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September-October 2005 News Releases

Nancy Wyatt presents Outstanding Teacher Award to Elizabeth Dudkin

Dudkin Named Distinguished Teacher of the Year for 2005

Elizabeth A. Dudkin of Media, Assistant Professor of Biology, was named the campus' Distinguished Teacher of the Year at the annual Fall Honors Convocation, held in the John D. Vairo Library on October 19.

Dudkin, who joined the campus faculty as a part-time instructor in l994, became a full-time faculty member in 1999. She is a graduate of Drexel University, where she received a baccalaureate degree in business administration, and of Temple University, where she earned both her masters degree in biology and doctrate in biology and neuroscience.

She also serves as advisor to the campus' Premed and Allied Health programs, and to the science journal club. Her writing has been published in the "Journal of Comparative Neurology," and her research findings have been presented at Temple University and at several annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience.

Off campus, Dudkin is a founding member of the Chester AIDS Coalition, of which she currently serves on its Board of Directors. In this role she has helped procure grants to provide services for HIV positive patients and AIDS education for the community of Chester. In addition, she serves as an advisor to the Rose Tree Media School District for revisions to their K-12 science curriculum.

The purpose of the Distinguished Teacher Award is to honor and recognize ongoing outstanding teaching by faculty members at the Delaware County campus. Criterion include excellence and lasting impact in areas such as general teaching ability, scholarship, academic advising and career guidance, enthusiasm, and commitment to students.

Dudkin was selected for the award by a campus committee, which included nominations from students, staff, alumni, and fellow faculty members. She was cited for taking a deep personal interest in her students, and for "going beyond the subject matter to convey a greater sense of knowledge."

Gifts from faculty members, staff, and friends of the campus, including founding Campus Executive Officer John D. Vairo and his wife Greta, and Professor Emeritus Michael Kersnick, provided funding for the award.

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Adult Students Inducted into National Honor Society

Nineteen adult students at Penn State Brandywine were inducted into Alpha Sigma Lambda, the National Honor Society for Adult Students in Higher Education, in ceremonies held prior to the campus' annual Fall Honors Convocation.

Alpha Sigma Lambda celebrates the scholarship and leadership of adult students in higher education. The aim of this prestigious national society is to provide recognition to highly motivated adult students who are continuing their undergraduate education while managing the responsibilities of work and family.

Student honorees included Michael J. Casassa, Drexel Hill; Rachel K. Carpenter, Malvern; Tammy M. Edgington, Atglen; Philip J. English, Newtown Square; Mandy L. Fossett, Norwood; James J. Halligan, West Chester; Sara E. Harrity, Newtown Square; Crystal L. Kaiser, Elverson; Sarah J. Luglio, Drexel Hill; Mark S. Scimitarra, Drexel Hill; Shawn J. Scully, Secane; Kathy L. Shore, Drexel Hill; Cheryl A. Spera, Parkside; Edward H. Thuer, Lincoln University; Kay E. Tyykila, Wayne; Renee M. Valley, Havertown; Douglas W. Webster, Wayne; Lauren A. Zak, West Chester; and Linyu Zhang, Mantua NJ.

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English Honor Society Inducts Student

Rachel Krauser Carpenter of Malvern, a senior at Penn State Brandywine, was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society at the campus' recent Fall Honors Convocation.

The central purpose of the Sigma Tau Delta is to confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies.

Carpenter, a student in Penn State's University College majoring in English, was also recently inducted into Alpha Sigma Lambda, the National Honor Society for Adult Students in Higher Education.

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Laura Guertin

Guertin Presents at National Geological Society Meeting

Laura Guertin, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at Penn State Brandywine, was one of the featured presenters at the 117th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. She presented results from her research project, Methods of Assessing Just-In-Time Teaching in Introductory-Level Geoscience Courses.

The conference was held October 16-19 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Approximately 8,000 geoscientists attended.

Dr. Guertin, of Media, conducted her research along with co-authors Sarah Zappe and Heeyoung Kim, testing and curricular development specialists affiliated with the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State University Park.

Just-in-Time Teaching (or JiTT) is a teaching technique that helps students engage in course material outside of class and prepares them for in-class discussion. Students are required to answer a series of online questions each week. They use their textbooks, read articles, listen to audio files, or watch videos to learn more about the expanded course content. The students then submit their answers online by the deadline date. This leaves the instructor time to review student responses and modify their lectures to clarify misunderstandings in course content and continue with an active-learning exercise.

Why require students to complete weekly online homework assignments? It keeps students on top of their learning throughout the semester, not just on the day before a test. This technique was first developed at the US Air Force Academy, where instructors struggled with getting cadets to complete their physics homework while trying to balance other courses and their training.

"Our students are not in training for the military, but they have an incredible amount of competing pressures -- classes, jobs, family, etc.," said Guertin. "My personal goal as an instructor is for students to learn and be able to apply what they've learned. The JiTT exercises allow for this."

The University Park researchers have been running assessments by surveying students on their thoughts, perceptions, and perceived learning from completing the weekly exercises (which Guertin calls 'DinoBytes' in her Dinosaur course this semester).

Preliminary feedback suggests that students are reflecting on the material more and also report greater learning. In both semesters, students felt that the exercises provided an opportunity to voice opinions and to hear the thoughts and perceptions of others.

Guertin, who joined the Delco campus faculty in 2001, holds degrees from Bucknell University as well as the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Her teaching interests include courses relating to physical geology, historical geology, and oceanography.

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Delco Athletes Excel OFF the Playing Fields as Well as On

Penn State Brandywine's sports teams have reached the halfway point of their respective seasons with varying degrees of success. However, this is not a story of wins, losses, and statistics, but rather one of personal accomplishment and success beyond the white lines of the playing field.

Beginning with this school year, all campus clubs and organizations, including varsity sports teams, are required to add a community service component to their activities. "This is partly to stimulate interest in our new minor in Civic and Community Engagement, and partly because it's the right thing to do," said athletic director Joe DiAntonio.

So far this year, the tennis team has offered a free clinic for kids in grades 3-7. Held in September, the program hosted between 25 and 30 local children. Meanwhile, the women's volleyball team 'adopted' the "Kisses for Kyle" benefit 5K run, also held in September, at Ridley Creek State Park. Team members helped provide logistical support for participants. They assisted with registration, and served refreshments to runners during and after the race.

Penn State Brandywine's student athletes not only faithfully serve their communities; they also excel in the classroom. Last year, 35 team members were named to the university's Commonwealth Campus Academic All-Conference teams. The students qualified for the award by posting a 3.0 GPA or higher during the semester of their season of competition. The number of honorees represented over half of the Delco campus' 66 varsity athletes for 2004-2005. Of that number, 20 students return for 2005-2006.

In addition, the women's volleyball team earned a team grade point average of 3.11, while the women's basketball team posted a team grade point average of 3.05.

Up until the 2003-04 school year, student athletes at Penn State campuses could only compete for two years. That season, only men's basketball and women's volleyball offered four-year eligibility. But this year, all sports including tennis, women's basketball, coed soccer, and men's baseball are four-year eligible programs. Penn State Brandywine now has 23 upperclassmen participating in its varsity sports programs.

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Researcher says Halloween no laughing matter for many youngsters

Halloween may seem like so much harmless fun, a time when adults enjoy laughing in the face of death, and implore their young children to do the same. According to a Penn State researcher, however, the humor of tombstones, monsters and other scary elements is often lost on kids at the ripe age of six or seven -- many of whom don't find the holiday the least bit funny.

Cindy Dell Clark, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State Brandywine, says parents need to realize that scaring the bejeebers out of kids this age isn't necessarily a way to make safe kids' fears of death and other things frightening.

"Halloween is a time when we expose kids to behavior that is not the norm. Children connect the holiday with death," said Clark, whose study, titled Tricks of Festival: Halloween, Children and Enculturation was published this summer in the anthropological journal, Ethos. "We typically distance ourselves from death and shield children from it, but in this case, young children encounter their fears when they face decorations of skeletons and tombstones."

Of course, not all children are intimidated by the holiday. Not only do they get all the sweets and treats they could ask for, but they are also given the opportunity to turn traditional parent-child roles upside down -- at least for a day. Halloween is what anthropologists call a festival of inversion, a flip-flop festival when kids get more powerful.

"Halloween is a time when children dress up in grown up costumes and get to demand treats from the adults," said Clark. "Parents see Halloween as mock power for children, but children see it as real power."

Dr. Clark's research included interviews with parents and six- and seven- year olds following Halloween in 1999, 2000 and 2001, as well as anthropological observations. The most recent studied holiday fell just six weeks after the September 11 attacks on the United States, an event that changed the way some families celebrated Halloween that year.

"The terrorist attacks made many adults reevaluate scary Halloween customs, and heightened mature angst over the holiday, already associated with urban legends of child harm," Clark said. "Nine-eleven brought out intense grown-up concern about real fears of candy tampering and worse -- and many adults felt there was no longer a need for the play stuff of ghosts and goblins."

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Calling all Girl Scouts: Earth Science Week comes alive
at Penn State Brandywine!

Penn State Brandywine is calling all Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts to participate in Earth Science Week activities and earn a special patch to mark the occasion on Saturday, October 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Classroom Building on campus.

The program, which is the brainchild of Laura Guertin, Assistant Professor of Earth Science, involves Penn State Brandywine students who have designed coursework for the program, and who will also guide the Girl Scouts through the morning's activities. The goal is to make science exciting for girls and to open their eyes to different science careers.

Participants will discuss and investigate themes related to earth science, and they will have the opportunity to conduct hands-on investigations of the stream that runs through campus, so sneakers are highly recommended.

At the end of the program, the girls will get to take home a customized workbook filled with resources on science and earth science careers, as well as the Earth Science Week Activity Patch.

The program is free, but registration is required by October 5. Penn State Brandywine is located at 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Lima. For information or to register call Laura Guertin at 610-892-1427, or email her at uxg3@psu.edu.

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Campus to Host Two-Day Blood Drive

Penn State Brandywine is working with the Penn-Jersey Red Cross to organize a blood collection effort to help aid in restocking the local area's blood supply. The campus will host a blood drive on Monday and Tuesday, September 27 and 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Classroom Building Main Lounge.

To donate blood, a person must be at least 17 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, have not received a tattoo within the last year, and have not donated whole blood within the last 56 days. Also, donors are asked to being some form of valid identification such as a driver's license, passport, military ID, or other Government Issue photo identification. Student or staff ID cards are also valid forms of identification.

If you are a first time donor, you have nothing to be afraid of. The process is quick and you can save up to three different people's lives in one hour. Everyone is encouraged to make an appointment to give blood in order to expedite the process. To make an appointment, go to www.membersforlife.org/pennj/schedule/bdc_schools.php . Also, potential donors can visit www.pleasegiveblood.org/donate for more information or to make an appointment.

Donating blood is a quick and simple process that takes approximately one hour. The first step after making an appointment is to show up on time and make sure you've had a healthy breakfast. Each donor is given a mini-physical in which the donor's temperature, blood pressure, and pulse are checked. Also, the donor's hematocrit level (red blood cell count) is checked to make sure it is safe for the donor to give blood. The actual process of giving blood takes between 10 and 12 minutes and then afterward, the donor is given refreshments.

Area Hospitals can not help their patients without your help. Cancer patients receive more blood than any other patients in this area's hospitals. Help them live longer lives. Please donate blood and spread the word. Only 5% of the eligible population donates!

For more information, call 215-451-4296.

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PSU Brandywine Alumni Night in Media

The Penn State Club of Delaware County invites all alumni and friends to Penn State Night, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Thursday, September 22, at the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant on State Street.

The cost of $18 for club members and $28 for non-members includes a full buffet, private tour by the head brewmaster, raffles and giveaways, plus an expected "surprise" guest.

Prepaid reservations are required. For more information, call 610-892-1249 or e-mail to de-alumni@psu.edu.

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FREE TENNIS CLINIC at Penn State Brandywine

The Penn State Brandywine Varsity Tennis Team will offer a free tennis clinic for students in 3rd through 7th grades on Saturday, September 17 from 9:30-11:00 a.m. The clinic will be held on campus at the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Tennis Center. Space is limited to 30 participants. Reservations are required.

The campus is located on Route 352, in Lima, just one mile north of the Granite Run Mall. For information, or to register, contact Athletic Director Joe DiAntonio at jrd21@psu.edu or by phone, 610-892-1331.

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For information call:
Ron Hill: 610-892-1254
de-ur@psu.edu