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Our-Stories

Featured alumni

William Budd, Ph.D.

William Budd, Ph.D.

B.S. in Bioinformatics, 2009; M.S. in Bioinformatics, 2010; Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences, 2012

After working as a paramedic for a number of years following his time as a student of emergency health sciences at the University of Virginia, William Budd, Ph.D., found himself at a crossroads. “When I worked in health care,” he said, “people kept saying things like, ‘Oh, we don’t know that information, you don’t need to worry about that,’ and that wasn’t good enough for me.” 

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Jennifer Ciminelli

Jennifer Ciminelli

M.S. in Environmental Studies, 2006

Jennifer Ciminelli always tells her students that it’s OK to be confused. After all, confusion is the first step toward knowledge. It’s the first step toward figuring out the right path. “When I came to VCU, and they had me in the computer lab working with geographic information technology, I didn't know what it, or I, was capable of,” Ciminelli said. “But that was OK.”

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Thomas Shaak, Ph.D.

Thomas Shaak, Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences, 2013

As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Thomas Shaak, Ph.D., has bounced around the country numerous times. But with each new assignment, he always made the most of the opportunity.

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Featured faculty

Greg Garman, Ph.D.

Greg Garman, Ph.D.

Director, VCU Rice Rivers Center

As director at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, Greg Garman, Ph.D., champions the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.” In a nutshell, the research gives agencies a basis for management and policy decisions.

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Paul Bukaveckas, Ph.D.

Paul Bukaveckas, Ph.D.

Associate professor, Center for Environmental Studies

Today, his research into nutrient runoff and algal blooms helps professionals working in water management make informed decisions about preventing and mitigating pollutants that can lead to poor water clarity, oxygen depletion and restricted growth of aquatic grasses where fish live. They need a basis for their policies and decisions, he said, “and that’s where the science comes in.”

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Daniel McGarvey, Ph.D.

Daniel McGarvey, Ph.D.

Center for Environmental Studies

As a scientist, Daniel McGarvey, Ph.D., knows the importance of communicating findings clearly and effectively. But where’s the flair? “Go to the library and pick up a science journal,” McGarvey encouraged. “Look at the kinds of infographics you find there. Sure, they’re very informative, but they’re black and white, they’re very dense, they’re hard to read.”

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Peter Uetz, Ph.D.

Peter Uetz, Ph.D.

Center for the Study of Biological Complexity

Just one of the research areas of Peter Uetz, Ph.D., involves solving the mystery of proteins — some of which have no known function. “For many of these proteins, we have no clue what they are doing,” he said. “It’s surprising because some of these proteins are basically present everywhere.”

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Cathy Viverette

Cathy Viverette, Ph.D.

Life Sciences

As a child, Cathy Viverette spent summers along Virginia’s Rappahannock River, which fostered a dream to pursue a career that connected her to the water. She grew up to become a raptor biologist, but still harbored a desire to study rivers.

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Anne Wright

Anne Wright

Director of outreach education, VCU Rice Rivers Center Assistant professor, Department of Biology

As Director of Outreach Education for the VCU Rice Rivers Center, Anne Wright spends her days helping to disseminate scientific knowledge to the community at large. “A problem in this country is science not being accepted and digested by the general public,” she said. “The scientific community has got to do a better job of engaging the public and spreading the word about their research.”

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Rima Franklin, Ph.D.

Rima Franklin, Ph.D.

Associate professor, Department of Biology

“I am fascinated by the fact that the world is basically run by little invisible creatures that most people completely ignore,” says Rima Franklin, Ph.D., associate professor of microbial ecology in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Biology. Franklin studies microbes — microscopic, usually single-celled organisms that are the oldest form of life.

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William Shuart

William Shuart

Environmental technology coordinator Director of information technology, VCU Rice Rivers Center Instructor, Center for Environmental Studies B.S.S., environmental studies, 1999 M.S., environmental studies/technology, 2002

VCU’s new senseFly eBee drone is a far cry from the $50 quad copters taking to the air in backyards across the country, and not just because of its $50,000 price tag. For one thing, current FAA regulations require Environmental Technology Coordinator William Shuart to get a pilot’s license in order to direct VCU’s fixed-wing craft. “The aircraft I have is one and a half pounds and made of foam, and yet in order to get a license to fly that, I’ve got to learn to fly a 1,200-pound Cessna,” said a chuckling Shuart, whose background is in ecoinformatics — including geographic information systems and remote sensing.

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