Hollins Names Diane Edison Artist-in-Residence for 2019

One of the country’s most prominent professors of studio art whose work has appeared nationally in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, and internationally in Russia and Chad, will serve as Hollins University’s Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence in 2019.

Diane Edison, who is professor of art at the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, will spend Spring Term 2019 on the Hollins campus. The artist-in-residence program enables the university to bring a recognized artist to campus every year to work in a campus studio and teach an art seminar open to all students. During their time at Hollins, the artist-in-residence is a vital part of the university and greater Roanoke communities.

Edison, who creates her work using color pencil on black paper, focuses on portraiture with an emphasis on the autobiographical.  Her images are thematically narrative in presentation and psychological in nature. New York City’s Forum Gallery, DC Moore Gallery, and Tatischef Gallery; the Leeway Foundation in Philadelphia; and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia are among the U.S. venues where her art has been exhibited or collected. Overseas, her paintings have been on display in the official residences of the American ambassadors in Moscow, Russia, and N’djamena, Chad.

Edison’s exhibitions have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker magazine, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Philadelphia Enquirer, Art News, and the St. Louis Dispatch. Reproductions of her artwork were featured twice in Artists Magazine. In 2010-11, she traveled to Bulgaria as a Fulbright Scholar, and she is a past recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Award and the Georgia Women in the Arts Recognition Award. Her textbook, Dynamic Color Painting for Beginners, came out in 2008 and subsequently was published in the United Kingdom, China, and Spain.

GWS Major to Help Further Awareness, Deliver Resources to Stop Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a worldwide health problem whose prevalence is staggering. The American Psychological Association notes that in the United States alone:

  • More than one in three women and more than one in four men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners.
  • One in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • IPV is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.
  • The percentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without.
  • Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of IPV, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities.

Compounding the crisis, IPV is “underreported, underrecognized, and underaddressed” by healthcare professionals, according to a 2016 article in American Family Physician.

However, one organization has been a catalyst for growing awareness of IPV and providing resources to those who experience it, particularly young people who have suffered from dating abuse and domestic violence. For the past 15 years, Day One has delivered crucial education and services to the youth of New York City. To date, the non-profit has educated more than 75,000 young people on ways to “identify and maintain healthy relationships, obtain legal protection when necessary, and assist others experiencing abuse.”

During January Short Term this year, Whitney McWilliams ’18, a gender and women’s studies (GWS) major and social justice minor who graduated in May, interned with Day One. “More than anything I think the internship showed me the bridge between theory and practice.”

McWilliams was responsible for planning and facilitating the You(th) Already Know! Conference for New York City Youth and Adult Allies. “We gathered to explore themes of healthy relationships, self-defense, self-care, and race/class/gender issues that intersect with the violence of intimate relationships,” she explains. Day One was so impressed with her work that they have invited her to return to the organization this summer.

For McWilliams, working with Day One gave her the chance to draw upon what she had learned as a GWS major.

“GWS changed my outlook on life. It made me critical and challenging. It made me aware of my suffering that in turn made me angry. With that awareness there was fire, but that fire energized me in a way that healed me from the burn-out that was essential to my journey. That energy showed me the healing potential for love and compassion. It showed me the potential for our worlds and for our sociopolitical transcendence – a movement for peace and against suffering. It also showed me my personal potential for growth and that I am the embodiment of all that I have learned.”

Another pivotal moment during McWilliams’ career at Hollins was her pioneering work in helping launch the Hollins Heritage Committee, a group of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to promoting campus-wide dialogue on issues of collective memory, diversity, and reconciliation. “The committee is tasked with bringing the popular history of Hollins to the forefront. It is to decolonize knowledge and bring to the people the truths of Hollins’ history, most specifically Hollins’ relationship to slavery and race relations on campus. Theirs is a voice that is needed for those who have been silenced by the institution.

“I will be checking in to make sure the committee moves to incorporate the voices of staff and employees as they point to class exploitation, as well as trans and non-binary voices as they speak to Hollins’ investment in gender hierarchy, and the voices of natives as Hollins occupies sacred land.”

With Self-Portraits, Studio Art Major Finds Emotional Connection, Career Catalyst

Each spring, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University showcases the work of seniors who are majoring in studio art. The exhibition is the final requirement for art students earning their Bachelor of Arts degree and is the capstone experience of their yearlong senior project.

Among the six artists featured in the 2018 Senior Majors Exhibition, which was on display May 8 – 20, was Horizon student Brittany Lewis. In her capstone project, she drew a series of self-portraits displaying all her different moods using grisaille painting, a centuries-old technique that emphasizes shades of gray and creates the semblance of sculpture.

“In this installation, I explored the different sides of my personality that collectively form myself via black and white portrait painting,” Lewis explains in her artist statement. “The contrasting values effectively elevate the drama and emotion of the paintings, and so, I divulge the most vulnerable parts of myself that I often keep masked away, as well as parts I unapologetically express. The various grays within the paintings parallel the many facets that exist within me, reiterating the notion that there is no black and white definition for one’s true self.”

Remarkably, Lewis notes that she only started realistic painting during this past academic year. “I found that I really enjoy oil painting and portraiture, and I wanted to explore those techniques further.” She had never before thought of herself as an interesting subject for her art work, but felt that in doing so for her capstone experience, “I would be more connected to the new media I was trying to master, and more connected to myself emotionally.”

By smoothing out brushstrokes and detailing specific features, Lewis says she paints “with hyper-realistic qualities. As I pull emotion from the static images, I intensify them by using dramatic lighting and enhancing specific parts of my face, like my eyes or the curves of my mouth. I enjoy realistic painting and connecting different emotions to my portraits. My art then evolves into more than just replicating the facts that I see.”

Horizon is Hollins’ adult baccalaureate degree program for women who are at least 24 years of age, and Lewis credits it and director Mary Ellen Apgar for giving her encouragement and understanding whenever she needed it. “Horizon was actually one of the reasons I came to Hollins. I felt like my struggles as an adult student, balancing work, school, and home life, would be best understood within the program, and that I would be helped along the way.

“I was also drawn to Hollins’ friendly environment and by my best friend Azra Mezit, who is an alumna and works at the university as the admissions data coordinator. She told me how much she loved the campus and that I would feel right at home, and she was right. I couldn’t have asked for a better institution to call my home away from home.”

Lewis’ goal is to become an illustrator and in the meantime hopes to find a job in an art-related field. In any event, she says, “I will continue painting and learning on my own.”

Summer Tick Study to Aid in Understanding the Spread of Lyme Disease

In the fight to stop the spread of Lyme disease in the United States, one crucial question has baffled scientists: Why is the disease so prevalent in the northeastern U.S., but in the southeast, relatively few cases have been reported? The trend persists even though the blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) that transmit Lyme through their bites can be found throughout the eastern part of the country.

Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies/Environmental Science Liz Gleim, who is also a tick biologist, says one hypothesis has recently gained traction: the possibility that “the northern and southern populations of the blacklegged tick are genetically distinct, and that difference manifests itself in terms of how ticks quest for a host. A questing tick is one that’s crawling up on the tips of vegetation and hoping a human or animal host is going to brush up against them and they can hop a ride.”

Northern ticks have been found to be far more aggressive when questing and thus more likely to get on people than southern ticks, who tend to live in leaf litter where humans are less prone to come in contact with them.

Even within Virginia, Gleim notes that ticks from the coastal, central, and southwestern parts of the state exhibit different questing behaviors from one another. This phenomenon is the basis for a project this summer in which Gleim is collaborating with scientists from Old Dominion University and the University of Richmond to discover what makes ticks tick.

“Ticks along the coast are generally not as aggressive as those here in the Roanoke area. So what we’re doing is collecting ticks locally, around Richmond, and along the Virginia seaboard, sort of an east-west gradient, in the hope that we get populations that may be showing different questing behaviors,” Gleim explains. “Is their behavior actually controlled by genes, or it prompted by three distinctive climates? The hope is that we’ll be able to find out.”

Tick Arenas 2
Tick arenas have been placed in the woods adjacent to the Hollins campus to study the behavior of the parasites that will be brought in from throughout Virginia.

Gleim and her fellow researchers are taking the ticks they gather between Roanoke, Richmond, and the coast, and placing them in what she describes as “tick arenas,” containers that are located in mature hardwood forest areas, the preferred habitat of blacklegged ticks. At Hollins, the tick arenas have been situated in the woods adjacent to the northeastern part of campus.

“It’s a very cool way in which we can take advantage of our beautiful natural forests that are convenient to campus,” Gleim states. “We’re really lucky because the folks who are conducting research in Richmond and on the coast are having to use public lands, so they have to go through the process of working with state and public officials and securing permission.”

Students from Hollins and the University of Richmond will be working with Gleim on the project at the Hollins site. “They’ll be coming out multiple times a week to make observations on the ticks to see what sorts of questing behaviors they are exhibiting.”

Tick Arenas 3
Associate Prof. of Biology Liz Gleim (left) and biology lab technician Cheryl Taylor prepare a forest space for a tick arena installation.

Faculty members from the biology and environmental studies/environmental science programs at Hollins assisted Gleim in constructing the tick arenas and addressing a key concern: how to ensure the ticks they’re studying stay in place while keeping out the ticks that already live in the surrounding forest. “We’re putting sterilized leaf litter into the containers so that we’re certain we’re not inadvertently picking up ticks that aren’t part of our research,” Gleim says. “Installing metal flashing and chicken wire will not only help us keep ticks out but also prevent small mammals or wildlife from entering the arenas. The last zone of defense is this sticky material that’s almost like a paste that we use to coat the inside of each area. So, any ticks that try to leave or enter the arenas will get stuck.”

Gleim and her fellow researchers will be placing ticks in the arenas during the last couple of weeks in May. The study will continue through early and mid-July to coincide with when the blacklegged tick is naturally active.

Conducting tick research at Hollins is fitting. As Gleim notes, “Roanoke itself is a major focal point for Lyme disease. If you look at a map of Lyme cases in the U.S., there’s literally this bright red spot on Roanoke. Areas north of here have a seen a lot of it, too, but southward, there isn’t much. One theory is that northern ticks are making their way down through the mountains to the southern region.”


Featured photo: Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson (left) and Professor of Biology Renee Godard work on several of the tick arenas that will facilitate this summer’s study of blacklegged tick behavior and the impact of genetics versus the environment.



“I Want to Make a Difference in Jamaica’s Healthcare System”: Senior’s Goal Is Opening Maternal Health Ed. Center in Home Country

Two summers ago, Roshaye Graham ’18 returned home to Jamaica to face a family crisis: her grandmother, a woman she considered to be her “second mother,” was terminally ill with cancer. For the biology major, the experience was both heartbreaking and infuriating.

“I witnessed firsthand the critical need for healthcare providers to not only devote time and care to their patients, but to also adequately and accurately inform caregivers of their loved one’s condition,” she recalls. “I had presumed the doctors would have informed my family about my grandmother’s condition, but found that they knew relatively little except that her body was rapidly deteriorating. When I finally heard from a doctor, I learned that her oncologist had continued chemotherapy irrespective of the fact that after each treatment my grandmother showed significant and continued decline of memory and overall physiological function, and the appearance of her ulcerating tumor grew worse.”

Told there was little more the medical community could do, Graham and her family were advised to take her grandmother home. “So that’s what we did. Every day for the next nine weeks, my grandfather and I fed, bathed, dressed, and comforted this beautiful woman until she passed.  While I felt liberated to know I was helping her, I was frustrated that I had not been given any clear understanding of her treatment and continued to be concerned that she had not received the best medical care.”

Graham says her grandmother’s ordeal furthered her interest in a healthcare career and sparked her desire to help patients and their families as they face some of life’s toughest challenges and decisions. Now, she is preparing to enroll at the American University of Antigua College of Medicine, where she plans to become an OB-GYN.

After her grandmother’s death, Graham’s interest in research and finding answers led her to complete two neurobiological research internships at The Rockefeller University in New York City, where she worked closely with distinguished neuroscientist Mary Beth Hatten ’71. “I couldn’t help but dream how exciting it would be to carry out studies in the same way that would aid in the medical field,” she says.

As an OB-GYN, Graham wants to open a maternal health education center in her home country. “The World Health Organization has found that nearly all deaths that result from complications in pregnancy and childbirth occur in women residing in developing countries such as Jamaica. While it is dismaying, I recognize that most of these deaths are often preventable.

“By obtaining a medical degree, I would be able to use my knowledge and skills to reduce these statistics. I want to make a difference in Jamaica’s healthcare system, and my determination, commitment, and passion will enable me to be successful.”


Photo by Michael Falco

Vet School Next Stop for Bio Major Who Conducted Amazon Rainforest Research

Katlin Gott ’18 came to Hollins four years ago with a goal of becoming a veterinarian, and now the biology major and chemistry minor has earned the opportunity to take the next major step in making her dream a reality.

The senior from Fairfax, Virginia, has been accepted at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, a leading biomedical teaching and research center. The college admits just 50 Virginia residents to its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) program each year.

Gott complemented her classroom and lab work at Hollins by working as a veterinary assistant and completing internships in Roanoke and elsewhere, including a Signature internship in West Virginia with veterinary physician and Hollins alumna Jacqueline Chevalier ’01.

Another highlight of Gott’s academic career was spending Spring Term of her junior year in the rainforests of Peru with the School for Field Studies Center for Amazon Studies. While there, she was able to combine her interests in ecology and animal disease by studying gut parasite loads in primates. Her research project, “The Effect of Environmental Factors on Endoparasite Load and Diversity in Black-Capped Night Monkeys (Aotus Nigriceps),” was featured at Hollins’ 61st Annual Science Seminar last month.

“Our results suggest that human disturbance significantly increases parasite species diversity based on the changes in forest density,” Gott reports. “Future research will focus on determining if the degree of forest disturbance plays a role in these relationships, and if zoonotic transmission of parasites between humans and the black-capped night monkeys is occurring.”

Along with her academic work, Gott has been actively involved in a range of campus activities. Along with serving as vice president of the Pre-Med Club, she has represented the group Voices for Unity in the SGA Senate, and, she adds, “I also play guitar, and I’ve been a part of ensembles and played as an accompanying guitarist for a few choral events.”

Gott will begin pursuit of her D.V.M. degree this fall.


61st Annual Science Seminar Celebrates Student Researchers

From the Dana Science Building and the surrounding community to the Chesapeake Bay, Caribbean Sea, South America, and Southeast Asia, Hollins students worked closely with science and mathematics faculty throughout this academic year to perform considerable hands-on research in biology, chemistry, environmental studies, mathematics, physics, and psychology.

Twenty-three students discussed their research with the campus community during the 61st Annual Science Seminar, held April 26 in Moody Student Center’s Ballator Gallery. Science Seminar 1

This year’s poster session featured abstracts for 18 research projects. The initiatives included endeavors that focused on the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on fish biodiversity and abundance in the U.S. Virgin Islands; the effect of environmental and social factors on black-capped night monkeys in Peru; and the abundance and richness of fish in the wetlands of Cambodia. Closer to home, student researchers studied glioblastoma, the most lethal and most common form of brain cancer, at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and explored the economic and ecological benefits of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. At Hollins, they examined the impact of the emerald ash borer on the campus tree population; the functionality of prosthetic limbs for upper extremity amputees; and new, promising treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Science Seminar 2Seniors, juniors, sophomores, and first-year students were all among the researchers featured at this year’s Science Seminar. Some of the goals members of the class of 2018 who participated in the event plan to pursue after graduating from Hollins include:

  • Attending Eastern Virginia Medical School to complete an M.D. degree.
  • Pursuing a career as a physician assistant.
  • Beginning a Ph.D. program in ecology, evolution, ecosystems, and society at Dartmouth College.
  • Attending the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to complete a D.V.M. degree.
  • Studying sustainability science and policy through a graduate program in The Netherlands.

Watch highlights of the 61st Annual Science Seminar.

Science Seminar 3


Science Seminar 4

Senior Student-Athlete Receives Major NCAA Scholarship

Hollins University senior and swimming standout Dani Raymond has been awarded the NCAA Women’s Enhancement Graduate Scholarship, which supports students enrolled in a sports-related program as a full-time graduate student.

Raymond, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in sports management beginning this fall at Virginia Commonwealth University, will receive a $7,500 nonrenewable scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year.

Raymond competed as a member of the Hollins swim team during each of her four years as an undergraduate and was the team’s primary distance swimmer. Highlights of her career include serving as team captain for two years and receiving the Bonnie Kestner Sportsmanship Award at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Swim Championships. Outside the pool, she served as both a team representative and an officer with the Hollins Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and completed internships with the ODAC and the Hollins Sports Information office.

Raymond will graduate this May with a double major in English and communication studies, and participated in the university’s Batten Leadership Institute. Her academic accomplishments include earning Academic All-ODAC and VaSID Academic All-State citations. She is a Batten Scholar at Hollins and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Chi Sigma Alpha, and Lambda Pi Eta.

As a scholarship recipient, Raymond is invited to attend the 2018 NCAA Career in Sports Forum (CSF), which will take place at the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, May 31 – June 3. The CSF brings together 200 selected student-athletes to learn about careers in sports with a primary focus on intercollegiate athletics. The educational event is designed to assist student-athletes in charting their careers in the business, giving them the opportunity to network and learn from current athletics professionals.


Economics/Environmental Science Double Major to Seek Ph.D. at Dartmouth

Beginning this fall, a Hollins University senior will pursue her Ph.D. in an Ivy League program that focuses on tackling the socioecological issues of the 21st century.

Lan Nguyen ’18 has been accepted into the Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems and Society (EEES) at Dartmouth College. According to the EEES website, Nguyen will be joining “a diverse community of scholars who conduct research in the natural sciences and environmental studies, including ecology, evolution, anthropology, environmental economics, geography, and earth sciences.”

The EEES website notes that “there is need for a new social contract where scientists work in interdisciplinary settings and actively contribute to humanity’s efforts to ameliorate and adapt to the rapidly emerging challenges of the Anthropocene,” Earth’s current geological period and the age in which humanity has had significant impact on climate and the environment.

“I wanted to engage in this interdisciplinary program to learn from other fields and see different ways of doing research,” Nguyen explained. “I will be studying and working closely with Professor Richard Howarth to conduct interdisciplinary research in the area of ecosystem service valuation, specifically examining the nexus between the economics, ecosystem science, and natural resource management in Southeast Asia – one of the world’s key biodiversity hot spots.

“Pursuing a Ph.D. will allow me to grow as an environmental and resource economist. I will be contributing to current research efforts where the goal is achieving sustainable solutions that build climate change resilience and formulate environmental and economic policies.”

Nguyen, who hails from Vietnam, has enjoyed a distinguished academic career at Hollins. In addition to double-majoring with honors in economics and environmental science, she participated in the School for Field Studies’ River Ecosystems and Environmental Ethics program in Cambodia in the fall of 2015; completed an eight-week Summer Residence Internship at the American Institute for Economic Research in 2016; and performed a 12-week research fellowship last summer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

“I would not have been able to explore my potential and find the right path without all the amazing support from the Hollins community,” Nguyen said. “I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for the close mentorships I have had here with incredible faculty members from economics, environmental science, and mathematics. I’ve received a great education and the skills to go places and secure more opportunities ahead.”

Nguyen particularly cited her co-advisors, Associate Professor of Economics Pablo Hernandez and Professor of Biology Renee Godard. “They have inspired me with their hard work, dedication to research and teaching, and tremendous care and support for me and other students. Besides pushing me to strive and reach my full potential, they have shared with me their knowledge, experience, and lessons that will serve me for a lifetime.”





Hollins Establishes Research Initiative with Roanoke Valley Community Partners

Hollins University is launching a regional partnership with the Roanoke Valley that will focus on community-based research and learning.  Faculty and students from a diverse array of disciplines will be matched with area businesses and organizations to undertake a variety of cooperative projects.

“Hollins is deeply dedicated to civic engagement, social responsibility, and strengthening our roots in the local and regional community,” says Hollins President Pareena Lawrence. “This partnership reinforces and enhances this commitment, and celebrates the ideals of public citizenship. I can think of no better way to prepare our students to solve complex real-world problems than to immerse them in understanding these issues and applying the knowledge they are learning in their coursework together with the guidance of their faculty and our community partners to find solutions.

“I’m confident this initiative will provide exceptional experiential educational opportunities for our students while simultaneously helping to meet critical but unmet community needs,” she continues. “This partnership has the potential to infuse the Roanoke Valley with fresh ideas that will have an impact.”

Patricia Hammer, Hollins’ vice president for academic affairs, believes that collaborative, community-based research should be “an integral and vibrant part of our student learning experience. Matching community needs with specific courses strengthens our curriculum and our community in a way that is relevant and necessary in the 21st century.” She envisions the number of community partners growing each year in tandem with the increasing participation of students and faculty and the addition of new, related courses. “Our students and faculty are excited to begin this work.”

Hollins’ first partner in this endeavor is the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission (RVARC), which for more than 45 years has spearheaded collaboration and strategy on issues that are critical to the economic growth, quality of life, and sustainability of the area. This summer, Hollins will be supporting an initiative created in 2011 by the RVARC and the Council of Community Services called the Partnership for a Livable Roanoke Valley.

“This undertaking focuses on economic and workforce development as well as fostering a healthy Roanoke Valley and preserving our natural assets,” explains RVARC Executive Director Wayne Strickland. “Beginning in May and continuing through August, students from Hollins will be helping us address some crucial questions: How do we track improvements? What measurements do we need? And, how do we sustain this work? The students will become engaged in our community, learn more about the area, and play a key role in determining where the Roanoke Valley wants to go in the future.”

Hollins’ regional partnership program is supported by the university’s Presidential Initiative Fund and is directed by Associate Professor of International Studies Jon Bohland. Three years ago, Bohland co-founded the Small Cities Institute, a research and teaching collaboration between Hollins, Roanoke College, and Virginia Tech where faculty and students tackle issues facing small urban areas around the globe.

Roanoke Valley businesses and organizations that are interested in exploring potential partnerships with Hollins are invited to contact Bohland at jbohland@hollins.edu.

“Hollins has enjoyed significant involvement in the community and region through the individual work of our faculty, staff, and students in research, public service, and internships,” says Lawrence. “This new partnership will provide more structure, public visibility, opportunity, and an overarching intentionality to this existing involvement, and will allow us to develop new ways to build upon our current efforts.”