Funding and Recent Events


NeuBEs Laboratory Receives Grant for Sleep Research
Sleep is an important part of our daily lives. We know that too much or too little hampers our perception and body functions, however we don’t know nearly enough about sleep and exactly how it plays an integral part in our lives. A team of research students from Fort Valley State University are conducting their own experiments on sleep and its effects.

Dr. Felicia Jefferson, Assistant Professor of Fort Valley State University, is the principal investigator of the two-year, $197,148 standard grant EAGER (HBCU-DCL) from the NSF to increase interest in STEM fields in underrepresented African Americans and women who are non-STEM majors and to increase their academic attractiveness through undergraduate research of bioengineering and behavioral neuroscience via sleep research.

NeuBE’s Lab was started by Dr. Felicia Jefferson in the year 2015, at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia. She started this lab in conjunction with a group of intellectual researchers, visionaries and bright young minds for comprehensive research in the field of biology to benefit human kind. She is the Deputy Editor of International Supply Chain Technology journal, which was started in collaboration with ISCEA and PWD group. She has done extensive research in the field of Biology and has over a dozen of publications. 

Dr. Jefferson has significant experience mentoring women, underrepresented minorities, and economically disadvantaged students both in urban and rural areas of the United States in neuroscience, biomedical science, and biotechnologies research. In her previous academic position, Dr. Jefferson served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute faculty research mentor to undergraduate neuroscience, biology, environmental science, chemistry, and engineering research students. Her work with these undergraduate students resulted in three peer-reviewed publications with the research students listed as authors and participation of the students in multiple conferences where they presented their research to local, regional, and national audiences. Currently, Dr. Jefferson has 10 undergraduate research students in her Neuroscience Biology Engineering and Sleep (NeuBEs) Laboratories at FVSU.

Some of the featured sleep based undergraduate research includes:
 • “The Neurotoxic Effects of Sleep Deprivation on The Brain and Comparing Differences Between Male and Female, And Neonatal and Aged Drosophila” by Amber Davenport
 • “The Neuroendocrinological Effects of Sleep Deprivation” by Kebriana Ross
 • “Neuroendocrine Modulation of Sleep Deprivation in Drosophila melanogaster” by Xavia Taylor
 • “Neurotoxicological Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Drosophila melanogaster” by Yasmine Moffet
 • “Regulation of Neuroendocrine Hormones on Sleep Deprivation in Male and 

Female Neonatal and Aged Drosophila melanogaster” by Zakiyah Brannen-Buxton For over sixty years the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been promoting progress in all field of science.

You may find additional information on this and other grants at NSF Core R&D Programs.


FVSU Students Receive a Warm Welcome at SLEEP 2017 
Fort Valley State University’s NeuBEs Laboratory, directed by Dr. Felicia Jefferson, junior Biology Majors Amber Davenport and Kebriana Ross received funding to attend the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC or, SLEEP 2017 Conference for a chance to learn more about sleep studies and medicine, and its impact on the field of medicine.

The SLEEP 2017 Conference is the “premier world forum” for sleep and circadian science, and clinical sleep medicine. This conference is co-produced by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), and the Sleep Research Society (SRS). At SLEEP 2017, there were 37 invited lecturers, 49 scientific programs, 95 exhibitors, and more than 1,200 abstracts presented in oral and poster formats.

This presented the perfect opportunity for Amber Davenport and Kebriana Ross to gain pertinent information directly from renowned scientists to aid in their own sleep based research. Ms. Davenport is doing research on “Neurotoxic Effects of Sleep Deprivation on The Brain and Comparing Differences Between Male and Female, and Neonatal and Aged Drosophila” while Ms. Ross is doing research on “The Neuroendocrinological Effects of Sleep Deprivation”.

The keynote address lecture for this event was presented by H. Craig Heller, PhD. He spoke about the Interactions Between Sleep and Circadian Rhythms and Health and Disease.

“Along with the knowledgeable experience at the SLEEP 2017 meeting, I also gained opportunities to become a member of American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and network with potential mentors from NYU as well as other universities”, said Kebriana Ross.

Ms. Davenport shared that the New York University School of Medicine does “plan to send an invitation to the Fort Valley State University NeuBe lab to visit them in New York at the NYU School of Medicine and they expect both Ms. Ross and myself to be presenting out research at SLEEP 2018”.



Student Researchers Learn About the Inner Workings of MIDAS
On May 22nd, 2017, the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study Annual Network Meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting was held for three days at the Emory Conference Center.

Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), as its name implies, exists for the modeling of infectious diseases. Highly qualified researchers from around the world make up this organization and work with the CDC to track and construct models of potentially harmful microorganisms.

Fort Valley State University’s Amber Davenport and Zakiyah Brannen-Buxton had the chance to attend the MIDAS Annual Network Meeting. Here they had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of MIDAS and how they handle threats.

Both Amber Davenport and Zakiyah Brannen-Buxton are student researchers in Fort Valley State University’s Neuroscience Biology Engineering and Sleep (NeuBEs) Laboratory under Dr, Felicia Jefferson.

"Attendance of the students at this conference was germane to their learning as the group models statistical trends in biological phenomenon very similar to three of the laboratory projects we are funded to complete under the supplement award," said Dr. Jefferson.

Duncan MacCannell, PhD., the CDC’s Senior Advisor for Bioinformatics National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, gave an informative speech on Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD). AMD is a program made in tandem with surveillance programs to collect data on pathogens in real time. This program will serve to improve communication and data collection with the CDC to more local businesses regarding the emergence and spread of deadly viruses. However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed with this program.

“For me personally the MIDAS meeting gave me a deeper knowledge set on how mathematical reasoning can be used to monitor specific populations in an environment as well as a deeper appreciation for shared data,” said Ms. Buxton. “I gathered from my summary of the conference the magnitude of the deficit between the research community and the regular civilian lifestyle, and that MIDAS is a group working to bridge the gap between scientific reasoning and public knowledge, and decision making in times of biological epidemic. This conference also made it clear just how unprepared the CDC is in time of crisis.”

This project is funded by a supplemental grant to NSF Award #1435152, Targeted Infusion Project: Developing a Minor Program in Applied Statistics within the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Fort Valley State University. The principal investigator is Dr. Dawit Aberra, co-principal investigators are Dr. Shadreck Chitsonga and Dr. Haixin Wang, and the supplement principal investigator is Dr. Felicia Jefferson.

NSBE Great for STEM and Non-STEM Majors
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) was founded in 1975 on the campus of Purdue University and is one of the largest student led organizations. Though the name sounds like it’s for engineers only (which would also have one to believe that it is for males only), NSBE welcomes everyone, male and female, all from different fields of study, for a chance to better themselves and others. Their mission statement: “To increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.”

On March 29th, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri, the president and the parliamentarian of Fort Valley State University’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Myron Preston and Amber Davenport respectively, attended the 43rd Annual National Convention of the same name. At this conference, there were over ten thousand visitors and hundreds of panels and workshops for people to attend over a span of four days.

Myron Preston and Amber Davenport both work diligently as student researchers in Fort Valley State University’s Neuroscience Biology Engineering and Sleep (NeuBEs) Laboratory under Dr. Felicia Jefferson.

“As role of Chapter President, I found it my mission to lead my members in the direction of growth,” said Myron Preston. “I believe NSBE is a great organization not only for minority students in STEM, but minority students in general.”

NeuBE’s Laboratory is funded to conduct biological engineering research. As one of the student researchers, it would only make sense for Amber Davenport, a Biology major, to attend the NSBE meeting. “As I looked through the itinerary, there were many workshops that were beneficial to me,” said Ms. Davenport. One of the panel discussions that stood out most to Ms. Davenport, entitled “Am I My Sister’s Keeper?” asked for women to support other women in their prospective field of study and understand that helping someone does not mean that you will lose your opportunity to prove your worth.

Just as Mr. Preston put it, any student who is a STEM major should be able to find something that relates to their field of study at NSBE and non-STEM majors will be able to participate in the many panel discussions and sessions that NSBE offers as well.

Travel to the National Society of Black Engineers 43rd National Convention was provided by Advisor Mr. Robert Stephens.

Details on research conducted in the lab may be found at For more information on NSBE and all upcoming events, go to










FVSU Students Invited to Present Research at the Gordon Research Conference on Sleep Regulation and Function
Senior Fort Valley State University Biology majors, Jessica Booker and Haley Hudson, were recently invited to present their undergraduate neurobiology research at the Gordon Research Conference on Sleep Regulation & Function: Functions of Sleep in Body and Brain, March 13-18, 2016, in Galveston, Texas, USA.

The Gordon Research Conference on Sleep is a biennial conference limited to 200 invited international researchers and sleep experts. Ms. Booker and Ms. Hudson were the only undergraduate students in attendance at this year’s meeting. Ms. Booker presented research communicating the neurotoxic effects of specific electromagnetic radiation signals on the sleep-wake cycles of animals and humans. Ms. Hudson presented data demonstrating the cost-savings to hospitals and insurance providers through use of a novel electroencephalography tool in clinical sleep studies.

The students conducted their undergraduate research under the tutelage of Dr. Felicia Jefferson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. “Our lab collaborates with a number of faculty and researchers throughout the university and from around the nation to provide the students with a broad range of research opportunities in neurobiology,” says Dr. Jefferson. “Ms. Booker and Ms. Hudson have taken full advantage of the research opportunities presented to them and excelled. I am extremely proud of them and the work they have contributed.” 

Following presentation of their research, Dr. Craig Heller, world renowned sleep physiology expert and sleep research field pioneer, encouraged Ms. Booker and Ms. Hudson to apply to the Ph.D. programs in Neuroscience and Biology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, where Dr. Heller is the Lorry I. Lokey/Business Wire Professor of Biology.

“This was the first science research conference outside of Georgia that I’ve attended and I am grateful for the opportunity. I was able to meet world experts in the areas of neurobiology and sleep physiology as well as potential graduate mentors,” says Ms. Hudson.

"My experience at the Gordon Research Conference was very a great eye opener to the world of science. Traveling to another state, interacting amongst some well-known scientist, I was truly honored. They provided me with lots of options on pathways I could take when it came to furthering my career, schooling and research opportunities,” states Ms. Jessica Booker.

Funding for student travel and participation in the GRC was graciously provided by FVSU’s Science Club (Dr. Melinda Davis, Advisor), Office of Undergraduate Research (Dr. Andrew Lee, Director), and Office of External Affairs (Dr. Melody Carter, VP of External Affairs). Dr. Jefferson directs the Neuroscience and Bioengineering (NeuBE) Laboratory at Fort Valley State University. Further details on research conducted in the lab may be found at 

Since 1931, Gordon Research Conferences have provided an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies. Additional information on this and other Gordon Research Conferences may be found at