Record high admissions posted again

Admissions officers reported that 18,800 undergraduate applications were processed this year, surpassing last year's record of 18,400. In addition, a record number of applications were received online this year, 60 percent versus 35 percent last year. Bolstering efforts to increase campus diversity, the number of African Americans accepting admission offers increased more than 40 percent from last year.

Karen Torgersen, director of undergraduate admissions, credits the interest in Virginia Tech to several factors, including its football successes and emphasis on technology. Tech was ranked 26th in the latest listing of top national public institutions in U.S. News and World Report, up from 28th.
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Institute for Information Technology established

Citing Virginia Tech's leadership in information technology (IT) and the need to coordinate the university's many IT programs, President Charles Steger announced the formation of an Institute for Information Technology. The institute's main focus will include professional and continuing education, business/technology assistance, research program development, entrepreneurship, seminars and workshops, and strategic partnerships.

Until a permanent director is named, the institute will be directed by Leonard Ferrari, vice provost for special initiatives.
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Pamplin launches dual-degree program

Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business has established a dual-degree program with Institut National des Télécommunications (INT) in Evry, France, allowing students to earn an M.B.A. from Pamplin and a master of science in international management from INT. Students can earn the degrees in less time than earning them separately, and to do so they must qualify for admission to both schools, complete three semesters of full-time academic work at Pamplin and two at INT, and undertake a "significant internship."

In 1998, the college made a deal with Thunderbird University in Glendale, Ariz., that allows students to earn a Pamplin M.B.A. and a Thunderbird master of international management.
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Ford donates to Formula SAE Car Team

Ford Motor Company donated $10,000 to help Virginia Tech's team get ready for the 2001 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition, held in Pontiac, Mich., in May. Tech's Formula SAE Car Team placed 34th out of 126 teams in overall scoring and fourth in presentation. Virginia Tech has participated in the SAE competition, which focuses on design as well as speed, since 1988 and won first place in 1991.
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VT team wins international competition

"To do well in competition, we have to be expert scuba divers," says Justin Hlavin, a senior in aerospace and ocean engineering and captain of the 2001 Virginia Tech Human-Powered Submarine Team. "Our team has very efficient divers." For the second year in a row, Phantom III, the team's hand-built vessel, placed first in the International Human-Powered Submarine Races. Also, team member Dotty McDowell set a new women's human-powered sub record of 4.3 knots. At top left, Hlavin and four of his teammates prepare Phantom III for a run during the races. This year's team included 15 undergraduates from engineering, biochemistry, and history. Held in June at the U.S. Navy's David Taylor Test Basin in Craderock, Md., the races tested the speed and control of 15 teams of students and their submarines.
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Fraternity fundraiser benefits MCEAP

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, in conjunction with Residential and Dining Programs, raised more than $17,950 as part of the Flex Out Hunger Program for the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program's (MCEAP) food bank. One of the most successful student philanthropy events in campus history, Flex Out Hunger allows students to donate their leftover flex meal plan dollars to MCEAP.

The fraternity, which dedicated a total of 2,660 hours preparing, publicizing, and running the event, set up tables outside the dining halls to talk with students. President Charles Steger, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Edward Spencer, several football players, cheerleaders, and the Hokie Bird all showed up in support of the event.
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Libraries' program takes top award

The University Libraries' Staff Training and Development Program has received the SOLINET Outstanding Library Programs Award for Continuing Education and Staff Development from the Southeastern Library Network Inc. Judges look at the project's effective use of resources, innovation, impact on the target population, and potential for replication by other libraries or consortia. Judges were impressed with Tech's program for its thorough training of more than 150 faculty and staff, its consulting with local faculty and community experts as well as commercial training services, and its wide spectrum of workshops and training opportunities.

Holliday honored for musical compositions

Kent Holliday of the Department of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences received an award for 2001-02 from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). The ASCAP gives the awards annually to composers who consistently write original compositions published and performed in the United States and abroad. Holliday's "In Memoriam: Karlrobert Kreiten," a piece written in honor of a young German pianist killed by the Nazis, was premiered on June 10 in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
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College of Natural Resources honored

The Nature Conservancy of Virginia honored the College of Natural Resources with its 2001 Partnership Award for the college's commitment to protect biodiversity as reflected in its continued relationship with the conservancy. Fourteen members of the college's faculty are or have been engaged in projects with The Nature Conservancy for the past 17 years.
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GM, Tech make $4.8 million deal

General Motors Corporation (GM) awarded the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) a long-term research and product testing agreement to examine various aspects of driver-vehicle interfaces for collision warning and telematics systems. The largest corporate-sponsored research in VTTI's history, with a possible eventual total of $4.8 million, the agreement provides for individual projects over a three-year period that will heavily utilize the Virginia Smart Road and VTTI's instrumented vehicles fleet.
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Tech to research diabetes, breast cancer

Thanks to grants from Virginia's Commonwealth Health Research Board (CHRB), Virginia Tech will start two new research projects on Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer. Both projects will take advantage of Virginia Tech's recognized strengths in the areas of biotechnology, health, and plant and animal sciences. Glenda Gillaspy, assistant professor of biochemistry, and collaborator Cynthia Gibas, assistant professor of biology, are exploring the possibility of a plant producing a human enzyme used in the treatment of diabetes. Barbara Davis, an assistant professor in human nutrition, foods, and exercise, is the lead investigator in a research project that will test the usefulness of a new compound for the treatment of breast cancer. To read more about the projects, go to
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Zia receives Humboldt Research Award

Royce Zia, professor of physics at Virginia Tech, recently won an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award for his work in the area of theoretical condensed matter physics, which focuses on the cooperative behavior in systems with large numbers of constituent particles. Zia, who uses a checkerboard and a computer to illustrate his research, is studying the statistical mechanics of driven diffusive systems. His goal is to understand how a variety of macroscopic states emerges from an ensemble of simple microscopic constituents.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, located in Germany, grants up to 150 research awards annually to foreign scholars with internationally recognized academic qualifications. Award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their choice in Germany.
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Geologists learning uranium containment from nature

Professor of geological sciences A. K. Sinha and doctoral student Jim Jerden are looking at a natural system containing a uranium deposit as a unique geologic analog for uranium-contaminated sites and nuclear waste repositories. The Coles Hill uranium deposit in South Central Virginia, discovered three decades ago, is possibly one of the richest uranium deposits in the U.S. Considered for mining, yet never developed, this site may yield knowledge as a natural laboratory for radioactive waste containment. The toxic uranium should, by all indications, have migrated into the surrounding environment because of a close water table, but it hasn't. Geologists are hoping to discover what prevents the uranium from traveling. So far they have discovered that high phosphorus levels may play a key role in keeping the uranium stationary.
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Rat race for nutrition

Rat genes could improve our Vitamin C intake. Craig Nessler, head of plant physiology, pathology, and weed science, has found that transferring rat genes into lettuce can radically increase its Vitamin C content, up to 700 percent so far. He explains that rodents, unlike humans, never lost the ability to make their own supply--hence the reason that while sailors were plagued with scurvy en route to the New World, rats were not.

Scientists believe that if they can increase the amount of Vitamin C--which can be used as a preservative--in lettuce, it will last longer, but they admit they don't expect people to eat rat-enhanced salads. Nessler does hope, however, that his research will result in other ways to induce production of the vitamin in crops to improve worldwide nutrition and prevent age-related dementia.
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Morris' NSF CAREER Award garners $502,000

John R. Morris, assistant professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, has received a 2001 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, meant to encourage outstanding young researchers in their work, for $502,000 over five years. Morris earned the award with his project on "Reaction Dynamics of Hydrogen Halides on OH-Functionalized Surfaces and Development of Guided-Inquiry Experiments for Analytical Chemistry," which explores the chemical reactions that occur between acidic gas-phase molecules and the surfaces of water-coated materials.
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VBI named Center of Excellence

Sun Microsystems Inc. has selected the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), housed at Virginia Tech, as a Sun Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics as a result of VBI's research programs, vision, and staff. VBI will receive more than $1 million in computational resources and support for post-doctoral research in a three-year partnership.

Virginia Tech's Department of Computer Science (CS) has research links with VBI, and as a partner in the Sun Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, the department will receive support for its research in problem-solving environments in bioinformatics, an area in which VBI and CS faculty already collaborate.
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Civil War Center moving toward national prominence

"One can never understand what the United States is until one understands what the Civil War was," says James I. Robertson Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor of History and executive director of Virginia Tech's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.

Robertson and William C. Davis, professor of history and director of programs for the center, have immersed the center in projects that help explain the war and its aftermath. Educating the young is one of their chief goals, which is why both nationally noted Civil War authors wrote the script for two videos on West Virginia as a Child of the Civil War, now being distributed to every fourth and seventh grade and every public library in West Virginia. The center will also sell the videos, which were underwritten by the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation and produced by Greystone Communications in North Hollywood.

Another project focusing on teaching the young will bring the country's top six history teachers to Roanoke, Va., to prepare a pamphlet on how to teach Civil War history in high school. Funding has been secured to produce the pamphlet for distribution to high schools throughout Virginia.

Work has also commenced on two book projects. One, which hits bookstores in fall 2002, focuses on Civil War chaplains and provides the first-ever roster of these men. The other, a five-volume set entitled Virginia in the Civil War, will look principally at social and political issues and features one book for each year of the war. Robertson calls the set the center's "flagship" project.

Robertson talking to the fifth-grade class at Gilbert Linkous Elementary School in Blacksburg, Va., who raised money for the center.

Davis says the center will continue its Virginia Tech Civil War Weekend and Campaigning with Lee events while lining up additional conferences and symposia.

"While battles dominate the study of the Civil War," Robertson notes, "the major concentration at our Civil War center is on the factors that brought war and on the people who suffered from it. Through our library holdings and productions, we continue to strive to become the major source for Civil War history in the nation."

For more information, go to
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