‘Hey Google, tell me something good.’ Google Creative Lab taps a VCU journalism professor’s research to share good news stories

White background with the words "Hey Google, tell me something good"

Thanks in part to the research of a VCU journalism professor, the Google Assistant is able to tell users about good news stories happening in the world.

With the Google Assistant, users can search the internet, schedule meetings, set alarms, send texts, play music, dim lights and a long list of other tasks.

And now — thanks in part to the research of a Virginia Commonwealth University journalism professor — the Google Assistant is able to tell users about good news stories happening in the world.

After a recent update, users can say, “Hey Google, tell me something good,” and the Google Assistant will read a two- or three-sentence news summary from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization that aims to expose people to news stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and show them potential ways to respond.

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The river of no return: VCU students get firsthand experience with ecology, wilderness policy and adventure.

Students rafting down the Lowe Salmon River.

The expedition to the Lowe Salmon River was part of a new course series of the VCU Outdoor Adventure Program, Center for Environmental Studies and the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

In the wilderness of Idaho’s Lower Salmon River this summer, Virginia Commonwealth University student Abby Wright pushed herself to do things she’d never done before.

Along with her classmates in a new experiential course series at VCU, Wright — a sophomore biology major in the College of Humanities and Sciences — camped in backcountry with no contact to the outside world for a week, learned how to paddle down a river in an inflatable raft, and cooked for all 22 students, faculty and guides on the expedition.

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Forensic science professor joins steering committee of Science and Human Rights Coalition

 

Researchers identifying human remains at a grave site.

Tal Simmons, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Forensic Science, has helped to lead projects documenting and identifying human remains in the former Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Tal Simmons, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Forensic Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has been appointed to the steering committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific and engineering membership organizations that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights.

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Two VCU students share insights gained at Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

M.D.-Ph.D student Chelsea Cockburn, left, and Ph.D. candidate Katie Schwienteck, right, with Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, Ph.D., at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

M.D.-Ph.D student Chelsea Cockburn, left, and Ph.D. candidate Katie Schwienteck, right, with Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, Ph.D., at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

Katie Schwienteck (Pharm.D.’15/P) set a goal several years ago to one day attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany.

“I had heard how wonderful it was,” she said. “I thought it would be an awesome experience. As it turns out, it most definitely was.”

A Ph.D. candidate in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology who’s already earned an advanced degree from the School of Pharmacy, Schwienteck, Pharm.D., was one of two students from the School of Medicine selected to attend this year’s event. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings focus on physiology, medicine, physics and chemistry.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Chelsea Cockburn, an M.D.-Ph.D. student who also was selected to attend. “Just to meet all the laureates and hear their stories was incredible.”

Schwienteck and Cockburn were among 600 students from 84 countries. Only 30 were from the U.S.

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Four specialties at VCU Medical Center recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals rankings

An aerial view of the VCU medical campus.

VCU Medical Center ranks among the top 50 in the country for urology, nephrology, orthopedics, and diabetes and endocrinology.

U.S. News & World Report has recognized VCU Medical Center as the No. 1 hospital in the Richmond metro area for the eighth consecutive year, and as the No. 2 hospital in Virginia for 2018-19. VCU Medical Center also ranks among the top 50 in the country for urology, nephrology, orthopedics, and diabetes and endocrinology, increasing the number of nationally recognized specialties at the academic medical center from two to four compared to last year.

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Massey first in the region to use a new device that marks breast tumors for removal

Breast Cancer - Female Anatomy - isolated on white

VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the region to use a new FDA-approved device that guides surgeons in locating and removing breast tumors.

VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the region to use a new FDA-approved device that guides surgeons in locating and removing breast tumors. Named Magseed, the device is a simpler, more effective alternative to traditional methods.

Nearly 50 percent of breast tumors are not felt by touch at the time of diagnosis. In these cases, a technique called wire localization traditionally has been used to mark the tumor for surgeons to remove during a lumpectomy. Wire localization involves a thin wire being inserted into the tumor by a radiologist, who uses a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI as a guide.

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Gilman scholars share stories from their summer adventures

social work major Alexandra Habib in Alicante, Spain.

Social work major Alexandra Habib studied in Alicante, Spain.

Seven Virginia Commonwealth University students studied abroad this summer after receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Gilman scholars received up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.

With summer ending, we checked in with a few of these students who shared why they chose their locations, the lessons they learned through their experience, and how receiving the scholarship affected their ability to study abroad.

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After SpaceX debut, Hyperloop at VCU sets sights on the future

Members of the Hyperloop at VCU team standing in front of their pod.

Hyperloop at VCU, which formed less than a year ago, was one of only 20 teams worldwide to compete in the 2018 Hyperloop finals. (Photo by Kendra Gerlach, VCU College of Engineering)

SpaceX will host a fourth Hyperloop Pod Competition next year. Arthur Chadwick plans to be there.

“A lot of planning will happen very soon,” said Chadwick, president of Hyperloop at VCU and a rising junior in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering. “We all understand each other better [after competing in this year’s competition] and how each other works, and this time, we have a full year to really think about and prepare things instead of working twice as hard in half the time.”

Under Chadwick’s leadership, Hyperloop at VCU, which formed less than a year ago, was one of only 20 teams worldwide and one of only nine from the United States to compete in the 2018 Hyperloop finals. The international contest challenges university teams to design and build the best pod for Hyperloop, a high-speed ground transport concept by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Twenty students from VCU made the trip to the finals in Hawthorne, California, and a dozen core members worked long hours to integrate the pod’s multiple complex systems of mechanical, propulsion, electrical, braking and software controls.

Now back in Richmond, VCU’s team of engineering, business, government and arts students is inspired and eager to return to SpaceX in 2019.

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Working (successfully) in mixed media: Arts alumna isn’t defined by a single form of expression

Christine Stoddard working with children during a community art session.By Anthony Langley (B.S.’16/MC)

Multitalented artist and writer Christine Stoddard (B.A.’12/A; B.A.’12/H&S; Cert.’12/B) will be taking over our Instagram account this Monday.

We’ll be following along as she completes projects as artist-in-residence at New York’s Brooklyn Public Library and Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.

 

 

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Words from the wise: Five longtime professors reflect on their 20-plus years of teaching at VCU

Headshots of five VCU professors against a blue background.Have you ever taken a class with a professor who taught one of your parents? With more than 2,300 full-time faculty members at Virginia Commonwealth University, including many who have been here for several decades, that scenario does happen on occasion.

We asked five professors who have two decades or more of VCU teaching experience to share their experiences, favorite moments and lessons learned throughout the years.

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