Virtual Assistance

Luke Skywalker had R2D2. Captain Picard had Data. And 2001: A Space Odyssey had the infamous HAL 9000. These beings were created to serve humans, and they usually did without question. In real life, though, having such a service, a device created to respond to voice commands with an action, … Continue reading

Continuing the Mission

“There’s something about putting a tree in the ground and making things right.” –overheard at the Flight 93 Memorial during preparation for Plant a Tree at Flight 93 weekend. Once again—as has happened for the past six years—Penn State Altoona students, faculty, and alumni participated in the annual Plant a … Continue reading

In Search of Chinchillas

Sometimes seeking an answer to a question takes the researcher in an unexpected direction. Carolyn Mahan, professor of biology and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona, with the help of an initial grant from the Penn State Altoona Advisory Board Fund, started out looking for wild chinchillas in Peru—believed to … Continue reading

Flying High Once Again

The 2018 Earth Week Birding Classic at Penn State Altoona, held the weekend of April 21–22, continued the success of past competitions. “We raised just over $1,200 with 11 teams competing in seven categories,” says Catie Farr, a Penn State Altoona alumna and avid birder who has organized this event … Continue reading

A Study in Place

With the advent of spring comes the desire to get outside, into nature. Central Pennsylvania has many places—state and national forests and parks, hiking trails, rivers—for recreation. One of the best places is Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, part of Penn State’s 7,000-acre Stone Valley Experimental Forest. And the perfect introduction … Continue reading

Specifying Specimens

Papua New Guinea is quite a distance from western Pennsylvania. No one knows that better than Andrew Mack, grants and contracts coordinator for Penn State Altoona’s Academic Affairs. It wasn’t that long ago that Mack was deep in the South Pacific rainforest searching for cassowaries and working as executive director … Continue reading

The Flavors of Life

Wet-bottom shoofly pie from Lancaster County, cheesesteaks from Philadelphia, and pierogis from Pittsburgh—just a few of the many regional delicacies in Pennsylvania. And then there’s what’s grown here: mushrooms from Kennett Square, apples and peaches from Adams County, and sweet corn from just about anywhere across the state. Pennsylvania has … Continue reading

Birds of Fire

“This is not a new discovery,” says Mark Bonta, assistant teaching professor of earth sciences at Penn State Altoona, when asked about the firehawks. But it is significant. Only relatively recently have Westerners came to understand what Aboriginal people have known for tens of thousands of years: some species of … Continue reading

The Power of Place

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” —Abraham Lincoln The National Park Service was created in 1916 to protect our national parks and monuments—both those that had been put in place since the designation of Yellowstone as the first US national park in 1872 and any future areas. The Act … Continue reading