The Graduate School at Hood College

Graduate Alumni Highlight — Michelle Harriger

Michelle Harriger still remembers her favorite teachers as a child and is working to be one of those memorable teachers for her students. A native of Montgomery County, she went to a small private school and still remembers two teachers: Mrs. Murtaugh, who taught English, and Mr. Peer, who taught math and physics. Michelle pursued becoming a math teacher, starting with her B.S. in Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Maryland, and her M.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Hood College in 2017. Michelle is now in her 14th year of teaching at Sherwood High School in Olney and can’t imagine teaching anywhere else.

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Hood’s Dr. Ryan Safner on Frederick City’s Strategic Opportunities Advisory Team

Posted by | Business Administration, Graduate School Highlights, Uncategorized | No Comments

View More: http://birdsofafeatherphotos.pass.us/er-wedding-1Dr. Ryan Safner, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Hood, has been named to the City of Frederick’s Strategic Opportunities Advisory Team (SOAT). Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has tasked the SOAT with creating and delivering a report to identify the current strengths and challenges facing the City, which will then be incorporated into the city’s strategic plan. The SOAT covers five targeted areas: Civic Engagement, 21st Century Technology and Communication, Economic Resilience, Expanding Opportunity, and City Operations and Organization. Safner is a member of the Economic Resilience workgroup, and writes below…

Since February, our Economic Resilience workgroup has met once per month, and will continue to do so through June. Each meeting is a discrete step towards producing a final report to be delivered to the Mayor by June 30 describing the “strengths, aspirations, opportunities, and results (SOAR)” of the City’s economic resilience. Our current vision is to produce a report or presentation with a simple “scorecard” to summarize how resilient Frederick is across several different aspects. We aim to track both the performance of the city over time, as well as benchmark it against other similar cities, to the extent that the relevant data is available.

Just what is economic resilience? While difficult to define abstractly, it is easy to toss out many attributes or examples of something being “resilient.” We have divided into subgroups, each trying to focus on exploring a particular category of economic resilience and searching for relevant data to measure and report as part of our analysis. My subgroup is analyzing resilience with respect to the quality of the city of Frederick’s governance, transparency, and relationship between the City and its citizens. At our next meeting we will be presenting our ideas to the wider group about how to provide some metrics and data on this admittedly difficult-to-quantify concept.

This is my first experience with local city government, so I have been learning a lot about how the City of Frederick operates, as well as getting to know some of the personalities in the city government and local community. As someone who works and spends a lot of time in Frederick, I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know more about the city and trying to do my small part in ensuring it remains a great place to live and work.

For more information on Frederick’s SOAT, visit https://www.cityoffrederick.com/1081/Mayors-Strategic-Opportunities-Advisory.


“UnSeen” Field trip to the National Portrait Gallery

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, International Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_20180412_135650372EAP 500; Advanced English for Academic Purposes, is one of the most important base classes designed solely for the international students at Hood College. Taught by Dr. Donald Wright, Associate Professor of French and Arabic, Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Chair of Global Languages and Cultures Department, the course has been developed to strengthen English language skills of international students, who come to Hood with varied language and career backgrounds. Dr. Wright believes this class is useful for most international students, and he has created meaningful writing assignments that deal with current events and are based in American culture.

IMG_20180412_133356866Like many classes at Hood, EAP 500 reaches beyond the walls of the classroom, as Dr. Wright and the class recently visited The National Portrait Gallery. They toured and viewed the exhibit UnSeen, which “highlights the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under- and misrepresentation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history.” Each student had to select a portrait from the exhibit, explain why they picked it, how it spoke to them and what it’s historical or cultural significance was. Back in class, students will continue their discussion about the portraits and will write the biographies of the subjects as part of their assignment. Dr. Wright thought the field trip and exhibition were fantastic and would recommend it to everyone. “We were lucky, we only set off the alarm once and got into an argument a two or three times maybe (about actual ideas – which is a good thing of course)”, he added jokingly.

IMG_20180412_134849194The class and these kind of entertaining field trips are a few of the many opportunities offered to our international students. All are designed to get to know American culture better, while learning and strengthening their English proficiency. And the fun they get by doing it is a bonus!

Michelle L. Johnson – How a Hood IT degree can help your career

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology | No Comments

MichelleLJohnsonMichelle Lynne Johnson graduated Cum Laude from Hood College with a B.A. in Law & Society in 2009 and returned to Hood in 2017 to begin he Master of Science in Information Technology. Hood was an easy choice due to its good reputation, perfect size and a well-balanced program with helpful professors. “The atmosphere is welcoming, and the staff and students are friendly. I also enjoy meeting people from different countries” adds Michelle.

Michelle believes obtaining a master’s degree in IT has been helpful in her career. “I have gained an understanding of the seven domains of IT and how they affect the overall system.” She has also gained an overall knowledge of many different areas of IT, including networking, database management, system engineering and data mining. Knowledge in each of these areas has been beneficial to her current position as systems software analyst. Michelle’s job requires her to troubleshoot users’ issues with the system.
Those issues usually involve different domains and not just the software application. Therefore, she has been able to take the information she is learning in classes and apply them in her current job.

For the final project in her Summer of 2017 Web Development class, Michelle had to create a five-page website showing the skills learned in the class. She was able to incorporate that information to create a page that simulated a checkout page and hide the information on the page until the user selected items to purchase and clicked checkout. The class also had a contest in order to see which group could produce the best website.  “The females won due in part to our website having these extra features and being operational for the demo.”

She believes she is learning the most current information because some of the things she learns are even being implemented by her employer on a regular basis. “So, when I get an email about a new policy or procedure I know exactly what they are talking about and why they are doing it”, says Michelle.

Michelle’s advice to someone considering applying for the IT degree program at Hood? Take as many of the different types of IT classes as possible because they are interrelated, and help to build the overall picture. For example, learning about how the databases are designed has been very helpful when users get errors. “I have been able to take my knowledge of databases and figure out much faster what the user may have done wrong or if there is a bug in the application.”

Humanities – Yes, You Can Get a Job From That!

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Humanities | No Comments

payday“But can you really get a job with that?” It’s a difficult question for students to hear. According to Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy by Scott Jaschik, for those pursuing degrees in Humanities, the answer is “yes.” Examining results from a recent study using Census data and Gallup Polls, Jaschik explains that  95.7% of those surveyed with a bachelor’s degree in Humanities were employed, as well as 97% of those with a Master’s. 87% of people with a bachelor’s in Humanities were happy with their employment, while 90% of advanced degree holders consider themselves happy. The data “challenges the myth of the underemployed, unhappy humanities graduate.” This is “comparable to graduates from almost any other field.” Dr. Corey Campion, Program Director of Hood College’s M. A. in Humanities, explains that “unlike specialized training which aims to secure jobs in a particular field, the humanities provide training in writing, analysis, and critical thinking – skills which, according to the recent World Economic Forum (2016) study, are now more than ever in demand from employers in a broad range of fields.”

Getting a degree in the Humanities doesn’t mean that you will make less money. Summarizing the data, Jaschik states “the report doesn’t contest that those who majored in engineering or natural sciences earn more, on average, than do humanities graduates. But it shows humanities grads to be gainfully employed and holding positions of authority, and finds that when it comes to measures of career satisfaction, humanities grads are as satisfied as those who majored in STEM.” While acknowledging that starting salaries for Humanities graduates are lower than for those in fields like engineering, pay gaps narrow over time.

Humanities graphSo, if you are interested in degrees in Humanities and similar fields? Go for it!

Read both Jachik’s complete article and the summarized study.

Meet Our Professors – Dr. Randall (Randy) Johnson

Posted by | Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

0Tell us about yourself…

My background is in statistical genetics. I entered Utah State University as a business major and toured the biology and engineering departments before I found a home in the mathematics department. I graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees, in statistics and computational mathematics. I received my Master’s in Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and started work at the National Cancer Institute. After a few years, I went back to school part time at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métier, earning my PhD in bioinformatics in 2013.

You have worked for the National Cancer Institute for years. What was your job with NCI and what did you like the most there?

I’ve spent most of the last 14 years at NCI working on statistical analyses of genetic data. One of my favorite parts of my job is working on a wide variety of problems. Examples include studying admixed populations (e.g. African-Americans) to identify disease genes, looking for genetic associations with rapid progression from HIV infection to the development of AIDS, and performing meta analyses of published breast cancer gene expression studies. I’ve also had the opportunity to manage a few projects, including a data security project to evaluate all NCI/Frederick sensitive data and make recommendations for protection of the data.

Could you describe to us what are you currently working on?

One project I’m currently working on started as a simple request from a collaborator to review some of his code. As we began the process of reviewing and improving the code, the scope of what he was trying to accomplish became a problem. With his original code, we estimated that his analysis would take approximately 100 years to run on his laptop. We have optimized the code significantly and are now performing a few final tests to run it on the Biowulf high performance computing cluster at NIH. With access to thousands of processors, we anticipate that the optimized code will be able to generate the desired results in a few days’ time.

How did hear about Hood College and how did you end up here? What classes are you teaching at Hood?

About a year ago a colleague at work approached me about teaching the Bioinformatics Applications series (BIFX 552/553) at Hood. In these two classes we cover the basic tools and methods needed to understand and carry out bioinformatic analyses. I’ve really enjoyed teaching – the topics we cover are interesting, and the students have been great. It is immensely satisfying to share knowledge with people who want to learn.

Why would you recommend Hood’s Bioinformatics Program to students looking into this particular field?

The new Bioinformatics program at Hood provides a great opportunity for students to break into this quickly evolving field. We have good teachers with real, practical experience.

What Would You Like To Research?

Posted by | Doctorates, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

CapstoneDid you know that Hood College has a flourishing doctoral program? Working together in cohort groups that take core classes together and support each other, candidates who complete the 3-year program will receive their Doctorate of Organizational Leadership (DOL) or Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). The first cohort has reached the exciting step of working on their capstone project, with each student’s research focusing on their specific area of interest.

With participants coming from different sectors and with varied backgrounds and interests, the topics of the capstones are anything but uniform. The common thread is that all projects are purposeful ways for the candidates to benefit their communities and themselves.

John Mauck is a Human Resources Director with an interest in generational differences. His research, Identifying the Characteristics of Gen Z, is looking at Gen Zs, born between 1998 and 2013, the generation currently growing up and entering the workplace. John explains, “I have watched the workplace change with both Gen Xers and Millennials entering the workplace.   Both generations provided a different impact. There is very little research identifying the characteristic of Gen Z, which made the topic even more appealing.” As workplaces and workers change with each generation, John wants to “help prepare business leaders for what is to come when attempting to attract and retain Gen Z.” As a human resources manager, this is a challenge that John is currently dealing with and would be researching even if he wasn’t working on his doctorate.

Linda Chambers is a Supervisor of Special Education for Frederick County Public Schools. As an educator, she sees disproportionally high numbers of suspensions and special education identifications for students from minority groups. Nationally, African American students are three times more likely to be suspended than their peers. Her research will evaluate a program to help determine interventions for behavioral issues before suspension is considered. Focusing on students in Kindergarten-2nd grade at several Title I schools, which teach some of the most at-risk students. Her goal is to provide the Board of Education with recommendations on how to improve practices to reduce these identifications. Her eventual hope is to “publish outcomes nationally to inform decision-making in school systems to make a difference for students in order to safely access their learning and become beneficial members of society–no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.”

Jonathan Spaans, a senior manager for Fisher Bioservices in Rockville, is researching on middle management. His topic is Middle Manager Impact to Knowledge Management and Incremental Innovation Potential. Jonathan wants to “give new meaning to middle management and how it contributes value.” He believes that middle managers are not just “people who basically carry out ideas and goals from upper management without specifically contributing directly to innovation”. Goals of this research include how to help train new managers to help them contribute as well as to find out how middle managers can best contribute to the welfare of a company.

Joshua Work is an Assistant Principal at Frederick County Public Schools. As a teacher and member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, he wants to continue his leadership skills. His research focuses on how to select and prepare school principals. His topic, Principal Selection and Succession Planning, allows him to explore “the preparation of future leaders for school districts.” His goal is to not only learn about this for himself, but to “add to the research about principal selection and leadership planning practices.”

Eric Louérs Phillips is the Supervisor of Accelerating Achievement and Equity for Frederick County Public Schools. He is researching how leadership styles impact the effectiveness of implementing equity initiatives. He notes that some of these initiatives have been successful within organizations and others have not. He wants to “gain a deeper understanding into why some leaders are able to effectively implement equity initiatives within their work unit, while their colleagues within the same organization do not have the same success.” His research can help him, and others, support leaders and their initiatives.

We Digitized Our Lives, We Just Forgot to Secure Them

Posted by | Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights, Uncategorized | No Comments









We are a connected, digital society that depends heavily on networks, databases and other digital systems to operate. Almost every aspect of our lives, from the most basic tasks at the workplace to our personal communication and social interactions, to the way we shop and the tools we use to study and learn, depends on some form of electronic interaction or data exchange. These digital environments are practical, useful and fast, but in our excitement to use, leverage and widely deploy them, we have forgotten to secure them.

The spree continues

Last year, the national fast food restaurant chain, Arby’s, acknowledged that malware installed on payment systems inside specific corporate stores might have compromised more than 355,000 credit and debit card numbers. A few months later, personal information and the medical diagnoses of at least 7,000 patients at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center in New York had leaked. By the end of the summer, Kmart and Verizon had revealed malware infections and data leaks, all leading to the Equifax compromise, a breach potentially affecting up to 143 million customers. Even Uber suffered a data breach allegedly exposing personal information of 57 million users and drivers. Even companies in cybersecurity can be affected. Take Deloitte for example, a company once named by Gartner Research as the “best cybersecurity consultant in the world,” which had its email system hacked. The naive justification of all these compromises can be attributed to profit-driven “corporate irresponsibility”—companies and organizations minding their bottom lines rather than exercising care about securing their data.

Not my problem

Terms like breach, data leak, attack, hack, exploit and malware have become common in our vernacular, and they are immediately associated with malicious intent. For most individuals, cybersecurity incidents remain distant acts of socially awkward—but brilliant—teenagers or nefarious hackers in far-away countries. That’s until someone’s financial or health records become available on the Internet.

Companies on the other hand are aware of the impact of breaches, but for many, they are only identified as risks that are hedged against with the cost of actively protecting digital assets and that of inaction. For small businesses, a hacking attack may be detrimental, with 60 percent of small companies being unable to sustain more than six months after a compromise. For large organizations, cybersecurity insurance policies give a sense of safety from financial risk, yet there is no policy that could ever recover the reputational cost and loss of trust.

Cybersecurity compromises are not always the product of malicious intent and unauthorized access. Data breaches are also caused by unintentional omissions, software errors, poor maintenance of systems and software operator negligence or misplaced trust in careless third parties. In all cases and at all levels, dealing with cybersecurity incidents, whether malicious or inadvertent, will not be reduced until all stakeholders, from organizations to individuals, assume their share of responsibility.

The hunt for cybersecurity talent

The need for qualified cybersecurity staff has become a mainstay discussion. Cybersecurity professionals are expected to have specific, technical, specialized skills that match each organization’s technology mix. The result has been the springing up of an entire industry of cybersecurity certifications that existing information technology professionals flock to obtain. These are good options to meet current demand, but their value is often as short-lived as the product or technology they are based on.

Unlike other fields, specific technology skills are required in cybersecurity, but they are not sufficient to succeed. The field is highly technical and requires professionals to continuously cross the lines between computer science, information technology and mathematics. It also requires many important skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. These skills can’t be obtained by a weeklong vendor training or series or set of professional certifications. These are skills that are cultivated with formal education, enriched with technical training and further enhanced with on-the-job work experience.

For information on our cybersecurity program, click here.


By George Dimitoglou, D.Sc., Associate Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Computer Security and Information Assurance

Alumni Profile – Working for the World Wildlife Fund

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

HoodPicBrad Goodman, an alumnus of Hood College’s Masters in Environmental Biology program, works for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC, as a Project Coordinator, Program Operations. Brad started at WWF in 2016 and “Since I started I’ve expanded my responsibilities and now support our entire Freshwater team and most of our Oceans team.” He has come to know the program and the people in the field more, which makes it much easier. The most exciting part of Brad’s job is supporting a project from the very beginning- this way he knows the work being done both inside and out, and as conditions – financial, timeline, or otherwise – change, understanding how WWF goes about challenges while still meeting grant requirements and conservation goals.
Brad believes the knowledge he received at Hood was quite current. “This is especially true regarding the food industry and our eating habits, and how they contribute to environmental issues and climate change.” WWF is especially interested in this issue now, trying to transform markets by attacking the issue from multiple angles- consumer, corporate, and government.

Brad would advise any student to not be against taking a job that isn’t totally in line with your studies. For example, grants management wasn’t part of his studies at Hood or before the University of Delaware, but it’s an important skill if you want to manage conservation projects someday. Every project needs to be funded, and those funds and the project need to be properly monitored, concludes Brad.

When asked “Why Hood College?” Brad replied: “I chose the Environmental Biology Master’s program at Hood because it is a very flexible program in terms of the courses you can take. It is also the only program I could find in the Mid-Atlantic that accepted students who didn’t have a major in science or who were looking to change careers.” Hood’s location close to Washington, DC and to home in Delaware also helped in making his decision. His Master’s degree helped him understand the projects being done with WWF and showed his long-term commitment to conservation and sustainable development, which in the end contributed toward landing his current job.

Cotton Speaker Series Launches the Cybersecurity Master’s Degree at Hood

Posted by | Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

29261699_10155019431981261_2321211411516096512_oOn April 5th, Hood College will present the first lecture in the John C. and Janet Hobbs Cotton Cybersecurity Endowed Lecture Series. Janet Hobbs Cotton ’59 and husband, John Cotton have provided the college’s new cybersecurity master’s program with a generous gift by establishing the lecture series, which will bring nationally and internationally recognized leaders in cybersecurity to campus.

“My husband and I believe that funding a cybersecurity lecture series will be a unique way to promote Hood as it moves forward with the master’s program in this field,” said Janet. “It will give students a more in-depth understanding of the climate surrounding cybersecurity problems in the world. Members of the Washington, Baltimore and Frederick communities will be encouraged to participate and become more aware of the issues our society faces today.”

The first lecture, slated for 7 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall, will feature retired four-star general Keith Alexander and mark the official launch of Hood’s Cybersecurity Master’s Program. The importance of establishing a new cybersecurity program is especially emphasized in this time of “the global cybercrime epidemic”, predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021 and creating an unprecedented shortage of cybersecurity workers, according to Cybersecurity Business Report.

More specifically, a shortage of 3.5 million cybersecurity workers is being predicted by 2021, with a cybersecurity unemployment rate of 0 percent (zero!) in 2016. This astonishing figure is predicted to stay constant till 2021, as there are currently two job openings for every one qualified professional. This lack of cybersecurity talent is obvious in both the US and abroad. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) recently predicted that India alone will require one million cybersecurity experts due to its expanding economy. Despite having the largest IT talent pool in the world, it is highly unlikely that India will be able to produce an adequate number of professionals to meet the demand.

Upper level management positions related to this field are also in a pattern of steady growth. Approximately 65 percent of large U.S. companies have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position, up from 50 percent in 2016, according to ISACA, an independent, nonprofit, global association. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that all large companies in the world will have a CISO position by 2021. With all these astonishing predictions and numbers being generated in the last several years, the Hood Graduate School is proud to continue its leadership in the field with the establishment of the new Cybersecurity Masters of Science Program.


For more information about the John C. and Janet Hobbs Cotton Cybersecurity Endowed Lecture Series, please click here.

From Education to Biomedical Science

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

SUTThnOz_400x400For Hood College Biomedical (BMS) Alum, Dan Kordella, starting the BMS degree was not a straightforward decision. After graduating from high school in 1991, Dan’s journey led him to a year in college, joining army, resuming his studies several years later and graduating with a BS in Biology in 2005. Afterwards, he decided to become a full-time biology teacher. Taking a few teaching theory and psychology classes made him decide to forego the chance to earn a Master’s degree in Education as he “realized that teaching science was never going to be as satisfying to me as I imagined it would”. Ultimately, Dan decided to come to Hood College and start his BMS degree in part time capacity. As someone who had family, full time teaching job and wanted a high-quality education – Hood’s Graduate School was a perfect choice. Also, “Hood’s tuition was very manageable, even with Fairfax County’s austere tuition reimbursement and my teacher’s salary”, adds Dan.

Even though Dan was the only person in his classes who did not have a lab-related job, and was still not familiar with all of the technologies and associated jargon, he started to adapt quickly. In 2012, Dan attended a presentation on HIV at Hood College, and found it very intriguing. The presentation was given by Hood Alum, Mary Kearney, and Dan managed to connect with her and begun volunteering in Mary’s lab at the National Cancer Institute that summer. In 2016, Dan started his current position at the Vaccine Research Center in cell line development, “…screening for a handful of cell lines producing acceptable titers of high quality monoclonal antibodies from an initial pool of millions of cells that I transfected.” Dan group’s work also extends to potentially immunogenic proteins and virus-like particles as well as work with automation and flow cytometry.

Dan’s advice for Hood students: “going part time can be a grind, perhaps more for those not currently working in a lab and especially for those that are pursuing the mock grant instead of the thesis option.” With the mock grant, and the additional number of lab credits that must be earned, finding the will and enthusiasm to stay current in your studies and be motivated for exams, can indeed become challenging. Dan’s advice is not to take time off but to get through your core classes as quickly as you can. “Stretching a potential 2.5 year program into a seven years is emotionally and intellectually exhausting”, says Dan. Even though the mock grant project took a lot of time and effort, the final presentation (defense) to the committee was one of the proudest accomplishments in Dan’s career.