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New cohort of Faculty Fellows selected for Bridge Initiative

New River Gorge Bride in Victor, West Virginia.

The Bridge Faculty Fellows program provides a year of focused faculty development in science and technology policy applications working as an interdisciplinary cohort.

West Virginia University faculty and staff carry out research in a wide range of fields that are important in today’s world.

Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Looking beyond presentations at professional conferences and publications in scholarly journals, WVU’s Bridge Initiative for Science and Technology Policy, Leadership and Communications works with researchers to bring their work to broader audiences of decision-makers and other stakeholders.

“Researchers at WVU are keenly interested in having their work make positive impacts on the public good through the University’s land-grant mission,” Joan Centrella, director of the Bridge Initiative, said. “However, many do not have the experience or skills needed to make that bridge to the policy arena. This is where we come in.” 

The Bridge Faculty Fellows program provides a year of focused faculty development in science and technology policy applications working as an interdisciplinary cohort. This program was launched last year with an initial cohort of three faculty members from ecology, human geography and environmental engineering. They now comprise the first members of the Bridge Faculty Advisory Board.

The Bridge Initiative has named its second cohort of Faculty Fellows, comprising five members: Jamison Conley from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, Vaike Haas from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Crosby Hipes from the WVU Institute of Technology, Kevin Orner from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and Nicole Stout from the WVU Cancer Institute and School of Public Health.

“The ability and confidence to suggest and effect changes in policy are good outcomes, and my area of focus — access to health care — is certainly a pressing concern for West Virginia. Yet more than any specific meeting or policy, I hope to gain the skills in translating my research results, which are heavily quantitative and statistical in nature, into language that can be understood and used by non-quantitative policymakers. That way, the skills developed through the Bridge program can benefit not only policies related to my current work on health care access, but also benefit the work I will do in the future.” — Jamison Conley, associate professor of geography

“At two Morgantown schools, I have been observing pedestrian and driver behavior. I observed more than 50 pedestrian crossing attempts at intersections within a half mile of Suncrest Elementary during morning rush hour. Out of more than 300 drivers, only 2% yield to pedestrians, even though state law required them to do so. When I observed indications of driver awareness, I found only 19% or 111 of 571 of drivers made eye contact, waved, turned their head or slowed down for a pedestrian at the intersection closest to school. At both Suncrest Elementary and Suncrest Middle, only around 2% of students walk or bike to school. This is lower than national rates of walking/biking to school, and the rate of active commuting for Morgantown’s workers which is 17.2%. One way to cue drivers to be alert for pedestrians and increase the rate of walking/biking to school is Safe Routes. In the absence of a state-funded Safe Routes program, I am looking at ways to accelerate the implementation of pedestrian/bike infrastructure planned near schools.” — Vaike Haas, associate professor of landscape architecture

“As a fellow, I hope to gain better insight into how to translate my research findings into policy outcomes. So far, the fellowship training has greatly improved my understanding of the policy-making process for science and technology fields.” — Crosby Hipes, assistant professor of criminal justice

“Working as a Bridge Faculty Fellow provides training to advance one of my long-term goals: to create and lead an interdisciplinary graduate program in sustainable development that prepares students for technical and/or policy leadership roles that advance sustainable development in central Appalachia through coursework, community-engaged projects and professional development experiences. I have already integrated a policy module into a graduate course I designed and am teaching this semester titled 'Sustainable Development Engineering' in which students study the application of appropriate and sustainable engineering solutions and technologies to provide equitable access to food, energy, water and health in low- and middle-income countries and underserved communities in high-income countries like the United States.” — Kevin Orner, assistant professor of environmental engineering

“My overall aim with this work is to improve policies at the community and state level that improve access to care for individuals living with and beyond cancer. My work will broadly examine existing policies and identify options for how we can improve community-based access to care.” — Nicole Stout, research assistant professor

Fellows will receive a $5,000 grant that can be used for expenses incurred to participate in the program, including summer salary, student stipends, research and conference travel. Each fellow will serve for one year. 

“We are excited to have such a strong and diverse cohort of Bridge Faculty Fellows this year working on a range of important areas in our state,” Fred King, vice president for research, said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this program will make as they engage with the policy arena.”

Bridge is an initiative of the Office of the Provost and the Research Office.

Find more information on BRIDGE. 


Contact: Paige Nesbit

Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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Phone: 304-293-4135