Science & Mathematics – The Citadel Today Mon, 22 Apr 2019 19:32:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Science & Mathematics – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 Girls who smash codes: free, NSA-funded camp at The Citadel now accepting applications Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:13:31 +0000 Girls attending Citadel NSA GenCyber Camp 2018Girls attending Citadel NSA GenCyber Camp 2018Middle and high school girls in the Charleston area are invited to apply for The Citadel's National Security Agency (NSA) funded cyber security camp to be held on campus for five days in the summer.]]> Girls attending Citadel NSA GenCyber Camp 2018Girls attending Citadel NSA GenCyber Camp 2018

(Above) Girls attending The Citadel NSA/NSF-funded GenCyber Camp in summer of 2018

“GenCyber Citadel – Girls who Smash Codes” on campus this summer; July 29 – Aug 2

Middle and high school (8th – 12th grade) girls in the Charleston area are invited to apply to attend The Citadel’s National Security Agency (NSA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) funded cyber security camp to be held on campus for five days in the summer. There is no fee to apply or to attend, if selected.

The full name of the program is: GenCyber Citadel – Girls who Smash Codes: Cybersecurity Interdisciplinary Training Camp for Middle/High School Girls.  The topics covered will include:

  • Cybersecurity concepts and principles
  • Network security
  • Secure coding
  • Crypotography
  • Cyber crime
  • Cyber ethics

This is the third NSA/NSF GenCyber grant earned by The Citadel, which has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security. In 2016, the college offered a GenCyber camp for middle and high school teachers, and in 2018 the college hosted a GenCyber camp for K-12 students.

“There is a large demand for cybersecurity professionals in the federal government and private industry,” said Shankar Banik, Ph.D., program director for GenCyber Citadel, associate professor of cyber and computer science, and co-director for the Center for Cyber, Intelligence and Security Studies. “The Citadel is committed to helping train America’s future cyber defenders who are in college, graduate college, or who are younger and considering careers in cybersecurity.”

This year’s GenCyber team of educators will include:

Applications are being accepted until April 26 and 20 students will be accepted. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided. To apply to attend the camp, or for more information girls and their parent(s) should go to this website, or call (843) 953-7121.

Gencyber logo

Senior military colleges aim to fill gaps in cyber skills for the Defense Department Tue, 26 Feb 2019 20:15:58 +0000 As seen in Stars and Stripes, by Rose Thayer Examples of an expanding cyber force within the Defense Department are all around. The Marine Corps established a new specialty field]]>

As seen in Stars and Stripes, by Rose Thayer

Examples of an expanding cyber force within the Defense Department are all around. The Marine Corps established a new specialty field in October to better defend its computer-based systems and the Air Force added 244 new cyber officers in 2018, a nearly 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Increasingly, the military services are focusing on cybersecurity, in part based on information from the Department of Homeland Security citing the potential of a cyberattack exceeding the threat of a physical one.

More so, an internal Pentagon report recently obtained by Bloomberg News detailed the need for a larger, more competent workforce — among other suggestions — as concerns of cyberattacks percolate throughout the U.S. military. The internal report from the Pentagon’s combat testing office warned while the military has made progress in defending against in-house attacks designed to test cyber systems, the improvements were not outpacing the growing capabilities of potential adversaries.

Cadets in Citadel computer science lab
Cadets in Citadel computer science lab

To better prepare for the growing cyber threat, the military needs a workforce capable of preventing, detecting and mitigating attacks, Robert Behler, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, wrote in the report. While it can be challenging to draw competent workers from higher-paying private sector jobs, he suggested the Pentagon increase its employment by better funding the college-to-career pipeline.

The Pentagon should provide funding for a select group of military service academies, private companies, universities and national laboratories “to grow the DoD’s cybersecurity testing workforce and capabilities” while developing automated tools because “hiring more cyber experts will not be enough,” Behler said.

The groundwork for this recommendation is already in place. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act outlines the Pentagon’s intentions to carry out a cyber education program at any university’s ROTC program “for purposes of accelerating and focusing the development of foundational expertise in critical cyber operational skills.”

The law goes on to prioritize programs at the nation’s six senior military colleges because of their large foothold in commissioning officers. Together, these schools commission about 900 military officers each year – about 12 percent of annual ROTC commissions.

The University of North Georgia, Texas A&M University, The Citadel, Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute and Norwich University make up the nation’s six senior military colleges, as designated by meeting specific requirements of the Title 10 U.S. Code in their ROTC programs.

Working together for funding

Together, these universities are lobbying for further support and funding – primarily to expand their offerings and create more scholarships for students.

“Our intent was to work with the Department of Defense, so they could help us take that next step,” said retired Col. Sharon Hamilton, director of liaison and military operations at the University of North Georgia’s Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies.

Five of the six senior military colleges already have cyber programs with aligned curriculum as recognition of academic excellence by the National Security Agency. The allocation requires they meet very specific criteria and include certain areas in curriculum such as cryptology, network defense and cyber security principals. It also makes students eligible to apply for scholarships, internships, and grants through the Defense Department.

Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis with Stratfor, a private, intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas, said the idea of turning to colleges is a logical step in the process of increasing personnel and improving cyber security.

“The entire universe for cyber has gotten so large, both offensively and defensively, it makes perfect sense to have to get servicemembers who understand this realm and to have the technical proficiency necessary to be effective in a cyber battle,” Stewart said. “There’s been some awareness over the last couple decades, but really within the last five to seven years we’ve seen everybody really realizing it. Not just at the military level, but if you see the statements coming out of Congress and other branches of the government for the need of the U.S. to have this capability and to beef up the DoD’s capability in this area.”

Stewart mentioned the Equifax breach that exposed the sensitive information of 143 million Americans in 2017 combined with the 21.5 million records stolen from the Office of Personnel Management two years prior as a potential way for enemies to use cyberattacks to ferret out the names of intelligence officers.

Other types of threats include shutting down public utilities, attacking financial institutions or compromising democracy by hacking voting systems. They can come from adversaries such as Russia, China and North Korea, cyber criminals, activists and terrorist organizations, said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jim Keffler, director of cyber at Lockheed Martin Government Affairs, which manages the company’s U.S. government customer relationships and develops policy, regulatory and legislative strategies with Congress for all Lockheed Martin programs, products and services.

“Ten years ago, there was only a handful of nation states that could do cyberattacks — you could probably count them on one hand,” he said. “As of last year, that number had grown to over 30. That threat keeps increasing.”

This is what the U.S. government is primarily concerned with, he added, including the Defense Department.

“The goal for DoD now is to build capabilities and to build cyber operations to increase lethality and effectiveness of the force,” Keffler said. “And in order to do that they need a workforce to build out those skillsets and so we go back full circle to those things that need to be done to grow the workforce toward military career and initial assignments.”

Students studying cyber curriculum get an interdisciplinary education that can include the study of strategic foreign languages, cyber security engineering, policy, management, cyber security law and computer science.

The universities and the Defense Department see this plan as a way to generate more cyber experts ready to fill jobs with high security clearances at military and government organizations.

Hamilton envisions new funding to support scholarships that commit students to work a couple years with Defense Department entities — perhaps even finalizing their security clearance before graduation so they can go straight to work.

“Once you show someone and you introduce them to your culture, if its good fit, they’re going to stay,” she said.

Expanding Cyber Operations

The Defense Department’s cyber community has about 6,200 people, when including personnel from U.S. Cyber Command, the individual services and the Cyber Mission Force, which directs and coordinates cyberspace operations, according to information provided by Cyber Command.

Each military branch also has its own variation of cyber commands and operations. Within the Marines, cyber-specific officers are new to the playing field.

The branch launched their cyber occupational specialty in October and now has more than 100 cyberspace operation officers, said Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman with Marine Corps. The occupational field consists of officers who laterally moved from a previous occupation. The Marine Corps plans to designate 10 newly commissioned cyber officers each fiscal year.

The first two officers directly designated as cyberspace graduated from basic officer training in December and are now training for their specialty field, Butterfield said. These cyber Marines have the technical expertise to design defenses and protect digital information systems.

Meanwhile, the Air Force’s cyber operation began formally in 2009 with the creation of the 24th Air Force, now known as the Air Forces Cyber. It’s home to about 600 officers – 244 of whom joined the force in 2018, said Capt. Lauren Woods, spokeswoman for Air Forces Cyber. That’s up from 223 the previous year.

“The cyber mission is constantly evolving in both scope and complexity, which makes our trained and disciplined cyber work force more invaluable than ever,” Woods said. “For example, in May of 2018, Air Forces Cyber finalized its build of 39 Cyber Mission Force teams, a process that began in 2013 and will continue to evolve since reaching full operational capability.”

Educating Future Leaders

Developing leaders is where the senior military college officials believe they can help.

Five of the six universities offer a minor in cyber security, two have a bachelor’s degrees and two have graduate-level certificates. Together, they are planning to go to Congress and ask for funding to accompany the cyber institute guidance outlined in the NDAA.

“We can leverage things already in place and focus on interdisciplinary skills. Cyber is wonderful, but we want to build some interdisciplinary skills. We’re not only producing great cyber graduates but developing great cyber leaders,” said Hamilton of North Georgia.

The leadership foundation of an ROTC program is what sets their programs apart from other universities, said Carl Jensen, interim leader of the Department of Intelligence and Security Studies at The Citadel.

Agencies such as the FBI and CIA “like our graduates not just because of their academic skills, but also because of the focus on ethical leadership, loyalty and modesty. All the sort of things The Citadel tries to instill in graduates is exactly the sort of person who the public and private intelligence companies and defense contractors want to hire,” he said.

In 2016, 13 graduating seniors from The Citadel’s program were hired by the FBI straight out of college, Jensen said. In fall 2018, 104 freshmen at The Citadel declared intelligence and homeland security as their major. The Department of Intelligence and Security Studies, which houses the major, was launched in the fall.

Additional funding would expand student opportunities beyond the classroom, allowing for more cyber competitions, off-campus trips, expanding facilities and bringing more speakers and professional development.

“The competitions are a big deal,” said retired Col. Daniel Ragsdale, director of the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center and professor of practice in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. “It’s not a take a multiple-choice test and get a certification. In a competition, it’s hands on and you have to demonstrate your wherewithal.”

“We don’t want students to just come to class,” he said. “We want them to go to events, have employment opportunities, internships and extracurricular outlets for their interests.”

Cyber programs at A&M began in the 1990s and have grown to accommodate about 650 students. A minor launched in 2016 is now one of the largest in the engineering department, Ragsdale said.

“[Students] have beaten down the doors. The demand is off the charts,” he said.

In the past three years, Texas A&M has received more than $5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department for scholarships to award to more than 50 students for the pursuit of studies in cyber security. Eight scholarship recipients have already completed their studies, 13 scholarship recipients are enrolled, and 30 scholarships are available in subsequent years.

Next year, The Citadel plans to renovate a space to house a cyber-intelligence suite designed to look and feel like the operations centers at the FBI and CIA. The space will include a cyber range and a cyber lab with dedicated software to work cyber security problems. Jensen said they are also seeking sponsorship to build a sealed room to work classified material, known as a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF. This would allow students and faculty with a security clearance to work on classified government projects.

“If you look at the population of students coming in, they want to find programs that are intellectually challenging and academically rigorous, but at the same time, prepare them for skills to go out in the job market and be successful with that,” Jensen said. “In addition to the academic preparation and high-level analysis courses we teach, we’re also giving students skills to succeed out there in the real world and have marketable skills that employers are looking for.”
Twitter: @Rose_Lori

Citadel freshman cadets in jeopardy: The 2019 Citadel Math Jeopardy Contest Thu, 14 Feb 2019 15:46:01 +0000 Cadets participating in 2019 Math JeopardyCadets participating in 2019 Math JeopardyClue: An annual event where cadets competed for vouchers to the school’s canteen and Chick-Fil-A. Answer: What is The Math Jeopardy Contest for Freshmen? After two rounds of math questions,]]> Cadets participating in 2019 Math JeopardyCadets participating in 2019 Math Jeopardy

Clue: An annual event where cadets competed for vouchers to the school’s canteen and Chick-Fil-A.

Answer: What is The Math Jeopardy Contest for Freshmen?

After two rounds of math questions, lasting just over two hours, team “Crystal Math” went home with the first place prize. This year, three teams made up of 11 cadets competed in the event. “Floating Point Integers” came in second place and “Fracturing Fractals” placed third.

Team "Crystal Math" accepting first place awards at 2019 Math Jeopardy
Team “Crystal Math” accepting first place awards at 2019 Math Jeopardy

In the first round, “Crystal Math” pulled ahead, answering question after question. In the second round, the other two teams started to catch back up, but the big prize still went to “Crystal Math” in the end.

Team "Fracturing Fractals" at 2019 Math Jeopardy
Team “Fracturing Fractals” at 2019 Math Jeopardy

“This year’s participants were very enthusiastic about their responses, often continuing to talk about the question after it had been answered. There were also times when there would be absolute silence as the students worked to figure out the problem before the two minute timer ran out. We had one response that lost points for a wrong answer as they forgot to phrase it as a question, but that only happened once,” said Cadet Elizabeth Spoehel, one of this year’s organizers.

Team "Floating Point Integers" at 2019 Math Jeopardy
Team “Floating Point Integers” at 2019 Math Jeopardy

The topics covered in the competition included: Lazy Day Limits, Allegedly Difficult Antiderivatives, Intriguing Intervals, and Continuity Curiosities.

The Math Jeopardy Contest for Freshmen is hosted by The Department of Mathematical Sciences. Those who compete are studying a variety of majors, ranging from Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering and more.

The cadets who participated this year are:

Crystal Math Fracturing Fractals Floating Point Integers
Grayson Gasque William Childress Mathew Daugomah
Will Jensen William Hobbs Alexander Delorme
Dylan Roland Jared Johnson Noah Wells
Eric Skinner Jake Norris


More Than Fitness Wed, 30 Jan 2019 16:23:53 +0000 Dr. Dan Bornstein is leading the charge to solve some of the most pressing fitness, health and security issues facing the United States.]]>

“We are at a crisis in this country, where 75 percent of young Americans who want to serve in the military don’t qualify,” said exercise science professor Maj. Dan Bornstein. “The largest reason is that they’re either too fat, too unfit or both.”

Bornstein, 47, began to realize the importance of physical fitness at the young age of 11.

“It was Valentine’s Day, and I thought it would be a good idea to try to set the world record for stair jumping. We lived in an old Victorian house with 14-foot ceilings. I was perched at the top of the stairs, with my hands positioned to slide down the rail. When I launched forward and my center of mass moved past my hands, my hands slipped, and I landed flat on my back.”

The firefighters who responded to the emergency call that day in 1983 made such an impression on Bornstein that he vowed at that moment to become a volunteer firefighter.

Instead of a new world record, Bornstein had three broken ribs. Six months later, he would learn that he also had two fractures in his vertebrae, two herniated discs and one vertebra that was pressing on his spinal cord.

It was a life-changing injury. He was taken out of youth sports and put into a back brace for two years. When immobilization didn’t work, he tried physical therapy.

“I learned then that exercise can heal,” he said.  “And it led me to recognize the powers of physical fitness and to make a lifelong commitment to being fit.”

When he turned 18, Bornstein knocked on the door of the local fire department and asked for an application.

“It was my first taste of public service—being part of a team where people rely on each other in life-and-death situations. As a firefighter, I saw some ugly things, but I also came to fully appreciate the importance of being physically and mentally fit in order to contribute to a team.”

After college, Bornstein owned several fitness companies dedicated to helping people make lifestyle changes, but after a number of years, his focus began to shift. Instead of helping a small segment of the population, he became passionate about making an even bigger difference, so he began working on his doctoral degree in exercise science at the University of South Carolina with a focus on physical activity and public health. He was 36.

“The greatest public health wins we’ve had in this country—tobacco control, vaccinations, seat belts—have come as a result of policy changes. Policies determine environments, and environments largely determine behavior. The scientists on whose shoulders I now stand have been researching physical activity and its importance to health for decades. They have been using health as the dominant message when advocating for policy change, and the problems are getting worse—obesity is increasing, and we are less physically and mentally fit than we have ever been.”

That’s when Bornstein realized that the message needed to change.

“With tobacco control, for example, and the laws that led to taxes on cigarettes, and limiting where and when you can smoke—those policy decisions came not from the evidence of the detrimental effects of smoking on the individual smoker, but from the evidence of the detrimental effects of second-hand smoke. Finally, lawmakers stepped in and said, ‘It’s not lawful for you to smoke your coworker to death or your children to death.’

I started to ask myself, ‘What is the second-hand smoke of physical inactivity?’ That’s when I realized it’s military readiness and national security.”

With that epiphany, Bornstein brought his ideas and his passion to The Citadel in 2013.

“Part of the reason I came to The Citadel is that it’s a military college. I felt that by being here, where leadership is central to the mission of the college, I would have the opportunity to collaborate with others to help The Citadel play a role in demonstrating the importance of physical, mental and psychological fitness, not only for the health of our population, but also for the safety and security of our state and nation.”

In the six years that he’s been at The Citadel, Bornstein has been busy. He’s worked with the commandant’s office and the department of athletics to create a physical readiness officer program that enables cadets to assist other cadets in improving the physical training program. He’s conducted several research studies in collaboration with the psychology department on mental and psychological fitness. He has published a book and developed a class on the relationship between physical activity and national security. He has a number of other initiatives underway, including a new online graduate certificate program in tactical performance and resiliency. And he is working on community outreach programs to train military personnel, first responders and veterans on how to optimize their physical, behavioral and psychological fitness.

Bornstein is committed to helping South Carolina become the solution to the problem instead of being the problem itself.

“We have an obligation to graduate young men and women who have the drive to maintain not only their own fitness and health, but that of their families, co-workers and communities. We are poised to help lead the way in solving some of the most pressing fitness, health and security issues of our time. If The Citadel’s not going to lead the way in improving the fitness of tomorrow’s leaders as well as today’s military personnel, veterans and first responders, then who will?”

Citadel nursing cadets and student earn leadership positions at Student Nurses Association Convention Fri, 25 Jan 2019 15:33:22 +0000 SNA BoardSNA BoardPhoto: Newly elected executive board for Student Nurses Association – South Carolina Of the ten positions on the board, three are now held by people from The Citadel The South]]> SNA BoardSNA Board

Photo: Newly elected executive board for Student Nurses Association – South Carolina

Of the ten positions on the board, three are now held by people from The Citadel

The South Carolina Student Nurses Association has new leadership, which includes two cadets and one student from The Citadel. At the January convention, the association elected Cadet William (Miller) Brunson, a junior, as its treasurer, Cadet Andrew Mappus, a sophomore, as its breakthrough nursing director, and Charity Pippin, a junior evening undergraduate nursing student, as its community Health Director and delegate to the national Convention.

Also representing The Citadel at the annual convention was another evening undergraduate nursing student, Crystyn Neely.

Left to right: Charity Pippin, Cadet William (Miller) Brunson, Cadet Andrew Mappus and Crystyn Neely
Left to right: Charity Pippin, Cadet William (Miller) Brunson, Cadet Andrew Mappus and Crystyn Neely

“Although many schools were unaware of the new nursing program at The Citadel, we were able to inform them of the upcoming graduates this spring and our growing program. We also had the opportunity to network with other students, graduate schools, and possible future employers,” said student Charity Pippin. “We look forward to representing The Citadel and South Carolina in April at the National Convention for SNA.”

The Student Nurses Association says being a board member gives students a chance to improve their professional development by leading and mentoring other student nurses across the state.

Cadets Andrew Mappus and William (Miller) Brunson
Cadets Andrew Mappus and William (Miller) Brunson at SNA-SC Convention

“This is the second year nursing students from The Citadel attended the SC Student Nurse Association Convention in Columbia and the first time cadet students attended,” said Amelia Joseph, Ph.D., Nurse Administrator for the Swain Department of Nursing. “Although all four of the students were new to the association, they saw the opportunity to serve in leadership roles for this important organization.”

Charity Pippin accepting the 2019 Community Health Project Award
Charity Pippin accepting the 2019 Community Health Project Award

The Citadel also won the 2019 Community Health Project Award for providing more supplies for the homeless than any other school represented at the conference.

This recognition comes ahead of the Citadel’s inaugural nursing pinning ceremony, when nursing students are symbolically welcomed into the profession. One cadet and 20 students are expected to be the first to graduate from The Citadel’s nursing program in May 2019.

All nursing students at The Citadel are encouraged to attend an informational meeting to discuss joining SNA and forming a chapter at the Citadel. That meeting will be Tuesday, January 29 at 5:00 pm in Deas Hall 219b.

The Citadel offers cadets and veteran students a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing, while an evening completion program is offered for community students who have earned the required general education and prerequisite courses at another institution. The Citadel offers the only evening bachelor of science in nursing program in the Lowcountry.

Diseases from the sea being studied by 3 South Carolina colleges Thu, 24 Jan 2019 20:19:09 +0000 Toxic algal bloomToxic algal bloomPhoto: An algal bloom infests a retention pond on the South Carolina coast As seen in The Post and Courier, by Bo Petersen Living on the coast is getting riskier]]> Toxic algal bloomToxic algal bloom

Photo: An algal bloom infests a retention pond on the South Carolina coast

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Bo Petersen

Living on the coast is getting riskier to your health.

Vibrio, the disease-causing germ that closes oyster beds, could soon find its way to your drinking water. It could infect you if you swim with an open wound.

Algal blooms exacerbated by a heating climate could make the germ outbreaks worse and spread other toxins.

That’s why 20 scientists from three South Carolina universities — The Citadel, the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina — and two other schools nationally are teaming up to form one of four Oceans and Human Health Centers on Climate Change Interactions.

Their job is to devise a forecast system to provide early public warnings of threatening environmental conditions.

“Just as we do with with weather forecast now,” said Geoff Scott, chairman of the Environmental Health Sciences department at USC, who is heading up the effort.

They’re not talking about some future problem. Already incidences of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are on the rise; vibrio, the bacteria that closes oyster beds when it is found, is a leading cause, and it will be studied.

As waters warm and seas rise, saltwater vibrio is expected to be pushed closer to drinking water supplies and the hot months last longer that incubate it.

More nutrients that spur algal blooms are working into waterways from rain runoff and other sources. The evidence has become alarming that if an algal bloom gets bad enough, more vibrio forms in the wake of it.

Algal blooms are virtual explosions of certain types of phytoplankton. The blooms create toxins that kill fish and other marine life. Although they most often occur in relatively still fresh water, they have occurred in saltwater too, including a bloom off Myrtle Beach in 2010.

In Florida last year an outbreak occurred in both fresh and salt water.

“What we’re seeing is more and more kinds of harmful algal blooms,” said Paul Sandifer, director of the Center for Coastal Environmental and Human Health at the College of Charleston, another school taking part in the study.

“We need to be able to tell people when and where to stay away from those things, and what they might be able to about them,” he said.

Vibrio is one of those germs that’s always around, but it gets prevalent enough in warm weather to infest oysters. The germ can cause cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. At best you’re in for a rough few days. At worst it’s lethal.

If a person has a pre-existing condition like fatty liver disease, exposure can worsen the symptoms. Vibrio can carry the risk of severe illness or death in people whose immune systems are compromised by age or illness, such as the liver disease but also cancer or diabetes. Antibiotics can treat some of the germs, but not others.

As part of the study, research at The Citadel will look at just how much microplastics and tire particles are accumulating in oysters in South Carolina.

Previous studies have shown when there’s more exposure then there’s more stress on the animals’ ability to handle other stressors, such as the vibrio germs, said Citadel physiology professor John Weinstein.

Professor John Weinstein, leading ocean toxicology researcher, The Citadel
Professor John Weinstein, leading ocean toxicology researcher, The Citadel

The Citadel Prof. John Weinstein studies microplastics and tire particles in the Charleston estuary region. The Citadel/provided

The Citadel findings will contribute to the Health Center’s human heath risk study, he said. It’s the logical next step to studies already underway at the Citadel with microplastics and tire particles in shrimp, he said.

“Right now, there’s a critical gap in what we know about what people ingest and their health risk,” he said. “Just quantifying the exposure to microplastics and tire particles in oysters might surprise a lot of people.”

The studies are being paid for with a $5.7 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Baylor University is doing comparative studies in the algal bloom research.

Community input will be coordinated by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said program coordinator Heath Kelsey.

Getting the community’s views, values and perspectives is imperative to being able to communicate the threats, Kelsey said.

Oceans, human health; climate change focus of unique new $5.7 million alliance Thu, 17 Jan 2019 15:04:25 +0000 Ocean trash on beachOcean trash on beachMore than 20 researchers from five colleges and universities are beginning their work aimed at better protecting human health through the new Center for Oceans and Human Health and Climate Change Interactions.]]> Ocean trash on beachOcean trash on beach

NIEHS-funded university collaboration aimed at discovering impacts to drive prevention

The first multi-academic institution center in South Carolina to study the effects of ocean health-related illness and the interactions from climate change is initializing its operations. Funded by a $5.7 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), more than 20 researchers from five colleges and universities are beginning their work aimed at better protecting human health through the new Center for Oceans and Human Health and Climate Change Interactions.


The University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Baylor University, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science were awarded the NIEHS grant in the fall of 2018 for the center that is headquartered at the University of South Carolina’s (USC) Arnold School of Public Health, in Columbia. The Center will be led by Geoffrey I. Scott, clinical professor and chair in the USC Department of Environmental Health Sciences. The Center’s deputy director is Paul A. Sandifer, director of the Center for Coastal Environmental and Human Health at the College of Charleston. Scott and Sandifer will work with a team of scientists who are faculty leaders at all five institutions. Additionally, researchers and environmental public health practitioners from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, and the Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities will participate.

Working against time for everyone

The intersection of climate change and urbanization is nowhere more apparent than in the coastal zone, as increasing global temperatures, sea level rise, and coastal flooding meet growing population centers and economic hubs in coastal communities in South Carolina, the United States and the world.

Common coastal ecosystem problems include:

  • Increased frequencies and severity of harmful algal blooms, water-based plants that can grow out of control and produce potent toxins that can impact human and animal health;
  • Antibiotic resistance in disease-causing microbes such as Vibrio bacteria, that live in coastal waters and can cause harmful infections through the consumption of raw/under-cooked shellfish and wound infections;
  • Contaminants of emerging concern such as microplastics in coastal waters resulting from trash and tire decomposition;
  • Pharmaceutical and personal care product contamination from discharges into sewer systems including byproducts of human use, metabolism and disposal of expired medicines.

The Center’s main purpose will be to assess the effects of illness and disease related to ocean health, to then use the information to develop forecasts that prevent human exposure to these stressors, and other prevention strategies. In particular, the scientists aim to look at climate change-related factors that may enhance the presence of disease-causing Vibrio bacteria and harmful algal blooms, and their production of toxins that are harmful to fish, marine mammals and humans.

“Elevated levels of dangerous Vibrio bacteria and harmful algal blooms toxins can adversely affect human health by increasing human exposure in drinking water, seafood and in surface waters used for recreation,” said Scott. “By establishing predictive water quality and environmental variables, we can develop models and early warning forecasts to alert the public, prevent exposure and thus better protect ecosystem and human health.”

The Center’s scientists at work


Professor John Weinstein, leading ocean toxicology researcher, The Citadel
Professor John Weinstein, leading ocean toxicology researcher, The Citadel

The OHHCI scientists will work on different portions of the research simultaneously to maximize the results more efficiently. The USC team will assess impacts of increased exposure to climate stressors (rising temperatures and changing salinities) on associated diseases and illness, such as Vibrio bacteria in seafood and wound infections, and on harmful algal bloom toxin effects non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These analyses will indicate the extent and magnitude that climate change may have on these illnesses under future climate scenarios. This will be used to better identify vulnerable populations and help tailor community-engagement activities for these susceptible communities

“With coastal populations ever-increasing, the need for science to focus its attention towards mitigating and preventing the potential impacts of climate change on the health of its most-vulnerable citizens, has never been greater,” said Darin Zimmerman, Ph.D., dean and Traubert Chair for the Swain Family School of Science and Mathematics at The Citadel. “Tackling the complex problems that exist at the nexus of the climate-ocean-health environment – such as enhanced uptake of emerging contaminants within the food chain and increased exposure to water-borne pathogenic bacteria, requires the kind of collaborative, multi-disciplinary team of experts that will compose this Center.“

Co-investigators at USC include Sean Norman, Alan Decho, Jamie Lead, Saurabh Chatterjee, Shuo Xiao, Dwayne Porter (USC Environmental Health Sciences), Bo Cai (USC Epidemiology and Biostatistics), Daniela Friedman (USC Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior), and John Ferry, Tim Shaw, Susan Richardson (USC Chemistry). Drs. Bryan Brooks, Thad Scott, and Scott James of Baylor University will lead the research on Harmful Algal Blooms. Dr. John Weinstein of the Department of Biology at the Citadel will lead the research on the environmental health effects of microplastics. Dr. Heath Kelsey of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science will be part of the Center focused on community engagement, facilitating communication amongst the researchers and communities.

The Center is engaging in field and laboratory projects in South Carolina and Texas and will lead related community engagement through a variety of venues. For more information, please see the Center website at the Arnold School of Public Health website or contact the Center’s Office at 803-777-8940.


Cadets create indoor farm inside shipping containers Fri, 11 Jan 2019 21:09:25 +0000 Cadets look at lettuce in the sustainable farm container on The Citadel campusCadets look at lettuce in the sustainable farm container on The Citadel campusFrom the confined space of a shipping container, military college cadets grow and harvest hundreds of heads of lettuce per week for staff and students.]]> Cadets look at lettuce in the sustainable farm container on The Citadel campusCadets look at lettuce in the sustainable farm container on The Citadel campus

As seen in Mother Earth News

Inside three shipping containers on the campus of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, cadets are learning how to grow lettuce crops in a controlled indoor “farm” setting, producing organic produce in an environment that can withstand unpredictable weather conditions and disease. The cadets’ hands-on education comes from The Citadel Sustainability Project, in which the first shipping container functions as a hydroponic cultivation system for lettuce crops, the second container is a testing ground for various growing systems, and the third container will be outfitted by cadets who design and build the growing equipment as part of a corresponding independent study.

The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence initiated the project in 2016 as an interdisciplinary collaboration. Of the 20 or so students who are members of the Sustainability Club, several are STEM Scholars. We also have electrical engineers who are completing a design project on hydroponics. We’ve had students from almost every campus department — engineering, biology, business — who have worked with the project.

Prior to their graduation, Alex Richardson, who studied engineering, and Cameron Brown, who studied business, managed the growing container with the help of other students motivated by a passion for the environment.

“Cadets are excited about The Citadel Sustainability Project because it incorporates biology, chemistry, computer science, business, engineering, and community outreach. It gives us the opportunity to collaborate with students outside of our own programs on a project focused on global population needs,” Richardson says. “And seeing people on campus eat and enjoy our crops is gratifying.”

A sustainable food source

We’re currently growing more than 4,400 plants in the shipping containers, including collards, lettuce, spinach, and herbs. The nutrients used to grow the crops are recycled within the system’s 100-gallon reservoir and are managed through a smartphone application. The app tracks the metallic minerals in the water and sends nutrients to the plants every 10 minutes. It also displays the water’s temperature and the container’s carbon dioxide and pH levels.

Cadets walk down the middle of the sustainable farm container
More than 4,400 plants, including collards, lettuce, spinach, and herbs, grow in the container. Photo by Stefanie Swackhammer.

The transformation from seed to harvest inside the shipping container farm occurs in five weeks, compared with the 10 weeks the crops would need in an outdoor environment. Thanks to high-density crop production, the cadets harvest more than 800 heads of lettuce per week for the campus restaurant’s salad bar as well as events. Additionally, cadets get to eat the fresh lettuce in the student mess hall. If the growing container is running at full capacity, the 320-square-foot space can yield about 40,000 heads of lettuce per year.

Each container is valued at $115,000 after it’s outfitted. The cadets intend to make the project sustainable by putting profits from the crops toward the purchase of more containers.

“Our self-propagating irrigation system uses up to 98 percent less water than conventional industrial farming does,” says Brown, who wrote the project’s business plan. “We want to expand, grow more, and sustain this Earth-friendly initiative, making our healthy produce available to more members of our community.

In addition to providing a sustainable food source, the goal of the project is to help young entrepreneurs and members of other disciplines gain hands-on experience.

We also try to bring in high school students. Last spring, students from Burke High School, which is next door to our campus, incorporated the indoor farm into one of their projects. Then, a 10th grade economics class wrote business plans for the container with data we provided, and followed up with two field trips to the container.

One of two containers is installed on The Citadel's campus
The container farm is installed in a corner of campus, leaving room for expansion. Photo by The Citadel.

The shipping container farm is located in a back corner of campus near the marsh, with plenty of room for expansion. We’ve submitted a National Science Foundation grant application with The GEL Group, AmplifiedAg, and SuperGreen Solutions to design a system that would filter excess nutrients out of treated wastewater and incorporate sustainable energy so the system could be viable anywhere. Ultimately, we’d like to expand the project to be able to produce more fresh food for the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, which comprises the college’s undergraduate population.

Our advice for other schools thinking about starting a small, sustainable farm like ours: Have a faculty member who’s invested in the success of the project and understands that student interest will wax and wane depending on schedules. It’s also important to have a succession and mentoring plan for students. Seniors mentor juniors; juniors work with underclassmen. That will keep the farm going strong.

Jennifer Albert is the director of The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence. Dalia Martinez graduated from The Citadel in May 2018, and is now a researcher at The Medical University of South Carolina.

U.S. Army aims for tougher fitness standards despite amount of overweight recruits Tue, 01 Jan 2019 11:00:51 +0000 Army Physical Fitness TestArmy Physical Fitness TestIn a report released by The Citadel, the Army has seen an overall increase of overweight recruits who can't pass entry-level physical fitness tests.]]> Army Physical Fitness TestArmy Physical Fitness Test

As seen in Newsweek, by Scott McDonald

A recent study shows the health of young adults from 10 southern states a hindrance to the United States Army, and a subsequent national security crisis.

In a report released by The Citadel, the Army has seen an overall increase of overweight recruits who can’t pass entry-level physical fitness tests.

The results of the study coincides with the Army’s decision to raise the level of a recruit’s fitness and combat readiness, prompting the military to release a website to get future soldiers ready in advance of their basic training.

The Citadel conducted the survey this year with the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the American Heart Association and determined that overweight military recruits has led to more training injuries and an overhaul with a preemptive training process.

According to the study, the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, and North Carolina have the worst fitness and cardio levels for incoming recruits.

Eduardo Sanchez, the chief medical officer for prevention and chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the American Heart Association, said geography and local education systems play a role in shaping these young adults.

“All children deserve to live, learn and play in places where their health can thrive,” Sanchez said “This study underscores the importance of physical education in schools and emphasizes our responsibility to build communities with parks, bike lanes, and safe routes to school. This must be done — not just for our children’s hearts and brains — but for our national security.”

The report says that 27 percent of potential enlistees aged 17 to 24 are too obese, or overweight, to qualify for military service. Furthermore, the study reveals that 47 percent of men and 59 percent of women fail the Army’s entry-level training test.

The Army now will play a proactive role to get recruits ready in advance of basic training rather than be reactive and get them ready once they check on the base and get a bag full of gear.

The website the armed services branch launched includes training tutorials and videos that will prep soldiers for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The site includes initiatives from the Army for improving soldier and unit readiness, to transform the Army’s fitness culture, reduce preventable injuries and to enhance mental toughness.

The ACFT has six main events, including 3-rep maximum deadlift, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, a 250-meter sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and 2-mile run.

The ACFT site details each event with fitness components, its standard equipment and how the field test is evaluated. At the end of each exercise, it shows how those events correspond to combat readiness.

“If you can’t get in shape in 24 months, then maybe you should hit the road,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said last month in

“We don’t want to lose thousands of soldiers to [the ACFT]. This fitness test is hard. No one should be under any illusions about it. But we really don’t want to lose soldiers on the battlefield. We don’t want young men and women to get killed in action because they weren’t fit,” Milley said.

The decision of the Army to up its physical fitness requirements comes alongside a time when so many recruits are coming in not prepared for the rigors.

“While commanding in combat, I saw the effect training-related injuries had on mission accomplishment,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told the Citadel. “In basic training, the number of unfit recruits forced changes to our physical training procedures and dining menus. [The] study provides critical insight into the real national security issues posed by recruits who are less physically fit and less prepared for military service than they have ever been in our history.”

The Army began a field trial of the ACFT in October this year with master fitness trainers at select units. The ACFT will go through two more trial phases before it becomes the Army’s physical test of record no later than October 2020.

A follow up note from The Citadel

Prof. Daniel Bornstein The Citadel
Dr. Daniel Bornstein, Citadel Health and Human Performance professor

Daniel Bornstein, Ph.D., who conducted the research and authored the report referenced in this Newsweek article, is an assistant professor in The Citadel Department of Health and Human Performance. He began working at The Citadel in 2013 after completing his Ph.D. in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina.

Bornstein has published extensively and presents regularly at national and international conferences in the areas of physical activity and public health including physical activity monitoring, physical activity communication, physical activity policy and physical activity messaging.

He is currently leading a series of research studies investigating the impacts of physical inactivity and low physical fitness on military readiness and national security.

Bornstein recently announced the release of a new book he co-authored, Physical Activity and Public Health Practice. The book will be available for purchase in January 2019. It written to help people design, deliver and evaluate physical activity interventions in order to improve fitness, health and security of the nation.

Learn about more of The Citadel’s faculty experts here.


Citadel STEM outreach prepares future employees for SC tech companies Sat, 29 Dec 2018 11:00:21 +0000 Students from St Andrew's School of Math and Science compete in the Trebuchet competition at Storm The Citadel 2017Students from St Andrew's School of Math and Science compete in the Trebuchet competition at Storm The Citadel 2017The STEM Center of Excellence at The Citadel is preparing people of all ages for jobs that a growing number of businesses throughout the Lowcountry need to fill.]]> Students from St Andrew's School of Math and Science compete in the Trebuchet competition at Storm The Citadel 2017Students from St Andrew's School of Math and Science compete in the Trebuchet competition at Storm The Citadel 2017

As heard and seen on South Carolina Radio Network, by Renee Sexton

The STEM Center of Excellence at The Citadel is preparing people of all ages for jobs that a growing number of businesses throughout the Lowcountry need to fill.

Dr. Jennifer Albert, Director of the STEM Center of Excellence at The Citadel said it was originally organized because the college recognized a need for outreach programs for K-12 participants in the Lowcountry. But eventually, those programs expanded to include people of all ages.

“Some programs such as our Storm The Citadel event, bring thousands of people to campus,” she said.

Storm the Citadel Robotics Building
Storm the Citadel Robotics Competition

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“We’ve had great support from a number of businesses, a number of schools, the number of industry partners in the area that are in the STEM fields is absolutely phenomenal but they’re having a lot of trouble finding enough employees to fill the spots that they have,” Albert said. “Trying to build that pipeline to make sure that the Volvos, the Boeings, the Googles have the employees down the road that they need to continue their companies’ growing.”

The STEM Center offers various programs for students of all ages, and teachers. The effort is to make programs free or low-cost to participants.

“Teachers don’t have the time or the expertise to be aware of every single job that hey could possibly prepare students for, so that’s kind of a bridge that we fill is helping them understand the jobs that are in the area and the certifications and the training that the students may need.”

Albert said a program is available through the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce that educates students for jobs local businesses need to fill.

“In a lot of cases they can start working in high school with paid internships, get certifications and an associate’s degree for free with the internship programs and come out with a great-paying job and absolutely no debt,” she said.

Saturday, December 15, The Citadel STEM center hosted Cookies, Cocoa and Coding from 10 a.m. – noon at Thompson Hall for K-12 students and their parents.

Storm The Citadel and other 2019 STEM events sponsored by the college

February 9 – Storm the Citadel Competitions (grades K-12, college, and industry)

February 23 – Regional Science Olympiad Competition at Newberry College (Div. B & C)

March 2 – Regional Science Olympiad Competition at The Citadel (Div. A, B, & C)

March 16 – State Science Olympiad Competition at The Citadel (Div. B & C)

May 11 – KidWind Competition at The Citadel

Summer STEM Camps – Posted here in Jan. 2019

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