Virginia Tech Magazine
Fall 2008

Hok-E-News, Virginia Tech Magazine's online-only feature, is updated quarterly.

medieval-style dining
battling infectious diseases
Research magazine
Newman Library

Medieval Feast and Faire held by dining services garners national honors
by Chris Gustin

Virginia Tech's Housing and Dining Services was recently awarded a 2008 Best Concept award by Food Management Magazine, a gold medal, and the grand prize Loyal E. Horton award for special event catering by the National Association of College and University Food Services for the Medieval Feast and Faire dinner.

The Medieval Feast and Faire, held in Owens Banquet Room and Hokie Grill & Co. on March 30, 2008, featured authentic medieval decorations, games, fortune-tellers, and a menu of foods true to the period. The event was held to offer students a fun alternative to the typical collegiate dining experience, as well as to thank the dining plan holders for their loyalty.

The best concept awards are presented each year by Food Management Magazine in recognition of outstanding foodservice innovations, with winners selected over a series of elimination heats by the magazine editors. The award was be presented to Rick Johnson, director of Virginia Tech Housing and Dining Services, during the 2008 Food Management Ideas Conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 28 through Oct. 30.

The grand prize Loyal E. Horton award for special event catering, which is designed to recognize exemplary menus and special event planning, was presented at the National Association of Collge and University Food Services 50th national conference, held on July 14 in Washington, D.C. The Loyal E. Horton awards contest, a highly competitive and prestigious peer-recognition program, is open to all active members of the association.

Medieval Feast and Faire

Loyal E. Horton grand prize-winners for each category are selected from that category's gold award winners.

In addition to the grand prize Loyal E. Horton award, the National Association of College and University Food Services also awarded a silver and a bronze Loyal E. Horton award to housing and dining services for their "Road trip" and "Breakfast at Brennan's" special events, respectively.

Virginia Tech holds numerous special dining events throughout the school year.

Learn more about special dining events at

Learn more about Housing and Dining Services tradition of award-winning programming, venues, and service at

Prominent infectious diseases expert opens Virginia Tech deans' forum
by Jeffrey Douglas, APR

The scientist appointed to lead a major new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative to combat infectious diseases presented the keynote address during Virginia Tech's Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Lonnie King, senior veterinarian and director of the center's National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases in Atlanta, discussed "One Health" on Sept. 28 in Burruss Hall Auditorium.

The full-day academic symposium began on Sept. 29 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and featured other visiting experts, as well as Virginia Tech faculty members who showcased the university's latest research activities and expertise within the area of infectious diseases. The presentations and scientific abstracts were presented within the four main categories of prevention and control of infectious diseases, infectious disease ecology and epidemiology, molecular pathogenesis, and host-pathogen interactions.

The Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases was organized and hosted by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Tech's College of Science.

"Infectious diseases have shaped the course of civilization and they continue to do so today," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, a noted veterinary immunologist and dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. "Virginia Tech researchers are doing significant work in infectious diseases and in the biomedical sciences in general. Our goal with this forum is to highlight the work and the progress being made and stimulate new approaches that can drive new breakthroughs in the future."

The Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases was the fourth in a series of forums that are intended to showcase activities within the university targeted at issues of topical interest to society. Earlier forums have focused on energy and sustainability; the environment; and health, food, and nutrition.

On Sept. 29, the Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases featured a major address in each of the four topical areas, several presentations focused on major research programs underway at the university, and an extensive series of scientific posters that described various research programs underway.

"One of our overarching goals with this forum is to foster a more interdisciplinary approach to our infectious disease research," said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science, who noted that infectious disease research is a major component of the university's discovery domain. "We have a number of programs underway in different colleges and departments. Through the presentation of this forum and the development of related materials, we hope to increase collaboration among our scientists."

The Molecular Pathogenesis session featured a talk entitled "Escherichia coli Biofilms, Bottlenecks, and Host Responses in Urinary Tract Infections" by Dr. Scott Hultgren of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York presented "Pathogenicity of Pandemic Influenza Viruses" during the Host-Pathogen Interaction sequence of presentations.

The Infectious Disease Ecology and Epidemiology program featured a presentation entitled "Ecologic Change and Disease Emergence: Humans as a Reservoir of Disease for Free Ranging Wildlife" by Kathleen Alexander of the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech. The final session on Vector/Disease Prevention and Control featured a lecture entitled "Engineering Pathogen Resistance in Vector Mosquitoes" by Dr. Anthony James of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California-Irvine's School of Medicine.

A 120-page proceedings book was published and includes scientific abstracts that describe more than 100 specific infectious disease research projects that are underway at the university.

infectious diseases

That work is underway in the veterinary college and the colleges of Science, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Natural Resources; it is also being conducted in research centers that include the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences, the Fralin Institute of Biomedical Sciences, and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease. More than 40 Virginia Tech faculty members are profiled within a bibliography of infectious disease researchers posted on the university's website.

Globalization and international trade, increased interaction between humans and animals, and changes in the environment are factors that have increased infectious disease threats for people and animals in the modern world.

As a result, according to Schurig, the human and animal medical communities have been working more closely together in recent years. For example, in his final address to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates in June 2008, retiring President Dr. Ronald M. Davis reminded the group that about 60 percent of the estimated 1,500 diseases that affect people result from multihost pathogens that move across species. He called for greater collaboration between physicians and veterinarians and expressed support for a "one health" concept.

Malaria remains a global health problem that affects hundreds of millions of people and kills an estimated 1,000,000 a year, according to the Center for Disease Control. In the United States alone, food-borne pathogens are responsible for 76 million illnesses a year, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths, according to center experts.

Government officials view infectious disease agents as major bioterrorism threats, as well. About 70 percent of the Center for Disease Control's list of Category A bioterrorism agents are zoonotic infectious disease agents such as anthrax, plague, tularemia, and hemorrhagic agents.

Advancements in molecular biology over the past few decades have illuminated the complex processes associated with the transmission and development of disease and have helped biomedical scientists better understand the interrelationships between microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents with their intermediary vectors and hosts.

This work has led to significant advancements in immunology and fostered a systems-based approach to understanding and battling infectious diseases, one that is structured upon the examination of humans, animals, and plants as they interact within a constantly changing natural environment. Such is the organizing concept behind the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, which was created in 2007 and is responsible for bioterrorism preparedness, epidemiology, applied research, disease surveillance, and outbreak response for infectious diseases.

Before assuming his new post at the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, King, a veterinarian, served as the center's first director of the Office of Strategy and Innovation. Prior to that, he served as dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine for 10 years. He also spent nearly 20 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which culminated in his serving as the agency's administrator for four years. During that period, he also served as the country's chief veterinary officer for five years and worked extensively in global trade agreements and protecting the nation's plant and animal resources.

Virginia Tech Research magazine features environmental research
y Susan Trulove

From air quality to wildlife scat, the Summer 2008 Virginia Tech Research magazine provides articles about environmental research.

World-renowned environmentalist and scholar John Cairns Jr. begins the magazine with a red alert to clean up the earth's atmosphere. "The carbon dioxide that is discharged into the atmosphere today will remain for at least 100 years," he explains.

Articles on research related to air quality report on work by the Computational Science Laboratory to create models with accurate detailed forecasts of air quality. Meanwhile, researchers in civil and environmental engineering have identified pollutants from common materials that poison indoor air and are tracking the emissions in outdoor air from new industries and the usual suspects.

Articles about water quality look at research to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the rivers and streams of Southwest Virginia, and points in between.

Virginia Tech Research magazine

Human actions not only threaten air and water, but other forms of life. In fact, the loss of biodiversity is our biggest environmental challenge. A new science and technology in society major--humanities, science, and environment--will address such challenges.

As researchers are able to discern smaller and smaller matter and its interactions, they are discovering that nanominerals--consisting of only a few molecules of matter--influence the Earth in ways only now being realized. It turns out that such small pieces of even common minerals interact differently with air, water, and living matter than the large hunks of rocks and ore.

What about wildlife scat? A new resource for discovering the habitats and eating habits of elusive big cats are retired drug-sniffing dogs that have been retrained to find signs of a different kind of wild life.

View the magazine online at

To request a printed copy, e-mail Susan Trulove.

New entrance opens with original doors; other changes at University Libraries
y Laura Purcell
Newman Library

Whether you're visiting Newman Library or clicking over to Addison, University Libraries at Virginia Tech has many new features to offer.

Newman Library is changing its entrance from the first floor near the Library Mall to the second floor near Alumni Mall and the Drillfield. These wooden doors are the original entrance to the library, built in 1954. They closed in 1981 when a new addition to the Newman Library building opened.

The circulation desk, reference and information, and DVD, music, and VHS collections have all relocated to the second floor. Study areas with couches and tables pepper the room alongside tall windows looking out towards the Drillfield.

A second reference desk, dedicated specifically to science and technology queries, opened this summer on the fourth floor. The desk is located near the elevators and easily accessible to Torgersen Bridge.

Many of the library's collections have moved to accommodate the new entrance and service desks on the second floor. Government documents are now located on the first floor, and other collections have also moved. Visit University Libraries online for more information.

The online catalog page on the library's website has been redesigned. The new Addison page has an updated look and is now designed in the university's Web template. The new design improves many features of the catalog page and will make searching (and finding) library material easier.

"Sometimes people think a library is just about what you have in your collections--online or on the shelf," says Eileen Hitchingham, dean of libraries. "But a good university library is much more than that. In its physical buildings or on its Web spaces, the library provides a comfortable environment for using the collections, for working with others, and for getting assistance when you want it. We hope that these several changes will better support how our users work with information."

The libraries' staff and faculty welcome comments, questions, and suggestions related to library needs and services. The University Libraries website also houses an online comment box available at

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