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Faculty, Staff & Student Accomplishments

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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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/widener-faculty-and-students-join-stetser-elementary-garden-harvest 

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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/faculty-presents-workshop-peer-learning-annual-conference

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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/25536

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. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/biology-professor-published-genetics-journal

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. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/criminal-justice-professor-publishes-findings-impact-phone-removal-among-girls-juvenile-justice

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. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/english-professor-publishes-text-study-fictional-versions-shakespeare

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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/physics-professor-co-publishes-article-detailing-evidence-hinting-gravitational-waves

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. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22531/

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. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22546

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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22556

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.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/22536/

Catherine Safran Profile Image
College of Arts & Sciences

Biology Professor Co-Publishes Reflection on Teaching Virtual Physiology Lab

Catherine Safran, assistant professor of biology, co-authored an article in the journal Advances in Physiology Education that highlights the challenges and the successes of teaching physiology labs online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article, Physiology labs during a pandemic: What did we learn?, proved that online networks fostered safe spaces for trust and provide support for instructors. Additionally, it showed how much of a drastic change it was for both students and faculty to adjust to learning online instead of in-person, especially for those who have to either teach or learn in a laboratory setting.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/biology-professor-co-publishes-reflection-teaching-virtual-physiology-lab

Kirkbride Hall
College of Arts & Sciences

Widener Faculty and Alumna Publish Research on Properties of Certain Acid in Select Temperatures

An interdisciplinary team of faculty and alumni published a study on the properties of phenylboronic acid in water. Professor Ismail Kul, Associate Professor Krishna Bhat, Associate Professor Shirley Fischer-Drowos, chair of the chemistry department, and Alyssa Knox, a chemical engineering alumna, co-published the article in the Journal of Solution Chemistry. The study aimed to determine if acid-water solutions have directions after being exposed to different temperatures.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/widener-faculty-and-alumna-publish-research-properties-certain-acid-select-temperatures

Janice L. Krumm
College of Arts and Sciences

Biology Professor Awarded Nearly $500,000 Grant to Support Undergraduate Research Network

Associate Professor of Biology Janice Krumm has been awarded nearly $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to lead and expand a national network that increases access to undergraduate research opportunities in ecology and evolution. 

Krumm secured the grant in collaboration with Associate Professor Carly Jordan at The George Washington University and curators Jean Woods and Elizabeth Shea at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

The grant supports the expansion of the Biological Collections in Ecology and Evolution Network (BCEENET), a community of undergraduate educators, pedagogy experts, and natural history collections professionals who collaborate to support the development and implementation of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or CUREs, using digitized natural history collections data.

CUREs engage undergraduates in authentic research experiences and are known to increase engagement, retention, and long-term success in undergraduates, particularly in students from underrepresented populations in STEM fields.

The courses provide educators and students opportunities to collaborate on research projects using the millions of specimen records on publicly available data portals, resulting in unique and innovative opportunities for research in ecology and evolution.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/biology-professor-awarded-nearly-500000-grant-support-undergraduate-research-network

Students walking on the Widener campus
College of Arts and Sciences

Widener Faculty Publish Article in Journal of Solution Chemistry

The Journal of Solution Chemistry recently published an article, titled "Volumetric and Acoustic Properties of Phenylboronic Acid in Water at Selected Temperatures", by Professor Ismail Kul, Associate Professors Krishna Bhat and Shirley G. Fischer-Drowos, and alum Alyssa Knox. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/widener-faculty-publish-article-journal-solution-chemistry-0

Pride Banners in front of Old Main
College of Arts and Sciences

Widener Faculty Publish Article in Journal of Solution Chemistry

The Journal of Solution Chemistry recently published an article, titled "Volumetric and Acoustic Properties of Trans-Resveratrol in Ethanol", by Professors Ismail Kul and Alexis Nagengast, Associate Professor Krishna Bhat, and alumna Julianne Azarewicz '13.

The article states that several thermodynamic parameters for trans-resveratrol have been experimentally determined or calculated at different temperatures. The capability of trans-resveratrol to have strong solute–solvent interactions and weak solute–solute interactions in ethanol solution has been demonstrated using density and speed of sound data. Furthermore, its ability to have structure breaking tendencies and the absence of caging effects are shown. The results of this investigation are consistent with molecular model images generated using Spartan 04 modeling.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/widener-faculty-publish-article-journal-solution-chemistry

Paul Baker
College of Arts and Sciences

Physics Professor Partially Funded by National Science Foundation Grant for NANOGrav

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has renewed its support of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) with a $17 million grant over 5 years to operate the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center. Dr. Paul Baker, an assistant professor of physics at Widener University, is partially funded by this award as a member of NANOGrav.

The NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center will address a transformational challenge in astrophysics: the detection and characterization of low-frequency gravitational waves. The most promising sources of low-frequency gravitational waves are supermassive binary black holes that form via the mergers of massive galaxies. 

NANOGrav was founded in 2007 and is now a highly-distributed collaboration with around 200 students and scientists at about 40 institutions around the world. Dr. Baker has been a member of NANOGrav since 2016.

For more information, visit NANOGrav’s website at: http://nanograv.org/press/2021/06/21/NSF_Funds_NANOGrav_PFC.html

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/physics-professor-partially-funded-national-science-foundation-grant-nanograv

Janine Utell
College of Arts and Sciences

English Chair Janine Utell Publishes Book "Teaching Modernist Women's Writing in English"

Professor Janine Utell, chair of English, edited the book, "Teaching Modernist Women's Writing in English". The essays in the volume explore formal aspects and thematic concerns of modernism while also challenging rigid notions of what constitutes literary value as well as the idea of a canon with fixed boundaries.

The essays contextualize modernist women's writing in the material and political concerns of the early twentieth century and in life on the home front during wartime. They consider the original print contexts of the works and propose fresh digital approaches for courses ranging from high school through graduate school. Suggested assignments provide opportunities for students to write creatively and critically, recover forgotten literary works, and engage with their communities.

The book will be available for purchase on July 1, 2021 and was published by Modern Language Association of America.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/english-chair-janine-utell-publishes-book-teaching-modernist-womens-writing-english

Hongwei Yang
College of Arts and Sciences

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Awarded Faculty Fellowship

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Hongwei Yang has been awarded nearly $5,000 from the Penn State Materials Research Facilities Network, which is part of a nationwide partnership with the National Science Foundation, to support faculty-student research on the project "Design novel metal-organic frameworks for non-enzymatic electrochemical glucose senor." Working with undergraduate students, Dr. Yang is conducting research to advance the development of low-cost, reliable non-enzymatic glucose sensors for people with diabetes.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/assistant-professor-chemistry-awarded-faculty-fellowship

Andrea E. Martin
College of Arts and Sciences

Chemistry Associate Professor Awarded $13,000 Grant for Oil Spill Research

Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrea Martin was awarded a $13,000 grant from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to continue her research with undergraduate students. Dr. Martin and her students, in partnership with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, have been testing detergents to determine which is most effective for cleaning oil from the feathers of birds.

Read more about the research: https://www.widener.edu/news/news-archive/birds-eye-view-summer-research-students-test-detergents-save-wildlife-affected-oil-spills

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/chemistry-associate-professor-awarded-13000-grant-oil-spill-research