Alex Endert
Alumnus, '12
on Semantic Interaction
John Boyer
Faculty, Geography
on More Passion, Less Pedagogy
Justin Graves
Grad Student, Higher Ed
on Actively Serving Others
Marie & Keith Zawistowski
Faculty, Architecture
on Getting Real
Alex Endert recently received his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech and his focus is visual analytics, information visualization, and how these apply to large displays. His contributions to visual analytics include "semantic interaction", combining the massive-data foraging abilities of statistical models with the sense-making abilities of analysts to support visual data exploration. He has also produced published research in areas such as visual perception, large display interaction techniques, cyber analytics, embodied interaction, human learning, and collaboration. Currently, he is focused on finding ways the user and the computer system can co-create knowledge by teaching and learning from each other.
John Boyer is a senior instructor and researcher in the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech. He has served in this position for over a decade, during which time he has conducted multiple research projects on the viticulture industries of Virginia and North Carolina. Boyer is a long time VT resident, receiving an B.A. in Geography in 1996 and an M.S. in Geography in 1998, both from Virginia Tech. Boyer teaches large sections of the very popular World Regional Geography and Geography of Wine courses. He has received numerous awards for teaching including the 2002 University Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects at Virginia Tech; 2002 Inducted into the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence (ATE); 2002 National Council for Geography Education Distinguished Teach Achievement Award; and Student Alumni Associates (SAA) Student's Choice Award for Faculty Member of the Year from 2004 to 2012. He also taught the largest class in the history of Virginia Tech: in Fall of 2008-12 he teaches a single section of World Regional Geography to 2750 students. In addition, Boyer now regularly speaks at educational and technology conferences on his incorporation of new technologies and social networking tools into the 21st century classroom.
Justin graduated as an undergrad from Virginia Tech in 2012, and begins his first year as a grad student. At the age of 3, Justin became confined to a wheelchair as a paraplegic. His disability has been a vehicle for his involvement and passion to help others. He has been able to transcend most popular beliefs about those with disabilities, and use his disability to show others that disabled individuals truly can do the same things that able-bodied people can - simply, in different ways.
The husband and wife team of Keith and Marie Zawistowski met at Auburn University while working as students to design and build a charity house. In 2008, they joined Virginia Tech's school of Architecture + Design. They have used their passion of architecture and education to empower their own students to take architecture into their own hands and use their abilities as a force for good. The Covington Farmer's Market and the Clifton Forge Amphitheatre are two significant accomplishments of Keith and Marie's design-in-practice course, which garnered them multiple awards. They plan to share how by giving students an opportunity to make a difference for a community, they can give students the confidence to trust in their own abilities and to do great things in the future.
Jake Socha
Faculty, ESM
How Snakes Fly
Moises Seraphin
Alumnus '12
on Poetic Knowledge
Ben Knapp
Director, ICAT
on Emotion as an Instrument
Caitlin Floreal
Alumnus, '06
on A World Class Education
Dr. Jake Socha is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. His research investigates the biomechanics and functional morphology of flows in and around organisms, involving the behavior, biomechanics, and aerodynamics of gliding flight in vertebrates, and the biomechanics and physiology of internal convective flows involved in breathing, feeding, and circulation in insects. He earned a B.S. in physics and biology from Duke University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in biomechanics from the University of Chicago in 2002. He was the Ugo Fano Postdoctoral Fellow at Argonne National Laboratory, studying internal mechanisms in insects by zapping them with synchrotron radiation, the world's most powerful x-rays. Prior to graduate school, he was a member of the Teach for America national teacher corps, serving as the sole high school science teacher at Centerville High School in southern Louisiana. There, he founded the cross- country team, and his girls' team won the state title two years after he left.
Moises received his Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech. For three years, he was the Chair of Virginia Tech Expressions, a social organization that provides an artistic and creative outlet for the student body with Open Mic's, Artistic Showcases, and more. During his time at Virginia Tech, he was a Speaker for National Society of Leadership and Success, a Speaker at VT March for Trayvon Martin, Winner of the National Society of Black Engineers Slam Poetry Contest 2011, and a NASA Lunabotics VT Team LARRE (Lunar Automated Regolith Recover Entity) Speaker.
R. Benjamin Knapp is the Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. ICAT seeks to promote research and education at the boundaries between art, design, engineering, and science. Knapp also leads the Music, Sensors, and Emotion research group, with researchers in the UK and the US. For more than 20 years, Knapp has been working to create meaningful links between human-computer interaction, universal design, and various forms of creativity. His research on human-computer interaction has focused on the development and design of user-interfaces and software that allow both composers and performers to augment the physical control of a musical instrument with direct sensory interaction. He holds twelve patents and is the co-inventor of the BioMuse system, which enables artists to use gesture, cognition, and emotional state to interact with audio and video media. In previous positions, Knapp has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at University College, Dublin, and Chief Technology Officer of the Technology Research for Independent Living Centre. As the Director of Technology at MOTO Development Group in San Francisco, Calif., he managed teams of engineers and designers developing human-computer interaction systems for companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Logitech. He co-founded BioControl Systems, a company that develops mobile bioelectric measurement devices for artistic interaction. Knapp has also served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer, Information, and Systems Engineering at San Jose State University. He earned a doctorate and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University.
Caitlin McHale Floreal graduated from Virginia Tech in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Leadership & Social Change. During her junior year, she created a student organization called Project Esperanza, which later became a non-profit organization and has been the focus of her life ever since graduating. She currently lives in Puerto Plata, a town in the Dominican Republic, where her non-profit work has led her to unite the town with Blacksburg through service, creating positive change in both communities. Today, multiple projects are going on to improve Puerto Plata, a community that is very far-off from the comfort of our own homes, and she hopes to see more people use their world-class education applied in places where people need it most.
Dan Goff
Student, Meteorology
Our Relationship with the Weather
Eddie Boes
Alumnus, '01
The Amazing Knowledge Machine
Chantelle Anderson
Basketball Coach
on Understanding of Self
Mitzi Vernon
Faculty, Industrial Design
Mapping the Invisible
Dan Goff is currently a fifth-year senior majoring in Meteorology and Geography and serves as the Chief Meterologist at WUVT-FM, a student-run radio station. His love of weather doesn't stop there, though: he is a weather columnist for RVANews. He also has experience as a storm chaser and has worked as a researcher for the National Weather Service, examining hail using Doppler radar technology. He uses social media extensively, tweeting under the handle @WxDan to interact with his followers about everything, from the weather to college football. He plans on demonstrating how we have more of a connection with the atmosphere than we normally would believe, simply by talking about the weather.
An alum of Virginia Tech in Mechanical Engineering, Eddie Boes specializes in creating rolling ball sculptures, creating tracks that twist and turn in many directions to lead a ball to the bottom of the sculpture, then back up again. His creations can be seen in retail locations, children's hospitals, science museums, and even at the design-rich BMW Welt in Munich, Germany. He has worked at Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development and taught an engineering design class at Virginia Tech for three years, as well. Currently, he resides in Radford, VA, where he designs and fabricates all his creations in a 5000-square-foot workshop. His next creation, Something he calls "The Amazing Knowledge Machine," meant to show how physical machines can captivate and transfer knowledge in a way that virtual media and machines never can.
As a basketball player on the Vanderbilt University women's basketball team, Chantelle Anderson made a name for herself as the school's all-time leading scorer (and has her jersey retired on the rafters at the university, as well). She was drafted second overall in the 2003 WNBA draft and played for the Sacramento Monarchs, among other women's basketball teams both in the USA and Europe. She has also been a women's basketball analyst on both Fox Sports Network and NBA TV, and now she resides in Blacksburg as an assistant coach for Virginia Tech's women's basketball team. She has built a reputation for engaging others in a "professionally personal way," as she says. Through Call Me Miss, a lifestyle site with advice from women that have been there, done that, she aims to help women going through high school and college the confidence to call themselves smart and successful ladies.
Mitzi Vernon is a Professor in Industrial Design at Virginia Tech and has earned her Master of Science degree in Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. She is the principal investigator and founder of the Fields Everywhere Project, an effort to teach the fundamentals of physics to children. Through this project, she has been awarded two grants from the National Science Foundation and has assembled a team of students, faculty, and advisors to support the work of Fields Everywhere. She has also worked on another research project supported through an NSF grant that examines the design studio as an educational model for the design of software-intensive systems. Combined with the Fields Everywhere project, she hopes to form a proposal for a new educational model of teaching science.
Shane McCarty
Grad Student, Psych
Actively Caring for People
Ishwar Puri
Faculty, ESM
Are our truths true?
Steve Matuszak
Grad Student, COMM
on The Art of Improvisation
Kathleen Alexander
Faculty, Fish & Wildlife
on The Context of Action and Need
As a graduate of Virginia Tech in 2011 with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and now a Ph.D. student in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Shane McCarty has been a part of the school since 2007. In the wake of the April 16th shooting, Shane teamed up with student leaders and Dr. E. Scott Geller to develop and carry out a new movement called Actively Caring for People, or AC4P. The movement has gained attention nationwide, and Shane has given presentations on AC4P with the American Psychological Association and the National Collegiate Leadership Conference, among others. The AC4P project involves giving out green wristbands to people who do good deeds, and they keep passing it forward, around the country and even the world. The goal? To thank others for caring about a stranger and to pass that wristband on to another person.
Dr. Ishwar Puri, a scientist and engineer with a heart for public service. He joined Virginia Tech as a N. Waldo Harrison Professor and Department head of Engineering Science and Mechanics in 2004. Since then he has helped move the Engineering Science and Mechanics program into new convergences at the intersections of the life, physical sciences, and engineering mechanics. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Delhi in India and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. His topics of research include the fields of combustion, energy and transport phenomena, thermomagnetic convection and magnetic fluid transport, and the cancer stem cell hypothesis. His first archival publication was neither scientific nor technical, instead it was a collection of poetry written in English in the late 1970s. Dr. Puri is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He also serves as Secretary of the American Academy of Mechanics. Dr. Puri states, "when the predictions and observations are consistently in harmony, a theory can be robustand even infallible," join us on Nov. 10th as he poses the question "Are our truths true"?
Steve Matuszak, currently a Virginia Tech Masters student in Communication, earned dual degrees in Theatre and Communication from the Miami University of Ohio. Beginning his career in acting, stand-up comedy and professional improvisation in the 1980s, he has opened for such greats as Frank Gorshin and Drew Carey. Matuszak served as the Executive Director of Chicago Comedy & Training Company, a corporate-entertainment company from 1995 until 2007. He is the creator of Comedy With A Cause, an arts educational company that provided improvisation-based training and educational programs to schools. Matuszak offers his perspective on The Art of Improvisation: Preparing to be Unprepared. It is said that improvisation is the ability and the willingness to start from nothing. If, however, one starts from nothing, anything is possible.
Dr. Kathleen Alexander has been conducting research in East and Southern Africa for over twenty years. She has worked for the Government of Botswana as both the Chief of the Wildlife Veterinary Unit in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and later, as the Ecological Advisor to the Office of the President of Botswana and the Attorney Generals Chambers. She has spent most of her professional life working with local communities integrating scientific approaches with traditional understanding in order to identify interventions for improved rural livelihoods. She is a member of both the World Conservation Union's Wildlife Health Specialist Group as well as the Commission for Ecosystem Management. She moved to Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech in 2007 where she continues to conduct research in her long-term Botswana study site on the dynamics of emerging infectious disease at the human - animal interface. Kathleen received both her PhD and veterinary degree from University of California, Davis.
Jerry Gaines
Alumnus '71
on The Equation of Life
J. E. Sigler
Grad Student, Comm
Why Nuns Don't Have Mid-life Crises
Peter Vikesland
Faculty, Engineering
on Nanotech & Water Supply
John Sangster
Grad Student, Civil
Can we live with traffic?
Jerry was the first full-scholarship African American athlete to attend Va. Tech, and the first inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. He has been named Coach of the Year, and Teacher of the Year in the Chesapeake Public School System. He has published "40 Stories High," a collection of short stories about some of his "encounters" he has had with teens over the years. He has 3 children: Jina, Jeri, and Jon, all of whom are Tech alumni, and he has been married to his wife, Theresa, for 34 years.
J. E. Sigler is a graduate student and instructor of public speaking in the Communication Department at Virginia Tech. Her research practically applies the philosophies of J. L. Austin and Nicholas Wolterstorff to pin down the concrete ways in which God communicates to individuals, particularly how He communicates His call to religious vocations. In her personal life, Sigler has herself struggled with the agonizing difficulty of discerning her true path, zigzagging through over 3.5 religious conversions, two broken engagements, and multiple career changes. As a teacher, she is particularly concerned to help students discern their vocations, something she believes very few of us these days know how (or bother) to do.
Peter Vikesland is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research involves the application of fundamental chemical principles to the study of natural and engineered systems. A present focus is on the use of nanotechnology for the detection and remediation of environmental contaminants. Parallel ongoing studies also seek to examine the potentially damaging impacts of nanotechnology on environmental systems. Vikesland has received research support from the US National Science Foundation, the Water Research Foundation, the William and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. He is a NSF CAREER Awardee and he and his students have received numerous awards acknowledging their efforts in the field of environmental engineering and science.
John joined the workforce after obtaining his BS degree in 2002. After the birth of his second child, he abandoned the idea of being satisfied with a job that didn't include teaching, so he pursued and completed his Masters degree. He is now working towards his Ph.D. while raising his three kids. It is building safer roads for when his kids are driving that motivates him to pursue his Ph.D. and career. His talk focuses on the inherent problems of conventional signalized intersections, and seeks to shed light on known solutions that are not being widely implemented.