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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.

 

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.

 

Five Questions With Andres Carrillo 

Name: Andres Carrillo
Title: Assistant Professor of Exercise Science
Joined Chatham: August 2012
Born & Raised: Born in Toronto and raised in Hamilton, Ontario Canada
Interests: Movement, Travel, Reading, and Cooking

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

I have always been interested in movement. But it was my high school kinesiology teacher who made me realize that I could turn my interest into a career. She inspired me to pursue a bachelor of kinesiology. That initial educational experience is what made me realize how rich life can be when you construct your career in such a way that allows you to fully pursue your passion.

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

When I was 13 years old I had two summer jobs as a dishwasher and working on a farm. The job as a dishwasher was the worst job I have ever had. It was in a dirty dungeon in the back of a restaurant. Working on a farm was great because I was moving a lot and working outdoors, but it was long hours of really tough work. What I learned from these jobs was the importance of focus and stamina. The work had to be done before I could leave, so I became quite efficient at focusing on one task until it was complete. These skills are important to develop especially as we move more into a time when the susceptibility for distraction is high.

3. What is your passion?

I’m passionate about movement. For me, movement has a few different domains. For example, I believe that diverse physical movement (e.g. exercise) is a smart investment for preserving a healthy self. How we move, reflects how we live. Geographical movement (i.e. travel) provides us with an opportunity for reflection, appreciation, and to gain a greater sense of compassion. Finally, cognitive movement (e.g. reading) avoids stagnation and gives us the opportunity for continuous inner growth that enhances/enriches our interaction with others (e.g. teaching, nature, etc.).

4. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

Dr. David Waters was (and still is) a mentor of mine who has had the greatest impact on me. I took two of his classes while completing my doctorate at Purdue University. Dr. Waters is a comparative oncologist and trained veterinarian. At Purdue, Dr. Waters taught a professional skills course that was like no other course I had ever taken. There were three students in the class. On our first day, Dr. Waters gave each of us 12 books. The topic each week revolved around one of the books. We would meet once per week for 5 hours in the back room of a restaurant where we talk about creativity, writing, reading, leadership, and many other important topics. It was a transformational experience. Since starting at Chatham, Dr. Waters and I meet in St. Clairsville, OH about 4 times per summer to discuss a book that we choose to read together. He calls this experience ‘Think and Grow Rich’.

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

I appreciate the opportunity to get to know Chatham students and to see them inspired by what I’m passionate about. This is possible to due to the small class sizes that allows for extensive discourse in the classroom. It’s always a satisfying to be able to see Chatham students apply what is discussed in the classroom towards improving their own life or the lives of loved ones.

Andres Carrillo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Chatham University’s Department of Exercise Science. Andres enjoys classical music and taking his daughter to “Mommy and Me” dance classes.

 

 

Mary Whitney Leads Chatham’s Drive Toward Carbon Neutrality

Mary WhitneyMary Whitney, MPPM, PhD, Chatham’s Director of University Sustainability, is an Ohio native who has lived in Pittsburgh since 1982, spending the last 15 years in environmental education, working primarily with citizens, teachers and their students.

As sustainability director for Chatham’s campuses, she leads collaboration on sustainability practices at the university, works to help Chatham meet its carbon neutrality goals, and teaches systems and societal transitions in the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment. Thanks in large part to Mary’s leadership, Chatham is recognized as one of the top five universities in the world for sustainability as measured by The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS).

We sat down with Dr. Whitney to discuss the state of sustainability at Chatham and her role in advancing the University’s goal of carbon neutrality.

Q:     How did you get interested in the field of sustainability?

A:      I grew up in the country, free to roam and enjoy nature.  As I got older and the strip mines got closer and closer to my home, I saw the damage that was being done to the environment, including the farms and woods around my house. It was then that I began to realize that our energy needs were going to completely overwhelm the natural world that I love so much.  I started looking at ways to make energy hurt the world less.  Sustainability is exactly that – the ability to sustain ourselves on this planet without overwhelming the planet’s ability to provide us with good living conditions.

Q:     Why is it important for a university like Chatham to become carbon neutral?

A:      Carbon neutrality is the goal of balancing out an institution’s carbon emissions with reductions and purchasing green power, etc. Chatham’s goal is now to be more than carbon neutral – we are working to have zero-net energy.  In other words, we want to make as much green power as we use.  We also are looking at net-positive energy, where we make more green power than we use, and put that out onto the grid to improve conditions for everyone.

Q:     Please describe what you believe are the top priorities for Chatham in terms of reaching carbon neutrality in 2025.

A:      We do annual greenhouse gas audits to get a good idea of where we are in terms of our institutional carbon and methane emissions.  Over half of our annual emissions come from our electric use, since the grid in our region is primarily coal.  So we are prioritizing electrical efficiency across all campuses – installing LED lighting in all buildings and outdoors, adding motion sensors to turn off lights, and more.  These are all very simple-to-implement strategies. Our next largest source of emissions is our transportation – both the campus fleet and also the cars belonging to faculty, staff and students.  To address this, we have added shuttles to move more people per trip, given everyone a free bus pass, connected our shuttles to the bus way, provided bike rentals and a bike repair shop, offered car-sharing, and more.  There is more to be done, and it will take more than just Chatham working to solve that problem – it’s a public policy problem in many ways.

Q:     It stands to reason that as a University increases its physical footprint – sheer area, number of students – its carbon emissions footprint would increase as well. Yet it seems that the reverse happened here – as we grew and expanded, our carbon footprint shrank. How did that happen?

A:      That’s close – what has happened is that we have reduced our net CO2 emissions. We went from 8,705 tonnes of gross CO2 emissions in 2007 to 14,573 in 2015, which is an increase of 67 percent, much of that due to increased electric and fuel use during the construction of the Eden Hall campus. But our net emissions went from 7,246 tonnes to 5,751 tonnes in the same timeframe – a reduction of 20%.  This is due to our extensive composting program, forest preservation on our campuses, purchasing renewable energy credits for our electricity use, and making our own solar electricity and solar hot water.

We look at emissions as a ratio to the number of students or the total square footage of our campuses as a way to measure how we are doing over time while taking growth into account. For example, between 2007 and 2015, we saw a 14 percent increase in student body, as well as a 14 percent increase in our campus square footage, due to new construction and purchases of existing buildings. Yet at the same time, we showed a 32 percent reduction in electric use.  This is because we have designed in the latest in green building technology for any new construction, and have made as many energy efficiency upgrades as we can to existing buildings. We expect to see continued reductions as we enter into our first full year of solar electric production at Eden Hall.

Q:     What are the top three programs being conducted by Chatham from a sustainability standpoint?

A:      We look at our operations, our academics and our engagement when we measure our efforts. In operations, our energy efficiency program has been ongoing since 2007, and we have been buying green power since 2000.  Our compost program was one of the first for an urban campus, and we have committed to using all compostable products in our dining operations.

In academics, we have an entire school – the Falk School – devoted to sustainability. Here we are able to take everything we’ve learned and share it with the world. We have our campuses as living and learning sustainability labs, our faculty has expertise and shares research for sustainable systems, and our students get to put it all into practice.

My current favorite public engagement project is a joint project between the Black Student Union, Parkhurst Dining Services, Zipcar and 412 Food Rescue. This great program was designed by the students of BSU to rescue food that would otherwise go to waste for people in the community – a great sustainability project!  Parkhurst provides the food, 412 Food Rescue organizes the locations for donations, Zipcar provides free car-sharing for student rescue drivers, and students give their weekend mornings to collect and deliver food. Chatham’s Green Fund pays for other expenses, like containers.

Q:     Chatham is one of the highest ranked universities in the world for STARS, what does this mean and why does it matter?

A:      STARS is a sustainability ranking system developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  The system’s purpose is to provide a consistent and cohesive way to track, share and benchmark sustainability initiatives.   It is designed specifically for universities and looks at sustainability across academics, operations, engagement with communities, and planning/administration.

Any level of STARS recognizes a significant sustainability achievement, and having a gold rating means that we have made a concerted and effective transformation of our university for sustainability. The recognition is public, and that matters more than just having bragging rights. What truly matters most about the rating is that it proves to others that transforming an institution for sustainability is not a crazy future-dream but a reality, achieved through patience and a deep commitment, more than deep pockets or temporary enthusiasm.

Q:     Chatham is ranked second among sustainable master’s level universities in the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index.  How did the university achieve such a high ranking and what does this mean to students, faculty and staff?

A:      Chatham has been working on sustainability from an educational standpoint for over 25 years, since the founding of the Rachel Carson Institute. We’ve been working to transform our own institutional practice for almost as long, beginning with our first green power purchases in 2000. This long-term commitment lets us make continuous improvement, and we build each year on previous achievements. We take our time to do what we think is right, review and track our progress to see if we’re meeting our own expectations, and keep working on incorporating sustainability into every part of the campus.

A powerful reason for our success is that we have a solid core of sustainability knowledge across our entire community.  It is a huge help that we have attracted so many people who include sustainability in their own work, research and everyday practice – we depend on the students, faculty and staff here to be our success in sustainability.

Q:     What do you want students to take away from their experience at Chatham?

A:     Understanding how environmental, social and technical systems interact with each other, and how to make changes in those systems.  Combine that with lots of opportunities to practice, and the confidence to go out and make those changes!