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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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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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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