t h e h e r b e r t w. B o y e r S c h o o l o f N at u r a l S c i e n c e s , M at h e m at i c s , a n d C o m p u t i n g
BOYERBULLETIN Vol. 3, No. 2
• april 2012
a p u b l i c at i o n o f s a i n t v i n c e n t c o l l e g e
Evelyn and Batista Madonia, Sr.
The opening of the Evelyn and Batista Madonia, Sr. Environmental Center is making a major difference in study and research opportunities for students and faculty.
INSIDE Dean’s Message Science Pavilion Campaign Update Environmental Science Program Growing Success
Madonia Environmental Center Jewel in Crown of Dupré Pavilion Dr. James Kellam Enjoys Teaching, Bird Research Ten Boyer School Students Named Emerging Research Scholars
The Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing Advisory Council Members Mr. James F. Will, L.H.D., C’60, D’94 Chair, President Emeritus Saint Vincent College Dr. William E. Amatucci, C’86 Section Head, Space Experiments Section/Plasma Physics Division, Code 6755, Naval Research Laboratory Mr. Thomas Anderson Co-owner, Maritom Dr. Herbert W. Boyer, Sc.D., C’58, D’81 Co-Founder, Genentech, Inc. Dr. Angelo DeMezza, C’69 Physician Dr. Umberto A. DeRienzo, C’88 Physician Dr. William A. DiCuccio, C’70 Physician Dr. David A. Dzombak, Ph.D., P.E., DEE, C’79 Walter J. Blenko, Sr. University Professor of Environmental Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University Dr. Thomas P. Gessner, C’64 Physician Mr. Donald A. Haile, C’63 Venture Partner/Site General Manager Fidelity Investments Ms. Cheryl A. Harper, C’88 Physics and Mathematics Teacher Greensburg Salem High School Mr. Michael L. Keslar, C’80 Executive Vice President BNY Mellon Mr. Francis A. Marasco, C’64 Former President Eckerd Pharmacy Services Mr. Mark J. Pincus, C’96 sanofi-aventis U.S., Research Investigator Early to Candidate Distinct Project Unit Biochemistry and Cell Biology Tucson Research Center Dr. David M. Siwicki, C’80 Physician Ms. Shelley D. Sturdevant, C’88 Technical Director PPG Coil & Extrusion Coatings PPG Industries, Inc. Mr. Stephen P. Yanek, C’68 Program Manager Applied Physics Laboratory The Johns Hopkins University Dr. Daniel J. Yaniro, C’79 Director, VoIP Program and Project Management, AT&T Laboratories
he students have returned from their spring break, our temperatures this week are in the 60s, buds are about to burst forth with color from the trees around campus and spring is certainly in the air. My colleagues in the Boyer School have told me that this has been one of the mildest winters in recent memory and I smile and nod and I thank them for this introduction to winters in Pennsylvania. It has been an enjoyable transition for my family here from the mild winters of Savannah to the enjoyable winter here this year where each snow has been followed 2-3 days later by a warming trend that melts away the snow and clears the roads. Indeed, spring is a time of transition and is one of our themes in this issue of the Boyer Bulletin. In January, construction was successfully completed on the East Building of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion and we moved faculty, equipment and supplies into these newlyrenovated laboratories, offices and classrooms. It was such a joy the night before classes began to see students, with their friends, come into the Pavilion eager to look for their classrooms in the new building and then to see them come back on the way out with smiles on their faces having seen the beauty of the spaces there. With great excitement, we are now making plans to transition our faculty in the Departments of Physics as well as Computing and Information Science into temporary locations for the summer and fall to allow construction to begin on the renovation of the West Building. As you will see on the last page of this issue of the Bulletin, we still need approximately $4 million in fundraising to complete this project. Your support of this project is highly valued and appreciated by all of us here in the Boyer School. In this issue of the Boyer Bulletin we direct our attention to the environment and nature. Dr. Caryl Fish, Director of our Environmental Science program, describes the growth of the program, the success of the graduates of the program, the resources of the surrounding area that are used in the program as well as some new potential directions for the future. The Evelyn and Batista Madonia, Sr. Environmental Center and the work being done in our new computercontrolled greenhouse under the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Walter are also presented. Dr. Walter and her classes are engaged in a wide variety of projects using the greenhouse including biofuel research, work related to abandoned mine drainage and hydroponics. We also feature Dr. James Kellam of our Biology Department and his career and work with birds and the path he followed to Saint Vincent College and his current research interests. Lastly, a new program was launched this year in the Boyer School, the Emerging Research Scholar. On February 23, ten students were selected from students who enrolled this past fall in freshman biology, chemistry and computing courses who demonstrated excellence in the classroom as well as an aptitude and personality for research. The students applied to the Emerging Research Scholar Program and were selected by the respective departments and will engage in a research project in the next academic year with faculty mentors in their respective department. We are excited about this new program and the opportunity it provides to students coming out of their freshman years to begin to learn about the research process and to build those special relationships with their faculty mentors that characterize a Saint Vincent College education. It has been a busy year with many transitions as we moved into the North Building in the fall, the East Building in the spring, and eagerly look forward to the upcoming renovation of the West Building. Our hope is that all your transitions go smoothly and that you have a blessed spring.
Dr. Stephen Jodis Dean, Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing
Environmental Science Program Growing Success by D O N O R L A N D O
ince Dr. Caryl Fish joined the Saint Vincent College faculty in 1991, she has nurtured the Boyer School’s Environmental Science program from its birth into a thriving major program that is growing in popularity with today’s environmentally conscious students. “The earliest program had two tracks, Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Administration,” Dr. Fish recalled. “In 2003, we decided there was a need for an Environmental Science major that integrated the study of biology and chemistry. In developing that major, we wanted it to be a science major that also included the humanities and social sciences.” “Environmental science majors start out with the same general chemistry and biology as all other science majors,” Dr. Fish continued. “They have a strong science background with courses in general chemistry, ecology, physics, earth systems science and geographic information systems but they also take humanities courses such as an English course called Green Writing: Literature and the Environment, a history course, Society and the Environment: The American Experience, and a philosophy course, Environmental Ethics. In the social sciences, they study Environmental Law and Policy and Environmental Sociology. They also take advanced environmental courses including Advanced Environmental Chemistry and Methods of Environmental Analysis, Environmental Disturbances and Ornithology. The major has a significant number of free electives so that students can really design their curriculum to meet their needs. Many students minor in biology, business or political science.” Beginning with two majors in the first year, enrollment has grown to 30 students this year, nearly doubling in the past five years. “There is an active Environmental Science Club and an Environmental Awareness Club which are really getting students involved in campus recycling, activities at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve and other projects,” Dr. Fish pointed out. Students graduating from the program are doing very well with employment and graduate school admission. “One student is in a marine ecology master’s program in Florida, others are finding opportunities in work related to Marcellus Shale mining, and another has several offers in the area of environmental education.” The outreach programs attached to the Environmental Science program are an important part of the program’s success. “The Monastery Run Project wetlands and Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve provide valuable outdoor laboratories for our students,” Dr. Fish noted. “We also take advantage of other excellent resources in the region such as Powdermill Nature Reserve, natural areas on Chestnut Ridge, Pittsburgh’s three rivers, Carnegie Science Center and others.” Looking to the future, Dr. Fish said she wants to expand the school’s offerings in geol-
ogy. “We do biology and chemistry very well but we are missing upper level courses in the earth sciences,” she said. “This is important because of the role that energy will play in the future. We would like to add a faculty member with expertise in an area such as hydrogeology or alternative energies such as wind or solar power.” Another new initiative is the creation of environmental education sections in core classes. “This summer we plan to create modules so that faculty can present topics to students about some aspect of energy,” Dr. Fish predicted. “We really want to have this idea of energy and sustainability in all the science classes for a wide variety of students. It is part of our departmental strategic plan.” Another part of the plan will potentially connect with a new four-year engineering degree program in the early planning stage. “I see a nice mesh with the environmental science movement and an engineering degree,” Dr. Fish added. Environmental Science offers excellent opportunities for students to complete internships while they are juniors or seniors. “Internships related to the monitoring of Marcellus Shale drilling are available as well as industries using solar, wind and biofuels since a lot of our students are interested in those,” Dr. Fish noted. The Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion has been a major addition for the Environmental Science program. “There is specific classroom and laboratory space for Environmental Science,” Dr. Fish pointed out. “The new greenhouse is a major new asset. These all make a big difference on a daily basis and provide excellent support for faculty and student research.” Dr. Fish commented on how much she enjoys working in the field of Environmental Science education at Saint Vincent. “I especially enjoy developing curriculum,” she concluded. “Taking ideas and putting them together and giving it to the students. I do all active learning, no lecturing at all. What I do is work out active learning strategies so the students are actively engaged in class. I try to bring in food or anything that will help them make the connections. It’s nice to see they are working.” A graduate of Manchester College (Indiana), Dr. Fish was a dual major in chemistry and environmental studies. “I worked in the chemical industry for five years with a paper company while I was also earning an MBA,” she said. “I decided I wanted to return to higher education to teach so I pursued a Ph.D. at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B. (then Provost, now President) recruited me to come to Saint Vincent to start the environmental program and it is the only place I have ever taught.” Dr. Fish and her husband, Dr. Daryle Fish, associate professor of chemistry at Saint Vincent, have two sons, Thomas, 18, who is studying anthropology at Washington College in Maryland, and Aaron, 15, a sophomore at Greater Latrobe High School.
Madonia Environmental Center Jewel in Crown of Dupré Pavilion by D O N O R L A N D O
“jewel in the crown” of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion is the Evelyn and Batista Madonia, Sr. Environmental Center that houses a computer-controlled greenhouse where students and faculty can pursue research on plants and animals. “This is probably one of the best small college educational greenhouses in the country,” commented Dr. Cynthia A. Walter, associate professor of biology, who supervises the senior research of many of the Environmental Science majors. “Although it just opened this spring, there are already so many exciting things going on here including class experiments, senior research, faculty research, campus community service and broader community outreach and service learning activities.” In the fall, students in the Introduction to Environmental Science course completed studies on the effects of nutrient sources on early plant growth. This spring more than a hundred General Biology students will complete two studies, a plant growth regulator study of the effects of plant hormones on soybeans and other plant species. Student-designed experiments will study the effects of isolated factors such as light and nutrients on plant germination, photosynthesis and stem elongation in a wide range of food plants such as tomatoes, peas, beans, wheat, rye and corn. Two dozen students in the Aquatic Ecology and Toxicology class will complete studies such as responses of Duckweed to common stressors, Cattail responses to components in abandoned mine drainage and the growth of biofuel microalgae species in response to different nutrient sources such as sanitized wastes from cafeteria leftovers, waste water treatment solids or fish tank outflow. Next fall the Field Biology class will complete a study of wetland plant germination and early growth and Ecology students will experiment with the growth of crops (soy and corn) and wetland plants (cattails and juncus) in different hydroponic culture conditions. Senior research will focus on biofuel microalgae, comparing growth and biofuel chemical constituents among marine and freshwater species and selected soil invertebrate responses to varying soil conditions. Faculty research will range from growing plants for the extraction of antibiotics to monitoring behavior of wild birds or snakes held for short periods of time in nearly ambient outdoor conditions. This spring, Benedictine gardeners are starting seedlings in the greenhouse for later planting in their Monastery gardens and Saint Vincent
faculty and staff will start selected flowers in the greenhouse for transplanting to various areas around campus. Planned service learning projects will connect students with volunteers from the Latrobe Garden Club and the Penn State Extension Service’s Master Gardener Program to start seedlings of tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli and cauliflower for Food Bank plantings. Seedlings of special genotypes such as heritage vegetable plants will also be started for later planting in historical gardens in the area including the Lochrie Blockhouse adjacent to the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve. Dr. Walter forecasts that, in the next ten years, research based on what students are learning in this new facility today will make it possible to reduce the use of fossil fuels by at least 40%. “Not so far off in the future, we are going to be putting algae biofuel into our cars,” she predicted. “We won’t need oil or gas. We will be able to use biofuels that are grown using nutrients that are currently discarded from sewage treatment plants. That is exactly the kind of work our students are learning here right now. Researchers are working hard to find the perfect mixture of nutrients, light and other factors. Students are studying it in one of my classes on Aquatic Toxicology. They understand this is a hot topic that will open doors for them in jobs, research and education after they graduate.” The Dupré Pavilion is making a tremendous difference in the education of Environmental Science students. “I don’t think any other school in the country has a ‘mud room’ like we have,” Dr. Walter boasted. “Since most of my teaching is done outdoors, we need a safe way to bring materials and students in and out. Students need to wear waist-high boots that can be sanitized coming and going so they prevent the transfer of pathogens from one stream to another. We have a special room equipped with hoses and hot water where we can clean boots and store them conveniently. Our unique stainless steel boot rack is just one example of the many details our lab designers added to make our teaching more effective and ecologically sound. In addition, our field equipment room and adjacent teaching and research labs provide direct access to the loading area to safely and quickly move people, equipment and samples from trips to the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve, Saint Vincent Lake or other outdoor sites. These are just a few examples of the well-planned details that are part of this wonderful facility.” Alexandria Klofta handles one the Center’s black rat snakes.
Impact on Ecology Benjamin Delle Donne, Senior (Pictured with Dr. Cynthia Walter) Major: Environmental Science My project is focusing on the potential physical, biological and chemical impacts of abandoned coal mine refuse piles on terrestrial and stream ecology. I will be taking water samples for a long period of time. I will also be leeching chemicals from coal samples from different depths in the piles and comparing this study with an abandoned mine near my house to a study at the coal mine near the Nature Reserve.
Brazilian Water Study Matthew Lomire, Senior Major: Environmental Science Over the summer, I went to Brazil and did a comparative study of water in Pennsylvania and Brazil by studying chemical, biological and some physical properties. Although the results aren’t final, Pennsylvania is higher in water quality than some of the towns in Brazil. Working in this top-of-the-line facility was great.
Buggy Soil Elizabeth Miller, Junior (Pictured with Dr. Cynthia Walter) Major: Environmental Science Minors: Biology, Chemistry and German My research project includes studying soil invertebrates and the effects of lead on them. I am going to be sampling different invertebrates from roadside soils and measuring the amounts of lead in the soil and the biodiversity of the insects that I collect. I am also going to be sampling some of the insects themselves to see if there is any biological uptake of lead.
Duckweed Needs Beth Anne Wieber, Sophomore Major: Environmental Chemistry I am growing duckweed and I had to figure out what kind of solution to grow it in. I made a solution from several chemicals based on what it would need if grown in the wild and what it would need in our greenhouse. I also will grow some in lake water to compare the difference. Based on my findings, I will try growing duckweed or other aquatic plants that could be used as a biofuel.
Growing Vegetables without Soil Megan Blake, Freshman Major: Environmental Science I became interested in hydroponics – growing without soil – while I was in high school. I am using the new greenhouse to continue learning about this more energy efficient way of gardening. I am growing peas, beans, corn and some wetland plants known as Typha angusifolia and T. latifolia (cattails) . We hope to grow some plants to full maturity in water.
Searching for Safe Water Michael Duffy, Senior Major: Environmental Science Minor: Criminal Justice I will be going to lakes, streams and ponds to look for those that are highly used for recreational activities such as fishing and swimming and those which are not. I will determine the quality of the water, what is in it, if it is safe for people, and then looking at the big overview to see what may be causing these factors. I will be looking for any kinds of bacteria, such as E.coli, pathogens and anything that may disrupt the water quality and damage it.
Studying Snake Behavior Alexandria Klofta, Senior (pictured left) Majors: Environmental Science and English I have done two snake research projects. The first was designed to survey the population and species in western Pennsylvania using a coverboard system. The second is an ethogram which is a behavioral study of snakes when they are used in an educational setting. I filmed snakes for 24 hours prior to using them in an educational presentation at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve or here in the Environmental Science Center. Then I film them for 24 hours afterward to see if their behavior has changed. As of now, I am still collecting data but it does seem like the snakes behave differently after the educational experience. This will help future researchers and educators using wild animals.
Dr. James Kellam Enjoys Teaching, Bird Research by D O N O R L A N D O
Dr. James Kellam displays a mounted hawk that was used by his former research student assistant, Aaron Shuster, C’11, to study how Northern Flickers, a type of woodpecker, respond to predators near their nests.
r. James Kellam knew when he was in 8th grade that he wanted to study birds. “My social studies teacher gave me an assignment to interview someone with a career I might be interested in,” Dr. Kellam recalled. “I interviewed Dr. Charles R. Blem, a professor and ornithologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, near my childhood home in Richmond, Virginia. He really took time to talk with me about my interest in birds and inspired me to pursue ornithology. Twenty years later, I saw him at a professional conference and had an opportunity to thank him. I hope I have many opportunities to influence young people in the same way.” With his vocation identified, Dr. Kellam chose to pursue his undergraduate study at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, a small college where he was able to model his own curriculum and develop close relationships with faculty and other students. “I received a great education there,” he noted, “and focused mainly on science for classes and birds for research. It gave me an appreciation for the benefit of a liberal arts college.” He completed an internship with a professor at the Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center (now called the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) in northern Virginia. “It was a research outpost for the National Zoo and kind of reminded me of Jurassic Park with all these giant animals,” Dr. Kellam explained, “but I just studied the birds. I also did a second internship
Dr. Kellam’s current research focuses on an analysis of pair studying a cooperative breeding species, the Acorn woodpeckbond maintenance, foraging behavior, microhabitat use, home er, at the University of California at Berkeley.” range, territoriality and physiological condition of woodpeck After earning a bachelor of arts degree in human ecology ers and the effect of environmental stressors on the sleep in 1996, he continued to graduate school at Purdue University quality of songbirds. He has six cages that have computer where he wanted to study with two nationally-known ornitholcontrolled cameras with infrared lighting mounted on them so ogists he had read extensively about, Dr. Jeffrey R. Lucas and that the birds can be photographed day and night to monitor Dr. Kerry Rabenold. I became very interested in Downy woodtheir activity and sleep quality. “I want to know if a bird has peckers because they exhibited courtship-like behaviors in Dehad a stressful day and how that impacts the quality of sleep cember when most other birds had no interest in their former the following night,” he explained. “Stress in this situation reproductive partner.” He completed a Ph.D. in biological sciinvolves mild food deprivation. Sam Walters, an environences in 2003 and wrote a dissertation entitled, Downy Woodmental science major, is very pecker pair bond maintenance in involved in the research and in winter. He was honored with the the daily care of the birds.” H. Edwin Umbarger Award for He has published several the Outstanding Graduate Stupeer reviewed articles in both dent in Research, the Frederick professional journals and the N. Andrews Doctoral Fellowship popular press, written book and the National Science Founsections in Second Breeding dation Graduate Research FelBird Atlas of Pennsylvania, and lowship (honorable mention). made presentations at research After a year teaching biolseminars, scientific panels and ogy at Ithaca College and doing public venues. An interesting research on crows at Cornell presentation entitled, “Finding University, he became a visiting Benedictine Values in the Life assistant professor at Frankof Birds,” was part of the Last lin and Marshall College for Lecture Series co-sponsored three years before accepting the by the Saint Vincent College opportunity to teach as an assisEducation Club and Alpha tant professor at Saint Vincent Dr. James Kellam, right, collaborates with senior Lambda Delta. in the fall of 2007. “Latrobe was environmental science major Sam Walters in his research Dr. Kellam enjoys living relatively close to my family and on the effect of stress on birds’ quality of sleep. near campus on Arnold Palmer I knew I wanted to be at a small Drive in Unity Township, just liberal arts college,” he noted. across U.S. Route 30. “In warm “The opportunity to teach wildweather, I commute by bicycle,” he said. “I avoid the highway life biology at a place with Benedictine values and high morand bike through the shopping plazas and Winnie Palmer al character is what attracted me. I was also impressed with Nature Reserve. It is part of my training for the triathlons the required senior research program. It really is a very large (biking/swimming/running) I enter in Pittsburgh and other undertaking and it gives the students something to be proud locations. I am also on a YMCA masters swimming team.” of and something to be an expert in. Faculty-student relation He also is active in a number of community service ships are very important to me so that is what my mission is activities at his church, First Presbyterian Church of Greensat Saint Vincent.” In addition to the wildlife biology course, he burg. “I am a member of the church choir, and serve as a also teaches general biology, ornithology, human biology for deacon which means I usher and help prepare the communion non-science majors and conservation biology. elements,” he said. “I also help recruit volunteers for the Amer “I really like teaching at Saint Vincent,” Dr. Kellam offered. ican Red Cross Blood Drive, using my biology expertise to have “A lot of teaching is that you have the concepts you want to some fun talking about vampires who drink blood from their communicate but the students have all these other things on victims.” their minds so you have to trick them into learning some other He also gives talks to school groups at the Nature Reserve things. You have to be an entertainer of sorts. I think I’m really and goes to Powdermill Nature Reserve to look for woodpeckgood at that. Teaching non-majors is my opportunity to raise ers. “In the spring I like to find nests of different woodpecker their curiosity about something they didn’t think they would species to analyze their habitat preferences.” be interested in.” 7
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Emerging Research Scholars
Biology Department Emerging Research Scholars Dr. Bruce Bethke, left, associate professor and chair of the Biology Department, and Dr. Stephen Jodis, right, Dean of the Boyer School, congratulate, from left, Zachary Ligus, a freshman from North Huntingdon; Emily Satkovich, a freshman from Somerset; Jessica Smrekar, a freshman from North Huntingdon; and Regina Woloshun, a freshman from Latrobe.
Ten Boyer School Students Named
en top students in Saint Vincent College’s Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing have been named Emerging Research Scholars to introduce them to research early in their academic careers and to encourage participation in the College’s Collaborative Learning Program. Dr. Stephen Jodis, dean of the Boyer School, announced the first group of scholars at a program and reception at the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion Atrium on February 23. “Three of our Boyer School departments—Biology, Chemistry and Computing and Information Science—are involved in this exciting new initiative at present,” Dr. Jodis explained. “In fall 2011, our Collaborative Learning Program launched a new Emerging Research Scholar program which encourages underclassmen to get involved in scientific research early in their careers as an incentive for continuing on in their science majors. Research Scholars will be recognized by their departments as leaders in their class and will be given opportunities to work one-on-one with faculty members, helping them with their research. The Emerging Research Scholar initiative will give students an opportunity to build strong relationships with departmental faculty.” The program will be administered by Dr. Mandy Raab, director of biotechnology and the bioinformatics program in the Boyer School.
Chemistry Department Emerging Research Scholars Dr. Matthew Fisher, left, associate professor and chair of the Chemistry Department, and Dr. Stephen Jodis, right, Dean of the Boyer School, congratulate, from left, Michael Centore, a freshman from Canonsburg; Anna Christy, a freshman from Sarver; John Kunc, a freshman from Creighton; Matt Mackey, a sophomore from Granger, Indiana; and Carissa Smith, a freshman from Mercer. Computing and Information Science Department Emerging Research Scholars Dr. Cynthia Martincic, left, associate professor and chair of the Computing and Information Science Department, and Dr. Stephen Jodis, right, Dean of the Boyer School, congratulate Wai-Lun Lin, center, a freshman from Vandergrift.
Fundraising Status through January 2012 Thank you! We’re getting closer, but we still need your help to reach our goal!
Additional Funds Needed $4 million
Environmental Science issue Evelyn and Batista Madonia, Sr. Environmental Center