Women in STEM discuss sexism in workplace
The College of Science hosted a panel discussion “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)” in Arlington, Virginia, in February 2018, with Science Dean Sally C. Morton moderating. On the panel were four Virginia Tech alumnae, including College of Science graduate Dee Dee Helfenstein (’86, Psychology), now senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. Discussion was lively as it moved from overt workplace sexism to the need for women in STEM to mentor young prodigies.
Dean’s Roundtable Advisory Board
The College of Science Roundtable Advisory Board comprises college alumni and friends that have helped guide the college since its founding in 2003. Here, roundtable members pose with Dean Sally C. Morton on the stairs of the Holtzman Alumni Center in fall 2017.
Craig Tollin fulfills lifelong dream on 'Jeopardy!'
Craig Tollin grew up watching “Jeopardy!” with his family. He’d compete with them as a child to see who could call out the questions to the provided answers first. In 2017, Tollin, a lab instructor with the Academy of Integrated Science, got to compete for real, appearing on two episodes and winning a total of $24,000. He always wanted to compete on the show, and took the timed, 50-question online test audition every year for more than a decade. He was finally invited to an in-person audition in April 2016 and this past July was called to be on the show. The show taped in August and aired in December. “Right after I was done with my second show, I thought a lot about my big regret, which was not betting enough in Final Jeopardy," said Tollin, a two-time Virginia Tech Department of Biochemistry alumnus. "But now, so many months later, I think about how lucky I was to get to play Jeopardy twice, and I feel a little wistful that I'll never get to do it again.”
Pi Day kicks off appreciation week
College of Science Appreciation Week kicked off March 14 — Pi Day (Get it? 3/14, or 3.14?) and that meant free pies for students. Members of the College of Science Dean’s Leadership Council gave away more than 2,000 pies outside McBryde Hall and inside the lobby of Derring Hall. Later in the week, the college hosted Donuts with the Dean and a Breakzone Social gathering at Squires Student Center.
Virginia Tech honors Mary Nolen Blackwood
Mary Nolen Blackwood (1973, Psychology), a longtime supporter of Virginia Tech and a member of the Dean’s Roundtable Advisory Board, was honored in May 2018 with Virginia Tech’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Co-owner, with her husband, Willis, of commercial real estate firm Blackwood Development Co., Blackwood has also served on the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, the Ut Prosim Society, and the Legacy Society. The Blackwoods have endowed scholarships for students, funding for faculty, and more across the university, from the Department of Psychology to the Pamplin College of Business.
Alumna wants to mix business with science
Small business expert and bestselling author Melinda F. Emerson is a Virginia Tech graduate and long-time member of the College of Science Roundtable Advisory Board. Recognized internationally as an expert on business development and social media marketing, Emerson’s latest book, “Fix Your Business”, was released in February 2018 and helps business owners address problem areas using a step-by-step turnaround system to build a thriving business. Her first book, “Become Your Own Boss” in 12 Months, was released in 2010, with a second edition published in 2015. Emerson took a quick break from her national book tour and recently visited Blacksburg. She shared the following advice afterward: “It’s one thing to do amazing scientific research, but I want the next generation of scientists to be business-minded. It's important for Virginia Tech Science graduates and researchers to become entrepreneurs and business leaders who understand the commercial applications for their work as much as the hard science.” Follow Emerson on Twitter at @SmallBizLady
Frank Aylward wins Alfred P. Sloan Fellow
Frank O. Aylward, an assistant professor in Biological Sciences, was selected as a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences. Recipients of 2018 Sloan Research Fellows, announced in February, received an award of $65,000. He is an affiliate faculty member of the systems biology program in the Academy of Integrated Science.
Alumna Jennifer McQuiston Speaks at VASEM event
Three-time Hokie alumna Jennifer McQuiston was among more than 100 experts gathered at the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (VASEM) fall 2017 conference in Washington, D.C. The topic: Emerging infections, drug-resistant superbugs, and bioterrorism. McQuiston spoke about her work as deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. Organizing the event were Virginia Tech faculty Patricia Dove and X.J. Meng.
Black Alumni Reunion draws hundreds to campus
Hundreds of African-American alumni visited Virginia Tech on April 13-14 for the biannual Black Alumni Reunion. Among the guests the College of Science had the pleasure of welcoming back to Blacksburg were (left to right, above) Ellis Savage (’80, Education), Angela Wright-Savage (’85, Biological Sciences), Melanie P. Hurley (’81, Biological Sciences), and Dr. Sylvia S. Swilley (’72, Biological Sciences.) Wright-Savage is employed by Nature Pass. Hurley is a program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy. Swilley is a physician in Los Angeles.
College of Science heads eclipse viewing
On Aug 21, thousands of members of the Hokie community gathered behind Holtzman Alumni Center to watch the solar eclipse that fixated much of the nation. At the viewing, Virginia Tech scientists explained the solar event and helped scores of people view the eclipse through various devices. Afterward, the College collected more than 250 eclipse glasses for the nonprofit Astronomers Without Borders for use by school children in Asia and South America during a 2019 solar event.
Robert Bodnar awarded Thomas Jefferson Medal
C.C. Garvin Professor of Geochemistry Robert J. Bodnar was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science by the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Bodnar also was elected a Fellow of the Geochemical Society for his work on fluid and melt inclusion studies, and documenting the roles of fluids and melts in the Earth and meteorites. Bodnar is a University Distinguished Professor and serves as the director of the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.
Sterling Nesbitt wins Young Scientist Award
The Geological Society of America honored Sterling Nesbitt of the Department of Geosciences with its Young Scientist Award, the 2017 Donath Medal. The Young Scientist Award honors scientists aged 35 or younger who have contributed to geologic knowledge with original research that advances the earth sciences.