Silver Celebrated: Professor honored for decades of work on journal Freshwater Science

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Pam Silver (21) smaller

Dr. Pam Silver, interim associate dean for academic affairs and distinguished professor of biology, was in graduate school when she submitted her first paper to what was then the journal of the North American Benthological Society (now the journal Freshwater Science).

“It came back covered in red ink,” Silver said. “The founding editor of the journal, Rosemary Mackay, worked with me and taught me how to write.”

It’s a favor that Silver went on to pay forward for twenty-one years, serving in various roles at the journal, including editor-in-chief for the last thirteen years, until her retirement from the journal this spring.

“Pam worked tirelessly to improve and grow the journal while unselfishly working in the trenches with authors to improve their manuscripts,” said Jack Feminella, professor and associate dean of academic affairs at Auburn University, and Charles Hawkins, professor in the department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University, in their nomination of Silver for the Society for Freshwater Science’s Distinguished Service Award. “Over her tenure as editor-in-chief, Pam has been a role model and mentor to many young authors and new appointees to the Editorial Board. Aside from her incredible work ethic, Pam’s ability to work effectively with all kinds of personalities is perhaps her greatest strength.”

These attributes did not go unnoticed at Penn State Behrend, where last year Silver was tapped to serve as interim associate dean for academic affairs. It was a promotion that ultimately led her to give up her work at the journal.

“My head needs to be here at Penn State Behrend,” Silver said.

Before she left the journal, however, they honored her with a Distinguished Service Award at the group’s fall conference in Detroit.

Though Silver prefers to avoid the spotlight, we did get her to sit down for a Q&A about the award, her years at the journal, and why the sleep deprivation was all worth it.

Why are scientific journals important?

It’s a way to disseminate information in a way that ensures its validity. Is the work scientifically valid? Can the findings be trusted? If it is in Freshwater Science, it’s been peer-reviewed. Now, what you can know depends on the tools and techniques that are currently available. And, so, in that way, journals can be historically valuable, too. They contain the history of how that knowledge evolved over time. It’s also a way of creating a network of people, a community, that share information. Sharing that information can inspire more curiosity, which leads to more science. It’s like scaffolding. Scientists just keep building on top of earlier work. Every paper published is resting on a pyramid of other papers.

Tell us about the journal for Freshwater Science. Who reads it? How is it distributed? Who submits articles?

It’s a professional journal for ecologists, biologists, and environmental scientists who both read it and submit to it. The Society for Freshwater Science co-publishes the journal with the University of Chicago Press quarterly. To my knowledge, it’s the only major scientific journal in the field of freshwater science that is still society-published. Most other journals have been sold to commercial publishers. There is both a print and an online version that is available to SFS’s 1,500 members.

Are all submitted papers published?

Definitely not. Articles are fully peer-reviewed. The editorial board rejects about 60 to 65 percent of submissions.

How did you get involved with the journal?

The journal was founded when I was in graduate school and I submitted a paper. The editor bled red ink all over it, but she taught me how to make it better. I actually thought, ‘I want her job.’ I applied to be a member of the editorial board (they review the science in the papers) and was accepted in 1997. In 2002, they asked me to be a co-editor. When Dave Rosenberg, the journal’s second editor-in-chief retired in 2005, they asked me to take the job.

This was in addition to your full-time job as a biology professor at Behrend?

Yes. It was like having another full-time job. I probably worked an additional forty hours a week editing articles and working with the writers.

What would people be surprised to know about editing a scientific journal?

The amount of work that it requires. Each article involved about twenty hours of time, and we published about 100 articles a year, so that’s about 2,000 hours annually. By the time an issue published, I will have read and edited every page at least four times.

Were you responsible for reviewing the science, too?

No. The editorial board did all the science. I did the wordsmithing and double-checked the science.

The people who nominated you for the award said you did that very well.

Yes, I know that the journal got a reputation as a place to teach students how to write and edit. When I announced I was retiring, I heard from dozens of contributors who said, ‘How can you retire? We need you!’ I think I was a good editor. I was honest, but made every effort to be kind and I tried hard to keep our interactions informal. The authors may not have liked all the changes I made to their paper, but they usually agreed that I made it better.

What is the most frequent problem you encountered when editing?

Organization. If a paper was hard to understand, it was usually because of paragraph, sentence, or word order and inconsistency in how the authors were referring to things.

What are three things scientists (or anyone) could do to improve their writing?

  1. Use precise and concise language.
  2. Use the active voice.
  3. Use forward moving sentences.
  4. Think of the audience. If you can’t explain it to a non-scientist, you need to work on your communication skills.

One of the things you’re credited with is diversifying the organization as well as the membership.

I made a real effort to increase international diversity and bring more women onto the editorial board. I also tried to include more young scientists. Everyone has something to bring to the table and the publication benefited from having a variety of perspectives.

Why was it important to include young scientists?

For the same reason that I love to teach first-year students. They’re young and excited and full of energy and they still want to save the world. You can help mentor them to direct that energy to things that are important.

Did you enjoy editing?

I did. The biggest benefit of editing the journal was learning about so many different and interesting things in freshwater science. In any issue, I might be editing an article about the sex life of a water bug and another about microplastics in the Chicago River and another about molecular biology. Every paper was an intellectual challenge for me, and it made all the work and sleep deprivation worth it.

What’s next for you?

Well, I have plenty of work to do as the interim associate dean for academic affairs, and I’m hoping to find time to write about my own road salt research work. I’m still teaching a little, too. I have an Urban Ecology class in the spring semester that I’m very excited about. It’s going to be a fun challenge.

Excellence runs in Schupp family, twice chosen to Marshal

By Christine Palattella
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Kelsey Schupp (3)

Student Marshal Kelsey Schupp

On Friday night, Student Marshal Kelsey Schupp ’16 will lead her fellow Black School of Business commencement candidates into Erie Insurance Arena just as her sister, Brooke ʼ14, did two years ago.

Only five Student Marshals are chosen for a commencement ceremony, one representing each of Penn State Behrend’s four academic schools plus an Honors candidate to lead the college’s Schreyer Scholars. To recognize their outstanding academic achievements, Student Marshals are given the honor of carrying the banners that precede each of the five candidate groups onto the arena floor.

Kelsey will receive concurrent degrees in Accounting and Finance and soon will begin working as a proposal analyst associate at Lockheed Martin’s Missile and Fire Control division in Orlando. Brooke joined GE Transportation after graduating with a degree in Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies; this fall she completes her fourth and final rotation in GE’s Operations Management Leadership Program.

Was being named Marshal a goal for you, Kelsey?

I wouldn’t necessarily say being Marshal was a specific goal I made, but I knew there was a good chance of it happening because my personal goal was graduating with a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Was Brooke an inspiration? Are you two competitive?

Brooke graduated with a 4.0 GPA too. I’ve always wanted to do my very best in school purely for my own satisfaction, but Brooke’s performance at Behrend pushed me to try even harder. She definitely left me some big shoes to fill.

In my junior year I started a game with myself –I decided to see how much more I could take on while maintaining my GPA. This is when I started working at internships during the school year and participating in academic competitions like the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge. I was captain of the team that reached the global semi-finals, ending as the 21st team out of over 1,000 competing.

I think Brooke and I are more competitive with ourselves than each other. But we do sometimes push each other, to make each other a better person, of course.

Looking back, Brooke, what did the Marshal experience mean to you?

Kelsey summarized it right when she said we are more competitive with ourselves than we are with each other. Being a Marshal allowed me to see that my parents had done an amazing job creating self-motivating adults capable of anything we put our minds to – even a 4.0 in college – a trait I hope I can someday pass on to those around me.

Brooke Schupp (2)

Brooke Schupp, Kelsey’s sister and a 2014 Marshal

How do you feel about Kelsey following in your footsteps?

In college I mainly focused on my coursework, working to prove to myself that a 4.0 wasn’t impossible. Kelsey took that to the next level by being extremely active in other groups and competitions, for example taking her team to Nationals for the CFA Institute Research Challenge competition! The dedication, time management, and leadership she was able to muster over her senior year is beyond incredible to me and proof that my little sister isn’t so little anymore.

Penn State Behrend’s 2016 spring commencement will be held on Friday, May 6, in Erie Insurance Arena, 809 French St. The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed live at behrend.psu.edu.

Political Science Major Wins Two-Month Fellowship to Berlin

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Megan McConnell

Megan McConnell, a sophomore majoring in Political Science at Penn State Behrend, has won a fully-funded Cultural Vista Fellowship to complete a two-month internship in Berlin this summer. The fellowship also covers an orientation in New York City, airfare, housing, internship placement, and transportation.

Cultural Vista Fellowships offer U.S. college students the opportunity to advance their career goals, develop global competencies, and experience life in another culture.

“Cultural Vista Fellowship is a classic example of engaged scholarship affording students with a hands-on international two-months internship experience, in this case in Berlin, Germany, immersing Megan in German language and culture, and giving her the opportunity to gain solid real world experience by interning with a German employer,” said Dr. Eva Kuttenberg, associate professor of German. “I am humbled by Megan’s drive and commitment.”

McConnell, who is minoring in German and History, is one of just four national recipients of the fellowship.

“I think my strong background in German language and ability to adapt to diverse situations played a big part in why I was selected,” McConnell said. “My comfort interacting with people from all walks of life also helped make me a viable candidate.”

McConnell will attend orientation in New York City at the end of May before departing for Berlin on June 1. While she is there, she’ll be working as an intern with a political organization.

“I’m looking forward to gaining invaluable insight into the German political system and ideologies,”McConnell said. “I plan on pursuing a career in politics and diplomacy, so this experience will help me interact with the country in a diplomatic sense later.”

McConnell is the third winner of a fully-funded fellowship from Penn State Behrend. Last year, History major Olivia Duryea won a Teaching Assistants fellowship and spent nine months in Bad Hofgastein, Austria, assisting with English classes. In 2009, Physics and Science major Nicole Gall won a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Research Internship in Science and Engineering Fellowship and spent three months working in a physics lab at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

Love of writing defines O’Neill’s time at Behrend

Katherine O'Neill

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

As a child, Katie O’Neill always had a keen interest in writing and creative expression. This affinity continued when she got to grade school, and it was not long before others started to notice.

“I had a teacher when I was in first grade who told my mom to get me a journal,” O’Neill recalls.

That would seem to have been excellent advice. As O’Neill has grown up, her passion for writing has become a defining characteristic.

“I’ve always been a writer before anything else,” the Lake Winola, Pa., native says.

That passion is what brought her to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The college’s BFA in Creative Writing piqued her interest as the only such program in the Penn State system and one of only a few in the country.

“That was definitely the number one draw,” she says.

Through the inventive program, O’Neill, who graduated this past May, says she was able to focus intently on improving her inventive writing skills. She also improved her editing abilities serving on the staff of Lake Effect, an international literary journal published by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend.

Along the way, O’Neill garnered accolades. This past year alone, her non-fiction story, “Achill Strikes Again,” won Behrend’s Farrell Nonfiction Award while her fiction piece “Juneau” was the college’s Smith Fiction Award winner. Her short fiction piece, “Tony and Rebecca” was also named an honorable mention in the Annual Creative Writing Awards, sponsored by Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, New York.

O’Neill says her inspiration comes from “the weirdest things,” but also a more traditional source. Thanks to the college’s Creative Writers Reading Series and professional conferences, O’Neill met and networked with numerous professional authors throughout her college career. With every interaction, she says she would pick up a tip or two that she put to good use.

During her time at Penn State Behrend, O’Neill was involved beyond creative writing activities. She was the captain of the college’s dance team, a member of the Behrend Choir and a writing tutor in the Learning Resource Center.

This past spring, O’Neill’s efforts were recognized with two awards: Behrend’s Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award and a university-wide Eclipse Award. The Walker Award recognizes a student whose character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship have been directed into student programs and services. The Eclipse Award recognizes Penn State students for service and volunteerism to their campus and local communities.

This fall, O’Neill will start pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She reflects fondly on her time at Penn State Behrend and hopes new students will choose to follow a similar path.

“My advice is to get involved from the start. I’m so glad I got involved right away. It can be overwhelming, but it’s (worth it),” she says. “I’ve made some amazing friends. I’m going to miss everything about this place.”

Move over, Bill Nye. Penn State Behrend has its own ‘Science Guy’

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Joel Solomon (3)

Joel Solomon, a physics major, was the recipient of this year’s T. Reed Ferguson Award. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

For some kids, it’s Cartoon Network. For others, it’s Nickelodeon. For Joel Solomon, it was the Science channel?

“Growing up, I just always watched that channel,” says Solomon, who recently completed his junior year at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “I was fascinated by what humanity has been able to do over the years, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that.”

Math and science resonated with Solomon, and that interest led the New Wilmington, Pa., native to Penn State Behrend. As he got older, he knew he wanted to pursue research in college, and he could think of no better destination than Behrend.

“Being able to get a great education at a small campus is great,” says Solomon, a physics major. “I was looking for a research-oriented institution, and Behrend is one of the few schools in the region that offers such opportunities. I know that with a degree from here, I can go anywhere that I choose.”

This past year, Solomon collaborated with Bruce Wittmershaus, associate professor of physics, on a research project titled, “Concentration Dependence of Coated Gold Nanoparticles for Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.” The project was recognized as the Best Poster Presentation this past April at the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference.

Undergraduate research has been a big part of his time at the college, but Solomon’s interests go beyond the academic realm. For the past three years, he’s been a goalie on the men’s soccer team. This past year, Solomon was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, a national society that honors collegiate student-athletes who excel in both the classroom and in athletic competition. The society recognizes student-athletes who received a varsity letter in their sport while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher throughout their junior and/or senior years. Solomon is also a former AMCC All-Academic selection.

“I feel as if soccer complements my academics. Just being physically active helps me keep up with my coursework,” he says.

Solomon’s accomplishments on the field and in the classroom played a key role in his receiving the 2014-15 T. Reed Ferguson Award last April at the college’s 66th annual Honors and Awards Convocation. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

“I was very happy to receive the award, and it was nice to know my work is paying off,” Solomon says. “It just reassured me that I’m on the right path, but I know there’s more that I can do.”

Solomon will get the chance to fulfill that promise of further achievement this fall, continuing his undergraduate research as the recipient of a grant to explore the topic of “Enhancing the Photostability of Fluorophores Using Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.”

For the future, Solomon plans to attend graduate school and possibly work with optics. His ultimate goal, though, has its roots in the programs he watched on Science as a boy.

“My dream job is always going to be something with NASA. I have always been fascinated by all of NASA’s accomplishments,” he says, “so that’s the dream, and that’s what I’ll keep working toward.”

Turnbull Award winner relishes her time spent at Behrend

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

First impressions go a long way. Just ask Amyelia Payne.

Four years ago, while searching for colleges, the New Castle native toured Penn State Behrend. That’s all it took for her to make up her mind.

“We had this awesome tour guide, and right away, I knew Behrend was for me. I instantly fell in love with the campus,” the senior interdisciplinary business with engineering studies (IBE) and international business major recalls.

Payne’s experience that day would later influence her campus involvement as a student. When she looked into organizations to join, one club resonated with her.

“I loved Lion Ambassadors because a Lion Ambassador was the first person that I met when I came to campus,” Payne says. “I remember how that influenced me, and I wanted to have that same impact on students when they came to tour Behrend.”

Joining Lion Ambassadors was just the start of Payne’s influence and involvement. She joined Lambda Sigma and Beta Gamma Sigma, both national honor societies, and also became very active in Student Government Association (SGA). As a junior, she was SGA vice president before serving as president this past year.

Through SGA, Payne has left her mark. She’s helped spearhead discussions and preliminary plans to transform Erie Hall into a fitness and recreation center and Behrend’s SGA played a part in expanding Penn State’s smoking policy to include electronic and vapor cigarettes.

As SGA president, Payne also introduced an international seat on the organization’s board in response to the college’s growing international student population. This past fall, Penn State Behrend welcomed 186 international students, the largest such class ever at the college.

“We’ve seen such an influx of international students, and this was done to ensure that they had equal representation,” Payne says.

Payne’s involvement on campus was recognized in April at the 66th Honors and Awards Convocation where she was named the recipient of the Thomas H. Turnbull Award. The award recognizes a Penn State Behrend student who has contributed to the college community through outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship.

As it happens, when it came time for the naming of the Turnbull Award winner, Payne was already on stage handing out awards as part of her duties as SGA president.

“I had been standing up there for more than two hours smiling, and by the time they got to the final awards, my face hurt. I heard them say IBE and international business major and I thought, ‘Wait a minute; I’m the only one here with that double major,’” she recalls. “I was so shocked, but it was an incredible feeling to be recognized. I’ve given a lot to Behrend in four years, but I could never repay the experiences that it’s given to me.”

This week, Payne will graduate with her IBE degree and head to Cary, North Carolina, to intern with LORD Corporation this summer. She will study abroad in Barcelona this fall before graduating with her international business degree in December.

She says she will miss her time at Behrend, but she’s also hopeful and excited for the future.

“I’m not sad. There have been times over the past month when I’ve thought about it, but why be sad? It’s inevitable, so there’s no reason to dwell on it,” Payne says. “Everyone comes to college to get a degree and for their academics, but it’s what you do outside your degree that makes your experience unique. I’ve done all that I could, and I think I’m looking forward to that next stage of my life. ”

Paul Lukasik leaves imprint at Behrend through Servant Leadership Award

William staniszewski (2)

Bill Staniszewski (left) was the recipient of the Paul Lukasik Servant Leadership Award at this year’s Center for Service and Civic Leadership’s Service Awards.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Paul Lukasik unassumingly walked to the podium, flashing an abashed smile at the crowd of more than 50 people in attendance at Penn State Behrend’s Center for Service and Civic Leadership’s Service Awards.

“Just so you know, my face gets red when I get nervous,” said Lukasik, displaying humility that’s fitting in light of the award he was about to present: The Paul Lukasik Servant Leadership Award.

The award, created and presented to Lukasik in 2014 and subsequently named in his honor, recognizes a Penn State Behrend junior who, through leadership in a student organization or class, encourages others to engage in service and civic engagement.

This year’s honoree was Bill Staniszewski, a junior mechanical engineering major who has completed numerous service projects with THON and Triangle Fraternity.

“Being honored with this award was the highlight of my semester. It really means a lot to me, especially as one of the leaders of Behrend Benefitting THON,” Staniszewski said. “When I heard that I was the recipient, it helped to reaffirm my commitment to leading by example.”

For Lukasik, having an award named in his honor has been a humbling experience.

“It’s hard to put words to it. Presenting the award hammered home to me that this is something that will stay even after I’m gone,” said Lukasik, a senior project and supply chain management major. “My hope, though, is that people will look beyond the name of the award and see its intention.”

Naming an award after a current student is an unconventional practice, but according to Carrie Egnosak, an academic adviser and a member of the Service Awards Committee that created the award, Lukasik is especially deserving of the honor.

“Paul has just been so involved with service from the very first moment he stepped onto campus,” Egnosak said. “He’s one of the few students who has participated in every Alternative Spring Break trip since he’s been here, and he tends to take on a leadership role with any club or organization that he becomes involved with. Everybody who knows him loves him because he would do anything for anyone.”

Since arriving at Behrend, Lukasik has performed services projects through Reality Check, Behrend’s community service-oriented club; Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society; Relay for Life; and Alternative Spring Break; and has served as a resident assistant.

Lukasik said his commitment to service dates back to childhood, helping out at Fair Haven’s Church, founded in North Tonawanda, N.Y., by his grandparents.

He contends his commitment to service won’t be changing anytime soon. After graduation, he plans to do volunteer work through GE Transportation, where he has accepted a position in the Commercial Leadership Program, and also hopes to make a service trip to David’s Home, an orphanage founded in Haiti by Fair Haven’s Church.

Lukasik said he is grateful for all of the opportunities he’s received at Behrend, and he hopes new students will continue to pursue service work.

“Behrend as a whole has given me so many opportunities. I’ve had internships, gone on service trips and had leadership positions,” he said. “The service work just draws you in. It’s mutually beneficial and so rewarding. No matter how busy you are, there’s always something you can do, and I think it’s our civic duty to give back.”