Gov. Kaine, Kathleen Parker to address grads
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker will be the speakers for Old Dominion’s 109th commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 13. Approximately 1,800 students are eligible to graduate.

Kaine will speak at the 9 a.m. ceremony for graduates of the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business and Public Administration and Health Sciences. Parker will speak to graduates of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Darden College of Education and College of Sciences at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Kaine became the 70th governor of Virginia on Jan. 14, 2006. During his tenure, Virginia has been recognized as the most business-friendly state in America, the top-performing state government in America and the state where “a child is most likely to have a successful life.”

He led efforts in 2008 to secure a $1.6 billion bond package to expand college access for Virginians and thereby accelerate economic growth.

Parker, a conservative columnist whose twice-weekly column is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, is the most widely distributed female columnist – and second overall – in the United States. She writes extensively on politics, gender and culture in America and is a popular radio and television guest. She is a regular on news and opinion television shows, including “The Chris Matthews Show,” and also has appeared on “The Colbert Report,” “Larry King Live,” the “Today” show, “The “O’Reilly Factor,” “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” C-SPAN with Brian Lamb and “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

The first woman to win the H.L. Mencken Writing Award, Parker has taught Spanish at Florida State University, where she received her master’s degree in Spanish literature. She also has taught journalism and writing at the University of South Carolina, and is writer-in-residence at The Buckley School of Public Speaking in Camden, S.C.

Old Dominion will award Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to four alumni: Delores Johnson Brown and Patricia Turner, members of the original “Norfolk 17” who integrated the city’s public schools; Robert L. Fodrey Sr., a former Board of Visitors member and longtime ODU supporter; and Anne Donovan, who coached the U.S. women’s basketball gold-medal team at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Turner and Fodrey will receive their degrees at the morning ceremony; Brown and Donovan will be awarded their degrees during the afternoon program. Back to top

Harold Ford to deliver MLK Lecture
Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and a former member of the U.S. Congress from Tennessee, will give Old Dominion’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture in January.

His talk, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Mills Godwin Jr. Building auditorium.

Ford represented Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Memphis, from 1997 to 2007. Instead of seeking re-election to his House seat in 2006, he sought, unsuccessfully, the Senate seat that was being vacated by the retiring Bill Frist.

Described by former President Bill Clinton as “the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century,” Ford is a visiting professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University and vice chairman of Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc.

He is the son of former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Sr. Back to top

George Dragas donates $1 million designated for academic purposes
A $1 million gift from George Dragas Jr. to Old Dominion was announced at the Dec. 5 Board of Visitors meeting.

Dragas, a former board rector and ODU alumnus (’56), has designated the gift to be used for academic purposes. Acting President John R. Broderick and the development office are working together to finalize details on how the gift will be utilized.

“The university is honored and delighted that George Dragas, a long-time supporter of his alma mater, continues to demonstrate his commitment to the growth and development of Old Dominion University through his generosity,” Broderick said.

Dragas was a member of the Board of Visitors from 1983-91, serving as vice rector from 1988-90 and as rector in 1990-91. As vice rector, Dragas chaired the presidential search committee that recommended James V. Koch in 1989.

Past donations to ODU from the Dragas family have included funding for the Dragas International Center, the Dragas Professorship in International Studies Endowment, the Center for Regional Studies (State of the Region report), and numerous other programs and initiatives.

In 1968, Dragas founded Dragas Mortgage Co. and later formed The Dragas Companies, a residential and commercial development company in Virginia Beach, in partnership with his brother, Marcus. Today, George Dragas’ daughter, Helen E. Dragas, serves as president and CEO. Back to top

Board expected to appoint search committee in April
The Board of Visitors on Dec. 5 authorized its Executive Committee to hire a consulting firm to aid in the next presidential search process. An institutional assessment is expected to be completed by the time the committee meets in March, Rector Ross Mugler said at the meeting.

He added that the board will appoint a search committee in April, noting that 12 board members have agreed to serve. Back to top

Jury chair named for ONFilm Festival in March
Film producer Stephen Israel will chair the jury of the 2009 Old Dominion University/City of Norfolk Film Festival of Independent Film (ONFilmFest). The panel of judges comprises film directors and producers, as well as film industry executives, and includes Virginian-Pilot film critic Mal Vincent. Visit for jury profiles and more information about the ONFilmFest, which runs March 25-28.

Israel, who is probably best known for executive-producing the critically acclaimed sleeper hit “Swimming with Sharks,” starring Kevin Spacey, is a prominent figure in the film festival world, having served as a programmer for both Outfest and the Slamdance Film Festival, for which he currently serves on the advisory board.

“Stephen Israel’s willingness to help shape this year’s new ONFilm Festival format constitutes an extraordinary leap for the Hampton Roads film community, as he has been one of Hollywood’s most successful young independent film producers,” said ODU’s Peter Schulman, artistic director of the 2009 ONFilm Festival. Back to top

ODU buildings win awards for development design
Old Dominion shared in three Excellence in Development Design Awards, which were announced recently by the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate.

The annual awards program featured 13 categories this year and received 56 submissions.

The University Village Bookstore won an Award of Excellence in the Best Commercial/Retail Building category for facilities 20,000 to 100,000 square feet in size. Among the judges’ comments were “good urban rhythm,” “striking use of corner atrium/entry” and “richly articulated facade at the street level.”

The Tri-Cities Center and Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center complex also won an Award of Excellence in the Best Institutional/Public Building category.

Among the judges’ comments was: “Beautifully detailed and proportioned buildings with skillful blending of brick, steel and glass.”

In the Best Master Planned Project category, the University Village received an Award of Merit. One judge noted: “Excellent transformation of an auto-oriented zone into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.” Back to top

Sculptural installation exhibition opens Jan. 17
Works by Iranian artist Tannaz Farsi will be on exhibit from Jan. 17 to March 8 at the Gordon Galleries. The opening reception is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17.

The focus of Farsi’s sculptural installations is on the relationship of the viewer and the work. Farsi, who is interested in the invisible function of infrastructures in society, uses a combination of inflated vinyl, tubing, air, LED lights, steel, Plexiglas, cast plastic, pulleys and video projections to create a tableaux of transparency and form.

For gallery hours call 683-6271. Back to top

“Goose” Gossage is speaker for ODU Baseball Clinic
Rich “Goose” Gossage, a recent inductee into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame, will be the speaker for the “Meet the Stars” banquet Friday, Jan. 23, as part of the ODU Baseball Clinic weekend.

The banquet will be held at the Norfolk Sheraton Waterside Hotel; tickets are $60. To purchase tickets and for the times of the banquet and social, call 683-4444.

Gossage, one of MLB’s most dominating relief pitchers from the late 1970s and 1980s, led the American League in saves with 26 in 1975, 27 in 1978 and 33 in 1980. Back to top

Adolphus Hailstork wins 2008-09 ASCAP Award
Music professor, eminent scholar and composer Adolphus Hailstork was chosen recently to receive a 2008-09 ASCAP Award. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a performing rights organization comprising more than 330,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music. The ASCAP Award is designed to show appreciation for composers whose work is not widely considered a part of mainstream music.

Hailstork’s musical compositions were judged for prestige and value by a panel of musical professionals. They also considered his activity as a composer and how often his work is performed.

Proclaimed a Cultural Laureate of the state of Virginia in 1992, Hailstork has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band and orchestra. Significant performances by major orchestras (Philadelphia, Chicago and New York) have been conducted by leading conductors such as James de Priest, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur and Lorin Maezel.
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“Of Thee I Sing” exhibit in Diehn Composers Room
The Diehn Composers Room is featuring “Of Thee I Sing: Politics Through Song,” an exhibition that commemorates the 2008 presidential election year by canvassing campaign songs of former presidential candidates, through April 30.

The exhibit showcases a variety of campaign songs: songs that illuminate personality or accomplishments, songs scored by famous composers, songs adapted from Broadway musicals, and songs that croon slander, notarize political corruption, chant social reform and much more.

The first campaign song, the first great singing campaign and other campaign song firsts are showcased, along with presidential photographs, political cartoons and campaign scores. All exhibit materials and items are from Diehn Composers Room and Perry Library collections.

The Diehn Composers Room is located in room 189 of the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. Viewing is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Funding for this exhibit is provided by a grant from The Norfolk Foundation. Back to top

Institute for Community Justice sponsors meeting
Old Dominion’s Institute for Community Justice and the city of Norfolk will sponsor a town hall meeting on “Disproportionate Minority Contact/Confinement in the Juvenile Justice System” for law enforcement personnel, social workers, community leaders, and educators and students of sociology and criminal justice on Saturday, Jan. 24. It is free and open to the public.

Shay Bilchik, former director of the Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program and currently director of juvenile justice and system reform at Georgetown University, will be the keynote speaker.

The meeting will run from 9 a.m. to noon in the Batten Arts and Letters Building auditorium.
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CLT offers training on Blackboard for spring
The Center for Learning Technologies will offer Blackboard training for faculty members and teaching assistants starting in January.

The Blackboard Olympics consist of three marathons based on course content, interaction and collaboration, and assessment. Each marathon lasts one full day and consists of four sessions; however, participants may only need to attend one or more sessions during the day.

Each marathon opens with a beginner’s workshop in which faculty members who have never used Blackboard can become familiar with the Blackboard interface. The remaining three sessions each day cover specific aspects of Blackboard or illustrate companion tools related to the topic of that day’s marathon.

The following sessions are scheduled:

  • Blackboard Content Marathon – Jan. 6, 15 and 21
  • Blackboard Collaboration Marathon – Jan. 7, 13 and 22
  • Blackboard Assessment Marathon – Jan. 8, 14 and 20.

All workshops will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in room 411 of the Gornto Teletechnet Center. Faculty members and TAs can register online at or by calling 683-3172. Back to top

Donate coats through 20th
Old Dominion’s Center for Community Service is collecting gently used and new winter coats for donation to Goodwill.

Coats should be taken to the center’s office in Webb Center between now and Saturday, Dec. 20. For more information call 683-3065. Back to top

Office of Research seeks applicants for seed grants
Five research teams involving 18 faculty members at Old Dominion and three collaborators from Eastern Virginia Medical School will share nearly $375,000 in multidisciplinary seed funding awarded Dec. 2 by the ODU Office of Research.

The grants were announced by Mohammad Karim, vice president for research. This is round four of a program Karim initiated in 2005 to promote multidisciplinary research projects. The goal is to nurture projects to the point that they can attract external funding.

Projects selected for funding by the research office’s panel of experts are (unless otherwise noted, the investigators are from ODU and are identified by the departments and/or centers they represent):

  • “Quantifying Cancer-Causing Human Papilloma Virus Strains in Hampton Roads Women.” Lisa Horth, assistant professor of biological sciences; Mark Dorrepaal, chair and professor of mathematics and statistics; Jim Swanson, professor of biological sciences; and Dawn Curran, instructor of medical laboratory and radiation science. $64,721
  • “Hybrid Texture Imaging and Molecular Biomarker Classification of Prostate Cancer Tumor Cells.” Jiang Li, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and researcher at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC); Frederic McKenzie, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Rao Chaganty, professor of mathematics and statistics; and Julius Nyalwidke of EVMS. John Semmes of EVMS serves as a consultant. $80,000
  • “Do Marine Aggregates Facilitate Gene Transfer of Antibiotic Resistance in Nature?” Fred Dobbs, professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences, and Gary Schafran, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Holly Gaff, assistant professor of community and environmental health; Wayne Hynes, professor and acting chair of biological sciences; and Jin Wang, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics, serve as consultants. $81,782
  • “Impaired Insulin Delivery During Continuous Insulin Infusion.” Ayodeji Demuren, professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Eric Gyuricsko of EVMS; and Norou Diawara, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics. Shizhi Qian, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, serves as a consultant. $77,650

“Novel Nanoporous Electro-osmotic Micropump: Basic Technology Development and Its Lab-on-a-Chip Applications.” Shizhi Qian, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, and Helmut Baumgart, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor of electrical and computer engineering. Ali Beskok, Batten Endowed Chair in computational engineering, serves as a consultant. $70,000

The funding is for work extending through the first half of next year. Each team is required to provide a written report, make an oral presentation and follow up with an aggressive plan to attract external grants, Karim said. Back to top

Board approves plan to construct new president’s house by fall 2010
The Board of Visitors on Dec. 5 voted to raze the president’s house and replace it, with construction expected to be completed by spring or fall of 2010. According to Robert Fenning, vice president for administration and finance, “The board is using this time period to address a number of long-standing structural, mechanical and other deficiencies with the current house. “

A study showed that it would cost an estimated $2.1 million to renovate the 5,200-square-foot house, which was built around 1948, and approximately $2.2 million to build a new one. The study indicated that no major building systems have been upgraded since the original construction.

Plans call for conveying the property to the Real Estate Foundation, which would finance the new construction. The university would then master lease the new house. Architects are expected to give a presentation on the project at the board’s April meeting.

In other action, the board approved granting the title of emeritus to the following faculty: Hiroyuki Hamada, associate professor of exercise science, sport, physical education and recreation; John Holsinger, eminent scholar and professor of biological sciences; Katharine Kersey, director of the Child Development Center and Child Study Center; and Raymond Morgan, professor of educational curriculum and instruction.

The board also approved the following resolutions:

  • To terminate the university’s early retirement plan for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years; the resolution noted that “while 36 faculty members participated in the plan, the university did not reach the goal of participation by 60 faculty members.”
  • To adopt the university’s 5 percent budget reduction plan for fiscal year 2009.
  • To name two new residence halls adjacent to the Roseann Runte Quad the England House and the Dominion House.
  • To name the Child Development Center and Lions Child Study Center Director’s Suite for Katharine Kersey. Back to top

Broderick letter outlines initiatives for addressing crime
Dec. 4, 2008
Recent crimes in the neighborhoods surrounding Old Dominion University have us all justifiably anxious and apprehensive. Over the past two weeks, I and other members of the administration have talked with as many different groups as possible – including students, staff, parents and faculty – to hear their primary concerns, get a sense of where specific changes need to occur, and seek their input on possible solutions.

Additionally, the Student Government Association sponsored two safety forums yesterday. ODU administrators responsible for policing, campus infrastructure and emergency communications, as well as representatives from the Norfolk Police and city manager’s office, were there to hear students’ and parents’ concerns, questions and ideas.

Deterring crime in metropolitan areas is a complex issue, but you have my assurance that Old Dominion University is working very hard to provide our students, faculty and staff a safe environment in which to learn, live and work. I’d like to share some actions that we are already undertaking to achieve this:

  • Additional Police Patrols – Both Old Dominion and Norfolk have added additional police to the areas around campus where the majority of the incidents are occurring. These patrols include officers in marked and unmarked cars, as well as officers on bicycle and foot.
  • Sheriff’s Deputies – The university has contracted with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Department to have deputies patrol the troubled sections around campus during the evening and early morning hours. These efforts will start this weekend and continue until an increased ODU/Norfolk police patrolling strategy is finalized.
  • Expanded Shuttle Service – We are finalizing plans to expand the university’s shuttle bus service to include neighborhoods off campus where many of our students live. This will not only offer a safe means of transit from campus to home, but it will also provide a routine patrol by shuttle drivers who have direct communications with police dispatchers.
  • Safety Task Force – The university has revived a Safety Task Force that includes university officials, faculty, staff and students, Norfolk and ODU police, city representatives, landlords and civic league leaders. The task force will be responsible for identifying safety and security problems and initiate action to address them. Additionally, it will examine options for increasing city code enforcement in the surrounding neighborhoods, since statistics show that dirty and unmaintained neighborhoods invite criminal activity. Several years ago the task force was charged with helping the community bring an end to a series of home robberies in the Lambert’s Point neighborhood, which affected some of our students. The group was able to identify a variety of measures landlords could take to make their rental properties safer for students – such as better locks, lighting and landscaping – and the university worked with the landlords to ensure these steps were taken. As a result of that initiative and other recommendations by the task force, the home robberies stopped.
  • Revising Emergency Communications – While the ODU Alert emergency communication system will continue to be used in circumstances when it is determined that ODU students, faculty and staff may be in imminent danger, we are revising the way information is shared through that system and adding methods whereby the community can get information and updates on campus safety. More details will be shared when those methods are in place.
  • Safety Seminars – In addition to the safety seminars we offer at the beginning of the school year, the university will add classes throughout the year to promote safety, heighten student awareness, and teach individuals how to help keep themselves and their friends safe.
    In addition, we are exploring the following in conjunction with the City of Norfolk:
  • Increasing lighting and installing emergency call boxes in the Highland Park and Lambert’s Point areas where students live.
  • Locating a Norfolk Police substation on or near the Old Dominion campus to provide a greater police presence.

I want to thank the Student Government Association and President Michelle Davis for organizing yesterday’s forums and providing model leadership in the interest of student safety. The SGA will continue to solicit feedback from students through its Web site,
I am also grateful for the continued support of Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim, who has pledged the full assistance of the city in this matter.

I am interested in your feedback about safety at Old Dominion University. Please share your questions, concerns and ideas with me by e-mailing I will continue to communicate our progress in addressing security issues and share any additional measures we plan to implement over the coming months.

– John R. Broderick
Acting President
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Prof’s ancient DNA research puts him in media limelight

Old Dominion faculty member Alex Greenwood had a busy few weeks with the news media last month because of his research into the disease-related extinction of island-bound rats 100 years ago and related research into the wooly mammoth, which became extinct 10,000 years ago.

Greenwood is widely known for his research with ancient DNA. An Associated Press story distributed internationally noted his expertise in exploiting DNA retrieved from preserved bits of long-dead animals and quoted his assessment of the recent work of other scientists to decipher much of the genetic code of the wooly mammoth.

“An amazing achievement” is how the ODU researcher described the work of the other scientists, who studied DNA from mammoth hair that was found frozen in the Siberian permafrost.

News media were quick to seize on the possibility that the deciphering of the full genetic code a decade or so from now could result in the re-creation of a wooly mammoth. Greenwood received inquiries from several reporters seeking his evaluation of the report. After he talked with the AP reporter, he also did an interview with a television station in Washington, D.C.

Earlier in November, Greenwood was featured in another AP story about his research, again utilizing ancient DNA techniques, that shows disease was responsible for the extinction of rats native to Christmas Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The findings were the first to demonstrate that disease can lead to the extinction of a mammal. According to the research, rats that were native to the island, which is in the Indian Ocean, fell victim to a pathogen brought by invasive Eurasian black rats. The Eurasian rats, which were not susceptible to the pathogen, thrived on the island after jumping ship.

Greenwood’s study of Christmas Island rats also involved his colleagues in the biological sciences department, Kelly Wyatt, a graduate researcher, and Wayne Hynes, interim chair and professor of biological sciences, as well as researchers at the American Museum of Natural History. Samples used in their study were from museum specimens of rats that died a century ago.

These rats were relatively modern creatures compared with the wooly mammoths that Greenwood has studied extensively. The New York Times turned to him last year when a 10,000-year-old baby mammoth was discovered remarkably well preserved in Siberian permafrost.

Some scientists raised the possibility then that mammoths might be re-created if viable eggs or DNA can be retrieved from the baby female mammoth – which was about 6 months old when it died on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula. One re-creation scenario suggested that elephant sperm might awaken a mammoth egg. But Greenwood told The Times then that the well-preserved state of the baby mammoth specimen by no means guaranteed that organs would be intact or that eggs would be preserved in an arrested state.

The Times article predicted that new technologies and scientific discoveries would make it more likely that the mammoth DNA sequence will be copied. This seems even more possible now, with the latest reports of researchers. With the full sequence deciphered, the copy of mammoth DNA might take charge of an elephant egg, resulting in the re-creation of the ancient animal.

Greenwood, who joined the ODU faculty in 2006, received his doctorate in human genetics from the University of Michigan and has served as a postdoctoral research fellow and research associate at the American Museum of Natural History. He also did environment and health research as a postdoctoral fellow in Munich, Germany.

He received a grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust last year to continue his studies of mammoth population genetics. He likes to call the work “CSI: Ice Age.” He also has a genetics project under way to look at why mammoths had long hair and elephants do not.

An article in Science magazine in 2000 described Greenwood’s research in paleovirology, which might someday explain animal extinctions and unlock secrets of ancient viruses to the benefit of modern medicine. Back to top

Campus parking lots 5 and 27 to close on Dec. 12
Two parking lots will close at the end of business on Friday, Dec. 12, for construction.

Lot 5, near Rollins Hall, will temporary close for maintenance and construction of the Foreman Field east wall. Lot 1, located east of Hampton Boulevard near WHRO, should be used as an alternative.

Lot 27, across from the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center, will be closing for new quad construction. Meter space alternatives are available in either Lot 23, across from the Oceanography Building, or on the first level of Garage A, near the corner of Elkhorn Avenue and 43rd Street.
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New preschool program will help children with severe hearing loss

The Virginia Department of Education recently granted Old Dominion $140,000 to develop an innovative preschool program to help children with severe hearing impairments improve their hearing and speaking abilities. This program will be the first of its kind in Virginia.

The ODU Oral Preschool Program is being developed with three goals: 1) to teach children ages 2-5 with hearing aids and cochlear implants to develop spoken language through hearing; 2) to train future professionals on how to teach these children; and 3) to serve as a means for researching this new field.

With the grant money, ODU has just finished renovating a classroom to block out the external noise from busy nearby Hampton Boulevard. Children who are learning to convert the sounds their implants pick up into hearing and speech need a room that will keep noise from filtering in.

The next stage is for an advisory board to formulate policies and procedures, according to Joe Sever, associate professor of audiology and the program’s team leader.

The goal was to start the program by the end of the year. After it has been open for a year, the program will double as a classroom and a center to train future professionals, said Philip Langlais, vice provost for graduate studies and research.

“There are only a handful of such programs in the United States,” said Langlais.

The Oral Preschool Program actually has its roots in a larger, umbrella group: the Coalition for Hearing Education and Research. CHEAR was founded by Dr. Barry Strasnick, lead surgeon and chairman of head and neck surgery (otolaryngology) at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Along with Strasnick and Sever, the program team includes ODU’s Nick Bountress, the chair of speech pathology and audiology.

Though Strasnick said it was difficult to get people to think of hearing impairment as a pressing problem, “If you ask people if they know people who are hearing impaired, virtually everybody knows someone.” He also noted that, in addition to experiencing difficulty in communication, people with hearing disorders sometimes sustain injuries because their balance is affected.

In December 2007, there were 1,548 students attending Virginia public schools who received special services because of hearing loss, according to the state Department of Education. Last year, through Virginia’s Newborn Hearing Screening Program, 248 infants with hearing loss were detected.

The development and widespread use of technology like cochlear implants has made it possible for children who were born deaf or with severe hearing impairments to detect noise and use it to speak. Once the implant is in, however, patients must be trained so that they can distinguish between noises and learn to convert sounds into language they can use. This is why it was important that the classroom at ODU undergo renovations.

Extra glass in the windows, added material to the walls, thicker doors and quieter heating and air conditioning systems are some of the changes that were made to the oral preschool classroom. In addition, the classroom has been equipped with a speaker system that will wirelessly link to a microphone worn by the teacher. This will ensure that the volume and quality of the teacher’s voice do not change as he or she moves around the classroom.

Once children are able to process the sounds their implants pick up and convert them into speech, the goal is for them to attend public schools either without receiving special education services or receiving fewer services. For the children, this means a greater opportunity to complete their schooling and get better jobs. For the state, it means a significant savings. Currently, it costs $350,000 to provide special education services to a child from kindergarten through high school.

“We know from our studies that we have to intervene between ages 2-6 if we want to change the direction of their social development,” said Strasnick.

The continuing phase of the program is to teach the teachers, he added. In the medical field, cochlear implant and hearing aid technology has spread rapidly, but there are not many educational resources for these children once the implants are in place.

“If we do this right, by combining the clinical and diagnostic abilities of EVMS with the educational and research abilities of ODU, we can dramatically affect the lives of people,” Strasnick said.
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Meet Zorka: ODU’s first teraflop computer cluster

Old Dominion’s first teraflop compute cluster, which has been given the name Zorka, has been installed on the fourth floor of the E.V. Williams Engineering and Computational Sciences Building and is already winning rave reviews from the university’s research community.

A teraflop equals 1,000 gigaflops, and this is a measure of performance that Zorka can attain when running even at partial capacity. (An average desktop system peaks near 5 gigaflops.) The new, Dell high-performance cluster can handle the data crunching required for complex studies and simulations in fields such as aerospace engineering, mathematics, oceanography and bioelectric engineering.

Michael Sachon, assistant director for research computing in the Office of Computing and Communications Services (OCCS), said the Zorka cluster is rated at 1.5 teraflops and comprises:

  • Forty compute nodes, each with two 3-gigahertz dual-core Intel processors and 8 gigabytes of memory, providing 160 processor cores for parallel or serial applications.
  • Four symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) nodes, each with four 2.4-gigahertz quad-core processors and 32 gigabytes of memory, providing 64 additional processor cores for large, shared memory applications.
  • Four input/output (I/O) nodes supplying disk space to research applications: 9 terabytes of parallel file system disk and 3 terabytes of network file system (NFS) disk.
  • A 20 gigabit-per-second Infiniband fabric connecting the compute nodes and I/O nodes.

Defined in plainer language, Zorka offers the nifty combination of high-performance computing and fast disk space within the cluster to allow applications to run at very high speed and with low latency. This setup solves a problem akin to traffic congestion that researchers have encountered with the university’s older equipment. Sachon refers to it as a “bottleneck” in the link between the compute processors and the external disk space that, during peak usage, was like the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

Michael Dinniman, a research scientist with the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, is an example of a satisfied customer. He moved quickly to begin using Zorka in his computer modeling to simulate the ocean circulation and sea-ice dynamics on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. His simulations, which will provide valuable information about effects of climate change, are running on Zorka more than four times faster than they did on the university’s aging Orion cluster.

One aspect of his work, Dinniman said, is modeling the interaction between the ocean and the enormous ice sheets on Antarctica that slide off the continent in some coastal areas. “We want to look at possible changes in the melting at the base of these ice shelves due to warmer ocean waters,” he explained. “Changes in the basal melting of the ice shelves may change the speed at which ice sheets slide off the continent. If more ice slides off, that will change the sea level.”

When Dinniman ran the model on the older cluster, he would be allocated 16 central processing units (CPUs) and each year of simulation would take about six days to run. He said he usually got only a couple of model years of useful simulation, which made it difficult for him to see the broad picture of inter-annual variability. “For example, some runs only covered 2001-02, and it would be impossible to say which year was the anomalous one. With the new cluster, so far I am able to get more CPUs per model run and each CPU is faster. If I use 32 CPUs, which is what I’m using right now, it only takes about 32 hours to run one year of simulation. At this speed, we can actually do simulations spanning a decade or two and look at things like trying to tell if current conditions are different from the 1990s and, if so, why.”

Sachon smiles when he hears how pleased Dinniman is with Zorka. “That’s what I want to hear,” he said. “I’m hearing good things from other researchers, too.”

Sachon said he and his colleagues are frankly surprised that they were able to implement this architecture within their budget constraints. The ODU experts worked on the project with a Dell Inc. group led by major account manager Tim Wilkinson. “Tim and his Dell team were very supportive of what we wanted to do from a technology perspective, and also understood our need to have maintenance for the equipment for its life cycle,” Sachon said. “We are very appreciative of Dell working with us to advance ODU research computing.”

Wilkinson was pleased with the outcome, as well, and said in a telephone interview, “Mike and his team deserve praise too.”

The name, Zorka, derives from a name of another ODU computer cluster, Mileva. Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric Einstein, had a younger sister, Zorka.

Other than Sachon, the university’s Research Computing Group includes Ruben Igloria, who focuses on high-performance computing applications and is the lead systems administrator; Mahantesh Halappanavar, who focuses on parallel programming and grid computing; Amit Kumar, who focuses on parallel applications and cluster and research storage; and George McLeod, a systems engineer for Geographic Information Systems.

The team set out to deliver technological advancements that are found in modern supercomputers, such as multicore processors, fast-disk I/O and high-speed interconnects. Another goal was a scalable architecture. For example, Zorka’s chassis for its Infiniband switch can be scaled up to 144 ports and has a capacity of 5.76 terabits/second.

“Although only 48 ports were initially purchased, we can add new servers to this architecture very economically and each server will have access to 12 terabytes of disk space delivered over Infiniband,” Sachon said. Since many science and engineering applications are sensitive to communication latency, they can greatly benefit from the high-speed Infiniband switch. The system has been built to efficiently address serial applications with large memory requirements, as well as parallel applications built for shared memory or distributed memory architectures.

ODU’s high-performance computing team has installed many science and engineering applications for the research community including Abaqus, Ansys, Charmm, Fluent, Gromacs, Matlab, Quant, SuperLU, and Bioinformatics tools such as ClustalW, EMBOSS, HMMER, MrBayes and MPI-BLAST. Zorka has both GNU and Intel compilers, and scientific libraries such as Intel MKL, ATLAS, FFTW, GotoBLAS and GSL. The team can assist users with deploying and running their applications.

Zorka can be accessed via three log-in nodes that use round-robin domain name system (DNS) load balancing to distribute users across the three servers. The lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP)-based authentication system allows users to log in with a MIDAS username and password.

The Research Computing Group has prepared a user guide for Zorka. This and other information about the cluster can be obtained by sending an e-mail to or
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Joshi, Laroussi become latest IEEE Fellows
Ravindra Joshi and Mounir Laroussi, whose research has helped to advance bioelectrics and biomedical applications of cold plasmas, have been elected as Fellows of the international Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

A citation from the IEEE board of directors said Joshi’s elevation to Fellow was for his contributions in “bioelectrics and simulation of cellular responses to pulsed power excitation.”

Laroussi received the honor for contributions to “biomedical applications of low-temperature, atmospheric-pressure plasmas.”

The men, both of whom are professors of electrical and computer engineering in the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, join Karl Schoenbach, the Batten Endowed Chair in Bioelectric Engineering, as holders of the prestigious title. According to the IEEE, “The grade of Fellow recognizes unusual distinction in the profession and shall be conferred only by invitation of the board of directors upon a person of outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in IEEE-designated fields, and who has made important individual contributions to one or more of these fields.”

Joshi, who was named a University Professor in 2007, joined ODU in 1989. He received the 2005 Martin Black Prize from the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

His research encompasses modeling and simulations in the areas of bioelectrics and biophysics; charge transport in semiconductors, liquids and gases; non-equilibrium high-field phenomena, including breakdown physics; and biocellular mechanisms such as apoptosis and signal transduction.

Laroussi joined the Applied Research Center in 1998 as a research scientist and was promoted to professor in 2008. He has been director of the Laser and Plasma Engineering Institute since January 2007.

The holder of four patents, Laroussi is well known in his field for his invention of an easy-to-use cold plasma pencil. The device has been publicized in numerous journals, television reports and magazines as a dependable instrument that can employ a plasma plume to kill germs without harming healthy tissue. Back to top

Subculture Awareness: Nursing professors’ journal article gives advice on counseling troubled Goth teenagers

What’s a school nurse to do when the patient who has been referred for treatment is a black-garbed teenager who has purple-streaked hair, dozens of body piercings and tattoos, a surfeit of dark sarcasm and a raging infection of a self-inflicted cut on the arm?

Two Old Dominion nursing faculty members and a former police detective provide answers in their journal article, “Vulnerable Goth Teens: The Role of Schools in This Psychosocial High-Risk Culture.”

Carolyn Rutledge, associate professor of nursing, and Micah Scott, a senior nursing lecturer and coordinator of ODU's nurse practitioner program, teamed up with former Virginia Beach police detective Don Rimer to write the article for the September 2008 issue of the Journal of School Health.

The purposes of the article, according to the authors, are to describe characteristics of Goth teens, identify psychosocial risks for these teens and describe actions that school personnel can take to minimize the risks.

For Rutledge, the focus on Goth teens emerged from a series of grants – totaling more than $3 million – that ODU nursing faculty members have received to help medical professionals and nursing educators understand the ways cultural diversity can affect health care. These projects, most of which have been funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, have established ODU’s School of Nursing as a leading designer of training programs that address potential clashes and miscommunication between health-care professionals and certain types of patients.

The cultural awareness projects have been led by Rutledge, as well as Richardean Benjamin, chair of the School of Nursing, and Laurel Garzon, associate professor of nursing.

The researchers insist on a broad definition for culture. “I have a problem being too narrow with the definition,” Rutledge said. “It involves a lot more than ethnicity.” In fact, she often refers to “subcultures” and “people of similar orientation” in order to describe groups – teenage Goths, overweight older women and gay people, for example – who often report unsatisfactory health-care experiences.

During their research, the faculty members recognized that nursing students found it difficult to build rapport with a “patient” who played the role of a young Goth who looked and acted like a social misfit. Rutledge said this experience persuaded her to look more closely into the interaction between Goth youths and the health-care system.

When he was a police detective, Rimer earned a reputation as an expert investigator of, as The Virginian-Pilot put it in a 1996 article, “vampires, grave robbers, the occult, black magic, Satanism and all things bizarre.” Now retired, he is a frequent speaker around the country on ways parents, schools and police can deal with youths who have chosen alternative lifestyles. The subcultures that he studies typically challenge traditional values and are seen as threats to the community, as well as to the health and even the lives of some subculture members.

The article in the Journal of School Health states, “In recent years, a number of tragedies have been linked to the Goth culture. Most alarming has been the acts of violence, suicide and self-harm found among teens. Teachers, parents, administrators and fellow students are at a loss on how to relate to such students.”

Goth subcultures, according to the article, attract teens who are depressed, feel persecuted, distrust society, and, sometimes, have suffered abuse or persistent ridicule. “They surround themselves with people, music, Web sites and activities that foster angry or depressed feelings. They have a higher prevalence of depression, self-harm, suicide and violence than non-Goth teens.”

The article makes a specific point about the range of diversity within the Goth subculture, and advises that nurses and other school personnel such as counselors should not confuse students who are mainly interested in the theatricality and artistic expression of the culture with more alienated youths who practice behaviors that pose dangers to themselves or to others.

For school nurses and counselors, the focus must be on how to identify at-risk teen Goths and how to decide what interventions are appropriate, the authors state. A critical mission for the school personnel is to assess the likelihood of self-harm, suicide or other types of violent behavior.

Research cited in the article shows that teens associated with the Goth subculture are five times more likely than others of their age to participate in self-harming activities, and that boys are more likely to do so than girls. School personnel are advised that the cutting, scratching, scoring and burning often is done on the arm opposite the hand with which the teen writes, and that Goths may wear long sleeves to hide festering lesions. But even more important than identifying and treating an infected cut would be the observation by a teacher, counselor or nurse that a student’s self-harming activities indicate he or she is drifting deeper into depression or toward more violent actions.

Telltale signs of a troubled Goth teen are best detected by “school nurses and counselors (who) develop a rapport that shows concern and a true desire to help,” according to the authors. “They must approach the student from a nonthreatening manner that is free from judgment. School nurses and counselors should provide for confidentiality based on ground rules that state that the information will be kept confidential unless there is a risk of harm for the student or others.”

Lines of questioning for informal assessments are offered by the authors, as well as a list of formal assessment tools, such as the Children’s Depression Scale and the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire, that can be employed. Some of the formal instruments are completed not only by the teen, but also by his or her parents and teachers.

The authors also suggest that school nurses and counselors may want to become acquainted with therapists, health-care providers and law enforcement personnel in their communities who can provide support services for troubled Goth teens. Conversely, the same school personnel can be a community services resource themselves by gathering “sound, empirically based information” about the Goth subculture and, thereby, helping to separate fact from the fiction that can create subculture legends.

When school nurses and counselors develop a network of helpers in the community, they can serve as liaisons between a student, the student’s parents, teachers and health-care personnel, according to the article. This may lead to school personnel helping to organize community programs, perhaps involving conflict resolution, that address teen issues and problems. “Programs that work best include the family, peers and the community,” the authors state.

Finally, the authors suggest an important role for school nurses or counselors in the aftermath of a student committing suicide or another act of violence. “As other students learn of the activities of a classmate, those who have a tendency toward similar actions are more likely to follow through on their plans. It is vital that the school nurse or counselor has providers available to help the students deal with their thoughts surrounding such issues.” Back to top

Anne Donovan to receive Naismith contributor award
Longtime women’s college and professional basketball player, coach and Olympian Anne Donovan, a 1983 graduate of Old Dominion and recent Olympic gold medal winner as coach of the U.S. women’s basketball team, and decorated men’s college basketball broadcaster Billy Packer, have been selected as the Naismith Women’s and Men’s Outstanding Contributor to Basketball recipients, respectively, by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Created in 1982, the award is presented annually to two individuals whose extraordinary efforts have made contributions of outstanding significance and have created a long-lasting positive impact on the game of basketball.

Recipients of the award must display character, integrity and dignity, and have contributed mightily to the growth, success and viability of basketball. To be eligible, an individual must have been involved with the sport in a capacity related to coaching, broadcasting, college administration or the news media.

Donovan and Packer will be honored at the Atlanta Tipoff Club Naismith Awards banquet in March. Back to top

Ice cream parlor opens in Univ. Village
The University Village continues to evolve, and just got a bit sweeter with the recent addition of Norfolk Ice Cream Company, located next to Zero’s on Monarch Way behind the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Independently owned and operated, the parlor serves 24 flavors of hand-dipped premium ice cream, nonfat frozen yogurt, shakes, malts, sundaes, specialty ice cream products and custom-order ice cream cakes.

Other menu items include Philadelphia-style soft pretzels, bulk candies, homemade limeade and other beverages.

In addition, Norfolk Ice Cream Company offers frozen ice cream specialty drinks, including blended coffee ice cream drinks, blended ice cream chai tea drinks, 20 below (a frozen hot chocolate drink) and frozen caffeine-free concoctions.

The shop is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 2-9 p.m. Sunday.

As owners Mira and Butch Mariano like to say, “Life’s hard; ice cream helps.” The Marianos are 15-year Larchmont residents.

Mira Mariano is a senior lecturer in Old Dominion’s School of Physical Therapy. Back to top

“They’re just going to drop out of the population one by one. It takes a long time to kill a fish.” (David Gauthier, assistant professor of biological sciences)

– “Bacterial disease killing striped bass”
Washington Times, Nov. 29

“When millions of people experiment with new ways to make money without moral self-constraint, the chance of new products that can evade existing testing methods is pretty high. Unless the people who put melamine into milk lose sleep, the product-safety problem in China will go on.” (Shaomin Li, professor of international business and management)

– “Tainted milk scandal: Chinese probe unmasks high-tech adulteration with melamine”
Science Magazine, Nov. 28

“I use it for everything. We go shopping for groceries, trips, we go to Williamsburg for shopping.” (Srinivas Jakkula, graduate student)

– “ODU tries to cut campus cars with zippy rides”
The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 28

“Our willingness to search for alternative fuels goes up when the price is high, but goes down when the price drops – which makes us even more dependent” on foreign sources. (Chris Colburn, chair of economics)

– “Whatever happened to $4 per gallon gas? The economy”
The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 26

“They should do their homework and research to find the best affordable fit for them, using all of the financial aid information and resources at hand.” (Veronica Finch, director of financial aid)

– “No slowdown in federal cash for Virginia students”
The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 23

“We haven’t seen it shrink significantly, but we are starting to see a downturn. Our MBA students are going to have to go to smaller corporate environments and perhaps to government employment to find things they might have found before in large companies.” (Penny Pickel, career management liaison for the College of Business and Public Administration, on the decline in interest from corporate recruiters)

– “Despite economy, grad students mastering expectations”
The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 20

“We know that if you send a 3,000-man carrier, just the carrier without the air group, to Mayport, Fla., that it’s going to have, just that alone, a very significant impact.” (Gil Yochum, professor of economics)

– “Virginia lawmakers vow to fight to keep carriers in Norfolk”
WVEC-TV, Nov. 18

“The economic crisis we now are in militates in favor of granting the ‘loans.’ If the U.S. were in better overall economic shape, then I would favor letting them die. That’s what capitalism is all about.” (James Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of economics)

– “Detroit auto industry needs a rescue”
Inside Business, Nov. 17
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