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Summer research collaboration explores challenges for Roanoke City

May 15, 2017

Paul Knox and James Bohland, leading GFURR faculty, speak to undergraduate students who will be working on the research summer labs.
Paul Knox and James Bohland, leading GFURR faculty, speak to undergraduate students who will be working on the summer research labs.

The Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience (GFURR) at Virginia Tech, Hollins University, and Roanoke College has initiated a collaboration to lead an undergraduate research lab in Roanoke this summer. Four faculty members from Virginia Tech and Hollins University will guide, mentor, and support 17 students from the three institutions who were accepted to participate in the program.

The Summer Undergraduate Research Lab is a paid 10-week program designed to give full-time undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in research that explores pertinent issues and challenges in the city of Roanoke. The research program uses Roanoke as a living laboratory to expose students to the collection, analysis, and synthesis of primary data. The goal of these labs is to offer an experience that will help students develop a range of academic and practical skills required for an advanced degree and future practice.

Students-researchers will focus on one of three potential areas of inquiry:

Refugee Populations of Roanoke:  Issues of Assimilation and Adaptation

This lab is envisioned as a space for student-researchers to explore and understand refugee life in Roanoke. Students will attempt to capture and represent the stories of refugee communities and those organizations that support them.

Two labs associated with the Virginia Tech/Roanoke Innovation Corridor project

  • Development Policies and Strategies for the Innovation Corridor
  • Physical Integration of the Innovation Corridor in the City Setting.

In these labs student-researchers will focus on the development of the Innovation Corridor in Roanoke from a policy and design perspective.

Rebecca Hester, assistant professor in the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech and Jon Bohland, associate professor and director of International Studies at Hollins University will jointly instruct the refugee population lab.

Tom Skuzinski, assistant professor of Urban Affairs & Planning at Virginia Tech and C. L. Bohannon, assistant professor at Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture will instruct students working in the Innovation Corridor Lab. 

The program started with a kick-off reception hosted by the Global Forum and continues with orientation and a tour of Roanoke. The program will end with a final symposium during which students will present their work to stakeholders and the scientific community.

The forum is a Virginia Tech Presidential Initiative seeking to offer new ideas and perspectives for studying resilience. More information can be found at the website.

To learn more about this initiative, please contact Michal Linder michall@vt.edu, graduate assistant , Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience Virginia Tech.

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