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Keuka College News > Author Archives: Tanya Cornell-Kestler

Jointly Authored Research Article ‘Underscores the Quality of College’s Natural Sciences Programs’

Two Keuka College graduates and a faculty member are the authors of an article for Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology.

They are Carolyn “Carrie” Klinge ’79, Krista Robinson Riggs ’02, and Professor of Biology Joan Magnusen.

Klinge is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Riggs is a post-doctoral fellow there. As an undergraduate, Riggs completed a Field Period with Klinge, and Klinge served as Riggs’ dissertation mentor for her Ph.D. from Louisville. Magnusen helped arrange for Riggs’ Field Period with Klinge, and has done the same for three other students.

According to Magnusen, she does it because she knows the students will gain invaluable, hands-on experience working with Klinge and “because [Klinge] is so supportive of the College.” And since working in Klinge’s lab herself as part of a spring 2008 sabbatical, Magnusen knows this firsthand.

It was the lab work Magnusen conducted during her sabbatical with Klinge that landed her a nod in the article. Riggs is also an author for the contributions she made to the study.

Magnusen helped conduct research as part of a study to better understand why some breast cancers respond (either decrease or stop growth) to drugs like Tamoxifen.

“This study looked at two different forms of the estrogen receptor and asked if cells having one or both forms influenced their response to Tamoxifen,” said Magnusen.

She explained: “Hormones stimulate cell division by binding to specific receptors. Estrogen stimulates cell division of some breast cancer cells. Tamoxifen is able to substitute for estrogen and block division in some cancers.”

It’s Klinge’s policy to cite whoever contributes to the studies she leads in her lab, which is why Magnusen and Riggs are listed as co-authors, along with four others.

“This is a great tradition that Joan has worked to establish,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Anne Weed. “This jointly authored research article in a peer-reviewed publication underscores the quality of the natural sciences programs at Keuka and the excellent education that our science grads take with them.”

“There’s so much involved in a paper like this,” said Magnusen, who, as co-author, was charged with proofreading the article.

“I’ll probably use the paper the next time I teach Cell and Molecular Biology, since we talk about cells misbehaving and that’s what they do in cancer,” added Magnusen.

Magnusen gained a better understanding of the technology related to cell culture (keeping cells alive in a dish) while in Louisville.

This past summer, she attended a workshop at the Dolan Learning Center at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she learned about a microscopic worm dubbed a model organism for study as “one of the simplest multicellular animals.” She also learned about a grant that would supply worms to institutions like Keuka.

She was able to arrange for 234 worms to come to Keuka.

“Human cells are fussy,” said Magnusen, which is why more specialized—and expensive—equipment is required to use them for research purposes. “The worm cells are not fussy.”

Two Keuka College seniors—Holly McHale and Kelin Wheaton—have been working with the worms as research projects to determine how to culture them (McHale) and how to extract enough protein from them to answer similar questions to those that were addressed in Louisville (Wheaton).

“It just goes to show what networking does for you,” said Magnusen. “I am both humbled and excited.”

ASK and You Shall Receive

The ASK team (from left) Amy Sellers, Kathy Snow, Pam Jennings, Carol Lillis, and Jennifer Robinson.

If you are a student who wants to raise your GPA, all you have to do is ASK.

Make an appointment with Academic Success at Keuka, that is. The ASK office provides academic counseling and disability services, as well as peer and professional tutoring in writing and other subjects.

“While students with disabilities are our constant population, we are available to help all students enhance study skills, improve time management, and earn better grades,” said Carole Lillis, director of ASK.

But it is students with disabilities for whom the office has made a big impact; just look at the statistics from the last four years.

In fall 2006, there were 25 freshmen with documented disabilities, according to Lillis. Seventeen of those students sought academic support services through ASK; eight of them did not. The median first semester GPA for the 17 freshmen was 2.769. The median first semester GPA for the eight freshmen was 2.062.

The biggest difference between the two groups—those who sought help and those who did not—was in retention.

Fifteen of the 17 students are still enrolled at Keuka this semester for an 88 percent retention rate. None of the eight students are still enrolled.

“It’s not just us (the ASK office) [responsible for the achievement],” said Lillis. “It is the success of the students, faculty, and advisers.”

Another impressive statistic: of the 16 students on academic probation this academic year who were referred to ASK and worked with Academic Skills Counselor Kathy Snow, all 16 of them got off of academic probation.

“Making an academic connection is key to retention,” said Lillis. “We have an opportunity to make an academic connection.”

And that connection is established early on. Assistant Director of ASK Jennifer Robinson presents freshmen and transfer students in FYE (First-Year Experience) 101 with information on note taking, textbook reading, and managing time.

Lillis and Robinson serve as advisers to exploratory students who have not yet declared a major.

“I try to get them into a January Field Period right off the bat,” said Lillis. “That way they can experience a profession [in which they are interested].”

Lillis and Academic Skills Counselor Pam Jennings teach English 100: Fundamentals of College Reading and Writing (a non-credit bearing, developmental course designed to prepare students for English 110: College English I) and 110. They also have writing conferences with these students on a weekly basis.

In addition to Snow, Amy Sellers also serves as an academic skills counselor, and holds Sunday hours in addition to weekday availability.

“We (the professional staff) have about 2,100 appointments with students each semester,” said Lillis.

That doesn’t include appointments for the Achieving a College Education (ACE) program, in which upperclassmen serve as consultants/coaches to first-year students who elect to participate during their first semester. ASK monitors the progress of the participants, in addition to recruiting, hiring and supervising writing and content-area tutors.

In March, Lillis and Robinson (who oversees ACE) presented academic retention data related to the ACE program at the International Mentoring Association conference.

Since 2005, 181 students have been invited to participate in the ACE program. A total of 79 students elected to participate while 102 did not. The first semester GPAs of the participants averaged 2.51, while the first semester GPAs of the non-participations averaged 1.82. Forty-eight of the 79 participants in 2005 are still enrolled at the College or graduated for a 60.8 percent retention rate. Forty-one of the 102 eligible non-participants are still enrolled for a 40.2 percent retention rate.

“People from other schools, the Army, and the CIA were in attendance [at the conference],” said Lillis. “And many of them wanted to know how we did it. Our students connect to ACE clients.”

Sophomore organizational communication major Ryan Nichols was one of those clients last year.

“As a first generation student, I wanted to learn how to best study and what else I could do to achieve academically,” said Nichols. “I was able to achieve above a 3.0 GPA my first semester and go on to be an ACE coach.”

According to senior criminology/criminal justice major and two-year ACE coach Brittany Bridenbaker, the experience prepared her for her criminal justice senior practicum working with children.

Said Bridenbaker: “I was able to use the skills I developed as an ACE coach to build a good rapport and establish trust with [the children].”

Two Student Employment Award Winners Have Ties to Education Division

Associate Director of the Center for Experiential Learning Sally Daggett, Webmaster Pete Bekisz, and College President Joseph G. Burke flank 2010 Student Employee of the Year Jennifer Graham

An organized, enthusiastic, and talented Web blogger/editor and an efficient staff member who takes time to listen to students and lends her support/guidance were the respective recipients of the 2010 Student Employee and Work-Study Supervisor of the Year awards at the Student Employment Awards Luncheon April 14.

Sophomore unified early childhood/special education major Jennifer Graham and Secretary for the Divisions of Education and Social Work Paulette Willemsen were selected by two separate panels of judges.

Paulette Willemsen, secretary for the Divisions of Education and Social Work, received the first-ever Work-Study Supervisor of the Year award

The decision was not an easy one, according to Head Athletic Trainer/Assistant Director of Athletics Jeff Bray, who served as a judge for the student competition. The other judges were Peter Talty (faculty), Cathy McGinnis (administration), Jessica Noveck (staff), and Jane Palmer (student).

“It’s easier to nominate than judge,” said Bray, who has nominated five students over the past 17 years he has worked at Keuka (three of whom were selected as New York State Student Employee of the Year by the National Student Employment Association). “It was enlightening for me to read what other supervisors had to say. They felt much the same way as I have: what would we do without the help from our students?

“Hopefully nominating them for this award tells our student employees just what they mean to us,” added Bray. “It’s incredibly difficult to put in the work-study commitment they do while doing their academic work. And every one of this year’s nominees also excels academically.”

The nine Student Employee of the Year nominees pose with President Burke. From left to right: Kendall Wolven, Ashley Lent, Alicia Stubbs, Matthew Connell, Jennifer Graham, Holly Fultz, Junelle King, and Ashley Valentine

Bekisz and Graham

Graham was nominated for the award by Webmaster Pete Bekisz.

The other student nominees were Matthew Connell, Holly Fultz, Jennifer Heinrich, Junelle King, Ashley Lent, Alicia Stubbs, Ashley Valentine, and Kendall Wolven.

“Keuka College’s basic educational foundation is experiential learning, and that’s what these awards are all about,” said Keuka College President Joseph G. Burke at the luncheon. “The nine nominees for Student Employee of the Year are the top nine out of 400 students who perform about 600 jobs for an average of seven hours per week. If we were to hire full-time employees to do the work they do, we would need 120 more employees. So, Keuka students do a massive amount of work.”

Eichorn and Willemsen

Willemsen was one of three work-study supervisors nominated for the inaugural award. She was nominated by Emily Eichorn, a student office assistant for the Division of Education.

“There are a total of 70 work-study supervisors,” said Burke. “And they are an integral part of the educational process.”

“We talk about how students can step up, but we don’t often look at who helps them to step up,” said senior Casey Dahlstrom, one of six judges for the supervisor award. “It was a difficult process looking over why students nominated [the three nominees], and each of the nominees deserve a ‘congratulations’ and ‘thank you.’”

Work-Study Supervisor of the Year nominees Jeff Snow, Carol Sackett, and Paulette Willemsen are flanked by Sally Daggett and President Burke

The other judges for Work-Study Supervisor of the Year were Neil Siebenhar (faculty), Fred Hoyle (administration), Kathy Waye (administration), Betty Hill (staff) and Lynley Walter (student).

Each of the nominees was recognized at the luncheon by his or her nominator and presented with a gift. The names of the student and supervisor award recipients will be added to two separate plaques housed in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Student Employee of the Year banner is hung up in the winner’s work-study location until the following year’s award luncheon.

The luncheon is hosted by Burke and the Center for Experiential Learning. It is organized by Sally Daggett, associate director of the Center for Experiential Learning.

From Nuclear Engineer to Novelist

Engineers excel at math and science; that’s a given.

But a retired nuclear engineering executive realizing his dream of becoming a novelist?

That’s not something you hear every day.

However, it is true for Visiting Assistant Professor of Management Stanley Wilczek.

Wilczek spent 30 years at Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (now National Grid), a Fortune 500 company, where he served as vice president of nuclear support in charge of about 800 employees, and as vice president of customer service in charge of about 1,000 employees.

“In high school, I wasn’t a fan of English and social studies,” said Wilczek, who didn’t think he’d find those subjects useful as an engineer. He was wrong.

“I was required to write technical documents and operation plans, and I learned my writing skills on the job—my bosses taught me,” said Wilczek.

He also began reading more and more as the years progressed, and he had some story ideas of his own that he tucked away in a file. Able to retire at age 50, Wilczek decided the time had come to begin work on his first novel. The Kept Secret was published in 2006. His second novel, The Soma Man, followed in 2008. His third novel is set to be released late this fall.

“My engineering/analytical skills helped me to write intricate plots,” said Wilczek, whose novels are of the mystery/thriller genre.

The Kept Secret addresses terrorism and was influenced by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in which Soviet nuclear missiles were discovered under construction in Cuba. Wilczek was 12-years-old at the time, but the Crisis left an “indelible impression” on him.

“I remember the air raid drills, and watching the news on a black and white TV,” said Wilczek. “My idea [for the book] was, what if Cuba still had a nuclear bomb? What if they weren’t all sent back to the former Soviet Union?”

Wilczek’s research for the book revealed other truths about the Crisis. He let his imagination run with the facts in his fiction.

His second novel, The Soma Man, addresses immortality, something that Wilczek, “a Baby Boomer,” often ponders.

“What if we could live forever?” said Wilczek. “What are the ethical issues involved?”

Like with his first book, Wilczek conducted research for The Soma Man, focusing on what happens during the aging process.

His third book, in the final editing stages, is about a woman whose ex-husband wreaks havoc on her life, then dies. However, the acts against her continue after his death and she wonders who is carrying on with the deeds, what’s going to happen next, and how she can stop it.

In addition to writing, Wilczek first began teaching at the college level while employed by Niagara Mohawk.

“I taught some engineering classes at SUNY Oswego about 20 years ago,” said Wilczek. “I was asked if I’d like to teach communications and marketing, too.

“After Niagara Mohawk, I began more adjunct work at a number of area colleges,” added Wilczek, who joined Keuka’s ASAP (Accelerated Studies for Adults Program) about four years ago.

He teaches classes in both the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and Master of Science in Management programs.

“I enjoy working with adults—it’s a lot of fun,” said Wilczek, who draws on his work experience while leading classroom discussion.

“Having been at the officer level of a Fortune 500 company, I’ve hired/fired, been involved in lawsuits, reorganization—I’ve done it all,” said Wilczek, who at one time was the youngest VP in the company. “I feel lucky; I was in the right place at the right time.”

And the teacher emphasizes the importance of good writing, communications and presentation skills in his courses.

After all, he is an engineer.

Wilczek will take part in a book signing at the Keuka College Bookstore after commencement Sunday, May 30.

Nearly 250 Volunteers Take Part in Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates 2010

A record 248 volunteers participated in Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates Sunday, April 11.

The 13th annual day of volunteer community service took place at more than 20 sites throughout Yates County—in Keuka Park, Branchport, Middlesex, Penn Yan, Benton, Himrod, and Dundee.