Inspiring West Virginians

Inspiring West Virginians tells the stories of West Virginians who are exceptional leaders in science and business. We visit them where they are, learn about what they do, hear stories of their childhoods and the influence of a West Virginia upbringing.  Added to that are the perspectives of friends, relatives and colleagues.  
 

Now in Season 5 on WV Public Radio, Listen Monday, Dec. 29 at 8PM for our

                                                 2014 Inspiring West Virginians

We feature four more leaders in our upcoming one-hour documentary:

William Petros of Wheeling, a clinical pharmacologist doing cutting edge research into cancer drugs.
William Petros of Wheeling, a clinical pharmacologist doing cutting edge research into cancer drugs.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Adrian Melott, native of Moundsville, an astrophysicist who imagined the structure of the universe.
Adrian Melott, native of Moundsville, an astrophysicist who imagined the structure of the universe.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Patrice Harris, a native of Bluefield, a doctor responsible for a million patients.
Patrice Harris, a native of Bluefield, a doctor responsible for a million patients.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Jake Harman, a social entrepreneur aiming to end extreme poverty, speaks to producer Jean Snedegar.
Jake Harman, a social entrepreneur aiming to end extreme poverty, speaks to producer Jean Snedegar.

        Enjoy encore presentations of past seasons of Inspiring West Virginians

                                                    throughout December:

Season 1 - Monday, Dec. 1 at 8PM

Season 2 - Monday, Dec. 8 at 8PM

Season 3 - Monday, Dec. 15 at 8PM

Season 4 - Monday, Dec. 22 at 8PM

This West Virginia Public Radio series is produced and presented by Jean Snedegar, an independent producer based in Elkins, and Suzanne Higgins, Senior Producer for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

The series is made possible by the generous support of the Myles Family Foundation – inspiring West Virginians to soar.

Inspiring West Virginians Season 1
11:23 am
Fri May 2, 2014

The Ice Hunters

Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson
Credit Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Follow two of the world's leading paleoclimatologists to the top of the world and both poles!

Using ice cores they drill themselves, Marshall graduates Lonnie Thompson, from Gassaway, and Ellen Mosley-Thompson, from Charleston, study the history of climate at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.  Lonnie was the first scientist in the world to drill ice cores on glaciers in tropical regions.  And he has spent more time above 20,000 feet than anyone in history.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 1
11:12 am
Fri May 2, 2014

In Search of Meaningful Work

Caroline and Holmes Morton
Credit Jean Snedegar

Travel to Amish country to hear about one of the most unusual medical clinics in the United States -- the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, founded by Dr. D. Holmes Morton, of Fayetteville, and his wife, Caroline, from Beckley.  Here doctors and scientists diagnose and treat rare genetic disorders in children from Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 1
10:45 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Credit Jean Snedegar

Meet Hinton-native Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Washington.

Burwell is the past President of Global Development at the Bill & Linda Gates Foundation in Seattle, the world's largest charitable organization. At the Foundation Mathews Burwell was responsible for giving away $750 billion a year to help some of the world's poorest people have access to better agricultural techniques, financial services and clean water and sanitation.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 1
10:08 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Brad Smith – Using a Moral Compass

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
Credit Brad Smith

Hear why co-workers of Brad Smith, President & CEO of the global financial software giant, Intuit, say he's the best ambassador West Virginia could ever have.

With Marshall memorabilia in abundance in his office, this Wayne County native boldly declares that everyone in the company knows about his alma mater, Marshall University, and his hometown, Kenova, West Virginia.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 2
1:07 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

John Ochsendorf – The Accidental Professor

M.I.T. professor John Ochsendorf
Credit Jean Snedegar

Elkins-native John Ochsendorf, 36, is a professor of structural engineering and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  At 26 – eight years after he graduated from Elkins High School – he became one of the youngest professors ever appointed at the world’s top technical university.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 2
11:57 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Geoffrey Cousins – Heart Pioneer

Dr. Geoffrey Cousins
Credit Jean Snedegar

Dr. Geoffrey Cousins, 42, is one of West Virginia’s most innovative heart surgeons and a pioneer of robotic-assisted heart surgery in the United States.  He lives with his wife and four children in Charleston and practices cardio-thoracic surgery at the Charleston Area Medical Center. 

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 2
12:31 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Verna Gibson – She Broke the Glass Ceiling

Verna Gibson, first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company
Credit Jean Snedegar

Verna LeMasters Gibson, a native of Elkview in Kanawha County, broke the ultimate corporate “glass ceiling” in 1985 when she became the first woman CEO to earn the top spot at a Fortune 500 company, The Limited Stores.  She ran The Limited for six years and during that time it became the nation’s first billion dollar specialty retailing chain. 

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 2
12:22 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Mark Williams – “Mr. Fuel Cell”

Mark Williams
Credit Jean Snedegar

Randolph County native Mark Williams is a visionary engineer and scientist who was the first person to see the commercial potential of fuel cells to run everything from heart pacemakers to power plants. 

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 3
2:15 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Judy Sheppard – Businesswoman and Entrepreneur

Judy Sheppard, a dynamic West Virginia entrepreneur
Credit Jean Snedegar

  Judy Sheppard is currently West Virginia’s most honored businesswoman and entrepreneur.  In 2011 she was named the state’s Small Business Person of the Year as well as Distinguished West Virginian of the Year.  Sheppard is founder, president and CEO of Professional Services of America, Inc, a multi-million dollar business based in Parkersburg.   With more than 200 employees, PSA, as it’s known, provides services for some of America’s largest corporations – DuPont, GE, Pepsico, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mylan Pharmaceuticals and others – as well as 32 government agencies.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 3
1:15 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Lew Cantley – Harvard Biochemist and Cell Biologist

Dr. Lewis Cantley opened up entirely new fields in cell biology and cancer treatment.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Back in 1985 Dr. Lewis Cantley, a native of Big Chimney in Kanawha County, discovered an enzyme called PI3-Kinase.  At the time his scientific colleagues thought he couldn’t be right.  How could a chemist discover something so fundamental to biology?

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 3
12:50 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Kim Weaver – Astrophysicist and Pioneer in X-ray Astronomy

Kim Weaver - Global Pioneer in X-ray Astronomy
Credit Jean Snedegar

When Kim Weaver looked up at the stars from her father’s campground in Monongalia County, she was inspired to find out what was out there.  By her early 20s, this WVU graduate had already discovered a galaxy.  She was also among the first scientists in the world to study Black Holes, using an X-ray telescope built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Her discoveries helped to launch whole new fields of astronomy.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 3
12:15 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Homer Hickam – “Rocket Boy”

Homer Hickam - Rocket Boy, NASA aerospace engineer, writer
Credit Jean Snedegar

McDowell County native Homer Hickam, Jr. is best known for his book Rocket Boys, the story of how six teenagers in a 1950s West Virginia coal company town went on to win the National Science Fair in 1960.   One night in October 1957, Hickam’s life changed forever when the Soviet satellite Sputnik 1 – the world’s first artificial earth satellite – flew over his hometown of Coalwood.

“I knew at that moment that somehow, some way, I wanted to be involved in this movement into space.”

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 4
3:50 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Inspiring West Virginians: Season 4 featuring John Nash

John Forbes Nash, Jr, a 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Nash grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia

The fourth series of Inspiring West Virginians  features one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, John Forbes Nash, Jr, a 1994 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics. Nash grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia, and the town still holds an importance for him. Now 84, John Nash is currently a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University in New Jersey. 

 

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 4
4:39 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Beckley Native a Bio Engineer and Inspiring West Virginian

Beckley native Linda Powers in her bio-engineering lab.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Bio-safety-level-2 laboratories in the Bio5 Building at the University of Arizona Medical School is where Linda Powers has designed and built several impressive and important scientific instruments.

“Here we handle microbes that can make you sick, but generally not kill you,” said Powers on a recent tour.

But the 64-year-old Beckley native, now the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Bio-Engineering at the University of Arizona, does handle microbes that can kill you.

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 4
11:09 am
Wed September 25, 2013

He’s Keeping the Wild in West Virginia

Rodney Bartgis, West Virginia Nature Conservancy
Credit Jean Snedegar

Fifty-four-year-old Rodney Bartgis, state director of the West Virginia Nature Conservancy, stood atop Cave Mountain in Pendleton County, an elevation of 2,777 feet.

“It almost looks like the Rocky Mountains,” said Bartgis. “This is the biggest uplift of limestone in the eastern mountains of the United States, and a lot of the rare plants and animals in this canyon are associated with this limestone,” he said. 

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 4
1:19 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

She’s Small Business Person of the Year – and an Inspiring West Virginian

Diane Lewis
Credit Jean Snedegar

Action Facilities Management – or AFM – overlooks I-79 near Morgantown and employs more than 300 people in nine states. 

“In Fairmont we work for the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and we do the security, maintenance and janitorial for all these facilities here,” said founder, president and CEO Diane Lewis. “It’s one of our commercial clients.”   

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Inspiring West Virginians Season 4
10:26 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Still a Beautiful Mind – and an Inspiring West Virginian

John Nash, Jr. is a native of Bluefield and a mathematics genius. His life was detailed in the Ron Howard film 'A Beautiful Mind'.
Credit Jean Snedegar

The 9th floor of Fine Hall, the math building at Princeton University, is a place some people call the mathematical center of the universe. 

Here you’ll find the office of 84-year-old John Forbes Nash, Jr., one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century. 

One whole bookshelf in Nash’s office is lined with photos of his hometown, Bluefield, West Virginia. Nash left the state more than 60 years ago, but clearly it’s still important to him.

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