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WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences recognizes outstanding researchers

The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University has recognized the achievements of three professors receiving the College’s Outstanding Researcher Award for the 2015-16 academic year.

The honorees are Stephen Valentine, assistant professor of chemistry, Rita Rio, associate professor of biology and Josh Arthurs, associate professor of history.

"The Eberly College is proud to have such dedicated faculty. We commend all this year’s recipients for their innovative and inspiring work," said Tracy Morris, associate dean for research, graduate studies, and outreach.

Stephen Valentine’s research focuses on how proteins adopt specific three-dimensional structures, which dictates how they interact with each other as well as how they interact with other target molecules within living organisms. If proteins do not adopt the appropriate three-dimensional shape, it can lead to diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Information found through Valentine’s research can be used to determine unknown function, mechanisms of biological functions and the how proteins form specific molecular shapes. 

“His level of research productivity is remarkably high given the relatively short time since his start,” said Kung Wang, C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry chair. “Dr. Valentine’s success is expected to continue, and it is time to recognize his remarkable progress.”

Rita Rio’s research uses a developmental and genomics perspective to look at the evolutionary and physiological framework of microbial symbioses, and her contributions to the fields of host-associated microbiotas and microbiomes, using the tsetse fly, the leech and other invertebrates as model species, have established her as an internationally-recognized scholar.

“Dr. Rio has maintained a high profile, well-funded and creative research program, has shown a strong commitment to education and has provided leadership in departmental activities,” said Richard Thomas, professor and chair of biology.

Josh Arthurs’ research interests center on problems of memory, conflict and dictatorship in modern Europe, and especially in twentieth-century Italy. He is interested in how historical actors – whether nations, regimes, communities or individuals – remember and, equally, repress or forget the past; practices, institutions and spaces of commemoration, from monuments to textbooks to life stories and the ways in which these memories shape and are shaped by contemporary politics, society and culture.

“Professor Arthurs has produced an important core of work, published in refereed journals and collections of essays and his work has been reviewed by leading historians in the best historical journals. A dedicated scholar, he is making a distinct mark on the profession,” said Joseph Hodge, associate professor and history department chair.

The awards are given to faculty members in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences who conduct outstanding research and scholarly activity. Each year, the Eberly College Outstanding Researcher Committee will select a maximum of three faculty members to receive awards of $1,000.