Alfred Defago

Founders Day to feature Swiss ambassador
Alfred Defago, Swiss ambassador to the United States since 1997 and consul general of Switzerland in New York from 1994-97, will deliver Virginia Tech's Founders Day address, "Globalization: A Challenge and an Opportunity: An Ambassador's Reflection." The annual event begins at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 27, in Burruss Hall auditorium and will include the awarding of two Alumni Distinguished Service Awards and the Ruffner Medal.

Alumni and other friends of the university are invited to attend. For additional information, call 540/231-2190 or send an e-mail message to Back to Items

Sherry Bithell
New editor for Virginia Tech Magazine
Sherry E. Bithell, former manager of development communications for the university's Office of Development and a contributor to Virginia Tech Magazine, assumed duties as editor of the magazine in mid-February.

Bithell's experience includes a wide spectrum of communications projects. In her last job, she managed fundraising and informational communications, oversaw the production of several publications, and wrote and edited a variety of materials.

Before joining the Virginia Tech staff, she was an associate publisher for Agora Publishing in Baltimore, Md.; an editor and writer for First Marketing Company in Pompano Beach, Fla.; and an assistant to the director of public relations for the Brevard Music Center's summer classical music festival.

Bithell holds a bachelor's degree in public relations from the University of Florida. Back to Items

Jud Flynn

Tech chef takes the silver in international competition
Four years of practice, seven American Culinary Federation gold medals, and hundreds of hours of preparation culminated in a silver medal for Jud Flynn, executive chef for Residential and Dining Programs, at the International Culinary Olympics held in Erfurt, Germany, last fall. Flynn competed with more than 200 individuals in the cold food platter category.

The talented Tech chef has accumulated 25 culinary medals. He is the only American Culinary Federation (ACF) culinary judge in Virginia and one of only 91 in the country. Back to Items

Library software going worldwide
Kriz group
What began as an effort by the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Department of University Libraries to increase customer service while decreasing staff workload has resulted in a software license that will put the software--known as ILLiad--into the hands of libraries throughout the world.

Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc. has finalized terms with OCLC, Inc., the Online Computer Library Center, giving the center exclusive worldwide distribution rights to ILLiad, which went online at Tech in 1997. The OCLC's membership includes more than 36,000 libraries in 74 countries, and its interlibrary loan functions include a network of 6,700 participating libraries.

Harry Kriz, director of interlibrary loan services at University Libraries, initiated the software development effort. Back to Items

Tech researchers unlock key to understanding climate change
Using an atomic force microscope to observe the growth of calcium carbonate crystals--formed from the skeletons of various ocean organisms--Tech researchers have observed for the first time the fundamental physical processes that help govern climate change and ocean chemistry through the formation of biominerals.

The research by geological sciences Ph.D. student Kevin J. Davis and geochemist Patricia M. Dove, both of Virginia Tech, and crystal growth physicist James J. De Yoreo of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was published in the Nov. 10, 2000, issue of Science.

In addition to understanding climate change, Davis said that the research "brings us a step closer to understanding how organisms are able to form crystalline materials with unique structural properties. We hope to eventually develop new materials based upon the complex strategies used by organisms to produce their own mineral shelters." These materials will allow the development of new lightweight ceramics for medical and high-tech applications.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences. Back to Items

Tech scientists investigate Gulf War Illness
Scientists in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine are assessing how stress and various organophosphate compounds may affect health.

Funded at nearly $1 million by the United States Army Medical Research and Materials Command, the project involves the examination of individual and interactive effects of stress and two chemical compounds--chlorpyrifos and trio-rthotolylphosphate--on neurological and immunologic well-being.

The work relates directly to efforts undertaken by the military, government, and medical officials to examine what has been referred to as "Gulf War Illness." The targeted chemical compounds were both used during the war.

Faculty members involved in the project are Drs. Bernie Jortner, Marion Ehrich, Steven Holladay, and Hara Misra, all professors in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. Back to Items

Discovery will aid nanotechnology
Virginia Tech chemists doing pioneering work in nanotechnology under the leadership of Professor Harry C. Dorn, along with colleagues at several other institutions, reported in a November 2000 issue of Nature that they have created a family of fullerene molecules that break the sacrosanct isolated-pentagon rule.

Since the carbon clusters known as fullerenes, or buckyballs, were discovered in 1985, the only stable structure had consisted of even numbers of carbon atoms linking to form pentagons isolated from each other by hexagons to form a spherical cage. The new molecule is possible because of a discovery--reported in Nature last year--by Tech researchers who found a way to put three metal atoms inside a fullerene of 80 carbon atoms (C80), creating endohedral metallofullerenes (metal inside buckyballs). The new structure has only 68 carbon atoms, which are stabilized by the three metal atoms.

In its latest development, the research team created a fullerene with pentagons that share one side--looking like an angular figure eight. Dorn and his colleagues have demonstrated that they can alter the shape of the cage itself and still have a stable structure.

The new discovery allows scientists to add a variety of other lanthanide metals to the buckyballs for use in such applications as nano-composites, nano-robotics, new drugs and drug delivery systems, chemical catalysts, opto-electronic devices, biosensors, and quantum computers.

A Blacksburg company has created a spin-off firm to develop products relying on the discovery, beginning with buckyballs that contain contrast agents used in MRI procedures. Officials predict that the firm will employ several hundred people in the next few years alone. Back to Items

Saifur RahmanProfessor helps create Digital Library Network for Engineering and Technology
Saifur Rahman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of Virginia Tech's Alexandria Research Institute, has received a $605,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to work with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, and Iowa State University on an 18-month project to develop a Digital Library Network for Engineering and Technology (DLNET).

Rahman and his colleagues will cre ate a network of digital libraries linking educational and research materials of university faculty. They will also provide a platform for individual and institutional content developersfrom private industry and professional associationsto post new materials. New content will be easily posted using standardized templates the group will design, and a portal will allow the contents to be both posted and accessed. The portal will also provide the means to contribute new and relevant material efficiently and quickly.

Additional information is available at Back to Items

Vet-med professor recognized by national organization
Dr. David S. Lindsay, an associate professor and parasitologist in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, has received the most distinguished honor conferred by the American Society of Parasitology, the Henry Baldwin Ward Medal for 2000, in recognition of his research accomplishments.

Lindsay has been a major figure in international parasitology research for much of the past two decades. Back to Items

VickVick throws helmet into NFL draft ring
As predicted, quarterback Michael Vick announced in mid-January that he would forego his next two years of college eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

"This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life. Everyone has been great to me--my coaches, my teammates, Virginia Tech, and especially the fans. But my family is so important to me, and now I have the opportunity to take care of them," Vick said during a news conference on January 11. He had a special comment for Tech fans: "I will always be a Hokie."

During his two years in a Tech uniform, Vick helped attract sell-out crowds to every home game and drew nationwide attention, including a nomination for the Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious award. Back to Items