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Lift off: Virginia Tech students Madison Brodnax and Nick Angle conduct a final inspection of the Ceres satellite, which was named for the Roman goddess of agriculture.

In a giant leap for Virginia Tech, the first satellite built by undergraduate students has launched into space.

The students delivered their small satellite to Houston to be incorporated into NanoRacks’ commercially developed CubeSat deployer. Virginia Tech’s satellite, along with two satellites from other Virginia universities, launched on the payload section of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, headed to the International Space Station.

The project’s mission: Obtain measurements of the properties of the Earth’s atmosphere in low Earth orbit. As the satellites’ orbits decay due to atmospheric drag, the satellite instruments will quantify atmospheric density.

For the past several years, an interdisciplinary team of 50 undergraduate students from the College of Engineering and the College of Science developed CubeSat at the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research at Virginia Tech, known as Space@VT.

The project has provided students studying aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and physics with crucial hands-on experience in both spacecraft design and manufacturing.

The initiative began in June 2016 as part of the Virginia CubeSat Constellation, a collaborative effort between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and four of its member universities—Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, and Hampton University. All three of the university-built CubeSats deployed simultaneously into orbit by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, where they will function as a constellation.


Transformational research: Sharon Landesman Ramey, professor and distinguished research scholar at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, is co-leading the nation’s first clinical trial for infant stroke victims.

Strokes are devastating events often associated with people over 65. But large numbers of infants have strokes, too.

In the nation's first multicenter pediatric stroke recovery trial, researchers and clinicians from 12 sites across the U. S. will evaluate an innovative therapeutic approach to help 8-month-old to 24-month-old infants who are diagnosed with strokes.

Sharon Landesman Ramey, a professor and Distinguished Research Scholar at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, is one of two lead principal investigators for a five-year, $13.5 million grant to conduct the trial, called I-ACQUIRE. The grant was awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health.

The Phase III trial will examine the effectiveness of pediatric therapy to increase upper extremity skills, gross motor development, and cognition in 240 children nationwide who experienced strokes when they were younger than 4 weeks old.

Findings from the trial have the potential to transform clinical rehabilitation for more than 3,000 newly diagnosed infants in the United States.


Hokies love to give: Virginia Tech’s annual Giving Day for 2019 began at noon on March 19 and ended at noon on March 20.

The call went out and Hokies joined forces around the globe to answer in resounding fashion.

More than 6,600 people gave during Virginia Tech’s Giving Day, which began at noon on March 19 and ran through noon on March 20. The joint effort far surpassed last year’s participation total of 4,617 people and topped this year’s goal—5,500 donors—by more than 20 percent.

The landmark participation during the second-annual 24-hour fundraising campaign resulted in $2.8 million given to more than 500 areas across the university.

The Giving Day effort included more than 340 ambassadors, who not only gave but encouraged others to join in, and nearly 120 matching or challenge gifts, roughly triple the 2018 total. Those gifts spanned 22 colleges and programs.

Theresa Myers, a spring 2019 graduate, who chaired the iSupport student giving campaign, said her message to peers was simple.

“If we didn’t have this outside support, maybe half of your friends wouldn’t be able to attend such a great university,” Myers said, referencing the fact that more than 50 percent of students receive some type of financial aid.


Following a national search, Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke has appointed Laura Belmonte as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Belmonte will begin at Virginia Tech on Aug. 1.

“Laura’s strong record of scholarship, leadership, and achievement made her the ideal candidate to lead our College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences,” Clarke said. “We are excited to have her join our team as dean and develop her vision for leading and serving the college’s students, faculty, and staff.”

Belmonte currently serves as associate dean for instruction and personnel at Oklahoma State University.

“I am honored to lead a college with a remarkable legacy of outstanding research and innovative teaching addressing all facets of the human experience,” Belmonte said. “I’m thrilled to support Virginia Tech’s visionary leadership and world-class partners and people in advancing knowledge, improving society, and celebrating diversity.”

Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development, has served as dean of the college since 2017 and will be returning to the faculty in the fall.

Belmonte holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Georgia and a master of arts and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.


It’s official—Virginia Tech will observe Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October each year. As part of the university’s ongoing commitment to InclusiveVT, University Council approved a resolution to observe this annual celebration of Native Americans to honor their place in history and culture. InclusiveVT is the university’s institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence. Virginia Tech recognized Indigenous Peoples Day for the first time on Oct. 4, 2018.


Informing Innovation: University leaders, including Brandy Salmon, founding managing director of the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, discuss the future campus during a town hall in Blacksburg.

University leaders shared plans and fielded questions about Virginia Tech’s new Innovation Campus and the commonwealth’s tech-talent pipeline during a town hall in April for the Blacksburg campus community.

Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in Haymarket Theatre inside Squires Student Center for the hour-long public event. Questions from the audience ranged from the enrollment timeline and location specifics to details about how the Innovation Campus will benefit students in disciplines other than computer science.

The university expects to begin offering Innovation Campus courses in start-up space in Alexandria beginning in fall 2020. But as part of an agreement with the state to fulfill a critical tech-talent shortage, Virginia Tech will expand some existing programs at its Falls Church campus this fall, according to Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost.

“Construction on the Innovation Campus will happen within the next two to five years, though the full scale of programs will unfold over eight years,” said Brandy Salmon, who is founding managing director of the Innovation Campus. In April, David Baker was hired as assistant director of government and community affairs, based in Alexandria.

In Blacksburg, Virginia Tech expects to add at least 2,000 more undergraduate students studying computer science, computer engineering, and related disciplines over the next five years, along with 140 new faculty members.


Trent Davis and Moose

Moose’s greatest superpower is his unconditional love.

During the past five years, the 7-year-old therapy dog has partnered with Trent Davis, his owner and a counselor and coordinator of Virginia Tech’s Animal Assisted Therapy at Cook Counseling Center, in more than 5,000 individual and group counseling sessions. Moose also has been part of countless hours of outreach. He has become one of Virginia Tech’s most beloved celebrities.

In February, Moose was named the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s (VVMA) 2019 Animal Hero. The annual award is given to an animal that has performed a heroic act of service or provides daily outstanding service for humans. Moose not only embodies those qualities, but also highlights the association’s increased emphasis on mental wellness.

“Moose loves you if you’re super smart, and he loves you if you got an F. He loves you if you’ve been in the hospital, and he loves you if you’re a sports star,” Davis said. “Moose doesn’t care if you have a mental health concern. He doesn’t care if you got an A or a B or if you didn’t get into college … That’s got a magic to it.”


Two recent university moves will benefit undergraduates and full-time staff employees.

In April, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors voted to freeze tuition for undergraduates for the 2019-20 academic year. Tuition will remain at $11,420 annually for resident students.

Also, to further support low- and middle-income families seeking a Virginia Tech education, the university will allocate approximately $5 million in additional resources—the largest one-year increase in its history for the second year in a row—toward financial aid programs next year. This raises total institutional support for student financial aid to more than $55 million for 2019-20.

In July, Virginia Tech will increase its minimum starting pay for full-time, benefits-eligible staff employees to $12 per hour. The new pay rate will take effect July 10. Virginia Tech’s current minimum starting pay for full-time, benefits-eligible staff is $10.25 per hour and was last adjusted in May 2018.

This increase will raise the annual salary of approximately 225 employees who currently make less than $12 per hour. Approximately 312 employees who make between $12 and $13.50 per hour will also receive a salary increase.


Tech times two: Mercedes Robinson, a student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, is the first to earn an M.B.A. through a new program that combines medicine and business.

Last year, Mercedes Robinson, a third-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, set her white coat aside and picked up a briefcase to pursue an M.B.A. through Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

Robinson took advantage of a program, developed by both schools, to help future physicians attain skills needed to navigate challenges in health care management.

“Earning an M.B.A. really opened up an entire new world for me,” Robinson said. “I knew I wanted to go into medical leadership and administration. I came away with more foundational business skills and a better understanding of how organizations operate.”

The combined program enabled her to earn her degree in one year, including a few courses she took the summer prior to starting the fall semester. Classes met one weekend per month and rotated meeting locations between Blacksburg, Roanoke, and Richmond.

Robinson said one person who had a particular influence on her decision to do the program was Cynda Johnson, founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, who has both M.D. and M.B.A. degrees.

“Seeing how successful she’s been and the career path she has taken was definitely inspiring for me,” Robinson said.


Sterling Nesbitt

Sterling Nesbitt, an Assistant Professor of Geobiology, has discovered and named a miniature adult Tyrannosaurus dinosaur relative.

A new relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex—much smaller than the huge, ferocious dinosaur made famous in countless books and films, including, “Jurassic Park”&mddash;has been discovered and named by a Virginia Tech paleontologist and an international team of scientists.

The newly named tyrannosauroid dinosaur—Suskityrannus hazelae—stood roughly 3 feet tall at the hip and was about 9 feet in length, the entire animal only marginally longer than the skull of a fully grown T. Rex, according to Sterling Nesbitt, an assistant professor with Department of Geosciences in the Virginia Tech College of Science.

In all, Suskityrannus hazelae is believed to have weighed between 45 and 90 pounds, compared with a roughly 9-ton T. Rex. Its diet likely consisted of the same as its larger meat-eating counterpart.

Nesbitt found the fossil at age 16 as a high school student participating in a dig expedition in New Mexico in 1998. Nesbitt and Doug Wolfe, who led the expedition, authored the the paper, which was about this new dinosaur discovery, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.


Virginia Tech videographers have been hard at work capturing the university’s news and events. Watch these videos and many others at https://video.vt.edu/.


“Fat cats” and their owners participated in a study conducted by veterinarians at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Because implementing weight-loss plans can be challenging for cats and pet owners alike, Megan Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical nutrition; Lauren Dodd, clinical nutrition resident; and study sponsor Purina set out to discover how owners' perceptions of their cats’ quality of life were influenced by adding food toys to the cats’ weight-loss regimen.


After winning the 2018 Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai, FutureHAUS Dubai came home to Virginia Tech for a one-month exhibition in April. After a stint on campus, FutureHAUS Dubai headed to New York City’s Times Square for its annual design week.


Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History held the ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival on April 5-7 in Washington, D.C. The festival, organized in part by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, featured projects from 15 Atlantic Coast Conference schools showcasing their research in science, engineering, arts, and design.


Limitations are self-imposed, according to Andrew Young, a junior at Virginia Tech. Young was born without a left arm from the elbow down. With little more than a rubber band and a plastic spoon, he taught himself how to play guitar. Now he's in a band and performs solo.


Thousands of Hokies flocked to Virginia Tech's campus on April 13 for Spring Weekend events. The day began with the 3.2 mile Run in Remembrance, with more than 14,000 people walking and running. A family tailgate followed, along with the Hokies spring football game.


Heather Massie, an actor, writer, and Virginia Tech graduate, brought her love for science and her passion for theater to the university for a solo-play that she wrote and produced, “HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr.”