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Faculty Profiles

Portrait of Brenden McNeil
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Understanding a forest's response to climate change

Brenden McNeil

The world’s forests are on a fast food diet of carbon dioxide, which is currently causing them to grow faster.

But Dr. McNeil, along with an international team of scientists, finds evidence suggesting that forest growth may soon peak as the trees deplete nitrogen in the soil over longer growing seasons.

More About Dr. McNeil’s Research
Portrait of Nick Bowman
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Interacting with virtual media

Nick Bowman

Video games and interactive media like the Fallout series and Fortnite have interested Dr. Bowman for years. Growing up around interactive media such as video games, Bowman has been researching how people experience and interact with video games and other virtual environments.

More About Dr. Bowman
Portrait of Yehenew Agazie
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Alternative treatment for HER2-positive cancers

Yehenew Agazie

What do one in five breast cancers have in common? Large amounts of a protein called HER2 (or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2).

Dr. Agazie is researching an alternative treatment for HER2-positive breast cancers, which tend to grow and spread especially fast. The National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded him $1.6 million over five years to study the treatment’s effectiveness in preclinical models.

More About Dr. Agazie’s Research
Portrait of Antar Jutla

Preventing cholera

Antar Jutla

Dr. Jutla is part of a British-led humanitarian team that is working to predict and prevent a major outbreak of cholera in war-torn Yemen.

Working with NASA satellite data, Jutla, along with researchers from the University of Maryland, have developed a model to predict the distribution of pathogenic cholera bacteria.

More About Dr. Jutla
Portrait of Amy Hessl
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Through Trees and Ice

Amy Hessl

The National Science Foundation awarded a three-year, $219,263-grant to Dr. Hessl to reconstruct a 2,000-year history of a westerly wind belt circling Antarctica.

To achieve that, she and her team will break down data from two of nature’s simple wonders: trees and ice.

More About Dr. Hessl's Research
Portrait of Terese Giobbia
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Using art therapy in the classroom

Terese Giobbia

In research funded by the prestigious Mary McMullan Grant from the National Art Education Foundation, Dr. Giobbia is using art therapy activities to determine how middle school students react to destroying their own art projects and to study how using art in the classroom can bolster students’ belief in themselves.

More About Dr. Giobbia’s Research
Portrait of Shan Jiang
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Designing Better Hospitals

Shan Jiang

Using immersive virtual reality technologies, Professor Jiang and her research team are addressing the functionality of finding your way in large hospitals.

"The functional complexity of large hospitals can often lead to spatial disorientation and wayfinding difficulties for its patients, often exacerbating a situation that is already anxiety-producing."

More About Professor Jiang's Research
Portrait of Michael Kolodney
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Smart Diagnoses

Michael Kolodney

A dermatologist may distinguish a mole from a tumor based on a glance. But medical students don’t have enough experience to make such intuitive diagnoses. Dr. Kolodney has developed a smartphone app, called Skinder, to cultivate that intuition in medical students sooner.

More About Skinder
Portrait of Saiph Savage
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Transformation through technology

Saiph Savage

MIT Technology Review Spanish edition named Dr. Savage a 2018 Innovator Under 35 in Latin America.

One of only nine women recognized, Savage was selected in the Pioneers category for her work using social media bots to mobilize people to collaborate in activities of positive impact.

More About Dr. Savage Q&A With Dr. Savage
Portrait of Alfgeir Kristjansson
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Curbing teen substance abuse

Alfgeir Kristjansson

In Iceland, drug, alcohol and tobacco use in teens has been “virtually eradicated” as a result of a nationwide push to replace teens’ unsupervised, aimless leisure time with purposeful, organized activities. Now, Dr. Kristjansson is transplanting the program to West Virginia.

More About Dr. Kristjansson
Portrait of Frankie Tack
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Fighting the opioid crisis

Frankie Tack

Drawing on her 20 years as an addiction counselor, Professor Tack coordinates WVU’s new minor in addiction studies — one of the University's many efforts to combat the region's opioid crisis.

More About Addiction Studies Minor
Portrait of Fernando Lima
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Computing the modular future of energy

Fernando Lima

Dr. Lima earned a $500,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work to improve modular systems for energy applications. Modular systems, which are built from small pieces of equipment that can be easily transported to these sites, can eliminate the need for expensive pipelines.

More About Dr. Lima
Portrait of Lisa Orr
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Documenting Sacred Landscapes

Lisa Orr

Professor Orr is using her photographic work to inspire others and generate a deeper understanding of Appalachian culture. Her work was selected for inclusion in the Women of Appalachia Project, which features Appalachia’s finest visual, literary and performing women artists.

More About Professor Orr
Portrait of Atiba Ellis
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Preserving voting rights

Atiba Ellis

Known for using pop culture texts to teach students about current election issues, Professor Ellis is an expert on voting rights law and how varying interpretations of the right to vote exclude certain voters. Most recently, he has conducted research on the barriers posed by voter identification laws, voting rights theory and how ideology affects the scope of the right to vote.

More About Professor Ellis
Portrait of Nilanjana Dwibedi
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Addiction prediction

Nilanjana Dwibedi

A first of its kind study by WVU researchers, led by Dr. Dwibedi, shows four factors increase the odds that a patient will wind up on chronic opioid therapy, which can lead to addiction and other poor health outcomes.

More About Dr. Dwibedi’s Research
Portrait of Alexander Kurov

Suspicious patterns

Alexander Kurov

An analysis of data prepared for the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Kurov last year noted suspicious trading in financial markets in the United Kingdom, where confidential economic data was provided to dozens of government officials in advance of the public release of the data.

As a result of his findings and subsequent public discussion, Britain established a new policy so government officials would no longer have early access to economic data.

More About Dr. Kurov's Research
Portrait of James Thompson

Digging dirt, winning championships

James Thompson

Dr. Thompson takes his soil science teaching and research far afield (literally) in his role as coach of the WVU Soils Team, through which undergraduate students develop skills for description, analysis and interpretation of soils and landscapes in regional and national contests. The team won its second national championship in 2016.

More About the Soils Team
Portrait of Rita Colistra
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Creating Community Voices

Rita Colistra

Dr. Colistra directs WVU’s Community Branding Initiative, BrandJRNY, which helps local communities tell – and “sell” – their stories. Students hone skills in campaign research, strategy, community engagement, budgeting, innovative storytelling and creating promotional materials, while discovering how best to brand each community.

Visit the BrandJRNY website
Portrait of Karen Rambo-Hernandez

Inclusive engineering

Karen Rambo-Hernandez

Dr. Rambo-Hernandez is the principal investigator for a project that's fostering inclusion among engineers and computer scientists.

Unlike other similar programs for first-year engineering students that focus only on keeping diverse students in engineering, WVU’s program seeks to educate all students about the importance of diversity.

More About Dr. Rambo-Hernandez
Portrait of Shuo Wang
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Understanding Autism

Shuo Wang

Children with autism spectrum disorder typically pay less attention to faces and other social stimuli, preferring to fixate on objects. Dr. Wang hopes to find out what role a portion of the brain may play in this behavior.

Supported by a $200,000 grant from The Dana Foundation, he will conduct electrophysiology studies on abnormal signaling in the amygdala, the brain’s alarm circuit for fear and a critical brain structure for social behavior.

More About Dr. Wang's research
Portrait of Eloise Elliott
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Healthy change through physical activity

Eloise Elliott

While working to improve the culture of health in West Virginia, Dr. Elliott conducts research in authentic environments where physical education activities can be provided and studied. She created Active Academics, a nationally-recognized web-based resource for classroom teachers to integrate physical activity throughout the school day.

Portrait of Sean McWilliams
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

‘Hearing’ the universe

Sean McWilliams

Dr. McWilliams was part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team international collaboration that made the most important fundamental physics discovery of the past century: the detection of gravitational waves — invisible ripples in spacetime.

More About Dr. McWilliams
Portrait of Lori Sherlock

Preparing well-rounded aquatic therapists

Lori Sherlock

A longtime trainer and educator in the field of aquatics, Professor Sherlock works with Exercise Physiology students in the Aquatic Therapy emphasis and covers the full continuum of aquatic care, from rehabilitation to pool operator certification.

More About Professor Sherlock
Portrait of Carsten Milsmann
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Harnessing solar power — for less

Carsten Milsmann

Dr. Milsmann earned the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award for research that could help develop solar energy applications that are more efficient and cheaper to produce.

He and five WVU graduate students hope to develop new compounds using early transition metals. These are more widely available and cost effective than the precious metals typically used in new solar cell technology.

More About Dr. Milsmann's Research
Portrait of Yu Gu
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Robotic space exploration

Yu Gu

Dr. Gu mentored the highly successful WVU robotics team, which won $855,000 over three years of competition in NASA’s Sample Robot Return Challenge with its robot Cataglyphis. Now, Gu and his Statler College colleagues will use the algorithms that powered Cataglyphis to develop ways to increase the onboard autonomy of NASA’s planetary rovers.

More About Dr. Gu's Research
Portrait of Katherine Garvey
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Protecting water through land conservation

Katherine Garvey

Many of West Virginia’s waterways are polluted, in part because of the way nearby land is used. Professor Garvey directs the WVU Land Use and Sustainable Law Clinic, which provides legal services to local governments, landowners and non-profit organizations to develop land conservation strategies and practices.

More About Professor Garvey