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Sciences and Mathematics

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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

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 at left 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.

Biology Professor Presents Paper

Dr. Frank Fish of the Biology Department presented an invited paper, “Kinematics and hydrodynamics of mobuliform swimming: Oscillatory winged propulsion by large pelagic batoids” at the Marine Technical Society Tech Surge: Fish Swimming Research and Bio-inspiration for Marine Design event in Norfolk, VA, July 19-21, 2017.

Psychology Professor Interviewed

Professor Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha was recently asked to provide her expertise in contributing to an article on 2017's Most & Least Stressed Cities in America. The article discusses how employers can reduce stress in the workplace, tips for managing finances and relaxing on a budget as well as ideas on alleviating tension between family members. The article has been published on WalletHub.

Chemistry Professor Receives Award

Professor Kurt Kolasinski has been named the 2017 recipient of the Philadelphia Section Award presented by the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society. This Award recognizes an individual "who, by conspicuous scientific achievement through research, has made important contributions to man's knowledge and thereby aided the public appreciation of the profession."

Professor Kolasinski’s research is literally at the interface of physical chemistry and the chemistry of materials. His research seeks a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of chemical reactions that occur on and with the surfaces of solids. These reactions are sometimes stimulated by heat (thermal chemistry), by electron transfer (electrochemistry), or by a laser (photochemistry). He then uses this mechanistic understanding of surface reactions to create nanostructures. When the dimensions of materials are controlled on the nanometer scale (one billionth of a meter), their properties become functions not only of the chemical composition, but also of the size and shape of the nanostructure. For example, silicon in the form of grains you can see with your eye is indigestible and does not light up under excitation with ultraviolet light. However, transformation of those grains into nanostructured silicon turns them into a material that can be resorbed by the body and that is brilliantly photoluminescent. The properties of the nanostructured material make it suitable for a variety of applications from improved lithium ion batteries to drug delivery.

Biology Professor Receives Grant

Assistant Professor in Biology Dr. Jen Maresh received a Faculty Professional Development Grant from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for her project “Determining the energy value of deep-sea forage fishes to apex marine predators.” Through this project, Dr. Maresh and her team will develop predictive bioenergetics and foraging models for elephant seals and other large-bodied marine animals.” Congratulations!!

Physics Conference on Campus

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (SEPS-AAPT) recently came to campus for their Spring Meeting. Dr. Michelle Caler of the WCU Physics Department was the local organizer of the event. Dr. Shawn Pfeil, also of the WCU Physics Department, was the Friday evening speaker for the meeting. Dr. Pfeil’s topic was “Nanofabrication without the Nanofab” and the feedback from the SEPS-AAPT executive board indicated the Spring Meeting was a great success!

Student Awarded Greenspan Scholarship

Congratulations to Political Science major Jeffrey Congialdi. Jeffrey was recently awarded a Greenspan Scholarship. The Greenspan Scholarship program is sponsored by the Philadelphia Continental Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Pennsylvania college students in the Delaware Valley area who are in pursuit of study in U.S. Government, U.S. History, Political Science or Preservation of National Archives, Documents or Historic Places are eligible for this scholarship. The award is made on the basis of the applicant's written application and endorsements of faculty and administrators. For more information on the scholarship, please visit

Congressman Ryan Costello Vists WCU

Congressman Ryan Costello recently came to West Chester University to meet with students, tour the laboratory of Biology Professor Dr. Frank Fish and to discuss the significance of basic research and the relevance of supporting the National Science Foundation (NSF). Funding from NSF to support basic research is paramount to advances in science and we thank Congressman Costello for taking time out of his busy schedule to address the importance of supporting NSF.

Spring Science Poster Session

Science Poster Session Science Poster Session The 2017 CSM Science Spring Poster Session was a wonderful success, with Senior Vice Provost Dr. Jeffery Osgood on hand to give an inspiring speech to the student participants. Congratulations to the winners:
Undergraduate: Natural Sciences
1st Esin Namoglu
2nd Matthew Woolcock
3rd Julianna Mann (Tie)
3rd Leah Kuntz (Tie)
Undergraduate: Social Sciences & Mathematics
1st LeShell Washington
2nd Regan Wilson (Tie)
2nd Sapana Gupta (Tie)
3rd Adam Pezdirtz
1st Kelsey Tennett
2nd William Gough
3rd Danielle Adams
Best Poster Design
Amber Lallo, Jarrett Fenon and Erin Gestl, Department of Biology, WCU
Best Communication of Science to a General Audience
Anand Shah, Varoon Joshi and Vishal Shah, Department of Earth & Space Science, WCU

2017 Outstanding Student Award Winner

Congratulations to 2017 Outstanding Student Award Winner, Denston Carey. Denston is a Cell & Molecular Biology major, with a minor in Psychology. He had a rocky academic record in high school but he turned it around at WCU. Denston was dedicated to fulfilling his goal of becoming a doctor and concentrated on his studies. He was named to the Dean’s list every semester he was eligible and currently holds a GPA of 3.99.
Denston truly embodies the spirit of the Outstanding Student Award. We wish him continued success as he pursues his ambition of becoming a doctor at Harvard Medical School.
See the WPHL’s Action News coverage here!

CSM Student Recognition Award Ceremony Held

The College of the Sciences and Mathematics recently held its CSM Student Recognition Award Ceremony. Dr. Lisa Marano, the Dean’s Assistant for Student Issues, hosted the ceremony wherein the students who received college-wide awards and departmental awards were recognized. Dr. Jack Waber, Interim Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, was on hand to welcome the students and commend them on their outstanding achievements. Dr. Vishal Shah, Associate Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, presented the college-wide CSM Awards. A full list of award recipients is available in the event program.

Psychology Alumni Admitted to the Paleobiology Ph.D. Program at George Washington University

International students Sylvain Nyandwi and Axelle Kamanzi Shimwa have recently been admitted to the Paleobiology Ph.D. program at George Washington University starting in the fall of 2017. Sylvain and Axelle received their master's degrees from WCU in the Department of Psychology, where they investigated the effects of anthropogenic activities on chimpanzee behavioral ecology and the nutritional composition of chimpanzee crop raided foods such as maize. Sylvain and Axelle plan to continue their work on primate behavioral ecology and nutrition under the advisement of Dr. Murray Carson at GW University. Sylvain is pictured to the left, collecting data in Gishwati.

Congratulations to CSM Research Award Winners

Congratulations to the following CSM Research Awards winners:

Undergraduate Research Awards
Alaina Bertoline for Ecological Integrity of Edge and Interior Environments at West Chester University's Gordon Natural Area
Brianna McCauley for Social Support, Partnership Status, and Sexual Functioning Among Ovarian Cancer Survivors
Matthew Woolcock for Heat Shock Protein Expression in Zebrafish
Lisa Edwards, Alexandra Dolla, Melissa Bene, Becca Chlebnikow for The Body Image Culture Within Sororities: A Qualitative Study
LeShell Washington for Asthma's Effect on Visual Attention
Rachael Marks for Archaeology at the Allee Home
Adam Pezdirtz for Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Student Engagement and Performance in the Classroom
Dustin Renninger for Chemical Analysis of Litterfall from Susua State Forest, Puerto Rico, a Humid, Tropical Forest on Ultramafic Soils
Brittni Gettys for The Black, White and Grey of Consent: The Politics of Sexual Assault on College Campuses
Graduate Research Awards
Beatrice Ohara for Estimating the Potential Loss of Sequestered Carbon in Delaware Bay Salt Marshes Due to Storm Erosion
and Anthropogenic Impact
Christopher Deet for The Role of Rumination in the Relationship Between Emotional Regulation and Resilience
Tara Fitzgerald for The Effect of Contact and Coat Color on the Hair Cortisol Levels of Goats at the Philadelphia Zoo
Ariana Zahn for Synchrony in Emotional Intelligence Among Family Members

Anthropology Research Conference at WCU

The Anthropology Department and WCU successfully organized the 28th annual PASSHE Undergraduate Anthropology Research Conference on campus. The conference included nearly 50 oral and poster presentations from students majoring in Anthropology from all 14 PASSHE universities. Organized on April 22nd and 23rd, 2017, presentation topics were wide-ranged including understanding the ethnographic impact of welcoming Syrian refuges, the Mexican and Mexican-American experience in the United States since the 2016 election and the resilience and benefits of fraternity and sorority life. Pictured here is Deryn Fink giving her presentation.

The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America Exhibit

The Department of Anthropology and Sociology, in conjunction with Latin American Studies, inaugurated its newest exhibit in the Old Library Atrium Museum. The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America, 1967-2017 was curated by Dr. Michael A. Di Giovine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and a team of students from anthropology, political science and geology. The exhibit examines how the struggles of the peoples of Latin America shed light on human rights issues as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With original artwork and arresting objects from the U.S.-Mexico Border, Chilean prisons, and Latin American archaeological and geological artifacts, the exhibit focuses on indigenous land and water rights, representation through cultural heritage, border migration, narco-trafficking, political movements and their suppression, and transitional democracy. In addition, this exhibit marks the first time Tucson-based artist Michael Hyatt exhibited his new series, My Cuba 1947-2017, featuring photographs from Fidel Castro’s funeral. The exhibit also features artifacts donated or loaned by organizations such as the Arizona History Museum, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Maryland, Humane Borders, the Samaritans, and the Museo de la Memoria in Chile, as well as original artwork on loan from Alvaro Enciso, Michael Hyatt, Debbi McCullough, and the non-profit Fuentes Rojas. The exhibit runs from April 11-December 31.

Student Receives Clark L. Hull Award

Dr. Kumar’s student, Stephen Krystek, recently received the prestigious Clark L. Hull Award for Scientific Excellence in Writing on Experimental Hypnosis from the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis. The award was given for his publication, A Comparison of Hypnotic Induction, Task Motivation, and a “Cold Start” Control Group on Hypnotizability, which is based on his master's thesis.

Interactive Periodic Table Installed

A dedication ceremony was recently held for the installation of the Scientific Display of the Periodic Table of Elements. Dr. Jack Waber, Interim Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, welcomed chemistry alumni and thanked them for taking part in the celebration of this exceptional installation. The interactive display, found in the Schmucker Science Center, features actual samples of each chemical element, artifacts demonstrating their applications and interactive software that describes the various properties. A list of the contents can be found here: Periodic Table Contents List. WCU is the only public university in the mid-Atlantic region to boast a scientific display of this kind.

Dr. Melissa Cichowicz, Chair of the Department of Chemistry, played a lead role in organizing the project. Dr. Laurie Bernotsky, Executive Vice President and Provost, thanked alumnus Dr. Jeffrey Evelhoch and his wife Nancy for their generous gift which made the scientific display possible.

The Scientific Display of the Periodic Table of Elements honors retired faculty Dr. Marc Durand, Dr. John Mangravite and the late Drs. Robert Foery, Philip Witonsky and Philip Rudnick. Dr. Evelhoch credits these professors for helping guide and shape his future. The installation serves to celebrate the legacy of service and excellence provided by the WCU faculty and the resulting positive impact on young scientists.

Who's Who Among Students

Congratulations to our Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges Award recipients! All those selected exemplify outstanding scholastic ability, strong leadership qualities, service within the University and community, and overall promising success as students and beyond. Pictured here with Dr. Vishal Shah, Associate Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics, from left to right are: Rebeka Yocum Physics Honors College, Laura Sposato Sociology, Jason Miller Biology: Ecology/Conservation Honors College, Jessica Gallo Biology Honors College, Rachael Marks Anthropology, Deryn Fink Anthropology, Marcus Bost, Jr. Psychology: Industrial, Tyler Bornstad Political Science: International Relations, Kaitlyn Blair Biochemistry and Chemistry Honors College and Emily Becker Political Science. Not shown - Gabriella Terry Psychology Honors College.

Physics Students Participate in NSF-REU

Congratulations to physics majors Haley Buckner and Rebekah Yokum! Haley Buckner was selected to participate in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program at Vanderbilt University. Rebekah Yokum was selected to participate in the NSF-REU program at the University of Pittsburgh. Participation in the NSF-REU program provides students with a true interdisciplinary research experience in a collaborative environment. For more information on the program, visit: National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Physics Faculty Granted Fellowships

Tianran Chen Headshot Tianran Chen Headshot

With great pride and excitement, the Department of Physics announces that two of our esteemed faculty, Dr. Tianran Chen and Dr. Ian A. Morrison, have been granted fellowships at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). The KITP, located at the University of California, is the first and foremost scientific research facility where theorists in physics and allied fields work together on a broad range of questions arising from investigations at the leading edges of science. These fellowships allow KITP Scholars to go to KITP by providing funding for three trips. Only about six to eight such awards are made each year by the prestigious Kavli Institute. For a university to have a single KITP scholar is a mark of distinction. WCU now embraces two!