Academic News (News2Note)

News2Note, the academic newsletter of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is published monthly during the academic year by Debra Stoudt, associate dean for academic policies and procedures. Academic news can be submitted to her directly at

Academic News

J. Micah Roos, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, was awarded a $225,000 planning grant for the project titled “Global Research on the Aesthetic Dimensions of Science” from the Templeton Religion Trust as Co-Principal Investigator with Brandon Vaidyanathan, Catholic University.

The project is a systematic, cross-national study focused on the role of beauty, awe, and wonder in scientific inquiry, and specifically, how practitioners experience these things in their work and whether or not the experience motivates retention. The grant began in February 2018 and ends in August 2019.

ASPECT doctoral student Jordan Laney presented “Research at the Festival Grounds: Examining Bluegrass Festivals through a Theoretical Lens” at Research a la Mode on March 14 at Virginia Tech.

The work of students in the English class of Jared Gibbs, an advanced instructor in the Department of English, is featured in “Piercing the Veil: Engaging Spaceflight through the Michael Collins Papers” exhibit, which is on display in the second floor of Newman Library until May 30.

The exhibit includes poetry, mixed media, critical reflection, and other responses from students in ENGL 2624 Reading and Writing across English Studies the last several semesters and represents the students’ responses to the papers of Michael Collins, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts, which are housed in the University Libraries Special Collections.

The college notes with sadness the death of Curtis Finch, Professor Emeritus of Career and Technical Education, on January 20. In 1990 he was recognized as Outstanding National Leader in Education by the Ohio State University, and in 1996 he received the Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the American Vocational Education Research Association. The author of numerous publications, he also was the recipient of two Fulbright awards during his career. Finch joined the Virginia Tech community in 1974 and was awarded the title of professor emeritus in 2002. He retired from active duty with the United States Army in 1965 but remained in the active reserve for 28 years, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Staff Sgt. Bryanne Peterson, a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction with the School of Education, received the Leon Van Autreve Scholarship from the Association of the United States Army. The scholarship provides education support to soldiers and family members who have dedicated themselves to service to the nation by pursuing self-improvement.

Peterson is pursuing a doctorate in Integrative STEM education. She has 16 years of military service and was deployed to Iraq in 2008; she currently serves as an Army Reserve public affairs specialist at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

Rachel Iwicki, a junior Russian and Mechanical Engineering major, was selected as the 2018–2019 undergraduate student representative to the Board of Visitors.  She will serve a one-year term, which begins on July 1.

ASPECT student Amiel Bernal presented “The Politics of Epistemic Overload: Democracy and the Constitution of the Other” at the American Philosophical Association – Pacific Meeting, which was held March 28–31 in San Diego, California.

Patrick Ridge, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, published “Los espectros del estadio: presence de la muerte en ‘El final del futbol’de Ricardo Chávez Castañeda” (The specters of the stadium: presence of death in “El final del futbol” by Ricardo Chávez Castañeda), Revista Iberoamericana 84.262 (2018): 139–51.

Jim A. Kuypers, a professor in the Department of Communication, edited The 2016 American Presidential Campaign and the News: Implications for American Democracy and the Republic (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2018).

His individual contributions to the volume were “The 2016 Presidential Campaign, the News, and the Republic” and “News Media Framing of the Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton 2016 Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speeches: Terministic Screens and the Discovery of the Worldview and Bias of the Press,”  pp. 1–9 and 101–32 respectively.

Kuypers and Communication faculty members Katherine Haenschen and Michael Horning published “Donald J. Trump’s Use of Twitter in the 2016 Campaign,” pp. 55–75.

The volume includes two additional contributions by Department of Communication faculty: Michael Horning, “The Pundit Problem: A Look at Bias and Negativity in Cable News Coverage as the 2016 Election Came to a Close”, pp. 77–99, and Natalia Mielczarek, “Iconographic Tracking of Pepe the Frog Meme through the 2016 Presidential Campaign,” pp. 155–80.

Brian Britt, a professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Culture, published “The First Sports Injury: Genesis 32 between Religious Commentary and Secular Philology,” Let the Reader Understand: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Struthers Malbon,ed. Edwin Broadhead (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 213–24.

The essay was a reworking of “Die erste Sportverletzung: Genesis 32 zwischen religiösem Kommentar und säkularer Philologie,” Kommentar und Säkularisierung in der Moderne:  Vom Umgang mit heiligen und kanonischen Texten, ed. Yael Almog, Caroline Sauter, and Daniel Weidner (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 2017), pp. 69–80.

In addition, Britt gave the endowed Womack lectures at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 21. The lectures were titled “New Tablets for a New World: Chagall’s Book of Exodus” and “New Tablets for a New World: The Jewish Modernism of Chagall’s Moses.”

The 13thannual Virginia Tech Authors Recognition Event took place March 21. The event honored authors’ academic contributions to the University and was sponsored by the University Libraries, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and the Mu (Virginia Tech) Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Featured speakers from the college were: Danna Agmon, an assistant professor in the Department of HistoryStefanie Hofer, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; and Carmen Giménez Smith, a professor in the Department of English.

A list of the 43 faculty and graduate students who authored, co-authored, and edited works and musical compositions and were recognized this year can be found here; there were eight individuals with two submissions and two with three.


ASPECTcelebrated its tenth anniversary during its 2018 ASPECT Graduate Conference, titled “Doing Interdisciplinarity.”

The following graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences gave presentations: Judson Abraham, ASPECT, “Gramsci’s Critique of Market Populism;” Caroline Alphin, ASPECT, “Not a State of Exception: Weak State Killing as a Mode of Neoliberal Governmentality;” Amiel Bernal, ASPECT, “The Constitutive Political Effects of Epistemic Overload and Stereotype;” Nada Berrada, ASPECT, “Youth as a Construct: Producing Subjectivity;” Jarrod BlairPhilosophy, “Fair Opportunity for Individual Agents: A Case Against Racial Profiling;” Allie Briggs, ASPECT, “Haunted Houses: A ‘Re-memory’ of the Ghosts of Software and Law;” Jay Burkette, ASPECT, “History’s Identity Crisis: The Normative Dimension Within Contemporary Theories;” Katie Cross, ASPECT, “A Pilgrimage to Montgomery: Buddhism, Protestantism, and the Spiritual on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March;” Connor DonahuePolitical Science, “The Walling of the Sea;” Jordan Fallon, Political Science, “Run the Theory: Inter-genre, Imperceptibility Ethics, and The Game;” Rob Flahive, ASPECT, “Itinerary of the Global City Emissary: What to Learn from ‘Learning from Lagos’?;” Johannes Grow, ASPECT, “Everything Old is New Again: The Emergence of the European Coal and Steel Community as an Imperial Geopolitical Project;” Hirbohd Hedayat, ASPECT, “A Buzzing Comes Across the Sky: Changing Conceptions of Warfare and Space as a Result of the Development of Drone Technology and Drone Warfare;” Eric Hill, Political Science, “Contra Politics and Political Faith;” Robert Hodges, ASPECT, “The ISIS Network: Asymmetric Existence with the United States and Western Europe;” Mario Khreiche, ASPECT, “The New Milieus of Work in the Twilight of Automation;” Jordan Laney, ASPECT, “Between Place, Sound, Politics, and Self: Doing Interdisciplinary Research in Traditional Music Scenes: Project;” Leigh McKagen, ASPECT, “Exploration and Exclusion in Star Trek: The Next Generation;” Galen Olmsted, ASPECT, “Facebook and its Algorithm: On the Flat Reality of Commercial Sociality;” Jesse Paul, ASPECT, “Mapping Patterns of Slavery, Coinage, and Ideology: Some Interdisciplinary Barriers;” Mohammed Pervaiz, ASPECT, “The Ottoman Kanun: A Secular or Religious Institution?;” Sarah Plummer, ASPECT, “Puppet Rupture: How One Theater Resists Capitalist Expansion;” Shaun Respess, ASPECT, “Homo Economicus and a Network of Beneficence;” Jade Ritterbusch, Political Science, “Spanish Nationalism: Parallels between Past and Present;” Mary Ryan, ASPECT, “21stCentury Social Movements and the (False?) Promise of White Resistance;” Patrick Salmons, ASPECT, “‘Black Noise’: Hip-Hop Power in a Capitalist World;” Ezgi Seref, ASPECT, “Engagement Gifts as the Legalized Agent of Social Structuring;” Katy Shepard, ASPECT, “Interpretation of Artworks Guided by Accessibility to Creative Expression;” Faith Skiles, ASPECT, “Productive Assumed Understandings in Cross-Cultural Encounters of Religion;” Emma Stamm, ASPECT, “Psychedelic Research and Data Positivism;” Alex Stubberfield, ASPECT, “New Class Hybrids: A Taxonomy;” Anthony Szczurek, ASPECT, “Temporal Inequality in Climate Change Politics:  The View from India;” Ben Taylor, Political Science, “Anti-Fascist Erotics:  Linguistic Disciplinarity in George Orwell’s 1984;” Madison Tepper, Political Science, “The Paradox of Transnational (Neo)Nationalism and the Dangers of Covert Capital-‘isms;’” Shelby Ward, ASPECT, “Stranger Maps: An Autoethnographic and Participatory Mapping Study of Sri Lanka’s Tourist Industry;” Lindsay Whittaker, Philosophy, “Wait, You’re Really Black?  A Problem with Adjustments in Racial Ascriptions Based on Ancestry;” and Damien WilliamsScience, Technology, and Society, “A Discussion of Daoism and Machine Consciousness.”

The conference took place March 22–24.


James Hawdon, a professor in the Department of Sociology and director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, is serving as the senior faculty member and advisor on the project titled “The Language of Online Extremism and Hate Speech: Computational Models for Discovery and Analysis of Framing around Extremists’ Narratives,” for which Tanushree Mitra, Computer Science, received a Junior Faculty Award in the amount of $80,000 from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

Mark Barrow, Jr., a professor and chair of the Department of History, published “Teetering on the Brink of Extinction: The Passenger Pigeon, the Bison, and American Zoo Culture in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation,ed. Ben Minteer, Jane Maienshein, and James Collins (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2018), pp. 51–64.

Michael Saffle, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published The Music of Franz Liszt: Stylistic Development and Cultural Synthesis (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).

The Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble, conducted by Jonathan Caldwell, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music in the School of Performing Arts / Music, performed at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Southern Division Conference, which was held February 22–24 at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

This was the inaugural performance of the group for the CBDNA membership. As part of its conference preparation, the ensemble recorded Concerto de chamber, a previously unknown piece for wind ensemble by 20th–century composer Tōru Takemitsu; the recording is available as a free download on the Wind Ensemble website.

Jill Naar, Department of Human Development and Family Science and Gerontology, presented “Exploring Intergenerational Education Tourism Programs to Promote Age-Friendly Universities” at the 44thannual meeting and educational leadership conference of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), which was held March 1–4 in Atlanta, Georgia. Naar received the Graduate Student Paper Award, which recognizes excellence in scholarly work by a student at an AGHE member institution who presents his or her work at the annual meeting.

The following graduate students were selected for the 2018 cohort of the Global Perspectives ProgramTami Amos, a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction; Amiel Bernal, a doctoral student in ASPECT; and Catherine Cotrupi, a doctoral student in Higher Education. Developed in 2005, the Global Perspectives Program is an immersive experience that aims to better prepare graduate students to succeed as future faculty members and global citizens.

The 21stannual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference was held March 30–31 in Owens Banquet Hall and the Graduate Life Center.

The conference featured 16 presentations by students from 11 U.S. institutions, including Virginia Tech. Department of History graduate students organized the conference; faculty from the Department of History served as discussants.

Presenting papers were the following master’s students in History: Ellen Boggs, “‘That Mountain is Like a Drug Store:’ Knowledge in Appalachian Medicine, 1900-1933;” Katie Brown, “‘When This You See, Remember Me:’ Visual Culture and Civil War Soldiers’ Views of Permanence,” Emily Harmon, “‘My Father Said They Ran the Town: ’ How Women Planned Roanoke, Virginia, 1903-1910;” Grace Hemmingson, “The Battle in Richmond: Catawba Sanatorium and Virginia’s ‘War on Tuberculosis’;” Ryan Wesdock, “The Chicken or the Egg: Oology and the Ethics of Conservation;” and Emily Wild, “No Quarter: The Affliction of United States Colored Troops POWs.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences raised $101,134 from 805 donations made on Virginia Tech’s inaugural Giving Day. As the unit at Virginia Tech with the highest number of donations and thus the winner of the Vice President Participation Leaderboard Challenge, the College received a donation of $1,000 from Virginia Tech Vice President of Advancement Charles Phlegar.

Within the College, the Marching Virginians won both challenges from Dean Rosemary Blieszner for the largest number of donors and the most dollars raised.

The Communications Team’s Social Media Awards went to Heather Gumbert, the associate chair of the Department of History, for Overall Excellence; Blake Smith in the Department of Religion and Culture for Most Creative; Josette Torres in the Department of Political Science for Most Spirited; and the Marching Virginians for Best Use of Gift.

The College would also like to thank alumnus Jerry Hulick (Political Science, 1973) for his challenge grants totaling $10,000.

The 2018 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Awards and Honors Ceremony and Reception took place on March 15 in Owens Banquet Hall. Presenting this year’s awards were Dean Rosemary Blieszner, associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research Tom Ewing, and Joseph Pitt, Department of Philosophy and chair of the college’s Honors and Awards Committee.

The Diversity Award winners were Brandy Faulkner, Political Science, and Vinodh Venkatesh, Modern and Classical Languages and LiteraturesJacqueline Bixler, Chair, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, garnered the Excellence in Administration Award.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence recipients were: Jay Burkette, Naval ROTC; Carmen Gitre, History; Cayce Myers, Communication; Joseph Scallorns, English; Nadine Sinno, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; and Oscar Solis, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management.

Excellence in Advising Awards were presented to: Courtney Thomas, Political Science, and Matthew Wisnioski, Science, Technology, and Society.

Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award recipients were: Christine Kaestle, Human Development and Family Science; Anthony Peguero, Sociology; and Ariana Wyatt, School of Performing Arts.

This year’s ceremony included a staff award in addition to faculty awards. Rhonda Pennington, Office and Fiscal Manager, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, received the Staff Employee of the Year Award.

Katie Carmichael, an assistant professor in the Department of English, published “Cajuns as Southe(r)ne(r)s: An Examination of Variable r-lessness in Cajun English,” Language Variety in the New South: Change and Variation, ed. Jeffrey Reaser, Eric Wilbanks, Karissa Wojcik, and Walt Wolfram (Chapel Hill, North Carolina:  University of North Carolina Press, 2018), pp. 135–52.

Amy Azano, an assistant professor in the School of Education, published “Understanding the Puzzle behind the Pictures: A Content Analysis of Children’s Picture Books about Autism,” AERA Open 3.2 (2017):  1–12, with School of Education/Curriculum and Instruction alumnae Mary Tackett and Miranda Sigmon.

Co-Principal Investigator Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies in the Department of History, and principal investigator Kurt Luther received an $80,000 award from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science for the project titled “Augmenting Computer Vision with Crowdsourcing to Identify People in Historical and Modern Photographs.” The grant is for two years and funds a graduate student and several undergraduate researchers to work on the project, which combines crowdsourcing and face recognition technology to identify American Civil War-era photos.