View Site Map

Eberly News Blog

12 Sep

Imagine a world where you could participate in a 5k, and not even have to change out of your pajamas. This world—is our world.

The Department of Psychology at West Virginia University hosting the 2014 FallBack 5k Pajama Walk/Run on Sunday, Nov. 2, to raise money supporting research for children who have difficulty sleeping.

After you’ve set your clock back for the fall, put on your coziest pajamas and head down to the race. Dress to impress, as judges will be awarding prizes for the best pajamas in each age and gender class.

“This is going to be a very fun, interesting event, on a date when there aren’t many other races going on,” said Hawley Montgomery-Downs, associate professor of psychology at WVU.

“This is the only pajama race I’ve ever heard of, and people are getting really into it. I’ve heard of people planning to dress as giant teddy bears.”

The race will begin at 11 a.m., rain or shine, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater in downtown Morgantown. The path is a flat, paved, 3.1-mile course that will take participants on the Caperton Rail Trail along the scenic Monongahela River.

To register for the event, visit http://fallback5k.kintera.org/2014 before Nov. 1 or race day starting at 9:00am. The cost of registration is $40 for adults, $35 for teens and $30 for children. Those who register by Oct. 2 will receive a T-shirt featuring artwork by a child in the Morgantown community.

Registration is a tax-deductible donation; funds raised will support research by the WVU Sleep Research Team to prevent child obstructive sleep apnea and postpartum sleep disturbance.

Light refreshments will be provided at the finish line.

For more information, contact Hawley Montgomery-Downs at (304) 293-1761 or Hawley.Montgomery-Downs@mail.wvu.edu

-WVU-

ma/09/12/14

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter. Like us on Facebook

12 Sep

The 4th Annual Communication Studies Reunion and Speed Networking Event will be held the Friday of the West Virginia University homecoming weekend – Oct. 3rd, 2014.

Both events will be held at one of High Street’s newest establishments, Jameson’s Pub and Eatery. Communication Studies students, faculty, and alumni are invited to attend this annual celebration.

The Speed Networking Event will kick-off at 3:00 p.m. Students will meet in small groups with Communication Studies graduates to hear about the various career options available to Communication Studies majors.

Each session will last 5-8 minutes and each student will be able to visit with up to eight different alumni. This will enable students to speak to many different graduates with different professional backgrounds in a short period of time.

“The Speed Networking Event is a comfortable environment where you can put your communication skills to use and make valuable connections for your future. Don’t miss out!” said Loryn Spady, a current Communication Studies major who attended the event last year.

At 5:00 p.m., all Communication Studies alumni and faculty are invited for our Communication Studies Reunion to catch up and enjoy the Homecoming Parade on High Street with free food and drink specials.

To RSVP to the reunion, please visit https://forms.as.wvu.edu/comm/view.php?id=11.

For more information, contact Andrea Weber at 304-293-3905 or acweber@mail.wvu.edu

-WVU-

sb/09/12/14

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

10 Sep
wenying-xu-ju-gray What advice would Wenying Xu, ‘88, give her younger self? Here’s a hint: Embrace opportunity in unexpected places.

Xu, a master’s degree graduate of WVU’s English Department, is the provost and chief academic officer at Jacksonville University.

She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education.

Here are five lessons she would have taught herself:

1. I would have valued failures more.

There’s no better opportunity for learning than failing. The proverb “Failure is the mother of success.” teaches us to put aside our ego and embrace our mistakes. Failing in something is one step closer toward success.

2. I would have played more leadership roles in college and graduate school.

College and graduate schools are the training ground for leadership where stakes are low and where your peers are open to creativity and innovation. Leadership roles will develop your skills and capacities in strategic planning, organization, responsibility, and consensus building.

3. I would have taken a public speaking course in college.

The ability to speak intelligently and cogently is essential to effective leadership. Your team doesn’t expect your decisions to be in their favor all the time, but they want to understand your rationales behind your decision.

4. I would have networked more with my fellow students.

It’s very important to have confidants with whom I can discuss my work and from whom I can get advice.

5. I would have taken advantage of more campus events.

Often learning comes from unexpected occasions, and acquiring a broad range of knowledge and being current in major cultural and political events will provide one with the ability to step into someone else’ intellectual position, thus engaging him/her in a genuine dialogue.

We would love to know how you’re life has been going post-graduation if you have any news to share—professional or personal. Submit us note about your life, your story, in your words. https://forms.as.wvu.edu/deansoffice/view.php?id=24088

3 Sep

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mosquitoes are one of the world’s most deadliest insects, transmitting malaria, a disease that kills between three and five million people each year.

But learning about how a mosquito uses its sense of smell may help researchers develop a new generation of repellants and traps that could save lives.

The Department of Biology at West Virginia University will host Larry Zweibel, Ph.D., the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Molecular Biology and professor of pharmacy at Vanderbilt University, at 4 p.m., Sept. 8 in room G15 of the Life Sciences Building. It is free and open to the public.

His presentation, “The Genomics and Molecular Biology of Odorant Receptors in the Malaria Vector Mosquito,” will shed light on how over-stimulating the insects’ senses could offer a more effective deterrent than traditional bug sprays.

“This is a species of mosquito that spreads malaria, and the thing that’s so dangerous about them, is that all they want to find are humans,” said Andrew Dacks, assistant professor of biology at WVU.

A mosquito’s sense of smell guides it to its target and plays an important role in host-seeking preference.

“You can be in the middle of a herd of cattle, and one of these mosquitos would make their way past all of the cattle, all of those incredibly potent odors, to find you,” Dacks added.

Zweibel’s research focuses on combating malaria, among other diseases carried by mosquitoes. Roughly 3.4 billion people are infected each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“(Zweibel) is considering a global problem. He’s not just working in the lab,” Dacks said.

“He actually has field sites, in Africa, where he has model villages, in which they have standing water to test the effectiveness of their approaches.

“This isn’t a ‘maybe one day this will have an effect.’ That’s not how (Zweibel) works. He’s actually going into the field, releasing mosquitos within an enclosure and applying these approaches.”

Zweibel is funded through a number of organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has been a faculty member at Vanderbilt University since 1998 and has published more than 50 papers.

For more information, contact Andrew Dacks at 304-293-3205 or amdacks@mail.wvu.edu

-WVU-

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

3 Sep

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Social Work announces the 2014 fall season of professional and community education programs for social workers, counselors and nurses who wish to earn continuing education credit.

Workshops will deal with a variety of topics aimed to assist helping professionals stay up-to-date on new developments in their fields.

WVU School of Social Work also offers two continuing education certificate programs; the Continuing Education Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CECNPM) and the Gerontology Practitioner Certificate (GPC). Several of the fall workshops are also approved for these programs.

Pre-registration forms and a brochure can be found online at http://socialwork.wvu.edu/ce.

Morgantown-area workshops:

• September 5, 2014: “Hoarding, Addiction, and Avoidance: ACT Perspectives”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC, Psychology hours pending

• October 16, 2014: “Raise Your EQ (Ethical Quotient)”
CEUs: 6 SW (6 SW ethics); 5.5 LPC (5.5 LPC ethics)

• October 20, 2014: “Healing Connections: Helping Clients Tell Their Stories Through Creative Collage”
CEUs: 7 SW; 6.5 LPC; 7.8 Nursing, Psychology hours pending

• October 30, 2014: “Evidence-based Treatment of Civilian and Military Trauma: Research, Practice, and Case Studies”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC; 6.6 Nursing, Psychology hours pending

• November 7, 2014: “Improving the Quality of Services and Supports Offered to LGBT Older Adults by Aging Network Providers”
CEUs: 8 SW; 7.5 LPC; 9 Nursing; 8 GPC

Charleston-area workshops:

• October 28, 2014: Suicide: The Silent Epidemic Across the Lifespan”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing, Psychology hours pending

• October 28, 2014: “safeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing, Psychology hours pending

• December 3, 2014: “The Gray Blues: Depression and Suicide in Older Adults: A Silent Epidemic”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC; 6.6 Nursing; 6 GPC; Psychology hours pending

Beckley-area workshops:

• October 9, 2014: “How to Make the Most Out of Your Special Event”
CEUs: 3 SW; 3 CECNPM

• October 9, 2014: “Designer Drugs 101”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing

• November 12, 2014: “A Day on Dementia: Some of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
CEUs: 5.25 SW; 4.75 LPC; 5.7 Nursing; 5.25 GPC; Psychology hours pending

Martinsburg-area workshops:

• October 2, 2014: “EMPOWERING Bystanders in Bullying Prevention”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC

• November 19, 2014: “Borderline Clients: Dancing with Real vs. Imagined Abandonment”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC; Psychology hours pending

• December 12, 2014: “Effective Behavioral Interventions for Memory Impairments and Dementia”
CEUs: 4 SW; 3.75 LPC; 4.8 Nursing; 4 GPC; Psychology hours pending.

Clarksburg-area workshops:

• September 26, 2014: “Accounting Update for Nonprofits”
CEUs: 2 SW; 2 CECNPM

• September 26, 2014: “Quickbooks for Non-Profits”
CEUs: 2 SW; 2 CECNPM

• October 24, 2014: “Parenting Together, Miles Apart”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC

• October 24, 2014: “Grief and Children”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing

• November 14, 2014: “Creating Public Value for Your Agency or Organization”
CEUs: 3 SW; 3 CECNPM

• November 14, 2014: “I’m Not Broken So Don’t Try to Fix Me”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing; 3 GPC

• December 5, 2014: “I’ve been subpoenaed, Now What?—The Ins-and-Outs of Effective Court Testimony for Social Service Practitioners
CEUs: 4 SW; 3.75 LPC

Wheeling-area workshops:

• October 8, 2014: “Brain Injury ~ Anyone at Any Time: Assessing, Treating, and Supporting”
CEUs: 6 SW; 5.5 LPC; 6.6 Nursing, Psychology hours pending

• November 12, 2014: “Self Care for Helpers 101: Feed and Be Fed”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC

• November 12, 2014: “Sex Work and Human Trafficing in the 21st Century”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC

Princeton-area workshops:

• October 10, 2014: “Designer Drugs 101”
CEUs: 3 SW; 2.75 LPC; 3.6 Nursing

• October 10, 2014: “Nonprofit Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurs in Small Towns and Rural Communities”
CEUs: 3 SW; 3 CECNPM

For more information, contact Jacki Englehardt, program coordinator for the Office of Professional & Community Education in the WVU School of Social Work, at (304) 293-3280 or Jacki.Englehardt@mail.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter, Like us on Facebook

29 Aug

Morgantown, W.Va.—The Department of English will host a reading by George Singleton on Tue, Sep. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in 130 Colson Hall.

George Singleton, who holds the John C. Cobb Chair in humanities at Wofford College, has published six collections of stories, two novels, and a book of writing advice.

His next collection, “Calloustown,” will be published in November 2015. Over 200 of his stories have appeared in magazines such as the “Atlantic Monthly,” “Harper’s,” “Book,” “Playboy,” “Zoetrope,” “Georgia Review,” “Southern Review” and elsewhere.

His work has been anthologized in ten issues of “New Stories of the South—the Year’s Best.” His non-fiction has appeared in “Oxford American,” “Garden and Gun,” “Bark,” and elsewhere.

Singleton received a 2009-10 Guggenheim fellowship, a 2011 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2010. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution labeled him “the unchallenged king of the comic southern short story.”

The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow.

29 Aug

Morgantown, W.Va.— The Department of English at West Virginia University. will host a reading by Kelly Moffett on Monday, Sep. 15 at 11:00 a.m. in 130 Colson Hall.

Kelly Moffett has two books of poetry and one chapbook. Her third book, “bird blind,” will be released this fall. Her work has appeared in journals such as “Colorado Review,” “Cincinnati Review,” and “Rattle.”

She is an assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University and a graduate of the WVU Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs.

“Kelly is one of our most accomplished alumni and we’re looking forward to hearing her read from her books,” said professor Mary Ann Samyn, director of the creative writing program.

“The MFA program has grown so much and we’re proud of the success of all of our grads.”

The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow.

29 Aug

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Novel smokeless tobacco products have been marketed as a way for smokers to cut back on the negative effects of tobacco, while still being able to use it. But is that really the case?

MDB Picture 2 Melissa Blank, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at West Virginia University, is investigating whether smokers are using smokeless tobacco products in place of cigarettes, or as a supplement to them.

To support this research, Blank was awarded a federal grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

“If we find out that smokers are in fact using these products to help replace a significant portion of their cigarettes, then it might be in our best interest to continue to market these products in that manner,” Blank said.

“But if we end up finding out that smokers are really just supplementing—they’re actually exposing themselves to more nicotine and tobacco then they normally would have if they’re only using their cigarettes—then the FDA can use that information in terms of regulating how these products are marketed to smokers.”

Blank is focusing on smokers’ use of not only traditional (dip, snuff, chew), but also novel (pouches, lozenges, etc.), smokeless tobacco products.

For example, snus tobacco pouches originated in Sweden and are now marketed in the U.S. for use in situations where smokers cannot use cigarettes.

These smokeless tobacco pouches do not require spitting and may expose users to fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes. Thus, smokers may engage in snus use to circumvent indoor smoking restrictions and/or to reduce the harms of cigarette use.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28.2 percent of adults in West Virginia have self-identified as current cigarette/smokeless tobacco users. This number, Blank said, exceeds the per-state average in the United States.

To characterize the patterns of dual tobacco use, Blank will give cigarette smokers who use smokeless tobacco a device that allows them to record their use of all products daily.

The device will allow volunteers to give details about the setting in which they use a product, including the area, number of people around them and what they were doing during use.

Blank will also have the volunteers collect saliva samples during the study to compare smokers’ exposure to chemicals when they smoke only cigarettes, to when they smoke cigarettes and use smokeless tobacco in the same day.

Blank joined the WVU faculty in 2012, and serves as a co-leader of the tobacco research program for the West Virginia Prevention Research Center, housed within the WVU School of Public Health.

The research center, directed by Geri Dino and Lesley Cottrell, was recently awarded $750,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct disease prevention research in West Virginia.

For more information, contact Melissa Blank at (304) 293-8341 or Melissa.blank@mail.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

ma/08/28/14

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

27 Aug
Tessa DDutko

The academic school year ends, but students in the Eberly College never stop learning.

Each summer, many students choose to brighten their futures and expand their education by completing summer internships.

These are their stories.


Story by Mike Atkinson
Photo provided by Tessa Dutko


Tessa Dutko, Junior
Hometown: Martinsburg, West Virginia
Major: Political Science (international relations), International Studies (national security), Russian Language
Minor: French
Internship: Interning for US Embassy in St. Petersburg, Russia

What was it like growing up in Martinsburg?

It was a rather small town. It’s grown a lot since then. It’s a pretty close-knit community. I was pretty involved in the community from the time I was young, so I had a lot of role models growing up there that inspired me to get into politics. I’ve been interested in politics since I was in sixth grade.

Who were some of your role models?

My sixth grade history teacher, Mr. Chapman was his name. He would always start arguments with me in class, no matter what it was about, to try to get me to debate with him. That was probably my biggest role model from the time I was younger.

My parents always encouraged me to be very active in politics as well, and just do things in the community. One of my first jobs was at a retirement home; I served dinner to the residents there. There were always residents who would talk politics with me, so that was always an encouragement.

Are there any particular experiences or interesting stories about Martinsburg?

There’s a lot of Civil War history in my hometown. You can drive about 15 minutes and there’s Antietam battlefield. Gettysburg isn’t far away. The C&O canal is about ten minutes from my house. Shepherdstown is a big history town, that’s about ten minutes from my home.

There’s a lot of American history there. We’re also very close to Washington, D.C. So our field trips were always involved with American history. That was really awesome.

Living in an area where there is so much history is an experience in and of itself. I think that is mainly responsible for the interest I have in working for the government. From a very young age I was well aware of the sacrifices that so many had made to make this country what it is today.

So what led you to WVU?

Well, I grew up in Martinsburg, and WVU was the big West Virginia school. I applied to WVU, and it was actually the only school I applied to because (of scholarship help). My mom actually teases me a lot about how much I’ve come to love WVU. If I could go back, no matter what school I got into I would still choose WVU if I knew how far it would take me today.

The professors here have just been wonderful. Dr. (David) Hauser has really inspired me to always go the extra step. He’s really involved with the students. He’s taken us to D.C. multiple times to look at graduate schools and tour the CIA and the DIA and stuff like that.

The professors are really involved and they care about your future here, and that’s something that I really love about this school.

Can you share a few experiences you’ve had while you were at WVU?

I’m a pretty boring person socially. I don’t really do the party thing. I don’t get out much. My club is the library. I actually meet a lot of people through academic clubs.

One of the best experiences I’ve had here was the trip I took with Dr. Hauser and five other students to (Washington) D.C to tour graduate schools. I was really set that I wanted to get my Ph.D. in political science. After that trip it showed me that there are a lot of options, and you’re kind of selling yourself short if you don’t explore all of those. That really changed what I was thinking I wanted to do academically with the rest of my life.

How did you hear about your internship?

Dr. (David) Hauser. He actually told me about it a year ago and I started thinking about it. Then Ronny (Thompson), who does a lot of the coordinating for political science department sent out an email to all of the political science students about it, as they always do, and it was really helpful that they do that. It lets you get a feel for your options. I got on USA Jobs and applied that way, not actually believing I would get the internship.

What will you be doing at this internship?

I will be working in the Security Management Division of the Consulate. They’ve given me an outline of what I’ll be doing. I have to get my security clearance before I get a lot of details.

I’m going to be doing a lot of community organizing things. I’m going to be writing a pamphlet about security in the community of St. Petersburg. I’m going to be entering in a database, different things to form statistics on crime and things like that in St. Petersburg. I’m going to be trying to put together a community recycling project and organize ways that, not only the consulate, but the community can be greener.

I’m also going to be forming badges to come up with a better program that’s more efficient for security inside the consulate.

What do you hope to accomplish with this internship?

I think the biggest thing I want to accomplish while working there is that I think as students we often learn so much about academic life. Then when you go out into the workforce, it’s hard to make that transition and learn how to apply all of the academics into your everyday life and work. I really hope to learn not only that, but also ‘how does our government function on a day-to-day basis in keeping us safe at home and abroad?’ and ‘how do we interact with other countries?’ I think that we think it’s just a government interaction type thing, but I think one of the main goals of the state department is to interact with communities on a much closer level.

I hope to be able to do that in Russia and learn ‘what does Russia want from us?’ and ‘what do we want from Russia?’

What are your career goals? What do you want to do after you graduate?

I hope to figure that out while I’m over there too. I know I want to work for the government. Ultimately, I’d like to do intelligence. I’d like to be an all source analyst, for maybe the CIA or the NSA.

More recently I’ve been thinking about Foreign Service, and taking the Foreign Service exam and possibly becoming a Foreign Service officer.

At this point I’m torn over whether I want to go into the policy arena or the intelligence and national security community. They are basically polar opposites, so I really hope that this internship helps me decide which one I would be better at.

I definitely want to do a master’s after I leave WVU—not sure where that’ll take me, but I want to continue with Russia. I want to do something with Russia, whatever I do.

How will this internship help you achieve those goals?

I think internships are really helpful, and many professors have told me this, in showing when you apply for an actual job that you know what’s going on. I know that master’s programs also try to prepare you for a work setting, but I hope to work while I’m getting a master’s. I’d like to start working.

I’d like to be able to do this internship so when I go to apply for jobs with the U.S. government I can tell them at least I know I can give you a basic outline of policy goals, security goals and interact well in that environment.

You had mentioned Dr. Hauser. Is he your favorite professor?

I don’t have one favorite professor at WVU. I would say I have a top five. This list is in no particular order:

He’s definitely my favorite professor. I give him that, hands down. Not just because of how he teaches in the classroom. I do like how he leaves a very open interactive environment in the classroom for students to voice their opinion and debate and talk with each other. But at the same time, he always encourages students to do the extra thing, go the extra mile. It really pays out.

I know Dr. Hauser does a lot of things to help students that he does not have to do as a professor. I don’t think he realizes how much we appreciate that as students.

Do you have any specific experiences from his class that stuck with you?

Every class. Dr. Hauser really pushes me to think outside the box. He challenges people’s perceptions and opinions. I came to WVU with a very strict set of opinions that I thought were the right way, and I can honestly say that I still have strong opinions about certain things, but Dr. Hauser has really challenged me to think other ways and that’s helped me a lot.

One of the biggest things I credit Dr. Hauser with is improving my writing skills. I had him for Empirical Political Analysis and it was one of the hardest classes I ever took, and I came out 100 times a better writer.

What was your favorite class that you’ve had at WVU?

Probably comparative politics with Dr. (Cyanne) Loyle. I really liked that class, and I actually ended up changing my tract in my major because of that class. It was a really great class. You learn about how government systems interact.

That also inspired me to learn a little bit more about Russia. I’m Russian by heritage, but I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in it until I became more aware of their politics.

Dr. Loyle is another one of my favorite professors here. She also leaves a very open environment in the classroom, but she’s so smart and so awesome. I remember she did my advising one time and she asked me “where do you want to be? What are your career goals?” I basically said “If I were you in ten years I would be completely satisfied.”

She also does things that I think, to me, are really—She’s been all over Africa, she’s very into researching statistics behind genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, humans rights violations and stuff like that.

I think it’s really scary for us to think about stuff like that, but Dr. Loyle just gets on the ground and gets her way in there and learns about it, and then brings her research back here. It’s really awesome. It really makes me proud that we have professors like that at WVU that are willing to have such passion and go after what we as students want to know more about too.

Take Five with Tessa

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read a lot! I also play the piano. I really like music a lot. I recently got into hiking, so I do a lot of that too.

Do you have any pets?

I have a snake. His name is Caesar. I’ve had him for three years now, he’s my best buddy.

What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Breyers party cake, because it has the little blue swirls in it.

What is the funniest thing that you’ve seen at WVU?

One of the funniest things I’ve seen here is during the PRT cram in front of the Mountainlair, all of the kids are so dedicated to getting stuffed in that car.

What’s one thing you’ll never forget about WVU?

Probably how much pride everybody has for this school. People love this school. I like that.

Where is your favorite place in Morgantown, or at WVU?

The Library. Fourth floor, Eliza’s, table in the corner by the window. I’m always there, and everyone knows that’s where to find me.

Want to be featured in our summer series? Email mike.atkinson@mail.wvu.edu with details about your internship.

22 Aug

María Pérez, assistant professor in West Virginia University’s Department of Geology and Geography, is using a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to examine how and why Cuban and U.S. speleologists (cavers) are collaborating amid a tense political climate.

perez_caripe
“I want to examine the interaction of these cavers from an anthropological perspective to see how the exchange of ideas between the U.S. and Cuba can provide insight about the geopolitics of science and exploration beyond U.S. borders,” she said. “Cavers from these two countries aren’t supposed to be collaborating. The U.S. government has had an embargo against Cuba for a long time and it’s a big political issue.”

The Cuban Revolution in 1959 increased tension between the United States and Cuba, resulting in a U.S. government embargo that severely restricted—and at times halted—economic relations between the two countries. With a few exceptions, the embargo made it illegal for U.S. citizens to conduct business with or travel to Cuba.

Despite these challenges, a number of U.S. citizens have collaborated with Cuban speleology organizations to explore Cuba’s karst landscape, characterized by caves, sinkholes, aquifers and other underground drainage systems. These speleologists are focused on the scientific study of caves and have found, explored, mapped and reported on the topography in Cuba.

Cuba is the first country in the Americas to establish a national caving group, the Sociedad Espeleológica de Cuba (Speleological Society of Cuba), and since 1940 more than 5,000 cavers have participated. But the future of the organization could be in question. DSC00811 - Version 2

“Cuba is going through a ton of changes that could have a significant impact on speleology research,” Pérez said. “If the U.S. embargo is lifted, what will happen to Cuban science? What will happen to Cuban caving? What is the impact going to be on conservation and exploration of caves?”

Cuba is experiencing mass amounts of change in a relatively short period of time. In particular, it is likely that the country’s political leadership will change in the near future, making Pérez’s project a timely one.

She plans to take multiple trips to Cuba to interview cavers and gather data from online archives. “I want to talk to these people and I want to know who has succeeded and who has failed in these collaborations,” she said.

Pérez credits the mentoring and support she received from her departmental colleagues and other programs at the university for helping her design the project and earn the NSF grant. She developed the grant proposal while she was a Promoting Research Oriented Faculty Diversification On Campus Fellow at WVU. The PROF DOC program provides two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunities for scholars from underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and math.

DSC05580_1 For more information, contact Maria Perez, at 304.293.9283 or maria.perez@mail.wvu.edu.

Follow @WVUEberly on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s) and comments and do not necessarily reflect the views of West Virginia University. Read more about WVU Blog Policies and Guidelines.