News and Notes

A roundup of all the latest news to come out of the Bayer School, including faculty updates, AESS Conference and student awards.

Faculty Updates

Dr. Rick Elinson, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, retired in May after spending 13 years at Duquesne University. His research of embryonic development focused on Coqui (pronounced co-KEE) frogs, which present an evolutionary anomaly among their ribbiting brethren. Though their ancestors had the traditional tadpole phase, the Coqui do not. Elinson's work has shown that although the Coqui embryos looks like frogs rather than tadpoles from the start, they still need thyroid hormone to complete their development.

According to Dr. Peter Castric, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Elinson should be credited as being the driving force in establishing the Ph.D. program in their department. "Others helped, but he did the majority of the hard work," Castric said.

Judy Quinque, office assistant in the department, said, "Rick was very patient and a blessing to work with. Everyone in the department respected Dr. Elinson."

Mr. Ed Schroth, an adjunct professor of environmental science at Duquesne, was recently recognized for his outstanding contributions as a university/post-secondary educator by the Carnegie Science Center. Schroth received a 2013 Carnegie Science Award honorable mention at a reception on Friday, May 3. He was recognized for improving lives through his commitment and contributions in science and technology.

In his 13 years in Duquesne's Center for Environmental Research and Education, Schroth has been driven by the mission to encourage science students to work in the community as well as in the laboratory, gaining hands-on experience and making connections between their work and the lives of others. He has led the Duquesne study abroad opportunity, Exploring the Environments of China, offering young scientists access to global scientific awareness and connections while providing a rare opportunity for college scientists, who often miss the chance to learn and travel overseas. He also has worked with students in the fields of urban gardening and homeless fellowships.

New Faculty Appointments

The Bayer School will welcome three new faculty members during the 2013-2014 academic year:

Dr. Jan E. Janecka, joining us as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Janecka received his Ph.D. in wildlife science from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining Duquesne he worked as a research assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Dr. Michael J. van Stipdonk, joining us as an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Stipdonk received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining Duquesne he worked as an associate professor of chemistry at Lawrence University.

Dr. Theodore A. Corcovilos, joining us as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. Corcovilos received his Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Duquesne he worked as a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Physics at the Pennsylvania State University.

Bayer School Hosts National Environmental Studies Conference on Campus

The Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Studies is co-hosting the 2013 Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences conference, Linking Rural and Urban Societies and Ecologies, June 19-22, in partnership with Chatham University's School of Sustainability and the Environment.

"The conference bridges the two sides of environmental considerations," said Dr. Stanley J. Kabala, associate director, Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE). "It looks at the biology and ecology, as well as the technical and policy aspects, such as pollution issues."

Approximately 300 participants from across the country are expected on campus for the event, which includes workshops, plenary presentations, research poster sessions and field trips.

"We are especially pleased to both co-host and co-sponsor this year's AESS conference and to welcome our colleagues to Pittsburgh," said Dr. David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School. "Fostering this kind of interdisciplinary discussion and focus is an essential element of our mission."

Duquesne representatives will be involved in several conference events. Three graduate students from CERE will present their research during the poster session. Also, the University will engage attendees in two field trips: a tour of the on-campus cogeneration plant, and a visit to Wingfield Pines in Upper St. Clair to observe the site of the abandoned mine drainage remediation project on which CERE students conduct research directed by Ed Schroth, adjunct professor of environmental science.

2013 Undergraduate Research Awards

On April 10, 2013, five students from the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences received Undergraduate Research Awards from the Office of Research as part of the fifth annual Undergraduate Research & Scholarship Symposium. Kasey Devlin received the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society award for outstanding research for her presentation of "Novel Hexagonally Derived Diamond-Like Li2-II-IV-S4 Diamond-Like Semiconductors." The poster was co-authored by Kimberly Daley, Meghann Moreau and Jacilynn Brant.

Katie Ratay received one of two Excellence in Research in the Basic Sciences awards from the Bayer School. Her research covered the "Effects of Ovariextomy and Estradiol Replacement on Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamanders."

Bayer School General Excellence Award

The 2013 Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences General Excellence Award was bestowed upon Sara Katrancha during this spring's commencement ceremony. Katrancha graduated with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a minor in mathematics. In 2012 she was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, the first Goldwater Scholarship recipient from the Bayer School and from Duquesne University. Katrancha's undergraduate research examined the biochemical and biophysical basis for Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disease resulting in mental retardation. She has presented her research at national meetings, including the American Chemical Society and the Biophysical Society, and she completed and defended an honors senior thesis. A member of Golden Key, Omicron Delta Kappa, Integrated Honor Society, Lambda Sigma, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honors societies, Katrancha will begin her graduate studies in neuroscience at Yale University.

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