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News Briefs


Micah Watson (Drama, African-American Studies ’18) won the Kennedy Center Undergraduate Playwriting Award for her original play, Canaan, in March. “Before I came to UVA, I thought I would be writing my own pieces at like 30 or 40. Now, I am seeing so many young artists and artists of color really making their moves and I’m thinking, ‘Why can’t that be me?’” said Watson, a Ridley Scholar and Lawn Resident. This fall, she will pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing at New York University.


On May 9 the UVA Faculty Senate approved a proposal for a new Media Studies doctoral program focused on technology, law, and poli- cy. “This [program] will further realize the University’s investment during the past decade in top-tier faculty and facilities in the area of Media Studies, which is poised to achieve rapid reputational advancement in the sphere of graduate education,” the Media Studies Graduate Studies Committee wrote in the proposal. In December, the Faculty Senate approved a master of arts degree program in Media, Culture, and Technology, with its first students matriculating in 2019; the Ph.D. program is expected to launch in 2021.


In June, UVA’s Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) hosted the annual conference of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), a global professional body with more than 200 humanities centers from around the world. The Consortium’s advisory board includes Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom and IHGC Director Debjani Ganguly. This year’s CHCI conference included panels on artificial intelligence, algorithmic cultures, the impact of big data, and the danger to democratic societies posed by Facebook and other social media.


By researching zebrafish  nerve  cells, 80 percent of which are the same as humans’, associate professor of biology Sarah Kucenas is gaining insights that have implications for the treatment of diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, autism, and bipolar disorder. Kucenas’s fish facility recently expanded in size by 50 percent, thanks to funding from the College of Arts & Sciences. “I am very proud of the 16 functioning scientists we have in this lab, at all levels from postdocs to  undergrads,” Kucenas said. “Everybody is a contributor.”


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