Coming off a record-breaking year for research funding, administrators from each academic college were asked three questions about the quality of the research activity within their labs and classrooms.
- What sets your college apart from other institutions in the world of research?
- Can you touch on the research experiences and opportunities offered to your students?
- What innovations do you see research within your college unfolding in the coming years?
See their answers below.
Keith JacksonCollege of Creative Arts Dean
- WVU’s College of Creative Arts recognizes that high-level professional activity as an artist (i.e. creative activity) is an incredibly important barometer of relevance in the artistic world. These professional activities, combined with professional scholarship and activity with professional organizations, provide a more comprehensive arts backdrop than many university arts units.
- With the recent addition of the assistant dean for student artistic achievement, our students are more engaged in both undergraduate and graduate research projects. This has also led to greater access to internship and festival opportunities.
- In addition to seeing a growing connection with healthcare, I believe our developing programs in gaming (at the undergraduate and graduate level) and composition for media will be huge additions to our research portfolio.
Tracy MorrisCollege of Education and Human Services Dean
- Research within CEHS is uniquely situated within a rural Appalachian context. Our faculty are dedicated to addressing pressing problems such as educational and economic disparities and the widespread impact of substance use. As but one example of this work, Project TRAIN (Teacher Resources for Addiction Impact Now) is the only professional development program designed to increase the capacity of public-school teachers who are managing the effects of their students' parental addiction.
- Our students are involved in a wide range of research and field experiences throughout the state that afford direct opportunity to assess needs within our communities and to develop interventions for positive change.
- We are excited about our expanding funded-research portfolio, which will leverage critical opportunities to refine and extend our mission to advance education and well-being in rural communities.
Jack WatsonCollege of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Dean
- Within CPASS, our faculty work vigorously to include research within the services that they provide to the community as part of the land-grant mission of the University. Many of our research projects involve data collected as part of the applied service-oriented programs that faculty run in communities throughout the state associated with issues such as children’s health surveillance, physical activity programming, adapted physical activity and coach training and leadership programs. When faculty combine their research with life altering service-oriented projects that support communities, it helps to make their research feel more fun and relevant.
- Students are encouraged to take part in research projects early in their careers. Most faculty invite students to engage in their research efforts as a means of mentoring and enhancing career development. As students gain more experience and competencies, they are often asked to expand their roles on endeavors. Several CPASS undergraduate and graduate students have presented their research at student and professional conferences, college- and university-level research days and for lawmakers at the state Capitol. Engaging students in research provides an excellent mentoring and learning opportunity for students and faculty.
- CPASS will soon merge with the College of Education and Human Services. Faculty in these two colleges have been successful at expanding their research profiles through funded grant proposals. The formation of this new college will allow faculty to engage more fully with the goal of creating innovative research collaborations. The sky is the limit with regard to exciting advances.
Darrell DonahueDavis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design Dean
- The Davis College and its research efforts are fundamental to sustainably feeding, clothing and sheltering the world. Our research is focused on providing solutions for West Virginia which are applicable to the world.
- Our faculty and staff are focused on providing experiential learning opportunities for our undergraduate students and fundamental hands-on research opportunities for our graduate students.
- I see our college being at the forefront of watershed management, utilizing remote sensing in the natural world and woody biomass as fuel and energy, as well as working to widen the public understanding of research significance and where our food, fiber and shelter materials come from.
Gregory DunawayEberly College of Arts and Sciences Dean
- As a college of arts and sciences, the Eberly College carries out research across a wide spectrum of disciplines and fields. Our researchers are recognized for the contributions in their respective fields around the world. I think what sets our research efforts apart is a strong desire to apply research to make a better world and improve the human condition -- ultimately, serving the state of West Virginia and its communities. This includes everything from addressing issues such as health disparities to climate change to understanding our place in the universe.
- Our research opportunities are year-round and summer is often a very active time for our undergraduate students in research. We currently have three National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates in chemistry, physics and astronomy, and psychology. Our students travel to conferences to present the results of their research and are often provided internship opportunities to further diversify their training. Engagement in research activities is the cornerstone for graduate education and, through this process, our graduate students learn to become leaders in a wide array of the research areas throughout the college. They are trained through intensive course work and mentoring and work in areas ranging from astrophysics and planetary science to social work, linguistics and digital humanities.
- The biggest innovations unfolding in the Eberly College are in our emerging data sciences program, which is housed within the School of Mathematics and Data Sciences. This field has the potential to impact a large portion of our research across the University and will continue to grow and gain momentum over the next decade. Further, Eberly is emphasizing work that examines the intersection of health outcomes in the context of the sociocultural and physical environment. We also believe that our research needs to embrace a transdisciplinary perspective which allows for a more holistic approach to examining research questions and problems.
Joshua HallJohn Chambers College of Business and Economics Dean
- WVU is an R1, land-grant institution and the state flagship. For the Chambers College, this means that our research not only needs to be at the highest levels consistent with our R1 status but also serve the state. Our faculty do an excellent job of employing their talents in a manner that contributes to scholarly discourse in their disciplines but also meaningfully impacts the lives of West Virginians. For example, Data Driven WV has been at the forefront of the statewide COVID-19 response by using data science to support vaccine supply chain efforts and PPE shortages, among other things. We also have the Hospitality Innovation and Technology Lab, which has developed products such as copper-infused masks and touch tools within the last 18 months. Our faculty have researched a gamut of topics from road maintenance to mental health in the workplace to how social media influences stock returns. These are all issues that affect everyone, and our researchers are finding ways to make lives better not just for West Virginians, but for people around the world.
- Students, from undergraduate to graduate, are afforded opportunities to immerse themselves in hands-on research with our expert faculty and staff. Several of our faculty work with undergraduate students on traditional peer-reviewed research projects through the university’s Research Apprenticeship Program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. But it’s more than just research – it’s also applied research benefitting the state. By embedding client projects in our coursework, students are able to apply their theoretical knowledge and skills to practical problems in industry and the public sector. Our accounting department – in partnership with the State Auditor’s office – helps local governments in the state perform financial audits that they otherwise would not have the resources to conduct. In marketing, students utilize data analytics to help local small businesses with their online presence and brand awareness. John Deskins teaches a course where students prepare economic outlook reports for regions throughout West Virginia.
- The opening of our new home, Reynolds Hall, in 2022 will usher in a new era for us at the Chambers College. The new space will equip the Chambers community with laboratories and collaborative classrooms that bring together innovate research and teaching with an eye towards advancing student education through industry engagement. The learning labs in Reynolds Hall, such as the Roll Capital Markets Center and the Wehrle Global Supply Chain Lab, will greatly expand experiential learning for our students.
Diana MartinelliReed College of Media Dean
- Much of the research happening in the Reed College of Media affects how people interact with society and the world around them. Projects like 100 Days in Appalachia, Women Beyond Bars, BrandJRNY, COVID-19 vaccine communications, and research around mis- and disinformation help enhance understanding, inform policy and create meaningful human connection and change.
- In the College of Media, research opportunities are available to undergraduate and graduate students alike. Classes at the undergraduate level take on semester-long projects that support research initiatives and facilitate real-world communications within our communities. This work not only better positions students for careers upon graduation, but for some, it becomes a lifelong passion that influences their entire career trajectory.
- Media evolves rapidly, particularly with a constant stream of new technologies. With those technologies comes great opportunities, but also new challenges. The faculty and students at the Reed College of Media are tackling both ends of this spectrum – exploring new storytelling (and receiving) techniques while also ensuring the integrity of news and public information.
Fotinos PanagakosSchool of Dentistry Associate Dean for Research
- Unlike many other dental schools, a unique aspect of WVU School of Dentistry is our ability to conduct research within Appalachia. The region has serious oral and overall health challenges. Our school is positioned to conduct critical research on these issues and translate our results into actions that can improve the oral and overall wellness of West Virginia’s citizens.
- Our students have access to a wide variety of areas in which to conduct research including basic, clinical, behavioral and translational science. Our third-year dental and fourth-year dental hygiene students all participate in designing and executing a research project. Results are shared at a school-wide program each spring. In addition, many of our post-graduate residents complete a master’s thesis project as part of their programs.
- There are several areas that will see exciting growth in the near future. The continued development and implementation of digital dentistry will provide a rich source of research opportunities for our faculty and students. The importance of the oral microbiome in health and disease and the role of oral health in overall wellness will also grow in importance not only for continued research but also translating the findings from the broader oral health community into new treatment approaches.
Laura GibsonSchool of Medicine Associate Dean for Research
- The focus on partnerships and synergy combined with an eye toward impact are unique characteristics of the research undertaken in the School of Medicine. When you combine that with the outstanding medical and graduate students along with postdoctoral fellows that are part of our research teams, you have a combination of talent that is poised to solve meaningful problems. The commitment to working as a team versus individual recognition and the commitment to improving the health of the state sets us apart from many institutions. There is also a culture of care for each other as a diverse scientific community that is real; often when we are recruiting new faculty they will comment on the fact that it feels genuinely different here.
- Research opportunities are offered to both graduate and medical students across diverse disciplines that go from foundational science to translational and clinical investigations. The School of Medicine is part of a Health Sciences-wide program for first-year medical students to engage in research between their first and second years of training in which approximately 20% of the WVU class participates. Graduate students quickly move from didactic training to hands-on research that is augmented by external experiential learning opportunities to broaden exposure to diverse careers and networking. In addition, there is a robust group of undergraduates that participate in research in the School of Medicine that often subsequently move forward to medical, dental or graduate school. Beyond focused content, we emphasize development of leadership and communications skills as essential competencies.
- There are constantly innovations emerging from the School of Medicine research efforts. The last 18 months have highlighted our capacity to rapidly translate innovation to impact in partnership with other schools at HSC, colleges across WVU and state partners focused on COVID-driven needs. While there will continue to be meaningful innovation in the area of COVID and other emerging pathogens, leveraging teams and processes that were optimized during the public health crisis, that will not be the only exciting area. School of Medicine research teams affiliated with the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Rockefellar Neuroscience Institute, Cancer Institute and Heart and Vascular Institute will continue to create solutions to take on significant health challenges that plague our state including health disparities that require focused attention. In the research labs across the School of Medicine basic science departments, I anticipate there will continue to be an exciting expansion of our understanding of novel vaccine development and delivery strategies, vision sciences-focused progress, the role of bioenergetics in health and approaches to mitigate the effects of stroke, to name just a few areas. It is impossible to anticipate the innovations that will emerge from the School of Medicine in the coming years because the teams move quickly and their creativity is remarkable – but there is no doubt good things are on the way!
Tara HulseySchool of Nursing Dean
- WVU is in the center of its own laboratory: Appalachia. Issues affecting marginalized populations around the world can be studied in terms of social determinants of health and health disparities. This is an R1 academic medical center in a rural setting, which is unique. We have large resources invested in a resource-disadvantage area with significant need.
- The National Institute of Health designated Appalachia as a high priority for research as residents experience extreme poverty inequities and have limited access to healthcare due to geographic isolation. Research projects in the School of Nursing will provide an opportunity for students to engage in the most pressing healthcare needs in the state. Research is a key element in a nursing education. Students have opportunities to collaborate with multiple disciplines within the university (five schools in the health sciences center, and a regional health system spanning three states). Our students work with faculty involved in a variety of research such as heart failure, palliative care, diabetes, loneliness, resilience, telehealth, informatics, mental health, pediatric migraine and substance use disorder.
- Our researchers will focus on several studies including dismantling structures that perpetuate racism and impede health equity; developing and implementing interventions to address the social determinants of health across the lifespan; and continuing to review and use holistic approaches to advance health. In addition, our research faculty will continue to test and implement new research design and methodology to improve health including telehealth, palliative and end-of-life care in homes and communities; substance use disorder treatment; and integrating technology into methods and interventions, just to name a few.
Paul LockmanSchool of Pharmacy Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives
- Our college is unique in that we study the development and effectiveness of various drugs for a number of different diseases. Of particular interest, much of this research is focused on diseases that are seen greater in the Appalachian region versus the other parts of the nation.
- We often include pharmacy students and some undergraduate students in hands-on research. This gives the students a large degree of exposure to our research scientists, graduate students and faculty. Many times, the students involved in the research will present some of the research at national pharmacy meetings.
- Immunotherapy for cancer is becoming mainstream in the fight against cancer.
Jeffrey CobenSchool of Public Health Dean
- As the only Council on Education for Public Health-accredited school in the state – and the only state located entirely within the Appalachian region – the WVU School of Public Health is uniquely positioned to tackle some of West Virginia’s most pressing health challenges. Our many partnerships throughout the state, from the local health departments to CDC and NIOSH to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, give us ample opportunities to combine research, top-tier training and service opportunities that often lead to an immediate impact at the community level.
- The School of Public Health is deeply committed to giving students the opportunity to engage in hands-on research, addressing significant topics that range from substance abuse to diabetes self-management to racial disparities. Those opportunities are driven and shaped by our expert faculty mentors, local and state public health agencies and various community organizations – all of whom ensure that public health students learn how to ask the right questions, seek and find the answers, and translate those answers into improving the health of the communities in which we live, work and play.
- The COVID-19 pandemic demanded quick innovation across all areas, and our faculty, alongside our partners across campus and throughout the state, rose to the challenge. Many of our research efforts, while driven by COVID, can apply to other areas of public health, whether it’s smoking, substance use disorders or safe driving, and I expect the School of Public Health to maintain its momentum by focusing on those critical issues. We benefit the entire state when we take a preventive approach and get ahead of such issues, rather than trying to treat people after they’ve become ill or injured. We’ve got so much great talent in West Virginia, so many great people to build this state. We’ve got to keep them healthy in order to do that, and the best way to do that – from a public health perspective – is to prevent illness and injury.
Pedro MagoBenjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Dean
- Our faculty, staff, and students are solving key problems for society and driving innovation in the state of West Virginia, the nation and the world. Our research is interdisciplinary with strong collaboration with other colleges at WVU and other universities in the U.S. and internationally. Our college was ranked 84 out of 404 engineering programs surveyed in the latest NSF rankings for research expenditures. This put our college in the top 25% of engineering schools in terms of research expenditures. The NSF ranking on research expenditures is just one way to measure the impact and momentum of the outstanding research done in the Statler College. Our research awards and expenditures continue to move in the right direction. It is exciting to see continued growth in our research funding, especially since the research environment is very competitive.
- Our students have many interdisciplinary research experiences and opportunities with our faculty and researchers in the different departments. Our outstanding faculty and staff are advancing their respective fields, providing excellent opportunities for our students to participate in cutting-edge research, and significantly impacting our state. Our students have the chance to work on important and relevant topics such as decarbonization, renewables, energy storage, smart and advanced manufacturing, energy materials, engineering for human safety and health, robotics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, among others. In the Statler College, we are also providing significant opportunities for our undergraduate students to get involved in research since this is an invaluable experience for them before they graduate.
- Research in the Statler College drives innovation and economic development for West Virginia by solving problems that benefit humanity today and by fostering an innovative culture in which our excellent and dedicated faculty and students are developing new technologies that can have a significant impact in the state, the nation and the world. In the coming years, our research portfolio will continue to grow and diversify in the areas of sustainable and secured infrastructure, cybersecurity, sustainable extraction and utilization of natural resources, energy, biomedical engineering and digital and smart health, decarbonization, among others. I am tremendously proud of all the exceptional work of everyone involved in our research efforts, and I look forward to what the future brings at our College.
Amelia RinehartCollege of Law Dean
- The College of Law engages in legal scholarship that seeks to address the real problems in our community, the state of West Virginia and the world. Our faculty expertise covers important and highly relevant ground in our changing world, including law and policy touching on social justice, health care, energy and environmental sustainability, education, consumer advocacy and much more. Our commitment to WVU's land-grant mission demands that we educate future generations of lawyers and leaders who excel while serving our community's legal needs, and it additionally requires that our scholarship face outward and dynamically shape society as a whole. We embrace these dual roles.
- Our students who are interested in building legal scholarship skills are able to work with faculty as research assistants and to design their own independent research projects for course credit. During their work with these projects, students develop important academic skills under the supervision of faculty and have opportunities for single or jointly authored publications, presentations at academic conferences, and networking with others in their research areas.
- The College of Law plans to broaden its research program in areas of regional relevance and service, including health care, energy and sustainability, and advocacy and the legal profession itself. Innovation in legal scholarship in the coming years will require understanding and reinventing how the law and lawyering not only solves societal problems but improves the human condition, and we want to be vanguards.