campus buildings along Franklin Street
Read the October '19 alumni newsletter
Enjoy the latest articles about the research, achievements and successes of our students, faculty and alumni. Feel the Ram pride!
Jenny Xie next to the book cover for 'Eye Level: Poems by Jenny Xie' (National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets)
Jenny Xie wins 22nd annual Levis Reading Prize for ‘Eye Level’
The prize is awarded annually for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year and chosen by the Department of English and its M.F.A. in Creative Writing program.
Ling Ma
Ling Ma wins the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for ‘Severance’
Ling Ma's book, “Severance,” tells the survival story of an isolated young woman in New York City who is the last person to abandon her office job after an infectious disease originating in China sweeps across the globe.
Ravon Ruffin
Alumni spotlight: Ravon Ruffin
Ravon Ruffin (B.S. Anthropology ‘13/H&S) has enjoyed an impressive start to her career as a member of the founding social media engagement team for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
VCU students at the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama
Being there: A weeklong trip along the Civil Rights Trail helps VCU students connect history with the present
For student Jordan Moye, visiting the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama — where civil rights marchers calling for voting rights legislation were attacked by law enforcement officers in 1965 in what came known as “Bloody Sunday” — was a powerful experience.
glass of vodka with a heart motif applique
Love and alcohol: Romantic relationships can influence genetic predispositions for alcohol problems
How do the people we love shape our drinking? Researchers know that genetic and environmental factors influence alcohol outcomes such as abuse or dependence. However, romantic relationships can alter the impact of those genetic influences.
Robertson School strategic PR graduate students Carice Coleman, Chenelle Laroche, Jacqueline Van Dao stand in front of the Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills
New VCU class takes students on media and culture study of Vietnam
Over 10 days, students visited historically and culturally relevant sites and international tourism destinations in Central Vietnam.
Albert Ksinan
Study finds ‘robust evidence’ of persistent racial and ethnic disparities in discipline in secondary schools across the United States
Albert Ksinan found that African American students and students self-identifying as two or more races were at greater risk for discipline actions across all disciplinary measures in both middle and high schools.
U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court’s redistricting decision may be ‘most important development in Virginia politics in a generation’
VCU Professor Alex Keena, Ph.D., said the Supreme Court’s decision in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill delivers a major structural advantage to Democrats in the General Assembly elections.
Amy Rector, Ph.D., and Omar Abdullah show off hominin teeth fossils that they found in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
Anthropology professor receives NSF grant to study humans’ early ancestors
Amy Rector, Ph.D., is part of a team conducting research in Ethiopia where the oldest Homo fossil and earliest stone tools have been found.
Jason Reed
A simple, fast and less-costly approach to diagnosing blood cancers?
Physics Professor Jason Reed and Massey Cancer Center researchers are studying the viability of ‘DNA barcoding’ under a grant from the Commonwealth Health Research Board.
a flag on a campus pole that reads
Class notes June 2019
Catch up with all the latest and greatest news from CHS alumni.
students from the course MASC 337
VCU public relations students win awards for innovation, community impact
Two teams of public relations students from the Robertson School of Media and Culture won awards at the 2019 Virginia PR Awards, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America Richmond Chapter.
sheet music
Who was Mr. Baptiste? A VCU professor’s investigation may have just proven the identity of the world’s first black published composer.
The author of this sheet music in “A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica” is known only as "Mr. Baptiste." VCU professor Mary Caton Lingold, Ph.D., has uncovered documents that suggest Baptiste was a black musician and composer.
Sarah Izabel
Student’s rise as a researcher takes her from law school in Brazil to an NIH lab
Sarah Izabel discovered Virginia Commonwealth University one frigid day when she just wanted to come in from the cold. Bundled up and shivering, she and a friend were walking near VCU in the winter of 2010 when they stumbled upon the University Student Commons and stepped inside to warm up. Izabel and her friend were both from Brazil, and were in the United States to improve their English and explore opportunities in the country. Unfamiliar with the area, they had never heard of VCU and didn’t understand what it was, but Izabel found herself immediately drawn to it.
Niki Farahmand in front of CNN headquarters
‘There will always be a need for the truth’: Journalism alumni cover the big stories for CNN
Two recent graduates of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences have defied warnings about the death of journalism jobs to find early success. Amir Vera and Niki Farahmand, both 2014 graduates, landed jobs at CNN in 2018, Vera as an associate writer and Farahmand as a news producer.
book cover: A little child shall lead them (three students looking at a sign in front of a school that says,
‘A Little Child Shall Lead Them’: Inside Prince Edward County’s battle for school desegregation
A new book co-edited by a Virginia Commonwealth University history professor offers a different perspective on the battle for — and against — educational opportunity in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
A teenager with an anxious look on her face in the dark
Facing fears: How exposure therapy can help children with anxiety
Michael A. Southam-Gerow, chair of VCU’s Department of Psychology, discusses his new book, “Exposure Therapy with Children and Adolescents.”
VCU alumna Ashley McCuistion pilots a drone to take photographs of the Robert E. Lee monument that will be used to create a 3D model. (Photo by Brian McNeill, University Public Affairs)
A VCU lab and Virginia nonprofit are using drones to create 3D models of Monument Avenue’s monuments
A drone piloted by Ashley McCuistion is circling the Robert E. Lee monument on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, taking detailed photographs that will allow her to create a 3D digital model of the controversial monument.
conceptual rendering of new stem building
State approves funding to build new $121M STEM education facility at VCU
The state budget signed Thursday by Gov. Ralph Northam includes funding for Virginia Commonwealth University to construct a $121 million 168,000-square-foot, six-floor building dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math education on the Monroe Park Campus.
David Baldacci visiting VCU
Students share stories of life-changing experiences made possible by Baldacci gift
Bestselling novelist and VCU alumnus David Baldacci met with students who have received awards through an experiential learning fund and a political science scholarship he created with his wife, Michelle. (Photo by Kevin Morley, University Relations)
books on library shelves
Eminent Scholars announced for 2019-20
The College of Humanities and Sciences Eminent Scholars program serves to recognize mid-career faculty scholars and reward them for their scholarly contributions to their discipline, the College and the university.
glass of liquor next to a book
What predicts college students’ drinking habits? How much they think others are drinking.
A new study by VCU researchers examines students’ genetic risk of alcohol use, roommates’ drinking habits and the perception of peer drinking.
La'Tila Abbott
Class of 2019: Entrepreneur and biology graduate driven by a personal mission
Being diagnosed with alopecia areata at age 16 inspired in La'Tila Abbott a passion for health sciences that eventually led her to VCU. Abbott will graduate in May with a biology degree.
Tressie Cottom
Cottom to receive prestigious early career award from American Sociological Association
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has been named the recipient of the Doris Entwisle Early Career Award of the American Sociological Association section on Sociology of Education.
American Civil War Museum
History grad students’ Civil War research will be on display at American Civil War Museum’s grand opening
When the new American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar officially opens its doors on Saturday, May 4, visitors will have an opportunity to check out new scholarly research conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University history graduate students about the Civil War and how it is remembered.
Caitlin Cain in a chemistry lab
Chemistry and Forensic Science student receives prestigious NSF graduate fellowship
Caitlin Cain, a senior majoring in chemistry and forensic science, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees.
Paul Perrin
Psychology professor edits special journal issue on disability and social justice in rehabilitation research
A special issue of the journal Rehabilitation Psychology edited by a Virginia Commonwealth University psychology professor explores disability and social justice in rehabilitation research.
student with the heading 'research weeks'
Humanities and Sciences students shine during Research Weeks
As part of Research Weeks (April 5-26), VCU News is highlighting the work of undergraduates whose work was made possible by VCU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, Department of Biology, Division for Community Engagement and guidance from faculty members.
Brooke Newman
Newman’s book wins gold medal 2019 Independent Publisher Book Award
“A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica,” (Yale University Press) by Brooke N. Newman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has won a 2019 Independent Publisher Book Award.
a student crowd at Welcome Week
Class notes for April 2019
Check out the latest and greatest accomplishments from alumni, faculty and staff.
Art Stone
Alumni spotlight: Art Stone
Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Art Stone (BGS ’90/H&S) has taken a little taste of the south to Seattle in a big way with his made-to-order biscuit business, Honest Biscuits.
History graduate student Josh Dow (left) and Eric Johnson, head of innovative media at VCU Libraries, prepare to use a technique called photogrammetry to capture a 3D image of a wooden game at Agecroft Hall & Gardens. (Photo by Brian McNeill, University Public Affairs)
Joshua Dow is creating 3D images to make Agecroft Hall’s collection more accessible
Sitting on a rotating turntable is a small wooden game called Nine Men's Morris, part of the collection of Agecroft Hall & Gardens, a historic house museum within a Tudor manor that was brought to Richmond in the 1920s piece by piece from Manchester, England.
Cristina Stanciu
English professor receives Fulbright award to teach, conduct research in Romania
Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D., an English professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, has received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to teach in Romania for one year and to conduct research for a new book manuscript, “Archives of Memory and Survival: Indigenous Representation in Residential School Literature and Film.”
Katharine Moore Tibbetts, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, operates laser beams in her lab that serve as a “camera” that captures the motions of individual energetic molecules on the femtosecond timescale.
Professor receives U.S. government’s highest honor bestowed to early career scientists and engineers
A chemistry professor is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.
Tressie McMillan Cottom alongside the book cover for
Cottom’s book one of 10 in the running for National Book Award for Nonfiction
Tressie McMillan Cottom's book is a collection of essays that offers a multifaceted portrayal of the experience of black womanhood.
a crowd of VCU graduates adorned with caps and gowns
CHS announces new Student Emergency Fund
The fund helps to keep minor or temporary financial emergencies from derailing students’ progress toward a degree.
Peter Barr
Romantic partnerships mitigate influence of genetic predisposition to alcohol consumption
Yet relationships’ “protective effect” against high-risk drinking is limited to men, according to a new study in Addiction led by a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology.
Jessica Cooper, Dani Jabado and Katherine Werner at VDOT
VCU students’ internship will help VDOT better predict oversight costs of local projects
The students — Jessica Cooper, Katrina Gauntt, Dani Jabado and Katherine Werner — are graduate students in the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research.
a doctor and psychologist meet together with a patient
$1.35M grant expands pro bono behavioral health care to Richmond-area underserved populations
The Primary Care Psychology Training Collaborative embeds clinical psychology doctoral trainees from VCU in health safety net clinics in Richmond.
Heather Lucas and students from her research lab
NIH awards $1.65M to VCU professor to study the role of brain metals in Parkinson’s disease
Chemistry professor Heather R. Lucas’ research may uncover novel disease pathways and could inspire new targets for drug development.
Drew Tierney
Alumni spotlight: Drew Tierney, M.D.
Drew Tierney first made a trip to Richmond from Baltimore to attend the University of Richmond, but a seminal moment with a take-home biochemistry exam dramatically changed his future plans.
Brian Daugherity
History professor’s grant will bring teachers to VCU to learn about school desegregation
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a $170,000 grant to Brian Daugherity, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History.
Datum 2019, presented by the Race, Space, and Place Initiative, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Scholars! Practitioners! Artists! Citizens! What are the root causes of the social problems that animate the way you work, learn, build, and resist in your research and your everyday experiences?
Race, Space and Place unConference comes to VCU November 15-17
The unConference is the inaugural convening of scholars, students, practitioners, artists, curators and community members interested in reimagining scholarship, community and impact in the digital age.
Tal Simmons delivering a lecture in a classroom
Forensic science lecture series explores emerging research and high-profile cases
Tal Simmons, Ph.D., a VCU forensic science professor, delivered the first talk of the lecture series. She spoke on “Forensic Anthropology in the Service of Human Rights.”
u.s. capitol building
The House has opened an impeachment inquiry. What’s next?
The impeachment inquiry into President Trump could reshape American politics, says Jason Ross Arnold, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science.
Michelle Peace and her lab team
CNN's Sanjay Gupta visits VCU to interview forensic science professor
Michelle Peace, Ph.D., appeared on CNN's Weed 5 to discuss her research on e-cigarettes and CBD oils and liquids.
a shelf full of liquor bottles at a bar
Genetically at-risk youth can lower risk of alcohol problems by taking part in prevention program
A VCU-led study has found that participating in a family based prevention program during adolescence reduces the likelihood that people with a genetic predisposition to alcohol problems develop those problems as an adult.
Joshua Ekhardt alongside the book cover for
English professor’s book sheds new light on poet and preacher John Donne
The book reveals how Donne’s writings have circulated throughout history, and how religious readers, communities and movements affected the distribution and reception of his body of work.
a student visiting a spot along the Civil Rights Trail
In their own words: Students on the Civil Rights Trail
Thanks to the help of alumni and friends, 13 College of Humanities and Sciences students got the opportunity to experience historically significant sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail this June.
Jeff W. Atkins, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in VCU's Department of Biology, uses a lidar system to collect data in a forest at VCU's Rice Rivers Center in 2016
Structurally complex forests better at carbon sequestration
A new study led by VCU researchers may have implications for mitigation of climate change.
John Kneebone, John Ryan, Karen Kester, and June Nicholson
Four CHS faculty to be honored for teaching, scholarship and service
Stellar faculty will be recognized at VCU’s 37th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation.
students and Rodney the Ram participate in Ram Spirit Walk during Welcome Week
Class notes August 2019
Check out the latest and greatest accomplishments from alumni, faculty and staff.
Carolina Espinal
Mozaic Strategies founder to speak at VCU on how diversity and inclusion are transforming business and society
Speaker Carolina Espinal is a newly appointed member of the VCU Board of Visitors.
Kathleen Graber and the book cover for
VCU English professor publishes acclaimed new poetry collection
“The River Twice,” (Princeton University Press, 2019) is being described as an “elegiac meditation on impermanence and change.”
a brick wall with the phrase 'ms-13' painted on in graffiti style
Political rhetoric blows MS-13 violence out of proportion, VCU research finds
A new study by VCU researchers examined 20 years of violent crimes linked to MS-13 and found that political rhetoric greatly exaggerates the size of threat posed by the gang.
A. Roger Ekirch and the book cover for
Lecture to explore ‘Mutiny, Martyrdom, and the Origins of American Political Asylum’
A. Roger Ekirch, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and professor of history at Virginia Tech.
Jason Arnold
Arnold named chair of the Department of Political Science
Arnold holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Minnesota. His new book "Whistleblowers, Leakers, and Their Networks: From Snowden to Samizdat" will be released on September 4.
Alexander Heffner
PBS host to speak at VCU about ‘Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age’
Alexander Heffner’s talk will take place Sept. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at James Branch Cabell Library.
man writing on a piece of paper
New podcast 'Writing Our Way Out' launches
David Coogan, Ph.D., and colleagues will explore the conditions, traps and turning points on the path to imprisonment in America.
Alaattin Kaya
Grant aims to discover genes and environmental factors that strongly interact to modulate aging patterns
Kaya's four-year grant from NIH totals $512,000.
student in a bar drinking a beer
A better approach to college drinking prevention?
CHS researchers are developing a program that focuses less on student drinking, and more on the underlying factors that lead people to drink.
Thea Cheuk at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California
Student’s research leads to DC Comics internship
The research paper Thea Cheuk wrote last spring on the DC Comics character Dick Grayson did more than combine Cheuk’s interests in graphic arts and gender studies, it also led to a coveted internship at one of the comic industry’s largest publishers.
Alyssa Ward
Alumni spotlight: Alyssa Ward, Ph.D.
Ward is at the helm of the most expansive redesign of behavioral health services in the commonwealth of Virginia in a generation.
microphone
Public affairs librarian and political scientist launch “Civil Discourse” podcast
A new podcast by government documents librarian Nia Rodgers featuring John Aughenbaugh, Ph.D.
Sharmeen Sattar
Meet the class of 2023
New Rams talk about their first weeks on campus. Main takeaway? The future is bright.
Lily Thompson, a former VCU master’s degree student in the Department of Biology and lead author of the study, places a moth larva into a cup
VCU, UR study on spread of gypsy moths amid climate change receives prestigious award
The study received a Royal Entomological Society Award for Best Paper Published in 2017/18 in the journal Physiological Entomology.
A doctoral student reads brain imaging results at the VCU Social Psychology and Neuroscience Laboratory
Inside the brains of psychopaths: VCU research aims to understand antisocial empathy
David Chester, Ph.D., leads a research team that investigates the dark sides of human behavior, trying to discern the underpinnings of traits like violence, aggression and revenge.
Paule Marshall
In memoriam: Paule Marshall, acclaimed writer and VCU professor emeritus
Marshall published nine books and was the recipient a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992.
aerial view of the VCU logo on campus
$2M gift will support students, faculty and create a science communications fund
Patricia T. Kirkpatrick, a retired Richmond native who now lives in Northern Virginia, made a $2M gift on behalf of herself and her late husband, David W. Kirkpatrick.
Cottom’s book, ‘Thick: And Other Essays,’ named a National Book Award finalist
VCU professor has been featured in The New York Times and on NPR, PBS and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”
Nikki Wilkins
RVA My Way: Nikki Wilkins
How a nature newbie went from having zero outdoor experience to being a river-loving whitewater rafting guide. [Video feature]
Don Young, June Nicholson, and Michael Rao
At faculty convocation, recognition for those ‘contributing pieces to a larger puzzle’
The faculty recognized Thursday are connected by their desire to seek truth and improve the human condition, said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.
actigraph
Alumna is exploring the relationship between sleep and how the mind works
While completing a doctorate in clinical psychology, Amma Agyemang, Ph.D., developed an interest in the effects that chronic medical conditions have on sleep and cognitive functioning.
Jeanine Guidry and Nicole O'Donnell
Media+Health Lab wins presidential research grant
The $49,689 award has been given for the research project "#Doesanybodycare: Encourage suicide-related bystander behavior on Instagram."
hazelnuts
A taste of Italy: Professor’s clinical research examines whether food really is the best medicine
Salvatore Carbone, a professor of kinesiology and health sciences, is studying the benefits of a diet rich in healthy fats.
a dried-out piece of land as a result of climate change
Can Indigenous knowledge rooted in the deep past help address climate change?
VCU history professor Gregory Smithers will explore that question as part of a prestigious four-year Global Professorship in England.
Jaipreet Virdi
Speaker series at VCU to explore disability studies
The Science, Technology and Society program’s lecture series will investigate gene-editing, negotiations around deafness cures, adaptive activism in art and theater, and inclusive building design.
a chef smelling a fragrant herb
How computer network models could help us better understand our sense of smell
Researchers at VCU, the University of Arkansas and Southern Methodist University are testing how the brain distinguishes exhaled odors that originate in the mouth.
barbwire from a border fence superimposed against U.S. flag
Event to launch new migration studies initiative at VCU
A panel of VCU faculty with expertise in migration will discuss their teaching, research and community engagement Oct. 9.
Tracey Dawson Cruz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Forensic Science, shows the plastic microchip developed by her team that is inserted into the device to prepare a sample for DNA analysis
This VCU professor’s invention speeds up how sexual assault DNA evidence is processed
The device could one day play a key role in reducing the nation’s backlog of untested rape kits and expedite crime solving.
Barbara Ciara, Doug Coleburn, Brian Ellis, Bill Eure, Kym Grinnage, Cabell Harris, Thomas P. Kapsidelis and Donald Lee
Eight to be inducted into Virginia Communications Hall of Fame
Since its inception in 1986, 172 communications professionals have been inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, which is hosted by the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
Brooke Newman alongside the book cover for
Newman's book announced as finalist for the 2019 Frederick Douglass Book Prize
This coveted annual prize recognizes the best book on slavery, resistance and/or abolition published in the preceding year.
Elizabeth Pryor
Lecture series to explore past, present and future of African Americans in Virginia, U.S.
The speaker series coincides with Virginia’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans.
Sonja Livingston and her book cover for the book
New essay collection by VCU English professor explores journey with Catholicism
Sonja Livingston, an award-winning essayist and associate professor in the Department of English, has authored a new collection of essays, “The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion,” (University of Nebraska Press) that chronicles her relationship with the Catholic Church.