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Sciences and Mathematics

News and Events

Contact Sciences and Mathematics  

Sciences and Mathematics

Office of the Dean
College of the Sciences and Mathematics
Anderson Hall, Room 320
725 S. Church St
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-3521

News and Events

Spring 2019 Research Day - Call for Abstracts

The College will host the Spring 2019 Research Day on Friday, April 26, 2019 from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM in the Sykes Student Union. This event highlights student, faculty, and administrators’ research from all departments within the College by providing a forum for poster presentations. Download the form below and submit your completed abstract to 

Shannon Walsh

no later than Friday, April 19, 2019.

Research Day Abstract Form

Presentation at Mather Planetarium on April 25th

PDF Flyer


Presentation at Mather Planetarium on April 25th

Luke Ciminera, biology major and astronomy minor, explores Are We Alone in the Universe? on Thursday April 25th from 7-8:30 pm in the WCU Mather Planetarium. A one-hour presentation and scientific analysis of the requirements for life to form, the possible modes by which it can spread, and popular theories on why we have yet to discover alien life. Concepts that will be discussed include Alexander Graham Cairns-Smith’s clay hypothesis, the role of hydrothermal vents in abiogenesis, the Miller-Urey experiment, panspermia, the Drake equation, the Fermi paradox, and much more! This talk will be fantastic for anybody interested in Earth’s past, mankind’s future, and the possibility of our species answering one of the last great mysteries pondered by our ancestors.

Following Luke’s presentation, Dr. Karen Schwarz will provide a short planetarium dome demonstration.

Free seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

View the pdf


Faculty Elected President of PCPG

 Dr. Helmke

Dr. Martin Helmke of Earth & Space Sciences was recently elected President of the Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists (PCPG). PCPG is a non-profit corporation that advances the practice of geology and allied sciences and the success of its members through advocacy, education, and networking. For more information, please visit their website.



Spotlight on Research Awardees

Teresa Donze-Reiner     Jessica Sullivan-Brown

Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner and Dr. Jessica Sullivan-Brown of the Department of Biology were recognized for their outstanding contribution to research on at the Spotlight on Research event held at the WCU Foundation. The Provost, Deputy Provost and State Senator Andy Dinnamin recognized Dr. Donze-Reiner for her research on switchgrass and Dr. Sullivan-Brown for her acquisition of a confocal microscope from the National Science Foundation.


Fall Poster Session

CSM Poster Session   


The College of the Sciences and Mathematics had a very successful Fall Poster Session. Awards went to:

  • Undergraduate in Natural Sciences First Prize: Abrya Field, Biology
  • Undergraduate in Natural Sciences Second Prize: Lindsay Lick, Biology
  • Undergraduate in Natural Sciences Third Prize: Mubazar Ishfaq, Biology
  • Undergraduate in Natural Sciences Third Prize: Matthew Graves, Chemistry
  • Graduate First Prize: Ariel Leahy, Biology
  • Graduate Second Prize: Rosa Boniface, Psychology
  • Sigma Xi Best Overall Poster: Katherine Riordan, Biology
  • Sigma Xi Best Communication to a General Audience: Christopher Catranis, Biology

Pictured is undergraduate first prize winner Abrya Field with Dr. Radha Pyati, Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics.




Faculty Receive National Geographic Explorers Grant

Image of WCU Magazine article

Dr. Heather Wholey of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and Dr. Daria Nikitina of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences are featured in the most recent WCU Magazine. The professors were recently awarded a two-year, $30,000 National Geographic Explorers Grant. The funding will enable Dr. Wholey and Dr. Nikitina to expand their current research in the Delaware Bay area. The article can be read in full here.



Local Hack Day at WCU

First place winners Brandon Fonticoba and Christopher Falco

Local Hack Day was a great success! Organized by the Computer Science Club and the Women in Computer Science Club, the event had nearly 150 registrations, with hackers between the ages of 11 to 30+ from 30 different schools. Activities were spread throughout the day, from Mario Cart tournaments to mastering the art of cup stacking. There were seminars by past and present West Chester University academics on a variety of topics. WCU's Local Hack Day represented 5% of global submissions in a 7,000+ person global-hackathon. The projects presented were outstanding, making it especially difficult to decide a winner. WCU's Brandon Fonticoba & Christopher Falco (pictured) took first place with Lemmie Run. Photos from the event can be found here.



EPaDel Fall Section Meeting 

Cover of the pdf  

The EPaDel section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) held its fall section meeting at West Chester University on November 3rd in the Business & Public Management Building. The meeting featured the invited speakers Deanna Haunsperger (President of the MAA), Kristin Lauter (Microsoft Research) and Alex Nakahara (The Phillies) as well as contributed paper sessions by faculty and students, a silent auction, student activities, and more.  



 2018 Distinguished Public Lecture: World Order in the Age of Trump and Trumpism

Dr. Richard Falk, a Ralph C. Milbank Emeritus Professor of International Law and Practice and an Emeritus Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, spoke at a public lecture hosted by the Department of Political Science last week. He is a world-renowned scholar of international relations and international law, former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, and author of more than 40 books and hundreds of academic articles and essays. His lecture, World Order in the Age of Trump and Trumpism, focused on foreign policy and the new world order. The text of his lecture has been published in the Global Policy Journal and can be found here:


Faculty in the News

Dr. Pagan


The Daily Local News recently featured an article on Dr. Oné Pagán, Department of Biology, and his new book, Strange Survivors, in which Dr. Pagán writes about the survival mechanisms of several different creatures. The Daily Local News article, "Small Talk: Worms: Great for fishing, and the environment too," can be found here:



Faculty Publishes New Book

Wiest Book cover


Dr. Julie Wiest, sociology, has a new book being released on October 18th The Allure of Premeditated Murder: Why Some People Plan to Kill is co-authored with Dr. Jack Levin, a renowned scholar in criminology and emeritus professor at Northeastern University. 

From the publisher’s website:  Any murder causes pain and suffering that ripple through families and communities—of both the victims and the perpetrators—but premeditated murders cause the worst kind of damage. The Allure of Premeditated Murder is about the worst kinds of premeditated homicide in which the perpetrator plans an attack over a period of days, weeks, or months, leaving behind massive carnage and unspeakable suffering. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with murderers, sociologists Jack Levin and Julie B. Wiest help readers understand why such vicious murders occur and what we can do to minimize their incidence. 



Faculty and Biology Graduate Present at the Office of Naval Research MURI Review Meeting

Dr. Frank Fish and Danielle Adams


Dr. Frank Fish, biology, and Danielle Adams, biology graduate, presented “Constraints on swimming performance by stiffness of body and propulsor of cetaceans and tuna” at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) Review Meeting: Hydrodynamics of Non-traditional Propulsion Bio-Inspired Flexible Propulsors for Fast, Efficient Swimming: What Physics Are We Missing? at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, September 27-28, 2018.

Pictured are Dr. Fish and Danielle Adams video recording dolphin swimming for research.



Faculty Publishes and Receives Award

Wroking Lives and In-house Outsoursing book cover


Dr. Jacqueline Zalewski, sociology, will be presented with the Leigh S. Shaffer Award this week at the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) global conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The Leigh S. Shaffer Award recognizes scholarly contributions published in the NACADA Journal that significantly advance the field of academic advising. 

Dr. Zalewski has also recently been published. Her book, Working Lives and in-House Outsourcing: Chewed-Up by Two Masters, offers a sociological account of the process by which companies instituted and continue to institute outsourcing in their organization.


Dr. Radha Pyati Receives Environmental Award of Merit



Dr. Radha Pyati, Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, was recently presented with an Environmental Award of Merit for her significant impact to the community as a scientist, educator and advocate.

In Dr. Pyati’s prior position as Chair of the Chemistry Department of the University of North Florida (UNF) and Director of the UNF Environmental Center, Dr. Pyati also assumed responsibility for the annual State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin. In addition to all of the local community and media presentations made about the report, under her leadership the report also received international attention from the United Nations with the integration of aspects of the report included in a United Nations World Water Development Report – the first time a US river was included in a world water report. Under Dr. Pyati’s leadership, the UNF Environmental Center was expanded and the effort to have UNF join the American College and University Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which is a public commitment by universities to become carbon neutral, was successful. Outside of the contributions she made while at UNF, Dr. Pyati has been a strong advocate for the importance of science in public policy, as well as many social issues.

For further reading, see the following news items regarding the release of the State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin:


Second Annual Joint Actuarial Career Day

Actuarial Science Fair


On Friday September 21, in West Chester University’s Sykes Ballroom, eleven companies participated in the Second Annual Joint Actuarial Career Day hosted by WCU and Arcadia University. Of the twenty-nine WCU Actuarial, Mathematics and Applied Statistics students who submitted resumes for review, twenty-five of them were selected for formal and informal interviews throughout the day. Participating companies included Lincoln Financial Group, Penn Mutual, Transamerica, iPipeline, CBIZ, Aon Pension Group, Aon Health Group, Willis Towers Watson – Actuarial Group and Willis Towers Watson – Pension Group. Graduates from our Actuarial Science or other Mathematics programs work at each of these companies and in fact four of the interviewers were WCU Mathematics Department alumni.


Faculty and Graduate Student Publish

Kelsey Tennett


Dr. Frank Fish, biology, Kelsey Tennett, biology graduate student, and Dr. Anthony Nicastro, physics, published a research article, “Terrestrial locomotion of the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris): limitation of large aquatically adapted seals on land?” in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2018) 221, jeb180117, dot: 10.1242/jeb 180117. The article was also co-authored with Dr. Daniel Costa of the University of California Santa Cruz.


Faculty Awarded a Major Research Instrumentation Grant



Dr. Jessica Sullivan-Brown (Biology) and Dr. Shawn Pfeil (Physics), along with two faculty members at Penn State Brandywine, were recently awarded a Major Research Instrumentation grant (MRI) from the NSF for an Olympus IXPlore SpinSR Confocal Microscopy System with TIRF capabilities. This imaging system will be housed in the Center for Microanalysis and Imaging Research and Training (CMIRT) facility at West Chester University and will enable researchers to perform cutting-edge research, provide transformative undergraduate research experiences and strengthen our already strong STEM pipeline. Examples of research projects include (1) studying how folic acid, an essential vitamin, affects embryonic development and (2) single-molecule biophysical studies on the folding of a novel nucleic acid structural motif in the presence and absence of molecular crowding. Acquisition of this microscope will expand teaching and outreach opportunities and ensure that the affordable high quality education offered at WCU prepares students for successful careers in the sciences.


Internationally Renowned Medicinal Chemist Visits WCU

Dr. Robert Jacobs


WCU students recently had the opportunity to meet Dr. Robert Jacobs, a chemist with over 30 years of experience in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Dr. Jacobs recently led a team of medicinal, synthetic and computational chemists at Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a world leader in the discovery and development of boron-containing pharmaceuticals. The team’s focus on the discovery and application of novel boron-containing drug molecules resulted in a major advancement in the treatment of atopic dermatitis leading Anacor to be acquired by Pfizer. Dr. Jacobs was invited by Dr. Thomas Simpson to join Dr. Simpson’s Organic Chemistry Lab class. Dr. Simpson introduced Dr. Jacobs to the students at the beginning of the class and he stayed to speak with the students and to provide laboratory tips during the laboratory class. It was a wonderful opportunity and the students were excited to have an industry expert drop in to visit during the class.


CSM Faculty and Student Publish

Dr. Allison Kolpas, mathematics, recently co-authored the paper “Optimal Mating Strategies for Preferentially Outcrossing Simultaneous Hermaphrodites in the Presence of Predators” in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology with Corin Stratton and Dr. Josh Auld, biology; see Corin Stratton was an undergraduate researcher in mathematics at the time the paper was written and is currently in the MA in Mathematics program at WCU. Corin was supported by an NSF RUI Grant that Dr. Auld and Dr. Kolpas share; see for a description of the grant.


Earth & Space Sciences Highlighted in PCPG Newsletter

The Department of Earth & Space Sciences was highlighted in this summer's PCPG (PA Professional Geologists) Newsletter. To read more about WCU's part in the First Annual PCPG Student Poster Session and Competition and the exciting work being done with drones in Centralia, the newsletter can be found here: PCPG Summer 2018 Newsletter .


Physics Professors Present at Annual Materials Research Society Meeting in Phoenix, AZ

Dr. William H. Sawyer, physics, presented the paper “Nanocrystal Ghosting in ZrO2 – Extensive Radiation Damage in ZrO2 induced by low-energy electrons” at the 2018 Materials Research Society Spring Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. The paper was co-authored by Ellen Farmer, physics undergraduate student.

Dr. Anil K. Kandalam, physics, presented the paper “Neurotransmitter-conjugated Au-Ag bimetallic nanoclusters: Interaction of AuxAgy (x + y = n; n = 8 and 10) clusters with Dopamine” at the 2018 Materials Research Society (MRS) Spring Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. The paper was co-authored by Eric Herrmann and Haley Buckner, physics undergraduate students along with Georgia Montone, mathematics graduate student.

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