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In this Issue Modeling and Simulations: Targeting Sickled Hemoglobin Researching JCSU’s Legacy of Excellence: From Cotton Fields to Classrooms Abolishing the Nuclear Taboo: Looking Forward by Looking Back at Dwight D. Eisenhower All that Jazz: Delfeayo Marsalis and JCSU Improvisation Explorations

Applied Research Smith Institute Volume One Number Two

Fall 2011

Powerful Possibilities for a Better World

This Second Edition of Smith Institute explores the opportunities JCSU’s faculty and undergraduates experience through high-quality, hands-on applied research. JCSU student-level research experiences are discovery oriented. Through one-on-one mentoring, as well as in small groups, our students interact with faculty experts to examine meaningful applied research questions. We believe that this process produces academic mastery and true enthusiasm for the various academic disciplines. The JCSU undergraduate applied research experience is demonstrated, described, and delved into throughout each article in this publication. Smith Institute strives to provide applied research venues that offer possibilities as rare and valuable as precious gemstones for our students, who may then build toward future graduate study and career leadership success. I am most pleased to announce that the pilot research featured here and in our on-line supplement is supported through more than $100,000 in funding. This investment by the Smith Institute has nurtured a fascinating array of projects, along with substantial funding potential for the future. Each article reports our search for new possibilities, possibilities that equip our students to be problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and leaders in tomorrow’s world. I know that you will enjoy learning more about our quest, and as ever, I invite you to join us!

Ronald Carter, Ph.D.

Ronald Carter, Ph.D. President, Johnson C. Smith University

We hope that you enjoy Johnson C. Smith University’s explorations through this exciting issue of Smith Institute, our applied research magazine. In this edition, we highlight the richness of applied research initiatives undertaken here at JCSU with an emphasis on the Summer 2011 Smith Institute Funded Pilot Research Cohort. You will experience qualitative reflections on an exploratory journey “from the cotton fields,” as we trace property inventories from a local plantation, to the classrooms here at JCSU! Some explorations are mathematical and scientific, as summer research interns use computational modeling and simulations to predict issues relating to cyber security, and provide insight to a cure for Sickle Cell Anemia. It is our cover story, “On the Road to Abilene,” set against the backdrop of today’s pressing concerns with nuclear energy that brings home the relevance of exploratory research. Mentored by Assistant History Professor Dr. Brian Jones, JCSU student Donté Perry travelled to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas. They did not find what they were looking for… good exploratory research often turns out that way. Discover what they learned through archival research on the pivotal American President, who significantly shaped today’s discussion on nuclear energy for wartime and peacetime use. Engage with us in our exploratory search for new possibilities. Diane Bowles, Ph.D. Executive Director, Smith Institute for Applied Research Vice President, Government Sponsored Programs and Research Director, Title III

Diane Bowles, Ph.D. Fall 2011

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a rt St


President Ronald L. Carter Speaks 1


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le d He m o g lo


e 16

e d W it h An

Foster Care Initiative BC



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The road to abilEne 7

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Student Internships 19

phenomenology 13

Artistic Narrative & Research 9

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Cotton Fields to Classrooms 5





Website Exclusive Publication Index Visit Smith Institute’s Website for these exclusive articles. Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Family Wellness Antonia Mead, Ph.D. and Helen Caldwell, Ph.D. - A Walk in the Rain Means Being Faithful to Call - Stress and African American Caregivers - The Charlotte Vitality Challenge with Dr. Art Ulene: Presidential Research Priority for Wellness - Yoga, Dance, JCSU Students, and Stress Relief

Delfeayo Marsalis & All that Jazz 11

Center of Excellence in Global Education Adelheid Eubanks, Ph.D. - JCSU Students Reflect on their Sojourn: Gorrée Island Slave Castle, Senegal, West Africa



- Parasitic and Zoonotic Disease Impact Homeland Security - Growing the STEM Pipeline with Centipede Math


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Center of Excellence in Homeland Security-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Magdy Attia, Ph.D.

Gifted & Talented 15


Center of Excellence in Diversity, Workforce and Small Business Development Ron Stodghill - JCSU Faculty at the Heart of the Diversity Question Applied Research Updates - Center for Applied Leadership and Community Development Takes Action in the Northwest Corridor - New Developments in Instructional Technology - Facing and Pacing Economic Shocks Pictured : Above, Dr. Rosypal and student researchers. Below, Dr. Harvey Shropshire and the Montgomery family.

New Possibilities Research through Summer Science Student Internships: An Update from Tim Champion, Ph.D., Chair, JCSU Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Targeting Sickled Hemoglobin: Quantitative Stability-Flexibility Relationships (QFSR) in Sickled and Normal Hemoglobin “I originally envisioned carrying out the project with the students using laptops in a dispersed mode. But instead, we became addicted to sitting around the worktables in the [Multidisciplinary Applied Computational Modeling and Simulations] MACMAS Lab, discussing our work together. I expect that we will continue this beyond the summer period as the students adopt this for their senior paper research projects,” Champion observes. This model for using MACMAS Lab is exactly what IT Director John Norris, and fellow Department Chair for Computer Science and Engineering Dr. Hang Chen envisioned, when they specified that the lab should have the character and feel of an activity center, where high energy and interaction between students and faculty are encouraged and not inhibited by the computational instrumentation.

Challenging Project Goals

Champion’s project goals are clearly challenging. “The goal of our research is to identify sites on the sickled hemoglobin molecule that produce changes such that the Quantitative Stability-Flexibility Relationships (QFSR) resembles that of normal hemoglobin,” Dr. Champion carefully explains. He added, “hemoglobin is a great molecule to work with because of the immediate appreciation we have of its importance to us. The relationship between sickle cell disease and fundamental chemical, physical and biological principles is so well-known.” Student researcher Clement Bowmen agrees that the work is challenging, “but it’s motivational because we’re working on something that can eventually help produce a drug for treating sickle cell disease.”

Students Increase Mastery through Applied Research Skills

Champion’s student research team is using the MACMAS Lab’s computers and the North Carolina Biotechnology Research Campus Computer Cluster. “The students are developing their skills in the UNIX operating system, the interaction between Windows and UNIX systems, and using spreadsheets to perform data analysis,” Champion emphasizes. “The overall research project is being managed using a Moodle page. Source data for the project includes x-ray crystal structures available in the Protein Data Bank and published heat capacity data for hemoglobin.” “This project emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of research today: our team here, at the Biotechnology Center, and at [the University of North Carolina at Charlotte] UNCC involves Fall 2011

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mathematicians, computer scientists, biologists, physicists, and chemists,” Champion notes. “After we verify our model by successfully predicting properties that have been experimentally measured, we’ll go on to examine properties that cannot be experimentally measured…Computational modeling extends the range of science beyond where lab work can take us,” he concludes.

High Hopes for Student Researchers

“I hope our students develop a strong desire to continue learning. That is at the heart of all of our undergraduate research efforts,” states Dr. Champion. “I hope they become much more confident in their skills to find and learn how to use new software, as we frequently do in this project. I also hope they become more confident that if they persist in trying to solve a problem, and use the resources available on the web and through the scientific community, that they can succeed. Finally, I hope they see computational science applied to biology as a possible graduate school option.” Visit for further details on the researchers involved in this project.

“Having summer research students is definitely a new and rewarding experience for me,” explains Dr. Tim Champion. The ability to use JCSU’s new MACMAS Lab has been very helpful to his new research endeavor. Research shows that the mode of interaction Champion describes, and Chen forecasts, creates elements of a social cognitive structure likely to produce student level efficacy, mastery, and success, especially with challenging materials. Tim Champion, Ph.D. and his summer science interns, Shawana Wilson and Clement Bowman, were supported by a pilot grant from Smith Institute. Their exploratory research sought models for potentially restoring normality to sickled hemoglobin. 4

From Cotton Fields to Classrooms JCSU Students Inherit a Rich Legacy A Conversation with Jonathan Hutchins, JCSU Assistant Professor of History “Crucial elements of plantation history [were] lost, buried, or even burned up. I want my students to insert themselves into the historical moment, to see themselves in the lives we are studying, to experience the feelings first-hand.” - Jonathan Hutchins

“It’s an exciting project,” Jonathan Hutchins noted as he explained that with a small group of JCSU history students, he is tracing the path of freed slaves from the cotton fields of Rural Hill Plantation in Mecklenburg County to the classrooms of Johnson C. Smith University, then known as the Henry J. Biddle Memorial Institute. JCSU’s researchers were invited to the field setting by the Rural Hill Division


of Archives, in hopes of documenting slaves’ transition to classrooms of JCSU upon emancipation, but “there is always a fire,” Professor Hutchins reflected, as he recounted the challenging path to constructing the all-important lost details of slavery. “Crucial elements of plantation history [were] lost, buried, or even burned up. I want my students to insert themselves into the historical moment, to see themselves in

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the lives we are studying, to experience the feelings first-hand.” The history of the Davidson family, the Rural Hill Plantation owners, is captured in extensive detail in the family’s plantation journal, U.S. census records, property ownership deeds, and military historical archives. However, as Hutchins points out, tracing the lives of the people who planted and harvested the cotton fields is a much more difficult task. Though the people were skilled carpenters, stonemasons, blacksmiths, weavers, and caretakers of farm animals and children, their hardworking life stories are essentially invisible. Hutchins and his students delved into a painful and ironic reality: best records of the existence and lives of slaves are in the plantation property records. Hutchins and his students compared the names on the plantation property inventory

with the 1870 Biddle Institute student registry. This produced outstanding results. Some of the names matched, illustrating that the same people who were “slaves one day, immediately made their way to enroll at Biddle Institute.” Hutchins notes, onetime slaves changed not only their own lives, but also reshaped the arc of African American history through their saga from cotton fields to classrooms. Evidence of the existence these industrious people survived, slaving tirelessly without material reward or advantages and little education, is scant. However, immediately upon emancipation, some of them made their way from Rural Hill to Johnson C. Smith, where they were educated to become more than skilled field hands and laborers.

continued on page 20

“While researching with Professor Hutchins, I gained a better understanding of historical analysis, methodology and research. Before researching with Professor Hutchins, my understanding of historical research was just finding the events and the stories of the past. No longer am I in search of the story I now am in search of why the events of the past happen the way they unfolded. I have come to realize that many of the textbooks are not forthcoming. By analyzing what I have read, I have gotten a better grasp of the material.” - Michael Webb, Student Researcher, From Cotton Fields to Classrooms

Historian Jonathan Hutchins points to a historic landmark on the grounds of Rural Hill Plantation with student summer researchers, Donté Perry and Michael Webb. This archival research project is supported by funding through Smith Institute, 2011 Pilot Projects.

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Reflections along the Road to Abilene Archival Research at the Eisenhower Presidential Library Smith Institute (SI) Interviews Brian Madison Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History, Johnson C. Smith University

Dr. Brian Jones recently returned to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, site of his doctoral research, to conduct exploratory research with JCSU undergraduate student, Donté Perry. Perry hails from a family of African American career military officers and his family history made the research experience especially meaningful for him. They searched for answers to queries posed by JCSU Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Racelle Weiman*. Dr. Jones’ book, Abolishing the Taboo: Dwight D. Eisenhower and American Nuclear Doctrine, 1945-1961, (United Kingdom: Helion and Company, Limited, 2011) is scheduled to be published this Fall. This confluence of events created an extraordinary environment for the “Road to Abilene” archival research experience.


Dr. Jones Our research involved a wide variety of

documentary and audio/visual evidence. From the A/V category, we looked at still images from the various collections, that is, original and reprint photographs from Eisenhower’s time in the Philippines. Some were taken by Eisenhower and some by his associates and friends, who took the pictures and donated them to the library years later. For this work, Donté and I had to wear white cotton gloves to prevent damage to the photographs. We also viewed some moving images. Specifically, we looked at documentary films produced by television and movie studios, which are not exactly rare, but difficult to find. There were no VCR’s then, so copies of early films are not always available except in an archive. We also pulled and viewed a home movie from Eisenhower, which was an 8-minute, silent black and white video of Eisenhower flying. Eisenhower learned to fly and obtained his pilot’s license in the Philippines, so he would often take flights around the many different islands. That kind of travel was often required by his work, so he took a pilot’s license to make that process easier.

What do you most hope that your student Donté Perry got out of the field excursion to Eisenhower Presidential Library?

Dr. Jones I hoped that Donté would learn to connect the

primary documents of history, such as we found in the archive, with the secondary source scholarship produced by historians and others, which he has already read in class. Sometimes students seem to believe that historical facts are self-evident, and that historians simply compile those facts for publication in books they have to buy for class. I wanted Donté to see how much and what kind of archival research goes into producing a work of historical scholarship, to understand the link between research and scholarship, between investigation and analysis, between compiling data and interpreting evidence, between sorting details and making an argument. This is far easier done when the student can actually see and touch original documents. Students can then better distinguish primary sources from secondary sources. I hoped also that Donté would understand how and why documents in the archives are organized as they are, the kinds of materials that are in the library, the role of archivists, and the other nuts and bolts of historical research in a large archive.


You mentioned the importance of primary source material. Can you mention some of the types of documents that you and Donté examined?


Is this type of “gloves on” archival research prevalent at the undergraduate level? Why or why not? How does it help prepare the undergraduate student for future graduate study?

Dr. Jones No, this type of archival research by undergraduates is not prevalent. To be sure, top-tier history institutions, including public and private schools, those with large, well-funded history programs including graduate programs, will expect advanced students to conduct some archival research in preparation for graduate school. But, for most institutions, undergraduate students are not required to visit an archive. The process is too

continued on page 20 * Senior Fellow Weiman asked: “How did President Eisenhower contribute to saving Jewish families in the Philippines, during the Holocaust?”

Smith Institute was especially pleased to provide this archival research experience for historian and Eisenhower Scholar Brian Jones and his student, Donté Perry. The collections of the Eisenhower Presidential Library are a familiar setting to Jones, who conducted his doctoral research there. This type of archival research is a rare opportunity for undergraduate students. 7

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Wanda Ebright made a critical discovery during Smith Institute’s 2010 Applied Research Symposium. She responded to her finding with the ears and vision of an artist. Chair of JCSU’s Department of Visual, Performing, and Communication Arts, Ebright immediately heard and re-interpreted alumni’s reflections on their participation as Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement: “Nobody cares about that now,” one of the JCSU Freedom Riders explained. Ebright engaged immediately. Her artistic awareness recalled the theme, nobody cares, and nobody knows, from noted Black artistic narratives throughout history. Writers such as Robin Kelley summoned the theme of knowing the unseen, unknown, and unspoken among African Americans in his seminal essay for the Journal of American History; We Are Not What We Seem: Rethinking Black Working Class Opposition in the Jim Crow South (1993). Richard Wright, in Twelve Million Black Voices (1940), and Zora Neale Hurston, in Mules and Men (1935), utilized their own artistic prose to surface and re-present valid but hidden history of the African American condition. What really happened in day-to-day Black life was often purposefully concealed as a necessity for survival. Ebright puzzled over her discovery and concluded that the JCSU Freedom Riders presented a powerful applied research opportunity for the students in her Arts Factory, a state-of-the-art artistic learning center on JCSU’s campus. When the comment, “nobody cares about that now,” surfaced, Ebright heard a singular opportunity for JCSU students to conduct important applied research, using narrative and artistic methods to capture the important story of JCSU’s Freedom Riders, who courageously rode their way into greater freedom and history. Their rides and their narratives were not to be forgotten. Noted developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner concluded that narrative is a unique expression of cognition, a way of knowing. For the JCSU Freedom Riders, Ebright determined today’s JCSU students would both experience and re-create the allimportant but seemingly forgotten story, while uncovering the hidden portions. Jerome Bruner’s theory of narrative as cognition, as knowing, came to life as JCSU students, through an array of mixed media, informant interviews, panel discussions, interpretive presentations, dance, and video, captured the Freedom Riders’ brave journey. It was an ambitious applied research experience, but one that uncovered the JCSU Freedom Riders’ story, never to be lost, forgotten, nor concealed again. Visit for more on Brunner’s work and for further reading. * Chase, Susan E. (1995), Taking Narrative Seriously. In Josselson and Liebrich, Interpreting Experience: The Narrative Study of Lives. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications. Pictured above: Valerie Ifill, Assistant Dance Professor leads a class in the JCSU Arts Factory. Opposite page, above, Ebright is pictured with current student artists Spencer S. Whittington, Vannah Vereen, Tazekgua McIntyre, Calvin Smith, Charles Hauser, Jessica Markham, Brenay Myers, and Jasmine-Symore A. Rosaria Pruden in front of Antoine Williams’ Freedom Rider’s mural. Below, JCSU Freedom Riders and community leaders, noted artist, T.J. Reddy and Attorney Charles Jones, whose lunchtime reflective narrative inspired Visual and Performing Arts Chair Wanda Ebright’s Pilot Grant application for funding to present JCSU alumni roles as Freedom Riders. 9

Jerome Bruner’s theory of narrative as cognition, as knowing, came to life as JCSU students, through an array of mixed media, informant interviews, panel discussions, interpretive presentations, dance, and video, captured the Freedom Riders’ brave journey.

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All that Jazz: Improvisation Explorations, an Applied Research Experience in the High Art of Jazz Preserving the art of jazz improvisation was the focus of the 2011 Jazz Improvisation Institute, a summer applied research experience. Frank Parker and Dr. Barbara Edwards identified both the talent hotbed concept, and the theoretical framework of Albert Bandura, a leader in Performance and Self-Efficacy Theory, as essential components for igniting musical talent among young people who may become future jazz masters. Bandura predicted “the higher the level of induced self-efficacy, the higher the resulting performance accomplishments” (1982). In partnership with the Jazz Arts Initiative of Charlotte, Parker and Edwards assembled an expert team of artist-clinicians “to apply and develop our own and Bandura’s hypotheses,” working with a promising cohort of high school and college-age participant observers, Parker explains. Some fear that jazz improvisation is becoming a lost art. Nationally, however, jazz artists’ mastery of improvisation is widely revered. That was evidenced in January 2011, when the Marsalis family, “America’s First Family of Jazz,” including Delfeayo, his father Ellis, and brothers Branford, Wynton, and Jason earned the nation’s highest jazz honor, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award. The summer 2011 jazz research project was launched with an exquisite concert. Acknowledged as one of the finest “trombonists, composers, and producers” in jazz today, Delfeayo Marsalis and his group delivered an exceptional evening. Three noted Charlotteans, members of the Grammy Award-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, joined Marsalis on stage: percussionist Robert Beasley, drummer Ocie Davis, and trumpeter Ashlin Parker.

young musicians repeated it, first nodding to the beat without their instruments, then using them to explore the tune. Ignited by Marsalis, Institute participants listened to his feedback and critiques, soaking in snippets of history about the ways jazz greats approached some of the same passages the students were attempting to play. They questioned how they, too might master the same elements of style. Trumpeter Ashlin Parker and other guest clinicians led subsequent sessions in the two-week institute, focusing on applying jazz theory to improvisation, with active exploration through various exercises and practice strategies. The critical importance of listening to original recordings was continually stressed. Dr. Chris Weise and his JCSU music students opened additional possibilities for inquiry and practice by showing participants how to use electronic instruments and other new music technologies. Parker and Edwards’ careful research design initiated with a presurvey of self-precepts and attitudinal factors among participants, especially their sense of self-efficacy about improvisation. The survey closely parallels Bandura’s classic survey of Self-Efficacy and Performance Accomplishment***, probing participant observers’ sense of “control of the cognitive, behavioral, and social skills,” related to improvisation. Marsalis emphasized the important, though often elusive social cognitive features required for masterful jazz improvisation. “You can’t just think about yourself, your music,” he extolled the students. “You have to think about what you do to support the other musicians, too.”

The following day, Marsalis surprised participants by conducting a master class in the intimate setting of JCSU Arts Factory’s Black Box Theatre, which provided invaluable critiques, coaching, and scaffolding*, leading the participants towards improvisation inquiry. Lev Vygotsky defined scaffolding as “. . . supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level**” (Raymond, 2000, p. 176).

For more information on the theories informing the research model and experience, please visit

“You’ve got to get it, know it, and remember it here,” Marsalis asserted, gesturing to his ear with one hand and, not coincidentally, covering his heart with the other. Institute participants listened to an original Miles Davis recording of Freddy the Freeloader before playing it themselves. Marsalis literally lilted through a rhythmic demonstration of the cadences and nuances of the piece. The

*** Bandura,A. (1982). Self-Efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency: American Psychologist, Vol.37, No2, 122-147. Stanford University.

* Jaramillo, J. (1996). Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and contributions to the development of constructivist curricula. Education 117(1), 133-140. ** Raymond, E. (2000). Cognitive Characteristics. Learners with Mild Disabilities (pp. 169-201). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, A Pearson Education Company.

JCSU students and young jazz improvisation artists absorb every word and note from musical impresario Delfeayo Marsalis, in a groundbreaking applied research experience funded by Smith Institute. The impressive research design was created by Dr. Barbara Edwards, retired Associate Dean of UNC Charlotte’s College of Education and her husband, JCSU Emeritus Director of Instructional Technologies, Frank Parker. Opposite page, bottom, Grammy–award winning trumpeter Ashlin Parker demonstrates his instrumental mastery as Frank Parker proudly looks on and listens.


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“You can’t just think about yourself, your music. You have to think about what you do to support the other musicians, too.” -Delfeayo Marsalis

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In Search of New Possibilities “Phenomenology, phe•nom•e•nol•o•gy” JCSU Undergraduate Computational Researchers Grapple with Qualitative Research This issue of Smith Institute focuses on qualitative directions for applied research, through history, the arts, and social sciences. However, the filled-to-capacity Multidisciplinary Applied Computational Modeling and Simulations (MACMAS) Lab, is where more than 30 JCSU summer research interns and their faculty mentors were avidly engaged in constructing computational models and simulations. Their inquiry addressed contemporary applied research issues in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), often through a qualitative lens. What was taking place in the MACMAS Lab? Were the students exploring new possibilities, swimming on the surface of a new model that acknowledges the theoretical direction of phenomenology, a conceptual framework most frequently associated with qualitative methods? A provocative Working Paper (Santa Fe Institute, 1995) by the late Lee A. Segel, Ph.D., of the Department of Applied


Mathematics and Computer Science at Israel’s Weizman Institute grapples with this new possibility. Were JCSU’s 2011 summer interns and their faculty mentors riding on the crest of an emergent framework? Segel’s theoretical question echoes “The Engineer Grapples with Nonlinear Problems,” a classic paper in which von Kármán, an engineer of considerable renown, wrestled with the notion of the complex system. His observations may provide special insight on how and why the activity tables in Smith Institute’s MACMAS Lab bustled with engaged students throughout the summer.

Smith Institute is a publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University12

“It’s hard. It’s new! It’s something different,” Kevon Scott, a STEM summer intern eagerly exclaimed. Another summer intern ran by, chasing a newly programmed robot, exclaiming, “We start C# tomorrow!” Yet another summer intern, Jamar Robinson, kindly offered the newly programmed controls of one robot to the Lab Facilitator, “You can do it,” he confidently and patiently assured. One sophomore, a senior, and their faculty mentor, Awatif Amin worked daily in Data Mining, using data analysis tools to discover unknown patterns and relationships in data sets. Segel’s Working Paper, built on von Kármán’s revered analysis, seems to foreshadow the search for new possibilities in JCSU’s MACMAS Lab. Segal postulated that the large number of possibilities in complexity

research, when limited to an emergent structure, leads to the notion of a phenomenological model. Though the phenomenological approach more traditionally points the way to new possibilities in qualitative research, now a parallel “notion of a phenomenological model*” is emerging in the arena of complex systems (Segel, 1995).

continued on page 20 * Segel, Lee A. (1995). The Theoretician Grapples with Complex Systems. Department of Applied Mathematics & Computer Science, the Weizman Institute of Science, Rehovet 76100, Israel. Retrieved from, June, 2011.

Summer 2011 Research Projects filled Smith Institute’s MACMAS Lab. STEM College Dean Magdy Attia, Ph.D. who also chairs the Council of Deans is joined by Vice President and Smith Institute Executive Director Diane Bowles, Ph.D., and from left to right faculty and staff include Lijuan Cao, Ph.D., Smith Institute Managing Editor and Research Communications Coordinator Keisha Talbot Johnson, Computer Science and Engineering Department Chair Hang Chen, Ph.D., Smith Institute Manager Connie Van Brunt, faculty Awatif Amin, and Ying Bai, Ph.D. Student summer researchers include Landie Ortiz, Sterling Williams, Taison Williams, Mia Greer, Amina Ochieng, Randale Watson, Clayton Gordon, Christopher Cornwall, Jamar Robinson, Raymond Thomas, and Kevon Scott.

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Applied Research Can “Make Things Better” Smith Institute belongs to a special class of applied research institutes. That is because “making things better” is a fundamental aspect of the research projects and initiatives the Institute supports, funds, and pursues. Naturally, Smith Institute seeks partnerships and collaborations with groups and organizations that share the goal of making things better through applied research. Therefore, when the opportunity to collaborate with Metrolina Regional Scholars’ Academy developed, Smith Institute and Johnson C. Smith University’s STEM faculty member Dr. Satish Bhalla and Smith Institute Manager Connie Van Brunt responded immediately. Scholars’ Academy, a ten-year-old charter school, serves a population of highly- intellectually gifted children and youth. The founders of the nationally renowned Franklin Porter Graham (FPG) Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill consider the focus on gifted and talented education critical. According to James Gallagher, one of FPG’s founding scientists, “Failure to help gifted children reach their potential is a societal tragedy.” Helping make things better for gifted and talented children and youth is important to Smith Institute, as well. Dr. Bhalla formulated a workshop for offering his advanced Bioinformatics course that would be presented to Scholars’

Academy instructors. With Academy Director Dr. Marie Peine, Van Brunt and Bhalla formulated the research questions: Would the MRSA middle grade instructors relate to and find applicability in advanced college Bioinformatics information, for their students? Would Bhalla’s adapted curriculum be suitable for insertion into the established gifted and talented middle school instructional program? How could Bioinformatics teaching modules become more accessible for gifted and talented students and their instructors? If the small pilot worked, Dr. Bhalla planned to present it to his work group at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Such curricular innovations have been funded by National Science Foundation (NSF). An example is the project entitled “Better Education for the Scientists of Tomorrow” at Carnegie Mellon University. Peine’s observations immediately told the story: “My teachers could not stop talking about it,” she exclaimed. “They could hardly wait to discover ways to apply the information in their science and mathematics classes here at Scholars’ Academy.”

JCSU’s Satish C. Bhalla confers with Dr. Marie Peine, Director of the award winning Metrolina Regional Scholar’s Academy, a charter school for highly intellectually gifted students. Dr. Bhalla re-designed and presented his Bioinformatics Workshop for the Scholar’s Academy middle grade teachers. Also pictured are teacher, Ari Pieper, as well as students Natalie Huffman, Megan Brickner, Auston Li, and Sunny Potharaju.

“Failure to help gifted children reach their potential is a societal tragedy.” -James Gallagher 15

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It Started with an Apple How JCSU Fosters Student Level Success in STEM JCSU’s data on student-level success in STEM is impressive. While colleges and universities around the nation struggle to attract and matriculate underrepresented students in STEM, JCSU boasts a higher than average retention rate of underrepresented students in the STEM College. When Dr. Magdy Attia, Chair of the Council of Deans and Dean of STEM College describes what contributes to making the difference in JCSU student level STEM achievement, he explains, “It started with an Apple.” Dr. Attia is referring to the use of “thought experiments” for fostering progress, not only in STEM education but throughout the history of scientific progress. Among the earliest thought experiments captured in scientific histography, is Isaac Newton’s thoughtful observation of a falling apple that eventually led to a theory for the universal law of gravitation.

“We encourage students to think experimentally, to consider alternate solutions to problems in computer science, engineering and mathematics. We encourage creative approaches to scientific and mathematical problem solving.” -Magdy Attia, Ph.D.

Retention Rates of Declared JCSU STEM Majors Per Academic Year STEM Major Declared






Computer Engineering


Computer Science/Information Systems


General Science


Information Systems Engineering




Mathematics - Secondary Education


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“We encourage students to think experimentally, to consider alternate solutions to problems, in computer science, engineering and mathematics. We encourage creative approaches to scientific and mathematical problem solving,” Attia says. According to Dr. Attia the future Einsteins are creating their own original thinking right now.

Magdy Attia, Ph.D.


“Will They Come When I Call?” Robust Tradition of Neighborhood Surveys JCSU Faculty and Students Explore the Surrounding Neighborhoods of Smallwood-Biddleville, Lincoln Heights, and Washington Heights This article is based upon excerpts from a “Report on the Survey of the Smallwood-Biddleville, Lincoln Heights and Washington Heights Neighborhoods” by Tom Priest, Ph.D., Professor of Social Sciences, Johnson C. Smith University, dated June, 2011. When Dr. Tom Priest and his 17 students set out to survey the communities surrounding the JCSU campus, they stepped into the “long and distinguished history of qualitative research*” (Denzin and Lincoln, 1998) filled with possibilities for discovery. A tradition of excellence in this applied arena has been cultivated by JCSU’s Urban Research Group for more than a decade. JCSU undergraduates benefit from the expertise of social science and business faculty, as well as foreign language experts, who have led more than 23 applied community-based research projects, involving more than 400 students across 18 majors, including faculty from 12 disciplines.

leg-up as they apply to graduate schools in the humanities and social sciences, and in STEM as well.”

JCSU is a distinguished leader in the qualitative applied research tradition alluded to by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, two seminal leaders of the field. “We are proud of the advantage our undergraduates gain through qualitative applied research experiences,” explained Diane Bowles, Ph.D., Vice President for Government Sponsored Programs and Research and Executive Director for the Smith Institute. “That is why Smith Institute has funded a number of faculty-led qualitative projects in the 2011 cohort. We know that these research experiences provide our students with real advantages and a

Conducting face-to-face data gathering interviews in a fieldsetting is both an art and a science. Denzin and Lincoln have observed that the applied qualitative researcher “sees the world in action and embeds their findings in it” (Ibid, p.10). These data gathering methods are research skills that JCSU students experience and develop in applied neighborhood settings.

This year’s exploratory neighborhood survey findings did not disappoint. Some of the interviews revealed a pattern in resident perceptions that made a riveting case for further investigation. “In conjunction with leaders of the respective neighborhood associations, the questionnaires were carefully developed,” Priest reports, adding that both demographic and attitudinal perceptions were queried.

JCSU faculty with language fluency in Spanish and Vietnamese were added to the canvass teams to facilitate trust and a willingness to participate by the racially and ethnically diverse

An aerial view of the Johnson C. Smith campus and surrounding Northwest Corridor neighborhoods, canvassed by Dr. Tom Priest and his students. The canvassing team included, Dr. Priest and Mattie Marshall, center and JCSU students Briana Neal, Terrica Jones, and Kiviette Gerald. This action research project was supported through Smith Institute 2011 Pilot Grants.


Smith Institute is a publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University

neighborhood residents. Students were trained in not only conducting the interviews, but also in the appropriate methods for raising sensitive questions. Priest’s report explains “a series of questions were asked about feelings of neighborhood safety” (Priest, 2011). The exploration was revelatory. Among the numerous indicators of high trust and sense of community, respondents from Washington Heights “were least likely to agree that the [Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department] CMPD do a good job.” The path for further inquiry was lit by the “sizable proportion of respondents from all three neighborhoods” who agreed that

Fall 2011

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the “CMPD provides poor service and does not respond to calls at night” (Ibid, p.9). Neighborhood residents question whether the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department will come into the community for assistance when called after dark. For details on Dr. Tom Priest’s report visit our online publication at * Denzin, Norman K. and Lincoln, Yvonna S. Eds (1998). Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Data. Thousand Oaks. Sage.


An Annotated Directory of the Summer, 2011 JCSU Student Research Internship Camps with Computational Modeling and Simulation Activities Department of Homeland Security, Cyber Security and Risk Assessment Summer Research Internship By Hang Chen, Ph.D.

“It is a mixed methods experience,” she adds noting that students learn how to determine the value and significance of the patterns and relationships within the data and to extract the results.

This research experience explores a series of four models of cybersecurity and risk assessment built using the systems dynamics software system, “STELLA.” The four models form the platform for a computer-based study of the factors affecting cyber-security and risk assessment. JCSU student researchers use the models in a series of studies, examining cyber-security related processes, including how actions might influence the security of particular systems. Students are also expected to provide written technical reports specifying the models that have been developed. Using STELLA in the Summer Internship environment will enable students to accomplish a number of key learning goals and objectives including: simulating system changes over time, real world applications of theory, and analyzing relationships to see the “big picture.” STELLA expertise and experience are expected competencies for job candidates in government cyber-security positions and with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates the safety and use of radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes and has one of the best employer rankings of any governmental agency.

Data Mining Applied Research Summer Experience This research internship provides research experience in a computational laboratory setting. It engages students in utilizing data mining tools. Data Mining involves the use of data analysis tools to discover unknown patterns and relationships between data sets. For undergraduate students, this is an important precursor to the type of complexity research, undertaken by our collaborator, Santa Fe Institute. “We train students to think about both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of phenomena, similar to those described by the late Lee A. Segel, in his Working Paper, The Theoretician Grapples with Complex Systems,” explains Awatif Amin, JCSU faculty mentor and Principal Investigator for the project.

Rapid Miner software is the data mining tool and Text Mining is also introduced. “The Data Mining Summer Research camp provides a solid background for students to develop and continue to apply these methods in graduate study and beyond, in both quantitative and qualitative analysis,” Amin concludes.

Cyber Security Summer Research (CSSR) Experience By Lijuan Cao, Ph.D. Hands-on research provides students with skills beyond those obtained in the classroom. These skills are essential to preparation for graduate or professional school and high-level employment. Students in the Cyber Security Summer Research Experience have been selected based on academic excellence and evidence of strong commitment to undergraduate research. Two faculty advisers, Drs. Hang Chen and Ying Bai, have been selected to mentor the students in this six-week undergraduate summer program. The valued learning objectives for student participants in CSSR include gaining an understanding of the basic and advanced research methods, such as case studies, field research and surveys, content and evaluative outcome analysis, experimental and quasiexperimental designs. Developing the ability to write and present research

continued on page 20 Pictured: Summer Research Interns utilized STELLA software as well as software for robotics modeling in MACMAS Lab. Above, Hang Chen, Ph.D. with Christopher Cornwall, Randale Watson, Clayton Gordon, Kevon Scott, Jamar Robinson, and Raymond Thomas. Below, Faculty Awatif Amin with Data Mining interns Sterling Williams and Mia Greer. 19

Smith Institute is a publication of Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University

Cotton Fields to Classrooms, continued from page 6

Abilene, continued from page 8

The one-time slaves became ministers and teachers. These slaves, once freed, went on, with little to no support or financial wherewithal, to become skilled professionals, such as Daniel W. Culp, who graduated from Biddle, became a medical doctor and later taught James Weldon Johnson, composer of the black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Dr. Jones expensive, too time-consuming, and too involved

Most importantly, according to Professor Hutchins, JCSU students today have inherited a rich and inspirational legacy, from the hard work, sacrifice, achievement, and success of the Rural Hill slaves who lived and worked the cotton fields to classroom reality. For recommended reading about the legacy of Reconstruction, visit

for undergraduates to complete over the course of one semester. They will learn about archival research, consider primary documents, and write research papers, but opportunities to visit and research in an archive with a faculty member as I did with Donté Perry are rare.

More importantly, this kind of research is crucial to future success. First, experience with archival research gives students a better sense of the process of researching and writing history and that gives them an advantage when applying for graduate school. Second, archival research may also stimulate more precise thinking about the kind of historical research a young history major might wish to do later, and that always helps with the graduate admission process. Last, once admitted to graduate school, students with archival experience will not be intimidated by the process and perhaps even have a better understanding of the great research opportunities available in archives, presidential or otherwise.

All historians will need to conduct archival research at some point in their careers, for their MA thesis or, at the very latest, for their doctoral dissertation. Like other skills, the sooner you begin learning these skills, the better off you are as a student, researcher, and scholar.

Most undergraduate history majors will never visit an archive unless they later attend graduate school, and even then, it can be difficult. I was able to conduct archival research in my MA program, but was not able to actually visit an archive until I finished my master’s degree. I had the archivist photocopy the contents of some archival folders and mail those documents to me.

Phenomenology, continued from page 14 “Comprehensive emphasis on solving the equation that results from a typical mathematical model is of course, out of the question,” the late Segel explained, adding that emphasis must be placed on concept development. This is again, fundamental to phenomenological methods. To be certain, the search for new possibilities is underway in Smith Institute’s MACMAS Lab, and perhaps it is the summer student interns’ joy in meaningful, problemsolving, discovery, and willingness to explore the “hard stuff” that is leading the way.

Student Internship Camps, continued from page 19 findings and to function effectively on research teams are also essential student level goals. The research projects conducted include topics such as Network Security, Image Detection and Feature Collection Unit, Electronic ID (eID), Audio Authentication, Secure Wireless Communication, and Digital Forensics.

This is starting to change, I think, as programs, like Smith Institute, begin to emphasize this kind of research. In that way, JCSU is ahead of the curve.

For further information about these research projects, please visit

Pictured: (l) Jonathan Hutchins, Ph.D. at Rural Hill Plantation. (r) Brian Jones, Ph.D. and his student, Donté Perry on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library. Fall 2011

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A Final Comment from President Ronald L. Carter

The History of Johnson C. Smith University While reading over a draft of this second edition of Smith Institute, I noticed that one of the articles refers to the time when we were known as Biddle Institute. I asked the editors to verify the chronology of JCSU’s name. One of our history faculty, Jonathan Hutchins, actually researched my question. Here is what he came up with: The May, 1917 publication of the Biddle Outlook states: “Upon the recommendation of the latter [W.L. Miller] that on 17 March, 1865, The Legislature of North Carolina granted a liberal charter for the organization of the ‘Freedman’s College of North Carolina’ with a board of ten trustees, all Presbyterians.” However Biddle Institute was not created from this charter due to conflict between the Presbyterian Church North and Presbyterian Church South. Two years later, in 1867, under the guidance of Rev. Willis L. Miller (Presbytery of Fayetteville), and Rev. Samuel C. Alexander (Presbytery of Catawba) and Sidney S. Murkland (Presbytery of Concord) all members of the Southern Presbyterian Church, “decided to establish a college for men under another charter at Charlotte, N.C.” The institution was erected on the corner of Davidson and Second Street in a former Union Hospital and served as both a school and a church. It is unclear what the true name of the institution was at that time. Sources refer to it as both The Freedmen’s College of North Carolina and Henry J. Biddle Memorial Institute. Mary D. Biddle, wife of Henry J. Biddle, pledged $1,400.00 and requested the school bare the name of her late husband. In 1876, the University changed its name to Biddle University; 1876 was also the year the University changed its educational philosophy by adopting the Princeton Model.

In 1923, Jane Berry Smith donated the largest sum in school history; in return, the University changed its name in memory of her husband Johnson C. Smith. We were indeed a place where newly freed slaves entered classrooms, in 1865. As education among the freed Black folks of the South grew more prominent, JCSU’s affiliation with the educational direction of the church grew as well, but with a generous donation in honor of Henry J. Biddle, another name change occurred and Biddle Institute embarked upon a history of selective, intellectual pursuits that are still revered today. By the time that Mrs. Jane Smith gave the largest gift in the school’s history in memory of her late husband, the University was known for having the highest standards and deepest dedication to scholarship among the HBCUs in the South. The name of Jane Smith’s husband, Johnson Crayne Smith, stood for the highest intellectual standards in undergraduate education. While the precise chronology of the University’s changing name is unclear, I am certain you will agree, our University’s work with students continues to nourish and nurture the highest undergraduate intellectual standards of our day. I hope you will join us. Our University’s high academic standards and dedication to excellence inspired great generosity throughout our history, a tradition that continues today!

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the periodical of Johnson C. Smith University’s Smith Institute for Applied Research Volume One, Number Two, Fall 2011 Š Johnson C. Smith University President: Ronald L. Carter, Ph.D. Executive Vice President: Elfred A. Pinkard, Ph.D. Vice President, Government Sponsored Programs and Research; Executive Director, Smith Institute and Title III: Diane Bowles, Ph.D. Editorial Publisher: Diane Bowles, Ph.D. Managing Editor: Keisha Talbot Johnson Senior Editor & Writer: Connie W. Van Brunt Editorial Copy Review: Mary C. Curtis Editorial Style Review: Benny Smith Copy Consultant: Adelheid Eubanks, Ph.D. Photography & Design Primary Photography: Jeff Cravotta Photo Assistant: Heather Fink Hair & Makeup: Chris Weast Cover & Cover Story Photography: Randy Tobias Aerial Photography: Carolina Digital Photo Group Design & Creative Direction: Heathir McElroy Speet The contents of this Smith Institute for Applied Research publication were developed under a Title III Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), Award Number PO31B100094, from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The contents of this publication feature the 2011 Smith Institute-funded Pilot Research Cohort.

JCSU Foster Care Initiative Applied Research Model with Policy Implications There is a critical educational niche for Johnson C. Smith University. Under the guidance of President Ronald L. Carter and Dean Helen Caldwell, the University is charting a course that may influence the practice of higher education. They are asking and investigating: “What is higher education’s responsibility and promise for young adults who age out of the foster care system?” “It’s a tremendously important initiative,” Dean Caldwell explains “President Carter has been involved with foster care issues prior to coming to Johnson C. Smith. The project we are launching here will not only carve a critical niche for JCSU admissions priorities, we will also provide a highly reliable model that other institutions can utilize as well.”

“The project we are launching here will not only carve a critical niche for JCSU admissions priorities, we will also provide a highly reliable model that other institutions can utilize.” -Helen Caldwell, Ph.D.

Daunting challenges face young adults and adolescents as they move from relatively predictable confines of childhood foster care to the uncharted waters of post-foster home living. Necessities like shelter and food to eat suddenly disappear, as does a viable plan for the future. The Logic Model for JCSU’s Foster Care Initiative addresses these challenges and others faced by ageing out foster care youth.

phase of the Initiative includes the renovation of the historic Davis House, an on-campus facility, once the residence of the first African American college educator in the region, Dr. George Edward Davis, supported by the Rosenwald School movement many decades ago. The proposed support activities cluster includes year-round housing at Davis House, financial aid, academic and career counseling, personal guidance, leadership opportunities and transition planning. Services are planned to complement those provided by the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services and Department of Youth and Family Services. JCSU will sponsor the summer activities and the agencies will supply the youth participants. Post-secondary opportunities will come directly from JCSU. Johnson C. Smith is entering the Foster Care Initiative with substantial goals, including increasing retention and graduation rates of ageing out students while supporting and encouraging meaningful future employment. Ultimately, JCSU will capture a special niche for successful recruitment, retention, and matriculation of foster care students in undergraduate education.

JCSU will provide not only college admissions counseling, but an array of support services designed to provide continued security and success. The first

For important additional discussion on Foster Care, visit

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Smith Institute, the periodical Issue 2  

This issue of the Smith Institute magazine highlights the 2011 Cohort of Smith Institute Funded Pilot Summer Research.

Smith Institute, the periodical Issue 2  

This issue of the Smith Institute magazine highlights the 2011 Cohort of Smith Institute Funded Pilot Summer Research.