The following students were recipients of grant support for undergraduate research in 2017–2018.

Awarded Travel Grants were: Madison Arnsbarger, a senior Sociology and Economics major, “Modeling Response Times to Structure Fires” at the Data Science for the Social Good Conference, which was held September 28–29 in Chicago, Illinois; and Nala Chehade, a senior History and International Studies major, “The Politics of Palestinian Production: Self-Portrayals of Palestinian Refugees in Film” at the conference titled “Critical Junctures Crossing Borders: Spaces, Times, Forms,” which was held April 13–14 at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Chehade also received a Research Grant for “Paint and Politics: Analyzing the Arab Spring through Beirut’s Graffiti.”

In addition, the following departments were provided support: English for Undergraduate Research Conference; History for Undergraduate Research Showcase; Religion and Culture for Undergraduate Research Symposium; and Science, Technology, and Society for Undergraduate Research Day.

The following faculty and staff members in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences were winners of a 2018 University Faculty/Staff Award. Additional details regarding these award winners can be found via the links on this page.

Carlene Arthur, a retired operations coordinator for the Center for Gerontology, received the Staff Career Achievement Award for her role in helping to shape the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment; she was honored with the President’s Award for Excellence in 2015 for her outstanding contributions and consistently excellent performance to these units. Arthur coordinated the 18-month renovation of the Wallace Annex, which became the new home to the center and the institute. She planned and managed the center’s annual awards and recognition celebration and helped coordinate several research projects in ISCE. Arthur retired from Virginia Tech in 2017 after 22 years of service.

Trudy Harrington Becker, a senior instructor in the Department of History, received the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising. During her 25-year career at Virginia Tech she has advised undergraduate students in History and Classical Studies formally and informally. From 2011 to 2016 she served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of History and for the last seven years she has been the leader of the department’s first-year experience course. The recipient of many university teaching and international awards, Becker also has fulfilled the roles of study abroad advisor, career advisor, point person for summer internships, advisor of the History Club, and co-advisor of the Classics Club.

Toni Calasanti, a professor in the Department of Sociology, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research. A leading expert in the sociology of aging, she is considered a founding scholar in the area of study now known as feminist gerontology and her scholarship has provided a framework for understanding the experiences of women and men in old age. Her work is well known globally: she serves on the International Board of the International Institute on Ageing, United Nations; has presented papers at the Asia and Oceania regional meetings of the International Congress on Gerontology; and last year was guest professor at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tampere in Finland.

María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, was the recipient of the Presidential Principles of Community Award, established this year by President Tim Sands to recognize those who exemplify and promote a welcome and inclusive environment at Virginia Tech. She is a former chair of the Hispanic and Latino Faculty and Staff Caucus and currently serves on the College’s Diversity Committee as well as the university’s Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. She received a College Diversity Grant to recruit underrepresented and underserved students to the university and has co-hosted visits to campus by groups of Hispanic students from various parts of the state.

Brandy Faulkner, a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, received the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award. She teaches a range of classes, from the required undergraduate Research Methods course to Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender; problem-solving projects and teamwork are pivotal to the interdependent learning environment she fosters in each course. Faulkner organized the first Teach-in on the African American Experience, which focused on the racialized impact of public policy decisions. She strives to promote an appreciation of diversity, inclusiveness, and collaboration on campus and in her engagement efforts with the New River Valley community.

Saul Halfon, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising. He is the department leader in the number of students advised, student retention, completion rates, and job placement of graduates. He has been especially supportive of international graduate students and has provided assistance with regard to the cultural and language issues they face. His mentoring of students often continues long after their graduation from Virginia Tech. Halfon serves as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies and on the Graduate School Dean’s Graduate Culture Task Force, and he has chaired both the College and University Graduate Curriculum Committees.

Paul Heilker, an associate professor in the Department of English, was recognized with the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has taught a range of courses, from first-year composition to doctoral-level courses in rhetorical theory. He developed an online version of ENGL 3764: Technical Writing, which has become a popular course during summer and winter sessions. He has served as a mentor to students working on major writing projects and as Capstone Project director for 31 master’s students in English. He served as co-director of the doctoral program in Rhetoric and Writing from 2006 to 2011 and as Director from 2011 to 2013. Since 2016 he has directed the Presidential Global Scholars Program in the Honors College, of which he was a founding faculty member.

Rebecca Hester, an assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, and Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, received the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award for their efforts in empowering students to confront contemporary health challenges in the United States and internationally and approach them as issues for civic engagement. A New Program Development Grant from the Global Education Office in 2015 allowed them to travel to the Dominican Republic to explore study abroad options. With support from a Curriculum Globalization Grant, Satterwhite and Hester developed Societal Health in Local and Global Contexts, in which students examine cultural and social influences on health in the United States and Latin America.

Billie Lepczyk, a professor in the School of Performing Arts, was the recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. Her research focuses on the movement styles of classical ballet and of artists such as George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Twyla Tharp; her primary method is Laban movement analysis, through which she identifies qualities in movement configuration. During her tenure at Virginia Tech, she has been the highest ranked individual abstract author on the Research Consortium Program; as a result, Virginia Tech is the highest ranked institution. She serves as co-editor of five volumes of the book series Dance: Current Selected Research, and she has presented her research worldwide.

Nancy Metz, a professor in the Department of English, garnered the William E. Wine Award for Teaching Excellence. She was recognized for her engagement with students, challenging their views and encouraging them to reevaluate and seek new answers. In her 40 years of teaching, she has fostered the role of writing, collaboration, and individualized research projects in undergraduate curriculum; numerous students she has mentored have presented their work at regional conferences, including the ACC Meeting of the Minds, or published their papers in Philologia, the College’s undergraduate research journal. She serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which she co-chaired in 2016.

Ashley Reed, an assistant professor in the Department of English, received the XCaliber Award, which recognizes integration of technology in teaching and learning, for her development of the course ENGL 4784: Scrapbooks and Nineteenth-Century American Poetry as well as the associated project, the Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook. The course includes a study of the poetry’s circulation in the United States in manuscript and print form. Students transcribe and analyze poems, contributing their work to an online edition of the scrapbook, created originally by Lucas, a resident of Jefferson County, Virginia, before the Civil War. Having honed their digital project design and communications skills, students present their research at a public symposium at the end of the term.

The following graduate students were selected to participate in the Triangle University Internship Program, hosted by the National Humanities Center in North Carolina: Samantha Jo Fried, Science, Technology, and Society; Katie Garahan, Department of English; Sarvnaz Lotfi, Science, Technology, and Society; Arial Ludwig, Science, Technology, and Society; and Sarah Plummer, ASPECT. Each participant receives a $1,000 stipend and support for travel.

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.


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.

The following faculty and students in the College were honored at the 18th Annual Graduate Education Week Awards Banquet. Science, Technology, and Society faculty member Matthew Wisnioski was the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Mentor Award winner.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Graduate Student Awards went to master’s student Emily Harmon, History, and doctoral student Mary Ryan, ASPECTBryanne Peterson, Curriculum and Instruction, received recognition as the Graduate Student of the Year – Honorable Mention. Mary Nedela, Human Development, was the recipient of the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award as an Instructor of Record.  Elizabeth Dellinger, English, received the William Preston Society Outstanding Thesis Award for Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities, and Rebecca Williams, History, received the William Preston Society Outstanding Thesis Award for Innovative Application of Technology. Also recognized were the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honors Society Inductees.

The awards banquet took place on March 29.

Barbara Allen, a professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, published “Health Issues in the Industrial Port Zone of Marseille, France: The Fos EPSEAL Community-Based Cross-Sectional Survey,” Journal of Public Health, 26.2 (2018): 235–43, with Allison Cohen, Travis Richards, Yolaine Ferrier, Johanna Lees, and Louisa Smith.

In addition, Allen participated as an invited panelist on France’s nationally televised “Night of Ideas” on the topic of whistleblowers, where she presented her research on participatory public health, which demonstrated elevated illnesses in an industrial region where the French Health service had insisted there were no health issues. The forum took place January 25 at the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille.

Three departments underwent name changes last semester: the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the Department of Human Development, and the Department of Science and Technology in Society were renamed the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, the Department of Human Development and Family Science, and the Department of Science, Technology, and Society respectively. The changes became official with the approval by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) at its October meeting.

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.


Faculty members Joseph Pitt, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, and Ashley Shew, an assistant professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society, co-edited Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy and Technology (New York, New York: Routledge, 2017).

Shew’s individual contribution to the volume was “Animals in Philosophy of Technology” and Pitt’s was “Transcendence in Space,” pp. 108–16 and 340–45 respectively.