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From the Dean's Desk -- March 21, 2013

Manizade and Jacobsen Awarded $250,000 Grant from Virginia Department of Education

The Virginia Department of Education recently awarded math assistant professor Agida Manizade and education associate professor Laura Jacobsen a $250,000 grant for the Secondary Mathematics Professional Development Center project. 

Supported by the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition, this project represents the next step in coordinated development of a professional development model for masters degree programs in Virginia for high school math teachers.  The 2013-2014 partnership includes Radford University, Virginia Commonwealth University, William and Mary, NASA, 45 Virginia school divisions and two private schools.

The project's longer-term effort includes preparation for selected secondary mathematics teachers to serve as "lead teachers" guiding innovation in mathematics content and pedagogy while increasing students' mathematics achievement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

RU Hosts Regional Science Fair

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The College of Science and Technology and the Department of Chemistry recently hosted the Blue Ridge Highlands Regional Science Fair in Peters Hall Gymnasium.

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Chemistry faculty members Christine Hermann and Kim Lane speak with volunteers during the regional science fair on campus.

The College of Science and Technology and Department of Chemistry hosted the 22nd annual Blue Ridge Highlands Regional Science Fair March 8-9 in the Peters Hall gymnasium.

This was the third consecutive year that the regional fair had been held at RU. Chemistry professors Christine Hermann and Kimberly Lane were co-directors for this year's event, which was open to students from 16 counties and three cities across the region.

The goal of the fair was to stimulate an active interest in science and engineering in young students, provide an unparalleled experience in research and presentations, and expose the public to the hard work the students are doing, the professors said.

Through posters and oral presentations, participants presented the results of their research in the fields of animal science, behavioral and social science, biochemistry and chemistry, cell and molecular biology, computer science, earth and planetary science, environmental management and science, engineering, mathematics, medicine and health, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant science.

Students in grades six through eight competed in the junior division, and students in grades nine through 12 competed in the senior division. Hermann and Lane said about 120 projects were on display this year.

The science fair was open to students in the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe and the cities of Bristol, Galax and Norton. Students from the Southwest Virginia Governor's School in Pulaski also participated.

Biology Department Hosts Workshop About Enhancing Math Skills in Biology Students

National Science Foundation funded project SUMS4BIO: Strengthening Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics for Biologists led by biology department chair Joel Hagen will host a small active workshop focused on improving the quantitative education of biology undergraduate students.

The conference will be held May 17 - 18 at RU's Selu Conservancy.  The goal of the workshop is to produce peer-reviewed instructional products or to design curriculum to help biology students be better prepared in mathematics and statistics.

The meeting registration, food and lodging cost is free for those selected to participate.  The workshop is open to mathematics, statistics and biology faculty members, post-doctoral professionals and advanced graduate students.

For more information visit the conference website.

Eastman Chemical Donates to Information Technology Scholarship Fund

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Eastman Chemical representatives Amy Lett and Polly Tjader presented information technology professor Joe Chase and Assistant Vice President for University Advancement Robyn Porterfield a check for $1,500 for the department of  information technology's scholarship fund.

Eastman Chemical recently donated $1,500 to the Department of Information Technology's scholarship fund.  This fund is used to offer scholarships to all members of the first place teams in the high school and community college programming competitions sponsored by the department.  Each year the department offers nine outstanding information technology high school and community college students a scholarship to attend Radford University.

This fund was created by RU information technology faculty members.  IT faculty continue to contribute to it each year.

College Hosts SuperMACC High School Academic Tournament

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On Monday, March 25, the College of Science and Technology and Radford High School will host the semi-final and the final rounds of the SuperMACC high school academic tournament in the COBE Building.  Close to 100 academically gifted high school students from across Southwestern Virginia will compete in areas of social studies, mathematics, science and English.

Many college faculty volunteer their evening and expertise to help judge the competition.  This year volunteer judges include biology department chair Joel Hagen, chemistry professor Christine Hermann, biology associate professor Karen Francl, mathematics associate professor Neil Sigmon, mathematics special purpose faculty member Steve Fawthrop, and English professor Kathryn Kelly.  CSAT STEM Club members serve as time-keepers and score-keepers during the tournament.

This is the fifth year that the College of Science and Technology and Radford High School have hosted the SuperMACC competition on campus.

College Will Host Master's Degree Program Information Session in Abingdon

The Radford University College of Science and Technology will host an information session for middle and high school teachers to gauge their interest in two master's degree programs being proposed at the university.


The free public session at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, in the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon will provide details about the proposed programs and an opportunity to ask questions of the Radford faculty members who would be involved.


A Master of Science degree in education with a concentration in content studies in earth and environmental science would be for middle and high school teachers who want to become licensed to teach that specialty. Graduates of the Radford M.S. program also would be qualified to teach dual enrollment courses in geology, geosciences and environmental science in community colleges and four-year institutions.  In addition, the program would prepare educators to teach the courses online.


A Master of Science program in data and information management would be the first of its kind offered in Virginia. This program’s curriculum would encompass database administration, data warehousing, data mining and algorithms for efficiently analyzing, searching, retrieving and transforming large data sets.  Graduates of the program would be prepared for positions as senior database administrators as well as architectural and leadership positions.

College Faculty Participate in Women in Science Symposium

College faculty members Donna Boyd, Sara O'Brien, Georgia Hammond, Christine Hermann, Elizabeth McClellan, Tara Phelps-Durr and Cassady Urista will participate in a Women in Science Symposium on March 22 at 2 p.m. in Heth Hall, room 43.

Boyd will present "Redefining Activism through Scientific 'Truths,' Impartiality, and Objectivity."  O'Brien will discuss "Building the Future of Women in Science.  Hammond, Hermann, McClellan, Phelps-Durr and Urista will present a panel discussion about women in science.

The event is a part of the RU Women's History Month celebration sponsored by the RU Women's Studies Program and the Women's Studies Club.  All Women's History Month events are free and open to the public.

Museum of the Earth Sciences Hosts Lecture

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The RU Museum of the Earth Sciences will host a lecture "Arsenic, Bacteria, Rocks and a Bit of Old Lace" on Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Hurlburt Auditorium.  The event is free and open to the public.

During this lecture, RU biology professor Georgia Hammond and Virginia Tech hydrogeosciences associate professor Madeline Schreiber will discuss arsenic, a toxic and naturally-occuring element found in many rocks and minerals. They say even though it's deadly to humans, it can be a source of energy for some bacteria.

CSAT STEM Club News

The CSAT STEM Club members will be volunteering for SuperMACC Tournament for high school students as score keepers and time keepers on Monday, March 25 from 4:30-9 p.m. in the COBE building.


Gabe Westmaas, the Director of the Software Development team from Rackspace will be a guest speaker on Thursday, March 28 from 6:30- 8 p.m. in Reed Hall, room 201.

On Thursday, March 21 the club may be going to Peters Hall for Rock Climbing during their club time. Everyone will be meeting in Stuart Hall Lounge, like a normal meeting, and will walk over together as a group. Anyone who would like to attend is more than welcome to participate.


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. Jacobsen in Peters Hall. Anyone who is in a STEM discipline may attend. There are still available seats for anyone who would like to register.


Jasmine Jackson

CSAT STEM Club Secretary