Burruss Hall at Virginia Tech. Photo by Dwayne Yancey.
Burruss Hall at Virginia Tech. Photo by Dwayne Yancey.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

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Virginia Tech receives $500,000 grant for semiconductor research

Virginia Tech has been awarded a $500,000 grant as part of a program supporting advanced semiconductor chip design and fabrication.

The grant is one of six projects that received $6 million total from partnership between the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Science and Technology Council of Taiwan. Other awards went to University of California, Berkeley; Texas A&M University; University of California Davis; UCLA; and Stanford University. The grant was awarded Wednesday.

Tech’s proposal involves using machine learning to optimize wireless circuits and systems.

“This can enable wireless devices to operate more efficiently and provide more robust wireless connectivity,” according to the abstract of Tech’s award, available on the NSF website.

The NSF said the applications of the $6 million grant program include artificial intelligence, communications, computing and sensing.

“Advanced chip designs promise to lower energy consumption of microelectronic devices and systems, reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing and increase performance measures such as speed, capacity and security,” according to the NSF.

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Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares with some of the winners of this year’s Legal Food Frenzy. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Attorney General.

The 17th annual Legal Food Frenzy, a competition among law firms and other legal entities in Virginia to raise money for food banks, netted more than $350,000, the state attorney general’s office announced.

The initiative raised $355,879 this year, which equates to more than 1.4 million meals. Nearly 24 million pounds of food total has been raised in the last 17 years through this charitable cause, according to a news release from Attorney General Jason Miyares.

For the third consecutive year, the Law Office of James Steele in Roanoke donated the most per employee and was awarded the Attorney General’s Cup. The law office’s donation went to Feeding Southwest Virginia.

Other winning donors in Southwest and Southside:

  • Smyth County commonwealth’s attorney’s office won for per-capita giving in the government and public service category.
  • The Appalachian School of Law won for both per-capita and total giving in the law school category.
  • The First Bank and Trust Co. won for per-capita giving in the corporate legal department category.
  • Yugo Collins in Roanoke was named a regional winner.

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UVA Wise professor wins early career research award

Research led by an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise edged out 500 other entries to win a Southeastern Psychological Association Early Career Research Award.

Robert Arrowood, a UVA Wise assistant professor of psychology, recently won the Southeastern Psychological Association Early Career Research Award. Photo courtesy of UVA Wise.

Robert Arrowood’s research looked at the potentially dangerous impacts of funeral home billboards reminding drivers not to text. It found a nearly 400 percent increase in texting as an immediate reaction after drivers “saw a funeral home advertisement in a computer-simulated lab experiment” and in a real world observational study, according to a news release announcing the award.

“Death Concerns and Distracted Driving: A Naturalistic and Experimental Study” was co-written by Arrowood, the lead author, and Cathy Cox of Texas Christian University.

The award honors scholars for research done within the first six years after graduate school.

The study began while Arrowood was a doctoral candidate and research assistant at Texas Christian University. He joined the faculty of UVA Wise last year.
The final paper is under peer review at Death Studies, a scientific journal focusing on understanding how the awareness of death influences our behavior, thoughts and feelings.

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The Crooked Road announces songwriting contest

The Crooked Road will host a songwriting competition in anticipation of its 20th anniversary in 2024.

Song submissions can celebrate The Crooked Road but should definitely honor Southwest Virginia’s heritage music traditions including, but not limited to, bluegrass, old time, stringband, mountain, gospel, blues, country and folk.

Submissions will be accepted through Sept. 1. Finalists will be announced Sept. 29, and on Oct. 19, a live-judging concert will be held for the five finalists at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace in Abingdon.

The first place winner will receive $500 and the opportunity to record the song, and the other four finalists will receive $100 each.

The competition is open to all amateur and professional songwriters. The entry fee is $20 and multiple entries are allowed. Submission information is at thecrookedroadsongwritingcontest.com.

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Youngkin announces board appointments

Gov. Glenn Youngkin this week announced appointments to several university boards of visitors with connections to Southwest and Southside Virginia:

  • Longwood University: Kathryn Roberts of South Boston, chief financial officer, Rob Land Development and Construction. 
  • Radford University: Joann Craig of Radford, CMG Leasing; Betty Jo Foster of Ringgold, former interim president, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and former vice president of academic and student services, Danville Community College; David Smith of Roanoke, sales manager, Altria Group Distribution Co.
  • University of Mary Washington: John Anstey of Roanoke, president, Anstey Hodge Advertising Group.
  • Virginia Military Institute: Col. James Inman (retired) of Moseley, director of planning and logistics, Afton Chemical Co.; Lt. Col. Jim Joustra (retired) of Orlando, Florida, former director, mergers and acquisitions, Walgreens; Rear Adm. Terence McKnight (retired) of Fairfax Station, CAES vice president, customer relations; Nancy Williams Phillips of Blacksburg, president, Legacy Builders NRV.
  • Virginia Tech: Dr. Nancy Dye of Roanoke, medical doctor, retired; William Holtzman of Edinburg, owner and president, Holtzman Oil Corp.; John Rocovich of Roanoke, attorney, chairman, Moss & Rocovich.

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Virginia Children’s Theatre receives matching grant

The Secular Society is providing matching funds for Virginia Children’s Theatre’s “The Show Must Go On” fundraiser.

The Secular Society has pledged a matching investment in VCT for $50,000 as a 2:1 match, according to a news release from the theater. VCT is looking to raise $100,000 between now and August 2024, and The Secular Society will donate $50,000 over the next year.

(Disclosure: The Secular Society is one of our approximately 2,500 donors, but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.)

This investment will continue for two additional years beyond next season.

VCT teaches theater and performing arts to 19,000 youth who participate in classes, camps, schools residencies and outreach, the release said, and half of the students served are economically disadvantaged.

A donation page has been set up on VCT’s website. All donations are tax deductible and will be amplified by the matching funds from The Secular Society. Donations also can be made over the phone at 540-400-7795 or through the mail at P.O. Box 4392, Roanoke, VA 24015.