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Dear Alumni and Friends, This 60-page Research edition of Eberly beautifully captures the climate of growth, progress, and excellence that the College of Arts and Sciences embraces. You can also see how the diversity within our College lends itself to unique and highly successful multidisciplinary partnerships at WVU and around the world. Each story in the edition illustrates the synergy that research brings to our education and outreach missions. Research is taking our students out of the classroom and into the lab or field, providing solutions and opportunities for communities like Moundsville, here in West Virginia, and uncovering surprising relationships between people and climates in Mongolia. And research is bringing others to WVU to uncover the nature of the universe—be it about the formation of stars in vast galaxies, the structure of tiny molecules, the meaning of morality, or impacts of social policy. Our programs are addressing the needs of employers and our nation, and engaging the next generation of both women and men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They are training a new cadre of graduate students ready to tackle research challenges in emerging fields like nanotechnology and genomics, and they are encouraging cultural literacy and global cooperation, skills necessary for success in this interconnected world. Though this is our largest issue to date, it is just a drop in the bucket of innovation and discovery in our College. Our faculty and students are investigating, analyzing, and problem-solving across every sphere and phase of life—from the internal workings of the mind, through the natural world, to the very soul of man. The quantity and quality of the scholarship and knowledge produced by this College astound me daily. Improving and growing the research mission at WVU is one the top-five priority items in the University’s 2020 Strategic Plan. It also carries great weight within the Eberly College’s strategic plan. We see research and scholarship as the keys to advancing on all fronts. My best wishes for the New Year, Best,

Robert H. Jones, PhD Dean

ADMINISTRATION James P. Clements, PhD, President, West Virginia University Michele Wheatly, PhD, Provost Robert Jones, PhD, Dean Joan Gorham, EdD, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs


2 Around the College 2 Don’t Ground Your Child 4 Teaching the Teachers

Valérie Lastinger, PhD, Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

5 What’s in a Name?

Asuntina Levelle, JD, Associate Dean, Financial Planning and Management

6 West Virginia University Hosts Electronic Book

L. Christopher Plein, PhD, Associate Dean

7 Where in the World is Bob Jones?

Katie Stores, PhD, Assistant Dean for Research

8 Understanding Wartime Atrocities

Bonnie Fisher, Director of Development EDITORIAL STAFF Rebecca Herod, Executive Editor Kathy Deweese, University Editor


10 Vox Populi 10 Research Around the World: Taking It to the 13 Research Buzz

16 The Roll of Thunder

Angela Caudill

22 The Research University Rise

Graham Curry

24 Southern Exposure

Lindsey Estep

30 Science Fair: Equal Opportunities for

Alayna Lemmer Chris Schwer 1985-2012

Women in STEM


34 The Plant Library

John Bolt

38 MARS Mission

Kathy deGraaf Grace Drnach

44 New and Notable

Gerrill Griffith

44 Unifying Moundsville

Jared Lathrop

46 Good Reads

Diana Mazzella Ashleigh Pollart

50 Headed Toward the Stars

Lindsay Willey

52 REN@WVU Training a New Generation of

PHOTOGRAPHY M.G. Ellis, Senior Photojournalist Brian Persinger, Senior Photojournalist Jake Lambuth, Student Photographer


MARS Mission

50 Awards and Honors

Christine Schussler Cody White

Kathy deGraaf gives us the “Research Buzz.”




Graduate Students 54 Tiny Kernels of Truth 56 The Elusive Chimera 58 Working at the Molecular Level

Todd Lotocha, Student Photographer COVER ART Forrest Conroy CHANGE OF ADDRESS WVU Foundation PO Box 1650 Morgantown, WV 26507-1650

Look for the WiSE logo on articles and read about the women who are contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. To learn more, visit


The Elusive Chimera VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT

WVU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. West Virginia University is governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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Around the College

Don’t GROUND Your Child By Grace Drnach Illustration by Diego Schtutman When excited college freshmen move to campus, nervous parents are wondering how their children will adapt to living on their own. Although it is natural for parents to show concern and a desire to be involved in their adult children’s lives, too much involvement can actually be harmful. Kelly Odenweller, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies, and Melanie Booth-Butterfield, PhD, Peggy Rardin McConnell Professor of Communication Studies, recently researched the effects of helicopter parenting from college students’ perspectives.

Odenweller developed the questionnaire titled, “The New Helicopter Parenting Instrument.” This research tool includes ten questions and asks for information such as “My parent monitors my daily activities,” “My parent thinks he/she should remove obstacles that impede my success,” and “My parent discourages me from making decisions that he/she disagrees with.” The results have demonstrated Odenweller and Booth-Butterfield’s hypotheses were correct. Helicopter

“When is our next job interview? ”

Helicopter parenting refers to parents who are overinvolved in their children’s lives through overcommunication, making decisions on their children’s behalf, and interfering with their children’s ability to learn through personal experience. Examples of helicopter parenting might include calling and texting your child daily, corresponding with your child’s professor about their homework or grades, or not allowing your child to make day-today decisions without your input. Surveys with different series of questions were given to both males and females between the ages of 18 and 25.




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

parenting can interfere with the process of adult children becoming independent and has negative and potentially damaging effects on development. They also found that perceptions of helicopter parenting are associated with an authoritarian parenting style, a style in which parents enforce stricter rules, have high expectations, and use power over negotiation with their children. This can impede children’s social and emotional development, as well as problem-solving abilities. What can you do to avoid becoming a helicopter parent? Odenweller and

Booth-Butterfield suggest parents lower their frequency of contact on “the small stuff.” For example, do not call your child three times a day just to check in. Set boundaries with your child and give them room to solve their own problems, grow, and find their individuality. “Let adult children solve their problems and learn from mistakes. If the problem isn’t going to result in a dangerous consequence, let them figure it out on their own,” said Odenweller. The team presented their research at the National Communication Association Conference. In the future, Odenweller and Booth-Butterfield plan to conduct a follow-up study on the parents’ perspectives and ways to prevent or reduce helicopter parenting behaviors. Odenweller became involved in the topic of helicopter parenting because of her interest in family communication. After taking Booth-Butterfield’s Interpersonal Communication class, she focused on the interpersonal relationships within a family, more specifically between parents and children. Booth-Butterfield received her doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her research areas include interpersonal and relational communication, humor enactment, and emotion and cognition.

“I’ ll call your professor. ”

“I’ ll take care of that.” “Text m e.” “ Email me.”

Moving OUt

WVU Bound Mountaineers

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Around the College

Teaching the Teachers By Christine Schussler Photo by M.G. Ellis

MIKE MAYS, PhD, professor of mathematics and director of the WVU Institute for Mathematics Learning, has been selected as a partner in the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership, a collaboration begun by the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership (MTE Partnership) is a partnership between institutions of higher education and K-12 schools, districts, and other organizations working collaboratively to redesign secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs. The partnership will provide a coordinated research and development effort for secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs in order to meet the challenges of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and to embody research and best practices in the field. The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students in grades K-12 are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. These standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that young people need for success in college and careers. West Virginia adopted the Standards in 4



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

June 2011. Currently 51 states and territories have adopted the Standards. “I view this as a critical step needed to solve significant challenges facing our state and nation in the teaching and learning of mathematics,” said College Dean Robert Jones. “In my opinion, the faculty participants have the experience and credentials to build a functional partnership and the University and state partners have sufficient commitment to provide a path to success. The math education aculty in WVU’s Department of Mathematics can provide capable guidance and leadership. Over the past decade, this group has grown in numbers and has been productive in scholarship and teacher preparation. The math education group has examined a variety of models for teacher preparation and math learning; the MTE Partnership will provide a venue for expanding their best practices and testing them.” Mays believes this is an exciting project because the Common Core State Standards are of national scope and importance. West Virginia has been a leader in adopting these standards to guide its Next Generation K-12 mathematics content. Mays stated, “The Partnership will make sure that the new secondary mathematics

teachers we prepare have opportunities to engage with the Standards, especially the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice, throughout their programs, by seeing the Standards in use throughout their mathematics and mathematics education courses.” Mays will participate in the cooperative redesign of secondary mathematics teacher preparation (SMTP) programs to ensure teachers can effectively teach the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, including building consensus on underlying guiding principles and developing a collaborative research and development agenda for catalyzing the transformation of SMTP programs nationally. He and his partners will assist in encouraging the use of model programs and practices created by the partnership within the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative and other institutions, and promoting changes in states’ program approval, accreditation, and other policies necessary to support the changes. Learn more about Common Core Standards and how they affect your school and your child’s education.

What’s in a Name? West Virginia University’s Division of Social Work will now be called the School of Social Work and the Center for Women’s Studies will be known as the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. Changes reflect the scholarship and stature of both programs within the discipline. As the sole institution in the state’s higher education community offering an accredited Master of Social Work program, WVU chose to change the name due to the size and ranking of its program. This designation would more appropriately compare the program with its peer institutions such as the University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Maryland, Baltimore. The designation will likely assist in student and faculty recruitment, as well as overall visibility in the state and the nation. “The designation as a school best reflects the scope and breadth of our social work program which already has high visibility for its teaching, research, and service missions,” explained L. Christopher Plein, interim chair for the School of Social Work. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is home to approximately 475 students, 300 of which are graduate students. In a 2008 U.S. News and World Report ranking of graduate programs, the WVU Master of Social Work program was ranked 82 out of 159 programs. The program will remain within the administrative structure of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and function as a department of the college. The program’s faculty discussed the changes and voted unanimously in support

of the name change in the fall. “This change reflects the will of the faculty to have the unit acknowledged for its efforts. The title school is much more befitting,” explained Helen P. Hartnett, interim director for the Master of Social Work program.

The school is housed in WVU’s Knapp Hall. STUDENTS enrolled in women’s studies courses this fall will notice a slight change to their syllabi—the Women’s Studies Program has a new name, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. “Our new name reflects the mission of this program to identify and support women and social diversity in our communities and society as a whole,” said Ann Oberhauser, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. “This change stems from advances in women’s and gender studies scholarship and activism that recognize the important role of gender, sexuality, and feminism.” Negative stereotypes of feminism are being replaced by a broader recognition of the importance of gender equality and diversity in society. The incorporation of “gender” implies an investigation of how femininity and masculinity are socially defined, as well as how these social identities implore us to examine gender as an integral part

of political, economic, and cultural institutions. The Center’s founder, Judith Stitzel, believes that exploring and understanding the concept of gender is not only exploding stereotypes, but also allowing for a new understanding of body, mind, nature, and spirit. “What’s in a name,” she asks? “In the case of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the answer is nothing less than a better future for women and men, boys and girls around the world,” Stitzel said. Danielle Davidov, who received a graduate certificate in women’s studies in 2010, currently works in the Department of Emergency Medicine at WVU. She feels the name change preserves the focus on women as a population warranting special attention, but opens the door for inclusion and discussion of any and all gender issues. The change in the Center’s name is just one of a number of changes happening at WVU and within the field of feminist scholarship. More students are drawn to the diverse array of offerings within the Program, including courses in not only feminist theory and women’s studies, but on men and masculinity, and a new minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) studies. The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies supports teaching, research, and advocacy that is based on feminist perspectives and centered on analyses of gender and its intersection with race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age, and ability.

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Around the College West Virginia University Hosts Electronic Book Review Director of the Center for Literary Computing Charles “Sandy” Baldwin.

Electronic Book Review (EBR), a highly respected and pioneering all-electronic journal, has a new home. The Center for Literary Computing (CLC), housed in the WVU Department of English, is now the institutional host for EBR. Sandy Baldwin, director of the Center for Literary Computing and associate professor of English, was named executive editor of the journal. “EBR is at the forefront of debates about open access in scholarly journals and about reimagining peer review to maintain the rigor of the process but also to recognize a changing media environment,” said Baldwin. “Work that appeared in the journal as special issues or sequences of essays has been published in print by respected presses such as the MIT Press. It publishes work by leading scholars and brings considerable prestige to the CLC and WVU.” Founded by Professor Joseph Tabbi of the University of Illinois, Chicago, the journal has been in continuous




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

publication since 1994. Electronic Book Review is among the longest running open-access, literary-critical journals on the Internet, publishing critically savvy, in-depth work addressing the digital future of literature, theory, criticism, and the arts. Areas of scholarship include a wide range of topics such as film, visual art, music, computer games, philosophy, and feminism. “The main goal is highquality original work that is critically engaged, discerning, and exciting,” said Baldwin. “The journal is also open to essays that are hybrid in style, that combine creative

writing and the academic essay. In light of the journal’s Web format, we encourage the use of links, images, and other hypermedia.” To take advantage of the Web’s mediumspecific constraints, EBR adopts a rolling model of publication. Rather than publishing individual volumes or issues with preset publication dates, as print media does, writing is accepted for publication after undergoing a networked, peer-review process. EBR provides open access to all of its content on the principle that making research and scholarship freely available to the public on the Internet promotes a robust media ecology. All publications by the journal are developed at the CLC. Baldwin and Tabbi, editor-in-chief of EBR, direct the journal’s production, including the recently redesigned interface, hosted and supported by WVU’s Office of Information Technology. The journal’s editorial team includes CLC interns, providing an opportunity for WVU students to gain experience writing for a leading journal using cutting-edge technologies. “It is interesting. I get to work on an actual online journal and learn about topics that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise,” says Tiffany Zerby, a junior English major with a concentration in professional writing and editing. “We’ve just finalized the editorial process of the new interface. It’s exciting.” Students working on the journal are part of a distributed team with personnel at WVU, the University of Illinois, UCLA, and elsewhere. They participate in discussion and planning of the interface and editorial process and are integral parts of the team. Students leave EBR with experience interacting with authors, designers, programmers, and the readership. Visit the Electronic Book Review at

In July, Dean Jones traveled with Provost Michele Wheatly and two Chinese-speaking faculty members to China for the World University President’s Forum in Harbin and the 60th anniversary celebration of the Northeast Forestry University. The group met with government officials and toured areas of China on the 13-day trip. Jones, a professor of biology specializing in forest ecology, spent several days with research colleagues from Zhejian A & F University at the Tianmu Mountain National Nature Reserve. The Reserve is included by UNESCO in the International Man and Biosphere Reserve Network. Tianmu Mountain, translated as “Eyes on Heaven” Mountain, is known for its ancient Japanese Cedar trees which grow to towering heights on the mountain. These trees are superficially similar to the Giant Sequoia of the American west. Dating of the larger trees puts them at more then 1,000-years-old.

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Around the College



By Gerrill Griffith

Choeung Ek is a memorial to the victims of the Cambodian Killing Fields marked by a Buddhist stupa. Thousands of skulls are enshrined at the site. The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (19701975). Scholars estimate that as many as 1.5-3 million died as a result of the government’s genocide.




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine


from mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners of war to the butchering and killing of villagers in Srebrenica, Sudan, and Syria, seem to jump off the pages of news accounts and slap readers’ sensibilities with a heavy hand of moral outrage and confusion. Far removed geographically and emotionally from the events, civilians struggle with questions surrounding the

atrocities. Why do soldiers commit war crimes? How much do institutionalized policy, peer pressure, or the convolutions of combat training influence the character of individuals who wield instruments of torture and death against innocent victims? Jessica Wolfendale, PhD, and Matt Talbert, PhD, assistant professors in the Department of Philosophy, will spend the


next year formalizing answers to questions at the motivational heart of war crimes and whether individuals who commit them are responsible for their actions. The two researchers were awarded a grant through the Character Project at Wake Forest University, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, to investigate the philosophical aspects of war crimes and write a book detailing their resulting theories. The project, “Failures of Character: War Crimes, Obedience, and Responsibility,” may go a long way toward helping the world understand what contributes to wartime atrocities and, the researchers hope, lead to steps to avoid future crimes. Philosophers, psychologists, and theologians have struggled with the questions of how to define good character and how to improve it. Understanding character lies at the heart of human identity, according to the Wake Forest University team that awarded the grant to Wolfendale and Talbert. The Character Project seeks to use the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, and theology to better understand what our characters are like and how people can improve them. The John Templeton Foundation, which awarded the root grant to Wake Forest, serves as “a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.”

—Jessica Wolfendale, PhD

Talbert explained that he has long been fascinated by the question of how we come to be morally responsible for our behavior. Wolfendale said she has been studying the causes of war crimes and whether “situationism”—the theory that factors such as peer pressure and training, rather than character traits, explain some human behaviors—best explains war crimes. “When we read about the Wake Forest project, it seemed natural for us to combine our efforts for a project aimed at a closer look at moral responsibility and war crimes,” Talbert said. Wolfendale said she first became interested in the topic when she watched a parade on ANZAC Day—a commemoration of her native Australia’s ill-fated attack on Gallipoli during World War I. “I began thinking about the act of killing in war and how soldiers are trained to kill, and what the consequences of killing are,” she said. “It is a topic that I kept coming back to as I pursued my education in philosophy.” At WVU, Wolfendale specializes in studies of the ethics of political violence, bioethics, moral psychology, and ethical theory. She is currently studying issues associated with the ethics of torture, including the question of whether the right not to be tortured is inalienable. She is also interested in the moral psychology of political violence. This topic involves

looking more broadly at how those involved in institutionalized state violence see the morality of their actions, and how this affects their moral responsibility for what they do. Talbert, who specializes in ethics and moral psychology, said that one question they will investigate is the degree to which military culture and conflict undermine moral responsibility by impairing the ability of some soldiers to disobey an illegal order or deliberate about morally relevant features of their environment. Much of his recent work has centered on studies about the psychological, emotional, and historical conditions connected to moral responsibility and blameworthiness. The Wolfendale/Talbert team will consider other factors, like learned contempt for one segment of society by another, the evolution of child soldiers into adults, heat-of-battle situations, and simple battlefield error, in an attempt to develop theories about how moral decisions are made. The researchers say their grant of $84,184 will allow them to perform a nuanced analysis of the responsibility for war crimes. “It is all about looking at the factors surrounding the victim and the victimizer,” Talbert said. “That’s where we can get a clearer picture.

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Research Around the World: Taking It to the Street

By Cody White


stood before a bustling auditorium full of anxious freshmen, all of whom were required to attend the annual Freshman Engineering Fair. When I applied to study engineering two years ago, I never imagined that WVU would help send me across the globe. I remember walking toward a crowd of students listening to a representative explain what WVU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) was all about. I missed the introduction, but was drawn by the International Research Experience for Students (IRES) opportunity offered by SURE. Nanotechnology research and travel abroad? Interesting, I thought. I stood patiently, readying myself for the chance to have a tête-a-tête with WVNano’s representative—this is where the story of my first yearlong adventure around the world begins. The University’s SURE-IRES Program is an annual opportunity for five undergraduates from the Appalachian region to spend two months in China. Students are given the opportunity to conduct research alongside Chinese peers in the Super Molecular State Key Lab of China. I was hesitant to take the opportunity seriously as a freshman. For months prior to the deadline, I did research of my own, meeting with professors, prior recipients, and WVNano faculty. “Do I actually have a chance?”—I would ask myself. In the end, all of the stress and worry culminated into great joy and gratitude when I received an unexpected acceptance letter.




Cody White, junior mechanical engineering and Russian studies major, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo by Masha Sibiryakova.

At the same time, a different story of similar nature was unfolding. I was simultaneously applying for the Boren Scholarship, a competitive government scholarship that provides $20,000 for one academic year abroad to study in regions of the world critical to US interests. I aspired to spend one year in Russia, but I knew the competition would be fierce. I had three more years to apply, but WVU’s ASPIRE Office encouraged me to take a chance. What did I have to lose? I could write the application process off as a learning experience. Four and a half months after sending in my application to study at Moscow State University, I received an e-mail that would

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

define nine months of my life. I discovered that I was selected to become a Boren Scholar. I was ecstatic, yet overwhelmed. I was a mere 11 days from departure to Changchun for my SURE IRES experience, and I had no idea what to expect from this large Chinese city. Even more invigorating, my trip to China would be my first time conducting real research. China was everything I imagined it would be: a laboratory full of intricate and delicate equipment, a constant flow of steady hands working diligently, and multiple experiments slowly uncovering some truth through a process of successes and failures. Our desks were filled with the results of

others’ experiments, excerpts from outdated textbooks, and ideas that tend to come to fruition in the strangest of ways. We worked extensively to ensure the lab was in pristine condition; with our lab coats and goggles always on. Our notebooks became simple, sloppy recordings of our work—sketches of molecules interacting on the surfaces of synthetic polymers, graphs of the contact angle changing in response to temperature gradients, and short rants about how we intend to improve and bring our discoveries to life. I loved it. I finally understood what research was all about, or so I thought. I traveled home excited for the symposium, where SURE participants were eager to display their discoveries. I stood, presented, and smiled for everyone who approached with their individual questions and comments. I boasted about all that I had learned during my time in China. I explained how altering the surface of a polymer on the nanolevel could determine how it interacts with droplets of water. I listened to advice for continuing my research of using smart molecules to further complicate these interactions. But it wasn’t until after the symposium that it struck me —I missed out on a vital part of my research abroad. I hadn’t given much notice to my notepad, filled with the scribbles of Chinese language I gathered over the course of our program. I didn’t take into consideration the

awkward social interactions (or experiments of over 11 million people who all seemed the if you will) that blossomed into friendships same to me. That’s when I began my research and understanding. I failed to realize during in earnest. my stay in Changchun that every day was an Understanding the way of life in Moscow experiment—discovering a unique culture. wasn’t simple. Interpersonal relationships, The idea that part of my research in China public etiquette, ethnic and racial divisions was the cultural investigation and discovery —these were the first things that I began to that occurred on a daily basis, even when I uncover as I worked my way through the didn’t have to appear in the lab, escaped me year. I likened the experience to my lab time until I was already home. I realized that I in China, where every experiment improved really didn’t understand what research was all on the one before it. I went into social about yet. situations aware of my ignorance, analyzed Just a few weeks after the close of the the situation, and proceeded to test my SURE symposium, this new concept of own theories. research began to define and alter my goals It wasn’t always pretty. Just like in the lab, for my year abroad in Russia. Research isn’t one wrong step could completely change the something limited to a library, classroom, end result. An embarrassing moment could be or lab but something that can be done compared to a broken instrument, and every anywhere. With “The idea that part of my research in China was the this in mind, I traveled to Moscow cultural investigation and discovery that occurred on not simply to learn a daily basis, even when I didn’t have to appear in the a language, but to lab, escaped me until I was already home.” dive deep into the inner workings of the Russian culture. offended person to dangerous chemicals After what seemed like only a few days being spilled in the lab. However, with every at Moscow State University, my honeymoon misstep progress was made and something period wore off. My eyes were opened to was learned. the stark reality that I was virtually alone in It didn’t take long to uncover the basic Russia. Unlike my time in China, I wasn’t social norms and public etiquette. I always presented with a laboratory, concrete wore slippers inside of homes. I became objectives, or peers with whom I could more open to the intimate personal bond. Instead, I had Moscow, a melting pot questions that Russians love to ask. I lost

Vox Populi

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my “fake” American smile. I was continually being given the tools to take this research deeper through my classes, gaining knowledge about political systems, historical movements, art, and culture. The more I learned about Russian society, the better my interpersonal communications with Russians became. I slowly involved myself in political events, widened my circle of acquaintances, acquired a teaching job, and pursued social media projects. I taught mathematics to Russian students, and volunteered as an English conversation partner. I also appeared in a prime-time interview for Russia Today, the leading English source of televised news about Russia. All of these wonderful cultural experiences and more have been recorded in my blog, Cody’s Adventures: Touch Russia.

of studying the language. After seeing the flow of positive feedback following the release of the video, things became clear. It was as if I had been playing the role of a social scientist, slowly gathering data and information about Russian culture. I had done many experiments on a small scale, gathering tidbits of knowledge here and there. Touch Russia, however, was an effort combining all that I had learned—an experiment on a grander scale. This video was a “lab result” that showed that I was not simply learning, but that my work could benefit society as a whole. It was my justification. Touch Russia brought pride and joy to thousands of Russians who watched the video online. I received messages from people who wished to extend their gratitude for “taking the time to get to know my country.” The comments left were always heartwarming, “It was as if I had been playing the role of and exemplified the pride a social scientist, slowly gathering data and Russians have for their information about Russian culture.” country and culture. I had successfully penetrated One particularly noteworthy success was into some layer of the Russian culture, and the Touch Russia viral video project. Workthat success warranted more exploration. ing with Russia Beyond the Headlines, our Ultimately, what started as two months team created a video featuring me touching of nanotechnology research in China quickly “everything Russian,” from foods to obscure became a year of cultural discovery and landmarks. As with any research project, analysis. It required two distinct experiences justification for your work is mandatory. for me to discover how broad real research Researchers spend days discussing how can be. With a definition as simple as “the their research can be utilized and how it can collecting of information about a particular benefit society. This video really provided me subject,” research is not just a concrete thing with the justification I needed. Before Touch done in a laboratory or archive. It also isn’t Russia, I was struggling to see what the exact restricted to understanding and interacting purpose of my study in Moscow was, outside with different cultures.




Vox Populi

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

Research is something that can be done daily, where discoveries can be made through the most simple of interactions. Research is the gathering of information through a variety of methods, whether in the lab or on the streets. By taking the basic idea of research with you everywhere and keeping an open mind, you can unlock a more complex understanding about the world around you. Cody White, a native of Charleston, West Virginia, is a frequent international traveler. White visited Medellin, Colombia, to work with underprivileged children following his high school graduation. In addition to the SURE IRES and Boren Scholarship programs, he has traveled to Kenya for a service project and received the US State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship, which took him back to Russia this summer. White lives in WVU’s International House, where he continues to explore new cultures. Following graduation, he plans to use his education to work for the federal government, while simultaneously seeking a graduate degree. He would like to extend his appreciation to WVU and the US State Department for making his recent year abroad a reality. Follow the QR code to see Cody White’s Touch Russia video project.

Research Buzz By Kathy deGraaf


rowing up in an academic household, I heard the word research regularly from a young age. But I confess I didn’t have a good grasp of the meaning in those early days. My parents often spoke of the classes they taught, and their interactions with their students and their friends in the university community; I watched my mom grading calculus tests at one end of the dining room table and wondered at the strange mystery of derivatives. Dad would type up his lecture notes on index cards using an old mechanical typewriter, at the other end of that same table. The cards were covered with words like E. Coli and malaria (Dad taught parasitology and microbiology in the WVU School of Medicine). He also typed his research papers but I didn’t pay much attention—he was always typing, and that table was always shaking from it. Later on I came to understand that part of Dad’s job was to do research—to me, that meant going out into the field and collecting odd bits of things, bringing them back to his lab, putting them under a microscope, and writing papers about it. Most of his field work was done in the summertime; sometimes, returning along the back roads of West Virginia from a family vacation to a state park, we would pull off to the side of the road near a stream and my sister and I

during the caterpillar research, and I recall her showing me her setup. It wasn’t until then that I actually started to make the connection between research and problem-solving—the whole point is to find an answer to a question that no one else has yet answered (preferably a question that you have a passion to solve). And to do that you need to formulate the question very specifically, design a study that ensures you’ll get a definitive answer, gather your data, figure out what your data tells you, and explain it to others coherently. All of this must be done with objectivity, since the data sometimes doesn’t yield the results you expected. At its best, research involves a healthy curiosity about our world, a strong desire to find answers to questions we have about it, and a good dose of discipline to be sure the results are useful. Years went by, during which I followed my own interest in software engineering, building products for various applications— satellites, phone switches, networking and server equipment. It’s pretty rewarding work

would accompany Dad as he poked under rocks in the shallow clear water, collecting mayfly larvae and snails. My sister Martha was always more adept at “collecting” than I was, and when it was time to choose a field of study she decided to become a biologist. In graduate school she did summer fieldwork just like Dad—one year it was study“At its best, research involves a healthy curiosity ing the progress about our world, a strong desire to find answers of caterpillars to questions we have about it, and a good dose of on aspen trees discipline to be sure the results are useful.” at a biological research station in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and another and it does involve a lot of problem-solving, year it was studying the genetics of sticklebut it doesn’t involve answering any burning back fish that she worked with in the Queen questions (aside from “are we going to be Charlotte Islands off the coast of British able to get this thing working on time?”). Columbia. Biologists get to go to some Officially, I’m part of the research and pretty interesting places. I got to visit her development division of my company. But

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my job is almost all about the development side, with little time spent on research. We have a particular goal in mind, and we use existing knowledge to reach that goal. Until his retirement and beyond, my dad was still doing his collecting and working on his research projects. He did a lot of work on transmission vectors for Lyme disease in West Virginia, which involved numerous trips to the forest with his friend Arnold Benson, trapping and releasing small animals after taking blood samples from them. When I moved to Massachusetts, I had lots of questions about Lyme disease, which is quite common here, and I knew just whom to ask. Dad was a wealth of information. I had lots of questions because I spend a lot of time outside and I see a lot of ticks, so mostly it was about self-preservation. But before long I found myself wondering about other things that I see going on in my backyard, and now I can understand the draw for my biologist relatives. About six years ago I took up a hobby that surprised my family: beekeeping. This is a rather popular activity now, almost trendy in some areas (New York City, for example), but not so long back it was still considered a very odd thing to do. Of all the places in the nation where people practice this hobby, Massachusetts could well be one




of the most popular, and Worcester County has more beekeepers than any other part of the state. There are over 700 people in our county beekeeping club, at last count. So I’m fortunate to be part of a very large and active community of beekeepers, and we meet regularly to talk about best practices as well as how to deal with problems that we see in our hives. We also have the opportunity to hear guest speakers talk about current research topics in beekeeping. Humans have been keeping honeybees at least since Egyptian times, and probably studying them for longer. But in recent decades the growth of global trade has brought honeybee diseases such as varroa mites and Nosema ceranae to places where they hadn’t previously existed, such as New England. There has been a lot of research to determine how the diseases are spread, how they affect bees, and how to control them. The grave threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has brought bee research to the attention of the wider public. We read about CCD in the daily papers, and I’m often asked whether it has affected my hives. “No,” I answer, “I’ve been lucky so far, but until we know for certain what causes it, no honeybees are safe.” Sometimes I get asked about a particular study that was just published; the newspaper articles

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that summarize them often suggest that the latest theory is the definitive one, but there have been so many different theories that until the studies are broadly and reliably repeated, I remain skeptical that we’ve found any final answer. As I write this, I’m getting ready to spend a week at the annual conference of the Eastern Apicultural Society. This meeting brings together hobbyists like me, academic researchers, and commercial beekeepers with tens of thousands of hives. Everyone there will have their own anecdotal experience and perspective on this topic, but there will certainly be presentations of the latest research on CCD by some of the best authorities in the field. I’m looking forward to hearing it, and wondering what they will have to say about the overall state of the research. There’s a pretty clear connection, often cited in the press, between honeybees and human self-interest. “If honeybees disappear, we won’t be able to pollinate our crops, and we won’t have food as we know it today.” So it’s easy to understand why the average person should care about honeybee research. The same connection is obvious for cancer research, or energy research. But what about all the other studies that are going on around the world? Why should the average person care, and moreover why should we spend public or private money to fund basic research? In my view, it’s all about building blocks. At the highest level, each of the

answers we get from research gives us an incrementally better understanding of our world. Each is the result of some human’s curiosity, and because of our system of publishing and sharing information gained through open research, each contributes to a vast collection of everything humans have discovered through the scientific process. Some of these data points will turn out to be of tremendous benefit to us in ways we can’t possibly yet foresee. When Marie Curie got her first results from studies of radiation, few people would have made any connection with the health benefits that would eventually cascade from that knowledge. When the Defense Advanced Research

Projects Agency funded research on computer networking, no one had any idea that it would lead to today’s Internet. When the French mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier created his formulae to describe heat transfer in the form of waves, he had no idea that his work would form the basis for today’s digital music technology. Someday, hopefully in the not-toodistant future, we’ll take for granted that we can live free of pain or disease, travel without use of greenhouse gases, and communicate easily with people on the other side of the planet. Oh wait—we can do that last one today! See what I mean?

Vox Populi

Kathy de Graaf is a software engineering senior manager with Juniper Networks in Westford, Massachusetts, where she manages a team of software developers working on multicast routing protocols for various Internet routing products. de Graaf was born and raised in Morgantown. She received a BA in history from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a MS in computer science from WVU. While growing up in West Virginia, she was fortunate to travel throughout the state on family vacations to the beautiful state parks and on other excursions, including collecting trips with her parents, Dr. John Hall and Judith Hall. Following her graduation from WVU, she moved to California’s Silicon Valley. She worked in the heart of the high-tech industry for close to a decade before moving, this time to Massachusetts, which reminds her of West Virginia with its open spaces and thriving natural environment. de Graaf is an avid beekeeper with six healthy hives in her backyard. She received the Worcester County Beekeeping Association’s Award of Excellence in 2008. In 2012, several members of the association, including her mentor Ken Warchol, coauthored a study with Dr. Chensheng Lu of the Harvard School of Public Health titled “In Situ Replication of Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder.” The authors are in the process of replicating the study.

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THE ROLL OF THUNDER By Gerrill Griffith, Illustration by Alayna Lemmer

For hundreds of years, historians have proposed, examined, and fought over just what made the Mongol hordes of the eleventh century tick. A West Virginia University researcher discovered some unexpected insight into what might have caused the hordes to rumble and roll into one of the world’s most terrifying empires after she visited Mongolia and on a whim brought home some very old and odd slices of wood. 16



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Theories about the Mongol conquests have sparked almost as many questions as answers. Were they migrating with an attitude in search of food? On a horse-backed rampage for treasure, like landlocked pirates? Satisfying a thirst for power and domination in a wave of warfare that led to an empire straddling Eurasia? Mongol leader Genghis Khan forged an empire that eventually stretched from Asia’s Pacific coast to Eastern Europe and southward into Persia and Southeastern Asia—a feat that may have cost more than 40 million lives. One of the most popular theories for the Mongol expansion was that the hordes started taking from their neighbors when they were forced to flee drought conditions that made

resources of their own very scarce. But a discovery by Amy Hessl, WVU associate professor of geography in the Department of Geology and Geography, just might turn that theory on its ear by proposing that the spark behind the great Mongol empire expansion may have been rain, not drought. Hessl is a dendrochronologist, a trained expert in analyzing past

She thought she was headed for a career in archeology, sifting through literal sands of time for clues about ancient civilizations. “I used to bury things in my backyard and dig them up again,” she said of her childhood in an interview with National Geographic. Then, efforts to understand and preserve a changing earth environment captured her imagination. On a summer internship working in Yosemite National Park, she met famous dendrochronologist Lisa Graumlich and the stage was set for a new career path. Hessl said she found her “career happy place” where twin interests of

“I am focused on the interactions between humans and the environment over the past 500 to 1,000 years.”




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climate conditions by studying the growth rings in trees. It is an activity that requires skill, patience, powers of observation on a microscopic level, and a keen interest in the past. Before she settled on this career path, she was fascinated by history and the waves of human activity that sparked the rise and fall of the world’s great empires.

history and environment peacefully coexist, even while trudging over an inhospitable Mongolian countryside in search of wood scraps that unexpectedly shed light on 800-year old mysteries. “I am focused on the interactions between humans and the environment over the past 500 to 1,000 years,” she explained.

it. And, as all middle schoolers are taught, counting rings can tell you how many years the tree lived. Because trees grow more slowly in periods of drought or other environmental stress than they do under more favorable conditions, the size of the rings they produce varies. Looking at the pattern of a tree’s rings can reveal information about the environmental changes that took place while it was alive and growing. The team of scientists expected to find tree samples that would give them

began looking more closely at the samples they brought back. They didn’t turn out to be 700 years old. They turned out to be more than 1,300 years old, dating all the way back to about AD 650. “We had all this environmental history all of a sudden that we never expected to have,” Hessl said. “It’s all about energy. What we are seeing in the rings is that around the time of the rise of the Mongols, there was abundant rain. Abundant rain made the grasses grow, and grass powered

“We had all this environmental history all of a sudden that we never expected to have.”

Amy Hessl, PhD

So, when the opportunity came up to work as the principal investigator on a National Geographic-sponsored project in Mongolia focused on how climate change might have affected the region’s wildfire risks, she jumped at the opportunity. Last summer, she teamed up with colleague Neil Pederson of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Baatarblieg Nachin of the National University of Mongolia, and a squad of local helpers to head out into the remote Mongolian countryside in search of telltale wood samples. Their targets for research were wood remains in a 7,000-year-old lava flow. Hessl explained that tree rings can tell the tale of a region’s environmental history. They indicate whether abundant water supplies promoted growth or drought conditions inhibited

an idea of environmental events going back 500 years or so—adequate for the purpose of their fire risk study. They packed up their laptops, microscopes, chain saws, data collection tools, and survival gear and headed into the old lava flow to search at a spot near the ancient seat of the Mongol empire, the Orkhon Valley. They intended to conduct on-site examinations of samples and document their findings. Instead, a series of misadventures led to unexpected discovery. Her colleague became too ill to venture out into the hot, inhospitable region to pick over the remains of old dead wood and examine old living trees, her Mongolian assistants misjudged their tolerance for dehydration; equipment malfunctioned and time ran out, so there was nothing left but plan B—gather up samples of the feasible dead wood they could find and lug them back to the United States for further study in the lab. The exhausted researchers trudged back to civilization determined to salvage their excursion. They succeeded beyond any expectations. Hessl was shocked when researchers

the horses that grew the cavalry that conquered the region.” Hessl said it was “all about energy” again years later when the Mongols, after already establishing a massive empire, suddenly moved their capitol. More evidence from the tree rings indicates that at the same time they moved their capitol from Mongolia to Beijing, there had been a rapid decline in moisture in the Orkhon Valley. “The move was all about energy again,” she said in her Morgantown lab where a Mongolian flag hangs on the wall between shelves and shelves full of tree trunk slices. “The Mongols were forced to diversify when the grass became scarce. That had traditionally been their energy source for their horses.” She said that when the Mongols moved, the empire became less dependent on grass and used other energy sources instead: they developed a navy, raised rice products, and pursued energy resources that were less grass- and horsepower-based. “That’s where we learn from the history of past civilizations,” Hessl said. “Just as they diversified and switched energy sources in response to changing

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water quality and other environmental changes, we are seeing changes in our own civilization. Right now we use fossil fuels, but we will eventually have to find something else and adapt. Exploring how the Mongols adapted might shed light on current challenges.” In an article about her work that appeared in the March 21, 2012, edition of Scientific American, Hessl stressed that she and her colleagues are not claiming that climate was the main factor in the rise and fall of the Mongols. “Genghis Khan was really the key to uniting many tribes, and he spurred them to expand in a way that’s never been repeated,” she told Scientific American writer Charles Choi. “We just argue that it takes energy to create an empire, just as it does today, and rains may have helped provide the grass that powered their horses. After Genghis Khan died, the empire became somewhat factionalized, with most historians arguing that it became too large to effectively administrate. We’re saying maybe climate change may have made managing the empire difficult also.” Hessl isn’t finished yet. It was back to the Orkhon Valley of Mongolia again in July and August 2012 with an expanded team and a refocused mission. National Geographic awarded her another $20,000 grant as




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Researchers camp in the Orkhon Valley.

principal investigator to expand on the discoveries of last summer. Recognizing the uniqueness of the work, its global significance, and its connection to the institution’s strategic goals of global engagement, exchanges of knowledge, and acceleration of quality research, the WVU Faculty Senate has also made a financial commitment of $12,000 to support the work. In addition to a graduate student John Burkhart of Morgantown, West Virginia, the team has expanded to include researchers from other US

universities who can use Hessl’s tree ring climate data to estimate how many animals and resources the Mongols could have secured from the landscape. Historian Nicola Di Cosmo of the Institute for Advanced Study joined the effort to uncover written references to climate that coincide with the tree ring data. Avery Cook-Shinneman at the University of Washington joined the team to collect tubes of sediment from lake bottoms in the region. “Their samples can show the history of the region in sediment,” Hessl said, while sitting at a microscope in the Montane Forest Dynamics Lab, the neatly organized research facility she operates in Brooks Hall. “They will look for something called Sporormiella, which are spores that thrived in livestock dung. The presence of Sporormiella in the samples can give an idea of how much livestock the Mongols may have been able to accumulate in the time periods we are looking at.” The addition of a historian to the team makes sense. Hessl’s field of study has many implications for

Graduate student John Burkhart studies tree rings in the Hessl Lab.

understanding the past. Matching the pattern in trees whose age is known to the pattern in wood found at an archaeological site can establish the age at which the wood was cut and thus the approximate date of the site. By comparing living trees with old logs and finding overlapping ring patterns, scientists have established chronological records for some species that go back as far as 9,000 years. Research in Hessl’s Montane Forest Dynamics Lab focuses on the interaction between ecosystem processes, climate variability, and human activities in forested systems. Hessl and her graduate students have studied the influence of climate and land-use history on fire regimes in the Appalachian Mountains and the Pacific Northwest and have developed millennial-length climate reconstructions for the Mid-Atlantic region using the tree rings of ancient eastern red cedar collected in West Virginia. Her lab has also explored the relative impacts of climate variability and harvest strategies on carbon sequestration. In collaboration with

“Abundant rain made the grasses grow, and grass powered the horses that grew the cavalry that conquered the region.” the National Park Service the lab is exploring plant diversity on the cliffs of the Mountain State’s New River Gorge. “Earth’s citizens are faced with a host of environmental problems,” Hessl told National Geographic. “By looking at how the Earth has changed in the past and how peoples have responded to those changes, we can better find our way today.” Hessl’s “career happy place” may not be as large as the Mongol

empire, but it is expanding thanks to nationally recognized research results, the commitment of WVU to global engagement, and a society that recognizes the need to look to the past to prepare for the future.

See more about Hessl’s research on YouTube.

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By John Bolt

A report from the National Research Council on the importance research universities play in protecting the nation’s prosperity and security reinforces and supports the direction West Virginia University is headed, its leaders say, as well as underscores concerns the University has been voicing. The Council, an arm of the National Academies, issued Research Universities and the Future of America in June, warning that federal and state government as well as private industry must take action to support and strengthen US research institutions or face further deterioration in the nation’s standard of living and safety. “America’s research universities play a major part in our country’s continued prosperity and security,” President Jim Clements said. “The National Research Council’s report provides a roadmap for academe, business, and government at the state and federal levels to follow in order to keep our research universities, and our country, competitive. “As West Virginia’s land-grant, flagship, research university, WVU welcomes this call to action and we look forward to working with business and government leaders to implement the report’s recommendations.” Congress had requested the report, which was written by a group that included industry executives, university presidents, a former US senator, and a Nobel laureate. “It seems as though WVU has 20/20 vision because of the congruence between the recommended Ten Breakthrough Actions and our recent strategic planning exercises,” said Provost Michele Wheatly, who attended the release of the report in Washington, DC, along with Chief of Staff Jay Cole and Interim Vice President for Research Fred King. Also attending were Nigel Clark, WVU associate vice president for academic strategic planning, and Mary Bowman, WVU’s director of federal research relations. “Two of the ten recommended actions resonate with ongoing initiatives in Academic Affairs, specifically reforming graduate education and improving access and capacity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pathway,” she said. “Through identifying institutional mountains of research 22



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excellence, our faculty will be well positioned to take advantage of strategic investment funds in areas of national priority. Through increasing emphasis on globalization, WVU will be a destination for international students and scholars. Taken together the ten breakthrough actions confirm that WVU is on the right path to becoming a better ranked research university.” The report is a “call for the renewal of the partnerships that helped our nation successfully face the challenges of the twentieth century,” said King, who leads WVU’s research enterprise. “It acknowledges that academia, industry and government all have important roles to play in ensuring the nation can successfully face the challenges of this new century.” King noted that the report doesn’t shy away from requiring that the universities themselves have significant responsibilities. “I am confident that WVU will rise up to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities presented,” he said. “Through our strategic planning process, we have identified specific areas for research that directly address some of the key challenges and opportunities of the century to come. “We are focusing on the innovative utilization of the shale gas resource to address global energy needs; we are focusing on research to secure one of our most precious natural resources–freshwater; we are focusing on developing the best approaches to educate future generations of scientists and engineers and increasing the scientific literacy of the general public; and we are focusing on the science and engineering advances that will enable radio astronomy to increase our understanding of the universe in which we live,” King said. Cole said he anticipated that WVU would help the Council roll out its message as well as gather information for a follow-up report and recommendation a year from now.



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The federal government “should adopt stable and effective policies, practices and funding for university-performed R&D and graduate education so that the nation will have a stream of new knowledge and educated people to power our future, helping us meet national goals and ensure prosperity and security.” States should “provide greater autonomy for public research universities so that these institutions may leverage local and regional strengths to compete strategically and respond with agility to new opportunities. At the same time, restore state appropriations for higher education, including graduate education and research, to levels that allow public research universities to operate at world-class levels.” Strengthen the business role in the research partnership, facilitating the transfer of knowledge, ideas, and technology to society and accelerate ‘time to innovation’ in order to achieve our national goals. Increase university cost-effectiveness and productivity in order to provide a greater return on investment for taxpayers, philanthropists, corporations, foundations, and other research sponsors.



35% 2010-2011 AVG.

$4.4 m 2006-2011

Create a ‘Strategic Investment Program’ that funds initiatives at research universities critical to advancing education and research in areas of key national priority. The federal government and other research sponsors should strive to cover the full costs of research projects and other activities they procure from research universities in a consistent and transparent manner. Reduce or eliminate regulations that increase administrative costs, impede research productivity, and deflect creative energy without substantially improving the research environment. Improve the capacity of graduate programs to attract talented students by addressing issues such as attrition rates, time to degree, funding, and alignment with both student career opportunities and national interests. Secure for the United States the full benefits of education for all Americans, including women and underrepresented minorities, in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Ensure that the United States will continue to benefit strongly from the participation of international students and scholars in our research enterprise.

–President Jim Clements, PhD




Average annual sponsored research and projects at WVU for the past two years has topped $175 million, representing a 35 percent increase over the previous ten-year average.

The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences has experienced an increase in external funding of 8.35 percent over five years equating to an additional $4.4 million.

One well-known federal funding organization, the National Science Foundation, estimates that it will provide 12,000 competitive awards from a proposal pool of 55,000 in 2013. This represents a funding rate of only 22 percent for competitive award seekers, meaning our faculty must work harder in a more competitive atmosphere to succeed.

In the last fiscal year, WVU faculty in the Eberly College submitted

234 research proposals received

$15 million in external funding produced

510 peer-reviewed publications and had

10 new patent applications

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Latin America is an area of the world that has unquestionable strategic importance to the United States. Diplomatic, economic, and security concerns including trade agreements, immigration, and the rise of Latino culture in the United States are all front-page news.

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE By Rebecca Herod Photos by Todd Latocha

To capitalize on opportunities arising from the growth of our neighbors to the south, and to further develop its commitment to global engagement, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences has created a multidisciplinary Latin American Studies (LAS) Program. The program, which was officially approved in February, was in development since 2008. It offers students the opportunity to receive a major or minor in Latin American studies. Ten faculty members from the Eberly College Departments of History, Geology and Geography, Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology, and World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics worked together to develop the program.




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Ángel Tuninetti, chair of the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, was the driving force behind the new major and minor and is thrilled to see five years of hard work come to fruition. “It’s gratifying to see so many students interested in the new offering. During the summer, before its official start, we already had a number of people ready to declare a major or minor in Latin American studies,” Tuninetti said. The multidisciplinary program will be managed by the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. Victoria Garrett, teaching assistant professor in the department, is the director of the Latin American Studies Program. Garrett

teaches courses on Latin American literature and culture, including interdisciplinary courses in Latin American studies and Latin American literature in English translation. “This offering will be beneficial not only to students studying in the arts and sciences, but those in engineering, business, journalism—any majors who want to focus their careers on this growing region,” Garrett said. Jasmine Koech, a junior psychology major with a minor in Spanish, declared her second major in Latin American studies this fall. Koech, a native of Burlington, West Virginia, is the daughter of a Mexican mother and an American father. Her love of Latin American studies deepened when she


Queretaro La Vega

WVU PARTNER INSTITUTIONS IN LATIN AMERICA BRAZIL Centro Universitario Vila Velha • Vitoria Faculdade Trevisan LTDA • São Paulo Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul • Porto Alegre Fundação Getúlio Vargas • Rio de Janeiro Universidade Federal de Pernambuco • Recife ULBRA, Universidad Luterana Do Brasil • Canoas


COLOMBIA Universidad Nacional de Colombia • Bogota ECUADOR Escuela Politecnica National • Quito MEXICO Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro • Queretaro The Mexican Transport Research Institute • Queretaro University of Guanajuato • Guanajuato Autonoma Universidad de San Luis • San Luis Potosi PERU Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola • Lima TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO National Institute of Higher Education Research, Science, and Technology St. Augustine University of the West Indies


IN PROGRESS ECUADOR SENESCYT • Quinto DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Universidad Agroforestal Fernando Arturo de Merino • La Vega

WVU also offers faculty-led programming in Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Additionally, the University maintains extensive relationships with a consortium of universities in Santarem, Brazil, in the Amazon including service learning and faculty exchange.

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took Cultures of Mexico, an in-depth survey of contemporary Mexican culture, including Mexico’s complex history and regional

“To fully understand social influence and human behavior, we have to take into account variations due to cultural, racial, and ethnic differences. As our society becomes more diverse and global, it is becoming more important to understand differences and similarities in cultures to facilitate positive interactions between different groups and overcome negative misconceptions.”—Natalie Shook, PhD

Psychology and Latin American studies double major Jasmine Koech with Latin American studies faculty Victoria Garrett and Pablo Garcia.




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subcultures, Mexican art and literature, linguistic diversity, geography, and politics taught by Pablo Garcia. “I learned so much from Dr. Garcia; it was amazing. I just wanted to learn more,” Koech said. The first-generation McNair Scholar has found a new home on campus, and a place to pursue her education and explore her culture. “At home I really stood out and that was kind of uncomfortable sometimes. When I first moved to West Virginia there were no Hispanic students, no African American students, no Muslims, or Asians in my elementary school. It has grown some, but it wasn’t very diverse. Here I fit in because there is so much more diversity, so many activities, people, and places to discover— places to get involved and belong. I feel even more proud of my heritage here, but I also feel like I blend in more.” Koech says that the Mexican and American sides of her family have different personalities and attitudes related to their differences in culture. A desire to explore those differences is what led to her current research. She is combining her study of social psychology and Latin American studies to understand how attitudes and stereotypes are formed and how that formation differs across race and culture.

In the Department of Psychology, she works with Assistant Professor Natalie Shook. A central theme of the research conducted in Shook’s lab is attitudes—the positive or negative evaluations of people, objects, places, or ideas. Her research group asks how do attitudes develop, what factors can change attitudes, and how do attitudes affect behavior. To answer these questions, they study a variety of topics such as racial prejudice, political opinions, homophobia, consumer choices, and emotional disorders. Shook says that Jasmine’s major in Latin American studies will help her understand and examine the effect of culture on psychological processes and interpersonal interactions. “The goal of social psychology is to understand how external factors and situations affect people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. A primary source of influence is other people. To fully understand social influence and human behavior, we have to take into account variations due to cultural, racial, and ethnic differences. As our society becomes more diverse and global, it is becoming more important to understand differences and similarities in cultures to facilitate positive interactions between different groups and overcome negative misconceptions,” Shook said. Freedom from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego “A major and minor in Latin American studies makes sense economically for the state and it makes sense for our students as we expand globally,” Dean Robert Jones said. “Dr. Tuninetti and the committee have filled a need in an area ripe for growth and partnerships for the whole University, not just the Eberly College. They are opening doors for everyone.” Milan Puskar Dean of the WVU School of Business and Economics Jose “Zito” Sartarelli, who chaired the University’s Roundtable on Global Engagement during its 2020 Strategic Planning process, sees the addition of this program as another building block in the University’s goal to advance international activity and global engagement. “West Virginia led the nation in growth in terms of exports in 2011. We have over 700 companies exporting right now and

that number is just going to increase. It is critical for the state’s flagship university to support this growth through our programs,” Sartarelli said. In February, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office reported that West Virginia’s exports reached $9 billion, a 39.5 percent increase over exports in 2010. Brazil was the number-two market, with close to $700 million dollars in trade. The state’s annual increase dwarfs overall US exports, which grew 15.8 percent during the same period. Sartarelli knows the region well. A native of Brazil, he came to the University from Johnson & Johnson, where he served as pharmaceutical group chairman for Asia-Pacific, Japan, and Latin America, overseeing a business of more than $3 billion in annual sales spread over more than 50 countries, and supported by more than 9,000 employees. Through March 2010, he was a board member of the Council of the Americas, the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere. He notes that one of the most exciting things to happen in the region in the past several decades is the rise of democratic governments. “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, all of the countries in Latin America, except for Cuba, have transitioned to democratic governments; you have freedom from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego. The discovery and development of abundant natural resources like oil, gas, base and precious metals, and agricultural products have provided an upsurge in the economy. There is also unprecedented growth and interest in elementary and higher education in these countries—a revolution in the number of students going to college,” Sartarelli said. For the College of Business and Economics, he envisions enhanced partnerships with universities in Latin America and more exchanges of students. Currently B&E is discussing partnerships with Trevisan College of Business and his own alma mater, São Paulo School of Business Administration (Fundação Getulio

Vargas), both in São Paulo, Brazil. “I see more international students in our classrooms here at WVU—debating and discussing, creating cross-cultural connections and friendships. These partnerships will serve the students and the state,” he said. The University’s Strategic Plan goal is to double the number of international students in its classrooms and double the number of WVU students studying abroad by 2020. Jasmine Koech will be one of those students. She hopes to study in Mexico next summer. “I just want to tell everyone how great this new major is. There are so many opportunities here. The faculty at WVU are amazing. My mentor Dr. Shook and my advisor Constance Toffle in psychology and Dr. Garcia and Dr. Garrett in Latin American studies, they are my gifts,” Koech said. WVU’s gift is students like Jasmine Koech, who can’t wait to make their mark on the world.

Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics Chair Ángel Tuninetti, architect of the new Latin American Studies Program. Tuninetti’s main area of research is travel literature in the Southern Cone, from the late colonial period to the early twentieth century.

For more information about the Latin American Studies Program, visit



BRAZIL Science without Borders





Students from the Brazilian government’s new collaborative initiative, Science Without Borders, which is sponsored by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, arrived on the WVU campus this fall. Science Without Borders provides scholarships to undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for one year of study at chosen colleges and universities in the United States.

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A GRADUATE CONNECTION: An Interview with Doctoral Candidate Joel Christenson




Eberly EberlyCollege CollegeofofArts Artsand andSciences SciencesMagazine Magazine

The Department of History offers a growing graduate concentration in modern Latin American history. James Siekmeier, associate professor of history and member of the Latin American studies faculty, advises several graduate students in the field, including Joel Christenson. Originally from Michigan, Christenson is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the department. He received his undergraduate degree in international studies and political science from Virginia Military Institute in 1999. Prior to beginning his doctoral degree, he worked as a defense analyst for the federal government. And for four summers during his graduate studies, he has worked as an intern historian for US Southern Command, the unified combatant command of the Department of Defense with responsibility for US military activity in Latin America. Christenson’s doctoral thesis, “From Gunboats to Good Neighbors: US Naval Diplomacy in Latin America, 1919-1945,” explores the role of noncoercive military and naval power in American foreign relations. His research examines the diplomatic role of the US Navy in Latin America between the First and Second World Wars. He plans to defend his dissertation during the spring 2013 semester.

What sparked your interest in Latin America? I have long been interested in international relations, and in the history of US foreign policy. I studied quite a lot of it when I was an undergraduate. But it wasn’t until I caught the “history bug” as a working professional that I began to think much about US relations with Latin America. I started working part-time on an MA in American history at George Mason University, and the first class I took was a seminar in the history of US foreign relations taught by a Latin America specialist from the US Department of State. I realized that American foreign policy— which I had learned largely as an East-West discipline (a view born of the euphoria of the post-Cold War 1990s)—had fascinating and vitally important North-South dimensions. Not only was Latin America “there” in the history of US foreign policy. It was the heart of the matter for much of the nation’s history. What is the most interesting thing you have discovered? The most interesting thing I’ve encountered is the story of the US naval advisory mission that worked in the South American nation of Peru from 1920 to 1933. After World War I, the United States began sending military and naval officers to Latin American nations to advise and assist their national defense establishments—a practice that continues today. Peru, then governed by an ardently pro-United States dictator named Augusto Leguía, was the first nation to receive such a mission. At his invitation, US Navy officers “advised” by accepting rank and pay in the Peruvian Navy (even going so far as to wear Peruvian naval uniforms), and by exercising complete control over its daily functions. They developed Peru’s national defense strategy, made decisions about purchases of naval armaments, and even created military and civil aviation services within the country. For all intents and purposes, the

Americans “became” Peruvian officers, even though they still retained their rank and status in the US Navy. At the same time, they helped the dictator (who feared the Peruvian Army’s political influence and sought to use the Navy as a counterbalance against it) strengthen his hold on power. While the naval mission to Peru carried out important, long-lasting naval reforms and helped transform the Peruvian Navy into one of South America’s preeminent sea forces, it helped reinforce anti-democratic political forces within that nation and complicated US foreign policy in South America in the longer term. It was the first instance, I argue, of a now-familiar pattern: the United States backed a pro-American dictator who suppressed the popular will of his people, and then suffered a backlash when that popular will broke free and toppled the regime. How will your research enhance historical knowledge about the US relationship with the region during the interwar period? While the United States regularly employed naval and military forces to intervene and maintain stability in Latin America through the first two decades of the twentieth century, it was during the interwar period, in an attempt to be a “Good Neighbor” to Latin America, that the United States began relying heavily on the US military to carry out a substantial share of its broader relations with Latin American nations. Today, the United States maintains groups of military advisers in nearly every Central and South American country, and it depends on the US Navy to carry out much of its cultural diplomacy in the region. These efforts have sometimes paid off handsomely, resulting in improved Latin American military establishments and substantial amounts of goodwill toward the United States. On other occasions, though, dependence

on military-to-military contacts has complicated United States-Latin American relations. In key instances, direct American military assistance has helped strengthen dictatorial governments, such as in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. And at times the United States-sponsored School of the Americas has served as a lightning rod for criticism of US foreign policy in Latin America. My research explores this intimate military involvement in US-Latin American policy. Why is it important to examine our relationship to Latin America? The big reason is that Americans today, unfortunately, tend to think very little about Latin America, and know even less about it. This is despite the fact that, for most of our national history, Latin America has been our greatest foreign policy concern. In the 1820s, it was so important that President James Monroe famously declared the end of further European colonization in the hemisphere. In the early twentieth century, it was so important that, again and again, the United States sent naval vessels and Marines to maintain a regional stability favorable to US interests. And during World War II, Latin American concerns—security of the Panama Canal foremost among them—permeated nearly every aspect of the Roosevelt administration’s strategic planning. For their part, when the United States has come calling on Latin America for assistance (such as during World War II and the Cold War), Latin American nations have anted up—even though their expectations of the United States have often been dashed by reality. Today, Americans know very little of their nation’s intimate ties with its neighbors to the south, and take Latin America for granted. We seem shocked and surprised when waves of anti-US sentiment appear. It is my hope that my research can provide some much needed context for understanding US-Latin American relations today.

Opposite: Joel Christenson, graduate student in the Department of History, studies the role of noncoercive military and naval power in US-Latin American relations. Photo by Brian Persinger.

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Science Fair:

By Jared Lathrop and Rebecca Herod Photos provided by AWIS

Equal Opportunities for Women in STEM




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

When asked to name women who have made history there are many that you could choose. Some famous candidates from the history books are Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Modern high-ranking, high-profile role models might be Sandra Day O’Connor, Barbara Walters, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, or Benizir Bhutto. However, if asked to name three women who have made history in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, could you? Perhaps you could rattle off Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize—two, in fact, one in chemistry and one in physics. She is the only scientist ever to receive the prize in two different disciplines.

WOMEN STEM Learn about the Women of STEM


by scanning the QR code.

Then there are the countless STEM pioneers whose names you probably don’t recognize. Women like Virginia Apgar, the pioneer of anesthesiology, or Lise Meitner, one of the co-creators of the theory of nuclear fission, whose male partner, Otto Hahn, received the Noble Prize for their joint research while she was overlooked. More recent leaders include Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, a computer scientist and electrical engineer by training and the first female CEO of IBM. The truth is that all of these women have made history; however, women as a whole, from the lab to the office to the boardroom, are woefully underrepresented in STEM fields. Part of the reason is a lack of visible role models. A wage gap between male and female workers and strong gender stereotypes are also attributed to discouraging women’s participation in STEM. According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, women comprise 48 percent of the US workforce but only 24 percent of STEM workers. The University of California-Davis Study of California Business Leaders noted that in booming Silicon Valley, women still hold fewer than one in ten of the highest-paid executive positions and board seats at the top public firms in California. That means more than onethird, or 136 of the 400 major Silicon Valley

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companies, had no women among their boards of directors or highest-paid executives. These statistics are fairly common, despite the fact that the amount of women in the STEM fields with college education increased from 46 to 49 percent in 2011. A national organization with a chapter in Morgantown wants to change those statistics. The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) was started in the summer of 1971, when a group of 27 female scientists united to better advocate for equity and career advancement. This organization is focused on defending the interests of all women working in science and technology. Since its inception, AWIS has helped secure many victories for women in science, including one you probably don’t associate with science at all,

Everyone into the Pool Coming off one of the most successful summer Olympics for women, it is easy to see the positive impact of Title IX on athletics. It is not so obvious in the realm of STEM, which is why the federal government has recommitted to upholding the spirit and letter of the law by specifically targeting science. In June, the White House celebrated the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX and outlined three new initiatives to support STEM.

Federal agencies will commit to developing common guidance to colleges and universities on responsibilities and best practices for Title IX compliance, specifically to help institutions better understand their compliance obligations and ways to improve access and outreach to women and girls in STEM fields.

The Department of Education will revise Title IX Technical Assistance to K-12 and post-secondary institutions to explicitly address STEM. The Department of Education will •broaden data collection to provide new gender-based academic analyses of topics such as school discipline rates, retention by grade, and participation in advanced math and science courses broken down by gender. 32



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

Title IX. Most commonly referenced when speaking of women in sport, this law denies gender discrimination in any educational activity or program receiving federal funding. Since 1991, the AWIS-WV Chapter has been dedicated to achieving equity and full participation for women in STEM fields. Amy Keesee, PhD, of the Department of Physics, leads the chapter, consisting of 25 female professionals and students from all over the state. Keesee joined the organization hoping to make changes for young women. “I joined AWIS during graduate school,” said Keesee. “I found that I was the only female in my research group. I realized that the STEM fields were definitely a boy’s club. So from that point on I really wanted to change that; I’ve been trying to get women and girls involved in these fields ever since.” The mission of the Association for Women in Science allows her to achieve this goal. One way is the yearly Expanding your Horizons in Math and Science conference, which is designed to expose young women to exciting careers in science and math. These conferences have been going on since 1976, and have been held annually in over 120 locations nationwide. The 2012 Expanding Your Horizons conference was held at West Virginia

Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Seventeen girls participated in eight workshops that varied from modern physics to pharmacy and website design. The students were given the opportunity to listen to two guest speakers with very successful STEM careers. “Girls in middle school are at a critical age where they are beginning to experience peer pressure and societal expectations,” Keesee said. “These expectations often influence the classes they choose to take in high school and plans they make for the future. It’s so important to show them at this age that STEM fields are fun and provide a way for them to help their community and the world. We must also dispel the stereotypical image of a scientist and show them that women can have enjoyable, successful careers in STEM fields.” Expanding Your Horizons is making inroads. “Although I’ve always been really interested in science, I really wanted to learn new things,” said Shannon Werntz, a participant. “The coolest thing they taught me was how to make a water filtration system with a plastic water bottle. While we were building them they told us that there were female scientists who live in Africa, and their job was to install these systems. I knew, after they told

us that, I was going to do something with science or even math. I’m just so sure of it.” Once a young woman like Shannon dips her toes in, AWIS works to keep her in the pool by maintaining enthusiasm and promoting access.

ninth grade students with little to no formal exposure to science participated in Summer Science Camp; seven were girls. Over five days students built hovercrafts, designed and tested bridges, took apart modern electronics, and built circuits and electromagnetic motors.

development Web seminars and networking opportunities, including educational outreach opportunities with local communities and schools. There is moral support and a real sense of camaraderie,” Stephanie Sears, a doctoral candidate in physics said. The sense of togetherness that Sears “I found that I was the only female in my research group. I realized and other members of the community feel comes from that the STEM fields were definitely a boy’s club. So from that point the idea they are all working on I really wanted to change that; I’ve been trying to get women toward the same goals. “Science is open and and girls involved in these fields ever since.”­—Amy Keesee, PhD waiting for you, and you can contribute to it if you want to do so,” she added. AWIS member Aniketa Shinde, They experimented with lasers, PhD, is a physicist by training and the lenses, and prisms; investigated the education coordinator for NanoSAFE color of atoms; and explored the science (formerly WVNano), the State of West of fireworks. Chemistry in the kitchen and Virginia’s initiative for nanoscale science, building and testing batteries and solar cells engineering, and education. She coordinates rounded out the week. the NanoSAFE Graduate Fellowship For Shinde, like Keesee, it’s about Program, which supports graduate students breaking down the stereotype of “the from underrepresented classes in STEM scientist” so that every student feels they can disciplines to increase diversity at WVU become a scientist. and ensure lifetime career success through “Some goals of my job—increase the comprehensive career training. She also diversity of STEM students, provide resources works with physics faculty members on the for STEM education where needed, and Learning Assistants and TREK programs, all ignite an interest in STEM fields—coincide of which are supported by a National Science with the issues AWIS supports,” Shinde Foundation EPSCoR Research Infrastructure said. “Having a national organization whose Improvement award. goal is to help further women in science In addition to those duties, Shinde is necessary, unfortunately. Not only promotes events like Kid’s Day, a nanoscience does it help to have a large network booth with hands on activities for children of members who are interested in ages 5-10 and WVU’s annual Summer similar issues, but it helps to have Science Camp, run by chemistry professor an organization familiar with Jennifer Robertson-Honecker, a five-day, the policy side of things.” nonresidential camp teaching concepts Sinde says that AWIS helps like chemistry in the kitchen, design of her stay informed of policies smart materials, clean energy technology, or practices that hinder or lasers in medicine and industry, and future help the advancement communication technologies. She also is of women in science, involved with Engineering Challenge Camps whether it is related that introduce robotics, transportation, to work-life balance, mechanical and aerospace engineering, hiring policies, nanotechnology, and biomedical and graduate education, or chemical engineering to high school students. unconscious biases. This year 20 rising seventh through “There are professional Photo by Brian Persinger.

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By Ashleigh Pollart and Lindsay Willey

Located in the basement of West Virginia University’s Life Sciences Building is a life-sized history lesson, a plant library dating back to the 1890s. When you step into the WVU Herbarium you will find floor-to-ceiling cabinets containing thousands upon thousands of folders, each with at least one plant sample. The folders are filled with archival papers containing dried and pressed plants meticulously mounted on the sheets. Listed with the plant is the name of the man or woman who found that particular specimen, the location and date of its discovery, and the taxonomic information of the specimen, such as its scientific species and family.

The yellow green carpet comprised of tiny moss plants (each resembling a small green star) is small white cushion moss (Leucobryum albidum), growing with the lichen Dragon Cladonia (Cladonia squamosa).




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

The WVU Herbarium grew out of the private collection of a botanist, Charles F. Millspaugh, who was employed by the University from 1889 to 1892. His collection eventually grew into what is today home to more than 170,000 specimens, the largest collection of plants native to West Virginia. “WVU Herbarium specimens travel around the world on loan for research projects. We have regular exchange of collections with two herbaria in Japan, as well as many in the United States,” explained Donna Ford-Werntz, PhD, clinical associate professor of biology and curator of the Herbarium. “The Herbarium’s strength is its service and education roles, reaching from scientists to the general public.” Herbarium specimens are used for many types of research including invasive species, climate change, and conservation research. Historically, WVU has had exchange programs with 60 other herbaria. Currently, the Herbarium exchanges with the Makino Herbarium of Tokyo Metropolitan University and Tohuku University in Sendai, as well as herbaria in New York, Washington, California, Louisiana, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. Since 1995 the Herbarium has averaged 15 loans shipped each year, an impressive number totaling over 1,000 specimens annually. A few floors up in Life Sciences is the Bryophyte-Lichen Collection. It houses non-vascular plants, which are species like mosses. Bryophytes and lichens differ from vascular plants; they are small and spongelike, and lack flowers, fruits, cones, or seeds. Lichens are fungi that “farm” algae. “Since we have specimens from all over the world, we look at some unusual and often beautiful species. Our amazing collection of bryophytes and lichens from the past and present will soon be accessible to interested scholars around the world,” Susan Moyle Studlar, PhD, visiting associate professor of biology

and curator of the bryophyte and lichen collection, explained. Studlar co-authored a Checklist of West Virginia Bryophytes for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources in 2002, backed by a database of over 1,000 verified specimens with updated names. Now she is working toward making the entire collection of about 30,000 bryophyte and lichens available online to scholars around the world. This is part of an exciting project sponsored by the National Science Foundation to put label data on the Web for several million specimens from multiple North American herbaria. Bryophytes and lichens are outstanding ecological indicators, often wedded to particular microclimates. In the NSF-sponsored Thematic Collections Network (TCN)

the Herbarium’s resources at least once a week for archiving new species, identifying rare species, keeping track of invasive species, and finding species through historical records. “The Herbarium is extremely important to us. It’s our best reference that we have in the state. Whenever we have plants that we’re not certain of we take our specimens to compare them with existing plants. It’s a reference library for us and we couldn’t do our work without it,” explained Elizabeth Byers, a natural heritage ecologist who works with conservation and restoration projects. This summer Byers identified an introduced species that was new to her natural heritage colleagues. The plant is known as a European centaury—a delicate looking plant with pink flowers—and was originally found in Europe, parts of Western

The lichen Common Toadskin (Lasallia papulosa) on the cliffs at New River Gorge.

project, label data from specimens going back 200 years or more will be used by researchers to help assess climate-change. Although the Herbarium is physically located in Morgantown, scientists, researchers, and federal programs from all over the world will be able to use the resource much more effectively as online resources are developed through the TCN and other projects. The West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, which inventories and monitors rare species and ecological communities in the state, has relied on the Herbarium since the program’s creation 38 years ago. It uses

Asia, and Northern Africa before being introduced to the United States. This particular specimen was collected by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, which sent it to the Herbarium. When Ford-Werntz has proof of a certain number of locations for the invasive species, she will announce that the species is naturalized in the state. Researchers must find and identify one more population before the European centaury is declared naturalized in West Virginia. “It is a good example of how we all work together to try to safeguard the biodiversity of West Virginia,” Byers

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Graduate student Pete Clark on the cliffs of the New River Gorge, home of many unique species of plants.

See images of the Herbarium staff at work, online at

explained. “No single one of us can do much without the support and knowledge of our colleagues.” Cynthia Huebner, PhD, a supervisory research botanist, works with the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to protect and maintain America’s forests. She’s assigned to the Northern Research Station, located in Morgantown, which conducts extensive research on the detection and management of invasive species that threaten forest health. Huebner’s partnership with the WVU Herbarium began in August 2000, and it was the Herbarium’s organized collection and large volume of well-preserved specimens, spanning a large time frame, that kept her coming back. “WVU’s herbarium and its staff, by actively collecting and confirming identifications of collections made by people depositing specimens, and keeping electronic records of each collection, provides an essential service for students of the biological sciences and any person seeking botanical information,” Huebner explained. “The Herbarium is an important resource that improves my and many US Forest Service scientists’ ability to conduct research—which ultimately benefits the entire nation.” Without the Morgantown-housed herbarium, Huebner would be forced to travel to another facility. The herbarium at 36



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh is the only nearby option, but it does not specialize in West Virginia plants. In fact, there are only about 850 herbaria in North America. Some of these facilities call museums, botanical gardens, or universities home. The WVU Herbarium is the only facility in the world to specialize in West Virginia plants. “Research on herbaria records of West Virginia would not be possible, or at least very incomplete, without the Herbarium and its staff,” Huebner said. The WVU Herbarium makes it possible for researchers to collaborate on interdisciplinary studies. In 2010, WVU was awarded a $235,000 grant from the National Park Service to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the cliffs in the New River Gorge National River.

and tourism resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. He is joined by Steven Kite, PhD, chair and associate professor of geology and geography, and Amy Hessl, PhD, associate professor of geography, both in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. According to Smaldone, until now the majority of the cliff ecosystems of the National River were geologically and biologically unexplored. In addition, visitor use of the cliff resources had never been systemically studied. “This is a world-class climbing destination,” he said. “It’s important for us to understand why hikers and climbers visit here and the types of activities they do.” To gain that understanding, Smaldone employed a variety of assessment tools to gauge visitor knowledge, attitudes,

“If we know what types of habitats are growing there we’re able to better educate visitors on the importance of the areas, and how to minimize their impact.”—David Smaldone, PhD The three-year, interdisciplinary project includes an assessment of geological and botanical components, as well as a comprehensive assessment of recreational users of the cliff areas. Leading the team is Dave Smaldone, PhD, associate professor of recreation, parks,

management preferences, and recreational impacts regarding the cliffs. Further analysis will help the park develop targeted educational materials to deliver key messages to specific audiences. Over the last 28 years, annual recreational visits to the river have risen

from 230,000 to over 1.1 million. Rock climbing has also become increasingly popular within the park, with more than 1,600 established climbing routes. “With an increase in hikers, climbers, and other visitors, the National Park Service needed to study the impacts to the cliff areas,” Smaldone said. “Certain vegetative communities and rock outcrops are known to be susceptible to human interaction. If we know what types of habitats are growing there we’re able to better educate visitors

bryophyte found only on seepy cliffs.” Rare lichens found include cliff gold dust (Chrysothrix susquehannensis), previously unknown in West Virginia, and frosted rock tripe (Umbilicaria americana), which had not been seen since the 1920s in West Virginia, based on Herbarium records. “I delivered a myriad of unidentified specimens sampled in the field,” Clark said. “In some instances Drs. Ford-Werntz and Studlar quickly identified the plants

Donna Ford-Werntz will determine whether the European centaury—a delicate looking plant with pink flowers originally found in Europe, parts of Western Asia, and Northern Africa before being introduced to the United States—has become naturalized in West Virginia.

on the importance of the areas, and how to minimize their impact.” Kite’s effort focused on the geologic components of the cliffs and used mapping techniques to describe the extent of the cliffs and associated bedrock petrology, stratigraphy, and structural geology. For the botanical component, Hessl and graduate student Pete Clark surveyed, inventoried, and mapped the cliff vegetation and associated plants, bryophytes, and lichens. They were assisted by Studlar and by Don Flenniken, a consulting lichenologist from Ohio. “A variety of species that were thought to be uncommon are quite common,” Smaldone said. “What’s most exciting for plant and lichen folks, however, is we also found unique and rare species. Some rare plants included certain Carex and Danthonia species, as well as bryophytes such as dusky rock moss (Andreaea), an uncommon

from their own mental catalogue. Other more challenging specimens required consultation with the herbaria as well as taxonomic keys.” Clark says that while cliffs have often been thought of as places with little plant diversity, the botanical team found this was not true. In all, 139 species of vascular plants, 130 species of lichens, and 93 species of bryophytes were identified growing on the tops, bottoms, or cliff faces in the New River Gorge. Now in the final stages of data analysis, the team will partner with Penn State University, where the data will be compiled into one final synthesis report. Kathryn McKenney, a graduate student in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources Program in the Davis College will use the gathered data to develop targeted educational materials for use inside the park. While the exact materials have

yet to be determined, Smaldone believes there will be a variety of products, including brochures and signs as well as interpretive programs targeted for specific visitor groups. “Since hikers and climbers access the area for different reasons, it’s important for us to determine how we can best increase awareness of the uniqueness of the cliff resources and minimize the impact on them,” Smaldone said. Smaldone expects initial educational materials to be ready for distribution this fall, while the full report on their findings will be prepared in 2013. The WVU Herbarium is a worldclass educational and research facility unique to the Mountain State. Its plant library is a life-sized history, providing a glimpse into the past and a path for future research and discovery for scientists and conservationists. The facility and its knowledgeable curators, Donna FordWerntz and Susan Moyle Studlar, are critical scientific and cultural resources for West Virginia and the world.

Are you a nature-lover interested in supporting the research and preservation work of the WVU Herbarium and Bryophyte-Lichen Collection? Help maintain and expand the efforts of this special and important scientific, educational, and cultural resource with a private gift. A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University offers a unique opportunity to direct your dollars toward initiatives that are important to you. Make an annual contribution or consider a legacy gift to add your name or that of a loved one to the Herbarium or the Bryophyte-Lichen Collection. Contact Bonnie McBee Fisher, director of development, at, to discuss how you can support these and other special educational resources.

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We came to be inspired. We stayed because we are. We will become the inspiration.

By Diana Mazzella, Photos by Brian Persinger and MARS

During an exciting week this spring, 28 West Virginia high school students felt what it was like to be at the top of their game. They fought hard to get to that point: competing against the best in the world. And for weeks they created and tweaked their robot, Marvin V. It was time to perform. At West Virginia University, these high school students on the Mountaineer Area RoboticS team and their mentors have done more than make a robot as part of the FIRST Robotics Competition, which includes 2,300 other teams. These students have come through it changed, and so has West Virginia. Kari DeMicco, 16, is a junior at University High School in Morgantown. After joining a FIRST Lego League team for students ages 9 through14, she nurtured her interest in science, was mentored by the high school team, and is now a member. Since she’s been on the Mountaineer Area RoboticS team, she’s decided that after mentoring the 41 middle school robotics teams and conducting outreach elsewhere in West Virginia, she wants to be a 4-H Extension agent to assist youth for a long time to come. “There are some kids who have joined our team that originally didn’t plan to go to college,” DeMicco said. “The program inspired them. Even if they don’t go into engineering, they’re still doing something positive with their life.” All alumni of the high school team have gone on to




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attend college, and they all have received full or partial scholarships. If they attend WVU, they can be seen mentoring the next generation of students who start off building robots and end up with so much more. In the spring, they journeyed to St. Louis to compete against 396 other teams in their latest bout at the FIRST world competition. They went head to head with the best youth robotics teams. Their mentor, Earl Scime, chair of the Department of Physics, received FIRST’s Woodie Flowers Award for being the national mentor of the year. You can see the effects of Scime’s mentorship in the students’ positive attitudes, their achievements, and their outreach.

THE ROAD TO COMPETITION Like any journey, most of the work happens outside of the spotlight. There’s planning and building and plain hard work involved. Weeks before the regional competition, the team got nervous. “It’s really scary actually because they only give us a sixweek time limit to build our robot,” DeMicco said. These students pray for snow days for a nontraditional reason: to work on their robot. There wasn’t as much snow

Students installing a pulse-width-modulated speed controller used to control the speed of the motors on a test robot chassis.

According to an independent Brandeis University study, highschool-aged participants in FIRST, when compared with their similarly talented peer groups, are more than three times as likely to major in engineering; roughly ten times as likely to have an apprenticeship, internship, or co-op job in their freshman year; twice as likely to pursue a career in science and technology; and twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.

this year, but every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, the students got together for hours—sometimes staying until the early morning hours on weekends—to bring Marvin V to life. “Our robot is awesome,” she said. “It’s competing better than most robots there. It is a huge challenge, but it was really, really exciting.” This year’s task was to design and build a robot that would shoot basketballs to consistently go through a hoop. Everybody had a part in building the robot, but not in the same way. Some drew plans; others worked construction in a room at the WVU Department of Physics. Some programmed the robot to move, including using Kinect technology to move Marvin on the court. Others raised thousands of dollars to take the team to competitions and worked with sponsors. Still others like DeMicco handled publicity, steered the team’s educational efforts, and ultimately helped win the team the highest award possible at the regional competition in Raleigh, North Carolina— the Regional Chairman’s Award. This award speaks to how well the team keeps program FALL FALL 2 0 1220 139 2


Marvin V (FIRST team 2614) aligned with FIRST teams 422 and 1086 from Virginia. The alliance was awarded the Regional Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award presented at the regional level.

alumni involved, raises funds, and supports the entire point of this program: drawing youth into the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. WVU’s MARS team is affiliated with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization designed to encourage students to pursue STEM skills while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway. Shiv Sunil, Autumn Baker, and Abe Joshua work on writing code for Marvin. Sunil, who interned at NASA this summer, is a senior at Morgantown High School. Baker and Joshua joined MARS this year.



MARS was founded in 2008 by five student members of a three-time state champion West Virginia FLL team.

MARS participated in many community outreach events, developed an inclusive marketing plan, started eight and sponsored ten FLL teams, helped FRC teams worldwide as a LabVIEW beta test team, published a rookie team development packet, and distributed specialized game balls to teams in need. As a competitive team at both the Pittsburgh and Palmetto regionals, they were semifinalists, and were awarded the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Controls Award for their advanced control system. They also won the Industrial Safety Award at the Palmetto Regional.

The MARS team was awarded the Rookie All Star Award in Pittsburgh, out of eight teams. MARS competed in the quarterfinals and the semifinals as an alliance partner with FIRST team 337 from Logan, West Virginia and FIRST team 357 from Philadelphia to win the Pittsburgh Regional. MARS then won a berth in Atlanta for the World Championship, where they enjoyed three days of intense competition.




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“All of our efforts are focused on getting more kids involved.”—Alex Stout

Emily Raque cuts down the net following a team win. Marvin V’s driver, Matt Gramlich, a high school junior, commutes from Hurricane, West Virginia, to work with MARS. He shows his MARS spirit in North Carolina, sporting a red fedora with the Regional Chairman’s Award and the regional finalist medal which was shared with FIRST teams 1771 from Georgia and 4083 from South Carolina.

TURNING NUMBERS AROUND Alex Stout, a WVU freshman majoring in secondary education, was on the team as a high school student, in part because his uncle Phil Tucker, a staff member in the Physics Department, was helping to lead the team. He’s now a mentor to the current crop of high school students. Once on the team, Stout was treated as an adult who could get things done. And in his four years there, he found his mission. He’s going to be a social studies teacher. And he and the team are going to change the 2010 statistic that says only 16 out of every 100 West Virginians complete any form of postsecondary education.

“That’s a number we really want to change by starting programs like this around the state,” Stout said. And they’ve done that. The robotics program is now in 23 counties (with one in southwestern Pennsylvania), and every year the number of counties increases. The goal, he says, is to have a presence in every county. “Yeah, the robot’s really cool, and it’s really exciting, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “But after the competition is over, all of our efforts are focused on getting more kids involved.” Scime started the team in 2008 with Tucker and five students, but middle school robotics teams have

2010 MARS created the curriculum for a variety of summer camps, sponsored 11 and mentored 14 FLL teams in three counties. MARS-sponsored FLL teams swept the West Virginia FLL state tournament, including first place overall, first in technical, and first on the field. The MARS FRC team competed in the Pittsburgh and Raleigh regionals, where they won the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Controls Award, capping a string of four consecutive Rockwell Controls Awards.

At Raleigh, FIRST Team 2614 also won the Engineering Inspiration Award for their extensive community outreach, sending team MARS to the World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. There, MARS team member Luke Scime was named one of the ten Dean’s List Award winners, out of 45,000 FRC students, for his efforts in expanding FIRST.

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“There are some kids who have joined our team that originally didn’t plan to go to college. The program inspired them. Even if they don’t go into engineering, they’re still doing something positive with their life.”— Kari DeMicco

Clockwise: Earl Scime holds the prestigious national Woodie Flowers Award for mentoring. The award is particularly meaningful to Scime because it is historically given to mentors of much older, more established FIRST teams. Emily Raque holds a copy of a children’s book about Marvin written and illustrated by MARS members. Members of MARS, with their student and faculty mentors, display 2008 and 2012 award banners and Chairman’s Award medals on the steps of White Hall.

2011 The FLL Program expanded to include teams in more than 15 counties. MARS-sponsored FLL teams swept the West Virginia FLL state tournament, including first and second place overall, first in research, and first on the field. The MARS FRC team competed in the Pittsburgh and Palmetto regionals, captaining the fourth-seeded alliance in Pittsburgh and the second-seeded alliance in Palmetto, and reaching the semifinals at both.




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In Pittsburgh, MARS won the Entrepreneurship Award, and Coach Earl Scime was named the Regional Woodie Flowers Award winner. In Palmetto, they won a second consecutive Engineering Inspiration Award, enabling the MARS team to attend the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.




A Lego replica of Marvin showcases some of the many awards and honors received by MARS.

The students often work 40-hour weeks on top of school and homework as they create the robot and tackle hurdles, Scime said. At the end of all of this, they are more than ready for college. Scime said they know what it takes to be successful, and he hires some of them in his research group once they come to WVU. “From my perspective, the thing that they get out of this is that it takes a lot of really hard work to do something this complex,” he said. “This is the sort of effort it takes to create a Microsoft or a Google.”

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been active in West Virginia since 2003. Both middle and high school teams have gone to regional and world championships. This year had a glorious payback at the Pittsburgh regional when MARS and their partner teams won the competition. “Everybody was basically jumping up and down, hugtackling,” DeMicco said. “Everybody was seeing that the work they had put in this season was rewarded. It was a dream come true for us because we haven’t won a regional since our first year.” “The last two years we’ve had very competitive machines and just really bad luck,” Scime said. At last year’s regional competition in South Carolina, a partner team received a penalty in competition, and both teams weren’t able to win the tournament. But the experience was a win in a different sense. The students on the MARS team and on the partner team became close friends in the light of catastrophe. In fact, one of the partner team’s students from New Jersey started at WVU this fall as an engineering student and will also work with MARS. Scime knows that not all of the students will go into science and math. But when they enter college, they’ll know how to engineer a robot, write software, solve problems, raise funds, give a professional presentation, and promote their group on the Web.


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For more information about MARS programs and how to support the teams, visit


2012 MARS continued outreach in the summer and fall, creating curriculum for many area youth summer camps, and expanding their FLL Program to 41 teams in 23 West Virginia counties and one southwestern Pennsylvania county. MARS-mentored FLL teams swept the West Virginia State Tournament with first and second place overall, first, second, and third in robot design, first and second for the research project, and the core value awards for teamwork, gracious professionalism, and inspiration.

At the Pittsburgh Regional, MARS earned a spot as the second-seed alliance captain. FIRST team 48, DELPHI Elite, from Ohio, chose the MARS team to join forces with them as the first seed alliance and this partnership, along with FIRST team 375 from Staten Island, New York lead them to the Pittsburgh Regional Championship. In addition to winning the regional, the MARS team also took home another Rockwell Innovation in Control Award. In North Carolina, MARS won the Regional Chairman’s Award. The team competed at the World Championships in St. Louis where MARS coach Earl Scime was awarded the national Woodie Flowers Award for mentoring.

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Unifying Moundsville By Jared Lathrop

A small town nestled in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, Moundsville derives its name from the area’s many Adena Indian burial mounds constructed more than 1,000 years ago. The city once known for its elegant pieces of handblown glass and for the West Virginia State Penitentiary was recently given with the job of devising a comprehensive plan to move forward into the twenty-first century. The plan, Unifying Moundsville: Unlocking our Future, will establish goals and objectives and analyze the social, economic, and environmental quality of life. “We learned about the plan over a year ago,” said David Wood, Moundsville city councilman and project liaison. “We felt it was important to obtain assistance from outside the county so we contacted WVU Extension Services, which put us




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in contact with a professor at WVU who had a background in city planning and community development.” That person is Margaret Stout, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration. Stout, with the assistance of the West Virginia Campus Compact and a group of graduate students in public administration, has taken on the two-year project to help address the community and economic development opportunities around Moundsville. The project is divided into four separate courses, each of which focuses on one specific task of comprehensive planning. Initial research was completed last fall on the local and county governments, nonprofit sector resources, economic and natural resources in the region, and demographics, including factors like educational achievement,

income, mobility, and age. A civic index survey and set of community conversations were held in spring 2012 to learn about the community’s social and governance capacity and to mobilize participation. The planning and implementation portions of the project began this fall. The first group of students completed a series of visits to gather data for a first impressions report, which explained in detail what they thought could be improved upon within the community. This data was turned over to Moundsville officials to allow them to better understand an outsider’s opinion of the city. “The first impressions report was extremely helpful,” continued Wood. “It allowed us to quickly understand what we should focus on as well as understand what tourists or other visitors think when they

A G l i m p s e o f M o u n d s v i l l e ’ s Pa s t In July, Native American Studies faculty and students spent a week in West Virginia’s northern panhandle volunteering at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville. “The heart of our Native American Studies Program is

coordinator of the Native American Studies Program. Over 2,000 years old, Grave Creek Mound is the largest Adena-period conical mound believed to exist. In the shadow of this monumental mound, students were trained and supervised by

providing students with opportunities for hands-on learning and

museum staff as they worked in labs to help sort, clean, and label

personal interaction with Native people from diverse cultural

artifacts such as stone tools and pottery shards. The Complex is

and tribal backgrounds. Volunteering in Moundsville enables

West Virginia’s official repository for such items.

the volunteers to intellectually and physically connect to the

Students attended presentations from staff, engaged

culture of the ancient people of our region while ‘giving back’

in discussions, viewed films, and learned about modern

to the state through volunteer service,” said Bonnie M. Brown,

preservation and archival methods.

arrive on Main Street or enter a business.” During the organizing process, students met with key community stakeholders, including government, business, nonprofit, and school leaders. They also mobilized citizens through civic and volunteer groups. Each student was responsible for identifying a target demographic in the area ranging from tourism to government. They will act in an

important part of the campaign. Volunteers from John Marshall High School will participate in the next phase of the project, which includes strategic planning, land beautification, and further engaging citizens’ volunteer efforts. “I’m focusing on working with the youth of the town,” said Abigail Wheeler, a master of public administration candidate.

“It’s not just a comprehensive plan anymore. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the community to help rediscover our vision of Moundsville.”—David Wood advisory capacity throughout the project. “I really wanted to bond with the community,” said Festus Manly-Spain, a master of public administration doctoral student in resource management and sustainable development. “I’ve been working with the community on tourism and helping them see the treasures within their community.” Engaging youth has been an

“I hope the work we do provides a foundation for them to grow and develop. The project really gives young people a sense of possibility and community pride.” Although the planning and implantation process will take place over the next year, town officials have high hopes. “I’m excited to see the spirit return to the city,” said Dave Knuth, executive director of the Marshall County Chamber

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of Commerce. “At times we’ve had trouble communicating between the different committees. I think this project will allow us to remove older buildings, like the old glass factory, and make way for new businesses.” The direct costs of the project are covered through a Campus/Community LINK Program grant from Campus Compact, a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents—representing some six million students—who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. Campus Compact promotes public and community service that develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and communitybased learning into their curriculum. “I’ve started to see this planning process in a different light,” said Wood. “It’s not just a comprehensive plan anymore. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the community to help rediscover our vision of Moundsville.”

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h good


Eberly scholars publish numerous books and articles annually. A short selection, bridging many disciplines, is included here for your reading pleasure.


Field Notes from Grief: The First Year is a unique collaboration of author Judith Gold Stitzel and artist Claudia Giannini, based on the private journals Stitzel kept during the year after her husband’s death. They had been married for 47 years. “It took a while before I fully accepted that my pages were valuable not only as a stimulus for my friend’s compelling images, but for what they had to say to others,” Stitzel said. When she moved from the private to the public realm, the resulting book maintained the spontaneity, contradictions and even confusion, of the original experiences as they were unfolding. The accompanying images of printmaker/ photographer Claudia Giannini do not illustrate the journal, but rather translate grief and gratitude into the lexicon of color and design. Digital photographs taken during each month were printed on Japanese paper onto which prints of Stitzel’s handwritten journal pages were transferred. Plants, animals, words in different alphabets, and shapes relate to the time of year or her writing in a kind of free association. As grief counselor Stephanie Savitch points out, the images help to focus on the passage of time, while the separate entries allow the reader to choose her or his own pace through the year.

At left: Field Notes From Grief: The First Year artwork by printmaker/photographer Claudia Giannini




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By Jeffrey Leatherwood

According to poet Natasja Sajé, Judith Gold Stitzel “rejects the clichés customarily offered to and by the bereaved and offers painful truths that cleanse even as they hurt. But there is humor as well as candor, and both make the book accessible to anyone who has suffered a loss. Ultimately Field Notes from Grief: The First Year refreshes the reader and provides evidence—especially important to those who are grieving—that they will want to go on again.” Judith Gold Stitzel is a retired professor of English and women’s studies at West Virginia University where she and her husband, Bob, started their teaching careers in 1965. She was the founding director of the WVU Center for Women’s Studies, now known as the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. She has published fiction, nonfiction, and literary criticism in Colorado Quarterly, Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies, College English, Green Mountain Review, and other journals and anthologies. She has an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College and has twice been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Stitzel resides in Morgantown. To purchase the book, visit

It’s not very often that true stories of secret military operations are published for the world to read. Jeffrey Leatherwood dedicated nearly ten years of research and writing to his first book, Nine from Aberdeen. Leatherwood’s narrative provides a history of the brave men belonging to World War II’s US Army Ordnance Bomb Disposal service branch. This specialist Army branch, a forerunner of today’s EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) services, was made responsible for the identification and removal of hazardous explosives. It was supervised by the Ordnance Department at Aberdeen Proving Ground, located in Maryland. During the war, an estimated 2,000 servicemen graduated from the Army’s Bomb Disposal School, originally founded in early 1942 by a staff of nine instructors under Col. Thomas J. Kane. Nine from Aberdeen receives its title from these nine US ordnance soldiers who were selected to travel to Great Britain, just after Pearl Harbor. Kane’s group studied bomb disposal methods under the Royal Engineers, still widely regarded as pioneers in their field. Since the London Blitz, the Engineers had contended against German unexploded bombs (UXBs).

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This publication hits home for West Virginia University, not only because it was written by a professor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, but also because a good number of Kane’s soldiers were from the region. Leatherwood said that removing bombs and other ordnance involved a lot of digging, so the Army recruited miners from western Pennsylvania and West Virginia for their early bomb disposal personnel. Kane’s branch suffered ten percent casualties in Europe alone, but they lent their skills to nearly every US Army landing and also helped to rebuild war-torn nations after fighting had ceased. As Leatherwood points out, this is the common thread between World War II “disposaleers” and their modern-day EOD counterparts. Nine from Aberdeen includes an afterword from Command Sergeant Major Jim Clifford, military consultant for The Hurt Locker, winner of the Motion Picture Academy’s Best Picture Award in 2010. Leatherwood is an adjunct faculty in humanities and a 2009 graduate of WVU’s doctoral history program. To purchase the book, visit Cambridge Scholars Publishing at

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By Joshua Woods

Americans have always been known for their optimism—that powerful, cultural trait that leads us to be hopeful, to be positive, to observe the glass half-full, to see the donut, in all its doughy perfection, not the hole. And yet, in the first post-9/11 decade, much of our foreign and domestic policy was driven by worst-case scenarios and heightened fears of terrorism. In Freaking Out: A Decade of Living with Terrorism, Joshua Woods, PhD, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, interweaves the sociology and psychology of terrorism, to create a broader and more compelling explanation of how the attacks on 9/11 have changed American society. Offering a concise review of the shifting policy arena in the post-9/11 era, Woods chronicles not only major US government actions, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also less visible changes, such as shifts in immigration policy and the use and abuse of Homeland Security funding by state and local governments. Investigating the public’s response to terrorism, Woods examines the link between media coverage of terrorism and public perceptions of the threat—demonstrating how some news coverage elevates people’s worries more than others.




Eberly EberlyCollege CollegeofofArts Artsand andSciences SciencesMagazine Magazine

By Donley Studlar

In Freaking Out, he attempts to explain why these events took place. Although he tells this story from a social scientific perspective, his goals as a scholar are inspired by a passion for social justice, human rights, political freedom, and a persistent belief that people can make the world a better place to live. The events of 9/11 influenced the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of public officials, members of the press, and ordinary people. The reactions of these groups are deeply interrelated, but the study of them has remained isolated and compartmentalized across several academic disciplines until now. Demonstrating the virtue of multidisciplinary synthesis, this book advances the growing field of terrorism studies in new directions. Although Freaking Out will likely be seen as an academic text, Woods wrote the book for a broader audience. While the reader will find plenty of endnotes and detailed citations, he or she will also encounter references to a host of pop culture icons, from Jon Stewart to Dr. Seuss, as well as lively introductions and succinct conclusions to each of the book’s eight chapters. Purchase Freaking Out at

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the world, according to the World Health Organization Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic. This has been known for some time but the responses of governments to this problem have varied enormously. Many countries, which now have comprehensive tobacco control regimes, did very little to regulate tobacco until the 1980s. Further, many countries still have very limited tobacco controls. Professor of political science, Donley Studlar, PhD, has co-authored the book, Global Tobacco Control: Power, Policy, Governance and Transfer. This book raises two key questions. Why is there often such a wide gap between the size of the policy problem and the government response? And why, if the problem is the same across the globe, does policy vary so markedly across political systems? This is the first major book by political scientists explaining global tobacco control policy. It identifies a history of minimal


good reads


By James Harms

tobacco control, linked to the power of the tobacco industry. Then, it charts the extent to which governments, aided by public health advocates, have regulated tobacco domestically and internationally in the modern era. Studlar co-authored Global Tobacco Control with WVU alumnus Hadii M. Mamudu, PhD, assistant professor of public health at East Tennessee State University and Paul Cairney, PhD, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. The book was first released in the United Kingdom, then released in January in the US. Donley Studlar is an Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of Political Science at WVU and has published four books and over 125 articles on comparative politics in journals all over the world. His previous book on this topic is Tobacco Control: Comparative Politics in the United States and Canada. Global Tobacco Control is available from MacMillan Press at

Poet and professor of English James Harms has been busy, releasing two books of poetry within two months of each other this spring. His first collection, released in January, is Comet Scar. It builds on his previous six books and collects poems written, for the most part, since After West. The new collection is already garnering critical praise. The Charleston Gazette, reviewed, “Harms’ poems display an amazing fidelity to the personal here and now, and at the same time to the national history and landscape. . . . I think of Larry Levis saying, ‘To follow my imagination is my only real duty.’ This Harms does beautifully in ways that touch off possibilities in our heads as we read.” In February, Marick Press released Harms’ other collection, What to Borrow, What to Steal. This is a special book for Harms because it brings together poems that he has never been able to include in earlier collections. These are the orphans, castoffs, and runaways of his writing career—a few more than ten years old—poems that have endeared themselves to him without ever allowing themselves to be domesticated. Strangely and wonderfully, they seem completely at home together in this collection, and he is thrilled to have them in print at last.

New & Notable

In an interview, Harms revealed, “One of the things I like best about writing is making stuff up, but I rely on recognizable names and landscapes to create and maintain verisimilitude. Yes, my poems are often about my family and friends, but they don’t attempt to recreate specific dramatic situations. As most poets will say, I’m more interested in the truth than the facts. What happens, if I’m lucky, when I’m writing a poem is that I very quickly find myself falling into that trance that’s so necessary to creating art.” James Harms is the author of six previous books of poetry, including After West, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2008. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, and the PEN/Revson Fellowship. His work has appeared in Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, The American Poetry Review, Oxford American, and many other journals. He was the founding director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at West Virginia University. He is also director of New England College’s MFA Program in poetry. Comet Scar is available from the Carnegie Mellon University Press, universitypress. What to Borrow, What to Steal is available at

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For billions of years, there have been stars. And all but a tenth of the fuel that creates them is nowhere to be found. These two facts make for an uneasy coexistence, creating an effect without a visible cause. Stars have formed at a rate so much greater than the observed quantity of gas such as hydrogen and helium in galaxies. Logically, stars should have stopped coming into being by now. But there is fuel to form the stars that keep turning up in the night sky. You just have to find it. D.J. Pisano, PhD, wants to make the invisible visible. Pisano’s observations of even one portion of a galaxy can take hundreds of hours of work on a radio telescope. It’s painstaking work that involves studying subtle changes in wavelength patterns on a faraway star and disregarding the incredibly bright patterns of interference caused by nearby cell phones. The West Virginia University assistant professor of physics and astronomy has designed a clear and simple test to help solve the case of the missing matter. His work is so persuasive that the National Science Foundation has awarded him five years of funding through the prestigious CAREER award, designed to 50



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

help young faculty on their way toward bright careers and tenure. Pisano is the 15th WVU faculty member to receive the award and has garnered the most funds of any CAREER award recipient at the institution at nearly $800,000. His award also gives the Department of Physics the highest number of faculty honored at WVU with this award. Even good ideas get rejected in the competition, so only the best and most persuasive can be selected, about onetenth of the total. Pisano is one of an estimated 600 researchers a year to receive this particular stamp of approval. The award is good news for Pisano, a tenure-track assistant professor who did postdoctoral work at the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. But it’s also good news for WVU. It makes a statement to prospective faculty and students. “It tells people that when they come here that they’re going to be competitive

for these types of things, and so I think it helps WVU on the whole as well,” Pisano said. He was particularly indebted to the University’s early seed money that put his research in motion and the assistance from colleagues and staff in writing the grant. “The department and the University are both very supportive of young faculty in making sure we get our feet under us, both in terms of preparing us to be in a classroom but also supporting people’s early research so they can get grants like this,” he said. In this research project he’ll continue the pursuit he began in graduate school of searching for gas that travels into galaxies to power their continued growth. He and his graduate and undergraduate students will be searching for cold filaments of gas, which aren’t really very cold at 10,000 degrees Kelvin. Theory predicts that they can be found around lower mass, isolated galaxies. His survey of galaxies could tell scientists where the most promising

Awards & Honors

By Diana Mazzella, Photo by M.G. Ellis

possible gas sources could be. His more specific work could pinpoint the existence of the elusive star fuel. But in doing so, Pisano isn’t just working to solve one problem. He’s working to put science in the hands of everyone, even middle school students. Half of the grant’s focus is on the development of a project that will teach local middle school students about the electromagnetic spectrum and have them adopt a galaxy to study through remote access to a small radio telescope in Green Bank and optical telescopes across the world. The electromagnetic spectrum includes radio, infrared, light, and x-ray sources, among others. Schools across the country and the world could later use this curriculum. “Astronomy is a great gateway to getting people interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields,” he said. “It’s not that the world needs tons of new astronomers, but it definitely needs people who are scientifically literate. Even if they don’t go into science fields, being able to

understand science is critical for being a good citizen let alone for making contributions to society. “It would be too much to ask one activity to inspire an entire class to pursue STEM careers, but if we can inspire even a few people that would be fantastic,” Pisano said. This project ties in well with that of his colleagues, Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer. These two physicists run the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, a

sky when he was 6 that led him to his present career. He followed Carl Sagan’s Cosmos TV series from a young age and visited planetariums often. But a trip to Dinosaur National Monument where a telescope enthusiast offered views of the sun and other stars made the difference. “I was pretty much hooked,” Pisano said. “And I was fortunate when I actually started doing it in college. I was like ‘Wow, I actually like not just looking at the stars, but the research is actually kind of fun, too.’” Aptitude and passion have led him to this research and outreach. But the project propels him forward as well. If all goes according to plan, he will observe at the MeerKAT array that is currently under construction in South Africa, projected to be one of the largest and most sensitive telescope systems in the southern hemisphere. And it’s still fun. “Being able to discover something, seeing something that people haven’t seen before is really quite exciting,” he said.

“Being able to discover something, seeing something that people haven’t seen before is really quite exciting.” program that engages high school students across the country in looking for pulsars, the remains of exploded supernovae. “All the educational research out there shows that if you learn science hands-on, first off it’s a better way to learn it; you tend to retain more,” Pisano said. “But also it works better for a more diverse audience.” It should work. It was Pisano’s turn at a telescope pointed at the starry western

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By Rebecca Herod, Photo by Jake Lambuth

According to the 2010 report issued the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences impacts. This imbalance must be addressed by the Commission on the Future of Center, and the National Institute of if nanomaterials are to be appropriately Graduate Education in the United States, Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) regulated, used, and accepted by the the competitiveness of the United States and will provide graduate students unique public,” said Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, and our nation’s capacity for innovation opportunities to pursue research and PhD, professor of physics and principal hinge fundamentally on a strong system of innovation in the field of nanotoxicity. investigator for the grant. graduate education. REN@WVU will train graduate She says that the challenge is not West Virginia University has received students to address one of the most simply to analyze more materials faster. a $3-million grant to train the next important scientific issues today— Nanomaterials, by virtue of their size, have generation of graduate students that could understanding how nanomaterials interact novel chemical and/or physical behaviors. ultimately improve health care, energy, with biological systems and using that These unexpected properties have turned homeland security, the environment, and knowledge to design safer nanomaterials many of the fundamental tenets of classical transportation in the state and toxicology on their heads. REN@ the nation. The grant comes WVU links traditional toxicology from the Interdisciplinary with the unique behavior of “Most of the significant problems in Graduate Education and Research nanomaterials, using research, science—physical or biomedical— Traineeship (IGERT) program of course work, and professional require an interdisciplinary approach. the National Science Foundation. development to create a new The IGERT Program has been paradigm for training graduate —Peter M. Gannett, PhD developed to meet the challenges students. of educating PhD scientists The five-year grant will and engineers with interdisciplinary and safer applications. A lack of support four fellowship trainees in its first backgrounds and providing deep understanding about how nanomaterials year, nine in the second, and 11 in each knowledge in chosen disciplines along with interact with biological systems is one of the following three years. Trainees will technical, professional, and personal skills. of the biggest barriers to realizing the receive a $30,000 stipend (renewable for The program will establish new models for potential of nanomaterials in solving up to four years), health insurance, and all graduate education and training in a fertile challenging problems in health care, energy, tuition and fees. environment for collaborative research and electronics. A one-week “boot camp” at the start that transcends traditional disciplinary The grant will train researchers to of the program will help students learn the boundaries. It will facilitate diversity in ensure that scientific understanding of the vocabulary and background necessary to student participation and preparation, interaction of nanomaterials with people communicate and work in interdisciplinary and to contribute to a world-class, broadly and the environment keeps pace with the research. Trainees will participate in inclusive, and globally engaged science and development of new nanomaterials and modular interdisciplinary course work engineering workforce. their applications in consumer products. customized to their research interests and The WVU-funded project is called The training will also focus on teaching career goals. Professional development Research and Education in Nanotoxicity at young researchers how to communicate workshops will bring in leading WVU (REN@WVU). The grant, one of their research, not just to their peers, but to communicators to hone necessary skills for only 18 awarded this year, joins researchers the general public. future leadership in industry, government, from the WVU Eberly College of Arts and “The number of new nanomaterials and academia. Sciences, the Benjamin M. Statler College being developed is rapidly outpacing A few of the many areas of of Engineering and Mineral Resources, our ability to understand their potential study included in the award include 52



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Awards & Honors

Professor Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, PhD, in the Department of Physics, is the lead investigator for the $3-million National Science Foundation Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program.

understanding how inhaled natural and engineered nanoparticles can impact cardiovascular function, designing safer nanoparticles for drug delivery and medical imaging, and creating new tools for realtime nanotoxicity testing. The project will link research disciplines. Each graduate student will have co-advisors: one who focuses on nanomaterials (physical scientist or engineer) and one who focuses on biological or biomedical aspects (health sciences or arts and sciences disciplines). Leslie-Pelecky describes this design as similar to a bilingual education, creating

a bridge between scientific disciplines that frequently speak different “languages.” “Most of the significant problems in science—physical or biomedical—require an interdisciplinary approach. This is the work environment that our students are going to enter, and they need to learn how to work as part of an interdisciplinary team,” said grant co-principal investigator Peter M. Gannett, PhD, the Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and interim chair of the Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy. “The students, by virtue of working across

disciplines, will bring faculty together, increasing collaborations and the potential for extramural funding and recognition.” The partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety provides trainees access to unique equipment and expertise. The interdisciplinary team of principal investigators includes Dr. Vincent Castranova, chief of the pathology and physiology branch at NIOSH. Other coprincipal investigators include Gannett; David Lederman, PhD, Robert L. Carroll Professor of Physics; and Robin S. Hissam, PhD, assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. West Virginia University has a strong commitment to nanotechnology research. In 2004, the University created the WVNano Initiative. Now called NanoSAFE, the program is the State of West Virginia’s initiative for nanoscale science, engineering, and education. The NanoSAFE Initiative is fully aligned with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Vision 2015, the State’s science and technology plan in which research and innovation are key drivers of West Virginia’s economy.

FACULTY MENTORS Jonathan Boyd, PhD, Assistant Professor, C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry Cerasela Dinu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Justin Legleiter, PhD, Assistant Professor, C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry James Lewis, PhD, Professor, Department of Physics Yuxin Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Tim Nurkiewicz, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, Center for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center Dale Porter, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Yon Rojanasakul, PhD, Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Professor, Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences Ed Sabolsky, PhD, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

Linda Sargent, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Anna Shvedova, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Leetha Sooter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences Charter Stinespring, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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Kernels of

A Jennifer Hawkins, PhD, right, built on a lifelong fascination with the way puzzles fit together into a research career in genetics. With a new NSF grant, she will work with assistants like alumna Chelsea Bradshaw, left, on unlocking genetic mysteries that could lead to better ways to feed the world.




Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

TRUTH By Gerrill Griffith, Photos by Brian Persinger

s a child, West Virginia University’s Jennifer Hawkins became fascinated with jigsaw puzzles—the kind with lots and lots of pieces. “I used to race my mother to see who could find the pieces that fit the quickest,” the assistant professor of biology recalled. “I remember the satisfaction of finding two pieces that fit together, and then pride when finishing and getting to see the complete picture.  Science is a lot like that for me. We gather small pieces of information that click together, and, over time, a big exciting picture emerges. Unlike the jigsaw puzzle, however, there is no picture on the front of the box to

guide you, so that big science picture is even more exciting and more rewarding because it reveals something that no one else knew before—a discovery.” Armed with that lifelong curiosity about how complex puzzles fit together, a professional and personal goal of improving people’s lives through research, and a big new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Hawkins is set to unravel the mysteries of how plants use genetically coded information to build protein molecules that affect the way they look and function. Her work could someday lead to a more effective way to grow food or even eliminate birth defects. Hawkins is using the opportunity to tackle a tough puzzle and provide a positive experience for WVU students who are helping with the project. Hawkins works in the world of genetics —the term is based on an ancient Greek word for “genitive.” The details of her study

Awards & Honors are just that to most everyday folks: Greek. Genetics deals with the molecular structure and function of genes, patterns of inheritance from parent to offspring, and gene distribution, variation, and change in populations. Because genes are universal to all living organisms, genetics can be applied to the study of all living systems, from viruses and bacteria, through plants and domestic animals, to humans. Hawkins explained that the complex process whereby information encoded in a gene is processed and used to direct the assembly of the protein molecules that make up the machinery of life is called “gene expression.” “A key to understanding that process is knowing the underlying mechanisms that alter patterns in gene expression,” Hawkins said. “Little is known about the genetic controls of gene expression, and therefore, what causes variants to arise in a population. That’s what our project is all about.” Hawkins will be working with corn to dissect the individual elements that control gene expression through some creative “module swapping”—work that could ultimately lead to improvements in crop yields that might feed more people. Along with research assistants like Chel-

sea Bradshaw, who received a WVU biology degree with honors in May, Hawkins will be moving through her cornfields at the WVU Agricultural Farm to harvest ears of corn that will be closely studied in her laboratory to unlock genetic mysteries. “This project promises not only intellectual advancement in the fields of molecular and evolutionary genetics, but also the development of possible practical industrial technologies designed to enhance and advance agricultural practices,” Hawkins wrote in her proposal to the NSF. NSF officials agreed and gave a “thumbs up,” providing $755,895 for her project over the next three years. The agricultural benefits of positive results aren’t the only upsides for WVU in the research project. “This project will provide multiple educational opportunities for our students through scientific training in laboratory practices,” she said. She noted how the project compliments interdisciplinary activities at WVU created in conjunction with the 2020 Strategic Plan. “Our research is designed as part of a WVU computational biology initiative,

an interdepartmental effort among the Departments of Biology, Mathematics, and Statistics to create an undergraduate program in the emerging field of bioinformatics,” she said. For Hawkins, the work, and its potential to provide needed answers to mysteries that could improve lives, is a “win-win.” “I was drawn to science because I like the challenge of complex puzzles,” she said. “If I get to help people in the process, then that is even better.”

Jennifer Hawkins works with Vivian Delgado, left, a lab manager from Bogota, Colombia, at the WVU Agronomy Farm.

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Elusive Chimera By Rebecca Herod Photo by Brian Persinger

The chimera of mythology is a fire-breathing beast composed of the heads of a lion, goat, and snake. In the world of nonlinear dynamics, the reproduction of the chimera state, a partly synchronized, partly asynchronous system of coupled oscillators, has been as elusive to spot as the fictional Greek monster. Recently the chimera state has been reproduced in two simultaneous experiments—one led by Rajarshi Roy, professor of physics and director of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, College Park and the other by Professor and C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Chemistry Kenneth Showalter, in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry. Roy and Showalter, longtime friends working separately in two different disciplines, are the first ever to recreate the elusive 1


theoretical chimera state in the laboratory. “Since 2002, mathematicians and physicists have been actively investigating the chimera state because it is very unusual for a system that is partly synchronized and partly unsynchronized to be stable,” Showalter said. “We are excited to demonstrate this behavior in an experimental system, which also showed new features. It’s also great fun to have our report appear simultaneously with the report from my friend and colleague Raj Roy.” Showalter and his WVU research collaborators, Research Assistant Professor Mark Tinsley, PhD, and Simbarashe “Simba” Nkomo, a doctoral student from Zimbabwe, have published their 3

findings in the prestigious journal Nature Physics. The three researchers designed the experiment together, while Tinsley was the lead on the computer simulations and Nkomo carried out the experiments. A chimera state is a balanced system made up of synchronous and asynchronous oscillators. Oscillators are anything that exhibits cyclical behavior—AC circuits, neurons, cells, even clocks. When two or more oscillators interact, they can synchronize. For example, pendulum clocks placed on the same wall tend to keep time at the exact same pace. Cardiac pacemaker cells in the human heart fire at the same rate, resulting in spontaneous synchronization and a regular heartbeat. 4

Population of coupled chemical oscillators exhibiting two subpopulations (red and gray), which are synchronized in-phase (1), synchronized out-of-phase (2), synchronized with one and two phase-cluster states (3), and with synchronized and unsynchronized states–the chimera state (4) for different intra- and inter-group coupling strengths. 56



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

Awards & Honors

Mark Tinsley, Simba Nkomo, and Ken Showalter have reproduced the chimera state in the laboratory for the first time ever.

This type of synchronization arises from processes called global or local coupling, where all oscillators completely synchronize and act in concert. In a chimera state, a different and unusual theoretical process called non-local coupling takes place. In non-local coupling, each element, for example a neuron, reacts more strongly to the signals of its closest neighbors and less strongly to distant neighbors. The idea of a dual synchronous

green. The photosensitive reaction allowed each cycle’s phase to be manipulated— and the particles coupled—by controlling their exposure to light. In the experiment, one group of particles always synchronized, but depending on the strength of the particles’ coupling with its nearby neighbors, the second group either synchronized with the group, split into two different synchronized groups, formed a new type of behavior called a semi-synchronous state, or “The exciting thing about this study is the failed to synchronize at all, the chimera state. These states possibilities that might open up in other coexist even though every research,”–Kenneth Showalter, PhD oscillator in the population is coupled to every other and asynchronous system was puzzling oscillator in the same manner. The to scientists who until a decade ago were Maryland researchers relied on an opticalfocused primarily on the study of local and feedback system, using light in a feedback global coupling. loop to create an array of pixels in the Showalter’s team used an oscillating chimera state. chemical reaction in which the chemical Showalter speculates that there will particles periodically turn orange and be additional discoveries in other types of

systems beyond the chemical and opticalfeedback experiments. “Many people are working in this area and I expect that we will see successful experiments reproducing chimera states in other systems soon, including mechanical systems and living systems like neural networks,” he said. In the long run the reproduction and examination of the chimera state could lead researchers to a better understanding of neural networks and how the brain works. This could have implications for neuroscience and medicine. “The exciting thing about this study is the possibilities that might open up in other research,” Showalter said. “You never know how prevalent or important a new class of dynamical behavior will be in the future.” Showalter’s research was funded, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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Copy and Photos by Gerrill Griffith

Parents often tell tales of that one child in their family who, rather than play like the other children, took apart their toys to see how they were put together. West Virginia University Professor Terry Gullion, PhD, was one of those children, and his family had the dismantled telephone and lawnmower to prove it. Today, Gullion’s research team of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research scientists in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry is busy investigating how things are put together at the molecular level. Understanding the results can guide development of new materials for consumer products and more effective drug delivery systems for the medical world. The WVU researchers conduct complex experiments that require them to design and build their own sophisticated equipment in crowded labs and busy workshops that look like something Jules Verne might have imagined. They struggle with electrical issues that wreak havoc on sensitive instruments, write computer code to control hardware, synthesize samples, analyze data, and submit papers to scientific journals describing their findings. 58



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

Molecules are made from atoms. All the elements on the periodic table exist as single atoms and the way they join together to form specific molecules in specific structures and material is the subject of research. Gullion’s primary tool is nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). NMR requires strong magnets with magnetic field strengths more than 100,000 times the earth’s magnetic field. The samples are spun in the magnetic field at rates exceeding one million RPMs in special cylindrical ceramic tubes located in strange-looking probes. By applying pulses of radio-frequency irradiation they are able to tease out structural and chemical details of the samples. The Gullion research group spends a significant amount of time developing new NMR methods and hardware designed to determine molecular structures and how molecules interact with one another. They apply their NMR techniques to determine the structures of naturally occurring protein fibers, lithium-doped polymer materials that are components of lithium ion batteries, and peptides adsorbed on gold nanoparticles. The gold nanoparticle

research has implications for drug delivery interaction in the human body. Gullion, professor of physical and biophysical chemistry, is the principal investigator on a new $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The primary aim of this grant is to develop novel NMR probes designed to measure internuclear distances between various nuclei. Measurement of internuclear distances provides molecular structures which are difficult to come by. Gullion said he and his colleagues like Eugene Mihaliuk, PhD, who is busy building parts for the next generation of NMR equipment, leave it to others to use their work to actually create new materials and products. Their work has drawn attention and support from the federal government as well as the international community. Gullion has collaborated with scientists in Japan, Israel, Germany, and the United States. Gullion said the results of the work at WVU can be used to build better products and materials. He said, for example, research WVU conducted on the structure of silk produced by Asian silk worms is

Awards & Honors being analyzed and considered for creation of new consumer products. Similar work was done for a company on the structure of materials used in batteries. US companies are interested in drug delivery systems and synthetic spider silk experiments. Much of the equipment needed by Gullion and his colleagues is not easy to secure or is simply not commercially available. They turn to Allen Burns, who supervises and operates the bustling computerized machine shop in the basement of the downtown Chemistry Research Laboratory building. Burns, using computer aided design drawings and sophisticated machinery, manufactures made-to-order parts that Gullion and Mihaliuk design to conduct their investigations. Without the strong

Gullion and Mihaliuk with Allen Burns, who machines the intricate parts the researchers need to build the equipment they use to conduct molecular studies. The work is done in a busy machine shop tucked away in the basement of the Chemistry Research Laboratory building.

technical support staff in the chemistry department, much of the innovative research would be nearly impossible to perform. The work of these inquisitive chemistry researchers and the talented machinists who keep their equipment operating support three major activities identified in the University’s strategic plan: engagement with undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in a challenging academic environment; pursuit of research and creative activity; and advancement of international activity and global engagement. Overall results of the work play There is more to Terry Gullion’s work than conducting experiments. He and his team of researchers often have to design and machine their own equipment like this part for a “Switched Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Probe.”

a major role in a fourth activity: enhancing the well-being and quality of life of the people of West Virginia, the US, and abroad. In addition to his grant from the National Science Foundation, Professor Gullion worked with Professors Kung Wang, Bjorn Soderberg, Xiaodong “Michael” Shi, and Brian Popp to secure additional funding from the National Science Foundation in the amount of $210,320 to purchase a solution state NMR spectrometer. The new spectrometer will be housed in the Chemistry Research Laboratory building and will be used for teaching and research. All students seeking a degree in chemistry take a course that will train them how to use the new NMR spectrometer to determine molecular structures. The spectrometer will be especially useful to graduate students performing research in the area of synthetic chemistry, because it will enable them to determine the structures of new compounds.

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Please consider a gift in one of these areas today. 1. Enrich undergraduate education by sponsoring: • Academic merit scholarships • Academic enrichment and study abroad programs • Academic centers and study programs like the WVU Writing Center, Native American Studies Program, etc. • Academic teams like the WVU Debate Team, etc. Five-year committed sponsorships start at $1,000 Legacy endowment gifts start at $25,000

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Join us as we build for the future. Invest in A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. For more information, contact Bonnie McBee Fisher, director of development, at Give online at 60

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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Magazine

faculty and staff. These are a that we are influencing not just the future of education, but the future of mankind. That’s an awesome responsibility. We need to grow that culture and provide the resources to help it flourish.” —Dean Robert Jones, PhD




BRAWL Weirdest, m one of the ing Stories fro ngest Runn Wildest, Lo alries in Riv se en Int y and Most tor His otball College Fo

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diversity, n. Pronunciation: \dә-’vәr-sә-tē, dĪ-\ a. The condition or quality of being diverse, different, or varied; difference, unlikeness. b. with a and pl. An instance of this condition or quality; a point of unlikeness; a difference, distinction; a different kind, a variety. Look for the Diversity issue of Eberly this spring. In it we will examine pluralism—how a diverse faculty, staff, and student body and a rich multidisciplinary atmosphere contribute to the Eberly College experience and to our society.

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences: Research Edition  

West Virginia University's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences magazine explores the impact of research.

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences: Research Edition  

West Virginia University's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences magazine explores the impact of research.