Searching for Identity


Cuban Writers in Exile By Lisa R. Baldi Reina del Pacífico was the name of the ship my grandfather boarded at age 16. His name was Julio Mourelo and he came from a small town in Galicia, Spain. He went to Cuba for the first time in 1912… established himself as the owner of a colonial, or small grocery shop… [and] embarked on his final voyage to Cuba in 1951, from which he never returned. He died of a heart attack in 1952, walking on the streets of Havana. For Dr. Belén Rodríguez-Mourelo, … [Read more...]

Not Just Noise


Illuminating Hidden Information Using the Variability in Simple Repeated Tasks By Dr. Joseph M. Mahoney, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Imagine shooting a free-throw in basketball. You can throw it with a high-arcing lob or a more direct throw and both can land in the basket. In fact, for this task, there are an in infinite number of combinations of the speed and angle with which you can release the ball and have it go through the hoop. Now imagine repeatedly shooting free … [Read more...]

Bridging the Gap


Connecting Industry and Higher Education By Lisa R. Baldi Elizabeth Wiggins-Lopez wears many hats. She is the founder and coordinator of the Berks Learning Factory, a Lecturer in Engineering Technology at Penn State Berks, faculty adviser for the Penn State Berks Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and leader of her daughters’ Girl Scout troops. Her passion is helping others through education. In the fall of 2010, after benchmarking the Learning Factory at Penn State University … [Read more...]

Memory Manipulation


Using Biases to Understand Spatial Memory By Dr. Nathan M. Greenauer, Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology The ability to remember locations and to relate them to more distant environments is a fundamental prerequisite of many behaviors and is often done preconsciously. Indeed, the constant, non-conscious monitoring of environmental features (e.g. vehicles, obstacles) relative to our own location is what allows us to multitask in many situations (e.g., driving while maintaining a … [Read more...]

An Elementary Difference


Professional Development School makes a difference in students’ lives By Lisa R. Baldi If you visit Glenside Elementary School after the last bell rings, you might be surprised to see that many children choose to “stay after school.” Some are working on community service projects; others are exploring what life is like in a foreign country; and still others are learning firsthand about the benefits of teamwork and sportsmanship. These children have joined one of the three after-school clubs … [Read more...]

Field of Dreams


Students Conduct Research for BCIDA on Proposed Industrial Park By Walter F. Fullam, Director of Continuing Education A “FIELD OF DREAMS” IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT in Bern Township near the Reading Regional Airport. The field in question won’t yield a baseball diamond and won’t involve any Hollywood bright lights or movie stars. But thanks in part to the work of a group of Penn State students, it will however provide something more important: a key to the economic future of Berks County. The … [Read more...]

Building a Better Brain


By Lisa R. Baldi Dr. Ike Shibley has been on a mission for almost two decades: to make learning more efficient. “When a business executive talks about making a process efficient, the shareholders applaud,” says Shibley. “Yet somehow when a college professor talks about making learning more efficient, critics often respond with jeers.” The assumption seems to be that humans are much more complex than any business process. Yet, counters Shibley, when a scholar examines learning, there is always … [Read more...]

Flip It!


The Formula for a Successful Chemistry Course By Dr. Katie E. Amaral, Associate Professor of Chemistry When I tell people that I teach chemistry, I often get comments about how much they struggled, or that they’re glad somebody likes the subject. A quick poll of most students in beginning chemistry courses echoes these sentiments. The students are usually there because their majors require the course. While some instructors fail to acknowledge this reality, I think any student can be … [Read more...]

Sowing the Seeds of Success

Figure 2b

Research Experience + Summer Job = Greener Pastures for Turfgrass Students By Lisa R. Baldi Undergraduate students majoring in Turfgrass Science can begin their education at Penn State Berks in what is referred to as a “2 + 2” program (first two years at Berks, the third and fourth years at University Park or World Campus). At Penn State Berks, Dr. Michael Fidanza, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, takes not only his teaching and research duties seriously, but also his advising … [Read more...]

On His Turf


Company Establishes New Endowment in Honor of Professor By David C. Delozier, Director of Development and Alumni Relations WITH A RECENT GIFT OF $25,000, Turf Equipment and Supply Company, Inc. has established a new endowment at Penn State Berks in recognition of their long-standing partnership with Dr. Mike Fidanza, a Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences and researcher at the college. This new endowment will support students who are studying turfgrass science with Fidanza. Kevin Monaco, … [Read more...]

Deciphering Motivation


Course Seeks to Identify Zodiac Killer By Lisa R. Baldi DR. MICHAEL R. BARTOLACCI, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State Berks, was looking for a fresh, new idea for the Senior Capstone course that included both Information Science and Technology (IST) and Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) majors. Then he came across an article about the infamous Zodiac Killer, which stated that in certain jurisdictions, it is still considered an open case. (It is … [Read more...]

Fracking Calculations


Professor and Student Team Up To Investigate Environmental Effects of Fracking By Kristin M. Boyd, Freelance Writer SITTING IN FRONT OF AN OVERSIZED MONITOR, Dr. Lorena Tribe uploads a set of atoms, their sizes, and coor-dinates into a computer visualization program called Molden. Seconds after she presses the “enter” key, a 3-D diagram of molecules that visualizes her calculation pops up on the bright orange screen. She jots down a note, adding another layer to her research of how arsenic … [Read more...]

Youthful Energy

Mother and daughter preparing a salad together in the kitchen

FITT Youth Combats Obesity By Helen A. Hartman, Senior Lecturer in Kinesiology,and Lisa R. Baldi THE SOUNDS OF LAUGHTER AND CHILDREN at play can be heard coming from the Conference Center Wing of the Reading Hospital once a week. These children are participating in FITT Youth—Fun, actIve, healThy, youTh, a joint program of the Reading Health System, Penn State Berks, and Penn State Berks Cooperative Extension. FITT Youth is a coordinated effort for children who have been referred by their … [Read more...]

Print Material


Building the Future through 3-D Printing By Walter F. Fullam, Director of Continuing Education and Outreach THE “ARITHMETIC” OF MANUFACTURING IS changing. In the future, manufacturers will rely less on subtraction and more on addition to create products. Manufacturing is the process of transforming raw materials into finished goods. To accomplish this process, manufacturers use a variety of techniques such as casting, machining, molding, and grinding to create finished goods. In these types … [Read more...]

The Silent Screams of Abuse

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

By Dr. Brenda L. Russell, Associate Professor of Psychology "I HAVE BEEN VERBALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY battered and abused, I’ve been threatened with bodily harm, I’ve been threatened to be shot right between the eyes, I’ve been kicked, I’ve had to watch while my ex sexually molested my daughter and not dare interfere for fear of retaliation. Then one day she called 911 so fast and had me arrested, my head was literally spinning in disbelief. When trying to tell the officer that I was provoked … [Read more...]

Developing Sensitivity


German Classroom Sets Stage for Lessons in Diversity By: Lisa R. Baldi IMAGINE TAKING A UNIVERSITY COURSE THAT places you in German schools where you don’t know the language, the curriculum, or the culture. That’s what Penn State Berks students majoring in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education have been doing for two weeks each May for the last two years in order to learn about developing sensitivity to diversity. Dr. Jayne Leh, Assistant Professor of Special Education at Penn State … [Read more...]

Putting Some Muscle into Research

Ben Infantolino

Multi-Method Approach to Biomechanics Research By: Dr. Ben Infantolino, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Biomechanics is the study of biological systems using the principles of mechanics. Since muscle is responsible for producing human motion, it is a very relevant topic of study in Biomechanics. Computer models of muscle are critical to our understanding of muscle function and have been purported to be used to direct surgeries that are designed to improve movement for individuals with a … [Read more...]

Taking Flight

Professor and Students Create Bird Flight Simulator By: Rungun Nathan, Associate Professor of Engineering It is Spring, and you are sitting by your window watching the birds pecking away at worms and seeds on the ground, and then suddenly they perform a squat-like motion, pull their wings out, flap hard, and fly away. Even raptors and other bigger, heavier birds do this with so much ease. They do not need a long runway nor do they need to run, accelerate, or gain high speed to take off.  … [Read more...]

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Joins College’s Degree Programs

mechanical engineering student in the lab

By: Lisa R. Weidman Penn State Berks, the leading engineering college in Berks County, has recently received approval from the University to offer the Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, beginning in the fall semester of 2013. Penn State Berks is one of only four Penn State campuses to offer the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. The college will seek accreditation for this degree from ABET, the global leader in accreditation of engineering, engineering technology, computing, … [Read more...]

College and Industry Collaborate to Make Microgrid Network a Reality

microgrid discussion group

By: Elizabeth Wiggins-Lopez, Instructor in Engineering, and Dr. Dale Litwhiler, Associate Professor of Engineering An emerging technology in building power distribution involves the use of a room ceiling tile support grid to create a low-voltage “microgrid” network. With this network, 24-volt DC power is routed throughout the room via conductors embedded in the drop-ceiling support structure. Users can then tap into the low-voltage supply from any location in the room.  The microgrid … [Read more...]

Industry Peer Networks

Ada Leung

IPNs Give Small Businesses a Competitive Edge By: Lara C. Hartman Economic growth and job creation remain the primary issues on the nation’s agenda, although it is small businesses—not large corporations—that are playing an increasingly important role in economic recovery. In order to compete against corporate CEOs, small business owners must be aware of industry trends and maintain an agenda that promotes collaboration.  Working with external groups, such as mentors, advisory boards, and … [Read more...]

Environmental Microbiology and Systematics

Bert and Tami talking

By: Bertrand D. Eardly, Professor of Biology Most of us don't realize that our planet is dominated by microbes. Recent studies have shown that for every one of our own cells, we carry at least ten bacterial cells. This unseen bacterial community, both on and in our bodies, consists of hundreds of species who are nearly as different from each other as they are from us. Perhaps more amazing is the fact that there appears to be millions more bacterial species elsewhere on our planet, such as in … [Read more...]

How Did We Get Here?

How did we get here?

By: Lisa R. Weidman Throughout time, people have asked the question, "How did we get here?" In the inaugural George J. Losoncy Lecture in Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Robert Forrey, Penn State Berks Professor of Physics, addressed that very question from the point of view of a physicist. This event, which was held on March 22, 2012, was the first in what will be an annual lecture series named in honor of Losoncy, a dedicated Penn State employee for seventeen years who was also particularly … [Read more...]

Direct Impact

Lolita Paff

Results of Paff's Economic Impact Study for the Sovereign Center and SPAC Confirms Centers have Generated over a Quarter of a Billion Dollars By: Lisa R. Weidman When the Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA) approached Dr. Lolita Paff about conducting an economic impact study for the Sovereign Center and Sovereign Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the project turned out to be beneficial and enlightening for both the sponsor and the researcher: the BCCCA received crucial information … [Read more...]

Higher Learning

Jessica Schocker with students

Martial Arts Program Helps Reading School District Elementary School Children Stretch Their Minds and Bodies By: Lisa R. Weidman Third grade students in the Glenside Elementary School gym are seated on their yoga mats while their parents are waiting with anticipation in the bleachers. Today is the last day of the Yoga and Taekwondo after-school program, and the children will be showcasing what they have learned this spring. Although they may not realize it, they have learned more than … [Read more...]

The Future of Energy

The Future of Energy

Faculty and Students Work Together to Shape Future of Energy Use By: Walter F. Fullam, Director of Continuing Education A group of faculty and students at Penn State Berks, with the assistance of industry partners, is shaping the future of energy use in the United States. A hint of the evolving research program is provided by the recently installed ground-mounted solar array behind the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. But solar energy generation is just one part of an … [Read more...]

So Eat Already


By: Kenneth Fifer, Professor of English I know my parents would have been happier if I chose to do something more socially useful, been a gold trader, say, or a shortstop. But there are some activities that choose us, if truth be known, so I’m a poet. I too had hoped it would never come to this. But even my parents’ bemused or hesitant responses couldn’t change me. I’ve tried other things but they’ve all proven to be fool’s errands. … [Read more...]

To Be Or Not To Be

Edwin Murillo

Murillo Examines the History of Existentialism in Latin America By: Lisa R. Weidman Edwin Murillo's foray into the world of Spanish language, Hispanic literature, and U.S. Latino culture was not as straightforward as one might think. Often mistaken as many things, but mostly as an Italian-American in high school, it wasn’t until Murillo, who was born in Miami, began his college career in Texas that he began to truly discover his Latino heritage. He had not been hiding his lineage; he simply … [Read more...]

Young Investigators Award

Razvan Viteazu

By: Jessica Didow Three Penn State Berks students received the college’s most prestigious academic award in May 2011. Razvan Viteazu, Dwight Kizun, and Andrew Peifer received the Young Investigator Award, presented to students who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship and performance or unusual achievement during the course of their internship, co-op, or research.  In the Division of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Viteazu, an American Studies major, received the award for his … [Read more...]

Freedom from the Dictator, the Dollar, and the Deity

anarchy fist

Global Anarchism Today and a Century Ago By: Dr. Kirwin R. Shaffer, Associate Professor of Latin American Studies "The end of history." Those famous words written by Francis Fukuyama in 1992 expressed the supposed fate of the world with the end of the Cold War. Soviet-style state communism had been defeated, grand ideological conflicts were now a thing of the past, and everyone could get on with working, shopping, and consuming. The future sure was bright. So, what happened? Political … [Read more...]

It’s All in the Family

Eric Lindsey playing with dolls

By: Lisa R. Weidman If you have ever watched a group of children at play, you may have noticed that some were very outgoing and assertive, while others were quite timid and shy. But what causes these differences in temperament? Dr. Eric Lindsey, Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at Penn State Berks, has spent his career researching family relationships and how they lay the foundation for children’s relationships with their peers or their “social competence.”  … [Read more...]

“Half-Free”–The Currency Universe


By: Dr. Jui-Chi Huang, Assistant Professor of Economics I am a fan of stand-up comedian Kathleen Madigan. She and I have at least two things in common: one is playing basketball and the other is that we have a true understanding of the concept of currency exchange. She describes her foreign currency exchange experience in her stand-up routine. Once while visiting Canada, when the money there was worth half the value of ours, Kathleen bought a pair of shoes, which were 50 percent off. She … [Read more...]

Paff’s Research Takes Her from the Capitol to the Classroom

Dr. Lolita Paff at the Capitol Building

By: Lisa R. Weidman How do businesses choose which state to set up shop? According to Penn State Berks Associate Professor of Business and Economics Lolita Paff, state-level research and development tax credits affect this monumental decision, which in turn greatly affects each state’s economic condition. Paff is so well respected for her research on state-level R&D tax credits that in 2004, she was invited to give testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee. The committee … [Read more...]

A Home for the Future

Fred Gaige

Gaige Technology & Business Innovation Building at Penn State Berks By: Lisa R. Weidman The new Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building is the academic home to the college's Engineering, Business, and Computing division, and as such, it will empower the programs housed in the facility–and our student's and faculty–to fulfill their potential for success and service. … [Read more...]

Collaborate & Innovate


Campus Collaboration Lead to Business Innovation By: Jennifer Hammaker, Director of Business Development, Innovation Transfer Network Berks County is an integral part of a pioneering academic model to connect faculty expertise with private sector companies in an effort to drive innovation and engage students in real-world business issues. The stage was set for accelerating collaboration in late 2010, when the Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone (GRKIZ) and the Innovation Transfer … [Read more...]

The Theory of Symmetry

Dr. Dan Litvin

By: Lisa R. Weidman When you enter Dr. Dan Litvin's office, you may think that you just stepped into a Toys “R” Us by all the models and toys that are on display. In reality, these are all teaching aids that he uses in his physics classroom.  Litvin is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at Penn State Berks who has received sixteen years of research grant support from the National Science Foundation. His current research interests include symmetry-based predictions of physical properties … [Read more...]

Food Microbiology and Toxicology

Hassan and student

By Dr. Hassan Gourama, Associate Professor of Food Science In every society, ensuring that the food supply is safe is essential. However, despite many scientific and technological advances in the area of food production, processing, and preservation, foodborne illnesses around the world, including in the United States, still occur.  Just in the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that every year, 48 million people (one in six Americans) get sick, 128,000 are … [Read more...]

The Social Network

Social Network

Social Networks–Inside and Outside the Classroom By: Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle, Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy Michael was so stressed about getting up in front of his class every day to teach that his insides were burning, literally; he had terrible ulcers and was spending days at the hospital for help with the pain. But the hospital wasn’t going to help what ailed him... Maria worked one classroom down from Michael at the urban public middle school. Like Michael, she was a … [Read more...]

The Rhetoric of Film

Michelle Ramsey

Research on Rhetoric Reveals Idealogical Messages By: Lisa R. Weidman When most people watch a movie, they get caught up in the plot, the nail-biting action, the drama, or perhaps the humor. They leave the movie theatre–or the comfort of their family room–feeling amused, thrilled, and maybe even moved. But for Dr. Michele Ramsey, films are more than vehicles for entertainment; they are rhetorical messages that dramatize the ways people use language and images to tell stories and foster … [Read more...]

Beyond Infinity

Ruth Daly

Daly Studies Black Hole Spins and the Acceleration of the Universe By: Lisa R. Weidman Every galaxy has a collection of black holes– regions that are so dense not even light can escape–and each can have a mass of up to ten or more times that of the Sun. In addition, there is a super-massive black hole embedded in the heart of each galaxy. The mass of the super-massive black hole varies with the mass of the galaxy and can be a few million to several billion times the mass of the Sun.  … [Read more...]

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Dr. David Aurentz

A Window into the Invisible Atomic World By: Dr. David Aurentz, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Perhaps it could be best described as a comic book superpower–the ability to see the invisible, my field of expertise. This ability to observe what is classically invisible through scientific analysis is critically important. Detecting changes at an atomic level can have huge effects on our understanding of the properties of all sorts of matter, ranging from materials in our homes, products found … [Read more...]

Artificial Immune Systems Increase Efficiency


By: Lisa R. Weidman It sounds like something from a science fiction movie: Researchers are studying immune systems–more specifically clonal selection algorithms–and using the technology to increase efficiency in facilities like hospital emergency rooms, manufacturing plants, and grocery stores. At Penn State Berks, Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems, and Dr. Berna Ulutas, a post-doc fellow who visited the college from May 2009 to May 2010, … [Read more...]

Hit the Ground Running

Dr. Barbara Mizdail

Integrating Research into First-Year Engineering Seminars By: Lisa R. Weidman When students enroll in engineering and engineering technology at Penn State Berks, they are typically anxious to get to work in their field; however, they must spend the first two years completing fundamental courses in math and science before taking courses that provide opportunities to work on substantial engineering projects. Barbara Mizdail, Program Coordinator for the Mechanical Engineering Technology degree … [Read more...]

Bringing Science to the Forefront

students looking through a microscope

College Partners with Carpenter Technology and Reading School District to Improve Science Education By: Lisa R. Weidman The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education has received a lot of media attention in the last few years. In fact, having a well educated and innovative STEM workforce is critical to the economic security and prosperity of the United States. Penn State Berks and Carpenter Technology Corporation have joined forces to improve science … [Read more...]

Digital Power Controls: Applications


By: Dr. Shiyoung Lee, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering When I was in middle school, I was a devoted experimenter who liked to disassemble and assemble any electrical and/or electronic apparatus. One ambitious experiment that makes me smile, even today, was the control of light intensity of an incandescent light bulb with a potentiometer (instrument for volume or brightness control) from an old radio set. Despite the smoke emitted from the poor device, there was a short “wow” … [Read more...]

Speed Saves

James Karlinsey

Karlinsey's Research in Microfluidics Aims to Quicken the Diagnosis Time for Physicians By: Lisa R. Weidman A patient walks into the physician's office, flips through a couple magazines in the waiting room, undergoes routine checks with the nurse, and waits a little longer until he finally gets to talk to the doctor. The patient has the symptoms, the physician has her suspicions, but no one has the results–at least not yet. Next the patient pays a visit to the lab to have blood drawn, and … [Read more...]

It’s Our “Tern”


The Time is Now to Protect Biodiversity By: Dr. Jennifer M. Arnold, Assistant Professor of Biology The loss of species from threats such as human development, other invasive species, and climate change has been at the forefront of media interest in recent years. The problem is far from trivial: current rates of species extinction are phenomenal, at least 100 times the background rate, and human activities are a major factor driving species loss. For many species, the consequences of their … [Read more...]

Building Bridges


Grobman Unites Cultures, Teaching, and Research By: Lisa R. Weidman At first glance, Dr. Laurie Grobman's research seems to branch off in many different directions. However, upon closer inspection, one can see that all her work is driven by the common principles of multiculturalism and social justice; the effect that writing as it is both produced and consumed can accomplish toward these ends; and the way her teaching can bring students directly into these issues themselves–through … [Read more...]

Locally Fit


By: Lisa R. Weidman Southeastern Pennsylvania is most known for its rich and productive farmland and its strong presence of highly diversified food manufacturing facilities. This region also contains a high percentage of the state’s population, as well as its colleges and universities. These factors, combined with favorable demographics in the region, place Berks and the surrounding counties in a unique position to become a regional leader in agriculture, food processing, packaging, and … [Read more...]

Casting: Nontraditional, Cross-Cultural, or Color Blind?

Theatre play

By Cleo House Jr., Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Theatre Theatre artists who teach live in the worlds of both the theoretical and the practical. We are in many ways philosophers, theorists, and practitioners. It is our ability to function across these planes that sometimes proves confusing or difficult to grasp for those in fields outside of the arts. Arguably, in the theatre, we engage in such an organic process that one on the outside may assume that a lack of qualitative … [Read more...]