March 20, 1997......Volume 26, Issue 24

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

Conference Center, Inn transforming
Engineering departments to merge
University starts process to guide development
Out in the cold
Volunteer effort opens door to Internet
Faculty Senate News
A message from the President
Call for proposals
Quality Expo in its fifth year
Fayette welcomes business development center
University news at your fingertips
Winter blast
Career Day
CEO for Shenango campus sought
Internal search for department head
National Service Week
For the Record
Grant funds available
Workshops for minority students planned
Faculty/Staff Alerts
News in Brief
Penn Staters
25-year Awards
Slavic Folk Festival
Graduate Research Exhibition
Chocolate Chase
Private Giving
It's on the Web
Penn State news bureau


Professor of astrophysics to
give lecture series on planets

Peter Goldreich, the Lee A. DuBridge professor of astrophysics and planetary physics at the California Institute of Technology, will present the 1997 Russell Marker Lectures in Astronomy and Astrophysics from March 24 to 26 at the University Park campus.

The three-lecture series, titled "Thinking About Our Cosmic Environment," is sponsored by the Eberly College of Science and is open to the public.

The lectures include: "Helioseismology" at 8 p.m. Monday, March 24, in 111 Boucke Building; "Clues About How Planets Form" at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in S5 Osmond Laboratory; and "Turbulence on Earth and in Space" at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in S5 Osmond Laboratory.

Goldreich was one of eight scientists to receive the 1996 National Medal of Science from President Clinton. He was cited for his profound and lasting contributions to planetary sciences and astrophysics. He also has received numerous other awards, including the 1993 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Goldreich's work has addressed some of the most fundamental issues in planetary science.

Lecture by author on March 27
rounds out Feminist Scholars Series

The final speaker in the Women's Studies Feminist Scholars Series, Mary Hill, will present a lecture titled "Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Women's Struggle with Womanhood" at 7:30 p.m. on March 27. Currently the presidential professor of history at Bucknell University, Hill will speak in 101 Kern Building on the University Park campus.

Hill is the author of three books on Charlotte Perkins Gilman including Making of a Radical Feminist and Endure: The Diaries of Charles Walter Stetson, as well as the love letters of Gilman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Journey From Within.

Most recently, Hill's research focus has shifted to her forthcoming text titled In Search of the Virgin Queen. In this piece, Hill explores the ways in which women writers of Native American, Black, Hispanic and Chinese American descent use story telling to provide a level of healing for their peoples.

The recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Hill received her doctoral degree from McGill University in 1975. She has been teaching at Bucknell University, primarily in women's studies, for more than 20 years.

For information on this lecture or the Feminist Scholar's Series, please contact the Women's Studies Program at (814) 863-4025.

Panel to take on alcohol
and tobacco advertising

With binge alcohol consumption extracting a deadly toll on college campuses and cigarette smoking the chief preventable cause of cancer in the United States, the College of Communications and the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment will hold a roundtable discussion to address the legal, ethical, health and marketing issues surrounding the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products.

Slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the Kern Graduate Center in Assembly Room 112, the discussion brings together experts from The Smeal College of Business Administration, University Health Services and the College of Communications.

"You've got child-friendly cartoon figures like Joe Camel pushing cigarettes and a flotilla of frogs croaking for Budweiser. Despite the potentially deadly appeal of these figures, the First Amendment protects such commercial speech," said Clay Calvert, assistant professor of communications and associate director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment at the University.

Panelists include: Marvin Goldberg, a professor in The Smeal College of Business Administration who specializes in social marketing; Natalie Croll, assistant director of University Health Services; Chuck McMellon, professor in the College of Communications who teaches advertising; and Calvert, who specializes in media law and policy issues.

Jeremy Cohen, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Communications, will moderate the discussion and invite participation from the audience.

The Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, founded in 1992, conducts educational conferences for lawyers, judges, journalists, educators and the general public. In addition, the center is a resource for the media and the public, and has provided expert testimony to courts and legislatures.

Gay activist to give talk at
University Park on March 24

Tony Kushner, award-winning author of "Angels in America" and prominent gay activist, will speak in Eisenhower Auditorium at 8 p.m. Monday, March 24.

Known for his Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, "Angels in America," Kushner's famous work consists of two plays: "Millennium Approaches" and "Perestroika." A seven-hour long play dealing with AIDS and the crisis of conscience the epidemic poses to America, "Angels" has won almost every major theatrical award since opening in Los Angeles in 1992. An upcoming major motion picture based on the play will be directed by Robert Altman.

Integrating historical figures such as Ray Cohn with a potpourri of characters both gay and straight, "Angels" has played to rave reviews in New York City's Walter Kerr Theatre since 1993. In 1994, the play began its national tour.

Kushner has received numerous playwriting fellowships and awards and taught at New York University, Yale, the University of Iowa, Princeton and the Julliard School of Drama. He has a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master of fine arts degree from New York University.

Fifth in the Distinguished Speakers Series, Kushner's presentation is co-sponsored by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Student Association. Tickets are free and will be available in 225 HUB. For more information, contact Carol German in the Office of Student Activities at (814) 863-3786.

Nigerian scholar will address
feminism and African gender formation

Nigerian scholar Oyerornke Oyewumi will discuss "Feminism and African Gender Formation" from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center on the University Park campus.

Oyewumi, who has written such books as African Women and Feminism: The Complexity of Sisterhood, is currently a fellow at the UCLA Rockefeller Humanities Institute for the Study of Gender in Africa. Oyewumi also is the author of The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Discourses on Gender, and is currently working on a book in which she interrogates Western feminist theories, while examining the relationship between motherhood, social identities and female agency in an African context.

Oyewumi, who has received numerous honors over the years including being named to several fellowship positions within the University of California system, earned her master's degree and Ph.D. in sociology both from the University of California at Berkeley.

March 27 talk to focus
on cure for AIDS

"AIDS; Search for a Cure," a March 27 luncheon lecture, will be given by Kenneth A. Johnson, Paul Berg professor of biochemistry, at noon in 110 N. Henderson, The Living Center, on the University Park campus.

By the year 2000, 40 million people will be infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. There has been considerable excitement over new drugs that may afford a cure in some individuals. However, this excitement is tempered by concerns over the ability of the virus to mutate rapidly, leading to resistant forms of the virus. Johnson will discuss his research on dealing with these issues in developing better drugs used to treat AIDS.

This free lecture is sponsored by the Penn State Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Author and scholar
to dispute "Bell Curve"

Michael Hout, professor of sociology and director of the Survey Research Center at the University of California -- Berkeley, will deliver the 1996 Francis Sim Memorial Lecture at 8 tonight in 101 Thomas Building on the University Park campus. Hout, internationally renowned expert in the field of stratification research, will discuss "Inequality by Design: Myths, Data and Politics." Author (with five Berkeley colleagues) of Inequality By Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth (Princeton University Press, 1996), Hout challenges the claims of the bestseller by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve, through a re-analysis of the very data used by Herrnstein and Murray to support their assertion that inherited differences in intelligence explain inequality.

Hout's talk will draw upon some of the recent work on the sources of inequality in the United States and assess the arguments of The Bell Curve. The lecture is open to the public.

Panel discussion to look at industrial
side of science and technology

Executives from DuPont and deans from four Penn State colleges will participate in a panel discussion titled "Science and Technology: An Industrial Perspective" on Tuesday, March 25, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in 101 Thomas Building on the University Park campus.

The discussion will focus on the role of fundamental research in producing discoveries that could create new businesses. Panel members will talk about the need for cooperative arrangements between research universities and technology-based companies that could speed the route from scientific discovery to technology development of science-based products.

Participants from DuPont include Joseph Miller, senior vice president for research and development and chief technology officer, and Kurt Landgraf, chief financial officer. Participants from Penn State include Theodore Alter, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences; Peter Luckie, associate dean for research in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; and David Wormley, dean of the College of Engineering. Gregory Geoffroy, dean of the Penn State Eberly College of Science, will facilitate the panel discussion.

Miller has been with DuPont throughout his career in a variety of positions involving research and development, manufacturing, business and marketing. Landgraf was president and chief operating officer of the DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. before his recent appointment as DuPont's chief financial officer.

For more information, contact Theresa Peters at (814) 865-6553.

Writer to broach
subject of "the classics"

Acclaimed film critic for New York magazine and contributing editor for The New Yorker, David Denby, will lecture at the Hazleton campus on Tuesday, March 25. The program will be held in room G-115 of the Evelyn Graham Academic Building and will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Denby will discuss Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World, his recent book that rediscovers the masterpieces of the Western literary tradition. In his book he relates his struggles to break out of the media bubble and read seriously.

Denby was film critic at The Atlantic and The Boston Phoenix before joining New York magazine in 1978. His articles and essays on movies, literature and music also have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic and The New York Review of Books.

While at Penn State Hazleton, he also will visit with English students at the campus. His appearance is part of the Penn State Hazleton Lecture Series.

Harvard professor to
deliver Harrisburg talk

Harvard University Professor Herman Chernoff will deliver this year's Distinguished Statisticians Lecture at Penn State Harrisburg, Capital College.

Chernoff, professor of statistics, will discuss the use of DNA profiling in forensic identification and paternity cases at his 1 p.m. lecture on March 27 in Penn State Harrisburg's Capital Union Building.

A member of the Harvard faculty since 1984, Chernoff, in 1987, received the Wilks Memorial Medal from the American Statistical Association. Before his appointment at Harvard, he served as professor of applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1974-84), and as professor of statistics at Stanford University (1956-74). Chernoff's presentation is open to the public and will be preceded by a luncheon at noon. For more information, contact Winston A. Richards at (717) 948-6090.

Satellite seminar looks at
technology strategies for rural areas

Learn about "Rural Education and the Information Highway: Making Connections, Building Communities" on Tuesday, March 25 at The Penn State Scanticon. This live satellite seminar, including special appearances from President Bill Clinton and other prominent public officials, will begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at 4:30. Participants will learn proven technology strategies for rural schools and communities.

Panelists will teach those in attendance how to mobilize resources and propose that the key to successful technology initiatives is community-wide effort, particularly in rural schools struggling with a lack of funding and basic infrastructure.

To register, call Barbara Nevling from Continuing and Distance Education at (814) 863-0229.

Contemporary works of
Nigerian printmaker to be examined

Sharon Pruitt, associate professor of art history at East Carolina University and a specialist in African art, will present a lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium of the Palmer Museum of Art on the University Park campus.

Pruitt will examine the traditional style and themes used in contemporary artworks by Bruce Onobrakpeya, a Nigerian Urhobo printmaker, painter and sculptor. Belonging to the first generation of contemporary artists graduating from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST, presently known as Ahmadu Bello University), Onobrakpeya's training was based on the Western illusionistic tradition of representational art. However, many of his artworks do not reflect his training in Western aesthetics. Instead, they portray stylistic elements and compositions that mirror traditional African figural sculpture and decorative arts.

The lecture, sponsored by the Department of Art History, is free to the public. For more information, contact the museum office at (814) 865-7672.

Professor to address "Why do we eat?"

Barbara Rolls, the Helen A. Guthrie chair and professor of nutrition, professor of biobehavioral health and professor of behavioral science in the College of Health and Human Development, will give the Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Career Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in S209 Henderson Building on the University Park campus. Rolls will talk about "Need or Greed: Why Do We Eat?"

Rolls, also director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior, studies the psychological and physiological controls of food intake and food selection in normal weight and obese humans and in patients with eating disorders. Some of her recent research has involved the fat substitute olestra.

Red China is focus of March 27 panel talk

A panel discussion, "Red China in Black and White: Misrepresentations in the Media Age," will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in Kern Auditorium on the University Park campus.

The panelists are Liu Kang, associate professor of comparative literature and principal author of Demonizing China: Knowledge Production and Aesthetic Representation of China in the U.S.; Shari Roberts, assistant professor of communications; Erwin Atwood, senior research associate, Australia-New Zealand Studies Center; and R. Thomas Berner, professor of journalism and American studies and Fulbright lecturer at the China School of Journalism, Beijing.

The talk is sponsored by the College of Communications, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Asia-Pacific Task Force and Chinese Culture Club.

In praise of garlic

Can foods such as garlic aid in the fight against cancer?

John Milner of the Department of Nutrition at University Park will discuss "Natural Anti-Cancer Agents in Foods" during an April 3 presentation at the Penn State Downtown Center in Harrisburg at noon.

Milner's presentation will focus on data from several studies which provide evidence that increased consumption of garlic and its associated sulfur compounds can reduce cancer risk.

The presentation, co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development and the Downtown Center, is free to the public. To register, call (717) 783-0433.

Back to top of page


Robert P. Brooks, director of the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center, visits the
Millbrook Marsh reference wetland along Slab Cabin Run.
Photo: Greg Grieco

Wetlands project seeks evaluation criteria

By John Wall
College of Agricultural Sciences

To most folks, wetlands are marshy ponds with a duck or two floating on the water.

To Robert Brooks, associate professor of wildlife ecology in the School of Forest Resources, "all wetlands are not created equal," and the results of a three-year study of 51 natural wetland sites in Pennsylvania have shown this to be true.

Brooks, director of the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center, said Pennsylvania is losing hundreds of acres of wetlands per year to development and other uses. Simultaneously, state agencies, private companies and private citizens are restoring or creating hundreds of wetland acres each year. The project, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, gives agency employees and other professionals specific guidelines to describe and categorize a variety of wetland types, including natural wetlands used as reference sites for researchers and mitigation projects.

A series of assessment techniques to help professionals evaluate restored or created wetlands have been developed during the study. "A wetland is an elusive thing to categorize," Brooks said. "The best way to describe our work is that we are creating a sort of template or blueprint that can best match the characteristics of a certain type of wetland to the site where you intend to replace or restore a wetland."

The project identified 51 sites as reference wetlands and categorized them into types. At each site, characteristics such as plant life, animal life, soil composition, sedimentation and basin shape also were analyzed and categorized.

"The project also extensively researched bird, amphibian and plant species that inhabit only certain wetland habitats -- called indicator species," Brooks said. "To truly create or restore a wetland in a specific site, you have to match the structure and characteristics of whatever wetland type best fits the site. Otherwise, the wetland will function differently."

Brooks said forested wetlands fed by groundwater are the most abundant type of wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic area, and these forested areas are most commonly lost to development. If the forested wetlands are restored or created, the most common type is an open-water pond with emergent forest vegetation.

"The flora and fauna associated with forested wetlands and open-water wetlands are markedly different," Brooks said. "What this means is that some types of wetlands will be very hard to replace, and if the choice comes down to destroying a wetland, it's important to know which types can be difficult to replace."

The team's research also revealed that while different types of wetlands obviously have different characteristics, created wetlands have different characteristics from the wetland types they are modeled on. "A created wetland looks like a natural site, but it really doesn't behave like one," he said.

Although Brooks said the wetlands assessment project has given resource professionals the tools with which to identify or describe wetland types, the next step to completing the portrait of the state's wetlands is understanding how wetlands function.

To do this, the Penn State Cooperative Wetlands Center is initiating another three-year wetland project, led by Brooks and C. Andrew Cole, affiliate assistant professor of landscape architecture, designed to discover how wetlands function, including how wetlands change over time and how human disturbances affect their natural progression.

Stanley Aungst
Russell Barton
Audrey N. Maretzki
Janice McClure
Anthony Verstraete
David T. Wilson

Team strives to make online
business routine in 21st century

Sure, you can let your mouse do the shopping on the World Wide Web or you can stroll a virtual mall, but those conveniences are last week's e-news. What if you or a corporate consumer could use the Web to save real time and real money? And, what if the seller could learn to serve customers so well that they would come back time after time?

Supported by an IBM grant of $63,000, a cross-disciplinary team of researchers is trying to create a system to do just that. Plus, one part of the program may even help consumers eat more healthfully. The primary thrust, though, is to capitalize on the power of the Web and database technology to create what is being called a "21st-Century Customer Management System."

Using this system, a customer could, for example, quickly and effectively explore the features and cost tradeoffs between two types of laptop computer, then place an order without reams of order forms and paperwork. Or, a customer could call up a company Web site and, by filling out an electronic form, say, "This is my problem, what can you do for me?" Web images of the products would permit a thorough visual inspection of critical features.

At the same time, the laptop computer seller could learn about the customer's likes and dislikes, using that information to better serve the buyer in the future, speed transactions, compile preferences for new designs, and build a closer, long-term relationship between the buyer and seller.

Involved in the project are David T. Wilson, holder of the Alvin H. Clemens professorship of entrepreneurial studies, Anthony Verstraete, senior lecturer in management information systems, and Stanley Aungst, instructor in management information systems, all with The Smeal College of Business Administration; Audrey N. Maretzki, professor of food science and nutrition, and Janice McClure, research support associate, both in the College of Agricultural Sciences; and Russell Barton, associate professor of industrial engineering, in the College of Engineering.

The goals are to reduce the steps and extraneous cost in a sales transaction, making it easier and quicker for customers to get what they want. At the same time, sellers can learn about the buying habits of their customers so they can do a better job of delivering what they need. Researchers are also exploring the possibility of working with a grocery chain, setting up a system whereby seniors living in a retirement community or low-income consumers in a public housing development could jointly order groceries over the 'Net and have deliveries made right to their home. Costs could be lowered through potential savings in delivery expenses. The Web ordering system also could be set up to display nutritional information on each product as the customer sorts through the selections on the aisles of the electronic market. A prototype of the system is expected to be complete by June.

Back to top of page

Back to Intercom home page

Digital Intercom is produced in the Office of University Relations at The Pennsylvania State University.
This page was created by Annemarie Mountz.