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Schreyer Honors College Adds 4 to Distinguished Faculty
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 02/11/2019

Four Penn State faculty members have been accepted into the Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty Program (DHFP) for the 2019-21 academic term.

Rachel Brennan, associate professor of environmental engineering; Xiang Gao, associate professor and director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab; Matthew Kaplan, professor of agricultural and extension education; and Jon Nese, associate head of the undergraduate program in meteorology and teaching professor in meteorology, join seven sitting faculty in the program.

The DHFP of the Schreyer Honors College provides an opportunity for Distinguished Honors Faculty and Schreyer Scholars to participate in innovative, interactive programs. Over dinner conversations, during field trips, and in small-group discussions on timely topics, distinguished faculty and students share experiences and perspectives that may venture beyond the labels and definition of an academic major or course.

"We are thrilled to welcome these outstanding faculty to the program," said Schreyer Honors College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Biomedical Engineering Keefe B. Manning, "and we are excited about the opportunities our scholars will have to broaden their educational experiences through these programs."

Brennan received her bachelor of science degree in geological engineering from New Mexico State University and her master's and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her goal for the program is to enhance the learning experiences of Schreyer Scholars through engaged global scholarship in humanitarian service practicums that demonstrate the theoretical and applied skill sets necessary to provide fundamental human rights to food, energy and water.

Kaplan received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a master of arts degree in psychology from Hunter College, City University of New York, and a doctorate in environmental psychology from City University of New York Graduate Center. His program, Intergenerational Programs and Aging, aims to provide scholars with an intensive introduction to the key principles and basic values that apply to intergenerational engagement across settings and discipline in an aging society.

Gao earned a master of science degree at Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy for Medical Science, a doctorate from Tufts University, and a doctor of medicine degree from Shanghai Second Medical University. In his program, Brain Health and Arts, he plans to take scholars to visit museums to introduce them to Asian art history and show the potential impact of health status on artistic expression. He will also discuss published literature regarding the potential impacts of brain health on arts and how to use Artificial Intelligence techniques for image classification to understand the potential link between brain health and arts.

Nese received bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Penn State and was the chief meteorologist at the Franklin Institute Science Museum prior to joining the University's faculty. He believes tomorrow's leaders should be well-informed in the science and communication of weather and climate information. His program, The Science and Communication of Weather and Climate, will take Scholars on trips to various weather-based locations around State College and engage them in discussion with industry professionals.

Distinguished Honors Faculty members in DHFP can host up to three events each semester. Recent examples of events include trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Comedy Center, a visit to a local hemodialysis center, and discussions about global crisis technologies and permafrost warming and thawing in the Arctic.

To qualify for selection, faculty members submit proposals outlining programs to be offered should they be selected for the program.

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