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by Dr. Mary Kostalos

I came to Chatham College in 1964 as a transfer student. I will always be grateful to my mom who said "Just go look at Chatham--you dont have to go there if you dont like it." I fell in love with Chatham the moment I set foot on the campus. It was a wonderful place for a young woman with an interest in science (and a real contrast with my previous school where the organic chemistry professor openly said that women did not belong in science). Chatham did everything a womens college is supposed to do--it challenged me and nurtured me and encouraged me to stretch and try new things. Chatham had a very traditional liberal arts curriculum at that point, including three semesters of arts and at least one foreign language. I was really excited about doing a tutorial and having a chance to do my own research project. I tested the response of cockroaches to different wavelengths of light. The idea was to try to see if light could be used to lure roaches to a trap rather than use dangerous pesticides. Rachel Carson was a real hero to me and I was concerned about using pesticides. I graduated from Chatham in 1967. I have lots of wonderful memories of my undergraduate years. Lulu and Roosevelt were the housekeepers for Buhl. Lulu used to cook fried chicken in the stock room and housekeepers would come from all over the campus for lunch. On Mothers Day weekend, there was a traditional field trip to Cook forest. One of the professors was interested in lichens and our "hikes" would be about 10 yards long as he stopped to point out and discuss every lichen along the trail. Chatham gave me the confidence to go to graduate school. I went to Pitt where I studied aquatic ecology. I had just recently completed my degree when there was an opening in the Biology Department at Chat ha m. When I was hired at Chatham, I c o u l d hardly believe that I

Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009

Memories of My Years at Chatham

would actually be working at my alma mater. It was strange at first to find that my former professors were now my colleagues. I have seen lots of changes in my 36 years at Chatham. There have been at least three major curricular revisions. Although we dont have the very traditional liberal arts curriculum, I hope we will always keep the liberal arts at the heart of the curriculum. The new Science Building has obviously been a significant change, providing modern labs and classrooms and much more research space. I must confess that I really loved "old Buhl" with its homey atmosphere and beautiful woodwork. There were no personal computers when I started at Chatham. We still used dittos to make multiple copies. My first experience with computers at Chatham was not a good one. There were a handful of computers set up around the campus and we were encouraged to try them out. There was a program that wrote poetry (bad poetry, very bad poetry). I tried it out and discovered that there was a flaw in the program. It didnt stop. After a few bad poems, I panicked and ran around campus trying to find someone who could stop it while the computer pumped out several yards of paper containing bad poems. Finally, Dr. Hershberger, who was very ,,techy even then, rescued me by pulling the plug out of the wall. Chatham gave me many opportunities to try a variety of jobs. I was Dean of Students for three and a half years. That was an experience. Probably my worst moment was when I got a call at midnight and had to go bail a student out of jail. I was also the Founding Director of the Rachel Carson Institute and developed the initial mission and programs. But first and foremost, I have enjoyed being a professor and teaching and working with the students and my colleagues. As I look back on my 36 years at Chatham, I have so many wonderful memories of students and colleagues. I hope all of you will also have your own special memories of your time at Chatham.

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Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009


Chatham Seniors present at National American Chemistry Society Meeting & Exposition

On Monday March 23rd eight Chatham Seniors presented their research at the 237th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition. The students along with Dr. Corey Stilts traveled to Salt Lake City Utah to attend. Holly Galonis, Maureen McGuirk, Sara McMullen, Rachel Newton, Chelsea Patton, Jacqueline Regan and Marcia Wolbert presented their tutorial research. Holly, Rachel, Chelsea and Marcia did their tutorial research with Dr. Stilts. Sara and Maureen did their tutorial research with Dr. Renee Falconer and Jacqueline did her tutorial research with Dr. Larry Viehland. Miranda Gray presented summer research she did at the University of Arizona. The conference had 89 poster sessions and over 7200 presented papers.

Many Winners at Pi Day and

On Tuesday, March 17 the science department held their annual Buhl Olympics and Pi Day Celebration. Even though the official Pi Day was Saturday, March 14, (in honor of the constant =3.14) the spirit of Pi Day was very much alive on Tuesday with much cream pie throwing. "Dean Skleder, Dr. Viehland, Dr. Stilts, Dr. Trout, and Dr. Winters-Hart, were subjected to the messy ordeal with great enthusiasm in raising money/canned food for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank," noted Rachel Newton, Chemistry Society president and organizer of the event. The Buhl Olympics Competition involved a variety of events such as "Assemble the Molecule," "60 Second Titration," "Paper Airplane Throw," "Soma Cube Puzzle," "DNA Sequence," "Benefits of Urban Trees," "Guess the weight" of variCompetition Winners: Standing: Brittany MacConnell, Brooke Dukes- ous science objects you might find in a laboratory, and "Math/ Warren, Kelsey Schwartz and Tiffany Bodem Logic Puzzle." Participants needed no prior science background Sitting: Justine Kassay, Catie Manganaro and Megan to take part in the competition! There were three overall winners Scarpiniti (Not pictured: Alyssa Crozier) and winners for each class as shown in the photo. As this is the seniors last Buhl Olympics, Rachel shared some farewell wishes: "Thank you to all who helped out and/or participated and I hope that it stays a tradition at Chatham for years to come."

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Rachel Newton: Chemistry Major After graduation I will be attending graduate school and have been accepted into the graduate program at University of New Haven for a Masters in Forensic Science with a concentration in Criminalistics. My favorite memories of Chatham would have to be the faculty and their ability to bring out the best in people. From the countless hours in lab to the endJacqueline Regan: Chemistry Major After graduating in May with my degree in Chemistry, I will be moving to Massachusetts to enroll at Worcester Polytechnic Institutes Fire Protection and Engineering PhD Program. Besides skating on the womens hockey team, some of my fond memories at Chatham include participating in the Buhl Olympics, Chemistry volleyball games, traveling abroad, and just talking and laughing with my friends and professors. My advice to future students is to consistently work hard, and never give up. If someone thinks or says it can not be done, prove them wrong. My tutorial involves Ion Mobility Spectrometers (IMS) which are currently used for the detection of explosives on the battle field and at airport security stations. They are also used for the detection of illegal drugs by police agencies. False positives and false negatives are important problems in these applica-

Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009


Senior Science Majors Graduating Spring 2009

less tutorial hours, their support and encouragement have been greatly appreciated. My advice to future student is that through the entire grueling and lengthy tutorial writings, know that it will be worth it in the end. I presented a poster of my tutorial on protein degradation at the ACS conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. tions of IMS. Dr. Viehland and I examined and determined that increasing the electric field will improve the efficiency of IMS and decrease the incidents of false positives. Model calculations were reported for the interaction of two ions with the same low field mobility as they move through air. I recently presented this research at the American Chemical Societys annual meeting in Salt Lake City. My experience at Chatham has provided me with everything I wanted to do in my undergraduate career. I was able to obtain an engineering and science education, play collegiate hockey, and even travel abroad to Belgium and Germany. Dr. Stilts, Dr. MacNeil, Dr. Falconer, Dr. Trout and Dr. Viehland challenged me, yet gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. It has been a demanding few years, but I know I will never forget the friends I have shared these experiences with.

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Casey Pawl, senior biology major, hopes to go to veterinary school or graduate school, depending on where she gets accepted. She has a few favorite memories at Chatham to share: "The first would be sitting in on Dr. Kostalos's Toxicology class and being able to participate in it with stuff I was learning about in my biotechnology class in high school during the World Ready Women Scholarship Day. A second memory would be watching Dr. Rampolla swing from the pendulum in the atrium standing up. I was afraid he was going to get hurt! A third memory would be the teddy graham experiment we did in Evolution. Applying stuff from

Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009


Senior Science Majors Graduating Spring 2009


class to teddy grahams was funny because when they died off you got to eat them. The big picture took awhile to grasp, but once I did, it was awesome!" Her advice to future students: "CHALLENGE YOURSELF! Chatham offers a lot of opportunities to you whether they are on or off campus! Take advantage of them. Instead of taking the class you know or think is going to be easy, take a class out of your comfort zone. It will really benefit you later on... I have really enjoyed my time at Chatham, especially with the classes I have taken in the science department. I am going to miss it. I hope people keep embracing the department and it continues to grow with students and faculty. I will miss all the moments I've had in that Buhl that only students who "live" in the building will understand."

Chatham's Science Professor Publishes Book

Chronicling one calendar year, a suburban mother and professional weed scientist defends those plants we love to hate "Is that a weed?" This question, asked by anyone who has ever gardened or mowed a lawn, does not have an easy answer. After all, a weed, as scientist Nancy Gift reminds readers, is simply a plant out of place. In A Weed by Any Other Name, Gift offers a personal, unapologetic defense of clovers, dandelions, plantains, and more, chronicling her experience with these "enemy" plants season by season. pesto as well as sketches that show the natural beauty of flowers such as the morning glory, classified by the USDA as an invasive and n o x i o u s w e e d . Although she is an advocate of weeds, Gift agrees that some plants do require eradication-she happily digs out multiflora rose and resorts to chemical warfare on poison ivy. But she also demonstrates that weeds often carry a message for us about the land and our treatment of it, if we are willing to listen.

Rather than falling prey to pressures to achieve the perfect lawn and garden, Gift elucidates the many reasons to embrace an unconventional, weedy yard. She celebrates the spots of weedy wildness that crop up in various corners of suburbia, redeeming many a plant's reputation by expounding on its positive qualities. She includes recipes for dandelion wine and garlic mustard (Reprinted from Beacon Press website)

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Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009


Chatham's Science Faculty active at Local and National Conferences

Dr. Barbara Biglan and Dr. Christy Heid presented two papers at the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA March 18-21, 2009: "A Tale of 2 Schools: Connecting City Children with Country Children" and "What is this all about? Uncovering Student Misconceptions." topics related to Darwin, including panels on religious impact, evolutionary sociology issues, and language and influence. TJ stuck with a scientific topic, speaking about the predictability of convergent evolution and how the repeated evolution of sabertooth, hippolike, and many other adaptive types reflect climatic cycles. The presentation was very well received with Dr. Mary Kostalos presented a paper based on tuto- lots of comments from the audience. rial work done by Michal-Lynn Gramby and Kalyn Wylie at the PATWS (Pennsylvania chapter of The Dr. Donald Rampolla and Dr. Christy Heid preWildLife Society) on Saturday, March 28, 2009. The sented at the American Physical Society conference in title of the paper was "Delay or Failure of Metamor- Pittsburgh, March 16-20, 2009 on "An Engineers phosis in Bufo amercanus in the Nine Mile Run Resto- Physics Lab: Using a Large Force Frame." ration area in Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA." Mary Whitney will be presenting a poster on Dr. TJ Meehan presented at the Darwins Reach "Calculating Carbon Sinks for Campus Trees" at the Conference at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY on NACUBO (National Association of College and Uni"Multiple Evolutionary Events as Evidence for the versity Business Officers) Smart and Sustainable Power of Natural Selection and Global Climatic Cy- Campuses conference April 5-7, 2009 in College Park, cles." The conference was wonderful in having many MD.

More Publications by Chatham's Science Faculty

Dr. Ron Lombard and Dr. Barbara Biglan just had a paper accepted for publication entitled "Implications of Role Play and Team Teaching as Strategies for Information Technology Pedagogy." The article will appear in the April 2009 issue of Information Systems Education Journal (ISEDJ). Dr. TJ Meehan has a paper in press in the journal Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie entitled "New Leptictids (Mammalia: Insectivora) from the Early Oligocene of Nebraska, USA," which describes a new genus of an extinct, hopping insectivore the size of a small rabbit. Leptictids are convergent (look similar due to adapting to the same lifestyle, as opposed to being related) to the living elephant "shrews" of Africa.

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Dr. Simonetta Frittelli, an astrophysicist and associate professor of physics at Duquesne University, gave a seminar, "Cosmic Time Scales," on Friday, March 06, 2009. Dr. Fritelli discussed how the age of the Earth has been determined to be 4.5 billion years old by radiometric dating of meteorite samples that have hit the Earth, forming craters. Meteorites are the best samples since the sample needs to not have been disturbed since the Earth was formed. Dr. Fritelli also discussed how the age of the universe is determined from data about the amount of matter and dark energy present in the universe, as well as the expansion rate of the universe. The amount of matter in the universe is determined by gravitational lensing or bending of light from distant galaxies around the matter in the universe to the observer on Earth. The expansion

Vol. 2, No. 4, April 2009


Science Seminars:

Cosmic Time Scales

rate and amount of dark energy in the universe can be determined by either by data from a supernova of a distant galaxy or the current ,,glow of microwave radiation in the universe due to the big bang. All of this data has been combined to determine the age of the universe to be 13.7 ± 0.13 billion years. The universe needs to be significantly older than the planets and stars in our solar system; to allow for the life and death of previous stars that contributed to matter necessary to form the current planets and stars.

Recognition of double Helical B-DNA through Direct Watson-Crick Base Pairing

Dr. Danith Ly, assistant professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, presented a science seminar on Thursday, March 26, 2009. His research focuses on developing molecular tools that can help scientists understand and treat genetic diseases. Dr. Ly talked about current research efforts focused on determining whether Watson-Crick basepairing can be established with intact, double helical B-form DNA. He is working on developing an artificially synthesized polymer, peptide nucleic acid (PNA), which can strongly bind to specific double stranded DNA sequences.

COMING NEXT ISSUE: More senior bios

Editor: Dr. Christy Heid To suggest articles for future issues or for general inquiries, please contact [email protected]


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