National Institutes of Health awards Kennesaw State University $1 million grant


Grant will fund research program to increase diversity in biomedical sciences

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Aug. 18, 2015) — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Kennesaw State University’s College of Science and Mathematics a five-year, $1.018 million grant to increase the number of doctorate-holding scientists from underrepresented groups.

The NIH award recognizes the strength of Kennesaw State’s biomedical research programs and its commitment to building diversity in the nation’s biomedical research workforce. Serving as the lead institution, Kennesaw State’s College of Science and Mathematics will work with partner institutions Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia to educate and train Ph.D.-level scientists.

The grant is designed to annually recruit college graduates who want to further their science education, eventually obtaining a doctorate degree. Participants will pursue master’s degrees in Integrative Biology or Chemical Sciences, learning modern research techniques using cutting-edge instrumentation such as optical biosensors, next generation sequencing and confocal microscopy in Kennesaw State’s 73,000-square-foot Science Laboratory building.

As part of their individual development plans, participants will also prepare for and, upon completion of their studies, bridge to biomedical doctoral programs.

“Kennesaw State’s programs are small and flexible enough to execute highly individualized training in an array of disciplines from synthetic chemistry to developmental biology and in interdisciplinary endeavors that may take participants from high performance computing to microliter-scale calorimetry,” said Mark Anderson, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

The NIH selected Kennesaw State in part because it already has multiple NIH-funded researchers who will contribute to the students’ diverse mentoring and learning opportunities.

“With multiple externally funded researchers and a new research facility, Kennesaw State’s master’s programs in Integrative Biology (MSIB) and Chemical Sciences (MSCB) offer highly individualized, flexible and unique training and mentoring environments,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor Jonathan McMurry will direct the program, which will draw other professors and mentors from Kennesaw State’s Departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology, as well as Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Our goal is to recruit participants from historically black colleges and universities and Appalachian-serving institutions that are not yet well integrated into NIH research enterprises as well as from other sources such as the Peach State LSAMP consortium and other primarily undergraduate institutions throughout the Southeast,” McMurry said.

Initial recruiting efforts drew applicants from around the state and across the nation. The first class of five students starts this week. Among the participants are a Gates Foundation Scholar, a McNair Scholar and a student body president. Their research interests range from neuroscience to human genetics to virology.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Research reported in this news release was supported by the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25GM111565. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 



International chemistry conference draws 400 educators to Kennesaw State

(Left to right) Michelle Dean, KSU; Regina Rüffler, University of Hamburg; 2015 contest winner Tom Kuntzleman, Spring Arbor (Mich.) University; Yvonne Clifford, Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, Cambridge, Ont., Canada; 2013 contest winner Sally Mitchell, East Syracuse-Minoa (N.Y.) High School; and Kimberly Linenberger, KSU.

Nearly 200 presentations and workshops conducted during 23rd annual ChemEd

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Aug. 6, 2015) — Kennesaw State hosted the 23rd annual ChemEd international conference for 400 chemistry educators last week. The five-day conference, the largest of its kind, offered close to 200 presentations and workshops and drew chemistry teachers from throughout North America and Europe to the Kennesaw Campus.

Michelle Dean, conference chair and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said it was a week “filled with non-stop activities, with attendees choosing between several simultaneous presentations each day.”

Kimberly Linenberger, a conference coordinator, joined with fellow faculty members Heather Abbott-Lyon and Glen Meades conducting workshops to demonstrate topics that can be applied at the high school and introductory college level.

Abbott-Lyon conducted a workshop entitled “Chemistry of Meteor Surfaces,” while Meades and Linenberger’s workshop showcased an enzyme-modeling lab they have developed for a chemistry class at Kennesaw State.

“In addition to workshops, we had many local high school chemistry teachers present projects they had been working on while engaged in various professional service activities funded through opportunities provided by KSU faculty,” Linenberger said. “These collaborative programs include the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and the U.S. Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership.”

One of the more popular events, the “So You Think You Can Demo” contest held at the Bailey Performance Center on Friday, featured interesting and fun chemistry demonstrations, such as surprising changes of color, the impact of pressure changes on everyday objects, and how the oil from an orange can pop a balloon.

Tom Kuntzleman of Spring Arbor (Mich.) University was awarded first place for his demonstration using an orange peel to pop balloons. Yvonne Clifford of Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, Ont., Canada, placed second and Regina Rüffler of the University of Hamburg in Germany placed third.

(Watch the finalists in action at:

The conference wrapped on Saturday with an address by American Chemical Society President-elect Donna J. Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma and science advisor the popular TV series Breaking Bad.

# # #

Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country.                                                                      

—Robert S. Godlewski


Photos by Anthony Stalcup



A Look at the High School Biology Teacher Workforce

Name of Publication: 
Inside Higher Ed
Excerpt of Article: 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kennesaw State co-authors include Samuel J. Polizzi, postdoctoral associate; Jeremy Jaggernauth, KSU alum and private sector statistical analyst; Herman E. "Gene" Ray, assistant professor of statistics; and Brendan Callahan, assistant prfoessor biology education.

July 28, 2015 

Biology educators occupy nearly half (44 percent) of all high school science teaching assignments -- more than double the percentage of chemistry educators, according to a new study published in BioScience. The biology education workforce increased some 50 percent between 1987 and 2007 due to biology’s “gateway” status among the high school sciences, the study says. The female proportion of the biology workforce also grew over the same period, from 39 to 61 percent. That’s more than in all other science, technology and math fields, according to the study.

At the same time, biology educators were more likely than their colleagues in other fields to teach outside the discipline. The number of biology educators with more than 20 years of teaching experience also dropped by some 20 percent between 1990 and 2007. Lead author Gregory T. Rushton, an associate professor of chemistry at Kennesaw State University, and his co-authors note that this is due in part to increasing numbers of teachers entering the workforce after careers outside education, for whom “the biologist identity may be stronger than that of teacher.”

Rushton and his colleagues propose stricter certification requirements for biology teachers and more targeted professional development. They also propose matching curricula to teachers’ expertise, as opposed to offering “a static, predetermined slate of science courses at each school.” The longitudinal study is based on the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing surveys from 1987 through 2007.


‘It’s just an incredible day’: Local astronomers talk about Pluto

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
by Hilary Butschek
July 15, 2015 12:21 AM | 1164 views |
This image provided by NASA shows Pluto seen from the New Horizons spacecraft on Monday. The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons departed Cape Canaveral, Fla, on Jan. 19, 2006. <br>AP
This image provided by NASA shows Pluto seen from the New Horizons spacecraft on Monday. The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons departed Cape Canaveral, Fla, on Jan. 19, 2006. 

MARIETTA — Local astronomers are rejoicing at the images of Pluto taken by a NASA spacecraft Tuesday morning that show a new clarity to the makeup of the dwarf planet.

Eric Smith of Marietta, a lecturer who teaches astronomy at Kennesaw State University, called it a landmark achievement. 

“It’s the first time we’ve actually seen Pluto as more than just a speck. In previous images, it looks more like a star. You can’t see surface photos and you can’t make out its size,” Smith said.

The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when the New Horizons spacecraft departed Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Jan. 19, 2006, but was demoted seven months later to dwarf status. 

The $720 million mission that took nearly a decade, came to a peak at about 7:49 a.m. Tuesday when it did a flyby of Pluto, about 3 billion miles from Earth. New Horizons took high definition images of Pluto that Smith said will help scientists learn about its history.

“We’re doing this because this is some of the earliest material of the solar system. Learning about Pluto gives us a view of structures that old. We’ve seen asteroids and they’re also very, very old, but they’re more like rocks. Pluto is much more icy. We’re hoping to learn about its atmosphere, its geography and how the object is structured because we don’t know any of this. Pluto has been a complete mystery,” Smith said.

Jennice Ozment, a Walton High School honors chemistry teacher and former astronomy teacher, said she saw the first images of Pluto taken Tuesday.

“The detail in the first image is already so spectacular, and they’re talking about having more images in the coming days. It’s so much more complex than what we thought it was. Just from the craters on it we can tell it has led a rough life,” she said. 

Ozment pointed out that the trip to Pluto happened on the 50-year anniversary of the Mariner 4’s flyby of Mars that yielded the first close-up pictures of the red planet.

“That makes my heart flutter,” Ozment said. “I know that sounds silly, but it’s just an incredible day.”

Smith said Pluto was originally considered a planet but lost that status around 2005 when scientists discovered there were other space objects in the sun’s orbit that were larger than Pluto that were not considered planets.

“That spurred the argument, well, why isn’t that a planet too, and it forced the International Astronomical Union to create a definition for what a planet is because before it was just, ‘we know it when we see it,’” Smith said.

Smith said the organization decided that a planet is round, orbits the sun and is on its own, not one of a belt of objects.

Pluto is part of a belt called Kuiper Belt, so it was labeled a dwarf planet, Smith said.

John Grunsfeld, NASA’s science mission chief, said Tuesday was historic.

“This is truly a hallmark in human history,” Grunsfeld said. “It’s been an incredible voyage.”

At a news conference Tuesday NASA officials unveiled a picture of Pluto taken just Monday. The icy, impacted world — a fusion of peach and brassy colors with bright spots at points northward, including the now-famous heart, and darker areas around the equator — drew oohs and aahs.

New Horizons already has beamed back the best-ever images of Pluto and big moon Charon. Pluto also has four little moons, all of which were expected to come under New Horizons’ scrutiny.

On the eve of the flyby, NASA announced that Pluto is actually bigger than anyone imagined, thanks to measurements made by the spacecraft, a baby grand piano-size affair. It’s about 50 miles bigger, for a grand total of 1,473 miles in diameter. But that’s still puny by solar-system standards: Pluto is just two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more:  The Marietta Daily Journal - It s just an incredible day Local astronomers talk about Pluto


Kennesaw State named leader in graduating physics teachers

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 


by Philip Clements

March 21, 2015 04:00 AM

MARIETTA — Kennesaw State University has been recognized by a national science organization as one of the leaders in the preparation of physics teachers, an area with a major shortage.

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition — or PhysTEC — selected KSU as one of only 11 inductees into its inaugural “The 5+ Club,” which is made up of colleges and universities that graduate five or more physics teachers in a given year.

Monica Plisch, a principal investigator and project director for PhysTEC, said the organization is a project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

“We’re two of the leading professional societies in physics,” Plisch said. “Our mission is to improve the education of future physics teachers.”

She said PhysTEC has directly funded more than 40 physics departments in colleges and universities throughout the country to help them improve their physics teacher education.

In its 2014 report, the American Association for Employment in Education found the teacher shortage is the highest in physics among 59 education fields. Similarly, the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics reported in 2013 “the need for qualified teachers is greater now than at any previous time in history.”

David Rosengrant, associate professor in physics education at Kennesaw State University, said it feels great to be singled out by PhysTEC as a leader in the field.

“A lot of people see physics as a typically low-enrollment major, so there’s always the question of ‘Why should we continue to really support some programs that have such few students?’” Rosengrant said. “So, to be recognized as, ‘Hey, you’re actually one of the top performers,’ I think helps shows everyone the importance of getting good quality teachers out there.”


Plisch said KSU has had more success than other universities in producing physics teachers partly because of its unique program.

“They have a specialized program for preparing physics teachers,” she said. “Not just science teachers, but they have specific training on not only the physics content but also how you actually teach physics.”

Plisch said KSU has a “top-notch” faculty and has developed a reputation over time.

“So, anybody who is interested in teaching physics, I would expect that they would take a strong look at Kennesaw State simply because they have a really excellent program,” she added.

“A lot of education programs, they’re more general (and) focused on science education and you might get one methods course on how to teach science education,” Plisch said, noting a program like this might have one future physics teacher compared to 10 future biology teachers, so physics can easily be overlooked.

“I think it’s kind of a situation where, if you build it, they will come,” Plisch said. “So Kennesaw State has specialized in physics teacher preparation, and I think they’ve built a reputation in that area and they’ve been able to attract large numbers of future physics teachers.”

Plisch said the U.S. Department of Education found “fewer than half of all secondary physics teachers have a degree in the subject,” which she said is much less than other disciplines.

Rosengrant said because a lot of physics teachers aren’t trained in physics, they don’t have the content background and there’s some apprehension that might affect their teaching.

“So, what happens a lot of times, especially in physics, is you get teachers who may not be as comfortable with the material,” he said. “But, if a student can see that their teacher (or) their instructor is excited about the material, it’s easier for them to buy into it.”

Rosengrant said, for instance, when he went to get his degree in education, he was lumped in with all of the other science educators and taught how to teach in general.

“The mentality was, ‘You have a content degree and we’re going to teach you how to teach and you’re going to figure out how to make the two work in a classroom,’” he said, noting it wasn’t until he went back to school specifically to learn how to teach physics that he was able to effectively teach the subject.


Plisch said there are several reasons why there is a shortage of physics teachers, including an overall shortage in people pursuing physics degrees.

“If you look at the number of graduates in the life sciences (such as biology, zoology and botany) and compare that to the number of graduates in physics, it’s a 10-to-one ratio,” Plisch said.

Rosengrant said physics sometimes has a negative reputation of being a difficult and challenging field of study, so a lot of people are discouraged from attempting to study it. He noted students’ interests regarding post-secondary study is based on their high school experience.“So, if they have poor experiences in high school with physics, they’re less inclined to want to study it in the future. It’s almost like a domino effect — when you have a shortage of highly qualified teachers in physics, you don’t bring more people into it because you don’t have people getting the students excited about it as much.”

Both Plisch and Rosengrant said it’s important to keep producing good physics teachers because they keep the cycle to improve physics education going. By contrast, if there aren’t many good physics teachers, then students won’t be as interested in the subject and there will be fewer people pursuing physics as a discipline.

“There’s going to be teachers retiring, there’s going to be more students taking science classes (and) there’s going to be more students taking physics,” Rosengrant said. “So we need to get more teachers into the classrooms.”

High demand for physics teachers and an increase in the number of students taking the subject both contribute to the shortage of physics teachers, Plisch said.

About 40 percent of all high school graduates have taken at least one physics course before they graduate, Plisch said, compared to about 25 percent 15 years ago.

She said the increase in students being educated in physics is already contributing to an increase in people pursuing degrees in physics.

“I think what happens is once students get exposed to physics in high school — and if they had a good experience and they had a good teacher — they get turned on to physics,” Plisch said. “But if they never had that experience in high school, how can you expect somebody to chose that as a major in college.”


KSU hosts high school science bowl Saturday

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal and WRCB-TV
Excerpt of Article: 
by Damon Poirier
January 27, 2015 04:00 AM | 612 views | 

KENNESAW — The Kennesaw State University College of Science and Mathematics will host the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s High School Sub-regional Science Bowl from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Clendenin Building, 1000 Chastain Road in Kennesaw.

More than 16 competition four- to five-person teams from high schools around the state of Georgia will attend the event. The top three teams will advance to the Regional competitions at Armstrong State University in Savannah. Winners from regionals will advance to the national competitions sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Energy from April 30 to May 4.

For more information, visit


Read more:  The Marietta Daily Journal - KSU hosts high school science bowl Saturday


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Chip off the block - Father, son to receive diplomas together at KSU commencement

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 

by Rachel Gray

May 12, 2014 04:00 AM
Gage Doss, left, and his father, Greg Doss, stand together at Sprayberry High School, where Greg teaches. Both father and son are set to receive diplomas together at Kennesaw State University Tuesday. Greg will obtain his Ph.D. while Gage will receive a degree in statistics. Staff/Jeff Stanton
Gage Doss, left, and his father, Greg Doss, stand together at Sprayberry High School, where Greg teaches. Both father and son are set to receive diplomas together at Kennesaw State University Tuesday. Greg will obtain his Ph.D. while Gage will receive a degree in statistics. Staff/Jeff Stanton

KENNESAW — A father and son who share a passion for numbers and science joined together on their final academic projects in order to graduate on the same day from Kennesaw State University.

Greg Doss, 53, and his son, Gage Doss, 24, of Cartersville, will each receive diplomas during the evening commencement ceremony Tuesday.

On May 13 and 14, almost 2,200 graduates will walk across the stage at the KSU Convocation Center.

“To be honest, I thought it was a novelty for us to walk together,” Greg Doss said. “Not only do I get to watch (my son) walk across the stage, I get to participate with him.”

Robert S. Godlewski, a spokesperson with the University Relations department at KSU, said although the college cannot confirm this is the first father-son dual graduation from the school on the same day, it is a very rare and unique happening.

“We have not been able to pin down any such occurrence in the last 50 years,” Godlewski said.

Greg Doss, who has been an engineering, drawing and design teacher at Sprayberry High School in Marietta for seven years, said he treats his students like adult engineers, allowing them to explore their own ideas and concepts.

“They never cease to amaze me,” Greg Doss said.

Greg Doss calls the students “amazing” and very “inspirational,” but is providing his own inspiration as an example of a man who has never stopped pursuing higher education.

When he graduates, Greg Doss will become the first doctoral student in the Bagwell College of Education to receive a degree in the educational leadership concentration.

The doctorate will make Greg Doss a triple alumnus, with an undergrad degree in secondary mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational leadership, both from KSU.

Gage Doss said he has always found working with numbers appealing because the field is logic based and structured. “I had an affinity towards math since I was very little,” he said. “It makes more sense to me than any other subject.”

Although it is easy to say “like father, like son,” Greg Doss said his son is “far more advanced than me.”

“He has already far surpassed my knowledge base in mathematics,” Greg Doss said.

This advanced knowledge was a great help to Greg Doss, who asked his son to “provide the heavy number crunching” for his dissertation. The team used data from local school districts to compare the number of teachers and academic leaders represented from the baby boomer, Generation X and millennial generations.

Greg Doss said he does not have any firm plans to go back to school again.

When asked by his wife, Kim, what he plans to do next, Greg Doss said he responded, “I don’t know, but I am looking for my next learning opportunity.”

Both father and son say it was Kim who has stood behind both of them the whole time. And lucky for her, Greg Doss said, she will only have to attend one graduation ceremony.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Chip off the block Father son to receive diplomas together at KSU commencement

Kennesaw State, NASA promote STEM education in girls

Name of Publication:
Excerpt of Article: 

The growth of women entering highly competitive fields in science and technology are forcing some colleges and universities to look to the preteens of today for the jobs of the next decade. A group of sixth graders attended a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational workshop hosted by Kennesaw State University on Monday as the school looks to inspire girls interested in STEM-related fields. One of NASA's educator-astronauts was in attendance to help motivate and give advice to over two-hundred students from across north Georgia. Read more about Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger's visit to KSU on

Atlanta Science Fair at Kennesaw State University

Name of Publication: 
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 


Aiming for the stars

Name of Publication: 
Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger speaks to a group of middle school girls, including students from J.J. Daniell Middle School, as a part of the Girls’ Adventures in STEM
(science, technology, engineering and math) workshop at Kennesaw State University’s on Monday. Metcalf-Lindenburger spoke about her experiences as an astronaut and her time aboard the International Space Station.
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