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Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035

Hello and welcome to the first edition of Radford Research On The Move. As the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Grants Management (SPGM), I want you to know that SPGM supports faculty and staff in the pursuit of external funding for research and sponsored activities that benefit Radford University, its students and faculty. This is our mantra and one that you will hear from Taryn Chase, Jennifer McKnight, Ami Meador, Cindy Mize, Laura Quesenberry, Imogene Setliff and me, Anne Pascucci. We seek to be a resource for every person at Radford University who is interested in external funding and our staff is eager to fulfill our RU 7-17 strategic initiative to grow external funding. To that end we hope that you find this newsletter informative and interesting and invite your feedback. We hope to meet with and interview many RU researchers and artists for future editions of this newsletter. Thank you for taking the time to read it and hopefully contributing to it in the near future. Best,

Anne M. Pascucci, CRA Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Matt Dunleavy Matt Dunleavy is an Assistant Professor in Instructional Technology and the recent recipient of a multi-year award from the National Science Foundation in excess of $350,000. In collaboration with MIT and HP Labs, Dunleavy’s Radford Outdoor Augmented Reality (ROAR) project will develop and study elementary, middle and high school curricula that use augmented reality (AR) to deliver instruction. The narrative-driven, inquiry-based AR simulations will be played on a HP iPAQ Travel Companion rx5915 handheld computer and use GPS technology to correlate the students’ real world location to their virtual location in the simulation’s digital world. As the students move around a physical location, such as their school playground or sports fields, a map on their handheld displays digital objects and virtual people who exist in an AR world superimposed on real space. When students come within approximately 10 feet of these digital artifacts, the AR and GPS software triggers video, audio, and text files, which provide narrative, navigation and collaboration cues as well as academic challenges.

Photo: Courtesy of Matt Dunleavy

For more information, please visit

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Dr. Karen Francl and Dr. Christine Small of  Biology Lead Summer Research Experience Research projects exploring the ecology, y biodiversity, and conservation of plants and animals across southwestern Virginia were undertaken this summer led by Dr.’s Karen Francl & Christine Small of Radford University. Funded by a joint RU Seed Grant and Faculty Summer Research funds, a number of students interested in engaging in full-time field research were hired. y Eight undergraduate students participated in the research. They are Beth Meyer, Clayton Faidley, Allen Patton, Dwight Meikle, Derrick Mathews, Alex Noble, and 2008 graduates Michael Baisey and Veronica Combos.

Students were actively involved in all aspects of field work and are continuing with independent projects: Clayton Faidley is examining salamander-habitat preferences in these unique sinkholes. Beth Meyer is exploring vegetation patterns to understand how these unusual sinkholes differ from typical upland habitats. Allen Patton took an interest in the birds of Selu and began a multi-season examination of bird communities across the Conservancy. Local projects and collaborations with the USDA Forest Service were continued. Francl engaged in a second year of examining effects of prescribed fire on small mammal and plant communities on the Jefferson National Forest.

Five of the students (Meyer, Faidley, Patton, Meikle, Mathews) carried out summer research as part of their Environmental Internship, a required component of the Environmental Concentration in Biology. Each continues to work this academic year, investigating some aspect of the summer activities and preparing presentations for 2008-2009 professional meetings. This work supports Dr.’s Francl & Small’s larger, multiyear project—an ecological classification of the Conservancy. Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Summer Research, Continued y

It is anticipated that this will be a multi-year project, as the Forest Service plans to burn two of the eight study sites at Caldwell in March 2009. Other projects included examining the environmental impacts of harvesting medicinal plants from the wild.


Separately, each of these projects represents a worthwhile endeavor and excellent introduction to field research. Combined, however, they give Radford’s students the opportunity to “try out” many different field techniques and to work with a multitude of plants and animals, providing worthwhile career skills and experiences. Allowing students to choose aspects that most interest them then provides the opportunity to understand the rigors of data analysis and to follow a project to fruition.

Photos: Karen Francl and Christine Small

Francl and Small have found this approach to be worthwhile for them as faculty and for students who are “getting their feet wet” (literally and figuratively!) spending summers immersed in research.

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Student Spotlight: Allan Patton



Another project we completed was a salamander survey, in which we would catch salamanders in sinkholes, take individual measurements, and release them. We included vegetation surveys, and complemented this work with a number of habitat measures, learning how to use light meters, soil probes, range poles, and GPS units. All of these instruments and techniques have helped us to determine relationships between salamanders and their chosen habitats.


Our mammal trapping was completed at Caldwell Fields just outside of Blacksburg, Va., on the Jefferson National Forest. For this project, we were looking at plant and animal responses to prescribed fire. We set out a variety of mammal traps in hopes of catching animals. Ws, we did discover a rare find—the hispid cotton rat—a species not thought to inhabit mountainous areas of the state. This was very exciting, because we seemed to be measuring the species’ range extension firsthand!

This past summer I participated in a field research internship, BIOL 495, with seven other students. Because I had taken a course this past spring in ornithology, I was interested in studying birds for my y independent research project. Dr. Karen Francl and I drove, hiked, and paddled our way to 20 sites at Radford University’s Selu Conservancy. Our work has, thus far, consisted of early morning surveys of birds—recording them by sight and by sound. We’re going to continue surveys this fall so that we can compare summer and overwintering bird populations on the property. This work has allowed me to complete my own project, and I will be presenting the results this spring at a regional wildlife conference.

This internship is highly recommended for someone who is pursuing a job in this field. It will essentially make you or break you—that is, with all of these experiences, you will know for sure if field research something you would want to pursue in biology. Not only do you gain an appreciation for the environment that we live in, but you learn many useful field techniques, to work well with others—and truly understand and appreciate the ups and downs of field work and independent research in biology. ~Allen Patton

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Dr. Tara Phelps‐Durr’s Lab Gives  Students Hands‐on Experience Dr. Tara Phelps-Durr’s research, currently funded in part by the Jeffress Memorial Trust, is aimed at understanding how the chromatin remodeling gene HIRA, regulates development in plants. The HIRA gene controls cell division by regulating the packaging of DNA (chromatin remodeling). Photos: Anne Pascucci & Tara Phelps-Durr

Regulation of cellular division is an essential component for proper development. In humans, the developmental abnormality known as DiGeorge syndrome is characterized by several facial and cardiac malformations. These developmental abnormalities are caused by improper regulation of the human HIRA gene located on chromosome 22. Regulation of cell division also has important implications for the treatment of cancer. When cells lose regulation and continuously proliferate, a tumor forms. Understanding how cell proliferation can be suppressed is crucial to the discovery of new cancer treatment options.

Above: Senior, Emily Williamson and Freshman, Allie Mills; Right: Dr. Phelps-Durr and Senior, Matt Williams

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Student Spotlight: Angela Via


In 2006, I spoke with Dr. Phelps-Durr about her research on a gene called HIRA, and decided to work with her to see how I liked doing genetic research. After I graduate I want begin graduate school. Doing research has exposed me to opportunities that general classes and labs can’t. The experience I have gained wouldn't fit into one semester. Doing research has also created opportunities to build skills I will need for graduate school and in my career.


I have learned skills in the lab like working with DNA in several different organisms and using common lab processes and equipment. I'm also learning valuable skills such as preparing presentations and posters, and improving my writing by adjusting to the very different style of writing used in research.


Working in the lab has helped me gain more confidence in some of my weaker areas. This semester I’m taking a course in molecular biology, which involves making a lot of chemical solutions. Math has always been a weak spot for me, but now I feel better about working out problems on solution making. I understand more of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Before, the math involved in making the solutions made no sense to me.


I have learned many different things by working on this research project. Apart from the skills I have gained, I feel I will be more competitive when I apply to graduate school and more prepared for the environment when I get there. I am excited about my future and I'm reaching for my dreams. Once I have finished with school, I thought I would like to be doing genetic research maybe with a genetic disease that affects children or possibly some form of cancer research using genetics. Now, almost two years later, I know this is what I want.

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035

~Angela Via


Programs and Announcements Research Interest Survey – Coming Soon! Watch your email for an upcoming survey from Sponsored Programs & Grants Management. This will be a great opportunity to share your work with us. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Open Grant Program Web Site: Synopsis: The sponsor accepts proposals from nonprofit organizations seeking funding to develop public humanities programs for audiences in Virginia. The Open Grant Program is open to proposals rooted in any humanities disciplines in any format. Most open grants fall within the $3-10,000 range; grants over $10,000 are rare. Deadline: October 15, 2008 National Science Foundation Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) Web Site: Synopsis: The Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) supports basic and applied research and evaluation that enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning and teaching. The (REESE) program aims at advancing research at the frontiers of STEM learning, education, and learning at all educational levels and in all settings. This solicitation calls for three types of proposals--Knowledge Diffusion, Empirical Research, and Large Empirical Research. Letter of Intent Deadline: October 17, 2008

Call for Applications for Posters on the Hill 2009 Web Site: Synopsis: Nothing more effectively demonstrates the value of undergraduate research than the words and stories of the student participants themselves. In the Spring of 2009 the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will host its 13th annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. This event will help members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact. CUR is calling for students to submit an abstract of their research that represents any of CUR's divisions (Arts and Humanities, Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematics/Computer Science, Physics/Astronomy, Psychology, and Social Sciences). Abstract submissions will only be accepted by using our on-line submission form. Prior to submitting the form, students should gather the contact information for all co-authors, advisors and sponsors (if applicable), prepare a short vitae/resume, and poster abstract. Deadline: November 14, 2008 Next Seed Grant Deadline: February 1, 2009 A variety of internal grants are available to better enable faculty members to develop competitive grant proposals. These include Seed Grants, Proposal Development Awards, Mentoring Assistance, and Travel to Agency funds. Visit our website for more information:

Radford University, Office of Sponsored Programs  and Grants Management (540)831.5035


Radford Research on the Move - 10/08  

Radford University's Office of Sponsored Programs and Grants Management Newsletter