Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Get to know Big 12 research: West Virginia University


After an exciting home game against TCU, the Bears head back out on the road this weekend to take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia University. This week, as part of our “Get to know Big 12 research” series, we’re visiting with Cindy Jarvis, assistant to the director of WVU’s Office of Sponsored Programs.


What are a few of the most exciting research projects going on at WVU?

There are a number of very exciting projects going on at WVU, but to pinpoint just a couple, the ones that come to mind are the Choose to Change project and Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Choose to Change is a multidisciplinary obesity prevention program that awards mini-grants to community organizations that share a similar mission. Choose to Change, funded by US Department of Agriculture aims to make community environments healthier for young children and their families in Kanawha and Monongalia counties. Community-level change and social support will help families to make lasting improvements in their lifestyles.

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative was established by President Barack Obama to accelerate the development and application of innovative imaging technologies. The WVU team, with funding from NIH, is developing a wearable, mobile molecular positron emission tomography (PET) imaging device capable of providing unprecedented insight into the metabolism and cellular processes of the brain, all while performing everyday activities, such as walking, playing a piano, or socializing. While traditional imaging techniques require a person being scanned to remain as still as possible, the helmet-like tool is wearable while in motion.

Are there any interesting traditions on your campus that people outside of the WVU community might not know about?

Every October for the past 26 years, our College of Engineering and Mineral Resources has hosted the annual Pumpkin Drop to benefit local charities. They accept 200 entrants whose sole mission is to design the perfect containment for their pumpkin to safely plummet it off the top of the 11 story engineering building and have it hit a target below while remaining intact. Entrants can be individuals or teams and many come from middle and high schools across the region.  [Ed. note: Cindy is somewhat under-selling the awesomeness of the Pumpkin Drop. We would strongly encourage you to watch a few of the great videos of the event available on YouTube.]

Another tradition that has started since joining the Big 12 is that the city of Morgantown has Morgantown’s Goodwill City Ambassadors which are residents, students and fans who have worked to enhance the city’s reputation into a welcoming community with open arms. The ambassadors, who wear T-shirts with the other team’s colors, fan out prior to the games to offer friendly greetings and walking directions to visitors negotiating steep hills while walking to the game. Be sure and look for the ambassadors around the stadium or possibly at your hotel.

In addition, in a fun gesture, the mayor of Morgantown contacted the mayors of other Big 12 cities and issued a challenge: When the Mountaineers faced off against their conference foes, the losing mayor would wear a shirt of the winning school.

What is a typical day in your office like?

The Office of Sponsored Programs at WVU consists of four units: Pre-Award, Contract Negotiation, Award Initiation and Management, and Subcontracting, Reporting and Outreach. There are currently seventeen employees with three vacant positions so we are kept extremely busy.

The Pre-Award unit is always racing to meet the most pressing deadline based on factors outside of their control while all the time having to stop what they are doing to accommodate the arrival of last minute proposals.

Award Initiation and Management unit is currently buried under award files due to staff shortages and the end of the federal fiscal year and fields calls daily from investigators wanting to know where their account numbers are.

In order to deal with the stress, one will frequently be able to find some sort of snacks that someone has brought in to share. We may need to be the ones enrolled in the Choose to Change program!

Many Baylor fans will be visiting Morgantown for the first time this weekend. Are there any lesser-known places on campus or around town that they should plan to see?

Fall is a beautiful time to visit Mountaineer country. West Virginia isn’t called “Wild and Wonderful” for nothing. This weekend the leaves should all be out in their vibrant colors with the ridges coming into town probably being at peak.

WVU has a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system to move students between the three campuses in town and the trip from Downtown to Evansdale provides a very scenic ride along the river. The PRT is open to the public and the trip would provide both a nice view of the Monongahela River as well as the autumn leaves. If you are staying in one of the hotels near downtown, the trip to Medical Center will take you almost to Mountaineer Field at the Milan Puskar Stadium.

About fifteen minutes to the East out of town is Cooper’s Rock State Forest which provides a beautiful view of the Cheat River over a mountain canyon which will be in full color this weekend. There are numerous hiking trails in the forest as well as a nice campground if anyone is bringing their RV.

Thanks to Cindy Jarvis and the WVU Office of Sponsored Programs for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series.  Visit their website at

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