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Morgan Recognizes Discovery and Advancement with ‘2020 Innovation of the Year’ Awards

Faculty, Staff and Students Contribute Breakthroughs in the Sciences and Academics 

Morgan InnovationAt Morgan State University, one of the institution’s six core values is innovation. Morgan encourages and supports its faculty, staff, and students in all forms of scholarship including the discovery and application of knowledge in teaching and learning and in developing innovative products and processes. Each year, the University acknowledges advancement in innovation by recognizing members of the Morgan community who exemplify to the highest degree, a commitment to enterprising innovation, novel ideation and conception, and solutions-based invention, with Innovation of the Year awards. For 2020, 10 total awards were presented to faculty, staff and students in the categories of Intellectual Property Innovation, Morgan Community Innovation, and Patents.

The Innovation of the Year Awards was created by the University’s Division of Research & Economic Development, Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) as a means to celebrate campus-wide innovation and to recognize the contributions of the Morgan community and the progression of the university through innovative advancements. An outside panel of judges reviewed and selected the winners from a pool of Morgan innovators and innovations spanning a wide range of departments throughout the university. Innovations were evaluated on their potential benefit to society, the improvement over existing technology, and commercial potential.

Awards were given in the categories of Life Science, Physical Science, and Information Science. For the categories related to faculty, staff and student honors, a university panel selected the awardees from a group of finalists whose respective innovations had a positive impact on the university ecosystem. Awards were also presented to the Morgan inventors who had been granted patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The 2020 Innovation of the Year award winners included the following:


Intellectual Property Innovation Awards

These awards will recognize individuals who have created innovations in their respective research fields.


Life Science

Retrieval-Based Decision Support System to Enable the Automated Diagnosis of Multiple Skin Cancer Types from Dermoscopic Images

Dr. Md Mahmudur Rahman
School of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences

Used as a tool for physicians, this technology is designed to assist in diagnosing melanomas and other skin cancers. To validate the accuracy of this technology, Dr. Md Rahman used as reference an established dataset consisting of melanoma images. The images were then run through a process that consequently allows for any potential melanoma from a patient to be compared against the dataset, with high detection accuracy.

Information Science

Multi-Layer Hidden Markov Model Based Intrusion Detection System

Dr. Richard Dean, Dr. Farzad Moazzami, Wondimu K. Zegeye
School of Engineering

This invention builds upon the concept of intrusion detection, where in the cybersecurity field certain digital events or signatures are discovered entering a computer network. The multi-layer hidden Markov model provides additional network defense by effectively covering multiple forms of attacks over longer durations. This will also reduce the incidence of false positives, determine more possible attack states, and help to identify new threats.

Physical Science

Nanoscale Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) Electrode

Dr. Birol Ozturk, Alperen Guver, Peker Milas
chool of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences

Dr. Birol Ozturk and his team of co-inventors have invented a specialized electrode that consists of tungsten and whose gold tip is less than 200 nanometers in diameter.  The electrode also contains a glass insulator to prevent the electrode from being damaged. This device can be used for applications such as biosensing, electrically active cell data recording, and corrosion research and detection.

Research Center


Morgan Community Innovation Awards

These awards are presented to a student or a group of students that have developed, created, or implemented an innovation that has provided a positive impact on the university, community or State, or contributed to a new Morgan innovation; a faculty member who has developed and/or effectively implemented an innovative approach to instruction or delivered innovative instructional content to improve student learning outcomes; and an individual who has affected positive change within the Morgan infrastructure/ecosystem to increase efficiency and/or effectiveness of workplace systems or processes – generating increased productivity, lower cost or improved quality.


Student Innovator of the Year

Tasmeer Alam
School of Engineering, Doctoral Candidate

Tasmeer Alam, currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, is the 2020 Student Innovator of the Year awardee. She is a talented researcher who has developed an extensive research portfolio. She is a co-inventor on Morgan patent applications; contributed to the development of MSU’s COVID-19 Dashboard and web application; has authored peer reviewed papers; and received an award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in recognition of her research efforts.

Instructional Innovator of the Year

Natasha Otto
College of Liberal Arts, Psychology Department

Professor Otto was awarded the Instructional Innovator of Year award for integrating innovative technologies into her courses. Professor Otto utilized Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to engage students in her Developmental Psychology course. This immersive experience allowed her students to simulate child-rearing from birth to adulthood, illustrating the impact of genetics, attitudes, and decisions made from parenting.

Staff Innovator(s) of the Year – TIE

Sharon Oliver-Whitehurst
Office of the Provost

Sharon Oliver-Whitehurst, Senior Budget Officer in the Office of Academic Affairs, was awarded the Staff Innovator of the Year award for her pivotal role in increasing Morgan’s efficiency as the University navigated through the Coronavirus pandemic. She successfully launched and implemented the “Toss the Paper 2.0” campaign, which helped transition a number of paper-dependent processes and transactions into a digital, standardized, paperless process.

Lawrence Manning & Steven Law (Team Award)
Institutional Advancement, Office of Development

Steven Law, the Associate Director of Enterprise Services, and Lawrence Manning, Development Associate in the Office of Development, were also awarded the Staff Innovator of the Year. The two gentlemen partnered to design and manage the implementation of the MSU Foundation E-pay online payroll deduction system. The system allows users to submit their payroll deduction authorizations electronically, without social security numbers, and offers auto-renew options.


Patent Awardees

These innovation awards are presented to Morgan inventors that have been issued a U.S. Patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Patent #10,626,363
Engineered cyanobacteria with enhanced salt tolerance
Viji Sitther, Benham Tabatabai

This technology uses cyanobacteria to produce everyday natural products for applications such as food supplements, biofuels, animal feed, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals. This particular strain of cyanobacteria, F. diplosiphon, can be harvested in a shorter time frame, resulting in higher production yields.

Patent #10,673,469
Multi-based Multi-Mode Software Defined Radio
Willie Thompson, Samuel Berhanu, Jan-Paul Alleyne

This invention provides high-speed signal processing and flexible programming to support multiple telemetry waveforms that are implemented using a system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology.  It was primarily developed to support communications in this special frequency band for the military.

Patent #10,688,541
Portable Shellfish Basket Washer
Donghee Kang & Ted Cooney

A shellfish basket was designed for oyster harvesters or others to clean their catches while stationed on the boat. The design includes a basket holder and high-pressure nozzle, water pump and water tank.

Congratulations to all of the Morgan Community Innovation of the Year award winners!

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