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Johansen awarded $150,000 to research imperiled fishes.

 The southeastern U.S. is home to an incredible array of species and is recognized as an aquatic biodiversity hotspot. Unfortunately, human activities that degrade aquatic environments have led to the loss or reduction of species across this diverse region. Dr. Rebecca Blanton Johansen was recently awarded an $84,000 grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to study four imperiled fishes, including two darter and two madtom catfish species found exclusively or primarily in Tennessee. She will work with graduate students to assess the current conservation status of each species, the human-mediated threats to their habitat, and the in-stream habitat requirements of each. The focal species are under review for federal listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and results of this work will provide the foundational data for making informed listing decisions and will highlight needed conservation actions. Johansen was also awarded a $67,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife services. Dr. Johansen, in collaboration with Dr. Mollie Cashner (Center of Excellence for Field Biology and Dept. of Biology, APSU), will evaluate population-level genetic diversity and patterns of gene flow in the imperiled Kentucky Arrow Darter. This species occurs in eastern Kentucky and has been heavily impacted by coal mining in the region, which in combination with other activities, has led to the loss of populations throughout its range.  Because of its small native range, recent declines, and ongoing threats to its habitat, the Kentucky Arrow Darter will soon be listed as Federally Endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act.  Assessment of genetic diversity in the species will serve as foundational information for successful recovery and conservation activities including propagation and re-establishment of extirpated populations. Dr. Johansen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, Principal Investigator in the Center of Excellence for Field Biology, and Curator of Fishes for the David Snyder Vertebrate Museum.

Seaside Sparrow

Dr. Stefan Woltmann, Assistant Professor of Biology, awarded grant to study Seaside Sparrows.

Between April 20th and July 15, 2010, several million barrels of crude oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico when BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. Most of southeastern Louisiana's coastal marshes were impacted by the spill. APSU's Dr. Stefan Woltmann, along with colleagues at Louisiana State University, began studying effects of the oil spill on marsh birds in mid-2011, focusing their efforts on Seaside Sparrows (Ammodramus maritimus). By the spring of 2012, much of the oil damage to marshes was no longer visually obvious. However, ongoing work suggests that effects of the oil spill continue to influence the ecology of Seaside Sparrows. For example, population densities and nest success rates appear to be lower in areas of the marsh that were heavily oiled. With his recent grant award, Dr. Woltmann will study population genetic characteristics of Seaside Sparrows across the Gulf of Mexico in order to better understand how and why some populations may be more vulnerable to natural and man-made disturbances. For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Stefan Woltmann at woltmanns@apsu.edu.

Thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Greater Nashville Affiliate, the Austin Peay State University School of Nursing will partner with the Montgomery County Health Department to begin a breast health program. Dr. Patty Orr, director of the School of Nursing and associate professor, wrote the grant with Joey Smith, director of the county health department. The breast health program will include assessment, education and mammogram screening for the underserved population in Montgomery County. “The goal is to identify any cancer early when it can be treated successfully,” Orr said. APSU’s grant funding is among the $437,000 in total grants awarded by the Nashville Komen affiliate to local nonprofits to assist with education, screenings and treatment for breast cancer. Other agencies funded included the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services, Meharry Medical College and the Tennessee Department of Health, among others. For more information, contact Orr by email at orrp@apsu.edu.

APSU awarded Tennessee Department of Health grant to promote health, fitness

Dr. Tim Leszczak, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, in collaboration with Dr. Patty Orr in the School of Nursing, The Food Initiative, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Coordinated School Health Program, and the Montgomery County Department of Health was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Health “Eat Well, Play More Tennessee” initiative. The purpose of the grant is to develop a sustainable program that provides opportunity for physical activity to underserved populations in the surrounding area. Grant funds will be used to develop walking trails on the APSU campus, as well as provide nutritional workshops to community members, faculty, staff and students on campus. The money will also be used to provide walking maps which will be distributed to all departments, and develop virtual walking trails so participants can view the trails before they start physical activity.  There will be three trails marked with trail heads and directional arrows that will be .5, 1.0 and 1.5 miles long.  For further information, contact Tim Leszczak at 931-221-6112 or email leszczakt@apsu.edu

APSU receives $588,000 NSF grant to award scholarships for military and community college students

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Three Austin Peay State University professors are on the lookout for community college students, active duty military personnel, veterans and dependents interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines. That’s because the National Science Foundation is awarding them more than $500,000 over the next five years to offer scholarships for qualified students in those areas. The project, titled "Increasing the Number of Regional Community College Graduates and Active Duty Military Personnel, Veterans and Dependents Enrolling in and Completing a STEM Baccalaureate Degree," will begin awarding scholarships this fall under the direction of Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics and statistics. Scholarships are available for the above-mentioned individuals who have a 3.0 GPA and can demonstrate financial need. “We’re working with Columbia State, Nashville State and Volunteer State Community College, and also with the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell,” Taylor said. “Students can apply and receive a NSF S-STEM Scholarship for their sophomore year at the community college or at Fort Campbell. That would allow them to complete an Associate of Science degree. Then they would come to Austin Peay. That’s potentially three years of support.” Eligible applicants must major in either biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics or physics at APSU. The hope is that the scholarships will increase the number of students from regional community colleges and military backgrounds to come to APSU, in addition to increasing the number of STEM graduates in the community. “These individuals might not know what the options are, or they might not think it’s a possibility for them,” Rayburn said. “But if there’s some money that makes it feasible for them to continue, that opens some doors. This helps some good students who might encounter difficulties otherwise, financially.” The NSF grant will also provide money for a bridge program that will help these students transition from community colleges and the military to APSU. The program will bring these students together on campus each summer, and also host special events throughout the year. “It can be challenging for transfer students to feel like they’re part of a community,” Meisch said. “The idea of this bridge program is to give them a cohort, give them a community that they’re all part of. It will give them a way to contact each other and work on some basic study skills and say, ‘hey, we’re all in this boat together. What can we do to be successful?’” The professors anticipate awarding about 15 scholarships this academic year, with the awards ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per student, depending on individual demonstrated financial need. For more information on the scholarships, such as eligibility and how to apply, visit the program’s website, http://www.apsu.edu/cosm/apsu-national-science-foundation-s-stem-scholarship-information. Photo cutline: Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, were recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to offer scholarships to students looking to study STEM subjects. (Photo by Beth Liggett/APSU Staff) 


Clarksville-Montgomery County E-911 Emergency Communications Center recently awarded a $37,000 contract to the Austin Peay State University (APSU) GIS Center to bring the GIS data used by the dispatch center into National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and Tennessee Information for Public Safety (TIPS) Standards. This project is in preparation for the deployment of the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that will utilize Emergency Service Number zones (ESN Zones). Structure point and center line road GIS data is used for routing emergency responders when a 911 call is received at the dispatch center to identify the location of the call. Dispatchers use the ESN Zones to ensure the correct and most relevant emergency service provider is sent to the caller’s location. The data will be part of a state-wide seamless GIS data coverage for the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. For more information, please contact the APSU GIS Center via email at  catellierd@apsu.edu.

Lebkuecher, Jeff

Dr. Jeff Lebkuecher, Professor of Biology, was awarded a $78,800 contract from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to study the impacts of water pollution on algae and other microscopic organisms. The objectives of the project include: (1) develop standardized methods for state researchers to evaluate the impacts of pollution in Tennessee rivers, (2) assess the effects of water pollution in the Red River Watershed, and (3) engage APSU biology students in research to provide training and experience with biological monitoring. Biological monitoring is an essential method to characterize and quantify the influences of pollution because chemical analyses do not reveal impacts on ecological integrity. The research will give APSU students the opportunity to learn how to assess the influences of pollutants on aquatic organisms and develop watershed management plans to improve the health of aquatic environments.


The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Austin Peay State University a $1.8 million grant to continue funding the successful Educational Opportunity Center (EOC). The EOC received funding for five years (2011 – 2016) for $373,614 per grant year. The EOC funding falls under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and is part of the TRiO Programs. The program is designed to assist low-income adults in entering college by helping them to overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to higher education. Two-thirds of the adults served in the program must come from low-income families, where neither parent graduated from college. The grant received a perfect score of 117 out of 117 possible points. Of significance, were the full bonus points received for the competitive priority in addressing the needs of the military-connected students, veterans, active duty, and spouses of active-duty service members. The EOC at Austin Peay has been in existence since 1988, serving adult residents of Montgomery, Stewart, and Christian Counties. With this award, EOC now serves Houston County. During the past 23 years, EOC has provided educational assistance, financial aid, and career information to over 34,500 adults who have wished to pursue further education after high school. The program has collaborated with numerous community agencies and organizations in order to fulfill its mission of assisting adults who wish to pursue higher education in the area. For more information, contact John Johnson, EOC Director.

Dr. Christopher Gentry, Asst. Prof. of Geography in the Department of Geosciences and colleagues from ISU, UT, and Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research were recently awarded a $275,000 grant from the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation. This collaborative research effort, entitled “An International Professional-Development Workshop in Dendrochronology: North American Dendroecological Fieldweek (NADEF)”, will help to continue a summer educational field course for students, scientists, and professionals interested in tree-ring analysis through 2015. The North American Dendroecological Fieldweek is a 9-day long, intensive learning experience that provides field and laboratory experience to novice, intermediate, and advanced dendrochronologists (scientists who uses tree rings to examine the natural and anthropogenic environments). During each fieldweek a wide range of topics are examined (climate, fire history, successional dynamics, insect outbreaks, etc.) under the direction of group leaders which are among the top scientists in the field. Each year the NADEF is held in a different location throughout the United States and has also been held in Canada and Mexico. Dr. Gentry is the director of the Biogeography, Environment, and Tree-ring Laboratory (BETR Lab) at APSU. He currently has students working on a funded project to examine the effect of thinning on radial growth of ponderosa pine at Mount Rushmore National Monument. For more information on specific research projects or the BETR Lab, visit http://www.apsu.edu/BETRLab.

Mike Wilson (GIS Center)The GIS Center at Austin Peay State University was recently awarded a contract of over $300,000 from SERRI, the Southeast Region Research Initiative. SERRI is a Homeland Security program designed to assist local and regional leaders in developing the tools required to mitigate damage. The program, managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will work with students, professors, and members of the GIS Center. They will be collaborating on the Disaster Management and Recovery Kit project, or DMARK, a new application for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. This application has the capacity to revolutionize disaster mitigation efforts. Lab tested in April 2010, DMARK underwent a practical application a month later during the 2010 flood. Montgomery County officials were able to collect initial damage assessments and get the information tabulated by the time others were able to start filing traditional damage assessments. Mike Wilson, GIS Director, will be specifically looking to streamline existing uses for DMARK as well as expanding the capabilities of the software in even more directions. The updated application is being investigated for use by the Department of Homeland Security, and is hoped to be useful in expediting damage mitigation efforts. The project will provide opportunities to train students in programming and establish relationships with both local and federal agencies, and upon conclusion, GIS Center will be participating in multiple field tests.

Dr. Dwayne Estes, Associate Professor in the Center of Excellence for Field Biology, was recently awarded two contracts totaling over $275,000 from URS Corporation (Austin, Texas), a subcontractor for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Estes, along with Dr. Joey Shaw (UT-Chattanooga) and colleagues from UT Knoxville, will conduct an intensive botanical survey in the Ocoee River Gorge, Polk County, Tennessee. During the study, they will survey plant communities, search for and monitor populations of threatened and endangered plant species, and conduct a floristic inventory of the Ocoee Gorge, an area that may harbor as many as 1,200 plant species. With the assistance of APSU GIS Center director Mike Wilson and his staff, they will map the finds into a GIS database.  Their findings will be used in the preparation of an environmental impact study which will assess potential impacts to the vegetation of the gorge from planned improvements to US Highway 64 or development of alternative highway corridors just north of the gorge. Estes, along with graduate and undergraduate students, will work closely with officials from the US Forest Service (Cherokee National Forest), US Fish and Wildlife Service, TN Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Valley Authority, and TDOT. This project will provide an extraordinary opportunity to train students in field botany and ecology techniques and will help them to establish important relationships with state and federal agencies. At the conclusion of this project, the team will present their findings at the 2011 Tennessee Academy of Science annual meeting and at the 2012 Association of Southeastern Biologists Conference. They plan to publish their findings in Castanea, the Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.