenging the circadian imperatives programmed by evolution. It’s why traveling quickly across multiple time zones causes jet lag, and why shift work can affect physical well-being. There may even be a circadian influence on why serious cardiac events are more likely to happen at certain times of the day, and why chemotherapy may be more effective if administered at certain times. Since coming to NJIT in 2013, Diekman has worked to advance what we know about circadian behavior with new tools for modeling circadian processes at cellular and behavioral levels. In addition to his recent five-year continuing CAREER grant, with some $115,000 awarded to date, Diekman’s funding includes another NSF grant of more than $233,000. This substantial support for his research could also contribute to the overall success of the U.S. BRAIN Initiative — a program acronym for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.

Assistant Professor Casey Diekman is investigating how humans and many other living organisms are naturally attuned to the time of day.

BEGINNING AT THE NEURONAL LEVEL Diekman continues to look at neuronal activity in the NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017 11

ENLISTING DROSOPHILA While Diekman still works with data generated by the circadian clock in mammals, he has enlisted a new laboratory ally — Drosophila, more commonly known as the fruit fly. In collaboration with Professor Ravi Allada and Research Associate Matthieu Flourakis at Northwestern University, he is studying the electrophysiology of circadian pacemaker neurons in Drosophila. Diekman is continuing to develop models that mathematically detail the functioning of individual cells in the mammalian SCN. But constructing a more comprehensive picture of circadian phenomena requires insight into how the 20,000 cells of the SCN interact at the network level to influence behavior. The circadian clock in fruit flies shares many characteristics with the mammalian system, Diekman

zones, for example, will help to answer significant questions about entrainment, how our physiology and behavior synchronize with environmental cues or at times are more in synch with what our internal clock tells us.” In their 2015 paper in the journal Cell, “A conserved bicycle model for circadian clock control of membrane excitability,” Diekman and researchers in Allada’s lab reported that increased sodium leak conductance depolarizes Drosophila circadian pacemaker neurons in the morning, leading to high electrical activity. In the evening, increased potassium conductance hyperpolarizes these neurons and silences electrical activity. Remarkably, antiphase cycles in sodium and potassium conductances also drive membrane potential rhythms in mouse circadian clock neurons. Thus, this “bicycle” mechanism of controlling membrane excitability

is an evolutionarily ancient strategy for governing daily sleep and wake behavior. BROADER CIRCADIAN PERSPECTIVES Diekman and Professor Amitabha Bose, an NJIT mathematical sciences colleague, are also developing a new mathematical tool for predicting the phase of our circadian entrainment called an “entrainment map.” Their approach maps physiological responses to factors such as light intensity and seasonal changes in light duration to a mathematical function that determines the phase of entrainment. Our phase of entrainment has significant implications reflective of both nature and culture. Most of us contend with jet lag only occasionally. A greater number of individuals regularly experience the effects of shift work. But delayed circadian adjustment to “springing ahead” only one

hour for daylight saving time may have more general negative consequences indicated by the statistical spikes in traffic accidents and workplace injuries that occur at this time of year. Diekman says he is also intrigued by research indicating that circadian rhythms are integral to the physiology of cells throughout our body, not just in the SCN. This could explain why certain cancers seem to be more susceptible to chemotherapy at particular times of the day, and why cardiac arrest appears to occur more frequently late in the morning and early in the evening. Circadian rhythms are found not just throughout the animal kingdom, but in plants and certain types of bacteria as well. Collaborating with Professor Horacio Rotstein and graduate student Emel Khan from mathematical sciences, Diekman is also developing mathematical models of the circadian clock in

“SPRINGING AHEAD” ONLY ONE HOUR FOR DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME MAY HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES INDICATED BY STATISTICAL SPIKES IN TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS AND WORKPLACE INJURIES. - CASEY DIEKMAN explains. Yet there are just 150 neurons in a fruit fly’s circadian neuronal network. This relative simplicity promises to facilitate investigation of phenomena such as how neurotransmitter signaling molecules enable individual cells to synchronize with each other in response to changes over the light-dark cycle. This will also entail modeling the distinctive characteristics of seven different groups of cells, or clusters, in the fly’s circadian network and the functional connections among them. “The goal is to build models of the complete fruit-fly clock, including detailed molecular and physiological models, and to test our models in the laboratory by measuring how long it takes the flies to respond to variations in the light-dark cycle,” Diekman says. “We believe that experiments replicating travel across time 1 2 NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017


cyanobacteria. These models will be used to generate hypotheses about entrainment mechanisms that will be tested in the laboratory of Professor Yong-Ick Kim, NJIT Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science. RESEARCHING THE ATMOSPHERIC MYSTERY OF MERCURY Mercury, as Alexei Khalizov emphasizes, presents a very serious environmental problem. We know that substantial amounts of this highly toxic element are released into the atmosphere through the burning of coal and petroleum for fuel and by the incineration of our civilization’s garbage. We also know that mercury entering the atmosphere can eventually find its way into the soil and, especially, the world’s oceans, where it poses a threat to health by accumulating in many species of fish that we eat. But as Khalizov also explains, the chemical transformation of mercury released by combustion that takes place in the atmosphere as a precursor to dangerous contamination of soil and water is not clearly understood. It’s a scientific mystery that Khalizov is working to solve with the support of his five-year NSF CAREER grant, which totals some $670,000. MERCURY HAPPENED Khalizov’s path to NJIT was via the Russian Federation, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry. His first postdoctoral position brought him to Canada’s McGill University, to an opportunity that involved researching atmospheric chemistry. This included investigating the chemistry of rapid mercury-depletion events in the Arctic atmosphere that led to significant inputs of oxidized mercury into the soil and water over a very short time span. This is a particular health concern for the region’s indigenous people because of their dependence on fish as a staple food. “So in a sense, mercury ‘just happened’ with respect to becoming an important research interest for me,” Khalizov says.

It’s an interest that Khalizov pursued periodically during further research at Texas A&M University. Now at NJIT, which he joined as a faculty member in 2013, mercury again has become a major focus of his research. He also has been studying another pollutant, atmospheric soot, with substantial NSF funding. This aspect of his work was recently featured in an article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, “An unexpected restructuring of combustion soot aggregates by subnanometer coatings of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.” It is noteworthy that both soot and mercury pollution problems originate from humanity’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel combustion for energy generation and transportation. “We can measure how much gaseous elemental mercury is released into the atmosphere as a result of combustion,” Khalizov says. “However, we really don’t understand the chemistry by which this form of mercury is oxidized and then becomes bound to particles in the atmosphere. These are the stages before the mercury becomes dangerous in the food chain, before rain and other forms of precipitation cause the oxidized mercury to enter the ocean and other bodies of water.

We know that this process appears to occur in the atmosphere over one or two years, but chemical details are missing.” THREE MAJOR COMPONENTS Going forward, Khalizov further explains that this research will have three major components. One will be investigating the relevant chemical reactions in the laboratory, particularly how gaseous elemental mercury is oxidized by reacting with bromine atoms to form a short-lived radical and how that radical is converted into stable molecules. This will require characterizing reactions that take place on a time scale of milliseconds. A second major objective will be to clarify how the resulting gaseous products attach to particles in the atmosphere. Gaining this knowledge will require innovative measurement techniques and appropriate instrumentation, including instrumentation to measure oxidized atmospheric mercury in the field with accuracy comparable to that which can be achieved under controlled laboratory conditions. This is the third major component of the research effort that Khalizov is mapping, and he anticipates developing new instruments such as a chemical ionization mass

Assistant Professor Alexei Khalizov with instrumentation he is developing to study atmospheric mercury contamination.

spectrometer for detection of gaseous oxidized mercury and a desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometer capable of chemical analysis of mercury in aerosol nanoparticles. Khalizov, who says that he will also be collaborating internationally with colleagues in Canada and China, looks forward to very productive experimental investigation at NJIT. “Again, we know how much mercury is introduced into the atmosphere and what the sources are. But we don’t understand the oxidation process very well. “I hope to contribute to finding out the details of what happens in a complex chain of chemical events. We have opened the door to a new, very large field for research. It’s research that can provide the concrete data we need to develop better models of how atmospheric mercury migrates to other parts of the environment, and how this migration might be affected by different strategies for mitigation.” n Author: Dean L. Maskevich is an NJIT Magazine contributing writer.


CSLA CSLA Dean Kevin Belfield with equipment used to evaluate the photostability of fluorescent probes formulated at NJIT as part of the effort to develop new, minimally invasive diagnostic technology.


Dean Kevin Belfield 1 4 NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017




evin Belfield was appointed dean of the NJIT College of Science and Liberal Arts and professor of

chemistry and environmental science in November 2014. He received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1982 and, after spending one year at Bristol-Myers Pharmaceutical Co. in Syracuse (1982-83), completed a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Syracuse University in 1988 (under the mentorship of John E. Baldwin). He then worked as a senior chemist at Ciba-Geigy Corp. before performing postdoctoral research at SUNY College of Environmental and Forestry (with Israel Cabasso) and at Harvard University (with William von E. Doering). Subsequently, Dr. Belfield was a member of the faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy and graduate coordinator. While at the University of Detroit Mercy, he was an AFOSR Summer Faculty Fellow in 1997 and 1998. Prior to joining NJIT, he served as Pegasus professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Central Florida (1998-2014). In 2010, Dr. Belfield was inducted into the National Commission of Cooperative Education (NCCE) Co-op Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and awarded a Chang Jiang Chaired Professorship by the Chinese Ministry of Education at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China. Dr. Belfield has served as PI or co-PI on over 45 grants from federal, foundation and corporate agencies. He has over 250 publications, holds over a dozen U.S. patents, and serves on several editorial advisory boards of scientific journals. Dr. Belfield is a pioneer in two-photon photochemistry and organic photonic materials. His research interests range from developing contrast agents for early cancer detection and new paradigms for photodynamic cancer therapy to ultrafast photophysics and 3D highdensity optical data storage. Dr. Belfield recently shared his thoughts about CSLA and the school’s strategic plan with Christina Crovetto, editor of NJIT Magazine.

Q. In your role as CSLA Dean, what are your immediate priorities? A. T  o continually create an environment to cultivate and promote the highest levels of faculty and student success. This includes: increasing the local, regional, national and international visibility of our students and their accomplishments, our programs, our faculty and research through multiple avenues. This includes the Internet, social media and developing brochures and other materials for direct mailing; raising funds for student scholarships and providing support for students to attend and present research at professional conferences. For example, we renewed our support from ExxonMobil Corporation for the Women in Chemistry program, received generous support from college alumni for an endowed scholarship fund, are working with other potential donors to secure additional scholarship funds and support CSLA students to attend national and international conferences. We’re improving our infrastructure for instruction, instructional support and research, such as construction of state-of-the-art math,

science and writing student support services to be located in the Central King Building and which should be ready for spring 2017. A first-year chemistry teaching laboratory is currently being renovated to provide state-of-the-art instruction in chemistry in Tiernan Hall. Other research laboratories are being renovated in Tiernan Hall and Colton Hall to provide the facilities for students to gain valuable hands-on research experience in the chemical sciences and physics; developing a comprehensive experiential learning and employment mentoring and placement process for all CSLA students with strong collaboration among the CSLA Board of Visitors, alumni and Career Development Services. Another goal is helping to increase diversity among our student and faculty populations—we are doing this through recruiting and our new hires; and we’re strengthening alumni engagement. Q. What (or who) inspires you as a leader? A. That is a rather complex question as there have been and continue to be many people who influence and inspire me.


CSLA faculty and students are at the forefront of national research activities that include solar-terrestrial physics, mathematical modeling, advanced materials, neurobiology and the history of medicine and technology.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have received outstanding mentoring from a wide range of people beginning with my parents—neither of whom hold a college degree—a mother who pushed me to set and achieve goals at the highest level, a father who, despite not graduating from high school or have much reading ability, had an uncanny ability to build or repair anything mechanical, electrical, plumbing or construction-related; a remarkably talented high school chemistry and physics teacher; a high school track and cross-country coach who brought the best out of people; two outstanding chemistry professors as an undergraduate; and my Ph.D. adviser who to this day remains one of the most impressive people in every aspect that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. Between


graduate school and now, I’ve also benefited immensely from colleagues who quite unselfishly have given help, advice and friendship. Q. What distinguishes CSLA from other science and liberal arts schools? A. CSLA is quite unique among colleges of arts and sciences across the country in that it is an integral part of a largely STEM, largely engineering university. At many universities, the college of arts and sciences is the largest college within the university, while at NJIT Newark College of Engineering is the largest college. At NJIT, CSLA maintains the traditional role in providing the majority of the general undergraduate requirement courses for our students while

offering high-quality degree programs. We also have a very broad-based, diverse Department of Humanities that at many universities would be represented through numerous departments. The level of scholarship and engagement of students in senior seminars, projects and research is impressive as is the research conducted by our students and faculty. When we look at metrics of publications and external research funding per capita, CSLA students and faculty are extraordinarily productive. Q. What trends are most significant in science and liberal arts education today? A. An emphasis on interdisciplinary education and research and on the development of effective

communication skills is among the most pervasive trends in science and liberal arts education today. Our humanities and history GUR program provides a progressive emphasis on developing and refining communication skills and critical thinking from the first year through the final year, and most research conducted in the college spans a number of disciplinary boundaries. Q. How is CSLA partnering with business and industry to the benefit of students? A. We are working closely with members of the business and industrial community in developing a comprehensive experiential learning and employment mentoring and placement program. This involves professionals from a number of companies including TD Bank, Genzyme, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, JP Morgan Chase, Purdue Pharma, GE Capital, PSE&G, Broadridge Financial, Actavis, TIAA and a number of small startup companies and consulting firms. Members are already meeting with student groups for mentoring and providing insight into professional opportunities. We are in the process of developing these efforts into a mentoring program for our students by major.

Q. W  hat are your thoughts about strengthening relationships with alumni? A. This is an important priority as alumni are not only our products—in a sense they represent an investment. Alumni are also our best ambassadors. We are dedicated to seeing our alumni succeed and sharing their insights, advice and efforts with our students, faculty and programs to help us continually improve. Through our many efforts, we aim to increase the value of an NJIT degree. Our alumni have a vested interest to see this happen and are eager to help. I work closely with our alumni association and alumni members of CSLA’s Board of Visitors to develop opportunities for continued alumni engagement and see these efforts only strengthening. Q. W  hat do you hope to achieve in five years? A. In five years, I’d like to see: an environment, supported by facilities and resources, that allows us to continue to provide a state-of-the-art, high-quality educational experience for all of our students; substantially more scholarship funds to support CSLA students; a level of national and international

visibility of our students, programs and faculty so that we no longer need to explain what and where NJIT is; every student who wants an internship or other form of experiential learning to practically be guaranteed of having it; an increase in scholarship and research across all departments; a more diverse student and faculty population and an increase in student enrollment in all of our programs, particularly in our liberal arts programs. There is little argument that graduates in the STEM fields will play a critical role in developing the technological workforce needed to help ensure continued economic success and wellbeing in the U.S. However, a fact often overlooked is not only the role of liberal arts graduates in technology companies— just look at history major and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or the influence a course in calligraphy had on Apple founder Steve Jobs. But also consider the role of liberal arts majors in local, state and national governments and leadership. Barely a scientist or engineer can be found among the elected officials of local, state or national governments, though few would argue the influence our elected officials have on nearly every aspect of our society. We have a real opportunity at NJIT to increase

the number of our liberal arts graduates, most of whom have a solid foundation in and understanding of the STEM disciplines. Thus, I’d personally like to see an increase in our liberal arts majors and have these students, many of whom have gone on to very successful careers, help to shape our society. n





Nancy Jackson, a professor of coastal geomorphology in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, has studied beaches and dunes at various global locations, including at this coastal dune system in Brazil.












Studying Forces That Affect Life Where Land a n d Wa t e r M e e t

Land lies in water; it is shadowed green. Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges where weeds hang to the simple blue from green. Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under, drawing it unperturbed around itself? Along the fine tan sandy shelf is the land tugging at the sea from under? - From “The Map� by Elizabeth Bishop



n New Jersey, as in many other places on the globe with extensive coastlines, the complex interaction of natural forces and human activity has a profound effect on the quality of life. At a very basic level, for example, the processes underlying the formation of sand dunes determine how protected humans are from storm-driven waves and wind. Over the course of an academic career that began at NJIT in 1992, Nancy Jackson, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, has studied coastal environments as a specialist in geomorphology. While much of her work has focused on coastal New Jersey and the Delaware Bay area, it has also been geographically wide-ranging, taking her to locations as far afield as Europe and South America. In Europe, along with studying relevant natural processes, she has investigated how human activities such as agriculture and mining have influenced coastal features over more than two thousand years. Jackson’s expertise in coastal geomorphology, including


sediment transport, has been widely recognized. In 2015, she was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Fulbright Scholar with international appointments at the Polytechnic University of Turin and the University of Ferrara in Italy. At NJIT, Jackson has been honored for excellence in service to undergraduate education. Funding for her research has come from sources such as the National Geographic Society, National Parks Service, National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. MAKING THINGS BETTER Growing up in New England, Jackson spent summers with her family on Cape Cod. She says that this time near the ocean and bordering dunes fostered an interest in nature and the global environment that influenced her decision to major in geography at Clark University.

Jackson relates that her student experience at Clark was also very formative with respect to her thinking about the purpose of education — and science. “I feel that it’s essential to apply what you learn out in the world to make things a little better. I do a lot of applied research, a lot of practical science. When I think about my work, about practicing science, I think about it in terms of how we can answer questions that will improve things down the road.” After completing her undergraduate degree at Clark, Jackson did not embark immediately on the graduate study that would lead to joining the NJIT faculty and research into the processes that give rise to coastal features. For some 10 years, she was affiliated with nonprofit organizations, including one she co-founded, that helped lowincome rural communities in New England build water and sewage facilities, and which focused on groundwater quality management. To learn more about water issues, Jackson complemented this work with a master’s

from Antioch University in environmental science and management, and subsequently made the life decision to engage with environmental questions and challenges on a different level. It was a decision that brought her to the Geography Department at Rutgers University for a Ph.D. Specializing in geomorphology, she wrote her dissertation on beach dynamics in Delaware Bay. ASSESSING EVERYDAY IMPLICATIONS Wanting to stay on the East Coast, Jackson applied for a position at NJIT very compatible with her interests, an opening in what was then the Department of Social Science and Policy in the College of Science and Liberal Arts. Eventually, her expertise led to the appointment she now has in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science. Jackson currently has funding under a Sea Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to evaluate dune-building processes and the protection that dunes

provide, including protection against extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy. “Coastal dunes are one of our state’s most important economic resources, with major everyday implications for protection from flooding and erosion,” she says. “The ideal is to support the natural processes that underlie coastal dune building. But a critical question is the time frame. Does the natural system have the ability to create adequately protective dunes within an acceptable amount of time? And how do our modification efforts affect the natural processes in play over the long term, for better or worse. There’s a lot we don’t know.” TOUGH QUESTIONS Asked about her thoughts on the much-discussed topic of climate change, Jackson says that it’s not an immediately significant factor in her dune research. That’s because she studies processes that alter coastal features over short periods of time compared to the longer-term effects attributable to climate trends, specifically global

warming. “But there’s no doubt that over time changes in climate impact the pieces of shoreline that I look at for my research,” she adds. And Jackson responds affirmatively when asked if she thinks that an increasing number of people tasked with public-policy decisions are concerned about the impending consequences of climate change. “Concern is definitely gaining traction,” she says. “I don’t see a huge paradigm shift, but it’s clear that awareness of what is likely to happen as a result of climate change is growing incrementally. “More people are acknowledging that we have very significant challenges ahead of us. They’re asking how soon will we have to act to counter effects such as frequent severe flooding, and what can we do to respond in practical ways, and what will it cost. These are tough questions that will have to be answered.” n Author: Dean L. Maskevich is an NJIT Magazine contributing writer.



ALUMNI CIRCUIT A MESSAGE FROM THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. The start of another year at NJIT will bring a new semester. It is always great to see new students walking around our campus. I also enjoy talking to these students and asking them why they decided to come to NJIT. Here are some of their comments. • I decided to come to NJIT because its small class size allows for a closer bond between professors and students. Personally, a professor knowing your name is more motivation to succeed and learn more. • I decided to choose NJIT because it is a STEM school and offers all courses that I am interested in. I chose the Martin Tuchman School of Management because I need to learn how to own my own business that can become successful. • I chose to attend NJIT because I have several family members and friends who have graduated from this university and their lifestyles are my goals. I know NJIT promises me a bright future and I plan to take full advantage of such an opportunity. We get a very diverse set of students here at NJIT and the spirit and excitement about being on the NJIT campus continues to grow. Many NJIT alums have been active in helping out during the recruiting process. This has included being on the campus for the Open House sessions. It is an exciting opportunity to talk to prospective students and their families and help them better understand what a great selection NJIT would be for them.

NJIT is not only expanding its student population, we are also expanding the scope of resources across the campus. The Martin Tuchman School of Management has recently opened two new business laboratories. The Raymond Cassetta Financial Analysis Laboratory is now open. This is a great addition to NJIT and features a lab equipped with Bloomberg terminals that students can use to understand the financial performance of companies. This lab has been supported by Ray Cassetta ’70, chairman of the Martin Tuchman School of Management Board of Advisors. The Business Data Analytics Laboratory is also open. “Business with the Power of STEM” requires that our students understand and utilize digital technologies and analytics in their education and this lab will give them that opportunity. This facility is being supported by Romolo Marcucci ’00, a member of the Martin Tuchman School of Management Board of Advisors. The Alumni Association has launched “Highlander Connect.” This is a career-planning initiative to focus on providing assistance to our current students. We have always been active in this process, but we want to better structure our involvement and offer more comprehensive programs in this all-important area. This process has started and we are active with students across many of the schools at NJIT. We are engaged with alums who are offering their time to help work with students on their careerplanning activities. This coming


spring, we also will be continuing programs like the Speed Networking Event and Speaking of Careers to assist the student population. We also are engaged with the Career Day events on campus and it is great to see so many alums back on campus representing their companies in the recruiting process. It is also great to see so many alums coming back to the campus to help in the evaluation of student projects and showcases. This is a valuable contribution to the personal and professional development of our students.

Every single NJIT alum has experiences that are worth sharing with our students. I challenge each one of you to step forward and get involved in helping our students. As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you want to get involved in NJIT activities. I hope to see you at an alumni event soon. n

Jack W. Wagner ’74 President, NJIT Alumni Association


Naseed Gifted ’01

Like many young people his age, Naseed Gifted ’01 was infatuated with comic books; however, they rarely portrayed heroes that resembled him. His desire to infuse more diversity in the world of comic books sparked the creation of P.B. Soldier, a science fiction graphic novel series that has as its hero an African-American man named Nat Cummings, a skilled computer hacker who uses his abilities to help pay for college tuition until

his activities are discovered and he becomes listed as an international terror threat. Cummings becomes a double agent who attempts to bring down a system from the inside without letting those he cares about fall into harm’s way. A two-time Glyph Comic Awards and Urban Action Showcase nominee, Gifted heads the independent comic book publisher PBS Media, which in August 2016 launched a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise $8,500 for the production of the next comic book in its series that helps teach STEM disciplines to young people. The goal of the campaign was to raise money for the production of Episode 3.0, the sixth installment of a 13-book arc. Funds will go toward the actual production of the book, including


printing and distribution, and payment to line artist and colorist Abel Garcia. In addition, some of the proceeds will be donated to the Central High School Pre-Engineering Academy in Newark—a program that Gifted has taught and led for the past 13 years. FROM ENGINEER TO TEACHER At NJIT, Gifted’s main focus was obtaining a degree in electrical engineering—a passion since the 10th grade after being exposed to robotics through the U.S. FIRST Competition. The experience afforded several opportunities: His team won the Chairman’s Award and had the opportunity to meet then-President Bill Clinton at the White House. He appeared on 20/20 and the USA Network’s “In a Minute” commercial and the team was featured in The Star-Ledger. He also worked alongside a group of engineers from Bell Labs in Whippany. All of this piqued his interest and—most importantly— several of the engineers looked like him. “This furthered my passion to pursue engineering as a career path and provided me with the confidence that I can do it,” Gifted said. “The entrepreneur and writer in me initiated at NJIT. I started my first business, PBS Unlimited, with several other NJIT students, and wrote poetry as well as performed at poetry slams. These experiences helped later provide the tools to build another company, PBS Media, and become a writer of the comic book series P.B. Soldier.” Gifted’s involvement in the community and membership in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) aided in his transition from engineer to teacher. The training he received at NJIT not only allowed him the ability to change careers, but gave him what he calls the “growth mindset.” “As a member of NSBE, we always facilitated workshops to expose students to the STEM fields and took high school students on field trips to engineering conventions and mentoring,” Gifted said. “So one day I asked myself, how can I expose more students

to the opportunities afforded to me by pursuing a career path in STEM and positively impact the community? Hence, becoming a teacher was born. As engineers, our guiding principle is problemsolving and I continually apply the engineering process to all aspects of life. That’s what has allowed me the ability to navigate the waters of change. Also during my time at NJIT, the networking opportunities and friends I acquired have proven to have a long-lasting impact on my future endeavors.” LIFE LESSON Gifted cites his senior project— the presentation, preparation and research to create something that (at the time) was new and innovative—as his most memorable moment as an NJIT student. “To take an idea and make it real was a driving force that motivated me to push forward,” he recalled. “This is also the first time I truly learned the concept of ‘Fail Forward’—to give something your all and find out that sometimes your all was not good enough. So you need to persevere in pushing forward in order to make progress. This was a life lesson that I will never forget.” What is his lasting impression of NJIT? “NJIT is a place where ideas can become reality through hard work, consistency and dedication,” he said. “You have all of the equipment to make anything that you dream of come to life.” Gifted also is the founder of New Jersey’s Black Comic Book Festival “Khem Comic Fest” and travels across the country as a panelist for “Full Spectrum: Why Color in Comics Matters and Using Comics to Teach STEM.” P.B. Soldier titles are available at, Amazon, iTunes and Peep Game Comix. n

David Nagrosst ’12 is head of Datacenter Colocation and Solution Sales-Asia Pacific for a major global hybrid solutions and data center colocation provider in Singapore.

Although an ancient regional proverb says that “All roads lead to China,” the career path traveled by David Nagrosst ’12 has taken him to another country in Asia. As head of Datacenter Colocation and Solution Sales–Asia Pacific (APAC) for a major global hybrid solutions and data center colocation provider in Singapore, Nagrosst is the leader of a team whose international responsibilities span two continents and five countries. “I was already started on my career in information technology while attending NJIT, but I did not imagine just how much it would grow and develop. I also didn’t imagine that I would be working halfway around the world in Singapore,” he said. “I am quite lucky and fortunate.” Prior to his present position, Nagrosst had multiple roles with his current employer; the one immediately prior was managing a highly specialized Solutions Sales team focused on the U.S. East Coast. Nagrosst completed an associate degree in computer science and decided to take a hiatus from further studies to concentrate on his career. But as his career developed, Nagrosst realized that he could gain greater understanding

of many different aspects of his profession in the classroom, and he wanted to learn more. This is when he decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree at NJIT, where the combination of coursework and learning from industry-leading experienced professors increased his fluency in the language and knowledge of business, and provided beneficial insights into the connections between business and information technology. “At the time, I did not see the full value or benefit of a degree, but this changed with experience,” Nagrosst recalled. “While I already possessed a great deal of technical and practical skill prior to attending NJIT, the classes helped crystallize, sharpen and round out my knowledge with theory and a deeper level of comprehension. The elective tracks that were part of my program at NJIT in addition to the core curriculum supported me in branching out to learn about management, marketing and financial analysis, among other valuable topics. As a part-time student, I attended all of my classes in the evenings and on weekends, which were often taught by adjunct professors who had realworld practical experience.” While attending NJIT, Nagrosst


lived in Morristown, N.J., and worked in New York City. For his commute to work, he drove up to an hour and a half from Morristown to New Jersey Transit parking in Newark, took the train to New York, and after work on days he had classes picked up his car to find parking near the NJIT campus and then made the long drive home. “It was well-worth the sacrifice!” Nagrosst said. “I very much enjoyed the time at NJIT and still keep in touch with many friends and professors. I enjoyed learning and immediately putting my new learning into practical use for my work. I also have fond memories of enjoying a cold beer at the pub on campus after, and even sometimes before, evening and weekend classes.” One of his most memorable moments as a student was a summer

project that required him to develop a system using the LAMP stack for locating a faculty adviser by study area. He led a small team to successfully execute the project and presented it onstage to an audience of 300 students, faculty and company representatives. He also selected an interesting elective in electronic poetry and art (taught by Humanities Professor Christopher Funkhouser) that challenged him creatively. “On the personal side, I enjoyed making new friends, many younger than me, and getting to know them and offering advice and guidance from my life experiences,” Nagrosst said. “NJIT offers a highly diversified, tough and valuable education. The people you meet come from all walks of life, income levels, races, and from many parts of the world. I consider the NJIT student body a cross-section of the world that

has one thing in common — the drive and motivation to achieve, grow and learn. The students who attend NJIT tend to be the scrappy go-getter type, and when presented with an obstacle will defeat it and simply move forward and get it done! Nothing will stop us! We are a resilient bunch.” For a short time, immediately after graduating from NJIT, Nagrosst left the company he was working for, to which he subsequently returned with new personal insights. “I do not regret leaving, since it gave me an important perspective on what I need from an employer and on being a leader,” he said. “It also taught me the value of a good leader, which is what I strive to be every day.” After working with the company for nearly nine years, Nagrosst welcomed the opportunity to relocate


Michael Anderson ’13 is a design engineer at Scaled Composites, an aerospace company in California.

“Legos were, of course as it is for every engineer, my favorite toy,” said Michael Anderson ’13, a mechanical and computer engineering graduate who certainly has come a long way from connecting those plastic blocks, as well as building and flying remote-controlled airplanes as a youngster. Today, he is helping build the biggest airplane in the

world (by wingspan) for Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch venture at the California-based aerospace company Scaled Composites. The plane, nicknamed Roc after the mythical bird of prey, will provide a platform for air launches into space. “What Scaled Composites does is rapid prototyping of one-off aircraft, so we never really build more than one of anything, as opposed


to Boeing and other commercial aircraft manufacturers, where they build hundreds of thousands of airplanes,” explained Anderson, who is on a team of less than 100 engineers working on Roc. “We design, analyze and build it all basically ourselves. Engineers are expected to take part in all aspects. “In aerospace, especially, this doesn’t happen,” he continued.

to Singapore to challenge himself with building and growing the business in APAC by leveraging the skills, knowledge and relationships he developed in the U.S. — and at NJIT. What advice would he give to those considering a job with an international firm, a career path he definitely endorses? “Read a lot about the country you intend to relocate to, understand the culture, visit it at least once or twice and, perhaps most importantly, network and talk to other expats already residing there,” he recommended. “It is also a good idea to join online groups, and to connect with knowledgeable individuals active on sites such as LinkedIn. If you are just at the start of your career or still in school, try to intern internationally. Above all, don’t be afraid. You have much to offer the world.” n

“Usually, there is a design engineer, there’s an analysis department, there’s a manufacturing engineering department, and those people rarely talk to each other and even more rarely do each other’s jobs. I get to do it all.” Anderson attributes his getting the position to his participation in a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition. He was president of the organization’s NJIT chapter and worked on an engineering team to design and build an unmanned aerial vehicle for the SAE’s annual international aerodesign competition. His team’s project, the Flying Highlander, an oversized model airplane with a three-foot wingspan, took fourth place. In addition to his SAE involvement, Anderson served on the Recruitment Committee for Albert Dorman Honors College. The college awarded him a full scholarship to attend NJIT and named him Outstanding Honors College Student for the 2012-2013 academic year. He lived on the Honors College floor in Redwood Hall as a freshman and throughout his college career enjoyed spending

time with his Honors College colleagues. “We did a lot of classes together, did a lot of homework together … It was a great little community.” The Honors College experience is one the Hammonton, N.J., native shares with three of his four brothers, although he is the only engineer

in the bunch. He noted that his Honors College classes challenged him to not just learn formulas, but also how and why things work, which is proving important to his assignment at Scaled Composites. “I would totally recommend NJIT and especially the Honors College to anyone,” said Anderson, adding

that his education at the university prepared him well for his career. He perhaps has even been ahead of the curve when it comes to engineering knowledge, thanks to his time at NJIT. His boss at Scaled Composites recommended a textbook for him to read titled Control System Design: An Introduction to

State-Space Methods. The author was Bernard Friedland, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering-intelligent systems at NJIT, and one of Anderson’s instructors. n Author: Julie Jacobs is a staff writer/editor at NJIT.


As chief scientist and de facto chief technology officer for Program Executive Office Ammunition (PEO Ammo) located at Joint Center Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, Paul Manz ’84 is responsible for the transition and insertion of enabling technologies across a diverse munitions and armaments portfolio valued over $3 billion. He also oversees PEO Ammo’s annual research and development budget totaling over $160 million. It’s an assignment in which he supports senior Army and Department of Defense (DOD) leadership on a variety of critical armaments issues, one that requires harnessing the specific expertise and multidisciplinary acumen of his government colleagues and industry/academia partners to solve challenging problems on behalf of our nation’s warfighters

and the U.S. taxpayer. “I definitely enjoy my job, the subject matter and the folks I work with at Joint Center Picatinny and across the greater tactical warfare community,” Manz said. Leveraging his primary areas of study in electrical engineering, semiconductors and communications, Manz immediately landed a job after graduation working for the Army’s Electronic Technology and Devices Laboratory at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. He also became engaged to his wife, Elizabeth, to whom he has been married for over 30 years. He noted that his BSEE degree provided him with an excellent foundation for the many things he has experienced and worked on over the last three decades. “I think the most useful takeaways for me were the rigorous approach to problem-solving that I learned at NJIT, as well as the broad nature of the curriculum and knowledge I gained during the 139 credits of coursework I needed to graduate. Yes, I still remember that number after all these years,” Manz recalled. “Actually, one of the things I find most interesting is that I’m still

able to apply my early career EEcentric subject matter knowledge and concepts, enabled by my NJIT technical degree, to a variety of critical topics and capability gaps in my current world of advanced armaments. Semiconductor devices and the trusted-foundry supply chain needed by precisionguided munitions and the use of ‘truth data’ over a system-ofsystems network to overcome problems in GPS degraded/ denied environments are just two examples.” Did he ever envisage doing this while he was an NJIT student? “This job specifically? Not in a million years,” Manz said. “I don’t think anyone in their late teens/early twenties knows exactly where life will take them. I can say that with experience as someone in their fifties. With that said, I think the choice I made to attend NJIT and that made after graduating ended up being good ones. Over my 32-year career as a DOD civilian and acquisition professional, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to a variety of multidisciplinary subject matter across the entire materieldevelopment life cycle from science and technology through production and deployment. My career has spanned numerous diverse areas, such as joint munitions and armaments, battle command, fire support, software and information technology, enterprise architecture and interoperability, systems engineering and electronic devices. Again, I definitely enjoy my job at Joint Center Picatinny, which is a great place to work, with great

people and challenging subject matter, as well as being trusted, empowered and supported by senior Army and DOD leadership to do the right things when they need to be done.” Manz and his son, a high school junior, recently attended an NJIT Open House. “The campus, curriculum and infrastructure improvements made over the last many years are awesome,” Manz said. “The sampling of faculty and student interactions throughout this daylong event also showed me that NJIT is still on the top of its game and continues to be a great place to get a great education at a reasonable cost.” His most memorable moment as an undergraduate student was “probably supporting NJIT’s on-campus Octobertech and Miniversity events as an upperclassman, much like those students my son and I recently encountered at the Open House. “I translate the memorable enjoyment of passing along lessons learned and helpful hints to incoming freshmen from way back when to my present-day enjoyment of similarly mentoring younger members of Joint Center Picatinny’s highly professional workforce and exposing them to new career-enhancing learning experiences,” Manz said. “My lasting impression of NJIT is its demonstrated positive reputation for giving students the right education and ‘tools’ they need to succeed upon graduation and throughout their future careers. I’m just one data point, but I think NJIT did very well by me.” n


CLASS NOTES MAL & FRIENDS NJIT Magazine invites new correspondents to join Mal Simon in sharing news about class members and alumni organizations. Professor emeritus of physical education and athletics, Mal was director of physical education and athletics, and men’s soccer coach, for 30 years. In 1993, he received the Cullimore Medal for his service to the university. If you would like to be a regular correspondent, don’t hesitate to send an e-mail to the editor of NJIT Magazine: First, the latest news from Mal –

It is my good fortune to have met many fine young men and women in my 60-plus years at NCE and NJIT and to have kept in touch with them as alumni. This relationship has enforced my belief that students who are active in extracurricular activities as undergraduates enjoy a special connection with others in their respective activity that aids them in successfully completing their academic program and staying involved with each other and their alma mater after graduation. An example of such a group of students is the 1983 soccer team, the last team I coached. They were the culmination of the 1980 team, which saw the largest number of students (65) in NCE/

NJIT history trying out for the opportunity to play for the school. The number and quality of these student-athletes really challenged the returning players for their positions. It was the first time I had to make cuts, which I didn’t like to do but had no choice because of economics. When the dust had cleared, 19 freshmen made the 35-member team. Academically, 16 of the 19 freshmen (84 percent) completed degrees in their respective majors and are currently practicing their professions. What’s more, they loyally support their alma mater and represent NJIT with honor and distinction. The accompanying photo, taken during the 1983 team’s preseason

Goalkeeper Tahsin Karasay ‘75 in action at the net in a 1974 contest with Montclair State.


Efrain Borja ’77 and me in the summer of 2016, presenting clear proof of how well the Vermont Wall “conditioning program” for the 1983 Soccer Team worked out.

training program in Vermont, shows the group relaxing after completion of a stone wall in front of my home in Warren, Vt. There have been some spurious accusations that the building of the “Vermont Wall” could be considered “slave labor” or a violation of NCAA rules. The truth is that it was part of a well-planned conditioning program. Lifting the large boulders and carrying them from the rock walls around the 10-acre boundaries to the front of my house was excellent aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Additionally, the planning and actual construction of the wall was an excellent learning exercise for the fledgling architectural and engineering students. Indicating the quality of their work, there is a photo of Efrain and me taken when he was visiting us this past summer. Following are noncensured

comments made by some of the original team members about their experiences as NJIT soccer players: Ricky Baptista, president of New States Contracting, Freehold, N.J.: “One of the best decisions I made was to play soccer at NJIT. Not only were the values of sportsmanship and teamwork reinforced as life lessons that benefited me in the business realm, but the friendships made are lifelong.” Paul Bette, senior program manager and director of Sungard Availability Services, New Egypt, N.J.: “Unlike today, we did not have much of an on-campus life, but being on the soccer team made up for it. Road trips to away games were memorable. We had a great group of talented players with a mix of personalities and many of us have remained friends after 30 years.” Guy Cilento Jr., senior software

The 1983 soccer team taking a break in Vermont. Front row (l to r): Dave Buck ’84, Ricky Baptista ’85, ’97, Guy Cilento Jr. ’84, Paul Bette ’85, ’90, Pete Stauffenberger, Fred Mowczan ’85, Ray Paulius ’85, Arvind Tikku ’85, Rich Fifoot ’86, Andy Muldowney ’85, Armen Bedrossian ’87, Hani Shouga ’87, Rocco Orlando ’88. In front, center: Uton Dixon ’89. Top row (l to r) Sam Armijos ’85, Dave Jansson ’84, me, Ronel Dorvil, Henri Bernadotte and Efrain Borja ’77, assistant coach. Missing from the photo is Nelson Gralha ’85.

engineer for CTGI, Oakton, Va.: “Some of the special experiences were playing soccer for the coach who coached my father’s National Championship Team in 1960, the Florida winter trips, and making great friends for life.” Andy Muldowney, director of highways, RBA group, Parsippany, N.J., comments: “Not like the Harvard team, all we wanted to do was play poker on road trips and go to fraternity parties on Thursday nights.” Ray Paulius, design principal/

Recently reunited in California (l to r): Armen Bedrossian ’87, Efrain Borja ’77 and Hani Shouga ’87.

COO, V. Paulius & Associates, Allendale, N.J., remembers: “The team’s unique camaraderie and chemistry, both multicultural and self-deprecating, preseason camp at Cruz Farm, and flying on Peoples Express to play RIT and being acknowledged publicly by the pilot.” Arvind Tikku, principal of Ikon 5 Architects LLC, Princeton, N. J.: “Being part of the soccer team and developing friendships helped me in my transition from high school to college and from college to the professional environment.” Nelson Gralha, project manager, Epic Management Inc., Piscataway, N.J., remembered the trip to play Keene State College in New Hampshire when I miscounted the players on the van trip home. Assistant Coach Efrain and I were driving the two vans and each assumed that John Maia ’86 was in the other van. The mistake was discovered when we arrived back in Newark. John had decided to stay in Keene with a coed he met there. A few phone calls straightened out the error and fortunately a happy ending followed, as John later

married the coed, Helene. They now live in Millburn, N.J. John has worked for the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission since 1987. He is still waiting for the $15 meal money each player received for the trip home. Dave, aka Daveed, Ferrer played on the team for three years but did not have eligibility for the third year. He had joined the Navy, and while waiting to be inducted was soccer writer for The Vector. Known for the mischievous wit of his articles, Dave saved his best for his last story. It appeared after we lost our final game to Scranton. Dave’s headline was “We Did It for Mal.” Efrain, aka Sergio, Borja was assistant coach in my last two years of coaching and succeeded me in 1984. Armen Bedrossian, Hani Shouga and Rich Fifoot were freshmen on the 1983 team and played three years for Efrain. Efrain, who has to be NJIT’s unofficial soccer ambassador since his move to Blaine, Wash., recently met with Armen and Hani in California and took a few minutes for a photo. Armen and Hani both moved to California soon after graduation and had not seen Efrain since 1987. Armen is currently chief technology officer for a startup. He and his wife, Lala, live in La Crescenta, Calif., Hani is director of client services and sales for World Wide Technology. He and his wife, Nisreen, whom he met while on vacation in his homeland of Jordan, live in Mission Viejo, Calif. Remembering the brutal knee injury he sustained in his first season, Rich Fifoot says that being told he would not play again motivated him. He focused more on school and the countless hours of rehab got him back in great shape. He lost one semester of school because of his injury and graduated in four and a half years with a degree in chemical

A meeting on the field (l to r): Hernan Borja, Jose Dias ’85, Tahsin Karasay ’75 and friend.

engineering. Starting right out of college in management with Procter & Gamble in Mehoopany, Pa., Rich moved on to higher positions that included quality and production manager for UltraCare in Marion, Ohio, and plant manager for Playtex products in Dover, Del., Currently, he is plant manager for Anchor, an Oldcastle company in Bristol, Pa. I remember Rich’s father, an enthusiastic fan who attended most of his son’s games. Rich’s nephew, Eric Huyler, is an NJIT freshman and is on the lacrosse team. Rich and his partner, Sheryl Silverman, live in Swedesboro, N.J., and enjoy traveling extensively in the Caribbean and Europe. Tahsin, aka Tom the Turk, Karasay ’75 is making a name for himself in local and national soccer, and in Connecticut railroading. A First Team All New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware goalkeeper for NJIT, Tahsin is player/manager with the Guilford, Conn., Black Eagles, which competes in the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) leagues for players over the ages of 40, 50, 55, 60 and 65. For the past 16 years, they have competed in the Veterans Cup, which is a USASAsponsored national tournament held every July in a different part of the United States. The Black Eagles have been to New Hampshire, West Virginia, North Carolina, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington, California, Virginia, Florida and Colorado, and next year will go to


Nashville, Tenn. Their over-40 team won its group twice, the over-45 team once, the over-50 team three times, and the over-55 team once. Tahsin has also organized and plays in an annual memorial tournament in Florida for Pedro DeBrito, one of their players who died in a car accident in 2014 and who played professionally with NJIT’s Hernan “Chico” Borja. During one of the tournaments, Tahsin ran into Hernan and Jose Dias ’85 in Miami, Fla., and convinced them to play in last year’s tournament. Tahsin was a project engineer for Amtrak, rebuilding Amtrak’s largest mechanical factory in Beach Grove, Ind., from 1979 to 1984. He came to Connecticut with Amtrak in 1984 as assistant division engineer responsible for tracks and structures maintenance and construction between New Haven and Boston, and Springfield, Conn. He then moved on to Amtrak’s high-speed rail project as assistant to the vice president for high-speed rail. Tahsin left Amtrak after nearly 25 years to work with Metro North Railroad in New Haven, Conn. He is currently assistant deputy director of the New Haven Line, which runs from the New York state border to New Hampshire. He says that generous funding from the Connecticut Department of Transportation makes the New Haven line a premier commuter service. Tahsin lives in the small, quaint shore town of Westbrook. Jeff Caputi ’83 was another of the outstanding goalkeepers that NJIT was blessed to have in the nets. Jeff is an environmental engineer and vice president for Brown and Caldwell in Upper Saddle River, N.J., where he has worked since 1990. His responsibilities include remediation of contaminated sites, and he is currently working on the Gowanus Canal Superfund project in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jeff and his wife, Teresa, live in Ramsey, N.J. After a one-year hiatus, the NJIT Florida Soccer Alumni Reunion is back on track for Friday through Sunday, March 10-12, 2017, hosted by Fabian ’75 and Jeanie Hurtado. The reunion will be held in the Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach and

Port Canaveral areas. Activities are anticipated to start at 7 p.m. on Friday with dinner at the Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill in Port Canaveral. Those who wish may skip the dinner and take a five-hour gambling cruise that starts at 7 p.m. and returns to Port Canaveral at midnight. After breakfast on Saturday, alumni will have their choice of a bus tour of the Kennedy Space Center, shopping at the Ron Jon Surf Complex in Cocoa Beach, or relaxing on the beautiful sandy beaches. At 1 p.m. lunch will be held at one of the popular Port Canaveral waterfront restaurants. Evening activities will consist of dinner at 6 p.m. at the Hurtados’ clubhouse followed by a private party with dancing and musical entertainment from 8 to 11 p.m. On Sunday morning, those who wish may join Fabian and Jeanie for church at Merritt Island or play golf at the Cocoa Beach Golf Club. Reunion reservations in advance are required. For additional information and to make reservations, please contact Fabian at fabianh3@ or 407-334-9832. Keep sending me your stories at n


Ronald Panitch (Mechanical

Engineering), partner at the law firm Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel, has been named to the 2016 list of Who’s Who Legal: Trademarks, a directory of legal leaders that is published annually and is intended to be a reference source for people or corporations looking for the best legal talent in the world. In practice since 1966, Panitch provides his firm’s clients with experience in intellectual property law. He has been named a “Best Lawyer in America” every year since 2006 and also has been named the Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” for the Philadelphia metro area in intellectual property law. He also has been honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association for 50 years of service and with a lifetime achievement award from the Philadelphia Intellectual Property Association.


After finishing his travel book Around the World in 80 Years, Jay J. Stemmer (Civil Engineering) turned to fiction and action/ adventure. The first was Angel of Life, which was recently followed by Angel of Death, a continuation of the story. The last in the trilogy, Angel of Rescue, will be out in Feb. 2017.

1973 Nicholas DeNichilo (Civil Engineering, M.S.,’78) has been elected by The National Academy of Construction (NAC) as a member of its 2016 class. DeNichilo, president and CEO of Mott MacDonald, was inducted Oct. 20 at the NAC annual meeting in Napa at the Silverado Resort and Spa. DeNichilo has helped lead Hatch Mott MacDonald, which has now split into Hatch and Mott MacDonald, to numerous awards for high-profile projects such as the Calgary West Light Rail Transit Line, the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. As a practicing engineer specializing in water and wastewater, he has served as project manager for numerous projects. DeNichilo is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from NJIT. He also is the recipient of an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) OPAL Award for lifetime achievement in leadership as well as the ASCE Parcel-Sverdrup Civil Engineering Management Award, among many honors.

1977 Martin Pietrucha (Civil Engineering) has been named the new undergraduate coordinator for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Penn State University. Pietrucha has worked in the department for 26 years and has served as the director of the engineering systems program since 2014. Pietrucha also acted as director of The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute for seven years. Before his position at Penn State, Pietrucha was a program

officer for the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.

1983 William Killeen (Construction & Construction Engineering Technology), president and CEO of Acrow Bridge, a leading international bridge engineering and supply company, was recently appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The council’s objectives are to connect American businesses with African partners, support existing and new American investment in Africa, expand access for American businesses to finance their exports to Africa, and reduce barriers to trade and investment in Africa. Killeen joined Acrow Bridge in 1977, and has been president and CEO since 1995. He has been a licensed professional engineer since 1987 and recently completed a sixyear appointment to the board of directors of the Corporate Council on Africa.

1984 Paul Manz (Electrical

Engineering) is Chief Scientist for the U.S. Army’s PEO Ammunition located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. As one of the elite few, Manz recently received the National Defense Industrial Association’s prestigious Firepower Award recognizing his significant contributions to the defense of our country. Manz also was recently selected as the DOD’s Top Engineer for 2016 (out of a technical workforce of over 40,000!) and received recognition from the Office of the Secretary of Defense during an awards ceremony held at the Pentagon.

1990 Ralph Arcurio (Engineering Science) has been recognized as the recipient of the Inventor of the Year Award from the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame. Arcurio, a technical manager for the polymer science team at Sun

Chemical, was honored with the award for his development of new reactive hydroxylated and carboxylated polymers for use as adhesion promoters. For more than 31 years, Arcurio has been with Sun Chemical, where he has developed and commercialized numerous polymers for surface and laminating packaging inks and coatings. He holds four patents and seven patent applications pending.

1996 Sandra Caceres (Civil

Engineering) has been appointed public works director of Aberdeen Township. Caceres brings 19 years of experience in the field of civil engineering to her new position, including 10 years working directly in the engineering and public works departments for municipalities throughout New Jersey. Her responsibilities have included design and construction management of capital projects; control of project costs and schedules; development and oversight of annual operating and capital budgets; road grant application preparation, submittal and reimbursement; responding to residents’ concerns on road conditions; review of planning and zoning board applications; managing escrow accounts; invoicing; and building department reviews and permitting. She most recently served as acting superintendent of Public Works/Township Engineer for Hillside Township in Union County. Before that, she served as a project manager for Maser Consulting, PA in Mt. Arlington, a multidiscipline engineering firm serving public and private sector clients. Previously, from 2006 to 2014, she served as assistant township engineer for Cranford Township. Caceres began her career in 1996 as a design engineer for CME Associates, Parlin, where she worked on behalf of Aberdeen and Clark townships. After five years at CME, she went on to serve as a development manager, project manager and senior civil engineer for several private sector firms

before going in-house at Cranford. She holds a number of professional certifications including Certified Public Works Manager (CPWM), Professional Engineer (P.E.) and Certified Municipal Engineer (C.M.E.).

2001 Michael Reis (Business

Management) joined Ameritas in September as vice president of retirement plans sales and relationship management. He works to enhance relationships with financial professionals and help them help clients achieve their retirement objectives. Reis brings a wealth of experience to the position and has held leadership roles with various national financial service companies. He also has held a number of sales and management positions.

2004 Vikrant Arora (Computer Engineering), AVP and chief information security and risk officer of New York City Health + Hospitals (NYCHHC), was selected as the Information Security Executive® of the Year Award winner for the ISE® Northeast region. Arora is a credentialed business leader with over 10 years of global experience in developing enterprise security and risk-management programs, delivering security “business value” and communicating risk to the BODs. Arora has successfully helped government, education and health care sectors to become more resilient against future attacks and shift corporate culture accordingly. In his current role as the senior director of security and risk management at NYCHHC, Arora is focused on addressing business risks and regulatory compliance associated with emerging technologies, clinical systems and advancements in cybercrime. Before joining NYCHHC, Arora worked with NBC, Pfizer and Dimension Data advocating development of a “risk-aware” culture and “risk-based” business model. Arora is CISSP, CISM and

SANS GCFA certified and was nominated for the 2011 North East Security Executive of the Year.

2005 Marjorie A. Perry (Management) president and CEO of Newarkbased MZM Construction and Management Company, Inc. and a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers, has been appointed to the board of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. During her two-year term with the chamber, Perry will be involved in transportation and economicdevelopment initiatives.

2006 Sean Kearney (Mechanical Engineering) has been promoted to global senior mechanical engineering manager at Honeywell. Kearney has 10 years of experience with Honeywell/ Metrologic based in Mount Laurel, N.J. Most recently, Kearney held the position of optical engineering manager. Over the course of his four years as department manager, Kearney has fostered an energized and motivated team to deliver both optical engineering excellence and innovation. Kearney and his team were instrumental in developing the JUMPSTART program, which continues to expand and drive innovation throughout greater Honeywell. Kearney also maintains his affiliations with SPIE as an education and outreach committee member as well as a contributor to the SPIE visiting lecturer series.


Realty and Youngwoo & Associates’ 550,000-square-foot renovation of the Pier 57 building. Halajian oversees 12 executives on the project and 150 contractors on the site.

2011 Brandon Rockwell (EMBA)

was appointed vice president of business development for Par Pharmaceutical in November 2016. Par Pharmaceutical is the fourthlargest generic pharmaceutical company in the U.S. and is a subsidiary of Endo, a leading global specialty pharmaceutical company. Rockwell manages a cross-functional department of 17 employees globally, which consists of business development, portfolio management, project management and strategic API sourcing. He joined Par Pharmaceutical in 2007 and has played an integral role in setting the strategic direction of the company through the acquisitions of Edict, Anchen, JHP and the integration of Qualitest into Par. Rockwell has 10 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having held various prior positions in business-development, project management and information systems. Prior to working at Par, he was an IT systems administrator for MYOB and a systems engineer for TrueFit Solutions.

IN MEMORIAM James Herbert Leverett ’51 Robert “Bob” R. Klein ’59 William F. Bischoff ’62 Richard DiBrino ’68 Joseph C. Muscari ’68 Joseph Timothy Buscia ’79 Gregory Gilhooly ’15

Daniel Halajian (Architecture),

senior project manager at Hunter Roberts, has been named one of Commercial Observer’s top 15 architects, engineers and construction professionals under 35 years old. Halajian has worked for nine years at Hunter Roberts Construction Group and is now a senior project manager responsible for the overall construction operations of RXR NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017 29


MIDDLE KINGDOM From Oct. 14-17, 2016, NJIT President Joel S. Bloom and his wife, Diane Bloom, assistant professor of education at Kean University, accompanied by Donald H. Sebastian, president of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, and Charles R. Dees Jr., senior vice president for University Advancement, met with various university and business leaders and alumni in China. In the words of Senior Vice President Dees, following is an account of their “very productive” travels to the Middle Kingdom, where NJIT currently counts 460 alumni.

we arrived in Beijing at around 4:30 p.m. on the same day that we left the U.S. We met with J. Pan.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14 Due to the 12-hour time difference,

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16 We met with Beijing University

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15 Today we had lunch with Peng Hou, CEO and chairman of CTIE. At Union Mobile Pay E-Commerce Co. Ltd., we met with Bin Zhang, founder and CEO, as well as employees of the company. Ying Wu ’88 was an early investor in Union Mobile Pay, which has 1 billion subscribers and 1,000 employees. Later that day, we attended an alumni reception at Wish Restaurant.


of Technology President Liu Gonghui. NJIT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the university that will foster opportunities for academic and cultural exchange in teaching, research and other activities.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 We rode the train to Janan City, which is located in the Shangdong Province, home of Shangdong Qiandao University, where we met with Jang Chen, chairperson of Shangdong Jianbang Holding Group. He expressed an interest in constructing an NJIT building on their campus. n

Top Left: On Oct. 16, President Bloom met with Liu Gonghui, president of Beijing University of Technology.

Top Right: President Bloom and Ying Wu ’88, chair of China Capital Group Bottom Left: Bin Zhang, founder and CEO of Union Mobile Pay E-Commerce Co. Ltd. exchanged gifts with President Joel S. Bloom at the company’s headquarters in Beijing. Bottom Right: From left: Dr. Diane Bloom, President Bloom; Peng Hou, CEO and chairman, CTIE; Donald H. Sebastian, president and CEO, New Jersey Innovation Institute; and Charles R. Dees, Jr., senior vice president for University Advancement


This fall, the Florida Gulf Coast Alumni Club sponsored a trip to Cuba. In the following narrative, George Post ’61 shares his experiences as part of the NJIT group who toured this fascinating country. On Nov. 5, 2016, 20 NJIT alumni, administrators, faculty, significant others and friends departed Tampa International Airport for an eight-day tour of Havana and its surrounding area. Drs. Joel and Diane Bloom happily were part of the group. The tour was organized by the Florida Gulf Coast Alumni Club. A complete itinerary was arranged that included walking tours of Old Havana with its historic plazas and impressive,


although deteriorating, collection of colonial-era residences and government buildings. A highlight of the tour was attending a performance of Danza Teatro Retazos, an incredible group of interpretive modern dancers. The members are organized to promote dance under the Ministry of Culture of Cuba. In keeping with the tour participants’ interest in science and engineering, a morning was spent at the University of Havana to discuss the learning and research programs at both institutions. The group also met with the Havana development department to learn about planning, restoration and urbanization in Old Havana. Venturing outside the city, we visited

the whimsical studio of Jose Fuster, one of Cuba’s most important ceramists and painters. Since a visit to Cuba is not complete without learning about its famous cigar industry, the group traveled to the center of Cuba’s prime tobaccogrowing regions to visit a farm and experience the cigars. We had the pleasure to see Havana as it begins a period of transition that must surely occur as more Americans visit the island. The time in Havana was an opportunity to bond not only among the group participants, but also between the group and the Cuban people. Without exception, all had a great time and returned with lasting memories. n

Top Left: Members of the delegation who toured Cuba in November. Top Right: On day two, the group visited the Cathedral of Havana San Cristobal, one of the oldest in the Americas. Bottom Left: Learning about the local cuisine at Café Ajiaco on day three of the tour. Bottom Right: Paul W. Klein ’64, ’68 and Betty J. Perlmutter in front of a 17th-century stone fort at Cojímar that was built in 1645 as the easternmost defense point of Havana across from a monument to Ernest Hemingway. It is a twin to the fortification built on the other side of Havana.



BASKETBALL DOUBLE-HEADER & CORPORATE ALUMNI DAY February 18, 2017 NJIT Campus SPEAKING OF CAREERS March 8, 2017 Bloomberg HQ New York, New York SOCCER ALUMNI REUNION March 10-12, 2017 Cape Canaveral, Florida NCE SALUTE TO ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE March 9, 2017 Highlawn Pavilion West Orange, New Jersey

SPEED NETWORKING EVENT March 29, 2017 NJIT Campus COAD DESIGN SHOWCASE March 30, 2017 NJIT Campus NJIT @ RAYS VS. YANKEES April 2, 2017 Tampa, Florida GOLDEN HIGHLANDERS LUNCHEON April 6, 2017 NJIT Campus SCHOLARSHIP BRUNCH April 28, 2017 NJIT Campus

ALUMNI RODEO DAY March 17, 2017 NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas RECEPTION WITH PRESIDENT BLOOM March 23, 2017 Hoboken, New Jersey

SAVE THE DATE! May 19-21, 2017 NJIT Campus 3 2 NJIT MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017



The skull of a placodont - Placodus gigas clearly showing upper and lower teeth well suited to crushing the shells of creatures that were a primary source of food. ________________________________________

in the museum collections to models that tested how efficiently the teeth would break shells and how well they resisted breaking under pressure. Based on these models, Crofts and her team were able to predict that placodonts should have evolved a slightly rounded tooth surface, which would break shells efficiently without damaging the tooth itself. While some later occurring placodonts did just that, evolution equipped the latest known occurrences of these creatures with teeth that had quite different and very intriguing characteristics.

RESEARCH TO ANSWER A CRUSHING EVOLUTIONARY QUESTION Studying the physical features of longextinct creatures continues to yield surprising new knowledge of how evolution fosters traits desirable for survival in diverse environments. Placodonts are a case in point — specifically, the placodont teeth that Stephanie Crofts, an NJIT postdoctoral researcher, has written about in an article recently published in the journal Paleobiology. Now working with Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Brooke Flammang in her Central King Building lab, Crofts is the co-author of “Tooth occlusal morphology in the durophagous marine reptiles, Placodontia (Reptilia: Sauropterygia).”

“crushing” teeth well-suited for eating the “hard prey” creatures that shared their environment — creatures with thick shells, like clams or mussels.

Placodonts, a group of extinct marine reptiles, lived at the beginning of the Triassic Period, the beginning of the age of dinosaurs, some 250 million years ago. All placodonts have teeth on their upper and lower jaws, as well as a set of teeth lining the roof of the mouth. But over their evolutionary history, Crofts explains, placodonts developed specialized

INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION Working with an international team of colleagues she met before joining NJIT in 2016, Crofts traveled to museums throughout Europe to collect data on the shape of placodont teeth.

The evolutionary ancestors of placodonts had long, pointy teeth, even on the roof of the mouth, especially suitable for catching soft-bodied prey. In contrast, placodonts are easily identified by their crushing teeth, bulbous in early placodonts and flattened in species that occur later in the evolutionary lineage. The basic question for Crofts: How well did these teeth function, and did later placodonts achieve an “optimal” crushing tooth?

In the course of her travel, Crofts compared the shapes of placodont teeth

Instead of the predicted optimal tooth, this group of placodonts developed a complex tooth surface with a shallow, crescent-shaped furrow surrounding a small cusp on the principal crushing teeth. As Crofts and her collaborators suggest in the Paleobiology article, this tooth structure may have worked in a way similar to the function proposed for early hominin molars — with the furrow holding prey in place while the small cusp applies the force needed to break through the prey’s shell. Further, Crofts’ collaborators have demonstrated that there is a slower rate of tooth replacement in this same group of placodonts, likely because changes in tooth shape protect the tooth from failure. Reflecting on her research involving placodonts, Crofts says that it is a “window into the complexities and possibilities” inherent to the process of evolution. The placodonts she studied and wrote about surprised her with teeth differing very significantly from those which evolved in other related species. At NJIT, Crofts is continuing the search for new insights into how evolution shapes the functional relationship of all creatures — including humans — with the surrounding world.


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