List of Announcements (details below):

Provost Search Committee: Please Vote: 4 VSE Nominees

The GMU Faculty Senate has distributed via e-mail a ballot for faculty representatives to the search committee for a new Provost.  I encourage you to vote.  There are four nominees from the Volgenau School of Engineering:

This is a preferential ballot, that is, you indicate by “1” your first choice, “2” your second choice, etc.  Votes are due on Monday, June 24, at 5pm.

Search for VP Information Technology: Candidates?

Ken De Jong and I are members of the search committee for the Vice President for Information Technology and CIO.  Joy Hughes is stepping down from this role after having served for many years.

If you know of individuals who would be good candidates for this position, we would be grateful if you could either provide us with their names, or send them information on the position.  The job description can be found online at

Update on the ePAR System

I wanted to provide some information on udpates to the ePAR system, the online system that has been used for some years for personnel reviews.

Personnel reviews are being conducted in connection with the raises being provided by the State.  However, due to software updates, the ePAR system is not able to provide full reports for the most recent data on research and teaching while the updates are in progress.  Reports corresponding to the Fall 2012 personnel reviews are available, and reports will be available in the future.   

Mandy Richburg, a member of my staff, has been working for the past few months on revisions to the way data on teaching and research funding are uploaded to the ePAR system.  That work is almost complete, but has not been fully tested yet.  I did not anticipate that personnel reviews would be conducted in mid-summer.  The new software should reduce the effort required to upload the data on teaching and research funding, and should improve its accuracy.

If you have recently entered information in ePAR corresponding to publications, presentations, etc., it will not be affected by the updates.  You can continue to enter such information.

Over the summer I plan to work with a small subset of the faculty to test the new software to ensure that it is performing as designed. 

There are some additional features that are being added to ePAR, but I will defer reporting on them until they are available.

Amarda Shehu and Estela Blaisten-Barojas Receive Funding from Jeffress Trust

Amarda Shehu of the Computer Science Department and Estela Blaisten-Barojas of the College of Science received $100K from the Jeffress Memorial Trust for their project “Probabilistic Search Algorithms Meet Statistical Mechanisms: Powerful Novel Tools for Peptide Modeling”.


Celso Ferreira Receives Funding from Jeffress Trust

Celso Ferreira of the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering received $100K from the Jeffress Memorial Trust for his project “Protecting Virginia from Hurricane Storm Surge with Wetlands Ecosystems: Can Nature Help to Reduce Hurricane Flood Risk?”.

Sushil Jajodia and Massimiliano Albanese Receive Funding from Sandia & US Army

Sushil Jajodia and Massimiliano Albanese of the Center for Secure Information Systems received $25K from Sandia Research Corporation and the U.S. Dept. of the Army for their project “STTR: Cyber Warfare Simulation Environment”.

Supreme Court Decision on Patents

From (an invaluable resource on the Supreme Court):

“The Supreme Court long ago ruled that an inventor who discovers a phenomenon in nature, or figures out a “law of nature,” cannot get an exclusive right to use or sell that by obtaining a patent from the federal government.  Natural phenomena are the basic tools with which every would-be inventor starts, so locking up the right to use them in a monopoly held by a specific patent owner will frustrate others who might want to look for new ways to interpret that phenomena, the Court has said. …

“The Court said the company actually did not create anything at all, but simply extracted the genetic material from its location in human blood, and setting it apart for study.  The Court, however, said that the company might be eligible to get a patent when it created a synthetic form of those genes — in other words, a laboratory imitation of them.   Such imitations, according to the ruling, do not exist in nature, and so do not run counter to the rule against patenting nature.”

This “in plain English” summary is at
A more detailed report is at
And everything you might want to know about this case is at


Stephen G. Nash
Senior Associate Dean
Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2500
Mailstop 5C8
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Phone: (703) 993-1505
Fax: (703) 993-1633