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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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 A portrait of Carly Kearney
School of Nursing

Nursing PhD Student Named a Jonas Scholar by National League for Nursing

Carly Kearney, a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing, was named a 2022-23 Jonas Scholar by National League for Nursing (NLN). The highly competitive scholarship provides direct funding for Kearney in her final year of doctoral study, leading to completion of her dissertation projects, as well as support for travel expenses to attend conference. Launched in 2010, the Jonas Scholars Program has been generously funded by Jonas Philanthropies, a New York-based foundation that promotes excellence in nursing, to advance the science of nursing education. 

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School of Nursing's Founders Hall
School of Nursing

Nursing Study Examines Faculty Administrators’ Experiences Amid COVID Disruptions

A research team consisting of faculty, students, and an alumni in the School of Nursing published a study examining nurse faculty administrators’ experiences of rapid transition and disruption in nursing education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in the journal Nursing Education Perspectives, co-authors Anne Krouse, dean of nursing, Kristen McLaughlin, nursing graduate, Rose Rossi, associate dean of undergraduate nursing, Wendy Black-Dorn, nursing PhD candidate, Bette Mariani, nursing graduate, and Barbara Patterson, director of the nursing science doctoral program, implemented a descriptive survey methodology to understand the experiences of academic nurse administrators during the pandemic. The survey utilized the Four Cs of Disaster Partnering conceptual framework which encompasses communication, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration and the interrelatedness of those activities in partnering relationships. The authors' findings showed that key elements of the Four Cs framework played a role in the successful adaptation to new learning environment realities.

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Center for Human Sexuality Studies

Human Sexuality Graduate Publishes in Academic Journal

Amanda Baker, a graduate of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, published an article that investigated the association between sexting and satisfaction within a relationship. The research, which published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, explored the positive impact sexting can have on important relationship constructs and provides clinicians and educators with reliable data that can assist them with informing adult clients on ways they can utilize sexting in a meaningful and positive way.

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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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Robert Wellmon
College of Health & Human Services

Physical Therapy Professor Publishes on Influence of Clinical Instructor Experience on Assessing DPT Student Clinical Performance

Robert Wellmon, distinguished university professor in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education, is a co-author on this mix-methods study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Education. The purposes of this study were to examine whether novice and experienced clinical instructors' assessment practice differ and explore the reasons for these differences. Findings showed a low number of statistically significant differences between novice and experienced clinical instructors awarding Clinical Performance Instrument ratings which suggests that there were few true quantitative disparities between the assessors.

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Robin L. Dole
College of Health & Human Services

Robin Dole Co-Authors Paper on Competency-Based Education in Physical Therapy

Robin Dole, dean of the College of Health & Human Services, is a co-author on this paper published in Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal discussing competency-based education (CBE). In this perspective article, Dole and the co-authors demonstrate support for utilizing the CBE philosophy and highlight four themes: the need for a shared language, an overview of CBE and the impetus for the change, how to shift toward CBE in physical therapy, and why the profession should adopt a mindset requiring purposeful practice across one’s career in order to safely and most efficiently practice in a given area.

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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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Christine A. Pariseault
School of Nursing

Nursing Professor Publishes Findings on Nurses' Experiences Caring for Patients during COVID

Christine Pariseault, assistant professor of nursing, is first author on this article entitled, “Original Research: Nurses' Experiences of Caring for Patients and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Communication Challenges” which published in the American Journal of Nursing. This article explains the experiences of nurses caring for patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies in many hospitals have changed to fit the social requirements of social distancing and social isolation. This article further investigates the perspectives of nurses actively working with the new challenges they face.

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Center for Human Sexuality Studies

Human Sexuality Professor Studies Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Relationships

Pamela Lannutti, professor and director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, is first author on a the article “Relationships in the time of COVID-19: Examining the effects of the global pandemic on personal relationships” which published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This article, which includes 29 research articles with authors and samples from 28 countries across all continents except Anatricia, looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on personal relationships including romantic relationships, family relationships, friendships, and relationships with strangers.

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School of Nursing

Nursing PhD Student Brings National Firearms Debate to the Forefront in Publication

Politics and COVID-19 have shaken the United States to its core and have sparked national debates over race relations, police brutality, as well as the right to bear arms in any situation. Wayne Riddle, a nursing science doctoral student and adjunct professor, published an article calling for action and advocacy from nurses and other medical professionals to end the gun violence epidemic. In his article published in the May issue of Nursing Forum, Wayne describes how those who work within the healthcare field  and care for patients suffering from either COVID-19 or gun violence must raise awareness and advocate for legislation to increase the public’s safety and well-being.

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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.

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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.

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Pride Banners in front of Old Main
College of Health and Human Services

Widener Professors and Alumni of Community Engaged Teacher Education Program Write Book Chapter

Widener University professors in the Center for Education’s Community Engaged Teacher Education (CETE) program collaborated to write Chapter 4 Shared Power in Teacher Preparation: University, School, and Community in a recently published book, titled The Power of Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation
The chapter was written by Professor Nadine McHenry, who coordinates the CETE program, as well as Director of the Widener Child Development Center Essence Allen-Presley, Associate Professor Bretton Alvaré, retired Stetser Elementary Principal Janet Baldwin, alumna Rev. Hilda Campbell, and alumna Taylor Borgstrom.
The book focuses on how and why community-engaged teacher preparation is a vital approach to address an educational system that his historically deficient, discriminatory, and inequitable.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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Robert Bonk profile picture
College of Health and Human Services

Professor Named to Communication Institute of Greece Position and Publishes Pieces Related to COVID-19

Dr. Robert Bonk, a professor of professional writing who is internationally known for his research, workshops, and presentations, was recently named Honorary Vice President Collaborative Writing Initiatives by the Communication Institute of Greece (ComInG). This honor recognizes his most recent accomplishment serving as lead researcher and lead author for an international project examining the responses of higher education to the COVID-19 pandemic in seven nations.

The article, titled "Pedagogy in the Time of Pandemic: From Localisation to Glocalisation," is currently in press at the Journal of Education, Innovation, and Communication. He also served as guest editor and co-authored the preface for the June 2020 special issue of the journal.

Active as an Ambassador and Academic Conference Committee member, Bonk presented at the ComInG 2019 Conference and had been invited to lead writing workshops at the 2020 Conference. He was previously honored as a Fellow of the American Medical Writers Association. Bonk also recently edited and provided a poem and photo for the ComInG motivational book "Why is it worth waking up every morning? Impressions and reflections on inspiration, motivation, and collaboration."

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Zora Wolfe Headshot
College of Health and Human Services

Education Professor and Alumna Publish Two Manuscripts About Online Teaching During COVID-19

Associate Professor Zora Wolfe, director of K-12 educational leadership programs, and alumna Jeanne McCarthy '20 EdD co-authored two peer-reviewed manuscripts in the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education's "Teaching, Technology, and Teacher Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field" publication.

The first manuscript, "Engaging Parents Through School-Wide Strategies for Online Instruction," focused on how they assisted a school in revisiting their school-wide processes and online learning plan to incorporate parent-centered, school-wide strategies that supported students and parents learning at home together.

The second manuscript, "Building on Existing Brick-and-Mortar Practices in Online Spaces," focused on how the knowledge and expertise developed by educators in brick-and-mortar classrooms can be useful in online teaching environments.

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