Foreign Language Conference Recap

Kathryn Murphy-Judy, associate professor in the School of World Studies, shared some news with us from a recent conference hosted by the Foreign Language Association of Virginia.   

          It’s with great pleasure that I’m letting you know about VCU @ the FLAVA 2014 Conference. The Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) hosts an annual conference in the fall. This year over 800 world language professionals met in Williamsburg from Thursday, 9/26 to Saturday 9/27. As the past president, I was thrilled to see the breadth and depth of VCU participation.

I gave a Thursday workshop on basic online language education with Marlene Johnshoy of the national language center, CARLA, and two colleagues from Virtual Virginia. Betsy Louis studied at VCU and Brianne Moore-Adams is a PhD student currently in our SOE. We had well over twenty workshop attendees.

Randa Annous gave a well-received presentation on teaching Arabic to the recently formed Virginia Teachers of Arabic (VATA), to which she belongs.

Dr. Anton Brinckwirth (Director SWS Media Center), Greg Hellman (Associate Director WSMC) and Maria Panbechi (Coordinator of Spanish) presented on their internationally recognized work in teletandem language exchanges.

Dr. Patricia Cummins (PI of the French West Africa Grant), Brahima Koné (Instructor of French and organizer of the Ivory Coast trip), along with the six students Minsun Kim, Amanda Radke, Taron Ware,  Luke Nelson, Samantha McCartney, and Lindsey Fitzgerald, who participated in this summer’s Africa trip, presented the sights, sounds and deep linguistic and cultural acumen gained during their study abroad. Attendees were impressed by the students’ command of the language and the depth of their cultural knowledge.

Natalia Boykova attended a meeting to help launch a Russian language association formation in Virginia, where none currently exists. She follows in the recent footsteps of our Arabic faculty who helped institute their Virginia association.

Recent alumni, Michael Moore and Catherine (Shehane) Mazzola are serving on the Virginia Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. Mr. Moore also serves on the FLAVA Board.

Other VCU colleagues were present gaining professional development in the Commonwealth’s number one venue for world language faculty.

For more information about the conference, visit the website –>


Faculty Scholarship Recognition Honorees, 2014

Scholarship 2014

Congratulations to our Faculty Scholars for 2014, who have authored or edited a book, won a national scholarly award or managed at least $50,000 in research expenditures during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Faculty Authors

  • Richard Bargdill, Psychology
  • Faye Belgrave, Psychology
  • Edward L. Boone, Statistical Sciences
  • David Bromley, World Studies
  • Christopher Brooks, World Studies
  • Hong Cheng, Media & Culture
  • R. Andrew Chesnut, World Studies
  • Susann Cokal, English
  • Marcel Cornis-Pope, English
  • Aimee Ellington, Mathematics
  • M. Samy El-Shall, Chemistry
  • G. Antonio Espinoza, History
  • Nicholas Frankel, English
  • Mar Martinez Gongora, World Studies
  • William Haver, Mathematics
  • Duanel Diaz Infante, World Studies
  • David Latane’, English
  • James Mays, Statistical Sciences and Operations Research
  • Bryce McLeod, Psychology
  • Marilyn T. Miller, Forensic Science
  • Sherif Moussa, Chemistry
  • Eugenia Munoz, World Studies
  • Katherine S. Nash, English
  • Brooke Newman, History
  • Karen Rader, History/STS
  • Gregory Smithers, History
  • W. Scott Street, Statistical Sciences
  • Timothy Thurber, History
  • Faedah M Totah, Political Science
  • Everett Worthington, Psychology

Award Winners

  • Claire Bourne, English
  • Susan Cokal, English
  • Carolyn Eastman, History
  • M, Samy El-Shall, Chemistry
  • David Latané , English
  • Kathryn S. Meier, History
  • Karen A. Rader, History
  • Jeff South, Robertson School of Media and Culture
  • Christina Stanciu, English
  • Shawn Utsey, Psychology
  • Everett Worthington, Psychology

Principal Investigators

  • Faye Z. Belgrave, Psychology
  • Massimo F. Bertino, Physics
  • Paul A. Bukaveckas, Biology
  • Everett E. Carpenter, Chemistry
  • Rosalie A. Corona, Psychology
  • Thomas Ashton Cropp, Chemistry
  • Patricia  Cummins, World Studies
  • David J. Edwards, Statistical Sciences and Operations Research
  • Thomas E. Eissenberg, Psychology
  • Hani  El-Kaderi, Chemistry
  • M. Samy El-Shall, Chemistry
  • Reuben W. Farley, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
  • Albert D. Farrell, Psychology
  • Nicholas P. Farrell, Chemistry
  • Christopher M. Gough, Biology
  • Scott  Gronert, Chemistry
  • Matthew C. Hartman, Chemistry
  • William E. Haver, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
  • Sally S. Hunnicutt, Chemistry
  • Puru  Jena, Physics
  • Karen M. Kester, Biology
  • Shiv N. Khanna, Physics
  • Joshua M. Langberg, Psychology
  • Alenka  Luzar, Chemistry
  • Suzanne E. Mazzeo, Psychology
  • S. Leigh McCallister, Biology
  • Bryce D. McLeod, Psychology
  • Jason R. Merrick, Statistical Sciences and Operations Research
  • Barbara J. Myers, Psychology
  • Aashir  Nasim, African American Studies
  • Jason C. Reed, Physics
  • Sarah C. Rutan, Chemistry
  • John J. Ryan, Biology
  • Bruce D. Rybarczyk, Psychology
  • Zewelanji N. Serpell , Psychology
  • Vladimir A. Sidorov, Chemistry
  • Michael A. Southam-Gerow, Psychology
  • Dace Svikis Pickens, Psychology
  • Everett L. Worthington, Psychology

Student Leadership Council Seeks Members

Student Leadership Logo

The Purpose of The Leadership Council for the College of Humanities and Sciences:

• To cater to and aid the current population of students in the College of Humanities and Sciences, consisting of both majors and minors within the College, as well as graduate-level students

• To unify the diverse array of students within the College of Humanities and Sciences around common interests

• To create stronger relationships and cooperation between the students, faculty, and administrators of the College of Humanities and Sciences

• To create stronger relationships between the various departments and schools of the College of Humanities and Sciences.

• To initiate and coordinate student activities that would benefit all members of the College of Humanities and Sciences

• To promote academic excellence and research within the College of Humanities and Sciences

Leadership Council Expectations:

All students currently registered for one or more academic credits within the jurisdiction of the College of Humanities and Sciences of Virginia Commonwealth University and/or pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree within the jurisdiction of the College can apply to the Leadership Council.

Members of the Council are referred to as Council Representatives. The members will also have the capacity to serve as Student Advisors to the Dean of the College.

The Leadership Council will meet weekly, three times each month. Student representatives are required to attend all Leadership Council meetings unless, having given prior notice, been excused by an executive board member.


Student Leadership Council Application


VCU Researchers Receive Three NIJ grants

The National Institute of Justice Grants recently awarded three grants totaling $833,036 to VCU.  VCU was the only institution to get three grants. The faculty members and abstracts are below.

The solicitation was Research and Development in Forensic Science for Criminal Justice Purposes through the National Institute of Justice.  The number of total awards for this solicitation was 46 for a total of $19,850,000 (rounded up).

1.  “Methods for obtaining STR quality Touch DNA from Archived Printed” $255,047

Tracey Dawson Cruz (PI), Marilyn Miller (FRSC Faculty Collaborator)

Latent fingerprints are common sources of touch DNA found at crime scenes. Customary collection methods involve dusting, tape-lifting, and attaching the fingerprint to a paper backing card for storage, which sandwiches the DNA between adhesive and paper surfaces. Many older case files contain fingerprints acquired by the tape-lifting and backing method mentioned above, most of which have never been tested for DNA. For these types of samples, there is limited reported success as well as minimal available research on best methods for DNA processing of archived fingerprints. It is well accepted that detection of the source of the fingerprint may depend on shedder status of the individual leaving the print. Further, in many cases, it is uncommon to even collect fingerprints from paper substrates after on-scene enhancement and photography. Lastly, it is well known that outdated methods for collecting latent prints often did not include the use of gloves or other personal protective equipment and that fingerprint brushes are/were often used for multiple collections without cleaning. In this proposal we seek to determine if it is possible to obtain sufficient high-quality DNA for successful STR amplification from archived tape-lifted, paper-backed latent fingerprints. Additionally, we seek to determine the best practices for both collecting fingerprints in this manner, on scene, as well as downstream laboratory practices. Specifically, we plan to examine the effect of prints from several non-porous and porous substrates using standard enhancement powders. This will be followed by an evaluation of DNA extraction methods and lysis approaches (cuttings versus swabbing with a variety of diluents). Further, we will examine the effects of archival time on STR success, and the effects of brush reuse for collection of latent fingerprints. Lastly, source attribution will be investigated to determine if a link can definitely be established between the DNA profile obtained and the source of the fingerprint; mixtures will be documented and percentage of minor contributor alleles will be noted. Once best practices have been clearly delineated, additional studies using low-template DNA testing techniques will be explored in an effort to improve analysis results.

2.  “Three-dimensional Craniofacial Variation of Modern Americans – A Visual Reference to Supplement Facial Approximation Methods”  $238,863

Terrie Simmons-Ehrhardt (PI), Christopher Ehrhardt (PI), Catyana Falsetto (Maricopa County Arizona Attorney’s Office)

For many cases of skeletonized remains, all efforts of identification have been unsuccessful, and facial approximation offers a chance that someone may recognize the decedent. A significant problem with facial approximation is the lack of scientific guidelines and standardized protocols. More importantly, there is a lack of comprehensive, large-scale studies of craniofacial variation of modern Americans. Most studies have been limited by small sample sizes, analyses of one facial feature, or samples from outside of the U.S. Therefore, we propose a comprehensive investigation of craniofacial variation in modern Americans by examining a large collection of head CT scans. The primary goal of this project is to find bone measurements and features that more reliably predict soft tissue features. Subjects: Head CT scans from The Cancer Imaging Archive will be used for this study. The database consists of about 280 anonymous male and female subjects of known age and sex. Although ancestry is not available, our study proposes a morphologically-driven approach that will focus on feature variation and preclude the need for ancestry information. Partnerships: For this project, we have enlisted a forensic artist to evaluate non-metric traits of the bone and skin. This collaboration will help guide the collection of metric data and ensure that measurements are practical for forensic artists. Research Design and Methods: Phase 1 (1st month) will involve preparation of the CT scans by editing, evaluating scan quality, and generating 3D bone and skin models. Phase 2 will consist of data collection using Mimics software through placement of anthropometric landmarks on 3D bone and skin models, and collection of interlandmark distances (ILDs) and associated angles. Standard and novel landmarks will be used to evaluate bone ILDs commonly used to predict skin ILDs and explore new relationships. We will also include non-metric evaluations of facial variation to be carried out primarily by the forensic artist. Analysis: Analyses will consist of descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and multiple linear regressions. We will use multiple linear regression to find sets of bone ILDs that are the best predictors of skin ILDs of interest.

3.  “Characterization and Abuse of Electronic Cigarettes: The Efficacy of a Personal Vaporizer as an Illicit Drug Delivery System” $339,126

Michelle Peace (PI), Joseph Turner (Chemistry, Co-PI), Alphonse Poklis (SOM VCU Health System, Co-PI), Justin Poklis (SOM Pharmacology/Toxicology, Collaborator)

Electronic cigarettes have been identified as a significant hazard to public health as a delivery device for nicotine. The use of electronic cigarettes as an illicit drug delivery system is promoted on websites and presents a clear criminal justice concern in the United States. Since web forums explain methods to improve illicit drug dosing in the e-cigarette aerosol by increasing power or making DIY formulations, the purpose of this research will be to characterize electronic cigarettes and describe the efficacy with which they can deliver drugs, such as nicotine, THC, methamphetamine, and heroin. This research will be conducted through a collaborative effort between the Departments of Forensic Science, Chemistry, Pharmacology-Toxicology, and the VCU Health System Toxicology Laboratory in order to bring wide experience and analytical strength to the project. Electronic cigarettes and supplies will be disassembled and components will be defined and characterized. The concentration of drug in the e-cig vapor will be characterized as a function of wattage/temperature of the heating element in the e-cigarette. Pyrolysis products and potential bio-markers will also be assessed. Aerosol from the electronic cigarettes will be generated mechanically and drugs will be cold-trapped and collected on SPME fibers. Residue on the e-cigarette components will be analyzed. Analyses will be conducted on the Direct Analysis in Real Time Accu-TOF MS, LC-MS/MS, and dynamic headspace GC-MS.



Scholarship Recognition “Mini Lectures”

The schedule of mini lectures preceding our Faculty Scholarship Recognition reception has been announced. All lectures are on Tuesday, October 21st in the Commons Room of the Common Ground, on the lower level of the Student Commons.

1:30 pm — Jason Merrick, Professor of Statistics and Operations Research. “Managing Risk in US Ports and Waterways

2:00 pm — Zewe Serpell, Associate Professor of Psychology. “Cognitive Training: Possibilities and Challenges

2:30 pm — John Ryan, Professor of Biology. “New Jobs for Old Drugs: Using Statins for More than Lowering Your Cholesterol

3:00 pm — Nick Frankel, Professor of English.”History & Aesthetics: The Life and Works of Oscar Wilde

3:30 pm — Karen Rader, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program. “Life on Display: The Twentieth Century Exhibits Revolution in American Museums of Science and Natural History


December Diploma Ceremony Schedule

Below is the departmental ceremony schedule for December 2014.

FRIDAY, December 12
Media & Culture GRCC-Exhibit Hall B w/holding room 2:00 PM
Psychology GRCC – Exhibit Hall B 6:30 PM
Kinesiology & Health Sciences GRCC – B15abc 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, December 13
History HARRIS HALL 1:30 PM
World Studies GRCC – E10abcd 1:30 PM
1:30 PM
Statistical Sciences
Forensic Science COMMONS THEATER 2:00 PM
Biology GRCC – Exhibit Hall B 2:00 PM
African American Studies
3:30 PM
Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
Sociology HARRIS HALL 3:30 PM

Faculty Authors 2013-14

Below is the list of faculty authors for 2013-14. If you were the author or editor of a book that was published between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 and your name is not on the list, please contact Shirley McDaniel at

Richard Bargdill
Faye Belgrave
Edward L. Boone
Christopher Brooks
Hong Cheng
Susann Cokal
Marcel Cornis-Pope
Aimee Ellington
M. Samy El-Shall
Nicholas Frankel
Mar Martinez Gongora
William Haver
Duanel Diaz Infante
David Latane’
Bryce McLeod
Marilyn T. Miller
Eugenia Munoz
Katherine S. Nash
Karen Rader
W. Scott Street
Timothy Thurber
Everett Worthington


Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

VCU Innovation Gateway is announcing RVA’s first Startup Next pre-accelerator program. Startup Next is designed for entrepreneurs who are focused on taking their idea or business to the next level. It’s an intense mentorship program consisting of 3 hour weekly (once a week) sessions for five weeks. Teams are expected to hustle outside the sessions and complete a small set of reporting deliverables each week in preparation for the mentorship.

Program Benefits:

  • An opportunity for you to test your startup idea and prove the strength of your team
  • Weekly hands-on mentorship & pitch coaching from local mentors, advisors and investors
  • Be held accountable and held to focus on important growth metrics
  • Grow your network of startup experts and other founders
  • Pre-selection for consideration in future Lighthouse Labs acceleration program

Dates and Deadlines:

The program will begin on October 8th and end on November 13th. One night a week, over a five week period, those accepted into the program will attend a 3 hour session.

The deadline for the application is Sunday SEPTEMBER 28th at midnight.

Selection Process:

For this program, 10 teams will be selected that are well rounded, have a big and unique idea, and can prove that they have made progress through some version of a minimum viable product. If your team is chosen, there is a $200 fee for the program – however, if you are a VCU faculty, staff or student, VCU Innovation Gateway will cover that cost.

Apply Here: