Allegheny Welcomes New Faculty

From a former resident of nearby Townville to a fantasy football player to a dedicated amateur chef, Allegheny’s new faculty members bring many unique backgrounds and qualities to the teaching table in the fall of 2018. Let’s meet each of them briefly:

Catherine Allgeier
Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Catherine AllgeierAs a visiting assistant professor of economics, Catherine Allgeier comes to Allegheny with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

After graduation, she taught at a business college and then worked in the corporate world as a chief financial officer and a human resources director. “I realized that I missed the interaction with students and started teaching part-time in addition to my CFO role. I now have been teaching full-time for eight years (most recently at her alma mater) and use my corporate background to provide real-world accounting examples and experiences to my students,” says Allgeier.

“I am interested in information systems and communication, as they relate to costs and effectiveness in health-care diagnoses, such as using Watson as a diagnostic tool and the implications in not only a more timely diagnosis but also more cost effective,” she says.

She also has a green thumb. “My ‘other’ career would be in landscape and interior design,” says Allgeier. “I quit counting at 40 houseplants.”


Timothy Bianco
Assistant Professor of Economics

Tim BiancoTimothy Bianco joins Allegheny as assistant professor of economics, having taught previously at Bowling Green State University, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also obtained a master’s degree and his doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He also has worked as an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for five years.

“I enjoy teaching economics and researching cutting-edge financial and monetary economics, focusing on corporate credit,” says Bianco.

Bianco and his wife, Victoria, grew up in northeast Ohio “so moving to northwest Pennsylvania has been a smooth transition. I am a Cleveland sports fanatic and I enjoy traveling to Cleveland to catch a game from time to time.

“An unusual combination is that I have been known to apply cutting-edge econometric techniques to playing fantasy football,” he says.


Paula Burleigh
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History

Paula BurleighPaula Burleigh joins the Allegheny community as visiting assistant professor of art history and director of the Penelec, Bowman, Meghan Art Gallery. She earned her Ph.D. in art history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

She earlier earned a master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree at Emory University.

“I’ve taught undergraduate courses at City University of New York Baruch College, Bard High School Early College, and at Bard College, and I’ve taught adult education courses at the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where I was a teaching fellow for several years before coming to Allegheny,” says Burleigh.

Burleigh specializes in art history and visual culture of Europe and the United States, from 1945 to the present. Her research interests include visionary architecture, feminism and gender as they relate to art, and utopian/dystopian themes in art and popular visual culture.

“I love to cook, and I didn’t let a decade of tiny New York City kitchen life stop me from elaborate culinary experiments — some failed, many succeeded, all were eaten at least an hour later than I intended,” she says.


Kimberly Caldwell
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Kimberly CaldwellKimberly Caldwell joins the college as a visiting assistant professor of psychology. She earned her Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at the University at Buffalo, “so my background is a blend of psychology and neuroscience.”

She has taught introductory psychology and biopsychology, “and I am excited to be teaching a new course this semester that I developed called ‘Ingestive Behavior,’ which will explore the neuroscience behind eating and drinking. My research interests are broadly focused on how the brain controls eating and drinking, thus the inspiration for my new class. I am particularly interested in a peptide system called ghrelin that is capable of influencing both behaviors.

“Along with behavioral neuroscience, I have always enjoyed the arts and took several art classes through high school and even a couple here at Allegheny as a member of the Gifted Program — I don’t know if they still call it that, it’s been a while since I was in high school — at Maplewood,” she says.

“This brings me to my fun fact, I grew up locally in nearby Townville and took classes at Allegheny in art and dance while in high school.”


Michael Michaelides
Assistant Professor of Economics

Michael MichaelidesMichael Michaelides joins the Economics Department as an assistant professor. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Essex, a master’s degree in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics, a master’s degree in economics from Virginia Tech, and a doctorate in economics from Virginia Tech.

Prior to attending Allegheny, Michaelides spent one year as a visiting assistant professor at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. His research interests include: Financial econometrics, empirical asset pricing, time series econometrics, applied econometrics, behavioral finance, volatility modeling, and financial risk forecasting.

“My research has focused on exploring the behavioral biases of investing through the quantitative application of statistical and mathematical models. Yet, my research has been so strongly influenced by the philosophy of science literature,” says Michaelides.

When not in the classroom or on a research mission, Michaelides is a Liverpool Football Club supporter.


Matthew Mitchell
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Matthew MitchellRight out of college, Matthew Mitchell traveled to Japan and taught English as a foreign language for six years. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, with a minor in chemistry, from Illinois Wesleyan University. As an undergraduate, he also found time to sing in the university choir and teach rock climbing.

Mitchell later completed an M.A. in Asian religions from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Ph.D. from Duke University’s Graduate Program in Religion. “I spent a lot more time in my office writing than on the beach,” he said of his two years in Hawaii.

Mitchell’s teaching experience includes posts at the University of Hawaii, Duke University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Creighton University. And he worked at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, helping to bring Chinese students and scholars to the institution for short-term and degree programs.

Mitchell’s research interests include Asian religions — especially Japanese Buddhism, social history, and women and gender in religion. This year in the Religious Studies Department, he will be teaching a number of courses across traditions from Asian religions to Islam. He is currently studying the social, financial and legal activities of a group of Buddhist nuns in Japan’s 17th–20th centuries. “One of the biggest surprises people have is the diversity of the nuns’ activities,” he says. “Most people tend to think of nuns as cloistered, not active, and certainly not involved in gambling or lawsuits.”

Along with Japan’s importance to Mitchell’s research, the nation holds other special meaning for him: it’s where he met his wife and it’s the birthplace of his oldest daughter.


Pamela Runestad
Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies

Pamela RunestadPamela Runestad likes to know how things work.

“I found I could fold all of my interests — infectious disease, nutrition, culture, Japan, writing and narrative, and film — together through becoming a medical anthropologist,” she says. “These combinations will be at the heart of my courses in global health studies here at Allegheny.”

Runestad holds a B.A. in biology and English — with a minor in psychology — from Augustana College (now University) in South Dakota and an M.A. in Japanese language and society from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. She also earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in medical anthropology with a focus on Japan at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu.

Her doctoral research focused on socio-cultural responses to HIV/AIDS in Japan and how those have an impact on health. Her current research project explores institutional food for pregnant and postpartum mothers in Japan.

Runestad’s life and work experiences outside of the continental U.S. give her unique perspective. “I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and I lived in Nagano, Japan, for 10 years,” she says. “So at this point, I’ve only lived about one-quarter of my life in the ‘lower 48’ — Alaska-speak — or the ‘mainland’ — Hawaii-speak. That time was spent in South Dakota, Nebraska and North Carolina.”


Yee Mon Thu
Assistant Professor of Biology

Yee Mon ThuYee Mon Thu describes herself as “a scientist who likes to learn how the natural world works — and an amateur artist who likes to use imagination.”

Before arriving at Allegheny, Thu taught biology at her undergraduate alma mater, Grinnell College. She earned a B.A. in biology with a concentration in global development studies there before completing a Ph.D. in cancer biology at Vanderbilt University.

“I am interested in how cells maintain genome stability in the face of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can cause DNA damage,” Thu says of her research. “I am also fascinated by the involvement of these pathways in cancer.”

When away from the classroom and laboratory, Thu enjoys visiting national parks.


Birgit Weyhe
Max Kade Writer in Residence

Birgit WehyeAs a graphic novelist, Birgit Weyhe uses both her writing and drawing to explore historical and political incidents. She’s primarily interested in migration and the definition of home and identity. In addition to authoring several books, Weyhe has a monthly page in a Berlin newspaper where she draws the “lifeline” of a person who has changed places of residence often.

Weyhe was raised in Uganda and Kenya and came back to Germany at the age of 19. “I consider all three countries as my home,” she says. After returning to Germany, she earned a master’s degree in German literature and history from the University of Hamburg and a Diplom in illustration from the University of Applied Sciences, also in Hamburg.

Since 2012, Weyhe has taught at the Universities of Hamburg, Kiel and Düsseldorf in Germany and at the National Art School in Maputo, Mozambique. She also has led workshops at the German Cultural Center (Goethe Institut) in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Finland, France and Canada.

Wehye said that she is a passionate reader. On a three-month trip to Patagonia last year, she and her husband read 15 novels to each other. “We praised the invention of eBooks,” she says. “Otherwise our backpacks would have been very heavy.”


Tarah Williams
Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

tarah williamsTarah Williams uses survey and experimental methods to understand how social identities —partisan identities, racial identities and many more — shape individual political behavior, for better or worse. Her current research explores whether and when individuals will confront prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives.

“As a shy person, I often struggled to speak up as a student,” she says. “My job now requires me to help students find ways to participate in class, and because I needed to work to find my voice, I have become committed to helping others find theirs. Similarly, my research is concerned with how we can encourage people to speak up to confront prejudice.”

Williams earned her B.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois. Before pursuing graduate school, she worked in state government as a researcher for the Illinois Legislature. She has taught courses in politics and policy at Washington University in St. Louis, Miami University in Ohio and the University of Illinois.

Along with her teaching and research, Williams enjoys walking, cooking, musical theatre and — since arriving at Allegheny — exploring Meadville.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Graduate Awarded Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Colleen Silky
Colleen Silky

Allegheny College alumna Colleen Silky is one of only 90 students from across the world to be awarded a highly competitive 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Silky, 29, of Pittsburgh, grew up in Syracuse, New York, and graduated from Allegheny in 2011 with a double major in neuroscience and psychology. Beginning in September, she will pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neurosciences in a three-year program at the University of Cambridge in England.

Silky will study new methods for identifying cellular irregularities in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, with the use of patient-derived cell lines. ALS was thought to be strictly a motor neuron disease, but recent advancements have shown that support cells could cause aspects of disease pathology.

“I hope that studying three-dimensional cell organoids will shine light on new therapeutic pathways for patients in need and bridge the gap between conventional two-dimensional cell cultures and clinical trials,” Silky said. “I am honored to be joining the Gates Cambridge community surrounded by diverse scholars working to make a difference around the world.”

Silky is recently married to Ben Limegrover, a 2009 Allegheny graduate. The couple will relocate to England for a semi-permanent move for the duration of the full scholarship, which also provides housing.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in October 2000 by a $210 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge — the largest single donation to a university in the United Kingdom.

The program awards scholarships to outstanding applicants from countries outside the U.K. to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The program’s goal is “to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others,” according to its website.

For the past six years, Silky has worked as a research scientist at Cognition Therapeutics in Pittsburgh. She believes her experience in conducting clinical trials for Alzheimer’s was a major factor in her selection for the Cambridge Gates Scholarship.

Silky said her work-related experience likely gave her an advantage:  Many of the candidates she met during the interview process were seniors or recent college graduates.

“We have been studying Alzheimer’s disease and discovering a small molecule to hopefully treat the cognitive problems in Alzheimer’s patients,” Silky said about her work with Cognition Therapeutics. “I didn’t want to leave the company until after we got the drug into clinical trials. Then I wanted to go after my Ph.D.”

Allegheny helped prepare Silky for her career in a number of different ways, she said, including the opportunity to conduct hands-on research and to be a student-athlete.

“I played on the lacrosse team, and I think being a student-athlete really helped me to balance a very busy schedule with high stress and still be able to learn,” Silky said.

She said the time-management skills she developed at Allegheny, along with the ability to think independently, provided the foundation for her to contribute from day one in a start-up laboratory — an environment that doesn’t necessarily have the resources to offer that kind of training for newly-hired employees.

“I wouldn’t have gotten that at a large-scale university, and it has continued to propel me forward in a lifelong passion,” Silky said. “We’re used to doing hands-on research independently, so for a small research company that was very important.”

Silky is prepared for what life has in store for her — perhaps even discovering a cure for ALS — and she continues to reflect fondly on her time at Allegheny.

“I love Allegheny and will tell that to anyone who asks,” Silky said. “I think the Allegheny rigor and the push to be an independent thinker and scientist really helped me.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Kleinschmidt Talks Vitamin C, Cancer Cells at Slippery Rock

Ann Kleinschmidt, professor of biology, biochemistry and neuroscience, gave an invited talk at Slippery Rock University on October 20 titled “Vitamin C Pushes Cancer Cells Over the Edge.” The presentation was based upon the senior project of Emily Horosko ’17. Ann was able to reconnect with two former Allegheny College students, Miranda Sarrachine Falso ’04 and Paul Falso ’05, who are both on the faculty in the Biology Department at SRU.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Neurologist Fred Marshall to Speak on ‘Mindfulness and Medicine’

Dr. Fred Marshall will speak on the subject of “Mindfulness and Medicine,” on April 3 at 7 p.m. in the East Alcove of Schultz Hall at Allegheny College as part of the college’s ongoing Year of Mindfulness. The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
The presentation will cover Marshall’s experience with dyads, as well as some theories of teaching, and address the phenomenon of “burn-out” through stress. He also will explore a model of cultivating resilience, compassion, and gratitude in daily life, and then hold both silent and guided meditations.


Marshall brings a unique perspective as a physician who has cared for patients and families coping with neurodegenerative diseases. Chief of the Division of Geriatric Neurology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Marshall founded the school’s Memory Care Program and is a core member pioneering mindfulness curriculum for medical students and residents. Since 2011 he has co-facilitated residential training for medical educators at the Rochester Zen Center’s Chapin Mill retreat, which attracts educators from around the world.
After attending Swarthmore College and then Harvard Medical School, Marshall spent a year backpacking around the world with his wife before completing his residency in neurology at the Harvard Longwood Training Program. He then completed a National Institutes of Health-funded fellowship in Experimental Therapeutics of Neurodegenerative Disorders, before going to work at the University of Rochester in 1997.
Marshall is a former Dean’s Teaching Fellow at the University of Rochester, and the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including election by the students to Alpha Omega Alpha, the Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine, and the White Coat Ceremony keynote. He is also an accomplished jazz pianist.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Coates serves as facilitator, speaks on effective researchers

Professor of Biology, Neuroscience, and Global Health Studies Lee Coates recently served as a facilitator for a Council on Undergraduate Research workshop on “Beginning a Research Program in the Natural Sciences” held in Washington, D.C. Coates also presented a talk titled “10 Habits of Highly Effective Researchers.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

National Organization Honors Professor E. Lee Coates With Career Achievement Award

Dec. 7, 2015 – The Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, an organization that is part of the Society for Neuroscience, has honored Allegheny College professor E. Lee Coates with its Career Achievement Award.

The presentation took place in Chicago during the group’s annual meeting in October. Two Allegheny alumnae, Amy Jo Stavnezer, the academic organization’s incoming president, and outgoing president Lisa Gabel presented Coates with the award.

One of the organization’s highest honors, the Career Achievement Award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to undergraduate neuroscience education and research. Coates, who has been at Allegheny since 1992, teaches in the biology department and in the neuroscience and global health studies programs.

“Lee is an accomplished teacher and scholar,” said Gabel. “His former students describe him as an exceptional mentor and friend. His impact on their careers is felt long after they have left the halls of the biology and neuroscience departments at Allegheny College.”

Coates is the project director of a $1.5 million undergraduate science education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to build a global health program at Allegheny College. The grant supports the establishment of an interdisciplinary major, creation of two tenure-track faculty positions, resources for faculty and curriculum development, collaborative research opportunities for students on and off campus, and opportunities for students to engage in health-related study experiences both abroad and in the United States.

He was also the director of a $400,000 W.M. Keck Foundation grant titled “Ways of knowing and habits of mind: Exploring the intersection between neuroscience and the humanities.” The grant funded the development of four interdisciplinary courses at Allegheny College: “Neuroscience and Dance Movement,” “Neuroscience of the Visual Arts,” “Mind and Brain” and “History of Neuroscience.”

Additionally, Coates has been awarded more than $98,000 by the National Institutes of Health and $82,000 by the National Science Foundation to fund his research on nasal CO2 receptors and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“I was surprised and honored to receive the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Career Achievement Award and humbled to be in the company of past recipients,” said Coates. “While the award was given to me, in part, for my role in the development of the neuroscience program and interdisciplinary neuroscience and humanities courses, my Allegheny neuroscience colleagues should share this recognition with me as I couldn’t have developed these programs without them.”

“I am also honored to be recognized for my teaching and mentoring of neuroscience students, although the real reward is following the careers and achievements of our neuroscience graduates,” said Coates. “I enjoy keeping in contact with the graduates and seeing many of our neuroscience alumni at the yearly Society for Neuroscience meeting. Based on the success of our graduates it appears that we have developed a first-rate undergraduate neuroscience program that prepares students well for life after Allegheny.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Coates Is Honored with Career Achievement Award

Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN), part of the Society for Neuroscience, awarded Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Lee Coates the Career Achievement Award in October. Two Allegheny College alumnae, incoming FUN president Amy Jo Stavnezer ’94 and outgoing FUN president Lisa Gabel ’96, presented the award to Professor Coates.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Conklin Co-authors Chapter in “Neuropsychology of Cardiovascular Disease”

Sarah Conklin, associate professor of psychology, neuroscience and global health studies and chair of the Neuroscience Program, co-authored a book chapter with Matthew Muldoon, MD, MPH, titled “Effects of Cholesterol and N-3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function, Decline, and Dementia” in Neuropsychology of Cardiovascular Disease, 2nd Edition, Taylor and Francis.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Conklin and Students Present Research at American Psychosomatic Society Meeting

Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Global Health Studies Sarah Conklin presented her research at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting held March 18-21 in Savannah, Georgia. Two students attended the conference with her. Nicole Masters ’15 presented the results from her Senior Project conducted with Professor Conklin and Associate Professor of Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Deb Dickey. Her project was titled “Experiences of physical and emotional abuse are associated with blunted cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress.” The project, currently under peer-review, was a multi-year effort. Her coauthors also attended the meeting: Annie T. Ginty ’09, now at the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoctoral fellow in behavioral medicine; Eliza B. Nelson ’12, now at the University of Saint Andrews School of Medicine, Health Psychology, UK; and Karen Kaye ’14, now at Brandeis University, Psychology. Katelyn Nicewander ’15 also presented the results of her Senior Project, which she conducted with Professor Conklin and Assistant Professor of Psychology Lydia Jackson. Her project was titled “Lavender essential oil aromatherapy does not reduce cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress in the laboratory: results from a preliminary randomized control trial.” Katelyn’s project is currently being prepared for peer review.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professors Boynton, Coates and Reeck Co-author Article in “Peer Review”

After attending two AAC&U workshops on Faculty Leadership and Integrative Learning, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Eric Boynton, Professor of Biology, Neuroscience, and Global Health Studies Lee Coates, and Associate Professor of French Laura Reeck co-authored an article, “Opening the Doors for Faculty Collaboration: The Case of the Allegheny Gateway,” which appears in the current issue of AAC&U’s journal Peer Review.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research