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MORGANTOWN, WV -

Researchers from West Virginia University and Ohio State University have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant through the Division of Environmental Biology to study the microbial biodiversity found in deep underground shale formations.

Shikha Sharma, an assistant professor in geology, is the principal investigator for WVU's side of the research project. 

Sharma will receive $351,000 to probe the chemical and isotopic biomarkers that microorganisms leave behind during their growth and respiration process. 

The Marcellus and Utica-Point Pleasant shale within the Appalachian basin of Ohio and West Virginia is one of the largest unconventional reserves in the United States.

 The four-year project is slated to begin in January. This research award is the first activity to occur under the Ohio State-WVU partnership for shale energy research that was put in place earlier this year.

In other news at WVU, Drew Chelosky has joined the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences as assistant dean for development. He will oversee donor relations and stewardship activities, and generate gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations. He began his duties this month.

Chelosky previously served as the director of development and alumni affairs for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he supervised all development operations from annual giving to major gifts and planned giving.

Chelosky, a native of Pittsburgh, earned his bachelor's degree from Washington and Jefferson College and his master's degree in public policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh, completing a comprehensive research project on social entrepreneurship and non-profit management at the university's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

WVU's largest-ever private fundraising campaign continues through 2015. "A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia's University" is a $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the university.