Faculty Faction: Dr. Michael Butcher

Dr. Michael T. Butcher

Youngstown State University collects all sorts of people as students, faculty, and professors. Each of these people has something specific and unique to offer the community and the university. Dr. Michael Butcher, assistant professor of anatomy and physiology, has been an essential part of the research initiative in the Department of Biological Sciences for the last five years.

Michael feels at home in the Biological Sciences department; the position is what brought him to the Youngstown area.

“The Department of Biological Sciences was a good fit for me and they were very supportive of my research program,” Michael says.

Dr. Butcher studied

Continue reading

Kerry Meyers, Ph.D.- Faculty Faction


Youngstown State University is privileged to have Dr. Kerry Meyers on the faculty this year.Kerry brings passion, fun, and learning to the job of “First-Year Engineering Director.

Dr. Meyers earned her bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. She continued with her masters in Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. Returning to Purdue, Kerry earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education. For her Ph.D. Kerry did research in student engagement and engineering identity (who goes into engineering, who stays in engineering, and why?).

Continue reading

Inside STEM Professional Practice

by Kara Miller

stemprofpracjan13In just over a year, the STEM Professional Practice Program has shown me, and many other students, all it has to offer. Students have the opportunity to meet with the program’s coordinator to discuss the opportunities offered to them, like constructing a resume and landing an internship. Students are also offered a variety of resources like career development and professional etiquette techniques. The opportunities for students are always growing with new grants and programs being added all the time.

Continue reading

Business Incubator Says You Can Come Home Again

By Dan O’Brien– The Business Journal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Those who relocated from the Mahoning Valley years ago and returned for the holidays might not recognize the city they left.
Mike Hripko, YSU STEM Research and Technology--Based Economic Development

Mike Hripko, Director of YSU STEM Research and Technology–Based Economic Development

Today Youngstown is in the midst of an economic renaissance, officials boast, and the Youngstown Business Incubator, Youngstown State University and the OH WOW! Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology demonstrate why. Continue reading

Faculty Faction: Colleen McLean

colleenmcleanNew to the College of STEM’s faculty is Colleen McLean, assistant professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences. The Bazetta native started in the spring of 2009 with a term position. When the opportunity for a faculty tenure position became available, Colleen was happy to be selected.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geology, with a minor in chemistry, at YSU. McLean moved on to Kent State University for her Master of Science in Geology. At Michigan State University, she earned her doctorate in Environmental Geoscience and completed an additional specialization in Environmental Science Policy.

McLean’s research focus is aqueous and environmental geochemistry.  She likes to investigate the impacts of water quality, and she studies historic ecological conditions using geochemical and biological archives in sediment cores.

“Biological indicators, such as fossil diatoms and ostracodes, reflect the water chemistry and climate conditions at the time they were living,” McLean explained. Quantifying these parameters makes it possible to reconstruct environments from the past. “Understanding the past environmental response can help us make predictions for the future,” she continued.CM2012

When she isn’t collecting core samples or doing research, she is at home with her children. As a mother and professor, she understands the importance of teaching her kids about global environmental issues. She has passed down her love of science to them.

Colleen likes to talk to YSU students about their ideas, but what she loves most about the students is that they are motivated and fun. They are good at giving her updates on environmental news stories at the start of class. McLean likes the reciprocal learning from her students that comes from their common interests.

McLean co-advises the STEM Leadership Society and participates with student groups in the department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. She was also involved with the Sustainable Institute for Teachers. McLean would like to see a YSU student chapter of the Friends of the Mahoning River on campus as well as activities for high school students to experience geology and environmental science related to local causes.

This year at YSU, there is a new minor in Natural Gas and Water Resources. McLean is excited about the new minor because of the opportunities for teaching and research, especially with water quality and quantity issues.  CM2012b

Most recently, Colleen McLean has published an article in a Past Global Changes Newsletter, “Integrated Paleoscience for Sustainable Management”. Her article, assessing anthropogenic impacts in a Great Lakes watershed using paleolimnology, can be found by clicking here.

Ursuline Physics Students Receive College Instruction

In partnership with Youngstown State University, students in Mrs. Jennifer Nagy DePizzo’s (’94) Physics Class had a guest lecturer this week.  Professor of Civil Engineering Technology, Robert J. Korenic (’92), incorporated an Engineering Module on Dynamics and Kinematics utilizing an experiment on Projectile Motion.  The students calculated the projectile at various times and graphed the motion of the projectile using computer software.Image

Faculty Faction- Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica

Youngstown State University has more to offer than a great STEM college. New to the faculty this year is Dr. Alicia Prieto Langarica, assistant professor of Mathematics and Statistics.

Prieto, having grown up in Guadalajara, Mexico, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas in Applied Mathematics and her doctorate at the University of Texas at Arlington in Mathematics. Dr. Prieto did much of her undergrad work in Mexico.

Even though she holds Mexico dear, one reason she was drawn to Youngstown State University was the weather.

Continue reading

2012 Business Advocate of the Year: Dean Martin Abraham

This October, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber named Martin Abraham, STEM dean, the 2012 Business Advocate of the Year. Abraham is responsible for increasing the number of students in the STEM College, as well as promoting research initiatives. He also serves on the Board of the TechBelt Energy Innovation Center, which promotes public and private investment, research, and manufacturing.

Watch below as Dean Abraham accepts his award!

Johanna Krontiris-Litowitz Chosen to Provide Leadership, Expertise for ASM/NSF Biology Scholars Program

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is pleased to announce the selection of Erin Dolan, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, Marcy Kelly, Ph.D., of Pace University, Johanna Krontiris-Litowitz, Ph.D., of Youngstown State University, and Elisa Stone, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, to lead the ASM/NSF Biology Scholars Program Transitions Residency. The Biology Scholars Program is a national leadership initiative established in 2008 to improve student learning in the lab or classroom and sustain reform efforts in undergraduate biology education. To date, more than 160 Scholars have created and disseminated examples of scholarship of teaching in biology through the program. These examples have been made possible through the program’s independent, but intertwined, virtual residency programs — the Assessment, Research, and Transitions Residencies.

The yearlong Transitions Residency offers its Scholars an opportunity to “transition” from conducting scholarly work in student learning to begin the steps necessary for publication in biology and/or science education venues. “Scholars will have opportunities to (i) organize their data to support claims about teaching and learning, (ii) identify relevant literature to help situate their work, and (iii) develop a plan and timeline for writing and submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal,” says Dolan.

Transitions Scholars begin their residencies with the intensive From Science Education Research to Publication Institute held each July in Washington, D.C., and throughout the residency experience, they receive close mentoring from Dolan, Kelly, Krontiris-Litowitz, and Stone. As editors of leading biology education journals, e.g., CBE-Life Sciences Education, the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, and Advances in Physiology Education, they are well prepared to help Scholars navigate the researching and publishing process, including identifying appropriate venues for publication.

The Biology Scholars Program was developed with the support of the National Science Foundation under grant number DUE-1022542 and sponsored by ASM. In addition, several life science professional societies partner with and contribute expertise to the program; these include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Physiological Society, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society of Human Genetics, American Society of Plant Biologists, Ecological Society of America, Genetics Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, and Society of Toxicology.

The next Transitions Residency begins with the 2013 From Science Education Research to Publication Institute scheduled for July. Applications will be accepted through February 1. Learn more at http://www.biologyscholars.org.

Sharon Shanks Honored by IPS

The International Planetarium Society’s Service Award, the highest honor conferred, was presented to Youngstown State University’s Planetarium Lecturer, Sharon Shanks at the annual IPS Conference www.ips-planetarium.org held July 22-27, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Shanks was recognized for her work during the past six years as executive editor of Planetarian, the quarterly IPS professional journal.  She was also named a Fellow of IPS at the Awards Banquet.

Standing Rules of IPS state, “An IPS Service Award shall be bestowed, from time to time, by the Society upon an individual or institution whose presence and work in the planetarium field has been, through the years, an inspiration to the profession and its members.”  Between 1982 and 2010, twenty-one Service Awards were presented.

Shanks, a 1978 graduate of YSU, worked seven years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Columbiana County before returning to work at YSU in 1985.  She has been the planetarium lecturer for 15 years and is a member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Society and a fellow of the GLPA, the Mid-Atlantic Planetarium Society, associate member of the Southeastern Planetarium Association, and the Cleveland Regional Association of Planetariums.

Sharon Shanks and IPS President David Weinrich. Photo by Dale Smith.

National Sigma Alpha Lambda Award to STEM’s Brenda Crouse

Sigma Alpha Lambda is a National Leadership and Honors Organization in the United States with over 70 chapters. Because Faculty Advisors are such an integral part of each chapter providing support, guidance and help to members, the National Office of SAL created an Outstanding Advisor Award which is presented at the end of each academic year.

The College Of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is proud to announce and congratulate Brenda Crouse on being named  as the 2011-2012 National Outstanding Advisor for Youngstown State University’s (YSU) chapter of Sigma Alpha Lambda.

Crouse, who is also the senior academic advisor for STEM, has been working with Sigma Alpha Lambda since its inception at YSU 8 years ago. The national organization is highly selective, with membership by invitation only. To be considered, students must meet certain standards such as academic standing, and must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Currently, Crouse said, there are 400 active members at YSU.

The criteria for the award were based on areas such as service, mentorship, and dedication. Crouse was nominated by Biology pre-med major and President of Sigma Alpha Lambda, Kara Miller, for always going above and beyond for the group.

Miller said although Crouse had a very heavy workload, she still stayed with the organization, assisting with their community service activities, coordinating meetings, and any other needs they had. For Miller’s nomination, she cited Crouse as being someone who …”wants to give everyone the recognition they deserve. That is why I feel it’s her time for some recognition.”

Crouse, who has a master’s in education in counseling, is no stranger to the campus community. She has obtained three degrees from YSU, and since 2000, has been an advisor, first initially with the William Rayen College of Engineering and Technology, now the College of STEM.

Crouse said the award was an honor and “as the chapter advisor my philosophy has been to ‘empower’ the members, to be their support and encourage them throughout their endeavors and projects.”  Furthermore, she added, “The constant that remains and what has been my inspiration are the students.”

STEM Graduate Careers

Youngtown State University (YSU) graduates prepared for commencement on Saturday, May 19, while three STEM College students prepared to begin their careers with nationally-known companies and what they can anticipate being a future YSU success story.

Jennifer Moy, a chemical engineering major, has accepted a position with pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Moy, an active member of the Society for Women Engineers, attended their national conference in Chicago, Illinois. Moy said there was a two -day career fair with over 200 employers, and that was her first introduction to Eli Lilly. She received a phone call asking her to speak with company representatives on the second day of the career fair, and after the conference, she was invited for a tour of the plant. Soon after, Moy received a job offer.As a chemical engineer, Moy said she would be working with the dry plant, which is responsible for the commercial production of tablets and capsules, and the scale up for new medications.

Computer science student Jeremy Cummins is off to Redmond, Washington, working for Microsoft as a Software Development Engineer (SDE). Last summer, Cummins went through a three- part interview process for an internship with the company. There, Cummins said, he was able to do work that a full-time SDE would. At the end of his internship, Cummins was offered a full-time position beginning this July. Cummins said that he was interested in being a SDE because …”since a young age, solving problems has interested me, as well as computers. Software Engineering allows me to solve real problems and see my solutions in a product.” Cummins cites coursework and research with Dr. Graciela Perera, assistant professor of computer science and information systems at YSU, as an important part of how he prepared for his current position. “The research” Cummins said, “allowed me to practice and refine what I learned in the classroom and learn how to apply it to real world problems.”

Mechanical engineering major Christopher Fenstermaker gained full-time employment with GE Transportation, working with locomotives. Already having an interest in GE, he became aware of the program through Dr. Daniel Suchora, chair of the department of mechanical and industrial engineering. Fenstermaker said “My experience here (YSU) has shown me that I can do things that I did not think I could do, and it has made me much more confident in myself.”Fenstermaker indicated that during his co-op …”I will have the chance to work on big projects with multiple groups within the company.” An advantage, he added, is that he would be able to work with different engineering groups, allowing him to realize interests and direction on his career path. In the fall Fenstermaker will move on to a master’s program in mechanical engineering at Gannon University, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

As for the value of her time at YSU, Moy said, “In addition to my coursework, research, and internship experience, my involvement in extracurricular activities at YSU has aided me significantly.” Nevertheless, Moy did have a warning to students: “The only issue within YSU is that there are so many opportunities for students that they can’t possibly take advantage of them all.”

Dr. Pedro Cortes awarded Summer Faculty Fellowship to Wright Patterson Air Force Base

Dr. Pedro Cortes has been awarded a Summer Faculty Fellowship to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where he will spend 10 weeks working in the area of smart materials. Dr. Cortes will be working with the adaptive research group in the Materials & Manufacturing Directorate. The current fellowship is an extension of work carried out during the summer of 2011 which resulted in a technical paper presented at the SPIE (the International Society of Optics and Photonics) conference in San Diego, CA.

Funding for this work also comes from the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, which is part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program administrated through the Office of Education at NASA Headquarters.

Dr. Cortes and his team (George Kubas a student from Chemical Engineering and Eric Schubert a student from Civil Engineering) are currently investigating morphing structures for the aerospace sector. They have developed a novel adaptive structure that is activated by internal smart tubes that induce geometrical modifications on the shape of the structure. The novel morphing structure is able to hold a temporary structural configuration without continuous thermal supply, and is capable of returning to its original shape in less than a second by passing a cold fluid through the internal smart tubing system. This new breed of adaptive material opens the possibility of lightweight morphing materials for the transportation sector.

Dr. Cortes

Dr. Cortes Student George

Dr. COrtes Student Eric

Dr. Daniel Suchora

The Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering will have a faculty change this June 30.

Dr. Daniel Suchora, chair of the department for the past seven years, will be retiring after a 32-year career on the campus of Youngstown State University (YSU). Before examining his time at YSU, it’s valuable to look back on how it all began.

“When I was growing up, I liked to tinker with things, and take things apart” Dr. Suchora said. Following that desire, he worked at a bowling alley as a teenager, working on the machinery, and enjoyed it. When it was time to go to college, Dr. Suchora said he knew “…mechanical engineering was a good idea.”

Dr. Suchora went on to obtain his undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from YSU, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. During his master’s program, Dr. Suchora found his passion for teaching. Although he did consulting work with other companies, Dr. Suchora conveyed that he “liked the connection of teaching and practicing in the field.” That way, he could bring real world experience to the classroom.

When asked what has been the greatest accomplishment of the department, Dr. Suchora simply said “the students: their successes are our successes.”

And for YSU students, they feel the same sentiment. Aubrey Garland, junior in mechanical engineering, and student employee of the department, relayed how she has enjoyed working with Dr. Suchora as well as being a student of his. Garland said “There is no question he wants the students to really learn the material so we are not just successful students but successful and effective engineers.”  She added “To this day I am still more nervous about taking a Dr. Suchora test than anything else; not because I am afraid I won’t do well, but because I don’t want to disappoint him.”

Another junior mechanical engineering student, Amanda Cox, furthered this, saying how Dr. Suchora …” genuinely cares about his students and did his best to prepare us to be the best engineers we could be. I appreciate Dr. Suchora so much for all he has done for me, and I am so thankful I got to experience having him for class.”

Students are not the only members of YSU who will miss Dr. Suchora’s leadership. Faculty members also emphasized the impact he has made. Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Hazel Marie, said how Dr. Suchora always “puts the good of program, department, and university first.” Dr. Martin Cala, professor and coordinator of industrial and systems engineering said that he and Dr. Suchora worked together on projects such as hiring a new Industrial Engineering faculty member, and …” coordinated the reconfiguration of laboratory space together, and made some progress in improving shared resources not only between the two programs in our department but with other STEM programs and other colleges.”

Though Dr. Suchora will be missed, he will not be entirely gone. He will continue to teach in fall 2012 part time. Reflecting on his experiences overall, Dr. Suchora added: “I’ve been lucky to get into a career that I really enjoy.”