People & Places: May 2023

People & Places is a monthly highlight of the ongoing professional activities and achievements of faculty, staff, and students of the College.

Campus newspaper staff members Sydney Emerson ’23 and Sami Mirza ’24 were recognized with Student Keystone Awards from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association. Emerson, an opinion editor for The Campus, received a first-place honor for a selection of three columns in the editorial writing category:

Mirza, co-editor-in-chief, received an honorable mention in the news photo category:

Marissa Hooks '23
Marissa Hooks ’23

Marissa Hooks ’23 recently attended and presented at an international conference for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in New Orleans, LA. She presented her research on the “Effect of Glucocorticoids on Zonula Occludens 1 (ZO-1) expression in human retinal pigmented epithelial cells,” which she completed with Dr. Mahita Kadmiel and Taylor Besch ’22.

The Allegheny Biology Department, Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activities (URSCA), Gator Success Grants, and the Klomp Family Endowment Fund graciously provided travel support.

Pickering, Science

Ryan Pickering, Assistant Professor of Psychology, is included in the acknowledgment section of the article “Where and with whom does a brief social-belonging intervention promote progress in college?” by Stanford researcher Dr. Gregory M. Walton and colleagues in the May 2023 issue of Science.

The article describes the impact of a belongingness randomized controlled intervention study across 22 universities and colleges and 26,911 students. The intervention was designed to reduce incoming students’ concerns about feeling homesick, fitting in, and struggling in class.

The study found that the intervention improved persistence and retention, particularly for students from historically underrepresented groups and when there were opportunities provided by colleges to belong. A select group of alumni will remember accompanying  Pickering to Ann Arbor to help the Stanford research team (College Transition Collaborative) develop the materials used for the intervention.

Guo Wu, Associate Professor of History, was invited by the Journal of Universal Buddhism, founded by Lumbini Buddhist University (Nepal), to serve as a member of its editorial board.

He was also invited by the editor-in-chief of Politics, Religion & Ideology (Taylor & Francis) to review a submitted manuscript.

“Fourth Graders as Scientists” returned to Allegheny for its eighth year after a two-year pandemic hiatus. During February and March, 270 fourth graders from Crawford Central School District spent a day on campus engaging in hands-on science and spending time with over 60 Allegheny student volunteers.

The event was co-organized by:

  • Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor of Biology & Geology
  • Wendy Kedzierski, Creek Connections Project Director
  • Craig Dodge, Associate Professor of Mathematics
  • Erin O’Day-Frye, Dean for Student Success
  • Kaitlyn Royal ’24 
  • Ann Noonen, Crawford Central School District
  • Eileen Mullen, Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance

Read more about the event here.

“Educators in the Workplace,” a collaboration between Allegheny College, Crawford Central School District, Crawford County K-12 Career Alliance, and the NPWA chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, took place in late April at Prism Plastics, Inc. 

Educators from local school districts and Allegheny College toured Prism and engaged in a guided conversation with Prism employees to identify ways to work together to provide employment opportunities for young adults.

The event was co-organized by:

  • Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor of Biology & Geology
  • Ann Noonen, Crawford Central School District
  • Eileen Mullen, Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance

Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor of Biology & Geology, is the co-recipient of a PALSave Grant to support writing an open-access textbook for comparative vertebrate anatomy. She will collaborate with Vanessa Young (St. Mary’s College) and Bill Ryerson (St. Anselm College).

Amelia Finaret, Associate Professor of Global Health Studies; Lydia Eckstein, Associate Professor of Psychology; and Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor of Biology & Geology, recently published “Teaching the Inevitable: Embracing a Pedagogy of Failure” in the journal Teaching and Learning Inquiry.

The article stemmed from conversations with Allegheny faculty and staff about the imposter phenomenon, the importance of productive failure in learning new things, and promoting student growth and learning.


Becky Dawson, Associate Professor of Global Health Studies & Biology; Doug Luman, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; and Ishita Sinha Roy, Professor of Media & Cultural Studies, in collaboration with illustrator Allison Crouch ’23 and writer Carson Messemer ’25, wrote and self-published a comic book entitled, “Immunity Is Community: A return to connecting to produce healthy and safe neighborhoods” in April 2023.

The comic book introduces readers to a team of public health ambassadors who recognize that the only way for individuals to be healthy is for everyone to live in healthy communities. The comic book also provides accurate and reliable information on the immune system and how vaccines work.

Copies of “Immunity Is Community” were shared with members of the Meadville community at a health fair of the same name, hosted by Dawson and Roy. Additional copies of the comic book are available free of charge to anyone in the Allegheny College community. Reach out to either Dawson or Roy for a copy.

A special thanks to the Crawford Health Improvement Coalition (CHIC) and the Allegheny College Network for Community Engaged Learning for the support needed to self-publish the comic book.

Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor of Biology & Geology, recently co-authored a paper with David Shiffman and Lara Ferry from Arizona State University.

The paper is titled “Connecting Scientists with Students Using Social Media in an Undergraduate Science Course,” published in the Journal of Educational Technology Systems, detailing an assignment developed by David Shiffman that asks marine biology students to follow ocean scientists and conservationists on Twitter as a way to connect with experts in the field. The paper can be accessed here.