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State-of-the-Art Scanning Electron Microscope Takes Center Stage of Scientific Research at Wesleyan

Apr 7, 2021

Buckhannon, W.Va. – A new state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope is the latest instrumental centerpiece of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s undergraduate scientific research efforts, thanks to a generous gift by a Wesleyan alumnus and a matching grant by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (WVHEPC). Robert H. Sammis ‘56 contributed the seed money for the NanoImages SME- 4500M Plus Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) that will support students’ scientific research efforts and overall scientific-focused laboratory curriculum that is on par with that received at an Research-1 (R-1) university, which is a designation to indicate universities in the United States that engage in the highest levels of research activity. 

“The fact that Wesleyan is now able to offer more R-1 caliber instrumentation, along with a more intimate educational experience, will provide a significant competitive advantage for our students when it comes down to competing with graduates of bigger institutions,” said Dr. Joanna Webb, Chair of WVWC’s Department of Chemistry, who applied for and received the grant from the WVHEPC.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this Innovation Grant for West Virginia Wesleyan College to expand scientific research opportunities for students,” said Dr. Juliana Serafin, Senior Director of Science & Research at the WVHEPC. “By giving undergraduate researchers the high-caliber equipment they need to succeed in their studies, we are investing in their long-term success – and in our state’s ability to continue innovating well into the future.”

With its recent arrival to campus, the scanning electron microscope is already getting put to good use. It is the instrument at the heart of a NASA-awarded grant to Physics and Engineering professor Dr. G. Albert Popson to study, with undergraduate research students, the atomic structure of crystals. 

“As an undergraduate, getting first hand experience on such piece of equipment will be incredibly helpful when entering the workforce,” said Brycen Pearl ‘22, a junior physics major from Boonsboro, Maryland. 

Talley Sergent, Chief Development and Marketing Officer at Wesleyan, said that scores of current and future Wesleyan students will reap the rewards of using the SEM, thanks to Sammis’ vision and generosity.

“The College is grateful to Mr. Sammis – both for his gift and his vision – in making Wesleyan even more competitive in the scientific research fields and supporting our students in this way,” Sergent said.



West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC) is a private, four-year residential liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia. A tradition of excellence for more than 130 years, West Virginia Wesleyan is home to 14 Fulbright Scholars. The Princeton Review ranked Wesleyan one of its 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeastern Region of the United States. U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best College Rankings designated Wesleyan a “Top 20” Best Value – Regional Universities (South) and one of the “Top 75” Regional Universities (South). WVWC offers students more than 40 majors and 40 minors; graduate programs in athletic training, business administration, creative writing, and nursing; 22 NCAA Division II athletic programs; multiple performing arts groups; and more than 70 organizations. Founded in 1890, the College is closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church and abides by the Wesley doctrine that emphasizes service to others. For more information, visit