Allegheny News and Events

Zingale Big Idea Competition Expands to Include Track for Area Residents Seeking Business Funding

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College has introduced a new opportunity for area residents to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes by presenting their ideas for a business or nonprofit based in Crawford County.

The college’s Zingale Big Idea Competition will expand this year to include a track for non-student residents of Crawford County. This funding-request presentation contest emulates the experiences seen on the popular ABC and CNBC broadcast “Shark Tank.” As in prior years, the competition will also be open to Allegheny students and visiting college students. The competition is scheduled for April 24–25, 2020.

“When Allegheny President Hilary Link suggested that we expand the Zingale Big Idea Competition this year to include Crawford County residents, I was immediately excited by the idea and its potential for both the college and the community,” said Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Allegheny Department of Economics. “We think of the competition as ‘Shark Tank’ with a heart. Our judges not only evaluate competitors’ business plans but also provide them with constructive feedback, coaching and encouragement.”

Advance registration is required for the Zingale Big Idea Competition, and three workshops are scheduled to help participants prepare for the competition. The workshops are open to Allegheny students and community members interested in participating in the Crawford County community track.

The workshops are scheduled for 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. in the college’s Quigley Hall on:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4, Workshop No. 1:  Developing Your Big Idea (register by Feb. 3)
  • Thursday, Feb. 20, Workshop No. 2:  Financial & Marketing Plans (register by Feb. 19)
  • Tuesday, March 24, Workshop No. 3: Pitching Your Idea (register by March 23)

To register for the workshops or to receive more information, contact Sarah Holt, event co-coordinator, at sholt@allegheny.edu. Individuals who are unable to participate in the workshops should contact Holt for more information about participating in the competition.

The Zingale Big Idea Competition is supported by Lance Zingale, a 1977 Allegheny graduate, and Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Professor Helps Explore the Economics of Nutrition

Everyone thinks like an economist about food. They just don’t necessarily know it, says Amelia Finaret, assistant professor of global health studies at Allegheny College.

The economics of nutrition is not just about how much consumers spend on certain types of food, she adds. “It’s a lot broader than people think. It’s not only about finances, although that certainly is one aspect. It also involves how people make decisions about allocating scarce resources such as time, energy and land.

“The economics of nutrition combines nutrition science with the social science of nutrition — how people make tough decisions about what they’re going to eat and when and how it affects their bodies,” says Finaret.

In 2019, Finaret published an article, “Beyond Calories: The New Economics of Nutrition,” in the Annual Review of Resource Economics with co-author William A. Masters, Ph.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Department of Economics at Tufts University. The article is a review of the scholarly literature that explores fundamental aspects of human well-being and sustainable development.

Amelia Finaret at the supermarket
“The challenge is now to make a high-quality diet available to all,” says Allegheny College Professor Amelia Finaret. (Photos by Ed Mailliard)

The professors have gone through publicly available data and literature in nutrition economics to consider their implications for food policy around the world. “This is a new field,” says Finaret, “trying to help solve intractable nutrition problems in our world. There is plenty of food in the world. The issues, though, include quality of diet, avoiding contaminants and keeping the food supply safe from food-borne diseases. The challenge is now to make a high-quality diet available to all. Poor quality diets disproportionately affect the poor, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

One of the keys to improved nutrition for all will be loosening some of the constraints, including time and income, on individuals and families as they make choices about what they’re going to eat, says Finaret. There is “no one right way” to eat, she says, “because people’s preferences matter. People are doing the best they can given their circumstances. Economics is very non-judgmental. There has to be acknowledgment that there are many constraints on people’s eating decisions.”

The “Beyond Calories” article draws three main conclusions:

* Nutrition research can benefit from economic explanations of individual behavior and societal outcomes, just as economics research can benefit from nutrition science to understand the causes and consequences of dietary intake.

* That for most of history, food economics was concerned mainly with feeding people, given widespread hunger and poverty. That focus has now shifted to exploring how excess consumption is impacting health, leading to a rise in obesity and diet-related metabolic conditions, and what can be done to educate people about their diets and keeping agriculture and food production sustainable and safe.

* There is great potential for future collaboration among economists and nutritionists to make these improvements using new data and new methods to solve a wide range of diet-related problems around the world.

The factors that impact the way people make food choices are complicated and hard to measure, Finaret says.

Poor diet quality has long been the greatest avoidable cause of death and disability, first through infectious diseases, especially in childhood, and more recently with diets contributing to more adult issues with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease, the article states. “A second set of concerns about human nutrition is environmental, given that food production is the largest single contributor to natural resource use, pollution and especially carbon emissions. Climate change and other environmental factors affect food supplies, through long-term trends and more frequent extremes such as droughts and floods,” according to the article.

How much or how little people know about their nutritional needs can affect how they eat, but other practical factors also figure in those decisions, says Finaret. For instance, people may choose more unhealthy foods because they simply taste better or are quicker to consume. Or the social groups we associate with may impact our food selections. Or a lack of time to prepare meals. Then there is always the giant hand of corporate food marketing stirring up dietary preferences.

The professors’ research shows that in the United States, “healthier dietary patterns have been estimated to cost approximately $1.50 per day more than less-healthy dietary patterns.”

Through all this, the economics of nutrition tries to be nonjudgmental, says Finaret. “People can and should do what they want; it just comes down to how best to loosen the constraints that people face in making food decisions,” she says.

Finaret’s simple advice for choosing the food you consume is to 1) enjoy eating so that the first bite and the last bite (whether it is the 50th or 100th bite) is pleasurable. In other words, when what you’re eating starts to lose some of its appealing taste, it’s time to put down the fork or close the bag of pretzels; 2) develop a routine so that you don’t have to make decisions all the time, such as weekly or monthly meal plans, optimizing your time available to shop and prepare meals, and how much money you’re able to spend at the grocery store; and 3) avoid extremes — “eat a diverse diet in line with your energy needs.”

Editor’s Note
This year, Finaret and Masters will be writing a textbook, “Food Economics: From Agriculture to Nutrition and Health.” The textbook will be accessible to anyone interested in understanding the economics of food, and understanding the book will not require previous training in economics. The book is geared in particular toward pre-health and pre-nutrition professionals, who would be able to incorporate economic thinking into their professional and research lives.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Students Compete at College’s Inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College hosted its inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, with 16 teams of Allegheny students presenting personal financial budgets and investing plans. The winning teams, which together will receive $5,000 in prizes and trophies, were:

First Place (three-way tie)
• Pass/Go, Collect 200 Dollars (Sharlyne Cabral, Nicolas Marrero, Rachael Hensel and Hailey Shull)
• Just Throw it in the Bag (Daniella Clarke)
• JLZ-Fund (Jerfenson Cerda Mejia, Liam Wilby and Zachary Zoll)

Second Place (tie)
• Risky Business (Samantha Medaglia, Jacob Simmons, Bree Garcia and Ariana Villavicencio)
• The Smart Savers (Kayla McCandless, Rebecca Montgomery and Kamryn Randall)

Third Place (tie)
• Forward Thinking (Adam Cook and Devin Ho)
• Sustainable Development Goals (Maura McCampbell)

The 2019 Financial Literacy Challenge judges, from left: Donald Belt, Janine Sickafuse, Toni Frisina, Devone McLeod, Susan Wycoff and Sean Ward.

The students shared their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges evaluated the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and provided feedback to students on how they could refine and improve their plans. The judges for this year’s competition were:

  • Donald M. Belt, a 1993 Allegheny graduate and president at Hefren-Tillotson, Inc.
  • Toni Frisina, senior vice president and regional manager at Northwest Advisors (Northwest Bank)
  • Devone McLeod, a 2013 Allegheny graduate and certified financial planner at Reby Advisors
  • Janine Sickafuse, retired Allegheny accounting/economics professor
  • Sean Ward, a 1989 Allegheny graduate and partner at Blue Point Capital Partners, a global private equity firm
  • Susan Wycoff, a 1974 Allegheny graduate and retired vice president and relationship strategist at PNC Wealth Management

The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.

For more information about the Financial Literacy Challenge, visit the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics website.

Pictured Above
First-place winners of the inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge, from left: Nicolas Marrero, Sharlyne Cabral, Hailey Shull, Daniella Clarke, Liam Wilby and Jerfenson Cerda Mejia. Not pictured: Rachael Hensel and Zachary Zoll.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College to Host Inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge

Financial Literacy ChallengeForty-six Allegheny College students will participate in the college’s inaugural Financial Literacy Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 7, presenting a personal financial budget and investing plan appropriate for a recent college graduate. The event, which will award $5,000 in trophies and prizes, is sponsored by the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny.

The students, representing 20 teams, will share their plans with a panel of six judges, each with extensive experience in the financial industry. The judges will evaluate the plans according to the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) criteria for excellence in financial planning and will offer feedback to students on how they can refine and improve their plans. The competition’s awards ceremony is open to the public and will take place at 2 p.m. in Henderson Auditorium in Quigley Hall on the Allegheny campus.

Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the Economics Department, said the Financial Literacy Challenge supports a strategic goal of the Center for Business and Economics: to provide extracurricular activities to help students prepare for life beyond Allegheny. The competition also addresses a growing need to educate students about making sound financial decisions, Allison said.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently about the importance of financial management for recent college graduates,” said Allison, who is coordinating the competition with Sarah Holt from the Economics Department. “It’s an urgent national need, and from the outset, we had a high level of student interest in the Financial Literacy Challenge.”

The Financial Literacy Challenge has attracted Allegheny students with majors in a variety of fields, including economics, English, environmental science, history, international studies, psychology and studio art. Approximately half of the participants are enrolled this semester in a financial literacy course taught by Allison, and the other participants entered the competition as an extracurricular activity.

Allison said the student teams each spent upwards of 20 hours developing their plans for the competition. In their plans, teams outline their financial goals and the steps to achieve them, including:

  • A monthly budget
  • A brief discussion of the impact of the current state of the economy
  • An investment strategy that shows an understanding of the return characteristics of different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds
  • An asset allocation, which is the mix of stocks and bonds that fits the student’s age as well as investment objectives

Allison said he emphasizes the importance of recent graduates investing at least 10 percent of their take-home pay from the beginning of their careers.

“It’s really immaterial what they invest in, just as long as they start,” he said. “We place a pretty big emphasis on index funds, which provide the widest level of diversification. You can’t beat the market so just buy the market.”

Allison added that the Financial Literacy Challenge also benefits students by providing them with exposure to successful Allegheny alumni who are serving as its judges. The competition also presents students with an opportunity to prepare for the CFA Institute Research Challenge in Pittsburgh in February 2020, Allison said.

The prizes for the Financial Literacy Challenge were provided through a gift from an anonymous longtime supporter of the Center for Business and Economics.

For more information about the Financial Literacy Challenge, visit the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics website.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Marketing Professor Uses Football as a Teaching Metaphor

Gaia Rancati, an assistant professor of marketing and neuromarketing who hails from Italy, attended her first-ever American-style football game at Allegheny College in September 2019 and was intrigued by the amount of strategy and hierarchical organization she saw playing out on the field.

“I was surprised by the number of players and assistant coaches, and I thought to myself, the head coach must have to be a good manager just like in a successful business,” she said. “I could also see that there was a lot of strategic planning going into the game.”

Allegheny Professor Gaia Rancati relates the strategies of football to the business world for students in her Economics 240 class.
Allegheny Professor Gaia Rancati relates the strategies of football to the business world for students in her Economics 240 class. Photo Credits: Top Photo: Liam Michel; Photo above and below: Sydney Emerson

A week later, Rancati called Allegheny Head Football Coach Rich Nagy to see if he was interested in sharing his expertise with her Introduction to Managerial Economics class.

Nagy, in his first year as head coach of the Gators, was more than happy to oblige and agreed to speak to Rancati’s Economics 240 students about his decision-making processes as they pertain to recruitment, on-field strategy and personnel management.

“Football really functions as a business model. A head football coach’s job is to run the organization,” said Nagy. “And when you think of it, recruiting players is all about sales and marketing. When we talked about it, it was amazing how much crossover there is” between competitive athletics and overseeing a business, he said.

“In football, we are in the people business,” said Nagy. “There is a chain of command, just like in any successful company. There are different managerial styles, and there’s a sales model for recruitment. The product side comes out on the field.”

Said Rancati: “In class, we discuss how companies recruit people, about their competitive strategies, and about how they motivate employees. It’s basically the same model. In business, we call it employer branding.”

That especially applies to Allegheny’s recruitment strategy since the College has a quality brand for student-athletes, Nagy said. “I talked to the class about recruiting athletes. We’re looking for talented people who will fit in at Allegheny, people we think we can develop as students and as athletes,” he said.

In the business world, recruitment is known as the “war of talents,” where companies try to lure the best and brightest critical thinkers and industrious workers to join them, Rancati said.

And like major companies, football coaches try to bring to the team players with sound character, added Nagy. “I’ve learned you can recruit your own problems,” he said. For instance, he carefully watches family interactions when he’s on recruiting visits, Nagy said. “If they’re showing disrespect for their mother or father, they’re probably going to be doing the same thing to me,” he said.

Allegheny Head Football Coach Rich Nagy explains some football nuances to visiting economics students.
Allegheny Head Football Coach Rich Nagy explains some football nuances to visiting economics students.

Added Rancati: “In football and in business, recruiters are trying to match the values of the person to the values of the school or the company.”

It’s also true that in football and the business world, managers and coaches have to groom front-line players, Rancati said. “You have stars in football and you have stars in business, and every year, you lose some of them, so you are continually developing talent,” she said.

Trust also is crucial on the playing field and in corporate offices, Rancati said. “Trust is the keyword,” she said. “You can’t play well in a game if you don’t have trust in the coaches and other players. The same applies to co-workers in the business world.”

Team captain and economics student Zachary Wilson, a senior from Mars, Pennsylvania, talked about the insight he has gained from the class: “I never really made a connection with football and business strategy until Dr. Rancati showed me that they basically have the same ideology. Looking at the bigger picture of business and football, it is important to understand that every level of the business needs to do their part in order for the firm to be successful. This relates directly to football because each person out of the 11 on the field needs to do their individual job for the desired outcome.”

Rancati said 11 of her 25 students in Economics 240 are student-athletes, including four football players and two students who work as a trainer and an equipment manager for the football team. “I was able to see these students from a different perspective,” Rancati said. “It’s important that teachers see students in their athletic roles and for coaches to see students in their academic settings — the message being that we care about you as a person.”

“I tell my coaches that if you’re going to be involved, you have to be all in,” said Nagy. “I know I have to be involved in academics. It’s important for coaches to attend student presentations on campus. I tell the players, you are going to Allegheny College for a reason, and it’s not just football.”

Two weeks after the coach addressed the economics class, Rancati took the group to the Gators practice field to observe and participate in football drills, even running some plays as a unit on both sides of the ball. “Business and economics are more than book learning. You have to experience it in your daily interactions,” said Rancati, who has been named an honorary “faculty captain” for the 2019 season.

Rancati and Nagy said they plan to continue the collaboration for future classes.

“Using football as a teaching metaphor works. The game of football and the marketing and business arenas have a lot in common,” said Rancati. “It’s important to look outside of the box to gain that competitive advantage.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Wall Street Lawyer and Author to Speak at Allegheny College

Author, lawyer and Allegheny College trustee Michael R. Young will visit the college to share experiences from his legal career in a talk titled, “What Were They Thinking? How Honest People Go Bad … A Little at a Time,” from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, October 17, in Quigley Auditorium.

This event is hosted by the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics in partnership with the Law & Policy Program. Lunch will be provided.

Michael R. Young
Michael R. Young

Young, who has spent 38 years as a Wall Street attorney investigating corporate wrongdoing, also will visit some economics classes while on campus. His Lunchtime Learning talk will examine how decent, honorable individuals end up breaking the law, often without realizing it.

Young, a 1978 Allegheny graduate, is a litigation partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York City where he chairs the firm’s securities litigation practice. He advises and defends boards of directors, audit committees, accounting firms, public companies, and company officers on issues of corporate governance and financial reporting. He was named by Accounting Today as one of the “Top 100 most influential people in accounting.”

He has served as a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, as chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Financial Reporting Committee, and as counsel to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Center for Audit Quality.

A prolific author on the subjects of financial reporting, audit committee effectiveness and the role and responsibilities of the independent auditor, his books include “The Financial Reporting Handbook” (Wolters Kluwer 2003), “Accounting Irregularities and Financial Fraud” (Harcourt 2000) and, most recently, “Financial Fraud Prevention and Detection: Governance and Effective Practices” (Wiley 2014).

Young is a speaker and commentator on financial reporting issues, and he has been regularly quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post and The National Law Journal. He has also appeared as an invited guest on Fox Business News, CNBC, MSNBC and CNN.

He is also a graduate of the Duke University School of Law, where he was research and managing editor of the Duke Law Journal.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College to Host 2019 Executive in Residence Diane Sutter

Allegheny College’s Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics welcomes Diane Sutter, an alumna and leader in the broadcasting industry, as the 2019 Executive in Residence. Sutter will be on campus from Monday, September 30, through Wednesday, October 2, and will deliver two public talks.

Sutter is a 1972 Allegheny graduate who lives in California. She is the president and chief executive officer of ShootingStar Inc., a consulting company that provides operational and consulting services to radio and television broadcasters, media companies, and financial institutions. She has owned and/or managed several broadcast stations in both radio and TV.

Diane Sutter is the 2019 Executive in Residence at Allegheny College.
Diane Sutter is the 2019 Executive in Residence at Allegheny College.

“We are very excited to welcome Diane Sutter as our 2019 Executive in Residence,” said Tomas Nonnenmacher, co-director of the Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics. “She has tremendous experience in politics, management and consulting. Among other accomplishments, she has worked in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill and has served as the chair of the Federal Communications Commission Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment.”

While on campus, Sutter will hold two public events, participate in this year’s economics short course in executive leadership, and meet with Allegheny students, faculty and staff. She will give an address titled, “So You Want to Own a TV Station? The Path from Allegheny to Capitol Hill to Broadcasting,” at 12:15 p.m. Monday, September 30, in Henderson Auditorium in Quigley Hall. She will talk about “Management, Leadership and Teams” on Tuesday, October 1, at 12:15 p.m., also in Quigley Auditorium. Both events are open to the public, and lunch will be provided.

Sutter’s radio broadcasting career began in Pittsburgh, where she held various positions in radio, rising from newsroom producer through sales to sales manager, station manager, and general manager. She joined Shamrock Broadcasting and served as vice president and general manager of Shamrock’s AM/FM stations in Pittsburgh.

Radio Ink magazine named Sutter one of the Most Influential Women in Radio in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She was also named one of the 20 Top Leaders in Radio by Radio Ink magazine. Radio and Television Business magazine has named Sutter as one of the top television executives. The Broadcasters Foundation of America honored her as a 2017 Ward Quall Leadership Award recipient in recognition of her career contributions to the broadcast industry and for her civic leadership.

Allegheny’s Executive in Residence program allows students to meet with experts in their fields to learn more about an industry, get insights into management and leadership styles, have conversations about their career goals, and expand their professional networks.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Welcomes New Faculty

From a native of Italy who speaks five languages to a motocross enthusiast, Allegheny’s new faculty members bring many unique backgrounds and qualities to the campus classrooms in the fall of 2019. Let’s meet each of them briefly:

Kathryn BenderKathryn Bender
Assistant Professor of Economics

Kathryn Bender joins the Economics Department this fall and is helping students discover the economics of natural resources. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Centre College and her master’s and doctorate from the Ohio State University.

“I’m excited to start at Allegheny this fall,” says Bender. “I’m involved in several projects on consumer food-waste behavior and hope to find new avenues to explore at Allegheny around this topic.”

Her dissertation, “Date Labels and Food Waste: A study of the effect of label characteristics on food waste in the United States,” studies the confluence of environmental science, economics, and marketing in the food distribution ecosystem in the United States. She is also interested in exploring the effect of feminine hygiene programs in developing countries on the environment along with women’s empowerment, health, and education.

In her free time, Bender enjoys playing soccer, riding horses, and hanging out with her two dogs, Huck and Nala.


Bradley Burroughs '02Bradley Burroughs ’02
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies

After graduating from Allegheny in 2002, Bradley Burroughs earned his master’s degree from Duke University Divinity School and his Ph.D. from Emory University. His first teaching job was at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. After resigning that position to attend to family needs, he taught for four years at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. “But I am thrilled to be back in Meadville and reconnecting to the Allegheny community,” he says.

His academic interests span a variety of theological and ethical thought. His most recent work has been in two areas. The first is Christian political ethics, which led to his first book, Christianity, Politics, and the Predicament of Evil: A Constructive Theological Ethic of Soulcraft and Statecraft. It has also led to other published pieces that assess practices of contemporary warfare. The second area of his recent work has been in how Christian thinkers have understood the concept of evil, which is the subject of his next book project.

Burroughs enjoys mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, and being outdoors generally, “or at least as much as I can do now with two kids in tow. Although not entirely unusual, one of my more surprising talents is juggling, which I learned from a hallmate in Baldwin during my first year at Allegheny.”

He also is proud that he was the first in his family to graduate from college.


Moira FlanaganMoira Flanagan
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Moira Flanagan is a lifelong morris dancer, a form of traditional English folk/pub dancing. She is also the newest chemistry professor at Allegheny.

She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City and a Ph.D. in biophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Chemistry Department at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Currently, her research combines biochemistry and physical chemistry techniques to understand the physical and photoprotective properties of heterogeneous biological pigments like melanin.

“My interest in the chemistry of biological systems also shapes how I teach,” Flanagan says. “I get excited to bring biological contexts into other fields of chemistry (as often as I can), but also emphasize the physical chemistry concepts (like entropy) in biochemistry topics.

“My teaching is based on the idea that everyone can learn science if they want to and I am here to help. I reject the idea that some people ‘get’ science and math and some people don’t,” Flanagan says. “One doesn’t need to be an expert in chemistry to critically analyze and problem-solve in a new context.”

Besides her affinity for chemistry, teaching and morris dancing, Flanagan enjoys cooking, especially fish and fresh pasta. “I also won a coloring contest in my local paper when I was 4, and actually still consider myself an amateur artist in drawing and cartooning.


Jessica Harris
Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Jessica Harris received her bachelor’s in history, master’s in Afro-American Studies, master’s in history, and Ph.D. in history, all from UCLA. She also held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto in the Department of Italian Studies. She taught at Santa Monica College as well as at the University of Toronto during her fellowship.

Her research focus is on the history of the 20th century United States and the World, Modern Italy, and Black Europe, “and I am particularly interested in gender and race, their intersection with material culture, and the subsequent effect on group identities,” Harris says.

Since she studies Italian culture, “I like to watch Italian films and listen to Italian pop music,” says Harris.

Her five minutes of fame occurred as a teenager, Harris says, “when my club soccer team and I appeared on an episode of Bette Midler’s sitcom ‘Bette’.”


Mahita KadmielMahita Kadmiel
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

Mahita Kadmiel has spent most of her life learning about human diseases, and she enjoys teaching students about how the human body works — or fails to work — in the event of a disease.

Kadmiel taught for two years as a visiting assistant professor at Colgate University. She is trained in biomedical sciences, completing postdoctoral training in molecular endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health. In addition, she holds a Ph.D. in cell and molecular physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in biology from Michigan Technological University, and a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and biochemistry and medical lab technology from Andhra University in India.

“My academic interest has always been in improving our understanding of the molecular basis of human diseases,” Kadmiel says. “Too little or too much of stress hormones (glucocorticoids) and changes in sex hormone levels (estrogen and testosterone) have been linked to vision problems.”

She is investigating the function of these hormones in the cornea and retina using rodent models and cells derived from human eyes. Kadmiel also is interested in studying the role of hormone-mimicking chemicals (more commonly called endocrine-disrupting chemicals) on ocular cells and tissues and how they might influence eye health.

Kadmiel incorporates her interest in various forms of art not only in the biology courses that she teaches, but also in her time outside the classroom and laboratory.

“I enjoy working on art projects and DIY projects along with my two kids,” she says. “This is my trick to get mom-time and hobby time in one shot!”


Douglas LumanDouglas Luman
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Douglas Luman joins the Computer Science Department from a background in creative writing and composition. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Bradley University and his MFA is from George Mason University, where he studied poetry and was the Heritage Student Fellow in 2017. He taught in the University Writing Program at George Washington University.

“So, suffice to say, I am an interesting fit in computer science. The way I usually explain it is that all of my work is computational, even though it is done in a humanities-leaning context,” he says.

His MFA thesis, “Prodigy House,” was a computational investigation of an early literary algorithm (“Travesty”). His other work is all computationally based. “I essentially ‘write’ aided by software that I write and others (like Google Cloud tools — Translate, Speech to Text) that I use in conjunction with writing. During graduate school, I developed a computational constraint platform that I continue to run at www.appliedpoetics.org.

“One might say that my work is less from an academic background and more out of a discipline or practice,” Luman says.

Luman is also interested in approaches to computational pedagogy: that is, what do the humanities, writ-large, have to say about teaching computer science? “Is there some way that we can use humanities-based concepts/data to teach students what it means to be responsible for their code? I wonder if there’s some distinction here to remind both students and ourselves of the perennial lesson that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should,” he says.

He and his partner, the poet Jenni B. Baker, also run a book arts press called Container, where they produce other artists’ work in three-dimensional, novel forms, “which is to say as a gem tray of origami paper gems, etched glass bottles, or as cross-stitch kits, for example,” Luman says.


Rebecca OliverRebecca Oliver
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Rebecca Oliver received her bachelor’s degree from the Université de Montréal and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She arrives at Allegheny after teaching most recently at Murray State University in Kentucky and, prior to that, the University of Southern California.

Oliver’s research examines the politics of inequality with respect to labor markets and social policy in Europe. Substantive topics of her work include labor union strategies, collective bargaining institutions, public opinion, childcare policy and territorial inequalities in social policy.

She is currently completing revisions for her book, “Negotiating Differences: The Politics of Egalitarian Bargaining Institutions.” The book examines the following question: Why, in the face of common growing pressures toward greater liberalization and pay dispersion, are egalitarian bargaining institutions sustained or reconfigured in some instances and bluntly dismantled in others? Employing the cases of Italy and Sweden, the book studies developments in egalitarian collective bargaining institutions.

Oliver recently adopted a puppy named Griffin. “My interests of hiking, canoe camping, exploring and getting lost in new cities/towns, making cupcakes, skiing, playing tennis, attending live jazz concerts and visiting art galleries are currently taking a back seat to dog training,” she says.


Kelly PearceKelly Pearce
Instructor, Environmental Science & Sustainability

Kelly Pearce is a graduate of Juniata College, where she majored in wildlife conservation and minored in education. She received her master’s degree in applied ecology and conservation biology from Frostburg State University, and earned her Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Appalachian Laboratory.

She is a wildlife ecologist and conservationist with research interests at the intersection of ecological and social science, including the field of human dimensions of wildlife conservation. “I use quantitative and qualitative approaches to study how environmental, social, and policy factors influence wildlife populations and species distributions. I also strive to better understand approaches that mitigate conflict and encourage coexistence between people and wildlife,” she says. Pearce also serves on the Outreach and Conflict Resolution Task Force as a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group.

“My research has taken me to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, where I evaluated the ability of the river otter to serve as an aquatic flagship species for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” she says. “I have also been involved in a variety of wildlife ecology projects focused in western Maryland and West Virginia, including a study on eastern spotted skunks, Allegheny woodrats, and a variety of bat species.”

Pearce enjoys live music and spends much of her free time watching and traveling for shows, she says. Pearce also enjoys motorcycle journeys. “I rode my first motorcycle when I was 3 right into the back of the garage. I still love to ride on my parents’ farm in central Pennsylvania, and this past summer I earned three first-place finishes in a vintage cross-country motorcycle race series.”


Gaia RancatiGaia Rancati
Assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing in Economics

Gaia Rancati joins the Economics Department and will teach Principles of Marketing and Business and Managerial Economics during the fall semester.

Rancati is an experienced trainer and coach in both sales and customer experience specializing in retail, sales, team building, and management. She earned her Ph.D. in marketing and neuroeconomics as well as a bachelor’s degree in marketing from IULM University, and a master’s of leadership and management from Il Sole 24ORE Business School in Milan, Italy. She is a sought-after researcher and speaker in the field of neuromarketing where she applies the science of neuroeconomics for improving customer experience in the retail field with a focus on service encounters, sales transformation and artificial intelligence.


Lauren RudolphLauren Rudolph
Assistant Professor of Biology

Lauren Rudolph joins the Biology Department with undergraduate and graduate degrees as double-majors in neuroscience and psychology. She attended Washington and Lee University for her undergraduate education and Indiana University for her Ph.D. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in neurobiology and neuroendocrinology, and then taught neuroscience as a visiting professor at Pomona College.

Rudolph’s research is generally focused on steroid hormones and how they act to drive certain behaviors, such as mammalian reproduction. Her wider interests include neuroendocrinology, hormones, reproduction, sex differences, and physiology.

“I am continually impressed with the ever-expanding range of steroid hormone effects,” says Rudolph, “and how hormones can alter behaviors. I study how hormones act in ‘non-traditional’ ways to change the shape and function of cells, tissues, and organisms.”

When traveling on planes, Rudolph says she tends to get into interesting conversations because she is often working on presentations about reproduction. She sees those discussions as part of her “unofficial outreach”: sharing her research with other people.

During her time at Washington and Lee University, Rudolph played volleyball on a team which won conference champions each year, earning a place in the NCAA tournament during her four years as an undergraduate. Besides volleyball, Rudolph also enjoys the outdoors, cheese, sarcasm, making up forced acronyms, animal fun facts, and March Madness.

“I am also skilled at removing the gonads of rodents (for research!),” she adds.


Rosita ScerboRosita Scerbo
Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Rosita Scerbo joins the Department of Modern and Classical Languages as a Spanish instructor. Her research interests include Latin American and Chicanx visual autobiography. This includes photography, cinema, paintings, murals, and digital art. She is also a specialist in Digital Humanities and Hispanic digital pedagogy tools.

Scerbo was born in Italy but has spent most of her life studying and working abroad. “I’m a heritage speaker of Spanish, as I learned Spanish in my community as a child before I dedicated my life to the Hispanic language and culture academically in school and in college.”

She taught Spanish and Italian language, literature, and culture at West Virginia University during her pursuit of a master’s degree and at Arizona State University while earning her doctorate. She also has taught Spanish in Sevilla, Spain, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, during study abroad and Spanish immersion programs. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Calabria in Italy.

“I speak five languages,” says Scerbo. “I went to dance school for many years, and I’m particularly passionate about Latin dances, including salsa, bachata, and merengue. My two daughters’ names — one is human and one is canine — are Sol and Luna, that is Spanish for sun and moon.”

Sarah StangerSarah Stanger
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Sarah Stanger joins Allegheny’s Psychology Department and also plans to provide assessment and treatment services to children and families in Meadville as she works toward clinical licensure. Stanger attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She says her time there “ignited my passion for contributing to a learning community like Allegheny.” Stanger then traveled cross-country to attend the University of Vermont, where she taught undergraduate courses and earned a joint Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology.

Most recently, Stanger was in Portland, Oregon, completing her predoctoral clinical internship. While there, she provided assessment, consultation, and treatment services for children and families in a hospital-based setting.

Stanger hopes to observe interactions between families and children in a laboratory setting while at Allegheny. “I am interested in understanding the development of adaptive stress responses — both physiological and behavioral — in children and adolescents,” says Stanger. “This includes examining how parenting and other contextual factors, such as family socioeconomic status, contribute to this development.”

Outside of her professional life, Stanger has competed in horseback riding, enjoys skiing and snowboarding, and has a love for college sports and theater. She anticipates learning to cross-country ski while in Meadville, as well as attending her students’ productions and sporting events.

Asmus TrautschAsmus Trautsch
Writer in Residence

Asmus Trautsch studied philosophy as a major and German literature (modern and medieval) as a minor at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and at the University College London in Great Britain. In addition, he studied composition/music theory at the University of the Arts in Berlin. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Humboldt University, spending a term as a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City. He has taught philosophy at the University of Dresden and has been a guest lecturer at other universities.

His research interests include contemporary poetry, philosophy of tragedy, philosophy of literature, philosophy of music, ancient Greek philosophy, aesthetics, and ethics.

“My interests lie in the arts, including fine arts, film and dance and in the ways in which the sciences and the arts work together for enabling understanding and new knowledge,” says Trautsch. “Also I’m passionately interested in how philosophy and literature can contribute to educating society and improving politics.”

Trautsch likes to engage in “entertaining dialogues with lots of curious questions,” bake cakes, conduct orchestras and play various musical instruments. He shares a fun fact from his past: “I once won second prize in a competition called ‘Dance Your Ph.D.’ in Dresden.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Graduate Tackles Marketing, Medical Assignments

Recent Allegheny College graduate Natalia Buczek finds herself taking her first career steps with one foot in the marketing world and the other foot in the medical field.

Buczek, an Erie native who graduated in May 2019, has started her full-time job as a project coordinator handling client concerns and overseeing marketing tasks at the Pipitone Group in Pittsburgh.

Natalia Buczek, a 2019 Allegheny graduate, is working in marketing and developing an app for patients with verbal and memory impairments.

“In my free time, however, I will be continuing with my research and development for my communications app called Aid Memoir with professionals from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center,” Buczek says. “I cannot wait to be working with both teams to further my knowledge in marketing for my job as well as the medical world for my app.”

Buczek was on the co-winning team in Allegheny’s 2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition for her app, Aid Memoir, a communication app and website for patients with verbal and memory impairments and their caregivers. Her partner in the co-winning project, fellow graduate Christopher Miller, provided technical expertise for the application, she says.

“Starting this project was difficult because it was inspired by my father’s disease, Frontotemporal Degeneration (a form of dementia), but my passion to help him and millions of others with similar conditions is what made me strive to achieve it,” says Buczek.

“Natalia’s experiences epitomize the liberal arts experience when it works well, which it does so often at Allegheny,” said Chris Allison, entrepreneur in residence in the College’s Economics Department. “Here you have a studio art major, who as a result of taking elective courses, created a software application that is close to marketability. She channeled the design sensibilities that she learned through her art major and commercialized them using what she learned in her entrepreneurship classes. Then she explained what she learned to a prospective employer and secured a job in one of the most creative marketing firms in the country. Pretty brilliant.”

Buczek, who also was a psychology minor, says she spent three valuable years as an art gallery assistant for the Art Department. “I cannot express just how rewarding the experience was for me. From helping curate exhibitions to meeting the visiting artists, it helped shape me professionally as well as show me a passion for curating that I didn’t know I had,” she says.

Buczek credits Ian F. Thomas, assistant professor of ceramics and sculpture, with helping her bridge the gap between her art and developing a computer application. “He opened my eyes to not only the technical possibilities in my work but also encouraged the confidence in myself as an artist,” she says.

Buczek also was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, spending some time as its director of standards and ethics and helping to raise awareness and support for Ronald McDonald House Charities. She also volunteered at the Meadville Soup Kitchen. “I wanted to be able to use my time outside of academics to help others,” she says.

“From my experience at Allegheny, I learned to always follow your passions even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone,” says Buczek. “You are not a number at this school, you are a member of the family. Embrace that.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Two Teams Tie for First Place in Annual Zingale Big Idea Competition

2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition winners
2019 Zingale Big Competition Winners (from left) Christopher Miller, Natalia Buczek, and Christian Walker with Entrepreneur in Residence and Center for Business and Economics Co-director Chris Allison

Two teams of Allegheny College students tied for first place at the Annual Zingale Big Idea Competition, a funding presentation contest sponsored by the college’s Center for Business and Economics. On April 26–27, student teams from Allegheny, Grove City College, James Madison University and Westminster College presented concepts in three areas: for-profit business, non-profit business and hybrid social venture.

This year’s winners are:

First Place (Tie)
$6,000 for each team

Natalia Buczek and Christopher Miller (Allegheny College)
Aid Memoir, a communication app and website for patients with verbal and memory impairments and their caregivers.

Christian Walker (Allegheny College)
animatr, a streetwear company that changes the negative narrative surrounding fans of Japanese art/animation.


Second Place
$3,500

Daniella Clarke (Allegheny College)
Fit Me, a food truck and home delivery service dedicated to providing healthier meal options.


Third Place
$1,500

Mark Sotomayor and Ethan Harvey (Grove City College)
Acceptum, an app that automatically collects and stores receipts in a digital database to alleviate the need for paper receipts.


Honorable Mentions
$500

Abraham Duncan (Allegheny College)
Never Go Hungry, created to bring awareness the glaring issue of hungry kids living on college campuses as well as promote individual achievements and helping the community as a whole.

Doug Salah
MSH, a brand/lifestyle that celebrates each person’s individuality.


Read more about this year’s Zingale Big Idea Competition in this Meadville Tribune article, App, clothing proposals win Big Idea Competition.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research