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

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Fralin Institute offers opportunity to learn about the brain

For the ninth straight year, Virginia Tech scientists at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC will celebrate the brain with its annual Brain School program, “The Adaptive Brain in Health and Disease,” from 5 to 7 p.m. March 14. 

Brain School is Virginia Tech’s official recognition of the global Brain Awareness Week. Community members are invited to attend the public event. Hands-on educational activities for the community start at 5 p.m. in the atrium at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke, prior to three public lectures presented by local neuroscientists from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“This is a great event because it gives scientists and the public opportunities to have a dialogue on some of the most fascinating topics in the science of brain and mind,” Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology, said in a statement. “Brain research is one of the hallmark areas of excellence that is transforming Virginia to a leading brain state. We hope to engage as many community members as possible to share the excitement of brain science. In addition to the presentations by faculty research team leaders, we are fortunate to have several of the outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows share their work and passion for brain science with the community.”

Friedlander is an elected member of the Dana Brain Alliance, the foundation that started and organizes International Brain Awareness Week to educate the public about the wonders of brain science and the impact it has on our everyday lives. Working with the Dana Brain Alliance, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute has been designated annually over the past nine years as the official coordinating entity for brain awareness week in Southwest Virginia.

Please register in advance to attend Brain School in person. Face masks are required.

2022 Brain School schedule on March 14:

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Ferrum holds fundraiser for food-insecure homes

Empty Bowls, a longstanding tradition at Ferrum College, returns this year on March 13 and will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room in Franklin Hall on campus. Attendees can purchase handmade bowls and lunch to support the Panther Packs program, which provides meals to local children who come from food-insecure homes. The cost is $15 for a handmade bowl, soup, bread and dessert. Students with ID receive a $5 discount. Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted as payment.

In addition to the sale of the “empty bowls,” additional funds will be raised for Panther Packs through a silent auction featuring works from local artisans and donations from the event sponsor, the Blue Ridge Potters Guild.

The goal of this year’s Empty Bowls event is to raise at least $6,000, all of which will benefit the Panther Packs program, which provides more than 13,000 meals during the school year to qualifying Ferrum Elementary School children.

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Forest Service to close two trails in Montgomery County this weekend

The U.S. Forest Service will close two trails along Poverty Creek in Montgomery County March 12 and 13 for maintenance.

The Forest Service, in partnership with the Poverty Creek Trails Coalition, will make improvements to roughly six miles of trails in the Poverty Creek Trail System at Pandapas Pond, northwest of the town of Blacksburg.  Trails will be closed for the weekend, regardless of weather, in order to stabilize the sediment and make hiking safer and more convenient, including Snake Root (2.1 miles long), Jacobs Ladder (1.2 miles long) and Horse Nettle (3 miles long).