Wednesday, July 2, 2014

STEMing ahead of the learning curve

As a former zoology major and biology professor, I naturally have a strong enthusiasm for science and science education on all levels. As a university administrator and president, I have witnessed the steadily growing influence technology, engineering and mathematics have had on higher education.

When there’s opportunity to blend them together into one initiative, it’s an opportunity we can’t pass up. Research, statistics and resulting media coverage highlight the benefits of early exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics for students.

The STEM movement has even grabbed the attention of the federal government, which allocated $3.1 billion into promoting STEM education in its 2014 budget.

And I’m proud to say Bloomsburg University is staying ahead of the curve.

From courses in human biology to object-oriented Java programming to calculus, our College of Science and Technology’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Magnet high school program recently capped its first year.

Nearly 20 students from Berwick, Bloomsburg and Central Columbia high schools got a taste of higher education while earning college credits by completing STEM courses on campus this past fall and spring semesters.

The program will grow in the coming academic year, adding students from Benton, Danville, Millville and Southern Columbia school districts, along with Columbia-Montour Area Vocational Technical School, and introducing a new health care track to go along with the original engineering focus.

Why STEM at BU?

Recognizing the growing need for college graduates in science, health science, technology, engineering and mathematics, our university established a regional math and science education center last summer to support a wide range of programming focused on:
  • STEM pipeline development (K-12)
  • professional development of teachers in collaboration with regional districts
  • cutting-edge research in STEM education
  • innovative college programs based on proven strategies that produce graduates prepared for success in the STEM fields
The STEM Magnet program not only strengthens our connection to neighboring communities and partnerships with regional school districts, it serves as another example of Bloomsburg’s commitment to creating a competitive and influential learning environment. And success with STEM will surely serve as a catalyst for other targeted educational areas, like applied humanities and teacher education. This is just the first step.

#FutureHusky #CollaborativeLearning

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bridging the gap between spring and fall

After a brutally cold winter, the rising temperatures of late spring have been a rewarding start to our summer session on campus. Outside of the classroom, it’s time for the beach, swimming pools, music festivals and amusement parks – an opportunity to unwind after a busy and productive school year.

And that includes my wife, Robbie, and me. We recently enjoyed a wonderful trip to visit our younger son, his wife and our only grandson in Hawaii.

Taking a breather from higher education is not the case for everyone and, of course, Bloomsburg University does not shut down after graduation. Many students and faculty put their vacation plans on hold to continue the momentum from the spring semester through on- and off-campus research, internships and study abroad experiences.

For example, two of our faculty will be conducting research with international colleagues as Fulbright Scholars, a prestigious award granted through a highly competitive, merited-based program.

Michael Hickey, professor of history, is spending this summer in Russia continuing his archival research on local Jewish history among other scholarly activities at Smolenski State University.

Mehdi Razzaghi, professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, will spend this coming academic year researching statistics problems in developmental toxicology while teaching a graduate course at the University of Warsaw in Poland.

Other university-sponsored faculty research this summer will be pursued in such disciplines as psychology, instructional technology, biology, history and physics.

Faculty often mentor students in summer research. Thirty students had projects accepted for the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity program.

Among the research topics are:
  • comparing the human experience in Cameroon, Africa, to Juniata Country, Pa.
  • construction and characterization of a fiber-coupled laser
  • impacts of cochlear implants
  • implementing clothesline stories into skilled nursing facilities
  • impact of international trade on rising income inequality

In addition to our very successful URSCA program, students also land opportunities through individual scholarship and research programs. Jocelyn Legere, a chemistry major, is one of them.

She will be working on a nanotechnology project at Yale University to see if carbon dioxide can be turned into useful products or even an energy source as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program at Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The summer program will also focus on graduate-level research and methods of professional research.

Research is just one way our students are adding to their resumes this summer.

Many others are tapping into their adventurous side through a variety of study abroad and field experiences, such as an archaeological dig in Ohio, exploring the rainforest in Nicaragua and immersing themselves in the cultures of Argentina, Cameroon, Chile and Spain.

It doesn’t end there. Summer is a prime time to undertake an internship, and we have plenty of Huskies out getting their first taste of the real world. Among the variety of placements include Seventeen Magazine, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, PPL Susuehanna, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.

What do you have planned this summer? Tell us. Better yet, show us on your favorite social media network using #HuskySummer.