2013-2014 Project Awards

"Colloquium Series Mini-Grants"

Dr. Robert T. Valgenti, Associate Professor of Philosophy
In 2014-15, the Lebanon Valley College Colloquium Series will introduce Colloquium Series Mini-Grants to augment existing courses and program offerings. While the Colloquium Series aims to bring in speakers and performers who will appeal to the entire community, the audience at Colloquium events is often a reflection of the disciplinary background of the speaker. One of the goals of the Colloquium Series is to engage students and the broader College community from all disciplines and programs. These mini-grants aim to widen exposure to the Colloquium Series by reaching directly into the classroom, where speakers will present on the Colloquium Series theme within the structure of existing course offerings and curricula.

The mini-grant program will give students direct contact with experts from outside of campus who can speak directly to the Colloquium Series theme within the context of a particular course or program. The aim is to help students and faculty integrate their courses of study with the college-wide series, encouraging both groups to attend the larger keynote events throughout the semester. Moreover, these mini-grants will further the three missions of the Colloquium Series: (1) to provide students with the opportunity for a unifying intellectual experience that cuts across disciplinary and departmental boundaries by devoting a year's programming to a sustained treatment of a subject, theme, or problem through conversations, lectures, roundtables, films, and integrated course materials; (2) to encourage the open and informed exchange of ideas within the College and the local community by bringing in leading thinkers, authors, scientists, and policy makers; and (3) to introduce students and faculty to important figures within their respective fields of study and expertise by inviting guest speakers to relevant classes, and/or hosting dinners or receptions so that students and faculty have the opportunity for more informal and intimate exchanges.

"DNA Barcoding to Enhance ID of Benthic Macroinvertebrates"
Dr. Robert Carey, Assistant Professor of Biology
Dr. Rebecca A. Urban, Assistant Professor of Biology

DNA barcoding is a method that uses a genetic marker to assign an unknown sample organism to a taxonomic group. The gene typically used for this purpose in animals is mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase (cox1 or COI). This method works because the sequences of genes like cox1, while functionally constrained within animals, are variable due to neutral mutations that accumulate in individual lineages over time. Therefore, each species is likely to have a slightly different allele for these genes. This method is useful when traditional identification procedures are not available or are difficult to use. In the case of stream macroinvertebrates, traditional identification methods are somewhat problematic due to the morphological similarity found within invertebrate families. It is therefore difficult for anyone other than an expert on a particular group of organisms to generate very precise identifications below the family or class level. DNA barcoding using cox1 may alleviate this problem by providing a fast, reliable method to obtain a more specific identification (ideally to the species level).

Students in Dr. Urban's ecology lab will collect and sample stream invertebrates in local creeks to the family level, and then hand over their samples to students in Dr. Carey's genetics lab, who will isolate and further process DNA from the stream macroinvertebrates. The two classes will later meet jointly to present their work to the combined group. This will allow not only of a reemphasis of the importance of molecular techniques in addressing ecological questions and exemplify an application of DNA sequencing technology, it will also give students an opportunity to practice communicating science orally to a group of their peers.

"Faculty Fellowship for International Student Engagement"
Megan F. Potteiger, Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning/Educational Technology
This project will develop a faculty fellowship program for 2-4 faculty to develop and teach courses that are particularly designed to meet the needs of first-year international students. The project aims to provide support that will increase the likelihood of academic success for international students, to support the retention of international students, and to provide support for faculty so that they can manage the academic needs of international students in the classroom and through academic advising. The Faculty Fellowship for International Student Engagement will provide the necessary training and development resources to support these goals by supporting faculty in their development of the first-year courses that are specifically tailored to international students.

As depicted by the “iceberg” model of the nature of Culture devised by the American Field Service (AFS) Intercultural/International Programs (1990), many aspects of culture can affect student learning and classroom performance. For example, multicultural students may take different approaches to carrying out a task, possess widely different attitudes towards authority, or be familiar with different patterns of interpersonal relationships. A significant amount of research has found a connection between culturally responsive instruction and students’ academic success (Au & Jordan, 1981; Erickson, 1987; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). Because these cultural factors have a substantial potential impact on academic success, proactive measures to ensure equal learning opportunities are essential.

By creating a faculty fellowship program that recognizes both the effort and the innovation required by the development of such courses, faculty will have both the incentive and resources to produce a collection of courses that can focus on the particular needs of international students. The Faculty Fellowship for International Student Engagement will encourage and support innovative and effective pedagogy for international students, thereby increasing their likelihood of academic success.

"Improved Summer Research Experience"
Dr. Walter A. Patton, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Director of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
You may have read about "Coffee Hour" on our website. Yes, there is coffee, but when researchers take time away from their individual summer research groups to gather on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., students and faculty engage in learning as a true community of scientists. In this setting, biologists and chemists form the core group of the experience (but have been joined by researchers in psychology and physics) to learn about issues that are universally important to scientists to learn science from each other. The experience, is, in essence, an informal course.

Each week, our hour is divided into several segments. Participants cover a range of topics and issues, which are key to the professional development of future scientists, but are not covered in any single course at LVC. Covering these topics and issues during a summer research experience makes that experience something more significant than simply spending a summer working in the lab.

"Coffee Hour" will cover lab and chemical safety, oral presentations on a summer research project, scientific writing exercises, documentation of work, case studies on ethical conduct, authorship, and intellectual property rights, science news, and a 'Science Video of the Week.' Data collected since 2011 indicates that "Coffee Hour" is evolving to effect change in the skills and abilities students realize during LVC's summer research program.

"Incorporate Enterprise Software Experience"
Dr. Lewis C. Chasalow, Associate Professor of Business Administration
This project will grant LVC membership in the SAP University Alliance, the largest vendor of enterprise software in the world. More than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies use this software. By entering into full membership in the alliance, LVC gains access to a live instance of SAP software that will allow students hands-on access to perform the business functions they are likely to encounter in their careers. The University Alliance program provides the following resources:
  • Access to eLearnings and desktop software 
  • Idea Place and co-innovation contests and SAP events where students showcase their creativity and skills with SAP, customers, and partners
  • State-of-the-art live system demos to underline the use cases taught during lectures utilizing SAP Business ByDesign use case videos
  • Hands-on experience with SAP applications, analytics, mobile, database & technology, cloud, and SAP HANA solutions.
  • Access to the ERPSIM business simulator, which allows students to use enterprise software to execute business decisions and see the impact of those actions on business operations.
Some of Central Pennsylvania's largest employers using SAP (including Hershey Foods, Hershey Entertainment, and General Mills) have indicated that they give extra hiring consideration to students who have direct experience with an ERP system as part of their degree. This experience will give LVC students an additional leg-up as they enter the workforce post graduation.

"Interfaith Literacy Leadership"
Rev. Paul Fullmer, Chaplain and Director of Service and Volunteerism
Beth E. Romanski, Director of Continuing Education & Professional Development
Dr. Matthew Sayers, Assistant Professor of Religion

This project supports a pilot program of the Institute for Interfaith Literacy and Leadership (IILL) dedicated to the promotion of religious literacy, interfaith leadership, healthy interfaith dialogue, and the advancement of sustainable models of pluralism through education, engagement, and service. In this pilot program, the goal is more modest: the development of a certificate program aimed at educating members of the community on religious literacy and interfaith dialogue.

Dr. Matt Sayers will represent LVC at a seminar on the topic of “Teaching Interfaith Understanding” sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith Youth Core, where will will gain the knowledge and resources to establish the institute. Central to this mission of this institute would be a Religious Literacy and Leadership certification program that will draw to the College those members of the community who, because of their professions, interact with diverse religious communities and seek to improve their ability to engage in real interfaith dialogue. The courses will train these professionals in religious literacy, facilitating interfaith dialogues, and taking up leadership roles in interfaith efforts.

More recent efforts by Sayers and Chaplain Fullmer have laid the groundwork for this program. Sayers and Fullmer developed an on-going Sustained Interfaith Dialogue that has successfully run for the last two years. Collaboratively, they developed an interfaith certificate program for students that currently has 18 students working toward that certificate. In 2013, the Sustained Interfaith Dialogue was central to LVC’s involvement in the President’s Interfaith Challenge, a program that the White House established to promote inter-religious cooperation.

"Intergroup Dialogue Course: Race"
Venus Ricks, Director of Multicultural Affairs
Dr. Catherine Romagnolo, Associate Professor of English

Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) is a practice used to engage students across cultural and social divides, promote learning about social diversity and inequalities, and encourage an attitude of social responsibility. Intergroup Dialogue is used at colleges and universities across the country as a means of encouraging students to discuss collaboratively contentious issues. Ultimately, IGD works to bring students together from two or more social identity groups over an extended period of time, typically 10-14 weeks, to understand commonalities as well as differences, examine the impact of social inequalities and explore ways to work together for equality and social justice.

Building upon the success of the pilot Intergroup Dialogue course on race, Romagnolo and Ricks will co-instruct a slightly modified version of the course offered in 2012-2013. The LVC course will include 15 students, offer films in-class and in the local area, require two texts (including "Racism without Racists" by Edward Bonilla-Silva), and require three credit hours. Interested students must complete a questionnaire and receive approval from the instructors to enroll officially. This will ensure participants represent two or more racial identities, which is integral for the inclusion of a diverse viewpoints and perspectives. Class meetings will consist of discussions about historical, theoretical, and literary readings, reflective writings, and a collaborative action project.

"Karl Popper and the Constitution of an Open Society"
Dr. Philip Benesch, Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Benesch will create a co-curricular experience that brings scholars and interested generalists to LVC’s campus to participate alongside students and faculty in an intense, three-day symposium on Karl Popper and the Constitution of an Open Society. The symposium will feature several panels and lectures Sept. 16-18, 2014.

The occasion for this symposium is the concurrence of three important anniversaries. First the 20th anniversary of the passing of Karl Popper, a champion of the Open Society (Popper is most widely known for his two-volume essay, "The Open Society and Its Enemies") and the most broadly influential intellectual of the late 20th century (his contributions extend from the philosophy of natural science, through political theory, probability theory, social science methodology, intellectual history, and logic). Second, the signing of the United States Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention. By Act of Congress, Lebanon Valley College, alongside all other U.S. academic institutions in receipt of federal educational funds, must organize a campus co-curricular special program on ‘Constitution Day’ to commemorate the occasion and to raise student and faculty awareness of the principles and practical implications of the U.S. Constitution. Third, the centenary of the crisis of the open society unleashed by the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, whose full ramifications were first felt in the mass mobilizations of citizen-soldiers and the concomitant interruption of liberal reforms in September 1914.

The symposium will expose students to high-level scholarship and academic debate, embed LVC's 2014 Constitution Day event within a broader intellectual context, and feature lectures delivered by a prominent historian, philosopher, and legal theorist.

"Latinization of Lebanon"
Dr. Ivette Guzman-Zavala, Associate Professor of Spanish
Dr. John Hinshaw, Professor of History
Mathew Samuel, Assistant Professor of Digital Communications
Nancy Williams, Adjunct Instructor of Art Education

This project creates interdisciplinary and collaborative research among professors, undergraduate students, and members of the Lebanon Latino community.

Students in Dr. Guzman-Zavala's Spanish for Heritage Speakers class will conduct interviews with Latinas in Lebanon and its environs, focusing on family history, using photo albums and recipes to delve deeper into personal experiences than a traditional interview generally allows. Dr. Hinshaw's upper-level history students will complete data collection and analysis, building upon work done by past history students under Hinshaw's tutelage.

Finally, the information gathered for these classes will create an archive that will be used in art and digital communication classes led by Williams and Samuel. Art students will design and install an art show using the actual photos and/or prints inspired by the collected narrative or by the visual images themselves. Using these sets of evidence, digital communication students will create a web page that will let viewers navigate through a visual and textual history of Latino immigration in Lebanon. 

"Learning Latin via Video Gaming"
Dr. Noel Hubler, Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Jeffrey J. Ritchie, Chair and Associate Professor of Digital Communications
Mathew Samuel, Assistant Professor of Digital Communications
Dr. Kenneth Yarnall, Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences

This group of LVC faculty will develop an online video game to supplement Latin 101 and 102 to create a stimulating and engaging environment for students to problem solve and employ their knowledge of Latin.

The game, titled “Aeneas”, will be a web-based program allowing easy access on numerous platforms. In it students will need to respond to numerous challenges as they follow the journey of the hero Aeneas from Troy to Italy. The game will ask them to follow directions in Latin, understand basic conversations, and respond appropriately to conversational prompts. Directions, challenges, and narration will be given through voice and print, helping develop listening and reading skills. Their comprehension will be aided by the illustrations that will accompany the linguistic information.

Existing online Latin programs employ traditional drills and exercises that do not take advantage of the interactive nature of computer technology. For the most part they are modeled on flash cards and used to drill vocabulary and grammar in a completely decontextualized and non-engaging format. "Aeneas" will break new ground by presenting exercises in a narrative and activity-based context. In order to progress through the game, students will learn and employ new vocabulary, grammar, and syntax.  

"Pre-first year Study Abroad in Quebec"
Dr. Rick Chamberlin, Associate Professor of German and French
Dr. Kathleen Tacelosky, Chair of Languages; Associate Professor of Spanish
Jill T. Russell, Director of Study Abroad

Last year’s grant from the President’s Innovation Fund made it possible for a faculty member (Tacelosky) to travel to Quebec and lay the groundwork for a pre-first-year study abroad experience for incoming LVC students. That first-of-its-kind program for incoming first year students who have had at least one year of French study will launch in August 2014 and will include two days on LVC’s campus for pre-departure orientation before the group travels to Canada together.

Professor Rick Chamberlin will accompany the group to Quebec and spearhead what is hopefully the first of many pre-college study abroad seminars at LVC. Chamberlin has taught French language, literature and cultures for more than 16 years and has extensive experience leading and teaching study abroad travel seminars, mostly to Germany. More recently (summer 2013), Rick was granted a scholarship from the Quebec government for a professional development course on French pedagogy and Quebecois cultures in Montréal.

"Re-imagining the Computer Science Curriculum"
Dr. Michael D. Fry, Professor of Mathematical Sciences. Director of the Computer Science Track for Engineering
Dr. Kenneth Yarnall, Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences

In response to a massive shift in the computing industry toward distributed computing -- systems that allow computers connected by a network to collaborate as they process data -- two new job categories have emerged: Back-end work (designing software that runs on servers, processing massive amounts of data) and front-end work (software that runs on user machines like laptops and mobile devices to present the data that servers provide).

LVC's current computer science curricula is currently more heavily focused on the programming, front-end work, but this grant aims to restructure the curriculum to focus on the back-end server work. This change will mean refocusing on several subjects not currently given attention in the major: parallel and distributed programming and data analytics. Demand for computer science graduates far outstrips supply, and demand for back-end programmers is even greater. There are virtually no undergraduate programs with such a focus in the country at this time, allowing LVC students to gain the knowledge they need to be a true commodity in the workforce.

"Service Learning Trip to Puerto Rico"
Rev. Paul Fullmer, Chaplain and Director of Service and Volunteerism
Dr. Ivette Guzman-Zavala, Associate Professor of Spanish
Dr. Kathleen Tacelosky, Chair of Languages; Associate Professor of Spanish
Jill T. Russell, Director of Study Abroad

Grant monies for this project will subsidize a week-long service trip in May 2015 for 12 LVC students and two staff to travel to Puerto Rico to work with various service organizations and to serve the local community. The project will mirror the experience of the Spanish-speaking students and faculty traveling to Peru in 2014 to work with students from two high-poverty schools.

Faculty in the Languages Department will collaborate with the Office of Community Service and Miami-based Community Collaborations International Alternative Break Projects to develop a reflective service experience that draws upon the best practices of both the academic and the student affairs areas. LVC faculty member Ivette Guzman-Zavala, who was raised in Puerto Rico, will lead the trip. Service projects will include improving facilities at a school for children with hearing impairment, assisting staff at El Yunque Rainforest National Park, and tutoring young children in school work and language skills.

"Utility of E-Portfolios"
Dr. Walter A. Patton, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Director of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Due to the flexibility and customization of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program, upper-level students may have never been in the same section of a single course at the same time prior to their senior year, creating a cohort of graduates who have each had an individualized experience. This factor is a strength of the program, but also creates an interesting problem in the lack of a unified concept base for all students at the same time.

Dr. Patton will attempt to use an e-Portfolio system in place of traditional paper assignments throughout the 2014-2015 academic year in BCMB 421, 422, and 430 courses to determine if e-Portfolio use helps engage students and integrate ideas and concepts by the students presenting information in ways they create and understand. e-Portfolios may prove beneficial and motivating or they simply may be burdensome and not worth the extra effort involved in creating and maintaining such a resource.