Author Archive

Climate of the Times

Faces@012_RAlley01CC_cropTuesday’s edition of The New York Times ran a special section on climate change, timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit this week in Manhattan. Two Penn Staters with very different perspectives on the issue feature prominently in the package.

The first is Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences in the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences whose work on polar ice cores and quirky, engaging style of bringing science to the masses has made him one of the country’s best known climate scientists. Alley serves as the primary source in the Times‘ explainer on carbon dioxide, our planet’s most prominent greenhouse gas. Alley has a gift for useful analogies, and his “pothole” comparison in the Times piece is a great example.

Then there’s Diane Ackerman ’70, the author whose latest book, The Human Age, continues a career-long passion for the natural world. Ackerman’s new book is one of three reviewed with climate change and its impacts as a unifying theme. As we wrote in our Sept./Oct. issue, The Human Age offers what Ackerman describes as a hopeful take on how humans are impacting the planet: “…how, despite our tendency to alter—and occasionally obliterate—our surroundings, humans still manage to cultivate beauty.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm 1 comment

Real Genius

Danielle S. Bassett, PhD  University of PennsylvaniaWe have no reason to doubt that Danielle Bassett would’ve made a great nurse. But we think it’s probably a good thing that she chose a different, more indirect way of helping people.

On Wednesday, Bassett ’04 was announced as one of 21 recipients of the 2014 MacArthur Fellowships. Nicknamed the “Genius Grants,” the MacArthur Fellows Program, according to the foundation’s website, “awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

A physicist at Penn—her full title is Assistant Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering—Bassett studies interconnectivity in the brain, research with huge implications for everything from language and memory to disease treatment. In the video below, she explains her path to academia (including that detour in nursing school) and the significance of her work:

Bassett joins an impressive list of fellow scientists, artists, educators, and social leaders who have earned a MacArthur grant since the program began in 1981. Earlier this year, she was also awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. We’re proud to call her one of our own—though probably not quite as proud as her husband, fellow Penn physicist Lee Bassett ’04.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm 2 comments

Lost in the Line of Duty

DicksonThe tragic and as yet unsolved murder of Pennsylvania State Police corporal Bryon K. Dickson in an apparent ambush late Friday hits closer to home with the news that Dickson ’03 was a Penn Stater. A seven-year veteran of the state police, Dickson was killed in a shooting at the Blooming Grove barracks in rural northeast Pennsylvania that also seriously wounded a fellow trooper. Federal agents have arrived to help in the investigation, and authorities are urging anyone with information to call the state police hotline.

According to his obituary, Dickson and his wife, Tiffany Antos ’02a ’03 H&HD, had recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Dickson also leaves behind two young sons.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

September 16, 2014 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Twenty Years On, Still Perfect

I think I’m finally over my jet lag from five terrific days in Dublin, and just in time: There’s a home opener to be ready for.

The Nittany Lions’ meeting with Akron is notable for a few reasons, not least that it’s James Franklin’s home debut. But as both a 1995 grad and the guy who spent untold hours on the phone this past spring and summer with members of the ’94 Lions, I can tell you I’m almost as excited about the reunion of Penn State’s last undefeated team as I am about the game itself.

IoHVd3Il

Carter, Collins, and Brady, three of the stars of the unstoppable ’94 offense.

Alumni Association members by now should have their copies of our Sept./Oct. issue, which features that great shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 on the cover, and, inside, an oral history on that team’s epic comeback win at Illinois. While the magazine piece focuses on the Illinois game—well, really the whole trip to Champaign, a surreal experience that the players, coaches, and managers recount in the issue—it’s just an excerpt from our much larger oral history of the ’94 Lions, tracking that squad from raw recruits into arguably the greatest offensive team in college football history. I spoke to nearly 30 guys for that one, and it was very much a labor of love. If you haven’t already, you can find the entire piece over at The Football Letter Blog.

The reunion is well timed not only with the 20th anniversary of that team, but with the emergence of true sophomore Christian Hackenberg as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Hackenberg’s record performance against UCF in the season opener, following his terrific freshman season, has some people wondering (prematurely) how he ranks with the best QBs in program history. Well, the guy who tops that list, Kerry Collins ’94, is expected back this weekend, as are arguably—key word here—the best running back (Carter), receiver (Bobby Engram ’95), tight end (Kyle Brady ’95) and offensive line in school history. There are lots of worth guys in the argument at all those positions, but the fact that so many guys from that one team are in the discussion tells you just how phenomenal that team was.

For so many reasons, it’s impossible to compare this year’s team—still limited by sanctions, and with a brand new coaching staff—to Joe Paterno’s veteran, talent-laden ’94 squad. But based on some of the things I heard repeated time and time again by Carter, Collins, Engram, Brady and nearly everyone else I spoke to from the ’94 squad, there’s plenty that this year’s Lions would be well to mimic: Work hard, put aside egos, never doubt what you’re capable of, and never miss a chance to laugh. Solid advice for any football team—and, I suppose, for life in general.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

September 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm 3 comments

“Clear and Unanimous” Choice Sandy Barbour is the New AD

DSC_5582_Sandy_Barbour[1]Eminently qualified, but with some tough questions to answer, Sandy Barbour was introduced Saturday as Penn State’s new director of athletics.

Barbour, who until earlier this month had worked for nearly a decade as the AD at UC Berkeley, met reporters Saturday in the Beaver Stadium press room. Introduced by President Eric Barron as the “clear and “unanimous” choice for the job, the 54-year-old Barbour described Penn State as something of a dream destination. The Maryland native presented the move as a sort of homecoming, and said Penn State “represents the opportunity to have it all.” She’ll officially start work on Aug. 18.

Barbour’s resume is impressive. Prior to 10 years at Cal—where she led a department that supports 28 varsity programs and won 19 national championships during her tenure—she worked as an assistant AD at Notre Dame and Northwestern and also served an eight-year stint as AD at Tulane. A two-sport standout at Wake Forest, she owns a master’s degree from UMass and an MBA from Northwestern, where she also worked as an assistant AD. She knows college athletics from a coach’s perspective—she was a field hockey and lacrosse assistant at UMass and Northwestern—taught a course on sports management at the University of New Orleans, and even spent a summer as a production intern at the Fox Sports affiliate in Chicago

Media coverage of her time at Cal paints Barbour as a passionate advocate for and supporter of student-athletes, while offering harsh appraisals of her efforts in two key areas: Graduation rates and budget management. While most of Cal’s teams graduated at high rates under Barbour, the rates for football and men’s basketball were among the lowest rates for any major conference program. As for budget issues, Bay Area media were particularly critical of Barbour’s handling of a costly facilities upgrade—a process complicated by the fact that Cal’s aging Memorial Stadium rests atop an active fault line, requiring hundreds of millions in additional costs to make it safe.

Without redirecting blame, Barbour said the low graduation rates of Cal’s highest-profile programs were “unacceptable,” and said she “learned a number of things in that situation that will benefit Penn State.” Barron said he called Cal’s chancellor to ask about Barbour’s role, and was told that “Sandy was a champion for the success of the students, and was putting on considerable pressure to make the situation improve.”

DSC_5785_Franklin_Barbour_BarronBarbour will face very different challenges at Penn State, where she takes over from Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, who took the job on an interim basis in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, played a lead role in the hiring of both Bill O’Brien and James Franklin, and oversaw three largely successful years for Nittany Lion teams. Noting how the university “stayed together” through the scandal, Barbour said, “I really admire your recent record of looking in the mirror, and recognizing the need to be better.” Barron said Joyner will continue to serve as AD until Aug. 17, and thereafter in a consulting role helping Barbour in her transition.

The location of the press conference, and the presence of James Franklin, who joined Barbour and Barron afterward for photos on the Beaver Stadium turf, emphasized the central importance of football to the athletic department. Barbour referenced Penn State’s reputation as the “Beasts of the East,” adding “I have no doubt we’ll return to that under Coach Franklin.” But she emphasized that, both in football and across the board, Penn State teams under her leadership won’t settle for regional success.

“We aspire to national championships in each and every one of our 31 sports,” she said. “That’s what we’ll work toward every day.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

July 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm 6 comments

From the Magazine: Ben Kline

As a Penn State linebacker, Ben Kline knows all about the pressure of living up to a legacy of greatness. It’s good experience for his other role: president of Penn State’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

Photo by Cardoni.

Photo by Cardoni.

A redshirt junior linebacker, Kline is the latest Nittany Lion to lead the founding Uplifting Athletes chapter, a charity benefiting rare disease research which was started in 2003 by former Lion Scott Shirley ’03, ’04g. In the time since, UA has expanded into a national organization with student-run chapters at nearly two dozen college football programs. But Penn State still sets the tone: When the Lions host their annual Lift for Life event on Saturday, July 12, they’re expecting to surpass $1,000,000 raised for kidney cancer research.

“It’s really grown, and it’s something our team has really rallied around,” says Kline, the featured athlete in our July/August issue. “It’s become one of those traditions that’s built into Penn State football.” Much like Linebacker U., it’s also a tradition of excellence whose departed greats have left very big shoes to fill. In the case of Uplifting Athletes, the biggest belong to Eric Shrive ’13, the former offensive lineman who preceded Kline as president, and who raised more than $100,000 for UA during his time at Penn State.

“I was close with Shrive, and all the guys that were doing it before, and I saw what they did and how they put their hearts into it,” Kline says. “The guys on the executive board this year, we’re all close, and we’re thinking about it constantly—how we can grow it, how we can make it better.” Next week’s Lift for Life event is the chapter’s primary fundraiser, but thanks to that constant brainstorming, the team has hosted other events—popping up at Nittany Lion basketball games, or kid-friendly activities at local parks—that provide more opportunities to raise precious funds.

Kline’s on-field status this season is unclear: He missed about half of the Lions’ games last season with injuries, and an unconfirmed report last month implied he might miss more time this fall. But regardless of his impact on the field, Kline has already established himself as one of Penn State’s most valuable players.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

A Roseberry by Any Other Name…

Photo by Mark Selders

Hall of Flavor—er, Famer—Russ Rose. Photo by Mark Selders

The Creamery pitched it. His wife came up with the finishing touch. And Russ Rose? He’s just the guy they named it after.

Russ “Digs” Roseberry was unveiled Thursday morning, and as Berkey Creamery manager Tom Palchak ’80 tells us, it’s the first permanent “Hall of Fame” flavor added in more than 20 years. Its namesake is none other than Rose, the six-time national champion-winning coach of the Penn State women’s volleyball team. Dishing out the first scoops on Thursday—and yes, your intrepid reporter sacrificed himself by eating an ice cream cone for lunch—Rose handled the honor much in the way he handles receiving coach-of-the-year awards: By quietly deflecting all the credit.

The idea came from Palchak, who initially approached Rose a few years ago; a communications breakdown led to folks at the Creamery getting the mistaken impression that Rose wasn’t interested. He was, not so much for the ice cream, but for the rare company he’d keep. “To be up there with Coach Paterno,” he says, “that’s pretty special.” As for the finished product, Russ says his wife, Lori Barberich Rose ’85, is the one who figured out how to make it delicious.

BoQD86QIUAAmj91Palchak finally connected with Rose earlier this year, and they began the process of figuring out just what Rose’s flavor would be. The coach’s starting points were caramel and strawberry—two great tastes that really don’t go together—and with Lori’s help, they settled on strawberry ice cream as the base. Wanting to keep the flavor fruity, they decided through trial and error to add swirls of black and red raspberry sauce; with the Roses’ four sons providing a ready-made taste-testing team, reviews were good. But there was something missing, until Lori Rose found it: flecks and small chunks of dark chocolate.

As it was served up Thursday, Russ “Digs” Roseberry strikes a wonderful balance between flavors and texture that it shares (in this reviewer’s humble opinion) with Creamery classics like Death by Chocolate and Alumni Swirl. It’s just really, really good. And while I’d argue there’s never a bad time for Creamery ice cream, its late-May unveiling seems appropriate: all that fruit just screams summer. It probably doesn’t hurt that the annual Happy Volley tournament starts Friday, meaning there will be something like 10,000 high school volleyball players, coaches, and family members in town for the holiday weekend. Most of them will probably hit the Creamery at some point.

I know what they should order.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

May 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Recent Posts

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,363 other followers


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,363 other followers

%d bloggers like this: