Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 1999

U.Va. remains in top 25 in U.S. News rankings

U.Va. offers nation's first Master of Arts in Physics Education
U.Va. construction: 183 years, and counting
Researchers make strides over the summer

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Researchers make strides over the summer

Other news: Plans halted for Qatar campus

Staff Report

If you've been away for most of June, July and August, here you'll find a wrap-up of some highlights from this hot, dry summer, plus the news that U.Va. won't be building a branch campus in Qatar. Although there are fewer classes than during the spring and fall semesters, research progress doesnąt slow down. U.Va. faculty made some important strides and received some key grants. Among them:

  • Veggies with vaccine power -- U.Va. is working with Virginia Tech researchers to develop vegetables that when eaten will prevent a deadly parasitic infection that causes dysentery and is common in underdeveloped countries -- in essence, an edible vaccine. The project is supported by a $3.3 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and headed by Dr. William Petri, an infectious disease specialist at U.Va.
  • Negative campaign ads get thumbs down -- Virginia voters have clear views on what is and what is not a fair campaign advertisement, according to a study conducted for U.Va.'s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. Voters reward campaign practices perceived as fair, and punish candidates for engaging in unfair attacks. No matter how an opponent responds, a candidate will always do best by making a fair charge, the study found.
  • Multidisciplinary program on laser research funded -- A $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will support several U.Va. science and engineering departments in creating a collaborative laser research and education program with Norfolk State University and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility Free Electron Laser Laboratory in Newport News. "One of the built-in objectives of our project is to improve research opportunities for minority science and engineering students through our collaboration with Norfolk State," said Ian Harrison, associate professor of chemistry who is head of the program. The departments of Chemical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Materials Science and Physics are also involved.
  • Putting American literature online -- The library's Special Collections Department and the Electronic Text Center got a second boost of $500,000 from the Mellon Foundation to complete Phase II of the Early American Fiction digitization project. Works from 1851-1875 by such writers as Louisa May Alcott, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and some 90 other 19th-century writers will be made available online.
  • Preventing juvenile violence -- The potential for youth violence in Virginia can be reduced dramatically by standardizing intervention programs for students and juvenile offenders and sharing information about the most effective services, according to a statewide report prepared by faculty in the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the Curry School of Education.
  • Cocaine addiction linked to biological clock -- A study, led by U.Va. Biology professor Jay Hirsh, indicates that cocaine sensitization -- which is linked to addiction -- might be associated with circadian genes, the genes that set the biological clock. Besides enabling the potential development of drugs to treat cocaine addiction, this research holds out the prospect that so-called "clock" genes might have other, as yet undiscovered, roles in the body and brain.
  • Hirsh and his team use fruit flies as their genetic models for humans, because the two have many genetic similarities. The flies used by Hirsh's team were mutated to lack certain circadian genes and did not become sensitized to cocaine.
  • Key to infertility problem found -- A research team headed by Alan B. Diekman, assistant professor of research in U.Va.'s Contraceptive Vaccine Center, found a substance on sperm that can cause an immune response, leading to infertility. Along with helping improve treatment of infertility, the discovery might also help researchers at the center, headed by cell biologist John C. Herr, in developing a new birth control method using antibodies -- essentially a vaccine against sperm.

Other news

  • No U.Va.-Qatar -- The University has decided against building a branch college in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar, U.Va. President John T. Casteen III announced Aug. 10. After year-long negotiations with the Qatar Foundation for Science, Education and Community Development, "the academic design for the proposed new campus in Qatar cannot be made to fit the accreditation criteria to which we are subject," Casteen said. The University still supports the idea and is considering other options, such as developing a consortium, partnership or stand-alone programs. U.Va. will continue to assist Qatar, he said, as well as consider other possibilities for international education.
  • Standard computer packages offered -- The University's Division of Information Technology and Communication has launched the Desktop Computing Initiative, a voluntary program that seeks to encourage the use of standardized -- and less expensive -- computer hardware and software by faculty, staff and students. Working with Dell for Windows-based systems and Apple for MacIntosh systems, U.Va. can pass along reduced prices on computers to departments and individuals for office and home use, either on a straight purchase arrangement or on a two- to three-year lease.
  • Getting oriented -- The University rolled out its new summer orientation program for incoming students, holding eight sessions in July and early August, drawing about 3,000 first-year and transfer students, plus parents. During the two-day sessions, students took placement tests, attended advising meetings and forums on student-life issues and student self-governance and got their ID cards, while their parents went to parallel programs. "We've received very good comments from parents and students on the evaluation forms," said director Eleanor Sparagana.
  • I.D. cards -- For non-HS employees, ID cards are now being handled by the Business Operations office in the basement of Observatory Hill Dining Hall.


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