STUDENTS: It’s Time to Fill Out Scholarship Applications!

Attention STEM students!!

Looking for a way to lower your student debt? Applying for scholarships is the best way!

Take some time over break and fill out these applications! The deadline for is February 1st for all scholarships applicable to the 2018-2019 school year.

You can apply for all YSU Foundation Scholarships through the Scholarship Application. You can find the website here where you can apply using your YSU credentials.

Need help filling out the application? Click here for a step-by-step tutorial.

Incoming STEM students who are residents of Ohio may also apply to the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program. To read more about this program, please visit the Choose Ohio First website here.

Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Betts

Ryan BettsRyan Betts is a YSU STEM alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He began his higher education with a love of math, physics, and problem-solving; and through his coursework, he found new interests in computer-aided design and additive manufacturing.

In his junior year at YSU, Ryan began working as a lab assistant in the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (CIAM) under his mentors, Dr. Brett Conner and lab manager Jay Wargacki. He used this position to enhance his classroom knowledge and to gain real-world experience for his future career.

Ryan now works as a design engineer under Dr. Kirk Rogers in the Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA) at General Electric in Pittsburgh, PA.

“As a design engineer, I am responsible for designing functional mechanical parts to be printed on the several 3D printers we have at our site,” he said. “We are capable of 3D printing parts out of several polymers, sands, and metal alloys, each possessing their own unique challenges in the design phase.”

During his senior year, Ryan had expressed to Dr. Conner his interest in GE’s CATA, but he knew there were no available positions. Through some networking and determination, he was hired just before graduation when a position became available.

Ryan gave a little bit of advice to YSU STEM students so that they can find opportunities like he did:

“My advice to STEM freshmen would be to get involved with internships, on-campus employment, and/or research as soon as possible. These are great ways to enhance your skillsets and make your resume stand out to potential employers! I didn’t do myself any favors by keeping my high school job into my first two years of college and neither will you.

To the seniors, don’t wait until May to start looking for a full-time job or graduate school. It’s never too early to start networking with professionals or interviewing for positions you want to secure upon graduation. At this point, setting up and preparing for interviews/universities should be considered just as important as completing projects or studying for exams.”

You don’t have to be an engineer, or even a STEM student, to apply this advice to your own education and career options. It’s never too early to start networking and planning, just like Ryan said. You never know what kind of opportunity will open up if you prepare and wait for it.

STEM Social Media is Hiring!

The YSU STEM Social Media Team is looking to expand with two new student job positions:

Social Media and Vlog Content Creator

The College of STEM is seeking an outgoing, self-motivated student of Sophomore or Junior standing to take on the role of content creator. This person would work closely with the Dean of STEM and the STEM Social Media Team to deliver content to a social audience. Applicants need not be STEM Majors.

Responsibilities include:

  • Takes part in storyboarding and content creation with Social Media Team
  • Responsible for meeting with Dean Steelant to capture video ideas and put them into an outline/script for delivery
  • Create content to post on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  • Research and experiment with new ways to leverage social media for STEM marketing
  • Track and measure the impact of social media campaigns for the college


  • Sophomore or Junior in good standing
  • Experience with content creation
  • Ability to work independently and meet deadlines
  • Team player mentality with a comfort of giving ideas and suggestions as needed

Videographer/Video Editor

The College of STEM is seeking an outgoing, self-motivated student of Sophomore or Junior standing to take on the role of videographer/video editor. This person would work closely with the Dean of STEM and the STEM Social Media Team to deliver content to a social audience. Applicants need not be STEM Majors.

Responsibilities include:

  • Takes part in storyboarding and content creation with Social Media Team
  • Responsible for shooting, editing and final output of videos created for College of STEM
  • Maintain consistent tone and voice in all videos created for STEM
  • Coordinates with the social media coordinator to upload content to social media accounts


  • Sophomore or Junior in good standing
  • Experience with video creation
  • Ability to work independently and meet strict monthly/bi-weekly deadlines
  • Team player mentality with a comfort of giving ideas and suggestions before, during and after the video shooting process
  • Experience with photography a plus

Interested applicants for either position should email their résumé to Emilie Eberth, STEM Outreach and Scholarship Coordinator, at

Student Research: QUEST & STEM Showcase


QUEST is a unique university sponsored forum for undergraduate and graduate students to:

  • Present scholarship to the community
  • Share acheivements and creations
  • Hone conference presentation skills
  • Receive University recognition for accomplishments

Examples of past QUEST submissions include:

  • Results and finished products of scientific research
  • Musical scores
  • Engineering designs and analyses
  • Panel discussions of social, political, and economic issues
  • Poetry readings
  • Honors and senior theses
  • Study abroad experiences

QUEST presentation

Three graduate presentations were selected to present at Best of Quest; two of them were STEM students:

  • Sarah Springer (College of STEM)
    • Anion controlled synthesis of partially halogenated In-derived metal-organic frameworks
  • Jennifer Moore (College of STEM) 2017 Best of QUEST Winner
    • Tuning the substrate specificity of the glutathione transferase GstB from Escherichia coli via site-directed mutagenesis.

One undergraduate project from each college was selected to present at Best of QUEST; two were selected from STEM as a tie:

  • Antonio DiSalvo, Mark Plant, Elizabeth Urig (College of STEM) (tie)
    • Optimized Rim for Spring Tires
  • Vincent Dell’Arco, Jared Fink (College of STEM) (tie)
    • Automatic Tong Mechanism Senior Design Project

A complete program for QUEST 2017 can be found here, which includes abstracts for the projects.

STEM Showcase

The STEM Showcase is an annual event highlighting our students and the projects they have worked hard on all year.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, students set up posters, tables, experiments, prototypes, and finished projects in Moser Hall so that guests could examine the students’ knowledge and effort. Facilities were available for touring including the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing, YSU’s bragworthy 3D printing lab.

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Physics and Chemistry Professional Days

Physics Professional Day

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Local area teachers attended the first Physics Professional Day sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Y.A.P.A. (Youngstown Area Physics Alliance) on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. At this first all-day meeting, the faculty from the Physics Department presented demonstrations covering varying topics such as resonance, energy, sound and an explanation of the upcoming Physics Olympics competition.

The teachers watched a presentation in the Planetarium and learned about the many resources available to them, including travel expenses to bring their students to YSU’s campus. Each teacher received hands-on laboratory ideas and supplies to use in his or her own classroom to create items used to initiate infrasonic sound waves and information about the ease of applying for STEM scholarships. Y.A.P.A. coordinator, Mary Janek, was very pleased with the success of the inaugural meeting and hopes to continue the practice in conjunction with the YSU Physics & Astronomy Department.

Written by Aislinn Janek

Chemistry Professional Day

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The Department of Chemistry hosted its annual Professional Day January 6th. Professional Day is a one-day workshop for local teachers touching on topics of chemical and/or educational interest.

This year the theme for Professional Day was “Forensic Science: How Chemistry is Used to Help Us Solve Mysteries, Murder and Mayhem!” Participants were welcomed by Dr. Tim Wagner, the chair of the department. Teachers then heard presentations from two people with experience in forensic analysis. Andrew Hirt, President and Senior Scientist of Materials Research Laboratories, Inc. (MRL), in Struthers, Ohio has worked with law enforcement at the local, state, and national level. He spoke on using the right instrumental tools to prove or refute the evidence. Andrew was followed by one of YSU’s own, Shaena Taylor (BSAS in Forensic Science, 2008). Shaena is currently a Forensic Scientist 3 specializing in drug chemistry at Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory located within the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio. She discussed the drug trade in the Cleveland area, and she gave an overview of a typical day in the lab focusing on the analysis of drug mixtures involving cocaine and heroin.

After the presentations teachers had a chance to perform one of two forensic labs – TLC of over-the-counter pain killers or a qualitative analysis of ions found in blood. In the afternoon, teachers finished the day in the Department of Criminal Justice & Forensic Sciences where Professor Susan Clutter demonstrated how do visualize blood splatter. Professor Rob Wardle showed everyone how to visualize latent fingerprints. Student Melissa James gave us a tour of the crime scene condo where students in the department learn how to secure a crime scene and collect evidence. The response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive and several planned on incorporating what they learned into their classes.

Recent Publication: Biology Faculty & Students

STEM faculty members on the paper: Xiangjia “Jack” Min, Feng Yu, Chester Cooper
STEM graduate students:  Brian Powell, Vamshi Amerishetty, John Meinken
STEM undergraduate student: Geneva Knott

Powell B., Amerishetty V., Meinken J., Knott G., Feng Y., Cooper C., and Min X.J., 2016, “ProtSecKB: the protist secretome and subcellular proteome knowledgebase,” Computational Molecular Biolog 6(4): 1-12.


Kingdom Protista contains a large group of eukaryotic organisms with diverse lifestyles. We developed the Protist Secretome and Subcellular Proteome Knowledgebase (ProtSecKB) to host information of curated and predicted subcellular locations of all protist proteins. The protist protein sequences were retrieved from UniProtKB, consisting of 1.97 million entries generated from 7,024 species with 101 species including 127 organisms having complete proteomes. The protein subcellular locations were based on curated information and predictions using a set of well evaluated computational tools.  The database can be searched using several different types of identifiers, gene names or keyword(s). Secretomes and other subcellular proteomes can be searched or downloaded. BLAST searching against the complete set of protist proteins or secretomes is available.  Protein family analysis of secretomes from representing protist species, including Dictyostelium discoideum, Phytophthora infestans, and Trypanosoma cruzi, showed that species with different lifestyles had drastic differences of protein families in their secretomes, which may determine their lifestyles. The database provides an important resource for the protist and biomedical research community. The database is available at

Updated STEM Facilities

Everyone knows about the construction that’s been going on around campus for what seems like forever. The roads are closed, there are detours everywhere, and we’re all eager for the construction to be finished. What many people may not know is that inside of our buildings some things have been updated as well.

Seven classrooms in Ward Beecher were renovated this summer as part of Instructional Space Upgrades. New flooring, paint, ceiling tile, and light fixtures were the major changes in these rooms.

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Renovations in Moser 3275 have made the new home of the physics research lab for Drs. Andrews and Oder.

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The Clarence R. Smith Mineral Museum on the first floor of Moser Hall has also been updated, most importantly with brand new lighting installed throughout.

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Campus architects are currently in the design stages of a renovation that will impact Ward Beecher over the summers of 2017 and 2018 and will be developing another project which will focus on various laboratory spaces on campus, although it is not yet known which colleges or buildings will be impacted.

3D Printed Models Showcase NASA Missions

As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, the Ward Beecher Planetarium is proud to partner with YSU’s Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (CIAM) for the new display “NASA Missions to the Solar System” outside the Planetarium on the 2nd floor of Ward Beecher Hall.

With last year’s flyby of Pluto, NASA has had robotic spacecraft visit nearly every major body in the solar system since the dawn of the space age almost 60 years ago. These missions have radically changed our understanding of astronomy, and have captured our imagination with spectacular imagery.

This display lists NASA missions to prominent members of our solar system and features eight 3D printed models to highlight some of the most influential spacecraft.

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Special thanks go to Jay Wargacki and his students, Mechanical Engineering majors Ryan Betts, Mike Manginelli, and Dean Jaric, in the CIAM for converting and printing the models from CAD model plans available from NASA.

If you have any questions about the display, please contact either Curt Spivey at x7278, or Tiffany Wolbrecht at x3619.

YSU STEM Invites High School Groups

The YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics encourages you to bring your students to campus to experience a day with STEM! Gather a group of up to 30 juniors and/or seniors and we’ll provide the fun and the food! A typical visit runs from about 9-1:30 and includes science demonstrations with our Dean and sessions with two of our academic departments. You’ll enjoy lunch at your choice of Chick-fil-A or the KC Foodcourt and then tour campus before heading back home.


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Available STEM Visit Days for Spring 2017 are:
Friday, January 20th– Engineering Technology Programs and Computer Science and Information Systems
Tuesday, February 7th– Math/Stats and Mechanical Engineering
Wednesday, February 15th– Biological Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Friday, March 31st– Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Wednesday, April 5th– Physics/Astronomy and Industrial and Systems Engineering
Wednesday, April 12th– Geological and Environmental Studies and Civil/Environmental Engineering
For more information or to schedule your trip, contact Emilie Eberth, Coordinator for STEM Outreach and Scholarships, at or 330.941.2884. We can’t wait to see you here!

The Ward Beecher Planetarium and CosmoQuest – A Partnership with NASA

Earlier in the year, it was announced that Youngstown State University’s Ward Beecher Planetarium received funding through a cooperative agreement with NASA, to work with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on CosmoQuest.

cq-logo“CosmoQuest was developed in 2012,” said Dr. Patrick Durrell, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at YSU. “We call it an online research facility. It’s a website,, where you can learn astronomy, you can take classes, you can find materials for teachers, and more.”

One of the things that makes CosmoQuest fairly unique is the idea of citizen science—making the average person into a helpful contributor to science.

“There are little projects where you can get the everyday public involved,” said Dr. Durrell. “They can go online with a little bit of training and they can take part in science. So CosmoQuest was sort of developed on all of those things, to not only—like many other places—try to educate people about astronomy and space science, but also to get people involved.”

The full grant over five years totals around $11.5 million, of which YSU is receiving $650,000. The funding has gone toward new computer work stations, render farms, full-dome cameras, animation equipment, and an additional member of the planetarium team, digital content designer Alexa Alpern.

With these new and updated resources, the planetarium can now produce more content for the planetarium and for the CosmoQuest project.

“Instead of creating one show in two years, we’re going to start creating shorter things and more of them, because some of these shows for the high-end systems can cost $8-10 thousand each,” said Dr. Durrell.

What this means is that the Ward Beecher Planetarium will create a variety of short videos and animations that other planetariums will be able to use and incorporate into their own shows for free. Many other planetariums don’t have the money to buy new shows or the equipment to create full shows, and that’s where CosmoQuest comes in.

“NASA wants to get the word out,” said Dr. Durrell. “Science isn’t really science until you let somebody know about it.   Our part of the project is getting the word out through the planetarium.”

Fully equipped with updated technology and experienced faculty and staff, we can expect some great new educational content from the Ward Beecher Planetarium in the coming months and years, thanks to funding from NASA and this partnership with CosmoQuest.

The Ward Beecher Planetarium Welcomes Alexa to the Team!

Originally from Ocean City, Maryland, Alexa Alpern holds a bachelor’s degree in applied media arts and computer animation from Edinboro University. The best part? She is the newest member of our Ward Beecher Planetarium team!

As part of the WB Planetarium’s recent grant with NASA and CosmoQuest, Alexa has been hired as the Digital Content Designer and Animator. She creates and alters digital content that can be displayed inside full-dome planetariums.

“There will be2D and 3D animated pieces,” said Alexa, “meaning some are CGI like How to Train Your Dragon or Shrek, and some are 2D like Beauty and the Beast or Mulan.”

Not only does she create animations and original artwork, she also edits and composites photos from telescopes and other images that must be altered for planetariums.

“Currently for CosmoQuest, I will be beginning to create and edit a new trailer to represent the CosmoQuest project,” said Alexa. “Throughout this project I will be video compositing and editing and utilizing animations to complete the short representative film.”

CosmoQuest is a great resource for planetariums around the world because people like Alexa can create planetarium-formatted content for anyone to use at no cost. Full-dome shows can be incredibly expensive, so having this sort of open source library of content is an excellent educational resource.

While studying animation at Edinboro University, Alexa worked together with planetarium director Dr. David Hurd to recreate an original slide-based planetarium showin a new digital format. The show, The World at Night, was fully produced and published and made appearances at two Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) conferences as well as in-house public showings throughout the year. After that first show was created, she gained a lot of interest in developing more full-dome content.

Alexa AlpernNo stranger to hard work, Alexa was a Zumba instructor and she was in Olympic figure skating training for 13 years, training under Olympic medalists Ron Ludington and Barbara Roles Williams! She also keeps up with her own artwork; she’s been working on her own animated television series in her free time.

Last year, Alexa won the George H. Nicholas Memorial Animation Scholarship for Excellence in Animation. To see some of her artwork, awards, and professional experience, check out her portfolio!

“Good Science is Safe Science”

The labs and classrooms at YSU have always been a safe place to learn, conduct research, and work. In an effort to prepare our students for life beyond YSU, the Youngstown State University STEM College is embracing a renewed commitment to improving the culture of safety for all academic research and teaching laboratories. Universities around the country, including YSU, are looking beyond the traditional research laboratory and committing to improving safety in research and teaching all over campus.

There are three values that are foundational to developing our culture of safety at YSU:

  1. lab safetySafety is everyone’s responsibility. YSU is committed to providing a campus environment that supports the health and safety practices of its community (faculty, students, staff, and visitors) and empowers the community to be responsible for the safety of others.  A safe campus learning environment is a right of all involved in education and research.
  2. Good science is safe science. Safety is a critical component of scholarly excellence and responsible conduct of research.
  3. Safety training and safety education are essential elements of research and education. They instill a culture of safety in the next generation of researchers and future faculty, and they are important for our students’ career development and employability.

The Chemical Management Center (CMC) in Ward Beecher Hall conducts ongoing Chemical Hygiene Training and lab safety training. The CMC also assists with chemical ordering and hazardous waste removal, as well as the removal of other waste like bulbs and batteries. The goal of this office is for all students to know the hazards of what they are using and to work safely in the laboratory. Lab safety training is offered to all students in the STEM College at YSU.

YSU is also offering assistance and recommendations for high school science classrooms and training for high school science teachers.

The YSU STEM College is doing everything possible to keep our students, faculty and staff safe, both in teaching and research laboratories. If you work with chemicals be sure you take the chemical hygiene training, read the safety data sheet, ask questions, and take charge of your own safety. Doing things safely is not merely the right way, it’s the only way. That is the philosophy that is embraced at YSU.

For any questions pertaining to this article, and to schedule a training session or assessment, please contact Timothy Styranec, Health and Safety Specialist in the Chemical Management Center, at or 330-941-3703.



  1. A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities. Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. Council on Research Task Force on Laboratory Safety.

Fall 2016 STEM Expo

The STEM Professional Services office in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics hosts the semi-annual Fall 2016 STEM Expo on Thursday, October 6, 2016, from 12 to 4 p.m. in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University.

Employers fromprivate, non-profit, and government sectors are invited to participate in the event to recruit and fill available internship/co-op and full-time/entry-level science, technology, engineering and mathematic positions. Employers can register here until Friday, September 30, 2016, or until registration is filled to participate in the event. Currently there are more than 60 employers registered for the event

The Expo is open to all current STEM students and STEM alumni who are either seeking an internship/co-op for the upcoming year or a full-time/entry level position.  The Expo is a great opportunity to build awareness about your organization, to learn more about student dynamics, and to potentially connect with faculty in various academic departments.

For more information, call the STEM Professional Services office at 330-941-2151.

Stem Logo

Students Help Dog Walk with 3D Printing Technology

Shelby is a direct answer to prayer for owner Laurie Wittkugle, who while visiting family in Florida, fatefully met her. Shelby was rescued from an abusive home in Florida at four months old and made the two day trip to Ohio with Laurie in September 2003.

Shelby had always been an extremely active outdoor-loving companion, even though her back and legs would bother her if over exerted. Her condition gradually worsened over the years. In 2010, at six years of age, Shelby had limited mobility. An MRI revealed dehydrated spinal discs and compressed nerves in her lower back, creating a great deal of pain. Shelby now has rheumatoid arthritis in all her legs, with the front left being the most knotted, and the paw flattened and twisted. The rheumatoid arthritis has also settled in several portions of her spine, pushing on internal organs. Further compromising her health is an enlarged liver due to years of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Dr. Luke Lukasko and his fabulous team at Newton Falls Animal Hospital have done wonderful things for Shelby since 2011 with acupuncture and medication. Shelby had been barely walking in 2011 when first becoming a patient of Dr. Luke’s, and has had many years of walking and swimming since that time.

As Shelby’s condition worsens over time, adjustments at home must be made including ramps indoors and out, non-slip flooring, and elevated dishes. Meal times have also been adjusted to accommodate medication schedules. For outdoor activities, Shelby has a stroller and enjoys riding through the parks.

Shelby’s latest big endeavor has been that of being a research project at Youngstown State University. Laurie saw a video of a dog with deformed front legs utilizing 3-D printed prosthetic legs, and presented the idea to YSU’s Additive Manufacturing Director, Brett Conner by simply volunteering Shelby should they ever desire to undertake such an endeavor. Within two weeks, Shelby had a team of ten together.

“The number-crunching administrators at YSU are often unaware of all that their faculty and staff are doing with our talented students,” says Laurie Wittkugle. “Simple suggestions are sometimes all that is needed to spark great things within the students, with committed faculty to fuel those sparks. The six students who have worked with Shelby are amazing! They are talented, resourceful, professional, committed and compassionate. They have been a joy to work with on this project.”

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TEAM SHELBY consists of:

Students who graduated in May: Abdullah Alsairafi, Jason Doll, Craig Householder, Jennifer McAnallen

Students continuing in Fall 2016: Jared Clark, Karen Schilling

Faculty: Guha Manogharan, Brett Conner

Veterinarian: Luke Lukasko, Newton Falls Animal Hospital

Shelby’s Owner/Caregiver: Laurie Wittkugle (also YSU Staff Member)

You can view the TV interview from WKBN here.