Student Quotes

The research I conducted gave me experiences that I would have not been able to receive from a classroom. Working on this project helped me thoroughly understand complex aspects of biology in a fun and engaging setting.

Because of 4-VA’s funding and continued support, our team has been able to progress towards numerous expansions of this project that may benefit exponentially more patients in need. We plan to use this current hearing research to expand our knowledge of the field, to monitor surgical success, to measure learning of new skills, to treat and train our brains, and more. There is a serious opportunity to make a difference here… and I am thrilled to find out where we can take this project. This exciting future would not have been possible without the constant support of 4-VA.

It is clear to me and the other University Innovation Fellows that the guidance and support from 4-VA has been vital to our success as a group of aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs who want to enhance the learning experience on our campus. The resources shared with us have been very helpful but what has been more significant to me is the willingness to converge on ideas and the range of knowledge the 4-VA staff has when it’s come to elevating a campus initiative.

The financial support of 4-VA and the mentorship of Nick have had a huge hand in the success of our University Innovation Fellows program. The partnership with 4-VA has enabled us to hold larger successful events that have impacted more students on campus than the UIF team alone could have.

4-VA’s funding has allowed for our lab to be a part of an exclusive group of scientists from around the world that are beta-testing a revolutionary DNA sequencer—the Oxford Nanopore MinION—and applying it to our research on antibiotic resistance genes. I wouldn’t be pursuing my master’s at JMU if it wasn’t for my amazing undergraduate research experience.

All that we have accomplished this past year would not have been possible without the support of 4-VA and Nick Swayne. Donating resources to send us out to Stanford as well as Nick spending the time to introduce us to community leaders and being a constant level of support for the five of us really made an impact on the difference we were able to make here at JMU.

4-VA has been an integral part to the current success of our RAPID System. With their gracious gift, we have been able to stay on course with our goals for improving the system and creating a more intuitive, student-friendly, and reliable experience for all. I cannot imagine what stage our system would be in if it was not for 4-VA’s support.

Collaborative Value

This is seed funding—it enables some data collection and a forum to connect with other collaborators that get the wheels turning. It offers a reason and a focus for taking comments like “We should work together!” and actually acting on them. Thanks so much!

A fantastic program that really helped to foster and grow a new collaboration with my colleague at JMU, helped my student by enabling him to focus on the research, and advanced the project we are working on in a very meaningful way. Many thanks!

I work with many collaborators worldwide, but still I find there is tremendous value in fostering more local interactions. This program has worked out wonderfully for us and, I believe, achieved its goals with flying colors.

4-VA was a springboard to lots of good work and collaboration.

The conversations started at the symposium will, I hope, lead to fruitful cross-university collaborations in the future.

The grants create bridges between the [five] institutions and it tries to convert weaknesses into strengths.

I learned that we have endless resources… when our institutions join together around the table. We are stronger in numbers when we band together and tackle a common cause/problem. As we birthed ideas and shared stories it was amazing to watch how at one institution a concern/problem could be solved using another institution’s resources.

In doing big projects, it is often difficult for a single professor to solve all the problems of, say a landfill. But if you have a group of professors, an ecologist, a groundwater hydrologist, and an archaeologist and [you] unite these different people, there is a lot that you can do together than you can’t do separately.

4-VA provided an opportunity to work together, to reach out, and to connect with colleagues across universities.

4-VA funding has allowed us to increase the scholarly impact of our collaborative work after the course concluded. We have given a workshop to JMU faculty to help others integrate bio-inspiration into college courses for interdisciplinary work, and we published and presented our findings and lessons learned at a STEM education conference. 4-VA funding has also supported us in planning the next iteration of the interdisciplinary course to be offered at VT and JMU. The instructors will again collaborate and may require the students to collaborate as well.

Funding from 4-VA provided the opportunity to initiate this research project and develop collaborations that facilitated additional grant funding from the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

4-VA’s investment provided an important first step in assessing the long-term benefits of Virginia’s early childhood programs.

Collaborative Research

This work has been a critical part of me having a productive first year as a tenure-track faculty and I am grateful. I also think that this work will be a foundation for one of my graduate student’s dissertation.

With 4-VA funding, I am able to explore new research direction with the help of more intensive collaboration with other Virginia institutions that I used to have no contact with.

The grant is crucial for my group to start research in the new direction of bubble physics and seeds what I believe will be a long-term, productive collaboration between my group and Feitosa’s group at JMU.

Our collaboration with Dr. Cheng from VT has been vital to strengthen the investigations of soft materials at JMU. We anticipate a long and fruitful research collaboration through 4-VA in the area of soft matter for the foreseeable future.

This research would not have happened without the 4-VA funding. I would not have had the graduate student support, ability to access data, or be able to rationalize my time on this work. It’s been wonderful to be able to generate multiple conference papers and journal articles from this research. Doing so has helped me position myself in a good spot early in my career that hopefully will lead to subsequent funding opportunities.

We are now able to sequence the DNA responsible for the antibiotic resistance we have observed, enabling us to identify the specific genes involved. Also, this has funded a new capability in DNA sequencing—using the Oxford Nanopore MinION, which we are testing before it goes on the market—that is usable by undergraduates.

Without a doubt 4-VA scale-up funding made it possible to continue our work and fund key members of our team while we pursued additional external funding opportunities.

The 4-VA grant provided essential research supplies and small equipment to make the research possible. The grant also allowed me to travel to other institutions and collaborate with experts in allied fields of research (biology, chemistry, food science), which made this project much richer in design and execution that it would have been without the grant.

4-VA revitalized my research project. I am able to involve more undergraduates in my research program, furthering the educational aims of JMU. With this experience, these students have successfully been accepted into postgraduate professional health programs and also into graduate programs. To date, I have trained 10 undergraduate students and 1 masters student. Further, I have been able to start presenting research findings at meetings, thus increasing the research profile of JMU and the state of Virginia. To date, 3 presentations have been made at the state, regional, and national levels.

4-VA as an organization is instrumental to my research for a number of reasons. The grant has enabled me to undertake experimental research, and to create contacts with other researchers also interested in the topic. Also, 4-VA is committed to supporting innovative research, which has been hugely important in helping me bridge humanities practice with STEM disciplines.

4-VA has significantly helped both projects in terms of being able to use specialized equipment that we would have not otherwise had access to as well as to develop computational bioinformatics protocols for the teaching in the lab and in class.

Summer research is key. 4-VA has been a tremendous resource by providing an undergraduate student in the lab this summer, which helps build the groundwork for writing proposals for further funding.

This funding has allowed our research to move forward not only in the laboratory, but also publicly. Because of 4-VA, our research was able to be presented at a large-scale conference (the Association for Research in Otolaryngology) formally and in poster-form. This led to the opportunity to meet with other brilliant researchers, from across the country and internationally, to discuss our current results and how to further progress the project. Most importantly, these funds have opened up new doors for this project in seeking additional funding. By showing other investors that our project is already endorsed by an organization like 4-VA (2 years in a row), it speaks volumes and reinforces the justification for further funding. 
Because of the additional funding we were able to receive, our project currently has enough funds to add more devices, fund more data collection deployments, pay more subject participants, possibly add a new team of undergraduate students to our current mission, and even more. The list goes on as to how 4-VA has been a launching point, a catalyst, and a constant line of support in our project which was created about 5 years ago.

Course Redesign

This funding was essential in buying me out of one class during the last academic semester and provided for participating in the training cohort. I would not have been able to fit in this work last semester if I had not been released from one course. The training was extremely helpful in making sure that a high quality course is developed.

4-VA has been instrumental in the ongoing development of this project for a number of reasons. Its very existence has opened up networks within and beyond my home institution that has helped me think about and expand the scope of the project. The start-up grant I received has enabled me to prototype digital writing solutions with a variety of technologies, as well as provide faculty with support to be part of the project and secure its ongoing development.

The funding allowed us to offer a half-day workshop for faculty from JMU and surrounding colleges on how to design a college science course based on what we know from the learning research about how students best learn.

Course Sharing

It was an opportunity to associate with professors and professionals outside of my own university and within the wider scientific community. I believe that these kinds of associations are important to make early on in your academic career, especially if you intend to pursue further education. We’ve had several distinguished guest speakers this year, and being able to observe the way they share their information with a small group is a very valuable experience for undergraduates to have.

The course is providing a great opportunity to experience ornithology in a more general sense and to learn about a wide range of topics that I would never be able to cover otherwise.

Students are initially surprised by the ‘Star Trek-like vibe’ of the telepresence classroom and I think a lot of professional interaction in the future will happen this way.

4-VA funding made the simulations course better because I was able to create various models of war and diplomacy—and 4-VA funds permitted students from two different campuses to interact in ways that simulate interactions between people from different countries.

International relations (IR) taught in the classroom is utopian. It seems so simple—to the point that you began to question how the world is in so much conflict. It is not until you are pitted against enemies, or, in our case, rival schools that you begin to understand the complexity of IR in the real world. Rules are broken, people cheat the classroom prescribed systems and tactics, and egos flare. Without 4-VA, I would not have had the chance to test my knowledge in real-life situations and I wouldn’t fully understand international relations.

Dr. Kaussler’s class was unlike any learning experience I’ve previously had at college. The simulation component facilitated by the 4-VA network enabled me to take the concepts discussed in lecture and apply them in a real-life context, strengthening my understanding of the material and topics in a collaborative learning environment. It was one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken part of here at JMU, and really contributed to my knowledge of international affairs.

The Center for Wind Energy has hosted 1-2 KidWind Challenges per year in Virginia since 2012. This year, the center proposed to host 4 challenges as well as the Eastern Regional Finals at JMU. This could not have happened without the 4-VA funding and the collaborations that were built because of the award.

Degree Completion

As a full time employee, wife, and mother of two, finding time to sit in a traditional classroom is extremely difficult. Distance learning (online) courses provide me with the convenience and flexibility of studying from home or anywhere with an internet connection.

One of the most important things I learned and incorporate in my online teaching, is that to be effective students need to feel instructor presence in the course. Online courses are not ‘plug and play’— they require faculty to be online daily, even if in short time periods in order to communicate timely with students. I feel like I know my online students better than some of my face to face students because of these active communications, and I can tell they appreciate it.

Programs such as these require a tremendous amount of self-motivation and structure, but the fact that you can do it on your own time and still be active in all other aspects of your life makes it all worth it.