From the Dean's Desk -- February 28, 2013

Foy Creates GIS System that Helps Bring Local Food to the Table


Geospatial science assistant professor Andrew Foy

Geospatial science assistant professor Andrew Foy and his undergraduate geospatial science students are creating a GIS system to connect local farmers with buyers of their goods -- food processors, food co-ops, grocery stores, farmer's markets and restaurants.  The goal is to use technology to create a more efficient regional food network to disseminate local produce and goods to those who will help get it to the dinner tables of southwest Virginians.

Learn more.

Video Showcases Undergraduate Research in the College

Tim Fuhrer and his research students are helping in the cancer fight one enzyme at a time.  A recent web video created by RU multimedia producer Jaslyn Gilbert features Fuhrer's team's research into an effective cancer drug that has detrimental side effects for patients.  Learn how this team is trying to find a way to make this drug less toxic to cancer patients.

College Hosts Open House for Prospective STEM Majors

The College of Science and Technology and the CSAT STEM Club hosted an open house for prospective students to the college on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 1:30 - 4:45 p.m. on campus.

The event included a presentation by RU information technology alumnus Ed Oakes, question and answer session with college faculty, tours of the Museum of the Earth Sciences and the RU Greenhouse, a computer science demo about robotics and Java, and a planetarium show.  RU representatives from admissions, student activities, career services, study abroad and the Honors Academy also answered questions and spoke with students about the university.

Members of the CSAT STEM Club also offered advice and answered questions about the programs and opportunities for students in the College of Science and Technology.

Joe Wirgau Presents the Chemistry of Beer and Wine

 On February 19, Chair of the Department of Chemistry Joe Wirgau presented his talk about the chemistry behind making beer and wine to nearly 100 students and faculty from Roanoke College, Sweet Briar College, Radford University, Virginia Tech and Ferrum College at the monthly meeting of the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society.

Wirgau discussed the science and history behind the beverages in his presentation “Happy Hour: An Eclectic Collection of Ideas Attempting to Coalesce Around the Chemistry of Beer and Wine.”

For those concerned that this was another dry lecture, Wirgau says “I’m fairly certain it is the only chemistry talk ever given that mentioned in context to chemistry zombies, Ben Franklin, I Love Lucy, North Carolina State, George Washington, Joan of Arc, microwave popcorn, the Council of Nicaea, Edgar Allen Poe, the Olympics, and the Roman empire."

The presentation began with how yeast and sugar is used in the production of alcohol and continued to include the role of hops as preservatives. While the chemistry oriented talk was technical, the audience was treated to the occasional pun or intentional misquotation.

-- Justin Snodgrass


February's Canned Food Drive is still underway. So if you have any cans you would like to donate, there are boxes in Young, Walker, Davis and Reed Halls. 

The CSAT STEM Club members volunteered for Open House on Saturday, February 23 for high school students interested in studying science, technology or mathematics at RU. The club members answered any questions that the students had about college life at RU. The club thanks everyone who volunteered for this event.

On Thursday, February 28 in Reed 201 at 6 p.m., Lt. Shannon Oldham from the Navy Office Branch in Roanoke will be talking to club members about job opportunities in the Navy.

The club will be going to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. on April 13 for the "Spring Trip." The trip is $15 per person and registration forms may be picked up at our club meetings or from Dr. Laura Jacobsen in Peters Hall. Anyone who is enrolled in a STEM discipline may attend.

The Director of Software Development from Rackspace will be a guest speaker on Thursday, March 28 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Reed 201. More information will be available closer to the time.
Some upcoming volunteer activities that the club will be participating in after spring break include: the Super MACC academic high school tournament and Science Exploration Day for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

Jasmine Jackson
CSAT STEM Club Secretary