Paul Wahlbeck to Serve as Permanent CCAS Dean

Dean Paul Wahlbeck

The former chair of the Political Science Department and CCAS vice dean of programs and research has been interim dean of GW’s largest school since 2018, championing student opportunities, innovative programs and world-changing faculty research.

Paul Wahlbeck has been appointed dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), where he has served as interim dean since 2018.

“Since joining GW, I have deeply appreciated Paul’s partnership as a committed member of the senior leadership team,” Provost M. Brian Blake said. “As interim dean, he has enhanced the student experience by investing in efforts to ensure student success and developing innovative programs, such as a new data science major and expanded experiential learning opportunities; fostered a supportive environment for world-changing faculty research; and engaged with CCAS alumni to encourage stronger relationships. He will continue all these efforts, and more, as he serves CCAS’s vibrant community of scholars in a permanent capacity.”

Columbian College is the largest academic unit at GW, with approximately 5,000 undergraduate students, 2,500 graduate students and 42 academic departments, including the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

“I’m thrilled to be leading Columbian College forward and working with my colleagues as we pursue our aspirations as a preeminent research institution,” Wahlbeck said. “My ties to the college are strong and deep, as is my admiration for the people who are committed to ensuring we succeed in our mission to advance excellence and opportunity.”

As interim dean, Wahlbeck has invested in undergraduate advising and fostering a supportive environment for faculty research with a global impact. Besides the new data science major, he has overseen innovative new programs including collaborative team teaching between STEM and other faculty, STEM summer internships, a framework for interdisciplinary micro-minors and short-term study abroad opportunities that allow students to link classroom learning with the broader world. 

Wahlbeck joined the GW faculty in 1993. As chair of the Political Science Department, beginning in 2011, he focused on strengthening student engagement with career and student research panels, making the political science doctoral program one of the strongest in the country and supporting faculty scholarship. As vice dean for programs and research from 2016 to 2018, he oversaw graduate enrollment, research growth and academic and student services. 

“One of my favorite accomplishments was working with the associate dean for graduate studies on the examination of doctoral programs and the creation of the Columbian Distinguished Fellowship to compete for the best doctoral students,” Wahlbeck said. “I also worked with the associate dean for research and strategic initiatives to integrate school research administrators into the Columbian College and build a research support infrastructure.”

Wahlbeck served as director of the Law and Social Science Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2001 to 2003 and, in 2006, served as director of NSF’s Political Science Program. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the GW School of Law.

Main Photo: Paul Wahlbeck, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Untangling the Trauma-Speech Connection

Sarah Hine Headshot

How does trauma link to speech and language disorders? Sarah Hine and a team of graduate researchers used their own experiences with vulnerable populations to guide speech pathology protocols.

Prior to pursuing her graduate degree in speech pathology at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Sarah Hine, who graduated in May, worked with survivors of sex trafficking in India. Well before the COVID crisis curtailed international travel, Hine spent three years coordinating nonprofit efforts in the United States and India to help young girls who had escaped from brothels in Mumbai and Calcutta. She provided support to India-based organizations that guided the girls—mostly teens, some as young as 10—through the difficult process of psychological and physical healing.

As she befriended the young women, she observed that many struggled with communication. Some were essentially nonverbal, reluctant to engage with others and preferring to sit in a corner with their ear phones on. Others showed signs of cognitive deficits—seemingly slow to process conversation and refusing to make eye contact. None of those signs were by themselves surprising; reactions to chronic trauma manifest themselves in any number of ways. But Hine noticed a possible correlation between the extent of the abuse and the severity of their speech issues. “I started to realize that maybe there are some gradients depending on the type of trauma someone received or the length of exposure to a traumatic situation that might indicate impacts on language,” she said. But the available research on such links was small, and the guidelines for speech language pathologists even smaller.

As a graduate student, Hine helped to fill that gap. She drew from her personal experiences for a project in Associate Professor Adrienne Hancock’s research lab in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Hine was one of a group of students who investigated the intersection between language and complex psychosocial trauma. They looked at how trauma in vulnerable people—from survivors of sex trafficking to children in the foster care system—can manifest itself in speech and language disorders. Their research involved conducting literature reviews of past studies, examining clinical best practices and learning from other disciplines, such as social work, psychology and neuroscience. The goal, Hancock said, was “to inform ourselves and our clinical practices” and develop a resource guide for speech-language pathologists.

“We want to first educate ourselves on the effects of trauma across populations and then apply these learnings, providing a trauma-informed approach to all we serve.”
— Sarah Hine

Turning Experience Into Practice

Trauma-informed care, Hancock said, is playing an increasingly large role in education and healthcare—settings where most speech-language pathologists work. But guidelines for how to recognize the link between psychosocial trauma and speech disorders—along with recommendations for how to respond to them—are still in their infancy.

Hine and three other researchers—Caitlin McDonnell and Isabelle Nejedlik, both of whom also graduated in May, and second-year graduate student Madison Dull—approached Hancock with questions about how to do their clinical work with clients who had experienced psychosocial trauma. Like Hine, each had worked with vulnerable populations, including children with histories of abuse and neglect, veterans, refugees and incarcerated people. “We were all drawn to this work for different reasons but with the same end goal in mind,” Hine said. “We want to first educate ourselves on the effects of trauma across populations and then apply these learnings, providing a trauma-informed approach to all we serve.”

Main Photo: Inspired by her experiences working with survivors of sex-trafficking in India, Sarah Hine is helping devise a trauma-informed approach for speech-language pathologists.

Alumna’s Global Mission: Better Schools for Girls

Alumni Sally Nuamah standing inside an empty auditorium

From working with young people in Ghana’s classrooms to reforming American schools, Sally A. Nuamah, BA ’11, is a fierce advocate for helping girls obtain equal education around the world. Now she’s fighting for a stronger educational foundation.

When Sally A. Nuamah, BA ’11, first traveled to Ghana to study abroad during her sophomore year at Columbian College, the political science major expected to find herself in a completely different world. The child of Ghanaian immigrants, Nuamah grew up in inner-city Chicago, where her single mother stood out for her accent and her West African cooking. Nuamah, however, identified more with her working class African American neighborhood than her mother’s native country.

But from the moment she arrived in Ghana, Nuamah was surprised not by the differences she encountered, but by the similarities. “I saw girls who looked like me,” she said. They were youthful and vibrant—and struggling with challenges like poverty and barriers to education. In Chicago, Nuamah watched friends drop out of school. Her own mother had been accepted to a university in Ghana, but couldn’t afford the tuition. Now, Nuamah was hearing the same lament from the girls around her.

“The constraints placed on disadvantaged youth—especially girls of color—look very similar, whether you’re in urban Chicago or in Accra,” Nuamah said. “If my parents hadn’t migrated to the United States, then I wouldn’t have gone to GW and gotten this excellent education. I would have been just like these girls, just like my mother, trying to find a way to go to school every day.”

Today, Nuamah is an accomplished author, youth education advocate and professor at the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy. She’s a Forbes Magazine “30 under 30” honoree, a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, a former member of the GW Board of Trustees and a recipient of the university’s Recent Alumni Achievement Award. While still a student at GW, she began filming what would become her award-winning documentary HerStory, which follows three Ghanaian girls pursuing their education dreams. The film inspired her to launch the TWII Foundation, awarding college scholarships to low-income girls in Ghana. Her book How Girls Achieve (Harvard University Press, 2019) looks at how schools from Africa to the United States are failing young girls, and offers blueprints for reforming them.

“Sally is quite unique in her ability to connect what we do in the classroom with the real world,” said Associate Professor of Political Science Steven Balla. “She made [her coursework] relevant to her interests globally in thinking about girls’ education and why they succeed. It’s been rewarding to follow her career as she has gone on to accomplish so many incredible things as a young professional.”

Rejecting Labels

Nuamah’s mother encouraged her to become the first in the family to attend college, even as she faced some of the same obstacles as the Ghanaian girls she now assists. Although she earned a scholarship to GW, Nuamah initially felt out of place on campus. She credits faculty members like Balla, Professor of English Marshall Alcorn and the late Professor of English and American Studies James Miller with helping her realize that she deserved to be there. “My GW professors encouraged me to push against the labels that society had placed on me,” Nuamah said. “They showed me that just because I fit the statistical categorizations of disadvantaged, it didn’t mean I couldn’t see myself as brave and smart.”

Driving Nuamah’s advocacy work is her keen understanding of how a strong educational foundation can have a positive impact on every facet of daily life—from raising healthier families and building stronger communities to creating economic opportunities. In Ghana, she observed how girls who attended school were less likely to contract AIDS, more likely to contribute to their country’s overall development and, if they become mothers, more likely to immunize their children and invest in their education.

“My GW professors encouraged me to push against the labels that society had placed on me. They showed me that just because I fit the statistical categorizations of disadvantaged, it didn’t mean I couldn’t see myself as brave and smart.”
— Sally A. Nuamah

But merely opening the school doors for young women is only part of the battle, she said. The harder fight is reforming the institutions themselves. “Schools weren’t built with girls in mind,” said Nuamah, noting that the challenges schoolgirls face resulting from sexual abuse or unequal access to materials and opportunities go largely unaddressed. In the United States, one in seven schoolgirls report being absent because they feel unsafe in school. And in Ghana, 26 percent of schoolgirls say they have experienced sexual violence.

Nuamah advocates for the creation of she calls “feminist schools,” deliberately designed to help girls thrive while providing safe, equitable spaces. “Achievement shouldn’t just be about academic success. It should be about the ability to attain academic success in a school where girls don’t have to bear a different set of costs than others,” she said.

From her first visits to Ghana, Nuamah was inspired by the young women she met who committed to their education despite the hardships they faced. “From a statistical standpoint, it was unlikely that these girls would achieve the outcomes they had in mind—but they all had a strong sense that they could,” she said. Through her foundation, she has discovered that their confidence was not misguided. Most of the inaugural scholarship class went on to college. Some are currently pursuing graduate degrees in both Ghana and the U.S., four are in leadership positions at Ghanaian banks and one is the principal accountant for Ghana’s education services.

“It’s GW that made me feel like I would be able to help others,” Nuamah said. “It’s the spirit that I got from GW that drives me to continue to do this work; it’s what keeps pushing me.”

Main photo: Sally A. Nuamah, BA ’11, is an author, youth education advocate and professor.

Teacher, Scientist, Leader: Chemistry’s King Retires

Professor of Chemistry Michael King serving as Columbian College Marshal during a graduation ceremony

For nearly a half century, Chemistry’s Michael King made his mark at GW. The beloved professor, college marshal and long-time department chair was also instrumental in the creation of Science & Engineering Hall.

Since 1973, Professor of Chemistry Michael King has been a fixture on the Foggy Bottom campus. You could find him working at his desk, even if you stopped by at 6 in the morning or on Sunday afternoons. You could see him in his organic chemistry lab, first in the basement of Corcoran Hall and later in the new Science & Engineering Hall (SEH), as he diagrammed molecular structures on the whiteboard walls. And for the last 25 years, King was regularly garbed in a cap and crimson gown at Columbian College Commencement Celebrations, leading the processional of graduates as the college’s marshal.

A dedicated teacher and mentor, and an instrumental figure in bringing SEH to fruition, King retired from teaching in June, bringing to an end a remarkable legacy. During nearly half a century at GW, he served under four university presidents and 12 deans of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS); chaired the Department of Chemistry for more than 20 years, from 1996 to 2019; and taught so many organic chemistry courses that he saw the children of former students in his class.

“All of us who worked with Dr. King were impressed by his level of commitment to the college, his colleagues and his students,” said CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck. “On a personal level, he shares a special connection to my family. In the 1960’s, when Michael was an undergraduate at the Illinois Institute of Technology, my father taught him in an introductory class on physical chemistry. Because Michael went on to do great things within the discipline, I like to think my dad played a big role in sparking his passion for science—or at least that’s the family lore!”

“One of the really special parts of being a teacher is the hope that you made a little bit of a difference in someone’s life. It is humbling to talk to students and alumni and know that I played a small part in their GW experience.”
— Michael King

A Teacher, First and Foremost

Among his many hats, King said he always saw himself first and foremost as a teacher. His mother was a teacher—“Maybe it was in the genes,” he laughed—and even in elementary school, he tutored his classmates in math and science.

“One of the really special parts of being a teacher is the hope that you made a little bit of a difference in someone’s life,” King said. “It is humbling to talk to students and alumni and know that I played a small part in their GW experience.”

When King first came to GW, Columbian College was about a third of its current size. The smaller classes allowed him to form his own teaching philosophy when interacting with students. “I’ve always told my colleagues that the critical thing about teaching is getting into your students’ heads to figure out what they don’t understand,” he explained. “That’s how you help them overcome the distance between the material and their way of thinking.”

That could prove difficult with his specialty, organic chemistry. The discipline—which explores the structure and properties of organic compounds—has a reputation as a notoriously difficult branch of science and is considered a “weed out” course for would-be chemistry majors. King was drawn to it while studying for his PhD at Harvard University under Nobel Prize-winning chemist R.B. Woodward, who famously synthesized compounds like quinine. In his own classroom, King encouraged his students to visualize the way molecules interact—a teaching style that drew many to his lectures and inspired some to go on to forge their own chemistry careers in academia and science.

“Professor King radiated authentic enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge, joy and the wonder of chemistry in the classroom and beyond,” said Peter Scholl, BS ’86, now a research chemist at the Food and Drug Administration. Tracy A. Schoolcraft, BS ’86,  the associate provost at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, described King as “the type of professor who wanted you to learn, and we learn a lot more when we are taught by professors like him who demonstrate that they care.”

To many of his colleagues, King left his greatest legacy during his two decades as chair of GW’s Department of Chemistry. In addition to being instrumental in the design and completion of SEH, King doubled the size of the department’s faculty and championed the work of his chemistry colleagues, noted Professor of Chemistry and International Affairs Christopher Cahill, the current department chair. “He was a fearless leader and a tireless advocate for the faculty,” Cahill said. Whether securing equipment and endowments or nominating faculty for awards, Cahill said King was known for prioritizing his department’s accomplishments over his own. “Michael always said, ‘Your success is my success.’ He created a culture of collegiality and respect in the department that is a model for the whole school.”

Although he will no longer be teaching, King is looking forward to remaining involved in research activities at the university. Over the years, he has seen organic chemistry move away from synthesizing theoretically interesting molecules toward more direct applications in areas like disease therapies—a scientific path he’s anxious to explore. “It’s an exciting time for this field,” he said. 

Still, King says he’ll miss his classes and seeing students each day. In what colleagues like Cahill call his “typical humble fashion,” he said nothing to his last class about his retirement. “I preferred a quiet disappearance from the scene rather than making a splash in the classroom,” he said. “But did I feel a certain sentimentality in those last classes? Grading exams for the last time? Well, I’m only human.”

Main Photo: Professor of Chemistry Michael King served as Columbian College Marshal during graduations for 25 years.

The Post-Pandemic Economy: Is There a Road to Recovery?

Tara Sinclair

COVID-19 has decimated the global economy. Is there a blueprint for restoring fiscal sanity? Economics’ Tara Sinclair discussed where the economy goes from here—and how to prepare for a new normal.

As the world adjusts to the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy remains in freefall. The United States has staggered with unemployment figures exceeding 40 million since the start of the pandemic and a second quarter GDP loss of over 30 percent—the biggest quarterly decline ever. The worst news may be yet to come: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned that the virus could plague the U.S. economy for a decade. A CBO report predicted a $16 trillion reduction in economic growth—a 3 percent loss of inflation-adjusted GDP—through 2029.

Is there a blueprint for an economic recovery? Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs Tara Sinclair discussed the devastating toll of COVID-19 on the economy—and what the new economic normal will look like.

Q: We all know this is a desperate time for the American economy. Can you frame for us just how bad it is?

A: It’s hard to come up with a clear context that explains the gravity of our situation. We’re talking about a magnitude of economic changes in just the space of months that we thought were completely impossible. For example, we had never seen a million unemployment claims in a week. But suddenly we saw over three million in one week—followed by over six million the next week, eventually adding up to over 40 million claims since the middle of March. These numbers are almost impossible to wrap our heads around, both in terms of their sheer size and how quickly our economy shifted from being relatively healthy to barely on life support. We’ve basically seen all 10 years of our recovery from the global financial crisis and the Great Recession completely wiped out. 

“These numbers are almost impossible to wrap our heads around. . . . We’ve basically seen all 10 years of our recovery from the global financial crisis and the Great Recession completely wiped out.”
— Tara Sinclair

Q: Short of finding a vaccine or a way to get the virus under control, what is the biggest obstacle to an economic recovery?

A: Without public health confidence, there will not be consumer confidence. So a lot of this comes down to uncertainty. If people know what the parameters are—if they know it will be X-number of months or years until a vaccine comes—then businesses and households will start preparing and planning. If you tell us it’s safe, we may not rush out and buy everything that we didn’t over the last few months, but there is enough pent-up demand that we are probably going to dine out at restaurants more. I’m pretty sure hair salons will have a line out the door for weeks to come. But this hovering uncertainty needs to be resolved in order to make better forward-looking decisions. 

Q: Do you see us returning to something like a normal economy?

A: I don’t think there will be a return to normal, just like there won’t be a return to normal in terms of our health risks. But let’s look at, for example, unemployment claims. They are still horrifically bad each week, but things seem to have settled. They’re much smaller than they were at the peak. Economists like to say, “Recovery starts at the trough.” If we’re already at the worst point, then it’s only up from here. It might be a very slow process, but I’m an optimist. I don’t see any reason we can’t eventually see the economy recover to something as strong as back in January or February. But also, hopefully, we can make it a better economy. 

Q: A better economy in what sense?

A: Even back at the beginning of the year, the topline numbers looked great—like 3.5 percent unemployment—but economists were concerned about the underbelly of the economy. The COVID crisis has laid bare cracks like economic inequality; its impact has been so profound on the people who can least afford it. As we move forward, it’s very possible we will continue to need policy interventions to support the economy. That gives us an opportunity to think about big policy changes that might not have been possible if we hadn’t been in this position. 

The other opportunity we have is to encourage individuals and businesses to promote the kinds of innovation that we will need as we go forward. Do we need to develop new forms of PPE, for example? Will we see businesses adopting new technology? Even at home, we’re exploring new forms of entertainment, new forms of interrelating with our families. How do we create markets to incentivize creative entrepreneurs and even long-existing businesses to shift toward creativity and innovation? 

Q: For the consumer, now is the time to do what? 

A: It varies so much from household to household. People who are trying to keep their jobs and care for their children are in a very different place than people who are desperately looking for a job. For a lot of people, I’d tell them now is the time to give yourself some grace and do what you need to survive. But for people who do have some space to think, I’d say now is the time to invest in education. Having a degree links directly to lower unemployment rates. The more education you have, the more you can help yourself and help the economy.

Main photo: Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs Tara Sinclair

LGBTQ+ Planned Gift Memorializes Fond Memories

Alumnus Michael Schmidt with students from the LGBTQIA Resource Center

Alumnus Michael Schmidt found a home at GW and met his future partner, who died in 2010. His $1 million planned gift to support the LGBTQ+ campus community honors the legacy of his GW experience.

Michael Schmidt, BA ’78, MBA ’85, is helping support the university’s LGBTQ+ community through a $1 million planned gift to fund a student scholarship and benefit the LGBTQIA Resource Center, which celebrates and supports sexual and gender diversity. The Michael R. Schmidt and Bruce C. Craig Fund that his gift will establish is named after Schmidt’s late partner Bruce Craig, BA ’78, MA ’84, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.

“GW gave me my adult life,” Schmidt said. “It gave me my partner. I thought it would be a perfect legacy to leave a gift in both our names that we could share with today’s robust, forward-looking students.”

Hailing from suburban Connecticut, Schmidt came to GW in 1974 on a scholarship and was immediately taken by the Washington, D.C., scene and campus life. “GW was a welcoming place,” Schmidt said. “I found all these people who were dear to me and, for the first time, I found a community where I could express myself.”

Schmidt originally planned to study political science in the heart of the nation’s capital. But as an aspiring actor, he soon switched to drama—and learned two important lessons about theatre. “First, acting is really hard,” he laughed. “And second, I was no good at it.” Schmidt switched his major once more to speech-language pathology and audiology. He returned to Foggy Bottom to earn his MBA.

“GW gave me my adult life. It gave me my partner. I thought it would be a perfect legacy to leave a gift in both our names that we could share with today’s robust, forward-looking students.”
— Michael Schmidt

Schmidt joined and eventually led the Gay People’s Alliance, the precursor to today’s student-run Allied in Pride organization. The group helped him finally feel comfortable expressing himself as the person he wanted to be. While posting signs for a meeting, Schmidt met his future-partner Craig in a Marvin Center elevator. Craig had walked around the block seven times, Schmidt recalled, before mustering the courage to attend the Gay People’s Alliance meeting. “I was the first openly gay person he ever met,” he said. The pair bonded during a film studies class, watching Casablanca at the Circle Theatre on Pennsylvania Avenue. They began dating soon after, and moved into an Adams Morgan apartment after graduation.

Before meeting Craig, “I had the feeling that I wasn’t capable of loving another person,” Schmidt said. But throughout their 32-year relationship, Schmidt discovered, “that I could come to love someone more than I even loved myself.”

A retired advertising executive for The Washington Post, Schmidt has kept his ties with GW and hopes that his scholarship gift to support a student involved in GW’s LGBTQ+ community will help future students also find a family on campus. When speaking to the students at the LGBTQIA Center last year, Schmidt sympathized with their ongoing struggle against stigmatization, even as he cheered the advances made since his years at Foggy Bottom.

“I was amazed to learn that it has gotten to a level where gender identity has become almost an everyday part of the university, which is not something that was part of life when I was there,” he said. Most impressive, Schmidt said, was the passion and optimism he saw among today’s students. “They have a real zest for the future, “he said. “In some ways, they remind me of me.”

Main photo: Alumnus Michael Schmidt (center) with students from the LGBTQIA Resource Center

Congratulations Class of 2020!

Collage of photos including students in graduation regalia, classroom shots and group photos

The Columbian College of Arts & Sciences (CCAS) celebrated the Class of 2020 during four livestreamed ceremonies showcasing graduates of the CCAS doctoral, master’s and undergraduate programs. Among the featured speakers was President and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Daniel Weiss, BA ’79, who challenged graduates to embrace this “unprecedented” moment. “When the world is disrupted, there are opportunities to learn…chances to do things better.” CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck congratulated graduates for their “resilience in the face of difficulty” and encouraged them to resist the temptation to look inward. GW’s university-wide Commencement also featured remarks from scholars and students, and video messages from the graduates themselves.

Regulatory Studies Center Celebrates 10 Years

Staff and faculty of the GW Regulatory Studies Center standing on a rooftop with the Washington Monument in the background

For a decade, the GW Regulatory Studies Center has provided expert insights for policy leaders and newsmakers while spearheading research, hosting events and fostering student opportunities.

The GW Regulatory Studies Center celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, marking a decade as a leading resource for applied scholarship on regulatory issues and a training ground for understanding the impact of regulation in the public sphere.

Chartered as an academic center in Columbian College’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (TSPPPA) in 2009, the center’s research, education and outreach mission focuses on promoting best practices for regulatory analysis, improving regulatory institutions and serving as a source for objective information on regulatory matters. From its beginnings with one full-time faculty member and a part-time graduate assistant, the center has grown to a robust staff of full-time researchers—including four faculty members—plus a network of affiliated faculty and an operational support team that delivers events and other programming throughout the year.

“I’ve been proud to call George Washington University home for 10 years,” said Founding Director Susan Dudley. “With its D.C. location, well-respected faculty and intelligent, motivated students, it is the ideal forum for the Regulatory Studies Center’s rigorous research and academic mission.”

“I’ve been proud to call George Washington University home for 10 years. . . . It is the ideal forum for the center’s rigorous research and academic mission.”
— Susan Dudley

Co-directed by Dudley and Trachtenberg Professors Chris Carrigan and Joe Cordes, the center collaborates with faculty and students from departments across the university. Since its inception, center scholars have frequently testified on Capitol Hill and served as a resource for media on regulatory issues. Their expert articles regularly appear in both peer-reviewed academic journals, such as the Journal of Policy Analysis and ManagementPublic Administration Review and Risk Analysis, as well as major media outlets like The Wall Street JournalThe Hill and Forbes magazine.

“The GW Regulatory Studies Center is a pivotal force for new analysis, important programming and overall promotion of public awareness of regulatory issues,” said Professor Cary Coglianese, director of the Penn Program on Regulation. “We all benefit from the work they do.”

In a video commemorating the anniversary, Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, who served as President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” described the center and its staff of academics and experts as a “national treasure.”

The center has become renowned for its weekly Regulation Digest, as well as its popular events, from forums on regulatory policy and practice to presentations from authors, newsmakers and scholars from legal, policy, political science and economic fields. It has hosted high-ranking officials from each of the last six administrations, international diplomats and members of Congress from both major parties and independents. Former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D, N.D.) has praised the center for helping the Senate “develop bipartisan, commonsense approaches to improve how federal agencies develop and consider regulations,” while Senator Mike Enzi (R, Wyo.) has called the center “a wonderful resource. Its timely and focused research crafted by leading experts has been indispensable.”

Within TSPPPA, the center continues to support students through research opportunities, career guidance and stipends that free them to accept prestigious unpaid internships in government agencies. Thanks to its Regulatory Studies Fellowship, for example, public administration graduate student John Bertino interned at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, analyzing and providing comments on proposed regulations by federal agencies. “For someone who is interested in federal service, this is an extraordinary place to gain experience,” he said. Other students have gone on to influential public policy and public administration positions in, among other fields, executive branch agencies, congressional offices, think tanks and trade associations.

“Through the Regulatory Studies Center, our students and faculty have unique opportunities to conduct informative research and learn about regulatory tools and options,” said TSPPPA Director Mary Tschirhart.

Main Photo: The staff and faculty of the GW Regulatory Studies Center. Susan Dudley (center) is the founding director.

CCAS Team Takes New Venture Tech Prize

Ichosia Biotechnology Inc. team members: Lucas Vining-Recklitis (CCAS BA '22), Anna Grim (CCAS BS '21), Ahmad Aljaberi (CCAS BS '20), David Hyon (GWSB BBA '21)

A team of innovators led by Columbian College students won first place in the tech venture track of the 12th annual GW New Venture Competition. They are developing a method to mass-produce a red blood cell product to improve the supply chain.

In the United States, more than 13 million units, or roughly 13 million pints, of blood are needed each year to treat conditions like cancer, traumatic injuries and chronic anemias. These transfusions rely on blood from human donors, collected mainly from nonprofit organizations. But Ichosia Biotechnology Inc., which was cofounded by undergraduate biology student Lucas Vining-Recklitis—the company’s CEO and lead researcher—is trying to change that.

“The idea is that we can grow red blood cells in the laboratory, on demand, and then in doing so reduce our reliance on donor blood and all of those donor blood-related problems [such as] red blood scarcity, the need for disease testing [of donated blood] and the need for cross matching,” Vining-Recklitis said.

Vining-Recklitis and his team—senior chemistry major Anna Grim, senior economics and biology major Ahmad Aljaberi and senior business administration major David Hyon—are developing a scalable method of mass producing an enhanced red blood cell product that they call Erythrosyn. The product will be synthesized through proprietary genetic engineering techniques that transform a stem cell into a fully-functioning red blood cell under controlled laboratory conditions.

Their work garnered the team $40,000 in funding support as the first-place winners in the tenure track portion of the GW New Venture Competition, which were hosted virtually in April. Organized by the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the annual competition provides students with real-world experiences in entrepreneurship and gives them the opportunity to work with mentors to craft a business model for a new business idea and compete for cash and non-cash prizes that can be used to jumpstart their ventures.

“We planned our application more than a year ago for participating in this competition,” Vining-Recklitis said. “My team is super excited.”

The 2020 New Venture Competition began in February with 206 teams, which were narrowed to 12 finalists. Teams competed for a portion of $215,000 in unrestricted cash prizes as well as over $300,000 in in-kind prizes. 

The event host, Scott Stein, associate director of student entrepreneurship programs, said this year’s competition was the largest to date in terms of the number of participants and noted that the competition was the eighth largest collegiate competition of its kind in terms of prizes.

Tatyana Hopkins contributed to this article.

Main photo: From left, David Hyon, Lucas Vining-Recklitis, Ahmad Aljaberi and Anna Grim

CCAS Students Lead Planet Forward Storyfest Winners

Three 2020 Storyfest trophies on a bookshelf

The grand-prize winners of the annual student storytelling contest included three from GW. From videos to photo essays, their projects offered hope, inspiration and humor on environmental topics.

Planet Forward, a project of Columbian College’s School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), honored six winners of Storyfest, its annual student storytelling contest. Among the students garnering top awards were Sarah Sem, BA ’20, for her video “What’s the beef with meatless burgers?”; and Cate Twining-Ward for her photo essay “Clinging onto chimps: Why you should think of chimpanzees during the climate crisis.” Sem was a political communications major at GW and Twining-ward is a geography and environmental studies major.

The Planet Forward Storyfest competition highlights and celebrates the best in student-generated environmental stories. Students submitted up to three stories in any medium-based category of their choice. Categories included article, multimedia, podcast, photo essay, short or shareable video and video.

In announcing the grand-prize winners, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs and Planet Forward Chief Executive Frank Sesno said that using the power of storytelling “to convey hope and to inspire” is more important than ever.

“In these unprecedented times,” Sesno said, “our Storyfest grand-prize winners rose to the occasion. This competition has only further elevated their voices as powerful communicators for the planet.”

Winners were selected by a panel of judges not affiliated with Planet Forward. Judges included current and former journalists and expert communicators from organizations like The Nature Conservancy, Island Press, Climate Nexus and Earth Day Network. The competition was made possible by the continued support of Lindblad Expeditions, which has taken winners on storytelling expeditions to some of the world’s most remote places.

In addition, Deepti Bansal-Gage, a doctor of law candidate at GW, won the “fan favorite” category  for her story “Wait! Before you squish that bug…” To learn more about all of the winners and their stories, visit