Feature Archive

Engineering Students Take a Plunge Into . . . Biology

Students work on device in the lab.
How many picoliters of fluid are required to synthesize a section of DNA? That's not exactly the type of question five engineering majors expected to encounter when they began their studies four years ago. But the five students designing and building a piezoelectric oligonucleotide synthesizer and microarrayer, or POSaM device for short, can tell you now.

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The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published February 2012


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments (December 2011 list)

The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments (November 2011 list)

Published January 2012


Cutting Edge Heating System Tested at Rockingham Farm

JMU student crouches inside biochar chamber.
A Rockingham County farm could be heating a greenhouse and getting an environmentally friendly fertilizer supplement from the same system by early 2012. Four JMU seniors have completed construction on a system that will produce heat while creating biochar, a soil supplement that is gaining attention around the world for its potential to boost crop yields.

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The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published December 2011


Foam for Thought: There's Lots to be Learned From Those Suds

close-up of soap bubbles in a 2-liter bottle.
Dr. Klebert Feitosa, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, has found plenty of reasons to think about foam, and in great detail. He's been studying it for years and could talk about it for hours. He says he needs 36-hour days to do all the research he would like to do and he kids his astronomer colleagues that the whole universe is like a big foam.

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Published October 2011


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published September 2011


Striking Gold: Student Research Leads to Chance Discovery

Scientists in white gowns work in clean room.
Getting gold film to adhere to plastics is a tricky task. Finding a sure-fire, low-cost way to accomplish it would be a real breakthrough for a number of industries from biomedicine to computer chip manufacturers. A pair of JMU researchers thought they and a High Point University student had stumbled upon the perfect method during the summer of 2009 while working on a biomedical device to replicate DNA.

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Published August 2011


Without Comforts of Home, Africa Trip Opens Students' Eyes

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They had to deal with illness, insects, wild animals and mud, but a group of JMU students who spent much of May in Africa also reaped some rewards from the experience. “Living like the local villagers was an experience all its own, and a very humbling one at that,” said senior Ash Alexander. “Making friends with the Cameroonians, people I will never forget, was incredible. A very close friend to Dr. (Josh) Linder even named his daughter after me. She was born the day we left.”

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Published July 2011


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published June 2011


Engineering Students Address Teen's Disability with Bicycle Design

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Born with cerebral palsy, 16-year-old Ricky Forgey needs a cane for standing and walking. He must also think about the steps he takes for his muscles to respond properly. Riding a bicycle may sound like an impossible task, but with the help of some sophomore engineering students at James Madison University, the high-school junior could be pedaling around his hometown of Bridgewater later this year.

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Published May 2011


Cameroon May Offer Life-Altering Experience for Study Abroad Students

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Joshua Linder’s first visit to the West African nation of Cameroon changed his perspectives on life. Now he’s giving four JMU students an opportunity to have a similar experience.

From May 9 to June 2, four JMU students and two students from universities in New York, will accompany Linder, an assistant professor of anthropology at JMU, to Cameroon, where he has been researching primate ecology and conservation since 2003.

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Published April 2011


How Long is a Muon Lifetime? JMU Professor, Physics Students Helped Find the Answer

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The JMU Physics Department received a mention in several science journals this winter for its role in a particle physics experiment that took 10 years to complete.

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Published March 2011


JMU Research Sharpens Global Landmine Removal Practices

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As landmines age, they become more fragile, more unpredictable, more likely to go off with the slightest disturbance—or at least that has been the prevailing theory among ordnance disposal experts for decades. But a two-year study of aging landmines conducted by the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University is turning that theory on its head and has the potential to revolutionize the fiscal and strategic approaches used to dispose of the devices around the world.

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Published February 2011


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published January 2011


JMU Senior Researches Deadly Disease With Leading Research Firm SRI

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Senior biology major Tina Safavie has been fascinated by viruses since her sophomore year of high school, when she saw a presentation on the topic. And this summer, the JMU student got some hands-on experience working with a little-known tropical virus at one of the premier biotech companies in the world: SRI International.

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Published December 2010


What Lies Beneath the Valley's Crust? Local Landmark May Have Answers

Mole Hill can be seen from many places on campus.

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson didn't know what she was going to do with herself when she moved to Harrisonburg two years ago to teach geology at JMU. She had just spent years studying volcanic activity in the Northwest, home to volcanoes like Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. But there were no volcanoes in the Shenandoah ValleyÑor so she thought.

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Published November 2010


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published October 2010


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published September 2010


Fulbright Fellowship Provides First-Hand Look at South African Education

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Dr. Teresa Harris, professor of early childhood education at JMU, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for spring semester 2010 to build collaboration between the university's early childhood/elementary education programs and the University of Pretoria Early Childhood Development Department. In sharing her first-person article with "Madison Scholar" readers, Harris provides a valuable glimpse into another country's educational system.

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Published August 2010


Botanist McMullen Is Participant In Galapagos Research

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Leaping from falling boulders accounts for a very small part of what excites Conley McMullen about botanical research. Guiding student research, preserving endangered species and searching for new species routinely provide the thrills.

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Published July 2010


Two Sets of Twins Participate In JMU's Summer Lab Program

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Wandering around the Physics and Chemistry Building this summer you might think you are seeing double. And double again. James Madison University's Research Experience for Undergraduates is hosting two sets of twins. Jamel and Jarvis Mitchum are JMU junior chemistry majors studying in Dr. Gina MacDonald's chemistry REU. Darius Reynolds, a junior mechanical and aerospace engineering major at West Virginia University, and Lee Reynolds, a JMU junior integrated science and technology major, are in the materials science REU run by Dr. Chris Hughes.

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Published June 2010


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published May 2010


Little-Known Protein May Be Key To Fighting Two Diseases

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A protein that may have a role in combating a serious parasitic skin infection that threatens American soldiers serving in the Middle East may also have a role in fighting another world-wide menace: malaria. Dr. Chris Lantz, an associate professor of biology at James Madison University, hopes his research will shed light on just what role interleukin-3—or IL-3—can have in remedying both scourges.

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Published April 2010


JMU Researcher Seeks Answers to Long-Living Lemurs

Sifaka Lemur hangs from a tree.

There's a general rule among mammals: the larger the body, the longer the lifespan. But a species of lemur, the sifaka of Madagascar, doesn't play by the rules. This biological rebel, about the size of a house cat, lives up to 35 years. Assistant Professor Richard Lawler, a primatologist specializing in lemur life history, is investigating why.

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Published March 2010


JMU Assessment Tests Prompt Start of New Company

Richelle and Loren Burnett

Receiving recognition for its computer-based tests is nothing new for James Madison University's Center for Assessment and Research Studies. Now, after more than 20 years of research, development and administration of the tests, which evaluate the strength of general education programs, the center has a new type of recognition—a business partner.

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Published February 2010


Wyngaard Uses Fulbright Scholarship to Broaden Copepod Research

Professor Grace Wyngaard

They live in all the world's oceans and in the majority of its freshwater habitats. And though they are so diminutive they can barely be seen by the naked eye, copepods' importance in the food chain is as gargantuan as their numbers.

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Published January 2010


The Latest List of Faculty Accomplishments

Published December 2009


JMU Lab Takes a Multi-perspective Approach to Transportation Fuels

supermileage vehicle

Pragmatic scientists engage a problem and work to find the solution. But when a problem is as complex as the United States' mounting dependence on an ever-dwindling oil supply, there's not just one solution. That's how the diverse team at the James Madison University Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab approaches the issue-many fuel sources, many perspectives.

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Published November 2009


Gray's Analyses: Decoding Data Using Constructed Cartography

Link to Feature Story

On a standard map, Afghanistan and Iran share a border. But from James Madison University professor Lincoln Gray's perspective, the two countries are a world apart. That's because Gray's "constructed charts" don't map items based on their physical proximity to each other, but rather their relationship to common data points-in this case, rates of successful vaccination against diphtheria. Using constructed cartography, a technique he's been developing since his completing doctoral studies, Gray has helped researchers across several fields discern clear, understandable patterns from vast amounts of complex data.

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Published October 2009


A Real Eye Opener
Augustine Recounts Six-month Teaching Trip In South Africa

Link to Feature Story

South Africa is a land of jarring contrasts. Most visitors arriving from the United States are surprised at the modernity. There are paved roads filled with BMWs and Mercedes, modern shopping malls, high speed internet, well-stocked grocery stores and nearly all of the conveniences of the modern world. Our Garmin GPS loaded with a southern Africa chip had turn-by-turn navigation, ATMs and petrol stations all fully programmed. Dig a little deeper and begin to see the other South Africa.

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Published September 2009


The Evolution of Biology Education
JMU Professor Alters Techniques, Empowers Students

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Carol Hurney, an associate professor of biology at James Madison University, was one of 20 faculty members from institutions across the nation selected to study biology education reform and the scholarship of teaching and learning in the National Science Foundation's Biology Scholars Research Residency in 2008.

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Published August 2009


Biology REU Program Provides More Than Lab Experience

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College students across the nation are enjoying hard-earned summer breaks. But a dedicated group of some of the country's brightest biology undergraduates are getting their feet wet in the world of research at James Madison University.

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Published July 2009


JMU Undergraduate Takes Volcano Research to Capitol Hill

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Hannah Shepherd, a senior from Mount Jackson, Va., was chosen to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in presenting her project at Posters on The Hill, an annual conference on Capitol Hill where students from all 50 states showcase the importance of undergraduate research directly to the nation's lawmakers.

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Published June 2009


JMU Gains Virtual Foothold in Second Life

screen shot of JMU second life campus

Ever wish you could stay in bed all morning without missing your 10 a.m. lecture? Invite your friends from across the globe to hang out with you on the Quad? Fly over Wilson Hall to recreate the view from that famous "100" photo from the JMU Centennial Celebration? Now you can.

Thanks to an interdisciplinary team of JMU faculty, the James Madison University campus is open for classes, hanging out and, yes, flying, 24 hours a day, in the virtual world of Second Life.

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Published May 2009


Student’s Invention to Assist in Rebuilding African Village

April 2009 edition

Brick by brick, houses, community centers, sports facilities and churches are going up in the village of Gulu in northern Uganda. A rebuilding effort is under way in the African country as the people—former residents of a nearby Internally Displaced People camp—recover from two decades of civil war. The work requires lots of manual labor and moves along slowly, but the pace will soon pick up. In the coming weeks, the workers will start using a mixer designed by JMU junior Daniel Morgan to streamline the process of mixing the soil and cement used for making the bricks.

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Published April 2009


JMU Helps Discover New Breakthroughs in Lacritin Research

March 2009 edition

Ever since Madison Scholar checked in with Dr. Bob McKown about his research into the human tear protein lacritin more than three years ago, people have been calling to ask about the project. And for good reason, too. Now, not only is the four-institution research team nearing a partnership with big pharma, but also is continuing to discover new and potentially revolutionary uses for the little-known protein.

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Published March 2009


Centennial Dukes Establish Undergraduate Research Journal

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Laurence Lewis knows the feeling of writing a research paper for very few eyes. That's why he and fellow 2008 alumnus Casey Boutwell founded the James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal, which will publish its first edition in April.

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Published February 2009


The Sound of Love:
Research Reveals Intriguing Abilities of Female Tree Frogs

Nov. 2008 cover

Imagine having to choose a mate based partly on the chances of surviving the trek to make the first acquaintance.In the world of barking tree frogs, finding Mr. Right is about much more than just good looks—or mating call volume in this case.

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Published November 2008


Augustine Lands Fulbright To Teach Nanotechnology in South Africa

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Brian Augustine, associate professor of Chemistry, will be heading to South Africa in January to teach and research nanotechnology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Augustine will combine lectures and laboratory experiments from a class he helped pioneer at JMU called "The Science of the Small: An Introduction to Nanotechnology."

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Published July 2008


The Past, Present and Future of Undergraduate Research

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The practice of undergraduate research at JMU has been an evolutionary process that can be traced to the university's beginning.

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Published March 2008


Physics Projects Seek To Advance Particle Experiments

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The task is somewhat like trying to improve on an award-winning chili recipe, but in this case, the results won't be a matter of taste. The success of this recipe will be determined by aiming gamma rays at the creation, plastic disks doped with a special compound so they can be polarized and serve as both targets and detectors in particle acceleration experiments.

Published February 2008


A Mold For Teaching

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JMU rapid prototype lab will make an educator's vision come to life.

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Published June 2007


Algae Oil Seen as Vaible Alternative to Petroleum

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Years of research by the federal government, other universities and even private companies has proven algae to be a good source of oil, oil that can be used to produce biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative to petroleum diesel. Chris Bachmann and his students research ways to find the best algae for producing oil and the best ways to grow it.

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Published December 2006


A White Lab Coat and a Small Crustacean

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Dr. Grace Wyngaard studies microscopic copepods that genetically adapt as their environment dictates. The tiny crustaceans answer — and pose — questions on the evolution of species.

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Published August 2006


Like Sand Through An Hourglass

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Sitting there in glass vials on a laboratory shelf, the specimens look rather ordinary—no different, in fact, than the sand that takes you six months to clean out of your car after a trip to the beach. Ah, but there's so much more to sand than that, especially the sand shelved in the lab of JMU geology Associate Professor Kristen St. John.

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Published April 2006


The Point Is ... A Puzzlement

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A mapping project at James Madison University’s first archaeological field school in the American Southwest yielded an out-of-place artifact that has left Director Julie Solometo and other anthropologists puzzled.

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Published January 2006


Just What the Doctor Ordered

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Dr. David Jaynes might just be on the path to easing a dilemma for both doctors and the millions of patients who suffer from chronic wounds. For the past five years, Jaynes and his students have been working on a procedure that involves observing proteins collected from such wounds to determine treatment effectiveness.

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Published September 2005


Where The Wind Blows

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A whistling wind whips the flags straight out, adding a biting chill to an already cool spring day. It seems to be a typical condition atop the hill that is home to James Madison University's East Campus, but wind surveys paint a different picture.

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Published August 2005


NASCAR Nation

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What's in a name? If it's the name of a product brand plastered across the hood, sides and trunk of the winning car on a NASCAR track, there's a lot in it -- a name that fans are likely to know and a brand they are likely to buy.

Published July 2005


Is It Rape?

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A study by Dr. Arnie Kahn explains why more than half of all women who are sexually assaulted don't report it to law enforcement officials.

Published June 2005


Ducts Out of Water

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The waiting rooms of eye doctors throughout the United States are filled with patients seeking relief from one of the most common and irksome of ailments: dry-eye syndrome. Finally, research is under way that may give sufferers real, lasting relief and JMU is at the forefront of those efforts.

Published May 2005


The Physics of Dance

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As one sits quietly in an audience at a dance concert and watches, transfixed by dancers' seamless movements, notions of how science, more specifically physics, plays a role in such an inherently free and beautiful scene are far off. Except if you're Dr. Christopher Hughes. This is the story of one JMU professor who is dedicated to teaching students that the physics of dance is free yet bound by laws.