Faculty and Staff Features for June 2017

VCU named Global Center of Insurance Excellence

Virginia Commonwealth University is one of 20 universities worldwide to be designated as a Global Center of Insurance Excellence by the International Insurance Society in the program’s inaugural year. The certification program recognizes outstanding risk management and insurance programs that play an integral role in promoting insurance knowledge and research.

The GCIE designation is awarded to universities and colleges that meet stringent criteria focused on course offerings, graduate and industry employment rates, as well as professional involvement. The universities must also demonstrate that students are learning primarily from a designated full-time faculty with appropriate academic qualifications and research expertise.


Christopher Dosier, Ph.D., adjunct professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering

Christopher Dosier, Ph.D.
Christopher Dosier, Ph.D.

Dosier, principal investigator at SpherIngenics Inc., received two 2017 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund awards. “Sustained Release Delivery System for Treatment of Chronic Wounds” received $50,000 for the study of healing chronic wounds in diabetic patients that can in some cases prevent amputations. “Product Development for Sustained Release Biologic Delivery System” received $50,000 to test the commercial viability of SpherIngenics’ patented microbead technology.

SpherIngenics develops regenerative medicine applications, used to help heal traumatic injuries. School of Engineering Dean Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., started the company based on her own research.

Ultimately, Dosier is excited about the potential these grants give him for teaching VCU students.

“Hopefully, I am passing on to future generations of VCU researchers and alumni, strategies and considerations to get their ideas funded in an ever increasing competitive funding landscape,” he said.


Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D., associate professor, chair, Public Policy and Administration program, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D.
Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D.

Brubaker has received the first-ever Kathleen S. Lowney Mentoring Award.

Presented by the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the award recognizes a scholar who has excelled at mentoring others who are engaged in scholarly or community activism. Faculty are nominated by students and peers and must have a demonstrated record of involving students in publications, grants and conferences.  She will receive the award at an awards ceremony in Montreal on August 12.

Brubaker, an expert on sexual and domestic violence on college campuses, gender violence, gender and sexual identity issues, is a sociologist and former associate dean of faculty and academic affairs at the Wilder School. Her recent work is a student collaboration that examines exclusionary assumptions regarding student experiences of campus sexual assault and identifies barriers to reporting among international, sexual and racial ethnic minorities.

As chair of the doctoral program, Brubaker serves as an adviser for all doctoral students at the Wilder School, providing guidance on course enrollment, comprehensive exams, publishing, and professional development opportunities.

“Dr. Brubaker is an exceptional teacher and mentor,” said Brittany Keegan, a second-year doctoral student who has served as Brubaker’s graduate assistant since her arrival in the program. She is one two student coauthors on Brubaker’s study, “Measuring and reporting campus sexual assault: Privilege and exclusion in what we know and what we do.” The article is currently under review.

“She is a consistent resource and makes a genuine effort to support students at every stage of their development, and this makes her tremendously popular among them,” Keegan said. “Personally, I’ve seen how hard she works every day to ensure that doctoral students are given every opportunity to succeed. She wants her mentees to thrive and provides many opportunities for them to work on projects and develop their skills under her supervision.”

Keegan was one of eight individuals who nominated Brubaker for the award. In numerous testimonials, peers and students described her as innovative, incisive and empowering.

In a letter of support from her peers, Jill Gordon, Ph.D., a longtime colleague who succeeded Brubaker as associate dean last year, offered the concluding statement:

“What stands out most about Dr. Brubaker’s approach is her ability to tailor her mentoring style to whatever is most needed. For some, this means becoming involved with research, working with her on papers, and presenting coauthored papers at conferences,” Gordon wrote. “For others, it means having someone to offer support, guidance, and feedback, or even to just have someone who will listen and who will care. Dr. Brubaker is all of these things to so many people; through the programs she’s created and through her personal mentoring efforts, her students have become better academics, better practitioners, and better people.

“I know that many of her mentees, myself included, have let her know how much we appreciate her and her efforts, and I hope that through this nomination others may also become aware of all she does.”


Christopher Reina, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Management, School of Business

Christopher S. Reina, Ph.D.
Christopher S. Reina, Ph.D.

Reina has contributed to the 2017 book "Why Irrational Politics Appeals: Understanding the Allure of Trump." The book contains experts discussing the psychological, economic and sociological factors that led to Trump’s election. The book delves particularly into the rancor and negativity of Trump’s campaign style, and tries to understand why his voters made their choice on election day.

Reina's background studying leadership, team building and mindfulness informed his chapter, titled "Mindfulness: A Tool for Thoughtful Politics."

"I saw the increasing use of fear-based tactics utilized by Donald Trump in his political rhetoric and I thought it was important to discuss why this has such a strong impact on us," Reina said. “I wanted to help shine some light on why Donald Trump seemed to be gaining in popularity and why his approach to leadership is not conducive for bringing about long-term social good. I also wanted to write a chapter to help people make sense of what was happening, and how they may be able to move through the difficult emotions in order to rise above them and ensure we are continually moving toward enlightenment and acceptance rather than close-minded fear."


Ruth Anne Young, project coordinator, Virginia Center on Aging

Ruth Anne Young.
Ruth Anne Young.

The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance awarded Young with the Nexus Award on June 7 during the organization’s 2017 Catalyst Awards Ceremony. The Nexus Award recognized Young for creating a high level of cooperation among members of the justice system and other systems within a local community. Young was selected for the award due in part to her leadership role in a three-year, statewide project aimed at reducing violence against women later in life.




Jerome F. Strauss, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine

Jerome F. Strauss, M.D., Ph.D.
Jerome F. Strauss, M.D., Ph.D.

Strauss will be honored on June 15 by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei with the international Arnaldo Bruno prize for Gynaecology. The Arnaldo Bruno Prize was created in 2001 in memory of Italian gynecologist Arnaldo Bruno. Founded in 1603, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei is one of the world’s oldest scientific academies and alma mater to Galileo. The awards ceremony that will take place in Rome will be attended by Italy's president,  Sergio Mattarella.

Strauss has authored more than 300 original scientific articles and holds 12 issued U.S. patents for discoveries and therapeutics. He is senior editor of Yen and Jaffe’s “Reproductive Endocrinology,” which is the major textbook in the field of reproductive medicine. He was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine (now called the National Academy of Medicine) of the National Academies of Science at age 47, and chaired two committees that issued reports on contraceptive development and the state of ovarian cancer research. Strauss also served as a member of the Discovery Expert Group for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and chaired the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

In January, he retired after 11 years as dean of the School of Medicine and returned to the school’s faculty, where he studies developmental biology and endocrinology.