Noteworthy

Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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Sara K. Berkowitz 260x300
College of Arts & Sciences

Art History Faculty Named a Periclean Faculty Leader

Sara Berkowitz, assistant professor of art history, has been selected as a Periclean Faculty Leader. The grant will help to fund a new humanities course in the College of Arts & Sciences which will expose students to cultural themes in art and allow for community engagement in collaboration with the Cultural Arts and Technology Center (CAAT) in Chester.

“With this new course students will not only learn about the value of the arts as a medium for communicating important messages about civil rights, but they will also give back to their community by supporting local artists and art forms that are often ignored in the traditional canon of art history,” said Berkowitz.

The new course, "Art History 188: Public Art: From Monuments to Murals", is set to begin in Spring 2025 and will be open to all students.

Periclean Faculty Leaders are a group of committed scholars dedicated to incorporating civic engagement into the curriculum while empowering students to use their academic knowledge to tackle real-world problems. Through the support of this program, they are leaders on campus and within a larger national context.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/art-history-faculty-named-periclean-faculty-leader

Three people pose for a photo with an award
Student Accessibility Services

Staff Member Honored by Yeadon Borough

Nicole Beaty, assistant director for student accessibility services, was presented an award from Yeadon Borough for the successful planning and execution of Yeadon’s 75th Annual Flag Day Celebration. Beaty, a native “Yeadonite,” currently serves as chair of Yeadon Borough Council’s Recreation Committee. She was recognized for her work by Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins and Council President Latoya Monroe.

Yeadon, Pennsylvania is credited for being the “Home of Flag Day” due to longtime resident William T. Kerr’s tireless efforts lobbying for Flag Day to every American President from William McKinley to Harry S. Truman. For his efforts, Kerr was invited to witness Flag Day be signed into legislation on June 14, 1949. His grandson, Thomas Kerr, was in attendance at Yeadon’s annual event. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/staff-member-honored-yeadon-borough
 

Babatunde O. Odusami
School of Business Administration

Finance Faculty Member Publishes New Book

Babatunde Odusami, professor of finance in the School of Business Administration, has published a new book titled “Financial Data Science with SAS.”

The book, which is designed for university students and financial professionals, covers of the theory and practical implementation of the various types of analytical techniques and quantitative tools used in the financial services industry and shows readers how to implement strategies such as data visualization, simulation, machine learning models, and more using real-world examples.

The book was published in partnership with SAS, a global leader in artificial intelligence, analytics, and statistical computing.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/finance-faculty-member-publishes-new-book
 

Justin Sitron wearing a blue shirt smiling at the camera on the beach
College of Health and Human Services

Human Sexuality Faculty Named President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

Justin Sitron, associate professor in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, has been named president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS). Sitron will serve a two-year term which began in 2023.

SSSS is a global community dedicated to advancing knowledge of sexuality and communicating scientifically based research to professionals, policy makers, and the public. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/human-sexuality-faculty-named-president-society-scientific-study-sexuality

Sachin P. Patil
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor and Student Publish Promising Findings for Future Alzheimer's Disease Treatments

Sachin Patil, professor of chemical engineering and director of the NanoBio Lab, and Bella Kuehn '24 '25, a chemistry and chemical engineering double major in the 4+1 engineering program, published a paper in the journal Pharmaceuticals titled, “Discovery of Small Molecule Glycolytic Stimulants for Enhanced ApoE Lipidation in Alzheimer's Disease Cell Model." 

The study established, for the first time, a possible link between two major Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes, namely apolipoprotein E (ApoE), the most significant risk factor for AD, and abnormal glucose metabolism, which is an early and distinct feature of AD brain. The paper presented an integrated drug discovery approach leading to the identification of novel modulators of the glycolysis-ApoE nexus (Lonidamine, Phenformin, and Berberine), which may form the basis for the much-needed, disease-modifying therapies against the devastating disease like Alzheimer’s.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/engineering-professor-and-student-publish-promising-findings-future-alzheimers-disease-treatments

Kripa Dholakia 260x300
College of Health & Human Services

Physical Therapy Professor Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award

Kripa Dholakia, assistant professor in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Rwanda for the 2024-2025 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. As part of this grant, Dholakia will spend 10 months from September 2024 to July 2025 in Kigali at the University of Rwanda. She will teach content related to her clinical expertise in pediatric physical therapy.

Dholakia joined Widener’s physical therapy faculty in 2019 with more than 20 years of experience in pediatric physical therapy in the medical and community setting. Following her doctoral scholarship, which explored the ethics of international service-learning as a teaching model, Dholakia’s research investigates global health and disability issues in low- and middle-income countries. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/physical-therapy-professor-receives-fulbright-us-scholar-award

Cadets stand in uniform in front of Old Main with American flags waving in the background
College of Arts & Sciences

ROTC Dauntless Battalion Commissions 2024 Officers

Widener University’s ROTC program celebrated its 2024 Commissioning Ceremony in Alumni Auditorium on Wednesday, May 22 with 13 cadets taking the oath of office as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Seven Widener students were among the cadets commissioned. The group of 13 hailed from three 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 seven officers who earned their undergraduate degrees from Widener last week, and the military careers for which they prepared, included:

  • Connor Ciccone, nursing
  • Samantha Coon, military police
  • Caleb Dahl, field artillery
  • Kevin Draeger, medical services
  • Joo Hong, quartermaster
  • Luke Spera, engineer
  • Anthony Steglik, quartermaster

Coon, Dahl and Draeger commissioned with distinguished military graduate honors.

The program speaker Kenneth Wong, a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, advised the new officers to acknowledge their responsibility as leaders. Wong shared his keys to good leadership- humility, empathy, courage, listening and learning, and encouraging your fellow soldiers. 

Pennsylvania Military College alumnus Dave McNulty ’63 presented the saber to the top cadet of this class. McNulty reflected on his own commissioning, 61 years ago, and shared words of wisdom with the newly commissioned cadets. 

“I come to you as a voice from the past. It’s the same message we received at my commissioning in 1959,” McNulty said. “Character counts. It counted then, and it counts today more than ever.”
 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/rotc-dauntless-battalion-commissions-2024-officers

College of Arts & Sciences

Alumnus and Adjunct Faculty Member Recognized with Excellence in Teaching Award

John Conte ’09, adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts & Sciences and co-director of the Widener University Observatory, has received the Excellence in Teaching Award for 2024 from Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union.

Conte is recognized for his work as a physics teacher at Interboro High School. A cash prize is presented to award recipients for classroom expenses, as well as directly to their schools.

“I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the fact that I was selected among thousands of hardworking and dedicated teachers from all over Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. I believe teaching is one of the most rewarding careers you could have. It requires a lot of time and energy but the ability to make a positive impact on so many lives is an absolute privilege,” said Conte. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/alumnus-and-adjunct-faculty-member-recognized-excellence-teaching-award

Chelsea Abbas
College of Arts & Sciences

Anthropology Faculty Awarded Film Project Grant

Chelsea Abbas, associate professor of anthropology, has received funding from the Independence Public Media Foundation’s Local Filmmaker Fund.

Abbas’ work, “Love in the Time of Migration,” was awarded $20,000 in the documentary category. Directed by Abbas, the short, multimedia documentary follows the long-distance love story of a couple and explores the question: “can love conquer all?”

Abbas is one of 30 recipients of this year’s funding. The Local Filmmaker Fund aims to support Philadelphia-area storytellers with the development of their films and gaining new skills in their fields. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/anthropology-faculty-awarded-film-project-grant

Five student leaders pose holding awards
Office of Student Engagement

Campus Leaders Honored at Annual Award Ceremony

Widener recognized students, faculty and staff, and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the campus experience during the 2024 Student Leadership Awards ceremony, held on April 28. Organized by the Office of Student Engagement, the ceremony had the theme of “Destination Leadership.”

This year’s honorees included:

Student Leader of the Year: Miranda Yanzuk (Pride Activities Council)

Emerging Student Leader Award: Saleeth Ulloa-Lasso

Student Organization of the Year: National Council of Negro Women

Most Improved Student Organization: Council of Independent Organizations

Student Program of the Year: Welcome Back Bash (Pride Activities Council)

Expanding Perspectives Award: My Beautiful Black Hair (National Council of Negro Women)

The Unsung Hero Award: Dalten Stone

Fraternal Values Award: The Tau Alpha Chapter (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.)

Outstanding Sorority Woman Award: Sara Ratay (College Panhellenic Council)

Outstanding Fraternity Man Award: Alexander Preisler (Phi Delta Theta)

Emerging Sorority Woman Award: Tavia Fair (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.); and Navonna Dais (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.)

Emerging Fraternity Man Award: Luke Pyle-Ballak (Alpha Tau Omega)

John J. Zackowski Chapter Leadership Award: Rachel Lapp (Delta Phi Epsilon)

Ryan T. Riley "Pride" Award: Kristoff Bien-Aime

Andrew A. Bushko Advisor of the Year: Dr. Sharmane S. Walker, executive director, Continuing Studies

Clarence R. Moll Professor of the Year: Samantha Kranyak, instructor of accounting

Student Engagement Fellowship Award: Corina Evans, director, Pride Recreation Center; and Jennifer Scuderi, assistant director, Pride Recreation Center

Share Link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/campus-leaders-honored-annual-award-ceremony

Head shot of Professor Erin Daly
Delaware Law School

Delaware Law professor doing international-level environmental rights work

Delaware Law School Professor Erin Daly participated in the hearings of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights when it considered the request for an advisory opinion on the climate emergency and human rights submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Chile.

Daly and Soledad Garcia Muñoz, the former special rapporteur for economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, submitted a brief to the court on the indivisibility and inter-dependence of human rights, particularly in the context of climate change. They encouraged the Court to take a holistic view of the human rights impacts of climate change, deeply rooted in the law of human dignity. Hearings in the case are being held in Barbados in April and in Brazil in May.

Daly also recently released a draft international covenant on environmental rights, as chair of the drafting committee of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Rights, known by its French acronym CIDCE. The draft has been translated into Arabic, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Turkish. She has also been invited to join the Green Rights Coalition, an international body that supports environmental human rights.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/31566/

Kayla Van Osten and Ken Byerly post for a photo in front of a bookcase. Kayla holds Ken's book and a plaque.
Wolfgram Memorial Library

Library Staff Honored by PMC Alumnus

Kayla Van Osten, assistant librarian at Wolfgram Memorial Library, has been recognized by Pennsylvania Military College alumnus Ken Byerly ’68 for her contributions to his new book, “Paid in Full: Tales of Bravery and Sacrifice.”

Byerly’s book tells the stories eight PMC graduates who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Van Osten assisted Byerly in researching the alums in the year leading up to the book’s release, uncovering information and records from their time as cadets and beyond by searching through university archives and area news outlets of the time.

“Kayla’s work and communications were exceptional,” said Byerly, a Vietnam veteran himself. “What she uncovered was amazing and so helpful to me to be able to explain who these young men were when they were at PMC and in service to their country.”

A special, hardcover edition of Byerly’s new book were donated to the library.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/library-staff-honored-pmc-alumnus

Students in Washington DC
College of Arts & Sciences

Gender, Women, and Sexuality Students Attend National Feminist Leadership Conference

A group of four gender, women, and sexuality studies students recently attended the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. The focus of the conference was to educate and motivate young people - specifically college students - on feminist issues.

Conference speakers covered topics such as reproductive rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. Attendees also learned about challenges that can come into play when trying to implement a political action.

In addition to attending the conference, the students met with a staff member of Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, representative of Pennsylvania’s 5th district which is home to Widener and much of the surrounding area. They shared their concerns about various feminist issues and expressed interest in continuing to build a relationship with Congresswoman Scanlon’s office.

Each of the four students received scholarship funding from the Feminist Majority Foundation to attend.

“Students reported that this trip was transformational,” said Mariah Schug, director of gender, women, and sexuality studies. “They made important career contacts with feminist political leaders - contacts which may influence the course of their careers. Finally, they left the conference with a new sense of empowerment and commitment to taking political action in their own communities.”

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/gender-women-and-sexuality-students-attend-national-feminist-leadership-conference

School of Engineering

Engineering Faculty Awarded More Than $200,000 from Manufacturing PA Innovation Program

Faculty in the School of Engineering have been awarded grant funding through the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program. Funded in part by the Department of Community and Economic Development, this fellowship program pairs graduate and undergraduate students with local manufacturers on research projects to develop new technologies and advance innovation statewide. 

Three Widener engineering projects have been selected to participate in the 2024 initiative:

  1. Babak Eslami, associate professor, and Kamran Fouladi, associate professor and associate dean, mechanical engineering.

    Associate Professors Eslami and Fouladi are working with industrial partner American Additive Manufacturing to enhance durability and repeatability of 3D printing with Polyeth-ether ketone (PEEK) polymer. During this project, a Widener student-research team are modeling the industrial 3D printers used by American Additive Manufacturing to perform computational fluid dynamics study to have a better understanding of flows around the parts. Multi-scale material characterization will be performed on 3D printed parts in order to develop the optimum printing condition for PEEK.

  2. John Suarez, associate professor, electrical engineering.

    Associate Professor John Suarez and his student-research team will develop a radio-frequency system for sensing roadway nonuniformities in front of vehicles. The system is intended to operate in vehicles moving at relatively high speeds. The nonuniformities of greatest interest are potholes or other defects in the road which can damage vehicles or create unsafe conditions. Dr. Suarez’s group will work with Dorman Products, an industry leader in aftermarket automotive products located in Colmar, Pennsylvania.

  3. Xiaochao Tang, associate professor, and Vicki Brown, professor, civil engineering.

    Associate Professor Xiaochao Tang and Professor Vicki Brown along with a team of student-researchers are working to create a low-carbon sustainable alternative for concrete, the most widely used construction material. Cement, a key component of concrete, is a highly energy-intensive product that releases a large amount of carbon dioxide when produced. In collaboration with two partners, the Delaware County Reginal Water Quality Control Authority (DELCORA) in Chester, Pennsylvania and Conewago Manufacturing, LLC in Hanover, Pennsylvania, this project will utilize sewage sludge ash, a byproduct from DELCORA's wastewater treatment facility, to create an inorganic polymer binding agent, known as geopolymer, at ambient or slightly elevated temperatures. This project will potentially enable repurposing the ash, which would otherwise be disposed of in landfills, for beneficial reuse at scale. The project will also utilize Conewago's concrete mix and testing facility to characterize the geopolymer product and cast pilot scale test bed. 

The Manufacturing PA project was financed [in part] by funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/engineering-faculty-awarded-more-200000-manufacturing-pa-innovation-program

Anne Krouse poses with other award winners.
School of Nursing

Nursing Dean Honored for Excellence in Nursing Education

Anne Krouse, dean of nursing, received the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Medallion for distinguished achievement presented by Villanova University. Krouse, a Villanova alumna, was celebrated for her work as an educator and influential leader in the development and delivery of nursing education. Under Krouse’s direction, Widener’s School of Nursing has been repeatedly named a Center of Excellence, and in 2023, was the only recipient in the category of advancing the science of nursing education. Throughout her career, Krouse has served as president of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association, and completed two consecutive three-year terms as the National League of Nursing. Her contributions to the fields have been recognized in the past with honors from the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania, a fellowship in the Leadership in Academic Nursing Program for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, and the Excellence in Leadership Award, Eta Beta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/nursing-dean-honored-excellence-nursing-education

Lisa Grimm smiles at the camera in front of a gray background wearing a black top and gray jacket
College of Arts & Sciences

Lisa Grimm Named Dean of Widener University’s College of Arts & Sciences

Lisa Grimm has been named dean of Widener University’s College of Arts & Sciences effective July 1, following the retirement of David Leaman, who has served as dean of the college since 2018. 

Grimm is a respected educator and leader in the field of psychology. She comes to Widener from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), where she has served in many roles since 2009, including as a member of the faculty, associate dean, and, most recently, interim dean of TCNJ’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. In her role as interim dean, Grimm has led nearly 100 faculty and staff and over 2,000 students across ten departments and many additional interdisciplinary programs. 

Grimm is an accomplished teacher and scholar with a commitment to civic and global engagement, community-engaged learning, and mentorship. Her notable projects include serving as co-chair for the Humanities and Social Sciences Committee Against Anti-Black Racism and working closely with TCNJ’s Center for Global Engagement to support integrating global learning into coursework.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Grimm to Widener to lead the College of Arts & Sciences,” said Provost Andrew Workman. “Arts & Sciences is so deeply engrained in the education of every student regardless of major, and Dr. Grimm brings with her a proven track record of leadership and commitment to belonging that will help to enhance opportunities for students. Her experience with creating new, interdisciplinary programs, and her dedication to being not only an educator- but a mentor- makes her a great fit to help the university continue to grow and provide the best experience for students.”

“I am excited to join the talented faculty and staff of the College of Arts & Sciences. It is abundantly clear that they are a strong community focused on student belonging and helping students achieve their goals. I look forward to working together to build on the strong foundation of student success inside and outside of the classroom,” said Grimm. 

As a cognitive psychologist Grimm’s scholarship on structure and content of mental representations is highly regarded and she often collaborates with students on publications and conference presentations. She received her PhD from the University of Texas, where she also completed her post-doctoral fellowship. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/lisa-grimm-named-dean-widener-universitys-college-arts-sciences
 

Xiaochao Tang
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Awarded EPA Grant to Develop Low-Carbon Sustainable Cement Product

Xiaochao Tang, associate professor of civil engineering, was awarded approximately $75,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, as part of the Agency’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Program.

The P3 Program supports faculty-student research designed to develop innovative solutions that address leading environmental and public health challenges. Tang's research aims to develop a process that uses industrial byproduct to create low-carbon sustainable cement product in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and solid waste that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills. This multidisciplinary project boasts educational opportunities to undergraduate students across the engineering programs and infuses sustainability into senior design projects in multiple departments.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/engineering-professor-awarded-epa-grant-develop-low-carbon-sustainable-cement-product

Hamza_Profile_260x300
School of Engineering

Engineering Professor Awarded Nearly $200,000 from National Science Foundation

Ali Hamza, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has been awarded approximately $200,000 in grant funding from the prestigious Engineering Research Initiation program from the National Science Foundation, or NSF. The grant will support Hamza's research, which aims to revolutionize cognitive sensing technologies for radar and wireless communication systems. By enhancing interference mitigation, using artificial intelligence techniques, Hamza’s pioneering work promises improved signal detection with applications spanning wireless communication, aerospace, healthcare, and automotive industries. These contributions will significantly advance the radar imaging for self-driving cars, weather and military radar, radar-based human activity monitoring, fall detection, and remote vital sign estimation. With the integration of machine learning and AI algorithms, the project seeks to optimize radio frequency spectrum utilization, alleviate congestion, and expand bandwidth, ultimately enhancing quality of service and regulatory capabilities. 

The funding, which marks the first NSF grant for the electrical engineering department, will support undergraduate and graduate research.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/engineering-professor-awarded-nearly-200000-national-science-foundation

Micki Davis holding flowers standing alongside President Stacey Robertson at the award event.
Chief Diversity Officer

Chief Diversity Officer honored with Woman of Achievement Award

The Delaware County Women’s Commission honored Chief Diversity Officer Michelle “Micki” Meekins-Davis with a Woman of Achievement Award at the commission’s awards celebrating Women’s History Month.

Meekins-Davis was one of three women honored under the theme “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” for her dedication to championing these principles within Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The awards recognize honorees for their invaluable accomplishments and contributions toward bettering the lives and opportunities of all women, and for their tireless advocacy for a future in which women can achieve their full potential, free from barriers and discrimination. 

Meekins-Davis has been a part of Widener for over three decades, after starting as a part-time departmental assistant and rising to become the university’s inaugural full-time chief diversity officer. Along the way, she has served in various roles, such as the founding director of the Multicultural Student Affairs Office, where she supported and mentored students from underrepresented backgrounds. She developed innovative and effective programs, such as the 1821 Experience Pre-Orientation Program and the Pride Mentoring Program. She contributed to the university’s Common Ground Initiative by bringing DiversiTEA gatherings to Widener, where conversations have fostered a sense of belonging and a culture of respect.

Meekins-Davis is a member of Widener President Stacey Robertson’s leadership team. Robertson introduced her at the awards event.

“Micki is the perfect embodiment of this honor,” she said. “She has dedicated her life and career to creating a more just and equitable society, and her work has touched thousands of lives in Delaware County and beyond.”

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/31515/
 

The University Relations team poses with their awards.
University Relations

University Relations Wins Big at CUPRAP Conference

The University Relations department won six “Cuppie” awards from the annual CUPRAP conference. CUPRAP, or the College and University Public Relations and Associated Professionals, presents the awards for creative excellence in marketing and communications. The competition drew more than 400 entries this year from colleges and universities predominately located in the northeast.

The department won:

  • Gold, for the Family Connections quarterly e-newsletter for families of undergraduate students.
  • Gold, for the Widener Pride families website.
  • Silver, for the pre-move-in-shopping-advice video shot at Target and shared on social media.
  • Silver, for the admit packet prepared for parents of admitted undergraduates.
  • Silver, for the public relations campaign built around the 2023 President for a Day event.
  • Honorable mention, for the Pride 101 social media campaign videos.
  • Honorable mention, for an OPED co-authored by President Stacey Robertson and Ursinus College President Robyn Hannigan.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/university-relations-wins-awards-cuprap-conference