ILLUMINATE Grant Implementation Gallery 

The ILLUMINATE Grant for the Improvement of Teaching provides faculty with funding to increase active learning and authentic hands-on, engaging experiences for students. These projects positively reflect the following National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice:

  1. Level of Academic Challenge
  2. Student Interactions with Faculty Members
  3. Active and Collaborative Learning
  4. Enriching Educational Experiences

Congratulations to the exemplary faculty who recently received an ILLUMINATE Grant!

Touring Hispanic Culture: Using Technology to Teach Civilization and Culture of Spain and Latin America

Andrew Milacci, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish; Stephanie Blankenship, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Spanish

Andrew Milacci and Stephanie Blankenship were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to fund the purchase of four iPads, which were used to create a virtual museum of Hispanic culture. This project allowed students the opportunity to create their own video museum exhibits of Latin American or Spanish culture. This project will be displayed in the common area for anyone to view.


Link to Spark page in English:

Link to Spark page in Spanish:


Osteopathic Oriented Anatomical Dissection Guide to the Human Thorax

Amanda Troy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; Bo Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; James Kribs, D.O., Associate Professor and Chair

Amanda Troy, Bo Liu and James Kribs were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to compile a student-led comprehensive, easy to follow cadaveric dissection guide to the human thoracic cavity entitled “Osteopathic Oriented Anatomical Dissection Guide to the Human Thorax”.  Students have long complained that the mass-published guides were difficult to follow and understand.  Combatting that problem, students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine prepared a step-by-step guide that could be used by future cohorts, written from the student perspective while they performed the dissections.  

Illuminating Print: "An Investigation of Impression"

Joshua Wilson, M.F.A., Instructor of Graphic Design; Stacy Cannon, M.F.A., Associate Professor

Joshua Wilson and Stacy Cannon were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to host the series Illuminating Print: “An Investigation of Impression”. Studio and Digital Arts students had the opportunity for hands-on relief and stencil screen print work with professional print artist, Jill Jensen. Ms. Jensen also lectured on the History of Printmaking and making a living as an artist. Student work was subsequently on display in the Commons area at Green Hall. 


Deciphering Entrepreneurship: Bridging the Gap: University and Real Life

Eric Richardson, Ph.D., Associate Professor; Emily Knowles, M.A., Chair of the School of Business

Eric Richardson and Emily Knowles were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to fund the purchase of books and software supporting an analysis of what students should know after completing a business degree with an Entrepreneurship focus, with the future goal of extending research findings to assess current curricular offerings, teaching practice, and student learning at Liberty University and among the broader entrepreneurship community. Students subsequently presented findings at Liberty University Research Week. 

Hands-On Media Convergence Workshop

Deborah Huff, M.B.A., Liberty Champion Advisor; Amy Bonebright, M.A., Assistant Professor; Chris Underation, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Deborah Huff, Amy Bonebright, and Chris Underation were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to host the "Pathways to Success in Journalism" experience for students in the School of Communications and Creative Arts (SCCA). Michelle Wright from Pittsburgh’s WTAE morning show, and Kyle Harvey, an anchor for California’s Bakersfield, were brought in to teach workshops. The pair also critiqued student work that was submitted to the Liberty Champion prior to the event. Top students were honored at the closing of the event.

Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Content

Craig C. Brigman, Assistant Professor of Information Technology

Craig Brigman was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to fund the purchase of technology used for the development of web content.  Through the purchase of this equipment, Brigman expressed a desire to “shift the pedagogy to hands-on learning”. In tandem with Donna Donald, Brigman worked with students from History 306 to create a website for the historical Mead’s Tavern, which is being restored. This project included the use of web, audio, and video technology, as well as digital documents to create digital exhibits. This ILLUMINATE Grant allowed students to integrate practical experience with technology, pertinent to their future career paths, and their current course content.  

Community Outreach Program to Support Hygiene for Hands and Feet

Heather Humphreys, DPN., Assistant Professor of Nursing; Dana Woody, DPN., Assistant Professor of Nursing

Drs. Heather Humphreys and Dana Woody of the School of Nursing provided a community outreach program at the Lynchburg Salvation Army to serve the homeless in our area. With ILLUMINATE grant funds Nursing students and faculty set up shop in the Center for Hope building and washed the hands and feet of the homeless population who attended. Dr. Woody stated that their purpose was to “support hygiene for hands and feet, specifically in a discipleship manner, like Jesus washing the hands and feet of his disciples”. After attending two clinics, clients receive a voucher for free shoes, which will be distributed at the end of March.

General Lee’s Final Campaign: DNA’s Path to the Past

J. Thomas McClintock, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Forensic Sciences; Gary D. Isaacs, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology; Michael Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology

In 1865, General Robert E. Lee crossed a small stream known as Little Sailor’s Creek in Amelia, VA to fight one of the last battles of the Civil War. The nearby Hillsman House served as the hospital, treating 358 Union and 161 Confederate soldiers. Blood stains found their way through the cracks in the wood floors onto the supporting floor joists. Drs. McClintock, Isaacs, and Price received an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase equipment for students to determine the biological origin and nature of the stains and isolate the genetic material for forensic DNA analysis. The project demonstrated to students how DNA profiling can reveal a part of our history from a battle fought over 150 years ago.

Active Learning, Student Engagement, and Faith Integration via Building Dandelion-like Flying Robots

Hector Medina, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Feng Wang, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Computer Engineering

Drs. Medina and Wang were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase equipment for their students to design, manufacture, operate, and control a series of ten dandelion-like flying robots. Through this process the students learned the many aspects of the design-manufacturing-implementation journey and demonstrated the ability to work in multidisciplinary teams.


An Active Learning Project to Reduce Texting and Driving Among College Students

Christopher Seitz, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Public and Community Health; Annette Florence, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Community Health

Drs. Seitz and Florence were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to acquire PC monitors, wheels, and pedals for students to mimic texting while driving. After showcasing the devasting results of texting while driving, students and staff took a pledge not to text and drive. The grant also purchased promotional materials to host an awareness event for the public. The project was based on relevant health behavior theory and presentation techniques to impact the audience’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding texting and driving.

Keys to Broadcast Excellence

Pamela Miller, Assistant Professor of Digital Media & Communication Arts; Douglas Miller, Associate Professor, Cinematic Arts; and John C. Rost, Assistant Professor, Digital Media & Communication Arts

Pamela Miller, Douglas Miller, and John Rost were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant for student travel to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in Virginia Beach. The trip exposed students to broadcasting excellence and provided networking opportunities. Key industry professionals in editing, HD make-up, graphic design, feature story production, and audio engineering provided hands-on workshops for the students.

Topographical Relief Model of Candlers Mountain Range

Christopher Rhoades, Major Brett Hamilton, and Colonel Ret. David Laine

Christopher Rhoades, Major Brett Hamilton, and Colonel Ret. David Laine were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase a topographical relief model of the Candlers Mountain range. The relief model will be used to simplify the demonstration of terrain features, provide enhanced means to teach intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and wargaming steps of the military steps of the military decision making process (MDMP), and aid in the safety, command, and control of cadets/students during orienteering events on Candlers Mountain.




Fostering Student Participation in English Classes, Large and Small

Carolyn Towles, Chair, General Studies and English; Ramona Myers, General Studies and English; and Travis Holt, General Studies and English

Carolyn Towles, Ramona Myers, and Travis Holt were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase a wireless concurrent display system (Air Media) to allow students in their large English classrooms to have their work displayed on the projector screen without having to hook their computers to the podium. The system simultaneously displayed multiple student work which resulted in real-time collaboration. The professors worked to make the large lecture classroom seem smaller by providing instant feedback.



An Exploration of Symbiosis: A Student-Focused Research Project

Kyle Harris, Assistant Professor of Biology

Kyle Harris was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase supplies to assist his students in researching the symbiotic relationship between crayfish and brachiodbellids. The project intended to further the scholarship and symbiotic knowledge base while enhancing the students' research and communication skills. The process utilized classroom aspects as well as as a field aspects. Students traveled to a stream to observe and gather data and specimen. The lab based component involved a series of tanks which further extended the observation beyond what can be easily be realized in the field.

One of the early results of the grant was several of Mr. Harris's students did a poster presentation at the Virginia Academy of Science. It was the first time the three students presented at a science conference and was a direct result of the grant provided to Mr. Harris for his research.

Missions Essential Experiential Leadership

Scott Hicks, Ph.D., Dean, School of Business; Melanie Hicks, Ph.D., Professor of Accounting; George Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business; Professor Chas Hendriksen, School of Business; Adjunct Professor Will Gunzelman, School of Business

Orienteering and fire-started skills, essential to missionary work, were used as the learning vehicle for professors Gunzelman, M. Hicks, S. Hicks, Hendricksen, and Young in the effort to teach experiential leadership skills in a team relay on Liberty Mountain. The group was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase the necessary equipment and supplies to complete the collaborative outdoor active learning experience. The exercise brought the textbook lectures and case studies in BUSI 690 Business Strategy and Policy to life and built cohesion between classmates. The project proved a success as students demonstrated quick thinking, problem-solving, effective communication, and teamwork. 





Elucidating the Facts of Urey-Miller Primordial Soup Experiments

Todd Allen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry; Alan Fulp, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Chemistry; Michael Korn, Dr. rer. nat., Associate Professor of Chemistry; Biology and Chemistry

Drs. Michael Korn, Alan Fulp, and Todd Allen were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase supplies to build an apparatus that replicates a machine built in 1953 by Urey and Miller. This apparatus “simulated” the imagined pre-biotic conditions on earth and allowed students to experience first-hand the truth and complexity of the experiments and that those results were unsuited to explain the origins of life. This also allowed students to be better equipped to defend their Biblical faith by experimental knowledge.



Criminal Justice Crime Scene Grant

Mike Milnor, Professor of Criminal Justice; Joel Cox, Ph.D., Professor of Criminal Justice and Government; George Buzzy, Ph. D., Professor of Government; Helms School of Government

Professors Cox, Buzzy, and Milnor were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase supplies to re-create a crime scene with the effort to teach students crime scene investigation techniques. Students became a "homicide unit" on the first day of class and were treated as police investigators for the rest of the semester. They took witness statements and kept evidence logs.  They even had access to a "cadaver" of a pig that allowed them to better understand a crime scene. The class was tranformed into an active learning classroom experience where the books were put away and knowledge was gleaned from hands-on activities.

College Students' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Taste Preferences of Conventionally and Organically Grown Fruit

Kathryn Reinsma, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Public and Community Health

Kathryn Reinsma was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to obtain organically-grown and conventional fruit in order to conduct an actual research experiment.  The class studied knowledge, attitudes, and taste preferences of college students regarding conventional and organic fruit. Students developed a survey that would provide the data set, gathered responses, and analyzed the data to gain a better sense of the attitudes of college students regarding the topic. At the end of the semester, students created visual elements that effectively illustrated their results.



Renewing Our Passion Through Arts Integration

Kristina DeWitt, Associate Professor; Glen DeWitt, Associate Professor; Ruth Beveridge, Assistant Professor, School of Education

Kristina DeWitt, Glen DeWitt, and Ruth Beveridge were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to travel to the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia along with ten students. The Academy is known for its active learning environments and the professors and students traveled to the academy to learn active learning strategies that have been implemented successfully at the Academy. After returning to Lynchburg the group scheduled a time to showcase their new knowledge to the teachers at Dearington Elementary in Lynchburg, Virginia. During the workshop, LU students provided four stations where Dearington teachers and Liberty University Education students learned the active learning strategies that the Ron Clark Academy utilizes. These included the use of music and singing to help the students learn the material presented in a way that causes them to learn it more intently.



Facilitating Active Learning in ENGR 100

James Long, Assistant Professor, Engineering; and Robert Rich, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering

James Long and Robert Rich were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase Computer/Electrical Engineering instructional aids that would help turn their classroom into a more active learning environment. These aids were instrumental in allowing the professors to move from a team-based pen and paper environment to one in which postulated problems can be proven trough actual performance and demonstration. This introduction of physical learning aids will help move the classroom the next logical step in achieving maximum effectiveness during class time and help raise the level of understanding in the material being presented.

The Deaf Experience

Nicole Thorn, Assistant Director, American Sign Language and Interpreting Program

Nicole Thorn was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to purchase white noise maskers that allowed her students to experience the physical similarities of being deaf. The maskers (hearing aid-like devices that produce white noise) helped the students better understand the sociocultural aspects of deafness and enlightened them to issues and perceptions affecting those who are hearing impaired.


The Life of an Illustrator: Making a Living Through Visual Storytelling

Stacy Cannon, Assistant Professor; Monique Maloney and Christopher Phillips, Instructors, Studio and Digital Arts

It is crucial for students to factor visual storytelling into the work they create in order to captivate an audience based on a concept rather than just an aesthetic approach. Through the ILLUMINATE Grant, students were able to interact face to face with professional award-winning illustrators, Megan Halsey and Melanie Hall. Both are accomplished in the publishing and design industries for over 25 years and most recently have ventured into art licensing (art utilized commercially on a variety of retail products). Through hands-on workshops, lectures, and a gallery exhibit, students were exposed to the changes of the design, illustration and publishing industries.

Aircraft Stability Glider Design

John Marselus, Associate Dean of Flight Operations, Unmanned Aerial Operations

John Marselus was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to obtain the materials needed for his students to design and build their own aircraft. Students spent time designing their gliders using their knowledge of aerodynamics.  This project was based on a class taught at the United States Air Force Academy.  It allowed the students to put their knowledge into practice as they design their own aircraft and then make them secure the longest glide distance. 





Nutrition Through the Life Cycle

C. Anna Henderson, Ph.D., R. D., CHES, Associate Professor, Health Professions

Dr. Henderson was awarded the ILLUMINATE grant to facilitate student presentations focusing on the unique nutritional needs in each phase of the life cycle. Approximately 100 students from Human Nutrition (HLTH 330) participated by developing group presentations which covered ten facets of generational health issues. In addition to informational displays, students talked about healthy diet and eating habits during each life phase. Students prepared sample foods and provided recipes for healthy eating options. Projects were prominently galleried in the Jerry Falwell Library making their research highly visible for the Liberty student body, staff and faculty to see.

Physician Communication and Motivational Interviewing: A New Way to Engage Faculty and Students in Motivating Patient Behaviorial Change

Linda Mintle, Ph.D., Chair, Behavioral Health; Carl Hoegerl, D.O., Chair, Internal Medicine; and Michael Hueber, D.O., Family Practice

Drs. Linda Mintle, Carl Hoegerl, and Michael Hueber were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to obtain professional development and resources for faculty design curriculum for Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) students to receive training in motivational interviewing (MI), a collaborative, person-centered, goal-oriented, interview that assesses a patient's motivation and commitment to change. MI is learned through an active teaching process that includes observation and scoring, practice and rehearsal. Most current medical school curricula fail to adequately teach thie necessary skill essential for third year rotations. With assisstance from the ILLUMINATE grant, Liberty is unique in offering this patient-centered training to LUCOM students.

Olympic Bid City Case Study

Kevin Heisey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Sport Management; and Phillip Blosser, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Sport Management

Drs. Heisey and Blosser were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to support a case study involving students in Sports Facilities and Events and Sport Finance classes to plan and promote a U.S. city vying to be the U.S. candidate host city for the 2014 Olympics.  Teams prepared a bid video and research related to city proper, facilities, budget, marketing, etc. and present their findings.  After several team elimination rounds, the final round was critiqued by Dr. Holger Preuss from Meinz, Germany.  Preuss is a noted author and global expert on the Olympic movement, staging large sports events, and measuring their economic impact.  Students not only had the opportunity to work in teams across two courses, but also benefitted from having their work previewed by an international expert in the field.

Chinese Cultural Experience

Yan Xie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Chinese

Dr. Amy Xie was awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to share an authentic cultural experience with her students: a Chinese New Year celebration.  Her students sang Chinese hymns and Bible verses, created music with clapping instruments, demonstrated Tai Chi wearing traditonal uniforms, and played various Chinese games.  To wrap up the cultural experience, students enjoyed some genuine Chinese cuisine.


Theatrical Design Projects Realized: Utilizing the "Stage-in-a-Box" Tabletop Theatre Laboratory

Barry Gawinski, Assistant Professor, Theatre Arts

Barry Gawinski was awarded an ILLUMINATE grant to make learning real with the addition of a few 3-D Stage-in-a-Box design sets.  Prior to the grant, without a theatre lab space, THEA design course projects were paper-based hypotheticals, with only a conceptual analysis by the student (and the instructor) of whether the design is feasible, practical, or even aesthetically pleasing.  Now, with the addition of the Stage-in-a-Box tabletop labs, students enjoy a hands-on, practical experience for planning lighting and staging, as well as working out basic directorial details.


Using Clinical Diagnostic Technology to Facilitate Students' Learning

Ben Kalu, M.D., Assistant Professor, Biology/Chemistry and Kimberly Ann Mitchell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biology

Drs. Ben Kalu and Kimberly A. Mitchell were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to implement an active learning project designed to (a) assist students in understanding the functions and integration of human body systems; (b) how homeostasis is maintained despite changes in the internal and external environments; (c) and effects of disease states.  To make learning real, the grant provided students with medical equipment to record and test EKGs, brain wave patterns, joint angles, and blood flow- all important features in understanding the body's systems in health and disease.  Students can now study the physiology of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems using populations of human subjects, rather than from a textbook.

Unknown Microbes Unveiled

J. Thomas McClintock, Ph.D., Biology/Chemistry; Randall Hubbard, Ph.D., Biology/Chemistry; and Andrew Fabich, Ph.D., Biology/Chemistry

Drs. J. Thomas McClintock, Randall Hubbard, and Andrew Fabich were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to help students quickly and accurately identify unknown microorganisms and bacteria with a high degree of specificity.  The grant provided students with Entertube II rapid diagnostic kits, which are commonly used in clinical, hospital, or research laboratories.  While classical approaches to identifying microorganisms still have merit, they are time-consuming, costly, and impractical.  The use and implementation of the modern rapid kits helped make learning active and simulated modern real-world situations and techniques.

A Professional Journalist of Faith - Lecture, Critiques and Workshops

Deborah Huff, Associate Professor; Bruce M. Kirk, Associate Professor & Chair; and Harry Sova, Professor, Digital Media and Communication Arts

Deborah Huff and Bruce Kirk were awarded an ILLUMINATE Grant to help train future journalists of faith.  Students worked in teams to create news packages which were sent to WTAE TV ABC-Pittsburgh for professional critique and commentary.  Three-time regional Emmy Award winning news anchor Michelle Wright then visited campus and delivered a lecture and workshop.  Wright then led individual student groups through a personal session on research, content development, writing, and interviewing techniques.



Teaching Awards