Julia Gholke. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

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Tech professor receives $1 million grant from NASA

Julia M. Gohlke, associate professor of environmental health in the Department of Population Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, has been awarded a $1 million grant from NASA. She will work alongside co-principal investigators Ryan Calder, assistant professor of environmental health and policy at the college; Samarth Swarup of the University of Virginia; and Benjamin Zaitchik of Johns Hopkins University.   

With this grant, Gohlke hopes to improve the ways that government agencies estimate damage caused by extreme weather events.  

Current analyses don’t fully take into account health damages, which means that total damages are underestimated and Americans may not be receiving the support they need to fully recover from extreme weather events. Gohlke uses mold as an example: If a family gets sick because their houses are full of mold after a flood, the government’s damage estimate would not include the damage to their health. With improved methods of estimation, experts can make better informed decisions about disaster relief spending and more.  

These calculations are used in the formation of policy, and agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use such data to write regulations. Better health damage accuracy also will change the way the government calculates the cost of climate change. This information will be of particular use to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s list of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters and the EPA’s Social Cost of Carbon (SC-CO2) calculations.  

In addition to calculating overall cost, the research team will examine damages at the census tract level to see who is hardest hit by these events.  

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Virginia Tech to illuminate Torgersen Bridge for homecoming

In honor of the Virginia Tech’s Sesquicentennial and as part of the university’s Homecoming celebration, a special projection will be displayed after dark on Alumni Mall’s Torgersen Bridge this weekend. 

This portrayal of 150 years of the university will explore history with photos, videos, and sound played on a loop. The event is free and open to the public.

When: On Torgersen Bridge: 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, Saturday, Oct. 15, and Sunday, Oct. 16 

The public can also view the projection inside the Cube at the Moss Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Zach Williams. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Tech grad student receives NIH award

Virginia Tech graduate student Zach Williams has been awarded a two-year, $86,330 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award program.

During a trial stint in the lab of Rob Gourdie, a cardiovascular scientist who is a professor and director of the Center for Vascular and Heart Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Williams discovered something new about a molecule the lab was studying. That observation could lead to new ways to treat arrythmias and reduce sudden cardiac death. That discovery led to the grant. Now Williams has joined the Gourdie lab full time.