We are Proud to Present: The Sustainable Garden Club!

We at the PSU Brandywine Honors Program are beyond excited about the progress of the Sustainable Garden Club! After much ado, we finally broke ground on the garden and set up planting boxes on July 26. Now, nearly three weeks later, it is starting to look like a real garden! We began by planting beets, collards and oregano. Since then, we have added lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.

Garden Project 1

This is only the beginning! For regular updates about the Sustainable Garden Club, follow our dedicated Facebook page at facebook.com/PSUsustainablegardenclub.

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It’s Graduation Season! May 10, 2014.

Today we are sad to say goodbye to Senior Cooper Honors Scholar, Megan Draper! Of course we wish her great and continued success throughout her academic career. Congratulations to Megan, and to all 2014 grads at Penn State Brandywine!

Megan Draper

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Socratic Symposium, Spring 2014

With another semester ostensibly in the books, honors scholars convened for another Socratic Symposium this Spring. This time, the main attraction was Megan Draper’s defense of her Senior Thesis regarding her work studying primates in Borneo, Indonesia.

Draper Outrop

Megan wrote about her experience:

My name is Megan Draper, and I was one of the four OuTrop volunteers for September through November of 2013. I am an undergraduate student at Penn State University, Brandywine campus and would like to pursue a career in primatology conducting field research.

I became interested in primates after volunteering with orphaned infant baboons in South Africa during a gap year between high school and university. I wanted to get first-hand experience at a field site before applying to graduate school. A site that was producing important and relevant research on primates was at the top of my list, and equally important was a focus on conservation. OuTrop filled both of these requirements and offered the advantage of ongoing research on three fascinating primate species: orangutans, gibbons, and kelasi (red langurs).

OuTrop also has multiple research and conservation focuses from butterflies to reforestation, which I knew would give me a well-rounded experience as a volunteer. With the help of my professors, I earned university credit as a full-time student while I volunteered with OuTrop.

It’s hard to believe that my time with OuTrop is over. I had a great time during the seven weeks I was volunteering, which concluded with a relaxing and memorable holiday in Tanjung Puting National Park. I saw incredible wildlife and had the opportunity to work in the often demanding, yet always rewarding, Sabangau forest. Our volunteer group went on two week-long expeditions, one to Tall Pole and the second to Koran. Although I cannot say they were my favourite part of the volunteer experience, they had their highlights and I learned quite a bit from both expeditions (such as that sitting on the serrated leaves of pandan is a bad idea).

Despite the two expeditions, most of our time was spent at base camp and the forest surrounding it. We had rotating assignments based on the research being conducted in the forest. Although some assignments were more common than others, the daily schedule changes kept things interesting. I found the vast majority of the volunteer assignments fun and interesting, although all of them were informative to anyone interested in field work. I particularly liked helping to set the camera traps, despite the minor issue of the batteries exploding in one of the traps.

My favourite day was during my first week when I had the opportunity to join a gibbon follow. I was captivated by the gibbons from the first time I saw them, and I was excited to be able to go along with a follow so soon. I found the gibbons mesmerising, and I felt like I could watch them for days on end.

I had the unbelievable luck of witnessing an encounter between the group we were following and a second habituated group. I realised during the follow that gibbons are a primate I would be interested in researching, which was invaluable for me as a person who wants to become a primatologist.

Overall, my time volunteering with OuTrop was fantastic. I learned first-hand about field research methods and the rewards, and sometimes inconvenient realities, of conducting research in the field.

I had the opportunity to see gibbons and orangutans on multiple occasions while working in the forest, and have even seen the elusive kelasi, as well as sightings of other native wildlife. In addition to the incredible forest and its inhabitants, the people I volunteered with, from my fellow volunteers and our volunteer coordinators to the interns and OuTrop staff, were crucial to making the experience fun and worthwhile. I feel privileged to have been able to volunteer at at such an amazing location alongside the people at OuTrop.

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2014 Academic Recognition Ceremony

On Monday, April 14, Penn State Brandywine held its Spring Academic Recognition Ceremony, and our honors program was well represented!

Draper_Research_Award300

  • The Undergraduate Student Research Award went to Megan Draper for her outstanding work studying primates in Borneo, Indonesia.
  • The President Sparks Award went to Rebecca Slomowitz for having earned a 4.00 (A) cumulative GPA based on at least 36 graded Penn State credits.
  • The President’s Freshman Award went to Pallavi Sindhu for receiving a 4.00 cumulative GPA based on at least 12 graded credits completed by the end of the semester.
  • The Madlyn Hanes Faculty Award was presented by Dr. Blockett to Dr. John Tierney for making outstanding contributions to the campus community through exceptional achievement in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity and service.

Congratulations and continued success to all the winners!

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Freshman Schreyer Honors Scholar Wins Prestigious Award, and 150 Dollars

What role do women have in sports journalism? First year Schreyer scholar Haleigh Swansen is working alongside Dr. Hans Schmidt at Penn State Brandywine to determine how much has changed about this topic in the past 30 years. She also just took first place – and won $150 – in a contest run by the Schreyer Honors College asking students to submit short videos describing their current research! You can watch her video here. Great job, Haleigh!

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Thanksgiving Break: Trip to Barcelona, Spain

Happy Thanksgiving, Penn Staters! While we’re all gathered around the table, surrounded by our loved ones, and making plans for “Black Friday,” honors scholars Lauren Lomas, Naaila Malik and Damien Melendez have spent the week studying abroad in beautiful Barcelona. ¡Qué interesante! We can’t wait to hear the stories they come back with!

barcelona

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Honors Scholars to Host GMO Food Debate

On Wednesday, December 11, honors scholars enrolled in 301H will host a public debate during common hour (12:30 – 1:30pm) in 113 Main. The debate relates to the current theme of the Honors Program, which is sustainability. GMO (genetically modified organism) foods are quite controversial, and we have all heard much about them, but are they helpful or harmful with respect to sustainability? This is precisely the topic at hand.

The first team of scholars will argue that GMOs are more viable than non-genetically modified organisms because they play an important role in increasing sustainability, provide additional health benefits, and have positive environmental impacts.

The second team of scholars will argue that GMOs are not required for food sustainability. GMOs are not a necessary evil; they have some negative attributes which outweigh the benefits for food sustainability.

What do you think? Stop by, and you may learn something that changes your mind!

GMO Foods

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An Evening with the Chancellor

On Monday, September 23, all honors scholars had the unique privilege of being invited to spend an evening with the chancellor of Penn State Brandywine. The gathering was hosted by Dr. Myra Goldschmidt at her home in Media, PA.

This event was an excellent opportunity for students to network with alumni and faculty in an informal setting. There was much good food and good company to be had. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to mix and mingle, eat, drink and be merry!

Any current honors scholars, alumni or faculty who were invited but could not attend this gathering are always encouraged take advantage of other opportunities in the future.

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Honors Scholars Join the Fight Against Hunger with Philabundance

To start the fall semester at Penn State Brandywine, a group of more than 30 honors scholars enrolled in STS 130H volunteered their time to help local food charity, Philabundance. These students will be spending the next few months studying world food problems, and the first-hand experience packing over 12,000 lbs. has already left an impact on them. Many students made remarks about how wonderfully meaningful the experience was.

Philabundance was founded in 1984, with the simple belief that no man, woman or child should go hungry. Since then, it has seen massive growth due to an outpouring of support from the community. It is the primary hunger relief effort in the area, focusing on the greater Delaware Valley.

According to the 2010 Hunger in America Study, the Delaware Valley is one of the hardest hit areas in the nation:

  • About 27% percent of Philadelphians live below the poverty line.
  • Local agencies have seen a 26% increase in need over the past year compared to a 22% increase from the year before.
  • One in every three children live in poverty.
  • Each year, more than 900,000 individuals are at risk of food insecurity in the Delaware Valley.

Thanks to the honors scholars for generously donating their valuable time to such a worthy cause!

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It’s Graduation Season! May 4, 2013

Earlier this month, after four years of hard work and months of dedicated research to their senior theses, Rebecca Brophy, Eileen Fresta, Zanya Stephenson, and Labanya Mookerjee graduated from Penn State Brandywine, stepping into the bright opportunities that 2013 will bring forth.

Each of these students successfully fulfilled all of Penn State University’s general requirements, along with the required coursework and research for the honors program.

We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!

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