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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. 

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 nonmajors. 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

Amy R. Franzini
College of Arts and Sciences

Communication Studies Professor Publishes Article in The Journal of Children and Media

Amy Franzini, associate professor of communication studies and digital media informatics, recently had an article, entitled "U.S. coviewing during COVID" published in a special issue of The Journal of Children and Media. The special issue was entitled "Children, Media, and the Clarity of Crises in 2020."

The article focused on how the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 provided a unique opportunity for Franzini to interweave her personal family life, as a parent, and professional life, as a researcher of teachable moments in children's media.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/communication-studies-professor-publishes-article-journal-children-and-media

Catherine Safran Profile Image
College of Arts & Sciences/School of Nursing

Biology Faculty and Nursing Students Co-Author Article in Imprint Magazine

Catherine Kim-Safran, assistant professor of biology, and undergraduate nursing students Makayla Chatman and Alexandria Reid co-authored an article that ran in the January 2021 issue of Imprint, the official membership magazine of the National Student Nurses’ Association. Reflecting on their experiences leading and serving as peer-learning assistants for anatomy and physiology labs that transferred fully online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors reported on the impact of peer mentoring on student success and best online teaching practices.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/18961/

Paul Baker
College of Arts and Sciences

Physics Professors’ Research Finds Possible ‘First Hints’ of Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves

Dr. Paul Baker, an assistant professor of physics, co-authored an article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters based on data gathered and analyzed over 13 years by the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav). The published findings, “The NANOGrav 12.5-year Data Set: Search For An Isotropic Stochastic Gravitational-Wave Background,” shows an intriguing low-frequency signal that may be attributable to gravitational waves from merging supermassive black holes in other galaxies.

NANOGrav researchers studying the signals from distant pulsars – small, dense stars that rapidly rotate, emitting beamed radio waves, much like a lighthouse – have used radio telescopes to collect data that may indicate the effects of gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time caused by the movements of incredibly massive objects, such as black holes orbiting each other or neutron stars colliding. Astronomers cannot observe these waves with a telescope like they do stars and galaxies. Instead, they measure the effects passing gravitational waves have, namely tiny changes to the precise position of objects - including the position of the Earth.

But gravitational waves can interrupt this observed regularity, as the ripples cause space-time to undergo tiny amounts of stretching and shrinking. Those ripples result in extremely small deviations in the expected times for pulsar signals arriving on Earth. Such deviations indicate that the position of the Earth has shifted slightly.

By studying the timing of the regular signals from many pulsars scattered over the sky at the same time, known as a “pulsar timing array,” NANOGrav works to detect minute changes in the Earth’s position due to gravitational waves stretching and shrinking space-time. 

These newest findings set up direct detection of gravitational waves as the possible next major step for NANOGrav and other members of the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA), a collaboration of researchers using the world’s largest radio telescope. Baker has been a member of NANOGrav since 2016.

Learn more: http://nanograv.org/press/2021/01/11/12-Year-GW-Background.html

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/physics-professors-research-finds-possible-first-hints-low-frequency-gravitational-waves

Ilene D. Lieberman
College of Arts and Sciences

Arts & Sciences Professor Recognized for Leadership

Professor Ilene D. Lieberman received the Faculty Institutional Leadership Award at the 2020 Faculty Awards event. The honor recognizes her record of leading initiatives that further the university’s vision, mission and strategic objectives. Lieberman has played a vital role in the development and revitalization of many academic programs over 30 years of service to Widener. As director of the Honors Program in General Education, Lieberman has instituted multiple high-impact practices such as early adoption of high-impact practices in honors courses, establishment of an honors Living Learning Community, and development of a mentor program. Her work has improved Widener’s recruitment of academically talented students, and those students benefit from her mentorship. Lieberman was also a co-founder of the Women’s Studies Program (now known as Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies), which has brought fresh ideas to the university and helped attract high-caliber faculty to provide students with leadership and civic engagement opportunities. A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has been a recurring priority in her leadership.

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Loyd D. Bastin
College of Arts and Sciences

Chemistry Faculty Member Named Distinguished University Professor

Loyd Bastin was named a  Distinguished University Professor at the 2020 Faculty Awards event. The designation 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. Bastin’s passion for promoting sustainable practices has led to an active and productive research program in green chemistry, sustainability and education. His recent co-edited book “Integrating Green and Sustainable Chemistry Principles into Education” and numerous invited presentations reflect his reputation as an important scholar. Bastin’s contributions to university leadership include shepherding the chemistry department to environmentally sustainable lab practices, and raising sustainability awareness across campus. As a member of the Vision 2021 GO Team and as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, Bastin has worked toward implementing rigorous academic practices, clarifying academic policies and developing new programs for student success. 

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Richard Hopkins
College of Arts and Sciences

Professor Honored with Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award

Professor Richard S. Hopkins received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award at the 2020 Faculty Awards event. The honor 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. Hopkins’ highly distinguished teaching spans a diverse array of history courses including Madness, Crime, and Punishment; Sex and Gender in European History; French Revolution and Napoleon; and more. Students give him superior evaluations for active-learning teaching methods that include mock trials, debates, and engagement with primary sources. He has co-led multiple interdisciplinary excursions in French Philadelphia and at European Union simulation competitions around the nation and in Europe. He has also co-directed grant-funded public history and education projects in Chester including a Community Archival Workshop and the Chester Made Humanities Summer Camp. His productive scholarship on modern French history, urbanism, and women’s and gender studies has resulted in two books and multiple articles. 

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/17396

Stephanie Schechner
College of Arts and Sciences

Professor of French Honored for Teaching Innovation

Professor of French Stephanie Schechner received the Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award at the 2020 Faculty Awards event. It is given to an individual or group who have designed, implemented and assessed an innovative or experimental teaching and learning project. Schechner knows employers value students who can work cross-culturally, and cultivates and leverages a network of government, nonprofit, corporate, and alumni contacts to enhance student learning and career readiness. Schechner’s efforts have led to a 100 percent employment rate for French majors over the past 20 years, as well as study abroad, internships, mentoring, and career readiness workshops for students. Over the years, French majors have gone on to careers in investment banking, nursing, public health, civil service, insurance, library and information science, high tech, and non-profit fundraising. Schechner’s network includes internal partners in the Schools of Engineering and Business Administration.  External partners have included the French American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia, the Quebec Trade Office, the University of Laval, the Upper Darby Welcome Center, the City of Philadelphia, and the French government.

Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/17416/