Posts filed under ‘College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’
We got lots of feedback on the photos, and readers loved Cohen’s up-close-and-personal look at creatures we don’t often see.
Now there’s another opportunity to check out Cohen’s work. A photo exhibit, called “Eyes to Sea: Underwater Photography by Jeremy Cohen,” opened this week in the EMS Museum and Art Gallery in the Deike building.
Cohen, associate vice president and senior associate dean for undergraduate education at Penn State, is an avid scuba diver who’s photographed marine life all over the world, including Fiji, Indonesia, and Hawaii. Cohen’s goal with the exhibit: to make people more aware of the human impact on aquatic ecosystems.
Cohen’s photos will be on display through fall 2012.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Twice a year, I find myself staring at my computer screen feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed.
When it comes time to schedule classes, I’m always intimidated by eLion’s lists and lists of courses. That’s what happens when you go to a school with 40,000 students and more than 160 majors. I’m usually fine with classes in my areas of study (journalism and English), but general education courses are a different story. There simply are too many. Some seem intriguing; some, not so much.
Gen-ed requirements have changed a lot over the years: Now, all baccalaureate degree programs include a 45-credit gen-ed component, including three credits in health and physical activity, nine credits in natural science, six credits in art, six credits in humanities, and six credits in social and behavioral sciences.
So as students begin to schedule for fall 2012, I took a look at some of Penn State’s more interesting gen-ed courses. I begin with a class I took last year—a class where SpongeBob appears on the syllabus.
Course: Geosci 040: The Sea Around Us
Requirement satisfied: GN (Natural Science)
Why I took it: I’m not a science person at all. I had to late drop meteorology my freshman year (who knew predicting weather included calculus?) and needed an easier science class to take.
Interesting assignment: Once, we reported to the HUB-Robeson Center for class. Our lab that day consisted of analyzing the aquarium on the bottom floor. I had no idea there was such an intricate ecosystem living just 100 feet away from Sbarro’s. The most interesting aspect, to me, was that the 500-gallon tank has a self-regulated lighting system, which gets dark at night to mimic the real ocean.
What I got out of it: A new appreciation for beaches and environmentalism. When I visited Cape Cod last summer, I had a hard time looking at the dunes without thinking about how big they once were, and how they got there.
Course: CMLIT 120: The Literature of the Occult
Requirement satisfied: GH (Humanities)
Interesting assignment: Read the third installment of the Harry Potter series.
What you can get out of it: “In all honesty, an appreciation for the Harry Potter series,” says Alexa Agugliaro, who says she wasn’t on the J.K. Rowling bandwagon before enrolling in the course. “There are a lot of major drabby classes that people have to take while they’re here, so why not, if you have the room, take a cool class about like vampires and monsters.” It’s not all Harry Potter and Twilight, though. Agugliaro wrote her final term paper on the witches in Macbeth.
Side note: Agugliaro says the teacher wore a wizard hat and a robe every day and had a magic wand.
Course: KINES 028: Fencing
Requirement satisfied: GHA (Health and Physical Activity)
Interesting assignment: Just fence. Senior Matt Giacometti said there’s not much variety to the course, but he doesn’t mind. Students participate in basic drills, then fence each other. “It’s fun,” Giacometti says. “Exactly what you want from the class.”
What you can get out of it: “A ton,” Giacometti says. “I’m learning from coaches that have succeeded at the highest level. These guys have coached Olympians.” Giacometti’s professors for the course? Assistant coaches with the Penn State varsity fencing team—a program with 12 national championships and more than 170 All-Americans in the last 28 years. Did you know that Suzie Paxton ’93, a former Nittany Lion fencer and 1996 Olympian, started fencing in this gym class?
Course: Applied Linguistics 100
Requirement satisfied: GS (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Interesting assignment: During one class, the students were asked to think of as many examples of semantic word as they could. As junior Jackie Giraldo recalls, “That was the first time I ever heard the word yinz,” Giraldo says.
What you can get out of it: Says Giraldo: “I learned how language has evolved over time, but also got a deeper look at how words have evolved, how syntax has evolved, and why things are said different ways in different places. I definitely have a new appreciation of communication of different cultures.”
Course: INART 115: Popular Music in America
Requirement satisfied: GA (Arts)
Interesting assignment: Students were required to participate in online discussions. One debate revolved around who is the most influential musician today, with one student making a good case that the answer was definitively Lady Gaga.
What you can get out of it: “I now understand the hardships that a lot of musicians had to endure in the past in great music from that, era like the jazz and blues,” junior Jared Cruz says. “And it also influenced the development of music nowadays.”
Emily Kaplan, intern
“Probably,” he smiled. “I think they’re probably superfluous, but it’s better to be safe.”
I’ve gone to probably a dozen Penn State Forum lunches in the past five years, and Thursday’s event at the Penn Stater Hotel was the first in which I’d seen a police presence. Three armed campus police officers—one from a K-9 unit—stood outside the packed conference room in which Mann spoke. I imagine they were there to stem any potential unrest after ads appeared on local radio this week urging people to boycott or protest Mann’s speech; I imagine those officers were aware as well that Mann has received death threats because of his work.
Mann, of course, is a climatologist, Penn State professor of meteorology and geosciences, and director of the University’s Earth Systems Science Center. If you know his name, it’s probably less because of his work—including his role in developing the iconic “hockey stick” model for measuring long-term global warming—than the reaction to it. U.S. Senators, state attorneys general, and TV pundits (among many others) have all gone after Mann in an attempt to discredit findings that show the reality and alarming rate of man-made global warming. If he’s not the favorite target of climate change deniers, he’s near the top of the list.
Mann’s speech Thursday was titled (more…)
Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, who was at the center of the 2009 controversy dubbed “Climategate,” did not engage in scientific misconduct, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation.
The controversy arose when a computer server at a British climate-research center was hacked in November 2009, and emails among climate researchers—including Mann—were published on the Internet. Climate-change skeptics claimed that the emails showed that Mann and the others had manipulated data in order to reach the conclusions that global warming is real.
Penn State investigated Mann a year ago in conjunction with the controversy and also found no evidence of research impropriety. Several other bodies, including the National Academy of Sciences, have reached the same conclusion.
Mann’s website at Penn State contains links to some of the news stories about him, including one from last month in which he talks about the attacks he’s experienced from global-warming skeptics and others.
Tina Hay, editor
As the chief meteorologist for WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., Joe Calhoun ’81 is concerned about the short term. Like most TV meteorologists, he has stories about viewers calling to ask whether it’s going to rain later that day and if they should cancel their picnic, or graduation, or whatever. He knows his viewers have bigger questions, too, about climate change, but he wasn’t always sure how to handle them. He’s been out of the classroom for a long time, and he wasn’t up on the latest science.
And that’s why he was part of a committee that helped to develop a one-day workshop in which Penn State’s top climate researchers gathered with about a dozen of the state’s television meteorologists to discuss the science of climate change.
“These are issues we need to address,” Calhoun said.
And as for the researchers? They wanted to explain the science to the meteorologists—in a politics-free, collegial environment—but they also wanted some help. As organizer Jon Nese ’83, ’85g ’89g, a senior lecturer in meteorology, explained, television viewers trust the meteorologists on their local channels, so by making sure that those meteorologists understand the science, researchers can make sure that television viewers are getting the best possible information.
Nese told the broadcasters, “You excel at telling engaging, simple stories about a complex phenomenon.” (more…)
The first thing I noticed about the Millennium Science Complex—the new gigantic (275,000 square feet), state-of-the-art building between Pollock Halls and the Eisenhower Auditorium parking garage—was the beautiful landscaping in the building’s northwest corner. My husband and I bicycled past a couple of weeks ago, and we stopped to admire the ferns and flowers nestled under what we called an “open spot” in the building’s roof.
Turns out, those ferns and flowers are far more than decoration.
On The Penn Stater’s tour of the building Thursday afternoon, senior project manager Dick Tennant explained (more…)
Mel Goldstein, the chief meteorologist at WTNH-TV in New Haven, Conn., pretty much qualifies as a medical miracle. For 16 years, he’s been fighting multiple myeloma, a blood cancer with a typical life expectancy of only three years. And for most of that time, he’s been on the air as the station’s morning meteorologist.
So it was sad to learn from this piece in the New Haven Register that Dr. Mel, as he’s universally known, is off the air—and in pain. He told the newspaper that his cancer levels haven’t risen, but that he has excruciating pain in his hip and groin. His wife, Marlene, said that when asked to rank his pain on a 1-10 scale, “Mel used to say ‘5’. “But now he says ’15.’”
Such sad news. Sending good wishes, and hoping to hear of some improvement.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Never a guy to shy away from attention or controversy, Joe Bastardi ’78 EMS is in the news lately more than usual. A former Penn State wrestler, prolific local columnist, proud body builder, global-warming skeptic, and respected long-term forecaster, Bastardi last week abruptly quit his post at AccuWeather, a move that made national news.
So this is well timed: Bastardi was featured a few days ago in a Q&A on the Vanity Fair website, in which he discusses his work, his muscles, weird 1970s holiday cartoons, and the reliability of Punxsutawney Phil. It’s highly recommended reading.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Anyone attending Huddle with the Faculty on Saturday morning is in for a treat—the speaker is Richard Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences and one of the climate scientists honored with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Better yet, even if you can’t make it to the Nittany Lion Inn at 9 a.m., you can still enjoy Alley’s talk—and even participate. You can watch live at this link from WPSU, and you’ll also be able to submit questions from the comfort of your own home (or tailgate, I guess). If you want to follow along on Twitter, the hashtag is #PSUhuddle10.
The multimedia and social media options are only appropriate considering the topic of Alley’s talk: “A Lark in the Parks: Communicating the Joy of Science in a YouTube World.” And if you’ve not seen Alley in action, you should definitely do a quick search on YouTube, where you’ll find gems including Alley putting his own spin on Proud Mary (“rolling … to the future”) and performing “Rock Around the Silicates.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Geosciences professor Rudy Slingerland knew what had brought so many people to his Huddle with the Faculty presentation Saturday morning: the Marcellus Shale. So he took a few minutes to disabuse us of the notion that he could provide any hot financial tips.
He explained how he had told his father that he had no interest in the family’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bradford County—”I’m going to be a geology professor,” Slingerland ’77g had said—and how someone else now owns the land that’s worth $2 million in natural gas leases.
But Slingerland’s career decision paid off for us as he traced Pennsylvania’s vital role in the energy industry, from wood to coal to oil to natural gas. He made sure we fully understood these two themes:
—A population’s demand for a certain energy source eventually depletes that energy source.
—There is no environmentally benign energy source.
That established, Slingerman delivered a wonderfully informative lecture. You want to talk about crossing the boundaries of academic disciplines? In the course of an hour, he touched on geology, history, art, and sports, and he even threw in a pop culture reference: “Black gold. Texas tea.” (Beverly Hillbillies, of course.) (more…)