Dr. Tom Shahady (left) researches water quality with students at Ivy Creek Park in 2018. Courtesy of University of Lynchburg.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs. Want more education news? There’s no full-time reporter west of Richmond covering education K-college. You can help fix that. Help us fund this position.

* * *

National Science Foundation will send water quality research teams from Lynchburg to Costa Rica

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Lynchburg a $299,259 grant that will fund international research experiences for students — from both the university and the surrounding community.

The NSF’s International Research Experience for Students grant will fund two teams of three students, over each of the next three summers, to do water quality research in Costa Rica with Dr. Tom Shahady.

Shahady is an environmental science professor at Lynchburg and director of the University’s Center for Water Quality. The research will support his project, “Exploring Surface Water Contamination Links to Disease Risk in Costa Rica.”

Shahady has been researching water quality in Costa Rica for about 15 years, often involving University of Lynchburg students in his work. With the grant, he also will involve students from the Legacy Education Center, a Lynchburg city-based post-secondary program that provides educational and work-study opportunities for underserved students.

Each of the two teams Shahady takes to Costa Rica over the next three summers will include an undergraduate and Master of Public Health student from the University of Lynchburg and one student from the Legacy Education Center.

Thanks to the grant, all of the students — from Lynchburg and the LEC — will participate at no cost and they also will receive a stipend. 

* * *

Brendan O’Donnell

Roanoke College adds new trustee

The Roanoke College Board of Trustees added a new member, 2009 graduate Brendan O’Donnell, during its fall meeting Oct. 27-29.  

O’Donnell, a native of Chatham, New Jersey, is a hospitality industry entrepreneur based in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Roanoke College.  

Following graduation, O’Donnell worked for five years as a senior insurance underwriter in New York City. During that time, he also invested in The Next Step Realty in New York. In 2015 he invested in 310 Bowery Bar in Manhattan’s SoHo district. He sold his equity in the bar in late 2016 and, in 2017, led the purchase of Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling Company in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Newport Craft has grown 500% in five years and has acquired two additional breweries, Braven Brewing and Radiant Pig Craft Beers. The company is currently undergoing a $17 million renovation that is expected to be completed in August 2023. Newport Craft has been named the 9th best run distillery in the nation and makes the highest-rated whiskey in New England, according to Whiskey Advocate.  

O’Donnell now helps oversee $15 billion in real estate assets for Bellevue Capital Partners of Newport, including three brick-and-mortar restaurants, five food trucks and Newport Craft. He said in a statement that he attributes his success, in part, to the business classes he took at Roanoke College, saying that he’s grateful for the professors who gave him the confidence to believe that he could be a successful entrepreneur if he worked hard enough.   

* * *

New River CC to hold Veterans Day event

New River Community College Veterans Office will host a Veterans Day Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. The event will be held on the NRCC campus in Dublin in Edwards Hall, Room 117. 

The program will include presentation of the colors and retiring of the flags by Pulaski County High School Color Guard. Music will be provided by Pulaski County High School Freshmen Chorus under the direction of Angela Talbert. Military veterans Dr. Don Stowers, NRCC Veterans Officer; Ryan Adams, NRCC Veterans and Dependents Student Services Advisor; and Dr. Peter Anderson, NRCC Vice President of Instruction and Student Services, will represent NRCC during the ceremony.  

Local Army veteran Jeff Bain, former school board member, real estate appraiser, and United States Army and Vietnam veteran, will be the featured keynote speaker. Bain attended Ferrum College before being called to serve a three-year tour with the United States Army in Vietnam.  After serving with a helicopter gunship unit during the Vietnam War, he returned home and completed his education at Radford University while working full time in banking, a career he continued for many years. Bain has served on the Pulaski County School Board, the Pulaski County Industrial Development Authority, and the Pulaski County Planning Commission; he also served as the first chief of the Snowville Fire Department. 

The ceremony is free and open to NRCC students, faculty, staff and the public.  A reception with light refreshments will follow the ceremony. 

For more information call the NRCC Veterans Office at (540)674-3693 or (540) 674-3600 ext. 4433 or email veterans@nr.edu