Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Virginia Tech places five faculty on Highly Cited Researchers 2021 list

Five Virginia Tech researchers have been named to the annual Highly Cited Researchers 2021 list for demonstrating significant influence in their fields or across multiple fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. 

Compiled by Clarivate, a global company that provides data and maintains the Web of Science, the annual list identified 6,600 researchers from across the globe who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. 

The Highly Cited Researchers’ names were drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index, and the list identifies the research institutions and countries where they are based. 

Virginia Tech faculty on the list are:

Warren Bickel

Warren Bickel, an addiction researcher and the Virginia Tech Carilion Behavioral Health Research Professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, was cited for studies that crossed multiple fields, including a seminal study on why people with heroin-use issues make unhealthy short-term choices at the expense of the future. Bickel, whose research helped pioneer medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, identified key decision-making processes central to addiction and addiction recovery. He is the director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center and the Center for Health Behaviors Research at the institute, and is also a professor of psychology in the College of Science.

Wenjing Lou

Wenjing Lou, the W.C. English Endowed Professor of Computer Science, has made innovative and widely cited research contributions in a diverse set of challenging security and privacy contexts, including problems arising in wireless networks, mobile ad hoc networks, sensor networks, network management and routing, and data security and privacy in the cloud. Lou, who also holds a courtesy appointment in electrical and computer engineering and is an affiliate faculty member of the Virginia Tech led- Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, has been an IEEE Fellow since 2015 and founded the IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security.

Lina Quan

Lina Quan, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science, was cited for studies that cross multiple fields, focusing on the optical and electronic properties of emerging semiconductors such as perovskites for use in next-generation optoelectronic applications. With her research group, Quan employs a number of cutting-edge characterization techniques (ultrafast lasers, synchrotron x-ray) to study the photophysics of materials and devices with high spatial and temporal resolutions. Applications for her research are: light harvesting, light emitting, and other related optoelectronic devices.

Walid Saad

Walid Saad, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and IEEE Fellow, was cited for research at the intersection of wireless networks, artificial intelligence (AI), game theory, and cyber-physical systems, including seminal contributions to drone communications, edge AI, and emerging wireless systems (e.g., 5G/6G).  Saad, an expert in wireless systems and AIs, leads the Network Science, Wireless, and Security Laboratory and is a member of Wireless@VT, aims to lay the foundation of AI-native wireless 6G systems that exploit brain-like intelligence and reasoning to support the unique needs of emerging applications, such as wireless extended reality, which will constitute the cornerstone of the anticipated metaverse.

Zheng Xiang

Zheng Xiang, associate professor and head of hospitality and tourism management in the Pamplin College of Business, was cited for his research that includes travelers’ use of information technology, digital marketing strategies, emergent technologies, and social media analytics. His research focuses on the strategic implications of information technologies for the hospitality and tourism industry. He served as president of the International Federation for IT and Travel and Tourism and currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Information Technology and Tourism. 

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Mead’s Tavern in New London is unveiled as a part of the National Register of Historic Places on February 10, 2022. (Photo by Ellie Richardson)

Former Bedford County tavern gets historical recognition

Mead’s Tavern in Bedford County has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1763, Mead’s Tavern is the oldest standing structure in Central Virginia and once served as an ordinary that provided meals and a night’s stay to travelers in the town of New London, according to a release from Liberty University, which owns the property. The building was later turned into a school and doctor’s office before becoming a private residence by the mid-1800s

Recognition by the National Register has been a goal for Liberty since the university purchased the property in 2015, according to Director of Public History Initiatives Donna Davis Donald. Liberty has used Mead’s Tavern as a living history lab, conducting archaeological surveys and restoration projects with the help of local archaeologists. Also, during the annual New London Day, Liberty partners with the local nonprofit preservation group Friends of New London to educate visitors about the town’s history.

Donald said a preservation plan is in development and the university hopes to apply for grants to fund the work at both sites.

Donald added that having Mead’s Tavern recognized by the National Register will likely give the grant applications more credibility.

“When you make a grant application for something and you say it’s a National Register property, you don’t have to make the case; they know it’s been through that rigorous process and it’s not going anywhere, that its significance is already established,” she said.

The current work at Mead’s Tavern has involved stabilizing the foundation and restoring the front wall, which is believed to be the oldest intact brick wall in Virginia west of Richmond.

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Fralin Biomedical Research Institute scientists to discuss the science of healthy lifestyle choices in public seminar

 Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion will host a virtual seminar, “New Year, New Behaviors: The Science Behind Dysfunctional Decision-Making,” at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Researchers Warren Bickel and Alexandra DiFeliceantonio will explain the newest research underlying how we make lifestyle choices, the appeal of immediate gratification, and the psychology of healthier decision-making.

The event is free and open to the public. Register online to receive access to the presentation via Zoom.

Bickel is the Virginia Tech Carilion Behavioral Health Research Professor, director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s Addiction Recovery Research Center and Center for Health Behaviors Research, professor of psychology in Virginia Tech’s College of Science, and professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

DiFeliceantonio is assistant professor at the research institute and in Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and associate director of the Center for Health Behaviors Research, studies the human diet and food choices.

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Four-month dredging ban at Smith Mountain Lake begins

The four-month ban on dredging around Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake begins this week.

Dredging by property owners at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes is typically done to remove sediment and debris from the bottom of the lake to increase water depth. To protect fish habitat during spawning season, dredging within the lakes’ boundaries is prohibited yearly between Feb. 15 and June 15.

“The four-month pause in dredging helps to protect critical fish spawning,” said Neil Holthouser of Appalachian Power’s shoreline management group in a statement. “Fish depend on undisturbed shallow-water environments for nesting sites. The temporary dredging ban helps keep the fish population healthy and stable over time.”