Faculty and Staff Features for July 2017

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of SociologyCollege of Humanities and Sciences

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D.
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D.

Cottom has been selected as the 2017 Distinguished Feminist Activist by Sociologists for Women in Society.

The award is presented annually to a member of Sociologists for Women in Society who has notably and consistently used sociology to improve conditions for women in society. It honors outstanding feminist advocacy efforts that embody the goal of service to women and have identifiably improved women’s lives.

“Being selected as the 2017 SWS Distinguished Feminist Activist award is a tremendous honor, especially so early in my career,” Cottom said.

Cottom, who is also a faculty associate with Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, is a leading scholar and has published widely on topics such as race, class and gender; higher education; and technology in the new economy. Her research has been supported by the Microsoft Research Network’s Social Media Collective, the Kresge Foundation, the American Educational Research Association and the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research.

She is co-editor of two volumes on technological change, inequality and institutions: “Digital Sociologies” (2016, UK Bristol Policy Press) and “For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education” (2017, Palgrave MacMillan).

Her book, “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy” (The New Press), was released earlier this year to widespread acclaim. It explores the for-profit higher education industry and shows the role it is playing in the growing inequality across the country.

As part of the Feminist Activism Award, Cottom will be asked to deliver a lecture at the Sociologists for Women in Society’s summer meeting and on two university campuses to share her expertise and experience of feminist activism.


Guy B. Roberts, adjunct faculty, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs,

Roberts, who has taught for the past four years in the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program, will be nominated as an assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs in the Department of Defense.

President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate of Roberts, who is currently president of the national security consulting firm GBR Consulting, on Monday.

As part of his work with GBR, Roberts has provided subject matter expertise on arms control, non-proliferation, international legal issues and strategies to combat terrorism to over 30 international and domestic organizations and institutions, according to the White House.

Roberts is also a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and teaches courses on homeland security, international terrorism, non-proliferation, and arms control at Mary Washington University and VCU.

Previously, Roberts served as deputy assistant secretary general for weapons of mass destruction policy and director of nuclear policy for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

He also served for 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, concluding his career as the staff judge advocate for U.S. Southern Command and retiring as a colonel.

He earned his B.A. in political science, magna cum laude, from Arizona State University, a law degree from the University of Denver, an LL.M. in international and comparative law from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies with highest distinction from the Naval War College.


Bruce A. Huhmann, Ph.D., chair, Department of Marketing, School of Business

Bruce A. Huhmann, Ph.D.
Bruce A. Huhmann, Ph.D.

Huhmann was named chair of the Department of Marketing in the VCU School of Business on July 1.

Huhmann comes to VCU from New Mexico State University, where he has taught since 2002. Most recently, he served as director of the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at NM State.

Huhmann’s research interests encompass copytesting, advertising rhetoric and executions, emotions in advertising, ethics and health care and financial services marketing. His teaching interests include internet and social media marketing, advertising research, retailing, consumer behavior and business ethics.




F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., professor, School of Medicine 

F. Gerard Moeller, M.D.
F. Gerard Moeller, M.D.

Moeller has been appointed as the inaugural C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chair in Clinical and Translational Research.

As director of the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and director of the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, Moeller is internationally known for his translational research on impulsivity and addictions. He is also principal investigator on a grant funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop novel treatments for cocaine and opioid addictions.

The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Foundation have established a total of six distinguished chairs totaling $12 million. The remaining five endowed chairs will be awarded to faculty whose work promises to catalyze continued growth in translational research in the decades to come.


Paula Ferrada, M.D., associate professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

Paula Ferrada, M.D.
Paula Ferrada, M.D.

Ferrada has been named president-elect of the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

The Colombia-born, Harvard-educated trauma surgeon received both the Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the School of Medicine in the fall of 2016. Ferrada was also a national leader in the “I Look like a Surgeon” social media campaign that started in 2015.





Andrew J. Barnes, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Behavior and Policy, School of Medicine

Andrew J. Barnes, Ph.D.
Andrew J. Barnes, Ph.D.

Barnes contributed to “Behavioral Economics and Healthy Behaviors,” which published in June. The book applies behavioral economics theories to health care and specifically explores how to improve consumer choices of health insurance plans. Barnes and the two co-editors who he collaborated with solicited chapters from their colleagues at numerous universities to complete the book, which details what light behavioral economic research sheds on engaging health behaviors including smoking, medication adherence and health insurance choices. 





Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology, College of Humanities and Sciences

Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D.
Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D.

Serpell has been named one of four scholars who will serve as American Educational Research Association Congressional Fellows for 2017-18.

As part of the fellowship, which begins Sept. 1, Serpell will work on the staff of a member of Congress or a congressional committee and use her research expertise to inform policy.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity and expect to learn a lot about education policy work this year,” said Serpell, whose research focuses on understanding and optimizing the learning experiences of African American students in school.

The AERA Congressional Fellowship Program was launched last year to contribute to the effective use of scientific knowledge about education in the formation of public policy, to educate the scienti?c community about the development of public policy, and to establish a more effective liaison between education researchers and federal policymakers.

“We are pleased these talented scholars will be contributing to the effective use of scientific knowledge about education in the formation of public policy,” AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine said in a news release. “Through this program and other public engagement initiatives, AERA is further building connections between education researchers and the policy community.”