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Around the College

Secret to stress relief

Yeast’s ability to grow, divide, age and metabolize food is similar to human cells and provides researchers with a nearly perfect specimen to study cell processes and genetic variation. Biologist Jennifer Gallagher is taking advantage of the organism’s functions to examine how individuals would respond to stress at a molecular level, and the effects herbicides, such as the common household weed killer Roundup, have on genes. Because yeast can be preserved for decades, her research team will continue to compare effects of Roundup on yeast from 100 years ago to now. 

Tracking policy

Policymakers, researchers and journalists will soon have access to 4.2 million state government decisions in a single database. Political science professor William Franko is leading a team in collecting every legislative bill, executive rule and judicial decision since 1990 across all 50 states. 

Over the next three years, the policies will be collected, digitized and compiled in an open-source database. This first-of-its-kind database will be a comprehensive source of data to track the movement of policies. 

Life on Mars?

As salt minerals develop, they trap tiny pockets of air, microorganisms and the lake water where they grow. Geologist Kathleen Benison studies these ancient acid salt lakes and the minerals made in them to understand environments from centuries past. Because rocks on Mars show the planet also once had acid salt waters, this type of research could even help unravel one of the solar system’s most elusive mysteries.  

Escaping Ebola

The World Health Organization may have declared the most recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa over as of March 2015, but many people in Sierra Leone still find themselves segregated from their families and communities—
a carryover of efforts to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease. 

Tamba M’bayo, assistant professor of history, traveled to Sierra Leone to interview survivors about their experiences since being declared Ebola-free. Because of the stigma attached to the virus, people continue to refrain from identifying themselves as survivors. Many survivors also shared that the Sierra Leone government promised them free healthcare, but were unable
to finish their treatment because hospitals began demanding payment. 

Science behind smartphones

Computers, and the devices that use them, are considered one of the biggest success stories of modern physics. Physics continues to be a catalyst for improving the performance, processing time and energy efficiency of the devices we rely on every day—our
cell phones, smart watches, tablets
and laptops.

Micky Holcomb, associate professor of physics, is making great progress in understanding the physics behind these technologies. In just one month, she accepted three grants worth nearly $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the American Chemical Society.

Holcomb explores the chemical environments around specific materials used to build small computing devices, such as magnetic and ferroelectric thin films. She grows the materials and conducts element-specific measurements to improve performance in future technologies.


The number of Ravens, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by U.S. Special Operations Command and several military operations worldwide, in service. A new algorithm developed by mathematics researcher Marjorie Darrah can mobilize UAVs in team missions, allowing them to fly autonomously to complete complex coordinated missions. 

Child abuse linked to mortality

A WVU psychology researcher is examining links between child abuse and mortality risk in women. Assistant Professor of Psychology Nicholas Turiano is investigating why childhood misfortune, such as child abuse, could cause deaths in women sooner than men and is the coauthor of a study connecting self-reported child abuse to death in women. The child abuse was linked to a variety of adult psychiatric problems, including depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A complex view

As law enforcement living in the same areas where they work, rural police officers are constantly under the scrutiny of their neighbors. They patrol widespread geographic areas, regularly encounter alcohol and drug problems, mental health issues and domestic violence — while nearly everyone they meet is armed.

Sociology professor Rachael Woldoff examines these experiences in a new study, the first to explore the gun control views of rural U.S. police officers. The study found that officers possess complex views about gun control that reflect their identities as both gun-oriented rural citizens and police who seek to control the situations they encounter on the job.

‘S.O.C.K.’ing cancer

May 2017 biology graduate Layne Veneri is leading the way in changing the lives of West Virginia’s pediatric cancer patients. He is the founding president of Students Optimistic for Curing Kids, S.O.C.K.-IT, which spreads awareness of the disease that affects 175,000 children each year by sending comfort kits to area hospitals and spending time with patients. The Princeton, W.Va., native was named the University’s 2016 Mr. Mountaineer and enters the WVU School of Dentistry this fall. 


The year the Leadership Studies Program was established. The program celebrated its 10th anniversary this spring. The program minor enrolls 200 students representing all 14 WVU colleges and schools. Read about the program’s evolution on page 12. 

Looking for new talent? Come home to WVU

Close your eyes and imagine you can hear John Denver singing “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong, West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.” Just the thought of that song will give most West Virginia University graduates (and West Virginians) the chills. 

There’s nothing like the memory of being on campus — the excitement of game days, the stress of exams, the everlasting friendships forged in the dorms. For many, it was the start of something bigger than themselves. It’s where they discovered what they wanted to be when they “grew up” or found their life’s purpose. And for many, it was where they realized what problems they wanted to solve and what types of employers could help them get started. 

WVU has a long list of graduates who went on to become influencers in their fields. Everywhere they go, graduates are ambassadors for WVU. Who better than alumni to boast about the high-quality of our academic programs and the high-quality employees we produce? Companies are looking for employees who can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on the organization, and that’s exactly what Mountaineers do. “They are knowledgeable, not afraid to jump into projects and do the ‘dirty work’ to get the job done,” said Pete Sullivan, vice president of exploration at Energy Corporation of America (B.S. ’78, M.S. ’81, Geology). 

Top-Five Reasons Your Employer Should Recruit at WVU 

  • It’s a great way to give back to WVU.
  • Recruiting top talent to your organization helps boost your professional image.
  • More Mountaineers means bigger game-watch parties.
  • Diversify your network. 
  • Campus recruiting means a road trip to Morgantown. 

Sullivan is no stranger to recruiting fellow Mountaineers. “I have hired WVU graduates since the 1980s, and they have always competed more favorably than some of the biggest schools in geology.” While WVU grads have always stood on their own merits, loyal alumni like Sullivan have continued to open new doors of opportunity.

Campus recruitment has become a competitive environment. Companies are vying for top talent, but universities are also competing for coveted spots on corporate recruiting lists. Alumni advocacy is one of the best ways to grab the attention of a human resources or university recruitment department. Individuals who are not in hiring roles can help by connecting their recruiters with the WVU Career Services Center. 

WVU’s Career Services Center can support any organization’s talent acquisition needs — from large corporations recruiting for experienced professionals to small businesses exploring the idea of an internship program. They can build connections with students, alumni and faculty from all academic disciplines and partner to create the most-effective brand awareness strategies. Employers who are not able to travel to campus have complimentary access to an array of virtual recruitment services. 

Experiential Learning: A New Way to Recruit, a New Way to Teach 

While traditional entry-level recruitment has been a mainstay on college campuses for decades, pacesetting employers and universities now place significant emphasis on experiential learning, particularly internship and job shadowing opportunities. Companies want to hire candidates with applied and tangible experience, and universities are seeking ways to support various learning styles. 

WVU is positioned to help companies recruit for existing internships as well as establish new programs. Job shadowing exposes students to their target industries earlier in their college career, enabling them to make a more informed decision about their future.

As WVU expands its focus on students’ career and professional development, the need for more employer connections also increases. Alumni are in a unique position to advocate internally and drive their employers to recruit from the vast talent pool that is the Mountaineer Nation.  

View a complete list of employer services at

Start the conversation 

by emailing Sarah Rotruck Glenn, associate director of employer relations, at or
David Durham, director, at

Talk to your HR department about the value of recruiting at WVU. Create a MountaineerTRAK account for free and immediate access to WVU’s student and alumni talent network. Companies can post unlimited internships, full-time and contract positions for all disciplines.

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