Faculty and Staff Features for July 2016

Jeff South, associate professor, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, College of Humanities and Sciences 

Jeff South.
Jeff South.

The Society of Professional Journalists has selected South as the recipient of its national Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award.

South, an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences, said he was “still in shock” after finding out that he will receive the honor, which each year goes to an outstanding journalism educator who has made an exceptional contribution to the profession and/or journalism education.

“I feel especially honored — well, flabbergasted is a better word — when I look at the list of previous winners: Robert Hernandez, Sue Burzynski Bullard, Mike Foley ... These are folks I know well: I have stolen, er, borrowed teaching ideas from all of them,” wrote South, who is currently wrapping up a summer session teaching stint in Shanghai.

“I want to express my appreciation to everyone involved in nominating me and evaluating the nominations,” South wrote in a Facebook post. “Having served on the SPJ Journalism Education Committee (though obviously not for the latest go-around), I know how deserving all of the nominees are. I also want to thank VCU and especially my students for supporting or at least for humoring me over all these years. My students share this award. Our students are why we, as teachers, do what we do: to inspire the next generation of journalists who will ‘seek truth and report it,’ as the SPJ Code of Ethics exhorts.”

South worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 20 years before joining VCU’s faculty in 1997. He is active in SPJ, as well as several other professional organizations, serving as secretary and on the board of SPJ’s Virginia Pro chapter, as faculty adviser to the VCU campus chapter and as former chair of SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee.

He also directs the Capital News Service, in which VCU students cover Virginia state government for community newspapers and other media outlets across Virginia. South also has had numerous international experiences, including volunteering for the Peace Corps, teaching in Vietnam and Ukraine and serving as a Fulbright Scholar in China.

South will be honored at SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism 2016 conference in New Orleans, Sept. 18–20.


James Smither, instructor, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs 

James Smither.
James Smither.

James Smither, an instructor in the Wilder School’s Urban and Regional Studies/Planning program, received the outstanding teaching award from the Virginia chapter of the American Planning Association during its recent conference at Wintergreen Resort.

The Student Representative Committee of the group manages the nomination and selection process.

“James is engaging and innovative, encouraging students to push the boundaries of planning, and challenges us to plan in unconventional and creative ways,” the nomination stated. “He does an amazing job of getting students excited and passionate about planning as a whole.”

Smither, who joined the Wilder School faculty in 2010, blends his skills as a fine artist, landscape architect, urban planner and urban designer to teach the broad principles of illustration and design in the study of place. He has more than 25 years of experience in urban planning and art, and his fine art frequently appears in shows around the Richmond region.


Peter Aiken, Ph.D., associate professor of information systems, School of Business, and founding director of Data Blueprint 
Peter Aiken, Ph.D.
Peter Aiken, Ph.D.

Aiken will present “Why Johnny Can’t Data” at the 18th annual Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium — better known as COVITS — in September.

COVITS provides a practical glimpse into the future of government IT solutions, with attendees focusing on strategic direction. Aiken will share his observations regarding data, security, privacy and the economics of big data. His presentation will take a penetrating look at what government should be doing with its sole nondepletable, nondegrading, durable strategic asset — data.

Also, in June, Aiken participated in the Open Data Roundtable for Public-Private Collaboration at the White House. The event increases public-private sector partnerships around data sharing by eliciting individual views and suggestions for improving federal data from stakeholders and experts in the field.


Frank Bosco, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Management, School of Business 

Frank Bosco, Ph.D.
Frank Bosco, Ph.D.

The Canadian federal Community and College Social Innovation Fund awarded Bosco’s groundbreaking metaBUS project $239,000 over three years. The project is a partnership between VCU, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the University of Calgary. This funding supports further development of the online search engine, a new tool used in location, synthesis and dissemination of scientific research. Academics can spend years combing through published rested journals to summarize past findings in a given field. Instead of manually finding, reading and summarizing journal articles, metaBUS users can create summaries of existing research in less than a minute. 

MetaBUS was developed over four years by Bosco and his fellow researchers, who have coded nearly one million journal findings into the search engine in the areas of applied psychology and management.


Gurpreet Dhillon, Ph.D., professor of information systems, School of Business 

Gurpreet Dhillon
Gurpreet Dhillon

Dhillon was honorary chair and speaker at the 2016 European Security Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in June. His presentation on “Big Data Needs Big Security” stressed the importance of educating people — especially youth — on safe online behavior and valuing their personal data.

The conference, organized by ISEG, University of Lisbon, is the European extension of the United States’ Annual Security Conference. It aims to develop informed insights into the socio-technical nature of security problems. This year’s theme was “The future of cybersecurity.”






Kelley M. Dodson, M.D., associate professor and residency program director, Department of Otolaryngology, School of Medicine 

Kelley M. Dodson, M.D.
Kelley M. Dodson, M.D.

Dodson, a Housestaff alumna, was installed as the first female president of the 96-year-old Virginia Society of Otolaryngology on June 4.

Otolaryngologists are physicians trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat. The Virginia Society of Otolaryngology was chartered in 1920 and provides continuing medical education for its members and addresses political and regulatory challenges affecting practice issues.

Dodson has been involved with the society for a half-dozen years. She served as president-elect last year and before that as vice president.

She has a clinical interest in pediatric otolaryngology as well as in congenital and genetic hearing loss. On the research front, she is interested in language and speech outcomes in children with hearing loss and has been involved with genetic studies of tinnitus and different forms of hearing loss. She also studies pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis and the mask microbiome in cystic fibrosis.


Kenneth J. Wynne, Ph.D., commonwealth professor, Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, School of Engineering; research professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Humanities and Sciences 

Wynne received the 2016 Society of Polymer Science, Japan International Award in May at the Society of Polymer Science, Japan annual meeting in Kobe.

Wynne’s research is reflected in the title of the award, “Nanostructural Design, Synthesis and Characterization of Functional Polymer Surfaces.” Wynne highlighted two current research activities in his award address. “Sticky and slippery surfaces for water drop motion” concerns the discovery that the temperature for “cure” — network formation — of a biomedical silicone has marked effects on water drop adhesion. This work is relevant to efficient heat transfer and may provide a new “handle” to improve biocompatibility. The second topic covered Antimicrobial But Cytocompatible polymers, also known as ABC-polymers, which are sought for efficient bacterial kill but “friendliness” to human cells. Applications for ABC-polymers include greatly reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections, which account for about 60 percent of hospital-acquired infections. 

Wynne gratefully acknowledged support from the National Science Foundation, Division of Materials Research, Polymers Program and Biomaterials Program.

Professor Yoshiki Chujo of Kyoto University nominated Wynne. Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Michael Buback of the University of Gottingen, Germany, also were recipients of this year’s international award.


Victoria Menzies, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems, School of Nursing 

Victoria Menzies, Ph.D.
Victoria Menzies, Ph.D.

Menzies will receive one of the most prestigious honors in nursing this fall when she is inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. The academy recently selected Menzies as one of 164 nursing leaders to be inducted at the AAN annual meeting in October.

Selection criteria include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care and sponsorship by two current academy fellows. Applicants are reviewed by a panel comprised of elected and appointed fellows, and selection is based in part on the extent the nominee’s nursing career has influenced health policies and the health and well-being of all.

In addition to demonstrating excellence in teaching, Menzies has made significant contributions to advancing nursing science, largely through a research focus on bio behavioral symptom science among adults who have chronic pain-related conditions. Her research is complemented by years of integrating a variety of guided imagery techniques into clinical practice. She has published findings on several studies; the most recent being her discovery that guided imagery significantly decreases stress, fatigue, pain and depression in women with fibromyalgia.