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congratulations Eden Hall Fellows!


Chatham University and the Falk School of Sustainability (FSS) are proud to announce the 2016 Eden Hall Fellows.

The Eden Hall Fellows Scholarship Program is open to all FSS graduate students. Each year, five new and five returning students will receive:

  • A $10,000 per year tuition scholarship (renewable, provided students maintain eligibility requirements)
  • A $5,000 summer cash stipend to carry out their internship, in which they are expected to engage in social entrepreneurship, community service, or work with or for a non-profit business making changes in sustainability

Meredith Benek is a Master of Sustainability student from Harmony, PA with a bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Environmental Studies. Meredith has had a lifelong interest in the environment and living sustainably, working as an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Meredith’s summer 2016 internship is with Penn Forest Natural Burial Park, Pennsylvania’s first exclusively environmentally friendly burial ground. She will interface with all aspects of the park – from communicating with the public, understanding the environmental impacts of the area, and situating issues within the context of a socially responsible business.

Elisha (Elly) Helgen is a Master of Sustainability from Danvers, IL with a bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst University in anthropology/archaeology. After graduating, Elly spent a year with AmeriCorps and led a project that included creating a community garden within a refugee and low-income neighborhood. There she saw the many mental, physical and spiritual benefits that come from bringing communities together around a green space. During her summer 2016 immersion experience, Elly will continue working with community gardens, and further develop her skills as they relate to sustainable and equitable community development.

Zachary J. Schmucker is a Master of Sustainability student from Lycippus, PA with a bachelor’s degree from Davis & Elkins College in Sustainability Studies and History, where he worked to bridge the gaps between the humanities and environmental science. Zachary’s summer 2016 internship is with the United States Forest Service (USFS), where he will continue his work as a trail crew leader in the Monongahela National Forest, including trail condition assessment and remediation; land use monitoring; and community outreach. Zachary has been a crew leader with the USFS in previous years, but will expand on his role this summer by working to redevelop trails with a goal towards watershed improvement.

Megan VanGorden is a Master of Arts in Food Studies student from Olivebridge, New York with a bachelor degree from Saint Michael’s College in Anthropology/Sociology and Applied Linguistics. Megan spent two years with AmeriCorps, managing volunteers and working on healthy aging programs, and serving with a community food council focused on nutrition education for families with young children. Megan’s summer 2016 internship involves two sites: At Eden Hall, she will create a community supported agriculture model that can be scaled up in future years to provide students with produce from Eden Hall. At Churchview Farm in Baldwin, PA, a small, woman-owned farm, she will assist with operations and the business side of running a farm that sells to restaurants and hosts a work-share program.

Mollie Walter is a Master of Arts in Food Studies from Summit, NJ with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Economics and History. For the last three years, Mollie has worked as a tax specialist for BNY Mellon. Currently, she interns for Three Rivers Grown, a regional food hub that specializes in distributing dairy within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. Mollie’s summer 2016 internship will be with The Hatchery in Chicago, a food business incubator that accelerates economic development by helping food entrepreneurs launch their companies. There, she will use and build on her business skills, doing supply chain analysis, production and distribution, business strategy development, research, reporting on food and beverage trends, and more.

Learn more about the Eden Hall Fellows Scholarship Program, including expectations of Fellows and eligibility requirements.

Living at Eden Hall

Eden Hall residence enjoy a soap-making workshop.

Last fall, Chatham welcomed its inaugural full-time student residents to the Eden Hall campus. We spoke with Graduate Resident Director Catherine Giles (Master of Sustainability, ’16) and Tenzin Lhakmon (MFA Creative Writing, ’17) about their time spent on this unique campus.

What sorts of things are available for you to do outside of class?

Tenzin: Eden Hall is a campus that is close to earth, environmentally speaking. You can hike the trails and there are events that you can take part in. And usually we have one or two events happening every week. For example, I recently took part in an event for soap making and yoga.

There’s a bowling alley in the Lodge, as well as a billiards table. We have workout equipment on the third floor of Orchard Hall. The trails remain open for the entire day and I’m constantly finding new paths that I hadn’t previously explored or realized connected. We have several consistent, popular events, such as Mug Club, Yoga, and Bluegrass Jam. And in the summer, students, faculty, and community members can come to Eden Hall Open Swim at the pool behind the Lodge. – Catherine Giles, MSUS ’16

Where do people socialize?

Catherine: Right now, people mostly socialize at the Lodge or where there’s food. In the future, I anticipate most people will socialize in the Commons. When there are events, like the Bluegrass Jam, we can get quite a few people to attend. Currently, most students, unless they live at Orchard, are only at Eden Hall for class.


How present is the mission of sustainability in day-to-day life?

Living at Eden put us at the hearts of the sustainability mission and having to sort out your trash or your leftovers every day is an education in itself!! And recently I learned the dorm uses solar power for electricity that we have around the clock. It feels good to be a part of that.

Catherine: The mission of sustainability is everywhere at Eden Hall. I’m trained as a Tour Guide as well, and from that, I know all about how the infrastructure, down to the metals chosen for the outside of the buildings, were sustainably harvested or retrieved, and have a very specific purpose in the grand scheme of Eden Hall.


Can you share a favorite moment you’ve had here that you might not have had living in a more traditional campus environment?

Catherine: At night, the paths are illuminated with lights aimed downward. In the summer, walking from the turnabout to the Amphitheatre, these lights attract insects. Frogs and toads frequently sit in front of the lights and feast for hours. And one time, I saw the Eden Hall bear. I was on the shuttle with another resident when the driver shouted, “Look there’s the bear!” and we all turned to see the bear running in front of the Lodge, across the street, and into the far tree line. Shadyside has squirrels, not bears!

Tenzin: Just living so close to nature, and also to the people. I feel like I have formed a very close and genuine relationship with the people here. The chefs and cooks at Eden Hall feel like family. And I am thankful to the Eden Hall Campus for bringing these people into my life. I really am.

WOW Retreat

What’s your favorite thing about living at Eden Hall?

Tenzin: The environment, the freshness of the surroundings, the wind, the flowers, the trees, the calmness… and of course, the people.

Catherine: My favorite thing about living at Eden Hall is that it’s so nature-oriented. I’m immersed in the wilderness, but my room is never too far away. Even when you’re “lost” in the woods, you always know where you are and how to get back home. As beautiful and quaint, as Shadyside is, Eden Hall just simply has more nature. I’ve seen the bear. I’ve seen the albino deer. I’ve stayed up late catching toads and getting my feet wet in the grass. On a cloudless night, you can lie on the Amphitheatre stage and clearly see the stars.


green chemistry students win $5000 innovation prize

Randy Yakal, Christine Lambiase, and Derrick Ward

A team of Chatham University graduate students came away with $5000 to pursue their innovation at the Department of Energy-sponsored Allegheny Region CleanTech University Prize (CUP) competition, held at Carnegie Mellon University during Energy Week, March 14-18.

The team—called Saloleum, from the Latin stems sal (salt, or “ionic”) and oleum (oil)—consists of Randy Yakal, Christine Lambiase, Derrick Ward, all second year M.S. students studying Green Chemistry. Their efforts were supported by faculty advisor Thomas Macagno, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Business and by Cierra Snyder and Tom Hall from the Falk School of Sustainability.

The project started in fall 2015, when Randy was a student in Dr. Macagno’s Leading Organizations and Projects course (BUS575). “Dr. Macagno had found out about this competition and tapped me because they needed a science guy,” he said.

Through much discussion, the team decided on an idea that worked perfectly for the competition criteria. “HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) technology was even in the drop-down menu,” notes Randy.

So what is this $5000 idea? “It’s a new compressor lubricant for a cooling unit,” says Randy. “The compressor circulates a refrigerant through the system. The refrigerant picks up oil particles on its way, and those particles get deposited inside the heat exchange lines.” Randy likens it to how arteries can become clogged, forcing the heart to work less efficiently. “The same thing happens with the compressor,” he says. “It has to work harder and longer to cool the an area than it would if the lines were clean.”

Saloleum’s insight is to replace the oil with a low vapor pressure lubricant that won’t create the same “gunk build-up.” Randy envisions it as the first in a new line of eco-friendly products.


Click here to download a PDF of the poster. 

“The commercial building sector consumes 18% of all energy produced in America,” he says. “Of that, 32% is used in climate control. If all the buildings in the country experienced a 20% efficiency boost (the anticipated effect of Saloleum), we’d save enough energy in one year to power all of New York City for 288 days.”

The team is proud that they won the prize without a working prototype, on the strength of the idea alone. That’s why they’ll use their prize money to see if it works. “We’ve got all the theory down, now we need to walk the walk,” says Randy. “That should be soon. We’re currently in the process of speaking with a lawyer and becoming an LLC.”

Saloleum logo
Saloleum logo

The Chatham team held their own against a competitive field which included Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Case Western Reserve University, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, and others. The objectives of the competition were to catalyze clean energy technology start-ups, support educational opportunities, and encourage clean energy student entrepreneurs.

“I never thought I’d be a co-founder of anything,” says Randy. “It’s really exciting.”

Chatham’s Master of Science in Green Chemistry is the first program of its kind in the United States. Focused on delivering a truly unique educational experience for students with undergraduate degrees in biochemistry, biology, and chemistry, the M.S. in Green Chemistry program will delve into the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances.