News & Updates

Allegheny Welcomes New Faculty for Fall 2020

It’s quite the fusion of talents joining the ranks of Allegheny College’s faculty in the fall of 2020. From scholars in modern Arabic literature and French and Francophone studies to a former economic analyst for a global banking firm, Allegheny’s new faculty members bring unique backgrounds and qualities to the campus classrooms this academic year. Let’s meet each of them briefly:

Sami Alkyam
Assistant Professor of Arabic

With Sami Alkyam, Allegheny is not only welcoming an assistant professor in the Department of World Cultures and Languages, but also a new director of Muslim student life.

Sami Alkyam
Sami Alkyam

Alkyam holds a Ph.D. in Arabic language and literature as well as a doctoral minor in second language acquisition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will teach Arabic language and culture classes and core classes in international studies at Allegheny. He previously worked at Harvard University from 2012 to 2018.

His research interests include modern Arabic literature and cultural studies; gender and sexuality studies; trauma and the war novel; Arabic dictator novels; film and television studies; Postcolonial and literary theory; Arabic literary translation, and African literature in translation.

“In my current research I explore the manifestations of dictators and dictatorships in contemporary literary genres — the representation of its various configurations and the politics of (re)writing history. Currently, I am working on a manuscript in which I study the aesthetics of death in contemporary Iraqi literature. More than any time in the history of modern Iraq, poetry and fiction have been bound to social and political events in Iraq. Iraqi literature today reflects the trauma of a nation torn between omnipresent war and reminiscence of three decades of dictatorship,” he says.

“As such, I describe Iraqi writers today as ‘bereaved storytellers’ who give voice to the wounds of their nation and people. I will finish the manuscript in the next two years,” Alkyam adds.

His work has appeared in the Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, Journal of Arts and Humanities and Journal of Studies in Literature and Language. He also works on literary translation.

“I am a true believer of diversity; in fact, I am especially drawn to Allegheny given its vibrant and diverse community and the emphasis on internationalism and interculturalism as well as my department’s commitment to teaching languages. In the classroom, I view teaching, not as a career or task, rather as a passion. It is this passion that pushes me to teach Arabic language and literature in the clearest and most effective manner,” he says.

“I believe in making my class a changing experience for my students. Therefore, I see myself as a facilitator of student communication, rather than the center of the classroom. My main goal is to empower my students to engage while providing a classroom environment conducive to productive communication,” says Alkyam.

Away from academia, he is the father of two “beautiful kids: a girl, Uswah, and a boy, Karam, who are the center of my world. I like to play soccer; I like swimming and reading, too.”

Megan Bertholomey
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Megan Bertholomey knows a lot about small liberal arts colleges such as Allegheny. She is a graduate of Knox College, where she was a studio art major and psychology minor. “My medium was clay. Other than the commercial pottery painting classes, there usually aren’t many public resources/studio spaces for ceramicists, so I look forward to making friends in the Art Department and hope to one day collaborate or audit a class with them,” she says.

Megan Bertholomey

Bertholomey also served as both a teaching assistant and an instructor in introductory psychology classes during her Ph.D. training at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. She taught a course called “Drugs and Behavior” at the University of Pittsburgh for three fall semesters during her postdoctoral training. Last year, she was a visiting assistant professor at Chatham University, covering graduate-level introductory neuroscience courses with labs, as well as an undergraduate-level introductory biology class.

Her research interests include understanding the factors contributing to and mechanisms underlying the risk of drug abuse and other conditions like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that tend to co-occur with substance use disorder. “One major and well-known contributing factor is stress, but there is still much we don’t know about how stress affects the brain to lead to or exacerbate these disorders,” she says.”Because of my research experience, I’m very interested in teaching neuroscience and psychology topics related to drug use and abuse, psychopharmacology, neuroendocrinology, sexuality/sexual behavior, learning and memory, research methods and statistics.”

She says that “while most of my artistic talents have gone into making research posters and PowerPoints, I do like to paint and draw when I can. I was also a member of the dance collective when I was in college — mine was called Terpsichore — so a similar Greek naming convention to Orchesis — and love to dance, although I don’t have much formal training.”

She also considers herself “to be a bit of a foodie and a craft beer aficionado, so I love to cook and plan to eventually try my hand at home brewing using one of the many kits that have been gifted to me over the years. I am also a reservoir of random knowledge that comes in very handy for trivia — especially music trivia, as well as pop culture references from the ’90s and ’00s.”

Delia Byrnes
Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Science & Sustainability

Delia Byrnes joins the Allegheny community by way of Canada, where she was raised, and the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied and eventually taught in the English Department.

Delia Byrnes
Delia Byrnes

“I’m joining the Environmental Science and Sustainability program at Allegheny through a somewhat unusual route: I’m not even a scientist! Rather, my Ph.D. in English and my experiences teaching literature inform the humanities approaches I bring to environmental studies,” says Byrnes. “Over the past four years, I’ve taught courses on oil culture, apocalyptic fiction and film, African American literature, and multi-ethnic environmental culture at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m thrilled to join such a rich interdisciplinary community at Allegheny, and I’m especially excited to collaborate with students on projects that center environmental justice.”

Byrnes earned her bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and her master’s and doctorate from the University of Texas.

She focuses her research on contemporary environmental art and storytelling, focusing on how writers, artists and other mediamakers harness their imaginations to produce new knowledge about environmental relations. “I’m especially interested in the ways that fossil fuel shapes our daily lives, and how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color authors illuminate more just and habitable futures,” says Byrnes.

When she’s not in her Carr Hall office, Byrnes says she is a movie and television fan “and will find any opportunity to teach my favorites, from the FX series ‘Atlanta’ to Janelle Monáe’s Afrofuturist epic, ‘Dirty Computer.’ When I’m not reading or watching something, I love wandering around town on foot or on my bike, and as a Canadian, I am beyond excited to experience the four seasons in Meadville!”

The most consistent part of her time in Meadville so far: “My weekly visits to Hank’s Frozen Custard.”

Priyanka Chakraborty
Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

It has been quite a year for Priyanka Chakraborty. She graduated from Southern Methodist University with her Ph.D., won the Melody Rice Memorial Award for her dissertation “Essays on Issues in Management and Gender” and “was truly excited to travel cross country from Texas to Pennsylvania and join the Allegheny family!”

Priyanka Chakraborty
Priyanka Chakraborty

It has been quite an academic journey for Chakraborty. Reading Keynes in college had a powerful impact on her and shaped the course of her passion for and career in economics. “I grew up in India and attained a college education through scholarships based on academic achievement,” she says. “I majored in economics at Presidency College and won the Gold Medal from Calcutta University. I explored New Delhi, jazz and micro and macroeconomics during my master’s at Jawaharlal Nehru University and read obsessively on game theory and behavioral economics, which I still do.”

She worked closely with counterparts from Great Britain for HSBC Bank as an economic analyst for a couple of years before traveling to Texas to attend the doctoral program at Southern Methodist University. “I taught classes independently, worked extensively as a teaching assistant and as a tutor and student counselor. The experiences during my academic and professional career gave me an immense appreciation of cross-cultural understanding and helped hone my teaching pedagogy which is geared toward creating an inclusive class environment and facilitating learning through discussion,” she says.

As an applied economist, she uses laboratory and field experiments, as well as survey data, to answer questions in behavioral and labor economics, with a focus on gender, education, management, leadership and mentoring. “My mantra is: ‘When it comes to understanding and changing human behavior, we can do better.’ My research broadly focuses on the economics of discrimination and disparities in the labor market with an overarching goal of understanding and mitigating gender and racial gaps. I am interested in finding policy interventions that promote healthy, efficient and more inclusive workplaces,” she says.

She has traveled extensively, exploring new cities and local cultures, food, films and music. “My favorite cities in the world so far are Jaipur, Boulder, Ann Arbor, Mexico City, Antigua, Kuala Lumpur and Alexandria,” says Chakraborty. “I love finding new coffee shops, record stores, bookshops and theatres. I am a cinephile, adore the works of Satyajit Ray, Wes Anderson and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and have enjoyed working with the South Asian Film Festival and Oak Cliff Film Festival in Texas. Being an epicure, I love creating fusion food and bakes with Asian and American influences.”

While she has been classically trained in Hindustani music, “I enjoy listening to Ella Fitzgerald as much as Ravi Shankar, and among my most-prized possessions are autographed Jimi Hendrix and Ravi Shankar vinyl records straight from the ’60s!”

Emma Chebinou
Visiting Assistant Professor of French

Emma Chebinou is welcomed into the World Languages and Cultures Department as a well-traveled scholar and is thrilled to collaborate with new faculty and students. Her education began in France, where she received her bachelor’s degree from the Université Paris XII- Créteil, and then her first master’s degree from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. Chebinou then came to the United States, where she earned her second master’s degree from the University of South Florida and then her Ph.D. from Florida State University.

As a new faculty member of the Diversity Teaching Fellowship, Chebinou is dedicated to sharing her diverse and multi-layered experience through the curriculum. She hopes that by teaching diversity-related topics, students will be in a position to be aware of their identities as well as others’ differences, which leads to not only their achievements but also to the expansion of their horizons. This approach will lead them to acquire cultural competency to interpret the world and its sophisticated facets.

“I see the classroom as a safe space to exchange knowledge,” says Chebinou. “Besides the fact of seeing excitement on the students’ faces when they understand concepts, I look forward to learning from them, which informs my research and personal life. This couldn’t be done without our students’ insightful ideas.”

During this current pandemic, Chebinou’s main goal is to maintain the human dimension in her classes.

“I want to turn the new COVID adjustments in class into a positive asset rather than obstacles to teaching and learning,” says Chebinou. “Technology has always made the classroom more appealing, and the Zoom implementation is beneficial in helping me create and explore a new teaching approach.”

Chebinou’s academic interests are wide-ranging, from societal issues such as urban problems, violence, discrimination and freedom and civil rights, to hip-hop and stand-up comedy, to African (North and Sub-Saharan) and Caribbean literature. She also has research interests in French national ethnic, gender and religious identity; second- and third-generation of immigrants and diaspora in literature; 20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone studies; Postcolonial studies and African-American studies.

Her hobbies are as varied as her academic pursuits. Chebinou enjoys singing old and contemporary rhythm and blues and Gospel songs, and she has sung in gospel choirs. Her talents extend into the culinary world, as she likes to cook African and French food and is especially good at making crepes. “Coming from France, I love designer fashion,” shares Chebinou. “I am such a shoe collector that I would need an entire room to fit them all! I also like discussions about astrology and Feng Shui.”

Dara Coleby Delgado
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Dara Coleby Delgado joins Allegheny’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies as an asset for fostering global perspectives in the classroom.

Dara Coleby Delgado

“My objective as a teacher is to foster a student-focused learning environment that both challenges and motivates students to develop their own learning interests and critical thinking skills,” says Delgado. “Specifically, through trusting student-teacher relationships and safe learning-centered classrooms, I see myself as partnering with my students as they develop into independent globally minded scholars. Ultimately, the goal is to explore how religion challenges us to think critically about the human experience, with particular attention to the Christian traditions and their impact on history and culture.”

An AAUW 2018-2019 American Dissertation Fellow, Delgado’s research interests include the history and theology of American Christianity (Pentecostalism), as well as the role of race, gender and popular culture in American religion during the modern era. These interests culminated in her dissertation, “Life, Liberty, and the Practicality of Holiness: A Social Historical Examination of the Life and Work of Ida Bell Robinson.”

Before joining the faculty at Allegheny, Delgado completed a bachelor’s degree at Niagara University in history, a master’s at Northeastern Seminary, a Master of Theological Studies at Tyndale University College & Seminary, and a Ph.D. at the University of Dayton in theology. At the University of Dayton, she taught traditional undergraduate students in the Department of Religious Studies and then taught New Testament and Ethics in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York.

“When I am not teaching and writing, I am enjoying the company of friends and family, volunteering, and attending concerts and shows,” says Delgado.

Guadalupe Lupita Gonzalez
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Guadalupe Lupita Gonzalez brings experience in cognitive neuroscience with her to Allegheny. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and business administration from Bethel College and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She also has instructional experience from leading psychology labs at Bethel.

Guadalupe Lupita Gonzalez

Gonzalez has a passion for social justice and increasing diversity in higher education which has driven her research into the effects of social contexts on racial biases in socio-cognitive processes (for eaxmple, attention, interaction intentions).

“I use electroencephalography (EEG/ERPs) and eye-tracking to answer questions such as ‘How does the social context influence the perception of racial outgroups?’ and ‘How is the perception of racial outgroups associated with racially biased behavior?’” says Gonzalez. “My current research uses eye-tracking to investigate how competitive social contexts influence attention and memory for racial in-group and out-group members, as well as one’s willingness to interact with racial out-groups. I’m also interested in racial health disparities.”

In addition to her research, Gonzalez has been involved in different organizations and programs that aim to increase the number of minoritized individuals in higher education.

“I also love to read, cook (especially Mexican food) and travel to Mexico,” she says. “Spanish was also my first language so I can fluently speak, read and write in Spanish.”

Gonzales is musically gifted as well — she used to play the violin and also played in a mariachi during middle school and high school.

Chris Normile
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Chris Normile is joining the ranks of first-generation faculty members at Allegheny. He completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Bloomsburg University, master’s degree in experimental psychology at Towson University, and Ph.D. in applied experimental psychology at Central Michigan University.

Chris Normile

“My research focuses on the intersection of psychology and law,” Normile says. “More specifically I have studied police interrogations, false confessions and jury decision-making. My most recent work investigates people’s perceptions of wrongfully convicted exonerees. Pedagogically speaking, I’m interested in statistical learning in college students.”

Although Normile thoroughly enjoys research and teaching, he has a variety of other interests outside of the classroom.

“I’m a big fan of playing board games of all kinds, from silly party games to more complex Eurogames,” says Normile. “As an undergraduate I played club Ultimate Frisbee, which is a hobby I still enjoy today.”

Jesse Swann-Quinn
Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability

Jesse Swann-Quinn grew up in an Allegheny Gator family — his mom and uncle both graduated from the College. Now, after earning a Ph.D. in geography from Syracuse University, Swann-Quinn has joined the Allegheny community as a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability.

Jesse Swann-Quinn

Before entering graduate school, Swann-Quinn spent five years producing wildlife documentaries for National Geographic Television, and he served as a Public Humanities Fellow with the New York Council for the Humanities. Swann-Quinn says he draws on these transdisciplinary experiences in both his research and teaching.

Swann-Quinn taught at Syracuse as a graduate student and adjunct faculty member. His teaching focuses on the social science of global environmental politics, economics and culture, but it also incorporates elements of the digital and environmental humanities.

Swann-Quinn’s interests as a geographer center on environmental politics of natural resources, how humans struggle over and govern the environments around them, and a variety of other related topics in the environmental social sciences. “My research specifically examines the political and environmental effects of resource extraction, primarily focused on the former Soviet Union and South Caucasus,” Swann-Quinn says. He also has ongoing interests in urban environments, environmental justice, resource nationalism, animal studies, territorial conflict and media studies.

“When I’m not in the classroom or doing research, I like to be outside as much as possible, hiking and running when the weather’s warm and cross-country skiing when it isn’t,” Swann-Quinn says. He says he also enjoys “getting lost in old atlases” and following technology trends.

“My wife and I also just had our first child last winter,” Swann-Quinn says, “which has kept us extra busy these past few months (and made quarantine life that much more interesting).”

PJ Torres
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

While new to the Allegheny community, PJ Torres brings experience teaching at another Great Lakes Colleges Association institution, Denison University.

PJ Torres

At Denison, Torres served as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity fellow in 2015 and then as a visiting biology faculty member until spring 2018. His career has also included faculty positions in the biology departments at Queens University of Charlotte and, most recently, Colgate University. Torres holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras campus) and a Ph.D. in ecology from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia.

Torres’ research focuses on understanding the structure and function of freshwater ecosystems with emphasis on tropical headwater streams. His dissertation and current research is based on Puerto Rico, assessing the landscape-scale effects of large dams on headwater stream ecosystem processes.

“I’ve also worked with students in Costa Rica, Georgia and Ohio looking at how animal consumers influence whole-ecosystem processes such as decomposition, primary production and nutrient cycling. The current plan for my lab here at Allegheny is to continue this work both in Puerto Rico and locally using new study sites in Northwest Pennsylvania.”

Torres also plans to incorporate microorganisms and time into current and new projects. “In particular, we will be looking at synergies between aquatic fungi and animal decomposers, how their relationship determines the rate of organic matter breakdown, how the decomposition mechanisms change over time and how these respond to natural disturbance and seasonal variation.”

As an active member of the Society for Freshwater Science, Torres serves as an early career delegate on the board of directors and helps to coordinate the INSTARS program. INSTARS is a mentoring program during the Society for Freshwater Science annual meeting that provides help to undergraduate students from underrepresented groups who are interested in the study of freshwaters.

In his spare time, Torres enjoys fixing (“or breaking,” he says) stuff around the house, and he cooks most of his food over fire or charcoal. Torres also has played drums in three bands and can be found road-trip-chasing locally owned BBQ spots, limited-release beers and new baseball stadiums.

“I’m a big fan of advanced metrics and statistics in baseball,” says Torres, “and do a bit of work as a volunteer data analyst for CS:GO and Valorant eSports teams.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Senior Devotes Free Time to Charitable Efforts

Alexandra Downer, a rising senior from Pittsburgh, has a busy academic schedule at Allegheny College as a psychology major and an education studies minor, but she finds the time and energy to boost fundraising on behalf of her Delta Delta Delta sorority chapter and the patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.

Alexandra Downer is an Allegheny College senior.
Alexandra Downer is an Allegheny College senior.

Downer is the philanthropy chair of the sorority and is executive director of the Up ’Til Dawn Allegheny chapter that helps raise funds for St. Jude.

In the last three years, the Allegheny Tri Delta chapter of fewer than 50 women has raised $57,820 for various causes. “This year we are trying to raise $23,000,” says Downer. “We are currently at $5,902. This is from general posts on social media, ‘Sincerely Yours,’ and cookbook sales.”

The chapter in the summer of 2020 has been busy online selling cookbooks, called “Cooking for a Cure,” and grill guides from Up ’Til Dawn as fundraisers to benefit St. Jude. The group also has participated in online efforts to fund cancer research.

“The inspiration for Tri Delta’s cookbook came from a brainstorming session,” says Downer. “Since COVID-19 abruptly ended our semester, our traditional ways of fundraising in the spring were impacted, and our president, Amber Lisman, suggested a PDF cookbook. We thought it would be a great idea as a Mother’s Day gift for $5, the same price as a ticket for our traditional fundraisers, the pancake breakfast and Delta desserts.”

Up ’Til Dawn had initially planned to have a few events in the spring semester, which ended on campus in March, to jump-start the group’s fundraising. “Looking for an online fundraiser while at home, the success of Tri Delta’s PDF cookbook led our St. Jude representative and me to try something similar for Up ’Til Dawn. After discussing with the board, we decided to take the cookbook concept and create a PDF grill guide for Father’s Day and the Fourth of July.”

Tri Delta’s cookbook includes recipes for breakfasts, appetizers, snacks, entrees and desserts. The Up ’Til Dawn’s grill guide includes meals, sauces, side dishes and desserts. Each book has a preface sharing some background about St. Jude and what each organization does throughout the year to help benefit the hospital. The cookbooks and grill guides can be purchased for $5 by contacting Downer at downera@allegheny.edu.

Online cookbook sales so far have raised about $1,300 for St. Jude, Downer says.

Allegheny's Delta Delta Delta chapter in 2019-20.
Allegheny’s Delta Delta Delta chapter in 2019-20.

Allegheny’s Up ’Til Dawn fundraising director is Elizabeth Graham, a junior from Butler, Pennsylvania, who is a political science major and communication minor. “In years past we have done car smashes, food trucks, and raffle baskets to reach our team goal,” Graham says. “It’s no surprise that just like everything else right now, we are learning how to adapt our fundraising for Up ’Til Dawn to be responsive to our global circumstances.”

The Allegheny Tri Delta chapter’s previous fundraising efforts have led to the chapter achieving the distinction of a “Top 10 Fundraising Chapter” for small schools from both the Delta Delta Delta national organization and St. Jude.

Each year, Tri Delta has various fundraising events on campus to support St. Jude.

“In the fall we have a pancake breakfast during Blue and Gold Weekend. We have a raffle at this event with baskets from the sisters of each academic year, Epsilon Iota (our chapter) alumni, and other organizations on campus,” says Downer. “In the spring we have Delta Desserts, an all you can eat dessert buffet. We also participate in a letter-writing campaign called ‘Sincerely Yours’ where we write to our friends and family asking for donations and sharing information about St. Jude and how their donations really make an impact. In the summer we have a 24-hour social media challenge where we try to raise ‘5K in a day.’ “

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Looking Forward To 2020-2021

As we prepare for the 2020 Fall semester, please keep in mind the amended Academic Calendar, giving us the advantage of having as few students as possible on campus during peak flu season (mid-November through early February). The spring semester calendar introduces the opportunity for an innovative and creative three-week intensive course in January and reduces the student course load at one time.

For more information, please check out the Registrar‘s page.  We look forward to seeing all of our current students, as well as meeting all of our new students!

Allegheny Student Maya Hackman Awarded Department of Veterans Affairs Health Professional Scholarship

Allegheny College student Maya HackmanAllegheny College student Maya Hackman has been awarded a scholarship through the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP), which provides financial assistance to individuals pursuing a program of study leading to a Master of Science in physician assistant studies.

Hackman, a junior biology major and psychology minor, will attend Chatham University for physician assistant studies in the fall as part of a 3+2 cooperative program with Allegheny. The Health Professional Scholarship Program awards provide for the payment of a monthly stipend, tuition, required fees and other reasonable educational expenses. This program helps to alleviate the health care workforce shortages in the VA by obligating scholarship recipients to complete two years of service at a VA health care facility after graduation and licensure/certification.

Hackman was a member of the varsity women’s soccer team and a NaviGator peer mentor at Allegheny.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Spring 2020 Senior Comp Due Dates Extended for Psych/Neuro Departments

Due to the disruption of classes this semester, the 2 semester senior comp due date will be extended to April 6th and the 1 semester comp due date will be extended to April 13th.  If you have any questions, please contact your senior comp advisor.  Comps will be due via email to your 1st and 2nd reader, as well as the building coordinator, choesch@allegheny.edu, as a PDF file using the file name “student last name_senior project”.  Comps must be received via email by 5 pm on the due date.

Allegheny Professor Emeritus Shares New-Age Vision in Off-Broadway Show

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Hold it and picture a field of poppies glistening in the sunlight among the rolling green hills. You are peaceful. You are floating among the clouds. Now exhale slowly and feel the love.

Joshua Searle-White has dropped plenty of coin to hear gurus share visions like this in workshop settings through the years. In the process he developed a love-hate relationship with the self-help and new-age movements — some of the philosophies and practices might seem strange and nonsensical, he says, but by the end of each weekend, he’s glad he stuck it out.

Joshua Searle-White in“The Weekend Workshop”
Joshua Searle-White rehearses his one-person stage production “The Weekend Workshop.” (Photos Courtesy Heather Curtis)

Searle-White, professor emeritus of psychology at Allegheny College, explores that relationship in a one-person stage production that he will preview in Meadville on October 26 before taking it to the bright lights of New York City in an off-Broadway show on November 3.

The play is called “The Weekend Workshop,” and it’s the story of a man who is pressured into going to a workshop because he is told he needs to “find himself.” Searle-White describes the show as “simultaneously a scathing critique of and a love letter to the self-help and new-age movements.”

“The new-age movement is low-hanging fruit,” says Searle-White, who retired in 2018 after 22 years of teaching at Allegheny. “It’s easy to make fun of it, but at the same time I love it.”

In “The Weekend Workshop,” the hero confronts the question: “What is the difference between something that is just goofy and something that is utterly profound?” The 90-minute production includes energetic staging, clever wordplay and lots of physical comedy.

Searle-White has behind-the-scenes assistance in the production from Dan Winston, a 2010 Allegheny graduate, who is the director; LeeAnn Yeckley, the technical director of Allegheny’s Playshop Theatre, who is the stage manager, and Noah Stape, a junior at Allegheny, who is the lighting operator.

“When Josh came to me with his idea for an original show and asked me to direct, I had no hesitations,” says Winston. “It’s unlike any other show I’ve ever worked on or seen. Josh performs it entirely on his own, splitting himself between seven unique and fully-realized characters. You’d think having only one actor on stage would make the show monotonous or that it would be difficult to have interactions between characters, but we worked really hard on fleshing out each character and blocking the show so that you feel like the characters are really alive in front of you, even when Josh is playing someone else.”

The show grew out of one of the courses Searle-White taught called “The Human Potential Movement,” and it takes on all sorts of new-age practices from eye-gazing to trust falls and cuddle puddles. Searle-White plays all the characters, which include the unnamed hero, Steve, Kip, Candy, Max, Star Thunder Hawk Flower (yes, that’s really what she calls herself!), and, of course, the Guru. “Everything that I make fun of in this play, I have done myself,” he says. “I love all of it. But I also resist it with my entire being. I sign up for workshops, but then when the time comes actually to go, I start making up excuses for why I shouldn’t or imagine all the other things I could be doing instead. But despite my resistance, and despite the many difficulties with these workshops, I keep going.”

The production in New York City is part of the three-month United Solo Theatre Festival, which features one-person shows and is the largest of its kind in the world. Searle-White and his crew will have 15 minutes to prepare the stage, 45 minutes for a technical rehearsal, 90 minutes for the play, and then 15 minutes to clear the stage. “It’s a real challenge,” he says.

Searle-White is not new to the stage, having appeared in some Meadville Community Theatre productions. He has also taught storytelling at Allegheny. “I’ve always loved the creative process. I’ve written stories and performed them for years, but I’ve never tried a full-length show until now,” he says. He currently is working on another play aimed at college students that will explore the issues of sexuality, relationships and consent, which will debut in Meadville in the spring of 2020.

“The Weekend Workshop” will be staged at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, in the Montgomery Performance Space on Allegheny’s campus. The show is free and open to the public; the show is recommended for adults only (not suitable for children). The one-time staging off-Broadway will be held in Theatre Row at 410 West 42nd St. in New York City at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3. The theater holds about 60 patrons, and admission will be $54.

In the meantime, take another deep breath. Feel the love. Namaste.

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