News and Events for VCUCHS Faculty and Staff
VCU College of Humanities and Sciences
June 16, 2015

H&S Events Coordinator Bids Farewell

Shirley McDaniel, assistant director of events and communications, will be stepping down from her position with the College at the end of June. Shirley has worked for VCU for over 40 years and been with the College for the last 14 years. She will continue to work at VCU for the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Shirley will be greatly missed, but we are glad to keep her in the VCU family. The College is currently working on a plan to replace Shirley. After July 1st, please direct all event requests to Gregg Johnson at (

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Awards

Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced 38 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards. Among the recipents are Puru Jena, distinguished professor in the Department of Physics, and Hani El-Kaderi, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. They received $100,000 for the project, Nano-Inspired Electrolytes and Cathode Materials for a New Generation of Li and Na-Ion Batteries. The complete list of CRCF award winners is here.

New Humanities Electronic Resources at VCU Libraries

VCU Libraries will offer new electronic resources in June. These resources, often requested by humanities faculty and students, will provide convenient digital access to cover both core and emerging research needs. All of the following resources are comprehensive in nature, and include full text access: Early English Books Online (EEBO), British Periodicals I & III (to complement BP II) and Nine historical Black newspapers including: Atlanta Daily World, Baltimore Afro-American, Chicago Defender, Cleveland Call and Post, Los Angeles Sentinel, New York Amsterdam News, Norfolk Journal and Guide, The Philadelphia Tribune, and the Pittsburgh Courier. The resources can be found here.

Faculty Collaborate on Project to Study Birds, Understand Virus

Lesley Bulluck, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, and Suzanne Robertson, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, are collaborators on a study that aims to gain a better understanding of how West Nile virus spreads and how outbreaks can be effectively prevented. The project is supported by a $100,000 grant from the Jeffress Trust Awards Program in Interdisciplinary Research. Read more at VCU News.

Study Seeks to Help White Pine Trees

Andrew Eckert, an evolutionary geneticist and an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, is the principal investigator on the five-year study, Blending Ecology and Evolution using Emerging Technologies to Determine Species Distributions with a Non-native Pathogen in a Changing Climate. The project is funded by a $528,066 grant by the National Science Foundation. His work is part of a larger grant from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $4 million. Read more at VCU News.

More News . . .

University fund pushes VCU faculty members ahead on research quests

Psychology: Summer 2015 Issue of Zeitgeist

World Studies: The Child Preachers of Brazil - Expert Quote from Andrew Chesnut

View photos from the Summer Study Abroad Trip in South Africa.

Physics: Magnetic nanoparticles could offer alternative to rare Earth magnets

History: Will Gay Marriage Split Indian Country?

25 must-read books to dive into this summer

Why social sciences are just as important as STEM disciplines.

View NEW photos from Grad Images of the College's May Diploma Ceremonies.

New Photos from Individual Ceremonies:

Kinesiology Diploma Ceremony

Sociology Diploma Ceremony

Massey Cancer Center Pilot Project 

The Massey Cancer Center has funded a pilot translational project which is a collaboration between Jason Reed, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, and Drs. Amir Toor and Roy Sabo at the VCU Medical Center. The project, entitled Mononuclear Cell Mass/Density Spectrum Following Stem Cell Transplantation: Predicting Clinical Outcomes, is particularly exciting because they will be using the Live Cell Interferometry technology to examine T-cells obtained from bone marrow transplantation patients, in an attempt to discover a functional biomarker to predict graft vs host risk following withdrawal of immunosuppression. Read the abstract here.

H&S Summer News & Events

Are you leading a study abroad trip this summer? Are you teaching a course you'd like to share with others? If so, please let us know! We're highlighting the great things our faculty, staff and students are doing this summer on our social media. Send us any photos you'd like to share and let us know if you're using a hashtag like #VCUinSA2015. We're also looking for high-resolution photos suitable for use in future print publications. Email Denise Johnson at

W. M. Keck Foundation Proposals

The W. M. Keck Foundation offers research grants to support pioneering projects in two program areas: Science and Engineering Research and Medical Research on a semi-annual basis. The foundation encourages submission of projects that are high-risk with the potential of transformative impact. Both Senior and Early Career investigators are encouraged to apply. Grants range from $500,000 to $5 million. VCU is limited to four applications per program area. Questions and/or one page concept papers should be submitted to Rob Tombes ( by Friday July 10th. More information about the grants can be found here.

Faculty Receive Grant for Interdisciplinary Project

Sarah J. Seashols-Williams, assistant professor in the Department of Forensic Science, is co-PI with Joseph Reiner, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, on the project Single Molecule Forensic DNA Analysis with Laser-Induced Nanopore Heating which we highlighted in our last newsletter. Their project was recently awarded a 2015 Jeffress Trust Award, which marks the very first successful Jeffress Award that has been awarded for an applied forensic science project. Congratulations to Dr. Seashols-Williams and Dr. Reiner!

Interdisciplinary Research Groups

The Humanities Research Center will offer three new interdisciplinary research groups for the coming academic year (2015-16). Each group will meet three times a semester to discuss a participating member's work-in-progress. Race, Place, and Power will examine questions of race — and related questions of identity and power — from a broad geographical and thematic perspective. Contact Adam Ewing ( if you are interested. Premodern Society and Culture will examine a broad range of questions and issues relating to medieval, early modern, eighteenth-century, and early nineteenth-century society and culture. Contact Richard Godbeer ( A Film and Media Studies Research group is also being formed. If you are interested, contact Oliver Speck (

Professors experiment with handheld DNA sequencer

Bonnie Brown, associate chair of the Department of Biology, and Luiz Shozo Ozaki, associate professor in the Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, have been using a device called MinION, a handheld DNA sequencer, as part of an early access program to evaluate the technology. Bonnie just returned from London, where she was invited by the device’s maker to speak to new users of the technology about her experience with it over the past year. According to Bonnie, "this little device is going to revolutionize sequencing and change the way we collect data.” Read more at VCU News.

Do You Have News to Share?

If you have news to share this is a great place to do it! Please submit news and events to Denise Johnson at We will submit your news and events to the VCU Calendar, Telegram, this newsletter and our social media outlets. Keep your colleagues informed by keeping us informed!

Faculty Spotlight:

Terry Oggel, a professor in the Department of English recently learned that he was the recipient of one of this year’s Presidential Research Quest Awards. Terry will use the funds to bring to light writings by Mark Twain that no one knew existed. In addition, he received funding from the Humanities Research Center for his project, Mark Twain: The Public Writings Samuel Clemens Really Wrote. These awards will allow the professor to spend a month digging through boxes at the Huntington Library and additional papers housed at the University of California-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, home to the Mark Twain Project. Read more at VCU News.

Faculty Spotlight:

Scott Neubauer, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, recently co-authored a paper titled Moving Beyond Global-Warming Potentials to Quantify the Climatic Role of Ecosystems, which was published last month in the journal Ecosystems. The study offers new models to determine whether ecosystems such as wetlands or forests have a warming or cooling effect on climate. "One of the things we intend to do is help answer the question of whether restored wetlands such as the one at VCU's Rice Rivers Center are having a net warming or cooling effect on the climate." Read more at VCU News.

Student Spotlight:

Michael Trujillo, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, received a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in April to study discrimination faced by gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and to determine whether that discrimination leads to greater risk taking. Michael was awarded the three-year fellowship for his study titled Anti-Gay Harassment and Risk Taking: The Effects of Distress and Distress Tolerance. Michael said he is "extremely excited and humbled" to receive the fellowship, and credited the support and guidance he has received as a student and researcher. Read more at VCU News.

Upcoming H&S Events

No events currently scheduled.

Selected VCU Events

• June 20: VMFA: Celebrate African and African American Art
• June 24: Work/Life: 'Fitness Reality Check' 

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The next newsletter is scheduled for June 30, 2015. Please submit content as soon as details are finalized.

If you have questions please contact Gregg Johnson at Thank you!

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