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Five Questions With John J. Dubé

john-dube-photo

Name: John J. Dubé
Title: Assistant Professor of Biology
Joined Chatham: August 2015
Born & Raised: Virginia
Interests: Cooking, home improvement

1.  How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

I’m an exercise physiologist by training, but I wanted to better understand how exercise affects the body. I started working in a laboratory doing some basic science experiments with rodents and loved the idea of being able to translate our findings to the human condition.

2.  What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first real job was a sales person/technician in my grandmother’s paint store. I learned that in order to succeed, there must be a plan.

3.  What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?

I’ve always been teaching in some fashion. Many of my jobs have been in the fitness industry essentially teaching people how to exercise.

4.  What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

The ah-ha moments. Those moments when the link is made between theory and practice.

5.  What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Cook. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I can cook so many different things.

John Dube, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Chatham University’s Department of Biology.  John enjoys cooking and home improvement.

 

Campus Community Profile: Randi Congleton, PhD

randi

Here’s a fun fact about Director of Multicultural Affairs Randi Congleton: She attended the oldest agricultural high school in the country (it’s called W.B. Saul High School, in Philadelphia). With dreams of becoming a veterinarian, she went on to Penn State University, where a series of opportunities began to refocus her goals toward working with college students.

One might say her epiphany arrived as she was working in Student Affairs for the first time while pursuing her Master’s degree in Community Services at Michigan State University. Working with college students, she “Fell. In. Love!” she laughs.

Dr. Congleton—whose background includes youth development as well as collegiate departments including Greek Life, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs—came to Chatham in spring 2017, after earning her PhD in Education and Organizational Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As part of her work at Illinois, Dr. Congleton coordinated the summer pre-doctoral institute for new students of color. “We supported them in building community, conducting research, and professional development,” she says. “The strength lay in connecting students across disciplines, so that they had not only their cohort, but also this whole other community.”

“I’m very much about institutional responsibility. What can we do a bit differently? How can we think about our own biases, that may not be fully informed, but that get in the way of understanding challenges faced by students who do not come from generations of having gone to college, of having wealth?”

 “The concern—and this is across higher education,” Dr. Congleton says, “is that we’ve been focusing too much on diversity (how many different students can we get in the room), and not enough on inclusion (are our institutions prepared to really support them when they arrive on our campuses).”

In addition to her position as director of Multicultural Affairs, Dr. Congleton is a member of Chatham’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. Asked to share some of their initiatives, she mentions that they’ve been considering a policy for institutional large-scale donations and naming of buildings, as a result of some student concerns around the naming of Sanger Hall. “If we’re considering putting a name on a building,” she says, “we need to do our due diligence into considering that person’s background and the extent to which it reflects Chatham’s ideals.”

The Council is also working with Assistant Professor of Criminology, Social Work, and Psychology Nicole Bayliss’s undergraduate capstone seminar course, which in 2016 did a comprehensive review of gender inclusive language across campus, including policies, forms and websites. “They put together a report and made a set of recommendations,” says Dr. Congleton.

“The college campus space is not normative for all communities. My concern—and my passion—is about how do we create equity on campus, and how do we listen to the voices and meet the needs of those students—men and women of color, who identify with the LGBTQIA community, or with disabilities—who may not have been traditionally heard? How does the system need to be different to help change the lives of the students who come here?”

Shortly after her arrival in March, Dr. Congleton was approached to co-sponsor a multicultural graduation ceremony, which she considered a smashing success. “We invited family and alumni. (Chatham) President Finegold said a welcome, and we held a brunch with a keynote speaker. The alumni put kente stoles (traditional Ghanaian garments often used in celebratory ceremonies for African-American students) on graduating students, and we worked with Academic Affairs to put together stoles for students who weren’t African American. We had serapes for students from Latin American cultures, and made a stole for a student from Laos with her country’s flag on it. It was a really nice way for alumni to welcome the graduates into the community of being a Chatham alum.”

This fall, Dr. Congleton is co-teaching a course along with Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology Jennifer Morse on facilitating intergroup dialogue around social justice issues. The course is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and next term, they will have the opportunity to facilitate a course for their peers who are discussing social justice issues—thus putting theory immediately into practice. The students will also have opportunities to lead workshops across campus for their peers.

It’s a good example of how Dr. Congleton sees the way forward. “I’m really looking at how we can engage folks across campus and build coalitions to do this kind of work,” she says. “It has to be done thoughtfully. We can do more harm than good if we are not intentional about how we talk to others about social justice issues.”

And she is optimistic. “There’ve been so many volunteers!” she says. “Not only students but also faculty and staff have stepped up to help, even if just to say ‘I’m nervous and don’t know what to do, but I think this is important and I want to be a part of it.’ Getting as many people invested as possible is how we’re going to make this work.”

 

 

Applied Data Science Analytics and Stephanie Rosenthal, PhD

Stephanie Rosenthal, PhD

Look, I love being a writer. I went to school for this stuff, three times. But that was before I knew that data science was a thing, how cool it is, and the kinds of job (and salary!) prospects that are out there for people who study it.

Chatham Assistant Professor of Applied Data Analytics Stephanie Rosenthal filled me in. “Companies are using data science analytics today all over the place,” she tells me, and gives a bunch of examples, which I’m not even going to pare down for you, because that’s how excited I am:

  • Amazon.com and other websites use data analytics to determine what products to recommend to you and even what to charge for them.

  • “Walmart is famous for knowing exactly what to ship to every store at every time, because they track everything—what comes in, what goes out, what the weather was like—whether people tend to buy hot dog buns when there’s a hurricane approaching in addition to toilet paper and bottled water. They know all of these things about collective behavior based on our purchases and demographics.”
  • Credit card fraud is identified using data science analytics “That’s why you’ll get a call as soon as one purchase is made that is out of character for you,” says Rosenthal. “They’ve developed models to see what your normal behavior is, so they can see what’s out of the ordinary—either because a lot of different people are suddenly buying something, or because you’re buying something that seems out of character. You get a phone call because someone did that math.”
  • “Your Google search results look different from mine because they’re based on what we’ve searched for in the past,” Rosenthal says.
  • If you see a rectangle drawn around your face in a photograph that you’re viewing on your phone or computer screen, that’s data analytics, too. “Someone has gone through and labeled faces and worked out how to detect them—in general, what they’re looking for is tone gradients, where the forehead, cheeks and chin are lighter than the eyes, nose, and mouth regions—and that’s just built into cameras today.”
  • “The traffic information you get from your GPS or your phone is possible because it collects data from other phones in cars—whether they’re moving or not. Some of the cool new research I’ve seen coming out of CMU figures out how to change the timing of traffic lights based on the number of cars that are waiting there, so when there is a lot of traffic coming, it can be pushed through faster.”
  • Voice recognition programs like Siri and Alexa are built using data analytics around natural language.

In general, says Rosenthal, data science and data analytics try to get information from data—analyzing patterns to come up with insights. What’s the difference between the two? “Very roughly,” she says, “I would say that data analytics is about running statistics on data, and data science is about collecting it, getting it in the right format, and visualizing it in ways that are productive. We’ll be doing both, which is why the major is called Applied Data Science Analytics.”

Data science and data analytics are some of the highest paying jobs in the job market today. People all want to make better use of their data. It’s not just Microsoft and Facebook and Google who are hiring those people; it’s also UPMC and Highmark, and marketing, travel companies, school systems, consulting firms. Our goal is to prepare students to be successful in any of those places.”

This fall, Rosenthal is teaching a research methods course and an introduction to programming course. “I learned to program a long time ago, from my gym teacher,” she says. “I wasn’t really taught why things work, just how to code. So my goal for the Intro to Programming course is to try to really give students insight into why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Rosenthal will also be co-teaching the Capstone Seminar for some business courses with Professor and Director of Business Programs Rachel Chung. For example, students in the management information systems major will be helping the Master of Arts in Food Studies students open their new coffee lab.

It’s a business that’s starting up; there’s no reason our students shouldn’t be able to help analyze what their business plan should look like,” she says. 

Rosenthal plans to provide students with more hands-on experience by involving them in her own research, too. “I’m interested in how we can collect data more intelligently and also to teach data collection and research methods for effectively,” she says. She is developing a data collection platform to deploy on campus. Students in Rosenthal’s current classes are researching where it should be located, what it should do, and how it could be marketed. Once deployed, students in the Applied Data Science Analytics major will be able to use the data collected by the platform in their classes and also display their work for the campus to see.

Rosenthal is also interested in “producing English explanations of what data analytics say.” In computer security, for example, experts often monitor networks by hand, because of lack of trust that artificial intelligence would make the right decision. “We can help people trust systems better if we do a good job of explaining why they should,” she says.

Chatham’s Applied Data Science Analytics program teaches students to critically identify, communicate, and analyze challenging analytical problems, effectively organize and manage datasets, and develop robust solutions. They are also equipped to evaluate ethical, privacy, and security challenges in their fields of practice.

 

student profile: maria taylor ’18

maria-taylor

This spring, Chatham third-year student Maria Taylor was named a Newman Civic Fellow. The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

Maria grew up in the foster care system right outside of Pittsburgh, and moved 11 times before college. She’s planning to graduate a year early and has a cumulative GPA of 3.51, but is quick to point out that she’s the exception. “Only three percent of foster youth graduate from college, compared to 38 percent of their peers,” she says. This discrepancy helped spark her interest in helping marginalized communities, both in and outside of school.

Maria’s civic engagement
Maria believes that universities can help make it easier for foster youth to enter and stay in college. That’s why she developed (and chairs) Chatham’s Expanding Student Services Committee, which advocates for marginalized student populations, including groups like undocumented, former foster youth, food insecure, home insecure, and low-income students.

The Expanding Student Services Committee is part of Chatham Student Government. Maria ran for the executive board of CSG during her first year, and won. She next served as CSG’s Executive Vice President of Communications.

“We want to be as inclusive of these students as possible, and we want them to thrive here regardless of their background and what’s going on in their lives,” says Maria, who herself identifies as first-generation, home insecure and low-income.

Here’s one way that Maria thinks Chatham can help: the professional dress closet. “There’s the expectation that everyone here will do an internship, and that can be a burden for low-income students who don’t have appropriate clothes,” says Maria. “And in student government, there’s an expectation that you’ll wear business casual for the majority of the meetings—does that discourage people from attending, or from running? I met with Career Development, and we started taking donations of clothes and of money or gift cards. Now, when students come to Career Development, they’re told about the professional dress closet. They can take whatever they want and keep it, no questions asked.”

Maria also led a group of students who worked with the Office of Student Affairs to ensure Chatham’s sexual assault prevention policies were accessible, and is in the process of creating a food pantry on campus. 

 “There are so many reasons why we need this,” she says. “You might be an international student on campus during break when the dining halls are closed. Or you might be a low-income student who needs food and that’s cool. No one should be ashamed to use these services.”

Maria is also interested in starting a cohort for first-generation college students at Chatham. “First-generation students often have a series of difficulties that other students don’t face,” she says, adding that the program could be peer-led and mentor-based. “It would be great to partner with first-generation faculty and staff. How great would that be, for a first-gen student to see a first-gen faculty member with a PhD?”

Maria’s academic life
Maria is pursuing a double major in political science and international studies, focusing on the Middle East. She’s studying Arabic. “The entire department of History, Political Science and International Studies is terrific,” says Maria. “The teachers are so caring toward their students. In high school, I had a 1.99 GPA at one point. I know what it is to be a struggling student, and I see that these teachers are willing to go the extra mile, and that means so much.” She mentions Women in Politics, History of Islam with Dr. Jean-Jacques Sene, and Turkey and the European Union as classes that she found especially inspiring.

This summer, Maria spent a couple of months in Morocco as part of the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership. She took courses in geopolitical alliances and intermediate Arabic and working on a Women’s Development project. “It provides training for women refugees from Libya and low-income women in Morocco,” she says. “They learn skills that they can use to provide for themselves.”

After Chatham, Maria plans to attend law school, and is also considering applying to the Fulbright Scholar Program. “I like Chatham’s focus on women’s empowerment and strong history with women’s leadership,” she says.  “That history is so irreplaceable.  It made Chatham a really great home.”

To donate clothing, money, or gift cards to the professional dress closet, contact Career Development at careers@chatham.edu or 412-365-1209.

 

 

 

 

 

Counseling Psychology team helps girls “see the best” in themselves

Dr Britney Brinkman Chatham University
Project members included Whitney Ringwald (University of Pittsburgh); Ashley Dandridge, PsyD; Britney Brinkman, Ph.D.; Sara Goodkind, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh); Kelsey Johnson, MSCP; Samantha Marino, MAP

In September 2016, a troubling report was released. It begins:

“Until very recently, little public attention has been focused on understanding the ways Black girls and women experience institutional racism and sexism. Over the last year, the national conversation about the experiences of Black girls has gained momentum. This report is an attempt to share some troubling local data in order to support additional conversation and draw public attention to these issues. Among its findings:

  • Black girls are suspended from the Pittsburgh Public Schools at more than three times the rate of white girls.
  • Black girls are referred to juvenile court three times more often than white girls nationally. In Allegheny County, it’s 11 times more often.”[1]

While black females are not incarcerated at the rate of black males, that’s not to say they fare better in schools. The phrase “pushout” is used to describe institutionalized racism and sexism that results in inequitable treatment of black girls in school, and the subsequent effects on their lives.

From this, it seems clear that furthering understanding of the girls’ lives—and of the girls themselves—is key to combatting institutionalized prejudice. And who better to tell you about that than, well—them?

“There’s a surge of research on African American girls right now, but we want to make sure that the body of research is informed by girls’ direct perspectives,” says Britney Brinkman, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling psychology and co-founder of Chatham’s Psychology of Gender Research Team.

In January 2017, Dr. Brinkman, along with the University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Sara Goodkind, launched a project as part of local non-profit Gwen’s Girls “See the Best in Me” campaign. “See the Best in Me” is an initiative focused on self-esteem, critical thinking, and advocacy skills that enable girls to better understand and express themselves about the issues that affect them daily.

The project involved about 80 girls, who participated in Gwen’s Girls after-school programs. They used a research method called photovoice to capture their experiences. “Rather than responding to questionnaires or focus group prompts, photovoice offers a broader way of expression, through photos but also drawing, poetry, and collage,” says team member Jeremy Holdorf, MSCP ’18.

For about six months, Dr. Brinkman, Holdorf, and the other members of the team met periodically with the girls to talk about how the photographing is going, bat around ideas, troubleshoot technology mishaps, and otherwise touch base.

The program culminated in a gallery exhibit at Chatham that ran from June 6-9. The exhibit displayed these photos by 26 girls, along with drawings and notecards from a workshop that included over 80 girls.  The goal was to share the work with as many people as possible, to counteract negative stereotypes and get more positive messages out into the community.

exhibit-33“We wanted to help kids connect their individual experiences to group experience,” explains Dr. Brinkman. “To help them see that it’s not just them; that other black girls might be having similar experiences. It lets us not only learn from individual experiences, but also paint a bigger picture of what’s going on.”

Dr. Brinkman takes an individualized approach to mentoring research assistants. “Part of our mentoring is getting to know each student, their strengths and growth edges. Jeremy has an MFA in film and video, and we’ve worked on how to connect these skills to psychology. Another team member has worked at Gwen’s Girls, and with her, it’s like ‘You’ve worked with these girls the most, so tell us when we’re missing something, and we’ll help develop your competencies in research methods.’ I love it when our team members have different strengths and our team is collaborative.”

Chatham University’s Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology and Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology programs focus on the professional, intellectual, and personal growth of students, emphasizing human-centered values as well as evidence-informed treatment approaches. 

[1] Goodkind, Sara. (2016). Inequities Affecting Black Girls in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Pittsburgh, PA: FISA Foundation & The Heinz Endowments.

 

Campus Message from President Finegold

Dear Chatham Community,

Yesterday an article was published on PublicSource.org by a recent Chatham graduate and Public Source intern that focused on self-injury policies and procedures at Chatham and other universities.

Due to the nature of the article, which involved three former Chatham students (whose names were changed for the article), Chatham chose not to comment in specifics in order to respect and comply with privacy requirements for these and other students at Chatham. After reviewing the article, the University believes that it contains information that has been taken out-of-context and mischaracterizes the environment at Chatham.

Mental health is an issue of great importance to me and to all of Chatham, including the staff and faculty across the University dedicated to our students’ safety and well-being.  Our priority is, and continues to be, ensuring students get the help they need in a supportive and caring environment when dealing with self-injury and mental illness.  Most importantly, I want to stress for those students who are dealing with mental health issues, please know that our Counseling Services department and response team are here to support and help you, not to discipline you. I hope that you will reach out to them at any time you feel the need.

In support of this priority, I have asked today for the creation of a task force to undertake a review of our current policy language and procedures to identify if there are areas where we can improve. The task force will include:

  • Deanna Hamilton, Assistant Professor in our Counseling Psychology Department;
  • Sharon Novalis, Assistant Professor in our Occupational Therapy Department, who led the campus-wide initiative to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention earlier this year;
  • Elsa Arce, Director for Counseling Services;
  • Zauyah Waite, VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students;
  • Other key staff and department liaisons

This task force will build on Chatham’s ongoing efforts to support students including the hiring earlier this year of another licensed psychologist for Counseling Services and additional wellness and mental health resources available to students across campus. Following the review of the task force, we will communicate their findings and recommendations accordingly.

Sincerely,

David Finegold
President

Campus Message on Charlottesville

Dear Chatham Community,

As Sue, the kids, and I were finishing up our summer vacation with her family in England this weekend, we were stunned by the news out of Charlottesville. Like millions of others around the world, we are shocked, angered and saddened at the racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations, hatred and violence that occurred. I immediately reached out to my friend, Professor Len Schoppa, who is a Dean at the University of Virginia to check if he and his family were okay, and to extend our sympathy on behalf of Chatham to the families of those who were killed and to those individuals who were injured and impacted by these horrific events.

As we prepare for the start of another academic year, I want to reaffirm Chatham’s commitment to our values of diversity, inclusion and respect. This is a commitment not just of shared values, but one that is also a central tenant of the University’s Mission: to prepare graduates who “recognize and respect diversity of culture, identity, and opinion.”  We all take great pride in being a part of a community where hatred and violence in any form have no place.    

The leaders of Chatham’s Diversity & Inclusion Council will send a follow-up message with additional information, events and resources that are available to students, faculty and staff over the next two weeks and throughout the academic year.  In the meantime, please join me in sympathy and solidarity with the University of Virginia and Charlottesville communities.

Sincerely,

David Finegold
President

 

Five Questions with Monica Riordan

Name: Monica Riordan
Title: Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology
Joined Chatham: August 2012
Born & Raised: St. Louis, Missouri
Interests: family time, hiking, and travel

 

 

  1. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was at the YMCA when I was 15. I worked in the baby nursery and taught gymnastics classes and summer camps for children. I learned quite a lot about negotiating and compromise (especially from the toddlers), how to make boring tasks seem fun (like making up songs for stretching routines), and showing leadership skills when in charge of a group of many different personalities and interests.

  1. What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?

Working with children is a fantastic training ground for just about any career you ever take in life. It teaches you to think on the fly, be flexible from one moment to another, always have a plan B (and often C and D), work with many different people of many different backgrounds and needs, develop coping skills for high-stress environments, and show grace under pressure.

  1. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you? 

At many universities, teacher-student interaction is limited to the classroom, but I have found at Chatham (for better or worse), students weave themselves into the teachers’ lives. They email me articles that they think will be interesting to me, they ask about my son, they invite me to their plays and sporting events, and greet me by name and a hearty “good morning!”

  1. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

Most students are eager to learn and they spend time trying to relate material to their own lives and come up with examples of how they see psychological theories acted out in the real world. This transfer of learning from paper to practice is heartening to me as a teacher.

  1. What is your passion?

I like to design experiments and collect data, but am happiest when analyzing the data in the hope of finally finding answers to questions. Despite my passion for research, though, writing, unfortunately, I find to be necessary drudgery.

Monica Riordan is an assistant professor in the Psychology department at Chatham.  She challenges her students to identify her one tattoo.