FCSM’s John Sivey receives over $500,000 NSF CAREER grant

By Megan Bradshaw on February 14, 2017

Sivey’s grant is FCSM’s and TU’s fifth NSF CAREER grant in the last 10 years

John Sivey in lab

Towson University and Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics assistant professor of chemistry John Sivey received a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling $500,536 over five years to examine the chemical reactions that can result in the formation of so-called “brominated disinfection by-products” in chlorinated drinking water, wastewater and pool water.

The CAREER grant is the NSF’s most prestigious award for early-career faculty members who have demonstrated potential to serve as academic role models in research and education.

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Sivey’s project, entitled “BrCl and Other Highly Reactive Brominating Agents in Disinfected Waters: Implications for Disinfection By-Product Formation and Control,” seeks to understand how brominating agents can react with naturally occurring organic compounds to generate potentially toxic disinfection by-products, including ones that may cause cancer.

This project also includes an educational outreach program in which sixth grade math students explore how linear functions are essential to science and engineering. The overarching goal of this program is to use inquiry-based, hands-on water chemistry activities to help sixth grade students connect the mathematics they are learning to real-world scientific questions and careers.

High school science students, undergraduate researchers, and K-12 teachers serve as co-facilitators of this program. As math skills are a gateway to success in science and engineering courses and careers, this program intentionally targets students at a time when attitudes about mathematics are forged and ideas about careers are sparked. This program is designed for students of varying ability levels, including those with physical and learning disabilities. In total, this project is anticipated to impact approximately 600 middle school students, 60 high school co-facilitators, several K-12 teachers, and 12 TU undergraduate students over five years. 

“I am particularly grateful to my colleagues and my collaborators at Patapsco High School and Stricker Middle School, not to mention the talented group of TU undergraduate researchers who participate in this effort,” said Sivey, who is also currently appointed as a Jess and Mildred Fisher Endowed Professor of Chemistry. 

In addition to mentoring undergraduate research students, Sivey teaches courses in analytical and environmental chemistry, as well as an Honors College seminar entitled The Polluted States of America.

“The National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is highly competitive and more usually associated with Research 1 institutions,” said Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics Dean David Vanko. “Dr. Sivey’s new grant, along with our four previous CAREER awardees, speaks to our faculty’s high quality and true dedication to integrating teaching with research at Towson University.”

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland