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Celine Colbert, urban service forester with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, will present an educational seminar on urban forests Thursday, Oct. 27, at noon, in the Center for Research and Economic Development on Waynesburg University’s campus.

“During my talk, I will dive into the many values of urban forests to emphasize why the urban forest trail project is so valuable to the University,” said Colbert. “I will also discuss Environmental Stewardship and its importance in urban forestry.”

Following her presentation, Colbert will spend time providing an evaluation of the newly renovated Waynesburg University Urban Forest and Walking Trail, which was funded by a recent $20,000 grant from the EQT Foundation.

The urban forest trail consists of approximately 2 square miles, including 1.5 miles of walking trails and wooded areas that will be preserved for student research and environmental restoration.

Colbert is hopeful her visit will help share the importance of urban forestry.

“Urban forests provide vast benefits from improved mental and physical health to storm water retention to thriving economies and so much more,” she said. “Many studies have proven that healthier trees are correlated with healthier and happier people.”

For more information about the seminar or Waynesburg’s urban forest trail, contact Dr. Janet Paladino, assistant professor of biology, at 724-852-3281 or jpaladin@waynesburg.edu.

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Associate Director of University Relations

724-852-7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Posted by on in Alumni

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ashley-Franczyk.JPGWith a passion for clinical medicine, recent graduate Ashley Franczyk is now attending Marietta College’s Physician Assistant Program, where she will earn her Master of Science in physician assistant studies.

Franczyk began her program in June 2016 in Marietta, Ohio, where she is striving toward her ultimate goal of becoming a pediatric oncology physician assistant.

“My future goal is to not only become an excellent healthcare professional, but to impact and educate my patients to live healthy lives,” said Franczyk.

Looking back at her time at Waynesburg, Franczyk credits the Department of Biology, Environmental Science and Athletic Training, along with the challenging courses for preparing her for graduate school. Additionally, she speaks highly of the influence faculty and staff at Waynesburg have had on her.

“Dr. Hamilton was a tremendous influence on me; his human physiology course allowed me to discover my passion for medicine, the human body and the physiological responses of the body to disease,” said Franczyk. “Jane Owen was also not only an excellent mentor to me throughout my four years at Waynesburg, but also a great friend to me. Without her support, I would not be as successful as I am today.”

Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and serving helped guide Franczyk’s undergraduate experience. After she participated in medical study abroad trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, she came to the realization that patient care and clinical medicine was the path she wanted to take.

“Throughout my career and life, I will always practice these values and remember where they were instilled in me, which was at Waynesburg University,” said Franczyk.

Franczyk said she was challenged and that allowed her to push herself academically in ways she never experienced prior to attending Waynesburg. She noted that challenging courses made her an extremely dedicated and hard worker in her academics pursuits.

“Physician Assistant school is tremendously rigorous, and the education I received at Waynesburg has prepared me for this next chapter of my education,” said Franczyk. “I am so blessed and honored to have attended Waynesburg University and I will always remember the faith and service I have learned there and will apply it to my profession throughout my life.”

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Two Waynesburg University students traveled this summer from their hometowns in Western Pennsylvania to intern at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Both had the opportunity to serve as undergraduate researchers in graduate student laboratories, though in different areas.

Junior Emily Ankrom, a biology major at Waynesburg, worked in the R.B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry, which focuses on DNA nanotechnology.

Ankrom, with the help of a graduate student mentor, spent the summer researching how to visualize DNA liquid crystals. While Ankrom’s classes at Waynesburg significantly helped her understand scientific research concepts, she had little experience with DNA nanotechnology, which she said was one of the biggest difficulties of the internship.

“It was challenging right off the bat to enter into a research lab that focused on subject material almost completely foreign to me,” said Ankrom. “I had to spend quite a lot of time on my own, researching background information and reading scientific papers to understand what I would be doing.”

Thankfully, Ankrom had graduate students in the lab with her to mentor and guide her work. She loved being able to see firsthand how much Purdue’s graduate students and professors love what they do.

Ankrom is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Biology Club at Waynesburg. Other students in those organizations showed her how valuable an undergraduate research position could be and helped her apply. Now that she has research experience under her belt, Ankrom has solidified her aspirations to go to graduate school after Waynesburg.

“Before this research internship, I had no clue what grad school was like,” said Ankrom. “Being able to peer into the landscape of graduate school research has helped me visualize the journey I will be embarking on.”

Sophomore Lauren Petrina also secured a position as an undergraduate researcher at Purdue, but she was placed in a different lab than Ankrom. An engineering-chemistry major, Petrina worked in Professor Hilkka Kenttamaa’s lab, specializing in understanding crude oil.

Petrina entered into her research internship at Purdue just after her freshman year at Waynesburg, an unusual circumstance. Waynesburg professors in charge of the American Chemical Society, of which Petrina is a member, encouraged her to apply, though they warned her that freshmen usually don’t get accepted.

But a few months later, Petrina was in a lab with graduate students, getting more hands-on experience than she ever expected.

“I thought I was just going to be an assistant to the graduate students – that is not the case at all,” said Petrina. “I was able to ask questions, contribute my thoughts and feedback and even make suggestions.”

Petrina’s research included analyzing heavy crude oil to understand whether it can be converted to light crude oil, which is used in cars. Supplies of light crude oil have been depleted, so petroleum companies work with labs like Petrina’s to discover whether heavy crude oil is useful. Petrina said she would not have been able to complete her work without having taken Waynesburg’s organic and inorganic chemistry classes.

Like Ankrom, Petrina said the passion of the graduate students in her lab was evident, and she is grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

“If I decide to go to graduate school, I will already be ahead of the game because I will have had experience in a graduate laboratory,” said Petrina. “All of the knowledge I gained through this internship will be useful for the rest of my life.”

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Posted by on in Alumni

Recent biology graduate Andrya Durr knew that she wanted to pursue a career in biology from the time she was in seventh grade.

With a passion for medicine, Durr wants to dedicate her life to helping people with their health issues because of what she has experienced in her own life.

“My mother has a combination of Addison’s disease and Fibromyalgia,” she said. “My long-term goal is to find an effective, steroid-free treatment for Addison’s patients.”

Accepted into the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at West Virginia University for the fall of 2016, she will be conducting research in four-week lab rotations that will expose her to different types of experiments, ultimately selecting a specific lab and research project for her program.

As a student at Waynesburg, Durr said she was prepared with the knowledge that she needed to further her education in biology. Durr credits the research requirement for allowing her to prepare and run her own experiments. She also recognizes her professors for helping her decide what she wanted to pursue after completing her undergraduate degree.

Dr. Chad Sethman was Durr’s mentor throughout her four years at Waynesburg and was always available to answer questions and provide assistance. Durr’s research mentor was Dr. Wayne Rossiter, whom she speaks very highly of as well.

“When I started my research project, I was preparing for medical school, but once I completed my first semester with [Dr. Rossiter], I cancelled my Medical College Admission Test, signed up for the Graduate Record Examinations and applied to the research program at West Virginia University,” said Durr.

In the research field, it is of utmost importance to work with integrity, which Durr said she learned at Waynesburg.

“My education at Waynesburg has made me more honest and humble as a person,” said Durr. “It has always been difficult for people to combine faith and science, but Waynesburg helped me to do it perfectly.”

Durr said that she has wanted to create positive change for people her entire life, and through the biomedical sciences program, she is going to have a career she is proud of, but most importantly, she will be doing work that serves others.

“Waynesburg shaped me as a person by encouraging me to explore and to never be afraid of taking chances,” said Durr. “If you always do what makes you comfortable, you’ll never see your full potential.”

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Posted by on in Internships

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ansley-Thomas.JPGThis summer, Ansley Thomas is preparing for a future as a college professor by immersing herself in college education research. Thomas, a senior biology major, is participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Georgia.

“My favorite experience is being here surrounded by people who are passionate about teaching undergraduates and who demonstrate how invested and proactive they are about their teaching,” said Thomas.

Thomas is working side-by-side with Dr. Tessa Andrews, assistant professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, and Kelly Lane, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, on investigating the professional identities of graduate students.

“Specifically, we are interested in how they [graduate students] develop and what they look like when they do,” said Thomas. “I help mainly with data collection by finalizing the transcripts from our interviews and assisting with qualitative analysis coding.”

One of the most challenging aspects of Thomas’ work has been gaining familiarity and comfort with the qualitative data, which she shared, and is different from typical bench work in the way that it is handled, collected, analyzed and written. Fortunately, her coursework at Waynesburg has been helpful in providing her with a solid starting point.

“All of the biology courses I have taken give critical background knowledge for this kind of research,” said Thomas.

Thomas is thankful for the opportunity to be surrounded by the biology education researchers at the University of Georgia. The type of education research they are conducting is different than any work she has experienced in the past.

“Having research experience opens you up to the community of research as a whole and to the process of research,” said Thomas. “Acquiring that skill or knowledge is useful regardless of your future plans.”

Being that this experience has related so well to Thomas’ career goals, she feels confident that she is in a strong position to make them a reality.

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