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Spring 2016

Adventures of Teenage Scientists

Green Bank Telescope The last few years teenagers in and around West Virginia have looked up at the stars, then settled down with their computers to look for star signals. WVU and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va., formed the Pulsar Search Collaboratory to get students hooked on science in the hunt for identifying pulsar stars. Soon, your child could be part of this quest as WVU helps to expand the program across the country with a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

New Crossroads

The Media Innovation Center in the new Evansdale Crossing building.

At some point in your time at WVU, as you climbed the hill to the engineering buildings on the Evansdale campus, you probably thought it was a good time to break for lunch. Evansdale Crossing, a public-private partnership, is the answer to that and many other needs on Evansdale. The sleek five-story building adjacent to the engineering PRT station has opened and includes restaurants, a Barnes & Noble, a new student services center called Mountaineer Hub, the Reed College of Media’s new Media Innovation Center, the LaunchLab and much more.

Theater to Screen

Cathy O'Dell

This spring, Cathy O’Dell, MFA ’95, Theatre, was instructing students as a teaching associate professor in the College of Creative Arts. At night, she was on TV playing the recurring role of Helen Vicks on the Cinemax show “Banshee,” about a thief who becomes sheriff in the fictional town of Banshee, Pa.

The Whole Truth on Suicides

Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics separate suicide and self-injury rates in the U.S., suicidal behavior is underestimated, says a new report in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry coauthored by epidemiology professor Ian Rockett in the School of Public Health. The report emphasized that separating drug-intoxication suicides from those labeled as accidental or unintentional injury deaths “masks the overall magnitude of fatalities arising from deliberate, self-destructive behaviors. In so doing, it mutes the urgency for demanding effective preventive interventions, and is problematic as the nation experiences a persisting and growing epidemic of opioid and other drug-poisoning deaths.”

Big Data, Big Job Growth

Illustration of hand holding briefcase.

From the Fitbits on our wrists to our searches on Google, we’re amassing data like never before. And understanding that data is becoming a huge growth industry. Enter the WVU College of Business and Economics, which is launching a year-long mostly online master’s degree in business data analytics. It’s one of the first master’s programs of its kind. The college is also offering this as a new area of emphasis in the online MBA program. See a video online:

Home for the Heart

Vinay Badhwar

As WVU Medicine launches the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, the newly formed center will have at its head a master cardiac valve surgeon. Dr. Vinay Badhwar, formerly chief of cardiac surgery at the University of Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Hospital and director of cardiac surgery for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular Institute, will lead cardiovascular services for WVU Medicine. The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute will be headquartered in a new $200 million, 10-story tower in Morgantown, scheduled to open in January 2017.

Quote Solo

“The TV film we’ve already exposed and my radio tapes and this portion of our diary are being left behind just in case. If we don’t come back, at least CBS News will have this much of our report.” —Alumnus Frank Kearns, Tunis, July 22, 1957 

Frank Kearns, BA ’38, Journalism, and photographer Yousef Masraff went to Algeria without passports, visas or press credentials, to spend six weeks documenting Algeria’s struggle for independence from France. Kearns was recognized with a Peabody Award for his reporting. He also kept a diary in which he chronicled the violence and human tragedies he witnessed. You can read his account published by WVU Press, “Algerian Diary: Frank Kearns and the ‘Impossible Assignment’ for CBS News,” complete with commentary by Gerald Davis, BSJ ’75, MSJ ’08, who studied under Kearns at WVU. Davis also created a documentary about Kearns called “Frank Kearns: American Correspondent.” 

Everybody in the Pool

It’s a new day for swimming and running at WVU with the announcement that the Mylan Park Foundation, WVU and community partners are collaborating on an approximately $30 million aquatic center and track complex. The facilities — with a 4,000-meter track and 50-meter swimming pool adjacent to a diving pool — are likely hosts for Big 12 and NCAA events.

Play Ball, Chase A Grades

Illustration of mitt and ball.

When we decide how students should spend their 180 days in school, physical education is often whittled down to make room for academic pursuits. WVU researcher James C. Hannon in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and his colleagues have found that P.E. can make for better grades. In a study, published in the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, they found that student math test scores rose by 11-22 percent when taken 30 minutes after physical activity.

CSI for Deer

Darren Wood writing. When white-tailed deer are poached in West Virginia, the state’s economy suffers. Darren Wood, a doctoral student in wildlife and fisheries resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, is creating a genetic database to better help law enforcement handle the problem. He’s starting with tissue samples collected from deer that were harvested in 19 areas of the state. He will put the tissue through a variety of tests, such as subjecting it to high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation. The resulting genotypes will help law enforcement get faster results when little evidence of poaching remains.

Danger at Work

Exclamation point sign. Who among your coworkers is most at risk of facing violence in the workplace? It’s those ages 15-24. And up until now, violence at work against this group hasn’t been widely studied. Kimberly Rauscher and Douglas Myers at the School of Public Health – with the support of a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – are creating the first comprehensive national profile of workplace violence against teenagers and young adults.

LGBTQ Center Begins

Cris Mayo

Committed to building and supporting a safe and welcoming diverse community, WVU is launching a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center on campus, with a nationally known scholar of gender and sexuality at the helm. Cris Mayo — currently the director of online learning and professor of education policy, organization and leadership at the University of Illinois — will lead the WVU LGBTQ Center starting July 1 and will serve as professor in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Who's Afraid of Math?

Illustration of a number 7 eating a number 9.

When you’re anxious about math, you’re not as likely to pursue the science career of your dreams. Department of Mathematics Chair Eddie Fuller and associate professor Jessica Deshler are starting a study funded by the National Science Foundation that looks at the relationship between math anxiety and student retention rates in the sciences. Over two years, they’ll survey students in math classes to examine student anxiety and career plans and develop ways to support students through their undergraduate years. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 48 percent of students in science, technology, engineering and math majors between 2003 and 2009 left those fields.

Behind the Magazine Scenes

Rebecca Graham in the woods.

If you like the photos you see in WVU Magazine, there’s a lot more where they came from. We’re putting outtakes, test shots, throwbacks and more on a new Instagram account dedicated to our readers who enjoy magazine photography. You can find us at and at

Honoring Hot Rod

Statue of Hot Rod Hundley The next time you visit the Coliseum, you’ll find a tribute to one of WVU basketball’s greats. A sculpture of Rodney “Hot Rod” Hundley, created by Morgantown artist Jamie Lester, BFA ’97, was unveiled at the WVU-Oklahoma basketball game and is across from the statue of NBA legend Jerry West. Hundley, West and Da’Sean Butler are the only three players in school history to score more than 2,000 points during their careers.

Fueling the Dream

Since the University began the Dream First initiative last year to raise $50 million for undergraduate scholarships and fellowships, nearly $39 MILLION — just over half of the goal — has been raised. The overall campaign A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University has raised $952.8 million, which is 94 percent of the $1 billion goal with nearly two years remaining until December 2017. Since State of Minds began, donors have created 661 ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIPS through the WVU Foundation. That’s something to celebrate.

Teacher Eyes

Melissa Luna holding camera on cap and interacting with teacher.

We already know that teachers have eyes on the back of their heads, but now some of them will have an extra eye on their caps. Assistant professor Melissa Luna in the College of Education and Human Services thinks that when teachers notice their students expressing ideas, and then respond immediately, they become better teachers. So as part of a study, she’s equipping teachers with video cameras mounted on baseball caps and remotes that they’ll click to show they noticed their students’ thought processes. Luna’s work is supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER award of nearly $800,000.

At the Border of Tech and Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is turning to universities to help engineer a better national security. As part of the new Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research housed at the University of Houston, Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is using his expertise in facial recognition to help develop face-based screening technologies at points of entry along U.S. borders.

Matter of Fact Archive

Fall 2014

From the new art museum to acupuncture to shoe research, there’s a lot happening at WVU.

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Fall 2015

The WVU Beckley campus opened, an alumna took a case to the U.S. Supreme Court and new students prepared for zombie wars. Catch these and so much more in Matter of Fact.

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Fall 2016

WVU surpassed $1 billion in its State of Minds campaign and the robotics team was again the only team to win NASA's competition.

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Fall 2017

One alumna beat the pros in the Food Network show "Cooks vs. Cons" and another alumnus was on flights measuring Hurricane Irma. See what else is cookin' among WVU faculty, staff, students and alumni.

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Spring 2015

A 94-year-old grad. An artificial hand that works like a real one. A tree from Isaac Newton’s backyard. Learn about these and more.

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Spring 2016

This issue, the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute prepares to open, a professor takes cameras into classrooms and Morgantown breaks ground on a new $30-million swimming, diving and track complex.

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Spring 2017

We bid farewell to Arnold Hall, "meet the press" and applaud WVU's online grad program in software engineering.

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Summer 2016

Mountaineers went first in assisting with flood relief efforts in West Virginia this summer.

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Summer 2017

An ice drilling team took home top honors in a NASA competition, the sports management graduate program is ranked 10th in the U.S., and an alumna wrote the book on pepperoni rolls.

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