May 9, 2014 - Radford University

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From the Dean’s Desk - - May 9, 2014
In this edition:
Five students from the College of Science and Technology received the RU Outstanding Student Award on
Friday, April 25, 2014. The Outstanding Student Award is the Highest Academic Honor bestowed on Radford
University students.
This year, eight total students were selected for the award
from both graduate and undergraduate nominees. Four of
the eight are CSAT majors and the fifth has a CSAT minor.
The students are Jacob Vaught, Halle Edwards, Hannah
Gullickson, Daniel Metz, and Analise Roccaforte.
Jacob Vaught is from Williamsburg, VA and is a sophomore General
Biology Major. Jacob has given back to the community through
mentoring at Belle Heth Elementary School in a third grade
classroom, and in the assistance of building the “Run for Hope” 5k
with the Pre-Dental and Pre-Med Clubs. At home he is a waiter in
Colonial Williamsburg, but at Radford he serves as a Lead Peer
Instructor for the New Student Program’s Office. He assists in the
selection of Peer Instructors for University 100 and helps lead their
training. He will also be teaching his own section of University 100
again this fall. On campus he is a member of Radford University’s
Honor's Academy, Captain and Vice President of Radford Men's Club
Soccer, Former Inner Chapter Relations Committee Head and
Current Rush Committee Head for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor
Fraternity, Member of the Pre-Dental Club, associate member of Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor
Society, and active member of Cru Campus Ministries. He aspires to attend Dental School upon his graduation,
and will be applying next spring.
Halle Edwards is a sophomore Chemistry major from Fincastle, VA. She is
Editor-in-Chief of the Beehive, Radford University's student-run yearbook
magazine, as well as Secretary for the Student Media Committee. She also
works with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship to create
marketing materials. She has made the Dean's List for three semesters, and is a
member of the Honor's Academy. Outside of school, she works with the youth
group at West Side Church of Christ to enhance the Christian relationships of
teenagers. Her hobbies include traveling, skiing, kayaking, and sewing.
Hannah Gullickson is a junior from Augusta, Georgia. She is a chemistry
major and biology minor. She gives back to the RU community through
volunteering at alumni and campus outreach events through the
Radford University Ambassadors. She participates in undergraduate
research in a biochemistry laboratory. She is secretary of Radford
University Ambassadors, vice president of Radford University's Pre-Med
Club, and a member of Radford University's Honors Academy. She
worked as a teaching assistant for the Summer Bridge Program through
the College of Science and Technology last summer and plans being a
teaching assistant again this summer. She recently presented her
research at the local American Chemical Society meeting and the
undergraduate research forum and is currently striving to get her work
Dan Metz grew up near Radford University, on a beef farm bordering
Claytor Lake. A senior biology major and mathematics minor, he has been
fascinated with the life sciences since childhood, when he first
encountered an illustrated guide to marine life in his elementary school
library. Parasites have become his primary research interest, and he will be
traveling to the University of California, Santa Barbara over the summer to
conduct research on behavior-modifying parasitic worms. This year, Dan
was one of three students in the nation to be awarded the Ecological
Society of America's SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the
highest honor bestowed upon undergraduates by the ESA. Beyond
academic interests, Dan is an avid weather buff, a fiction writer, a decent
cook, and a very enthusiastic microscopist. There are no forms more
beautiful than those revealed under high magnification, and no friends
more loyal than those who will follow one into a drainage ditch to collect a
vial full of questionable fluids for later examination. Dan is currently the tutor and TA for genetics, and uses his
long-suffering and good-natured polydactyl dog as a teaching prop when talking about inheritance and
Analise Roccaforte is from Point Pleasant, NJ and is considered a senior but will be here another year finishing
up the requirements for her minors. She is a psychology major with minors in statistics, sociology,
interdisciplinary forensic studies, and dance. She gives back to the RU community by volunteering for the
Women’s Resource Center, the RAFT Crisis Hotline, and the Big Brothers
Big Sisters Organization. She was also the leader of an alternative spring
break at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary. She is involved in
research that analyzes the effects of alcohol and nicotine on
neurogenesis in the hippocampus. She also does research on
polyvictimization and the longitudinal ADD health study. She is a
recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Grant and
will be staying at Radford this summer to continue doing rat lab
research. This past year, she has served as the President of the Honors
Academy Student Organization, the President and Co-Founder of RU
Students for a Positive Change, the Vice President of the International
Psychology Organization, Ambassador for the College of Humanities and
Behavioral Sciences, RU Representative for the State Council of Higher
Education, Sponsorship Chair for the St. Jude’s Up Til Dawn Event, and
President of VA 21. She is also involved in the Phi Sigma Pi Honor
Fraternity, Pi Gamma Mu, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
In addition to the Outstanding Students from the College of Science and Technology, junior Nina Chambers, and
two graduate students, Mary Dickerson and Katherine Donaldson, were recognized with the award.
Also honored during the ceremony were additional students from throughout the College of Science and
Technology and across the University Community. Participating in the LEAD scholar program were Madelein
Ford, Kaleice Green, Olivia Hilton, Victoria Scott, and Kayla Smith.
The LEAD Scholar Program which stands for Leadership through
Excellence, Academics and Development. Through hands-on
experience, the program aims to promote active involvement and
community engagement through creative and critical thinking,
problem and solution analysis, and discovery and growth of
individual leadership styles.
Left to right: Victoria Scott, Kaleice Green, Olivia Hilton, Madelein Ford and Kayla Smith.
Students were also recognized for inclusion in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and
Colleges. Founded in 1934, the program inducts members based on academic achievement, participation in cocurricular activities, citizenship and demonstrated leadership.
This year’s inductees are: Rebecca Boxler, Nina Chambers, Amber Ehrett, Jessica Frazelle, Sarah Gaunt, Emily E.
Grant, Kaitlyn Hall, Nikki Holland, Brenna Ishler, Adrienne Keith, Katrina Koussis, Ashley Light, Lauren Markey,
Daniel Metz, Analise Roccaforte, Kelsy Rupp, Cristina Spicher, Thomas Turner, Scott Werts, James Calvin
Whorley, and Erica Wilkening.
Radford University's tradition of exploration and discovery continued April 22-24 as the campus gathered for the
23rd annual Student Engagement Forum. Over the course of the three days, more than 130 students from the
College of Science and Technology presented their original research and faculty/student collaborations to the
Radford University community in a variety of symposia, presentations and forums. Students from the disciplines
of Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, Geology, Geophysics, Geospatial Science and more were represented
during the program.
Symposiums were devoted to arctic geophysics and innovations in forensic science. A large oral presentation
session featured biology students highlighting their experiences both on campus and around the world. Poster
sessions were devoted to chemistry, biology, geology and geospatial science.
At Wednesday's Innovations in Forensic Science Symposium, Sheryl Manning, a senior biology major from Fancy
Gap, presented her two-year research project on DNA degradation as a means to determine Post Mortal Interval
"The experience has been wonderful and I had a good
opportunity to learn and do applied science," said Sheryl, who
had to learn DNA extraction procedure and interpretation
before embarking on a project that she thinks has "exciting
potential and application in the real world."
Eminent Professor of Anthropology Donna Boyd and Bob
Sheehy, Professor of Biology, were Sheryl's faculty mentors.
Said Dr. Boyd: "When she proposed this project, Sheryl didn't
have the classes yet. She knew blood and she knew lab work,
but the way she taught herself to do this work makes me
Sheryl Manning
After a semester spent planning and developing a project called
"Differential Identification of Blunt Force Trauma in Burned Human
Remains," David Foley, a junior anthropological sciences major from
Bassett, said, "It is a reassuring aspect of this university that I can
work closely with someone as distinguished in her field as Dr. Boyd
who pushed me and shared expertise and resources."
David Foley
Throughout the forum it was obvious that students in the
College of Science and Technology embrace the opportunity to
learn outside the classroom. Even spring break provided
opportunities to enhance their Radford experience to students
who explored areas as diverse as the Virgin Islands and the
Arctic Circle. Tanya Schulz and Emily Clark shared their research
into the “Intraspecific behavior in the pearly-eyed thrasher,
Margarops fuscatus” which took place on the island of St. John
in March.
Tanya Schulz and Emily Clark during their biology presentation
Half a planet away during the same week, students were
researching correlations between ice thickness and temperature in
Barrow, Alaska. Melissa Brett and Nicholas Aitcheson shared their
experience and challenges of using and Ohm Mapper resistivity
array to model the ice thickness during the Arctic Geophysics Oral
Presentation session.
Nicholas Aitcheson showing the data received from the
Ohm mapper in Barrow, Alaska
Poster sessions provided an opportunity for individual and
research teams to present their work in a one on one fashion with students, faculty and staff. For some, it was
their first opportunity to share the story of their work with an academic or professional focus.
Victoria Kirkpatrick spent time during this academic
year studying the potential risk to the Radford
University campus from a chemical or toxic material
spill along the railroad tracks near campus. Her
work was not simply a scholarly exercise, but also
valuable data that could be utilized in emergency
preparedness exercises on campus and in the
community. Her work was on display during the
Geospatial Science poster session which also
featured several of her classmates’ research in other
Victoria Kirkpatrick with her poster illustrating the spatial analysis chemical
plume hazards for the RU campus
area projects such as rainwater run-off management and
predicting crime in the city of Radford utilizing risk terrain
Andrew Foxx presenting his work utilizing risk terrain modeling
During the Geology session, Melissa Brett, Raymundo Balderas and
Matt Sublett shared work that was conducted at Mount Rogers
under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth McClellan. Other students
shared work related to rock slope stability and the use of LiDAR
compared to traditional methods of data collection. Students also
explored some of the issues of hydraulic fracturing, known as
“fracking” in the oil and gas industry, on surrounding waterways
and river basins.
Melissa Brett showcasing her work at Mount Rogers
George Ritter, Kelsey McGee and Emily Luketic with
their poster during the Geology session.
William Wilson explaining his research with LiDAR
Chemistry students shared their work ranging from a forensic
analysis of the materials used in lipsticks and how they might
be used to identify individuals involved in crimes to the
extraction and analysis of oils from peanuts and corn.
Christina Spicher with her poster presentation during the
"Advances in Chemistry" session
In total, the forum provided hundreds of students, faculty,
staff and the local community with an opportunity to come
together for enlightenment and to share in discussion about
new knowledge that students were developing.
Don Bowman contributed to this story.
Morgan Lusk presenting his research
On April 26 and 27, seven members of the Radford
University CSAT STEM club traveled to Washington D.C. to
participate in the USA Science and Engineering Festival,
the national celebration of innovation and investigation in
STEM fields. The event featured thousands of exhibits
ranging from 3d scanning and printing to space
“The trip as a whole was very inspiring in that it gave all of
us the chance to experience something new while being
relevant to new concepts/techniques that are
conceptually interesting” said club member Kirsten
CSAT STEM club members Abigail Ballowe, Joshua Williams,
Hollyn Lofton, Ryan Skipper, Phil Valoyi, Kirsten Basham and
James Stratton at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival
Basham. “I’m sure many of us also learned a great deal
about different scientific theories or technological
advances and in stride will help us improve our horizons
in CSTAT/STEM club.”
Special presentations were made by superstars of the science world such as television host Bill Nye “the Science
Guy” and Dr. Michio Kaku, renowned physicist, futurist, professor and author.
During a lecture and science demonstration,
participants were challenged by Bill Nye to think
differently, figure out problems like energy
generation and efficiency and “to change the
world.” Mr. Nye was joined on stage by actress
Danica McKellar who, in addition to her roles on
television and film, has become a noted author in
the mathematics world and an advocate for
women in the sciences. Ms. McKellar participated
in some of Mr. Nye’s experiments including the
manipulation of air with a vortex cannon and the
crushing of a steel drum with changing air
Bill Nye was joined on stage by actress and mathematics advocate, Danica
McKellar to demonstrate how vortex cannons manipulate air
Dr. Michio Kaku shared his thoughts about the state of the brain. “Dr. Kaku's speech
was both interesting and funny” said James Stratton, STEM club secretary. “It had a lot
of the familiar concepts of the brain such as right-brain vs. left-brain, but It also
contained many of his interesting theories from his book ‘The Future of the Mind.’”
James added “Dr. Kaku believes that eventually people will be able to use technology to
make motion pictures of people's thoughts and people's dreams. The funniest part of
that presentation was that after explaining the ability of technology to tap into the
human mind, Kaku made a nice joke about not having to probe his students' brains to
Dr. Michio Kaku
figure out who would pass or fail his classes.” STEM club Vice-President Ryan Skipper added “I found Dr. Kaku's
presentation to be very informative and enlightening about how much we as a species can accomplish both
technologically and mentally.”
Mike Rowe, host of the television show “Dirty Jobs”
presented his concept of “STEMS” where the second S
stands for skilled work. His message was a little less
conventional than those of the scientists in attendance, but
it was very well received.
“My favorite presentation was work hard and smart by Mike
Rowe” said STEM club treasurer Abigail Ballowe. “I think that
people need to find a job or a skill that is necessary to
improve society and that they enjoy doing.
Mike Rowe
She added “Most times a person does not have to go to college to learn that particular skill. However I think that
college also teaches you important lessons of how to be sufficient at your job. I am learning how to time manage
and to learn so that I can apply the material to different situations. I have learned in physics that there are
usually multiple paths to the same answer. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you have learned all
the skills then you will prosper.”
Club president Hollyn Lofton added “Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs was also a fantastic speaker. I did not know
what to expect from him but he delivered a message about the importance of jobs like plumbing, electrical,
carpentry, and other jobs that many take for granted or do not think about. “
Participants were almost overwhelmed with the variety of
exhibits. ”My interest was primarily in 3D printing of which
there were many companies showcasing many different sizes
and types of printers” said club member Joshua Williams. “The
largest printer shown was Lockheed Martin and was printing a
model of the Orion capsule the size of a kitchen table. They
also showcased printers from many different manufacturers
as well as the open source community. There was also a
mobile maker lab that has laser cutters, CNC routers and other
tools that can be run by middle school students.”
Joshua added “The highlight of the trip for me was catching a racket ball frozen by liquid nitrogen that bounced
off stage when Bill Nye tried to break it against the ground.”
Participants also had the opportunity to talk with potential employers at individual booths and during the career
fair sponsored by the festival. There were also a number of continuing education programs on display.
Ms. Lofton reflected on the experience by stating “What I enjoyed most of all was the fact that everyone there
was more than willing to explain their booth or what they were presenting. I loved seeing that eagerness in
them to share their ideas and thoughts in the science community. That kind of energy is what is needed to
make more and more discoveries.”
During the USA Science and Engineering Festival,
the RU team of students who received an EPA
award in 2013, presented their continued work in
water purification as a part of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's People,
Prosperity and Planet (P3) Student Design
Competition. While not in competition this year,
the Radford University team was a featured
Led by chemistry Professors Cindy Burkhardt and
Francis Webster, the RU team includes geology,
biology and chemistry students. They received the
EPA grant to further develop their research during
the program's second phase, which culminated
in their Sustainable Design Expo presentation
during the USA Science and Engineering Festival on April 26 and 27, 2014.
2014 RU P3 team members at their display booth in Washington D.C.
The interdisciplinary RU team—Cameron Baumgardner, Angela Gerard, Dennis Godward, Spencer Hayes,
Anthony Rhea, Gavin Smith, Matt Sublett and Bekah Webster— consists of team members who received the
EPA award in 2013 and new members helping to further the research.
The objective was to design and develop sustainable technologies that protect people’s health and the
environment while promoting economic development. “We looked at ways to pull materials out of the water
and we turned to one of the most natural filter that is used in the world, sand” said Dennis Godward, a senior
chemistry. “Using sand and combining it with carbon, we were able to remove most of the metals that we were
looking at: cadmium, copper, and lead at levels nearing 100%.”
Another senior chemistry major, Bekah Webster,
spent much of her time on the team this year
helping develop the process that was on display.
“My main role has been working with our nano
carbon material to combine with the sand to help
remove unwanted elements including the heavy
metals, organic dyes such as methelyne blue and
In addition to some of the methods developed in
2013, the team added several new members who
approached the research from a slightly different
direction. Gavin Smith, a senior chemistry and
biology double major, joined the team in the fall and said “I was honored to join the team and continue into the
second phase of the research project not only to help advance my academic career but to also have a better
understanding of research and development as an industry. His work focused on microbial reduction and
disruption to help provide safer drinking water.
The team was visited by hundreds of festival attendees over the two days and shared their work along with the
message that undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in this level of research at Radford
University in the College of Science and Technology.
Photo by Lora Gordon
Radford University to host Camp Invention June 23-27
For five years, Radford University’s College of Science and
Technology has offered the nationally-acclaimed Camp Invention
program to children entering grades one through six in Reed and
Curie Halls each June. The 2014 edition of the program is
scheduled for June 23-27.
For more information, please visit:
Four alumni of RU-Biology continue to advance in their careers. These students who conducted undergraduate
research at RU are now wrapping up master's degrees in field biology-related topics. We couldn't be prouder!
Kiersten Newtoff (left) successfully defended her thesis, "Spatial variability in
mercury exposure and diet in brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidenatalis) in North
Carolina." She will be graduating from the University of North CarolinaWilmington. She has secured an internship with NASA, using GIS techniques to
study the effects of forest changes in New England to long-term bird survey data.
As an undergraduate of RU, Kiersten was very active in the Honors Academy, and
worked in the labs of Drs. Small and Powers.
Clayton Faidley (right) will be defending his thesis later this year at the University of
Louisiana at Monroe. His thesis is entitled, "Aquatic herpetofauna of a bottomland
hardwood forest on Boeuf Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Louisiana."
He'll spend this summer chasing bats in Wyoming as he writes his thesis. During his
undergraduate years, Clayton gained research experience with Dr. Powers. He is a
co-author (with Powers) on a published manuscript on the salamanders of RU's
Selu Conservancy.
Justin Bower (left) successfully defended his Master's thesis at
Frostburg State in Maryland. His thesis is entitled, "Health status of
butternut (Juglans cinerea) in Maryland." This summer, he will be
studying the effects of forest fragmentation on bird communities. As
an undergraduate, he assisted with research in the labs of Drs. Guinan,
Davis, Small, and Powers.
Craig Bland (right) is wrapping up his Master's degree at the University of Georgia.
He is researching the rare northern yellow bat (Lasiurus intermedius) on the
coastal islands of Georgia. He will be defending his thesis this summer or early fall,
and will begin working as a full-time biologist for EcoTech, an environmental
consulting firm in Atlanta. During his undergraduate years at RU, Craig worked on
several projects in the lab of Dr. Powers, and was a co-author with Powers on a
published bat manuscript.
- Story by Karen Powers
With the arrival of spring, Radford University students gathered at
Selu Conservancy Saturday, April 26, for a groundbreaking in
preparation for its first crop.
Almost 30 RU students and faculty spent the day laying out beds,
amending soil, mulching pathways and building fences for a 100foot by 60-foot garden that will include 10 beds to generate
produce for area fresh food pantries and club members, said Will
Dowd, president of the Selu Garden and Service Club.
"It was a great chance to get outside on a beautiful day and work with some great students who really want to
do something and make a difference," said Will, a senior geospatial sciences major from Smithfield. He
expressed his thanks to the Scholar-Citizen Initiative and RU Sustainability for donation of material needed to
get the garden project up and running.
The first planting will take place soon, said Will, and the effort will culminate at a harvest festival in the fall as
part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Selu Conservancy. The garden will feature corn, tomatoes,
squash, zucchini, cucumber, green beans, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupe, rosemary, thyme, sage and
lavender from seeds donated by the Virginia Master Gardeners.
The Selu Conservancy is a 380-acre retreat/meeting center and classroom facility, located seven miles from
campus. The Conservancy includes a 4,000 square-foot
"Barn" equipped with meeting rooms, an observatory and
the Selu Retreat Center.
"I was impressed by the work ethic and the number of
volunteers who worked hard all day," said Jeff Armistead,
director of Selu. "They put in a lot of effort to build the soil
up to make it a good producer and source of all-round
The Garden Club will meet weekly during the summer to
tend the plot and complete a variety of other projects at
Volunteers helping to create the organic garden at Selu
Selu, including the conversion of a dozen cement trash cans
into raised beds and handicap-accessible planters.
Student and faculty volunteers amend the soil and prepare the beds for a new garden at Selu Conservancy
Story by Don Bowman
The Radford University College of Science and Technology Summer Bridge program is a week-long residential
experience for rising sophomore, junior, and senior high school girls interested in science, technology, and
mathematics. The 2014 edition of the program will take place from Sunday, July 13 – Friday, July 18, 2014.
Thanks to many generous donors and sponsors of the program, full scholarships will be awarded competitively
to participants. The scholarships cover all costs of the program.
Through classroom lessons, laboratory experiments, and
field experiences, Radford University professors will draw
students in to the wonders of:
Space Exploration—create a Martian rover
Geology—study the making of mountains
Forensic Science– combat “hackers” and analyze “crime
Genes, Molecules and Medicine - learn about the biology
and chemistry applications in medicine
Environmental Science - studying habitats through examination of the environment
Participants in the program have stated that the interaction with Radford University faculty and staff has been
an exceptional experience as has the residential programming. For many, it will be their introduction to a
college atmosphere and campus living environment. An experienced staff of Radford University students will
join the faculty and professional staff to provide a world-class program for those who attend.
Please help us connect young women interested in the sciences with this outstanding opportunity and pass this
message along to those who might be interested. Thanks to support from our sponsors, we will be able to offer
the program to even more budding scientists moving from 73 participants to 96.
Applications are now being accepted. To learn more, please visit:

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