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Blacksburg, VA - Public-Inspired Science

  • Haymarket Theater, Squires Student Center Blacksburg, VA, 24061 United States (map)

The Story Collider heads to Blacksburg, VA for a FREE show produced in partnership with Virginia Tech. Join us for an evening of true, personal stories of public-inspired science.

Hosted by Christine Gentry and Emma Yarbrough. Doors at 6:30 p.m.

Stories by:


Chivonne Battle is a VT graduate student with a B.S. in Material Science & Engineering (VT, ’05), ultimately in pursuit of a Planning, Governance, & Globalization Ph.D.  Her career is based in engineering, however, growing up unexposed and embedded in the cyclic behaviors resulting from poverty, lives in her heart. Chivonne’s life changed when she connected her background to the social engineering world, in hopes of tackling the physiological and psychological impact of socio-economic despair. On this team, she seeks and unveils truth in working with communities/local governments with infrastructural concerns; while journeying on to reverse the effects of poverty.


Cassandra Hockman is a science and culture writer working on a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. Before going back to school, she worked in science communications and taught writing. She spends a lot of time asking questions, accumulating books, and collecting dead plants and animals. (Don't tell the snakes, but her favorite is a six-inch red crayfish that escaped from a biology lab refrigerator--he still has dusty tufts on his tentacles from the far corner where he was found.) She has had the love of three good dogs.


Rebecca Kriss is an environmental engineer focused on detecting and addressing water contamination. After getting her Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, she spent almost 5 years investigating water treatment for homeland security concerns in a research program at the US EPA. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. at Virginia Tech, where she is investigating at-home test kits to detect lead in drinking water and shock chlorination of wells after contamination. In her spare time, Rebecca spends time with her husband, bakes specialty cakes, and spins fire.


Kathryn Lopez is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. She studies the influence of chloride on corrosion in drinking water systems, which can lead to costly structural failures and water contamination. She is passionate about exposing and addressing environmental health and justice issues, making science and engineering more accessible through public education and outreach, and protecting water quality and infrastructure for subsequent generations through science-based policy. She spends her free time rough housing with her rescue dog, Frankie, pumping iron at the gym, and reading through her ever-growing collection of literature.


Hannah Patton is a graduate research assistant in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. Hannah earned a BS in Environmental Engineering from Saint Francis University, where she spent time researching microbial fuel cells and the remediation of acid mine drainage impaired waterways in Northern Appalachia. At Virginia Tech, Hannah’s research centers on drinking water quality and source selection in Central Appalachia. She spends the majority of her time romping through mountains and hollers in West Virginia taking water samples and making new friends. When she is not in the field, Hannah can be found hiking, skiing, climbing, rafting, eating burritos, and, most importantly, snuggling with her rescue dog Olive.


Jeannie Marie Purchase is a PhD student at Virginia Tech. Jeannie received her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in Biosystems Engineering, her Masters from VT in Construction Engineering and Management, and is pursuing her PhD in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering. Her research focuses on examining the efficacy of point-of-use and point-of-entry filter when exposed extreme corrosion conditions and investigating the barriers hindering the widespread adoption of these affordable technologies in at risk communities. Jeannie switched between engineering disciplines in pursuit of finding ways to better serve communities through effective communication and collaboration when designing solutions to relevant everyday problems. She believes that the only way engineers can adequately serve their communities is by mastering the art of communicating with them to determine their needs. Jeannie loves to teach, mentor and inspire students, and work with communities like those from Denmark, SC; she aspires to be a professor.  

Earlier Event: February 21
Los Angeles, CA - On Trial
Later Event: March 4
New York, NY - Brain Power