Increasing the Pipeline for STEM Research in Product Development and DHS Workforce Opportunities

Areas of Technical Development


Areas of Interest

In conjunction with the US Department of Homeland Security, Morgan State University’s VAST-MSI Program (Visual Analytics for Science and Technology at a Minority Serving Institution) is a research program designed to solve issues and create valuable product solutions for the country.

The areas of focus are Computer Science, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Economics. This program is a combination of interdisciplinary thinking, and information visualization. Information Visualization is a very important aspect when addressing the issues we are researching during this project. For two weeks, we were sent to the VACCINE Center at Purdue University to receive intense training on visual analytics. For preliminary exposure, we observed the BNIA (Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance) data collected, visualized the data, examined the correlations, and drew conclusions from the findings.


Drs. Tim Akers and Kevin Peters are the Principal and Co-Principal Investigators for the VAST MSI program at Morgan State University. During this first quarter, Drs. Akers and Peters were actively engaged inpromoting the VAST Project across other institutions and their DHSCOE, Purdue University’s VACCINE Center, through meetings and presentations. In addition, they were also working towards developing systems for recruitment of STEM DHS student scholars, hiring of project manager, and focusing on equipment and supply needs of the early career faculty.

For example, in November 2012, Towson University’s Departments of Mathematics and Physics learned of the DHS Visual Analytics project for STEM. Subsequently, Dr. Akers and Peters were invited to make a presentation about the project to their faculty, students and administrators and help to teach them how best to developing training STEM training models through visual analytics and large screen displays. The title of their presentation was “Visual Analytics for Science and Technology: STEM Product Development.”


The goal of the VAST MSI is to inform, educate, and expose College students at Morgan State to education and career opportunities in the fields of cyber security, classroom activities, and biomedical / environmental through exhibitions, special workshops sessions, and student / faculty presentations.

Under the faculty leadership of Dr. Kofi Nyarko students began researching literature and reviewing articles to become familiar across various aspects of cybersecurity. Students were introduced to or told about working with different tools for cybersecurity analysis and visualization. Additionally, students that were not part of the DHS VAST-MSI project, and the others that were selected later, also met with other faculty, such as Dr. Richard Dean, former NSA employee specializing in cybersecurity and working alongside Dr. Nyarko, helped to develop a cybersecurity visual analytics understanding and certificate programs for the university and in support of this DHS project.

During this time period, Dr. Nyarko was also working closely with Purdue University’s VACCINE Center on the software they provided to MSU called VALET (Visual Analytics for Law Enforcement Training). Dr. Nyarko introduced this to, and has been working alongside of, the Morgan State University campus police, such as with Chief Lance Hatcher and Detective Kevin Bacon

VAST Research Projects


Visual Analytics for Science and Technology at a Minority Serving Institution (VAST MSI)
Increasing the Pipeline for STEM Research in Product Development and DHS Workforce Opportunities

Morgan State University (MSU) is one of the nation’s premier minority-serving institutions (MSI), established in 1867 and located in Baltimore, Maryland. MSU is working diligently to further increase the pipeline for STEM research by advancing the institution’s capabilities in the areas of visual analytics and data analysis.

Ideally, from theory-based and practice-based perspectives, the ultimate aims of this award are to: 1) enhance the skills of early career faculty and students in development of new products and technologies; 2) introduce more course content and/or STEM training/certification relative to DHS priority areas; and 3) strengthen the DHS workforce.

  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology


"The Best Way to Predict the Future is to INVENT IT"
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Electrical Engineer, VAST Lab Manager
Reginald is our VAST Lab Manger, a graduating Sn who is an Electrical & Computer Engineering student.
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VAST Students Purdue 2014

The VAST students at Purdue University summer 2014,
The VAST students went to Purdue University summer 2014 for training in Visual Analytics.

Chinedu Ilobinso

Electrical Engineer

Benjamin Hall

Computer Science
I began my internship work with Dr. Kirschbaum officially on the third of June 2014. Dr. Kirschbaum and her team are concerned with the area of landslides. They are collecting data and building tools that will assist future researchers in studying and analyzing landslide events. My tasks deal with assisting Dr. Kirschbaum and her team with data storage, software testing, and software engineering. I assisted with development of ileaps sTuff, a Crime reporting software made at MSU. I am responsible for the dispatch portion.
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Morgan State University - FACULTY SUPPORT IN three focus areas

(Cybersecurity Visualization, Environmetric Data Visualization, and Biotechnology Visualization).

The Future of VAST

Contact Morgan VAST MSI