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16 Apr
Arthurs-Web In July 1943, Operation Husky was in full effect. Allied forces began a full-frontal assault on Sicily, Italy with air, ground and sea operations that would begin the collapse of Italy as a force in Second World War.

On July 25, just two weeks after the invasion and Italy fast becoming an occupied territory, Italy’s monarchy removed longtime dictator Benito Mussolini from power. While merely a reaction to political and social unrest with Mussolini’s handling of the war, the shift would spark the end of the country’s fascist government.

On September 8, the Italian state collapses. With no authority in place, ordinary people are left to question everything: Who is in power? What is the right side to be on? Who is guilty of what? Who do we answer to?

How everyday people cope with such rapid regime change in that period – from absolute control to no control at all – is a fascinating micro-study, said Joshua Arthurs, associate professor in the Department of History.

In order to explore this further, Arthurs has been awarded the prestigious Rome Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. The prize is awarded to a select group of artists and scholars to pursue their work in one of the oldest cities in the world. Each year, the Rome Prize is awarded to about thirty emerging artists and scholars who represent the highest standard of excellence and who are in the early or middle stages of their working lives.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for me to develop my research, for me to engage with leading figures – not only in my field, but a range of disciplines and professions,” Arthurs said. “I’m excited to come back to WVU with the fruits of my research in hand.”

Rudolph Almasy, interim dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences underscored the importance of Arthurs’ work.

“Joshua Arthurs’ archival work is tremendously important – and interesting – as we try to understand events not all that long ago from which scholars and citizens can learn,” Almasy said. “The fact that Professor Arthurs has been awarded the Rome Fellowship attests to the value of his work as an historian.”

Arthurs will travel across the country utilizing a variety of records and first-hand experience to paint a picture of Italian life during the upheaval. Government archives, police records, arrest records, court records and even experiences from people that are still able to share their experiences.

“If you think about episodes of regime change that we’ve witnessed over the last decade – the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime, the events of the Arab Spring, the overthrow of Colonel Gadhafi in Libya – we tend to only consider it as changes at the top,” Arthurs said. “We don’t think a lot about how that experience is felt by ordinary people. How do you make sense of the past 20 years of life under Mussolini, then figure out where you’re going to go from there?”

Asking questions like these is what drives contemporary historical research and makes it a uniquely valuable discipline, according to Provost Joyce McConnell.

“On university campuses like ours and out in the field, we need experts in our own past to be part of the conversations we have about that past — and about the present and future as well,” McConnell said. “How exciting that one of our faculty members will be engaged in what is essentially a year-long conversation with other scholars from around the nation.”

Arthurs has been interested in Italy since he was an undergraduate student, thinking he’d become a Roman archaeologist. But quickly he became a fan of the modern city. Typically, he said, people only consider the city as a collection of historical ruins immortalizing the Roman Empire in days gone by. The modern-day Rome emerged from fascism’s collapse.

“The 20th Century and fascist era were a moment of really profound transition for Italy,” Arthurs said. “That’s when Italy really entered the modern era in many respects. It was a moment of heavy industrialization, urban growth and people’s social roles changed.”

Unlike Germany, the scars of the war are not as closely held. While Germany approaches the war as a national shame, many in Italy may have absolved themselves from guilt by comparison to other atrocities committed, and also by a sense of disassociation.

“These are emotions and memories that get dredged up in Italy. It’s important to look at how people felt the day after they heard fascism was no more,” Arthurs said. “There were some people that were nostalgic. I’ve encountered a variety of emotions”

By not properly knowing the effects of fascism, partly due to an understanding of ‘moving on’ from the past and also not hearing experiences back then, some in Italy today may not properly grasp how life was back then – another reason such an examination is important.

“The idea that people didn’t think that fascism was such a bad thing says a lot about how modern Italians think about today compared to people who lived under it for 20 years,” he said. “It’s a forgotten episode in Italian history and fewer people can speak to the experience of living under fascism.”

Earlier this month, Arthurs was named one of six professors to receive the 2015 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching.

16 Apr
Manning After 10 years of complicated maneuvering and flight control, the Rosetta space craft was about to do the almost impossible: Land on a moving comet 150,000 miles above the Earth. It was a tense moment of the European Space Agency, when so much could go wrong in such a short time.

When Rosetta landed in November, mission control erupted. There was wild applause, joyful celebrations and even a few shed tears after such a long journey. But while Rosetta successfully managed to avoid the perils of space on its journey, the agency found itself in a crisis much closer to home.

During a video interview with international news journal Nature, the wardrobe of a British scientist caught the eye of the social media community. Within minutes, the news had shifted away from the efforts of the crew to the offense caused by his shirt featuring leather-bound women. The hashtag #ShirtStorm quickly followed, with others voicing their outrage. The discussion had shifted from a 10-year mission in a matter of minutes to a debate about the inclusion of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The furor over the scientists’ shirt resembles the increasingly common practice of publicly complaining about “microaggressions,” according to Jason Manning, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University. In recent years, it has become increasingly common for university students to create online forums for describing words and deeds they perceive as offensive and indicative of sexism, racism, or other prejudice. In the paper “Microaggression and Moral Cultures,” Manning details the social conditions that encourage people to take offense, publicly voice grievances, and seek support for their stances. The report was co-authored California State University’s Bradley Campbell. Together, the authors outline the social conditions that breed online complaining and hashtag activism.

“One theme in our paper is that social media increases the ability of aggrieved individuals to rally a large group of people around their cause, or publicly expose and embarrass someone they define as a deviant,” Manning said. “A virtual mob can be mobilized overnight to spread the word of someone’s alleged wrongdoing, flood his or her inbox with hate mail, and apply other kinds of pressure.”

In the case of the ESA, the British scientist gave a tearful apology days after the social media storm. Though that controversy was over relatively quickly, Manning added that there are more violent and hurtful consequences of these public shamings.

“Modern media provides new ways of harming others and tarnishing their reputations. People can now be more easily humiliated by publicly exposing their private affairs, such as posting nude pictures or other sensitive information online,” he said. “Such exposure might even drive someone to suicide.”

In the age of social media and hyper connectedness online, conflicts may increasingly make their way online.

“New media technology, which gives any person the ability to bring their grievances before a crowd of millions, seems to encourage the public airing of grievances in this way,” Manning said.

Manning and his colleague initially began their work after noticing microaggression websites popping up around colleges across the US. One goal of their work was to explain why relatively minor slights are treated as a serious matter worthy of public complaint.

“One explanation we advance in the paper, taken from sociologist Donald Black’s theory of conflict, is that insults and slights are more offensive in settings where people are relatively equal and diverse to begin with,” Manning said.

“One can assume that nobody in history has liked his or her own social group being put down, but in diverse and relatively egalitarian societies , insulting any group is more likely to be considered offensive by everyone,” Manning said. “This might further encourage people to notice and draw attention to even unintentional insults.”

14 Apr
Pittsburgh Chairmans Win Photo

More than 17,000 K-12 students are expected to participate in the FIRST Championship, the world’s largest student robotics competition, later this month in St. Louis, Mo.

Among the programs attending the competition is the Mountaineer Area RoboticS team, or MARS. The team—- which is a collaboration between schools and robotics experts to build robots, problem-solve and gain career skills in science, technology, engineering and math—- is in its eighth season and riding high off of its April 5 win at the Smoky Mountain Regionals.

This will be the team’s seventh trip to the world championships.

Q: What does it mean to the team and program to make it to this international competition for the seventh time?

Earl Scime, WVU professor of physics and co-founder of Mountaineer Area RoboticS: The students are obviously very excited. Winning the Chairman’s award two years in a row really speaks volumes about how much impact the team is having in their community and how important it is for the team members to give back to their community. The World Championships are really a breathtaking event with 800 teams from all over the world. It is a great experience for the students and certainly a life-changing one.

Q: What choices have the students made after this club in their majors and careers?

Scime: So far, 100 percent of our program graduates have gone on to college and of those that have completed college, 100 percent have been in STEM fields. This year we expect our first crop of alumni to complete college with degrees in non-STEM field as well as STEM fields. The degrees, plus those coming up, include: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, applied mathematics, history, psychology and computer science.

Q: What makes each year different from the last? What else is in the foreseeable future for the MARS team?

Scime: Every year’s team is different. Sometimes we are very strong technically and some years we are stronger in the outreach and educational programs. Each year, however, the team gets more sophisticated and skillful, so I expect that the team will continue to strive to operate at a nationally competitive level for years to come.

Q: How do you join MARS?

Scime: Students apply to be on MARS in the fall and the team’s 30 or so mentors and coaches reviews each application and selects the team. Students who have been on the team for two years automatically get to be on MARS for subsequent years. Right now the program has 38 high school students from North Central WV.

The FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Mo., is April 22-25.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989.

FIRST aims to inspire youth to take on science and technology leadership positions and develop a wide variety of skills. In addition to building and programing robots, teams have to fundraise, brand themselves and learn to work together.

Learn more about MARS at

CONTACT: Earl Scime, Department of Physics and Astronomy

13 Apr
Fones-Wolf Book In the wake of World War II, Americans began a contentious debate over the future of the nation. For some, there was an expectation that the United States, like Europe, would move toward an economic system where almost all people were in unions. Others rejected that view.

But, while many European nations accepted organized labor representation in all facets of life, the United States has declined from a high of 35 percent private sector representation in the 1950s to nearly 6.6 percent today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The key battle for and against union membership in the postwar era took place in the South. While much of the workforce in the northern states was organized by 1946, the South was a haven for companies looking to distance themselves from collective bargaining and higher wages.

In “Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operation Dixie,” West Virginia University history professors Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Ken Fones-Wolf chronicle the important role of evangelical Protestantism in the battle.

Operation Dixie was a campaign launched by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a large labor federation that had successfully unionized the steel, auto and electrical industries in the North, to bring organized labor to the industrializing South. In their book, the two professors explore how union officials and sympathizers – as well as those seeking to halt union expansion – used religion to try and win the hearts and minds of southern workers.

“One of the important ways Southerners understand the world is through their religious views,” Ken Fones-Wolf said. “Union leaders recognized southern workers were religious. They tried to use tactics and people in organizing who could speak to that.”

Union representatives often tried to convince ministers and congregations that social gospels and Jesus preached brotherhood and a message of caring for one another —what unions claimed to represent. Conversely, business and industry officials stressed that social Christianity would lead to Soviet-style Union intrusions on freedom and control of everyday life.

The result? Churches often found themselves divided by ideology. A number of ministers opted to remain neutral in the debate, for fear of upsetting the congregation. Others were outright vocal in their support, or disdain, for labor.

“Some ministers who opposed organized labor actively preached on the pulpit,” Elizabeth Fones-Wolf said. “They said the initials for the CIO stood for ‘Christ Is Out.’”

Attempting to appeal to the religious side of working people was often aided by bribes and blackmail, with business leaders paving church lots and threatening to close down neighboring plants, or bring in strike breakers – anything to shut out unions. With that in mind, many preachers sided with business for the sake of their congregation.

The influence of the church in the South, the authors said, is not to be underestimated. The churches that appealed to northern workers tended to be more hierarchical with religious doctrine drafted at the top, then filtered through representatives to the individual churches. Denominations popular in the South allow more congregational autonomy, with separate churches following their own views.

By using campaign documents from Operation Dixie, a collection of more than 200 oral histories of workers at the time, church journals and weekly newsletters, Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Ken Fones-Wolf said they hope to better understand why religion was such an effective tool to quash unionization of Southern industries.

“One of the things we heard in oral histories is that the religious beliefs of many workers would not support a union, but many working people nevertheless supported the New Deal,” Elizabeth said. “That doesn’t really fit with the image of the Southern worker.”

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf’s research focuses on the struggle between organized labor and business to shape the ideas and images that constituted America’s political culture. Ken Fones-Wolf is examining the role that religion plays in class relations in Appalachian industries, particularly coal and textiles. This is their first co-authored book.

For more information about this book, contact Elizabeth Fones-Wolf at or Ken Fones-Wolf at

10 Apr

Roberto Merlin, well-known condensed matter and optics physicist, will be on the West Virginia University campus Monday (April 13) as he presents the 2015 Bernard Cooper lecture.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 3:30 p.m. in White Hall, room G09 on the Downtown Campus. A pre-lecture reception is scheduled for 3 p.m. in 111 White Hall.

Merlin’s talk, “From Negative Refraction and Superfocusing, to Wireless Power Transfer: The Path of the Superlens,” will:

• examine the late 1800s to the turn of the 20th century, when the field of near-field optics experienced a tremendous growth;
• explore how 19th century physicist Ernst Abbe’s research results are related to theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and how the diffraction limit can be bypassed without violating any physical law;
• and introduce the concept of near-field plates.

The Cooper Lecture is the highlight of the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s calendar as world-renowned scientists come to WVU and showcase important exciting developments in their fields.

Merlin is the Peter A. Franken Professor of Physics and a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan. Merlin’s research specialties are condensed matter and optical physics. Experimentally, his areas of expertise include various optical techniques and, in particular, spontaneous and impulsive (ultrafast) Raman spectroscopy.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the von Humboldt Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

He received the Licenciado en Ciencias Fisicas (M.S.) degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Stuttgart, Germany.

For more information, please contact Viola Bryant at 304-293-9496, or by email at

10 Apr
Rachel Stein When researchers examine violent assault numbers, historically the data has pointed to higher rates of female victimization in developing countries.

But a study by a West Virginia University sociology professor finds that women in developed countries — like the United States — are actually more likely to be physically assaulted than women in developing countries.

In “Individual and Structural Opportunities: A Cross-National Assessment of Females’ Physical and Sexual Assault Victimization,” Professor Rachel E. Stein examines how individuals’ daily routines and elements of country structure create opportunities prime for victimization.

“Research on developing countries will often lump sexual assault, physical assault and robbery together and sometimes studies expand to examine all types of victimization to increase the report record count,” Stein said.

Using data from the International Crime Victimization Survey from 45 countries, Stein reviewed physical and sexual assault victimization statistics at the national level to determine whether the societal structures around victims played a part in the frequency of attacks.

Sexual victimization is defined as incidents where, “people sometimes grab, touch, or assault others for sexual reasons in a really offensive way.” Physical victimization is defined as “being threatened or personally attacked by someone in a way that really frightened you.” The sample was limited to females only.

A variety of factors contributing to victimization exist. These can range from how often a female goes out for leisure activities (go to a bar, to a restaurant, to see friends), whether she lives alone, and age.

“Because individuals’ routines matter for victimization risk, it is important to educate people so they can become more aware of how their everyday activities might increase their risk for certain types of victimization,” Stein said. “However, individual routines are not the only contributing factor to victimization.

A woman’s surrounding environment also plays a risk, Stein said.

“One example is the unequal distribution of resources, such as formal conflict resolution, in countries with high levels of inequality. If policies are to effectively reduce the risk of victimization, they need to consider not only the lifestyles of individuals, but the context in which these activities take place.”

The paper was featured in the December 2014 issue of the International Criminal Justice Review and was recognized with the 2014 Richard J. Terrill Paper of the Year Award.

This is the second time Stein has been recognized with this award, receiving it in 2010 for her paper “The Utility of Country Structure: A Cross-National Multi-Level Analysis of Property and Violent Victimization.”

9 Apr
Logenbach The West Virginia University Department of English will host a lecture and reading by James Longenbach on Thursday, April 16. The lecture will be held at 2:30 p.m. in 130 Colson Hall and the reading will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Reading Room in the Downtown Library.

Longenbach is a poet and a critic whose most recent collection of poems, “The Iron Key,” is a meditation on the conditions and consequences of beauty. One of his recent critical works, “The Art of the Poetic Line,” is an account of the work of lineation in free verse, syllabic, and metered poetry (ranging from Shakespeare to Ashbery).

He has also written widely about modern and postmodern poetry, sometimes emphasizing the historicity of poetic language (“Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things”) but also exploring the ways in which poems resist their historical situation (“The Resistance to Poetry”).

“I am happy to welcome Jim Longenbach to WVU,” said English professor Mary Ann Samyn. “I’m a big fan of his poems and his prose about poetry. Both Jim Harms and I have taught his work, and we and our students are looking forward to meeting him.”

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

7 Apr

Two faculty members and three graduate students from the Department of Biology will attend the Association for Chemoreception Sciences 37th Annual Meeting April 22-25 in Bonita Springs, Florida. They will present papers on the anatomical distribution of neurotransmitters in the olfactory system and the influence of components of the nervous system that coordinate movement on the processing of odor information.

6 Apr

Middle and high school students can now experience crime scene investigation first hand with the annual Forensic Science Day Camp at West Virginia University.

Hosted by the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science and the Next Generation Forensic Science Initiative, the camp runs June 22-26 for middle and high school students. Middle school and high school camps will run concurrently, but separately. Camp hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

The camp fee is $345, which includes lunch daily, a T-shirt and a certificate of attendance.

Topics in the classes include fingerprint identification, footwear impression evidence, DNA, crime scene investigation, digital evidence, firearm identification, and bloodstain pattern analysis. Students then will use this skills to process crime scenes at the Forensic Science Crime Scene Complex.

“Everything learned in the camp is directly applicable in the forensic world,” said Chris Bily, instructional coordinator for forensic science, “If these kids were going to work in a crime lab tomorrow everything that they learned would be skills that they use on the job.”

The deadline to register is May 1. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is limited to 20 students for each group of middle and high school students.

To register, go to, click on the “Browse Courses” button, and follow the instructions.

For more information, please contact Chris Bily at 304-293-9496, or by email at

6 Apr

The West Virginia University C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry will explore career opportunities on April 8 at 7 p.m., when it hosts the 21st annual C. Eugene and Edna P. Bennett Careers for Chemists Program.

This event is free and open to the public and will take place in the Erickson Alumni Center on the Evansdale Campus. A dessert reception will follow.

During the event, three professionals with degrees in chemistry will discuss their career trajectories and personal experiences.

“The Bennett Program acquaints high school students, undergraduate students and graduate students in chemistry and related disciplines with the variety of career opportunities that are available to them,” said Kenneth Showalter, C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Chemistry.

“The program brings professionals from throughout the country to campus to interact with students and discuss the usefulness of an education in chemistry as the basis for career opportunities.”

This year’s speakers include:

Jonathan W. Boyd, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Boyd is an assistant professor in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry. His research is in environmental toxicology, and he received his doctorate in environmental toxicology from Texas Tech University.

His recent publication on forecasting cell death has been named as a key scientific article contributing to biomedical research excellence in 2014 by Global Media Discovery.

His awards and recognitions include the DARPA Young Faculty Award, WVU Early Career Innovator of the Year Award, Society of Toxicology Best Abstract Award, Hart Prize for Excellence in Independent Research, and the ANSER Board of Trustees Award.

Lauren W. Morgan Swager, M.D.

Dr. Lauren Swager is an assistant professor in the West Virginia University Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry where she is a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist. She is now the child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship training director at WVU. She also serves as the medical director of Monongalia County Juvenile Drug Court and as a consultant to Monongalia County Schools.

She completed a general psychiatry residency program and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from WVU in 1999 and was a University Honors Scholar. She received her M.D. from WVU in 2003.

In addition to being involved in medical student education through the Psychiatry Medical Student Interest Group and the Psychiatry Medical Student Summer Externship program, Swager has received seven departmental awards that recognize her teaching abilities from resident physicians and fellows.

Her clinical interests include the diagnosis and treatment of childhood depression, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, autism, developmental delays, ADHD and other anxiety disorders. Other interests include emotional and behavioral problems, effect of video games on youth, sexual functioning in breast cancer patients, and dry mouth treatment.

Eric J. Adkins, M.D., M.Sc.

Dr. Eric Adkins earned two bachelor degrees (chemistry and biology) from WVU and completed his medical degree at WVU in 2002. He then completed a three-year fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in 2010 and served as chief fellow.

He is currently an assistant professor of emergency medicine and critical care at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He is the medical director of the emergency department of the main campus. He is the co-creator and associate program director for the Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency program.

He has a joint appointment with the Department of Internal Medicine and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.

He has been awarded Fellow status within the American College of Emergency Physicians and was recognized as a Best Doctor in Emergency Medicine in 2013 and 2014 by Columbus Monthly Magazine and was named one of 40 Under 40 by Columbus Business First.

His academic interests include patient safety, quality improvement, critical care, and ultrasound in the emergency department.

The first C. Eugene and Edna. P. Bennett Careers for Chemists Program took place in 1995 and has been made possible through the generosity of C. Eugene Bennett and Edna Bennett Pierce and the Bennett Family. They established the C. Eugene and Edna P. Bennett Careers for Chemists Program and the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Chemistry at WVU in 1994. In addition to these programs, they have established
the C. Eugene Bennett Chemistry Program Enhancement Fund, the C. Eugene Bennett Graduate Fellowship Program in Chemistry and the C. Eugene Bennett Academic Enrichment Endowment through the WVU Foundation.

The WVU Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU.

For more information, please contact Kenneth Showalter, at 304-293-0124 or

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