The Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences: Living the Spiritan Mission
The Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences is dedicated to:
Duquesne University's Mission, which emphasizes our Spiritan identity of serving God by serving students.
Enhancing the quality of our students' experiences though excellent coursework, cutting-edge research, and meaningful volunteer work.
Further developing our national reputation for academic excellence by maximizing the success of our faculty and students.
The Bayer School has a deep tradition of looking forward, reaching out and giving back by supporting initiatives on campus, in the Pittsburgh and global communities, and by supporting the teacher-scholar model through various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives. We aspire to bring integrity, insight, and objectivity to everything we do, each and every day. Our graduates are the future of science and they are charged with transforming today's complex and changing world into opportunities for current and future generations, as well as serving humankind through a deep commitment to service learning, community engagement and education. In the Bayer School we embrace the paradigms of scientific inquiry where conclusions are "based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world, and respect the fact that science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways." (Resource: http://www.nas.edu/evolution/Compatibility.html)
Mission of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
The Bayer School partners with the Spiritan Campus Ministry, the Office of Mission and Identity, the Office of Service-Learning and other schools and departments on campus to serve not only students, and the local and regional community, but the state, the nation and the world in a myriad of ways. Our students, faculty, staff and administrators take pride in our dedication to our mission, and our accomplishments. Our mission states:
The mission of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences is to provide students with a high quality education in the natural sciences, and to advance scientific knowledge and improve society through teaching, research and engagement, thereby contributing to the mission of Duquesne University by serving God by serving students.
Examples of activities and Locations where Bayer School students have recently participated in community service projects include:
- Tustin Enhancement Day, Uptown
- Cliffside Park Rehabilitation Day, Hill District
- Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Edgewood Town Centre
- St. Vincent de Paul's Duquesne University chapter
- Carnegie Science Center — SciTech and the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
Projects and Initiatives
Projects and initiatives in the Bayer School that promote the Spiritan Mission of the university also promote student involvement on a variety of levels. These projects and initiatives also adhere to the mission of the National Academy of Science in that many contribute to the health, education, and welfare of all the world's citizens. Students in the Bayer School contribute to the larger effort of serving the common good and exploring various ways in which faith and service lie at the heart of a Duquesne education. By engaging students in the community outside of the university, Service Learning in Science encourages them to look outside the lab and identify real-world problems. This increases the student's perception of research by placing it in the context of community. Also, it removes the sterility and tunnel vision sometimes found in science, and it broadens future scientists' understanding of the impact science has on the non-scientific community. Some specific examples related to "Living the Spiritan Mission" in the Bayer School include:
(1) STEWARDSHIP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
This stewardship encompasses creating and preserving healthy, sustainable ecosystems, and promotes responsible consumption. In the Bayer School, we put this premise into action in numerous ways. They include the monitoring of water quality at the Wingfield Pines Abandoned Mine Drainage site located in Upper St. Clair, and in Little Sewickley Creek located just north of Pittsburgh, both in Allegheny County. These projects demonstrate the living application of unit conversion, mathematical manipulation, research, and organization. Students participating in these projects sharpen their research, critical thinking and leadership skills. They assist in establishing a legacy of educational and personal development which aids the community through the creation and proliferation of environmentally-based knowledge. The students learn the importance of completing the task at hand, how to work side by side with the community, how to enhance their scientific skills through field practice, and how to develop personal and leadership qualities.
(2) EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH
Service Learning in Science gives students opportunities to not only teach others about science, but also to increase awareness of science-based issues through community engagement. The Bayer School strives to provide meaningful hands-on science-based activities, not only for our students, but also for the "community." In the Bayer School, we make the distinction that students not only impact the project participants they encounter, but enlighten them through increased awareness of science, the environment, and their faith. Educational outreach projects in the Bayer School that embody our mission include the following:
A. ABSL: Application-Based Service Learning
Application-Based Service Learning (ABSL) uses a collaborative, integrated approach to teach scientific concepts and skills in a course setting. Designed to provide novel approaches to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to help solve community-based problems, the program allows students to apply the scientific method to a research question posed by a community problem to provide a better understanding of the issue or find a resolution. At the same time, students learn technical writing, laboratory techniques, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills. Visit the ABSL website for more information.
B. The Hazelwood Science Camp.
This six-week program, which was first offered in June 2013, was conducted Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Center of Life, a church-based nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood. A goal of the camp was to allow Dr. John Pollock, and the following Department of Biological Sciences students: Devan Rogers, Brandi Daugherty, Jean Jagiello, Lauren Shober, Shreya Patel, Jarred Stratton, and Marco Acevedo to examine how 90 economically-disadvantaged students ranging from first through eighth grades, learned science, while also giving them a fun perspective on science. Dr. Sarah Woodley from the DU Biological Sciences Department also worked on this project.
C. After School Tutoring Program at the Center of Life in Hazelwood.
Scientific discoveries have transformed our world. There is increasing recognition that a scientifically literate public is necessary for improving the welfare of individuals and for developing a workforce that can understand and solve numerous problems facing the world. BSNES students are helping to improve scientific literacy of Pittsburgh school children through a service learning project. Juniors enrolled in Dr. Sarah Woodley's Superlab course (BIOL372W) are translating themes learned in class into science activities that are shared with K-8 children at an after-school tutoring program at the Center of Life, a community organization that serves residents of the Hazelwood community of Pittsburgh. The goals are to give Duquesne students experience in outreach, scientific communication, and civic responsibility. At the same time, Duquesne students are helping to prepare Pittsburgh public school children academically, but also to inspire children to be interested in science and to aspire to STEM-related careers.
D. GMSP (Girls, Math and Science Partnership).
The Girls, Math & Science Partnership (GMSP) is a coordinated effort with regional and national partners to provide developmentally appropriate informal learning opportunities targeted specifically to middle school girls as the primary audience. Each workshop focuses on a STEM topic and features local female role models in STEM careers. A GMSP Program was offered in the Bayer School that was designed and implemented by Dr. Simonetta Frittelli, the Department of Physics Chairperson.
E. The American Chemical Society (ACS) Project SEED.
Project SEED was established in 1968 to help economically disadvantaged high school students expand their education and career outlook. This summer research program opens new doors for these students so that they can experience what it's like to be a chemist. Students entering their junior or senior year in high school are given a rare chance to work alongside scientist-mentors on research projects in academic laboratories, wherein they can discover new career paths as they approach critical turning points in their lives. Students receive a fellowship award for their efforts in the summer, and a chance to receive a SEED college scholarship. Highlights of the past 10 years of Project SEED activities in the Duquesne University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry include the fact that 41 total students have participated in the program at DU, with approximately 50% being minorities and nearly 67% women. Five students won Bayer Project SEED College Scholarships that provided $5,000 for the first year of college study when majoring in a chemical science. Seventeen students have presented their research at national ACS Meetings. Thus far one student has co-authored a research paper in the journal Chemistry of Materials, an ACS published journal, and one student has submitted an education paper to the journal Chemical Educator. Over $160,000 has supported the program, with approximately 60% raised from donations and 40% awarded from the ACS.
F. Forensic Science and Law Summer Workshop.
The professional Forensic Science and Law fraternity (Phi Sigma Lambda) hosts an Annual Forensic Science and Law Summer Workshop at Duquesne University. The 2013 workshop was the tenth in this series. Students and faculty of the Bayer School's Forensic Science and Law program offered a four-day workshop for high school students from Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Student participants have a strong interest in the sciences. The workshop includes a mix of classroom lectures and hands-on laboratory activities. The list includes: Evidence Collection (lecture); Fingerprints (lab); Arson Investigation (lecture); Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)(lab); Toxicology (lecture); Hair & Fiber Analysis (lab); Famous Cases (lecture); Body Decomposition (lecture); Firearms and Tool Marks (lab); Eyewitness Identification (lecture); DNA Fingerprinting (lecture); Mock Crime Scene (lab); Handwriting Analysis (lecture) and Blood Spatter (lab). Participation in the workshop assists these students in determining their future academic, career and life paths.
G. Saturday Lab Class for High School Students.
Dr. Kyle Selcer and the biology graduate students have hosted a Saturday laboratory class for high school students (20-30 biology/ AP biology students each year) from Vincentian Academy for the past 14 years. The class involves use of gel electrophoresis for examination of proteins, and is based on the theme of induction of vitellogenin by estrogens in the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Students use the same equipment that is used in undergraduate lab courses, and graduate student and faculty research for this experiment. They then take their gels back to Vincentian Academy for analysis of protein molecular weights in the control and estrogen-treated frogs. These hand-on learning opportunities provide valuable insights into what "scientists" do, as the students plan for their future career path.
(3) EDUCATING STUDENTS IN THE BAYER SCHOOL
The Bayer School is interested in the development of the whole student. Working within the teacher-scholar model, the education that students receive in the Bayer School not only prepares them for advanced study or careers, but for life. A Bayer School degree allows the students to develop not only intellectually, but holistically. Student's develop their cognitive skills and learn to think critically and with more complexity as they develop emotional maturity, a sense of self-identity and how to relate to others. Following Duquesne University's mission, Bayer School students can embrace the paradigms of service to humanity and commitment to justice in all forms and expressions. Some examples in the Bayer School include the following:
A. Training Environmental Scientists at the Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) for the past 20-years.
The Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management (ESM) has been in existence for more than 20-years. Matriculating its first students in August 1992, this specialty master's program in the Bayer School has since graduated more than 400 environmental professionals. Duquesne was one of the first colleges in the country to offer an environmental master's program that focused on training professionals in the management of environmental issues, based upon a demand for those who could manage key issues and policies. The program is continually changing with the times to address new issues that emerge in the field. One of the key elements of this program is a high degree of exposure to various environmental professions that are represented by the adjunct professors that are an integral part of the program. The program has teamed with other schools and, with federal funding, operated international programs focused on energy extraction, water supplies and renewable energy management, as well as launching Duquesne's first multidisciplinary undergraduate course in sustainability. CERE is a prime example of the teacher-scholar model at work here at Duquesne University, and is a hallmark of the university's and Bayer School's commitment to educating students to be stewards of the environment.
B. The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) and Research Symposium.
Duquesne University's Undergraduate Research Program is funded by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, the School of Pharmacy, the National Science Foundation and the departments and faculty of the University. This program provides students with research experience essential for a career in the sciences. Students are encouraged to start research during their freshman year, thus providing them with a maximum exposure to the experiential learning opportunities available in the Bayer School. These hands-on experiences are an invaluable component of a science student's education. Each summer, the undergraduate research program culminates with the Undergraduate Research Symposium where student participants present their research to their peers, mentors, faculty, friends and families as oral or poster presentation. On average 100 undergraduate students take part in this event each summer.
(4) INFORMING THE COMMUNITY AND CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY
The Bayer School maintains a policy of reaching-out to the community by communicating the School's intentions and activities to the public, and representing the School in community affairs and public activities to promote awareness and foster goodwill. The Bayer School encourages its students, faculty, staff and administrators to embrace values that benefit society, and to act in accordance with society's laws, rules, and guidelines, and to live their lives in a fair and ethical manner. Numerous examples of events and projects that inform the community and promote civic responsibility have occurred in the Bayer School. They include:
A. Darwin Day at Duquesne University (This year on February 26th).
Darwin Day is an annual international event that celebrates the life and work of Charles Darwin, scientific inquiry, and the common good of all humanity. It is a time to emphasize the importance of science education in today's modern world, and the impact evolutionary biology has on many aspects of our lives, by focusing on the verifiable knowledge that has been acquired solely through human curiosity and ingenuity. Past Darwin Day events at Duquesne were organized around the themes: Sex and the Scala Naturae (2013); Mass Extinctions (2012); and An Evolutionary Perspective on Economics and Environmental Policy (2011). The 2014 event is related to the recognition that evolution is an ongoing process that can be studied experimentally in organisms with suitably rapid generations. When coupled with the ability to freeze and revive organisms, one can also travel back in time! This year's Darwin Day celebration is highlighted by a lecture titled "Time Travel in Experimental Evolution" which will be presented by Dr. Richard E. Lenski, the Hannah Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University. Dr. Lenski will discuss how his laboratory has propagated 12 populations of Escherichia coli in a simple environment for 25 years and over 50,000 generations. Two goals of his long-term experiment have been to examine the repeatability, and characterize the dynamics of evolution. He has quantified the extent of adaptation by natural selection, identified many examples of parallel evolution, and observed the origin of a novel function that transcends the usual definition of E. coli as a species. This event, which is free and open to the public, will occur on Wednesday, February 26th at 7:00 P.M in the Power Center Ballroom on the Duquesne University campus. Please join us as we recognize verifiable scientific knowledge and endeavor to appreciate the connection of humankind to the acquisition of this knowledge.
B. Hosting a conference related to toxins found in the environment and human health.
The Regional Perspectives to Integrate Exposure and Exposome Measurement with Effects on Human Health conference occurred on the Duquesne campus in October 2013. The human exposome initiative is a fast-growing field of research that has captured worldwide attention. There is growing evidence that 70 to 90 percent of chronic human diseases result from exposure to exogenous and endogenous chemical entities and are not directly attributable to genetic origin. Children in western Pennsylvania, for example, appear to be exposed to more toxic chemicals than other children nationwide, and children with autism may process these chemicals differently from other children. The exposome is comprised of an estimated 100,000 chemical entities circulating in the human body that are outside of genetic control and may offer insight into reducing exposure and developing pathways to personalized medicine. The nascent field of exposomics may provide some of the missing pieces to help understand disease causality by offering an integrated view of biochemical measurements. Six scientists expert in the fields of Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Pediatric Medicine and Human Health, from the John Hopkins School of Medicine; the Heinz Endowments; Children's Institute of Pittsburgh; Agilent Technologies; and Duquesne University, presented their research at the conference, which was free and open to the public.
C. Metals in Biological Systems Symposium.
During a half-day conference on Metals in Biological Systems held in the Bayer School on the Duquesne University campus, the environmental effects of metal ions, especially in western Pennsylvania, were discussed by six experts in the field. This symposium, held in December 2013, provided a forum for researchers and educators with areas of expertise that ranged from synthetic chemistry, to environmental toxicology, to biomedical science. This event fostered new collaborations and friendships between scientists with complementary skills and goals. It was well attended by students, faculty and the general public, and it served as a catalyst to engage the next generation of scientists into the current and emerging problem of metals in biological systems. It also informed the general public on this topic. One of the goals of the symposium was to provide a platform for a diverse audience to share exciting new research findings. In addition, extensive poster sessions for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students facilitated discussions about this important topic.
D. Deadly Deception at Sobibor.
A first-screening of the film "Deadly Deception at Sobibor" in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Jewish Rebellion at the Nazi extermination camp Sobibor was held November 11, 2013, at the Power Center Ballroom, Duquesne University. This event was sponsored by the Nathan J. and Helen Goldrich Foundation, Duquesne University, and the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. The film chronicled one man's attempt to understand what happened to his family during the Holocaust. In the film, the research of Yoram Haimi was highlighted, as were his attempts to uncover information about his uncles who perished at the Sobibor extermination camp in Eastern Poland. From a Moroccan-Jewish background, Haimi was educated as an archaeologist of ancient Israel and began the quest of a lifetime, intent on uncovering the details of the "Deadly Deception" of the Holocaust at Sobibor. The evening also included a lecture by Dr. Philip Reeder, the Dean of the Bayer School, on the technology used at Sobibor to try to reconstruct its history, and by Yoram Haimi, on the archaeology of the holocaust at Sobibor. The event was well-attended and was free and open to the public.
E. Facing the Challenges Symposium.
This two-day event, held on the Duquesne University campus, brought some of the nation's most prominent researchers together to discuss their research on the challenges of unconventional shale gas extraction. More than two dozen academic researchers presented their research findings on topics such as biological, geological and environmental investigations; fugitive methane migration and climate change; air and water quality; human and animal health; and social, political and legal aspects of gas extraction. The event was attended by more than 300 people. It was also recorded for eventual broadcast on non-commercial television and a special issue of the Journal of Environmental Science and Health will feature articles based on selected conference presentations. This event again highlighted the Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) and the Bayer School's commitments to environmental stewardship.
The Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences will continue to pursue our mission by enhancing the quality of our students' experiences; further developing our national reputation for academic excellence; and following the Spiritan call. The tradition of looking forward, reaching out and giving back will continue to be the norm, as will our implementation of the teacher-scholar model. We will continue to bring integrity, insight, and objectivity to everything we do, each and every day. As the teachers, mentors and role models for our students, we will continue to stress the charge of transforming today's complex and changing world into opportunities for current and future generations, as well as serving the world's communities, on a variety of scales, through a deep commitment to service learning, community engagement, education and the Spiritan tradition. We will continue to embrace the paradigms of scientific inquiry, and respect the fact that science and religion are separate and thus address aspects of human understanding in different ways.
Philip Reeder, Ph.D.
Dean, Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences