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Spotlight Stories in Commonwealth Campuses

Penn State Behrend student collects thousands of bottles of water for Flint
It isn’t often that a student receives a standing ovation for missing class, but that’s what met Penn State Behrend student Seun Babalola when he walked into his public speaking course on March 20.
PSU-LV students have global educational experience this spring break
Global experiences are viewed as an integral part of a student's college journey at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Some students recently spent their spring break on short-term study-abroad trips, to Ireland where they had the chance to present their undergraduate research; to Puerto Rico where they looked at coffee production as a model for sustainability; and to Spain where they explored the local culture and visited museums.
Investigating the relationship between the environment and the food industry
Chances are that you don’t think about industrial agriculture and its effect on the environment and local farming when you’re going through the drive-through of your favorite fast-food restaurant.
Great Lakes trip boosts watershed protection efforts at Penn State Behrend
Below deck on the R/V Lake Guardian, the largest of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s research vessels, Ann Quinn secured what she could, boxing lab samples as the ship see-sawed through rough water.
Salt on the Earth
When ice and snow melt away into streams and groundwater, road salt goes with it At the edge of Behrend Fields, where a footpath leads back to a one-acre parking lot, Pam Silver bends down and scoops a handful of snow into a small plastic cup.
Penn State graduates launch business aimed at eco-friendly recycling
Take a look in your basement, spare room or closet and you might see an old sofa, refrigerator or television. But a trio of Penn State graduates sees opportunity. Weiliang Lei, energy engineering, 2012; Endrit Ali, computer engineering, 2012; and Andriy Bokalo, electrical engineering, 2013; in April launched Wastekon, a company that designed a website to link reusable materials to collectors, or those in need.
Berks' bees and pollen variation subject of student’s independent study
What does the study of honey bees have to do with pollen variations and seasonal allergies? Science major Cassandra Darnell hopes to find out, through an ongoing independent study she is conducting on the honey bees that she brought to Penn State Berks.
Future leaders in wildlife conservation visit campus
A group of young people interested in careers focused on wildlife conservation or research visited Penn State DuBois on Monday to learn about educational opportunities that could interest them. A total of 19 high school age students visited as members of the Wildlife Leadership Academy, based in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and they learned more about the Penn State DuBois Wildlife Technology degree program during their visit.
No ordinary classroom
Imagine studying and learning where your classroom has no walls. It is the expansive Groot Winterhoek Wilderness where you sleep out under the stars and observe ancient rock paintings by the San and Khoi people. It is the Karoo National Park, a biodiversity conservation area, where you consider the effects of fracking. It is Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island where you hear stories from those who knew him personally and gain access not available to the general public.
Former New Kensington student’s ‘fracking’ research competing in Dubai
Mike Cavazza’s paper proposes solutions for acid mine drainage that helps industry and environment
Research at Hazleton campus leads to summer opportunity
New friends. Stimulating experiences. Innovative research. For Robert Vitagliano, this summer includes all of the above – as part of a Penn State University undergraduate research program.
Penn State Brandywine takes on Sustainable Initiatives
Last summer, the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library staff enrolled in the Green Paws program. Green Paws is a certification program designed to help offices at either University Park or other Commonwealth Campuses to be more sustainable.
Transforming Philadelphia's health, environment, economy
A recent conference at the Penn State Center in Philadelphia demonstrated the transformative resources the University and its collaborators offer in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Alternative spring break takes students to Belfast, Ireland
This year’s alternative spring break will take a group of 10 Penn State Berks students, along with two staff members, to Belfast, Ireland, where they will spend March 5 to 13 working on initiatives related to hunger and homelessness. From 1968 to 1998, Northern Ireland was torn apart by a violent 30-year conflict referred to as “The Troubles.” During this time, the goal of the unionist and Protestant majority was to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the goal of the nationalist and Republican, almost exclusively Catholic, minority was to become part of the Republic of Ireland. At its heart lay two mutually exclusive visions of national identity and national belonging. Although the conflict was resolved nearly 20 years ago, its effects are still evident in Northern Ireland today.
Scene at Abington: Bowl-ed over by love
A decade of No Place for Hate (NPFH) programming at Penn State Abington gives the campus community a framework to fight bias. Students expanded its content over the years to include challenges people face such as eating disorders and economic issues that lead to hunger and homelessness. At the NPFH Empty Bowls dinner, students donated $5 in exchange for a simple meal of bread and soup — more than many people have to eat in a day. They took home bowls made by Chris Bonner, art faculty, or by Kids and Teen College campers as a reminder that hunger exists every day, everywhere.
'I love bats'
Bats are finicky about their real estate. Their ideal abode is 15-20 feet off the ground, in direct sunlight for eight hours a day, close to water, and far from predators and artificial light. So when Cassandra Miller-Butterworth and Stephanie Cabarcas-Petroski’s biology students and Jim Hendrickson and Sherry Kratsas’ engineering students collaborated to research, design and build bat houses for class last spring, they found only two spots on Penn State Beaver’s campus that were just right — near the softball field and near the pond — and installed traditional houses there on Earth Day.
Penn State Altoona announces 2016 African American Read-In events
The twenty-seventh annual African American Read-In Chain will be celebrated at Penn State Altoona February 14 – 15, 2016. This year's theme is This Land: Place, Belonging, and Community in the African American Experience.
New Kensington first to achieve campus-wide Green Paws milestone
Level one certification for reducing waste and saving energy 100 percent participation by faculty and staff “All in” is the betting standard in Texas Holdem. “All in” is the sustainability standard at Penn State New Kensington.
Campus butterfly nursery aims to help save the monarch
Students and faculty in the Wildlife Technology Program at Penn State DuBois will do their part to save an iconic species of butterfly from possible extinction beginning this year.
three students sitting in a cardboard box setup
Penn State Behrend students create Cardboard City
Joseph Helbling, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, participated in the Cardboard City fundraiser at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The event requires teams of students to build homes using nothing other than cardboard, duct tape, boxes and any other disposable materials they can find. The students then live in the home for 24 hours, taking shifts, all in an effort to raise funds for the Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest nonprofit food distribution organization in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Tree art installation
‘These Trees’ art installation at Penn College weaves cross-campus connections
Over two weeks, more than 160 students from various majors participated in the creation of “These Trees,” an art piece utilizing a variety of tree species harvested from Penn College’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center and installed on the west lawn of the Bush Campus Center at the college’s main campus in Williamsport. Working alongside internationally known environmental artists Kathy Bruce and Alastair R. Noble, the students assisted in creating Bruce and Noble’s vision of a spiraling text quoting William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
Kyle Watson at a farm
Brandywine honors students volunteer at farm, food bank for World Food Problems course
Twenty-five Penn State Brandywine freshman honors students recently volunteered their time at Pete’s Produce Farm in West Chester and the Chester County Food Bank in Exton as part of their World Food Problems course taught by Pauline Guerin, associate professor of psychology and program coordinator.
Sophomore’s field research looks at environmental change
Unlike the majority of college students, Kimmie Bowen saw summer vacation not as a time for rest and relaxation, but as a great academic opportunity. The Penn State Brandywine rising sophomore and meteorology major recently teamed up with associate professor of earth sciences Laura Guertin to conduct fieldwork monitoring local environmental change.
Hepner created this test image at her Pittsburgh home using light painting and her homemade LED pixel device.  Image: Lori Hepner
Penn State photographer is starting a conversation about climate change
“When thinking about global issues such as climate change, I thought it would be important for people who don’t live in extreme locations like the Arctic or on the Equator to see how climate change is affecting other places differently or more visibly than it is us,” Lori Hepner, a photographer and associate professor of integrative arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny, said. “I’ll ultimately exhibit the photos in the United States to help people here see climate change through the eyes of others — something art may be able to do in a more humanistic way than scientific data, which isn’t always tangible or relatable,” she adds. But it won’t be typical landscape photography. In addition to taking traditional atmospheric-style landscapes, Hepner will also use an abstract style of photography called light painting to create her images.
Senior psychology major Megan Draper assists with field research in Borneo's rain forest, measuring specially tagged trees that are known to be primate feeding and sleeping trees. Image: Megan Draper
Senior's Borneo expedition fuels honors thesis, orangutan research, career goals
Penn State Brandywine student, Megan Draper, recently traveled to distant areas of the tropical rain forest of Borneo, taking part in a seven-week research journey alongside leading experts. “It’s about the conservation of a very unique ecosystem,” she said. “A lot of the data is collected to try to gauge the overall health of the ecosystem.”
Altoona students take greenhouses to Rwanda in HESE program
Altoona students take greenhouses to Rwanda in HESE program
Yixin Sun’s life changed when she began working with Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program last year. The program opened her eyes to what social entrepreneurship could accomplish, the sophomore from Beijing said. It also helped put her daily life into perspective. “HESE showed me the big picture,” said Sun, who spent a month in Kenya last spring working on a prototype rainwater collection system. The industrial engineering major now hopes to become a social entrepreneur after graduating. “I like the idea that it’s a kind of entrepreneurship but has social impact as well,” she said.
The Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building at Penn State Berks
Gaige Building awarded prestigious LEED green building certification
The Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building at Penn State Berks has been awarded LEED gold level certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.
American elm tree lives on after its removal at Penn State Altoona
American elm tree lives on after its removal at Penn State Altoona
It stood tall through 85 years of wind, rain, snow and heat. It saw 170 semesters and tens of thousands of students pass by. It likely would have stood proudly for another 85 years and 85 after that, but tiny beetles burrowed in the bark of the massive elm tree and slowly began killing it from leaves to roots. The Dutch elm disease that ravaged through the tree meant it had to be cut down, a loss for the campus, surely, yet a teaching opportunity and a chance to practice one of the three R’s of sustainability – reuse
Penn State DuBois students help clean their community
Penn State DuBois helps create sustainable future for students and community
Penn State DuBois, nestled in Clearfield County, is one the many commonwealth campuses putting an emphasis on sustainability. From offering the Minor in Sustainability Leadership to students reaching out to the community, the campus is working hard to incorporate sustainability into everyone’s lives.
Cousteau, granddaughter of famed undersea explorer Jacque Cousteau, will kick off Penn State Altoona's Distinguished Speaker Series. Image: www.alexandracousteau.org
Explorer Alexandra Cousteau to speak at Penn State Altoona on sustaining a healthy earth
Alexandra Cousteau will be the first speaker for Penn State Altoona's 2013-14 Distinguished Speaker Series. Cousteau, granddaughter of famed undersea explorer Jacque Cousteau, will present "This Blue Planet: Preserving and Sustaining a Healthy Earth" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the Misciagna Family Center for the Performing Arts.
Students traveling to Belize as part of the Rainforest Ethnobotany Experiential Learning Adventure gained an invaluable international perspective by working with indigenous healers, exposing them to a different approach to medicine.  Image: Penn State
Berks students study ethnobotany in Belize
Students enrolled in the Rainforest Ethnobotany Experiential Learning Adventure to Belize at Penn State Berks traveled to Belize from May 5 to 15 with Aisha Jaffri, instructor in biology, to learn how plants from the rainforest can be used to treat a variety of illnesses. Six seniors participated in the trip, including Kristine Feick, Rebecca James, Abdullah Naeem, Andrew Salamak, Dewilka Simons and Nathaniel Tschudy.
3,000 miles per gallon?
The carbon-fiber test car built by students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, would be a tough sell in Detroit, where comfort and cup-holders come first.
The event was sponsored by the campus Green Team and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.
New Kensington sponsored composting conference
Penn State New Kensington offered a guide to starting a composting program, sponsored by the campus Green Team and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. The first Composting Conference features speakers from the institute and other Penn State campuses.
Penn State Behrend students Brian Wilking and Stephen Galdo take leftover food from the dining hall to the Erie City Mission.
Penn State Behrend helping to make Erie a sustainable community
Both on and off campus, Penn State Behrend students, faculty, and staff are working hard to make Erie a more sustainable place to live. Efforts ranging from students participating in the National Energy Challenge and the coordination of their second Trash to Treasure sale, groups and organizations are raising awareness and generating excitement about sustainability.
Penn State Altoona makes great strides in sustainability
Penn State Altoona makes great strides in sustainability
Whether you follow the paw prints to the renovated building downtown, take the new bike path near Thoreau’s cabin, or hike the trails of Seminar Forest, you’ll be sure to see the sustainability efforts Penn State Altoona has been making.