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b2ap3_thumbnail_Walking-Trail-New.jpgWaynesburg University recently received a $20,000 grant from the EQT Foundation to fund the Waynesburg University Urban Forest and Walking Trail project.

“The EQT Foundation is pleased to partner with Waynesburg on the development of this natural resource for both the University and the community at-large,” said Charlene Petrelli, EQT Foundation President. “EQT is committed to developing natural gas responsibly in order to protect the environment and preserve the area’s natural beauty.  This trail will create an inviting space on campus that will educate our region’s students, and connect them with the environment in a way they haven’t experienced on campus before.”

The Waynesburg University Urban Forest and Walking 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.

“The Waynesburg University Urban Forest and Walking Trail will provide educational opportunities for University students, K-12 students in the borough and community members to have a place to enjoy nature while learning about natural species and restored ecosystems,” said Dr. Janet Paladino, assistant professor of biology.

Funds from the grant will help provide an outdoor classroom; construction of a foot bridge along the walking trail; the clearing of invasive species, undesirable vegetation and debris; signage for the development of a 0.5 mile interpretative trail; walking trail improvements and additions; bird feeders; additional native trees and vegetation; and student internships.

The University’s goal is for the forest and walking trail area to be a place for students to learn, research and spend time with nature, while also offering the greater Waynesburg community the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate nature in an urban setting.

“This project provides a chance for the University and the community to work together to create a valuable resource for both educational and recreational opportunities in a forest ecosystem,” said Paladino.

About the EQT Foundation: EQT Corporation and the EQT Foundation are committed to the social and economic vitality of our operating regions. For more than the past decade, the EQT Foundation has made a difference by supporting local programs and initiatives that involve education, community and economic development, the arts, and the environment. Together with a variety of non-profit organizations, the EQT Foundation develops strong partnerships that enrich the diversity and viability of our communities, sustain the principles of continuous learning, and focus on environmental protection efforts.

About Waynesburg University: 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

 

Tagged in: biology news grants
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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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b2ap3_thumbnail_3-8Wayne-Rossiter.jpgDr. Wayne Rossiter, assistant professor of biology at Waynesburg University, recently released his latest book, “Mind Over Matter: The Necessity of Metaphysics in a Material World.” 

“Today, Christians are routinely mocked and ridiculed as being ignorant and out of step with modern science and philosophy,” said Rossiter. “This book offers a defense against these charges by offering sound responses to the most common arguments mounted against faith in God.”

The book provides a practical and easy-to-use guide for anyone looking to respond to the toughest and most common objections to religious faith. 

Rossiter’s new book, in addition to a previous book, “Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God,” have provided Rossiter with the opportunity to be a guest on multiple podcast shows discussing the ideas behind his publications.

He recently participated in a series of podcasts on “ID the Future” and Tom Wheaton’s “The University Next Door,” as well as an interview on WORD-FM in Pittsburgh, Pa. He anticipates appearances on Greg Koukl’s “Stand to Reason” and David Wheaton’s “The Chrisitian Worldview” in the near future.

“I think it’s just fun to see how others in your field have interpreted your work, and the sorts of questions or concerns they have,” said Rossiter.

Rossiter has also been invited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania’s Erie campus and 2016 Christian Scientific Society conference. Additionally, he has been contacted by a parochial school in Philadelphia, Pa., about their interest in using his latest book on a large scale, and a minister in Malawi who thanked him for the book and has asked for his help in their mission field.

Rossiter believes the 18 to 34 year-old group is the most engaged in the issues like the ones covered in his book, which is why he feels his work can benefit Waynesburg University students. 

Rossiter received his B.S. from Otterbein University, his M.S. from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Posted by on in Internships

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rachel-N_20150806-182248_1.jpgUpon her arrival at her internship in an unfamiliar jungle located in a foreign country, Rachel Narasimhan, as one might expect, felt a bit homesick. However, she received comfort from an unlikely source, in the form a baby howler monkey named Stevie. After that moment, she never looked back.

This summer, the Waynesburg University senior biology major spent a month as an intern at Aloutta Sanctuary, a rehabilitation and research center located on the Chiriqui Peninsula of Panama, observing and working with monkeys like Stevie. During her time at the sanctuary, she was able to work with many different types of monkeys, including two capuchins, two Geoffrey’s Tamarins and two baby howlers.

While there, Narasimhan was provided with many opportunities to interact with and observe these monkeys, taking on responsibilities such as providing enrichment for them and watching and recording any behaviors they might exhibit that are typical to monkeys in captivity. Each day, she spent nearly an hour documenting howler behavior in order to compile an ethogram, an inventory of every behavior exhibited by the howlers during the period of time in question. It was through observations such as these that she learned how to read and interpret their facial expressions and body language, so as to improve her interactions with the monkeys.

“It is one thing to see them in photographs and to learn about their behavior in a textbook, but nothing compares to seeing it in person,” Narasimhan said.

She was also able to bond with these animals through activities such as grooming sessions and cuddling with the babies. To prevent the monkeys from becoming bored, the interns often rearranged the branches in their enclosure or hid food in interesting places for them to find, tasks fun for both the monkeys and the staff.

In addition to working with the monkeys, Narasimhan spent time studying the effects of teak harvesting in a local teak plantation on the animals that live there. Despite being profitable, teak plantations are often devastating to local mammal populations. However, she found that through collecting the teak in a way that leaves the understory rather than completely removing it, the plantation will be more sustainable.

“Conservation and sustainability are the reason for all of our work at Aloutta, and I [enjoyed] learning about how to make the world a better place, one step at a time,” Narasimhan said.

Narasimhan feels as though she was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend part of her summer at the Aloutta Sanctuary. The experience has showed her how much she enjoys working with animals. Upon graduation from Waynesburg University with a major in biology and a minor in psychology, she hopes to be able to continue doing the type of work she experienced during her time in Panama.

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