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One VCU Research Weeks 2023 is designed to showcase and amplify the impact of the research, scholarship and creative work contributed by VCU faculty, students, trainees and staff.

VCU celebrates innovation with One VCU Research Weeks 2023

Numerous events will showcase VCU’s unstoppable pursuit of knowledge, creativity and scholarship.

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Virginia Commonwealth University will celebrate One VCU Research Weeks 2023 with a schedule of events that will recognize the innovations and discoveries happening at VCU, as well as explore current research efforts aimed at addressing societal grand challenges.

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, One VCU Research Weeks 2023 is designed to showcase and amplify the impact of the research, scholarship and creative work contributed by VCU faculty, students, trainees and staff. It follows VCU’s crossing of the $400M funding barrier and recent ranking among the top 50 public research universities in the United States.

“These achievements are indicative of our research enterprise's tremendous progress and our continued growth. We are known for our strengths in the areas of arts, humanities, social sciences, STEM and health,” said Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation. “The various signature events being held under the One VCU Research Weeks 2023 banner are exciting opportunities for the VCU community and beyond to experience the impact of our research – locally, nationally and globally."

The full list of One VCU Research Weeks 2023 events can be found at The signature events include:

Week 1 | The Future: UNstoppable Innovation in Artificial Intelligence

ChatGPT and the Talking Dog
April 10, 2-4 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.
A portrait of a man wearing a sportscoat, white shirt, blue and white stripped tie, and glasses.
Terry Sejnowski, Ph.D.

Terry Sejnowski, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor and director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at The Salk Institute, will kick off VCU Research Weeks with a talk titled “ChatGPT and the Talking Dog.” Sejnowski works to understand the computational resources of the brain and tries to link brain function and behavior using computer models. He is a pioneer of neurobiology, using both experimental and computer modeling techniques to study the connections between brain cells and the way neurons work together in large networks.

Details and registration.

Leading the Ethical Governance of Innovation
April 12, 4-6 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.

Since the Sputnik success of 1957, the United States has invested strategically in disciplines of science, math and engineering to advance America’s leadership in technology. Over the past half-century, American institutions of learning have adopted a STEM-mostly or STEM-only approach to funding, investment and nurturing the future of talent. This has achieved remarkable developments in technical systems of innovation, from generative AI to algorithmic weapons to genetic engineering.

A portrait of a man wearing a black sports coat, light blue button up shirt, and a dark red tie with a white and light blue pattern.;
Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D.

These funding and policy trends have marginalized humanities disciplines. And yet, today, the most difficult challenges of technology are not technical but humanistic, emerging at the human frontier of innovation. How might democratic institutions and processes exist in a world where private software makes decisions affecting the public? How will innovation shape the future of wealth and inequality? What regulations and standards should govern the collection of data?

In this talk, Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D., associate vice provost for public interest technology at Virginia Tech, will explain the fundamental challenges the future of innovation poses for managing technology to benefit the public interest and societal outcomes. He will identify the pivotal role that the humanities must serve for creating future talent to lead innovation and structure responsible governance for a technological society.

This event is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Humanities Research Center.

Details and registration.

Week 2 | The Present: UNstoppable Innovation in Real Time

Public Humanities and Social and Economic Sciences
April 18, noon-2 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.
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Rayvon Fouché, Ph.D., and Matthew Gibson, Ph.D.

Join us for two powerful talks from Rayvon Fouché, Ph.D., director of the National Science Foundation’s Social and Economic Sciences Division, and Matthew Gibson, Ph.D., director of Virginia Humanities.

Fouché will discuss “Broadening Participation and the Future of Research and Innovation.”

Gibson's talk is titled “I Know It When I See It: The Invisible, Flourishing (Public) Humanities in Virginia.”

Details and registration.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Moving Science Forward (Panel Session)
April 18, 2-3:30 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.

In a fireside chat at the 2022 annual meetings of the American Education Research Association, National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, Ph.D., along with Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., director of the Office of Science and Technology, spoke about championing diversity, equity and inclusion. Panchanathan noted that a diversity of ideas and experiences are critical for research in the sciences and emphasized the importance of inspiring the missing millions who have not yet had access to opportunities. Leveraging all ideas, knowledge and talent are critical for advancing society and for the U.S. to remain a competitive leader.

Taking the cue from these remarks, this panel will be an interactive session of vibrant work occurring in four innovative teams at VCU. It will be moderated by Gary Cuddeback, Ph.D., associate dean for research and professor, VCU School of Social Work, and panelists will include representatives of PRIDE in STEM, the Digital Sociology Lab, VCU ADVANCE-IT, the Humanities Research Center and more.

Details and registration.

Pursuing Research on Racial Equity in a Time of Polarization

April 19, 12-1:30 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.

A portrait of a man wearing glasses, a light blue shirt, a dark blue tie with light blue dots, and a black sportscoat.
Adam Gamoran, Ph.D.

Adam Gamoran, Ph.D., president of the William T. Grant Foundation, will provide insight and perspective about pursuing funding for research on racial equity in a time of polarization in our society.

Gamoran provides leadership for the William T. Grant Foundation’s strategic direction, shapes its agenda and tactics and partners with the board of trustees to advance its mission and objectives. Since joining the foundation, he launched a new initiative to support research on reducing inequality in youth outcomes and has continued the foundation’s ongoing work to improve the use of research evidence in policy and practice decisions that affect young people.

Details and registration.

Weeks 3 & 4 | The Past: UNstoppable Innovation Lessons Learned

Symposium on Sustainable Energy and Environment
April 26-April 28 (Symposium)
April 27, 9 a.m., at the Engineering Research Building, 401 W. Main St. (Keynote Speaker)

Addressing sustainable clean energy and the environment is a complex issue. It requires scientists to develop the fundamental understanding of materials for renewable energy production and storage; the capture, sequestration, and conversion of CO2 produced by fossil fuels; engineers to transform the basic understanding to produce devices; social scientists addressing issues impacting the daily lives of people due to climate change; biologists addressing ecological issues; political scientists addressing policy issues that impact climate change regulations; and outreach activities to educate the public and the students about issues of climate change.

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Sally Benson

Realizing that addressing these issues requires researchers across disciplines with diverse expertise, VCU established the Institute for Sustainable Energy and Environment (ISEE) in 2022, comprising faculty from the College of Humanities and Sciences, College of Engineering and L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

This inaugural, two-day symposium will invite speakers with diverse expertise to outline the challenges and ways to mitigate these adverse effects caused by fossil fuels that are consistent with the goals of the ISEE. The symposium will also provide opportunities to educate the students and disseminate knowledge of sustainable environment and energy to the general public.

A keynote address “Launching A Transformative Decade of Climate Action" will be presented by Sally Benson, deputy director for energy and chief strategist for the energy transition, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Details and registration.

Do Whales Judge Us? Interspecies History & Ethics
May 1, 4-5:30 p.m., Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, 601 W. Broad St.

Bathsheba Demuth, Ph.D., is a writer and environmental historian specializing in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic, who will give a talk, “Do Whales Judge Us?: Interspecies History and Ethics.”

Bowhead whales have been known to three groups along the Bering Strait over the past two centuries: Indigenous Yupik and Inupiaq whalers, capitalist commercial whalers, and communist industrial whalers. Each imagined different normative relationships with whales, tied to visions of time, history and the future. This talk explores how those ideas shaped interactions between human hunters and whales, and what we can discern of whales’ own adaptations and— perhaps—ethical responses to their pursuers.

A portrait of a woman wearing a navy blue sportscoat and a white shirt with navy blue stripes.
Bathsheba Demuth, Ph.D.

Demuth’s interest in northern places and cultures began when she was 18 and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon, where she trained huskies for several years. From the archive to the dog sled, she is interested in how the histories of people, ideas and ecologies intersect. In addition to her prize-winning book “Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait,” her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker and The Best American Science and Nature Writing. She is currently the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University.

This event is part of the Environmental Humanities Speaker Series at the Humanities Research Center, supported in part by Virginia Humanities, and the Provost Lecture Series.

Details and registration.

Additionally, research by VCU students will be presented at events throughout VCU Research Weeks, including:

Graduate Research Symposium and Exhibit
April 25, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Commonwealth Ballrooms of University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.

Each spring, the Graduate Student Association sponsors a research symposium to present graduate research work to the university and Richmond community.

This 26th annual event is an excellent opportunity for graduate students from all disciplines to present their original research and creative projects to faculty, staff, students and community members. Participation in this event has nearly doubled every year and attracts not only VCU students and faculty, but local media, legislators and respected members of the Richmond business community.


Poster Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity
April 26, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Commonwealth Ballrooms of University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave.

Organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and part of VCU Student Research Weeks, the annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium is an opportunity for students to present their research endeavors to their academic peers, members of the VCU faculty, community members, and friends and family. Projects include research and scholarly work from a wide variety of academic disciplines.