Incoming PhD Student Virgo Morrison Featured by Emory News Center

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This fall the Emory History Department welcomes a stellar new cohort of ten first-year graduate students. One of those students, Virgo Morrison, was recently profiled by the Emory News Center. An advisee of Joseph Crespino, Morrison’s research focuses on the impacts of drug abuse and drug policy in the South. Copied below is Morrison’s profile. Check out a few of the other incoming students to the Laney Graduate School here.

Virgo Morrison

Hometown: Woodstock, Georgia

Emory degree program: PhD in history

Completed degrees: BA in history, MA in history, Virginia State University

Focus of scholarship: Traditionally, drug abuse has been perceived as primarily a Northern metropolitan phenomenon and much of narcotics history has been similarly one-dimensional. Through my research I intend to broaden the field by exploring the impact drug abuse and drug policy had across the rural-urban spectrum in the 20th century American South. I am specifically interested in how regional manifestations of segregation, conservativism, and drug rehabilitation influenced the formation of drug policy and popular sentiments about drug abuse.

Why it matters: If the current opioid epidemic has shown us anything, it is that we still do not understand how to craft effective drug policies. It is perhaps too ambitious to hope there is an answer to this problem within our history but I do believe that an accurate account of our past successes and failures could provide us with, at the very least, a solid foundation.

Proudest academic achievement to date: While completing my master’s degree I picked up a day job as a masonry restoration specialist for a historic preservation company. My days were spent tuckpointing marble balustrades or laying brick six stories high whereas my nights were spent formatting footnotes and reading for classes. Looking back now I view this experience as an accomplishment rather than an obstacle. I never missed a class, I graduated, and I even became a decent bricklayer to boot.