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NEWS RELEASE

Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
KirstenNelson@schev.edu
For Immediate Release

February 25, 2004

Four Virginia Faculty Named Outstanding Scientists of 2004
—Contributions boost the Commonwealth's research efforts—

RICHMOND —Four Virginia college and university faculty will be presented with awards at a banquet honoring the commonwealth's Outstanding Scientists and Industrialists of the Year to be held at the Science Museum on Tuesday, March 30. Areas of expertise of the honorees include nuclear physics, periodontics, computational cell biology and drug design, robotic aircraft, high-tech research and development, as well as extraordinary community service. "SCHEV is very proud of these individuals and the awards are reflective of the intense dedication and commitment to teaching and research throughout the Commonwealth, which is something the Council believes in very strongly," said State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) Chairman, Carl Kelly. SCHEV's commitment to research has been articulated as a goal in its system wide strategic plan for higher education in Virginia. "It is important to highlight the positive strides we are making in Virginia, and by recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments of these individuals in the science and industry sectors, we are succeeding in this effort," said SCHEV Acting Executive Director, Nancy Cooley. "We are particularly proud that all of the scientists recognized this year are faculty members at Virginia public universities," Cooley continued.

Virginia's Outstanding Scientists of 2004:

Anatoly Radyushkin, a Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility senior scientist and Old Dominion University physics professor. Radyushkin is an internationally recognized nuclear theorist in the field of quantum chromodynamics, which is a fundamental theory that addresses the underlying structure of nucleons (basic building blocks of the nucleus of the atom) in terms of their more basic parts, quarks and gluons. He is also a pioneer in developing generalized parton distributions. Experiments measuring and testing generalized parton distributions are conducted at the world-renowned Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News and are an essential part of the long-term physics program at Jefferson Lab.

Harvey Schenkein, a Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry assistant dean for research, Paul Tucker Toad Professor, and periodontics, microbiology and immunology professor. Schenkein is at the cutting edge of understanding relationships between oral health and the general health of the whole body. Focusing his work on gum diseases and how the immune system responds to gum infections and how gum diseases promote other chronic inflammatory diseases, Schenkein has discovered a genetic aspect to these diseases. His work includes a finding that smoking can depress certain immune functions and promote periodontitis, as well as an immunologic link between periodontal diseases and atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and low birth weight.

John J. Tyson, a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University distinguished professor of biology, who is a world leader in the newly emerging field of computational cell biology. Together with a colleague of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Tyson builds mathematical models of genes and proteins and their chemical interactions, and then simulates the changing patterns of molecular activity in time and space. The computational approach to cell biology promises to lead a major shift in scientific understanding of the molecular basis of life.

Virginia's Life Achievement in Science 2004 award honoree:

Lemont Burwell Kier, a Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy medicinal chemistry professor. Dr. Kier is a pioneer in drug design and has developed theories for defining molecules with a sweet taste. His model for sweetness is still in use today. Kier continues studying water structure, which has led to a theory on the action of general anesthetic gases. His studies on water and complex systems continues in both VCU's School of Pharmacy and Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, a component of VCU Life Sciences.

Virginia's outstanding industrialists for 2004 will also be recognized on March 30. The honorees include John S. Langford, president and chairman of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation; Kent Murphy, chief executive officer and founder of Luna Innovations, Inc.; and Beverley W. Armstrong, vice chairman of CCA Industries.

All honorees were introduced to the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 2.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. Agenda materials for the SCHEV meeting are available at www.schev.edu.

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at KirstenNelson@schev.edu or (804)225-2627.