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Campus News

Herzig and Musah Win National Science Foundation Awards

by Carol Olechowski

Abbe Herzig Rabi Musah
Abbe Herzig Rabi Musah

Two University at Albany professors, Abbe Herzig and Rabi Musah, have won significant grants from the National Science Foundation.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education Abbe Herzig has embarked on a study aimed at helping graduate mathematics programs to recruit, retain, and graduate a more diverse student body.

Supported by a five-year, $635,000 NSF grant, Herzig will investigate factors that affect the participation of women and of Latinos, Chicanos, African- Americans, and Native Americans in graduate study. She will conduct case studies of graduate mathematics programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; the University of Maryland, College Park; Rice University; the University of New Mexico; and American University — five programs selected, she explained, “because they are programs in which students who are traditionally underrepresented in mathematics have succeeded in unusually large numbers relative to national averages.”

The case studies will be based on interviews with faculty and graduate students; observations in classes; and collection of reports and grant proposals. Herzig will also do an on-line survey and in-depth interviews with a national sample of mathematics graduate students — women and students of color — “to assess their experiences in graduate mathematics.”

Professor Rabi Musah, Department of Chemistry, has received a Career Award from the NSF of $502,316 to explore the chemistry of sulfur-containing natural products, including garlic. It has become increasingly evident that other plants possess considerably different organosulfur chemical makeups. Given the rich diversity of compounds and chemistry observed in garlic and onions, it is likely that other novel compounds with important chemical and biological properties are present in other plants. Musah will explore the isolation, characterization, and attendant chemistry and biochemistry of organosulfur products from natural sources. In addition, Musah will develop a K-12 scientific outreach program and implement a mentorship program at the undergraduate and graduate levels.