Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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John Suarez 260x300
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Awarded Manufacturing PA Innovation Program Grant

John Suarez, associate professor of electrical engineering, received a $68,200 grant from the Manufacturing PA Innovation program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The project, titled “Capacitive and Infrared Sensing for Precision Chemical Analysis of Polar Compounds,” will build upon preliminary work completed by Probes Unlimited, Inc. (PUI) to design, prototype, rigorously test, and manufacture a precision sensor for monitoring the quality of cooking oil. Suarez will lead a research team to conduct the necessary research and development to assist PUI in developing the capacitive sensor with the required characteristics as well as investigate the viability of infrared sensing technology in this application.

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Kiara Allison
The Office of Human Resources

Title IX Coordinator Testifies Before State Senate Committee

Kiara Allison, Title IX coordinator and equal opportunity officer, testified before Pennsylvania's Senate Democratic Policy Committee regarding domestic violence. Her testimony addressed the types of education and programs that students receive regarding sexual violence including domestic and dating violence, the effects of sexual violence on students including financial impacts, and made suggestions on how to address the problem of sexual violence on colleges campuses. Her testimony also advocated on behalf of increasing funding to local rape crisis and domestic violence centers and to continue the support of the state's Its On Us PA initiative led by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

Allison's testimony can be viewed online here (starting at 1:37:50). The testimony can be found under the video headline "Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, May 22, 2023."

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Named Journal Guest Editor

Sachin Patil, professor of chemical engineering, was invited to serve as the guest editor for a special issue in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals. Titled “Alzheimer’s Disease: Small-Molecule Modulators of Novel Therapeutic Pathways,” this special issue is dedicated to gathering novel Alzheimer’s disease mechanisms, with a particular emphasis on targeting these mechanisms using small-molecule drugs. 

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Amanda DiAlessandro stands in front of her research poster and talks with a conference attendee.
School of Engineering

Engineering Student Presents at National Conference

Amanda DiAlessandro '22 '23, a two-time graduate of Widener's mechanical engineering program, presented research at the 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Wisconsin in April. The poster, "HVAC Design of a Performing Arts Center to be Located in Sidney, Australia," was co-authored by DiAlessandro and teammates Jacqueline Loeliger, Jamal Badamassi, Tristan Fish, Michael Hutchinson, and Madeline Reynolds and showcased findings collected during the team's senior project. 

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Pamela McCauley's headshot.
School of Engineering

Pamela McCauley Named Next Dean of School of Engineering

Pamela McCauley, a renowned scholar, educator, university administer and entrepreneur, has been named dean of the School of Engineering. McCauley will assume the role on July 1 following the retirement of Fred Akl, who led the program for more than two decades. 

McCauley comes to Widener after serving as associate dean for Academic Programs, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Wilson College of Textiles at North Carolina State University since 2020. She is an internationally-recognized industrial engineer whose research accomplishments include the development of fuzzy set theory-based mathematical models, human engineering, ergonomics and biomechanics as well as engineering leadership and women’s leadership in STEM. In her role as associate dean, McCauley has overseen the college’s academic programs, promoted innovation and entrepreneurship within the college and the university, and led and implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the college. 

“We are thrilled to have Dr. McCauley join the Widener community and lead our esteemed engineering program,” said Provost Andrew Workman. “Throughout her extensive career she has demonstrated herself as an innovator, entrepreneur, researcher, educator, and advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging both in the engineering field and the greater academic community. She will be a tremendous asset in enhancing the Widener student experience by bringing extensive research and entrepreneurial experiences to her role and championing student-faculty research opportunities. Her remarkable record of service to the professional and global scientific community will position the engineering program and the university to continue expanding its commitment to experiential service learning and community engagement.”

“I am honored and excited to join Widener’s vibrant community,” said McCauley. “The university’s engineering program has a remarkable legacy of innovation. Engineering changes the world, and Widener students and faculty are cultivating bold ideas in a space where students from diverse backgrounds know they belong and contribute unique perspectives. I am excited to lead the program and build on this success, guided by my years as an industry professional, engineering scholar, and university leader.”

McCauley has developed an impressive catalog of research backed by funding from some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions including NASA, the U.S. State Department, and The National Science Foundation. In 2012, McCauley was selected as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and presented her funded research on human factors and ergonomics in disaster management. In additional to scholarly accomplishments, McCauley is the author of more than 100 technical papers, book chapters, conference proceedings and the best-selling ergonomics textbook, “Ergonomics: Foundational Principles, Applications, and Technologies.” 

McCauley brings more than 25 years of entrepreneurial experience to Widener and has led numerous small businesses. Throughout her career McCauley has been a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion in engineering and higher education, particularly for females and students from groups who are under-represented in STEM. 

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ROTC cadets stand in uniform in front of Old Main and American flags.
College of Arts & Sciences

ROTC Dauntless Battalion Commissions 2023 Officers

Widener University’s ROTC program celebrated its 2023 Commissioning Ceremony in Alumni Auditorium on Wednesday, May 17 with 26 cadets taking the oath of office as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Eleven Widener students were among the cadets commissioned. The group of 26 hailed from five area universities and all trained through the Dauntless Battalion unit at Widener, where they engaged in the hands-on, intense military training that has prepared them for successful careers. Family members pinned the new rank to their dress uniforms, and each officer shared a silver dollar with the individual they selected to give them their first salute – a military tradition.

The 11 officers who earned their undergraduate degrees from Widener last week, and the military careers for which they prepared, included:

  • Joshua Aarsen, field artillery
  • Othniel Degahson, field artillery
  • Emily DeOrio, nursing
  • Jacob Fisher, armor
  • Kevin Fitzgerald, field artillery
  • Jeffrey Miekley, field artillery
  • Madison Murphy, transportation
  • Meghan O'Donnell, adjutant general
  • William Rodgers, aviation
  • Hannah Specht, nursing
  • Vincent Starkey, adjutant general

The program speaker was three-star retired Lieutenant General Tony Ierardi, the uncle of West Chester University graduating cadet Stephanie Ierardi. He advised the new officers to acknowledge and reflect upon the responsibility that they hold to their country, their units, and the soldiers that they may one day lead. 

“The army and the nation are counting on you to do what’s right even when you may find yourself in the most challenging circumstances,” said Lt. Gen. Ierardi. “Be faithful to the institution and always serve the army, the constitution, and the people of the United States with integrity and honor.”

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President Robertson, Dr. Scheer, and Paul Beideman posing with the honorary degree.
Widener University

Widener University Awards Honorary Degree to Global Thought Leader and Innovator Dr. August-Wilhelm Scheer

Widener University awarded August-Wilhelm Scheer, PhD with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa at the 2023 commencement ceremony for the School of Business Administration and the Center for Graduate and Continuing Studies held on May 10.

Scheer is a scholar, innovator, and educator in the field of business process management, and his works on the subject have been widely published. The advancements he has made have shaped business operations on a global scale, and he has been instrumental in evolving enterprise modeling and the future of work. 

In his address to graduates, Scheer imparted words of wisdom and advice. He emphasized that being part of a team has been imperative for him as he advanced through his career and personal life. 

“The performance of a team is the sum of the individual contributions; however, the team members must fit together to produce an overall result. For this, it must be made up as far as possible of heterogeneous members whose characteristics and skills complement each other well,” said Scheer. 

He elaborated with examples throughout history, demonstrating that he believes a good team needs visionaries, analysts, characters, and diplomats in order to thrive. He concluded with encouraging graduates to take a leap of faith, even when they may not be certain of the outcome.  

“Many inventions and discoveries, such as penicillin, were made by accident. But they would not have been made if inventors had not begun their journey into uncharted territory… Have a vision for your journey and stay excited,” he said.

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Widener University Small Business Development Center logo
Small Business Development Center

Small Business Development Center Helps Client Secure $50,000 Grant to Develop New Sound Measuring Device

Widener University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has helped countless business owners in getting their businesses off the ground, and counseling them as they grow. Recently, the SBDC helped a client, Felicia Doggett of Metropolitan Acoustics LLC, secure the $50,000 Women’s Entrepreneur Grant from JVS Fund Philadelphia

Doggett worked her primary consultant, Bill Pearce, to connect with SBDC technology entrepreneurs and partner solutions. The team at the SBDC helped to coach Doggett through every step of the process including a 10-minute presentation to the JVS Fund committee. 

“Bill has been so helpful. He introduced us to several solutions and opened many doors… It was great to have someone like Bill and the SBDC behind him to bounce ideas off of and answer questions,” said Doggett. 

The funding will help Doggett and Metropolitan Acoustics LLC advance their new SenSV™ device, a revolutionary remote laboratory monitoring platform that measures vibration, audible sound, and ultrasonic sound for the environment of laboratories like microscopy and animal housing labs. It’s important for labs to be able to measure how sounds such as traffic, HVAC, and more can impact their research. 

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Headshot of John Culhane
Delaware Law School

Delaware Law Professor Publishes Book on the Impact Marriage Equality has on Families

John G. Culhane, professor of law and co-director of the Family Health Law & Policy Institute at Delaware Law School, recently published the book "More Than Marriage: Forming Families after Marriage Equality." The book explores how the march toward marriage equality spun off a number of other legal statuses and investigates how the law has expanded and where it falls short. Filled with relatable, in-depth interviews giving a voice to the millions of Americans building family structures outside the protections of marriage—whether by choice, necessity, or exclusion. Culhane proposes an updated legal status that offers flexible and portable benefits for a diverse range of commitments and needs.

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor, Interdisciplinary Student Team Publish Cancer Immunotherapy Discovery

Professor of Chemical Engineering Sachin Patil and a team of student-researchers published a paper in the journal Computational Biology and Chemistry titled, “Discovery of small-molecule PD-1/PD-L1 antagonists through combined virtual screening and experimental validation.” The paper presented an integrated drug discovery approach leading to identification of a novel PD-1/PD-L1 antagonist that may serve as a starting point for further optimization into potent, small-molecule cancer immunotherapies. The team included students from Widener's chemical engineering and computer science program, as well as Computer Science Professor Jeffrey Rufinus and technician John Stoddart. Michelle DiFrancesco '18, a chemical engineering graduate, served as the student team leader and study first author. She is currently continuing her cancer immunotherapy work at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a leading global biopharmaceutical company. 

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Jordan B. Smith
College of Arts & Sciences

History Professor to Attend Summer Seminar on Legacies of American Slavery

Assistant Professor of History Jordan Smith has been chosen to attend the 2023 Legacies of American Slavery Faculty Seminar hosted by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Smith’s field of research covers a variety of topics stemming from the enslavement of individuals of African descent. From seventeenth- and eighteenth-century rum production through to the historical impact of slavery on the area now known as Chester. He brings this work and much more into his classes as well as into the community to educate others on this deep history.

The seminar is part of the larger “Legacies of American Slavery” project spearheaded by the CIC, which aims to address the history of slavery with faculty and students from CIC member institutions in various ways. 

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Sara K. Berkowitz 260x300
College of Arts & Sciences

Art History Professor to Attend CIC Summer Seminar

Assistant Professor of Art History Sara Berkowitz has been selected to attend the Council of Independent Colleges’ upcoming seminar “Power and Absence: Connecting Renaissance Art to Diverse Audiences,” in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The seminar will explore European art ca. 1400-1700 and discuss ways to open conversations about historical representations of different populations. Attendees will collaborate and have special access to works from the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, tour of the National Civil Rights Museum, and hear from experts in the art history field. The goal is for attending faculty to develop ways to approach potentially difficult conversations around representation in historical art pieces in their classrooms so that they are engaging and beneficial for students.

Dr. Berkowitz hopes to strengthen her knowledge and continue to grow opportunities for students to have powerful conversations around art. 

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Thomas Wilk
College of Arts & Sciences

Philosophy Faculty Selected for Summer Philosophy Institute

Thomas Wilk, assistant teaching professor of philosophy, has been selected from a competitive pool of applicants to take part in the Council of Independent College’s (CIC) New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institute in July 2023. 

This program, funded by The Mellon Foundation, is designed for philosophy faculty to attend, collaborate, and bring new knowledge and skills back to their classrooms. As part of the institute, attending faculty will also receive a grant to support new curricular activities at their own institutions.

Dr. Wilk is most interested in learning how to grow philosophy at Widener to make it more interdisciplinary as he sees great potential for collaboration between philosophy and many other programs. 

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Head shot of student Taylor Easter with All In voting challenge frame
College of Arts & Sciences

Political Science and Sociology Student Receives ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll

By: Riya Sembhi '25 secondary education, English

Taylor Easter ‘25, a political science and sociology major, has been recognized for her nonpartisan democratic engagement work as an awardee of the 2023 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s Student Voting Honor Roll. She was one of just 175 students nationally to be recognized through the program.

ALL IN works to improve civic engagement, voter participation, and political education with campuses nationwide.  

The award highlights Easter’s commitment to increasing student voting rates, education, and turnout efforts, as well as ensuring equitable access to the polls. With a focus on civic engagement, Easter hopes to continue her political engagement on campus and beyond. She credited Director of Civic Engagement LaShanda A. Patton for unwavering support and encouragement of her efforts at Widener.

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President Stacey Robertson reading to students of the CDC
Child Development Center

Child Development Center Wins Gold for Equity in Early Childhood Education

Widener University’s Child Development Center (WCDC) has won Gold for the 2023 Equity in Early Childhood Education from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The award was announced during a visit by President Stacey Robertson, where she read "The Paperbag Princess" to the children.

This award recognizes early childhood education programs and professionals for their commitment to Pennsylvania children through embracing diversity, upholding the principles of fairness and justice, and working to eliminate structural inequities that limit equitable learning opportunities. 

"This award highlights The Widener Child Development Center's commitment to ensuring every child receives a nurturing, loving, and well-rounded educational experience throughout their time at the WCDC,” said WCDC Director Alicia Vaux. “The WCDC is proud to be a pillar within the community acknowledging and celebrating children and their families.” 

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(top left) Jessica Guzman, (bottom left) Christine Woody, (right) Jennifer Padilla Wyse
College of Arts & Sciences

Three Humanities Faculty Invited to Join Summer Leadership Development Program

Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Jessica Guzman, Assistant Professor of English Christine Woody, and Assistant Professor of Sociology Jennifer Padilla Wyse have been invited to participate in Swarthmore College’s Humanities Leadership Development Program. 

This program is designed for faculty in the humanities and will provide facilitated discussions, guest speakers, case studies, and more for faculty from Widener and select other Philadelphia-area colleges and universities. The goal is to support faculty in growing their leadership skills and continuing to step into leadership roles within their institutions. The experience is funded by a grant from The Mellon Foundation, a known advocate for humanities and the arts.

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Zora DeSeignora '23 with the Janice Bond Memorial Plaque and Award for Graduating Seniors
College of Arts & Sciences

Spanish and Communications Student Receives Janice Bond Memorial Award for Graduating Senior

By: Riya Sembhi '25 secondary education, English

Zora DeSeignora ’23, a double major in Spanish and Communications, has been awarded the Janice Bond Memorial Plaque and Award for Graduating Seniors from the Pan American Association of Philadelphia. She is the first student from Widener to receive this award, which is given to graduating seniors of local colleges and universities for excellence in courses related to Latin America during their four years.

The award was presented at the 2023 Pan American Day Celebration & Scholarship Luncheon at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Joining Zora at the event was her father, John, and Professor of Spanish Beatriz Urraca. The luncheon provided networking opportunities for students present, as well as a keynote address from Ramón Eduardo Martínez de la Guardia, Ambassador of Panama to the United States.

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Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Logo
School of Business Administration

Widener SBDC Staff Member Nominated to Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council by PA Governor

Jeremy Hancher, EMAP Program Manager for Widener’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and adjunct professor in the School of Business Administration, has been nominated by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro to serve as the state’s official representative on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

In the nomination, Governor Shapiro recognized Hancher for his over 15 years of experience working for the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) in southeastern Pennsylvania and within the SBDC. He also currently serves as an advisory panel member of the MAFMC. 

Hancher notes that he brings these experiences into his teaching to try and share sustainability insights with undergraduate business students in his classes. 

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Marina Barnett
Center for Social Work Education

Social Work Faculty Recognized for Commitment to Community Work Through Pandemic

Associate Professor of social work Marina Barnett has been awarded the Legion of Honor Award from the Chapel of Four Chaplains for her commitment to, and continued work with, the Chester community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Legion of Honor Award is one of the highest honors given by the Chapel of Four Chaplains. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional selfless service on the part of an individual which contributes to the well-being of his or her community, and to a spirit of interfaith cooperation. 

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Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Faculty Presents Funded Research at International Symposium

Sachin Patil, professor of chemical engineering, attended and presented findings at the Heart Development and Disease: From Genes to Cures conference hosted by Keystone Symposia in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The conference gathered researchers from around the world to advance knowledge and understanding of heart formation and homeostatic function and how derangement in these processes lead to diseases and organ dysfunction.

In his presentation, “Small-molecule stabilizers (and inhibitors) of immune checkpoint PD1-PDL1 for heart disease and beyond,” Patil highlighted his novel findings on the role of immunotherapy in the heart disease treatment. Patil’s research is supported by a funding grant from the W. W. Smith Charitable Trust.  

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