News and Events

Biology Professor Awarded NSF Grant

Dr. Megan Fork


Dr. Megan Fork, together with a team of researchers, received a $390,381 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project titled "Improving institutional diversity in professional society participation through virtual and hybrid conferencing." The team will investigate how and whether virtual and hybrid conferences in ecology, environmental science, and allied fields have increased participation by individuals from a diverse set of institutions, including academic organizations like universities and organizations outside of academia like government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and environmental consulting firms. With participants from a diverse set of institutions, scientific conferences can improve collaboration and knowledge exchange and facilitate evidence-based environmental management. The project will also assess whether virtual and hybrid conferences are more inclusive of a diverse set of backgrounds and career stages and assess barriers, attitudes, and preferences related to conference access, attendance, and participation.


Winterthur Conservation Scientists Visit Chemistry Department 

student uses chemistry equipment


Last week we had some visitors from the Winterthur Museum Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory (SRAL) in the Chemistry Department. Conservation Scientist Catherine Matsen, along with Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) graduate student Tammy Hong visited the research lab of Dr. Zachary Voras to investigate the composition of Chinese export miniature paintings. 

This project focuses on nineteenth century Chinese export painted landscape miniatures on ivory and metal in Winterthur’s collection and seeks to investigate their material compositions. The results of this investigation aim to illuminate the trade routes associated with the materials that influenced Chinese export painters’ artistic decisions and agencies when creating products for a foreign market. 

Catherine and Tammy used the newly acquired micro X-ray fluorescence (µXRF) ArTAX spectrometer to characterize the elemental composition of the paintings. A sample size of six paintings representative of the two substrates (3 on metal, and 3 on ivory) were selected for analysis. Since the materials and techniques employed in Chinese export paintings are understudied in the North American frameworks of material culture and conservation, the data collected from this project can increase our understanding of the ways in which these materials interact and how they may change over time.

Further information can be found at:


Spring 2023 Chemistry Career & Innovation Talk

The Department of Chemistry will hold the Spring 2023 Chemistry Career & Innovation Talk on Friday, February 24, 2023 from 5:15-6:15pm in Schmucker Science Link 151.

Dr. Lukman Solola of Axalta Coating Systems, a global coatings company, will discuss his career in the chemical industry and provide insights into the businesses Axalta serves, the product development cycle and sustainability goals. 

Free pizza, snacks, and drinks will be provided!

For more information, see the Spring 2023 Chemistry Career & Innovation Talk flyer .



Department of Physics and Engineering Launches New Program

Quantum Physics


A new program in Quantum Science and Engineering (QSE) has been launched to prepare for the emerging market in quantum computing. In partnership with the University of Delaware, the 3-2 program allows students to spend three years at WCU and two years at the University of Delaware, earning both a BS in Physics from WCU and an MS in QSE from the University of Delaware.  Check out the Physics and Engineering program page for more information!


Students & Faculty Present Research

Student Presents Research

Student Presents Research


Dr. Frank Fish of the Department of Biology recently presented his research paper “Taking a new heading: the sea lion head as a control surface” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, Texas. The paper was co-authored with biology graduate student Caitlyn Swiston, mathematics graduate student Scott Moon, and Dr. Allison Kolpas of the Department of Mathematics. Biology undergraduate student David Kramer, biology graduate student Matt Wileyto, biology graduate student Caitlyn Swiston, and physics and biomedical engineering undergraduate student Alexa Cesari also presented their research at the event. 



Fall 2022 Mathematics Colloquium

Math Flyer


Dr. Jim Coykendall of Clemson University will discuss "Exploring Some Pathologies in Factorization Via Examples" on Wednesday, October 26th from 3:00-3:50 pm in Anderson 211.

See flyer for details.


Biology Professor Published in Nature

Nature Cover


Dr. Frank Fish of the Department of Biology coauthored the article, "Multi-environment robotic transitions through adaptive morphogenesis," which was published in Nature, vol. 610 pages 283-289 (13 October, 2022). The article was coauthored with Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio of Yale University. 

The article, which details the turtle-like robot that adapts its shape and behavior to move on land and in water, is featured in the Oct. 13 edition of Nature and is featured on the issue's cover.

Read the Nature article here.



Biology Professor Interviewed

Dr. Megan Fork


Dr. Megan Fork of the Department of Biology was recently interviewed by Hello, West Chester. Dr. Fork shared her expertise on freshwater and urban ecosystem science to discuss flooding in West Chester.  The interview can be read here:


Political Science Student Selected to Intern in Norway

Jocelyn Brown


Jocelyn Brown, a political science major, has been selected for the prestigious Honors College Fall Semester Internship in Oslo, Norway, working for the Nobel Peace Institute. Due to the Honors College's partnership with the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Jocelyn was chosen as their next intern and will be working on site from late September to December. The internship focuses on communications, like the Institute's social media pages, and helping to set up the Nobel Peace Prize announcement and ceremony. This is only the second time a student from WCU has had this opportunity. We congratulate Jocelyn on her achievement!


Fall 2022 Mathematics Colloquium


Dr. Sunita Chepuri of Lafayette College will present "Total Positivity and Networks" on Thursday, September 22nd from 3:00-3:50PM in Anderson 211. 

Please see the flyer for further information.



Biology Professor Presented with ig Nobel Award

Frank Fish


Dr. Frank Fish of the Department of Biology was awarded a 2022 Ig Nobel Prize for his hydrodynamics research. Dr. Fish's research on the formation swimming of ducklings was 1 of only 10 projects from around the world that were honored this year. The Ig Nobels recognize science that makes people laugh, then think. Congratulations, Dr. Fish!

The Ig Nobel ceremony is available online, with Dr. Fish’s prize award segment beginning at approximately 56:00.


NSF Grant for New Scanning Electron Microscope Awarded

NSF Logo


The National Science Foundation has funded our proposal for the purchase of a field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM). The $391,730 grant will be used to purchase an  Apreo 2 from ThermoFisher FEI  to replace our existing SEM. This instrument, which can image objects with 1 nm resolution and quantify elemental composition, is used in advanced undergraduate laboratory courses as well as research. It will be housed in the Center for Microanalysis and Imaging Research and Training  (CMIRT), which is a facility supported by the College of the Sciences and Mathematics. Principle Investigator Dr. Kurt Kolasinski (Chemistry) was joined by Dr. LeeAnn Srogi (Earth & Space Sciences), Dr. Howell Bosbyshell (Earth & Space Sciences), Dr. Brandon Mitchell (Physics) and Dr. John Pisciotta (Biology) in the proposal. These researchers will use the new instrument to probe the structure of nanomaterials and semiconductors, to investigate the interactions of nanoparticles with the environment, and to study microtextures and chemical composition of mineral grains.


Biology Professor Awarded NSF Grant

Dr. Jessica Sowa


Dr. Jessica Sowa of the Department of Biology has been awarded a $502,187 grant from the National Science Foundation for her project “Discovery and characterization of novel viral pathogens of Caenorhabditis elegans”. Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) are a popular model organism used to study how pathogens infect host cells and how the host immune system responds to infection on a cellular level. However, only one virus capable of naturally infecting C. elegans has been identified to date, which limits the usefulness of C. elegans as a model system for studying viral infections specifically. Dr. Sowa’s project aims to address this gap by identifying new viruses in wild-caught nematodes that can be passed to C. elegans, and studying the cell biology of the newly identified viral infections. Wild nematode collection will be conducted through the Nematode Hunters program, an outreach program that partners with 4th grade classrooms. 4th grade students will collect wild free-living nematodes from their local environment and submit them for infection screening, which will be conducted by WCU undergraduates enrolled in the Nematode Hunters class (a new Biology elective). Newly identified viruses will be studied and ultimately made available to the research community, allowing the power of the C. elegans model to be applied to a wider range of questions about how viruses interact with host cells. 



Anthropology Professor in the News

Dr. Michael Di Giovine


Dr. Michael Di Giovine of the Department of Anthropology & Sociology was recently interviewed by EDgage magazine.  The article, Why Setting Campus Culture is Critical, discusses the changing landscape in higher education due to sustainability and internationalization efforts, along with the increased shift to virtual learning and digital technologies. 

Read the article here.


CSM Students Recognized

CSM Celebrates


The College of the Sciences and Mathematics held the CSM Student Recognition Ceremony on Monday, May 2nd.

Congratulations to the many students who were recognized, including Outstanding Student Award winner Kai Vonkiel. Photos of the event are available here .


Spring 2022 Mathematics Colloquium 

Mathematics Event


The Department of Mathematics is hosting a colloquium on Wednesday, April 20th from 3:15-4:05pm in Anderson 203 and via Zoom. 

Dr. Tom Crawford of the University of Oxford will give a talk, "Using Maths to Clean the Ocean," providing an in-depth look at the content of the Numberphile video:  Where Does River Water Go? 


Celebrating the Night Sky 

Planetarium Events


Two special presentations are being held at the West Chester University Mather Planetarium. 

On Wednesday, April 20th at 7pm, the showing will celebrate Earth Week and feature special guest Senator Carolyn Comitta. 

On Saturday, April 23rd at noon, the showing will celebrate WCU's 150th Anniversary, with activities for adults and children throughout the WCU science complex from 1-3pm.


Political Science Professor Featured on Fox29 News

Dr. Loedel Speaks to Class


On February 24th, Dr. Peter Loedel of the Department of Political Science led an open discussion with students regarding the crisis in the Ukraine. Dr. Loedel is an expert on European security affairs, including US-NATO relations. The event was featured on FOX29 News.


Assistant Professor of Psychology Interviewed by KYW

KYW Roche


Dr. Michael Roche of the Department of Psychology was recently interviewed by KYW. Listen here: Me Me Me! Are We More Narcissistic Than Ever? Let's Look at the Data.


Biology Professor Publishes New Book

Book Cover


Dr. Oné Pagán of the Department of Biology has published a new book. The book, entitled "Drunk Flies and Stoned Dolphins," looks at multiple non-human organisms and their relationships with intoxication.


Students Participate in European Union Simulation

EU Simulation Students


The Department of Political Science participated in the 29th Annual Mid-Atlantic European Union Simulation in Washington, D.C. from November 11th-13th. Eleven WCU students participated in the European Union Simulation Senior Seminar,  and two WCU students were selected by their student peers as “Outstanding Ministers” of their respective councils. The program promotes global knowledge, while actively connecting “theory” with the “reality” of European Union politics.


Biology Professor Receives Grant

Dr. Jessica Sowa


Dr. Jessica Sowa of the Department of Biology recently received a $35,000 American Society for Cell Biology Public Engagement grant through the Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, for her Nematode Hunters project. Nematode Hunters is a classroom-based citizen science project with a remote delivery format that will allow 4th grade teachers at underserved schools in Pennsylvania to engage their students in authentic biological research. Students will become collaborators on a project to discover new intracellular pathogens of nematodes by collecting wild nematodes from any outdoor space, making observations, and submitting the nematodes collected to the West Chester University research team to be tested for the presence of intracellular infections. 


PPD Hosts Guest Seminar

The Pharmaceutical Product Development program will hold a guest seminar on Monday, November 22nd in SSN 190 from 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm. Dr. Keith Hornberger, the Senior Director of Chemistry at Arvinas, will provide a presentation on recent research advances in PROTAC research and development. Dr. Hornberger's seminar information can be found in this PowerPoint .


Biology Professor Receives Grant from Office of Naval Research

turtle robot


Dr. Frank Fish of the Department of Biology received a grant of $230,403 from the Office of Naval Research for “Autonomous environmental transitions of an amphibious turtle-inspired robot.”  The grant is in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio of Yale University.


Political Science Professor to Represent PA’s Redistricting Advisory Council

John J. Kennedy


Dr. John J. Kennedy of the Department of Political Science, an expert in legislative redistricting, is one of six individuals selected by Governor Tom Wolf for the Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council, which is tasked with ensuring integrity and fairness when Pennsylvania’s congressional map is redrawn. For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Redistricting Public Comment Portal and the WCU Newsroom.


Psychology Professor in the News

Dr. Hyers & Dr. Hipple

Photo Credit: Charles Fox, Philadelphia Inquirer


Dr. Lauri Hyers of the Department of Psychology, along with Dr. Erin Hipple of the Department of Graduate Social Work, were recently interviewed by USA Today. In the news article , Dr. Hyers discusses the trend for adult costumes to merge infantilization and sexualization through the use of child-like images (e.g., sexy schoolgirl). "That merging of infantilization and sexualization to market to youth is a really dangerous combination, because then it starts to sexualize innocence itself," says Dr. Hyers. "Childishness and innocence gets connected with sexualization."


6abc Features WCU 150: History and Heritage Exhibition

Exhibit in the News


6abc recently featured the WCU 150: History and Heritage Exhibition, an exhibit produced by students in the Museum Studies program, under the direction of Dr. Michael Di Giovine of the Department of Anthropology & Sociology. Anthropology major/Museum Studies minor Julia Zahm and History major/Museum Study minor Aaron Stoyak curated the showcase, detailing the various artifacts' relevance in the history and heritage of West Chester University. Read the WCU 150: History and Heritage Exhibition 6abc article and view the WCU 150: History and Heritage Exhibition video to learn more.


Anthropology Student Receives Award

Old Library


Congratulations to anthropology major Joanna Maurer, who was selected to receive the Mustalish Award for Conservation! Recipients of the award must be an upper-division or graduate student in good academic standing with a passion for conservation. The award funds projects relating to conservation work throughout the world with a focus on climate change, species loss, and protecting and preserving the Traditional Ecosystem Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. Maurer, under the direction of Dr. Heather Wholey, Chairperson of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, received funding for their project, "The Delaware Bay Climate and Archaeology Project: Indigenous Cultural Heritage Sites."



Physics Professor Awarded NSF Grant

Dr. Brandon Mitchell


Dr. Brandon Mitchell of the Department of Physics & Engineering has been awarded $450,000 from the NSF (Award #2129183) for a project entitled, “RUI: Next Generation Rare Earth Based Light-Emitters for Solid-State Display & Quantum Information Technology Applications.” In this collaborative grant, Dr. Mitchell will lead a team of graduate and undergraduate students along with Dr. Lee Bassett (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Volkmar Dierolf (Lehigh University). Overall, this project will serve as the basis for a new generation of rare-earth-doped semiconductor devices that harness quantum mechanical effects to achieve new functionalities, such as the control of spins and the manipulation of light emission for quantum information processing and solid-state displays.


Mathematics Professor Co-Chairs Conference

Dr. Kim Johnson


Dr. Kim Johnson of the Department of Mathematics is co-chairing the 43rd Annual Meeting North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA 43). West Chester University is an official sponsor of the conference, which will be held in Philadelphia on October 14-17, 2021. This will be the first time the conference will be held in the Northeastern United States since 1989. Further information is available in the conference flyer .


Psychology Professor in the News

Karen Mitchell


Dr. Karen Mitchell of the Department of Psychology was recently interviewed by Philly Voice regarding her research on memory, particularly flashbulb memories. The article on flashbulb memories details Dr. Mitchell's extensive research on flashbulb memories and discusses why memories of highly emotional historic events, such as 9/11 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, aren't as accurate as we believe.


WCU Museum in the News

WCU 150


As the official launch of West Chester University’s sesquicentennial nears, the West Chester University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology continues to receive recognition for the important role that it plays in the celebration. Dr. Michael Di Giovine of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology has worked with WCU students in the Museum Studies program to research and prepare the WCU 150: History & Heritage Museum Exhibition. Sponsored by the Alumni Association, the exhibit celebrates WCU's 150th anniversary with artifacts relevant to the University's history. The exhibition opens on September 17, 2021 in the Francis Harvey Green Library. Further information can be found in The Philadelphia Inquirer and East Bradford Neighbors articles.


Biology Professor Awarded ONR Grants

Dr. Frank Fish


Dr. Frank Fish of the Department of Biology recently received two new grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Dr. Fish was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant for the collaborative project “Locomotion and Transitions of an Amphibious System: Biologic to Robotic.” The project has two main objectives: 1) to refine our knowledge of the novel propulsion mechanisms of the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) and extend it to high demand underwater environments; and 2) to develop a biological, i.e., morphologic and kinematic, understanding of sea lion locomotion on land. The proposed work will build on and extend fundamental studies of the California sea lion’s swimming mechanism and thrust production capabilities. Additionally, it will extend preliminary work on the sea lion’s ability to operate on land, including the development of a prototype amphibious robotic platform. This is an interdisciplinary project with co-principal investigators from Drexel University and George Washington University, with $300,000 awarded to WCU. 

Dr. Fish also received a $100,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research for the project "Bio-inspired Flexible Propulsors for Fast, Efficient Swimming: What Physics Are We Missing?"


Chemistry Professor Presented with Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

Dr. John Townsend


Dr. John Townsend of the Department of Chemistry was recently named the winner of the 2021 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Chemical Science. The award is presented by the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society and is sponsored by Merck & Co. Congratulations, Dr. Townsend!


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