Latest Faculty Accomplishments


How music and history are giving JMU prof a shot at Broadway

Michael Gubser and Paolo Prandoni
Dr. Michael Gubser (left) and Paolo Prandoni

Dr. Michael Gubser's keen interests in music composition and World War I history have meshed for a shot at the lights of Broadway.

Gubser, an associate professor of history who teaches JMU students about Central and Eastern Europe as well as intellectual history and international development, has collaborated with his college buddy Paolo Prandoni, now an engineer, to write "Into the Sun, a musical accepted for the New York Musical Theatre Festival's Developmental Reading Series. The play is one of 10 works selected for the reading series from a field of 240 submissions.

Gubser and Prandoni, who met at the University of California, Berkeley, as graduate students in the mid-1990s and formed the band Chico Motel, teamed to write the musical, which is based loosely on the lives of British World War I poets. Poems by Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and William Butler Yeats inspired lyrics for the 26 original songs in the play. The story follows three young English friends as they go to war.

For Gubser, research for "Into the Sun" required a different level of personal engagement. "I had to explore 'what would it have felt like to be there?'"

Three readings are set for July: two on July 15 and one on July 19 at The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row. With a piano and a few other instruments – no sets or costumes – Gubser and Prandoni's musical will be performed for audiences that will include theater producers and backers.

"I'm hoping for really good readings and a platform to develop 'Into the Sun' further," Gubser said. Whatever comes from the NYMF readings, Gubser said, "We're building an enormous number of connections in New York."

Check out more JMU faculty accomplishments below:

GRANTS (awarded in June)

Emily K. Akerson (Clinical Coordinator for Clinical and Interprofessional Initiatives, Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services) received $25,000 from Healthy Families Shenandoah County Inc. to continue to meet the needs of at-risk families in Shenandoah County by providing education, resources and support.

Dr. Keri S. Bethune (Assistant Professor, Educational Foundations and Exceptionalities) received $499 from the Virginia Department of Education for the Consortium of Institutions of Higher Education in Virginia in Visual Impairments to provide initial licensure and continuing education courses to enable teachers to meet the state required competencies for highly qualified teachers of students with vision impairments.

Dr. Florian P. Buchholz (Associate Professor, Computer Science) and Dr. M. Hossain Heydari (Professor, Computer Science) received $559,943 from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarship support for undergraduate students for a bachelor of science degree in computer science and information security certification and to provide scholarship support for graduate students for a master's degree in computer science with a concentration in digital forensics.

Dr. Kevin L. Caran (Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Dr. Gina M. MacDonald (Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry) received $318,000 from the National Science Foundation for a regional summer research program integrating deaf and hearing participants in chemistry research.

Michael R. Dalmolin (Sustainability Coordinator, Engineering, Facilities Management) and Lee L. Eshelman (Traffic Demand Manager, Police and Safety) received $3,000 from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation to install transit screens at key campus locations to integrate a variety of transportation data sources into one central hub.

Kimberlee Hartzler-Weakley (Director of Children and Youth, Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services) received $18,505 from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board to provide interpreter services to non-English-speaking clients. Hartzler-Weakley received $150,102 from DuPont for the Promotores de Salud Project to increase the knowledge of fish consumption advisories and the possible health effects of mercury exposure while improving knowledge about overall health and well-being in the limited English proficient communities along the South River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Abram T. Kaufman (Energy Conservation and Sustainability Manager, Engineering, Facilities Management) and Janet Sievers-Mahon (Director, Edith J. Carrier Arboretum) received $7,550 from the Virginia Department of Forestry for stream restoration riparian planting to contribute to improving local water quality, enhancing the beauty and diversity of the area and furthering the mission of the arboretum to serve as an outdoor biology laboratory and environmental education center.

Patricia A. Kennedy (Administrator, Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services) received $11,250 from the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Foundation for the Healthcare for the Homeless Suitcase Clinic to help support a unique health care delivery model that addresses the unconventional and complex health concerns of homeless adults and children in the Harrisonburg community.

Dr. Stephen A. Leslie (Head and Professor, Geology and Environmental Science) received $8,422 from the National Science Foundation to use the geochemical archive of conodont apatite and carbonates to address questions about paleoceanographic conditions in the Ordovician epicontinental sea on Laurentia, a large continental craton that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent.

Dr. Robert L. McKown (Professor, Integrated Science and Technology) and Dr. Ronald W. Raab (Professor, Integrated Science and Technology) received $34,537 from the University of Virginia to manufacture and purify lacritin and design and generate cDNA constructs to help address how eye-specific tear factor lacritin promotes ocular surface homeostasis.

Dr. Jonathan J. Miles (Professor, Integrated Science and Technology) received $44,585 from the Virginia Public Private Partnership to screen and analyze suitable state-owned properties for solar energy development.

Dr. Samuel A. Morton III (Assistant Professor, Engineering) received $30,000 from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop an affordable, nonhazardous ionic liquids-based degreasing technology that will meet unique components requirements for the Department of Defense systems.

Dr. Michael L. Stoloff (Professor, Psychology; Interim Associate Dean, The Graduate School) and Dr. Joann H. Grayson (Professor Emerita, Psychology) received $44,363 from the Virginia Department of Social Services to publish and distribute the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter throughout the state in fiscal year 2016.

Dr. Eva M. Strawbridge (Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Statistics) received $11,000 from the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics to introduce the research process, in the form of project-based learning, into Calculus I with Integrated Precalculus with the goal of retaining more students, in particular females, in mathematics courses.

Nick D. Swayne (Coordinator for External Relations, College of Education; Instructor, Learning, Technology and Leadership Education) received $4,360 from Virginia city and county donors to provide sponsorship of robotics teams in the Virginia/D.C. FIRST LEGO League.

Dr. Jon M. Thompson (Professor, Health Sciences; Director, Health Services Administration Program) received $92,065 from the Virginia Blood Foundation to compile information on structure and processes governing transfusion management in Virginia hospitals using focus group and survey methodologies.

Lisa M. Troxell (University Liaison, Military Science) received $7,428 from the Foundation for Resilient Societies for a summer intern.


Dr. Jon M. Thompson (Professor, Health Sciences; Director, Health Services Administration Program) co-presented "Professional Development for Healthcare Management Students: Results from a Survey of Programs" at the Annual Meeting of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration on June 5. His co-presenters on this research are Michael R. Meacham of the Medical University of South Carolina and Randa S. Hall of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. 


Dr. Timothy C. Ball (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) and Dr. Rozanne Leppington (Retired Assistant Professor, Communication Studies) published an article, "The VAST model for online instruction: Promoting significant learning experiences," in The Northwest Journal of Communication. In the article, Ball and Leppington establish the characteristics and merits of a significant learning experience and suggest that such an experience can be designed into an online course as well as into the face-to-face classroom environment.

Dr. Joshua R. Pate (Assistant Professor, Sport and Recreation Management) and Dr. David J. Shonk (Associate Professor, Sport and Recreation Management) published an article, "An experiential learning trip: Exploring student experiences and motivations for volunteering at the Super Bowl," in the spring 2015 issue of Sport Management Education Journal.

Dr. Jon M. Thompson (Professor, Health Sciences; Director, Health Services Administration Program) co-authored an article, "Hospital Acquisitions Before Healthcare Reform," in the Journal of Healthcare Management, Vol. 60(3), May/June. Co-authors on the article are Dr. Michael J. McCue of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Tae Hyun Kim of Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.

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by Eric Gorton

Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Last Updated: Monday, May 20, 2024

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