Lingjia Liu. Photo by Chelsea Seeber for Virginia Tech.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Want more education news? There’s no full-time education reporter west of Richmond. We’d like to change that. You can help fund us.

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Virginia Tech part of grant from intelligence agency

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has awarded a $14 million contract to fund a collaborative project between BAE Systems and a team of researchers at Virginia Tech.

The goal of the award is to develop tools to decipher an ever-growing number of radio frequency signals in an effort to quickly and accurately help secure mission-critical information, according to a release from Virginia Tech. Of that $14 million, the team at Virginia Tech is receiving a nearly $1.5 million sub-award to provide expertise in the area of machine learning based strategies for radio frequency anomaly detection.

Lingjia Liu, a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, serves as the principal investigator of the sub-award. Faculty members Jeff Reed, Carl Dietrich, and Harpreet Dhillion, also of the department, are serving as co-principal investigators of the project.

Liu is working on machine learning-based spectrum prediction. Specifically, he and his team will focus on “reservoir computing.” This type of computing is used to predict activity and occupancy of an entire network based on observations of a small sample piece of that network. Looking at a small section to predict activity on a larger scale is particularly important when it comes to secure communications because analyzing the entire network in a time-sensitive situation would be nearly impossible. Because information travels quickly, threats can cause damage on a wide scale in just seconds. Being able to identify a threat as quickly as possible is key to preventing damage on a large scale.

This computing method is also known as the recurrent neural network. The team will also use signal characterization to identify thetypes of signals being sent within the secure communications network. With these prediction and characterization techniques, the hope is that the technology produced will provide enhanced situational awareness, help target threats, and secure communications against malicious attacks.

By the end of the three-year project, Liu expects that real applications from this research should be in place to help mitigate the number of threats and malicious attacks to secure communications, according to a release from Tech.

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University of Lynchburg organizes College of Medical Science

The University of Lynchburg has a new college. In June, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Allison Jablonski announced the creation of the College of Medical Science. The college will serve as an umbrella for the University’s School of PA Medicine, which houses the Doctor of Medical Science and Master of PA Medicine programs. 

Both were previously part of the College of Health Sciences, which will continue to include the Doctor of Physical Therapy, the Master of Public Health, the Master of Science in Athletic Training, and a number of undergraduate programs, including the School of Nursing.

The new college will be led by Dean Dr. Jeremy Welsh and Associate Dean Dr. Jenna Rolfs. Welsh, who previously directed the DMSc and PA Medicine programs, is also in charge of a new office. He will lead the Office of Academic Strategy as associate vice president and associate provost of academic strategy, effective July 1.  

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Wytheville Community College honors two educators

Wytheville Community College recently recognized two educators for teaching and service. 

Wytheville Community College President Dean Sprinkle with Louise Compton. Courtesy of WCC.

Louise B. Compton is the recipient of the 2022 WCC Distinguished Service Award. Compton was recruited to the faculty of WCC in 1968 to establish the third associate degree nursing program in the Virginia Community College System and the only nursing program in Southwest Virginia at the time to prepare graduates to apply for licensure as registered nurses.

After her retirement, Compton provided hands-on professional nursing care to hospitalized veterans at the Veterans’ Administration Medical Center in Salem from April 1993 until July 2011. In recognition of her many accomplishments, she was named WCC Professor Emeritus in 1993. Later, the Department of Nursing established an award in her name that is presented annually to an outstanding graduating nursing student. 

Jim Harrington, left, with Wytheville Community College President Dean Sprinkle. Courtesy of WCC.

This year’s recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award is WCC alumnus, Jim Harrington. After many years as member of the law enforcement community in Southwest Virginia, he joined the WCC faculty in 2018 as Assistant Professor of Administration of Justice/Corrections Science.  

The Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Teaching Award were established by Nathaniel W. Pendleton, Jr. in memory of his father, Nathaniel Willis Pendleton, Sr., to recognize and encourage excellence in teaching and service at Wytheville Community College.  

Nathaniel Willis Pendleton was Wythe County’s representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, who, together with State Senator D. Woodrow Bird, introduced the necessary enabling bills in the 1962 General Assembly to establish WCC and appropriate its operating funds.

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Wytheville Community College names professor emeritus

Teresa Galyean with college president Dean Sprinkle. Courtesy of Wytheville Community College.

Wytheville Community College has named Teresa Galyean as professor emeritus for 2022. WCC began this recognition in 1984 to honor retired faculty for meritorious and significant contributions to the college. 

Galyean served as Assistant Professor of Psychology from August 1996 to 2001, Associate Professor of Psychology from August 2001 to 2005, and Professor of Psychology from 2005 until her retirement in May 2018. During this time, she directed the Appalachian Summer Regional Governor’s Program (1997-2006). She was the co-director of Wytheville Community College’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) from 2005 – 2007 and then served as director from 2007- 2015. She participated in numerous standing college committees, including Curriculum, Distance Learning, Professional Development, Quality Enhancement Plan, and Threat Assessment. She also served on numerous Virginia Community Colleges committees in establishing articulation agreements and programs of studies for pre-service teacher education. In addition, Dr. Galyean served as the WCC faculty representative on the WCC Educational Foundation Board of Directors, and as a member of the Governor’s School Board. Dr. Galyean also sponsored the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.  

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Appalachian College of Pharmacy honors students

Appalachian College of Pharmacy first and second year students were recognized for their achievements in the past year during an Awards Day Ceremony.

ACP Dean Susan Mayhew presented the Dean’s Award to second year pharmacy student Annamay Fry; and first year pharmacy student Michael Stewart. The award recognizes a student’s outstanding achievement and unselfish devotion to his or her class, the college and the profession of pharmacy. The recipient must have exemplified exceptional service and commitment to the profession academically, through involvement in professional/student organizations and extracurricular service learning opportunities.

Students achieving Dean’s List status were also recognized. Students named to the list achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher and included:

  • First Year Pharmacy Students: Logan Surface, Badri Abdi, Annamay Fry, Andrew Lee, Samantha Klug, Bishen Kafley, Karlie Wasilewski, Luis Villanueva and Josh Green.
  • Second Year Pharmacy Students: Divine Mbah Johnathan Ritchie, Shelomith Akpoghenobor, Michael Stewart, Colby Osborne, Matthew Neace, Dylan Brookman and Ayomipo Adeyemo.

Additional student awards presented included GPA-based awards recognizing Annamay Fry as the Best in Integrated Sciences; and Divine Mbah as the Best in Therapeutics and Best in Pharmaceutics. The highest GPA awards went to Divine Mbah as the second year pharmacy student recipient; and Logan Surface as the first year pharmacy student recipient.

The Academic Excellence in Pharmacy Award, which recognizes excellence in academics and professional motivation in the profession of pharmacy, was presented to second year pharmacy student Divine Mbah and to first year pharmacy student Logan Surface. To achieve the recognitions, the recipients exemplified exceptional scholastic achievement both inside and outside of the classroom. The Pharmacy Excellence Award includes academic excellence and other creative activities, such as community involvement linked to the student’s academic studies.

The ACP Professionalism Award was presented to second year pharmacy student Julia Deel and to first year pharmacy student Andrew Lee. The award recognizes the ideals of professionalism and excellence in patient care in all aspects of the recipient’s academic pharmacy career. To receive the award,  recipients must demonstrate a strong commitment and dedication to the highest ideals of professionalism in the practice of pharmacy and exemplify exceptional service and commitment to the profession academically, through involvement in professional/student organizations and within the community.

The ACP Distinguished Service Award was presented to second year pharmacy student Matthew Neace and to first year pharmacy student Tyler Sargent. The award recognizes students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership and outstanding service commitment to the college and greater community. The recipients exemplify outstanding service within the community and through the ACP Pharmacists in Community Service program.

The ACP Outstanding Student Leadership Award was presented to second year pharmacy student Ayomipo Adeyemo and first year pharmacy student Bishen Kafley. The award recognizes a student who has exemplified outstanding leadership qualities and demonstrated interest in either community pharmacy or health system pharmacy practice. Recipients are actively involved and take on a leadership role in various student and professional organizations, as well as extracurricular service learning activities within the community. The recipient exemplifies exceptional leadership qualities and commitment to the college of pharmacy, as well as the profession of pharmacy.

Community Service Awards were presented to students who exemplify outstanding service through the ACP Pharmacists in Community Service (PICS) program. Megan Little was the second year pharmacy student recipient; and Kaleb Coots was the first year pharmacy student recipient.