June 15, 2021
Announcing the 2021-2022 Recipients of the GCC Rural Environmental Health Fellowship
Please join us in congratulating 2021 REH Fellows Charles Sterling and Amanda Darling, and in welcoming Amanda to the Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program this fall 2021! The Rural and Environmental Health (REH) Fellowships are awarded to Ph.D. students working at the nexus of environmental and health sciences in rural settings, providing them with a 12-month assistantship and tuition.

Congratulations Charles and Amanda!

Congratulations to Two GCC Affiliates Promoted in 2021!
This month, GCC affiliated faculty members Dr. Todd Schenk and Dr. Brian Strahm were recognized for their outstanding achievements in teaching, research, and service. Todd achieved tenure while Brian received a promotion. Both tenure and promotion mark important milestones in their academic careers, so please join us in congratulating our colleagues!

Congratulations, Dr. Mary Lofton!
IGC Fellow Mary Lofton successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation last Wedenesday, June 2nd. Her seminar was titled, "Predicting phytoplankton community dynamics: understanding water quality responses to global change".

Earning her degree from the Department of Biological Sciences, Mary conducted her research in the lab of GCC affiliate Dr. Cayelan Carey. Future plans will include studying carbon cycling and near-term ecological forecasting in lakes and reservoirs.

Congratulations, Mary!
Ph.D. Opportunity: Species Conservation and Collaborative Governance in an Era of Global Change
GCC affiliate Todd Schenk is recruiting for a PhD position for a new NSF-funded Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems: Species Conservation and Collaborative Governance in an Era of Global Change project. Please spread the word!

For more information about the position, Read Here

[Photo courtesy of @Toddschenck. Twitter source]
Dr. Ryan Stewart- School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Ryan is an associate professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and leads the Critical Zone Physics Lab at Virginia Tech. Using a combination of field work, laboratory analysis, and development of modeling frameworks, his research focuses on quantifying and scaling interactions between water, soil, and plant communities. In addition to his research, he also leads the agriculture sector of the Peace Corps Prep Program as part of the Center for International Research, Education, and Development. Launched in Fall 2020, this certificate program trains undergraduate students who want to pursue careers in international development. Ryan recently celebrated the program's first graduate-- environmental policy and planning student, Emily Dalton.

Brendan Shea - Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Brendan is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) broadly interested in the ecology and conservation of elasmobranchs, in particular sharks. After completing his MS in Marine Biology from Northeastern University, he joined the lab of Dr. Francesco Ferretti in Fall 2020. His PhD research focuses on the ecological role of sharks and ecosystem consequences of their removal, with a focus on predator-prey dynamics, risk effects, and trophic cascades. As an IGC Fellow, Brendan understands the importance of communication and collaboration across disciplines and aims to apply this to his research and ultimate goal of shark conservation.

Three GCC Affiliates Announced as 2022 Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment Scholars

Congratulations to GCC affiliates Willandia Chaves, Ashley Dayer, and Kang Xia on being selected for the 2022 Institute for Society, Culture, and Environmental (ISCE) Scholars cohort! Willandia and Ashley, both assistant professors in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, will lead a project titled, Understanding the Role of Education and Community Cultural Wealth in the Participation of Black, Asian, and Latinx People in Nature-Based Activities and Civic Engagement. Kang, professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, will lead the project, Monocultures, Water Science and the Fight for Food Sovereignty in Guatemala. The mission of the ISCE is to increase the quality, quantity, and competitiveness of the Virginia Tech research portfolio by supporting innovative, interdisciplinary, and translational research that addresses critical human and societal concerns impacting the lives of people and places. Primarily supporting faculty activities that have the potential for extramural funding, the ISCE has invested over $6 million in research since 2007.

[Pictured: ISCE Scholar Tiffany Drape paddleboarding at Claytor Lake, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Megan Wawro and Tiffany Drape]
Innovative Research Projects led by GCC Faculty Affiliates Awarded Funding by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Cattle grazing across pastoral fields under the ever watchful eye of a... robot? That is exactly what Zach Easton, GCC affiliate, professor of biological systems engineering, and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist, aims to do in his recently funded project designed to facilitate livestock and agricultural operations. Easton’s grant was one of 32 that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) recently awarded to researchers who are examining everything from robotics to pheromone sampling. The seed grant program supports the priorities of the 2020 CALS strategic plan and is a catalyst for research that spans disciplines in order to advance technologies and enhance decisions for expanding agricultural and food systems. Three additional GCC affiliates awarded funding through this initiative include Ryan Stewart, Brian Badgley, and Gill Eastwood.

[Pictured: At the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center on the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research's campus in Danville, Samantha Smith-Herndon inspects greens that have been grown using a nutrient film technique hydroponic system.]
Workshops to Focus on 'Mind-Hacks'

Join the Virginia Tech Office of Interactive Communication & Empowerment (VOICE) this summer as they offer a series of three workshops that will focus on how we can apply lessons from neuroscience and behavioral psychology to be more responsive to conflict, make better decisions, encourage creativity, and create lasting change and habits. After attending all three sessions one be able to apply these "mind-hacks" so that we can respond to conflict better and perform better at work.

Sessions will be Wednesdays - June 16, July 21, and Aug. 18 from Noon-1 p.m.

For registration, email: ombuds@vt.edu

For more information about VOICE, follow them on Twitter at @VT_VOICE or visit their website here.
Microagressions and Microinterventions: A Presentation, Workshop, & Dialogue with Dr. Derald Wing Sue
Thursday, June 17th
10:00 am - 12:00pm EST

Dr. Derald Wing Sue will be addressing issues related to microaggressions and micro-interventions that respond to the U.S. socio-cultural and political climate. His knowledge and expertise about microaggression theory have been widely acknowledged and integrated into then U.S. mainstream public discourse as well as within the academy. During this event, Dr. Sue will share how his experiences, research, and scholarship can be disseminated and utilized at a place like Virginia Tech.

More info and register here
For questions, contact Dr. Nina Ha at nha@vt.edu
Virginia Tech to Recognize Juneteenth
For the first time this year, Virginia Tech joins the Commonwealth of Virginia in recognizing the significance of June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved Americans learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth will be observed as a holiday for state employees on Friday, June 18, 2021 though the actual date falls on Saturday, June 19th.

For more information about Juneteenth, access VT's Juneteenth Flyer or explore National Museum of African American History and Culture

[Pictured: The Juneteenth Flag © National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture]
Free Professional Development Opportunities for Summer 2021
Starting this week, the Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) Professional Development Network will be offering free summer workshops covering a variety of interest areas. Working with partners from across the university, the Professional Development Network fosters the integration of technology in teaching, learning, research, and daily activities for Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and graduate students. Some topics to be explored this summer will include: Canvas tools, machine learning, Diversity Summit 2021, and data carpentry.

Search the full TLOS professional development schedule and enroll in courses at https://profdev.tlos.vt.edu.

GCC Seed Grant Helps Emmanuel Frimpong and Hosein Foroutan Secure NSF Grant to Conserve Freshwater Biodiversity
The remarkable nest-building abilities of the bluehead chub have been largely overlooked by those studying how animals protect their young in order to gain a survival advantage amidst a herd, flock, or, in this case, school of fish. Through a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech researchers and GCC affiliates Emmanuel Frimpong and Hosein Foroutan hope to decipher the nest-building secrets of the bluehead chub to learn more about conserving its threatened companions. Also contributing to the efforts are former GCC Undergraduate Research Grant recipient Emma Hultin and current recipient Tal Tomlinson.

Research Proposals by IGC Fellow Amanda Hensley Granted Funding by EXCITE Program
Two research proposals developed by IGC Fellow Amanda Hensley and mentor Dr. Kathy Hosig, Associate Professor & Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Research, have been accepted for funding through the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE) Program. Their proposals include both formative work and interventions to educate the science of vaccinations within insufficiently engaged communities (specifically targeting the Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Rural, Agricultural/Farming/Migrant workforce). This work will take place in approximately 10-12 counties in Virginia where vaccine uptake has been low, based on data from Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Their team will collaborate with groups from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University, and the VDH.

New Coral Reef Restoration Technology led by GCC Affiliate Deborah Brosnan aims to Reverse Climate Change Damage

GCC affiliate Deborah Brosnan hopes to turn the tide of coral reef destruction through the program Ocean-Shot. Warming atmospheric temperatures and sea level rise contribute to more frequent and destructive tropical storms, resulting in damaged coastal habitat. The aim of the project is to build reef modules that mimic the design and shape of natural reefs, providing opportunities for colonization by corals and other marine life. Ideally, this will also help protect the nearby coastal community from destructive storm surges and rising sea levels. This came as exciting news for those who celebrated World Ocean Day last Tuesday, June 8th.

Follow Deborah's work on Twitter! @DeborahBrosnan

[Pictured: Marine scientist Deborah Brosnan does a research dive on a coral reef, in this undated handout in Antigua and Barbuda, 2020. Photo courtesy of Deborah Brosnan & Associates/Handout via REUTERS]
Research by GCC Affiliates Peter Vikesland and Amy Pruden Provides Insight for Antibiotic Resistant Surveillance in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Antibiotic resistant bacteria pose a growing health threat at both a local and global scale. Better surveillance systems and monitoring can provide an important avenue for preventing the escalation and spread of potential pathogens throughout the environment and human population. Wasterwater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) receive a confluence of sewage containing bacteria, antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), thus creating a key points of interest for antibiotic resistance surveillance. In this recently published article, GCC affiliates Peter Vikesland and Amy Pruden collaborate to evaluate antibiotic resistance through various stages of treatment at a conventional WWTP for the purpose of informing local monitoring approaches that are also informative for global comparison.

[Pictured: Amy Pruden (kneeling) and Peter Vikesland examine a wastewater sample. Photo by Dawn Jefferies for Virginia Tech]
Wary Canaries: GCC Affiliate Dana Hawley Speaks on Animal Behavior During Disease Outbreaks

While "social distancing" and other precautionary measures were new habits for many of us this past year, some animals are professionals at such practices. In a recent article highlighting immune anticipation in canaries, GCC affiliate Dana Hawley offered her expertise in animal behaviors during disease outbreaks. This follows a recently published review that explored pathogen-induced changes in sociality in nonhuman animals and in humans, Infectious diseases and social distancing in nature, in which she was a contributing author.

[Pictured: Canaries can kick-start their immune systems to deal with potential pathogen threats before the birds actually become infected. Photo courtesy of Juniors Bildarchiv Gmbh/Alamy/Handout via Science News]
Do you have an opportunity or announcement you'd like to share with the GCC community? Send us an email!
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