This year the first seven West Virginia University faculty visited, or are set to visit, colleagues throughout the Big 12 as part of the conference’s faculty fellowship program. They’ve brought back new experiences, ideas, and in one case, a degree program.

Valena Beety, chair of the West Virginia Innocence Project and associate professor of law at WVU, worked with a colleague at the University of Texas School of Law as part of the fellowship. Her work with Jordan Steiker, one of the nation’s top scholars on the death penalty and criminal law, assisted her in proposing a new degree at WVU.

The new advanced legal degree program in forensic justice is expected to be offered in the fall of 2015.

Beety also witnessed the first sentencing of a prosecutor, Ken Anderson, for misconduct in a wrongful conviction case.

“The knowledge I gained from the Texas Forensic Science Commission and forensic experts in Texas has ultimately strengthened the partnership on campus between the College of Law and the Forensic & Investigative Science program at Eberly College,” Beety said.

Like Beety, all of the faculty members who were selected for the fellowship program in 2013-14 intended to discover more about an aspect of their field in a new way.

Yoav Kaddar, director of dance at WVU, went to the University of Texas at Austin to share modern dance choreography styles he used in professional companies during his career and apply knowledge he learned there to WVU’s fledgling program.

He taught UT at Austin students his dance “Raw” so they could feature it in their fall performance lineup. In this instance, the dance director at Texas later visited WVU to teach students here choreography for the spring concert Dance Now!

“I hope that the Big XII fellowship program continues as it gives us the opportunity to engage in productive and informed research and creative activities with colleagues at Big XII schools,” Kaddar said.

Earl Scime, professor of physics at WVU, will be traveling to UT at Austin later this spring to conduct plasma physics and cluster target fusion experiments with colleagues there.

Blake Mertz, an assistant professor of chemistry, will be visiting Iowa State University to gain better insight into how LTK kinases, a type of enzyme, function.

Rita Rio, an associate professor of biology, went to UT at Austin to study genetic manipulation that could eventually be used in restoring the population of the honey bee.

Joseph Lupo, associate professor of art and coordinator of the printmaking program at WVU, worked with a colleague, Michael Krueger, from the University of Kansas. They each critiqued student work at the other’s college and hosted lectures.

“It’s really hard to quantify the impact of having time to sit and talk to a contemporary,” Lupo said. “Even though Michael and I don’t share the same research interests, our basic interests in art, teaching and printmaking are very similar. So this is one of those situations where maybe three years from now you realize you’ve changed because of the time you spent as a visiting artist.”

Jessica Troilo, assistant professor of child development and family studies, used the fellowship to collaborate with Kansas State University Professor Mindy Markham on a study of divorced mothers and fathers co-parenting, among several other scholarly activities.

“I believe this fellowship program allowed Mindy and me to accomplish a great deal on our grant because we were able to work face-to-face,” Troilo said. “We were able to brainstorm ideas and discuss—over the course of a week—the various decisions we were struggling to make, activities that are very difficult to succeed in via e-mail or phone.

“The experience has only been a positive one, and I believe the Big XII Faculty Fellowship program will be of substantial benefit to faculty and the larger WVU community as additional faculty take advantage of this program.”

The Provost’s office is currently accepting applications from faculty who are interested in participating in the program in 2014-15. With the stipend provided, faculty may work on collaborative research, consult with faculty and students, offer a series of lectures or symposia, acquire new skills or take advantage of a unique archive or laboratory.

Six fellowships will be available for faculty members to visit any Big XII university. Applications are due June 1.

Find more information and the application here:



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