Campus Life

Penn State Berks announces July LionSide Chats

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Penn State Berks is reaching out to the local community in a new way – through LionSide Chats, a modern interpretation of President Roosevelt’s Depression-era “Fireside Chats.” These webinars provide current and timely talks from college faculty and staff experts on a variety of topics and disciplines. The one-hour webinars (30 minutes of content, 30 minutes discussion/questions) are free and open to the public. All LionSide Chats will be delivered via Zoom webinars. A complete schedule of talks and recordings of past LionSide Chats are available on the LionSide Chats website.

"Justice on Lockdown: Criminal Justice in America in the Shadow of COVID-19"
Ebonie Cunningham Stringer, assistant professor of criminal justice
July 9, 3 to 4 p.m.
While the nation rushed to find safety through social distancing from co-workers and clients, others found themselves unable to escape the close proximity that comes with living and working in America’s many overcrowded prisons and jails. Meanwhile, the administration of justice has all but come to a halt as many courts have suspended their regular functions in light of the COVID-19 inducted lockdown. This presentation explores the nuances of justice during this unprecedented moment in history.

"Simulating Infectious Disease Spread with an SIR Model"
Joe Mahoney, associate professor of mechanical engineering and kinesiology 
July 14, 4 to 5 p.m.
In this presentation, Mahoney will make a simple Susceptible-Infected-Removed (SIR) disease model in Matlab and simulate how a disease spreads in society. He will then make changes in the model to understand how changes to hygiene and distancing impact the results.

"A Friendly Introduction to the Mathematics of 'Curve Flattening'"
Cesar Martínez-Garza, associate professor of mathematics
July 17, 3 to 4 p.m.
Severe restrictions were placed on people worldwide to “flatten the coronavirus curve.” What does this mean? This talk will present a very simple explanation of the mathematics of exponential growth and how virus propagation models are made. If you can multiply numbers together, you are ready for this presentation.

"How Does Culture Affect Responses to COVID-19?"
Sharon Pitterson-Ogaldez, CliftonStrengths coordinator of diversity and international programs
July 22, 10 to 11 a.m.
This webinar will provide an overview of culture and its influence on people’s behaviors. How individuals responded to government calls to adjust their behaviors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus during the 2019 pandemic will be looked at through the culture of different countries.

"The Importance of Professional Networking"
Tyler Wackley, 2020, Penn State Berks alumnus and inside sales specialist at Gai-Tronics
July 23, noon to 1 p.m.
In this presentation, Wackley will discuss the importance of creating a professional network early and throughout your college career. This talk will focus on how that network can aid in internship and post-graduation job opportunities.

"Self-Awareness, Skills, and Success in College"
Aubrey Edwards, academic adviser
July 27, 4 to 5 p.m.
Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and passions will help you identify your goals and what you must do to achieve them. Adapting positive habits and academic skill sets will be necessary for academic success and an overall positive college experience.

Inspired by his family and friend’s desire for intellectual engagement during the current stay-at-home orders, Ryan Hassler, associate teaching professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks, realized that the faculty and staff at the college could help to fill that void. After approaching colleagues Dawn Pfeifer Reitz, assistant teaching professor of communication arts and sciences, and Sonia Delaquito, learning center coordinator, they put their heads together and came up with the concept for LionSide Chats, an educational platform for communication and gathering as our nation continues to face the challenges of COVID-19. 

Hassler stated, “What most impressed me was the faculty and staff who immediately indicated interest in offering a LionSide Chat based on their own unique expertise. LionSide Chats will enable us to reach beyond the boundaries of our campus and invite ourselves into the homes of our neighbors as we provide enriched and engaged dialog for our community.” 

Delaquito commented, “In a time when the majority of our everyday tasks have shifted online, this is Penn State Berks’ attempt to bridge the gap between the community and the college.” 

Reitz summarized, “The LionSide Chat series is a classic example of great ideas blossoming through communication and collaboration.” 

For more information and to view the LionSide Chats schedule, visit the website or email


Last Updated July 08, 2020