Socratic Symposium, Spring 2015

Each semester, our Honors community comes together to celebrate the achievements of our scholars and the faculty who have advised and mentored them in their research, coursework, and service projects. This tradition, which we call the Socratic Symposium, is an opportunity for us to break bread together while learning about some of the latest theses, Honors courses, and independent studies.

This semester, we have two graduating seniors, Ebony Ford and Rebecca Slomowitz. Both defended their theses in psychology at the Spring 2015 Socratic Symposium on Tuesday, April 21st.

Ford presented a summary of her thesis, Transformative Relationships and Empowerment, an analysis of the long-lasting, transformative impacts of mentoring relationships. Inspired by the influence of her own mentor in high school, she conducted interviews and surveys to examine the extent to which participants felt that mentoring relationships had given them a sense of empowerment.


Ebony Ford defends her thesis, _Transformative Relationships and Empowerment_

Slomowitz was next to defend her thesis, Remember What? Working Memory Capabilities in Infancy. Based on months of lab research with 12 to 14-month-old infants, this study explores the possibility of a difference between infants’ ability to remember objects versus their ability to remember people.


Rebecca Slomowitz defending her thesis, _Remember What? Working Memory Capabilities in Infancy_

Another highlight of this Socratic Symposium was the fourth annual Arnold A. Markley Honors Faculty Award, given to Dr. Michael Yatauro, Assistant Professor of Mathematics. Named for the late Dr. Markley, former Honors Coordinator and beloved Professor of English, this award is given in recognition of a faculty member whose instruction and support have been instrumental in students’ progress in Honors courses or independent research.

Dr. Michael Yautaro, recipient of the second annual Arnold A. Markley Honors Faculty Award

Dr. Michael Yatauro, recipient of the fourth annual Arnold A. Markley Honors Faculty Award

To all who attended and contributed to the Spring 2015 Socratic Symposium, thank you for all of your hard work and creative contributions to our distinguished Honors community.



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Schreyer Scholars submit theses, strike traditional gong


Dr. Lightfoot (left), Director of Academic Affairs, watches proudly as Ebony Ford strikes the thesis gong.

Two Schreyer Scholars rang the Schreyer gong this week, signifying the completion of their Honors Theses. Ebony Ford and Rebecca Slomowitz, both psychology majors at Penn State Brandywine, submitted their theses, which will be defended next Tuesday at the Socratic Symposium.

The thesis gong is a Schreyer tradition that dates back to 1995, when students who completed their theses would ring a bell to celebrate the occasion. Now more appropriately marked by the striking of a small gong, the submission of an Honors Thesis is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and perseverance. We congratulate Ebony and Rebecca on their significant accomplishments!

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Honors Scholars awarded at annual Academic Recognition Ceremony

Freshman Honors Scholar Adam Bivens was among six students who received the President’s Freshman Award on Tuesday, March 24th, at Brandywine’s annual Academic Recognition Ceremony. This award is presented to freshmen who have earned a 4.00 cumulative GPA based on at least 12 credits completed by the end of the fall semester.

Rebecca Slomowitz, who also earned the Undergraduate Student Research Award, was one of four students to receive the Evan Pugh Scholar Award. Named after Penn State’s first president, this award is presented to juniors and seniors who are in the upper 0.5 percent of their classes and have completed at least 48 graded credits by the end of the fall term.

We wish these scholars continued success and congratulations for all of their accomplishments.

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Schreyer Honors Scholar receives Undergraduate Student Research Award

Schreyer Scholar Rebecca Slomowitz received the Undergraduate Student Research Award at Brandywine’s annual Academic Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday evening, March 24th. The senior psychology major was recognized for her outstanding research on infant cognitive development and working memory. In addition to the Academic Achievement Award, which is given to all students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher each semester, this honor is awarded each year to a Brandywine student whose research efforts demonstrate an exceptional level of academic integrity.

Slomowitz, who will defend her thesis later this spring, is already preparing for the next big step in her career. This past week, she was also accepted for a Clinical Research Assistant position at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She will be studying within the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) at the Center for Autism Research (CAR), where researchers will be longitudinally following infants who are at high risk for developing autism.

Excited to begin this study after graduation, Slomowitz says, “Being able to complete infant development research at Brandywine has confirmed my passion for infant development research and has also given me the research experience necessary to join the IBIS team within CAR at CHOP.”

We wish luck and success to Becca as she completes her degree and begins this prestigious research assistantship.

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Former US ambassador to speak at Brandywine, Tuesday, March 31

Penn State Brandywine is pleased to welcome Dennis Jett, former American ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, and current professor in the Penn State School of International Affairs. Professor Jett will discuss his book, American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats, at 6 p.m. March 31 in Main Building Room 113. This will be the first in a four-week lecture series on campus this spring.

Prior to the lecture, at 5 p.m. in Main 113, Professor Jett will meet with students who may be interested in attending the School of International Affairs (SIA). Honors Scholars are encouraged to attend this special session to learn about the SIA’s Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) program.

All students who wish to attend the 5 p.m. session on the SIA and the IUG program, please RSVP to Dr. Kimberly Blockett ( no later than Sunday, March 15th.


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Schreyer Scholar Selected for Prestigious Conference in Harrisburg

A Brandywine senior and Schreyer Honors Scholar will be presenting her exciting research next month at the Capitol in Harrisburg. Lauren Lomas, a Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major, is the fifth student in the campus’ history to be selected for this honor. Her poster presentation, “Impact of Technology on the Parent-Child Dyad and Self-Regulation,” is the result of a nine-month study conducted alongside Dr. Jennifer Zosh, her faculty mentor and Assistant Professor of HDFS.

Read the full story here.

Lauren’s enthusiasm for her work reflects the Honors program’s commitment to academic excellence. “The honor of presenting my research in Harrisburg to state legislators means so much to me,” she writes. “I’m looking forward to showing, through presenting my research, how great of an impact my undergraduate education has had on me. Conducting my own research project has helped me to grow academically and personally.”


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We are Proud to Present: The Sustainable Garden Club!

We at the PSU Brandywine Honors Program are beyond excited about the progress of the Sustainable Garden Club! After much ado, we finally broke ground on the garden and set up planting boxes on July 26. Now, nearly three weeks later, it is starting to look like a real garden! We began by planting beets, collards and oregano. Since then, we have added lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.

Garden Project 1

This is only the beginning! For regular updates about the Sustainable Garden Club, follow our dedicated Facebook page at

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It’s Graduation Season! May 10, 2014.

Today we are sad to say goodbye to Senior Cooper Honors Scholar, Megan Draper! Of course we wish her great and continued success throughout her academic career. Congratulations to Megan, and to all 2014 grads at Penn State Brandywine!

Megan Draper

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Socratic Symposium, Spring 2014

With another semester ostensibly in the books, honors scholars convened for another Socratic Symposium this Spring. This time, the main attraction was Megan Draper’s defense of her Senior Thesis regarding her work studying primates in Borneo, Indonesia.

Draper Outrop

Megan wrote about her experience:

My name is Megan Draper, and I was one of the four OuTrop volunteers for September through November of 2013. I am an undergraduate student at Penn State University, Brandywine campus and would like to pursue a career in primatology conducting field research.

I became interested in primates after volunteering with orphaned infant baboons in South Africa during a gap year between high school and university. I wanted to get first-hand experience at a field site before applying to graduate school. A site that was producing important and relevant research on primates was at the top of my list, and equally important was a focus on conservation. OuTrop filled both of these requirements and offered the advantage of ongoing research on three fascinating primate species: orangutans, gibbons, and kelasi (red langurs).

OuTrop also has multiple research and conservation focuses from butterflies to reforestation, which I knew would give me a well-rounded experience as a volunteer. With the help of my professors, I earned university credit as a full-time student while I volunteered with OuTrop.

It’s hard to believe that my time with OuTrop is over. I had a great time during the seven weeks I was volunteering, which concluded with a relaxing and memorable holiday in Tanjung Puting National Park. I saw incredible wildlife and had the opportunity to work in the often demanding, yet always rewarding, Sabangau forest. Our volunteer group went on two week-long expeditions, one to Tall Pole and the second to Koran. Although I cannot say they were my favourite part of the volunteer experience, they had their highlights and I learned quite a bit from both expeditions (such as that sitting on the serrated leaves of pandan is a bad idea).

Despite the two expeditions, most of our time was spent at base camp and the forest surrounding it. We had rotating assignments based on the research being conducted in the forest. Although some assignments were more common than others, the daily schedule changes kept things interesting. I found the vast majority of the volunteer assignments fun and interesting, although all of them were informative to anyone interested in field work. I particularly liked helping to set the camera traps, despite the minor issue of the batteries exploding in one of the traps.

My favourite day was during my first week when I had the opportunity to join a gibbon follow. I was captivated by the gibbons from the first time I saw them, and I was excited to be able to go along with a follow so soon. I found the gibbons mesmerising, and I felt like I could watch them for days on end.

I had the unbelievable luck of witnessing an encounter between the group we were following and a second habituated group. I realised during the follow that gibbons are a primate I would be interested in researching, which was invaluable for me as a person who wants to become a primatologist.

Overall, my time volunteering with OuTrop was fantastic. I learned first-hand about field research methods and the rewards, and sometimes inconvenient realities, of conducting research in the field.

I had the opportunity to see gibbons and orangutans on multiple occasions while working in the forest, and have even seen the elusive kelasi, as well as sightings of other native wildlife. In addition to the incredible forest and its inhabitants, the people I volunteered with, from my fellow volunteers and our volunteer coordinators to the interns and OuTrop staff, were crucial to making the experience fun and worthwhile. I feel privileged to have been able to volunteer at at such an amazing location alongside the people at OuTrop.

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2014 Academic Recognition Ceremony

On Monday, April 14, Penn State Brandywine held its Spring Academic Recognition Ceremony, and our honors program was well represented!


  • The Undergraduate Student Research Award went to Megan Draper for her outstanding work studying primates in Borneo, Indonesia.
  • The President Sparks Award went to Rebecca Slomowitz for having earned a 4.00 (A) cumulative GPA based on at least 36 graded Penn State credits.
  • The President’s Freshman Award went to Pallavi Sindhu for receiving a 4.00 cumulative GPA based on at least 12 graded credits completed by the end of the semester.
  • The Madlyn Hanes Faculty Award was presented by Dr. Blockett to Dr. John Tierney for making outstanding contributions to the campus community through exceptional achievement in teaching, research, scholarship, creative activity and service.

Congratulations and continued success to all the winners!

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