The University of Virginia's College at Wise. Courtesy of FAMartin.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

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UVA Wise seeks submissions for conference on experiential learning

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is seeking submissions for a second annual experiential learning conference to be held in late April.

Appalachian Leaders and Learners: Conference on Experiential Learning will explore all facets of experiential learning including community engagement, study abroad programs, undergraduate research and internships.

The conference, which will be held on the UVA Wise campus, is scheduled for April 22 and is sponsored by the college’s Experiential Learning Hub, UVA Wise Connects and the Center for Educational Excellence and Innovation.
The conference will bring together researchers, community partners, students and local leaders from across the Appalachian region to discover new ways that institutions can share best practices and partner successfully.

Organizers are accepting submissions for interactive workshops, panels, roundtable discussions, individual presentations and posters. Proposal topics might include how to help students convert their internships into job offers, how to leverage resources for internships, common challenges in building relationships between campus and the community, expanding accessibility to study abroad experiences and providing enhanced research opportunities for students.

The conference also seeks proposals on engaging diversity, equity and inclusion in experiential learning, how to engage non-traditional students in experiential learning and how to measure
and study the impact of experiential learning.

Proposals are due March 31. Registration for the conference is $15 for faculty, administrators and community partners. Deadline to register is April 14. To register or submit a proposal, go to

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Virginia Tech grants support new faculty partnerships with HBCUs

Fifteen projects that are collaborations between Virginia Tech faculty members and colleagues at historically Black colleges and universities are launching this year, funded by Diversity and Inclusion Seed Investments from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

The program, designed to strengthen and diversity research networks across disciplines and universities, is one of several seed investment programs the institute runs, according to a news release from the university.

“Seed funding is one of the primary mechanisms we use to allow faculty to pursue new research directions that have incredible potential but might be prohibitively difficult to get off the ground otherwise,” said Stefan Duma, the institute’s director. “We know that more diverse research teams tend to generate more robust solutions, and our hope is that the collaborations formed through this program go on to yield joint proposals, publications, and other projects that far outlast the term of the original award.” 

The two-year grants provide $10,000 per year to each research team. The funding often goes towards shared equipment or technology, travel or student support.

The program has grown steadily since its launch in 2016. This year, California State University Channel Islands is participating for the first time; so are Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Myers-Lawson School of Construction. 

These projects received seed funding through the program this year:

  • Zinc ion batteries for long duration energy storage. Led by Feng Lin, Department of Chemistry, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University.
  • Actively capturing trace airborne analytes for ultrasensitive WGM-SERS biosensing. Led by Jiangtao Cheng, Department of Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with Hampton University. 
  • Collaboration on student design/build of a liquid rocket. Led by Kevin Shinpaugh, Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, in collaboration with Morgan State University.
  • Identifying a suitable controlled environment for enhanced flavor and nutrition of microgreens. Led By Yun Yin, Department of Food Science and Technology, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University.
  • mcNC-LFA: multi-colored nanocage-based lateral flow assay for rapid and ultrasensitive detection of foodborne bacterial pathogens. Led by Juhong Chen, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University. 
  • A partnership to identify and implement socio-technological innovations to accelerate upcycling farm and pre-retail food waste to decrease food insecurity in underserved communities. Led by Jactone Ogejo, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University. 
  • Effects of gravity on droplet evaporation and combustion of liquid fuels. Led by John Palmore, Department of Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with Prairie View A&M University. 
  • Outdoor games for Virginia: Understanding science, history and diversity in Virginia. Led by Scott McCrickard, Department of Computer Science, in collaboration with Virginia State University and Norfolk State University. 
  • Exploring the ecoethical identity for responsible AI research among faculty and students. Led by Qin Zhu, Department of Engineering Education, in collaboration with California State University Channel Islands. 
  • Building a collaboration pipeline for student recruitment in support of the NASA proposal. Led by Venkataramana Sridhar, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, in collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University and Florida A&M University.
  • Digital humanities collaboration with Howard University faculty and students. Led by Tyechia Thompson, Department of English, in collaboration with Howard University.  
  • DEI best practices and body of knowledge database in the construction industry. Led by Alireza Shojaei, Myers-Lawson School of Construction, with North Carolina A&T State University.
  • Interpretable AI for graph inference with application in neuroimaging: multi-source, multi-scale and integration. Led by Meimei Liu, Department of Statistics, in collaboration with Virginia State University. 
  • Democratizing design robotics. Led by Nathan King, School of Architecture, in collaboration with Hampton University and Howard University. 
  • Food security: Agriculture, engineering and the art of food in a culturally relevant context. Led by Ozzie Abaye, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. (ICTAS-ICAT joint award.)

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Tsai Lu Liu named dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Design at Virginia Tech

Tsai Lu Liu, who has served as the head of the Department of Graphic Design and Industrial Design at North Carolina State University since 2012, has been named the new dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Design at Virginia Tech.

Tsai Lu Liu

“During this important transitional period for the College of Architecture, Arts and Design, Lu brings a wealth of academic and industry leadership experience to the college and a vision for working collaboratively to elevate its programs, faculty, and national reputation,” Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke said in a news release. “His expertise and perspectives will be invaluable to our academic leadership team and to creating a strategic path forward for AAD that aligns with the goals and priorities of the university.”

Liu begins his new role at Virginia Tech on July 1, following Rosemary Blieszner, who has served as interim dean since August 2021. He also will be a professor of industrial design in the College of Architecture, Arts and Design’s School of Design.

At N.C. State, Liu fostered a culture of faculty and student research, established corporate-sponsored research and partnerships, and enhanced faculty and student diversity, according to the release. He also mentored and facilitated faculty members’ grant applications totaling more than $2.3 million since 2019. His scholarship focuses on analysis of user experience and applications of design thinking to industrial design processes, product development and manufacturing, and pedagogy.

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Sociologist Lynn Chin is next speaker in W&L’s Mudd Lecture Series

Lynn Chin, an associate professor of sociology at Washington and Lee University, will present a lecture at 5 p.m. March 2 in the Stackhouse Theater at the Elrod Commons as part of the Mudd Center for Ethics’ series on “Beneficence: Practicing and Ethics of Care.”

Lynn Chin

Chin’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled “Belonging in the Bubble: How to Transverse the Indifferences that Divide Us: Reflections on what caring as a community means at W&L.” This event can also be accessed via Livestream at

Chin is a sociologist whose main area of study is small group processes, particularly the structural factors that encourage people’s attachment to groups. Her recent research projects examine whether people hold stereotypes about the structure of status hierarchies, such that we expect them to encourage smooth intragroup coordination. She also studies students’ understanding of what it means to fit in and belong at college with a focus on how understandings of “fit” differ across race and type of institution.

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