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Eberly News Blog

25 Nov

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? Melissa Blank, assistant professor of psychology, explores.

25 Nov

For many of us, using checks and balancing a paper check book may not be as common anymore, especially with the shift to online banking and the use of debit and credit cards. Elizabeth Cohen, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at WVU sat down with WDTV.

24 Nov

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Elise Fullmer, director of the School of Social Work at West Virginia University has been named to the Leadership Academy in Aging, an invite-only panel consisting of eight experts in the field of aging from across the country.

The academy is a yearlong program that provides leadership skills and aging care education to deans and directors of schools of social work. The academy was designed through a partnership between the Social Work Leadership Institute and the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work.

Fullmer will analyze work on aging being conducted in the WVU School of Social Work, and determine where there are gaps in programs and offerings.

“A focus on issues related to aging is one of two major areas of focus that the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites as ‘sought after expertise’ among social work graduates,” Fullmer said.

“Ensuring our graduates have appropriate knowledge and skill in the area of aging is critically important to our school. It helps our school focus on areas that are going to be needed, and where the employment market is.”

Academy participants have been instrumental in the creation and revitalization of academic research and training centers that focus on gerontology and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Fullmer earned her doctorate in social work from the State University of New York at Albany, a master’s degree from the University of Utah, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Utah.

She served as director of the School of Social Work in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services at Radford University prior to her service at WVU, and has also served in academic leadership positions in social work programs at Spalding University, Murray State University, and UNC-Charlotte and was a practicing social worker in Utah and New York.

WVU is the only fully-accredited institution in the state’s higher education community offering a Master of Social Work program and is nationally recognized in the area of rural social work practice and nonprofit management.

For more information, contact Elise Fullmer at



21 Nov

As many as 250 young scientists from across the state will travel to West Virginia University to help find solutions to some of life’s problems − one Lego brick at a time.

The First Lego League 2014 Challenge, hosted by high school robotics group Mountaineer Area RoboticS (MARS) and sponsored by the West Virginia University Department of Physics and Astronomy, will take place Saturday, Nov. 22 from 7:30 a.m. at Ming Hsieh and Olgebay halls.

A total of 28 teams comprised of elementary and middle school students from across the northern part of the state will vie for the chance to qualify for the state championship.

The program challenges students to pose a question that they can then provide a solution to. This teaches them important skillsets such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, creativity and problem solving. It also exposes them to the demands necessary for scientists and engineers.

Earl Scime, professor of physics and interim associate vice president for research, said the competition encourages the idea “that learning to do hard things can be fun and rewarding.”

Along with presenting their solutions, the teams will compete on proscribed challenge fields with sophisticated robots built entirely from LEGOs.

This is the first year the program has had a qualifying event, due to the rapid increase in popularity of the event. Participation has doubled from roughly 50 teams statewide in 2013 to over 100 this year. WVU is hosting one of many across the state.

Hosting an event such as this can spark some interest and provide the building blocks for an interest in the sciences, Scime said.

“When middle school students come to a university campus for this event, it may be the only time in their lives that they will set foot on a college campus,” Scime said. “Through this, WVU has a chance to be the place that they think of when they dream about going to college. Plus, as a land-grant institution it is our mission to educate youth across the entire state of WV.”

And, they’ll get to have some fun building robots, too.

“The public is invited to watch the robot competitions, cheer on local teams, and get inspired,” Scime said.

21 Nov

Shikha Sharma, assistant professor of geology and director of the West Virginia University Stable Isotope Laborator, explains her work to develop a clean source of energy.

Full story:

21 Nov

Gregory Elmes, professor of geography at West Virginia University, co-edited Forensic GIS: The Role of Geospatial Technologies for Investigating Crime and Providing Evidence, a book of case studies written for researchers, practitioners and students. Directions Magazine quizzed him about the history and current use of location technology in preventing and fighting crime.

The full story can be found here:

21 Nov

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Duncan Lorimer, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University, has been named the keynote speaker for the 2015 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Conference in June 2015.

Every year, thousands of amateur astronomers gather at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia, to learn more about techniques and strategies used by astronomers who are researching in the field.

“We get to study these very exotic stars. Pulsars themselves are incredibly unusual. They’re formed in supernova explosions, and that happens about once in a century. They’re rare. The stars are the size of a large city, but the mass of the sun. It’s always fun to talk about these exciting objects,” Lorimer said.

Lorimer studies compact objects such as black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs using radio pulsars— rapidly-spinning, highly-magnetized neutron stars.

One of Lorimer’s breakthrough discoveries came in 2007, when a researcher on his team at the time discovered a single, group of radio bursts from another galaxy, using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

Since this was the first time these bursts had been discovered, they were named Lorimer Bursts. As scientists discovered additional bursts, the phenomenon became known as fast radio bursts.

In 2012, two WVU postdoctoral students, using the same telescope with upgraded electronics, discovered four more fast radio bursts.

Most recently, in 2014, Lorimer and a collaborator discovered the coldest white dwarf star ever detected.

Lorimer arrived at WVU in May 2006 from the Jodrell Bank Pulsar Group, where he worked as a Royal Society research fellow. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of Manchester, UK.

For more information, contact Duncan Lorimer at 304-293-4867 or



21 Nov

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Huntington’s disease, a debilitating brain disorder that impacts movement and typically results in death within 20 years of its onset, affects more than a quarter of a million of Americans.

Researchers at West Virginia University are trying to understand mechanisms underlying the build-up of the huntingtin protein in the brain associated with the disease for answers that could unlock avenues for more effective medical treatment.

The disease is caused by a sequence in the huntingtin gene that encodes an abnormally long repeat of the amino acid glutamine, which in turn leads to the build-up of protein clumps within neurons that are associated with the disease.

A research team led by Justin Legleiter, associate professor in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry West Virginia University is studying the 17 amino acid-long sequence that can be found directly adjacent to the abnormality.

Recent research in the field has shown that the sequence, commonly referred to as N17, plays an important role in modifying huntingtin protein accumulation and potentially the development of Huntington’s disease. Important for this specific study, N17 is also known to facilitate the binding of the protein to cellular membranes.

“We don’t have a completely clear picture, but there’s evidence that there may be key interactions between huntingtin and a variety of cellular membranes that are predominately composed of lipids,” Legleiter said.

Legleiter is using a grant from the National Institutes of Health to determine how modifications to the N17 sequence can regulate the interaction of the huntingtin protein with specific types of lipid membranes, which may play a role in Huntington’s disease.

Once the team interprets details of huntingtin’s interaction with membranes, this knowledge could lead to new therapeutic targets for discovering new drugs to combat the disease that places more than 250,000 Americans at risk.

Huntington’s disease, which is incurable, is an inherited condition that results in uncontrollable movement, dementia and ultimately death. It can be passed down through families even if only one parent is a carrier of the abnormal huntingtin gene.

The co-investigator on the project is Stephen Valentine, assistant professor of chemistry at WVU.

For more information, contact Justin Legleiter at (304) 293-0175 or



19 Nov

Lisa Dibartolomeo, Armand E. and Mary W. Singer Professor in the Humanities and the coordinator of Russian Studies and Slavic and East European Studies at WVU, had her article appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The full article is here:​

18 Nov

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at West Virginia University will host its annual Women’s and Gender Studies Fair in the Mountainlair Ballrooms on the Downtown Campus Thursday, Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

A combination of group work, service and outreach, the fair will showcase the projects of more than 300 students. WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Provost Joyce McConnell will give remarks at the event.

“It’s not just traditional, passive student groups displaying a trifold. Each group will be interactive and try to engage the public,” said Brian Jara, senior lecturer in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

“You will see performances, some multimedia, videos and documentaries.”

A first for the annual fair, alumnae, visiting committee members, faculty associates and senior students will be attending, judging the presentations and recognizing the exemplary projects.

Projects cover a wide range of topics that are associated with Women’s and Gender studies.

Women’s and Gender Studies addresses a wide range of academic topics and is also an opportunity to educate the community on issues important to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community.

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies works to cease stereotypes related to terminology within the field.

Jara added, “A lot of people still don’t fully understand Women’s and Gender Studies, or feminism. The public can’t walk through the event, even for a few minutes, and not leave transformed, in that they at least have a better sense of our field and the things that we talk about.”

For more information, contact Brian Jara at (304) 293-2065 or



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