A&S Magazine Fall 2019

News & Notes


By: Caroline Newman

News & Notes


Earlier this spring, under the supervision of UVA history professor John Edwin Mason, portraits of African Americans in Charlottesville taken by Rufus Holsinger in the later 1800s and early 1900s were installed around the construction site that will become UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers.
Some of them show the men and women who were born into slavery and worked at the University — the very peo-ple being honored at that site. All of them were taken at the height of the Jim Crow era in Charlottesville and the South.

“Instead of visual stereotypes, the images show each individual’s strength, resilience, and purpose,” Mason said in a press release.

The effort is part of the Holsinger Portrait Project, which Mason leads with computer science professor Worthy Mar-tin, also the director of UVA’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, and others at UVA and in Charlottesville.


A unique study abroad collabora-tion between the College and Grad-uate School of Arts & Sciences, UVA’s International Studies Office, and iXperience, a global education company,  debuted internationally this summer in three cities: Cape Town, South Africa; Berlin, Germany; and Lisbon, Portugal. 

Students earn as many as 10 academic credits from UVA while building their professional resumes. The Cape Town program, called iX Immerse, features liberal arts seminars led by UVA faculty offering a deeper understanding of South African history and culture, as well as “boot camp-style” workshops that help students develop skills in data science, product management, or digital design within a workplace setting. The programs in Berlin and Lisbon, called iX Accelerate, offer a 6-credit liberal arts seminar with a boot camp focus on a topic (such as full-stack coding) informed by liberal arts coursework and hands-on experience.


The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies celebrated the debut of its new podcast series on the legacy of Thomas Jefferson earlier this year.

A six-part series, “Notes on the State” is the Woodson Institute’s first podcast and features conversations with a variety of scholars from the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Jeffersonian scholars from other American universities, and officials from Monticello, the plantation home of Jefferson, his family, and the slaves he owned. The podcast takes its name from Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson’s 1781 book written in response to a series of queries posed by a French diplomat.


Kent Yagi, assistant professor of physics, is one of 126 early-career scientists, mathematicians, and economists to receive a 2019 Sloan Research Fellowship.

Awarded annually by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the fellowships honor young scholars whose achievements identify them among the most promising U.S. and Canadian researchers in their fields. Winners receive a two-year, $70,000 fellowship; the funds may be spent in any way a Fellow determines will  best advance their work.

Yagi joined the Department of Physics in 2017. Already a well-known lead researcher, Yagi has been credited with two important research achievements related to neutron star physics and gravitational physics. The emerging use of gravitational wave observations, which dates back only four years to their discovery in 2015, has the potential for significant findings throughout the broader field of physics.


It began as a deadline assignment for their “Advanced Multimedia Reporting” course. Third-year students Yahya Abou-Ghazala and Robby Keough wanted to cover the student walkout that drew hundreds to the Lawn on March 14, 2018, one month after the fatal shootings of 17 high school students and staff members in Parkland, Florida.

Their video report went on to win the first Student Emmy Award presented to a UVA student, announced last March by the National Capital Chesapeake Bay chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

"Robby and I were exposed to all of the essential training we needed through Wyatt's class." - Yahya Abou-Ghazala (Global Development Studies, '19), co-winner of the first Student Emmy awarded to a UVA student.

Keough and Abou-Ghazala said the lessons learned in seminars taught by Wyatt Andrews, a media studies professor of practice and an award-winning former CBS News correspondent, had prepared them well.

“That’s where we learned script-writing, production elements, interviewing techniques,” said Abou-Ghazala, who graduated in May with a degree in global development studies. “It’s like J[ournalism]-school in a year, and this deadline-day piece was a crash course where all of those skills really come to life.”
“We work well together,” said Keough, who graduated with a media studies degree. “We know our strengths and weaknesses. Yahya handles the research, and I handle the editing.” 

Abou-Ghazala returned to Washington, D.C., after graduation to intern with CNN. Keough moved to Santa Cruz, California, to work with a documentary film production company.


Dean Ian Baucom said it’s hard to believe how swiftly time has passed since moving to Virginia and beginning his UVA career in 2014.

“Thinking back on my first term as dean, I’m grateful to everyone in the College and Graduate School and across Grounds for the great work that was accomplished,” Baucom said. “I am deeply inspired by the many faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College who came together to help us make real progress in a variety of areas.”

Brie Gertler, Commonwealth Professor of Philosophy and Interim Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, has accepted the role of acting dean until the return of Baucom, who is taking leave for the fall semester. Gertler is looking forward to helping advance Baucom’s vision.

“In a short time under Ian’s leadership, A&S has implemented the Forums, launched the New College Curriculum Pilot for students, invested significantly in the Graduate School, hired more than 150 outstanding faculty, and helped to advance research in democracy, brain science, environmental science, and more. The enterprise is on much better financial ground,” Gertler said. Baucom remains on Grounds this fall for key meetings and events, including the public launch of the Honor the Future Campaign and the new curriculum faculty vote. 


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