Academic News (News2Note) — August 2018

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

All issues of News2Note, beginning with the first from February 2008, are available through  VTechWorks, Virginia Tech’s open access institutional repository.

ASPECT doctoral student Mary Ryan presented “The Kerner Commission, White Supremacy, and Lingering Democratic Dystopia” at the International Social Theory Consortium Conference, which was held May 17–19 at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois; and “Race, Democracy, and the Kerner Commission” with Wendy Brown at the 2018 Master Class on the theme “Where Liberal Democracy Once Was:  Liberal Authoritarianism in the Twenty-First Century,” held May 28–June 1 in Lucerne, Switzerland.

ASPECT doctoral student Linea Cutter presented “Democratic Deliberation and Neoliberal Hegemony: The Role of NGOs in Civil Society” at the International Studies Association Conference, which took place April 3–7 in San Francisco, California.

Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management head Julia Beamish, assistant professor Erin Hopkins, and professor Kathleen Parrott published “Sustainable Multifamily Kitchen Design: A Student Elicitation Approach,” Journal of Green Building 13.2 (2018): 55–66. 

An EcoCAR 3 team from Virginia Tech comprised of Department of Communication majors and College of Engineering students won first-place honors in overall project management, closeout report, execution plan, vehicle handling, 0–60 mph acceleration, emissions, energy consumption, well-to-wheel criteria emissions, and autocross, where drivers test vehicle handling and performance on a closed course; they also placed second in several other events, posting a fourth-place finish overall.

The competition was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors.

Marian Mollin, an associate professor in the Department of History, co-edited The Religious Left in Modern America: Doorkeepers of a Radical Faith, Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements (Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), with Leilah Danielson and Doug Rossinow.

Her individual contribution to the volume was “Ita Ford and the Spirit of Social Change,” pp. 255–76.

In addition, the research of students enrolled in HIST 2984 A Nation Divided: America in the 1960s, taught by Mollin, was featured in an exhibit in Newman Library.  Sixteen posters designed by students presented sample themes and issues that defined student life at Virginia Tech during the Sixties.  The exhibit, a collaboration with University Libraries Special Collections, is on display from May 15 until August 10.

The comments of United States soldiers in World War II are the focus of research and a transcription project led by Edward Gitre, an assistant professor in the Department of History, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Gitre’s work is described in an interview titled “What They Were Thinking: WWII Soldiers’ Insights to Become Public Data Base,” which was broadcast on WVTF, the local National Public Radio affiliate, on May 8.

Two music compositions by Charles Nichols, an assistant professor in the School of Performing Arts, were premiered in June. His piece Tsuga, for solo piano, jointly commissioned by the Iowa Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association as a result of a competition cosponsored by the Iowa Composers Forum, was performed by Richard Steinbach on June 3 in Iowa City, Iowa.

At the performance, Nichols was recognized with the Distinguished Composer of the Year award by the Iowa Music Teachers Association and the Iowa Composers Forum. His Bluestone, for alto saxophone, electric guitar, piano, and drum set, commissioned by the Charlotte New Music Festival, had its premiere by the Hypercube ensemble on June 29 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The following individuals in ASPECT gave presentations at the Cultural Studies Association Conference, which took place May 31–June 2 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: director of ASPECT and a professor in the Department of Political Science François Debrix and doctoral student Caroline Alphin, “Necro-geopolitics: Death-Making and the Ordinary”; and students Mario Khreiche, “Endless Present: The Semi-Automated Milieu of Amazon Mechanical Turk”; Leigh McKagen, “Creating Imperial Futures? Narratives of Domination in Science Fiction Television”; Mary Ryan, “Imperial (Con)quest: Police Brutality, Riots, and Race in U.S. Structural Racism,” presented in absentia; and Shelby Ward, “Spatializing the Neocolonial: Sri Lankan Tourist Maps and the Cosmopolitan Tourist in International Relations.”

Carol Mullen, a professor in the School of Education, published “Creative Learning: Paradox or Possibility in China’s Restrictive Preservice Teacher Classrooms?” in Action in Teacher Education 40.2 (2018):  186–202; and “‘Quality Leadership Matters’:  A Research-based Survey of Graduate Programming,” Journal of Research on Leadership Education13.2 (2018): 162–200, with Daniel Eadens.

Sylvester Johnson, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture and director of the Center for Humanities, was awarded $2,500 from the Virginia Humanities Foundation for a collaborative public humanities summit between Virginia Union University (VUU) and Virginia Tech titled “Addressing Inequality: History, Social Disparity, and the Beloved Community Initiative.”

Johnson serves as principal investigator and Ralph Hall, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), as co-principal investigator.

The event will take place at VUU’s Richmond campus in November and is part of SPIA’s Beloved Community Initiative to advance more effective strategies to address inequality in Virginia.

ASPECT doctoral student Nada Berrada presented “Representing Youth of the MENA Region: Discursive Implications of Youth as a Category” at the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies, which was held July 14–22 in Seville, Spain.

Kevin Krost, a doctoral student in Education Research and Evaluation in the School of Education, served as a summer associate at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in Alexandria, Virginia, in the Operational Evaluation Division.

The IDA provides objective analyses of national security issues and related national challenges, particularly those requiring special scientific and technical expertise.

Paul Avey, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, was the recipient of an International Affairs Fellowship for the 2018–2019 academic year. The fellowship is awarded by the Council on Foreign Relations every year to a select group of academics, policy-makers, diplomats, and military officials.

The focus of Avey’s research is nuclear politics, U.S. foreign policy, and international relations theory.

From June 12 to 15 Barbara Allen, professor of Science, Technology, and Society, conducted a seminar, “Introduction to Community-Based Participatory Research,” to introduce researchers to community-based participatory research for health. The four-day training event was hosted at the Institute for Advanced Study (IMéRA) in Marseille, France. Assisting Allen was the rest of the Fos “Etude participative en santé environnement ancrée localement” (Locality-based Participatory Environmental Health Survey) research team. The training was available at no cost to the 20 French researchers and public health officials who participated, thanks to support from the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health).

The following faculty and staff were recognized at the Virginia Tech Employee Development Certificate Program ceremony for completion of requirements for one or more programs during the 2017–2018 academic year: Administrative Professional Development Program Certificate: Wanda McAlexander, School of Education; Diversity Advocate Certificate: Christy Dillon, School of Education, Dawn Knight-Withers, School of Education, Amanda Villar, Department of Religion and Culture; Diversity Ally Certificate: Dawn Knight-Withers, School of Education, Adrianne Pinkney, School of Education, Amanda Villar, Department of Religion and Culture; Diversity Ambassador Certificate: Sally Shupe, Department of English; and Office Software Skills Certificate: Demetria Harris, Department of Communication.

Michael Saffle, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, presented the keynote address at the XI Simposio internacional “La creación musical en la banda sonora,” held in conjunction with the 10thMeeting of the Music and Media Study Group of the International Musicological Society June 13–16 in Salamanca, Spain. The title of the address was “New Music for Today’s Science-fiction Films.”

The College is pleased to welcome Christina Miller as director of Alumni Relations.  In her new role, Miller will organize events, provide opportunities for networking with the College’s more than 60,000 graduates, and create relationship-building outreach and programming.  Miller most recently served as associate director of Alumni Relations at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Juniata College

Polly Middleton has been named director of the Marching Virginians, only the fifth director in the band’s 44-year history.

Middleton served as director of Athletics Bands at Arkansas State University for a year and another as director of Illinois State University’s marching band. She previously held the position of associate director of Athletic Bands at Virginia Tech.

Middleton earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Illinois and her master’s degree from Indiana University.



ASPECT doctoral student Rob Flahive presented “Preservation Power: Re-Aestheticizing Spatial Order of Colonial Casablanca” at the European Workshops in International Studies Meeting, which took place June 6–9 in Groningen, Netherlands. In addition, Flahive published “Regime-Security Urbanism: Cairo 2050 and Beyond in al-Sisi’s Cairo,” Jadaliyya, July 17, 2018, online.

Rosemary Goss, Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, was honored on the occasion of her retirement at the end of last semester after 42 years at Virginia Tech. The endowed professorship she has held since 1996 was renamed the Property Management Advisory Board Professorship in Honor of Dr. Rosemary C. Goss.

Ashley Reichelmann, an assistant professor in the  Department of Sociology, published “When You Are a Racist, Theoretically Speaking: Empirically Demonstrating Blumer’s Group Position Theory,” Sociological Theory, Methods, and Perspectives, ed. Joseph H. Michalski (Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2018), pp. 31–56.

Hamish Brewer, a doctoral student in Educational Leadership, was recognized as the 2018 Northern Virginian of the Year.

Hamish recently assumed the position of principal at Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Woodbridge and was the 2017 National Distinguished Principal for Virginia.

ASPECT doctoral student Leigh McKagen presented “Exploring Imperial Narratives in Star Trek:  Voyager” at the Science Fiction Research Association Conference, which took place July 1–4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Amelia Dirks, a recent Virginia Tech graduate of both the Creative Writing and the Literature and Language programs, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant. She will teach at the Hellenic-American Educational Foundation in Athens, Greece.

Daniel Breslau, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was interviewed for a report titled “Blockchain Technology Could Revolutionize More than the Financial World,” which was broadcast on WVTF, the local National Public Radio affiliate, on May 25.

The centennial of the death of Captain Lloyd Williams, the first Virginia soldier killed on the frontlines in France, on June 12 was commemorated as part of the VPI in World War One project that the Department of History has coordinated for several years. The project chronicles VPI’s involvement in World War One by documenting the lives of men who served.

The research has been carried out entirely by students, mostly students in the department’s First Year Experience course taught by Trudy Becker. The leader of the project, Daniel Newcomb, has earned three degrees from the College; he worked with associate dean and professor of history E. Thomas Ewing to design the initial research protocols and then guided two classes of first-year students as part of his graduate assistantship in the Department of History.

Su Fang Ng, Clifford A. Cutchins III Professor in the Department of English, was awarded a Learn German in Germany grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) to attend an intensive language course at the Goethe-Institutin Dresden, Germany, from July 2 to 26. Ng was selected so that she could improve her German skills in order to take into account German Orientalists in her study of early modern European Orientalists in Asia.

Michael Hughes, Professor of Sociology, gave a keynote address at the Sixteenth International Conference on Social Stress Research in Athens, Greece, on June 2. The title of his talk was “The Racial Paradox in Mental Health.”

The college is pleased to announce the following tenure and promotion decisions by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors at its June 6 meeting.

Promoted to associate professor with tenure were: Danna Agmon, History and ASPECT Core Faculty; Amy Azano, School of Education; María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Jason Crafton, School of Performing Arts; Erika Grafsky, Human Development and Family Science; Stefanie Hofer, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Eunju Hwang, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Benjamin Jantzen, Philosophy; Melanie Kiechle, History; Christine Labuski, Sociology; Philip Olsen, Science, Technology, and Society; Dustin Read, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Nadine Sinno, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Trevor Stewart, School of Education; Catherine Ulrich, School of Education; LaDale Winling, History; and Haiyan Zhu, Sociology.

Promoted to the rank of professor in the past academic year were: Janet Abbate, Science, Technology, and Society; April Few-Demo, Human Development and Family Science; Matthew Gabriele, Religion and Culture; James Ivory, Communication; Gerard Lawson, School of Education; Heidi Anne Mesmer, School of Education; Lydia Patton, Philosophy; Tina Savla, Human Development and Family Science; and John Wells, School of Education.

Also recognized with promotion were the following: Joseph Scallorns, English, to senior instructor; Matthew Goodrum, Science, Technology, and Society, to collegiate associate professor; and Peggy Quesenberry, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, to collegiate assistant professor.

During its June meeting, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors conferred the emeritus title on Charles Taylor, a professor in the Department of Political Science.

Taylor pursued scholarship related to the analysis of political and social stability across nation-states, with a focus on quantitative indicators of political and social conditions and on methodological techniques for employing such data. He served as Head of the Department of Political Science and was instrumental in creating the International Studies program in the department.

For his contributions to the university, he was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising and the Alumni Award for International Outreach.  Taylor joined the Virginia Tech community in 1970; he earned his bachelor’s degree from Carson Newman College and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Yale University.

A Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree program in Science, Technology, and Society were approved by the Board of Visitors at its June meeting. The programs, which will help students develop new ways of understanding and intervening in the relationship of science and technology to society, will begin in Spring 2019, pending approval of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Glenn Bugh, an associate professor in the Department of History, was elected to the executive committee of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. The executive committee administers an endowment of $170 million in collaboration with a board of trustees.

Matthew Fullen, assistant professor in the School of Education, published “Holistic Wellness in Older Adulthood: Group Differences Based on Age and Mental Health,” Journal of Holistic Nursing 34 (2018): 44–55, with Darcy Granello. The article was awarded Honorable Mention for the Innovative Research on Aging Awards sponsored by Mather LifeWays, a private foundation in Chicago.

Paul Quigley, the James I. Robertson, Jr. Associate Professor of Civil War Studies in the Department of History and director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, edited The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: LSU Press, 2018).

The anthology resulted from a conference Quigley organized in 2015 under the auspices of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.

Multimedia Journalism students are eligible to apply for a new merit-based scholarship, the Kathryn Thompson Leckie Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship was established by Communication alumna Carolyn Smith Corsi (1983), who was Leckie’s roommate.

Leckie’s career as an investigative journalist included stints with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and the Frederick (Maryland) News-Post; she died in 2012.

In May 2018, Gretchen Kernbach, a senior Multimedia Journalism major, became the first recipient of the scholarship.

Eric Lyon, an associate professor in the School of Performing Arts, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct spatial audio research. The yearlong fellowship provides Lyon with support to produce three multichannel compositions for the Cube in the Moss Arts Center; these are complemented by “Marimbas Everywhere,” which he created for the Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble and which had its premiere in April.

The spatial orchestration Lyon employs in his compositions allows for the pieces to be rewritten for each performance space and speaker array.

The Guggenheim Foundation funds only 175 of its applications – usually more than 3,000 – each year; in 2018 there were just a dozen winners in music composition.

Lyon, who joined the Virginia Tech community in 2013, earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a master’s from the Eastman School of Music, and a doctorate from the University of California at San Diego.

The following graduate students in the college presented papers at the Human Futures and Intelligent Machines Summit, hosted by the Center for Humanities at Virginia Tech June 7–9: Joshua Earle, Science, Technology, and Society, “Morphology Freedom”; Mario Khreiche, ASPECT, “Microlabor as Automation in Amazon Mechanical Turk”; Emma Stamm, ASPECT, “The Unthinkable:  Data, Mentality and Politics”; and Damien Williams, “Values and Interdisciplinarity in Technological Design.”

The following individuals were presenters at the Virginia Tech Graduate Education Summer conference: Jennifer Lawrence, Department of English faculty member and director of the Writing Center; Jordan Laney, ASPECT doctoral student and the Department of Religion and Culture faculty member; and doctoral students Joanie Banks-Hunt, Curriculum and Instruction, Leigh McKagen, ASPECT, Karen Raymond, Counselor Education, Faith Skiles, ASPECT, Anthony Szczurek, ASPECT, and Jennifer Turner, Sociology.

The conference took place June 12–14.

Jordan Laney, an instructor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published a review of the film Linefork in the Journal of the Society for American Music 12.3 (August 2018):  378–80.

Pamela Teaster, director of the Center for Gerontology and a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, was the recipient of the Isabella Horton Grant Guardianship Award. Sponsored by the Rutter Group and administered by the National College of Probate Judges, the “Isabella”is given in recognition of individual achievements in the field of guardianships of adults and/or minors based on activities such as innovative programs leading to improvements in guardianship laws; articles, treatises, books, or other  publications of unusual quality and impact on guardianship issues; and leadership roles or other activities in organizations that have led to significant improvements in the laws, administration, or practices in the guardianship field.

Teaster received the award at the Spring Conference of the National College of Probate Judges, which was held May 2–5 in San Diego.

Anthony Peguero, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, published “The School-to-Prison Pipeline,” The Palgrave International Handbook of School Discipline, Surveillance and Social Control, ed. Jo Deakin, Emmeline Taylor, and Aaron Kupchik (London, United Kingdom:  Palgrave, 2018), pp. 269–90, with Sanna King and Alicia Rujosa.

In addition, he co-edited “Bullying and Peer Victimization of Vulnerable, Marginalized and Oppressed Youth,” a special issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88.4 (2018), with Jun Sung Hong and Dorothy Espelage; he and his co-editors contributed the introduction, “Experiences in Bullying and/or Peer Victimization of Vulnerable, Marginalized, and Oppressed Children and Adolescents: An Introduction to the Special Issue,” pp. 399–401.

Brian Britt, a professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published “Frames and Borders in Deuteronomy and Films on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” T&T Clark Companion to the Bible and Film, ed. Richard Walsh (London: T&T Clark, 2018), pp. 115–23.

Ashley Shew, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Grant for $441,426 for “Disability, Experience, and Technological Imagination.”

The project focuses on discrepancies between how scientists and engineers understand and explain their work related to disability and the actual needs and wants of people with disabilities.

As part of the grant, Shew will work with colleagues in the College of Engineering in 2019 through Virginia Tech’s STEMABILITY, a summer camp for students with disabilities.

Erin Hopkins, assistant professor in the Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, published “The Influence of Public Transportation on Housing Values,” International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 25.3 (2018): 206–15.

The College notes with sadness the death of Kathleen Wright Wampler on June 20.  Wampler was an extension specialist and faculty member in Family and Child Development.  She dedicated her life to serving children and families and even after retiring from Virginia Tech in 1983 continued to volunteer two mornings each week at the Virginia Tech Child Development Center for Learning and Research.