2017 4-VA Annual Grant Symposium at JMU

Every year, 4-VA at JMU hosts a grant symposium to showcase the work of its grant recipients. Faculty are invited to display a poster of their work and this year on September 20, 2017, speakers from six different grants spoke briefly about their projects.

JMU President Alger opened with the welcome address and Provost Heather Coltman introduced each speaker. It was the biggest turnout yet with more than 60 attendees including deans, department heads, faculty and students.

Dr. Daniel Downey talked about his collaboration with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on a 4-VA project called Water Quality Improvement Pilot Study for Montebello Fish Culture Station.

The water chemistry improved and we saw a tremendous response in terms of fish, which proved that the project is feasible for scaling up. If approved by VDGIF officials, full scale hatchery liming will be conducted in the raceways where trout are being raised. – Dr. Daniel Downey

Amanda Presgraves talked about her inspiration for starting the Fueled food truck and how it evolved into a platform for education, while Hannah Smith shared how it impacted her college career.

Fueled became much more than a dining operation. It became a platform for interdisciplinary, educational, collaborative learning. – Amanda Presgraves

Dr. Anca Constantin discussed her work with Dr. Shobita Satyapal on the 4-VA grant The Search for the Origins of Supermassive Black Holes.

Like any other discovery, it opens so many other doors. Together with Dr. Shobita Satyapal, we’ve put together many other proposals to apply for funding for new data through NSF and NASA. – Dr. Anca Constantin

Dr. Christine May talked about her work with Dr. Todd Scanlon and Ami Riscassi from UVA on a 4-VA project called Revealing the current relation between stream acidification and fish species richness: What is the trend after almost two decades of recovery?

Our study was originally funded by 4-VA, and that provided us with a springboard to get a larger competitive grant from the Shenandoah National Park Trust. – Dr. Christine May

I love this class (The Fueled Project) because it made me a better student and I found something that I’m passionate about.

Hannah Smith
Biology, Class of 2018

Dr. Karim Altaii presented the results of his case study with Dr. Olga Pierrakos on flipping Energy Fundamentals (ISAT 310), a thermodynamics class. Dr. Altaii redesigned the course so that instead of just lecturing, instructors used interactive learning techniques to engage students during the class.

Students reported confidence in their ability to solve related problems in their future academic and professional endeavors. – Dr. Karim Altaii

Dr. James Herrick and his team have been researching antibiotic-resistant plasmids and unexpectedly found that some are resistant to antibiotics that are reserved only for extremely drug-resistant infections.

We are able to directly capture plasmids out of stream sediment bacteria and we found some that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These are not the typical antibiotics. Some of them are reserved for the most significant clinical situations where you have extremely drug-resistant infections. – Dr. James Herrick

Dr. James Herrick’s slide demonstrates the outcomes and collaborations 4-VA aims for when providing seed funding for research.

This all started with our initial 4-VA mini grant in 2013. I had a grad student who directly got a position at the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services because of 4-VA. They called my collaborator looking for someone and we had the expertise. Stephen Turner at UVA connected with me, I got my student involved, and now he’s an employee there. I thank 4-VA for that.