Highlander Highlights: Week of May 15, 2023

Every two weeks, Highlander Highlights shares with readers some of the extraordinary research happening on campus through the tireless work and curiosity of our students and faculty. This week, we have stories of students who are keeping AM radio alive, winning People’s Choice awards in cybersecurity and earning honors for work on the soccer field and in the classroom.

Physics students teach high schoolers to build AM radios

One late April morning, as the spring semester was winding down and final exams were rapidly approaching, members of the Society of Physics Students at Radford University took to Zoom to demonstrate to a group of high school students the intricacies of building their own working AM radios from parts.

It was one of the many outreach projects Radford’s Department of Physics has conducted over the past several years.

The students on the other end of the learning session were enrolled in an AP physics class at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke, Virginia. Radford alumna Caitlynn Fischer ’21, M.Ed. ’22, teaches the course. Fischer was the Department of Physics Dean’s Scholar in 2021.

“I think the radio outreach was a great experience for both us and the high school students,” said Michael Ziegenfus, a rising junior physics major with a concentration in biophysics from Gloucester, Virginia. “For us Radford students, it gives us an opportunity to teach students what we've learned, and I feel that teaching is a way for us to expand our own understanding.”


The most important reason for the outreach project, Ziegenfus quickly noted, is the experience it gives the high school students.

“This outreach provided these students with a working example of what they've learned in class,” he continued. “Hands-on learning is the most exciting, in my opinion, and by keeping it fun for the students, we can hope to inspire them to continue to expand their knowledge of physics and the other sciences.”

In April 2022, a group of Radford physics students spoke about previous AM-radio-building outreach programs to attendees of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. The Radford presenters explained their goal for the outreach was aimed at increasing interest and motivating high schoolers to pursue STEM-related academics and activities.

The People’s Choice award goes to …

Cybersecurity majors Keyshawn Brooks and Tanner Ketron and computer science major Samuel Williams were part of a Radford University/Virginia Tech collaborative team that secured a People’s Choice Award at the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) Student Researcher Showcase in April. The team was among the 200 student researchers working on projects supported by CCI.

Brooks, Ketron and Williams worked on a project that focused on developing scenarios to create traceable data with the goal of equipping people with ways to keep their online information private.

Brooks and Williams were also part of a Radford team of students and faculty who worked with researchers from Brazil throughout the 2022-23 academic year to begin constructing a framework for a collaborative relationship focused on cybersecurity and entrepreneurship. 

Women’s soccer player scores graduate fellowship award

Former Radford women’s soccer player and recent graduate Saleena Lynch of Suffolk, Virginia, has been awarded one of the annual Bob McCloskey Insurance Big South Conference graduate fellowships. Lynch, who double majored in criminal justice and psychology at Radford, will receive $2,000 for graduate studies, the conference announced on May 16, 2023.

Lynch helped Radford capture the Big South Women’s Soccer Championship in 2022. Off the pitch, she participated in eight academic conferences and presentations, including the Southeastern Psychological Association, Psychology & Gender Research Symposium, Radford’s Student Engagement Forum and the University of Missouri Alcohol Research Presentation. 

She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, has been awarded Academic Excellence Dean’s List honors all four years and was the recipient of the Wyatt Family Athletic Endowment.  Lynch also served Radford as a resident assistant, academic tutor, and a College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences elevated research mentor. She was vice president of the Criminal Justice Club, participated in mental health and crisis training and volunteered with the Special Olympics.

Lynch plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina. 

May 19, 2023
Chad Osborne
(540) 831-7761