New partnership to bring jobs to Virginia

Virginia Tech's Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) will partner with the Institute for Computational Genomics (INCOGEN) in a $6.6-million collaboration that will relocate the company from South Carolina to James City County, Va. The high-tech company's move to Virginia, spurred by its joint research interests with VBI and the College of William and Mary, will eventually result in 60 new high-level jobs in the commonwealth. The Governor's Commonwealth Technology Research Fund facilitated the partnership with a $3.2-million grant; the remaining funds will be contributed by INCOGEN, William and Mary, and VBI.
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MBA program ranked in top 100 worldwide

For the first time, Virginia Tech's MBA program has been ranked in the Financial Times 2002 MBA Rankings of the top 100 graduate business schools around the world. Tech's graduate business program, offered by the Pamplin College of Business, was ranked 60th overall, the highest debut for a U.S. school this year. Of all the U.S. schools ranked, the Pamplin MBA program came in at number 42. The MBA program was also ranked seventh in the "Best in Information Technology--Alumni Recommendations" category. The rankings were based on 21 factors, including weighted salary, value for money, career progress, placement success, alumni recommendation, international experience, and faculty publication.
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Interim dean named

Lay Nam Chang, head of the physics department, was named interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, based on nominations by college faculty and staff members. Chang has been at Virginia Tech since 1978 and department head since 1995. Former dean Robert C. Bates left in January to become provost at Washington State. Virginia Tech Provost Mark McNamee said he hopes to have a permanent dean selected in 12-18 months.
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State of the budget

Severe revenue shortfalls in the Commonwealth of Virginia will have an impact on all state agencies, including Virginia Tech, for the next several years. For this fiscal year (2001-02), which ends June 30, the state is taking back a total of $7.4 million in funds already appropriated this year. The University Division will lose $5.6 million and the Cooperative Extension and Agriculture Experiment Station Division will lose $1.8 million.

The situation is particularly bleak for both years of the next biennium. The appropriations bill passed by Virginia's General Assembly at press time would reduce the university division's base budget in the first year of the biennium by $24.4 million and other budgets by an additional $11 million. After allowable tuition increases, the net reduction amounts to almost $25 million. Reductions will increase in fiscal year 2003-04. Beginning with the fall 2002 semester, the university will raise tuition by nine percent for both in-state and out-of-state students. However, Tech President Charles Steger notes, "even with this increase, Virginia students are paying less in tuition than 10 years ago."

Provost Mark G. McNamee says the cuts are disappointing. "The future economic and social vitality of Virginia will be much better served by protecting higher education from cuts at this critical time. Higher education has made significant progress in Virginia, and the anticipated commitments to base adequacy funding; competitive salaries; capital projects; and enhanced maintenance, equipment, and renovation reserves remain good strategies for the commonwealth," he adds. "We must continue to be strong advocates for these progressive approaches even as we deal with the harsh realities of the present situation."

Steger concedes that "these are significant reductions that will test our abilities." Although all sectors of the university will be asked to share in the reduction strategies," he notes, "our actions and directives will seek to preserve our core missions and recognize university priorities. We are Virginia's leading research university, educating more students and more Virginians than any other university in the state. We will continue to do what we are charged to do."

Budget decisions are still being made as this issue goes to the printer. For more up-to-date information on Virginia Tech budget news, please go to
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Graduate program gets innovation award

The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies' graduate program in science and technology studies has been selected by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (WWNFF) to receive a Woodrow Wilson Innovation Award. The award recognizes and supports university departments and programs in the humanities that use creative approaches to encourage students to experience life outside school as part of their graduate training. The WWNFF included $10,000 to support cooperation between the program and the Choices and Challenges public issues forum on the creation of a new doctorate-level course on ethics in technology.
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Seiler receives USDA award

Forestry Professor John Seiler received the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award. One of eight educators honored across the nation, he has received several awards since he began teaching at Tech in 1984. Seiler, who uses computers and the Internet to enhance his teaching, has developed Web sites and CDs, including a two-CD set, "Woody Plants in North America," which is being used by individuals and universities across the country.
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Steger honored by architects

The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) presented the 2001 William C. Noland Medal to Tech President Charles Steger at its annual ceremony in November. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the society. Steger, who holds degrees in both architecture and engineering, was dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies for 12 years. He is a fellow in the AIA.
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NASA technical expert comes to Tech

Kumar Krishen, chief technologist for the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office at NASA Johnson Space Center, joined the faculty in October under an interagency personnel act agreement to help further key initiatives at Virginia Tech. As a technology transfer fellow, Krishen will lead an entrepreneurship program with the private sector, develop a working consortium of members for a Critical Technology Transfer Program, and work with technical programs at the NASA-Langley Research Center. Krishen will also serve as an adjunct professor, teaching in the electrical and computer engineering department.
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Engineering dean steps down

F. William Stephenson, dean of engineering since 1994, has resigned as dean for health reasons and will not resume his duties. Stephenson has been on leave of absence for several months. "Bill led the college admirably for eight years and maintained its well-deserved world leadership in many disciplines," says Provost Mark McNamee. "Research has made quantum leaps in recent years and our graduates continue to be in demand by the world's leading corporations." Stephenson, who has been with the college since 1978, will remain a member of the university faculty.

Malcolm MacPherson, engineering's former associate dean for research and graduate studies, will continue as acting dean until a replacement is found.
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International Forestry Center created

The College of Natural Resources has announced the creation of the new International Forestry Center (IFC) to facilitate research and Extension in international forestry. The IFC's partnerships with organizations and communities around the world will benefit Tech faculty and students. Current projects include forest management and reduced impact logging, forest policy and economics, agroforestry, and the international timber trade.
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The ever-changing face of Tech

Contractors are busy working on several new construction projects on the Blacksburg campus that will help meet the demands of the university's growing student and faculty population. Construction has started on Tech's top capital priority this year, a new $27-million chemistry and physics facility near Derring Hall and West Campus Dr. that is scheduled for completion in December 2003. Tech officials expect the new 85,000-square-foot building to alleviate the overcrowded work conditions in Davidson and Robeson halls.

Work is also underway on the new $6.7-million student services building, located on the corner of West Campus Dr. and Washington St. The 36,000-square-foot structure, which is expected to be finished by January 2003, will house the Hokie Passport offices, the treasurer's office, and other administrative offices. To replace the soccer fields that were in the new facility's location, the university is creating four new recreation fields on Tech Center Dr. beside the Huckleberry Trail.

Meanwhile, the $37-million expansion of Lane Stadium and the $2.5-million dry rendering facility behind the veterinary school are both nearing completion. Work on the new bioinformatics building, to be located at the intersection of Washington St. and Duck Pond Dr., will begin in April.
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Former Virginia Tech Magazine editor dies

Former Virginia Tech Magazine editor David Lotts, director of publications/electronic communications, died March 8 in a traffic accident. Lotts started working at Virginia Tech as editor of the magazine in 1986 and in 1990 was named associate director for publications, continuing to oversee the publication in an executive editor capacity. In 1999, the Virginia Tech homepage and other university Web projects, including the VTNetLetter, were added to his duties.

In his work with Virginia Tech Magazine, he helped implement award-winning redesigns of the quarterly publication, first when it was re-launched in 1989 as a 100,000-circulation publication and again in 1996. He also pushed successfully for the magazine to be distributed to all alumni rather than to donors only, with the goal of developing a closer relationship with the university's graduates.

Lotts was a native of Rockbridge County, Va., and a 1974 graduate of Washington and Lee University. A lifelong lover of music and a performer, he spent his career as a journalist and professional communicator at newspapers in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina before coming to Virginia Tech.
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Tech and JHU team up to combat human diseases

In February, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech and the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Bloomberg School of Public Health embarked on a $10-million bioinformatics research collaboration to target human infectious diseases. Each university will invest a minimum of $1 million per year for five years to better understand tuberculosis, AIDS, malaria, measles, and other deadly illnesses.

The bioinformatics capabilities at VBI will allow comparisons of multiple human responses to different pathogens, as opposed to traditional models that looked at only a single response for one disease. Experiments that were traditionally conducted on a single pathogen in a petri dish will now be performed on supercomputers housed in VBI's core computing facility. The new technology will compliment the wealth of medical and molecular biology research being conducted by the Bloomberg School.

NSF funds research on women in IT

Three Virginia Tech researchers have been awarded a $655,849 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study "Women in Informational Technology: Pivotal Transitions from School to Careers." The goal of the project is to increase the numbers of women who choose to enter and remain in information technology (IT) careers. Peggy Meszaros, director of the Center for Information Technology Impacts on Children, Youth, and Families; Carol Burger, coordinator of the VT Science and Gender Equity Program; and Elizabeth Creamer, associate professor in women's studies and in higher education and student affairs, will collaborate to study the factors that influence and support IT career choices, including the impact of family, peers, school, and community on girls' perceptions of the field.

Sub-cellular research may lead to medical applications

One of the key processing sites for proteins in cells is fundamentally more dynamic than traditionally believed, according to an article by Tech biochemists Brian Storrie, Suzanne Miles, and Heather McManus and chemical engineer Kimberly E. Forsten published in the Nov. 12 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology. Storrie believes the research, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, opens the possibility of harnessing cellular processes to benefit human health. The researchers found that proteins making up the Golgi apparatus, which is found in all cells, are constantly being renewed and that the recycled proteins can serve as portals to the inside of the cells. Potential practical applications of the finding include delivering medicines to very specific locations in cells and helping to modify cells to produce compounds for use in pharmaceuticals.

What lies beneath

Tools never used before at an active earthquake site are providing new and more detailed information about the San Andreas Fault, reported geology professor John Hole, student K. C. St. Clair, graduate B. J. Carney, and three colleagues from other institutions, in the Nov. 16 issue of Science. According to Hole, the researchers learned that the fault line deep underground is not directly under the surface trace line. The findings were based on use of a system developed by the petroleum industry to locate oil pooled along the steep, vertical sides of salt domes. This is the first time the system has been used as a basic research tool at an active fault.

Hallerman receives patent

Eric Hallerman, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife, was recently awarded a patent for his new means of establishing genetic markers for bacteria such as E. coli. In addition to improving the ability to detect and identify such bacteria, the new process will allow authorities to more quickly identify the source of the bacteria and more effectively target their response. Hallerman holds the patent with five faculty members from Technion University in Haifa, Israel.

Emergency communications under development

The Virginia Tech Center for Wireless Telecommunications, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and Science Applications International Corporation, is developing a wireless broadband communications system to be deployed in emergency situations. The system, which is designed to work with surviving ends of optical fibers, will provide emergency management field workers with communications applications such as Geographic Information System access and audio/video conferencing. A prototype of the new technology was demonstrated for the Virginia Preparedness Committee in November. The committee, which includes President Steger, was created after the Sept. 11 attacks.


In the Winter 2002 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, the photo credits and caption for the images on pages 8 and 10 should have been credited to William E. Anderson '80. We apologize for the error and any difficulty it may have caused.

Also, page 15 of the article on anthrax research should have stated that "the next step would be to test the vaccines with primates, most likely in conjunction with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development." Again, we apologize for the error and any confusion this may have caused.