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BMCC Professors Secure Funding for Cutting-Edge Research

Kathleen Saavik Ford at the Hayden Planetarium
Kathleen Saavik Ford at the Hayden Planetarium
November 26, 2018

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) professors, administrators and staff collectively secured a series of grants in 2018 that are enabling bold pedagogy and cutting-edge research that spans disciplines from astrophysics to linguistics —from spying on distant galaxies to developing an app that helps the visually impaired. Other BMCC research endeavors undertaken in 2018 include efforts to develop computer information technology curricula that encourage participation by women in technology and a nationwide examination of Hebrew language programs at public, private and charter schools.

CIS Professor Hao Tang: $26,735 from the National Science Foundation

BMCC CIS Professor Hao Tang and a group of researchers from Rutgers University and City College of New York (CUNY) are working with New York City Innovation Hot Spot and the Lighthouse Guild, a service organization for the visually impaired, to make busy transportation hubs more accessible.  The three-year project's goal is to develop a mobile app that will be able to provide turn-by-turn navigation in areas where there is no GPS service. Three BMCC students are also working on the project. In the United States alone, 25.5 million adult Americans 18 years old and older report experiencing vision loss. “This project will allow BMCC and CUNY students to do fantastic real-world research and development that will impact social good,” Tang said.

Dean Janice Zummo: $26,404 from the Petrie Foundation

The Petrie Foundation is funding the Math for High School Students program, a partnership between CUNY, the New York City Department of Education, LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) and BMCC. The program provides high school students in the BMCC College Now Program, who plan to pursue a non-STEM degree, with an opportunity to take a math co-requisite course. The BMCC Program is offering statistics with algebra course with an additional 30 hours focused on basic algebraic concepts that are useful in statistics. “These courses allow high school students to exit remediation while earning four college credits, getting them on the path to acquiring a college degree while they are still in high school," said Janice Zummo, assistant dean of academic services, BMCC. "Pending additional funding, this project will continue in the spring 2019 semester.” 

Academic Literacy and Linguistics Professor Sharon Avni: $21,691 subcontract with George Washington University

Academic Literacy and Linguistics Professor Sharon Avni has been working with a professor from the University of Maryland to examine Hebrew language programs at public and charter schools across the United States. Avni’s study found approximately 6,500 students studying Hebrew in over 35 traditional public and charter K-12 schools throughout the United States. "As so little is known about these programs, our study maps the field of public school Hebrew education and offers critical information to language educators about the programs’ rationales, language learning goals, instructional approaches, and curricular and staffing considerations," said Avni.

CIS Professor Yan Chen: $20,000 from Women in Technology Program, CUNY Central

Computer Information Systems (CIS) Professor Yan Chen is further developing the two-year Women@CIS-BMCC project, which aims to support participation by women who take BMCC computer information systems courses. The grant activities include course content modification and implementation of a female peer-mentoring and tutoring program. The program will also include female role model talks and the chance for two women BMCC students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. “As a female computer science professor, I have witnessed the gender imbalance in the field I find so fascinating,” said Chen.  “My goal is to help women realize that women were the pioneers of computing and women can be just as successful at men in this field.”

Science Professor Kathleen Saavik Ford: $5,619 from NASA’s Space Telescope Institute

Science Professor Kathleen Saavik Ford is using the Hubble Telescope to observe UGC 2885—the largest-known galaxy. Specifically, Ford and a team of astronomers, astrophysicists and researchers from across the country will look at different aspects of data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope, during its orbits trained on specific sections of UGC 2885. “The big question is, ‘Where did this enormous galaxy come from and why is it a spiral galaxy, and not an elliptical galaxy?’,” says Ford. “We think UGC 2885 probably formed from a lot of gas rather than from the collisions of many smaller galaxies, but we want to see if there is more evidence for that theory.”





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  • Professors from a wide range of disciplines secure 2018 grants
  • BMCC students gain research skills on some BMCC projects
  • Two projects seek to build new pedagogy

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