Public 4-Year Schools

Kean University Introduces Minor in Sustainability Sciences

Kean University is expanding its “green” offerings with the introduction of a new Minor in Sustainability Sciences, the first minor program of its kind in New Jersey. The 18-credit undergraduate program teaches students the basic principles and tools of sustainability science through hands-on research and activities based on real-world situations and practical solutions.

“There is a growing demand for energy, water and food, and that puts stress on natural systems and elevates tensions between nations, industries and communities,” said Dongyan Mu, Ph.D., program coordinator and professor in Kean’s School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. “Dealing with these problems requires knowledge across disciplinary boundaries and collaborations among engineers and social and natural scientists. The sustainability science minor was developed in response to those demands.”

Dongyan Mu, Ph.D., professor in Kean University’s School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences and program coordinator for Kean’s new Minor in Sustainability Sciences, an 18-credit undergraduate program that teaches students the basic principles and tools of sustainability science through hands-on research and activities based on real-world situations and practical solutions.

Students enrolled in Kean’s Minor in Sustainability Science will:

• Explore local and global challenges of sustainable development across various industries
• Access various technologies for increased sustainability
• Study environmental policies and laws
• Train in developing sustainable buildings, products, business and communities
• Understand the principles and tools of sustainability science

To read more stories about Kean, scroll down:

Students Conduct Real-World Laboratory Research at the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics Kean University
Kean University Presents 2017 Outstanding Human Rights Activist Awards
Women Leaders Share Lessons Learned in the Workforce at Kean University Event

As environmental concerns intensify in America and around the world, the pressure will build for businesses and organizations to become more environmentally friendly. In turn, job opportunities will increase for educated and qualified persons to fill new positions in sustainable goods and services industries, environmental consulting firms, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and companies that plan to green their products and processes.

Kean’s Minor in Sustainability Science willalso help prepare students interested in obtaining professional certificates and credentials in sustainability-related careers. Courses include instruction in professional standards, including those required to earn certification in Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Certified Professional (LCACP), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“Having a minor in sustainability science will allow students across various disciplines to contribute to our quality of life and that of future generations through long-term ecological balance,” said George Chang, Ph.D., dean of Kean’s College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences. “Kean’s program was developed to allow students across disciplines––design, business and communication, for example––to understand the impact of sustainability in a way that will influence their careers and allow them to contribute to business strategies, legislation and communication choices.”

Students Conduct Real-World Laboratory Research at the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics Kean University

In New Jersey and across the United States, there remains a shortage of professionals trained in science, technology and mathematics (STEM). The need for scientific and technological literacy grows with each new generation, and it is this need to produce well-trained scientists and educators that drives the mission of the faculty, administrators and staff of the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM) at Kean University to engage students in real-world research initiatives alongside experienced faculty researcher mentors.

“Science, mathematics and the technological advancements that stem from these disciplines are wondrous examples of human’s ingenuity and inventiveness. The knowledge from these fields enhances our lives and underlies our ability to solve the complex problems we face in our world,” said Michael J. Tocci, Ph.D., associate dean of research for the Center. “At the NJCSTM, we have a vision to change the way our students engage and learn about STEM, and provide them with valuable opportunities to conduct hands-on research in the laboratory and in the field.”

High school student-participants, faculty and staff of the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics at Kean University Group Summer Student Scholars Research Program, August 2016.

Three years ago, the NJCSTM team established two innovative programs, the Group Summer Scholars Research Program (GSSRP) and the Research First Initiative (RFI), to attract and retain students in STEM by integrating authentic scientific research into the classroom setting. The GSSRP is directed toward senior and junior level high school students interested in STEM, whereas the RFI is focused on engaging and retaining undergraduate students at Kean University, who are interested in a STEM degree. Both of these programs enhance STEM learning by allowing students to apply the knowledge taught through traditional lectures and readings in actual laboratory research under the mentorship of an experienced faculty research scientist and educator. Both programs train students in the core competencies outlined by the National Science Foundation and the American Academy for the Advancement of Science needed for STEM professionals to excel in their careers.

The NJCSTM Group Summer Scholars Research Program offers high school students, from across the state, opportunities to conduct hands-on research in astronomy, biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, computational mathematics and engineering under the mentorship of faculty and graduate students. The GSSRP is generously supported by grants from Sanofi Pharmaceuticals US, Kean University and the Hyde-Watson Foundation.

Students participating in the GSSRP program select a research stream from among several offered, each designed to expose students to fundamental research questions. GSSRP students join a professor’s research team and engage in experimental research. NJCSTM faculty, laboratory staff and visiting scientists provide guidance, set goals and directions, and develop and teach the research experience to students in small-group settings. Students conduct cutting-edge research and develop a deep understanding of the scientific process, gain valuable laboratory experience, learn how to work as part of a research team, and acquire problem solving and data interpretation skills. Most importantly, student-researchers develop confidence in themselves and begin to identify with others interested in science. More than 60 high school students have completed the GSSRP since its launch two years ago, four of which have gone on to become New Jersey Governor’s Scholars. The GSSRP is currently accepting applications for summer 2017.

The Research First Initiative at the NJCSTM is a ground-breaking elective curriculum that allows undergraduate students to engage in authentic scientific research under the mentorship of a faculty research scientist. Students join the faculty sponsor’s research team and conduct original research experiments on cutting-edge problems. Enrollment in the RFI is open to Kean University students from NJCSTM and the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences, including the School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. RFI students gain valuable work experience and the possibility of presenting their findings at scientific symposia or publishing in a scientific journal. Throughout their undergraduate research experience, RFI participants develop and perfect vital career skills in critical thinking, translational science, quantitative literacy, information and technology literacy, and communication literacy.

The RFI program graduates students that are well-trained, experienced researchers and educators who can successfully compete for STEM jobs or post-graduate degree programs. Research under the RFI focuses on forward-thinking problems and critical skill sets such as the analysis of “Big Data Arrays,” the use of virtual reality computer assisted visualization in scientific research, modern chemistry in drug discovery and development, genomics, cancer biology and mathematics of facial, speech and hearing recognition. The RFI is supported by faculty grants from Kean University and the Kean Foundation. More than 100 undergraduates have participated in the RFI to date. Enrollment in RFI courses for the summer and fall 2017 semesters is ongoing.

The RFI and GSSRP offer research streams in:

• astrophysics: search for new planets
• cellular signal transduction in cancer
• analytical chemistry: mass spectrometry analysis of medicinal plant extracts
• medicinal chemistry: synthesis of chemokine receptor antagonists
• microbes and microbiomes
• bioinformatic analysis of the human genome
• computational mathematics of dynamic wave functions.
“At NJCSTM,” said Tocci, “our passion is teaching science and enabling our students to experience the infinite possibilities of a career in STEM.”

Kean University Presents 2017 Outstanding Human Rights Activist Awards

The Human Rights Institute at Kean University (HRI) presented five Outstanding Human Rights Activist Awards at the 10th Annual Conference on Human Rights, held on Friday, March 24. The awards recognize individuals who embody the Human Rights Institute’s call to action through their invaluable contributions to the advancement of human rights.

Outstanding Human Rights Activist
Doc Hendley
founder of Wine to Water



Outstanding Human Rights Community Activist
Fraidy Reiss
founder of Unchained at Last



Outstanding Human Rights Young Adult Activist
Amara Riccio
founder of Riccio Pick Me Ups



Outstanding Human Rights Student Activists
Edgewater Park School District
for their fundraising efforts for Water for South Sudan



Dr. Hank Kaplowitz Outstanding Human Rights Educator
Joseph Nappi
educator at Monmouth Regional High School




“Our annual International Conference on Human Rights not only brings critical issues to people’s attention, it issues a call to action to the participants and educates them in ways that they can change the very world in which we all live,” said Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., president of Kean University. “By sharing examples of their own experiences in the front lines of human rights work, each of this year’s recipients challenges students, educators and community members to answer the Human Rights Institute at Kean University’s call to action.”

One of the event’s keynote speakers, Doc Hendley is the founder and president of Wine to Water ( and a 2009 CNN Hero. At 30 years old, this bartender-musician started raising money to ease the global water crisis the best way he knew how––by pouring wine and playing music. What started with local wine tasting events and a simple donation jar at the edge of the bar evolved into Hendley’s Wine to Water foundation. To date, Hendley and members of his charitable organization have worked to dig, repair and sanitize drinking wells for more than 25,000 people in refugee camps across five countries and have distributed water and chlorine tablets to people living inside United Nations’ dangerous “no-go” zones.

“There is something much deeper that is broken in the world,” Hendley told the young audience members at the HRI conference. “Your generation will have to figure out how to fix it. Your generation can change that. Can fix that. We were created to love and serve one another, not to fear and hate one another.”

The 82 fifth-grade students of Ridgway Middle School in the Edgewater Park School District ( read Linda Sue Park’s book, A Long Walk to Water, which tells the true story of Salva Dut’s experience as a “lost boy” of South Sudan. Inspired by Dut’s journey, the students created a video to raise awareness of the global water crisis and to raise money for Dut’s nonprofit organization, Water for South Sudan ( The students are selling T-shirts that they designed, hosting a Crowdrise campaign and collecting donations in a mock water well they constructed at the school to try to reach their $16,000 fundraising goal––enough to build a new “Iron Giraffe” drill and a water well––before they leave for high school. With their teachers the students surprised Dut at the HRI conference, where he was one of the featured speakers, with a donation of $1,800 to Water for South Sudan.

“It meant a lot to read his story and donate, and then see him in person,” said Ally, a fifth grader from Ridgway Middle School. “I mean, it’s like you’re there with him, like you know how it feels. Meeting Salva is everything you could wish for. I want to do so much more for Salva.”

Fraidy Reiss was 19 when her family arranged for her to marry a man who turned out to be violent. At age 27, Reiss defied her husband and community to become the first person in her family to attend college. She earned a journalism degree from Rutgers University and landed a position as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press, later working as an investigator at Kroll, the world’s largest investigations firm. Reiss also succeeded in getting a divorce, winning full custody of her two daughters, and placing a restraining order against her ex-husband. She founded Unchained at Last (, an organization that helps women and girls who want to flee or resist arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives.

Joseph Nappi uses his lessons in social studies and Holocaust and genocide studies as a platform to teach students at Monmouth Regional High School to utilize the opportunities they have to help others. He has organized assemblies with local Holocaust survivors, and has taken more than 200 students to the United States Holocaust Museum and another 150 to the 9-11 Memorial Museum. Nappi helped a group of 125 students participate in an art installation at Brookdale Community College’s CHANGE Center, and ran a school-wide Diversity Day comprised of student-led workshops on the experiences of living with Asperger’s syndrome, as an LGBTQ youth, as a Muslim post-9-11, and as an immigrant whose first language is not English.

Amara Riccio is a senior therapeutic recreation major at Kean University who spreads messages of hope, happiness and healing every day. After sustaining a traumatic brain injury in 2008, she founded Riccio Pick Me Ups (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and individuals facing chronic/serious illnesses by providing joy, comfort, mentorship, therapeutic activities, expressive art programs and financial aid. She also shares her unwavering spirit through poetry, spoken word, dance, art, comedy and dramatics.

“I am honored and humbled to have received the human rights award,” said Riccio, a resident of Howell. “I receive the reward of satisfaction and love by helping to make the best of the human experience everyday. To receive an award for doing what gives me joy, just motivates me to keep going!”

Riccio looks forward to sharing her positivity and advocacy as a mental health counselor/expressive arts therapist.

“For the last 10 years since the first Human Rights Institute at Kean University conference, the audience of students, educators and community members have gained a solid foundation for contributing to the global effort to identify solutions to human rights violations in our backyards, our nation and around the world,” said Farahi. “The annual Human Rights Institute Awards recognize the wide variety of changemakers and upstanders in our communities who bring these critical issues one step closer to healing and resolve.”

Women Leaders Share Lessons Learned in the Workforce at Kean University Event

Kean University students and alumnae, business leaders and community members came together on Tuesday, March 28, on Kean’s Union campus to learn lessons of women’s empowerment in the workforce. When Women Lead, which featured presentations, a panel discussion and a networking session, was a celebration of Women’s History Month as well as a recognition of the successes of Kean’s talented alumnae.

Women Leaders: Judy Spires, Abena Antwi, Maria Bordas, Sanyya Gardez, Sheridan Balmeo, New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Lora Condon, Ana Montero and Ada Morell shared their experiences of empowerment in the workforce at the When Women Lead panel discussion and networking event at Kean University.

The Kean University Alumni Association partnered with New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20th) in hosting the event in Kean’s newly opened North Avenue Academic Building. In her opening remarks, Quijano offered words of encouragement and issued a call to action. Recalling the challenges she has faced as a Latina in a male-dominated field, Quijano urged participants “to do more by leading by example.”

Keynote speaker Judy Spires, president and CEO of KB US Holdings, Inc., and the 2017 NJBiz Lifetime Achievement Winner, urged those in the crowd to follow their passion and embrace every opportunity.

“Don’t turn down a job because you think you don’t have 100 percent of the skills needed,” she said. “Make yourself your benchmark. That is what will propel you to success.”

Welcoming everyone to the event was Kean University Board Chair Ada Morell, who graduated from Kean in 1997 with an education degree and is vice president and co-owner of A.M. Title Agency in Elizabeth. The moderator for the event was Lora Condon ’94, an author, consumer advocate, the founder of New Jersey Beauty & Wellness Professionals and owner of Jersey Boutique Spa. A champion for women’s rights, Condon found inspiration in the panelist’s stories of courage.

The panel was comprised of Kean alumna Abena Antwi ’01, lead innovation scientist and associate research fellow for Burt’s Bees; Sheridan Balmeo, regional public affairs manager at PSEG; Maria E. Bordas ’74/M.A.’80, general manager, business analysis and departmental performance at the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Kean University Foundation Board member and 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient; Sanyya Gardez ’97, host of Brit Asia TV’s Broken Silence and an adjunct professor of communication at Kean; and Ana Montero, regional CEO at the American Red Cross New Jersey Region. Each panelist shared their personal experience and practical ways for women to reach their highest potential in the workforce.

Inspired by the guest speakers’ stories, audience members also offered some advice. Kean Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Kean Foundation Board member Patricia Barksdale ’95 spoke of the importance of following one’s unique path and knowing the leadership of the organizations you support.

“Don’t be afraid to be the odd one out,” Barksdale said. “We need to be cognizant of how we spend our dollars, whom we support, and to be conscious of where the women are in the room when we’re not in the room.”