Kelsey E. Johnson, PhD  Associate Professor, Department of Astronomy

Associate Professor Kelsey Johnson, Director of the Echols Scholars Program, is an award-winning teacher and advocate for public astronomy education whose research on galaxy evolution has earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and other prominent honors.

A member of the Department of Astronomy’s faculty since 2004, Johnson draws a broad spectrum of science and non-science majors to her signature undergraduate course, “Unsolved Mysteries in the Universe.” The course was recently featured in an Illimitable video produced by the University. Elected to the UVA Academy of Teaching in 2015, Johnson was recently named as one of four “ACC Distinguished Professors” in the Atlantic Coast Conference of universities. Johnson’s other teaching awards include the UVA Center for Teaching Excellence’s All-University Teaching Award and the Z Society’s Distinguished Faculty Award.

Her work in the classroom is heavily influenced by embracing and promoting students’ sense of curiosity and appreciation for life-long learning. UVA students are not the only ones to benefit from her teaching. A champion for the importance of science literacy in modern society, Johnson also is the founding director of the award-winning “Dark Skies, Bright Kids” outreach program, which connects UVA astronomers, graduate students and volunteers to elementary schools in rural areas. Her research spans galaxy evolution, with a focus on ancient star formation in the universe. In addition to the NSF CAREER Award, Johnson was named a 2007 Packard Fellow, a prestigious distinction awarded annually to 20 top young researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines. She also has been recognized with an NSF Distinguished lectureship for her research, which has been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other national news publications. She has served as chair of the international ALMA Science Advisory Committee, and in 2016, she was appointed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee. Johnson serves as the Vice President for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific; earlier this year, she was elected to the board of the American Astronomical Society. 

Johnson served on the College’s General Education Committee that crafted the proposal for the new curriculum approved last May by a faculty vote. She continues to serve as a member of the College Fellows, appointed by the Dean’s Office to design the Engagements courses for first-year students enrolling in the new pilot curriculum this fall.

Johnson earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received her B.A. in physics from Carleton College.


Association Dean and Assistant Director

Sarah R. Cole, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of English

Sarah Cole joined the Echols Scholars Program in 2013, after teaching in the History and Literature program at Harvard University and serving in several advising roles at Harvard College. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr College and received her PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. At U.Va., she teaches in the English Department and the COLA (College Advising Seminar) program, while serving as Association Dean for the Echols Scholars and as Assistant Director of the Echols Scholars program.

Dr. Cole’s academic interests include nineteenth-century British fiction and poetry, gender studies, and concepts of national and ethnic identity in Modern Europe. Her research focuses on the literary genre of the Bildungsroman (or novel of education), exploring how stories of youthful development relate to historical changes in British gender and class relations. Her work has appeared in journals such as Victorian Poetry and Nineteenth Century Literature, and she has frequently presented at conferences including the Modern Language Association and the North American Victorian Studies Association. She teaches a variety of interdisciplinary seminar courses that aim to connect classic works of literature with questions that are relevant to today’s society. One recent course, “Migrant Europe,” explores the experiences of immigrants and ethnic minorities in modern Europe, using examples ranging from nineteenth-century fiction to contemporary films and newspaper articles. Her teaching has received several awards, including the Harvard University Certificate of Excellence in Teaching.

As an Association Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences, she provides academic advising and support for the Echols Scholars. She is available to discuss issues such as course choices and career goals, and she hopes to serve as a resource for any students experiencing challenges that affect their academic work. She also serves as Assistant Director of the Echols Scholars program, collaborating with the Director and members of the Echols student community to plan academic initiatives that enhance the Echols experience.


Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development

Beverly T. Lorig, M.Ed.

Beverly T. Lorig was appointed Assistant Director of Career & Professional Development for the Echols Scholars Program in January 2016.  Ms. Lorig is an alumna of Georgia Southwestern State University where she earned her Bachelor in Science in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude. She received her Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Higher Education and Student Personnel Administration from the University of Georgia.

Prior to joining the UVA Career Center, Ms. Lorig was director of the Career Development Center at Washington and Lee University for over 15 years where she advised liberal arts and science students as well as those studying journalism and commerce.  She led initiatives establishing alumni-sponsored internships, expanded programs for liberal arts students and launched the successful Alumni in Residence series.  Most recently she served as Interim Executive Director of the Center for Work and Service at Wellesley College, Boston, MA.  Her experience with liberal arts colleges includes roles with Yale University, Augustana College (IL), and Agnes Scott College (GA). 

Among her notable accomplishments, Beverly was elected to the Board of the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE), President of the Virginia Association of College and Employers (VACE), and participated in the external review of liberal arts career programs. She is a National Certified Counselor and Certified Career Coach.

Ms. Lorig advises Echols Scholars in all stages of their career development. In addition to individual consultation, she works with the Echols administration and Echols Council to define unique programs that complement and expand the Echols experience.

A resident of Fairfield, VA, she lives with her husband and Ozzie, a cairn terrier, who loves the country-life of skunks and groundhogs.  In her spare time she bikes in the Shenandoah Valley and is looking forward to volunteering with and riding in the May 2016 New York City Five Boroughs Bike Ride.


Graduate Assistant

Madison Lahey

Madi Lahey is the incoming Graduate Assistant in Balz-Dobie, the dormitory for Echols and Rodman first-year scholars. She will provide peer-level academic support within the dorm, as well as put on academic programs designed to foster an academic community within Balz-Dobie and the Echols first-year class. As a former Echols scholar, Madi has a strong connection to the program and is excited to return to her first-year dorm to support and advise the incoming scholars.

Madi is completing her second year of a Masters of Public Policy in the Batten school at UVA. She graduated in 2017 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor’s degree in History. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she was a recipient of a Harrison grant for research regarding American missionary response to the Armenian genocide. This research culminated in an undergraduate thesis for the Distinguished Majors Program in History. During her time at the College, Madi also worked on and led a variety of theater projects with the Drama Department and student theater groups.