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RESEARCH AND GRADUATE STUDIES


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George W. Wright, Ph.D President, Prairie View A&M University Felecia M. Nave, Ph.D Provost, Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs Publisher: Cajetan M. Akujuobi, M.B.A., Ph.D, E.E. Vice President for Research & Dean, Graduate Studies Executive Director of Communications and Marketing: Yolanda Bevill, J.D. Editor: Karen B. Cotton, M.A. Photographer: Jourdan B. Scruggs, M.A.

Message From Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies

Design and Contributors: Gilbreath Communications, Inc. Candace M. Johnson, MCD, M.B.A

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Research at Prairie View A&M University is directed by talented and dedicated scholars. We place a high priority on training students to balance ambitious career goals with a commitment to improving conditions in society for the long term.

Welcome to the inaugural issue of ReView magazine which highlights the innovative research at Prairie View A&M University. From engineering to business to history and beyond, our groundbreaking research initiatives are complemented by creative thinking and an intentional effort to encourage collaboration among our research faculty, students and external partners. We are passionate about our commitment to the tripartite mission of teaching, research, and service. As we continue to increase the research capabilities of PVAMU we will continue to share how our cuttingedge research has implications in local, national and global environments. I hope you enjoy this first look at the Research Excellence at the View as much as I have.

Send feedback to: review@pvamu.edu ReView Magazine is published by the Department of Research and Graduate Studies in conjunction with the Department of Marketing and Communications.

Cajetan M. Akujuobi, M.B.A., Ph.D., E.E. Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies

Prairie View A&M University is an EEO/AA institution

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IN THIS

ISSUE

4  PVAMU’S RESEARCH AGENDA

A Commitment to Inspire as well as Educate while Building a Strong Research Partnership with Public and Private Sector Institutions

7  C HANCELLOR’S

RESEARCH INITIATIVE (CRI)

Initiative Proves Valuable to PVAMU’s Ambitious Research Goals

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38 SPOTLIGHT

STUDENT

ONE HOT TOPIC AT PVAMU:

Researchers at the Consortium of Materials and Energy Studies Looking for Ways to Replace Fossil Fuels with Solar Power

12 ARE TODAY’S STUDENTS

ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET? A Look at the Drawbacks of Extensive Daily Internet Usage

Doctoral Student Hopes to Inspire Upcoming Minority Students with Her Work in the Cyber Security Field

14 MACH-3 CENTER TAKES

A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT’S OVERLOOKED:

Black Male Achievers in Higher Education

18 PREPARING FOR

A BREAKTHROUGH:

College of Business Researching Social Media’s Role in the Four Phases of Disaster Management

The Academic ‘Grit’ of PVAMU Grad Student Jerrel Moore Promises to Make a Big Difference in the Lives of Many Others

26 HIDDEN FROM THE HACKERS It’s No Secret: PVAMU is Securing a Top Role in the Quest for Solid Cybersecurity

30 INVESTING IN PREVENTION

AND CULTIVATING POTENTIAL

PVAMU's Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center Takes on New Questions about Truancy

Research Team at PVAMU’s CREDIT Center Aims to Tame Complex Issues Arising from Big Data

34 TIPHC: DOCUMENTING

500 YEARS OF BLACK HISTORY IN TEXAS

Building a Black History Center at PVAMU

37 INSIDE TRACK


PVAMU’s RESEARCH AGENDA A Commitment to Inspire as well as Educate while Building a Strong Research Partnership with Public and Private Sector Institutions


A great education is most powerful when matched by great inspiration. That sums up the approach of Prairie View A&M University’s Dr. Cajetan Akujuobi, Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, on the long-range agenda of PVAMU’s research program.

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SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES

TO ALIGN UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE RESEARCH From engineering to business to history and beyond, all of PVAMU’s research programs have ambitious goals that must be accompanied by creative thinking and an intense effort to encourage research students to be passionate about personal goals while focusing on opportunities to improve conditions in society for the long term. “We at PVAMU should recognize that our mission is not just transmitting knowledge to students, but igniting a flame of passion for lifelong learning and a genuine commitment to social change, development and entrepreneurship,” Akujuobi said. “It is my intention to develop an aggressive research agenda and help the graduate studies continue to create a reputation for affordable excellence and economic relevance that should occur against a backdrop of societal advancement.” Akujuobi said a major goal is to increase the university’s overall research funding budget by about 5 percent annually. “This could be achieved by winning more coveted National Science Foundation center awards, forging closer working relationships with state

and national agencies and creating research partnerships with the industrial sector,” he said. “In the area of curriculum development, we should not be content with what we currently have, but aspire to creatively develop new curriculums that will match the training of students for the 21st century job market.” Additionally, Akujuobi said he wants to facilitate more interdisciplinary research along with entrepreneurship efforts at PVAMU. “I intend to encourage creation of more centers of excellence supported by industrial partners,” Akujuobi said. “This can be done by having these partners contribute a minimum of $50,000 annually for research (while) the center helps them with their research-related activities.”

$50K Encouraging partners to contribute a minimum of $50,000 annually for research (while) the center helps them with their projects


“In addition to the excellent faculty that PVAMU has, enhancing the quality of teaching and research is an area that calls for the attraction and retention of a large number of the highest-quality faculty and creating an environment that would unleash their potential. “We should be dedicated to ensuring that as our students become proficient, their experience should be unprecedented and that when they leave us, they are prepared to make an impact, an impression and an imprint on a world that is continually shaped by the forces of technology and economic globalization.” o DR. CAJETAN AKUJUOBI

Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies

CHANCELLOR’S RESEARCH INITIATIVE (CRI) proves valuable to PVAMU’s ambitious research goals Three years ago, John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, announced that he would ask the Board of Regents for the creation of the Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI). This initiative would provide one-time funds to Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University for the recruitment and hiring of faculty researchers who have established themselves in unique areas that will aid Texas' technological progress and help create and enhance research capacity at the two institutions to ensure the highest quality of research and infrastructure development. The CRI would provide more than $100 million during three fiscal years beginning in 2013. The CRI became a reality and three years later, PVAMU’s research program can aim for dramatic improvements made possible by CRI funding. Dr. Cajetan Akujuobi, Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, said being able to hire the necessary expert faculty and provide essential infrastructure makes all the difference in the world for PVAMU’s ambitious agenda, specifically:

Enhancing awareness of the research capabilities of the university

Increasing research and scholarly activity

Increasing collaborative research among faculty, students and external partners.

“I believe the secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well,” Akujuobi said. “We should prudently channel the expertise of the faculty and staff to teaching and research, and thereby secure and sustain strong teaching and research support.” To date, PVAMU has been approved for five research centers through the Chancellor’s Research Initiative: The Center for Advancing Innovations in Smart Microgrid, the Computational Biology and Bioengineering Research Lab and the Cyber Security and Information Communication Systems Research Center (CECSTR) in the College of Electrical Engineering; the Radiation Institute for Science and Engineering (RaISE) in the College of Arts and Sciences, and most recently, the Minority Achievement, Creativity and High Achievement Center (MACH-3) in the College of Education.

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ONE HOT TOPIC AT PVAMU: Researchers at the Consortium of Materials and Energy Studies

LOOKING FOR WAYS

TO REPLACE

FOSSIL FUELS


WITH

SOLAR POWER Most of us have heard about — and probably experienced — some of the hazards arising from widespread use of fossil fuels. That’s why Prairie View A&M University’s Consortium of Materials and Energy Studies is working on potentially groundbreaking research to convert solar energy into uses typically reserved for fossil fuels.

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Dr. Hua-Jun Fan, the Consortium’s director, said its current research is truly unique in that it “will investigate new ‘bottom-up’ reactivity approaches to precisely control the composition, microstructure and properties of multi-element, solid-state compounds that are at the forefront of emerging technologies for photovoltaic solar cells, photocatalytic devices, thermoelectric power generators and fuel cells,” Fan said. The research is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) totaling $525,000 from 2014 through 2017. The grant contributes to fulfilling the Department of Energy’s mission of advancing basic research and education while addressing major societal challenges such as the national need for sustainability. “The goal of this grant is to design distinct, powerful and widely applicable synthetic strategies spanning the continuum between molecular, nano, meso and bulk scales, thus enabling effective processing and incorporation of complex materials into new technologies,” Fan said, adding that the research addresses an issue demanding attention now and well into the future.

“Energy is a $3 trillion a year enterprise, by far the biggest enterprise of humankind,” Fan said. “The conversion of solar energy into chemical or electrical energy becomes an important priority today because solar energy is a free and abundant energy source. “A key part in solving this energy challenge/ crisis is to discover materials capable of efficiently harvesting sunlight and achieving charge separation, a process by which a neutral photon is converted into an electron-hole pair,” said Fan. “The designed projects will provide the most needed understanding of the composition and structure-property relationship of such materials.” Two graduate students, Daniel Tran and Nnenna Elechi are contributing to the research. Tran has studied the factors affecting the redox potentials of graphene ribbon that can be used in fuel cells and other new generation batteries. Elechi investigated how ionic liquid can more efficiently catalyze cellulose in order to develop the next generation technologies to utilize nonfood biomass resources for renewable fuels and chemical feedstocks. The two most significant projects under way at the Consortium are (1) designing a simpler but more effective precursor to synthesize the nanorod materials in the solar energy conversion application; and (2) providing a reaction pathway of catalyzing nonfood biomass cellulose for renewable fuels and feedstocks.

The research is funded by a grant 2014

2017

$525K

from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) totaling $525,000 from 2014 through 2017.


Fan first came to PVAMU in 2002 as a visiting professor. “Because of my passion for teaching, I fell in love with the beautiful campus and friendly working environment,” he said. Recruited as an assistant professor in chemistry in 2004, Fan was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 2010 and to full professorship in 2015. Fan also is the four-time winner of the “Outstanding Teaching Award” from the Marvin D. and June Samuel Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences, and a finalist for the 2015 President’s Teaching Award. Since 2006, Fan has mentored 10–20 students each semester on how to conduct research. His students have won numerous awards, including Joshua Heads, who won the “Travel Award” from the 2015 NOBCChE Annual Conference Committee and Abdul Siddiqui, who won first place in the Poster Competition at the 10th PVAMU Annual Research Symposium in spring 2015. o

IS A $3 TRILLION A YEAR ENTERPRISE, by far the biggest enterprise of humankind,” Fan said. “The conversion of solar energy into chemical or electrical energy becomes an important priority today because solar energy is a free and abundant energy source.

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ARE TODAY’S STUDENTS ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET?


Dr. Reginald L. Bell, noted scholar and faculty coordinator for Prairie View A&M University’s Center for Business Communication, recently conducted a study on students and the time they devote to Internet usage. Bell co-authored an article examining the results of the study that appeared in the Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, entitled, “Online Time and Gender Perceptions of Internet Addiction.” The study was based on a sample of community college students and focused on gender differences in Internet usage. In this study, Bell and his team identified three “primary dimensions” — or behavioral characteristics — to measure: 1) the social recluse; 2) the Internet addict, and c) the procrastinator. These traits were then compared to the genders of the survey respondents and the amount of time they reported spending online.

“THE

INTERNET

IS A POWERFUL TOOL, BUT IT CAN HAVE ITS DRAWBACKS AS A PRIMARY COMMUNICATIONS TOOL.” —DR. REGINALD L. BELL

“Our study found that Internet addiction can be based on gender, but it depends on whether or not the student is more prone to be socially reclusive,” Bell said. “When students were acting more like social recluses than Internet addicts, they differed in the time they spent online. Neither group exceeded two hours per day, which seems to be the breaking point for all students.” Bell and his co-author also found that male and female students seemed to spend similar amounts of time online regardless of their identified primary dimension. “What we know is that male and female students, if addicted, are addicted in similar ways,” Bell explained. “Although our study was limited and should not be generalized to other populations, we can say that the three dimensions are good indicators of Internet addiction.” As the Internet continues to play an ever-greater role in the lives of young people, the global implications of the study, according to Dr. Bell, suggest society could lose the valuable faceto-face communications channels among some young adults. Person-to-person interaction is where most of our moral values are learned and where our human interaction skills are perfected through continual interpretations of facial and physical cues. “The Internet is a powerful tool, but it can have its drawbacks as a primary communications tool,” Bell concluded. o

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DR. FRED A. BONNER II Endowed Chair at PVAMU


MACH-3 Center Takes A Closer Look at What’s Overlooked: BLACK MALE ACHIEVERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION

There has long been a recurring theme in national news media stories regarding minorities in public schools: Grim stories about at-risk, low-achievers who struggle through the system and the resulting long-term challenges they face as adults.

YET, ONE PROMINENT SCHOLAR IS SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGING THAT NARRATIVE. His name is Dr. Fred A. Bonner II, and he joined the faculty at Prairie View A&M University in the College of Education in early 2015 after serving two years as the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education.

“The core of what I do is find ways to improve the success of marginalized populations in an educational context from pre-kindergarten all the way through graduate school,” Bonner said. RESEARCH

Bonner recently won a Chancellor’s Research Initiative Grant for his Minority Achievement in Higher Education (MACH-3) plan. As an endowed chair at PVAMU, Bonner brings a well-defined and razor-sharp agenda to his role as director of the new MACH-3 Center. Beginning in spring 2016, Bonner will teach one course each semester and will continue many of the educational initiatives that he began during his time at Rutgers — notably, the HBCU Dean’s Think-Tank and the Black Male Summit.

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– DR. FRED A. BONNER II

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“What really struck me is that there was such a very small number of students of color, particularly African-American males who identified with gifted and talented or advanced placement.” ORIGIN OF THE

MACH-3

Bonner’s study of black males in higher education’s version of “gifted and talented” originated with his own post-graduate experiences. “I got my doctorate in higher education because I thought I’d become a VP of student affairs,” Bonner said. “I had a really good adviser who said, ‘we’re going to do the Ed.D. program, but I’m still going to make you take every research course.” That research training ultimately shaped Bonner’s career. He recalls taking a course which examined the whole student spectrum — from those in special education courses to those in gifted and talented courses. “What really struck me is that there was such a very small number of students of color, particularly African-American males who identified with gifted and talented or advanced placement,” Bonner said. “At the time, I was completing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, which

Concept

is a K-12 program. But I decided to go on to get my doctorate and I selected higher ed administration,” he said. “So, I was trying to find a way to hang on to that focus on gifted and talented (K-12 black male students), but I knew my field was going to be higher ed.” With helpful input from his adviser, Bonner found a new approach: rather than looking only at high-achieving black males in the public school system, he would examine the path of high-achievers in post-secondary colleges and universities. As an early blueprint, he used a rough master’s paper he’d written titled, Who is More Effective at Cultivating Giftedness: HBCUs or PWIs?

“From that master’s paper, I’ve basically crafted an entire career,” said Bonner, who has become a prolific author of several books on the subject of black males who manage to excel in the post-graduate world.


Pictured are members of B3: Black and Brown Brothers, the organization provides multi-level mentoring for African American and Latino male college students.

WHY MACH-3 MATTERS AND THE GOALS FOR PVAMU “My goal is for Prairie View A&M and the MACH-3 Center to be the epicenter for research among minority-serving institutions,” said Bonner. “I’ve always had a personal commitment that I would prove to myself that I can be successful at large-scale university research programs and then move on to an HBCU,” Bonner said. Meanwhile, students of the MACH-3 Center will be encouraged to seek out their own field of interest, using Bonner’s approach as a template, he said. “I tell my students, ‘Look, my agenda is high-achieving black males. My goal as a mentor is to get you to find what your agenda is,” Bonner said. “I can teach you the research methods, but I want you to find out what you’re passionate about.” For example, one of Bonner’s previous students focused on high-achieving Hispanic women in the engineering field. Bonner said he recognizes the importance of studying low-achieving minority students, but sees an urgent need to take a harder look at minority students who excel despite adversity.

“I think the problem is that we really only look at this very small margin,” Bonner said. “We have to move all students away from talking about what I call a ‘deficit perspective.’ We need to move from a deficit model to an asset model.” “I want to know about the child who’s sitting in your class who comes from ‘that side of the tracks,’ from a one-parent household, very low-income, and who has to go through craziness just to even get to school, but he’s sitting in your physics class with a 99.9 percent average. I need to know what he’s doing. “If you can isolate the success factors of students who are building on resilience, you could potentially use that model to raise academic achievement levels among all ethnic and socioeconomic groups,” Bonner said. With Bonner’s prominent and well-respected scholarship setting the tone, the MACH-3 Center is primed to rapidly raise PVAMU’s profile in a field of research many other institutions have yet to fully appreciate. o

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT

College of Business Researching Social Media’s Role in the

PHASES OF

PREPARING FOR A BREAKTHROUGH:


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PERSONAL EXPERIENCE PLAYED A POWERFUL ROLE IN DETERMINING THE COURSE OF DR. LOUIS NGAMASSI’S CAREER AS A RESEARCHER. Originally from Cameroon, Ngamassi lost several family members when an HIV epidemic ravaged his native country several years ago. So, it’s more than ironic that Dr. Ngamassi is now directing disaster management research in Prairie View A&M University’s College of Business with a focus on social media’s role.

There’s another unique aspect to Ngamassi’s research: Instead of duplicating the widespread focus of information and communication technologies (ICT) on disaster response alone, Ngamassi is researching the use of social media in four distinct phases of disaster management — mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery — all of which demand much greater examination. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

MITIGATION

PREPAREDNESS

RESPONSE

RECOVERY

Mitigation requires examination of how to take continuous action to remove or diminish long-term hazards to people and property during disasters.

Preparedness involves (1) determining the supplies and resources most vital in case of disaster; (2) designating amenities for emergency use; and (3) assigning and training support personnel in key areas during response and recovery operations.

Response begins when a disaster is imminent, or immediately after the disaster occurs. This phase mainly involves conducting an assessment of the situation and putting the strategies developed during the preparedness phase into action.

Recovery is to ensure all community activities and systems return to normal functioning. Recovery is unique to each community or area depending on the type of disaster, the extent to which the community is affected by the disaster and the resources that are available or can be procured by the community.


“When we examine the use of social media through the lens of the different phases of

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

as defined by FEMA, we find that social media has been extensively used in the response phase.” DR. LOUIS NGAMASSI

Director, Disaster Management Research

“When we examine the use of social media through the lens of the different phases of disaster management as defined by FEMA, we find that social media has been extensively used in the response phase,” Ngamassi said. “Although this is good, we believe that the full potential of social media has not been utilized in the area of disaster management.” According to Ngamassi, social media can aid disaster management most effectively when utilized in all phases of a disaster. “Using social media in the earlier phases of mitigation and preparedness will improve awareness of an approaching disaster among communities, help them prevent or minimize losses and be more prepared to deal with the disasters,” Ngamassi said. “Similarly, using social media during the recovery phase will provide the victims with support and help them cope with the losses they have faced.” But to use social media effectively in all the phases of disaster management, Ngamassi said it is important to (1) use the right social media tool and (2) map the exact characteristics of the tool that can be used in each phase. “For this reason, our research also investigates the characteristics of social media by exploring the different frameworks provided by social media scholars and by examining how these fit with the different phases of disaster management.” Ngamassi added.

Another major priority for Ngamassi at the PVAMU College of Business, is to initiate what will be known as the Center for Information Technology and Society Development — a multidisciplinary center involving the study of the social sciences, the humanities and engineering. One of the new center’s main objectives, according to Ngamassi, will be to apply knowledge from these three diverse areas to understand the development, use and effects of information and communication technologies (ICT) in contemporary society. Also, for students considering careers in disaster management, Ngamassi has introduced a new course called Crisis Informatics. “This course equips senior undergraduates and graduates with the knowledge and skills to enable them to be key players in disaster management,” Ngamassi said. “They learn how to gather and analyze social media data. Students are also introduced to social network analysis and visual analytics. They learn how visual analytics could be used in processing and disseminating disaster-related social media data.” Ngamassi said students who complete Crisis Informatics will be able to seek work directly in the field of crisis management. “Other job opportunities in this area include working with the United Nations, the military, police or health responders, or aid organizations,” he said. “Students might also be interested in the design and development of software applications to use during times of crises.” o

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KNOCKING BIG

DOWN TO SIZE: Research Team at PVAMU’s CREDIT Center Aims to Tame Complex Issues Arising from Big Data

”We will build partnerships with DoD (U.S. Department of Defense) labs and other government agencies and businesses to focus on research data analysis and to educate and train students to become data scientists and engineers in the future datacentric economy and contribute to DoD missions.” —Dr. Lijun Qian


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DR. LIJUN

THE ARMED FORCES

have always been at the forefront of creating new technology and advancing industrial innovation. With game-changing inventions like the (now ubiquitous) Internet, GPS, Microwave, duct tape, and drones, the military continues to be a leader in software and hardware development. But, even the military is trying to find creative and sustainable ways to store, assemble and access vast amounts of data. From the looks of it, modern war craft may see a sharp change due to the use of evolved advances in technology.

Dr. Lijun Qian of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department secured a $5 million grant to develop the Center of Excellence in Research and Education for Big Military Data InTelligence (CREDIT). The PVAMU CREDIT Center’s mission is to accelerate research and education in predictive analytics to more effectively address and solve a whole range of complex problems posed by big data. With this grant, Prairie View A&M University became one of three universities in the country to receive a grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to perform this type of research. “The CREDIT center will provide the framework for data to be collected, evaluated, correlated, and ultimately used to support time-critical decisions and actions,” Qian said. “We will build partnerships with DoD (U.S. Department of Defense) labs and other government agencies and businesses to focus on research data analysis and to educate and train students to become data scientists and engineers in the future data-centric economy and contribute to DoD missions.”


THE CENTER’S BIG DATA RESEARCH AGENDA IS SEPARATED INTO FOUR “THRUSTS”:

THRUST

THRUST

THRUST

THRUST

Covers system architecture design for a military cloud computing system

Covers secure and robust data aggregation using a cognitive radio sensor network

Covers novel machine-learning algorithms designed for high-dimensional datasets with missing data

Covers visualization of massive military datasets interactively on big screen and portable devices

01

02

03

Dr. Qian and his team have determined four focus areas, or thrusts, that will inform their research — architecture; aggregation; algorithms and interactivity. Research results on all four thrusts will be validated by simulation experiments and the center’s test bed. In fact, the CREDIT Center researchers are in the process of constructing a “Big Data Cloud Test Bed” by integrating the capabilities of a LCD Video Wall-based Virtual Reality Lab; a Cloud Computing Lab; and a Wireless Communications Lab that features a cognitive radio test bed, a wireless sensor network test bed and a bio-signal-controlled mobile robot test bed.

04

through big data collection and analysis via the sensors and camera mounted on the device. Dr. Qian’s research team, including faculty members from the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and Computer Science department, has had quite an eventful year since securing the grant, such as organizing a kickoff meeting and a Big Data Workshop attended by more than 50 people, and participating in a technical exchange meeting at the Air Force Research Lab. o

“In the more global picture of the research, we’re building a cyberphysical system,” Qian said. In addition, the senior design team is working with a “robot” that can essentially assist military personnel in a war zone by providing them with easy access to remotely dangerous zones

THE CREDIT C E N T E R'S STUDENTS

are building cognitive radio networks and working on deep learning for military big data analytics, wireless sensor networks and network security such as wormhole detection and secure anonymous routing.

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HIDDEN FROM THE HACKERS


4 IT’S NO SECRET:

PVAMU is Securing a Top Role in the Quest for Solid Cybersecurity Not so long ago, most of us primarily used one term — “hackers” — in reference to internet criminals who could steal passwords. Today, people in government and private institutions are all too familiar with “phishing,” “brandjacking,” “clickjacking” and other specialized online criminal activity devoted to breaching internet security. Keeping data secure has clearly become a long-term struggle. Yet, every crisis presents an opportunity, and the researchers at Prairie View A&M University is delivering the proof with the new Information Communication and Cyber Security Center (ICCSC). Dr. Cajetan Akujuobi, Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies, said part of the work at the center is based on applying the science of hiding current data — also known as steganography.

Akujuobi said the ICCSC’s initial focus will be in four critical areas requiring fundamental thinking and cooperation between engineers and scientists: • Advanced information communication and cyber security research and education •S  ecuring information and enterprise networks in communication systems •D  igital rights management security and; •C  yber security, threats, mitigation and solutions


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“The steganography idea using wavelet transforms can hide information or an image in a cover image and it is transmitted so that the information is undetectable,” Akujuobi said. “The other method proposed will embed secret data in the skin portion of images of people. Images are the most popular cover objects for steganography,” he said. “This technique has special applications in the military arena.” But other government institutions, private businesses and the general public are also likely to develop an interest in the hidden data research as it becomes more widely publicized. “The hidden data project will have a broad and profound effect on our lives in the 21st century in areas ranging from consumer electronics to homeland security,” Akujuobi said. “It will help secure information and improve the efficiency and enhancement of securing government data, business data and data from different individuals or households.”

But the technology will need time to catch up with the high expectations coming from the public and private sectors as well as from individuals and households. “More and better research, technology development and testing are needed in university and corporate labs,” said Akujuobi. “That makes our research in the area of cyber security more important.” Akujuobi said the Chancellor’s Research Initiative grant will enable the ICCSC to expand quickly. “It will be possible to get the necessary infrastructure for the cyber security program, and the necessary experts needed for the center will be hired, along with the staff that will be needed to support the center.”


Dr. Cajetan Akujuobi Vice President of Research and Dean of Graduate Studies

Akujuobi’s academic and career achievements are testaments to his credibility as a research leader. He has held numerous prominent positions in academia and industry for 40 years, having worked for such corporations as Bell Labs, Intelsat, Schlumberger, Texas Instruments, Spectrum Engineering, NASA and others. Before assuming his current role at PVAMU in January 2014, Akujuobi previously taught for 12 years at PVAMU. He was the founding director of PVAMU’s Center of Excellence for Communication Systems Technology Research (CECSTR), professor of electrical engineering and department chair of the Engineering Technology Department. During this time, Akujuobi received $20 million in funding for the CECSTR from a combination of private corporations and government agencies. From 2010 through 2013, as dean of Alabama State University’s College of Science, Mathematics and Technology, Akujuobi helped to introduce and won board approval for several undergraduate and graduate degree programs

in biomedical engineering, forensic science and forensic biology. Akujuobi also has taught and conducted research at several other private and state universities such as The University of Texas-San Antonio, Norfolk State University, the University of the District of Columbia, Hampton University, Howard University and DeVry University. He has written more than 100 journal and peer-reviewed publications and reports, and has supervised and graduated more than 30 master’s and Ph.D. students over the past 20 years.

“More and better research, technology development and testing are needed in university and corporate labs,” said Akujuobi. “That makes our research in the area of cyber security more important.” Akujuobi also published a book with fellow PVAMU researcher, Dr. Matthew Sadiku, entitled Introduction to Broadband Communications Systems and is currently writing another book related to his current work. o

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INVESTING IN

PREVENTION and Cultivating Potential …

PVAMU’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center Takes on Challenging New Questions about Truancy

Juvenile crime prevention has long been one of the nation’s most persistent challenges. But the issue became an even greater source of debate in Texas after the passage of House Bill 2398 in spring 2015.

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House Bill 2398 decriminalized truancy and was hailed as a major victory for child and youth advocates, parents and students. This change shifted responsibility for truant students away from law enforcement and transferred the responsibility to schools.

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32 One big question quickly emerged: Given the challenges teachers and administrators already must face — such as meeting educational standards with inadequate infrastructure and resources — are schools capable of effectively handling truancy? That question is only one example of what is driving research efforts at Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center. Dr. Susan Frazier-Kouassi became the center’s director last summer and has given a new urgency to studying the truancy issue. Frazier-Kouassi said the Juvenile Crime Prevention Center’s purpose is to design and evaluate all possibilities that can address issues related to youth crime and violence in Texas. For the past four years, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Center has implemented and provided the Effective Parent and Child Engagement Training Program to families referred by the courts for their child’s truant behavior. The Effective Parent and Child Engagement Training Program is an intervention/ prevention training series designed to reduce and/or prevent school truancy, among other problems that may lead to youth delinquency or incarceration. “We are not only interested in studying the implications of policies and laws that affect the youth, such as H.B. 2398,” Frazier-Kouassi said. “We also are invested in creating and providing intervention programs that can make a difference in the lives of the youth and their families, such as the Effective Parent and Child Engagement Training Program that Grady Paris, J.D. — our staff training specialist — conducts in various school districts.”

As for the impact of H.B. 2398, Frazier-Kouassi notes that the schools often are the very environment producing the kind of issues that lead to truancy among students. “One of the reasons youth stop attending school is the climate of the school environment itself,” Frazier-Kouassi said. “Students who are failing or bored with their school work, or who are bullied, feel misunderstood or out of place, don’t find the school environment to be the warm and nurturing place we often like to envision that it is.” In short, the result of H.B. 2398 clearly mandates schools to fix the problem of truancy, she said, when the schools themselves may be the source of the problem in the first place. “With the expectation for the school system to cope with truancy, another concern relates to the infrastructure and resources necessary to adequately address the issue,” FrazierKouassi said. “Will there be additional revenue and resources provided to schools to address this new responsibility in a suitable manner? And where will these additional resources come from?

ONE BIG QUESTION QUICKLY EMERGED

Given the challenges teachers and administrators already must face — such as meeting educational standards with inadequate infrastructure and resources — are schools capable of effectively handling truancy?


“From a human resource perspective, it seems unreasonable to place this additional responsibility on teaching and administrative staff who are already operating at their maximum capacity without additional staff or resources to supplant,” she said. Meanwhile, Frazier-Kouassi is looking ahead to greater achievements for PVAMU’s juvenile crime prevention research efforts. “My overarching goal for the center is to build a synergistic intellectual environment for faculty, scholars, students and others whose research focuses on juvenile crime prevention in Texas,” Frazier-Kouassi said. The long-term aim for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Center is to make it a national exemplary center on the issue of juvenile crime prevention, Frazier-Kouassi said, and also to train future generations of researchers committed to understanding all factors contributing to the disproportionate numbers of minority youth tied up in the juvenile justice system. One project Frazier-Kouassi has launched since becoming the Center’s director in August includes an effort to gain membership for PVAMU to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. The ICPSR allows faculty, staff and students of member institutions to have full access to a data archive of more than 8,000 research studies. Another project, set to launch in 2016, is a summer program for junior faculty and researchers from HBCUs across the nation to refresh their research skills, enhance their professional development and complete manuscripts and/or grant proposals using local datasets relevant to youth, delinquency and crime in Texas. o

DR. SUSAN FRAZIER-

KOUASSI Trained as a social psychologist, FrazierKouassi completed her doctoral degree at Boston University. “I was attracted to social psychology as a discipline because it seemed to me to be an effective tool for social change,” she said. More recently, Frazier-Kouassi was affiliated with the Prevention Research Center and the Youth Violence Prevention Center — both funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Both centers emphasize prevention as the key to pinpointing factors that help youth grow resilient, strong and productive while avoiding juvenile crime, Frazier-Kouassi said. Essentially, Frazier-Kouassi said that while she does not describe herself as a juvenile justice expert, she is an expert on reaching across disciplines to work with others to better understand and research issues related to juvenile crime prevention. “I am deeply committed to the empowerment of our youth developing into positive and productive adult citizens,” Frazier-Kouassi said. “And I believe that the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center’s program and initiatives can contribute to that goal.”

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What happens when a veteran journalist and acclaimed expert on black history in Texas teams up with a historically black university? The result is Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture (TIPHC) welcoming journalist and researcher Michael Hurd as its director. Hurd has been the Managing Editor of the Texas Black History Preservation Project (TBHPP), an online encyclopedia since 2007. In fall 2015, he took on the task of bringing attention and a greater online presence to the TIPHC specifically, and PVAMU overall as a center of research for African-American history in Texas.

“NOBODY IS DOING WHAT TIPHC HAS BEEN CHARTERED TO DO, IT WAS CREATED TO BE THIS

Created by the Texas Legislature, the TIPHC is chartered to collect, preserve and display artifacts of African-American history in Texas. Hurd said the TIPHC’s focus sets PVAMU apart from all other Texas universities researching history. “Nobody is doing what TIPHC has been chartered to do,” he said. “It was created to be this black history center.” And Hurd is well-suited to serve as the center’s director. His career in journalism spans more than 35 years and includes work for USA Today, the Austin American-Statesman, Yahoo Sports, and the Houston Post. He has covered a variety of major sports events involving the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the NCAA and the Olympics.

BLACK HISTORY CENTER.”

- Michael Hurd

Documenting 500 years of Black History in Texas


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Widely regarded as an expert on the history of football programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hurd has authored two books on the subject — Black College Football: 1892–1992, and a biography, Collie J., Grambling’s Man with the Golden Pen. Hurd’s interest in the subject began in 1983 when he started researching the history of football programs at HBCUs. In the course of that research, he would sit in libraries and look at old black newspapers on microfilm. “My intent was to look at the sports section and see what they’d written about black college football. (But) I couldn’t do that, because I’d look at the front page and I was mesmerized,” he said. “Nobody was covering the black community like the black newspapers were.” “I kept coming across all the items about black history that I’d had no idea about,” Hurd said. “When I was in high school in the 1960s, we got that there was slavery, there was emancipation, and here we are. There was no context, no depth to it. “That’s when I first got fascinated with black history and so I wrote my book shortly after that,” he said. “I started thinking about black history in general.” Eventually, Hurd teamed up with a colleague, Roxanne Evans, who had worked with him at the Austin American-Statesman. Together, they began searching for written history on AfricanAmericans in Texas. “We found there had been a couple of works, but they were dated and not very comprehensive or in-depth,” Hurd said. The TBHPP comprehensively documents almost 500 years of the African American presence in Texas, dating back to 1528 with the arrival of Estevanico (commonly called “Esteban the Moor”). Estevanico was one of the

first known native Africans to reach the presentday continental United States with a group of Spanish explorers who sailed to what is now Galveston Island. Recent TIPHC exhibits include “Remembering the Past with Pride” commemorating the history of the Prairie View Interscholastic League which governed athletic, academic, and music competitions for the state’s black high schools during from 1920 to 1970; and “Olivewood Cemetery: Gone but Not Forgotten”. The cemetery was incorporated in 1875 ten years after emancipation arrived for Texas slaves, and is built on land that was a burial ground for slaves. In 1875, the land in Houston, Texas, in White Oak Bayou where First and Sixth wards meet includes more than 700 family plots. Many prominent African Americans, slaves, and veterans are buried within this historic, 6-acre resting home. “I feel like I’m in heaven right now,” Hurd said, “because I love doing this research and writing about it.”

“When I was in high school in the 1960s, we got that there was slavery, there was emancipation, and here we are. There was no context, no depth to it.” —Michael Hurd


INSIDE track

Research at Prairie View A&M University is directed by talented and dedicated scholars. We place a high priority on training students to balance ambitious career goals with a commitment to improving conditions in society for the long term.

Prairie View A&M University Takes Top Awards at 12th Annual TAMUS Pathways Research Symposium

Industry Day Sets Tone for PVAMU Research Partnerships in the Business Community

Prairie View A&M University students were awarded top honors at the 12th Annual TAMUS Pathways Research Symposium hosted by the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Business School in Corpus Christi. The symposium enables students to showcase their research projects and network with other schools, faculty members, and students within the TAMU System.

Last spring, Prairie View A&M University hosted its first annual Industry Day, an event held in partnership with The Texas A&M University System.

PVAMU truly shined in the Education Doctoral research category, sweeping the competition to finish in first, second and third place. Research partners Mathis Vairez and Jerrel Moore took home the first place prize for their in-depth research project, The Development and Validation of the Grit Trigger Scale. Second Place Doctoral finalist, Rebecca Faison, wowed judges with her research project, The Examination of Commercialization of Research Portfolios at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Doctoral Candidate Jasmine Williams placed third in the category with her research, Homeschoolers: Experiences of AfricanAmerican Male Students, A Phenomenological Study. In addition to sweeping the Doctoral Education category, Prairie View also won the top honor in the Doctoral Engineering category. Ashley S. Kelsey, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student, focused her research in communication and signal processing — specifically in cyber security. Her topic, A Discrete Wavelet Transform Approach for Enhanced Security in Image Steganography, showcased her research in data encryption and hiding data/information in images. o

Industry Day proved to be a showcase of the broad range and research capabilities of PVAMU. Selected researchers provided a glimpse into their current projects that have potential for commercialization. Industry participants at the one-day event included representatives from Texas, throughout the United States and international companies. Those present included NASA, Northrup Grumman Corporation, REUSA-Wraps and Synergy Global, among others. Participants also had the opportunity to learn more about the process of moving research ideas from the laboratory to the market place from representatives of Prairie A&M University and The Texas A&M University System. John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, Prairie View A&M University President Dr. George C. Wright and Col. Dennis Beal, USMC (ret), Executive Director Strategic Alliances/Programs joined the PVAMU Office of Research and Graduate Studies in supporting the vision of ensuring that PVAMU is on the forefront of becoming an emerging research institute and a significant contributor in the commercialization of research. Activities included high-level overviews of the technical services and expertise available from Prairie View A&M University and across the Texas A&M System. The research program is committed to building stronger research ties with various industry partners who are able to contribute to PVAMU while the university’s research teams provide assistance with research-related industry priorities. o

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT “I chose to continue on and pursue my doctoral degree because I do not want to limit the opportunities that could possibly be available to me from having a doctoral degree and I do not want to pass up the opportunity to expand my knowledge,” Kelsey said. “I also want to inspire other minority students to pursue a higher education, by going through the program myself. By being in contact with undergraduate and master’s students every day, I am able to discuss with them the opportunities here at Prairie View for master’s and Ph.D. students as well as the opportunities in the industry.”

Ashley S. Kelsey

Doctoral Student Hopes to Inspire Upcoming Minority Students with Her Work in the Cyber Security Field Ashley S. Kelsey completed a master’s of science in electrical engineering from Prairie View A&M University in August 2015. She is now pursuing her doctorate degree at PVAMU. Her research is focused on cyber security, specifically steganography. Steganography, also known as data hiding, is the science of secret communication on a public or private network. The magnitude of the growth in the Internet — combined with the increase in technological innovations — poses serious threats to the process of digital data transmission. Kelsey chose this area of research because she is passionate about finding solutions to solve the security issues negatively affecting our nation and its people.

Kelsey added that her parents, Thad and Annette Kelsey, as well as her grandparents, Dan and Anne Weaver, always pushed her to excel in her studies and to always pursue excellence. “Without their guidance, teachings and encouragement,” Kelsey said, “I would not be the person I am today and I would not be so driven to pursue a higher education.” She added that Dr. Pamela H. Obiomon and Dr. Kendall T. Harris have been instrumental in the decision-making process to pursuing a higher education. “Without their insight into the engineering field and the various opportunities that have been made available to me, I probably would have decided to work right after obtaining my bachelor’s degree instead of pursuing my master’s and doctoral degrees.” “I hope to change the world with my research by creating a program to help securely transmit information or data without the fear of the information being obtained by hackers or eavesdroppers,” Kelsey said. “I also hope to inspire others, young children and teens, undergraduate students and minorities to expand their knowledge and pursue a higher education. I hope that this will be a domino effect in which the person I inspire, inspires someone else to do the same.” o


STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Jerrel Moore completed a master’s of science degree in engineering from Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) in 2001, immediately after completing an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the university. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership. His research involves non-cognitive factors that affect academic achievement. Specifically, Moore is studying the life domains from which one acquires “grit.” Grit is defined as “the passion and perseverance to achieve long-term goals.” Moore credits his immense faith in God for the opportunities he has been afforded to continue his education. His wife and children have been very supportive of his studies. Moore’s mentor, Dr. Lucian Yates, has also been instrumental to his achievements thus far. 

Jerrel Moore

“The prevailing thought in our society regarding success is that one must possess extreme talent to achieve success,” Moore says. “However, I plan to help individuals develop the necessary character attributes to become successful despite not possessing extreme talent. I intend to develop programs to this end that will help people of all ages.” 

The Academic ‘Grit’ of PVAMU Grad Student Jerrel Moore Promises to Make a Big Difference in the Lives of Many Others When we hear the term, “grit,” some may recall the old Western film, True Grit, which earned an Academy Award for the late actor John Wayne. But if you ask Jerrel Moore, “grit” has a lot more to do with achievements in the present and the future.

Moore has high professional goals centered around bringing out the “grit” in others. “I plan to change the world by developing researchbased programs that develop ‘grit’ in students which will lead to their academic and personal success,” Moore says. o

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While the Earth’s atmosphere acts as a shield for human cells and tissue against harmful radiation, understanding and measuring how the human body reacts to various radiation levels beyond the Earth’s protective reach is critical to the next phase of space exploration. In an effort to assess the risk of radiation exposure to astronauts on long duration human expedition missions, Prairie View A&M University's Radiation Institute for Science and Engineering (RaISE), funded by the Chancellor's Research Initiative (CRI), and in collaboration with the NASA Johnson Space Center and other partners developed a radiation detection system for the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) in Japan.

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ReView-Magazine-Vol1-No1-Fall15  

Research at Prairie View A&M University is directed by talented and dedicated scholars. We place a high priority on training students to bal...

ReView-Magazine-Vol1-No1-Fall15  

Research at Prairie View A&M University is directed by talented and dedicated scholars. We place a high priority on training students to bal...