View Text Only Version

Sciences and Mathematics

News and Events

Contact Sciences and Mathematics  

Sciences and Mathematics

Office of the Dean
College of the Sciences and Mathematics
Wayne Hall, Room 630
125 West Rosedale Avenue
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-3521

News and Events

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

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.

Biology Professor Presents at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics in Dublin, Ireland

In July, Dr. Frank Fish, biology, made a presentation with co-author graduate students Danielle Adams and William Gough, titled “Control of the flexibility of cetacean flukes for high efficiency propulsion” and co-authored on a presentation with Dr. Megan Leftwich of George Washington University titled “The performance of a sea lion’s foreflipper as a static wing” at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics in Dublin, Ireland.

Dr. Fish also recently co-authored the paper “Disentangling the relation between the planform shape and swimming gait in cetacean propulsion” with Dr. Keith Moored of Lehigh University, which was published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In addition, Dr. Fish contributed a chapter, The Physics of Flukes, to the edited book Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, which won the William Mills Prize that is given to the best polar book over a two year period.

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.

2018 CSM Student Recognition Award Ceremony

Congratulations to the 360 students who were recognized for their scholarship, research and creativity at the CSM Student Recognition Award ceremony on May 1st. LeShell Washington was presented with the Outstanding Student Award by Dr. Lisa Marano.

The list of winners is available at: CSM Student Recognition Award Winners and photos of the event can be found at: CSM Student Recognition Ceremony Photos.

Pictured are the Outstanding Student Award nominees, Tyler Walton, James Federico, Brittney Walsh-Piwowarski, Alexander Roccaro, Tyler Bornstad, Eric Herrmann, Sophia Pazmino and Outstanding Student Award winner LeShell Washington.

2018 Spring CSM Poster Session

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 All Science Poster Session: Haaris Abdullah (Biology), Danielle Adams (Biology), Jessica Gallo (Biology), Andriana Hamm (Psychology), Kelli Johnson (Mathematics), Aalia Muhammad (Chemistry), Madeline Oscarczuk (Psychology), Ben Plumridge (Mathematics) and Tyler Rutherford (Anthropology & Sociology).

Pictured are first place winners Haaris Abdullah (Natural Sciences), Madeline Oscarczuk (Social Sciences) and Danielle Adams (Graduate).

Professor of Biology Presents in NYC

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar “Biomimetics and the development of advanced technologies from charismatic marine megafauna” at the American Museum of Natural History SciCafe in New York City on May 2, 2018.

Professor of Geosciences Interviewed by WHYY

Geosciences professor Dr. Cynthia Hall recently discussed lead contamination in urban soil and tested soil samples from Philadelphia residents at the Wagner Free Institute of Science. Dr. Hall was interviewed by WHYY regarding her work and findings. Read the article here:

Students Receive Student Research Awards

Congratulations to the following students for receiving CSM Spring 2018 Student Research Awards:

Rachel Hibbert, Biology
Constipation in LRRK2 Over-expresser Mice
Mentor: Dr. Eric Sweet, Biology

Jason Miller, Accelerated B.S. M.S. Integrative Biology
The influence of edge effects on soil carbon storage and COz efflux in temperate deciduous forests of southeastern Pennsylvania
Mentor: Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer, Biology

Mary O'Brien, Biology and Katelyn Vala, Psychology
Impact of Pregnancy and Visitor Interaction on Hair Cortisol Levels of Goats
Mentor: Dr. Aaron Rundus, Psychology

Jeenal Shah, Biology, Cell & Molecular Concentration
Analysis of Nucleotide Excision DNA Repair in Zebrafish
Mentor: Dr. Erin Gestl, Biology

Jonathan Godwin, Psychology – Industrial and Organizational
Does Having a Gay Accent Influence Employment Interview Performance?
Mentor: Dr. Vipanchi Mishra, Psychology

Jazmine Cooper, Clinical Psychology, PsyD
Triadic Family Concordance in Salivary Alpha Amylase Response to Challenge
Mentor: Dr. Susan Gans, Psychology

Joshua Kovich, Biology
The Role of Polymerase Zeta in the Zebrafish Model System
Mentor: Dr. Erin Gestl, Biology

Mathematics Professor Throws First Pitch

Mathematics professor Dr. Lisa Marano has been recognized for having made a tremendous impact on a student-athlete at West Chester University and was invited to throw out the first pitch during the home softball game on March 27th. The First Pitch Program recognizes those faculty and staff members who have positively impacted student-athletes and is a way of thanking them for their continued support.

Photo by Rob Christe, Assistant Sports Information Director, West Chester University.

Biology Professor Presents Seminar

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented an invited seminar, Lessons from charismatic marine fauna: Biomimetic applications for the development of advanced technologies, to the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on March 23, 2018. Dr. Fish also co-authored the article, Morphology of the core fibrous layer of the cetacean tail fluke, with biology graduate student William Gough in the Journal of Morphology. Additional co-authors included Dylan Wainwright of Harvard University and Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia.

Physics Student Awarded iREU in Paris

Physics student Gabriel Seymour was recently accepted into the international Research Experience for Undergraduates (iREU) program, Optics in the City of Light. Gabriel was one of eight undergraduate junior level students offered the opportunity to participate in this prestigious program. Students will spend two months in a variety of laboratories in Paris that are among the premier ultrafast optics laboratories in the world. There, the students will perform research with a wide range of ultrafast lasers.

Faculty Receives NSF Grant

Dr. Richard Burns, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, has been awarded a $12,550 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The funding will support a symposium that will be conducted at the Tenth International Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams. The goal of the symposium is to encourage, expand and guide the participation of young researchers starting research in the field of diagrammatic representations and reasoning.

Student Awarded Scholarship

Graduating anthropology major Taria Montes-Rivera has been awarded a National Preservation Institute scholarship to attend the NAGPRA Essentials training workshop in Anchorage, Alaska in April. The workshop reviews the compliance process for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) for Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, federal agencies, and museums. It provides an overview of NAGPRA statutes and regulations; addresses tools for compliance: National NAGPRA databases and other resources; reviews tools for determining cultural affiliation through case studies; and addresses the role of culturally unidentifiable remains in repatriation.

Political Science Professor Featured in Wired Article

Political science professor Dr. John Kennedy's role in a landmark decision made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the focus of a recent Wired article. Pennsylvania's congressional map was among the most gerrymandered in history. Dr. Kennedy's expert testimony involved showing the evolution of the state’s map over time and helped to lead the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overrule a lower-court decision that found that the map violated the state constitution's guarantee of "free and equal elections." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a brand new congressional map on Monday to replace the gerrymandered map that Dr. Kennedy testified on. The article can be found at

Faculty Attains Leadership Position

Dr. Lisa Marano, mathematics professor and director of the actuarial science program, has joined the Board of Directors of the Mathematical Association of America. The Mathematical Association of America is the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students, and enthusiasts, dedicated to advancing the understanding of the world through mathematics. Dr. Marano will serve as Chair of MAA Committee on Sections.

World Anthropology Day

Faculty and students of WCU’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology recently participated in World Anthropology Day. World AnthroDay is coordinated through the American Anthropological Association, the world’s largest association for professional anthropologists. Held every February on the third Thursday of the month, World AnthroDay is a day for anthropologists to “Celebrate, Engage, and Inspire.” The Department of Anthropology and Sociology took part by hosting lectures, displaying student research posters, exhibiting tools of the trade (such as archaeological field gear), and sponsoring games, trivia and prizes in Sykes Ballroom. Pictured at left is anthropology major Darrell Hardy, who shared with visitors the process of field and lab archaeology.

Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, presented the paper “Fluke flexibility during propulsion in neonate and adult humpback whales” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA, January 3-7, 2018. The paper was co-authored with Ramya Muthukrishnan, Henderson High School student, and Nan Hauser of the Cetacean Research Institute in the Cook Islands. In addition, Dr. Fish co-authored a presentation “Properties and functions of tendons in the cetacean peduncle” that was presented by Danielle Adams, biology graduate student, and Dr. Fish was co-authored a presentation “The role of flippers, flukes, and body flexibility in blue whale maneuvering performance” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco, CA, January 3-7, 2018.

Pictured at left is the cover for a physics book based on Dr. Fish's work on manta swimming. Dr. Fish worked with the publisher and artist for the image.

Upcoming Sociology Conference

West Chester University is co-sponsoring a two-day sociology conference that will be held at the PASSHE Center City campus August 10-11, 2018, beginning one day prior to the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Philadelphia. WCU sociologist Julie Wiest is co-organizing the conference, called “The Roots and Branches of Interpretive Sociology: Cultural, Pragmatist, and Psychosocial Approaches,” along with Thomas DeGloma, Associate Professor of Sociology at CUNY and President of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI). In addition to WCU, the conference is also co-sponsored by SSSI, Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology, the Psychosocial Scholars Group, and the Sociology Department of Texas State University, with additional support from Hunter College and the Sociology Department of the CUNY Graduate Center. More information can be found on the conference website:

In addition, the conference will share space on the first day with the ASA’s annual Media Sociology Preconference, which is co-sponsored this year by WCU and the ASA Section on Communication, Information Technology, and Media Sociology. Cross-conference panels are planned. More information about the preconference can be found here:

Biology Professor Co-Authors Presentation for Science Symposium in Germany

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was a co-author on a presentation “The role of flippers, flukes, and body flexibility in blue whale maneuvering performance.” It was presented at the 6th International Bio-logging Science Symposium in Lake Constance, Germany. The International Bio-logging Science Symposium focuses on the study of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial species, their habitats, and the researchers who use animal-attached electronic devices to study them.

5th Annual Delaware County Archaeology Festival

Five WCU students and three alumni representing the WCU anthropology program took part in the 5th Annual Delaware County Archaeology Festival. The event was hosted at the Newlin Grist Mill in Glenn Mills, PA and over 500 visitors attended.

Biology Professor Consults with British Natural History Museum

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, was a consultant for the exhibit “Whales Beneath the Surface” on the biology of cetaceans that is currently on display at the British Natural History Museum, in London, England.

Biology Professor Receives Grant

Dr. Frank Fish, biology, received a $300,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research for “Investigating sea lion locomotion as the basis for shape changing UUVs.” Dr. Fish will collaborate with George Washington University and Drexel University in examining the movements of sea lions as the basis for constructing a biorobotic sea lion.

Chemistry Professor Speaks in Belgium

WCU professor Kurt Kolasinski of the Chemistry Department was recently a keynote speaker at the Catalysis & Nanoparticles Summer School at KU Leuven in Belgium. Dr. Kolasinski’s discussion, “Nanoscience - From curiosity driven research to practical results,” addressed the challenges of transforming the new discoveries made in nanoscience into an understanding that leads to sustainable products and efficient industrial processes.

Faculty Receives RIMS Awards

Congratulations to the following CSM faculty members for receiving 2017 Research in Mathematics and the Sciences (RIMS) Awards:

Dr. Tianran Chen - A numerical study of spectral functions of high-temperature superconductors
Dr. Teresa Donze-Reiner – Characterizing the calcium-dependent protein kinases expression in susceptible and tolerant switchrass, Panicum virgatum, to greenbug aphids, Schizaphis graminum
Dr. Joby Hilliker - Exploring Drone Use in Geoscience Research: Two Pilot Studies
Dr. Kim Johnson - Undergraduate Beliefs about Learning & Teaching Mathematics
Dr. Monica Joshi - Application of nanoparticles and mass spectrometry for detecting organic gunshot residue
Dr. Oné R. Pagán - Pharmacological manipulation of the regeneration phenotype in planarians
Dr. Heather Wholey - Guided Student Research at the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area

Biology Professor and Shark Week

Dr. Fish and Danielle Adams Kelsey Tennett and Lunocet fin

When Olympic medalist Michael Phelps raced a simulated great white shark for Discovery Channel's Shark Week, he turned to science for help. Phelps wore a monofin, which like the caudal fins of fish and dolphins, works by displacing the surrounding water and propelling the wearer forward. The Lunocet monofin worn by Phelps was invented by Ted Ciamillo and uses the data collected by WCU Biology professor Frank Fish. Scientific American noted in 2009 that early tests with the Lunocet on regular swimmers showed that they could reach speeds of up to eight miles per hour. At his fastest, Michael Phelps can swim at a rate of five and a half miles per hour, while a great white shark can effortlessly swim six to seven miles per hour and up to 25 to 35 miles per hour while hunting. Phelps finished the 100 meter race in 38 seconds, two seconds slower than the simulated shark. According to Dr. Fish, the only reason that Michael Phelps even came close in the race against a simulated shark was the speed enhancement from the advantage that the Lunocet provided.

Pictured above is Dr. Fish and grad student Danielle Adams video recording dolphin swimming for research. Also pictured is grad student Kelsey Tennett holding a Lunocet, which Dr. Fish and Tennett experimented on.