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...]

From Streets to Schools


Reintegration Strategies for Street Children in Kenya By Dr. Janelle B. Larson, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Division Head for Engineering, Business, and Computing When my former classmate Paul Maina came to me seeking the University’s expertise to help address a variety of issues with the innovative school he established for former street-dwelling children, I was eager to be a part of what turned into a University-wide project. The Children and Youth Empowerment … [Read more...]

How Global Companies Maintain Shared Corporate Values

Business people holding hands

By Dr. Malika Richards, Associate Professor of Business and Management As firms expand their operations globally, one of their main challenges is maintaining shared corporate values–the principles used to make judgments about what is important in the way they conduct business–with their subsidiaries. While geographic and cultural distances create barriers for the transmission of shared corporate values, the importance of engendering these values, and of making them explicit, grows  as … [Read more...]

Powered Partnership

Guy working at Enersys

Industrial Research Office Partners with Local Industry By: Lisa R. Weidman It began with a conversation between the Penn State Industrial Research Office (IRO) and the Penn State Berks Office of Continuing Education and Outreach about how the two could work together on collaborative research. The IRO assists companies in identifying and accessing Penn State faculty expertise and research centers, and works to foster University-industry research partnerships. Staff members have both an … [Read more...]

Understanding the Development of Breast Cancer

Dr. Maureen Dunbar

By: Dr. Maureen Dunbar, Associate Professor of Biology A perpetual misconception concerning scientific research involves the value of basic research. Trying to understand the normal function of an organ propels much basic biological research yet this type of research may not seem as important as the work done trying to understand how to treat cancerous cells. Lack of fundamental understanding of normal cellular function can impede progress in treating a disease like cancer and is therefore … [Read more...]

Gamburg Explores the Heart of Matter

Dr. Leonard Gamburg

By: Dr. Robert C. Forrey, Professor of Physics and Lisa R. Weidman "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein These words of Albert Einstein provide the foundation of Leonard Gamberg's research efforts, which seek to get to get to the heart of matter–literally. Gamberg, an Associate Professor of Physics at Penn State Berks, conducts research in elementary particle physics of the atomic nucleus–the very "heart of matter." Through his research in … [Read more...]

Building on 50 Years of Excellence

Nittany Lion Statue

By: Dr. Paul Esqueda, Professor of Engineering and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Mary Lou D'Allegro, Senior Director of Planning, Research, and Assessment As with many private and corporate areas, the public is demanding better accountability of higher education. Complicit with the advent of the U.S. Department of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, recent changes to accreditation of higher education institutions, and increased public demand for higher education … [Read more...]

AIDS is Ageless

Old lady with AIDS

Program Has Real Impact on Seniors By: Dr. Jennifer Hillman, Professor of Psychology and Coordinator of the Applied Psychology Program As noted by Dr. Patrick DeLeon, former President of the American Psychological Association, the goal of psychology is to make what we know about human nature understandable to others. We are charged to find ways to share psychology “in big and small ways, in many different settings with many different people.” Consistent with this edict, the focus of Applied … [Read more...]

Professor Gets Inside “Smoke-Filled Room” at the DNC

political buttons

By: Matt Kunkleman When Dr. Randall Newnham, Associate Professor of Political Science at Penn State Berks, received the call asking if he wanted to be part of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, he didn’t have to think very long about his answer—he responded with a “yes” almost automatically. What Newnham agreed to was being part of The Washington Center’s Campaign 2008 Presidential Academic Seminar, a program designed to host internships for college students with … [Read more...]

Litwhiler Rides the Energy Harvesting Wave

Dr. Dale Litwhiler

By: Lisa R. Weidman As the country's interest grows in finding sources of alternative energy, Dr. Dale Litwhiler is looking at the energy that already exists and how it can be put to work. In his research on energy harvesting, Litwhiler is examining processes by which small amounts of waste energy can be captured and stored. Litwhiler, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, was awarded a research development grant from Penn State Berks for his work on capturing wind energy from … [Read more...]

Economic Crisis of the Century: Now What?

hand holding small dollars

By: Dr. Khaled K. Abdou, Assistant Professor of Financial Services Anywhere you go, you will find people talking about the economy, the drop in the stock market, the increasing prices of durable goods, and the cost of living. People are intently watching financial news channels, reading newspapers, and listening to broadcasts in an attempt to comprehend and stay current with the economic changes that are taking place at rocket speed. This intense interest stems from the uncertainty about the … [Read more...]

Green Industry Research Takes Root at College

Mike Fidanza and students

By: Lisa R. Weidman Penn State’s roots are firmly planted in the field of agriculture, dating back to 1855, when the Farmers’ High School was granted a state charter. In time, the school would evolve into what is known today as The Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State Berks, horticulture has been a key component of the agriculture program since its inception in the late 1980s. While the main focus of the faculty has been teaching, the significant presence of the turfgrass and … [Read more...]