Inspiring West Virginians

For over five seasons WVPB has broadcast Inspiring West Virginians, a radio series telling 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.

Inspiring West Virginians is West Virginia Public Broadcasting's radio documentary series featuring the personal stories of West Virginians who have made significant contributions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or business.

We’ll hear some of the Christmas messages that were broadcasted into high security prisons this week on the Calls from Home radio program. The holidays often bring back memories of years past, and this is especially hard for those with a family member or loved one who’s passed away. And we’ll hear about a former marine in West Virginia who’s now helping people pull themselves out of poverty. You’ll find these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

It Just Needed A Little Love: An Ugly Spruce Ties A Town Together

On West Virginia Morning, we’ll meet Jake Harriman, an Inspiring West Virginian who is fighting extreme poverty in the world.  And Clark Davis has a report about West Liberty University basketball.  The team is one of the best in the country…again. 

Jean Snedegar

Jake Harriman is a Preston County farm boy who grew up to become a leader in the fight against one of the world’s biggest problems:  extreme poverty. 

Harriman is one of three leaders in science and business profiled in the public radio documentary Inspiring West Virginians.

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra explains the practice of “pooling” and how it affects mineral and surface owners in the Marcellus Shale gas region of the state.  And we meet Dr. Patrice Harris, a noted physician in Atlanta who grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia.

Jean Snedegar

During his distinguished career, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Adrian Melott has been a pioneer in two completely different fields of space science – and he credits his focus and curiosity in large part to his grandfather who read a lot about science, and his father, a machinist who allowed him “free reign” in a chemistry lab in the family basement.

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra reports from the state capitol where new legislative leaders were chosen yesterday.  And we profile another inspiring West Virginian who was the first to use supercomputers to study the large-scale structure of the universe.

A West Virginia native, Bill Petros led world renowned Duke University Cancer Center for a decade, but when the opportunity arose to continue his work at home, he left Duke for a spot at West Virginia University.

Dominion Resources' Atlantic Coast Pipeline has caused an uproar in some Virginia counties in its path, but in West Virginia, the proposed pipeline is just starting to gain attention. A recent meeting in Greenbank in Pocahontas County was focused on helping property owners understand the project and what they can do to protect their land.

On West Virginia Morning, Beth Vorhees talks with freelance radio producer Jean Snedegar about the people she is profiling in her fifth season of Inspiring West Virginians.  And reporter Roxy Todd takes us to Webster County for the Burgoo cook-off. Burgoo is a stew made without rules. 

Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson
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.

Caroline and Holmes Morton
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.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Jean Snedegar

Meet Hinton-native Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington.  Previously she was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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.

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
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.

M.I.T. professor John Ochsendorf
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.

Dr. Geoffrey Cousins
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. 

Verna Gibson, first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company
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. 

Mark Williams, "Mr. Fuel Cell"
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. 

Judy Sheppard, a dynamic West Virginia entrepreneur
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.

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