Academic News (News2Note) — December 2017

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

Carlos Evia, an associate professor in the Department of English, received the Society for Technical Communication’s Frank R. Smith award for a distinguished article in the journal Technical Communication, along with co-author Michael Priestley. The article recognized is “Structured Authoring without XML: Evaluating Lightweight DITA for Technical Documentation,” which appeared in Volume 63, Issue 1 (2016), 23–37.

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recently conferred the emeritus title on the following faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences:

Kathleen Jones, an associate professor in the Department of History, served as a leading expert on the history of the child guidance movement in the United States and of youth suicide, garnering support for her research in the form of a National Humanities Center Fellowship and a National Library of Medicine Publication Grant, among others. As a pioneer in the use of digital history in her teaching, she was the recipient of several grants as well. She joined the Virginia Tech community in 1991 and served as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History for 10 years; in 2017 she was honored with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising. Jones earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree from the University of Alberta, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Fred Piercy, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, made significant contributions to scholarship focused on marriage and family therapy as well as substance abuse intervention, serving as author or co-author of more than 200 publications. He was recognized with awards such as the Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Award and the American Family Therapy Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He continues in his role as editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. In addition to teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels during his tenure at Virginia Tech, he served as advisor to numerous doctoral students. Piercy earned his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

Ivica Ico Bukvic, an associate professor in the School of Performing Arts/music, and Greg Earle, Electrical and Computer Engineering, were awarded funding from the National Science Foundation for the project titled “Spatial Audio Data Immersive Experience (SADIE)” in order to pursue research to investigate how immersive sound can be used to develop a better understanding of complex systems. The project will use the 129-loudspeaker spatially distributed immersive sound system in the Cube in the Moss Arts Center.

Or Be Forever Fallen, a composition for amplified string quartet, computer, and video by Charles Nichols, an assistant professor in the School of Performing Arts, with video artist Zach Duer, received its premiere on November 16. The work was performed by the Beo String Quartet in the Moss Arts Center.

ASPECT doctoral student Jordan Laney presented “Trade Publications as Folklore as the Political Performance of Place” at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference, which was held November 3–5 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Joseph Eska, a professor in the Department of English, published “The Syntax of Celtic” and “The Dialectology of Celtic” in Volume II of the Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics, ed. Jared Klein, Brian Joseph, Matthias Fritz, and Mark Wenthe (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2017), pp. 1218–49 and 1264–74 respectively.

Department of English faculty members Joe Eska, a professor, and Charlene Eska, an associate professor, published “In Defence of KuiTos leKaTos,” Études Celtiques 43 (2017): 81–94.

Cara Daggett, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, was awarded the A. Leroy Bennett Award, which “recognizes the best paper presented at the International Studies Association Northeast Regional Conference by a scholar who holds a Ph.D.” Daggett was honored for her paper titled “Energetic Racism: Fossil Fuels and Thermodynamics in Nineteenth Century New Imperialism,” which she presented at the 2016 conference. The award was presented at this year’s conference, which took place November 3–4.

Brett Jones, a professor in the School of Education, published the following articles: “Redesigning a Neuroscience Laboratory Course for Multiple Sections: An Action Research Project to Engage Students,” The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 15.2 (2017): A137–43, with Hsiao-Wei Tu; “Motivating Incoming Engineering Students with Diverse Backgrounds: Assessing a Summer Bridge Program’s Impact on Academic Motivation,” Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 23.2 (2017): 121–45, with Walter Lee, Cory Brozina, and Catherine Amelink; “Motivational Factors to Consider when Introducing Problem-Based Learning in Engineering Education Courses,” International Journal of Engineering Education 33.3 (2017): 1000–17, with Carlos Mora, Beatriz Añorbe-Díaz, Antonio González-Marrero, and Jorge Martín-Gutiérrez; and “Identifying Pre-High School Students’ Science Class Motivation Profiles to Increase Their Science Identification and Persistence,” Journal of Educational Psychology 109.8 (2017): 1163–87, with School of Education alumna Jessica Chittum. 

Paula Seniors, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, was featured on the public radio show “With Good Reason” on its program titled “Listen Up:  Music and Politics,” which aired February 24. Seniors, who studies African-American and multiracial theater, film, and dance, was interviewed about the lives of composers Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, whose work helped break down stereotypical portrayals of black Americans.

ASPECT doctoral student Mary Ryan presented “50 Years Later: The Kerner Commission, White Supremacy, and Police Brutality” at The State of (In)Equality: Social Justice Under Siege conference, which was held October 27–29 in Toronto, Canada; and “Housing Change: Social Progress Through Two 1960s Families in To Kill a Mockingbird and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” at the 2017 Film and History Conference, which took place November 1–5 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

School of Education faculty member Brett Jones and alumnae Sumeyra Sahbaz, Asta Schram, and Jessica Chittum published “Using Psychological Constructs from the MUSIC Model of Motivation to Predict Students’ Science Identification and Career Goals: Results from the U.S. and Iceland,” International Journal of Science Education 39.8 (2017): 1089–1108.

LaDale Winling, an assistant professor in the Department of History, published Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

Department of Communication faculty members Douglas Cannon, a Professor of Practice, and Jenn Burleson Mackay published “Millennials Fail to Embrace Civic Duty to Keep Informed,” Newspaper Research Journal 38.3 (2017): 306–15.

Two programs in the Department of Human Development and Family Science were ranked among the top five in North America according to the 2017 HDFS Report conducted at The Ohio State University. The program in Adult Development and Aging was tied for #1 and the program in Family Science was tied for #2. Overall, the department was tied for #10.

The following ASPECT doctoral students presented papers at the Annual International Studies Association Northeast Region Conference: Caroline Alphin, “Not a State of Exception: Weak State Killing as a Mode of Neoliberal Governmentality”; Robert Flahive, “Different Shades of Red, White, and Black? Reading between the Roads of Post-Cairo 2050”; Johannes Grow, “The European Union and Its Colonial Past: The Continuities and Discontinuities of Imperial Governance”; Mario Khreiche, “Indefinite Debt: A Multilateral Operative for the Network Society”; Leigh McKagen, “Becoming-With Media: Utilizing Television to Promote a Respons(able) Anthropocene”; and Shelby Ward, “Cultural Mining: The Neocolonial Productions of the Sri Lankan Tourist Map.” The conference was held November 3–4 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Anthony Peguero, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, published “Immigration, Extracurricular Activity, and the Role of Family,” Education and Urban Society 49.3 (2017): 314–40, with Jiang Xin; and “Gender-Based Violence in Schools” in Sourcebook on Violence Against Women, ed. Claire M. Renzetti, Jeffrey L. Edleson, and Raquel Kennedy Bergen, 3rd edition (Los Angeles, California: Sage Publications, 2017), pp. 123–43, with Laura Agnich and Jun Sung Hong.

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.”

Members of the Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble, directed by Annie Stevens, an assistant professor in the School of Performing Arts, won the University Chamber Percussion Ensemble Competition, which took place November 14–17 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The all-undergraduate ensemble competed against groups, including graduate student ensembles, from 14 other universities across the country.

April Few-Demo, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, with Aine Humble, Melissa Curran, and Sally Lloyd, received the Alexis Walker Award for outstanding original scholarship in the field of family science from Wiley. They were recognized for their paper, “Queer Theory, Intersectionality, and LBGT-Parent Families: Transformative Critical Pedagogy in Family Theory,” which was published in the Journal of Family Theory & Review 8.1 (2016): 74–94. The award of $5,000 was presented at the National Council on Family Relations conference, which was held November 15–18 in Orlando, Florida.

School of Education faculty members Serge Hein, Gary Skaggs, and Jesse “Jay” Wilkins published “Estimating an Observed Score Distribution from a Cognitive Diagnostic Model,” Applied Psychological Measurement 41.2 (2017): 150–54.

ASPECT doctoral student Emma Stamm presented “The Electric Kool-Aid Turing Test: Psychedelic Data Encounters the Machine” at the ECREA Digital Culture and Communication 2017 Conference, which was held November 6–7 in Brighton, United Kingdom.

Pianist Richard Masters, a professor in the School of Performing Arts, performed works by Heinrich Biber, Philip Glass, and Johannes Brahms with violinist Emily Ondracek-Peterson at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado, on October 27.

Evan Lavender-Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of English, published “The Itch and the Touch,” The Southern Review 53.4 (2017): 533–55.

Stephen Prince, a professor in the School of Performing Arts, published A Dream of Resistance: The Cinema of Kobayashi Masaki (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2017).

School of Education doctoral student Sehmuz Akalin, faculty member Brett Jones, and alumnae Jessica Chittum and Asta Schram published “The Effects of an Afterschool STEM Program on Students’ Motivation and Engagement,” International Journal of STEM Education 4.11 (2017): 1–16.

Bonnie Zare, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, published “The Whole inside the Hole: Recent Telugu Dalit Women’s Revolutionary Life Writing,” New Feminisms in South Asian Film, Literature, and Social Media: Disrupting the Discourse, ed. Alka Kurian and Sonora Jha (New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 271–88.

She also served as lead editor, along with Susan Dewey, of “Voices from the Wyoming Women’s Prison: A Collection of Writing by Incarcerated Women,” a special issue (May 2017)of Volume 17 of Wagadu: Journal of Transnational Women’s & Gender Studies.

School of Education faculty members Brett Jones and Jesse “Jay” Wilkins published “Assessing Music Students’ Motivation Using the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation Inventory,” Applications of Research in Music Education 35.3 (2017): 16–22, with Kelly Parkes.

Ed Falco, a professor in the Department of English, published a collection of poetry titled Wolf Moon Blood Moon (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2017).

Suchitra Samanta, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, published “Education: Modern: India,” Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, Supplement 16, ed. Joseph Suad, Middle East and Islamic Studies (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2017).

Jesse “Jay” Wilkins, a professor in the School of Education, published “Aligning Statistical Modeling with Theories of Learning in Mathematics Education Research,” Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education, ed. Jinfa Cai (Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), pp. 183– 207, with Finbarr Sloane; and “Seven Types of Subitizing Activity Characterizing Young Children’s Mental Activity,” Qualitative Research in STEM, ed. Sherry Marx (New York, NY: Routledge, 2017), pp. 256–86, with School of Education alumna Beth MacDonald.

Elisabeth Austin, an associate professor of  Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, published “Consuming Empathy in También la lluvia (2010),” Chasqui: revista de literatura latinoamericana 46.2 (2017): 313–29.

School of Education faculty members Katy Ulrich and Jesse “Jay” Wilkins published “The Role of Skip Counting in Children’s Reasoning,” Virginia Mathematics Teacher 43.2 (2017): 8–14; and “Using Written Work to Investigate Stages in Sixth-Grade Students’ Construction and Coordination of Units,” International Journal of STEM Education 4.23 (2017).

Annie Stevens, an assistant professor in the School of Performing Arts, presented an outreach concert with her percussion duo, Escape Ten, and Ivan Trevino in San Antonio, Texas, as part of the College Music Society’s National Conference. The duo commissioned Trevino to compose a piece influenced by his Tejano heritage, which led to a storytelling concert with the audience about Trevino’s experiences growing up as a Mexican American.

Aaron Ansell, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, published “Democracy is a Blessing: Phatic Ritual and the Public Sphere in Northeast Brazil,” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 27.1 (2017): 22–39.