Call for Submissions and Staff Openings for Auctus: The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship at VCU

auctus screen

Auctus, VCU’s Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship, is seeking talented students to join the staff for the next issue. Members will help review and edit research articles and creative works in all disciplines for our journal sections of Creative, Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM and News + Noteworthy.

Check out some of our current content!

Students of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Editor and staff positions are available. Joining could be a great opportunity for anyone with a copy editing background, knowledge of MLA Style, an interest in research, talents in writing, skills in public relations or background knowledge in their degree field. The staff application can be accessed at , and the final deadline is November 30, 2015. Please contact with any questions.

We are also currently accepting article and multimedia submissions of undergraduate research, scholarly work, and literature reviews from the Humanities, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Arts, Creative Scholarship and Community Engaged Research.  Submissions are accepted year-round on a rolling basis.

Submission is open to VCU undergraduates in every discipline.  Articles can be submitted online at: Please share this opportunity with your colleagues, students and undergraduate researchers!  The current issue of Auctus can be found at:


Research Position: Dept. of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Sciences



There is an open position in the lab of Dr. Mary Peace McRae, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at VCU School of Pharmacy on MCV.

The main research focus of the lab is to characterize the functional consequences of drugs of abuse (such as methamphetamine and morphine) coupled with HIV on the transport of anti-retroviral drugs across the blood brain barrier. Our lab does primarily bench top research. Techniques the undergrad will be conducting may include western blot, immunofluorescence, microscopy and image analysis. Students can volunteer their time or gain independent study credit hours. While experience is recommended, it is not a requirement.  Time commitment 10-20 hours per week.

If you are interested, contact the lab manager, Preetha Palasuberniam (, and provide the following information:

Contact Information:


Phone Number:


Academic Information:




What days/hours would you be available to work in the lab during spring semester?

How many credits are you taking during the spring semester?

How many hours per week would you ideally be able to devote to research?

Would you be available to conduct research over the summer?

Future Plans:

Are you planning to apply for graduate school or medical school? If yes, in what field?

Previous Research Experience:

Please list and describe any research experience you have. Include the location, your supervisor, the project you were involved in, and your specific duties.

Call for Submissions – Posters on the Hill 2016! Deadline is Nov. 4th.


View the full application website HERE.  Questions about your Posters on the Hill application?  Please email: Sabrina E. Hall, studentprograms AT

In the Spring of 2016 the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will host its 20th annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill.  There will be an evening poster session and reception where students will have the opportunity to speak directly to members of Congress and demonstrate how they have been impacted by these programs.

“It was a great honor to be selected to this elite group of undergraduate student researchers to directly attest the importance of research initiatives to the success of our Colleges, Communities, and Country to members of Congress and staff from government agencies. My experience on Capitol Hill gave me invaluable insight into the intersection of academic research, advocacy, and policy making within our government. Research is an evidence-based discipline and Posters on the Hill brings live and breathing testaments of undergraduate student success as a result of Federal funding of various research initiatives in the sciences and humanities right to the heart of government!”

–Emmanuel Fordjour, University of Texas at Arlington, Posters on the Hill 2014 Participant

The Posters on the Hill event was the highlight of my undergraduate career. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and present at four national conferences, however Posters on the Hill topped them all. From the student’s perspective, it was very exciting but also intimidating to have the opportunity to present my research to members of Congress and the Senate. During the presentation, I had many different people from national organizations to government agencies show interest in my work. During the presentation I realized that everyone in the room was as passionate as I am about undergraduate research. The support from each person in the audience made me feel as though the all of my effort, from the research process to the application process was absolutely worthwhile.

Joe Moloney, President, Student Organization for Undergraduate Research, and President, Class of 2011, Bridgewater State University.

CUR will invite representatives from federal funding agencies and nearby foundations, members of Congress, and Congressional staff to attend the poster session.  We ask you to provide the name of the agency or organization sponsoring your research, and the name of the program officer to facilitate our making these invitations.

Submission Process: Applications due Wednesday, November 4, 2015, including letter of recommendation

Students: The Council on Undergraduate Research invites you to submit an abstract for the 20th Annual Posters on the Hill. Your research should represent one of CUR’s Divisions (Arts and Humanities, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Geosciences, Health Sciences, Mathematics/Computer Science, Physics/Astronomy, Psychology, and Social Sciences). Abstract submissions should describe your research, scholarship, or creative activity and discuss its significance to society (i.e. what larger issues or problems were you trying address or understand?; how does your work relate to current policy issues?).

CUR membership is required in order to apply: VCU is an institutional CUR member!! Membership will be verified either when you select your institution or when you add your faculty advisor or undergraduate research coordinator to you application through the search function. To check membership status, please reference the list of institutional members. Should you have additional questions regarding membership, please contact CUR’s Director of Membership at

Abstract submissions will only be accepted by using our on-line submission form. To prepare you application, please refer to the “Information Required to Submit” document linked at the bottom of this page. Once you submit your application, you will receive an email confirmation that we have received it.  Please note you will also receive an email for partially completed submissions which include instructions on how to login to complete the application (be sure to read these emails carefully to ensure you have a complete submission).

This is a unique opportunity that we believe will have a very positive impact on the future of federal funding for undergraduate research. We encourage undergraduates from both public and private predominantly undergraduate institutions, research universities, and those who have done their work at a national laboratory or facility to submit abstracts. A committee of CUR members anticipates selecting approximately 60 posters for participation in the evening poster session. Students selected for participation will be notified in early February.

VCU Student Inventors: Win up to $15K from the Lemelson-MIT Program


Dear VCU Community,

The Lemelson-MIT Program is searching for the most inventive students to apply for the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The competition is open to teams of undergraduate students and individual graduate students nationwide who have tested prototypes of tech-based inventions in four categories: food and agriculture, consumer devices, healthcare, and transportation.

Graduate student winners will receive $15K, while winning undergraduate teams will win $10K. All winners will be rewarded with national media exposure and exposure to the investment and business communities, among other benefits.

Applications are open through October 13, 2015.

Please contact Marlena Martinez Love at 617-258-5798 or should you wish to know more.

A class on two wheels: Students study and serve while riding bicycles around the city

Featured photoStudents in the Urban Biking Benefits class met on bicycles and traveled far and wide to learn about cycling initiatives in Richmond.
Photo courtesy of Nick Davis Photography.

About a dozen Virginia Commonwealth University students have been taking people’s bicycles this week from the corner of Monument and Davis avenues.

Their excuse? Their teacher told them to do it.

But not for nefarious reasons. The students are part of the Urban Biking Benefits class, a course that has been held largely atop bicycles. The class is one of several one-credit courses offered this semester to take advantage of the UCI Road World Championships being held in Richmond.

Urban Biking Benefits is a designated service-learning course that requires each student to perform 20 hours of service. Ten of those hours have been devoted to manning a bike valet station along the UCI route on Monument Avenue.

Organized by Bike Walk RVA — a Sports Backers program — the idea behind the bike valet station is simple. It encourages locals to ride their bikes to community events instead of to drive their cars. Volunteer valets then park the bikes, ensuring security for the riders. With the road closures and detours caused by the UCI, it’s much easier for spectators to bike to the event rather than to drive.

Some people don’t know anything about bikes, some people know a ton. It’s really great peer-to-peer learning … in the heat of the action.

“From our perspective, it’s been great for these [student] volunteers to really be exposed to a lot of bike-related things,” said Brantley Tyndall, community engagement coordinator for Bike Walk RVA. “They’re meeting a lot of people who come to watch. Some people don’t know anything about bikes, some people know a ton. It’s really great peer-to-peer learning … in the heat of the action.”

The remaining 10 service hours comprise collecting data for the university’s State of Cycling Report, which appraises VCU’s bike infrastructure and surveys students, staff and faculty about biking on campus.

“I saw this as a really great opportunity to continue that conversation,” said Tessa McKenzie, co-instructor for the course and a research coordinator in the Division of Community Engagement. “The data have not been updated since 2010 and the students are involved in collecting data on bike racks throughout both campuses. They each get 18 different racks and will provide updated data, and discuss and share findings. We do this all on bike. At VCU we make it real – real fun.”

 Students are serving as bike valets during the UCI Road World Championships, part of an effort to encourage spectators to bike to the course.
<br>Photo by Steven Casanova, University Marketing.
Students are serving as bike valets during the UCI Road World Championships, part of an effort to encourage spectators to bike to the course.
Photo by Steven Casanova, University Marketing.

McKenzie collaborated with co-instructor Herb Hill, director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at VCU, to help students with the research component.

Hill, who works primarily with students conducting research in a structured academic environment, jumped at the chance to take research out of its traditional environment and into the community, which has a completely different impact, he said.

“We can do research that’s meaningful and that’s active and that has outcomes,” he said. “And you can communicate those results back to the community for change. To be able to see all of that happen in a relatively short time span is really motivating and inspiring.

Bikes are pictured at the bike valet.
<br>Photo by Steven Casanova, University Marketing.
Bikes are pictured at the bike valet.
Photo by Steven Casanova, University Marketing.

“It’s unpredictable. Even in a lab environment, it’s unpredictable, but when you’re dealing with a community-engaged project, the unpredictability quotient kind of goes through the roof. But that’s what makes it so exciting. That’s what makes this a compelling project and a compelling course.”

It also helps that all of the students enrolled in the class want to be there.

West Redington, a junior mechanical engineering major and president of the Triathlon Club at VCU, calls the class “fantastic.”

“Everybody in it is there because they’re interested in bikes and the bike race,” he said.

The seven-week class meets each Wednesday, covering a different topic focused on a community bike initiative. Opting for a face-to-face class over an online one, McKenzie also eschewed a classroom setting. Instead, the class meets on its bikes and explores different parts of the city in what they call “ride and learns.” Each week, a different community expert joins them on bike to discuss the evening’s topic and to tour the city.

“For example, last week we met with former professional racer Matt Crane out of Richmond Cycling Corps,” McKenzie said. “Our topic was racing debunked, which examined the race route. We got to ride the cobbles and Governor Street hills, and discuss or demystify racing and how to be a spectator. It got sweaty.”

Other guests included Tyndall, a VCU alumnus who launched several bike initiatives while at the university.

The visiting community members appealed to Julia Carney, a senior political science major.

The bike is really this tool for community engagement and to go beyond the traditional classroom structure.

“You couldn’t ask for a better class,” she said. “These are people I wouldn’t normally interact with but our instructors are well-connected, so they bring these people in that are pillars of the biking community. I wouldn’t ever talk to [them], but [now] I have this experience to bike with [them]. It’s really fantastic. I love it so much.”

McKenzie sees the bike as a unifying component of the class, similar to how the UCI is unifying VCU, Richmond and the world.

“We found something special here,” she said. “The bike is really this tool for community engagement and to go beyond the traditional classroom structure. So I saw this as a way to get students on bikes, to ride in the community, to be connected with the community, to learn with the community, and that was the vision. The students have learned about these exciting community initiatives that are happening in Richmond right in front of us, right on campus.

“I think it’s important that faculty at VCU consider alternative methods of teaching in the classroom. The bike for us has been extremely successful and has really unified the students with the community as well as with this bike race. … This has been unforgettable.”

Students in the Urban Biking Benefits class met on bicycles and traveled far and wide to learn about cycling initiatives in Richmond.
<br>Photo courtesy of Nick Davis Photography.
Students in the Urban Biking Benefits class met on bicycles and traveled far and wide to learn about cycling initiatives in Richmond.
Photo courtesy of Nick Davis Photography.

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