The Graduate School

Celebrating International Computer Science Education Week & Grace Hopper Week

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

GraceHopper-MastheadFrom December 4 – 10 Hood College is celebrating International Computer Science Education Week. Since the Computer Science department celebrates computer science education year-round, they decided not to host any special campus activities but “Instead, computer science faculty along with undergraduate and graduate students from our programs, will share the joy and beauty of computing by visiting local schools to work with teachers and students during several Hour of Code school events.”, said Dr. George Dimitoglou, Associate Professor of Computer Science.

Hood celebrates Grace Hopper Week with an Essay Contest in her honor. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Ph.D. visited Hood College several times in the 1980′s, giving a departmental lecture, receiving an Honorary degree in 1983 and serving as the Commencement speaker in 1984 — inspiring women to pursue careers in the sciences. Dr. Hopper was a pioneer computer scientist, often referred to by her nickname, “Amazing Grace” due to her scientific and professional achievements. A fun fact shared by Dr. Dimitoglou – “The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – the world’s largest gathering of women technologists – and a U.S. Navy destroyer, the 500-foot, 7,000-ton U.S.S. Hopper, are named in her honor.” How cool is that?
If you know any high school students interested in learning and writing more about science, computing or historical figures, please encourage them to participate in our Grace Hopper Essay Contest ( Hood’s Department of Computer Science offers exciting prizes!

From Thanatology to Counseling and Beyond

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Graduate School Highlights, Thanatology | No Comments

WeinsteinElsie Weinstein was thrilled when Hood College developed its Counseling program, which she enrolled in as part of the first class in 2015. Born in Miami, Florida, Elsie has lived everywhere from Laramie, Wyoming to Richmond, Atlanta, New York City, and the Greek island of Corfu. She was accepted to Hood out of high school – she still has her original acceptance letter – but circumstances prevented her from attending. For most of her career, she worked as a paralegal for several law firms in Montgomery County. She was also active with the Maryland Land Title Association, helping to develop ongoing continuing education classes within the residential real estate world. She noticed that much of her energies were going towards counseling others, something that she had always been interested in, but hadn’t wanted to pursue due to policy and politics.

In 2013, Elsie got earned her Master of Arts degree in Thanatology at Hood and then came back for her counseling degree. She currently works for the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County. Elsie loves to travel and take photographs. She maintains a small side business, making note cards and matted prints of her photography and being hired to document small events; sometimes earning enough to pay those expenses. She looks forward to being able to apply what she is learning at Hood in a private practice. She plans to use her degrees in Thanatology and Counseling to help people dealing with grief and to help them move forward in a life that changes drastically from what one knows and believes. Elsie is a three-time cancer survivor and has volunteered for the American Cancer Society, Montgomery Hospice, Frederick County Hospice, and 4H Therapeutic Riding Center in Thurmont. She recently attended the American Counseling Association conference in San Francisco as a volunteer representing Hood College.

With two graduate degrees from Hood, we know great things lie ahead!

Adding Up Degrees

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Mathematics Education and Leadership | No Comments

dunkleWhen Alisha Dunkle learned that Hood College had created an Master of Science in Mathematics Instructional Leadership, she knew that she was coming back! Alisha graduated from Hood in 2015 with a degree in early childhood education and a minor in mathematics education. After teaching in Frederick County Public Schools for several years, Alisha knew she need to get her Master’s degree. With a goal of becoming an elementary school math specialist, she searched for a program that fit. With classes that focus on both math content skills and how to teach them, and course scheduling in the evenings and summer, the instructional leadership program meets the needs of working teachers. Alisha chose the PreK-6th grade concentration. A 4th-9th grade concentration is also available.

Alisha started the program last January, and is enjoying both the classes and the people she met. Talking about her professors and classes, she says “I’ve been very lucky to have great professors who are respectful, funny, and passionate about what they’re teaching. Being at Hood has given me the tools I need to take my career in a new direction.” She loves being a student and being in school — probably why she became a teacher — and explains that while working full time and being in grad school is exhausting, she still loves to learn and knows that it is absolutely worth it!

Hood Graduate Student presents research at ESA and ECN Conferences

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

IMG_1600Jennifer Erin Pierce, a 2017 graduate of Hood College’s MS program in Environmental Biology, recently published research she has been working on as a part of her Internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). “Braconidae of Plummers Island and Comparison of the Fauna in Canopy and Understory”, was presented at this year’s Entomological Society of America (ESA) Conference and the Entomological Collections Network (ECN), both in Denver CO.

Plummers Island is a 12-acre Potomac River island in Montgomery County, Maryland, about nine miles upriver from Washington, D.C., and is the most scientifically studied island in North America. The goal of the study was to determine species richness between the canopy and understory of Braconidae, important parasitoid wasps used for biocontrol, in eastern deciduous forests, and to understand if stratification occurs. “My job was to chemically dehydrate the specimens, point mount them, label them, and then identify all of the Braconids to their genus and then separate them into their different species.” Jennifer is currently working on naming the specimens, which can be difficult because not all genera have species keys. Once the species were separated, Jennifer and her team found out that they would need around 1600 specimens from the canopy and the understory individually before they reached species saturation, indicating that there are potentially a lot more species to be found on Plummers Island. They also found that species richness and abundance is higher for the understory compared to the canopy. Jennifer is hoping to get back to Plummers Island this summer for more sampling.

Jennifer was assisted in her research by Dr. Bob Kula, a research entomologist for the USDA Systematic Entomology Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. She has only words of praise for her mentor. “He’s been a great mentor for this project and has encouraged me every step of the way.” Jennifer was also assisted by Dr. Michal Parak, a researcher at the Institute of Forest Ecology in Slovakia who helped with the statistics on the project and often collaborates with Dr. Kula.

Jennifer’s Hood experience provided the background knowledge needed for this project. “A lot of the courses I’ve taken for this program are ecology-based which has helped me understand why stratification of Braconidae could be occurring on Plummers.” Jennifer also gained writing skills through her coursework which has been a big help, along with the interpretation of statistical results. She mentioned in particular Dr. April Boulton’s Insect Ecology course, which provided helpful background knowledge on the subject.
According to Jennifer, among the essential things for a student is to go out there and make contacts. “I’ve learned that networking is an important part of research because scientists are always collaborating with one another. Whether it’s through internships or volunteering, go out there and meet some scientists!”

Hood Community Celebrates Diwali

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

041The Hood College community goes beyond just academics – we love to celebrate our students, our diversity, and give everyone a chance to share their culture and explore others. Hood students from India and Nepal recently organized a celebration of Diwali, the festival of light celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across the globe. The holiday, which coincides with Hindu New Year, is a celebration of new beginnings and the triumph of light over darkness.

At Hood, we are proud of our diverse student body, and thrilled that students were able to plan and organize this celebration. It was important to our organizers that the people who attended were both those who normally celebrate Diwali and people from many other cultures. As Elyas Abubakr, Hood’s Primary Designated School Officer and one of the organizers, explained “It gave us an opportunity to tell [international] students we value your presence here and we appreciate you as part of the Hood community. You have a family here. The Hood community is your home away from home. It [also] drew a new bridge between domestic and international students at Hood College.”

The celebration featured traditional rass-garba dance, madal drum performances, live music, rangoli paintings, and Indian food. Rangoli paintings are traditional artwork done for Hindu holidays and festivals, featuring symbolic shapes and curved lines. For our celebration, attendees created images on campus walkways using chalk. Inside, both experienced dancers and people learning these dances for the first time had a great time! Experience some of the music and dance in this clip! You will see student Chiranjibi Ghimire playing the traditional madal drums. As a celebrant, organizer, and a performer, Chiranjibi is one of those for whom this event was both supportive and personal. As he explains, “The Diwali celebration is the one of the way we can maintain our home culture and introduce our different culture to an American friends and community. Obviously, international students are very happy and pleased to the Hood College to helping and sponsoring events like Diwali.” We can’t wait for next year!

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Hood College Graduate School launches new MS Program in Cybersecurity

Posted by | Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments


Interview with Dr. George Dimitoglou; Cybersecurity Program Director and Director of the Center for Computer Security and Information Assurance


How will this program serve the region’s cybersecurity needs?
The regional needs for properly trained cybersecurity professionals is staggering. There are over 60,000 unfilled positions in the two major metropolitan Mid-Atlantic areas (Baltimore, DC) alone. Our goal is for graduates of our MS in Cybersecurity program to fill as many of these positions as possible at all levels, depending on their interests: from the highly technical to the managerial.

Can you tell us more about creating the Cybersecurity degree?
The MS in Cybersecurity was created to address the growing regional needs for cybersecurity professionals. Creating the degree did not start from scratch. The Department of Computer Science & Information Technology has been offering a graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity for over seven years and it became our foundation for our master’s program. But we wanted to make sure that we adhere to the state of the art in cybersecurity education so we build the new program.

What are the strengths of the program?
The most important aspects of the program are the hands-on, experiential learning component and the Capstone experience. While we are committed to providing all the necessary theoretical background, cybersecurity is an applied field, so our courses have a heavy hands-on, laboratory component to reinforce the lecture material and sharpen student skills. The Capstone is unique because it is the culmination of what our students learn during the program, applied to a regional organization. Our students become “embedded” to an organization and work on real-life cybersecurity projects. Students that already work in the industry have the option to work one-on-one with faculty and an industry mentor on a significant research project.

What is unique about this program?
There are several courses that are really interesting — our Forensics course provides students with hands-on lab experience using state of the art forensic analysis tools (think of CSI but solving computer and network hacking incidents). Our Ethical Hacking course is training students how to think like hackers to better protect computers and networks. We are constantly introducing interesting topics and my top priority is to recruit and retain the best faculty to teach in our classes.

Who will be teaching the classes?
Aside from our regular, full-time faculty we always bring in highly qualified industry professionals — for example, our Cryptography course is taught by a former US Army code breaker.

What can you tell us about current interests of and from students?
Students are very interested in system and network security because it is the foundation of skills and knowledge in this area. We see a lot of interest in forensics and ethical hacking.
The program was approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) in late August and within weeks we had a full class of students in the new program. We are now accepting applications for the spring semester.

Hood’s Graduate School at the CyberMaryland conference

Posted by | Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

CyberMDHood College Professors Ahmed Salem and George Dimitoglou attended the 2017 CyberMaryland conference October 11 & 12 in Baltimore. Titled “Leading the Cyber Generation”, the conference included opening remarks by Governor Larry Hogan, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and talks by several nationally recognized speakers and thought leaders from Maryland’s cybersecurity sector, and panelists on cyber and technology innovations. The Hood Graduate School also participated in the Cyber Maryland Industry Showcase with an exhibitor space, joining today’s top cybersecurity companies and organizations while showcasing Hood’s educational offerings, including the new MS in Cybersecurity, set to officially begin with the spring, 2018 semester. The conference promoted Maryland as a nationally and internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, with the development of cybersecurity experts, education and training programs, technology, products, systems and infrastructure. Such development is crucial, as the United States is at risk with over 10 million cyber hacks a day resulting in an annual worldwide cost of over $100 billion.

CyberMaryland was a place to talk about the tens of millions of Americans who have had their identities and bank accounts threatened or compromised. The conference’s website states: “Ensuring that our nation has the workforce, technology and resources to protect our citizens, businesses, infrastructure, intellectual property and more is of paramount importance. Maryland continues to be a leader on this front”.

​Dr. Dimitoglou says that there is a significant regional need for qualified cybersecurity professionals. “Hood College is in one of the most exciting states in the US for cybersecurity, as there are over 60,000 unfilled positions in the two major metropolitan Mid-Atlantic areas of Baltimore and DC alone. We are really in the heart of where everything happens.”

NASA DEVELOP and other adventures

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

TomlinCasaRosaJared Tomlin, a Hood College Environmental Biology student, was a self-taught graphic and web designer before entering school as a non-traditional student. He wanted to spend more time in nature and hopefully make a positive impact on the world, which changed his focus from technology to environmental science. He graduated from Shephard University in 2014 with a BS in Environmental Studies and received multiple scholarships and grants, before joining Hood’s Graduate School and continuing his pursuit of knowledge.

Jared learned about the NASA DEVELOP program by attending Hood’s Career and Internship Fair. After a lengthy application process he was accepted and began work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in summer, 2016. During the 10 week program, Jared’s team collaborated with United States Geologic Service and National Park Service ecologists at the Badlands National Park to identify invasive cheatgrass, and managed to present the findings at the Department of the Interior and NASA Headquarters at the Annual Earth and Science Application Showcase. He was also awarded the Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) scholarship, and was accepted for another term at Goddard in the summer of 2017, as a team leader. Jared then assisted in identifying areas of low resilience in the country of Niger, in collaboration with global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. More information about their efforts can be found in this video: Jared was also selected to attend the NASA Disaster Risk Reduction Across the Americas Summit in Buenos Aires, where he represented Cloud to Street, a private company that uses Google Earth Engine, cloud computing, and machine learning to identify historical floods at a scale not previously possible.

For all students looking to pursue a career with NASA, Jared suggests looking into DEVELOP. There are many opportunities for many different fields and interests, from earth science to program management to information technology, and even graphic design. Jared suggests following up and asking questions, to set yourself apart from someone who simply applies for the position.
Jared recalls that his arrival to Hood was accompanied with the expectation to accomplish great things, above and beyond a master’s degree. “What has stuck out the most to me during my time here was how the faculty encourages students to go and make their own path in the industry and foster relationships.” Jared also learned that developing a network is crucial in being successful in the community, as transition from the classroom into the field can be both challenging and exciting pursuit. “Hood has prepared me to meet that challenge and giving me the background to continue to grow.”

Organizing and Celebrating Saudi Arabia National Day

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

IMG_20170923_184031468 The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia hosted a celebration of Saudi Arabia’s 87th National Day on September 28th. The celebration was held at the National Building Museum, which was completely decorated in green for the occasion. Mohammed Alyahyawi, a Hood College Graduate Student in Computer Science, was part of the organizing team. Mohammed heard of the event and was interested, so he sent his CV to the Embassy and was invited to assist in organizing the notable gathering.
According to Mohammed, the event hosted over 5000 people and was a representation of Saudi food, drinks, dances and traditions, presented for people of all nationalities. Guests also enjoyed a virtual reality boot, which offered a visual experience and hands-on look into Saudi society. The government’s Vision 2030 project was also presented along with the Kingdom’s potential future plans.

A Path to English Proficiency for International Students

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

qweryuuOne of the best ways for Hood College’s international students to perfect their English, besides conversing with their friends and colleagues, is to enroll in EAP 500; Advanced English for Academic Purposes. Professor Donald Wright, who is teaching the course during the fall, 2017 semester, says: “It is a course of English as a second language, in which students learn reading, writing and oral language skills; many international students tend to be more advanced at listening and speaking so the course focuses more on grammar and proper writing for future professional success.” Wright emphasizes that the course is designed so students can discuss different areas of interest that may be useful for them in various fields. The class is divided into several topics, including creating and writing a CV and cover letter, practicing reported speech in an essay about a faculty member, discussing controversial topics and using persuasive speech.

IMG_20171016_145123485 While the class is designed solely for international students, not all are required to take it. It is offered for those who want to strengthen their language skills, and students in a variety of academic programs are mixed together. Dr. Wright believes this class is useful for most international students as the writing assignments are meaningful since they deal with current events and are based in American culture.Like many other classes at Hood, this class reaches beyond the walls of the classroom, as Dr. Wright and the class recently visited the Museum of Civil War Medicine in downtown Frederick. “To coordinate with the field trip we are talking about medical innovations.” The students will then write a proposal outlining the problems of the opioid addiction in the US today and present hypothetical solutions, enabling them to connect theoretical knowledge with their field experience.”