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Eberly News Blog

27 Mar

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Department of English and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will host the Helen Coast Hayes Peace Lecture on Wednesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhododendron Room of the WVU Mountainlair. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Two speakers, Lori Pompa and Jacqueline Roebuck Sakho, will address higher education inside US prisons as well as the school-to-prison pipeline. The event will enable a needed conversation about educational and restorative justice in West Virginia.

Pompa has been on the faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University since 1992. She is Founder and Director of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. As a Soros Justice Senior Fellow, Lori Pompa developed Inside-Out into a national model of transformative pedagogy. She has taken more than 7,000 students into prisons and has worked with men and women inside prison since 1985. She also served as director of the College of Liberal Arts Office of Experiential Learning.

Sakho is Managing Partner at The Restorative Justice Group for Critical Community Engagement in Pittsburgh. She founded the organization in 2008 with a mission to improve the culture and conditions of schools. From 2013-14, she served as the Heinz Fellow for the Canevin Center for Social Justice at Duquesne University. She has worked as a victim outreach specialist in capital cases, serving as a liaison between the defense team and surviving family members of the victim.

The series was established in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1998 through an endowment dedicated to providing a lasting presence for peace studies on the campus of West Virginia University. The lecture series focuses on the liberal arts in order to explore the literature, history, sociology, psychology, and philosophy of peace.

“The Helen Coast Hayes lecture series is designed to promote peace studies at WVU and one of the great challenges to peace in the US right now is mass incarceration,” said organizer and associate professor Katy Ryan said. “Prison time devastates individuals, families, and communities. The forum will bring together two wonderful speakers who will discuss the role of education and educational leadership in dismantling the prison nation and creating a more just and peaceful culture.”

The lecture will provide a perfect follow-up to the Educational Justice and Appalachian Prison Symposium held at WVU last spring, Ryan said.

24 Mar

Morgantown, W.Va—West Virginia University’s Native American Studies Program will host 2015 elder-in-residence Charlie Soap, longtime community development leader and producer of the film “The Cherokee Word for Water” March 30- April 2.

Soap was the husband and community development partner of the late Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller, and it was the couple’s leadership on the Bell Waterline Project that inspired the film.

A screening of “The Cherokee Word For Water and talk will take place at 6 pm Wednesday, April 1 in room G20 in Ming Hsieh Hall on the Downtown Campus.

A full-blood bilingual Cherokee, Soap has a bachelor’s degree in education from Northeastern State University. He served in the United States Navy from l965-l969, and received an honorable discharge. Soap has dedicated his entire career working to strengthen the many Cherokee communities.

Soap has received numerous awards, including the Common Cause Public Service Achievement Award, and two National Certificates of Merit from the Department of Housing and Development. He has lectured on community development at Cornell University, Arizona State University Law School, the University of Maryland, Tufts University, Indiana State University and the Mayo Clinic.

During his week in Morgantown, Soap will guest lecture in history and Native American Studies classes, and meet with students and faculty.

Soap’s residence is made possible through the Carolyn Reyer Visiting Lectureship Program for Native American Studies and is co-sponsored by the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the department of history.

For more information, check out the program online at or on Facebook by searching “WVU Native American Studies Program” or contact Bonnie Brown, at 304-293-4626 or

24 Mar

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three West Virginia University professors from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded $1.8 million in funding from the National Research Foundation’s prestigious Faculty Early Career Development or CAREER program.

“The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research,” said Katie Stores, assistant dean for research at the Eberly College. “The quality, diversity of content and design, and number of successful NSF CAREER awardees within the Eberly College and campus-wide is an accomplishment that the entire WVU community can celebrate. We expect the success of these talented scholars will contribute to further research and education accomplishments — not only among our faculty, but the student community as well.

Cheng Cen, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $500,438 for her project, “CAREER: Developing Graphene Superlattices In A Massive-Massless Hybrid Electron System.”

Graphene is a material that comes from graphite – the same material used in everyday pencils. In thin sheets, it has incredible conductive properties – with potential applications such as faster computer processors, bendable electronics and huge reductions in energies those devices require.

To get there, graphene must be tamed. Current semiconductor technologies do not work well with graphene, so completely new approaches must be devised. Cheng’s project aims to develop an on-demand technique to better control the properties of the material. Overlapping an artificial periodic electronic structure on top of graphene has been predicted to be an effective approach for such a task.

CAREER_flagg Edward Flagg, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded $700,000 for his project, “CAREER: Coherent Single-Photons For Quantum Information.”

Quantum computation and communication — an approach to computing that could solve certain difficult problems much faster than modern day supercomputers — offers great potential benefits to processing power and communication security by exploiting the non-intuitive properties of quantum mechanics. Photons will play an active part in future quantum information processing schemes, and semiconductor nanostructures called quantum dots are likely candidates to act as photon sources. Currently, however, photons produced by quantum dots are not suitable because of spectral diffusion: photons emitted at different times have different wavelengths.

The goal of this research project is to identify, model, and establish effective strategies to mitigate the factors responsible for spectral diffusion. The funding also supports the development, evaluation, and dissemination of an optics-related learning module for 4-H youth groups in West Virginia.

CAREER_hoover Jessica Hoover, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded $631,516 for her project, “CAREER: Copper Catalyzed Oxidative Decarboxylative Coupling Reactions for the Functionalization of Arenes.”

Hoover’s research will develop new catalytic reactions for the formation of carbon-carbon (C-C) bonds from carboxylic acids through oxidative decarboxylative coupling reactions. This technology offers improvements over classical coupling methods, including the replacement of expensive, toxic, and wasteful organometallic reagents with inexpensive and readily available carboxylic acid starting materials while generating minimal waste. This award also supports the development of a new summer program designed to bring together chemists, engineers, and artists to work toward the common goal of building a public science-art installation.

19 Mar

The process of trial and error in scientific research is costly and time-consuming. And while scientific innovation and discovery is necessary to find solutions to some of society’s largest challenges — think clean energy, national security, more accessible technologies —the development of new, more efficient materials typically take decades and millions of dollars.

Since 2011, the Federal government has invested more than $250 million in research and development, and innovation infrastructure to support the use of advanced materials in existing and emerging industrial sectors in the United States. Full bi-partisan support exists for continually increasing the investment yearly.

Four researchers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University, in conjunction with the federal Materials Genomics Initiative, are finding ways to more quickly design materials that will find their ways to the marketplace. Just as the Human Genome Initiative in the 1990s sequenced human DNA for the subsequent identification and analysis of genes, so too will the Materials Genome Initiative sequence materials for identifying new properties for a variety of applications.

Aldo Romero, Cheng Cen, David Lederman and James P. Lewis have received support for nearly $2 million to rapidly develop new materials under the initiative.

Some of the projects the researchers are pursuing:

• The rapid discovery of fluoride-based multiferroic materials, which could allow for generating electric fields that would support more efficient electronic devices or be electronic responsive under a magnetic field. The research is supported by a $1.2 million National Science Foundation award.
• The computational design of nano-catalysts from gold and silver alloys for use in energy and environmental science applications, such as in automobile exhaust cleanup. This research is supported by a roughly $560,000 National Science Foundation award.

“The Materials Genome Initiative paradigm will revolutionize the way we pursue new technologies with more efficient research teams that focus more on the application-driven properties of materials. But, the problems are extremely complex — in the human genome there are only the four DNA bases; a material’s genomics can consist of anything in the periodic table,” Lewis said.

Ferroelectric power affects a number of technologies, including cloud computing, sensing devices, solar energy systems and nanoelectronics. Conventional ferroelectric materials are complex and costly to produce.

Oxides, a ferroelectric material, develop an internal electric field because their ions move, causing positive/negative charges. If a magnet were to be placed on the material, an electric field would be generated. The problem is that the electricity generated is very small.

“It is very hard to develop a real application using oxides due to the observed small response. Therefore, we have to broaden our set of materials and see if we find some others with a larger response,” Romero said.

“We will focus on creating a material with an interface between an oxide and a fluoride. If we are able to understand the new physics, then we will be able to get new devices,” Romero said.

Lewis is working on the nano-catalyst research with Rongchao Jin, a synthetic chemist at Carnegie Mellon University who received a separate award. Lewis will computationally design the nano-catalysts from gold and silver alloys and Jin will synthesize these nano-catalysts based on Lewis’ discoveries.

Consider the energy and environmental science implications for the auto industry. In the case of auto emissions, instead of current catalysts that are inactive below 200 degrees Celsius, Lewis’ gold and silver nano-catalysts would be able to react at room temperature and help remove harmful emissions including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

Emissions are the measurable release of gases and other particles into the atmosphere from a specified activity and a specified period of time, such as burning fuels. The most common types generally come from automobiles, power plants and industrial companies.
Both Romero and Lewis have also received other awards related to materials genomics. Romero was recently awarded a Petroleum Research Fund grant from the American Chemical Society to design base lithium lightweight materials. And Lewis, was awarded a grant from the Department of Energy to develop new sorbent materials, or “nano-sponges” that utilize light to open and close nano-sized pores.
In 2013, Lewis was awarded a Fulbright that he used to travel to the Czech Republic explore ways to more quickly design materials for solar applications. The process to develop and test these devices can generally take more than 10 years, but Lewis’ aim remains to cut that time in half.
For more information about the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy’s materials research and involvement in the Materials Genomics Initiative, contact James P. Lewis at or Aldo Romero at

18 Mar

Morgantown, W.Va. — The West Virginia University School of Social Work announces the Spring 2015 season of professional and community education programs for social workers, counselors, and nurses who wish to earn continuing education credit.

Workshops will cover a variety of topics aimed to help human service providers stay up-to-date with new developments in their field as well as coping techniques.

Charleston/ Beckley area workshops:

May 19, “Abuse in Later Life: A Coordinated Community Response,”9am-12pm, Beckley-Raleigh Convention Center, Room C, Beckley, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by April 17)

May 19, “Designer Drugs 101,” 1-4pm, Beckley Raleigh Convention Center, Room C, Beckley, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by April 17)

Martinsburg workshops:

April 9, 2015, “Ethical Challenges of Social Work Supervision,”9am-4pm, WVU-Eastern Division, Erma Byrd Health Professionals Center, Multimedia Room, Martinsburg, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by March 20)

May 12, “The “Dis-ease” of Addiction: Addressing the Discomfort Around Helping the Struggling Addict or Alcoholic,” 9am-4pm, WVU-Eastern Division, Erma Byrd Health Professions Center, Multimedia Room, Martinsburg, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by April 10)

Morgantown/Clarksburg workshops:

March 13, “Intermediate-Level Training in Motivational Interviewing: Building Upon Core Skills,”9am-4pm, Lakeview Resort and Conference Center. Registration Fee: $65

March 31, “Borderline Clients: Dancing with Real vs. Imagined Abandonment,” 9am-4pm, Monongalia General Hospital Conference Center, Tait Room, Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $65

April 7, “Positive Behavior Support Overview,”9am-12pm, WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities, 2nd Floor Conference Room, Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by March 20)

April 7, 2015, “Autism in Your Caseload: What It Looks Like, What to Do if You Suspect a Diagnosis, and What Resources Are Available in WV for Evidence-based Treatment and Family Support,”1pm-4pm, WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities, 2nd Floor Conference Room, Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by March 20)

April 21, “Stories Open Doors: Personal and Family History Projects,”9:00am-4:30pm, Lakeview Resort & Conference Center, Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $70 (Early bird rate of $63 by March 27)

April 24, “Parenting Together, Miles Apart,” 8:30am-11:30am, Gaston Caperton Center, Room 148, Clarksburg, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by March 27)

April 24, “Participatory Management in Non-Profit Settings,”12:30pm-3:30pm, Gaston Caperton Center, Room 148, Clarksburg, WV.

May 7, “Raise Your EQ (Ethical Quotient)!”9am-4pm, WVU-Charleston, Robert C. Byrd Health Science Center, Room 2044, Charleston, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by April 10)

May 8, “Crisis Intervention: How to Handle a Crisis”8:30am-3:30pm, Gaston Caperton Center, Room 149, Clarksburg, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by April 10)

May 14, “How to Make the Most Out of Your Special Event,”9am-12pm, WVU Health Sciences Center, John Jones C
(Room G285C), Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by March 27)

May 14, “Promoting Organizational Change and Leadership”1pm-4pm, WVU Health Sciences Center, John Jones C (Room G285C), Morgantown, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of
$31.50 by March 27)

Elkins/ Princeton/Wheeling workshops:

April 29, “Adoption – The Search For The Missing Pieces To One’s Life Puzzle,”9am-4pm, Ohio Valley Medical Center, Living Room, Wheeling, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by April 3)

May 1, “Ethics in the Workplace,”9am-4pm, Randolph County DHHR, Elkins, WV. Registration Fee: $65 (Early bird rate of $58.50 by April 3)

May 20, “Designer Drugs 101,”9am-12pm, Princeton Public Library, Conference Room, Princeton, WV. Registration Fee: $35 (Early bird rate of $31.50 by April 17)

For more information, download a brochure and registration form at or contact Jacki Englehardt, coordinator of professional & community education for the School of Social Work, at 304.293.3280 or

18 Mar

Communication Studies Professor Dr. Elizabeth Cohen recently appeared on Clarksburg news station WDTV to discuss the rise of new cable TV internet streaming options. Options like Sling, from Dish Network, offer lower package options and are delivered over cable internet connections, rather than cable equipment or satellite dishes.

“I don’t think the cable companies are going to be very happy about this, but I think television in general is going to be very happy about this because this is just another avenue for viewers to find their television shows and see all of the advertisements that they’re putting on there,” said Dr. Cohen.

To watch the full report, visit the WDTV website.

18 Mar

Sociology and Anthropology professors Rachel Stein and Candace Griffith have been featured in the London School of Economics and Politics American Policy blog.

Do police officers and residents have different perceptions of crime and cohesion in urban neighborhoods? In new research, Rachel E. Stein and Candace Griffith find resident observations of neighborhood measures are relatively consistent across three urban neighborhoods in a Midwestern city. Police perceptions of their relationship with residents and the close-knit structure of the community, however, are more positive in the primarily white neighborhood that has an active crime prevention program. The results suggest that what officers see on the “surface” of the neighborhood is driving overall perceptions, while underlying problems are secondary. Differences between resident and police perceptions can influence the success of crime prevention strategies employed in community policing.

This article is based on the paper, ‘Resident and Police Perceptions of the Neighborhood’ in Criminal Justice Policy Review.

To read the article, click here.

18 Mar

WV STEM+ Family Travel Fund is now accepting applications through April 30, 2015. The first state-wide program in the nation, the travel fund will provide female faculty and post-doctoral scholars at West Virginia public and private institutions of higher learning, including 2-year colleges, the opportunity to apply for funding.

The fund offers reimbursement of incremental child and eldercare expenses incurred as a result of traveling. The fund is made possible by a 2-year grant from the Elsevier Foundation’s New Scholars Program. The funds will be administered by the Division of Science and Research at the Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC). Please visit

17 Mar

Only 47 percent of high school physics classes are taught by a qualified teacher with a degree in the subject, compared with 73 percent of biology classes and 80 percent of humanities classes.

And while having a physics degree is not required for being an effective physics teacher, educators say that the most consistent predictor of student achievement in science and math is a teacher who has at least a bachelor’s degree in the content area.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University has received a $160,000 grant from the American Physical Society to become a supported site in the Physics Teacher Education Coalition. As a supported site, WVU commits to bolster its support of physics students and increase the number of those who are highly qualified to teach physics when they graduate.

“We are very excited for the opportunity provided to WVU, and West Virginia, by this award,” said Gay Stewart, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of the WVU Center for Excellence in STEM Education.

“The Physics Teacher Education Coalition has a mission to improve and promote the education of future physics teachers. Since you can never be sure who will become a teacher, this is really a mandate to improve the physics education of every student, which in turn opens more doors for more of our students to be successful in STEM at WVU, while we build the teacher workforce to help improve STEM education K-12.”

The grant funding will support:

• Revision of the calculus-based course sequence
• A new teacher-in-residence to provide high school teaching experience and mentorship
• Improved adviser training
• Updating the university course requirements for licensure
• A new learning assistants program built around laboratory experience
• A new recruitment plan for majors

Over the past 20 years, the number of high school students taking physics has more than doubled to 1.38 million students, according to the coalition’s records.
But a 2009 study — the organization’s most recent comparing student understanding of basic physics concepts — showed that U.S. student performance in the subject is markedly lower than that of their peers in China.

Roughly 12 students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics each year from WVU, with one teacher emerging every five years, according to department estimates.

By offering improved instructional experiences, more informed advising, and a supportive environment the department hopes to increase the number of highly qualified graduates pursuing physics teaching careers to more than six a year.

“Since the most common number nationally is zero, this would make us one of the most successful programs in the country at supporting this area of need,” Stewart said.

This new grant is part of the ongoing activities coordinated by the WVU Center for Excellence in STEM Education, a University-wide initiative to achieve national prominence in STEM Education at WVU and in West Virginia, K-12.

John Stewart, associate professor in the Department of Physics, is the site director for PhysTEC at WVU. Paul Miller, Physics, Jeffrey Carver, Director of STEM Education Initiatives in the College of Education and Human Services, and Gay Stewart are on the leadership team, and were co-investigators on the proposal.

For more information, contact John Stewart at, or Gay Stewart at (304) 293-5032 or

17 Mar
mclaughlin West Virginia University professor Maura McLaughlin has been named Eberly Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

McLaughlin, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, studies neutron stars — compact stars born in supernova explosions. Her main project for the last eight years and time at WVU has been spent using the stars for detecting gravitational waves. The work being conducted utilizing the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank telescope is exciting and groundbreaking, McLaughlin said.

“It feels really wonderful to be recognized for the research and teaching I’ve done over the past eight years. I feel very honored,” she said. “Looking at the other faculty members that have received this kind of recognition, you see very accomplished researchers and teachers. I’m humbled to be among that group.”

McLaughlin is the 16th Distinguished Professor at the College. The Eberly Distinguished Professorship continues the Eberly family’s commitment to furthering higher education. To receive the professorship, the appointee must have a distinguished record of scientific achievement, as judged by external experts, as well as a record of excellent teaching. The appointee will be expected to be a leading role model for other faculty members.

“It is a privilege to make faculty appointments like these. These appointments not only reward productive faculty who have given so much to WVU, but they underscore the extraordinary faculty we have in the Eberly College, especially those dedicated to research,” said Rudolph Almasy, interim dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to her duties at West Virginia University, McLaughlin also serves as principal investigator on a National Science Foundation: Partnerships for International Research and Education award. This supports an international collaboration – the International Pulsar Timing Array – which uses a network of telescopes across the globe for gravitational wave detection.

Also, along with WVU professor Duncan Lorimer and colleagues at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, she has developed the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, a program which has involved more than 2,000 high-school students in 18 states in research with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope.

She has previously won the Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award (2009) and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2008).

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