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

Three College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members were honored with a 2019 Albert L. Sturm Award from the Mu of Virginia chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Amanda Nelson, Charles Nichols, and Natasha Staley, all from the School of Performing Arts, and Meaghan Dee, School of Visual Arts, received the Sturm Award for Excellence in Performance and Creative Arts for their creative work, Shakespeare’s Garden: An Immersive Sound Stroll Through His Sonnets, Soliloquies, and Scenes, in which they lifted texts from the page to the stage, creating an immersive environment for audience members and bringing them into a closer relationship with the language and the meaning of the texts.

The winners were recognized at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony.

Two College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students from Virginia Tech were selected to participate in the National Humanities Center Graduate Student Summer Residency: Brooke Covington, English, and Jessica Herling, sociology.

Participants spend the month of June at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, pursuing research on their humanities-related project.

Edward J.K. Gitre, an assistant professor in the Department of History, received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Implementation Grant for his digital humanities project titled “The American Soldier in World War II.”

The project creates an online collection of more than 65,000 handwritten survey responses containing the personal comments of American soldiers in World War II; it seeks to transcribe the narrative responses and reunite them with quantitative data from the respondents, adding contextual information to facilitate access by multiple user groups. The project builds on work begun by Gitre and his team with an NEH startup grant.

The NEH Implementation Grant, a total of $350,000, provides two years of funding.

W. Trevor Jamerson, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, published “Race, Markets, and Digital Technologies: Historical and Conceptual Frameworks,” in Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries, ed. Guillaume D. Johnson, Kevin D. Thomas, Anthony “Kwame” Harrison, and Sonya A. Grier (London, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 39–54.

Anthony K. Harrison, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies in the Department of Sociology, co-edited Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries (London, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), with Guillaume D. Johnson, Kevin D. Thomas, and Sonya A. Grier.

Joseph Eska, a professor and interim chair of the Department of English, published “Laryngeal Realism and Early Insular Celtic Orthography,” North American Journal of Celtic Studies 3 (2019): 1–17.

Laura Belmonte was named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her appointment begins August 1.

Belmonte is associate dean for Instruction and Personnel in the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University; prior to assuming her current role, she served as head of the Department of History at Oklahoma State University, where she has been a faculty member since 1996.

Belmonte earned her A.B. from the University of Georgia and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

She assumes leadership of the College from Dean Rosemary Blieszner, who has served in this role since 2017.

The following College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students accepted the invitation to become members of Phi Beta Kappa during the 2018-2019 academic year: Micaela Albright, criminology and sociology; Katherine Avdellas, public relations; Rachel Beisser, literature and language and professional and technical writingJessica Brady, international relations; Madeleine Cáceres, political science; Mary Anne Callahan, literature and language; Hannah Casey, international studies and SpanishRachel Dougherty, Spanish and psychology; Victoria Driggs, music and Spanish; Courtney Ebersohl, French and history; Neeka Eghbali, public relations; Elizabeth Finnan, French and environmental policy and planning; Emily Friedman, political science; Hannah Goode, professional and technical writing; Samantha Hart, communication studies and political science; Paige Hartian, professional and technical writing and economics; Catherine Hayes, Spanish and biochemistry; Logan Hughes, political science; Austin Huppert, political science; Rachel Iwicki, Russian and mechanical engineering; Dana Kelly, literature and language; Maeghan Klinker, creative writing and literature and language; Kathryn Kowalski, literature and language and professional and technical writing; Matthew Krusiec, history; Lisa Lane, international relations; Eleanor Matheson, criminology and sociology; Bonnie McGowan, human development; Victoria McMahon, political science; Kelsey McQueen, Spanish and food science and technology; Timothy Miles, religion and culture; Michael Mills, music; Benjamin Nicoll, philosophy and business information technology; Caroline Nicotra, Spanish and biological sciences; Hayley Oliver, literature and language; Haley Olsen, criminology; Taylor Perdue, multimedia journalism; Samantha Piszcz, political science; Kathryn Rappold, public relations; Caroline Ritchey, French, history, and national security and foreign affairs; Jayne Ross, creative writing and professional and technical writing; Johanna Scalzi, communication studies; Sahara Shrestha, philosophy and environmental policy and planning; Elizabeth Street, multimedia journalism; Emily Sutphin, classics and religion and culture; Luca Thoms, national security and foreign affairs; Victoria Upton, public relations; Hans Werner, criminology and sociology; Logan White, political science; Morgan Wood, human development; and Taylor Zelman, criminology and political science.

The college notes with sadness the death of Charles “Jack” Dudley, Professor Emeritus of Sociology.

Dudley joined Virginia Tech in 1974; in 1990 he assumed leadership of the University Honors program, a position he held for almost two decades. The program has since become the Virginia Tech Honors College.

Dudley was recognized for his outstanding teaching and garnered numerous teaching awards.

As director of the University Honors program, he mentored a remarkable number of students toward national and international scholarship awards.

The Virginia Tech “in memoriam” can be found here and the obituary published in the Roanoke Times here.

The Department of Science, Technology, and Society held its second annual Undergraduate Research Day on April 25. Seven presentations of undergraduate projects were included.

The award for Outstanding Research Presentation went to Meron Abate, chemical engineering; William Hall, electrical engineering; Max McManus, university studies; and Matthew Schrage, architecture, for their presentation titled “Solar Energy in Developing Countries.”

ASPECT doctoral student Emma Stamm presented “The Electric Kool Aid Turing Test: Psychedelics, Phenomenology, and Automated Intelligence” at the Theorizing the Web Conference, which took place April 12–13 in New York, New York.

E. Thomas Ewing, a professor in the Department of History and associate dean for Graduates Studies and Research, published “La Grippe or Russian Influenza. Mortality Statistics during the 1890 Epidemic in Indiana,” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 13.3 (May 2019): 279–87.


Damien Williams, a doctoral student in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was a panelist at the New America conference on “What Sci-Fi Futures Can (and Can’t) Teach Us About AI Policy,” which was held May 7 in Washington, D.C.

Four of the seven Virginia Tech Fulbright recipients for 2019–2020 are CLAHS students: Elizabeth Ebeling, Spanish and public and urban affairs, English teaching assistant in Mexico; Morgan Gallagher, French and environmental science, study and research on “Consequences of River Intermittency for Microbial Greenhouse Gas Production” in France; Leslie Jernegan, a MFA student in creative writing, English teaching assistant in Argentina; and Casey Molina, multimedia journalism, English teaching assistant in Spain.

Department of Sociology faculty members Michael Hughes, J. Micah Roos, and Ashley Reichelmann published “A Puzzle of Racial Attitudes: A Measurement Analysis of Racial Attitudes and Policy Indicators,” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 5 (2019): 1–14.


LuAnn Gaskill, a professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management at Virginia Tech, received the 2019 Ohio State University Award of Distinction in the College of Education and Human Ecology. Gaskill was recognized at the 2019 Education and Human Ecology Hall of Fame and Alumni Awards program, which took place April 12 in Columbus, Ohio.

A. Roger Ekirch was appointed University Distinguished Professor in the Department of History by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The author of five prizewinning books, Ekirch previously received numerous awards and honors, including four National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship; he also served as the first Paul Mellon Fellow at Cambridge University. In “Sleep We Have Lost” in the American Historical Review(2001), for which he earned the Clifford Prize from the American Society for 18th Century Studies, and in his book, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past (W.W. Norton, 2006), Ekirch presented his influential discovery that the dominant pattern of Western sleep prior to the Industrial Revolution was not the consolidated sleep we aspire to today, but rather was segmented: a “first sleep” and a “second sleep” bridged by an interval of an hour or so of wakefulness. His research has offered insights into today’s sleep disorders and since 2005 has been profiled in 79 international newspapers and magazines and referenced in an additional 300. The most recent of Ekirch’s five books, American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution (Pantheon, 2017) was recognized as a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a Book of the Week designation from Publisher’s Weekly.

Ekirch joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1977; he earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. The University Distinguished Professorship is Virginia Tech’s preeminent faculty rank bestowed upon members of the university faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition. The rank is carried by incumbents until resignation or retirement from the university, subject to the normal standard of continuous high performance.

Three ASPECT doctoral students participated in the Western Political Science Association Conference. Caroline Alphin chaired the “Breaking Down Neoliberalism: Concepts and Critiques” panel and presented “Bulletproof Neoliberals: Reframing Accelerationism and the Biohacker Within the Logic of Intensity and Resilience”; Emma Stamm presented “Machine Learning and the Algorithmic Cancellation of the Future”; and Shelby Ward gave the paper titled “Touring the (Mindful) State of Nature: The Environmental Limitations in Sri Lankan Cosmopolitan Nationalism.” The conference took place April 18–20 in San Diego, California.

Carol Mullen, a professor in the School of Education, was elected president-elect of the Society of Professors of Education (SPE); she will serve as President in 2020–2021.

In addition, she received the SPE Outstanding Book Award for Education Policy Perils: Tackling the Tough Issues (New York, NY: Routledge and Kappa Delta Pi, 2016), which she co-edited with Christopher H. Tienken. The award was presented at the SPE Annual Meeting, which was held April 6 in Toronto, Canada.

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences staff member Elizabeth (Jane) Harrison, School of Performing Arts, was recognized for 45 years and faculty members Shoshana Knapp, English, and Michael Saffle, Religion and Culture, were recognized for 40 years of dedicated service to Virginia Tech and commitment to upholding the university’s mission.

A complete list of employees recognized this year for 10 or more years of service (in five-year increments) can be found here.

College faculty who received Global Partnership Project Grants during the 2018–2019 academic year were: David Hicks, School of Education; Eunju Hwang, Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; and Corinne Noirot, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Hicks’s “The Forever Project: The Benefits and Dilemmas of Using Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony” involves collaboration with the University of Nottingham and the UK National Holocaust Center.

As part of her research proposal, “Enhancing Research Partnerships on Global Age Friendly Communities,” Hwang hosted colleagues from the Jeju Ageing Society Research Center in South Korea.

Noirot was awarded support to advance work on the collaborative book manuscript titled Théâtre des frères La Taille, under contract with Classiques Garnier in Paris, with colleagues in France and Switzerland.


The following College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members were awarded a Niles Research Grant during the 2018–2019 academic year: Mark V. Barrow, Jr., History; Shannon Elizabeth Bell, Sociology; Dwight Bigler, School of Performing Arts; Brian Britt, Religion and Culture; Toni M. Calasanti, Sociology; María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Mauro Caraccioli, Political Science and ASPECT Core Faculty; Koeun Choi, Human Development and Family Science; Katharine Cleland, English; Amanda C. Demmer, History; Katherine Haenschen and Daniel J. Tamul, Communication; Sharon P. Johnson, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Karin Kitchens, Political Science; Bryan Klausmeyer, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Allan Lumba, History; Richard Masters, School of Performing Arts; Deborah Milly, Political Science; Gonzalo Montero, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Carol A. Mullen, School of Education; Charles Nichols, School of Performing Arts; Corinne Noirot, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Philip Olson, Science, Technology, and Society; Michael Saffle, Religion and Culture; Carolyn Shivers, Human Development and Family Science; Brandi Watkins, Communication; Chelsea Woods, Communication; and Tingting Zhao, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

The 2019 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Awards and Honors Ceremony and Reception took place on April 2 in Owens Banquet Hall. Presenting this year’s awards were Dean Rosemary Blieszner, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research E. Thomas Ewing, and Joseph Pitt, Philosophy and chair of the college’s Honors and Awards Committee.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence recipients were: Nancy López-Romero, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Paul Quigley, History; Robert P. Stephens, History; Vinodh Venkatesh, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; and Abby Walker, English.

Excellence in Advising Awards were presented to Nancy Bodenhorn, School of Education, and Sarah Sierra, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award recipients were: Aarnes Gudmestad, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Brett Jones, School of Education; and Brian ThorsettSchool of Performing Arts. Recognized as Land Grant Scholars were Barbara Allen, Science, Technology, and Society, and Katrina M. Powell, English.

Those presented with an Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Award were Yasuko KumazawaModern and Classical Languages and Literatures, and Paul Quigley, History.

The Diversity Award winners were Carmen Gitre, History, and Annie Stevens, School of Performing Arts.

Heather Gumbert, associate chair, History, garnered the Excellence in Administration Award.

This year’s ceremony included a staff award in addition to faculty awards. Katie Akers, fiscal technician Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, received the Staff Employee of the Year Award.

The featured speakers at this year’s ceremony were Kumazawa, Sierra, Thorsett, and Walker.