It’s hard to believe we’re already looking at 2016 in the rear-view mirror. This year has been a busy one for the Division of Innovation and Applied Research. And, much like Towson University, it has been one of transitions.

In January, Towson University named Dr. Kim Schatzel as its 14th president. Many of her top priorities, including Strategic Plan Alignment and BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore, as well as TU’s Placemaking & Anchor Strategy, directly relate to the work our Division is doing and will continue to do well into the future.

In September, I was appointed vice president of the Division after serving as interim vice president since April. Since that time, my team, along with the entire campus, has worked through an in-depth strategic planning process. The process has helped to inform my top priorities for moving the Division forward.

  • Advancing TU’s reputation as a leader in applied research
  • Fostering education innovation (EdTech) in our region
  • Providing world-class continuing education opportunities
  • Making positive impacts through university-community partnerships

In addition to working on university initiatives and on client-centered projects, some of my staff writes for this blog. By the end of 2016, they will have written 108 blog posts!

Over the next few weeks, as this blog undergoes a redesign, I ask that you take some time to read the posts below. Although they range in topic from empowering Eastern Shore libraries with GIS technology to planning a trip to France for lifelong learners, they all have one thing in common. Each post ties back to the Division’s core work:

We focus on improving the quality of life and the economic vitality of Maryland and its citizens.

As we move into 2017, we look forward to building new relationships and strengthening our current ones. Happy Holidays from all of us at the Division of Innovation and Applied Research.

Daraius Irani, Ph.D.
Vice President
Innovation & Applied Research
Towson University


In 2016, we worked on impactful projects.

Maryland Defense Network—With a goal of economic diversification, multiple Division units collaborated with the MD Department of Commerce to research and map Maryland’s defense industry supply chain.

Top Occupations for Growth in Baltimore—RESI economists predicted the health care industry will add about 1,300 jobs per year over the next three years in Baltimore City.

Using GIS to Aid Maryland Farmers—The Center for GIS partnered with the MD Department of Agriculture to map cover crops to help address nutrient depletion and pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

A&E Districts: Economic and Fiscal Impacts—RESI reported the total economic impact of A&E Districts was approximately 6,000 jobs, nearly $571.4 million in state GDP, and over $198.5 million in wages in FY2014.


In 2016, we convened partners to move our region forward.

Maryland Workforce Outlook Forum—We partnered with the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and Baltimore Integration Partnership to highlight groups who are working to solve workforce and economic issues through innovative collaborations.

BTU Community Conversation—President Schatzel invited community partners to campus to identify partner needs, explore ideas and solutions, and to re-introduce the community to BTU.

Badolato Homeland Security Speaker Series—Federal leaders joined us on campus to discuss America’s drug problem and what’s being done to stop it.

TU Represents at CUMU Annual Conference—The Office of Partnerships & Outreach hosted 350 university representatives in Washington, D.C., to discuss the issues facing urban and metropolitan campuses around the country.


In 2016, we highlighted the incredible people we work with and serve.

#StudentExperience—We introduced you to eight Towson University students who provide valuable support on projects throughout the Division.

Excellence Awards Highlight Division Successes—We recognized our colleagues with excellence awards at our annual staff breakfast.

Have You Met Lester and Arlene Yet?—You met Lester and Arlene, charter members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at TU.

University-Community Partnerships—You also got to know some of the TU faculty and staff who are working to make Greater Baltimore even better through university-community partnerships.


In 2016, we deployed programs aimed at supporting Maryland’s workforce.

TU Professional Leadership Program for Women, 2016 Class—We helped to build, develop, and cultivate leadership skills in 21 early- to mid-career female leaders from Greater Baltimore.

Top Seven Professional Certifications—The Center for Professional Studies provided training and exam preparation for certifications that lead to new jobs and increased salaries.

Maryland GIS Training Program—Our GIS team developed curriculum for MD iMap and are delivering monthly training sessions for state employees and its contractors.

eLearning—We created customized eLearning tools and provided online courses for clients around the state.


In 2016, we helped ideas and businesses grow.

Business Plan Competition—Two local startups beat out over 50 others to win the student and professionals categories of TU Incubator’s Business Plan Competition.

EdTech Innovation Showcase—Regional edtech leaders highlighted their products via demonstrations and lightning presentations to a crowd of education stakeholders.

TU Incubator Member Companies Triumph at Milken-Penn GSE Competition—Communication APPtitude and OgStar Reading each won cash prizes for their work in reading comprehension.