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b2ap3_thumbnail_4-4-ACS-Conference.jpgFour Waynesburg University students presented abstracts at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition in San Diego, Calif., in March 2016.

“The benefits of attending national conferences are both varied and extensive,” said Evonne Baldauff, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the Chemistry and Forensic Science Department. “Students gain experience presenting their research thus improving their communication skills and providing them a sense of ownership of their work in the lab.”

Trenton Bromenschenkel, senior biochemistry major, presented an abstract that focused on finding easy ways to remove ethanol from small engines using molecular sieves. He studied how effective the sieves were with multiple extractions along with their saturation limits.

“I didn’t realize how many students like me are conducting research across the nation,” said Bromenschenkel. “I also learned about new developments in the biomedical research field. There are some very innovative scientists performing research.”

Cassandra Gates, senior biochemistry major, shared her abstract that focused on the chemical analysis of coffee to predict quality and balance. Her research was conducted through a variety of analytical techniques by testing both beans and coffee in brewed form.

“My coursework at Waynesburg has provided me with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform my research and present,” said Gates. “I would not have been able to comprehend and think critically about the research of others without the chemistry knowledge I received from my classes.”

Brian Karns, senior forensic science major, focused on how crime scene reconstruction of shootings could benefit from data collected from trace materials on recovered bullets or the terminal ballistic pathway. In his study, full-metal jacket, soft-point and hollow-point 9 mm rounds were fired through common structural materials and their paths were terminated in ballistic gelatin.

“In addition to the lectures, I had the opportunity to meet a few people in my field and network, which will hopefully benefit me as I begin looking for a job,” said Karns.

Jelena Kyle, senior forensic science major, conducted research on the vast number of compounds in a single cup of coffee which include thirteen key aroma compounds. She used a headspace-solid phase micro-extraction technique along with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to characterize the compounds, in addition to the variable of time.

“It was really great meeting chemists from all over the world,” said Kyle. “I even received a job offer when I was presenting my poster, which was pretty cool.”

A conference such as the ACS National Meeting and Exposition also provides students with the opportunities to attend research presentations, networking seminars, graduate school recruitment events and career development workshops.

ACS is a congressionally independent membership organization which represents professionals at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry and sciences that involve chemistry.

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, Assistant Director of University Relations

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b2ap3_thumbnail_3-31-PITTCON.JPGChelsie Gaton, a senior forensic science major at Waynesburg University, and Trenton Bromenschenkel, a senior biochemistry major at Waynesburg University, recently served as student aides at the PITTCON Conference and Exposition for Laboratory Science in Atlanta, Ga.

Gaton and Bromenschenkel were involved with judging and managing poster sessions. They worked on the program committee and were responsible for set-up tasks such as signage and technology for presentation sessions, in addition to being greeters. Gaton also spent time serving on the registration committee.

“PITTCON is several things, but it is primarily a trade show for instrumental chemists,” said Bromenschenkel. “Those in device manufacturing are able to show off their new products and connect with new customers while those in the commercial industry are able to network and learn the latest advancements.”

Networking with scientists in the field from all over the world is a great benefit to college students who attend PITTCON.

“The people I made connections with gave me great advice about job searching that I will be able to utilize,” said Gaton. “I was also given different opportunities at the conference to utilize new science equipment being developed, such as micropipettes and pH probes.”

Both students agree that their prior coursework at Waynesburg was valuable in preparing them to participate at the conference.

“The instrumental class I took at Waynesburg helped me understand the technical side of the instrumentals at the show,” said Bromenschenkel. “I also attended a lecture by a Nobel Prize in chemistry winner and had no problem understanding the material, which is a testament to the quality of education I am receiving.”

“I learned a great deal of new information and I am able to understand the concepts,” said Gaton. “I will also encourage others at Waynesburg to attend the conference in the future.”

The conference and exposition hosts approximately 16,000 attendees from over 90 countries and hosts a wide variety of constituencies from life sciences, pharmaceutical discovery and QA, food safety, environmental, bioterrorism and other emerging markets.

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, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or

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Posted by on in Alumni

Guided and influenced by more than seven years of experiences on the campus of Waynesburg University, Alison Chasko has achieved her goal of being a part of something bigger and more meaningful than a successful business.

Chasko currently serves as a Mission Support Analyst for the FBI, reporting directly to the Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Division (the territory covering all of Colorado and Wyoming). Responsible for improving the overall function of the organization, Chasko works to identify, analyze and resolve issues related to the operations of the FBI field offices. Her research and study of inefficiencies ultimately lead to recommendations that result in solutions and measurable improvements within the organization as a whole.

“It’s not about making money for a company, but having a greater purpose,” she said. “The people and the mission of the FBI motivate me to be a better employee. By seeing them risk their lives and devote so much time to doing what they do, I want to be better so I can alleviate administrative burdens to agents and so that I can demonstrate their needs through quantitative evidence and reports back to headquarters.”

For Chasko, teaching science was a possibility, working for a federal agency was a goal, but the opportunity to work specifically for the FBI became her dream.

Living her dream, Chasko, a 2007 forensic science alumna and a 2009 graduate of the University’s Master of Education Program, is grateful to be a part of the reputation and mission of the FBI.

Chasko’s position is one of only six in the Bureau, and is part of a pilot program initiated this spring. Eventually, one mission support analyst will be found in each of the 56 field offices across the nation.
Ironically, her daily responsibilities perfectly mirror some of the most meaningful lessons learned throughout her undergraduate and graduate education at Waynesburg University.

“Both educational experiences provided me with professors and mentors who had high expectations of me. They provided enough guidance, but pushed for me to think critically and analyze a topic, which in the long run, built up my confidence [in my abilities],” she said.

In addition to the confidence and knowledge gained at Waynesburg University, Chasko credits her mentors and criminal justice faculty members for preparing her for the transition to the professional world.

“The Criminal Justice Department’s faculty consisted of some of the best mentors a young adult could ask for,” she said. “Dr. Baer, Detective Jack and Mr. McIlwain truly knew how to inspire and help develop strong work ethic with attention to detail. Each of them had their own teaching style with high standards, but as a student you knew that they cared about your learning. They took the time to make sure you understood the material, helped guide you through your career goals, and really prepared you to transition from college to the workforce.”

Even more important than life lessons including time management, articulating ideas to various audiences and recognizing that everyone doesn’t learn or understand information in the same manner; Chasko said her college experiences such as participating in mission trips and being empowered to be the change in the world by teachers and mentors, truly shaped her as a person.

“As much as college is meant for earning the degree, I think the person I have become is very much related to the experiences I received at Waynesburg University. I could have attended numerous universities and received the same degree, but I would not have received the experiences or mentors that Waynesburg offered.”

Writers Note - Faculty members mentioned above are as follows:

Dr. Dana Baer, professor of criminal justice
Adam Jack, assistant professor of criminal justice and chair, criminal justice and social science
John  McIlwain, retired professor of criminal justice 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_imagerrrr.jpgWaynesburg University’s Criminal Justice Club participated in the Pittsburgh Polar Bear Plunge at Heinz Field Saturday, Dec. 6, to raise money for Special Olympics. 

Approximately 20 students joined Waynesburg University instructor of criminal justice James Tanda in the plunge. The Criminal Justice Club raised more than $1,500 leading up to the event. This was the second year that the club participated. In two years, the club has raised more than $2,500. 

The Pittsburgh Polar Bear Plunge Weekend is Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s largest fundraiser, grossing more than 1 million dollars during the first four years. Individuals and teams, alongside Special Olympics athletes, take the plunge into the Ohio River on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. 

Student representatives from freshmen to seniors gave up their Saturday to join more than 1,800 other plungers in the freezing rain for the cause. This year, the air temperature was 39 degrees and the water temperature was 38 degrees at the time of the plunge.

“Our goal was to follow the University's mission of service to this very needy cause while also connecting our criminal justice and forensic science students to a network of law enforcement, attorneys, federal agencies and others in the profession,” said Tanda.   “This year's donation will be used to help further the mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania and help support the more than 20,000 athletes served in the commonwealth.”

According to Tanda, half of the money raised by Waynesburg’s Criminal Justice Club will go directly to Greene County's Special Olympics program, which Waynesburg's Criminal Justice Club resurrected last year.

Tanda has plunged every year since the event’s inception - both as an agent with his former federal agency - and now leading Waynesburg's involvement in the service project.

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor

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Posted by on in Internships

Jessica Lukowich, senior forensic science major

Medical technician intern at UPMC Hamot Medical Laboratory in Erie, Pa. 

Students in laboratory classes at Waynesburg University conduct research and experiments with some of the most advanced science technology and tools available. For Jessica Lukowich, gaining experience in these labs helped her find her passion as well as an internship last summer. 

The senior forensic science major worked at UPMC Hamot Medical Laboratory in Erie, Pa., as a medical technician intern where she observed and assisted in a variety of labs including blood bank, chemistry, coagulation, hematology, histology, phlebotomy and urinalysis. 

In addition, she assisted in an autopsy, prepared slides with patients’ blood samples, prepared tissue samples for analysis, learned to type and screen blood types, loaded samples onto analysis instruments, learned to interpret results and assisted with quality assurance checks. 

While in the lab, Lukowich said she felt like she helped make a difference because doctors relied on the results from her tests to determine the best treatment for their patients. She added that through Waynesburg classes and her internship, she has seen growth in her knowledge as well as her determination to succeed. 

“I want to work in some type of biology or chemistry lab when I graduate from Waynesburg,” said Lukowich. “Having experience with lab procedures in class and seeing how they operate really drew me to this internship.”


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