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Portrait of Kathy Benison
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Rockin' on Mars

Kathy Benison

When samples from the Mars 2020 expedition eventually make their way to Earth, the scientists of tomorrow will have a Mountaineer to thank. Dr. Benison is one of 10 scientists selected as a Return Sample Selection Participating Scientist for NASA’s Mars 2020 expedition.

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Portrait of Ember Morrissey
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Nature vs. Nurture

Ember Morrissey

Through research focused on four ecosystems in Arizona, Dr. Morrissey uncovered how microorganisms respond to their surroundings.

“I think it is important for people to be aware that the soil under their feet is alive and is playing a really important role in determining the health of our ecosystems. Microbes in the soil respond to all the different ways humans are changing the environment.”

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Portrait of Carla Brigandi
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Breaking the Code

Carla Brigandi

Only 1.8 percent of West Virginia public school students are identified “gifted,” well below the national average of 6 percent, according to the National Association for Gifted Children.

But Dr. Brigandi believes that West Virginia’s number is not representative of the talent in our local communities. The real issue is that students with gifts and talents aren’t being identified as such.

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Portrait of Matt Kasson
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Resurrecting a forest giant

Matt Kasson

Dr. Kasson didn’t come to WVU to work on the American chestnut’s resurrection. But he soon realized the importance of the legacy left behind by his predecessor, William MacDonald, who was nationally renowned for his three decades of work preserving the American chestnut tree.

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Portrait of David Klinke
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Enter the Exosome

David Klinke

One way cells send each other messages is through exosomes — tiny, spherical “packages” of information they emit.

Dr. Klinke is deciphering the contents of exosomes that cancer cells release. Studying the information exosomes contain and how they influence other cells may suggest new targets for cancer immunotherapy.

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Portrait of Craig Barrett
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Warding Off Weedy Invaders

Craig Barrett

To the casual observer, Japanese stiltgrass appears as a harmless, leafy green plant that blends into the majestic scenery of your weekend hike through the woods.

Plant biologists like Dr. Barrett know better. He and his colleagues will receive $2 million from the National Science Foundation to understand how plants undergo rapid evolution to become invasive and provide insights into the management and prevention of invasive species.

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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 Erik Herron

Neighborhood Politics

Erik Herron

Dr. Herron and his collaborators at the University of Illinois and Florida International University were awarded a $1.1 million Minerva Research Initiative award to better predict how hostile powers might interfere with their neighbors.

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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.

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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 Paul Speaker
WVU in the Community Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

An Unimaginable Cost

Paul Speaker

Having studied the economic impact of the opioid epidemic, Dr. Speaker says the presence — and easy accessibility — of the synthetic drugs fentanyl and carfentanil have had devastating economic effects on West Virginia and other states.

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Portrait of Evan MacCarthy
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

New Readings of Ugolino’s Treatise

Evan MacCarthy

Dr. MacCarthy is one of just 30 American artists and scholars to earn the highly competitive Rome Prize, which he’ll use to support his work on the encyclopedic treatise on music written by Ugolino of Orvieto, a fifteenth-century composer, music theorist and archpriest of the Cathedral of Ferrara.

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Portrait of John Hu
Research and Innovation Student Profiles | Faculty Profiles

Electric Innovation

John Hu

What if we didn’t have towering power lines above us and instead the electricity flowed under our feet?

Dr. Hu and his colleague Debangsu Bhattacharyya have figured out exactly how to make this reality. They've created a liquid form of electricity that can be transported from coast to coast using existing infrastructure.

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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.

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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.

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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. He's researching how people experience and interact with video games and other virtual environments.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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