Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, has received a Fulbright scholarship to study emissions from vegetation in the Amazon rainforest. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.


Virginia Tech institute partners on national security initiatives. Virginia Museum of History and Culture offers workshops for teachers. Faculty at Tech, VMI win awards. Botetourt offers scholarship. Entrepreneur director named at W&L.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Virginia Tech associate professor receives Fulbright scholarship to study pollution in the Amazon rainforest

Gabriel Isaacman-VanWertz, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, is headed to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador on a Fulbright scholarship to study emissions from vegetation that can contribute to air pollution.

“The Amazon rainforest is a major global hotspot for emissions of reactive organic gases, which go on to react to manmade emissions to form air pollution,” Isaacman-VanWertz said in a news release announcing the award. “These gases are emitted by vegetation to serve biological and ecological functions such as communication between organisms, defense against predators, and heat regulation. My goal is to better understand these gases and their impact.”

The research will take place at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, which is part of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. The station is in Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador.

Isaacman-VanWertz will collect tests by placing samplers throughout the different ecosystems. The samples will be collected onto gas measuring cartridges that can later be extracted in the lab for analysis.

His program will begin in August and last four months.

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Virginia Tech National Security Institute, Institute for Defense Analyses partner on workforce, research opportunities

Virginia Tech’s National Security Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute for Defense Analyses to create new opportunities for workforce development and the advancement of national security initiatives, according to a news release from the university.

Virginia Tech is the first academic institution selected by IDA for collaboration. 

IDA is a private, nonprofit corporation headquartered in Alexandria that supports government sponsors on critical national security and science policy issues. Its current sponsors include the departments of Defense, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs and the National Security Agency. IDA also supports the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Virginia Tech researchers will work with IDA staff to shape research programs in areas including data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and digital transformation. Tech students also may be involved through applied research, capstone projects and mentoring.

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Virginia Museum of History and Culture offers paid professional development workshops for teachers

Educators across the state are invited to participate in professional development workshops being offered at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture this summer.

The Weinstein Properties Teachers Institutes are weeklong in-person programs offered twice each summer to private and public school teachers of any grade. The first session, the Story of Virginia Institute, runs July 10-14. Participants will examine Virginia history in the K-12 classroom through a mixture of exhibition tours, guest speakers, primary source analysis and self-guided tours of the museum.

The second session runs July 24-July 28 and will focus on the museum’s largest new exhibition, Our Commonwealth. Participants will learn to approach Virginia’s vast history from a geographical and cultural perspective.

For more information or to register, visit Registration for each session is $50, which will be refunded upon completion of the class. Materials and lunch are free, and educators will be eligible for CEUs and recertification points.

The programs also offer $250 stipends for all participants, in addition to a limited number of travel scholarships for teachers who live more than 75 miles outside of Richmond. Each session will be limited to 20 teachers.

The museum also will host a free early elementary exploration workshop for K-2 public and private school teachers. Educators will have the chance to explore exhibits, resources and programs that can be incorporated into early elementary classrooms. They will receive a free lunch and a certificate recommending six hours of recertification credit.

For information or to register, visit Registration will close July 16.

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Faculty from VMI, Virginia Tech among those honored with 2023 Outstanding Faculty awards

A dozen college and university faculty members from across the state have received 2023 Outstanding Faculty Awards from the State Council of Higher Education and Dominion Energy.

Nominees were selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. In all, 74 nominations were submitted this year. This group was narrowed to a field of 24 finalists and then to the 12 recipients, each of whom receives $7,500 from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

(Disclosure: Dominion is one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.)

To read more about the honorees, visit SCHEV’s website. Asterisks indicate Rising Star (early-career achievement) awards.

1.  Spencer Bakich, Virginia Military Institute

2.  Charletta Barringer-Brown, Virginia State University

3.  Kelly Cartwright, Christopher Newport University

4.  Amanda Kyle Gibson*, University of Virginia

5.  Rachel Harmon, University of Virginia

6.  Jeffrey Harrison, University of Richmond

7.  Khan Iftekharuddin, Old Dominion University

8.  Alessandra Luchini, George Mason University

9.  Margarita Marinova, Christopher Newport University

10.  Julie McConnell, University of Richmond

11. Christine Pegorraro Schull, Northern Virginia Community College

12.Eli Vlaisavljevich*, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Botetourt chamber announces scholarship opportunity

The Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce will award four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors from the county.

The scholarships will be awarded to one senior each from James River and Lord Botetourt high schools and the Botetourt Technical Education Center, and one homeschool student.

Applicants must be graduating this spring, have a cumulative GPA of 2.5, participated in school and community activities, have two letters of recommendation and plan on attending an accredited institution.

Applications must be submitted electronically at the chamber website by April 14. No applications will be accepted by mail.

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Margalus named director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship at W&L

Jayson Margalus, faculty director of maker innovation at DePaul University’s Idea Realization Labs, has been named the next Johnson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership and director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship at Washington and Lee University.

Jayson Margalus. Photo courtesy of Washington & Lee University.

Margalus’ appointment is effective July 1. He succeeds Jeffrey Shay, who left in 2020.

In addition to his work at DePaul’s Idea Realization Lab, Margalus is a professional lecturer and program chair of industrial design in DePaul’s Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. He concurrently runs Spacelab NFP, a nonprofit makerspace, and Margalus LLC, a design studio that develops toys and game platforms.