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Despite her ripe old age of over 150 years old, Nina continues to stir controversy and
Nina, a nearly 3 foot long doll from the Civil War era, was donated to The Museum of the Confederacy (Richmond, VA) in 1923 by the family of Gen. James Patton Anderson, commander of the Tennessee Confederate Army.
Nina came to the Museum with a history all her own. She was believed to be used to
smuggle much‐needed medicines across Union blockades to Confederate soldiers,
the most valuable of which were quinine and morphine. The desperate conditions
during this time, and extreme ingenuity used to acquire these drugs, which were in
limited supplies in the South, set the stage for a rare investigation of this historical
In late October 2010, a preliminary x‐ray examination of Nina and Lucy Ann, the only
two dolls at the Museum allegedly used for such purposes, was performed at the VCU
Medical Center. Results revealed that their papier‐mâché busts were indeed hollow and spacious enough to house small packages or vials of medicine. These findings captured the interest of the History Detectives at PBS, who decided to film a documentary surrounding Nina’s story.
The PBS History Detectives and Catherine M. Wright, collections manager at the Museum, next enlisted the help of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS). On January 21, 2011, tests were carried out in attempts to identify the presence of drugs,
particularly quinine or morphine, within Nina’s head cavity. Swabs used to sample
from within Nina’s head were analyzed directly by AccuTOF‐DARTTM, an instrument
that continues to gain notoriety for its ability to analyze a variety of samples in a
rapid and non‐invasive manner.
The analysis was supervised by Robert Steiner, M.S., a Principal Forensic Scientist
in the Controlled Substances section at DFS and affiliate assistant research professor in VCU’s Forensic Science Program. Casey Mims, a second‐year Forensic
Science graduate student at VCU, was selected to help with the analysis because of
her concentrated studies in trace evidence and drug analysis and previous experience
as an intern with Mr. Steiner.
Get behind the scenes with VCU’s real science sleuths at the premiere of “The Mystery of Nina: The Civil War, Drugs and a Doll” a Forensic Science Red Carpet Event, which will take place on November 9th at 7:00 p.m. in the VCU Student Commons Theatre. The History Detectives documentary will also be screened revealing the results of the analysis, as well as a history of the dismal medical conditions during the Civil War. Come see this captivating exploration of our country’s history, and ability to incorporate the AccuTOF – DARTTM in this novel research.
Every other year, the VCU and MCV Alumni Associations recognize university alumni for their achievements and the infinite possibilities they bring to the future. This year, Ed Bowden was one such Alumni Star.
Edmond F. Bowden (1982 Doctor of Philosophy, VCU College of Humanities and Sciences) came to Virginia Commonwealth University with the intention of earning a master’s degree so he could further his career in the chemical industry, where he worked as a mechanical engineer. He left with a passion to learn and to teach.
After earning his Ph.D., Bowden began a career as a professor in the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina State University, where he is in his 27th year. Under his direction as administrator from 1999-2008, the chemistry graduate program at NCSU increased in size by about 50 percent while also increasing its entrance standards. He credits VCU faculty members for his success, an effect that has come full circle, as many of his past students have successful careers in education as well.
As a researcher, Bowden focuses on the electrochemistry of proteins and enzymes, a topic that he first explored at VCU. Twenty years ago, his research group at NCSU, in partnership with Michael Tarlov, Ph.D., at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, developed a means for immobilizing active proteins on electrode surfaces. The discovery fueled research and developments relating to biosensors — analytical measuring devices used to combat such things as disease and pollution. Since 1980, his research group has published approximately 50 journal articles, which have received, on average, 60-plus citations each.
Bowden is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Electrochemical Society and the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry.
Photo by Jay Paul
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has obtained funding from the U.S. Department of Defense in the amount of $49,000 for a project developed in partnership with an archaeologist for Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ) and notable VCU alumnus, John Haynes.
Project V.C.U.-R.A.M.S ., or the Virtual Curation Unit for Recording Archaeological Materials Systematically, involves three-dimensional (3D) scanning of archaecological objects (artifacts and ecofacts). The unit is testing and demonstrating the capabilities of this technology for its potential employment in ensuring DoD compliance with historic preservation laws.
Virtual artifact curation is crucial for addressing a number of issues important to archaecologists. This virtual curation project will enable researchers to access digital data files that allow full 3D observation and manipulation of an image and accurate measurement without requiring scholars to travel to a repository.
Team members include:
Bernard K. Means, Ph.D. – Project Director
ClintonM. King – Digital Curator
Courtney Bowles – Research Associate
Victoria Valentine – Multimedia Coordinator
Daniel Sullivan – Animation Director
Photo by Randy Davis
(Source: VCU School World Studies)
Sunday September 11, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks which took place in 2001; and for the past two weeks theVirginia Commonwealth University community reflected on those tragic events. In commemoration of 9/11, VCU Libraries and the Friends of the Library are presenting several installations: a sound installation of the 1999 recordings from the World Trade Center by artist and VCU professor Stephen Vitiello, prints of the construction of the World Trade Center, exhibitions featuring artists’ books, comic arts and news coverage tied to 9/11 and the ‘Wall of Memories’ where patrons of the library can post their thoughts, feelings and emotions connected with this tragic event.
The Wall of Memories
Most students were in 3rd – 7th grade in 2001 when the attacks took place. Here are some of their reflections:
“3rd grade field trip to a llama farm… My Friend’s dad was supposed to be on one of the planes – but missed his flight.”
”In my fourth grade class hoping everyone would be OK. Listening to my teacher try and explain what had just happed.”
“In 5th grade @ school scared cuz I didn’t speak any English to understand what was happening.”
“6th grade History class just about to say the pledge of allegiance.”
“In my 7th grade class watching the events on TV. Shock.”
The 9/11 Commemoration is open until September 23, 2011, is located in the James Branch Cabell Library and is free and open to the public. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit the library and pay homage to the victims of 9/11 and their families.
By Randy Davis
OPEN LETTER TO THE VCU COMMUNITY
On July 8, 2011, I started a new chapter in my life and academic career by taking on the role of dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Humanities and Sciences (the College) after spending the past four years as the vice provost for research at Rice University. I wrote this letter July 22, 2011, two weeks after I began this new journey.
My initial experience has wowed me. I have found VCU to be an intellectually, culturally and socially vibrant institution composed of students, faculty and staff who are passionate about the transformational mission of the university. And, I found, as so eloquently written in Richmond Magazine (http://www.richmondmagazine.com/?articleID=95dfcdd31ed64c40b832211d93dbfcba) by one of the College’s most accomplished alumni, best-selling author David Baldacci, “… what VCU has in abundance is a huge heart and a vast soul. A can-do spirit resides in every single one of its students and faculty.” I am so glad that my heart and soul has landed with kindred spirits at 828 W. Franklin St.
I was really attracted to VCU because the university offers almost limitless opportunities for its remarkably diverse student body; VCU is revolutionizing the way we understand the world through research and scholarship; and VCU is transforming Richmond by engaging the city with the tremendous intellectual capital of the university. VCU is a university that profoundly matters — it provides opportunity where none might have existed otherwise, and it fuels the economic, cultural, intellectual and human health of the city of Richmond.
It is often said that no university can be a great university without having excellence in the core areas of liberal arts, humanities and the sciences. I believe that the disciplines represented in the College’s 13 academic departments coupled with the Wilder School of Public Affairs, the School of Mass Communications and the School of World Studies are the “sun” providing the intellectual energy to the “solar system” called the university — i.e., the College is at the core of reaching the aspirations of VCU’s Quest for Distinction (our new strategic plan). The College offers a diverse array of academic programs, and our students and faculty together pursue research, scholarship and creative activities in a range of fields – psychology, biology, nanotechnology, world studies, creative writing, forensic science, journalism, public policy – I cannot name them all here. The College’s programs connect scholars and students across disciplines on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses, a key component of VCU’s Quest for Distinction.
The College is the largest unit at VCU with about 15,000 undergraduate students majoring in programs representing the full spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and sciences. Additionally, last year about 1,140 graduate students were enrolled in the College’s programs working toward master’s and doctoral degrees. Because the College is the core of this ambitious university, our excellent faculty teach nearly every one of VCU’s undergraduates.
A foundational value of the College is our commitment to our students, and we are extraordinarily proud of what they accomplish! Just last year, we had a Fulbright Research Fellow, three Boren Scholars (international study) and two Goldwater Scholars (recognizing excellence in undergraduate research). We have a number of scholar-athletes in a range of sports. For example, seven of the 14 members of VCU’s Final Four and ESPY-winning men’s basketball team and four of 14 players on our women’s basketball team major in one of the College’s programs. Additionally, our students participate in wide range of community-service activities.
The College also has a thriving community of more than 40,000 alumni who offer a network that facilitates the launching of careers for our graduates and provides support in a variety of ways to help us achieve our mission. The College’s graduates have gone on to become best-selling authors, CEOs and executive vice presidents of major corporations, successful biotechnology entrepreneurs, renowned medical practitioners, high school teachers and political leaders, making a real difference in Virginia and around the world. One of the great pleasures of my new job is getting to know and engage the wider VCU family with the College.
I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to serve VCU and the College. After my first two weeks, I have been enthralled by the spirit and dedication that VCU elicits from our faculty, staff, students and members of the Richmond community. Although VCU and the College have significant challenges, I am sure this university should occupy a special place among the world’s universities. I hope you will join me on my journey to help facilitate securing that special place.
The article I referenced above by David Baldacci was written as a letter to our successful men’s basketball coach, Shaka Smart (who, by the way, majored in history and is passionate about the humanities), reflecting on why he should stay at VCU. One surely unintended consequence of David’s well articulated description of what makes VCU special is that his words resonated to my core and helped me realize how great a fit VCU and the College are for me. I encourage you to take the time to reflect on this piece.
I hope you are as enthusiastic as I am about VCU, with the College at its core, and our potential to transform lives and communities and to innovate through our research, scholarship and creative activities. I hope that you will work with me to overcome our challenges and help the College achieve its own quest for distinction. As the black and gold banner above the Siegel Center says, “Our time. Right now.”
James S. Coleman, Ph.D.
Dean of the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences
from the STILLforJAPAN website:
It has been 131 days since the lives of millions across Japan were forever rocked by the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
And while the rest of the world may have stopped running breaking news broadcasts and resumed life as normal, there are millions there who cannot.
reposted from VCU News Center, article by Tom Gresham:
STILLforJAPAN, a global initiative, [launched on July 11] with a video message displayed on a prominent Clear Channel Spectacolor HD digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square. The message will help bring attention to the STILLforJAPAN website where people from around the world can visit to observe “A Moment of Stillness.”
At the website, visitors will demonstrate their support for the Japanese people by leaving their computer still and inactive for one minute. The simple act will serve as a sign of compassion.
… VCU Brandcenter director Rick Boyko said, “Disasters often make the news for a few days and then we forget. We want Japan to know that in this global universe, one country suffering such an enormous devastation is still remembered.”
The first goal of the campaign is to accumulate 187,439 minutes of stillness, each minute representing one of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami who suffered death or injury or who went missing, became homeless or were exposed to radiation.
The next goal will be to reach 1,031,704 minutes, matching the number of residents of the Sendai Prefecture, the area of Japan hit hardest by the disaster.
Finally, organizers hope to stage a worldwide moment of stillness on March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the disaster. …
The billboard launch was enabled in part by Clear Channel’s willingness to provide the valuable time on the board for the project, as well as to provide 25 minutes of radio time to promote the launch. Davis and fellow Brandcenter students Andrew Quay, Ernesto Campabala, Jake Mitchell and Amy Matheu conceived the billboard message and the STILLforJAPAN website with help from McKinney, an advertising agency where Davis, Mitchell, Wood and Matheu are serving as interns this summer.
The STILLforJAPAN campaign promises to attract considerable attention in Japan. TV networks from the country will cover the launch of the campaign, including conducting interviews with Brandcenter students involved in the project. In addition, Brandcenter students Sarah Kraus and Joe Hall created a commercial promoting the campaign that will air on Japanese television. The spot, which can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/StillforJapan, was produced by Mirada/Motion Theory with original music by Michael Montes of Sacred Noise.
The campaign originated when Kaeda Seville, a Japanese freelance writer and friend of the Brandcenter, contacted Boyko a few weeks after the earthquake and tsunami struck. Seville wondered if there was an avenue for the Brandcenter to help deliver a message of hope to the Japanese people. Boyko contacted the entire roster of Brandcenter students, letting them know that anyone interested in participating could present their ideas to members of the VCU Brandcenter Board of Directors on March 31. Six teams presented their campaign ideas. The STILLforJAPAN idea emerged as a particularly strong one to pursue.
“Our students loved working on this project and have, I believe, created a beautiful campaign,” Boyko said.
VCU News Center article: VCU Brandcenter Sparks Global Initiative to Show Support for Japanese Disaster Recovery