Hosein Forountan. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. There’s no full-time education reporter west of Richmond. You can help change that. Help fund us.

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Tech professor receives NSF grant

Hosein Foroutan, an assistant professor in the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to investigate air-sea interaction as a source of tiny micro- and nano-plastics in the air.

MNPs are tiny plastic fragments and fibers that have been found in virtually all ecosystems, including land, oceans, rivers, lakes and even sea ice.  According to Foroutan, they can be easily ingested or inhaled by living organisms, causing inflammation and damage to cells. They pose a major challenge to environmental management as they are difficult to detect, collect and recycle.

“Most existing research on MNPs has focused on marine environments, with oceans being considered the dead-end of plastic debris,” said Foroutan, an affiliated faculty member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech, in a statement. “However, the source of airborne microplastics is not well understood, and there are critical knowledge gaps in this area. We know that MNPs have been found in marine atmospheric samples, but little is known about the processes and mechanisms that control the release and transfer of microplastics from oceans and seas into the atmosphere,” he added.  

The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for early-career faculty, encouraging them to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their organization. To satisfy the award’s requirements, CAREER recipients must find ways to integrate education and research into their projects, as well as conduct outreach.

To do this, his team will develop an educational exhibit at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke. The exhibit will illustrate the physics of sea spray aerosols as well as marine and atmospheric microplastics, using a scaled-down version of the tank being used in the project.

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Roanoke College adds four to board

Four new members are joining the Roanoke College Board of Trustees. 

Harry Griffith will be the new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America representative, replacing Richard Goeres.

Greg Terrill ‘94 and Nicole (Brewer) Terrill ‘95 have been named as co-chairs of the Parent Leadership Council, making them ex-officio members of the board of trustees.

Cara Kenney ‘98 is the new president of the Roanoke College Alumni Association, which is an ex-officio member of the board. She replaces Joe Carpenter ‘99 in the Alumni Association leadership role. Carpenter will remain as a member of the board of trustees.  

Harry Griffith is the retired pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach. Griffith is a 1974 graduate of California Lutheran College, where he majored in religion and was the first Black American senior class president. Griffith also served with the U.S. Marines Corps and the U.S. Navy and has received many military commendations. His daughter, Karen Griffith, is a Roanoke College graduate from 2019 and is now a coordinator of management services for the homeless at The Planning Council of Hampton Roads. 

The Terrills are the new co-chairs of the Parent Leadership Council. Greg Terrill majored in English at Roanoke College and received an M.B.A. from Seton Hall University. He worked as a research analyst at CIBC Oppenheimer and is the president of Chervan Inc. and of TXTUR, furniture manufacturing companies based in Roanoke. The Terrills’ daughter, Nora Terrill ‘24, is an environmental studies major at Roanoke College.

Nicole Terrill holds a B.A. in English and sociology from Roanoke and a Master of Public Health from Colombia University. She has a well-known working background in healthcare administration, project management and education, and is a community volunteer.

Cara Kenney is a 1998 graduate with a major in education. While working with Arlington Public Schools, Kenney earned her Master of Education from the University of Virginia. Kenny has been a teacher since 1999. She received a gifted education endorsement, a National Board Certification, was an adjunct professor at the UVA Higher Education Center, was on the literacy committee chair and led professional development at Oakland Elementary School. From 2013 to today, Kenney was a part of the Valley Youth Hockey Association Board and was a volunteer coach for the Learn to Play Hockey organization. She has also served as a Roanoke College Friendship Family Host. Most recently, she has served as the Roanoke College Alumni Association Executive Council Secretary and Communications Director. Kenney and her husband, Patrick Kenney ’99, have three sons. Patrick Kenney was a political science major and a U.S. history minor receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Vermont.

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Betsy Giilliam with Wytheville Community College President Dean Sprinkle. Courtesy of WCC.

Wytheville Community College names Support Staff Emeritus

Betsy Gillman was recently selected as the Support Staff Emeritus of Wytheville Community College for 2022. WCC began this recognition in 1997 to honor retired classified staff for meritorious and significant contributions to the college. The recipient is chosen by an ad-hoc committee composed of support staff.

Gillman earned a clerical arts certificate from WCC in 1975, and an associate of applied science in office systems technology from WCC in 1999. She began working at WCC in November 1991 and held positions in the human resources department as a switchboard operator, office services assistant, office services specialist, administrative and program specialist, administrative and office specialist, and human resource analyst. She retired July 1, 2015, after nearly 24 years of service. Gillman returned to WCC as part-time administrative and office specialist from August 2015 to August 2018.

She is still a member of the Wytheville Community College Concert Band.