Page 1





Teaching Comedy

Serving Student Vets

The Honors Experience

FROM THE DEAN Welcome to the inaugural issue of PHC Magazine

Welcome to the inaugural issue of PHC Magazine, a publication devoted to relaying — through feature stories, pictures, and news — something of the spirit of the Pennoni Honors College of Drexel University. Our College serves Drexel’s highest-achieving students and encourages all Drexel students to pursue excellence. We strive to epitomize the University’s “best self ” through coursework, intensive mentorship, self-directed majors, research and travel opportunities, and cultural programming through a variety of media. We encourage ongoing conversation on both theoretical and practical issues. We seek to foster connections across different disciplines and points of view. The College is comprised of five units that operate both independently and in overlapping ways: The Honors Program, the Drexel Fellowships Office, The Office of Undergraduate Research, The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, and The Center Dean Cohen in her office

“We cannot be excellent in a vacuum.”

for Cultural Media. We understand that we cannot be excellent in a vacuum. We rely on others for what they can bring not only to our material success but also to our success as human beings living in a complicated, interconnected world. We welcome new ideas and applications. We are advocates of imagination and creativity. Our doors are always open to Drexel students, parents, faculty, administrators, and community members who wish to talk about how to think better, work better,

Paula Marantz Cohen

cross the boundaries of convention and discipline, and make their lives richer in

Dean, Pennoni Honors College

meaning and accomplishment.

PHC Magazine is published biannually by the communications team of Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College. Comments? Contact us at

Dean: Paula Marantz Cohen Editorial Staff Editor: Erica Levi Zelinger Copy Editor: Jaya Mohan Designer: Diane Pizzuto Photographer: Rachel Wisniewski

Administration Director, Administration & Finance: Ann Alexander Executive Assistant to the Dean: Karen Sams Assistant Director of Communication: Erica Levi Zelinger

CONTENTS Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Spring 2016




Student National Honors


The Honors Experience



AD Zelinger by Erica Levi IA E

Consider This








By C. Moon Reed








Salute to Service & Scholarship







Student Spotlights








Shining the Light on a Pair of Solar Researchers


















By the Numbers

Alumni News

The many paths through the Honors Program








On the Cover

Authoring the Self by C. Moon Reed



Comedy in the Classroom by Melinda Lewis

by Erica Levi Zelinger

Honors Program

Center for Cultural Media

Associate Dean, Director: Daniel Dougherty Associate Director: Carly Meluney Program Coordinator: Miles Goodloe

Director: Richard Abowitz 24 Assistant Director: Brian Kantorek Program Manager: Eric Mondgock

Office of Undergraduate Research

Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Associate Dean, Director: Suzanne Rochealeau Associate Director: Jaya Mohan Program Coordinator: Emily Kashka

Director: Kevin Egan Program Manager: Ana Nye Faculty Fellow: Lloyd Ackert Visiting Fellow: Melinda Lewis

Fellowships Director: Meredith Wooten Fellowships Advisor: Erin Drulis Fellowships Advisor: Jennifer Lech


You can make a difference! When you make a gift to the Pennoni Honors College, you support the tradition of an interdisciplinary education. Every gift counts. To learn more about how you can support the Honors College, contact:


Susan Baron-Pearson 215.571.4907

IN BRIEF Captions from the College

BY THE NUMBERS Facts and figures that tell the story of the Honors College


Drexel students and alumni now serve as Fellowships Office Ambassadors. As recipients or finalists in one or more nationally competitive awards, Fellowships Ambassadors speak at information sessions and provide advice to new fellowship applicants.

1,414 (& COUNTING)




total articles published on The Smart

Last fall, Honors Program graduate

Set, the acclaimed arts and culture

Stephanie Kovacs, production design

journal published by the Center for

’15, unveiled a painting of the Honors

Cultural Media. How many have you

College benefactors, Chuck & Annette


Pennoni. It took the amateur artist 70 hours, 6 tubes of paint, 13 colors, 5 paintbrushes, and 1 canvas to bring to life a few still photos she’d worked from.

The time it took for actor Brian Feldman to wash

“As an Honors Program graduate, I felt

two days worth of Tupperware containers, coffee

that I had truly left behind something

cups, and caked-on leftovers provided by the staff

memorable, impressionable, and valu-

of the Pennoni Honors College for a Fringe Arts

able that others could enjoy,” Stephanie

Festival performance of Dishwasher. Feldman

says. “It was such an honor to be chosen

performed his one-man show for 12 staff mem-

to paint this portrait. Painting is a very

bers in three parts: washing dishes, performing

personal hobby to me, and sharing this

a monologue, and an audience vote. It took Feld-

with others in such a way was an amaz-

man 22 minutes to get through Honors College

ing, fulfilling experience.”

dishes, far fewer to perform an Al Pacino scene from “A Scent of a Woman,” and just a brief two minutes to debate whether he was a better dishwasher or actor. We brought in our toughest dishwashing critic,


70 23

executive assistant to the Dean, Karen Sams. She

former STAR Scholars have been accept-

picked up an orange straw used to drink a shake,

ed as Undergraduate Research Leaders

and in seeing the light shine through it, deter-

(URLs) and are serving as ambassadors

mined the dishes were well scoured. Despite

to the Office of Undergraduate Research

his thorough wash-and-scrub of our dishes, we

(OUR). URLs market OUR programs and

deemed Brian Feldman a better actor.

serve as important liaisons to students.


Seeing STARs in LA In an expansion of the STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars Program, four Westphal students completed STAR projects in Los Angeles

Non-traditional students shine in STAR

with professionals in the

145 STAR Scholars and 8 iSTAR Scholars completed faculty- and professionally

entertainment industry: Luis

mentored projects across 10 colleges and schools. Among this year’s STAR students

Rodriguez (music industry),

are 30-year-old Erik Stefans and Syrian refugee Mahmoud Hallak (shown above).

Annell Cordero (screenwriting), Kevin Quinn (film & video), and

Erik Stefans, a 2015 STAR Scholar (product design ‘18), focused his research on designing inclusive garden equipment for people with temporary or permanent loss of arm function over the age of 40. Erik volunteered at a community garden in Kens-

Lucy Moroukian (film & video).

ington, where an interview with a 76-year-old veteran who’d had his dominant arm

The traditional STAR program

amputated led him to research and product design. When Mahmoud Hallak, chem-

embeds students in mentored work in their discipline on

ical engineering/pre-med ’18, was 16 years old, he suffered a grenade wound while attending a demonstration protesting the actions of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. He hid the wound from his mother, who was trying her best to protect her

campus, but this new program

three children; Mahmoud’s father had been found tortured and dead on the side of

— coordinated by the OUR

a road. The native of Aleppo, Syria escaped the political unrest in 2012 and came to

and professor Ian Abrams — allows Westphal students the

the U.S. on a visa to live with his uncle in Montgomery County. Syria is always at the back of his mind, but, now on a full ride at Drexel, Mahmoud is able to concentrate on his chemical engineering courseload. He spent the summer after his freshman

opportunity to complete projects

year as a STAR student, doing research on a Vascularized Adipocyte Microfluidic

under the mentorship of working

Device to investigate inflammation in Metabolic Syndrome, a health condition that

professionals in the disciplines in which they are majoring, as well

affects about 25 percent of American adults.

as create an abstract and poster


to present at the annual STAR

Faculty-mentored research, scholarship, or creative projects

Summer Showcase.

Digitizing History Former STAR student Ryan Rasing (game art & production ’18) worked with associate professor Dr. Glen Muschio and grad student Jonathan Mercado on the 3D scanning and photogrammetry of archaeological artifacts at the archaeology lab of Independence National Historical Park. The archaeological artifacts the trio digitized were used to produce two PSAs that ran on the PECO Crown Light Display in September and October 2015. Ryan later took part in a presentation at the “Explore Philadelphia’s Buried Past” annual event, sponsored by the National Park Services and the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum. As well, Ryan’s storyboards for the PSA were featured as the “artifact of the month” in September 2015 on the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum’s website. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


IN BRIEF Captions from the College

"For me, Design Your Drexel was an opportunity to reevaluate where I was and where I wanted to be. The day helped me to examine my short- and


long-term goals, become informed about my resources, and find a way to achieve them. I found out how to get engaged and be able to study abroad while fitting these into my academic plan. I was finally able to set aside the time to focus on my future at Drexel

Design Your Drexel

and beyond. I learned that every

The Fellowships Office and Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry co-sponsored a daylong workshop on September 19, 2015, providing thoughtful and highly motivated students with the tools and opportunity to make deliberate, informed choices about

student will take a different path to graduation, but it’s important to do that in a way that helps me have a happy and

how to integrate pieces of their Drexel education – curriculum, co-op, extracurricu-

fulfilling experience.

lar activities – into a roadmap for making the most of their time at Drexel.

— Paige Tomasello, mechanical engineering ’19

Snapshot: Honors Program Student Involvement

“My Honors experience has been a full and impactful one. The

When we talk about the mission of the Honors Program being

Program has prepared me for leadership in the real world. It has

about enhancing a student’s education, we mean at all levels

helped me professionally, as well as educationally. I was offered

of involvement, from innovative courses to exciting co- and extra-curricular opportunities. Honors students take the lead in a variety of initiatives to enhance their overall Drexel experience both inside and outside the classroom and build toward their best selves.


so much about myself personally through these experiences.” – Lexi Oleshytsky, on Honors Leadership Opportunites For more about the Honors Program experience, see page 8










13 4

so many opportunities for leadership development. I found out




Student National Honors 2014-15 At least 65 students and recent alumni earned recognition in nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs.



$3.3+ 29 5 ON


The Office of Undergraduate Research honored Professor Genevieve Dion at the STAR Summer Showcase in August 2015.



Genevieve Dion is the STAR Mentor of the Year In their nomination for the 2015 STAR Mentor of the Year Award, STAR Scholars Tauheed Baukman, chemical engineering ’19, and Keith Taylor, mechanical engineering ’19, wrote the following about Professor Genevieve Dion, assistant

College of Public Health: 3 College Of Nursing & Health Professions: 3

School of Education: 1 College of Arts & Sciences: 17

Shima Seike Haute Technology Laboratory. “While the ExCITe

College of Medicine: 4



Lebow College of Business: 4


Center is Drexel’s home of collaboration, the Shima [Seiki Haute Tech] Lab’s success of gathering great minds from our lab you will find students from Fashion Design to Chemi-


College of Computing & Informatics: 3

professor of Fashion Design in Westphal and director of the

various disciplines is directly attributed to Genevieve Dion. In



College of Engineering: 16

Westphal College of Media Arts & Design: 4 School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, & Health Systems: 10

cal Engineering to Custom-Design majors… [Professor] Dion inspires everyone in our lab to share her vision of integrating technology and textiles at a deeper level.  [Professor] Dion pushes us all to apply to opportunities to present our research and network with others in our field, even this early into our research careers… [We] work hand in hand with other engineers, industrial designers, and fashion designers.” At a ceremony following the annual STAR Summer Showcase, Professor Dion received a plaque engraved with her name as well as a $1,000 grant to recognize her efforts on behalf of her students and undergraduate research.

“Professor Dion inspires everyone in our lab to share her vision of integrating technology and textiles at

TOP HONORS INCLUDE: Drexel’s 1st Philly Fellow 2 AIER Summer Fellowships 2 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships 1 Carnegie Junior Fellows Finalist 3 DAAD Rise Student Awards to Germany 1 Dept of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research Fellowship (SGSRF) 1 Dept of State Critical Language Scholarship 1 Fulbright US Student Grant +3 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Finalists 1 Gates Cambridge Scholarship Finalist

2G  oldwater Scholarships +1 Honorable Mention 1 NIH IRTA Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship 6N  IH Graduate Fellowships and Grants 8N  SF Graduate Research Fellowships + 6 Honorable Mentions 3N  ational Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships 2 NURSE Corps Scholarships 1 SOM Foundation Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship 1 Whitaker International Fellowship

a deeper level.” DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


An introductory lesson in PHC history



With the passage of a resolution by the Faculty

Senate, the Honors Program officially launches during academic year 1991-92, with

While the Pennoni Honors College wasn’t

33 students in the program at

endowed until 2003, many of its core programs

its inception.

and initiatives have been around much longer. The College serves students from across the university and is the site of Drexel’s “best self.”


the College’s history.


Take a journey through key times in

The Great Works Symposium begins.

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) starts its High School Scholars


The first topics are Yosemite National Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, and The Bhagavid-Gita


The Office of Undergraduate


Research begins its STAR program, which allows


The Honors College is born!

students to do undergraduate

Thanks to a generous donation

research the summer after

from from Annette Pennoni and

their freshman year at Drexel. CCM

Drexel alum and chairman of the board of trustees, C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni, the Pennoni Honors


The Smart Set, an

College is named

online arts and culture

and founded.

journal, launches in


August. It gets 1 million


pageviews its first year. After winning a $100,000

The Fellowships Office

arts journalism grant from

is created to help Drexel

the Knight Foundation

students apply for and

and NEA, the Center for


Cultural Media

345 Honors

is formed.

receive merit-based national and international opportunities.

students graduated in






The SuperNova program

The Custom-Designed

launches. SuperNova research begun in STAR through to a student’s senior year.



continues undergraduate

Major launches. The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

In the 2014-15 school year,

(CII) is founded to house the

64 students and recent

new initiative and the Great

alumni earned recognition

Works Symposium.

in nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship competitions. 6


CONSIDER THIS Perspective: What’s Killing Higher Ed?



n October 7, 2015, the Pennoni Honors College hosted a panel discussion and dinner on the topic

“What’s Killing Higher Ed?”. Speakers included Mary Nguyen Barry, a policy analyst with the education think tank Education Reform Now, and Leonard Waks, Professor Emeritus of Education-

al Leadership at Temple University and President of the John Dewey Society. I moderated the panel featuring Kristen

“The question isn’t what’s killing higher education, but rather what is the soul of higher education and what is its very essence?”

the soul of higher education and what is its very essence? Let’s not get caught in the trap of ungrounded idealism, either — I know how budgets work and understand the financial, political, and personal reality of our educational enterprise. I’m not suggesting we ignore such issues and concerns, but I think we are asking the wrong questions and therefore coming up with the wrong solutions.

Betts, Clinical Professor, Drexel School of Education and a rare gathering of

The discussion we had at our conference

Drexel’s deans, including Joseph B.

was a good start, but just a start. Like

Hughes, Dean of the College of Engi-

Primarily, in evaluating higher education

essentially all big questions, the one we

neering; Frank Linnehan, Dean of the

we are too attached to terms influenced

posed deserves a critical review. We must

LeBow School of Business; Donna M.

by neo-liberalism: investment, return,

analyze and puzzle through the various

Murasko, Dean of the College of Arts

value-added, profit, efficiency, revenue,

ways to come up with the solutions which

and Sciences; and Nancy Butler Songer,

cost-cutting, consumers. But these terms

fit best. This is done through more of

Dean of the School of Education.

emerged from an economic philosophy

what I would call a “soul searching” re-

instead of a philosophical or pedagogi-

garding the purpose, structure, and very

Given the resurgence of attention on

cal one and don’t neatly correlate to the

essence of the role that higher education

higher education after the latest

status of higher education. Our orien-

plays in the world today.

recession — especially with regard to

tation and language have moved too far

cost, quality, and student loan debt —

away from the humanistic tradition in

We should be asking: Is there an inher-

this gathering was a timely discussion

which the modern university was born:

ent value to attaining knowledge in a

of many causes thought to be “killing” a

revelation, exploration, (human) poten-

systematic, structured, and rational way

university education.

tial, discovery, knowledge. These are the

that allows for further and deeper explo-

values with which we should evaluate the

ration of what we can know? If so, what

success of a university education.

are the best approaches that an institu-

The discussion (and the work I did to prepare for the panel) fortified in me

tion should take to support such efforts?

the perspective that we lack the concep-

Frank Linnehan, Dean of the LeBow

What role should students, faculty, and

tual framework to deal with the issues

College of Business, made the point during

administrators have in those institu-

affecting higher education. Whether the

the panel: “We don’t know what the output

tions? How do we teach and learn so as

focus is the quality of the curriculum, the

should be … how do you value success?

to shape our best selves — as citizens,

“decline” of the liberal arts, the purpose of

The question becomes, ‘What should we

productive members of society, and hu-

a university education, or the cost of that

be doing to help people find who they are

man beings? If we keep these questions

university, I realized that the language and

and what they want to be, and to be happy

in view, then we are more likely to come

orientation that we use are inadequate to

with their lives?’” The question isn’t what’s

up with answers that will vitalize the

the problems and challenges we face.

killing higher education, but rather what is

future of higher education. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI




A section descriptor or a summary of the content

n her 2015 Honors Program graduation speech, Marina Lamanna recalled some of the fascinating interdisciplinary courses offered by the Honors Program: Soviet

Science, Food and Literature, Superheroes in America, Reproductive Justice, Apocalypse/ Post-Apocalypse, and even a Charles Dickens travel-integrated course to London. And that,












HNRS 301


HNRS 301



HNRS 200



the English major said, was the “beginning of my literary pilgrimage.” The Honors Experience is just that — a pilgrimage, a journey, a quest for knowledge.

the Program cultivates leaders in both fields of study and society and broadens horizons with cultural activities and the power of ideas.


IA ,





for incoming Honors freshmen.


HONORS STUDENT ORIENTATION Kody Schneider has been told he’d make a really good camp counselor. Though his aspirations stretch further than campfires and S’mores, the junior biological sciences major has solidified his interest in going into student affairs. And he owes that to the Honors Program. In his pre-junior year, Kody, already an RA in Millennium, the Honors residence hall, co-oped 8





It all starts at a day-long orientation program


intellectual challenges it offers in the classroom;


The Honors Program is a voyage far beyond the





















The many paths through the Honors Program


with the Honors Program. He wanted to get a taste of a different aspect of student life and found a niche in higher education where he could incorporate his campiness and enthusiasm. The Honors Experience, Kody says, is influential, unforgetta-




ble, and educational. So when given the chance to plan a different type of Honors Student Orientation (HSO) for this 2015-16 freshmen class — an off-campus, all-day retreat at a camp in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains — Kody was excited to prove himself. Kody helped plan the day-long program of info sessions, interactive presentations, and community-building activities. “Honors students this year got to engage with the program and each other even before classes started,” Kody says. “The Honors Program offers social, educational, and personal development programming aspects and HSO offered a wide-


open outdoor space to venture off to and display all this.”


continued on page 10 DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI



continued from page 9

MILLENNIUM HALL Kiera Bohan moved into Millennium Hall in 2012. And she

While she didn’t have a choice in residence hall placements,

never moved out.

Kiera loved that she was assigned to “Milly,” as she calls it. “I really enjoy working with and being around Honors students.

The senior accounting and legal studies major lived on the sec-

Being able to influence students and create a community in

ond floor of the Honors residence hall her freshman year. She

a similar way that I experienced my freshman year was really

loved being part of a community focused on academics and

important to me.”

also took advantage of the Honors Program’s extra-curricular activities like Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

Kiera says her RA position is less about “being in charge” of the 30 residents she has on Floor 11 and more about helping to

Simultaneously, as she traveled to Rocky Mount, N.C. on an

develop mutual respect among them.

ASB trip, she was accepted into the RA program for the following fall. Kiera met a current RA on the ASB trip who

“The best feeling is seeing former residents on campus who

proceeded to be an influence on her, helping her net-

tell me they are still living with their floor mates from fresh-

work with other current RAs in Millennium. “I gained

man year,” Kiera says. “My job as an RA is to be a guide for my

mentors and friends in my Millennium RAs freshman

residents, but I strive to be a mentor that stays involved past

year who continue to be my mentors today,” she says.



rs Colloquia Stephen Jaworski was strategic about the Hono in Wealth; and he registered for: Suburbia; In Sickness and Walking: An Exploration. sounded like a “Admittedly, I enrolled in Walking because it ended up being fun and silly class,” Stephen says. “The class ng, we had a ton of fun, and while it did involve actual walki ended up teaching some serious philosophical discussions that a different light.” me a lot and causing me to look at walking in es are The senior chemistry major says his Honors cours term. each to the classes he has most looked forward



and bi“Honors classes are a break from my chemistry re a difology coursework and give me a chance to explo forced ferent topic,” Stephen says. “Honors classes have than s me to look at themes from different perspective

our time living together in Millennium.”

I know that I will I would normally look at them. Beyond Drexel, ry concentration, have to learn things that fall outside of my prima and I feel these classes have prepared me for that.” of Colloquia Honors students can opt to enroll in a range Option — a and Honors sections, or complete an Honors e that challenges self-directed expansion of a traditional cours ion to his three the student beyond what is required. In addit rs section of Colloquia courses, Stephen has taken an Hono istry III class. Ethics and Honors-optioned his General Chem yourself and “The Honors experience is a way to challenge ing cooperalearn learn new things,” he says. “It emphasizes oom, or by worktively, either by group discussion in the classr learning-living ing with other Honors students in one of the and the opportucommunities. It is not only about the classes ated students.” nities, but also about the community of dedic

ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK Gina Vitale describes the Honors Experience as “anything.”

Before that week, she’d barely held a hammer. She’d never done basic construction work, and she’d

“It’s what you make of it,” says the sophomore Chemistry

definitely never worked beside a family in need to build

major. Even bending a hundred nails in half until she learned

them a home.

how to hit a nail on its head. To prepare for the trip, Gina had to meet with the ASB Gina journeyed with 12 other Honors students in March

group every two weeks during winter term to have ca-

2015 to New Bern, N.C. on an Alternative Spring Break trip.

sual yet informative discussions about the prevalence of



STORY TITLE homelessness, the goals and inner-workings of Habitat for Humanity, and what the students could do to help.

The lessons Gina brought home from New Bern are now very much a part of her. “I was way out of my

“The best part of ASB was the way it affected my attitude,”

comfort zone initially, and I didn’t know what I was doing. That happens in life. There are two

Gina says. “Winter term is hard — it’s the middle of the year, it’s brutally cold, and sometimes you feel like it’s just never going to end. Going to New Bern, though, was an infusion of faith — in other people, in humanity, and in yourself.”

options. You can quit, or you can keep going. By the end of the week, I was a ‘self-proclaimed’ pro at hammering nails — life is the same way. Determination is everything.”



No Ticket Tuesday is comple te without Danish Dhamani . That’s what the pre-junior mechanical engineering ma jor has been told by Honors Progra m staff on numerous occasio ns when he waits in line to cas h in on one of the best perks available to Honors students. On the second Tuesday of eac h term, Honors students rise early for coveted — and free — tick ets to events in Philadelphia : Broadway shows, museum exhibits, Phillies games, and more. Danish has gotten tickets for

Matilda, Lion King, Phanto m e performance — The Book of

of the Opera, and his favorit

Mormon at the Forrest The


He’s attended TED Talks and Lunch ‘N’ Learns covering topics such as personal goal setting , the golden circle, and “on being

wrong.” He’s also been a fixt

ure at the Entrée Series, wh ere Honors students get a chance to learn about different cul tures through cuisine. “We ate at the Israeli restau rant Zahav,” he says excited ly. “We had our own special room, and the chef came out to des cribe the dishes. We were treated like royalty.” The Honors Program, Danis h says, is all about opportuni ty, ability, and networking. “The Honors Program has allo wed me to take interesting classes outside of my reg ular engineering schedule,” Danish says. “This has really opened my horizons. Many of the Program’s wor kshops and seminars are geared toward getting ready for the real world.”


LEADERSHIP When Lexi Oleshytsky was a freshman, she failed a calculus exam. As a member of the Honors Program, the engineering student, double minoring in business administration and legal studies, felt lost among her engineering peers. She went to her Honors

She began seeking out leadership opportunities within the Honors Program. She took on the role of Community Service Chair of the Honors Student Advisory Committee (HSAC). She

advisor, Honors Program associate director Carly Meluney.

felt empowered. She went on three ASB trips with the Program. She says they were life-changing. She served as an Honors men-

“I went to Carly to talk about my goals, and she consoled me

tor to incoming freshmen. She found the role enlightening. She worked as a cluster coordinator in Millennium Hall. Lexi is now

and handed me a box of tissues and listened to my worries,” Lexi says. “She really cared about me, and that was so touching.” Each of the Honors staff, she adds, has served as mentors to her. “I have never met advisors quite like them [who are] so invested in my own success,” she says. So, from the very beginning of her time in the Honors Program, Lexi found her niche.

serving her second and final year as president of HSAC. “My Honors experience has been a full and impactful one. The Program has prepared me for leadership in the real world,” Lexi says. “It has helped me professionally, as well as educationally. I was offered so many opportunities for leadership development. I found out so much about myself personally through these experiences.”




A group of active and veteran military service members getting ready to march in Philadelphia’s inaugural Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 8, 2015.

Scholar. Navy vet Robert Zolitor, political science ’16, was

“In all cases, these individuals have already amassed a strong

named as a finalist for the prestigious Harry S. Truman

record of service to both country and community — many plan

Scholarship, awarded to undergrads committed to public

to continue that service either through active or reserve duty.”

service careers. Kristian Linares, BS, information technology ‘15, a veteran in the U.S. Air Force, was a Fulbright Student

The Fulbright Program takes it a step further by preferenc-

Scholar finalist. Naval ROTC student Kevin Song, BS, interna-

ing qualified candidates who have served in the U.S. Armed

tional business and marketing, ’16, was selected as an alternate

Forces. Noting that Drexel is a strong supporter and partner

for the Boren Awards for undergrad and graduate students to

of the Fulbright Program, Marianne Craven, Acting Deputy

study and research abroad in areas critical to U.S. interests.

Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural

Even the application process proves beneficial. "I've gained a

Affairs, says, “The U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright

much clearer understanding of how my experiences and skill set

Program values the many contributions that U.S. veter-

connect with the goals I have for the future," says Army ROTC

ans bring to international educational exchange programs.

cadet Kyle Ropp, international area studies/economics ’17. He is

America’s future leaders need to have opportunities to experi-

in the final stages of applying for the Truman Scholarship and is

ence the world beyond their borders and gain the knowledge

considering applying for a Boren Scholarship.

needed to compete in the global economy.”

Humility is a benchmark of many service members, so while

Military veterans and their spouses can benefit, too, from

it is challenging to tout their own achievements, veterans

the Pat Tillman Foundation, which invests in academic

possess special qualities particularly attractive to award orga-

scholarships to build a group of leaders committed to service

nizations. The skills, experience, and self-awareness gained in

to others.

military service all apply in academia. When Pat Tillman — for whom the fellowship is named — “We regard veteran applicants as a very solid investment of our

walked away from the NFL to join the Army, he joined the ranks

limited scholarship funds,” says Tara Yglesias, deputy executive

of countless service members who wish to give back. Now the

secretary for The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Drexel Fellowships Office hopes to give back to them. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI



A section descriptor or a summary of the content


Shining light on a pair of solar energy researchers BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER

Anthony Abel arrived at Drexel for his freshman year with one notation on his resume under work experience: spreading mayonnaise on hoagie rolls at a Providence, R.I. Subway. But he knew coming in that he was interested in participating in research. The chemical engineering student sought out Dr. Jason Baxter, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, for his work in renewable energy research. Dr. Baxter hired Anthony to work on a solar water splitting project, and after an initial lab training, he e-introduced Anthony to Anjli Patel, who had spent the summer after her freshman year in the STAR (Students Tackling Undergraduate Research) Scholars Program, working on a solar water splitting project with Baxter’s research group. Anthony recalls: “Anjli responded with something along the lines of ‘Sounds good. Should we do the usual tests: JV, UV-VIS, IPCE, etc.?’” In layman’s terms, the pair was tasked with working together on a form of solar energy production and storage by splitting water to produce hydrogen gas using energy from the sun. By converting solar energy into chemical energy stored in the bonds of hydrogen gas, Anthony (BS/MS, Chemical Engineering/Materials Science, ’17) and

“Anthony is the consummate Pennoni

Anjli (BS, Chemical Engineering, ’16) are helping develop a fuel source.

Honors College student,” says Dr. Suzanne Rocheleau, director of the

But Anthony read Anjli’s original email and thought, ‘I have no idea what any of

Office of Undergraduate Research

this means.’

(OUR). “Anjli is friendly and intelligent, down-to-earth, and extremely willing

Anjli’s first impressions of her younger partner were that he was bright, engaged,

and interested in talking to others about

and deeply interested in their team research. Anthony was even more compli-

what she does.”

mentary of Anjli: “She was patient and better established with the fundamentals of solar cell research than I.” She brought him under her wing, and the two have spent

“Both individually and as a team, Anjli

the last three years deciding on research avenues together, analyzing data, writing

and Anthony have taken advantage of

papers, and presenting together at conferences.

every opportunity we have afforded to them, from presenting at undergradu-

The two had already been working together for Dr. Baxter for a few months when

ate research conferences to participat-

Anthony himself was accepted into the STAR Program. He continued to work with

ing in our other programs,” says. Dr.

Baxter that summer.

Rocheleau. In fact, Anjli and Anthony



intense process of self-discovery,” says Anthony. And in September 2014, Anjli and Anthony received the exciting news: They were both recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship, established by Congress to recognize the nation’s top undergraduates in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. “The Barry Goldwater Scholarships are among the most sought-after undergraduate scholarships in mathematics, natural science and engineering in the U.S.,” says Frank Gilmore, president of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. “In many cases 20 or more students compete on a campus to be nominated. This process results in about 1,200 nominations and applications from across the country. Therefore for two Scholars to be selected from a campus in a given year is a meaningful accomplishment for these scholars and the campus they represent.” Goldwater, admits Anthony, was the first application where he and Anjli Anjli Patel and Anthony Abel are accomplished Pennoni Honors College students, having participated in the Honors Program, conducted undergraduate research, and been recipients of fellowships.

were in some sense “against” each other, but even then, he says, “I didn’t feel as though it were a competition.”

are among the reasons the OUR established its new SuperNova program, rewarding and recognizing upper-class students involved in ongoing research-related activities.

“We’re more supportive of each other

The dynamic duo has presented their work at the National Collegiate Research

we were both applying for Goldwater, we

Conference, the Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference

wished the best for each other, hoping

and last October — with $500 travel stipends from the OUR — at the AVS

that both of us would win.”

International Symposium with their mentor Dr. Baxter.

than competitive,” says Anjli. “Even when

When Anjli graduates in June, she plans

“We each presented our research to an international audience of scientists and engi-

to attend graduate school to pursue a

neers,” said Baxter. “Anthony and Anjli were two of the only undergraduates among

PhD in chemical engineering, ultimately

3,000 attendees. They fit right in, gave excellent presentations, and learned a lot from

building a career in industry. Anthony

the sessions we attended.  I treat them just like PhD students in almost every way.”

plans to go the PhD route in chemical engineering in 2017 as well, and though he’s

What is so impressive — aside from their undergraduate research accolades, their

unsure if he wants to go the academia or

Honors Program course loads, and their lengthy CVs — is that both students worked

industry route, he’s confident he’ll work

with the Fellowships Office on applications for the Goldwater Scholarship, “a very

in the renewable energy field.






When we began developing the theme of Comedy for this year’s

As they say, the moment you try to dissect a joke and explain

Great Works Symposium, our yearlong interdisciplinary

why it is funny, it ceases to be funny. But, at the same time,

course series of the Pennoni Honors College, one thing we want-

we have a responsibility to engage critically with the mate-

ed to be sure to attend to is the way in which comedy acts as

rial. This is the struggle that our Visiting Fellow, Melinda

critique through subtlety, irony, and satire. But, that’s a really

Lewis, discusses in this piece: the struggle between levity and

tough nuance to grapple with, and for an audience, it is some-

seriousness, between critique and endorsement, between nu-

times especially difficult to grasp that concept. Dave Chappelle

ance and literality, between irony and, um, not irony … you

famously walked away from his own show when he felt that

get the picture.

people were laughing a little too hard for the wrong reasons, and Sarah Silverman has referred to laughter that doesn’t get

Dr. Kevin Egan

the irony of a joke as coming with a “mouthful of blood.”

Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry


s comedian Bobby Henline begins his routine,

bulging, sweaty, and waiting for my audience to engage with my

there’s no escaping the scars etched across his

material. Dangerfield got laughs, but I’m pleading for answers

face. But the sole survivor of a roadside bomb-

to questions like “Is authenticity significant to comedy?” and

ing in Iraq traded open fire for an open mic

“How has the Internet changed our understanding of comedy?”

when he teamed up with celebrated comedians and comedy

These questions are challenging, particularly for those who

writers in the documentary Comedy Warriors.

thought studying comedy would be a good time.

Forty-five skin grafts later, he refers to himself as a walking

I’m here at Drexel for the 2015-16 school year as a Visiting

skin quilt who gets headaches when he eats too much and has

Fellow with Pennoni Honors College’s Great Works

to pick lint out from his ears.

Symposium, exploring this year’s topic: comedy.

“Nowadays, I can’t tell my ass from my elbow.”

Teaching anything typically thought of as “fun,” like comedy, can become complicated — really fast. A lot of work goes into keeping

Bobby loves messing with people. He’ll walk into a Walgreens

all of us in check and ensuring that both sides are getting what

and approach a cashier.

they want out of a course. For me, it’s about developing students’ understanding of comedy as a discursive practice, an art form, and

“Do you think this basket of scar remover will be enough?”

providing them the tools to analyze and create their own discourse. For them, it’s about gaining knowledge. (I know the real answer is a

The audience erupts in laughter, following him through from

good grade, but let me continue to be young and idealistic.)

setup to punch line. And the students in our Symposium class can’t get enough of his routine either. He dives into

This year’s course offerings use a range of comedic styles and

some uncomfortable places, drawing from his trauma and

analytical approaches to rightly situate comedy and humor

pain to deliver huge laughs. The students don’t shy away

as a means of critique, political tool, and life strategy. With

from it one bit.

the trigger-warning trend of last year, a primary concern was how to teach material that had the potential to stir feelings.

For Bobby, comedy is a coping mechanism. For me, a scholar of

Comedians are no strangers to controversy, with debates

comedy … well, it’s my career. But you’ll never see me do stand-

regarding how they use sexual assault, race, or violence in

up. I’m like Rodney Dangerfield in front of my classroom: eyes

their sets. When talking about trigger warnings, one might be DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI



referring to English or even Film Studies courses. But, unlike

they are seen in the same ‘othered’ boat. It’s a general theme

these disciplines, “Comedy” has not been institutionalized. In

because I constantly find it funny (disappointing) that all

some respects, it is a bit easier to explain why a literary text

minority groups aren’t better allies to each other. So, I have

is important. Comedy, however, is fun! It exists outside of the

some bits about this concept but if I’m performing in a room

University, not in it. Comedy isn’t serious. It’s funny.

of let’s say, 400, at least one or two people will come up to me after the show and say ‘you’re being bigoted against

One of our struggles as instructors is to counteract the

Mexicans’ or ‘that joke was racist.’ They literally didn’t un-

perception that comedy is ONLY fun. How, for example, do

derstand that I was making fun of immigrants who are racist.

we make Carrot Top political? It is possible, though the idea

They think I’m just saying ‘they’re racist, isn’t that great!’

might seem at first ridiculous. But, that’s part of our job — to

Of course, if I said ‘they’re racist, isn’t that horrible’ — that’s

legitimize comedy in the ivory tower. Surely, by pairing read-

not funny, so I have to figure out more hilarious, more ironic

ings where authors get theoretical and political, we can help

ways to get there. So the drawback for comedy is that the

make comedy a serious venture for our students. There is, of

audience has to “get” the joke. But if in that audience of 400,

course, a great irony. What if we inadvertently make comedy

if one or two didn’t ‘get it’ — 398 people did. That’s a pretty

unfunny? Struggles within struggle — a struggle inception, if

good margin of error.”

you will. In academia, counterbalancing these challenges requires a The other aspect of content is ensuring that, while we are

lot of reflection. We are constantly working through contra-

featuring comedians who at times delve into controversy, we

dictions, negotiating our way as best we can to develop a cool

are clear that what we are doing in the classroom does not

class and foster an open setting where students are aware

reinforce the controversies but contextualizes them.

they are developing skills and gaining insight. On one hand, we want students to feel comfortable discussing the mate-

How do we share jokes that could be arguably racist or

rial at hand, which requires them to not become distracted

misogynist, while also ensuring we are not reaffirming those

by the content itself. On the other, much of comedy’s aim is

ideologies in the classroom, nor over-contextualizing to the

provocation, whether that is forcing a laugh or a thought.

extent that we do not allow students the flexibility to approach

When our goal as instructors is to teach how comedy can be

jokes on their own terms and form their own understanding of

charged, political, important, we can’t go out of our way to be

“good” and “bad” forms of joking?

safe. We put a warning in the syllabus, provided a rationale

I’m pleading for answers to questions like “Is authenticity significant to comedy?” Comedian, writer, and TED Fellow Negin Farsad kicked off

regarding our use of examples with objectionable content, and

this year’s Symposium with a talk/performance on social

each week we’ve offered mature content warnings about clips.

justice comedy, and we asked her about this struggle. Her re-

Regardless, I still spent hours looking for Andrew Dice Clay

sponse was particularly interesting because it shows the diffi-

clips that were offensive enough to get the point across, but

culty of working with ironic material (singer Alanis Morissette

not enough to cause students to cringe, get angry, or think I

seems to have struggled with this difficulty as well):

was trying to convert them to the cult of Clay.

“I sometimes talk about the irony of immigrants who are

What if I picked something that was too tame and they all

racists — like how can a Middle Eastern immigrant be racist

thought he was great? Why would that be wrong? I mean, it

against Mexicans when, by mainstream cultural standards,

was a persona, and he did have a pretty solid career. He’s even



acting again! These are the thought loops that leave me sitting

some pretty heavy and insightful stuff coming from jokes

in front of YouTube for 45 minutes, falling deeper into the

about having a butt-face of skin grafts.

rabbit hole. It is weird to have to ask yourself if five minutes of obscenities and raunchy references to genitalia is enough?

Our students have been ready and willing to engage. This does

Sure it is…but, that’s a question also about context.

not mean they have loved everything, but they’ve been willing to address issues in constructive and critical ways. They have

Comedy does not exist within a vacuum, and comedy’s subjects

raised questions on the value of Lenny Bruce’s language in mak-

are often dependent on context. Not only must we explain

ing a point, challenged hierarchies of “good” and “bad” comedy,

Richard Pryor, but also the world in which Pryor emerged, the

and purposefully and intentionally engaged in the material.

one he interacted with, and what he left behind. In order to

Their questions and discussions have demonstrated that they

discuss Gregory Dick’s “In Living Black and White” album, we

are willing to take comedy as seriously as any other form.

need to divert our attention to discrimination, violence, and the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement in America. We

With this sense of “seriousness” attached to the material, the

are teaching history alongside comedy, because they are inher-

other concern is that it would no longer be fun — but the

ently entwined. As culture changes, so must comedy.

students keep laughing. Perhaps the biggest chuckle so far has been at the punch line of late comedian Mitch Hedberg during

The contextual and cultural changes in comedy were probably

his 2002 Just for Laughs set in Montreal. In talking racism, he

most evident in the students’ reactions to watching Pryor’s

declares “...people say I don’t care if they’re black, white, purple,

classic Live on the Sunset Strip versus the documentary

or green. Whoa, hold on. Purple or Green? You got to draw the

Comedy Warriors. In the prior, Pryor (see what I did there?)

line somewhere? [audience laughter] To hell with purple people

ends his routine talking about the infamous incident where

[audience laughter]. Unless, they’re suffocating. Then help

and “How has the Internet changed our understanding of comedy?” he caught himself on fire while freebasing crack cocaine. The

them! [audience laughter].” The students laughed at Hedberg’s

story is personal, dark, and hilarious — at least to the audience

delivery and rhetorical play, and the politics of how we talk

in the film, but not necessarily to our student audience. In

about race in the United States seemed to register.

fact, there were very few laughs at all. Why? Flash forward to later in the term and a viewing of Bobby Henline and Comedy

When trying to unpack comedians’ routines or sketches with

Warriors, the film documenting veterans returning from Iraq

students, there is no doubt some resistance, believing that critique

and Afghanistan and using comedy as a means of dealing with

is essentially saying “this is bad,” when really it’s just trying to

physical and emotional trauma. We asked the students the

demonstrate that everything is a bit more complicated. Comedy,

difference between the crack addict and the guy who expects

like any other course, is full of snags and possible choices to

a discount on his cremation. Their answer: the drug culture of

ameliorate possible difficulties. Those of us at the Great Works

the early 80s (especially in L.A.) was foreign to them — they

Symposium have tried our best to negotiate the challenges pre-

couldn’t relate to Pryor’s story, the pain he suffered, and the

sented to us. We hope students come away with a better under-

dark comedy that came from that pain; on the flipside, they

standing of comedy’s significance to their daily lives as joke mak-

have been raised in the era of the war on terrorism, they have

ers and comedy consumers. There’s also a bit of hope that students

seen veterans returning from battle with injuries, and they

walk away with a better sense of themselves and their capabilities

said that they want to address these situations and not push

— of those who not only understand it, but can harness and utilize

veterans (and their experiences) off into the shadows. That’s

comedy in their future careers and post-college lives.






horing the Self The surprising and long-lasting benefits of applying for fellowships BY C. MOON REED


ainting, fiction, travel, ultra-

application” is a two-page research proposal. “I

running, photography, and

worked on those two pages for six months, during

academic research — Tim

which the Fellowships Office guided me through

Gorichanaz is the quintessential

endless revisions. That process taught me how to

modern-day Renaissance man.

formulate a focused and compelling research ques-

A second-year PhD student in

tion, design a study to address that question, and

Drexel’s Information Studies program, Gorichanaz

ultimately communicate the significance of that

seems destined for great success. But with so many

question to a general audience.”

competing interests, it begs the question: success of what kind?

Fulbright student grantees are named this spring. Whether or not Gorichanaz is on that list, he’s

That same quandary applies to all. When the

already grown from the process. “I’ve noticed,

world’s information is at our fingertips, how does

working on other projects since I submitted my

anybody zero in on one path?

application, how much more critical and precise my research thinking is,” he says. “I attribute that sea

“Focus doesn’t have to mean doing just one thing,”

change to the Fulbright application process and the

Gorichanaz explains on his personal website,

guidance of the Fellowships Office.” He describes a tendency to explore, dabble, and maintain varied interests. Yet, the lifelong student (“both in and out of school”) has had to “narrow down my endeavors in a quest toward mastery of fewer domains.” He now spends most of his time reading, writing, and running. When it came time to focus — “focus” being a euphemism for the hard and messy work of hammering out who he wanted to be — Gorichanaz received help

“Throughout the application process, I was forced to dig deeper into the reasons why I was passionate about my project. It allowed me to take the time to delve into my personal outlook on the world, my own education, and to truly consider my future.”

from an unlikely source: The Drexel Fellowships Office, a unit of the Pennoni Honors College.


Gorichanaz recently applied for a Fulbright

Gorichanaz is not alone in finding the undertak-

student fellowship to study language and technol-

ing of applying to be transformative. Almost every

ogy in Europe. He explains that “the meat of the

student and alumnus who undertakes the task of




“The application process provides an opportunity for applicants to reflect on and develop a knowledge of the self that will contribute to a deeper intellectual life, strengthen their engagement with their academic community, and foster authenticity and confidence in their personal and professional relationships.” — DR. MEREDITH WOOTEN, DIRECTOR OF DREXEL FELLOWSHIPS OFFICE

applying for a nationally competitive fellowship discovers

“In and of itself, the application process is a very worth-

unexpected takeaways.

while exercise,” says Associate Dean of Students Dr. Rebecca Weidensaul, who subscribes to the nothing-ventured-

Some refer to the feverish pace of Drexel’s 10-week quarter

nothing-gained mindset. “It forces you to be deliberate and

system as a “badge of strength” to present to future employ-

intentional. It’s an arduous process. Whenever you apply for

ers, but it leaves little time for students to reflect on what

anything, it helps to take stock of your academic and pro-

they are learning and how to apply the knowledge to their

fessional portfolio, your goals and aspirations, and to really

career goals. Ivy Koberlein, biomedical engineering, ’16,

anchor yourself in your values and attempt to leverage all of

is a great example. As a sophomore, Ivy worked with the

those assets that you have from your education and your

Fellowships Office and received a Whitaker Undergraduate

experience to challenge yourself in really meaningful ways.”                   

Grant in 2013 to work with Power Up Gambia, which brought solar energy to rural healthcare centers. She’s now

Dr. Meredith Wooten, director of the Drexel Fellowships

applying for a Fulbright Student Grant to study the use

Office, concurs. “The application process provides applicants

of prosthetic devices in developing countries. As focused

with an opportunity to reflect on and develop a knowledge

as Koberlein is, even she was able to find new clarity from

of the self that will contribute to a deeper intellectual life,

the experience. “Throughout the application process, I was

strengthen their engagement with their academic community

forced to dig deeper into the reasons why I was passionate

and foster authenticity and confidence in their personal and

about my project,” Koberlein says. “It allowed me to take the

professional relationships,” she says.

time to delve into my personal outlook on the world, my own education and to truly consider my future.”

The process of taking stock and goal-setting is clearly beneficial to all. But something deeper is also at play. When

Recent graduate Christine Hammell, BS political science

students take the time to define their goals, they’re not just

’15, Honors, attests to a similar experience. As Drexel’s first

planning a more efficient route to success — they’re forging

recipient of the Philly Fellows award, which places grads in a

their own identities. “Humans are storytelling animals,” says

local non-profit for a year, Hammell now works as a commu-

Jonathan Gottschall in his book “The Storytelling Animal:

nications and events associate at the legal aid organization,

How Stories Make Us Human.” Our personal narratives are

Philadelphia VIP. “The fellowship application process helped

vital to our humanity. “A life story is ‘a personal myth’ about

me to make more concrete plans for my career,” says Hammell,

who we are deep down — where we come from and how we

who is applying again to the Fulbright program, as well as

got this way,” he writes. “They are our identity. ... Like a novel

to the highly prestigious Carnegie Junior Fellows Program.

in process, our life stories are always changing, evolving, being

“Because I had to be so specific in my applications, I had to

edited, rewritten, and embellished by an unreliable narrator.”

first determine how the fellowship fit into my career path and then find a way to articulate that. This has helped me to be

At Drexel, students don’t have to write their stories alone.

much more clear with others — and myself — about the path I

The Fellowships Office offers support and guidance every

plan on taking now that I’ve graduated.”

step of the way.



The Art of the Application Applying to fellowships is much more involved than simply compiling a resume and a list of references. Even if you have no fellowship plans, this process can still act as a useful guide to personal and professional development. Here’s a map of how it works:

Seeking Out Opportunities

The Main Course

Post-Application and Beyond

Before applying, you must determine

At this stage, applicants must determine

Drexel students and alumni have a

which of the seemingly endless op-

and then clearly articulate how their

stellar track record with the most

tions to pursue. According to Dr.

education, experience, and desires will

prestigious awards: Boren, Fulbright,

Meredith Wooten, director of the Drexel

combine to help them achieve their goals.

Goldwater, and more. Still, many

Fellowships Office, ample time for

Offering one-on-one, in-person advising

students will not win, which is why

“preparation and reflection” is required

up to a dozen times, the Fellowships

Dr. Wooten says that post-application

early on. The Fellowships Office offers

Office pushes students and alumni to

advising is one of the most important

pre-application advising up to two years

take the thought process one step further

aspects of the process: “It is extremely

before students apply. Frequent infor-

than usual: “Rather than simply reflecting

critical that each student understands

mational sessions and weekly drop-in

on past experiences,” Dr. Wooten says,

that even if they don’t receive an award,

hours (Fridays, 1-4 p.m.) allow students

“applicants are often asked to tie together

they can achieve the goals they lay out

to connect.

distinct pieces of these experiences into

in a national scholarship application.”

a coherent narrative.” This process is by its very nature extremely difficult, but exponentially rewarding. “There was never a time that I was



forced to sit and carefully consider what



I wanted to do and what the road would look like before the Udall application,” says Alexander McBride, materials science and engineering, ’17, who received





one of 50 honorable mentions awarded in the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship. At first, he found the process to be “unsettling,” but he emerged with a clearer vision for himself. “Being aware of the future and positioning yourself









in the present is critical to determining where you’ll end up.” Alex says he’s now focused on “on working hard to become an expert in materials development for optoelectronic applications, we'll see where that takes me!”



ALUMNI NEWS Life after the Pennoni Honors College

40 UNDER 40 Each year, 40 talented and intelligent alumni are featured in

“Cavote returned to the East Coast in 2012, specifically to finish

Drexel Magazine’s Winter/Spring 2016 issue. This year’s list

college in the custom-designed major program offered through

includes Collin Cavote, biomimicry ’15, a custom-designed major and Pennoni Honors College graduate:

Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College. At Drexel, Cavote designed a degree that no other graduate in the country has: a bachelor’s in biomimicry. ‘When I decided to come back to school and solve some of the world’s problems, I knew I needed a really interdisciplinary program where I could study a broad array of interests,’ he explains. ‘I was able to use Drexel’s customdesigned major to build my company — my coursework propelled the company forward and the last year of my schooling was, in fact, spent running the company,’ Cavote says. ‘There was never a barrier between school and the real world. My experience was super organic and, in a way, quite beautiful.’ ”

ALUMNI UPDATES Leslie A. Barr (nee Spangler), bioscience and biotechnology ’98, is a science teacher at Westtown School. She is happily married to Steven C. Barr (engineering ’96) since 1999. They have a daughter, Estelle (Stella) Gloria Barr. Leslie has two company patents for DuPont and two scientific publications regarding plant science and biosilk.

Regina Cagle Irr, PE, environmental engineering ’09 and former STAR Scholar, is currently an Environmental Engineer at EA Engineering, Science and Technology in Baltimore, M.D.  Regina, who was also a Fulbright Scholar, previously served as an Energy & Climate Change Intern for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Boris Block, computer science and information systems ’07, got his JD/ MBA at Case Western Reserve University in 2012. He now works as a manager for Deloitte Tax, LLP. Jessica Cades, chemical engineering ’11, graduated with a PhD in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is working for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.


Amanda M. Colburn, teacher education ’13, graduated with MS Ed. in Higher Education from University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in May 2014. She works as an Admissions & Financial Aid Officer, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

computer science from University College Dublin. He lives in Vienna with his wife and two children.

Megan Carlson, English ’15, is an Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press.

Anthony Coratolo, materials science and engineering ’06, married Marilys S. Mazzara and works as a quality improvement manager for SCA Americas.

Aja Carter, paleontology ’14, a former STAR Scholar, is currently a PhD graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania in Earth and Environmental Science.

Jameson Detweiler, materials engineering ‘09 and former STAR Scholar, is the co-founder and CEO at Fantasmo Studios in Santa Monica, CA.

Jiaxi Chen, finance and mathematics ’11 and a former STAR Scholar, is currently Senior Analyst Mergers & Acquisitions for Tyco.

Matt DiFranco, PhD, materials engineering ’00, is a post-doc researcher at the Medical University of Vienna. He earned his PhD in

Nellie Agnes DiPietro (nee Forst), literature ’01, MEd ’06, taught mathematics in grades 7-12 for 8 years. After earning her PA Level II Instructional Certificate in 2013 and a Series 6 securities license in 2015, she became a financial planner and now works for Lincoln Investment Planning, LLC. She is married to a Drexel alum she met at the WKDU radio station, and the couple had a son in 2010. Nellie also became a certified hula hoop teacher in 2014.


Christopher DiMarco M.D., biology ’07, is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Christine Fisher (nee Rettew), biology ’12, is a PhD Candidate

in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Thomas Jefferson University. She is working on her thesis in a vaccine development lab where she studies rare, emerging viruses and develops strategies to protect against them. David Grunberg, electrical engineering ’10, MS ’11, PhD ’14, and former STAR Scholar is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore. Claudia Gutierrez, BS/MS biomedical engineering ’15 and former STAR Scholar, is currently a student at Mayo Medical School, Rochester, MN. Haider Hasan, BS/MS mechanical engineering ’11 and a former STAR Scholar, is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Julianne Holloway, BS chemical engineering ’08, PhD ’12, received NIH's NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2013-2016. She works as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University. Ashish Joseph, finance ’11, is a senior associate at Glenmede Trust and an investment associate at Pew Charitable Trusts. He also purchased a liquor store and bar. Arvind Kaladindi, materials engineering ’13, and a former STAR Scholar, is currently an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in materials science and engineering.

to play music for sick patients in hospital settings.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Bundesregierung Auslandseinsätze besser kommunizieren kann".

Catherine Leis, electrical engineering ’14, was promoted from associate engineer to a member of engineering staff at Lockheed Martin in Moorestown, N.J. She also recently got engaged.

Prineha Narang, materials science ’11 and former STAR Scholar in materials science, is currently a PhD candidate in Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Aria Srinivasan, economics ’13, works in Palo Alto, CA as a technology finance analyst at Groupon.

Pelin Lemons (nee Kansu), materials science and engineering BS/ MS ‘14, and former STAR Scholar, works at Johnson Matthey in the Rotational Development Program within the Precious Metals Division. She married David Lemons (class of ’15) and serves as the Chapter Secretary and the Scholarship Chair of American Society for Metals Liberty Bell Chapter. Dawn McDougall, meanings of urban sustainability, CSDN ‘15, was named one of 18 young Philadelphians shaping the future of the city’s creative class by Philly Voice: She was also featured in Philly: Sean J. Miller, biology ’12 and a former STAR Scholar, is currently a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a National Science Research Fellow. Sean was an author of “Cyclopamine Modulates Gamma-Secretase Mediated Cleavage of Amyloid Precursor Protein by Altering its Subcellular Trafficking and Lysosomal Degradation” published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2014.

Chelsea Knittel, sustainable materials and design, CSDN ‘15, had an article based on her research published in the academic journal, Fibers. The article, titled “Self-Folding Textiles through Manipulation of Knit Stitch Architecture,” explores the applications of self-folding fabrics to smart textiles:

Shawn Mirza, finance ’11, is a contributing author to "Atheists in America" by Melanie Brewster, PhD. The book, published by the Columbia University Press, compiles experiences of those from various backgrounds and their experiences in becoming atheists. Shawn is a Team Lead in UAT testing at Citigroup.

Michelle Krichilsky, music industry ’11, MBA ’12, is a senior analyst at Digitas Health. She also has two new fitness certifications and volunteers with Musicians on Call,

Alex Moseson, mechanical and materials engineering ’07, PhD ’11, and former STAR Scholar, is currently a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the

Roberto Pina, BS/MS, chemical engineering ’01, is currently a senior engineer at DuPont in Richmond, VA. Steve Pribis, chemical engineering ’12, a data analytics account manager at Merck married Lauren Frain (Drexel alumnus) on August 28, 2015 and honeymooned in Hawaii. Amol Sathe, digital media ’06, MS ’07, and former STAR Scholar, is currently a Lighting Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Justin Shuman, business administration ’07, graduated from Cornell’s MBA program in 2011 and works at Avalon Healthcare Solutions, a healthcare technology startup, funded by Francisco Partners. Laura-Lee Smith, business administration ’04, a research associate at Hochschule Berlin and PhD Candidate of University of Erfurt, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy in Germany, is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellowship. Her research project is entitled "Germany’s burden-sharing in Afghanistan and the political paradigm". She was published in Internationale Politik journal (in English and German): "Coming Clean Operationalizing lessons learned from Afghanistan"/ "Afghanische Lektionen wie die

Visish Srinivasan, biology ’09, DUCOM ’13 is married to Rohini Samudralwar, biology ’09, DUCOM ’13. They met their freshman year in the Honors dorm. Srinvasan and Samudralwar are both residents at Baylor University in Houston, TX. Leonardo F. Urbano, electrical engineering ‘05, MS ‘07, PhD ‘14, works as technical staff at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. Mary Kate Williams (nee Dahlberg), economics ’10, published the novel “Nailbiters” (available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc.), about the early post-apocalyptic world of alien occupation. Steve Wittenberg, business administration ’98, is the director of Legacy Planning at SEI Investments. He was named to Drexel Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list in 2015 and Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2013. He is the president and co-founder of Spells Writing Lab, Inc., on the board of trustees for Philadelphia History Museum at Atwater Kent, on the board of directors of Drexel University’s Board of Governors, and board of directors of SEI Cares. He earned his JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2001, an MBA from Temple University Fox School of Business in 2001, an LLM from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2010. He married Jennifer Stern in 2013.

CALL FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS Please send your alumni announcements to and let us know what you’ve been up to. Include your name, major, graduation year, and share with us your career stories, promotions, marriages, births, etc.

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Profile for Pennoni Honors College

PHC Magazine: Spring/Summer 2016  

From the Pennoni Honors College at Drexel University

PHC Magazine: Spring/Summer 2016  

From the Pennoni Honors College at Drexel University


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