On April 18, 2019 the biannual Jane E. Cooper and Schreyer Honors Socratic Symposium celebrated the scholarship of Penn State Brandywine Honors students.
The spring program began with brief announcements by Dr. Hans Schmidt, coordinator of the Honors program at Brandywine, namely concerning the Global Programs available to scholars. Courses offered to interested students include two opportunities to study abroad. Students may spend winter break in Barcelona, while Vienna and Budapest are scheduled for spring break this upcoming year.
Dr. Schmidt presented several awards at the Symposium, including accolades for top GPA. While the average GPA of the Honors class sits at an impressive 3.72, the top GPA award recipients measured even higher. Adi Yom-Tov received recognition for the highest Honors GPA in the junior-senior class, and Thomas England, Samantha Hug, and Caleb Madison represented the sophomore class. Freshmen Himani Vommi and Rikin Patel also won the top GPA award for their first academic year as Honors students.
Dr. Angela Putman, professor of communications, won the eighth annual Arnold A. Markley Faculty Award, which is granted in recognition of a faculty member whose teaching, mentorship, and guidance honors the dedication and passion exemplified by the late Dr. Markley.
Two Honors students presented independent research at the Symposium.
Laura Gillin, who is majoring in psychology, presented her research, “LGBTQ+ Experiences in Online Gaming Communities” with great aplomb. Advised by Dr. Margaret Signorella, Gillin’s work explored the hostility LGBTQ+ and nonbinary players experience in the video game community.
She designed a survey measuring the frequency, valence, and forms of comments about gender identity players report experiencing. Although her research was met with a hostile response by some of the gaming community, Gillin remained resilient and found that non-heterosexual individuals were more likely to notice comments regarding identity or orientation.
Additionally, all negative comments players reported pertained to the LGBTQ+ community or were misogynist in nature. Gillin stressed that further research is needed since literature on this subject is scarce.
Schreyer Honors scholar Madeline Malfara defended her senior Honors thesis, entitled, “Mitochondrial dynamics in Crithidia fasciculata and Trypanosoma brucei.”
Advised by Dr. Megan Povelones, Malfara’s research examined the role of DLP proteins in kinetoplastids. Her defense represented the culmination of several years of labor experimenting with mitochondrial dynamics in the lab and genetic editing with CRISPR-Cas9. Malfara created Crithidia and T. brucei cell lines that lacked DLP by specifically targeting cell mitochondria. Her altered T. brucei cell line expressed replication of growth phenotype and defects in both cellular replication and active transport.
Malfara’s presentation concluded with the Schreyer tradition of hitting the gong after a successful thesis defense.