Author Archive

The Art of War

The New York Times is featuring excerpts from combat artist Michael D. Fay’s blogs this week, as part of their Home Fires series. (The series publishes the writings of men and women who have returned home from military service.) Fay ’82 A&A, who retired from the military in December, has been blogging since Sept. 2005, and though he’s a pencils-and-paper artist by trade, he also paints the wartime scenery with his words:

Everywhere amongst the chaos were vaguely reassuring hints of normalcy. One almost expected to turn a corner and find a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and a warm mug of spiced cider. That is, until another round of gunfire, an explosion, or a frantic stream of radio traffic shattered the reverie.

We profiled Fay in the Nov./Dec. 2005 issue of The Penn Stater (you can read the profile here), explaining how he happened upon his field. Fay is currently working in Afghanistan as a military correspondent, so he’ll have plenty of chances to continue writing about war. He’s also working on a memoir. For now, you can read The New York Times series by starting with Part 1 here.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

June 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

The Honeybee Dilemma

When the mysterious syndrome called Colony Collapse Disorder started devastating honeybee populations across North America and Europe in 2006, we found out just how important honeybees are to our food industry. It’s estimated that a third of everything we eat depends on honeybees–so with an estimated one-third of colonies failing to survive winter 2009, some view the situation as a “biological disaster.”

Now, Penn State has received a $250,000 gift that will help train grad students working in this field. The Lorenzo L. Langstroth Graduate Fellowship in Entomology was endowed by an anonymous donor in honor of the 19th century apiarist known as the “father of American beekeeping,” and will be used to recruit graduate students studying entomology, with a focus on those who are interested in conducting honeybee-related research.

We did a story on Colony Collapse Disorder in the May/June 2007 issue of The Penn Stater. Today, there’s lots of speculation about the cause–from a virus all the way to cell phone radiation–but still no known culprit.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

June 8, 2010 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Natural Fusion Welcomed Home

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a nice article today about Natural Fusion’s dedication as a conference center for Bayer MaterialScience in Robinson Township, Pa. Natural Fusion is the house that Penn State students built for the Solar Decathlon last fall; we blogged yesterday about the house getting a permanent home at Bayer’s corporate campus just outside Pittsburgh.

The building serves as an example of energy-efficient design, and in keeping with that theme, instead of the traditional ribbon cutting, the company celebrated its new conference center by planting a tree.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

May 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

Solar House Finds Its Home in Pittsburgh

Photo: Geoff Rushton ’01

The solar house that Penn State students built last fall now has a permanent home. It’s now in place at Bayer MaterialScience in Robinson Township, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh; the house was commissioned in its new location today.

Students from three colleges—Engineering, Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Arts and Architecture—built the house for the 2009 Solar Decathlon, an event in which 20 schools from across the country and around the world compete to build the best solar house. The houses in the competition were on display on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. last October. The decathlon is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Natural Fusion, Penn State’s entry, is a small building—just 800 sq. ft.—and is a solar-powered, zero-emission structure. We took some photos of the construction progress back in August, but if you want to check out the end result, you’ll have to head to the Bayer MaterialScience campus, where the building now serves as a conference center and a showcase for Bayer’s new EcoCommercial Building initiative. (Bayer helped to fund Natural Fusion and helped review its initial designs.) You can also check out a virtual tour at the team’s website.

Penn State students also entered the 2007 Solar Decathlon. That entry, MorningStar, is on display next to the Centre County Visitors Center, across from Beaver Stadium. It’s open for tours most Sundays between 1 and 4 p.m.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

May 26, 2010 at 4:56 pm 1 comment

‘Fair Game’ Premieres at Cannes

Ken Regan/Summit Entertaiment

Fair Game, the new movie based on the book by ex-CIA spy Valerie Plame ’85, debuted at the Cannes International Film Festival this week. Naomi Watts, known for her roles in King Kong and The Ring, stars as Plame, while Academy Award winner Sean Penn plays her husband, Joe Wilson.

Plame received national attention in 2003 when Washington Post columnist Robert Novak revealed that she was a CIA operative, which led to a grand jury investigation involving Lewis “Scooter” Libby (chief of staff for then-vice president Dick Cheney). Plame published a memoir titled Fair Game in late 2007, and she was our cover story in the Jan./Feb. 2008 issue of The Penn Stater.

The film, helmed by Bourne Identity director Doug Liman, was the only U.S. film premiering at Cannes this year. It “received solid reviews, but most critics agree that it broke no new ground, cinematically or politically,” reports. The New York Times says the film was “greeted with solid applause and a smattering of boos after its first press screening” and had “an enjoyable opening hour before disintegrating into melodramatic hooey.” The New York Post, on a brighter note, reports that “Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are being tipped for Oscar nods.”

Fair Game has another Penn State connection besides Plame: Ty Burrell ’97, star of ABC’s Modern Family, also appears in the film.

No word yet on when the movie will hit U.S. theatres, but you can check out a clip below.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

May 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm 1 comment

Ben Feller Honored for Coverage of President Obama

We told you Ben Feller ’92 Com was good at his job. Feller, a White House correspondent for the Associated Press, recently earned the Merriman Smith Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association for his coverage of President Obama’s secret trip to Dover Air Force Base to greet the coffins of fallen soldiers. (The photo at right shows Ben and the President at the annual WHCA dinner earlier this month.) The Dover piece also was among the work cited by the Gerald R. Ford Foundation when it honored Feller with its Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

We’ve mentioned Feller a few times in our blog, and he was our cover story in our May/June 2009 issue; now he (jokingly) credits his success to our coverage: “See what happens when you give people coverage in The Penn Stater?” Feller wrote in an e-mail. “Good things happen—I see cause and effect here!”

That’s very nice of Ben, but his success is more likely related to his being a “master of deadline reporting,” among the other accolades listed by the awards judges.

Amy Guyer, associate editor

May 19, 2010 at 9:38 am 1 comment

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