Blake Johnson. Courtesy of 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. You can help change that. Help fund us.

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Tech’s Johnson wins National Science Foundation grant

Blake Johnson, an associate professor in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to develop biosensors with improved measurement confidence and speed.

Johnson’s research suggests that using biosensor time series data and physics-based supervised machine learning — a form of artificial intelligence that makes predictions from data — can reduce the probability of erroneous results.

The CAREER award will afford Johnson and his team the opportunity to integrate physiochemical process modeling and supervised machine learning and chemical engineering and apply its methodology across various sensor types, sizes, form factors, and data structures. 

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 organizations. To satisfy the award’s requirements, CAREER recipients must find ways to integrate education and research into their projects as well as conduct outreach.

Planned activities connected to the award include gaming-driven simulations in biosensing for high school students; a virtual lecture and workshop on data archiving for sensor machine learning for undergraduate students; and virtual lectures on emerging applications of machine learning in the bioanalytical, life and materials sciences for both high school and undergraduate college students. 

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Emory & Henry women’s soccer wins academic recognition

For the fourth time in five years, the Emory & Henry College women’s soccer team has been recognized for its performance in the classroom by the United Soccer Coaches.

E&H, which achieved a 3.42 team GPA during the 2021-22 academic year, was one of 12 women’s soccer programs from the NCAA Division II Southeast Region to receive the honor.

The Team Academic Awards are presented by the United Soccer Coaches to college and university soccer teams that have achieved a team grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. In total, 382 teams from all levels of college soccer earned the designation.

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Heather Lowe. Courtesy of Wytheville Community College.

Wytheville Community College recognizes Lowe

Wytheville Community College has recognized Heather Lowe with the 2022 WCC Improvement of Instruction Award. Lowe joined the WCC faculty in 2021 as assistant professor of mathematics. She was nominated for this year’s award in recognition of her commitment to helping the WCC Instructional Technology staff implement hy-flex instruction to increase opportunities for WCC students to benefit from live instruction. She was also nominated for her willingness to lead the Math Department through the implementation of direct enrollment that is scheduled to begin in fall 2022.  

Lowe, a Wytheville Community College alumnus, received her A.A.S. in Education, and an A.A.S. in Science from WCC. She also received a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics Education from Radford University. Before teaching for WCC, Lowe taught dual enrollment math for Grayson County High School, George Wythe High School and Southwest Virginia Governor’s School. She also served as an adjunct math instructor for Radford University.

The Improvement of Instruction Award was established to recognize notable contributions to the improvement of instruction at WCC by full-time employees who hold faculty rank or who work as an instructional assistant. An endowment created by Dr. and Mrs. Len O’Hara funds the award. Len O’Hara served as dean of instruction at WCC in the 1980s.