Honoring Faculty Members Promoted in Academic Rank

Posted on 12/4/2020 10:13:53 AM

IUP is proud to announce the promotion of several faculty members to professor effective the fall 2020 semester.

Matthew Baumer

Music

Matthew Baumer

I joined the IUP music faculty in 2004 and have taught a wide variety of music history courses to majors, non-majors, and graduate students. As the only person at IUP with a PhD in musicology, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to teach subjects in popular music, classical music, and other cultural traditions. Music is an ever-expanding world that I never tire of exploring. Throughout my career I’ve found that working with students is what motivates me. I’ve been grateful to teach at an institution that puts teaching and students first.

My research interests include nineteenth-century program music, the composer and pianist Franz Liszt, African American gospel music, and music history pedagogy, which has been my focus recently. I served as chair of the Pedagogy Study Group of the American Musicological Society and helped to establish the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, where I published an article on the state of music history teaching to undergraduates. During a sabbatical, I visited 13 campuses and observed music history teachers in the classroom, leading to a study of teaching methods published in The Norton Guide to Teaching Music History. Closer to home, I’ve presented lecture recitals on Franz Liszt, Scott Joplin, and Clara Schumann, joined by music faculty and students and my wife, Jane Potter Baumer.

I have enjoyed serving on and chairing such committees as the University-Wide Graduate Committee and the Online Learning Committee of ACPAC, among others. Last May I took over as chairperson of the Music Department, a role which certainly hasn’t been dull so far! It has been rewarding to work with colleagues and students to find the best way forward during these unusual times. Away from IUP, I am an avid cyclist of Indiana county’s back roads and the father of Frankie and Hannah.

Janet Blood

Human Development, Fashion, and Interior Design

Janet Blood

Sewing, crafts, and apparel design have always been a part of my life; I think the desire to solve problems and create is part of my DNA. Choosing a major in college was easy for me—I just wanted to learn how to sew and design. Funding my college experience was not easy, but I managed to scrape by through my undergraduate education at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with scholarships, student work at our library and theater costume shop, and living very inexpensively in a house shared with seven other students. My parents would ask what type of salary I would be earning after graduation, but it was never about getting a job, money, or fame. I wanted to be happy pursuing my creative passions so I could share it with others. It is this struggle that I still draw upon when working with our undergraduates at IUP in order to motivate them to keep following their career dreams despite barriers and naysayers just as I had.

Looking back at my graduate coursework, I realize that that journey was really my formative training in becoming an effective clothing and textiles instructor. I was very fortunate to have been supported by graduate teaching assistantships at SIU-C and Oregon State University that offered me opportunities to teach while being educated in the other remarkable areas of my field; namely historic costume, the cultural, social, and psychological aspects of dress and appearance, and theory development. My passion for sewing and design, of course, continued as it does to this day, but expanding further into experimental design, industry construction and couture techniques, and surface design.

When looking for a position in higher education, IUP was unexpected. Being from Illinois, I had never heard of IUP. I did, however, want to be a part of an institution that was located close to fashion hot spots, so my students had greater job opportunities than I had; was located in a welcoming community; and valued my creative accomplishments as scholarly growth. IUP has been all that and much more, and I am very thankful for the opportunities and professional successes IUP has afforded me.

Rachelle Bouchat

Mathematical and Computer Sciences

Rachelle Bouchat

When I was six years old, my parents gave me My Book about Me by Dr. Seuss, and I filled in one of the blanks with “I like mathmatics best.” My spelling ability has improved, and my passion for mathematics has continued.

I attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky from 2003 to 2008. I have always been drawn to areas of mathematics that involve visualizations. I work in combinatorial commutative algebra, which uses tools from the fields of algebra, topology, and combinatorics. The specific area of monomial ideals that I work in counts algebraic structures associated to well-studied combinatorial objects. While I work in theoretical mathematics, these structures appear in many applications, like to phylogenetics.

After graduate school, I got my first academic job at Slippery Rock University, where I received tenure and was employed for six years before getting retrenched. In 2014, I started at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In my time here, I have expanded my research to include some applied mathematics. I worked on a project to use mathematics to model the disease Onchocerciasis that greatly affects regions in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past few months, I received a grant to work on a team to combine predator-prey and optimal foraging models.

One of my biggest passions is sharing research experiences with students. I have done this in a small way, by working with individual students on projects, and in a larger way, by stepping in to serve IUP as the director of the U-SOAR program. I love encouraging faculty and students to work together and seeing the wonderful research that results from these collaborations.

I strongly believe you should keep your mind open to pursue what you are passionate about and to find time for the activities you love. Besides academics, I spend my spare time knitting, playing with my two corgis, biking, hiking, and participating in CrossFit.

Ken Coles

Geoscience

Ken Coles

I was fortunate to grow up in a setting where science research and discovery were happening all around me. This included the exploration of the solar system during the race to land humans on the Moon. I was just a couple of miles from the Jet Propulsion Lab (NASA-JPL), and my family knew many folks who worked there. I got to learn planetary science in college and plate tectonics in graduate school from some of the scientists who created these new fields. Two of my professors had trained the astronauts to do geology on the Moon. It is all so exciting that I’ve shared it whenever I could. A discovery in natural science isn’t complete until you share it with others.

During my career, I’ve led many people through discovery of what lies on and beyond Earth. I’ve taught elementary students of the Navajo Nation, secondary students in the Midwest and New England, and all levels of K-12 students and the public while conducting science outreach. Each group requires a particular approach, which is an enjoyable challenge. The marvelous things out there to discover are appealing to all ages and backgrounds.

This experience fuels my efforts in showing the wonders of the Earth, solar system, and universe in my IUP classes, public planetarium shows, in research with undergraduate students, and with K-12 students on and off campus. It is an easy sell, for the universe fills one with wonder. I’m grateful for what I get to do, and a great way to express that gratitude is to spread the wonder as much as I can. The young people I work with are going to participate in the next great discoveries, things we cannot even imagine yet.

Joseph Duchamp

Biology

Joseph Duchamp

Wild animals were a strong interest for me as a child. I grew up hiking through woods all over Michigan with my family and was always on the lookout for a new animal to see. Although I started out pursuing a BS in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, I switched my major after my freshman year when I realized that I could pursue something related to my interest in animals as my career. After graduating with a BS in biology, I took two graduate courses related to mammals and ecology at University of Michigan Field Station. There, I gained hands-on experience with mammal research and realized that I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.

To pursue this goal, I joined the lab of John O. Whitaker Jr. to study bats while pursuing my MS degree at Indiana State University. In his lab, I studied bat habitat selection near Indianapolis and in a rural bottomland forest along the Wabash River. During these studies, I was intrigued by how threatened and endangered animals could persist alongside intensive human activities such as suburban developments and row-crop agriculture. I moved on to pursue my PhD with Robert K. Swihart at Purdue University, where I continued to study bats. Here, we took a broader perspective, and I looked at relative bat populations and changes in bat communities across a range of conditions that differed in their amounts of human land-use and natural landscapes. I also developed a strong appreciation for statistics, mathematical modeling, and the roles that multiple fields of study can play in ecology and conservation.

After graduating with my PhD, I took a position at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and started a lasting collaboration with Dr. Jeffery Larkin. Since then, my primary focus has been studying Allegheny woodrat populations and their conservation. Along with my own pursuits, the students and faculty here at IUP have afforded me the opportunity to take part in an incredible diversity of research on other plant and animal species as well.

Bryna Siegel Finer

English

Bryna Siegel Finer

I had always wanted to be a writer; as a kid I’d fill blank books with poems and stories, and I wrote mysteries that took place in our neighborhood. I was never a great student; I lacked interest in most of my subjects. But writing—I could always show up for writing. I am beyond fortunate to have attended Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program in Creative Writing.

It was at SLC, however, that I found myself not just writing, but teaching for the first time, suddenly needing to take over a friend’s community college composition classes mid-semester. While I enjoyed teaching, I didn’t quite feel confident in my pedagogy (at the time, I’d probably never heard the word “pedagogy”). Luckily, I was accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University’s English Education master’s program, and eventually into the University of Rhode Island’s PhD program in Composition and Rhetoric, where I learned not just how to be a better writer, but how to be a writing teacher.

I am a Southwestern Pennsylvania girl, born and bred. A product of the Pittsburgh public school system, I’ve always been proud of my Steel City heritage. But even having grown up only 55 miles away from campus, I had to confess that I’d never been to Indiana until my job interview in spring 2012. Yet, I immediately felt at home at IUP, and I couldn’t wait to get to work as the Liberal Studies English director and founding director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program.

For more than eight years, I’ve been in those roles at IUP. I’ve served on numerous committees, including University-Wide Liberal Studies and Assessment, where I’ve been able to see how the university’s commitment to student writing has paid off at all levels in so many disciplines. I’ve given workshops, lunch-and-learns, and met with faculty in many departments for invigorating conversations about the writing that happens in our classrooms. It has been a privilege to spend the last eight years writing and teaching writing with my colleagues and the students at IUP, and I’m looking forward to many more years to come.

Timothy Flowers

Mathematical and Computer Sciences

Timothy Flowers

I have a vivid memory from my time as an undergraduate at Cedarville University when I “discovered” a mathematical theorem. I soon found out the theorem had been known and used for a couple hundred years. However, I was enthralled by the possibility of finding new facts on my own and was encouraged to pursue deeper mathematical research. This led me to graduate school at Clemson University (Go Tigers!) where I would earn a PhD in mathematical sciences. Today, my research is on m-ary partitions, a 50-year-old field of mathematics that lies at the intersection of combinatorics and number theory.

Much as my passion for discovery has motivated my studies in mathematics, my desire to guide others toward discovery has driven my career as an educator. My first teaching jobs were in adult education, where I was usually the youngest one in the room. While I taught them algebra, they taught me about hard work and the doors that education can open. That experience, along with three years teaching at the high school level, is an important part of my love of teaching today.

I started at IUP in 2010, and I am grateful for the many opportunities our university has provided. I enjoy working with the students and my colleagues, and I have found my role as an assistant chair (since spring 2017) to be especially rewarding. In addition, I stay connected with the larger mathematical community through work with the Mathematical Association of America and as an inaugural member of the leadership team for the WeBWorK Project (supporting OER for mathematics education).

At home, my daughter, Etta, is a reliable source of joy and enthusiasm, and I cannot say enough to properly thank my wife, Heather, for her love and support. Additionally, I would like to thank my parents for teaching me to pursue excellence, prioritize family, and follow God.

Julia Greenawalt

Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Julia Greenawalt

All my life I yearned to be a nurse. Shortly after graduation, I joined the Air Force and earned my flight wings. It was in the military that I met and married my husband of now 36 years. We have three grown children; one residing in Rochester, NY; one residing in Philadelphia, Pa; and the youngest currently residing in Belgium. Two of them are proud alumni of IUP!

After my time on active duty, I served again in Desert Storm as a flight nurse out of the Pittsburgh unit while in the Reserves. I earned my MSN at Duquesne and then earned my PhD at the University of Pittsburgh. While taking classes at Pitt, it was my educational experience at Magee Women’s Hospital that convinced me my life goal was to teach. Encouraged to come to IUP by a colleague, Dr. Amy Labant, it was 15 years ago that I was hired. I have served in APSCUF, University Senate, and on the UWUCC while at IUP. My research in simulation has taken me all over the world; to Italy, Greece, Spain, and Australia. I have taught primarily at the junior level, where the nursing students most often have that a-ha moment of what nursing is all about! It is absolutely exhilarating, a privilege and an honor to see that metamorphosis in our students and to be a part of their discovery.

A special thanks to those who enabled my journey: My mother, a diploma nurse who always encouraged me to “Be More!”; my husband; and lastly, Dr. Suzan Kardong-Edgren, my mentor and friend who now resides in Texas for whom she always pushed me to make nursing, bigger, better, and more student-centered. While it has been an eventful journey, it is certain that while nothing is stagnant, one thing is constant: people will always need nurses.

Lora Hromadik

Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Lori Hromadik

Once I decided to become a nurse, I never looked back. A nurse has become who I am. After graduating from IUP in 1981 with my bachelor of science in nursing, I started my career as an ICU nurse at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh. I quickly realized ICU was not the place for me, but I stayed in that position for one year because my respected IUP nursing faculty taught me to stay in that first job a year. The strong ICU nurses developed nursing skills and knowledge in me that I still rely on today.

They also taught me the healing power of the nurse in times of suffering and tragedy. I came to realize the privilege afforded to nurses for caring for others in their time of need.

Since that first year, my nursing career has taking me many places such as obstetrics, community health, and currently as a radiology nurse. Nurses teach in every aspect of their work, and I quickly discovered that while I love nursing, teaching comes in at a close second.

My nursing career took a full circle when I returned to IUP as a full-time, tenure-track faculty member in 2011. My research in quality and safety continues to grow working with graduate students, IUP colleagues, and national nurse leaders. However, teaching undergraduates brings me the most pleasure. My heart swells watching the students fall in love with nursing and embrace the privilege of caring.

Thank you to my fellow faculty, the administration, and the promotion committee for the recognition of my hard work. I started my career at IUP, and I am proud to be continuing my work at IUP.

Keri Kulik

Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science

Keri Kulik

As a former public school teacher and now as a faculty member at IUP, my professional goals have remained consistent; to help my students succeed to the best of their ability and to be productive professionals after graduation. However, it was a simple message from a children’s book that helped me to develop a clearer vision of how to achieve these career goals.

Each night, our daughters enjoy a bedtime story of their choosing. As we sat down one night, they handed me their favorite book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. As I read the story to my children, I thought about the message of the book and what it is trying to demonstrate: “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw. When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin…” Essentially, providing the mouse one item leads to the acquisition of other necessary items to accomplish a goal. Although a simple message about problem solving and perseverance in a children’s book, it has far reaching applicability to a professional educator. This is the message that defines my career in education.

I began my teaching career in a small K-12 public school in Bowie, Texas, where I first learned the profound impact a teacher can have on their students. A good teacher provides students with knowledge and skills, but a great teacher ignites a passion in students to keep learning, to want more, and to continually grow and evolve professionally as well as personally.

I have carried this lesson with me into every classroom, including IUP, when I was hired in 2008 as a Health and Physical Education faculty member in the Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science Department. While my role in the department has changed over the years, my passion for teaching has never wavered. Preparing teachers to meet the challenges of today’s educational climate with perseverance and determination is critically important. Like the mouse in the story, I want my students to keep learning and to keep asking for the glass of milk. For I will always be giving the cookie…

Daniel Lawson

Finance and Legal Studies

Daniel Lawson

My career path has taken me all over the USA, and IUP has taken me around the world, literally. I majored in marine science for my undergraduate degree and worked for nonprofits and state government for 10 years up and down the East Coast. My last stop was in Tallahassee, and that’s where I took my first finance class. I had started a part-time MBA program at Florida State University with the intention of starting up my own environmental consulting firm. The problem with that was, well, I ended up liking finance too much. The stock market intrigued me. And I was always pretty good with numbers, which I think was due in large part to one of my elementary school teachers. She had a unique way of teaching the multiplication tables and I became a star student overnight; although that could have been in my own mind. Regardless, that woman had a significant impact on my life.

I graduated with a PhD in finance from FSU in 2009 and started my second career at Gonzaga University in Washington. I came to IUP in 2014 and fell in love with the campus and community. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania (Elverson), and this felt like home. I love the students at IUP. One of the greatest rewards is watching them grow in their knowledge base, start their career, and then come back to the classroom to share their experience with new students. I’ve had the pleasure to work with the Student Managed Investment Portfolio team and have seen them grow in membership, financial sophistication, and total assets under management. I have also been fortunate to teach in IUP’s Executive MBA program overseas in India and Palestine; places I would never have dreamed to have visited. It’s funny that I had to move back to a small town to see the world, but that’s exactly what happened.

David Lorenzi

Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science

David Lorenzi

I have spent my entire career as a health and physical educator. My undergraduate degree in health and physical education with teacher certification was completed at Slippery Rock University, where I was required to take a class in adapted physical education. This undergraduate class sparked an interest in working with individuals with disabilities in a physical activity setting, and I decided to pursue a master’s degree in adapted physical education at the University of Georgia.

Becoming a certified adapted physical educator and gaining real-world teaching experience reinforced to me that I had chosen a meaningful career path. Through various twists and turns that life presented, I ended up in higher education, teaching at West Liberty University and completing a doctoral degree at West Virginia University. At WVU, I again specialized in physical education, teacher education with an emphasis area in special education.

I left West Liberty University in 2003 and accepted a position at IUP. One of the major factors in my decision to come to IUP was the ability to create a university-based physical activity program for children and adults with disabilities. This was the origin of the modern version of the IUP Special Needs Activity Program. The SNAP program has served as a highlight of my career at IUP. Numerous undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science are linked to the SNAP program, and students are provided with hands-on experience working with clients with a variety of disabilities in a physical activity setting. Additionally, the SNAP program provides an opportunity for children and adults from Indiana and surrounding communities to participate in a meaningful physical activity program.

I would like to acknowledge the support that I received from the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science to develop and grow the SNAP program. Additionally, I would like to thank the families and agencies that participate in the SNAP program for putting your trust in us and allowing our students to gain valuable experience. Finally, I could not have reached my goals without the love and support of my family.

David Martynuik

Music

David Martynuik

Professor Martynuik has been a faculty member in the Department of Music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania since 2001, where he teaches theory, composition, and orchestration and directs the marching band. As a composer, his music has been performed across the United States and in Asia. His most recent collaborations have included composing music for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Dance Company fall 2019 production of Stargazer and the 2018 production of Henri Rousseau: Tales of the Tropics. Of late, his The wind and the rain… Five Bagatelles for Violin and Piano was awarded honorable mention by Kalediscope Arts and is slated for performance by Duo Chromatica in the near future. He also completed a commission for the Galan Piano Trio, based in Athens Greece.

Other recent compositions include Slablóblian Folk Suite for the Eastern Standard Trio, Silva Noctis, sonata for cello and piano, and the completion of The Garden of Life (texts by Louise Glück) for mezzo soprano Jessica Renfro.

Opportunities for composing for film included music for the MLB production of Intersecting Sparks. The film was a Silver Winner at the 2013 Davey Awards. He has also completed music for the Pittsburgh-based Unseam’d Shakespeare Company as well as the Shana Simmons Dance Company.

He is currently at work on a ballet score based on poems and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, titled The Phantasmagoria of Edgar Allen Poe which he is co-directing with Holly Boda-Sutton and was presented by the IUP Dance Theater Company in November 2020. His catalog and selected recordings are available on his website.

When not absorbed in music, he enjoys working on his 200-year old barn. He is known for saying, “I prefer working with block of wood rather than people. It’s less of a hassle.” He also enjoys skiing and other outdoor activities that help to counteract the negative effects of our opulent Western lifestyle. He is also extremely grateful for the love and support of his lovely wife, Laurie Nicholson.

Paul Nealen

Biology

Paul Nealen photo

Since my arrival at IUP, my students and I have conducted research at the intersection of physiology and behavior, in both humans and animals. We employ a diverse set of methods, including electrophysiology and operant training/tasking, as well as behavioral, physical, and perceptual assessments. My students and I have worked in the laboratory, in zoos, in the audiology clinic on campus, as well as with wild animals in the field. My research students benefit from immersive training, with many independent research accomplishments and awards to their credit.

My interests in physiology and performance lend themselves naturally to my teaching. My instruction within the Department of Biology includes physiology, neurobiology, and behavior courses for a multitude of student populations. My students will attest to the fact that we do not shy away from challenging topics or material in my courses.

I also have striven to serve our university community through service leadership roles at departmental, college, and university levels. I have developed an active science outreach and education program with a local elementary school, including programs to introduce elementary students to scientific peer review and others to support global “Brain Awareness Week.”

I am proud of the achievements of my research students and the improved understanding gained by my classroom students. I have new research projects, new teaching exercises, and new service initiatives planned, and am excited for the future.

Veronica Paz

Accounting

Veronica Paz

Accounting runs in my family, with my father being an accountant. I took my first accounting course in college and fell in love. I was one of the few students who thought debits = credits is just fabulous and loved the balance of accounting.

I pursued my accounting and management degree at Florida Internal University and graduated in 1997. During the junior year of my bachelor’s degree, the rules to sit for the certified public accountant exam changed to include an additional 30 credits, so I took that opportunity to earn my master’s degree in accounting information systems a year later, also from FIU.

After graduation, I sat for the CPA exam and passed on the first attempt. I then got hooked on certifications and earned three more, which allows me to teach such varied classes as Forensic Accounting and AIS, among others. In continuing with my love for accounting, I earned my doctorate from Nova Southern University in 2012.

I’ve been at IUP since 2014, and my tenure has been fabulously fun. I’ve been in the enviable position of being involved in so many varied committees. I have worked with colleagues who care deeply for this university and its students. I have also benefited from each encounter with my colleagues, and my service to these organizations has improved not only my teaching but myself as a person. These opportunities have shaped me into the seasoned professor, technology enthusiast, and accountant that I am today. I have created my own website to share Open Educational Resources (OER) with other educators and, more importantly, to help my students.

Amanda Poole

Anthropology

Amanda Poole

I discovered a love of teaching when I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea between 1997 and 1998, in a small town near the Ethiopian border. One year into my service however, a border war broke out with Ethiopia. I was evacuated, leaving my students and community behind to face an invading force. When they finally returned to their community, it was not to the same place. Buildings were destroyed and loved ones missing. But other things had changed, too—the government was growing increasingly authoritarian, forcibly conscripting citizens into unending national service under punishing conditions and cultivating a culture of fear and silencing that exists in the absence of the rule of law.

This experience profoundly shaped my career. I held onto a passion for teaching. But I was also driven to investigate the forces that generate both displacement and resilience: the ways in which people craft belonging, attach to and steward new environments, and reclaim spaces of remembered violence. These questions involve anthropology. I love anthropology because it values listening to and connecting to people and appreciating the stories that we have to tell about our lived experience. This is a radical and necessary thing in a world in which dehumanization is central to the workings of power.

I pursued a PhD in the environmental anthropology program at the University of Washington before coming to IUP in 2009. I value the opportunities I have had to work with colleagues and students at IUP as a teacher-scholar. When I teach courses in cultural, applied, and environmental anthropology, I incorporate my research, which currently explores refugee policy in Ethiopia. I have been learning from Eritrean refugees about the ways in which people maintain hope and agency in the face of precarity—lessons that are ever more relevant to all of us. In my classes, I try to draw connections between our lives and the lives of people in other places, all of which are bound together in a globalizing world.

Susan Sibert

Professional Studies in Education

Susan Sibert

When I was five years old, I went to first grade and have been in school ever since! School is a place I value greatly and where I feel comfortable and happy. Sharing that love by teaching future teachers and school administrators at IUP is a dream come true, as are my colleagues in the Department of Professional Studies in Education. There, you will find a group of hard-working, truly caring teacher educators who strive for excellence and who support and value one another, modeling exactly what we wish our students to be to their future students and colleagues.

This university is a place that mirrors my family upbringing of discovering interests while working hard. My grandparents, parents, and siblings possess impeccable work ethics and love of God and neighbor, the same ideals necessary to the teaching profession and to scholarly pursuits. For over two decades, I was fortunate to practice in PK-12 schools first as a teacher, then a counselor, and later an administrator. While a doctoral student at IUP, I realized I could share those experiences with students. The idea that theory meets practice is how I run my practical research agenda: what do educators in the trenches need to know today that will help support students tomorrow?

For many years, I served on a local school board of education. Last Memorial Day, I was honored to present a high school diploma to a heroic veteran who left high school to serve our country. The experience renewed the value of education and caring for each other through our work and daily actions. It also reminded me that I am able to serve IUP students because of the courage of my grandparents, who came to America without knowledge of the language, culture, or laws. My bottom lines are: toil with perseverance, read everything you can, be fierce, and be kind to every person you serve.

Melissa Swauger

Sociology

Melissa Swauger photo

Growing up working-class in Southwestern Pennsylvania shaped my future. I have 35 aunts and uncles and 45 first cousins. Every Sunday, we went to our grandparents’ houses, ate ethnic food, and watched our beloved Steelers. We remain a close-knit family. There is a lot of love; but we have also been touched by the woes of working-class life, including unemployment, addiction, and trauma.

I attended IUP as an undergraduate, where I learned from sociology professors the terms and theories that would help make meaning of my life experiences. I learned about “life chances,” a sociological term used to describe one’s probability of achieving their desired material goals. As a working-class woman, I was expected to marry and have children, not earn a PhD. I was fueled by my newfound awareness that life chances and outcomes had a lot to do with social and systemic inequalities.

I attended Duquesne University for an MA in social and public policy and went on to work in county and state governments. I worked to change policies and laws that perpetuated inequality and hurt disenfranchised groups. I also taught a social problems class at IUP, which inspired me to pursue a PhD. I attended the University of Pittsburgh, where I found my activist voice, and earned a PhD in sociology and a certificate in women’s and gender studies.

Currently, I teach, conduct research, and serve my community with a social justice vision. I connect with many IUP students because we share a background. My research focusing on how the opioid crisis affects families and activism to end the inequities facing Black girls in the region, speaks to many IUP students. I also serve as the chair of the IUP President’s Commission on the Status of Women, which is part of a PASSHE network charged with examining the status of women at IUP, identifying problems and recommending solutions, promoting networking, and encouraging leadership for women.

Holly Travis

Biology

Holly Travis

I came to higher education late in life, having taken an interesting and circuitous route to teaching in general and academia specifically. As a Cornell graduate with a BS in animal science and a concentration in meat processing and quality control, teaching, at any level, was not on my radar. Instead, I did quality control for meat processing plants in Rochester and Utica, NY; served as a USDA inspector at slaughterhouses in central New York; worked for several years as a veterinary assistant near Punxsutawney, Pa.; and worked in the meat department of a Punxsutawney grocery store.

A chance comment by a neighbor of my parents, the superintendent of the local vo-tech school in central New York, led me to reconsider my life path in my late 30’s. After providing instruction in less formal fields such as horseback riding, 4-H, and line dance, I finally considered getting my teaching certification for high school biology, which led me to IUP in 1999. Since then, a series of amazing mentors, including Tom Lord, Sandy Newell, Jan Humphreys, Carl Luciano, Mary Jalongo, and George Beiger (all retired Biology and PSE faculty) guided and encouraged me through my teaching certification, my MS in biology (IUP 2003) and my DEd in curriculum and instruction (IUP 2007).

Hired in the Biology Department in 2003, I still enjoy helping students get over their fear of science and make connections to real-life applications. I also serve as the Biology Education coordinator, supervising student teachers and teaching the secondary science education courses that prepare our students for the classroom. I have provided research experiences for many students in areas as diverse as water quality, Phasmid (stick insect) growth and development, vernal pool ecology, green roofs, teaching strategies, and student attitude and engagement. In fall 2019, I added a half-time role as dean’s associate for Educator Preparation in the College of Education and Communications.

I am very fortunate to have the support of my family: my husband, Gary; grandsons, Owen and Noah; and my dad and (late) mom, as I manage the various academic roles of instructor, colleague, administrator, and advisor.