The College of Humanities and Sciences develops and advances nationally recognized student and faculty scholarship, research, and creative initiatives committed to addressing challenges in our urban Richmond community and beyond.
We aim to become a leader in integrating meaningful engagement with real-world challenges that support the development of global citizens, and maintain VCU’s
We have many faculty who are internationally recognized experts in their fields. In the College of Humanities and Sciences, we prioritize student engagement and interaction with faculty. We don't just want you to help with research, we want you to lead.
The diversity of our research means students can obtain hands-on experience in many different areas in order to find their passion. Many CHS faculty conduct community engaged research, which allows students the opportunity to conduct research that has a meaningful, positive impact on VCU and our Richmond community.
3,074 undergraduates engaged in experiential learning and research in 2018-19. This is what makes learning at VCU special and sets us apart.
Student research in the news:
Our faculty conduct research on an extraordinarily diverse set of topics, ranging from the understanding of the histories of Native American people, to addressing inequality and disparities in education, to climate change and the development of alternative and efficient energy sources.
CHS faculty regularly win a variety of prestigious awards, fellowships and scholarships, including Woodrow Wilson fellowships and Fulbright scholarships. They also hold some of the largest grants at VCU, including center grants from the Center for Disease Control to prevent youth violence and from the Federal Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health to understand the health consequences of e-cigarettes and the impact of policies put in place to regulate them.
Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., university professor in the Department of Psychology, received the 2018 Psychology and AIDS Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Psychological Association.
Maryanne Collinson, Ph.D., was appointed by the president and the Board of Visitors as the John B. Fenn Professor in Chemistry. The John B. Fenn Professorship is awarded to faculty with a focus on analytical chemistry. She also received the 2017 American Chemical Society-VA Section Distinguished Research Award.
Bethany Coston, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, recently received a $50,000, year-long grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study bisexual and non-monosexual women, their experiences of intimate partner, dating, and sexual violence, and their access to culturally competent health care.
Tressie Cottom, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, was named the 2017 Distinguished Feminist Activist by Sociologists for Women in Society. The award is given to a member who consistently tries to improve lives of women in society through sociology. She was also ranked on the 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings as one of 200 scholars in the U.S. who are “doing the most to shape educational practice and policy.”
Amanda Dickinson, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology, is principal investigator on a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, to investigate whether e-cigarettes could be linked to the development of craniofacial birth defects.
Tom Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology and director, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products was named a Highly Cited Researcher for 2017 by Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics. The Highly Cited Researcher designation is awarded to researchers whose work ranks among the top 1% of that cited in their respective fields for the most recent 11 years, earning the mark of exceptional impact.
Samy El Shall, Ph.D., was appointed by the president and the Board of Visitors as the Mary Eugenia Kapp Chair in Chemistry. This award honors Kapp, the first chairperson of the department, who guided the department through its formative years. He was also was one of three researchers named Virginia’s Outstanding Scientists for 2018.
Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology, received a four-year, $1.7 million grant from the National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease in the National Institutes of Health. Her study on physicians’ communication behaviors and the outcomes of black patients with Type 2 diabetes is also being supported by the School of Medicine.
Heather Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology received a $1.1 million grant to increase the number of psychology doctoral students who provide behavioral health care to underserved youth, LatinX immigrants and refugees in Richmond. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration awarded the four-year grant to Jones for "The VCU Primary Care Psychology Training Collaborative: Expanding Services with Underserved Youth, LatinX Immigrants, and Refugees."
Shiv Khanna, Ph.D., commonwealth professor and chair in the Department of Physics, was honored with the Hind Rattan Award for his numerous contributions to the advancement of science. This award is one of the highest Indian diasporic awards given to non-residents of India. Khanna will receive his award in January at the NRI Welfare Society of India annual congress on the day before India’s Republic Day. Along with colleagues, he has proposed the concept of “superatoms” that extend the periodic chart to a third dimension and could lead to novel materials with tunable properties and potential for applications in numerous areas.
Sonja Livingston, assistant professor in the Department of English, recently won the VanderMey Nonfiction Prize from Ruminate Magazine for her essay, Like This, We Begin: An Essay in Two Photographs.
Marcus Messner, Ph.D., associate professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, was honored with the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award at VCU’s 35th Annual Faculty Convocation in August of 2017.
Anita Nadal, assistant professor in the School of World Studies, was recently honored at VCU’s Annual Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment (PACME) Awards with the Riese-Melton award, which is given for contributions to cross-cultural relations. The PACME Awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions toward enhancing VCU’s commitment to diversity, excellence and inclusion.
Brooke Newman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History, received the Georgian Papers Programme Fellowship to conduct research at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle. Newman will be digitizing and analyzing original private papers within the British royal collection. Some of these manuscripts include documents such as letters, diaries, maps and prints from King George III, as well as Kings George I, George II, George IV and William IV.
Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of English, won the Best Essay on Theatre History in 2015–2016 from Early Theatre. He also authored a new book, Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater (University of Pennsylvania Press).
Ravi Perry, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, was selected as an Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. He was one of 15 honored this year for his research focused on issues facing African Americans in the U.S. According to the publication, this honor goes to professors that have distinguished themselves in their various academic disciplines and are actively working to make our society more equitable and just.
John Powers, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History, received the Roy G. Neville Prize in Bibliography or Biography from the Chemical Heritage Foundation for his book, Inventing Chemistry: Herman Boerhaave and the Reform of the Chemical Arts. The Neville Prize recognizes an outstanding monograph or biography in the areas of the chemical and molecular sciences, and is meant to encourage emulation, inspire achievement and promote public understanding of modern sciences, industries and economies.
Jessica Salvatore, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, was a recipient of the 2018 Research Society on Alcoholism Early Career Investigator Award.
Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology, was the recipient of an American Educational Research Association Congressional Fellowship for 2017-18.
Scott Sherman, associate professor in the Robertson School of Media and Culture, was named Ad Person of the Year by the Advertising Club of Richmond.