In Brief

Continuing Education, 2021 Style

Penn State Behrend has new ways to connect with you.

Behrend Talks
Behrend Talks is a podcast featuring a variety of guests talking about topics key to the growth and success of the Erie region and beyond. The talks are hosted by Chancellor Ralph Ford and cover everything from developing math educators and STEM leaders in the region to Penn State Behrend’s new women’s health initiative with Magee-Womens Research Institute to election security with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. You can find past episodes at or subscribe to Behrend Talks on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcast, or Google Podcasts.

Rise & Shine webinar series
Development and Alumni Relations is hosting informative webinars featuring Behrend faculty and staff presenting on topics both timely and timeless. The first event in the Rise & Shine series took a look at improvements to Wintergreen Gorge with Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason, sustainability coordinator. You can see that webinar at, where you’ll also find upcoming webinars. Register in advance to get a link to join any upcoming talk.

Jim Gavio, director of Yahn Planetarium

Jim Gavio, director of Yahn Planetarium

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Astronomy star talks
Jim Gavio, director of Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend, posts monthly Star Talks at Gavio guides viewers in looking at the current night sky in the Erie area and also offers special presentations, such as one on SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch and one on the basics of using a telescope.


An Exciting Summer to Come At LERGREC

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center, a Penn State research facility in Erie County’s North East Township, recently announced two exciting developments.

First, a new “Undergraduate Experience in Viticulture and Enology: From Vines to Table” will launch this summer with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which have provided funding for a four-year training program for summer interns at LERGREC. The program will be in collaboration with local wineries, Mazza Vineyards, Arundel Cellars, and Presque Isle Wine Cellars, as well as Welch’s.

“This internship program will benefit the grape industry in Pennsylvania and give students an opportunity to experience research in viticulture and enology and gain an industry perspective. This is a great partnership between the USDA, Penn State, and the grape industry,” said Dr. Michael Campbell, distinguished professor of biology and director of LERGREC.

Second, the center is also establishing a trial of nine new grape varieties to test their fitness for the Lake Erie region and assess their commercial potential. The varieties will be planted by the students in the summer training program.

“We will recruit nationally for students,” Campbell said. “They will receive training in viticulture and enology at LERGREC, and also partici­pate in an industry experience via rotation through Arundel Cellars, Mazza Vineyards, Presque Isle Wine Cellars, and Welch’s.”


Faculty & Staff News

New faculty

The school welcomed new faculty members Dr. Thomas Cameron, assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. Jeremiah Keyes, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Dr. Ashley Russell, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; and Dr. Cate Stiller, assistant teaching professor of nursing.

Honors and awards

  • Dr. Michael Campbell was named distinguished professor of biology. Campbell is also the director of the Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center, a Penn State research facility in North East.

  • Dr. Courtney Nagle, associ­ate professor of mathematics education, received the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows Faculty Research Award.

  • Nate Carter, administrative support assistant, was honored with  A “Behrend’s Best” award.


Dr. Todd Cook has been promoted to associate professor of biology.

Service anniversary

Dr. Bruce Wittmershaus, associate professor of physics, recently celebrated twenty-five years of teaching at Behrend.


Dr. Lynne Beaty (left) and Dr. Adam Simpson (right).

Dr. Lynne Beaty (left) and Dr. Adam Simpson (right).

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Ecology Research Funded

Research projects to be undertaken by two Behrend faculty members were chosen to receive funding through Penn State’s Flower Grant program, which aims to support ecology-related research work across the University.

Dr. Lynne Beaty, assistant professor of biology, received $2,000 for “Unsolved Mysterysnails.” The project involves genetic analysis (DNA barcoding) of two species of invasive snails in western Pennsylvania that are members of a group collectively known as “mystery-snails.” The Chinese mysterysnail (Cipangopaludina chinensis) and the Japanese mysterysnail (Cipango­paludina japonica) are so similar that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish one from the other based on shell shape. Grant funds will be used to determine which species of snail is present on Erie’s Presque Isle.

Dr. Adam Simpson, assistant teaching professor of biology, received $3,000 for his project “Development of a nondestruc­tive bioassay for quantifying contaminant metabolism: insight into the toxicological consequences of rapid environmental change.” Simpson aims to understand how environmental change influences susceptibility to man-made contaminants, such as pesticides. He is developing a simple, non-lethal assay that enables him to quantify an aquatic organism’s ability to detoxify contaminants. Understanding an individual organism’s physiological profile (i.e., ability to process contaminants) can help identify at-risk populations and predict their vulnerability to current and emerging stressors.


Meet The Newest Noyce Scholars

This year’s Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarships have been awarded to School of Science students Keelia Hering, a junior from North East, and Pierce Bowser, a junior from Jackson Center. Each will be eligible for up to $45,000 in financial aid.

Noyce scholarships are available to students pursuing dual majors in Mathematics and Secondary Education in Mathematics; students are eligible for up to two years of funding in exchange for a commitment to teach in a high-needs school district.