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Study Abroad led Pre-Med Student to Become Research Fellow

Kaitlyn Kennard, Class of 2012, is an American Physiological Society Undergraduate Research Fellow.   Her passion for physiology was ignited when, as  a sophomore, she studied abroad in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with two Ursinus biology professors, and became interested in the science of the function of living systems.

Kennard is one of 24 participants selected during a time-intensive application process. The program, which is in its 13th year, aims to excite and encourage students about careers in biomedical research. Each Fellow receives a $4,000 stipend to cover living expenses during the 10-week program.

During the program each Fellow participates in hands-on research experience in the lab of an established investigator learning to develop a hypothesis, design and troubleshoot experiments, collect and analyze data, write up and present results. Fellows have opportunities to network with other undergraduates interested in biomedical research, to explore the nature of research and how scientists think about their specific question, to explore career options and what it takes to be successful in those careers.

Kennard is completing her research on the Ursinus campus with faculty mentor, Dr. Beth Bailey, a cardiac physiologist. Her project is looking at pregnancy induced hypertrophy, which is the enlargement of the heart during pregnancy (a normal physiological condition). In understanding the physiological changes that occur to the heart during pregnancy, she hopes to elucidate the pathology of post-partum cardiomyopathy, which is when the heart does not return to normal size post pregnancy.

On the Ursinus Campus, Kennard is involved in Tri Beta and Brownback Anderson Pre-medical Society. The senior Biology major and Spanish minor from New Jersey has worked as a Board Certified Pharmacy Technician at Walgreens Pharmacy since 2008. After graduation she hopes to attend medical school.

In the Spring of 2012 Kennard will travel to San Diego, Calif. in order to present her research to an international audience. Dr. Bailey anticipates Kennard’s research will result in a publication in which Kennard will be the first author. – By Kaitlyn Ott 2013


Neuroscience in Summer

As Summer Fellows, Christopher Howard 2012 and Jennilyn Weber 2013 continued research they began in the spring in the lab of Dr. Carlita Favero. Together they examined the path that axons ( picture a long “tail” that connects neurons) take during development from the thalamus to the cortex of the forebrain as well as the birth and death of the cells there during this time (thalamo-cortical development). Especially interesting to the team is studying the development in mouse embryos that have been prenatally exposed to ethanol. Favero and her students hope that their research someday will aid other scientists in creating therapies for children affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

The Summer Fellows program at Ursinus allows sophomores or juniors to pursue an independent scholarly project under the close guidance of a faculty mentor. The project can be undertaken as independent research or a creative or artistic endeavor, on or off-campus and includes eight weeks of full-time study and a $2500 stipend. Faculty mentors help direct the project. All Fellows presented their research during the last week of the program, and many present at Family Day and at professional conferences off campus.

“As an undergraduate, I’ve already taken a step towards making a difference the lives of children,” says Jennilyn Weber. When deciding on a college, Weber vowed to find one that offered the best undergraduate degree in the sciences for medical school. “In the beginning I thought I wanted to major in biology, but I learned of the great neuroscience professors and classes offered here and did some research into requirements. I felt it could answer a lot of the “why” questions that I’ve always had about the brain. Even more amazing is that Ursinus could give me the opportunity to find some of those answers on my own by doing research.”

Christopher Howard, Weber’s research partner, has been interested in science as long as he can remember. “My mother, an operating room nurse, immersed me at a young age into the wonders of science.” Originally, though, his plan was to become an architect. “Mostly because I enjoy working with my hands. But after my freshman year, I declared biology as my major. I realized that in order to holistically understand the human body, I would first have to understand the how the brain functions. This sparked my interest within the field of neuroscience. I began exploring my options during the first semester of my junior year.”

Dr. Favero’s research was so compelling for Howard that he began working in her lab during his junior year. “I believe that the real lab research exposure provided by Ursinus helps to define why it is such a unique institution. This exposure has allowed me to become involved in what I would consider to be the most hands-on experience of my collegiate career. My only regret is that I did not become involved sooner,” he says. -- K.C.

Ursinus Senior Has Won Prestigious Math/Science Award

Ursinus College rising senior Jennifer C. Schrandt is the winner of a scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. A major in Biology, she is among 275 sophomore and junior scholarship winners for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Schrandt is one of 17 Goldwater Scholars listed from the state of Pennsylvania. She is from Newtown and is a graduate from Council Rock High School North, in Bucks County. Her career goal is to earn a Ph.D. in immunology prior to pursuing a career in pharmaceutical research.

Schrandt has been mentored under Rebecca Lyczack, and has co-authored a publication with Lyczack as well as other students titled, “The PAM-1 aminopeptidase regulates centrosome positioning to ensure anterior-posterior axis specification in one-cell C. elegans embryos.”

She is currently researching the effects of centrosome positioning on anterior-posterior axis establishment in C. elegans, and how microtubule length impacts this process. Schrandt is also participating in a summer internship at Thomas Jefferson University and studying antigen processing with Dr. Laurence Eisenlohr.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. -- By Kaitlyn Ott 2013


Two Seniors Receive Fulbright Awards

Ursinus seniors Ashley Green and Martina Dzuna have both received Fulbright awards that will allow them to explore international cultures and further their academic study. The prestigious Fulbright program distributes just 1,600 awards to U.S. students annually. (Pictured: Ashley Green)

Green is a Sociology major who will be teaching English to middle or high school students in New Delhi, India. Her fascination with India and interest in the Fulbright program began when she met an Indian man on an airplane who would later become her fiancée. At the time, he was working as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, and told her about the program and the culture. Since then, she has spent a summer visiting in India.

“Going back this time, for Fulbright, is going to be very different,” she said, “and I’m really excited for it. I’m dreading the heat, but I can’t wait to be back in a place where time is cyclical and things are not so rushed.”

Studying abroad in India and in South Africa has changed her thinking about changing others. While interested in helping less developed nations, she says change has to come from within. “More than anything,” Green says, “I want to engage in a cultural exchange in which the students teach me about India, and I teach them about the United States. That is the mission of Fulbright, to create cross-cultural understanding.”

Ursinus’ second Fulbright, Martina Dzuna, is an Environmental Studies and German double major, who will be traveling to Freiburg University in Germany to continue the research on gathering that she started at Ursinus. Under the tutelage of Dr. Patrick Hurley, assistant professor of environmental studies, she has been investigating non-timber forest product gathering in the Philadelphia area, which includes plants, nuts, and fungi. These can be used in many different ways, from food to craft materials. In addition to the research that she has done in the area, Dzuna also has experience gathering with her family in Slovakia.

She chose Environmental Studies as a major, she said, “because the interdisciplinary approach that Environmental Studies takes has been perfect for me, since it combines science with policy, which interests me more than just pure science. It tends to be a more complete way of approaching complex problems such as climate change or environmental degradation.”

Both students credited their professors for guiding them to their current success. Dzuna described how Professor of German Dr. Robin Clouser encouraged her to apply for the Fulbright program, and how Dr. Hurley’s research contacts in Germany helped to move her project forward. “Having small classes allows you to build better relationships with your professors, which opens up a lot of opportunities you may not otherwise have,” she says.

Green echoed her classmate’s praise of the small, personal atmosphere at Ursinus. Her first memory at Ursinus is that of the late President John Strassburger, smiling at her and greeting her by name. “The transformation I have undergone since setting foot on campus my freshman year is tremendous,” she said, “not just academically, but personally too.” – By David Hysek 2011


Model U.N. Stdents Meet with Dikembe Mutombo

Ursinus students met with Dikembe Mutombo who was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies at the Model United Nations this year in New York City.  Professor Joseph Melrose, former Ambassador to the UN, takes our students every year to the Model United Nations, and teaches a course on International Organizations and Diplomacy. Ursinus is one of the longest attending Model UN college, with more than 40 years attending the program.

Motombu spoke about his journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the U.S. to study medicine at Georgetown University. Though his plans were to become a doctor, he was recruited to play basketball. He quickly advanced to the NBA and became one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times.  

His life as an athlete took him in a new direction, but Motombu remained loyal to his native country and has committed the time and resources to build hospitals in the DRC. He also works with international NGOS, the United Nations, and is fluent in several languages. On April 13, 2011, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health awarded Dikembe Mutombo the Goodermote Humanitarian Award "for his efforts to reduce polio globally as well as his work improving the health of neglected and underserved populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo."

“The experience of hearing him speak about his life and humanitarian work has encouraged us to take on some initiatives to help better understand the world and make it a better, more  peaceful place,” says Jessica McIlhenny 2011.

Ursinus St. Andrews Scholar Given Highest Honor

Ursinus sophomore Alex Niedmann was given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to study for a full year at the University of Edinburgh for the 2011-2012 academic term. The Philosophy major and Neuroscience minor was awarded the McFarland Scholarship from The St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. The society awards five scholarships, including only one McFarland scholarship, for students to study at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Glasgow, Universities in Scotland. Candidates from 18 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region are given a chance to submit a candidate to study at one of the four universities during their junior year of college. The scholarship Niedmann received is the highest honor, and essentially designates Niedmann as the top applicant.

Niedmann, of West Hartford, Conn., enjoys philosophy, and wanted to explore scholarships or study abroad options that would allow him to continue studying philosophy. The philosophy departments in Scotland are among the world’s best, he says, and the prospect of spending a full year studying at a University there is “as attractive intellectually as it is culturally” says Niedmann. Niedmann is looking forward to the many opportunities this experience will offer him, including getting to know his new city. “To find myself feeling at home . .  I would look forward to this aspect of any extended residence abroad," he says.

In applying for this scholarship Niedmann was required to submit a personal statement and attend an interview with the Scholarship Committee of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. REferring to his personal statement to the scholarship committee, he says, “The Scottish philosophical tradition produced the first inquiries of their kind into the workings and nature of the human mind. The year of immersion supported by this Scholarship affords me the experience of actually being embedded in the physical and cultural context to which my study of the mind owes much of its meaning and shape, a tangible rediscovery of the historical and cultural source of so much of what fundamentally animates my life.” – By Kaitlyn Ott 2013

Merck Awards Shavonn Smith Competitive Scholarship

Shavonn Smith 2012
has been awarded the United Negro College Fund-Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship. This competitive award includes up to $25,000 toward Smith’s senior year at Ursinus. It includes an internship at a Merck research facility, with stipends totaling $10,000.

“This internship could provide me with the answer to what type of graduate studies I want to pursue,” says Smith, who has been a researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Beth Bailey (Biology) and participated in an internship at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. As a biology and media and communications double major, Smith works hard balancing the different- and difficult - subjects.

“My communications classes require a lot of reading and writing,” says Smith. “In Biology, learning how to read scientific papers was a challenge. I like that they’ve been incorporated into the curriculum in every bio course because it’s a normal part of the field. Because the biology program requires that we take courses that fit into specific areas of study (organismal, integrative, and molecular) it forces us to explore aspects of biology we would never have considered,” says Smith.

“Shavonn is a really strong student with diverse interests,” says Dr. Bailey. “She forced herself outside her comfort zone during her freshman year when she took Dr. Sidie’s Marine Biology Course that took her to Woods Hole Marine Biological Institute in Woods Hole. She has since been a TA for our biology labs and served as a Supplemental Instructor in BIO 101.”

During her summer internship Smith worked a lab where students learned about different neurodegenerative disorders. “We used video enhanced microscopy to monitor the effects of various treatments on the rate of anterograde and retrograde fast axonal transport using the squid Loligo pealei,” she says.” Actively participating in the experiments made me feel as though I was influencing research that could be used to one day help people who were sick. It was that intensive five week-long experience that solidified my interest in the medical applications of research.”

Though Dr. Bailey reassured her that she was confident she would get the scholarship, Smith was still surprised to learn she won. “I thought that the odds were low considering the number of people who apply,” says Smith. “The first person I thought to tell was my aunt, but I figured that she might be on her way home from work. Instead, I texted my boyfriend,” she says.

Bailey says Smith came to Ursinus thinking she wanted to be a veterinarian, but found that she liked research. “This scholarship will give her the opportunity to explore pharmaceutical research during the internship that accompanies her scholarship. Shavonn is taking her time trying to figure out which career path is best for her, and this scholarship will help her do that.”

Fifteen of these scholarships are awarded nationally to help African American undergraduate students majoring in science to further their education and pursue science careers. “All of us in the Biology Department are very proud of Shavonn,” says Professor Rebecca Roberts. “She exemplifies the personal strength, intelligence, and dedication required to be a successful scientist.”

To be considered for the award she had to submit a resume, an essay, and her transcript. Smith is a graduate of Central High School in Philadelphia. Past Ursinus students who have won this award include Derese Getnet 2004, who is completing his Ph.D. in immunology at Johns Hopkins University, and Monique Spencer 2005, who is pursuing her medical degree. KC 

English Major on her way to a Ph.D. with prestigious CIC Fellowship

Melissa Pankake learns from the past, but is excited about the future. An English major with a passion for the Medieval, Melissa, the recent Class of 2011 Valedictorian from Lebanon Pa, is headed to Princeton University with a prestigious graduate fellowship, one of two each year offered by the Council of Independent Colleges. She will pursue a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in medieval literature.

A student with many interests, Melissa spent her spring break building houses in rural Kentucky. As an active member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Ursinus College Chapel since her freshman year, and current Chapel president, she offered a monthly message and organized programs like an upcoming Interfaith dinner. She is a member of the community service-oriented Upsilon Phi Delta Sorority, participated in Ursinus College Environmental Action events, served on the Center for Writing staff, and worked for the Berman Museum of Art.

Her passion is medieval English. “It pains me that so many people still regard the Middle Ages as a dark age, a black-and-white text full of 'ye's and random extra 'e's,” she says. “The past has so much to teach us about ourselves, and I am grateful for the opportunity to study its vibrant literature more fully.”

Melissa explored the character of Lancelot in the 15th century Arthurian prose Morte D'Arthur as a Summer Fellow in 2010. The research formed the groundwork for an honors thesis on how author Sir Thomas Malory, who was a knight himself, perceived chivalry at the end of the Middle Ages.

“Summer Fellows was probably the hardest thing I have ever done as an Ursinus student, because I wasn't used to working on the same project constantly without activities or classes to break up the work,” she recalls. She learned, she says, about her own creative process, and the importance of pacing.

She just had an article published in the undergraduate journal Proto. Her scholarship from the Council for Independent Colleges and also from Princeton, will cover tuition and expenses, including summer study,

Melissa says her achievements at Ursinus are due in part to supportive parents, and faculty mentor Joyce Lionarons, Professor of English. “She has been my biggest supporter and guide,” Melissa says of her professor. “She has overseen my Summer Fellows project, Honors project, and grad school application process---and I credit her with keeping me sane through all of it.  I wouldn't have had the confidence even to apply for the American Graduate Fellowship if she had not encouraged me to do so.”

Professor Lionarons says that Melissa “is every professor's dream student. She does all the work on time, and then does more:  she can synthesize ideas from previous courses, whether in English or another discipline, and come up with new ways of looking at old issues.  Her writing is superb, and I think that her facility with languages -- she has Latin, Greek, French, and Old English -- allows her to think about Modern English words in both their contemporary meanings and root meanings, giving her writing a depth that most writers attain much later in life, if at all.”

In addition to the faculty mentoring, Melissa said she fell in love with Ursinus during a tour.“I couldn't get it out of my head---I could sense a very close-knit, friendly, almost incubating sort of community that drew me in right from the get-go.  I was also attracted by the phenomenal study abroad program (my experience abroad, by the way, was life-changing).”

The graduate fellowship is funded by a grant from the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation, Witchita Falls, Texas to support two students from small, liberal arts colleges to attend one of a handful of prestigious institutions in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Choosing Philadelphia as a Spring Break Destination

Many students return to school with spring break memories of various trips to Florida, Jamaica, and other warm locations. But for one Ursinus student, spring break was not spent lounging in the sun. Alison Poandl took part in an alternative spring break, “Campus Philly Alternative Spring Break,” where she spent five days in Center City, North Philadelphia, Germantown, and Allegheny West,  immersed in community service.

Poandl wanted to do something productive over break as well as learn about the particular non-profits they were working with, such as the SHARE food program and the Village of Arts and Humanities. The alternative spring break program was announced through an Ursinus Career Services email and she thought it might be a good experience and a way to meet to new people.

The service projects included packing boxes of food for low income seniors, raking debris from a vacant lot in the Village of Arts and Humanities to create a park and working with elementary school students to clean up their butterfly garden. “I especially enjoyed working with the elementary students at John Wister Elementary because the children were going to an amazing school in what is supposedly a bad district,” she says. “One of my favorite moments was receiving hugs from the children we had met only hours before. They were so open and welcoming to us.”

In addition to the daytime routine improving the environment for seniors and children, the college students were able to enjoy dinner at the Reading Terminal Market, hear the Philadelphia Orchestra, visit the Museum of American Jewish History, and tour both the Eastern State Penitentiary and University of Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  Her group included ten students and one leader. “We were able to bond together over the course of five days,” says Poandl. The group stayed in Apple Hostels of Philadelphia in Old City and used Septa transportation all week, which helped orient them to Philadelphia.

“There was nothing I did not enjoy about the alternative spring break,” says Poandl. “It was an interesting and invigorating spring break. I learned a lot, was able to help some people and I had a great time.”  - By Kaitlyn Ott 2013


Business Major Ray Clarke Takes His Bike Share on the Road

It’s one thing for a student to start a club or program on campus. It’s quite a different challenge to take that program and turn it into a business. Senior Ray Clarke is doing just that, taking the Ursinus Bike Share on the road.

At least two other area colleges have signed on. This week on his spring break he is pedaling the pavement visiting colleges with the goal of getting at least six additional schools to sign on. A Business and Economics major and Sociology minor, Clarke hopes to visit another 40 schools by December. He learned to file non-profit papers and through his coursework understands what he has to make in profit to exceed his start-up costs.

In 2008 Clarke and Laura Ng, Class of 2009, created the Ursinus Bike Share, the second in the country at the time. Ursinus students embraced it: some 200 signed up, making it one of the largest clubs on campus. Clarke believes the high interest may have been due to students’ desire to decrease fuel emissions by avoiding driving cars on short trips. The Ursinus Bike Share allows students to purchase bikes at a discounted rate if they would like a bike for longer than 24 hours in the upcoming year. “Bike share has grown to be something we are proud of,” he says. “I thought other colleges could benefit.”

Clarke, of Glenolden, Pa., had been working at a bike shop since Junior year of high school. “I have always been interested in mechanics and business. I began working for myself when I was in the eighth grade doing small handy man jobs. I saw an opportunity to work with Ursinus Bike Share in its beginning stages and jumped.”

Helping the business is classmate Liz Hooper of Columbia, Pa. They plan to present the business plan during the campus Celebration of Student Achievement (COSA) April 13. The project fulfilled the college’s Independent Learning Experience (ILE) requirement.

Bikes at colleges get a lot of wear and tear. Although Ray is something of a mechanic, not everyone has that ability. To help them he designed a training program and provides an instruction manual so that students can troubleshoot and fix the bikes themselves.

“You can fix 90 to 95 percent of the problems on your own,” he says. He also includes information on being a sustainable business, down to recycling degreasing rags, and recycling bike parts. He personally will oversee the new programs at other campuses for a year. He also provides a log book and management program.

“I have learned a great deal about what it takes to set up and run a company,” he says. “I’m glad I started something in college because there are great minds here and you can bounce ideas off people, ideas that can better the community.” -- By W.G., photo by Joshua Krigman 2011

Whitney Mayer '12 To Learn and Live in China

A seasoned traveler, Whitney Mayer 2012 has been to England, France, Wales, Ireland, Netherlands, and Belgium. And this summer the Pittsburgh native will add a new name to the growing list of nations she has the good fortune to explore. Mayer was recently awarded the Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. State Department to study in China for the summer. She leaves in June.

“I’m not sure where I will live yet,” says Mayer. “It could be an apartment, dorm, or with a host family.” The announcement of her scholarship is so new that even the region where she will be living is to be determined. Choices include Beijing, Shanghai or Nanjing. “I’m very excited but nervous about adjusting to aspects such as the food and environment,” she says. The program includes a pre-departure course and then an intensive summer of studying Chinese language. Mayer, who is International Relations major with a Biology and Chinese minor, says she hopes to gain more fluency during the experience. “After graduation I plan to go to law school and I’m interested in working for the World Health Organization or perhaps becoming a patent attorney.”

Mayer learned about the prestigious scholarship from Greg Weight, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. “She has worked very hard to become proficient in Chinese, supplementing her work at Ursinus by attending the renowned Middlebury Language School last summer, which features complete language immersion,” says Weight. “The Critical Language Scholarship will provide her with an invaluable opportunity to continue that immersive experience in either Beijing or Shanghai for eight weeks this summer, with at least 20 hours a week of intensive language training. Whitney eventually would like to develop Chinese language programs in American schools, particularly in underserved populations,” he says. “It is apparent that Whitney seeks to serve and to bridge both cultures.” Another Ursinus student, Jessica McIlhenny, is an alternative for the same scholarship program to Turkey. -KC

Two UC Students Accepted into Competitive Teach for America Program

The influential Teach for America has accepted Ursinus students Robyn Clarke and Alexandra Wilson into its program which works to close the achievement gap in schools for students living in low-income communities.

Wilson, a Politics major and Education and Film Studies minor, will be teaching in Jacksonville, Fla. for two years. She will be the primary teacher for an elementary education class and will attend a summer course at Chicago Institute where she will practice effective teaching strategies..

“The educational injustice in Florida often gets overlooked, and I feel it needs to be confronted,” says Wilson. “I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.” Wilson will be the primary teacher for an elementary education class and will be attending a summer course at Chicago Institute where she will undergo five weeks of intense training in order to practice effective teaching strategies. “I applied for Teach for America because I truly believe that education inequality is one of the biggest injustices in our society and must be stopped,” she says. “No other program offers as comprehensive a plan or as many opportunities to do so, and I knew joining TFA was my opportunity to give back to society. I have been so fortunate to grow up where education was a right, not a privilege, and I want to make sure that every child is given the same chance at success.”

Clarke, a double major in History and Dance with teacher certification, will teach in New York City, either in an elementary or middle school, most likely in special education. “Teaching in an urban district has always been a goal of mine because I started my education in an urban district,” says Clarke. “Until I was in second grade, I attended school in Elizabeth, New Jersey and Newark New Jersey. I wanted to return to where my love for learning was sparked.” She says she is inspired by the TFA mission to reduce the achievement gap in economically depressed areas.

The Education Department at Ursinus is especially proud, says Education Professor Stephanie Mackler. “We are thrilled to see Teach for America admit two of our education students, Robyn and Alex, because it speaks to the value of the liberal arts approach to education our department provides. Robyn and Alex know more than just the methods of teaching; they understand the broader socio-political context of education, and I’m sure this understanding made them strong candidates for TFA and will enable them to make a significant impact on education policy and practice in the future.”

Clarke and Wilson are looking forward to making a difference in the lives of their students. “I can’t wait to get to know my students and develop individual relationship with them.” – Kaitlyn Ott 2013

At Work on Renewable Energy

Katlyn Lawver 2013 spends her summers installing renewable energy systems including solar PV and thermal, geothermal, radiant floor and wind energy systems. She even built a solar powered golf cart with her father, Allen, at his company in Schaefferstown, Pa. “The golf cart was originally a very old one that was sitting in our barn that we had used years ago,” says Lawver. “It’s a three-Katlyn Lawverwheeled cart with one row of seats that comfortable seat two people. Unfortunately, it required new batteries and the wheels and brakes had to be fixed. The batteries were replaced with high-capacity DC batteries that were hooked up to a solar panel built into the roof. It can still be charged if it needs to be, but even on a cloudy day it charges itself and will hold a charge for at least a day of use.”

Lawver hopes to pursue a career in ecosystem management or a branch of ecology. With Earth Day approaching, she will be working for Sustain UC’s environmental fair. “I would like to introduce the school and the community to some aspects of environmental conservation that they may not have been aware of and to portray it in a fun, interactive way with none of the pressures you might find in a classroom,” says Lawver, an Environmental Studies major. “I've found that if you are interested in a topic it is much easier to learn about it interactively. I also want to show possible prospective students the strength of the school's environmental department and the potential that it has.”

The average consumer has a lot to learn about renewable energy, says Lawver. “It has come very far since most people first starting hearing about it. Renewable energy has the potential to power an entire house with a small system and is not as finicky as most people believe. It can also offer a strong alternative to current energy sources. I have seen many households reduce or even eliminate the carbon footprint of their homes using renewable energy and those living there have the same comforts if not more than a family using conventional energy.” At Ursinus, her courses have helped her explore career possibilities. “My experience at Ursinus has pushed me to challenge my common beliefs and to look at environmental issues from every point of view in order to find a possible solution. This is helpful because I believe many people working in the environmental field today are unable to throw their concrete beliefs to the side in order to look at something differently to see if maybe there was something they missed.” -- KC
Photo by Joshua Krigman 2011


Inside the United Nations

Ursinus students took part in a historic moment recently when members of the United Nations Security Council met with several hundred students from colleges and high schools around the world to exchange views on the major global issues of their generation.

“Some of the students travelled from Europe and China for the event while others were from New York City and the surrounding region,” says the Hon. Joseph H. Melrose, professor of International Relations and the College’s Ambassador-in-Residence. He invited Ursinus International Relations students to attend the Dec. 23 event. “The students packed the Economic and Social Council Hall and their presence attracted a great deal of attention from both U.N. staff and other U.N. diplomats who were able to watch on UN TV.”

Melrose, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone and a member of the Ursinus class of 1966, is Acting U.S. Representative for Management and Reform, U.S. mission to the U.N., and was President of the model U.N.

“This experience was amazing,” says Carolyn Smith 2011, who plans to attend graduate school for International Relations and work for an international nongovernmental organization to promote human rights. “The students at Youth Day were able to listen to members of the U.N. Security Council discuss issues that students brought to the table. Countries like China, Japan, the United States and Lebanon expressed their views on international peace and security problems such as the situation in North Korea, shortage of food and water supplies in war zones, and the Iranian nuclear program,” says Smith, an International Relations and French double major from Harrisburg, Pa. The three most pressing problems for her generation, Smith believes, are nuclear weapons, global climate change and terrorism.

“It was pretty cool to be in a place where you know that 192 states meet to talk about world problems,” says Tim Blaine 2012, who is from Alexandria, Va. “It was my first time at the U.N. and a little different than what I expected. I was waiting for this huge, grandiose hall with a bunch of flags. It was pretty normal though, at least around the Security Council,” says Blaine, who plans to pursue a career in the military.

“One highlight was probably a question one young girl asked who was born in China but immigrated to the U.S. and is now a citizen,” says Blaine, a political science major with a minor in history and international relations. “She asked what the U.N. was going to do about the North Korean "problem" a day after they had an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the North Korean artillery strikes against South Korea. All of the delegates looked at each other and said they would come back to that question.”

Blaine thinks the major problems facing the world are terrorism and nuclear proliferation. “Terrorist organizations getting their hands on nuclear weapons is the most pressing and dangerous thing to me,” he says. “The UN is an important institution where states participate in diplomacy and discuss the world's problem.”

Alanna Coyle 2011, an International Relations major from Fairfax County, Va., appreciated the chance to see “inside the Security Council and some of the other rooms where the different bodies of the UN function and to hear the representatives views on different issues that our generation will face when it comes to ensuring peace and security on an international level.”

Jessica McIlhenny 2011 says it was interesting to “be a part of something that brought together the whole world’s youth… to create a dialogue among the world and get us to start thinking of problems and concerns that we, as a world, will have to take on as future leaders.”

Four Years Later: Matthew Stehman '10

Matthew Stehman lived near Ursinus growing up and remembers driving by campus, viewing the blossoming trees, and thinking he might be a student here someday. “When I began looking at colleges, my sister, who was a senior at Ursinus, brought me on a tour of campus,” says Matt, who graduated this May with a major in Mathematics and minors in Physics and Computer Science. “I was instantly amazed at how friendly everyone was and I loved the idea that professors could be your friends as well as your mentors. I knew I wanted to be part of the Ursinus community.”

Four Years Later:
“Now that I am a senior, I feel that I will always remember the relationships that I formed over the years with professors and fellow students,” says Matt, who completed his honors research on modeling the dynamics of suspension bridges. “At Ursinus, the faculty members truly do care about you and I will never forget the help and support that they gave me. I can’t think of too many colleges where professors will come in at 6:30 in the morning or 9:00 at night to meet with you because that’s the only time that worked. Ursinus is a truly unique experience and I have plenty of lasting memories I will be taking with me.”

Matt was also a member of Kappa Mu Epsilon (Math honors society), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (CS honors society) and Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics honors society). He was a member of the golf team and made the Ursinus College Deans List (Fall 2007- Present), the Athletic Honor Roll (Fall 2007- Present) and participated in Ursinus College Summer Fellows Program (2009).

Matt will attend Johns Hopkins University to pursue a Ph.D in Civil Engineering and will be specializing in Structural Engineering.

Four years later: Kristen Much '10

When Kristen Much first visited Ursinus as a high school senior she fell in love with the campus. “When it came time to decide it just felt like the right place,” says Much, who will graduate this May with majors in Mathematics and Biology and minors in Biostatistics and Statistics. “When I arrived at Ursinus, I was nervous and hesitant, and didn’t really know what would come. If you asked me four years ago what I would accomplish here at Ursinus, I would probably have only brushed the surface.”

Four Years Later:

“Ursinus has given me so many opportunities, and I am so glad I took advantage of them,” says Kristen, who is from Bucks County, Pa. She is a member of Mathematics Association of America (MAA), Beta Beta Beta (Biology Honors Society), Kappa Mu (Math Honors Society), and a tutor with Aclamo (students who speak English as a second language).

Research work in both of her fields was made easier, she says, with the help of her professors. “I was able to do an independent project, something of particular interest to me, thanks to Summer Fellows (and get paid!). I was able to really bond with my professors and develop a strong relationship particularly with Professor (Mohamed) Yahdi and Professor (Kate) Goddard. They helped me in so many ways—by teaching me, guiding me, and pushing me, and for that I am incredibly grateful. They truly wanted to see me succeed and helped make that possible in any way they could. Overall, I believe Ursinus gave me a great education that will definitely help me in my future,” says Kristen, who was given the Outstanding Independent Research award by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals for her Summer Fellows project—The Mathematical Modeling and Sensitivity Analysis of Antibiotic Resistance. She received Honors in Mathematics for the same project.

Kristen’s life has also been enriched through her volunteer work with Best Buddies. The organization is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities and college students are paired up with individuals in the community who have an intellectual disability. “I developed a lifelong friendship with my buddy, Bill, who constantly teaches me new things about life everything time I am with him and brightens my day.”

Kristen is headed to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to pursue an MS in Biostatistics.


Four Years Later: Jonathan Brink

In high school, Jonathan Brink had many friends who applied to large, state universities. “That simply did not appeal to me,” says Brink, who is from Oklahoma City. “I first heard of Ursinus through the “Colleges That Change Lives” organization. I was attracted to the school for its size and student-to-faculty ratio, which were both remarkably low numbers. I was able to make the long trek from my home in Oklahoma City to visit during my senior year. The beautiful campus, with its eclectic mixture of old and contemporary buildings, and the amicable students made an impression on me. Although I had no idea what I wanted to study at the time, I was thrilled to note that the school had so many great departments. Not only was I confident that I would find a field of study right for me, but that I would also be able to find a close circle of friends.”

Four Years Later:

“Ursinus offers fantastic support for its students,” says Brink, who graduates Cum Laude in May with a double major in Spanish and International Relations and a minor in History. Brink made Dean’s List for the past six semesters, was a member of Pi Gamma Mu (International Honor Society and Social Sciences) and a member of Phi Sigma Iota (International Foreign Language Honor Society). “Within my first semester here, I realized how much we were cared about,” he says. “Each student has a designated adviser to go to for help, which is great, but it’s also true that almost every professor on campus is happy to sit down for a chat. That means that your learning experience is practically unlimited. Ursinus is great about encouraging us to think outside the box, outside our comfort zones. I was able to discover several new interests including S.C.U.B.A. diving and acting. These things are often inaccessible at other schools, so it’s a definite blessing to have the opportunity to experience so much.”

Before applying to grad school, Brink will take a year off to pursue an acting career. “After realizing my passion for acting here, my plan is to move to Seattle to test my luck.”

Four Years Later: Karen Boedecker
I came to Ursinus because of the opportunities available to students that aren’t generally offered to undergraduates at larger institutions. There’s a feeling on campus that any student can do anything he or she wants to and there’s a lot of support from the faculty and administration when someone takes initiative.”

Four Years Later:

“Students at Ursinus aren’t necessarily treated like students – professors and administrators treat us with a lot of respect and have high (but not unreasonable) expectations for us. This mutual respect makes students comfortable enough that people aren’t afraid to try new things on campus, whether it’s starting a new student organization, taking a class that’s completely unrelated to your major, or pursuing an unusual research project.”

Karen graduates in May with majors in English and a self-designed major in Comparative Religious Studies. She took advantage of so much that Ursinus has to offer, from working with the Annual Fund to interviewing students as a Senior Admissions Fellow. She designed a comparative religions major that is catalogue-ready, with Professor Nathan Rein, and as a Summer Fellow explored the relationship of Ursinus’s religious traditions to the present-day Common Intellectual Experience. The year before, her Summer Fellows project was a paper on contemporary Orthodox Jewish female writers, which she is she is preparing to submit for publication. She was Chair of Habitat for Humanity and a member of Ursinus College Environmental Action.

Four years later: Aakash Shah

“I caught my first glimpse of Ursinus when I visited its campus as a senior in high school,” says Aakash, who is from Cliffside Park, N.J. “During my visit, I was lucky enough to interview with the Rev. Charles Rice. The interview simultaneously challenged and inspired me. I left the interview thinking, ‘If I could come away with that much in two hours, then I can only imagine what could happen in four years.’ Those words echoed in my head as I toured the campus after my interview. I literally saw and overheard the transformative impact that dedicated professors were having on their students – I spotted students chatting with professors on the green, grabbing coffee together in Jazzman’s, and talking over lunch in Lower Wismer. By that point, it was clear that Ursinus delivered a unique education, one built around a community of learning.”

Four Years Later:

Faculty support across disciplines defined the undergraduate experience. “As one of my mentors is fond of saying, ‘Learning comes from family.’ Of course, in that context, ‘family’ is figurative and represents a community of individuals dedicated to one another’s success. After four years at Ursinus, I can confidently say that the opportunity to do research at Ursinus will be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences from my undergraduate years. Faculty including Rev.Rice, Professor Lyczak, Professor Hudson, Professor Williamsen, and Professors Ellen Dawley and Robert Dawley have taken me under their wing, just as other professors have done with countless other students here. Together they have helped me recognize my true potential and the possibilities that lay before me. Thanks to them and the greater Ursinus community, I now leave here tremendously more inspired, more committed, and more capable.”

Aakash graduates in May with distinguished honors research in sociology and honors research in biology and neuroscience. He will receive bachelor’s degrees in Biology, Neuroscience and Inequality Studies, with minors in chemistry and sociology. He was a Goldwater Scholar, Summer Fellow, Rhodes Scholar finalist, Zacharias Scholar, Bonner Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa. When Aakash was working at a rural medical clinic India, he was able to connect to the material he read in his Common Intellectual Experience coursework, and as a biology and neuroscience major, became interested in the applications of medicine and public health, part of the study he hopes to pursue at Harvard.


Four Years Later: Kira Oldham-Curtis

 Senior Kira Oldham-Curtis of Eugene Oregon loved Ursinus at first sight. “After my first visit to campus and talking with students and faculty at Ursinus, I immediately knew that I wanted to come here. I loved everything about it; the people, the campus layout, the facilities, and its academic reputation. With a small liberal arts college you actually get the opportunity to know your professors and build relationships with them. Ursinus has helped me find my passions and excel at them.”

Four years later:
“ I think that the relationships I have built will stay with me forever. At Ursinus everyone looks out for one another. Not only do your friends and teammates want you to do well academically and athletically, but also your professors, classmates, coaches, and other faculty. Even after I graduate I don’t think that this will change. When I’ve been at home in Oregon, whenever I wear something that says Ursinus on it, people will come up to me in the gym, store, or wherever, and tell me that they went to Ursinus and ask me about it. I look forward to the day that I get to be the alum asking current Ursinus students questions about the school.”

Majoring in Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in French, Kira works as a physical therapy aide in nearby Phoenixville, and for the Ursinus Athletics Department. She is also a gymnastics coach for area youths. She volunteers with disabled youth at Variety Club, and works with developmentally delayed gymnasts. She is the team captain of the nationally ranked Ursinus gymnastics team and is the Division III National Champion on the Beam and All -Around this year, and last year, on the Floor.
View a video of her winning performance>

Four Years Later: Mark Smedberg '10

“I came to Ursinus because I was attracted by the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. I knew previous to visiting Ursinus that I was going to be studying and practicing theater, and to see such a wonderful and modern theater building was a huge draw for me.”

Four Years Later:
“What I liked best about Ursinus was all the people that I met, worked with, and became friends with. I fondly remember my freshman hallmates, my fellow actors and actresses, all the R.A.s I worked with, my Frisbee teammates, my fraternity brothers, and all the professors that I worked with in class. Those relationships were what made my experience at Ursinus for the last four years so amazing.”

Mark will graduate in May as a psychology and theater major. As a Summer Fellow he studied Bertolt Brecht’s performance and directing techniques with a faculty mentor. This past fall he taught acting at a state prison in a program developed by his theater professor. Mark is an Assistant Director and Resident Assistant, supervising program coordinators in seven Special Interest Houses, and Community Service chair of his fraternity. He is Battalion Chief for the Student Emergency Response Volunteers , a student-run emergency medical corps.


Four Years Later: Liora Kuttler '10

Graduating senior Liora Kuttler of Boston, Mass., says she came to Ursinus because it felt right. “I loved the campus and the friendly nature of the students. Whenever I came, it was always a gorgeous sunny day, and I felt good walking around.”

Four years later:

“What I love best about Ursinus is the amazing amount of support I’ve received from my professors. Professor Camp, Professor Trout, Professor Shuru, Professor Barkun, Professor Shifrin, and Professor Shoaf come immediately to mind when I think about how much they’ve really pushed me to do, and be, better than my best.”
A studio art major with a minor in French, Liora made Dean’s List every semester and is a Kemper Scholar, in a competitive national leadership program. She is a student curator, web photographer, an art gallery intern, and was intern to the President of the Chicago History Museum. She cooks for Hillel and sings with Ursinus’s Meistersingers.


Shoes For Haiti

Christa Johnson 2009 knows shoes. As a top-ranked runner at Ursinus College, Johnson typically tore through 17 pairs of sneakers during track season. So when her mother mentioned that her parish in Berlin, N.J., was collecting used shoes for the victims of Haiti’s earthquake, Johnson knew she had friends who would help. The 22-year-old, now the assistant track and cross country coach at Ursinus, decided to start a shoe and T-shirt drive on campus.

“My mom told me that our pastor, Father Joe Ferrera, came in at the end of mass and told the congregation that on the day of the earthquake in Haiti he was on a cruise ship 25 miles from Haiti, and his boat literally rocked,” says Johnson. Father Ferrara, of St. Simon Stock parish, was in contact with an order of nuns who established four convents in Haiti that housed orphaned children. Ferrara soon discovered one of the convents was destroyed during the earthquake. One of the nuns and many of the children were killed.

“My mom asked me to ask my team for donations because she was just really touched by the story, as was I,” says Johnson, who is taking a year off to coach before starting graduate school. Johnson emailed her plea for shoe donations across campus then asked the head coach if the team could make their home meet this Saturday, Feb. 6th into a drive for Haiti.

“We have made it a campus-wide drive,” says Johnson, who graduated with a philosophy degree. “It's just a story of the right people finding out and being touched and wanting to help and making it happen. Instead of just going through her closet, my mom thought to tell me knowing that I coached the team. Through my team and asking my coach for help, it touched enough people to get the whole school involved. One story generated by one person and now how many people are involved? ”

Johnson’s mom, Cindy, will be on campus for the meet this Saturday. “I would absolutely love it if I had to drive home, too, because she couldn't fit it all the donations in her car. I know a lot of people have been trying to figure out how to help the situation in Haiti and so often if feels so far away and impersonal donating things. But this is a real story, with people that my church personally knows, and we can help hundreds of people in a very easy and direct way.

GlobeTrekking: Environmental Studies Major Travels the World

Sophomore Becky Walter has lived in Kenya every other summer since she was 7, and then consecutively since age 16. The Environmental Studies Major is an adopted member of a Maasai family, has studied chimpanzees at Jane Goodall’s sanctuary in Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria and researched elephants in Kenya for Iain Douglas Hamilton’s organization Save the Elephants.

A gifted photographer, Becky chose Ursinus for its strong liberal arts program. She has just embarked on a semester around the globe to study the major biomes and document them through her photography. Her journey began in Alaska and Becky is now photographing whales in Hawaii. Students in this unique study abroad program will focus on how the different biomes of the world are affected by global warming.

As part of the program, Becky will also be using her photography as part of an independent study project with ENV Professor Patrick Hurley that examines the themes of globalization and the environment. She hopes to display this work when she returns to campus. Two biology courses and a writing course are part of the program. Other destinations she will explore over the next three months include Thailand, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Egypt, Turkey, Germany and Norway. Follow Becky’s amazing trip and marvel at her photographs on her blog. It is: The semester long trip is organized through Hiram College. To find out more about world travel through Ursinus contact the Study Abroad Office.


Writing for a Cause
Serena Mithbaokar 2010, president of the Ursinus Chapter of STAND, the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, worked with fellow Ursinus students Lindsay Hogan, Brianna Gaddy and Sarah Hood-Betts, to organize a letter writing campaign on behalf of women in Congo who are victims of sexual violence. "We weren't aware of the seriousness of the conflict until we went to a STAND National Conference in DC," says Mithbaokar, who is from Mumbai, India.

"We wanted to raise greater awareness of this crisis," says Jessica DeVaul (2010). Together more than 40 Ursinus students gathered to write to politicians. The sexual violence in eastern Congo is a crisis ignited by an ongoing conflict over the multi-million dollar mineral trade. The minerals in question are used in electronic products worldwide. "After seeing how the conflict is directly related to us we felt that we could join several thousands of other students who have been working to
pressure their Senators," says Mithbaokar. "The conflict really is not as distant as it seems. The fact that our cell phones could
inadvertently be supporting the conflict disturbed us a lot. We wanted to make it really relatable so the students could see the everyday connections."

When Ursinus STAND members went to Washington they met with John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project and an expert on Africa. A human rights activist and author, Prendergast was director of African Affairs at the National Security Council and was recently featured on a segment of the television news program 60 Minutes about sexual violence
in Congo. Ursinus students learned that armed groups control local mines in Congo and that the minerals from the mines are transported through neighboring countries.

Members of the Ursinus chapter of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, also collaborated on the letter writing campaign. Both student groups hope to continue to raise awareness on the crisis in Congo and other human rights issues.
Memorable Berman Ball Raises Funds and Awareness of Violence

A festive Winter Ball at the Berman Museum of Art raised more than $2,500 to combat violence against women. The student-run gala event also promoted the arts at Ursinus. The Dec. 12 event was  co-organized by Kristin Daly-Barnes 2011 and Kayla Federline 2010.

Daly-Barnes, of the organization V-Day, and Federline, representing the student group, Art Exhibitionists, collaborated with other Ursinus organizations such as STAR, Student Activities and UCARE in an effort to raise awareness of violence against women and promote the arts at Ursinus College.  The event was extremely successful: attendance reached the museum maximum of 250 guests.

“It was a great event and shows what UC students can do when they want to,” said Professor Joseph Melrose, Urisnus’ Ambassador-in Residence, who attended.

For the holiday-themed event, the Berman Museum was decorated in dark blue and silver.  Tall flower arrangements stood in the fireplaces, and decorated trees welcomed guests through the main doors.  Casino and prize tables were set up in the front gallery while the main gallery was reserved for dancing. Guests enjoyed light hors d’oeuvres and refreshing beverages throughout the evening.

Ursinus student performing groups entertained, including the UC Bearitones, Escape Velocity, accompanied by Matt Whitman, and Ethan Kuhn and Alex Niedmann with a medley of jazz arrangements.  DJ Nick Hanford of WVOU offered an assorted playlist of songs from the jazz, blues, and popular dance genres. 

This is the second year for the Berman Ball.  Last year’s event, developed from a Business and Economics management class,  benefited the Michele McLennan Scholarship Fund and honored the late business and economics professor.  Daly-Barnes and Federline hope to make the event a tradition at Ursinus. 

Julie Zdonek 2011, Director of the Bonner Leaders and Project Pericles Program Christian Rice, Assistant Dean of Student Life Todd McKinney and the museum and catering staffs also supported the event.

Said Professor Colette Trout of the Modern Languages Department, “In my 30 years at Ursinus, I haven’t seen a  student-sponsored charity event ( to promote awareness of violence against women nationally and internationally) so well attended. . . It was intelligently planned, elegant and entertaining. Activism at its best.

“And yes, women’s issues  matter and can mobilize our students of both sexes, and showcase, at the same time, how far along we have come in our appreciation of  the arts on campus. Thank you for a memorable evening. “

Human Flag Created In Honor of September 11

At 12:30 p.m. Friday, September 11, 2009, students, staff and faculty gathered at the Ursinus Basketball gym to remember the tragedy that happened eight years ago. Students from the Beta Sigma Lambda fraternity helped set up and organize the United States flag. Dana Pienta read a short poem that reflected on the heroes, victims and families that lives were forever changed. There was a moment of silence to remember those families and friends that are still healing today. (photograph by Chris Wilcox)

Summer Fellows Re-Cap

Relinquishing sunny summer travel, 71 Ursinus College students spent the summer on campus assessing the role of natural habitat in the conservation of insect pests; tracing the footsteps of Thomas Hardy in D. H. Lawrence novels; comparing dance education in suburban and urban schools; working with single walled carbon nanotubes; learning the effect on audiences of Brecht’s performance techniques, and exploring topics in every academic discipline.

For the 13th year, the Ursinus College Summer Fellows Program allowed students to work one-on- one with a faculty member doing extended research in the summer, in a more focused environment than during the busy academic year. In lieu of a paying job, students received a $2,500 stipend. Students presented summaries of their completed research in a public presentation at the end of the program, July 24.

While colleges are cutting programs and scrutinizing budgets, the Ursinus Summer Fellows program reamined untouched. President John Strassburger, a longtime proponent of undergraduate research, calls the college’s commitment even stronger, “because of the high quality of work we have seen coming from the students. Our former Summer Fellows point to the critical thinking skills they acquired as Fellows as contributing to their success after graduation, and the benefits of continuing their summer research as honors projects, or having a body of work to present at regional or national conferences.”


Summer Fellows Closes With Student Research Symposium

Celestial Configurations

“At the beginning of the program, I was unsure about what I wanted to do after graduation. Being immersed in full time research for the summer gave me a taste of one option available to me once I’ve completed my undergraduate education, and I’ve found that I am really passionate about this type of work.” -- Angela's Berardinelli

Math Professor Leah Berman’s Summer Fellows research was discrete geometry -- the geometry of objects that have pieces or corners or edges, hence, discrete pieces. “Compare, for example, the surface of a sphere and the surface of a cube,” says Berman. “The sphere is smooth, while the cube has sharp corners. The cube is studied in discrete geometry (it is a special kind of polyhedron), but the sphere and other smooth objects such as the torus, or doughnut shape, are studied in differential geometry.” Berman worked with two students, Angela Berardinelli and Nadine Burtt. Both studied different aspects of a class of configurations called celestial 4-configurations. “Celestial 4-configurations are a very highly symmetric class of 4-configurations, and are probably the most well understood class of 4-configurations,” says Berman. “But there is still a lot that we don't understand about them!” Angela's Berardinelli programmed a computer to produce an accurate list of data of which celestial 4-configurations exist. “I’m writing computer code to sift through numeric symbols that represent geometric figures,” says Berardinelli. “The specific figures I’m working with are points and lines in the plane called configurations, and each point has exactly four lines going through it and each line has exactly four points on it. The points are arranged in concentric circles and the numeric symbols. I’m working to determine where the lines are placed on the points. I'm trying to find patterns in the symbols based on the number of points in the circles.”

The most exciting thing about academic research, says Berardinelli, is the idea of exploration. “It’s easy to go through day-to-day life with a feeling that it’s all been said and done before, but there is so much that we don’t know. Especially in a field as old as mathematics, a lot of people assume that there is no progress to be made, but there are so many open questions for which no one has an answer. My research question is extremely interesting to me because it’s a simple concept to understand, it’s easy to work with visually, but it is also complex, intricate, detail-oriented, and completely unknown. This project is a great opportunity to blend my strong background in algorithmic computer science thinking and pure mathematics.

Another, less poetic, motivation for taking on this Summer Fellows project was to get a feel for what real research was like. At the beginning of the program, I was unsure about what I wanted to do after graduation. Being immersed in full time research for the summer gave me a taste of one option available to me once I’ve completed my undergraduate education, and I’ve found that I am really passionate about this type of work." Nadine Burtt experimented with certain subclasses of celestial 4-configurations to determine hidden structure: in particular, some celestial 4-configurations may be 'superimposed' to form a configuration of points and lines with six points on every line and four lines through every point ((4,6)-configurations). “I liked the accessibility of my project,” said Burtt. “Often, when someone starts talking about math, the brain has a tendency to turn off and stop listening after the first sentence. Everything that I’ve been doing, however, lends itself to the visual nature of geometry. You don’t merely talk about configurations. You draw them. Then, suddenly, everything makes sense.”


Summer Fellow Integrates Scholarly Inquiry & Personal Reflection

Abbie Cichowski is fascinated by the therapeutic power of self-narrative, storytelling and performance. After her theater class listened to a podcast of prison inmates rehearsing to perform Shakespeare’s Macbeth, she was moved to create a personal narrative and performance piece documenting a complex personal relationship.

Her Summer Fellows project, Breaking the Silence: A Father-Daughter Examination at the Crossroads of Performance Studies, Personal Narrative, and Autoethnography, integrates scholarly inquiry and personal reflection. With Media and Communications Studies faculty Dr. Louise Woodstock as her primary advisor, as well as theater faculty Dr. Beverly Redman, secondary mentor, the inter-disciplinary creative project draws upon knowledge gained from both Cichowski’s Theater, and Media and Communication Studies majors.

Abbie plans to expand the research for an Honors Project next semester, and is interested in becoming involved in a project Dr. Redman is undertaking at Graterford Prison during the spring semester. “I hope this will allow me to turn my research into practice,” she said.

Student Studies the State of Civic Engagement at Ursinus

Elizabeth Cannon, a rising Ursinus senior, from Garrison, N.Y., was inspired studying in Cape Town through the CIEE Cape Town Service-Learning program, and by her participation in the Debate for Democracy Project Pericles conference in New York, to study how Ursinus can better incorporate the idea of “participatory citizenship.” Her project will inventory the state of civic engagement at Ursinus, create a web-based “living” document, and make it easier for civic-minded students at Ursinus, and hopefully encourage more of them. Elizabeth, who designed her own major, social ecology, says that she wants to emphasize social awareness and participatory democracy for students who want to take on more active roles than already do.

Researching the Collaboration Between Choreographers & Visual Artists

Roger Lee
, a rising Ursinus College senior from Philadelphia, is looking at the artistic collaborative process between visual artists and choreographers. Lee, a visual artist and dancer himself, will focus on partnerships such as Merce Cunningham/Robert Rauschenberg and Martha Graham/Isamu Noguchi, and look at others such as Ming Shen Ku and Bebe Miller. He plans to create his own new work serving as set and costume designer, choreographer and dancer.

Roger says that since age five he has taken art classes, and by age 12, was choreographing his own works. He is excited to pursue these passions this summer. Summer Fellows @ Ursinus They are among 80 Ursinus College students on campus as Summer Fellows, doing research to assess the role of natural habitat in the conservation of insect pests; trace the footsteps of Thomas Hardy in D. H. Lawrence novels; compare dance education in suburban and urban schools; work with single walled carbon nanotubes; learn the effect on audiences of Brecht’s performance techniques, and explore topics in every academic discipline.

Thirteen years ago, undergraduate research became the priority summer activity during summers on campus. Summer Fellows work one-on- one with a faculty member in a more focused environment than during the busy academic year. In lieu of a paying job, students receive a stipend. Additionally, Ursinus offers a stipend to faculty mentors, provides housing and offers Fellows some meals, program and activities.

Students began their work June 1 -- although some began earlier in special 10-week projects with outside grant funding (from National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health). All students present summaries of their completed research in a public presentation July 24.

President John Strassburger, a longtime proponent of undergraduate research, calls the college’s commitment even stronger, “because of the high quality of work we have seen coming from the students. Our former Summer Fellows point to the critical thinking skills they acquired as Fellows as contributing to their success after graduation, and the benefits of continuing their summer research as honors projects, or having a body of work to present at regional or national conferences.”

Some of the projects which were approved in a competitive process include:

Affirming the Legend of Pericles;” “Assessing the Role of Natural Habitat in the Conservation of Insect Predators and the Biological Control of Alfalfa Pests;” “Bridging the Gap, The Economy on Canvas;” “The Change from Assimilation to Sustainability of an Immigrant Community;” “The Attachment of Acyclavir to Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes;” “The Reality of Illusion, Brecht’s Performance Techniques and Their Effects on his Audiences;” “Why the America Prison System is Ineffective in Issuing Treatment for Inmates;” and “Tracking the Migration of Neural Stem Cells in the Spinal Cord of Regenerated Tails of Plethodon cinereus.”

Environmental Studies Students Visit New York City's Famous Parks

Students in Professor Patrick Hurley’s environmental studies class learned about the practice of habitat diversity and “urban foraging” by visiting two of New York’s most famous parks, both designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan were the sites for students to explore dimensions of the urban forest, and learn about the practice of finding wild edibles from within the urban forest, including plants growing in parks and associated with street trees. The group also visited a local community garden, Garden of the Union, in Brooklyn.
The tour guide for the exploration was Leda Meredith, locavore activist and author of “Botany, Ballet, and Dinner from Scratch.” Says Professor Hurley: “Students learned about the diversity of plants (and their uses) that can be collected from these urban environments; the formal and informal rules that govern gathering; and issues surrounding management, ownership, and risks from pollution.”
In addition to the author, they were joined by representatives from the New York Research Station of the U.S. Forest (USFS) and research geographer Dr. Marla Emery from the USFS Northern Research Station, who is a specialist in gathering and non-timber forest products.


Lenfest Scholar Finds Inspiration in Florence

As Kayla Federline '10 sat alongside Florence’s Arno River sketching the Ponte philadelphia Museum of Art Interns 2009Vecchio, she was struck by the place she now held in history. “It was amazing to sit there and draw at the same site where hundreds and hundreds of artists had drawn before me,” says Federline, a junior who is pursuing a double major in Art History and Business and Economics.
“In Italy, people are very accepting of the young artist,” says Federline. She admits being a little surprised when locals asked to buy her charcoal sketches of the medieval bridge. She returned in November from the Ursinus in Florence program. The semester immersed in the art and culture of Italy was inspiring.
“You have a preconceived notion of exactly what it will be like and then you go and all the notions are turned on your head,” she says. The aura of the country and the interdisciplinary aspect of the program had the most impact. Venice and Rome were favorites as well as an invaluable Uffizi Pass which allowed for unlimited tours of all of Florence’s museums. “I could see The David four times a week. After a while, the guards knew me.”
An internship in the Research and Development Department at The Philadelphia Museum of Art this summer enhanced her experience abroad. It also solidified her career plans.
“Art has always been my passion,” says Federline, who was raised in Chambersburg, Pa. During her junior year of high school she received the coveted Lenfest Scholarship which provided funding to attend the college of her choice. The scholarship helped her to acquire the Philadelphia Museum of Art internship.
“At a school like Ursinus, the classes are small and the professors really know you and listen. The internship showed me that the double major does have a place in the real world. It was the ideal situation. I want to pursue something of that caliber when I graduate. Working in an art museum would be perfect,” says Federline, who is junior class treasurer and president of Art Advocacy on campus.
The internship gave her invaluable experience with the finance and fundraising arm of museum work, says Federline, who works on campus at The Berman Museum.
At the Philadelphia Art Museum, she focused much of her time helping to organize events and researching spreadsheets and endowments to present to potential donors. “But one day I got pulled off my job, went along to a press conference at The Rodin Museum. Here I was in the riding in the car with all these important people. And the funny thing was they were really interested in hearing about the work that I was doing at the Museum.”

Editor’s Note: Ursinus in Florence is a chance for Ursinus students to spend a term studying in Florence, Italy. Students take the normal course load, and may choose among a variety of courses, some of which are taught by local instructors (e.g., Conversational Italian) and others by Ursinus faculty who have accompanied the group to Florence. Typically two Ursinus faculty accompany the group. The program is coordinated and locally supervised by CAPA (Center for Academic Programs Abroad). CAPA is an international service organization based in the United States which has local centers in areas such as Europe, and Australia.


Elizabeth Cannon with South African Girls

Elizabeth Cannon, class of 2010, made a huge leap last summer. At 19, she only had traveled to Canada and the Bahamas and always with her family. But as part of the service learning program sponsored by the Counsel for International Education Exchange, Cannon left for Africa. Alone. Flying from London to South Africa, she was eager for the adventure that would provide learning beyond the classroom. “I wanted to go somewhere that tested my limits,” says Cannon, 20, about why she chose Cape Town. “I wanted to see a country that was an emerging democracy and research how that impacted its people.”
Cannon arrived in July and was matched with a group of 7th grade girls at the Manenberg Primary School. She hoped to develop a program that empowered girls through sports. “It was very different from the normal study abroad experience,’’ says Cannon, who designed her own major at Ursinus. That major, Social Ecology, describes and investigates the relationship between humans and their environment specifically examining the universal and persistent behavioral, environmental and social problems that society faces.
“Service learning gave me an opportunity to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations,” says Cannon, who lived for a time with a host family in Langa, the oldest black township in South Africa and home to Nelson Mandela’s primary school. “CIEE promoted learning through active participation . We were able to design our own programs based on our interests,” says Cannon, a UC lacrosse player. But plans change. The young girls didn’t warm to the sports program, so Cannon had to be flexible and switch gears.
“I realized I needed to make a change that combined empowerment objectives with learning objectives,” says Cannon, who was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley. She worked on activities and games that linked self reflection, self discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills and knowledge. The girls responded and were doubly thrilled when Cannon made use of a largely abandoned computer lab and taught them Power Point and other computer skills. CIEE also provided for reflection weekends. These times offered the group a chance to discuss their work while soaking in the country’s wildlife and scenic beauty. A close encounter with a herd of water buffalo is one memory that won’t soon fade, she says. When she returned to UC campus in November, Cannon already was thinking about the Peace Corp or a Fellowship program in Africa. “It really fostered a sense of caring for others and a sense of our responsibility to become agents of change,” says Cannon. “My experience allowed me to become fully immersed in the culture and diversity that South Africa offers. I wouldn't have traded it for anything.”


Studying Abroad in Egypt is Life-Changing Experience

Kelsey Threatte on Mt. SinaiKelsey Threatte, senior Politics and International Relations major at Ursinus, spent the Spring Semester 2008 studying at American University in Cairo Egypt. With just one year of of modern standard Arabic under her belt, she was able to absorb enough colloquial Egyptian Arabic to immerse herself in her surroundings.  Below, she recounts some of her experiences.

For me, study abroad was about abandoning the tourist mindset:  I feel out of place wandering to browse the cheap plastic pyramids and busts of Cleopatra. Even the tourist side of Khan al-Khalili, the large historic bazaar in Cairo, is only entered with gritted teeth and a bitter taste in my mouth. Anna misreen. I am Egyptian. When people ask where I am from I tell them I live in Doqqi- a lower working class section of Cairo.

After this I am called sister, daughter, and Egyptian. After entering the realm of resident and a step closer to the Egyptian people away from that harsh barrier between tourist and local, browsing the stacks of fake papyrus was reverting back to a place I was no longer a part of.

I guess that’s what study abroad is about though. No longer only a part of the American mindset, but given a small glimpse into being outside the realm of everything you have taken for granted to live with a people who are on a level so different from your own. I hesitate to say different here though because the experience is not about finding differences, anyone with eyes and a quick mind to weigh and judge can see the differences between people, but it is about moving past that to the deeper acknowledgment of that which makes us the same that is truly what matters.

Speaking with the shopkeepers, learning about their dreams and ambitions, being invited for tea with them, discussing their work, our studies, and their family--all of this is lost when you seek to buy just to provide your friends and family with another item soon to be in the garage sale after it’s lost its charm.

I discovered in Egypt the Beautiful in the Everyday:
Sometimes when the exceptional and unfamiliar slips into the realm of the ordinary it becomes more special and beautiful than it was before. When that which was once slightly shocking and fascinating, capturing our imaginations and perhaps making us feel ill at ease, shifts to become commonplace, even routine, it obtains a new indefinable magic. Every little detail becomes special, every little trivial aspect is filled with meaning, every little moment and movement is beautiful.

the Nile RiverThe call of the Muezzin from the loudspeakers of the minarets. At first it was beautiful because it was different, but then it was even more beautiful because it wasn’t anymore. The taste of fool, a flavorless fava bean stew in plain pita. The smell of ripe guava on the street corners. Driving over the Nile everyday to get to and from class. And those things that you may have overlooked before, those things that may have been common…they become beautiful too.

I learned not to dwell on the negative:  With many study abroad students, I watched hearts harden and minds seethe over those daily occurrences that we as outsiders do not understand or simply do not approve of, and it filled me with a deep sadness. Such anger is understandable as outsiders in a new environment and as people with drastically different backgrounds and conceptions of what is normal. It is difficult dancing that fine line between where we should practice cultural relativism and what is universally unacceptable.

Although I believe in seeing the similarities between peoples, it is undeniable that there were some differences that I did not meet with open arms. The radically different view of women and the incessant cat-calling were for some unbearable. Suddenly, I who had always thought myself a conservative dresser was seen as extremely inappropriate. Suddenly, I could not sit in the front seat of a cab, I could not talk to men as I normally would, and I could not go out alone. Also being American brought with it certain assumptions and reactions from those I was with. Although I did find myself in some tricky situations I did not fail to see each situation in the larger context. For the most part I was met with open hearts and warm conversation and a few bad encounters can’t take that away.

My study abroad gave me a New Home: I have never lived in a city, but by the end of my four months had begun to really think of Cairo as my home. On the night before I left a couple other UCers and myself went into Khan al-Khalili for some last minute exploring. After we were given consolation clementines for being asked to leave al-Azhar mosque, a man walked us around the Egyptian side of the Khan where we bumped into people we knew. One of the men was so full of love and light. He was older, and only five minutes after our meeting he asked me to call him "baba" (dad) and said that he would make sure we would be taken care of. He was one of the kindest grandfatherly figures I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and the fact that I could casually run into someone I considered a trustworthy person and friend in the middle of a city of 17 million truly makes my heart ache for that city and makes me feel like I truly had a place in it.

It’s something deeply profound and completely trivial. It’s hard to explain. There was a new truth that I never really knew before. My truth may be naïve, perhaps ideal, but it is truth none-the-less. I don’t understand many things in this world and I can’t say I’m completely aware of the big as well as the small important aspects of politics, society, the economy or what-have-you, but knowing and understanding all those intricacies is not the point.

I went for myself with no point at all. I had no destination in mind, no objective to be met, nothing of real importance to report. All I did was take every day as I was given it and live it. Beginning, middle, end: that’s not how life really works.
There are beginnings where there should be ends and endings where there should be beginnings. There’s good, bad, beautiful, and ugly seen everywhere in every situation. Just change your perspective and you’ll see it. Cairo let me change the angle I was observing from. I could say it wasn’t necessary for me to go halfway around the world to do this, but it was. New perspectives, new realities, new understandings, and a new and deep knowing that I know nearly nothing.

Routine and complacency is a comforting drug that I wished to escape from. Death to habit and the motions. I wanted to find out who I was outside of the path worn in the ground from my room in Musser to my classes in Bomberger Hall. Outside the tried and unchanging drive from my small town of Lovettsville, Virginia to Collegeville.

As a politics major and someone interested in the Middle East and North Africa, Egypt seemed the logical choice.
Everything I had learned in school suddenly was given context and came alive. No longer simply words in a textbook or discussion in a classroom.

For example, despite my deep love of the Arabic language I did not fully understand its music and reality until I heard it on the streets and in everyday conversation. And in my politics classes we discuss words like "authoritarianism" with ease, but I never felt its weight until I found myself in Syria, where every five feet a poster of Bashar Al-Assad were posted and the only anti-government words I heard were spoken in hushed tones in a small café in the middle of the night. Or the very real tension with Israel, as I crossed the border seeing kids my age and younger with Uzzis, or the fact that at checkpoints within Israel every Arab was subjected to an intense and demeaning racial profiling. I mean, when I speak of this new understanding and appreciation for reality, one of my greatest moments was when I saw Mubarak at a soccer game. This mythic caricature in my mind that I had fashioned from history books and political journals was suddenly within eyeshot. And it made me realize how what we learn in college is only a piece of the story. We need to take what we learn and apply it to the world around us and see it in the broader context of reality.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have this amazing opportunity because of Ursinus’s independent study abroad program. Now with all my new experiences in my heart and this new knowledge and understanding in my mind, I will be graduating in December and looking to make my way in the “real” world. The question becomes: where do I go from here? Well, the real answer is I don’t know. But I feel confident and secure enough in myself from my education at Ursinus and the opportunities such as Study abroad that Ursinus has given me that I know I can face any challenges that the future holds.

After graduating in December, Kelsey hopes to continue her world explorations by interning or volunteering for an international non-profit, or by winning a fellowship or grant.


Three Recent Ursinus Graduates on Fulbrights

Three recent Ursinus grads are Fulbright Scholars in Japan, New Zealand and Singapore.  more

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. -- Joshua Solomon of Flanders, N.J.  and Ivy McDaniels of Laurel Run, Pa., have been selected as 2008 Fulbright Scholars.  Both are members of the class of 2008.  Meanwhile, a 2003 graduate, Daniel Reimold, has won a Fulbright to Singapore while completing his Ph.D. at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Solomon and McDaniels both graduated from Ursinus last May with distinguished honors, Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  Solomon's award has take him to Japan, while McDaniels' has brought her to New Zealand. 

Solomon is spending the year studying in Hokkaido, Japan after spending the summer brushing up on Japanese at Middlebury College. His Fulbright project involves both university study and participant-observation style ethnographic research within the Tsugaru Shamisen community. The Tsugaru Shamisen is a version of a three stringed Japanese lute, like a banjo, which evolved in the northern part of  Japan. Solomon, an East Asian Studies major with minors in music and Japanese, wrote his Distinguished Honors research paper on this community. While at Ursinus, he played in the Ursinus Concert Band and Ursinus Jazz Band, and participated in the community’s Liberty Brass ensemble.

McDaniels is studying the work and life of one of New Zealand's  best known authors, Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) at Victoria University, Wellington.  Her project will be entitled "'No Anchor:' Katherine Mansfield’s Search for Identity as a Modern Colonial." While at Victoria University, McDaniels will have access to the Mansfield manuscript collection at the National Library of New Zealand, which holds the world's most extensive and significant holding of Mansfield's writings.