All-Access Backstage Pass

When is a college course considered paradise? When part of it is in Hawaiʻi. Midway through the Spring 2019 semester 16 Penn State students from four campuses—Altoona, DuBois, Schuylkill, and University Park—began an environmental studies class with Penn State Altoona’s Carolyn Mahan, professor of biology and environmental studies, and Lisa … Continue reading

Student Expo 2019

The room buzzed with activity—students, faculty, and even some parents attending the annual Student Expo in Slep’s multipurpose room. Rows of posters with subjects ranging from environmental studies to engineering snaked through the room; the students who created those posters were poised, ready to explain their work to interested visitors. … Continue reading

Ancestry for Birds

Wren or nuthatch? Red-bellied woodpecker or Northern flicker? Turkey or buzzard? Birders—those who watch birds as a hobby—may scoff at these examples. They know to look at the beak, the coloring, the shape of the wings in flight. They know which birds are migrating when and where to find them. … Continue reading

Changing the Message

It was 2015 and award-winning poet and Penn State Altoona professor Patricia Jabbeh Wesley was back in her native country of Liberia, teaching poetry to adult men. Her son Mlen-Too Wesley II pointed out to her that the men didn’t really take her seriously. “They,” he told her, “don’t want … Continue reading

Young Scholars of Liberia, June-July 2019

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Finding the Key–and the Gate

“Mathematics is the gate and key to science.” —Roger Bacon Flying a drone—simple, right? Just move the two little sticks on the transmitter and watch the drone move up, down, sideways, clockwise, counterclockwise, keeping the drone within your sight all the time, right? Actually, it’s more complicated than that. You’re working … Continue reading


The ideal engineer is a composite. . . . He is not a scientist, he is not a mathematician, he is not a sociologist or a writer; but he may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems. —Nathan W. Dougherty, American … Continue reading

The Bats of Shaver’s Creek

There are finally some small signs of hope for bats. Hit very hard by a fungal disease called “white-nose syndrome” over a decade ago, the bat population across the United States—including Pennsylvania’s little brown bats—has declined precipitously. Yet Michael Gannon, professor of biology at Penn State Altoona, who has been … Continue reading