For Immediate Release

Media Contact: DeAnna Tisdale Johnson – dtjohnson.tcmedia@gmail.com

Two Tougaloo Professors Win Awards From the National Science Foundation

Tougaloo, MS (May 21, 2018) – Two faculty members at Tougaloo College have been awarded approximately $700,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Bidisha Sengupta, the Associate Professor of Chemistry at Tougaloo College, has been awarded $299,971 for her project, entitled, “Research Initiation Award: Determining the Role of Cytoskeletal Proteins in the Fibrillation of Amyloid-beta Peptides in the presence of Tryptamines and Flavones.” This project, which focuses on finding the link between sleep, diet and Alzheimer’s disease using biochemical approaches, will take place over the next three years.

“I am very happy to receive this award from the National Science Foundation because I can train my undergraduate student researchers in this very important study through experimental and computational research. This award will also allow me to carry part of the study in organic chemistry and biochemistry laboratory courses and involve a larger population of undergraduates,” says Dr. Sengupta.

In addition to this award, Dr. Sengupta as the Co-Principal Investigator, received $399,718 from NSF for a joint project with Principal Investigator and Professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department Dr. George Armstrong.  This project entitled, “Targeted Infusion Project: Infusion of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), Technology and Research into the Chemistry Curriculum to Increase Students’ Success,” will be awarded over the next two years. “This project enables us to continue our motto—to increase the critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills in our undergraduates by introducing POGIL and research in our Chemistry curriculum,” states Dr. Sengupta.

Dr. Armstrong expresses his gratitude for the award. “I have been a professor at Tougaloo College since 2002 where the emphasis is on teaching and mentoring students. This has been one of the most rewarding outcomes in my career, where I have mentored several undergraduate students in research.  I had the opportunity to attend, with students, several of the Faculty and Student Department of Energy Summer Research Programs at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY. My teaching interest includes using technology in chemistry courses as well as developing pedagogical methods to enhance student success in chemistry.  I have been particularly interested in student-centered learning, especially POGIL. I have successfully used this pedagogy in General Chemistry I and Organic Chemistry. This grant will allow us to improve student success by infusing the POGIL pedagogy in all of our general chemistry and organic chemistry courses.”

These awards come through the National Science Foundation through their HBCU-UP program, which provides awards to strengthen STEM undergraduate education and research at HBCUs. This program provides educational opportunities for undergraduate students and provides indirect funding for HBCU students that focuses on curricula development, training and retention. For more information, on the National Science Foundation’s HBCU-UP program, visit https://www.nsf.gov/funding.

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Dr. Bidisha Sengupta received her Ph.D. from the Department of Biophysics and Molecular Biology from the University of Calcutta. She performed her postdoctoral research in the Biophysics Division at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, India for two years. She participated in further training at the Department of Applied Physics at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Dr. Sengupta worked as a Research Associate for five years in the Chemistry Department at Furman University, SC, before she joined Tougaloo College during the 2010-2011 academic year. During all these years, she worked extensively with undergraduate and graduate students training them in Biophysical Chemistry research. Dr. Sengupta has published over 50 research articles in peer reviewed international journals, which are constantly cited by scientists globally. In 2015, Dr. Sengupta received Hendrick Vanguard Award for excellence in Teaching from Tougaloo College. Her research is highlighted in local newspaper, 'Mississippi Link' in 2017. She also received “The Higher Education Appreciation Day, Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE)” award, by the State of Mississippi in 2018.

Dr. George Armstrong finished high school from a segregated school in Monroe County, Alabama. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from HBCUs: Knoxville College, Knoxville, TN, and Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in Polymer Science from Akron University, Akron, OH. His career includes employment by several corporations including Union Carbide, Alcoa, and Revlon, where he served as a research chemist, group leader and research manager. He has published several publications and fourteen U. S. patents. His current research with undergraduate students involves the synthesis of molecules with benzylic chiral carbon stereocenters and testing their drug efficacy for killing breast cancer cells and prostate cancer cells. Since joining Tougaloo College in 2002, he has mentored more than fifty undergraduate research students and published several papers. This has been one of the most rewarding outcomes of his career. He received the Distinguish Professor’s Award in 2011 and the Edgar E. and Inez W. Smith Excellence in Research/Creativity Award in 2015.

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About Tougaloo College:
Tougaloo College is a private, independent, liberal arts institution, offering undergraduate degrees in twenty-nine majors in the areas of education, the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, and graduate degrees in teaching and child development. Since its founding in 1869, the College has maintained a rich tradition of excellence, relevance, and influence, creating a legacy of distinction in higher education. Some of Tougaloo's remarkable alumni include Congressman Bennie G. Thompson; NAACP President Derrick Johnson; Justice Reuben V. Anderson; Engineer and Educator Eugene DeLoatch; Astrophysicist Hakeem M. Oluseyi; Mayor of the City of Flint, MI Karen Weaver; Actress Aunjanue Ellis; Civil Rights Lawyer & Appeals Court Judge Geraldine Hines; Civil Rights Activist Dr. Joyce Ladner; and former Mississippi Secretary of State Constance Slaughter Harvey, among others. According to the National Science Foundation, Tougaloo ranks among the top twenty-five U.S. institutions whose graduates earn their Ph.D. degrees in the science and engineering disciplines. “The Washington Monthly” lists Tougaloo among the top ten “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges in the nation. And the Educate to Career College Rankings Index ranked the College #23 out of 1,222 U.S. institutions.