Worldwide Words, a Changing Environment, and More
Kassandra Colón, a Latin American studies, women’s and gender studies and geography student, is committed to improving cultural representation in the classroom. They have been named WVU’s 24th Truman Scholar, the nation’s top graduate fellowship award for aspiring public service leaders. The award will help Colón pursue their goals, first by earning a graduate degree on Puerto Rican studies and then by working to expand Project La Resolana, an initiative they run out of their Morgantown apartment that matches students of color in South Florida to books on topics of interest.
Two Eberly College students enjoyed an intensive cultural and linguistic experience this summer through the highly competitive U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship. Keenan Allen, a double major in biology and Chinese, traveled to Taiwan to study Mandarin. His goal is to become a medical health professional serving those in need, especially in areas of the world with fewer resources. Taima Ross, a double major in French and Spanish with a minor in Arabic Studies, traveled to Morocco to study Arabic. She hopes to be a consular fellow in the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Population Fund.
A Changing Environment
Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest is the 85-year-old Fernow Experimental Forest in Parsons, West Virginia. Brooke Eastman, a biology graduate student, travels to the research forest to continue the efforts of a 30-year experiment that simulates the long-term impact of acid rain. Eastman was chosen as a Graduate Student Climate Adaptation Partners scholar to develop a digital library and webinar series based on her climate change research.
Posters on the Hill
Two Eberly College undergraduates’ research on toxic compounds produced by fungi took them to Capitol Hill to present their findings to members of Congress. Biochemistry major Caroline Leadmon and biology major Jessi Tyo were among 60 students selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research to participate in Posters on the Hill. They shared findings that could lead to the development of new natural pesticides as well as drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and migraines.
Social worker of the year
The West Virginia Social Worker of the Year award recognizes distinguished career contributions to the social work profession and the state. In 2019, that honor went to Jacki Englehardt, coordinator of Master of Social Work recruitment and admissions at WVU. An alumna herself, Englehardt has been with the WVU School of Social Work since 2006. Since she took on her current role just one year ago, graduate student enrollment has increased nearly 20 percent.
Weichao Tu, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, models the trapped radiation environment of Earth’s two Van Allen radiation belts, which contain high-energy charged electrons in geomagnetic fields. This environment is hazardous to any spacecraft or equipment operating within the belts. To overcome that barrier, she and her team research electron dropout in a “near-Earth” space to examine the environment’s dynamics from a safe distance. Tu was named a Cottrell Scholar for her research.
The Flavor of West Virginia
Heirloom seeds are seeds grown by home gardeners and farmers prior to the 1940s, before industrial agriculture became prominent. Mehmet Oztan, a service assistant professor of geography, has created the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library in conjunction with the Morgantown Public Library, WVU Libraries and WVU Food Justice Lab. The seed library will make Appalachian heirloom seeds available to the greater Morgantown community as part of its mission to preserve regional agrobiodiversity and cultivate culinary and farming traditions.
Mentoring Future Mountaineers
As a first-generation college student, David Laub is attuned to the disparities in opportunities for students like him, especially if they come from a low-income background. For his efforts to connect WVU students with high school students, he received the Newman Civic Fellowship. A 2016 WVU Foundation Scholar, Laub created Mountaineer Mentors, a group of top scholarship students who want to encourage students from their former high schools to seek a college education.
50 Years of Mentorship
In his 50 years of teaching at WVU, Professor of History Robert Maxon has mentored 25 doctoral students, and the University has awarded him the inaugural Faculty Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Mentoring for his work with PhD students studying African history. Under his supervision, students have produced studies that are now recognized by specialists as the standard treatment of their topics. Six of his mentees have served as university department chairs and three have served as deans; another 14 hold teaching positions a t institutions of higher education.
Two Eberly College researchers helped create one of West Virginia’s most powerful computing tools to power research and innovation statewide. The Thorny Flat High Performance Computer Cluster has 1,000 times more computing power than a desktop computer, and that capacity could supercharge a variety of scientific research, from the forensic chemistry of firearms to simulations of neutron stars colliding.