Religion and Culture Academic News

Sylvester Johnson, the assistant vice provost for the humanities and a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, served as the 2017 Distinguished Scholar at the 2017 annual conference of the Unitarian Universalist Collegium, which was held October 19–21 in Chicago, Illinois. He presented on the topics “Spirit, Matter, and Machines: Religion and Humanity in a Technological Age” and “Religion and National Security.”

In addition, Johnson gave the 2017 Gates Lecture at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, on October 25; the title of the lecture was “Religion and National Security: Islam, Racialization, and the Politics of Counterterrorism.”

The following students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences were awarded scholarships for the 2017–2018 academic year.

The Dean’s Rising Senior Scholarship was awarded to Makeda Mesfin, International Studies. Recipients of the Dean’s Rising Junior Scholarship and Rising Sophomore Scholarship were Kevin Foster, Theatre and Cinema, and Jenna Humphrey, International Studies, respectively.

The following students were recipients of a Destiny Scholarship: Olamiposi Akinyemi, Political Science; Taylor Anderson, Political Science; Tyra Anderson, Human Development; Hannah Ange, Literature and Language; Madison Arnesen, Political Science; Curtis Batchelor, National Security and Foreign Affairs; Megan Church, Communication Studies; Danielle Cieslewicz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Shannon Clarke, Theatre Arts; Sarah Coates, International Studies; Meaghan Doherty, Political Science; Mariah Evans, Criminology; Madeleine Gagne, International Relations; Lidia Guerra, Political Science; Noah Hairston, Multimedia Journalism; Diana Harley, Political Science; Connor Ingalsbe, International Studies; Danielle Jeffers, Multimedia Journalism; Halle Jordan, Multimedia Journalism; Haein Kim, International Studies; Alexander Knight, International Studies; Desiree Laureano, International Relations; A’via Linton, Spanish; Gabrielle Lozama, Multimedia Journalism; Matthew McPherson-Jaramillo, Multimedia Journalism; Casey Molina, Multimedia Journalism; Joshua Morrison, Music; Corrine Murray, Public Relations; Elisa Nicolini, International Relations; Casey Pongonis, Professional and Technical Writing; Collin Sabine, Political Science; Hunter Shinn, Classical Studies; Sierra Spain, Communication Studies; Virginia Stephenson, Multimedia Journalism; Rachel Sutphin, Religion and Culture; Luca Thoms, Political Science; Zachary Weeks, Classical Studies; Cassidy Whitlow, Human Development; Jada Woodson, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Ryea Young, Human Development; Jason Yoxthimer, Communication Studies; and Amy Zelaya, Human Development.

Recipients of the Austin Student Veterans Scholarship were Mallary Brown, School of Education, and William Thomas IV, Political Science.

Awarded the Tom Barton Family Scholarship was Sara McNulty, Political Science.

Jessica King, Communication Studies and International Studies, received the Dean Robert Bates Scholarship as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Senior Challenge Book Scholarship.

The Megan E. Christenson Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Courtney Flickinger, Multimedia Journalism.

Human Development doctoral student Shelby Borowski was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Faculty Campaign Scholarship and the Mildred Tate Scholarship.

Sarah Lim, Literature and Language, was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association Scholarship and the Susan Pascoe Farrell Scholarship.

The following students were recipients of a Martha Price Hancock Scholarship: Theodore Alt, Music Education and Music Performance; Vincent DiNardo, Music; Rachel Hargrave, Creative Writing; and Lauren Weaver, Spanish.

Receiving a Laura Jane Harper Scholarship were: Danielle Cieslewicz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Emilee Cruz, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Benjamin Graulich, Residential Environments and Design; Makahla Stout, Fashion Merchandising and Design; and Junhua Zhang, Consumer Studies.

Stefnie Cerny, Theatre Arts Design and Studio Art, and Sarah Lim, Literature and Language, were recognized with a Hallie L. Hughes Memorial Scholarship.

Kathryn Kowalski, Professional and Technical Writing and Literature and Language, was awarded the Hulick Scholarship for Leadership, Friendship, and Service.

The John and Jane Milne Academic Scholarship was awarded to Juri Oh, Human Development.

The following students received the Moody, Pratt, Minor Scholarship: Matthew Barrett, Russian; Stefnie Cerny, Theatre Arts Design and Studio Art; Emily Hoyt, Human Development; Haley Meade, Religion and Culture and Biochemistry; Makeda Mesfin, International Studies; Caroline Nicotra, Spanish and Biological Sciences; Kaelyn Petrides, Public Relations; and Nikki Tobler, Theatre Performance.

Lyn O’Connell, Human Development, was the recipient of the James D. Moran Memorial Scholarship.

A Nelson–Lehmann–Gold–VanSant Family Scholarship was awarded to Jesse Marie Acierto, Human Development, and Melody Gregory, Human Development.

Recognized with the John Rathbone Scholarship were: Sarah Lim, Literature and Language; Scottie Lynch, History and Business Leadership; and John Mastakas, History.

Mary Karen Read Memorial Scholarships were awarded to Amy Crow, Jordan Fuller, and Vanessa Robinson, all Human Development.

Receiving a Robichaud Family Scholarship were: Jesse Marie Acierto, Human Development; Theodore Alt, Music Education and Music Performance; Paige Bailey, Fashion Merchandising and Design; Raleigh Christian, Political Science; Lauren Farrar, Music and Multimedia Journalism; Jesse Hughes, Music Education; and Kathryn Kowalski, Professional and Technical Writing and Literature and Language.

Sarah Patton, International Studies, was the recipient of the Ora Goodwin Roop Scholarship.

The following were awarded a Margaret Groseclose Skelton Scholarship: Molly Maurin, Human Development and Psychology; Jordan Mercer, Consumer Studies; and Leah Richards, Literature and Language.

The recipient of the Maryellen Spencer Scholarship was Lauren Weaver, Spanish.

Holly Hunter, Public Relations, and Kayla Parrish, Human Development, received a Margaret Rawlinson Svoboda 4–H Scholarship.

Mildred Crawford Weidemann Scholarships were awarded to: John Mastakas, History; Molly Maurin, Human Development and Psychology; Paige Moorman, Fashion Merchandising and Design and Spanish; and Natalie Tabor, Human Development.

Haley Meade, Religion and Culture and Biochemistry, was the recipient of the Mildred E. Young Scholarship.

Students awarded College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Education Abroad Scholarships were also acknowledged; their names appeared in the May 2017 issue of News2Note.

All of the recipients above as well as the donors who support the scholarships were recognized at a dinner on October 19.


Danille Christensen, an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published “Materializing the Everyday: ‘Safe’ Scrapbooks, Aesthetic Mess, and the Rhetorics of Workmanship,” Journal of Folklore Research 54.3 (2017): 233–84. Christensen serves as a consulting scholar for These Roots Run Deep: Connecting Communities through Foodways, a project that is developing a series of community forums, events, and workshops centered on Appalachian local foodways.

The Virginia Tech Alpha Mu Pi chapter of the Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies held its third annual induction of members on October 20. Department of Religion and Culture majors Emily Shull, also Business Information Technology and Finance, and Emily Sutphin were inducted by President Austin Owen, Religion and Culture and Classics; Vice President Timothy Miles, Religions and Culture; and Secretary and Treasurer Rachel Sutphin, Religion and Culture and Human Development. Brian Britt, a professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Culture, and Amanda Villar, an academic advisor in the department, serve as faculty sponsor and co-advisor of the chapter respectively.

Michael Saffle, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published “From Broadway to Phineas and Ferb: The Rise of Music(al Comedy) Videos,” Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media, ed. Gina Arnold, Daniel Cookney, Kirsty Fairclough, and Michael Goddard (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), pp. 41–52.

Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor of Religion and Culture, published “Environmental Health Disparities in the Central Appalachian Region of the United States,” Reviews on Environmental Health 32.3 (2017): 53–66, with Leigh-Anne Krometis, Julia Gohlke, Korine Kolivras, Susan West Marmagas, and Linsey Marr.

The Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought has named the 2017 recipients of the Outstanding ASPECT Faculty Award, which recognizes contributions to the ASPECT doctoral program. The awardees — Katrina Powell, an associate professor in the Department of English; Peter Schmitthenner, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture; and Edward Weisband, the Edward S. Diggs Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences in the Department of Political Science — will be recognized at the annual ASPECT Award Ceremony, which will take place October 3.

Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor in Department of Religion and Culture, published “The Politics of Hillbilly Horror,” Navigating Souths: Transdisciplinary Explorations of a US Region, ed. Michele Coffey and Jodi Skipper, New Southern Studies Series (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2017), pp. 227–45, and the Foreword to Post-9/11 Heartland Horror: Rural Horror Films in an Era of Urban Terrorism by Victoria McCollum (Farnham, United Kingdom/Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2016), pp. ix-xi.

In addition, Satterwhite is part of an interdisciplinary Virginia Tech research team examining how the topography and industries of the Central Appalachian region impact the health of the people living there. The team, which began its work in 2014, includes researchers from Appalachian Studies, Biological Systems Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geography, and Population Health Sciences. In June the group received $75,000 for its project, “Ecological and Human Health in Rural Communities,” under the Global Systems Science Destination Area.


The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will welcome 26 new tenure-track and tenured professors in the fall of 2017.

Joining the college as assistant professors are Aaron Brantly, Political Science; Cara Daggett, Political Science; Matthew Fullen, School of Education; Edward Gitre, History; Katherine Haenschen, Communication; Benjamin Katz, Human Development; Karin Kitchens, Political Science; Ashley Landers, Human Development; Evan Lavender-Smith, English; Christopher Lindgren, English; Gonzalo Montero, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Shaily Patel, Religion and Culture; Ashley Reichelmann, Sociology; Patrick Ridge, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Micah Roos, Sociology; Donna Sedgwick, Sociology; Eonyou Shin, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Lee Vinsel, Science and Technology in Society; and Chelsea Woods, Communication.

Hired as tenured faculty at the rank of associate professor are Shannon Bell, Sociology; Su Fang Ng, Cutchins Chair in the Department of English; and Bonnie Zare, Sociology.

Joining the college at the rank of professor are Kenneth Hodges, English; Sylvester Johnson, Religion and Culture (as well as director of the Center for the Humanities and assistant vice provost for humanities); Carmen Giménez Smith, English; and Paul Steger, director of the School of Performing Arts.