June 12, 1997......Volume 26, Issue 33

News . . . . Arts . . . . Calendars . . . . Letters . . . . Links . . . . Deadlines . . . . Archive

Search the contents of the Intercom archives and
news releases issued by the Department of Public Information.

Alumni pledge $ million
Erie gets endowed scholarship
Daycare construction progressing
'World Campus' is moving forward
Do you read me?
Book Shelf
Hot slate roof!
Intercom readership survey
The New Penn State

Capital College offers more options
Partnerships at core of philosophy

College of Medicine honors Alumni Fellow
CIC names five Fellows
DuBois program accredited

Faculty/Staff Alerts
Orion program orients freshmen
Camera provides X-ray view of universe
Still life
Associate dean sought
ICDE speaker offers possibilities
Memorial service planned
Penn Staters
Penn State news bureau


Free seminar

A lecture examining the life and work of award-winning artist Betye Saar, shown here setting up her "Tangled Roots" exhibit at the Palmer Museum of Art in 1996, will be one of several to focus on African American writers, poets, dramatists, filmmakers, activists, artists, musicians and steelworkers during the "African American Traditions" seminar to be presented by the Institute for the Arts and Humanistic Studies June 22-28 at University Park. The free seminar also includes a staged reading of a new play by Charles Dumas, associate professor of theatre arts; film screenings; a "mini-performance" by a jazz trio and a follow-up lecture on the roots of jazz; and a reading of works by African American post-modernist poets. For more information, contact Sue Reighard at (814) 865-0495 or e-mail iahs@psu.edu.
Photo: Greg Grieco

Summer Science Seminars
to cover a variety of topics

Spend a summer afternoon learning about the latest research from top scientists in the Eberly College of Science. Sponsored by the Office of Summer Sessions and the College of Science, Summer Science Seminars present new research findings to graduate students, faculty and a general audience interested in science.

The free seminars are held Thursday afternoons in the Nittany Lion Inn at University Park with refreshments at 3:30 p.m. and presentations at 4 p.m.

* June 19 in the Penn State Room: Paul Babitzke, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, on "Regulation of Gene Expression by RNA Structure and RNA-Binding Proteins."

* June 26 in the Fireside Room: Mark Handcock, associate professor of statistics, and Martina Morris, associate professor of sociology and statistics, on "Getting the Most Out of Your Data: A Graphical Approach to Measuring Distributional Differences."

* July 3 in the Penn State Room: Qi Li, assistant professor of physics, on "Science and Technology of Giant and Colossal Magnetoresistance Materials."

* July 17 in the Penn State Room: Richard Ordway, assistant professor of biology, discusses "Nerve Cell Function: Lessons From Tiny Flies."

* July 24 in the Penn State Room: Karl Mueller, assistant professor of chemistry, on "Spinning, Flipping and Connectivity: Solid-State NMR of Complex Solids."

* July 31 in the Penn State Room: Leonid Berlyand, professor of mathematics, talks about "Percolation Theory and Disordered Materials."

Methodology Workshop focus
to be structural equations

Nationally renowned experts in structural equation modeling will come to University Park June 30 for the fourth annual Population Research Institute-sponsored Methodology Workshop in 101 Kern.

Kenneth Bollen, Zachary Smith professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, a leading methodologist in the uses of structural equations, launches the one-day workshop with "An Overview of Structural Equation Models." This session, beginning at 9 a.m., draws on Bollen's book Structural Equations With Latent Variables. Bollen, a Fellow of the Statistical Core at the Carolina Population Center at University of North Carolina, is best known for his cross-national research on democratic political systems and his statistical research on structural equation models.

Two afternoon sessions, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., present applications of this modeling approach. Frederick Lorenz, professor of sociology and statistics at Iowa State University, will discuss the use of structural equations for growth curve modeling. Much of Lorenz's work focuses on patterns of interactions within families as a key mediating mechanism linking economic conditions to physical, psychological and behavioral outcomes of children and adults.

D. Wayne Osgood, professor of crime, law and justice, and sociology at Penn State, rounds out the workshop with a presentation of additional uses of the method in "Structural Equation Modeling: Some Examples." He is the co-author of Personality and Peer Influence in Juvenile Corrections.

Registration for the Structural Equation Modeling Methodology Workshop is free for all Penn State faculty, students and staff. Supplementary reading packets, to be distributed before the workshop, are guaranteed for the first 60 registrants. For registration information, contact Melonie Heron at (814) 863-9571 or through e-mail at workshop@pop.psu.edu.

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Shelly K. Aina, lead applications programmer/analyst in Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

Mary Kay Amistadi, research support associate in College of Agricultural Sciences.

Brenda J. Bailey, clinical trials data specialist at The Hershey Medical Center.

Evette E. Bazemore, network coordinator at Penn State Delaware County.

Brian S. Becker, communications support coordinator in Computer and Information Systems-Telecommunications.

Gregory A. Berthold, network coordinator in Computer and Information Systems-Telecommunications.

David E. Beyerle, senior communications engineer in Computer and Information Systems-Telecommunications.

Lisa A. Bitner, staff assistant V in Housing and Food Services.

Diane A. Boldin, staff assistant V in Continuing and Distance Education.

Kelly L. Seesholtz, staff assistant VI at The Hershey Medical Center.

Stephen A. Shala, senior applications programmer/analyst in College of Agricultural Sciences.

Jennifer J. Shultz, customer service coordinator at Penn State Harrisburg, Capital College.

Judy R. Spangler, staff assistant VI in Business Services.

Mary A. Spangler, systems planning specialist III in Computer and Information Systems-Administrative Systems.

William W. Speakman, director of development in Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

Kathy M. Spicer, administration specialist in College of the Liberal Arts.

Ellen M. Springer, staff assistant VI in Business Services.

Vickie A. Stevens, staff assistant V in Continuing and Distance Education.

Rose M. Stewart, staff assistant VI in Applied Research Laboratory.

Barbara A. Struble, assistant to the Bursar in Corporate Controller's Office.

Patricia A. Tarbay, staff assistant VII in Office of Budget and Resource Analysis.

Carol S. Tyler, staff assistant V in Business Services.

Sharon A. Ward, coordinator, research studies at The Hershey Medical Center.

Christine L. Wentzel, medical review coordinator at The Hershey Medical Center.

Meredith K. Williams, coordinator, Student and Corporate Services in The Smeal College of Business Administration.

Karen A. Wilson, program aide in Continuing and Distance Education.

Stephen J. Wright, director, distance education programs in Continuing and Distance Education.

Technical Service

Jerry L. Jones, press operator, offset duplicator, single in Business Services.

James A. McGovern, storeroom assistant in Housing and Food Services.

Katherine A. Plymyer, residence hall-utility worker in Housing and Food Services.

Michael H. Preslovich, maintenance worker-general in Housing and Food Services.

Charles A. Spicer, property protection guard in University Safety.

Russell L. Witherite, maintenance worker-general in Housing and Food Services.

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Several honored in
College of Engineering

The College of Engineering has announced the recipients of its 1997 faculty and staff awards. These awards are given annually to honor outstanding teaching, research, advising and service among its faculty and staff. Award recipients were nominated by their respective departments and selected by colleagues and representatives from the Penn State Engineering Society (PSES), an alumni constituent organization and sponsor of the awards program.

* Premier Teaching Award

Recognizes and honors an individual whose contributions to engineering education or to the art of teaching are of exceptional quality. This year's recipient is Russell R. Barton, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. Barton's success as a teacher has always been evident in student evaluations and by the number of students who select him as an adviser. Since joining Penn State in 1991, he has worked to improve the engineering curriculum by incorporating new and innovative courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

* Premier Research Award

Recognizes and honors individuals whose contributions to scientific knowledge through research are exemplary and internationally acclaimed. This year two faculty received this award:

-- Philip J. Morris, Boeing/AD Welliver professor of aerospace engineering, joined the faculty in 1977. Morris is known internationally for his contributions to the prediction of noise from supersonic jets. His research at Penn State also involves the use of parallel computers for computational aeroacoustics.

-- Christopher R. Wronski, Leonhard professor of microelectronic materials and devices, electrical engineering and engineering science and mechanics. His research involves thin photovoltaics and solar cell technology based on hydrogenated amorphous silicon. He has pioneered research on solar cell development and light-induced defect generation. Wronski joined Penn State's faculty in 1987.

* Advising, Teaching and Research Awards

The PSES Outstanding Advising Award recognizes and honors those serving as academic advisers to engineering students. Timothy C. Ovaert, associate professor of mechanical engineering, received this award for his outstanding contributions in this capacity.

* Outstanding Teaching Awards

The Outstanding Teaching Awards recognize and honor outstanding engineering educators for excellence in teaching and for contributions to the art of teaching.

-- Renata S. Engel, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, and of engineering design and graphics; John S. Lamancusa, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of The Learning Factory; and Mario Sznaier, assistant professor of electrical engineering, all at University Park; and Robert Avanzato, associate professor of engineering at Penn State Abington.

* Outstanding Research Awards

Recipients are recognized and rewarded for accomplishments in advancing the frontiers of knowledge. These research awards honor individuals who have brought recognition to themselves, the college and Penn State. This year's recipients include:

-- Kristin A. Fichthorn, associate professor of chemical engineering with a joint appointment in the physics department; William E. Higgins, associate professor of electrical engineering; and Joseph L. Rose, Paul Morrow professor in design and manufacturing, in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

* Service and Staff Awards

This award recognizes and honors outstanding service by staff employed in the college. Honored this year is Glenna R. Young, administrative assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Student activities coordinator earns
Towns Award for impact on women

Janet Widoff is this year's Penn State Harrisburg Kathryn Towns Award recipient.

Presented by the Women's History Month Committee, the honor recognizes a "Penn State Harrisburg student, graduate, staff or faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to heightening the awareness of issues and concerns having an impact on women" at the college.

The award is named for Kathryn Towns, longtime Penn State Harrisburg faculty member and now professor emerita.

Widoff serves the campus as coordinator of student activities and manager of the College Life Enrichment Offices. She is the second person presented the award.

Three cited as outstanding teachers

The College of Arts and Architecture has named three winners of its Outstanding Teaching Award: Charles Garoian, associate professor of art education; Robert Hatten, associate professor of music; and Michael Fels, assistant professor of art. In each case, students and colleagues praised the commitment and enthusiasm of the professors.

An engineering student from one of Garoian's art classes characterized him as "extremely open-minded and willing to stretch his own perception of his class and his teaching, not only with me but with all students."

Hatten's commitment is elucidated in a letter from a colleague stating, "Music theory is a subject that cannot be taught in large lectures, but rather demands considerable interaction between student and faculty. (Hatten) not only carries a large teaching load, but spends many hours outside of class discussing problems and projects with students."

Finally, to characterize the breadth of Fels' experience and its effect, a colleague wrote, "(Fels) has the rare ability to integrate complex ideas into the very fabric of studio exercises, and the result is an unusually high degree of sophistication in student work."

Adviser lauded as outstanding mentor

Ro Nwranksi, adviser in the Office of Student Aid, has received the 1997 Outstanding Mentor Award from the Center for Adult Learner Services.

The award was initiated in 1995 by Alpha Sigma Lambda, the Adult Learners of Penn State, the Graduate Student Association and Penn State University Veterans Organization to recognize faculty or staff who are advocates for adult learners and demonstrate such qualities as a positive attitude, sensitivity and approachability.

Faculty and staff from all Penn State locations are eligible for the award and this year, staff from six campuses were nominated.

Mont Alto recognizes two faculty

Two Penn State Mont Alto campus faculty were recently honored. They are:

Gary Webster, associate professor of anthropology, who received the Martha A. Fisher Award for Teaching Excellence. To be eligible for this teaching award, an instructor must teach at least four classes per year and be nominated by a Mont Alto campus student; and

Lauraine Hawkins, assistant professor of biology at Penn State Mont Alto, who was honored for the second consecutive year with the Student Government Association Award for Excellence in Advising. To be eligible for this advising award, the instructor must teach at least four classes per year and be nominated by a Mont Alto campus student.

Both award nominations require the nominating student to write a two-page essay discussing their reasons for their nomination.

Mont Alto wins two marketing awards

Laura K. Frome recently accepted two national higher education marketing awards on behalf of Penn State Mont Alto. Public information and special events coordinator for the campus, Frome coordinated publication of a faculty brochure used in student recruitment and recognized by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations as well as the Admissions Marketing Report.

The brochure won the first place gold Paragon Award from the council and a silver award in the Admissions Marketing Report's annual Advertising Awards competition. Nearly 1,200 entries in 33 different categories were reviewed in the competition.

Frome, a 1994 Penn State graduate, joined Mont Alto's Office of University Relations staff in December 1995.

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Senior student affairs director
served for more than 30 years

Melvin Klein, senior director for student affairs at Penn State since 1993 and interim director of the Office of Student Unions since 1996, is retiring this month after more than 30 years at Penn State.

As senior director for student affairs, Klein was responsible for several cross-division functions in the Division of Student Programs, including coordinating and monitoring Continuous Quality Improvement initiatives, coordinating all major renovation projects and coordinating the division's annual strategic planning process.

As interim director of the student unions office, Klein focused intensively on the design planning process for the expansion of the Hetzel Union Building (HUB) and the construction of the new Paul Robeson Cultural Center on the University Park campus. The HUB/Robeson project, which received final approval from the Board of Trustees in March, will add 95,000 square feet to the HUB's existing 154,000 square feet of floor space.

Between 1972 and 1993, Klein held several positions in the student programs division, including senior director of the division and director of the Office of Union Programs and Operations, the Office of Unions and Student Activities, the Kern Graduate Commons, student activities and religious affairs, and the office of student activities. He also served as assistant dean of student affairs from July 1967 to August 1972, and in 1966-67 was a graduate assistant at Penn State.

Klein has won several awards and honors, including the Alpha Phi Omega Award for Distinguished Service to Penn State in 1978. He has been named an honorary inductee by the Golden Key National Honor Society, the Order of Omega National Greek Honor Society, and the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

An avid reader, Klein enjoys listening to popular music, attending theatre productions (particularly musicals), gardening, taking part in summer sports and traveling with his family.

Fayette CEO will retire

August H. Simonsen, campus executive officer at Penn State Fayette, has announced his plans to retire. Simonsen plans to retire later this year, but wanted the search for his successor to begin immediately.

Simonsen began his tenure as CEO in July 1992, coming from the McKeesport campus where he was a professor in environmental sciences and the interim campus executive officer. Working with leaders from the Campus Advisory Board, the staff and faculty, he was able to establish an associate degree program in nursing, an associate degree program in human development and family studies, an RN/bachelor of science program and the bachelor of science program in general business.

In Simonsen's five-year tenure as CEO, the campus has built three modern computer laboratories, two technology classrooms, a clinical nursing laboratory and a distance-learning outreach classroom. In addition, the construction of the Biomedical Technology Building is under way.

Continuing education head served 30 years

Margaret C. Hopfl, director of Continuing Education at Penn State Altoona, has retired after more than 30 years of service to the University. A lifelong student, teacher and advocate for continuing education, to many, she exemplifies the best in continuing and distance education.

Hopfl began her career in Continuing and Distance Education as a staff assistant in 1965. Soon she realized she wanted to move up in her career, but with only a high school diploma, she needed more education. She began taking night classes and eventually earned a bachelor's degree in business education. A year after she graduated, she was named a representative in Continuing Education. She also continued her education, obtaining an M.A. in adult education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Eventually she moved into the position of director of Continuing Education. Hopfl's career accomplishments include developing lasting programs like the National Railroad Conference, overseeing the creation of the Adult Center and new services for the growing population of adult students, and starting the Women's Leadership Institute in 1995.

She has been married to her husband, John, for 43 years. They have two adult daughters and two grandsons. Her retirement plans include finishing her dissertation for her D.Ed. in adult education, continuing to teach and lead workshops and seminars part time, and spending more time with leisure and personal activities.

Nurse retires after 26 years with Hershey

Mae Rader, a nurse in the operating room at The Hershey Medical Center, has retired.

In her retirement, she has maintained the fast-pace lifestyle that came along with 26 years of service in the main operating room. Immediately after retiring she took over the kitchen duties at the Senior Citizens Center of Derry Township, joined a Tuesday quilting group and met with other medical center retirees.

She also recently became a blood donor at the medical center.

In March, Rader was selected as Employee of the Month. While working full-time she pursued her B.S.N. and obtained her Certified Nursing Operating Room certification.

Retirement also has given Rader more leisure time to spend with her family, including three sons, a daughter, three granddaughters, two 5-year-old English springers and a 6-month-old calico kitten.

Staff assistant retires
after serving 32 years

Gloria Wiser McNeal, staff assistant VIII in the School of Music, has retired after 32 years of service. She began her career at Penn State in the College of Education in 1965, then moved to the College of Arts and Architecture in 1972, where she remained until her retirement in March.

McNeal plans to pursue her interests of raising Christmas trees, gardening, making Wednesday trips to Belleville and surfing the Internet.


Several long-term employees retire

Joyce A. Getz, staff assistant VII at Penn State Altoona, Altoona College, from Oct. 1, 1974, to April 1.

Bernadine L. Hahn, staff assistant VIII, Business Services, from June 16, 1972, to April 1.

Betsy A. Hartman, staff assistant VI, Student Affairs, from April 22, 1974, to April 1.

Louis P. Kraus, advanced engineering aide, Applied Research Laboratory, from Jan. 2, 1973, to April 1.

Arthur F. Krieg, professor and chief of clinical lab pathology at The Hershey Medical Center, from July 1, 1968, to Jan. 1.

JoAnn K. Popik, staff assistant VI, College of Agricultural Sciences, from April 3, 1978, to April 1.

Daisy E. Romig, staff assistant VI, Research and Graduate School, from Oct. 8, 1979, to April 1.

Franklin R. Straub, senior patrol officer at The Hershey Medical Center, from March 3, 1980 to April 13.

Mary Tindley, staff assistant VI, Office of the President, from Dec. 3, 1979, to April 12.

Kenneth L. Wood, cutting machine operator, Business Services, from Feb. 1, 1968, to April 26.

Gladys M. Zserai, patient service aide at The Hershey Medical Center, from March 8, 1982, to March 29.

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Gerald E. McClearn, Evan Pugh professor of health and human development, is studying how people learn. His work with twins who are more than 80 years old is the cover story of the June 6 issue of Science magazine.
Photo: Greg Grieco

Nature at least as important
as nurture in the way we learn

Even in old age, genes still influence the way we learn, study suggests.

A new study of Swedish twins who are 80 years of age or older shows that individual differences in how they acquire and process knowledge relies as much on genetic inheritance patterns as on environmental factors.

The study is the first to look at the genetic influence on many different aspects of cognition in older people, and confirms patterns that have emerged from similar studies in younger and middle-aged people. Because cognitive function plays a crucial role in determining the quality of life for older people, understanding how cognition develops as people age could lead to beneficial interventions that might slow or reverse cognitive decline.

The study was headed by National Advisory Council on Aging member Gerald E. McClearn of the Center for Developmental and Health Genetics and faculty member in the College of Health and Human Development.

"In the group of Swedes that we studied, even the effects of more than 80 years of environmental influence didn't eliminate the impact of heredity on cognitive ability," McClearn said.

A wide range of environmental variables such as geography, education, socioeconomic status, nutritional habits, occupation, disease and stress exposure might be expected to have substantial influences on cognition.

Over the course of a lifetime, twins exposed to differing environments might be expected to display wide variances in the way they learn. Yet given the cumulative impact of a lifetime of environmental disparities, this study shows that the effects of environment on cognition are barely equal to the effects that genetic heritability has on cognition.

The research is unique in that it looks, in people age 80 and older, at general (intellectual ability) and specific (spatial, verbal and memory) cognition, and examines in detail each of the three separate areas of specific cognition.

Previous twin studies have shown that general cognitive abilities are among the most heritable behavior traits, with heritable influence increasing from 20 percent at infancy to 60 percent in adulthood. This finding contradicts the commonly held assumption that environmental influence increases throughout the lifespan with a corresponding decrease in genetic influence. The present study shows that the relative contributions of genetics and environment -- about half and half -- extends into very advanced age.

Investigators in this study were able to use the Swedish Twin Registry, which has tracked 96 percent of all twins in Sweden. The study used 240 sets of these twins born before the start of World War I.

They were an average age of 83 years old. To assess cognitive abilities, twins were tested by licensed nurses using tests for verbal meaning, figure logic, block design and picture memory. Analysis of combined scores of cognitive ability showed that heritability accounted for 55 percent of the individual differences in ability, a result similar to that seen in people who are middle-aged. The heritable impact on specific cognitive abilities, something little studied previously, was somewhat less than 50 percent but still highly significant. For both general and specific cognitive abilities, identical twins, as would be expected, showed much stronger similarities than did fraternal twins. Additionally, living together or sharing the same environment in later life did not account for any significant similarity or dissimilarity of environmental impact on cognition.

"It is now becoming possible to identify specific genes which may be responsible for some of the differences in cognitive abilities," McClearn said. For example, certain forms of the ApoE gene have been associated with cognitive decline in older people, particularly in those with Alzheimer's disease.

Co-authors on this study with McClearn were Frank Ahern, senior research associate in the College of Health and Human Development; Boo Johansson and Stig Berg, of the Institute for Gerontology at the University College of Health Sciences in Jonkoping, Sweden; Nancy L. Pedersen at the Institute for Environmental Medicine of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden; and Stephen A. Petrill and Robert Plomin of the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, England.

Caffeine not a risk factor for osteoporosis

Caffeine is not a risk factor for bone density and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, according to a study by researchers in the College of Medicine at The Hershey Medical Center.

Principal investigator Tom Lloyd, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and colleagues measured bone density of both total body and hips in 138 healthy women ages 55-70. All of the women had histories of no or minimal hormone replacement therapy and tobacco usage. Their caffeine intake was measured from their personal diet records and by chemical assessment of the caffeine in each woman's brewed caffeinated beverage. "More than 90 percent of the women's caffeine came from coffee and tea," Lloyd said.

The study, conducted in 1993-95, included similar numbers of low-, moderate- and high-caffeine consumers. Low-caffeine intake was defined as zero to two caffeinated cups of coffee per day, moderate as three to four cups per day and high as five or more cups daily. Within these groups, women with low, moderate and high exercise patterns were recruited.

Even adjusting for age and weight, in addition to activity level, Lloyd said, "Caffeine intake was not associated with any bone mineral measurements."

High caffeine consumption has been both proposed and denied as a risk factor for decreased bone density and increased chance of osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women. In many of the studies, however, said Lloyd, factors affecting bone loss, like smoking, body weight, physical activity, calcium and nutrient intake and hormone replacement therapy, have not been adequately considered.

Lloyd believes that because the Penn State study specifically recruited healthy, postmenopausal women with known, historic caffeine consumption and because caffeine was measured by chemical analysis, the data are more definitive.

According to Lloyd, some studies have relied solely on self-reporting by women as a measurement of their caffeine intake, e.g. number of cups of coffee they consume currently versus several years ago. Those studies do not consider errors in judgment nor the amount of caffeine in each woman's average cup of coffee.

Lloyd said that other commonly suspected links to bone loss in postmenopausal women are inactivity, smoking and low calcium intake. Bone loss can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Hormone replacement therapy has been proven an effective treatment for bone preservation.

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