Alumni News

TJ Firneno

TJ FirnenoCongratulations to IUP Biology graduate student Thomas J. (T.J.) Firneno, winner of the 2016 IUP Outstanding Graduate Research Award! He recently defended his award-winning thesis "Integrative assessment of species boundaries in Mesoamerican toads (Incilius coccifer complex)", and this Fall will be heading to the University of Texas at Arlington to pursue his PhD in Quantitative Biology. The photo shows T.J. presenting preliminary results of his thesis work (in Spanish!) at the 2014 Congress of the Society of Mesoamerican Biology and Conservation in Copan, Honduras, where he won the first place in the graduate poster competition. Great work!

Sarah Walz

Sarah has recently been accepted to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. She will be starting at this university in fall 2016. Congratulations, Sarah!

James BirchJames Birch

Since August 2014, James Birch has shown incredible involvement in research, curriculum, and extracurricular activities. He received a number of grants from the department and School of Graduate Studies and Research, including money to travel for his presentations at the American Phytopathological Society National Meeting in 2015, the Pennsylvania Academy of Science in Doylestown, Pa. in 2016, and then attended the IUP hosted Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists in 2015 and two Graduate Scholars Fora.

As the 2015-16 Graduate Student Assembly president, he delegated a number of graduate students into over 25 university committees and held a number of positions within the University Senate, the Student Cooperative Association, the Steering Committee for the Middle States Reaffirmation of Accreditation process, and other university committees. As a result, he is a 2015-16 Chacivity Award recipient and continues with his efforts in community and professional development engagement for graduate students and undergraduate students alike.

He also served as a biology faculty member for the Regional Mathematics and Science Center at Frostburg State University in summer 2015 which preceded the part-time temporary faculty position held within IUP's Biology Department in fall 2015.

Upon his leaving IUP, he serves his time as the program specialist for the Health Careers Opportunity Program at West Virginia University, a program designed around inclusion of students across the state of West Virginia to implement success in health-related careers. Additionally, he has accepted a full-ride offer from the University of Louisville doctoral program in Microbiology and Immunology, where he hopes to extrapolate the molecular mechanisms of vesicular trafficking and manipulation of such in pathogenesis.

Alex HessHess

Congratulations to Biology graduate student Alex Hess, who recently defended his thesis and has been accepted into the PhD program at the University of Tulsa, where he will study the evolutionary assemblage of subterranean invertebrate communities in the Ozark Mountains!

Vishal KeshariVishal Keshari

March 2016: Vishal Keshari has recently accepted a job at Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Vishal will be joining a team of roboticengineers, bio engineers, and developmental biologists to create amicro-injector that will perform automated micro-injectionson frog (X. laevis) embryos for high throughput drug screening and developmental studies.

Kara Doms

Congratulations to Kara Doms for getting into Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine!

Julie ScottJulie Scott

Meet IUP alumna Julie. Julie graduated fromIUP in 2013 with a degree in Ecology, Conservation, and Environmental Biology. Julie is now working with the United States Department of Agriculture and will be working within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Plant Protection Quarantine Departments. A part of her job includes setting up insect traps and conducting surveys for plants, plant diseases, and insects.

Alumni Directory

The following names, e-mail addresses, locations, and news are provided so that biology alumni may be able to better find and communicate with each other.

The information below was obtained beginning in summer 2012.

This information is given with the permission of the alumni listed. If you would like to add your name and information to this list, then please send the following information via the Biology Alumni Online Information Form.

(See the Alumni Directory Archive for earlier information.)

  • Name (plus maiden name if appropriate, i.e., the name people knew here)

  • E-mail address you wish to share

  • Present location (town and state only)

  • Year of receiving a Biology bachelor's degree from IUP

  • Year of receiving a Biology master's degree from IUP

  • News item you wish to share

'Yr = Year of bachelor's degree; M'yr = Year of master's degree

Name E-mail Location News





Edmiston '07, Matt

Ephrata, PA






Kennedy M'73, James

Denton, TX