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Attendees of the Harlem Renaissance mini-camp
College of Arts & Sciences

Humanities Hosts Mini-Camp Examining the Harlem Renaissance

The first Humanities mini-camp was held by the Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences. The camp was led by Widener English and History students and explored the intellectual and artistic history of the Harlem Renaissance.

The event was the culmination of work by faculty and students, both past and present, to bring prospective students and members of the community to campus to learn about topics in the humanities. Attendees at the event included area high schoolers and community members.

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Members of the Little Mermaid cast in costume
FreshBaked Theater Company

Students at Widener’s FreshBaked Theatre Company Perform Little Mermaid

By Matthew Sullivan '22 communications studies

Widener University’s FreshBaked Theatre Company performed their first show since 2019, a fresh adaptation of Little Mermaid that places the act of storytelling on center stage, written by award winning playwright Mike Kenny. Audiences gained admission to the hour-long show and post-show discussion by freewill donations, with all proceeds benefitting Chester community programs. 

FreshBaked Theatre Company is part of the university’s community service mission. They present inventive drama for schools and families in the greater Chester community. Little Mermaid is produced by arrangement with New Plays for Young Audiences. 

Featured student cast members Anna Greydanus, Maura O’Brien, McKenna Stine, and Leo-Paul Wahl were led by director of FreshBaked Theatre Company Lisa Cocchiarale. Performances of the show occurred on November 5th, 9th, 11th, and 12th.

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Stacey Robertson and Serena Zabin speaking at a Widener University table
College of Arts & Sciences

Widener University Hosts Author Serena Zabin for Revolutionary Reads Event

By Matthew Sullivan '22 communications studies

Members of Widener and the surrounding communities attended America 250 PA Delco’s Revolutionary Reads event, hosted by Widener University at the Kapelski Learning Center on November 6th, where visiting author Serena Zabin discussed her book The Boston Massacre: A Family History. The event consisted of a discussion of the book between Serena Zabin and Widener President Stacey Robertson, a question-and-answer session with the audience, and concluded with a reception and book signing. 

Revolutionary Reads is an annual, year-long reading event happening through 2026, where the America 250 PA Delco committee selects a book about the history of the United States of America for the Delaware County community to read. Each book that is chosen by the committee commemorates the upcoming 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with the mission to “ignite imaginations, elevate diverse stories, inspire service, and highlight the American founding and 250 years of American history through Delco’s unique lens.” 

Serena Zabin is a professor of history and director of the American studies program at Carleton College. Her book, The Boston Massacre: A Family History, explores the Boston Massacre through stories of political and personal conflicts between the soldiers, colonists, and their families during the revolutionary war.

America 250 PA Delco partnered with Widener University led by Dr. Jordan B. Smith, assistant professor of history, and the Delaware County Library System to present the Revolutionary Reads Community Read visiting author at Widener University. 

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Andrea Martin with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Chemistry Professor Honored with Teaching Innovation Award

Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrea Martin has been recognized with the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award, announced at the 2022 faculty awards program. 

The award recognizes faculty members, either individually or in teams, who have designed, implemented, and assessed an innovative or experimental teaching and learning project. 

Martin has a deep commitment to innovative, inclusive, and continuously renewed teaching of undergraduate chemistry.  This includes in-class structured group activities and frequent low-stakes assignments that are designed to build content knowledge and process skills simultaneously. She uses “Math Minute” videos to address deficiencies in the algebra needed for success in chemistry, and a flipped classroom model that involves making lecture material online and using the class period for problem solving. Martin uses applied process-oriented guided inquiry learning to include all students in active-learning group problem-solving, where students take turns with different roles of manager, recorder, reporter, and reflector – to explore chemistry problems as a team. 

Martin helped create Widener’s Peer Learning Assistant Program to support class goals and offer feedback on class activities. These exemplary, innovative, and impactful multi-faceted teaching projects advance the Widener mission to provide active and inclusive learning experiences for all students.

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Jayne Thompson with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Member in English honored with Distinguished Teaching Award

Associate Teaching Professor of English Jayne Thompson received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award at Widener’s 2022 faculty awards program. The honor is given annually to recognize one outstanding faculty member and is funded by the Lindback Foundation as a means of honoring dedicated faculty members at universities across the Philadelphia region.

Thompson has worked more than two decades to join her passion for teaching literature and creative writing with deep engagement in the Chester community.  She has made the act of writing a central tool for addressing the hopelessness and pain of people caught in the "school-to-prison pipeline."  Her work has grown organically from her experiences with high school students, incarcerated people and community groups.

Thompson has included students through the Chester Writers House and by creating and teaching the Community Literacy and Social Justice course. Along with Widener students, she began a women’s writing group called The World Split Open Story Collaborative for those who live, work, volunteer, and study in Chester.  It encourages women to tell their stories, share life experiences, and explore their sense of agency.

From her work with the Chester School District; Chester Made and Chester Cultural Corridor; Widener University’s service learning, Bonner Leaders, and Periclean Faculty Leadership programs; and multiple places of communal gathering, to her role on the Mayor’s Advisory Council at Chester City Hall, Thompson’s work in Chester supports vibrant communities.

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Shana Maier with award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Outstanding Researcher Award goes to Criminal Justice faculty member

Profession of Criminal Justice Shana Maier was honored at the 2022 faculty awards program with the Outstanding Researcher Award. 

The award recognizes a faculty member who has exhibited distinction in scholarly work. Through their research, the recipient has made a significant contribution to advancement of their profession or discipline, and to the university’s mission and vision. 

Maier’s research addresses society’s contemporary conflicts and hot-button issues such as student fear of crime and perception of safety; marijuana decriminalization; jury instructions; and sexual violence and victimization. Throughout her career she has established an impressive record of research as someone who undertakes complicated criminal justice and socio-legal analyses. 

Maier has achieved an outstanding record of publication over the previous five years despite pandemic-related slowdowns of scholarly activity and production across higher education. She is committed to actively engaging undergraduate and graduate students in rigorous academic research and has recently authored four manuscripts for publication with undergraduates.

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Angie Corbo holding award plaque standing alongside provost and president
College of Arts & Sciences

Professor Recognized for Institutional Leadership

Associate Professor Angie Corbo, chair of the Communication Studies program, received the Institutional Leadership Award at Widener’s 2022 faculty awards program.

The award is given annually to a faculty member who has a history of leading university initiatives that further Widener’s vision, mission and strategic objectives. 

Corbo has served her college and the university in leadership roles in faculty governance. She currently serves as faculty chair, and has served on the crisis management team’s academic consulting team. She is part of the High Impact Practice Fair committee, chairs the Breathe Board, and serves on the provost’s Mental Health Task Force.

Corbo is an engaged leader in the campus community, serving as the Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative activities program co-director since 2014. As a co-instructor of Contemporary Issues in Political Engagement, she empowered students to interview political candidates and lobby elected offices to be cognizant of the impact of college student debt. 

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A group photo captures and students and faculty whose projects were named winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium.
Undergraduate Academics

Undergraduate Students Named Winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium

The annual Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) program offers a high-impact experience through faculty-mentored undergraduate research, collaborative engagement, and a student-faculty learning community. The months-long program culminated with a symposium event which allowed participating students to present their projects and findings to the Widener community as well as a panel of volunteer judges who ranked the presentations by category.

The winners of the 2022 SURCA Symposium are:

Biochemistry: Michaela Jemison (advisor: Alexis Nagengast)
Detecting phenotypic difference of Alzheimer’s progression in a variety of Drosophila genotypes

Biology: Zachary Anderson (advisor: Caroline Fortunato)
Understanding the biogeographical patterns of microbial communities within the grassland soils of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Business & Computer Science: Shea’lyn Hubbs & Daniel Wiedl (advisors: Babatunde Odusami & YoungHa Ki)
Green bond performance in the United States

Chemistry: Elana Nguyen (advisor: Robert Mishur)
Microwave-assisted synthesis of transplatin, trans-[Pt[NH3]2Cl2]

Engineering A: Jared Ware (advisors: Babak Eslami &Kamran Fouladi)
Investigation of effect of melting temperature on the quality of 3D printed parts out of PLA filaments

Engineering B: Brian Hoffman (advisor: Dipendu Saha)
Conversion of Styrofoam into value-added products

Environmental: Emily Mills (advisor: Chad Freed)
Spatial modeling to support conservation of Sialia sialis, Eastern Bluebirds, in Pennsylvania

Humanities: Madison Smith & M’Nya Preston (advisor: Jordan Smith)
Hidden History of Widener

Molecular Biology: Adam Oladeji (advisor: Michael Toneff)
Transient expression of miR-200c does not permanently inhibit breast cancer cell aggression

Social Science A: Zora DeSeignora & Kaitlyn Lathrop (advisor: Angela Corbo)
Belonging, inclusion, and collaboration in communication studies: Building self-awareness and community

Social Science B: Cloë Di Flumeri & Marissa Fowler (advisor: Jeremy Backstrom)
Intimate partner violence during civil war

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Kirkbride Exterior Sunset
Chemistry, Chemical Engineering

Faculty and Students Published in Sustainability Journal

Assistant Professor Hongwei Yang, along with collaborators John Mason ’21 and Joanna Weyrich ’23 have had an article, “Mechanic Study of Porosity Formation in Liquid-Assisted Mechanochemical Synthesis of Metal-Organic Framework Cu3(BTC)2  for adsorption-Based Applications,” published in Sustainability, a journal distributed by MDPI. 

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Students at the Stetser Elementary School end of year garden harvest
College of Arts & Sciences

Widener Faculty and Students Join in Stetser Elementary Garden Harvest

Widener students and faculty visited Stetser Elementary School to participate in their annual end-of-the-year garden harvest. The gardening program, developed by professor Bruce Grant, is a place-based program which aims to improve the academic performance of Stetser students in science and promote social engagement in their school community.

The program has engaged Widener students as part of Grant’s academic service learning enhanced courses with the goal of providing students with meaningful work and sustainable community development opportunities.

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Catherine Safran and other conference attendees
College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Presents Workshop on Peer Learning at Annual Conference

Assistant Teaching Professor Catherine Safran was invited to present a workshop at the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society’s Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Safran presented her experience working with Peer-Learning Assistants at Widener in anatomy and physiology lectures and labs.

This annual conference is attended by anatomy and physiology instructors from around the world.

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Four ROTC students commissioned as Army officers standing outdoors with Old Main behind them.
College of Arts & Sciences

ROTC Dauntless Battalion Commissions New Officers

Widener University’s ROTC program celebrated its 2022 Commissioning Ceremony in Alumni Auditorium on Wednesday, May 18 with 22 cadets taking the oath of office as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Four Widener students were among the cadets commissioned. The group of 22 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 four officers who earned their undergraduate degrees from Widener last week, and the military careers for which they prepared, included:

  • Arlie Cesarone, nurse corps officer.
  • Noah Davis, armor officer.
  • Memphis Martin, nurse corps officer. She was commissioned as a distinguished military graduate and also received the commissioning saber – a point of honor that recognized her leadership.
  • Bryanna Ortiz, military intelligence officer.

The program speaker was Major General Patrick J. Donahoe, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. He advised the new officers to maintain their physical fitness, increase their professional knowledge and broaden their horizons intellectually. And, he acknowledged their decisions to focus on serving the country at a challenging time when much of the nation is focused on self.

“Thank you for taking the challenge to lead,” he said. “Lead well. You are well prepared to do so.”

Photo shows from left, Army Second Lieutenants Memphis Martin, Bryanna Ortiz, Arlie Cesarone, and Noah Davis.

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Catherine Safran Profile Image
College of Arts & Sciences

Biology Professor Published in Genetics Journal

Catherine Safran, assistant teaching professor of biology, and her collaborators have had their article, "Osteocytic Pericellular Matrix (PCM): Accelerated Degradation under In Vivo Loading and Unloading Conditions Using a Novel Imaging Approach," published in Genes, a peer-reviewed journal covering genetics and genomics. 

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Michelle Storrod
College of Arts & Sciences

Criminal Justice Professor Publishes Findings on Impact of Phone Removal Among Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Michelle Lyttle Storrod, assistant professor of criminal justice, published a paper in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy demonstrating that removing access to phones for young females in the juvenile justice system can cause a rupture of girls’ digital ecology. The research, generated from an ethnographic study, showed that phones act as a positive and protective force supporting girls through feelings of safety, helping them cope with challenging events at home and on the street. 

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Annalisa Castaldo
College of Arts & Sciences

English Professor Publishes Text on Study of Fictional Versions of Shakespeare

Annalisa Castaldo, associate professor of English and director of Gender Women and Sexuality Studies, published the book "Fictional Shakespeares and Portraits of Genius." The text offers a study of fictional versions of Shakespeare which demonstrates that Shakespeare is used to explore and understand different conceptions of genius. This study is the first to investigate how cultural interpretations of "genius" influence, and are reflected in, fictional portraits of Shakespeare. It explores the wide range of portraits (including children's books, romance novels, graphic novels, and film) that bring Shakespeare to life, and suggests that different portrayals present different conceptions of genius. 

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Paul Baker
College of Arts & Sciences

Physics Professor Co-Publishes Article Detailing Evidence Hinting at Gravitational Waves

Paul Baker, assistant professor of physics, joined an international team of astronomers in publishing results of a comprehensive search for a background of low-frequency gravitational waves. Gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself, permeate all spacetime and could originate from mergers of the most massive black holes in the universe or from events occurring soon after the formation of the universe in the Big Bang.

The work of the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA) collaboration is described in an article accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The IPTA is a consortium of several astrophysics collaborations from around the world: the European Pulsar Timing Array, the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), which Baker is a member of, the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array in Australia, and the Indian Pulsar Timing Array Project, its newest member.

“These results make a very promising step in our continued efforts to detect low-frequency gravitational waves,” said Baker, who is co-chair of the IPTA’s gravitational wave analysis working group.

Baker led an extensive comparison between the IPTA data set and other recent data sets from the large regional scientific collaborations as part of this work. 

“The combined IPTA data set, which uses older data, is just as sensitive as the newest data from its individual members. This demonstrates what can be gained scientifically by working together,” said Baker, who joined the IPTA in 2016. 

Read the full findings here.

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J. Wesley Leckrone
College of Arts & Sciences

Arts & Sciences Faculty Member Named Distinguished University Professor

College of Arts & Sciences Professor J. Wesley Leckrone has been named a Distinguished University Professor. The honor recognizes faculty of distinction and demonstrates to the broader community that Widener is committed to recognizing excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service throughout a faculty member’s career. Distinguished professors serve for three years.

Leckrone is an impressive member of the faculty, and he is widely recognized for his teaching excellence. His extraordinary commitment to his teaching has not only earned him a national and global reputation but has led to him being a leader on campus. The energy and time that he devotes to course preparation and development illustrate his dedication to his students. Leckrone has published in highly prestigious, peer-reviewed journals, contributed articles and chapters in national and international edited volumes and edited and contributed to a two-volume set on Pennsylvania politics. In terms of service, Leckrone has contributed to multiple levels of faculty governance, as well as externally with organizations such as the Center for the Study of Federalism and the Pennsylvania Political Science Association. Leckrone’s continuous engagement with his research and his network ultimately provide a richer learning experience for Widener’s undergraduate and graduate students. 

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Head and shoulders shot of Professor Kate Goodrich
College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Institutional Leadership Award Given to College of Arts & Sciences Associate Professor

College of Arts & Sciences Associate Professor Katherine R. Goodrich has received the Faculty Institutional Leadership Award. It recognizes a record of leading initiatives that further the university’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives.

Goodrich’s leadership roles in academic affairs and related Faculty Council work have helped shape academic policies and communications between academic units at the university. She has spearheaded several major campus initiatives centered on improving our climate around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and these initiatives have all had positive outcomes on the central tenants of our “We’re All Widener” identity. Goodrich has worked to build a more cohesive, equitable, and inclusive campus culture at Widener. Her visionary and persistent diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership has been recognized across the university and led to her election as the first chair of the new Faculty Council Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Goodrich has focused much of her service activities on academic affairs and has contributed at all levels of the university. She served as chair of the Faculty Council Academic Affairs Committee for two terms (four years) and is seen as a strong leader at Widener. 

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J. Wesley Leckrone
College of Arts & Sciences

Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award Goes to College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Member

College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished University Professor J. Wesley Leckrone has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated a history of teaching at the highest level. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching.

Leckrone is an integral member of the political science faculty who has the distinction of teaching a wide range of interdisciplinary courses and provides the highest quality instruction to both majors and non-majors. Leckrone is a specialist in U.S. government, American political culture, and state and local politics. His commitment to teaching is reflected in the innovative ways he fuses his courses with high-impact practices and actively promotes civic engagement. Leckrone continually creates transformational learning experiences for his students by planning student trips such as going to Harrisburg for Student Advocacy Days, to Washington D.C. for visits to the Supreme Court and White House, and to New Hampshire for the 2020 presidential primary contests.

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Jayne M. Thompson
College of Arts & Sciences

University Gives Faculty Award for Civic Engagement

College of Arts & Sciences Associate Professor Jayne M. Thompson has received the Faculty Award for Civic Engagement, which recognizes sustained outstanding contributions to Widener’s civic engagement mission through her teaching and research.

Thompson began her community engagement in the City of Chester 25 years ago and has helped numerous Widener students deepen their understanding of social responsibility and advance their critical consciousness through civic engagement. Community is a central theme in Thompson’s teaching, service activities, professional development, political and civic engagement, volunteerism, and home life. From her work with the Chester School District; Chester Made; Chester Cultural Corridor; Widener University’s service-learning, Bonner Leaders, and Periclean Faculty Leadership programs; and multiple service sites, to her role on the Mayor’s Advisory Council at Chester City Hall, Thompson’s work supports vibrant, healthy communities. Widener students have been central to her collaborations on projects and workshops in schools, prisons, juvenile detention centers, senior centers, churches, the Chester Cultural Corridor, literacy centers, and homeless shelters. Thompson exemplifies and elevates Widener’s commitment to civic engagement, and she has changed the lives of many people in vulnerable groups.

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