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

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Tech scientists partner on multi-university grant to establish a field of ‘imageomics

Researchers in three different disciplines at Virginia Tech are partnering in a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish an institute in the new field of “imageomics,” aimed at creating a new frontier of biological information using vast stores of existing image data, such as publicly funded digital collections from national centers, field stations, museums and individual laboratories. 

The goal of the institute is to characterize and discover patterns or biological traits of organisms from images and gain insights into how function follows form in all areas of biology. It will expand public understanding of the rules of life on Earth and how life evolves.

Imageomics is one of five Harnessing the Data Revolution institutes receiving support from the NSF.  

Anuj Karpatne, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and faculty at the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, is serving as one of four co-investigators for the multi-university project led by the Ohio State University. Leanna House, associate professor in the Department of Statistics and faculty at the Sanghani Center, and Josef Uyeda, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, are designated senior personnel. All three researchers are part of the executive leadership team of the institute and investigators on Virginia Tech’s $1.4 million portion of the grant.

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Lynchburg professors discuss new books at History Seminar

Two University of Lynchburg history professors will discuss their new books at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22. The virtual History Seminar, “Challenging the System: The View from South Africa and the U.S.,” will be held on Google Meet.

The public is invited to join the meeting and participate in a discussion with Dr. Lindsay Michie, associate professor of history and co-chair of the University’s Africana studies department, and Dr. Mike Santos, professor of history. The free event is presented by the University’s history department, which sponsors History Seminars on a regular basis.

Michie’s book, “The Spirit of Resistance in Music and Spoken Word of South Africa’s Eastern Cape,” was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2021. “I lived in the Eastern Cape of South Africa for two years, right at the time apartheid was ending and Nelson Mandela was released,” Michie said, adding that she also got to meet the late South African president.

Michie said the book should appeal to “anyone interested in South African history, music, poetry, protest music in general, and different aspects of African nationalism,” and said it “concentrates on the Eastern Cape’s contribution to the larger narrative of the connection between creativity, mass movements, and the forging of a modern African identity.”

During her research, Michie also discovered an interesting connection between Virginia and the Eastern Cape. In the 1890s, a Hampton, Virginia, group called the Jubilee Singers toured South Africa, visiting the city of Lovedale and developing a close relationship with the people there.

Santos describes his book, “Rediscovering a Nation: Will the Real America Please Stand Up?” as “the result of my crisis of faith about this country.” He said it should resonate with people who, like him, have been struggling to “come to terms with what has happened to this nation and with what it means to be an American.”

Santos said he started the book about a year ago, writing it in “real time” and including such events as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He said he hopes readers are left with a “sense of empowerment” that prepares them to face the country’s future challenges.

Santos’ book will be released by Rowman & Littlefield on July 4.

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Virginia Children’s Theatre announces season

The Roanoke-based Virginia Children’s Theatre has announced its upcoming season.

“The Secret Garden” at the Jefferson Center, Oct. 7-8

“Beauty and the Beast” at the Jefferson Center, Dec. 2-4

“Lift Every Voice,” a “for teens” production at North Cross School, Feb. 24-25, 2023

“Willy Wonka, Jr.,” a “kids on stage” production at North Cross School, April 7-8, 2023

“James and the Giant Peach, the Musical” at the Jefferson Center, April 28-29, 2023

“A Whole New World: A Celebration of Disney,” a staged concert at Elmwood Park, August 4-5, 2023

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Griffith announces congressional art contest

Each year, the U.S. House of Representatives sponsors the Congressional Art Competition for high school students. The winner in each congressional district will have his or her work selected for display in the Capitol. Last year, Karen Villanueva of Blacksburg High School won the competition in the 9th District with her work Road Back Home.

“The theme for this year’s contest is ‘Appalachian America,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, in a statement. “I look forward to seeing how the young artists of the Ninth will use their talents in exploration of this theme.”

Interested students must submit a photograph of their original artwork to either the Christiansburg or Abingdon district office by 5:00 pm on Friday, April 22 for consideration. Each entry must be accompanied by a completed student information release form, which is available by contacting a Ninth District office or visiting

The winning artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol complex for one year. In addition, the second and third place selections will be on display in one of the Ninth District offices.

To read the complete listing of rules and guidelines or download the Student Release Form for the Congressional Art Competition, please visit Faculty or students with any additional questions about the competition may contact Josh Hess at (540) 381-5671 or Tammie Bebout at (276) 525-1405 or by email at or