Faculty Faction: Jai Jung

20150921_103237_This semester YSU STEM welcomed Dr. Jai Jung as an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

Dr. Jung joins our STEM faculty after finishing his time at Virginia Tech and the University of Waterloo, Canada, as a post-doctoral research fellow and associate where he researched trenchless technology and sustainable infrastructure management.

“Because of our existing underground infrastructure, underground utility infrastructures, including drinking water, wastewater, oil and gas lines in the United States, are deteriorating very fast and became a major problem for the governments,” Dr. Jung said. “I would like to improve and renovate our underground infrastructure, and I see a lot of opportunities in this area. That’s why I’m in a Geotechnical Engineering field.”

Dr. Jung said that eventually he would be like to be known as one of the best underground infrastructurer researchers, and he is doing some impressive research projects even though he just began his time at YSU.

“I am working on the watertight non-metal manhole system, which is designed to eliminate unwanted flows at the manhole cover and chimney area to minimize pavement degradation and sinkage around the manhole,” Dr. Jung said. “The results of this study will be used to develop further understanding of pavement degradation due to cyclic loads around manholes, investigate the effect of soil in sanitary sewer systems, and carry out life-cycle cost analysis for manhole cover system and pavement.”

The second project he’s working on is nondestructive testing for structure.

“The main objective of this project is to improve the interpretation of nondestructive condition assessment techniques for pipelines using acoustic signal processing technology,” Dr. Jung said. “Current acoustic fiber optic (AFO) monitoring can supply a pipe owner with sufficient warning to avoid a pipeline failure only when the information supplied by AFO is used to initiate an emergency pipeline shutdown fairly quickly.”

Dr. Jung said that the purpose of this research is to further research acoustic signal processing to advance the practical use of the AFO technology for water and wastewater pipeline condition assessment.

“An ultimate objective of this research is to build a foundation for integrating wire break detection, leak detection, and wall thickness detection analyses into one single interpretation system,” he said. “Utilizing these three capabilities in one interpretation system is a promising approach for pipeline nondestructive condition assessment technology.”

When Dr. Jung isn’t working to become one of the best underground infrastructure researchers, he’s unwinding on the golf course. He particularly liked Mill Creek’s course.

“I searched the web and found that parks in Youngstown, including Mill Creek Park, are one of the best in northeast,” Dr. Jung said. “I learned golf two years ago, and I am still a beginner.”

Making a Difference: Ashley Martof named STEM Exemplar

Photo by Justin Wier/The Jambar.

Last year Ashley Martof was named STEM’s Intern of the Year. This year, she has been working hard and has been named a Believe in Ohio STEM Exemplar.

The Ohio Academy of Sciences named 58 students as STEM Exemplars this year. A STEM Exemplar is someone who serves as a role model for students to pursue STEM careers and innovative thinking.

She said she was excited and felt blessed when she found out she was named an exemplar.

It is such a great feeling to go around and promote STEM education.”

Students named as exemplars had to apply or be nominated for the title. Martof said that her professor Guha Manogharan encouraged her to apply.

Of course I applied because this is a wonderful opportunity to express my love of teaching children by educating kids in STEM,” Martof said.

When Martof was named STEM Intern of the Year, she had interned with America Makes, where she was able to show her passions for advanced manufacturing and education. One of her first projects at America Makes was develop an additive manufacturing curriculum for teachers.

Other projects Martof completed at America Makes include developing a 3D printing student camp, where she took children from 2D to 3D basics to designing and printing their own products in five days. All of these projects have led to her being named and exemplar.

I have hosted STEM camps, mostly related to additive manufacturing,” Martof said. “I am currently holding a 3D printing club two days a week at the Lewis School in Youngstown. I am also a part of the [Center for Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing] at YSU; this allows me to give tours and work on the 3D printing equipment at YSU. I also help out with any STEM related camps [or] sessions at YSU or in the community.”

Martof is working on her master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

Martof still has a few years left in her degree, but she said she knows additive manufacturing will definitely be in her future.

My love for additive manufacturing continues to grow each day. I plan to look for a career in additive manufacturing,” she said. “I am not sure if I will pursue a career in the actual manufacturing companies or fall towards the educational side. Either way, I will be happy!”

Graduate profile: Josiah Banks

Josiah BanksJosiah Banks is an energetic and outgoing student with a passion for math.

A senior double majoring in theoretical mathematics and math education, Banks attributed his love of math to a very special person in his life, Michael Soroka, a calculus teacher at Campbell Memorial High School.

“He was a wonderful teacher,” Banks said. “He was very funny, down to earth, and knew how to explain things in a very effective way. He’s the one that really got me into math education. I wasn’t originally into math education.  I wasn’t even going to go straight into math; I was going to do architecture at first.”

Three-quarters through Banks’ senior year, Soroka passed away.

“The teacher that came in, she never taught calculus [before] … and we all still wanted to learn more about [math] in memory of him,” Banks said. “We knew [Soroka] would still want us to learn. I got my friend’s notes from the year before and actually ended up learning the material…and basically helped the [new] teacher teach the class. That started my mathematics journey.”

Originally wanting to teach math at the high school level, Banks took a theoretical math class from Dr. Jacek Fabrykowski as part of the regular curriculum for integrated mathematics education majors.

“[Dr. Fabrykowski] really pushed me, and it was probably the hardest math course I ever had,” Banks said. “He made me understand that theoretical mathematics is so beautiful.”

Banks plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in math so he can teach theoretical mathematics at the college level. His main interests are in number theory and abstract algebra. This past summer, Banks studied number theory at Texas A&M at a Research Experience for Undergraduates.

“[Number theory focuses on integers] — no fractions, no decimals,” Banks explained. “It’s the study of all the properties of those numbers, [such as] divisibility.”

A form of number theory that interests Banks is modular arithmetic.

“[Modular arithmetic is] actually in a lot of things nowadays, and it’s very interesting,” Josiah said. “It’s like a section out of mathematics called discrete mathematics. In this world we live in — we live in a very continuous world — we’re used to seeing things constantly flowing. Well, with integers there are spaces between 0 and 1. You’re not looking at 0.1 or 0.2; you’re looking at just 0 or 1 or 2  with nothing in between. You’re not looking at fractions; nothing like that. So, some people find discrete mathematics and number theory very challenging, because…we are used to the things that are continuous.”

During his time at Texas A&M, Banks studied number theory. Parts of number theory he studied included the smallest parts function, the partition function and asymptotic formulas.

“It’s just amazing how number theory can relate to so many different aspects of mathematics without [people] even knowing it,” Banks said.

But Banks did more than just study numbers during his time in Texas.

“It was wonderful. I met a lot of wonderful people; I learned a lot of interesting things. I networked a lot, and I visited a lot of cool places in Texas,” Banks said. “Pretty sure I had the best BBQ of my life.”

After his summer in Texas, Banks came back to YSU and participated and presented research at the annual MathFest competition in DC, as well as competing in the competition.

He has also competed in the prestigious Putnam exam twice, the Integration Bee, the Calculus Competition, and has been a Presidential Mentor for the past two years, all on top of being active in over 10 student organization on campus.

“There are so many things our students need to know about, because there are so many opportunities in our math department,” Banks said. “I’m very proud of this math department. It’s great.”


YSU’s first ever hackathon will take place April 17-April 19. Students are invited to join HackYSU in Meshel Hall to use the weekend to code, tinker, and create something amazing.

“A hackathon is kind of a rapid-development semi-competition,” said Joe Duncko, director of the event. “It’s like a science fair, where you have 24-36 hours to make something and then show it off at the end of the weekend.”

All upper-education students of all skill levels are welcome to join – not just YSU students. HackYSU is hoping to get around 200 participants. Food and refreshments will be provided the entire weekend.

“We’re looking to invite engineering students, design students, and programming students,” Joe said,. “They should bring their laptop and toiletries if they plan on staying the whole weekend, and they can bring whatever tools they want to hack on – we’ll also have 3D printers, Arduinos, Oculus Rifts, and more here for students to borrow.”

HackYSU is partnering with Major League Hacking, the biggest network of collegiate hackathons in the country.

“Last semester alone [Major League Hacking] pulled over 25,000 students with over 50 hackathons,” Joe said. “They come in, they help us out, they bring a couple of their sponsors, and they also bring stuff for people to hack on.”

HackYSU will also be bringing in programmers to act as mentors to help students with the process.

“[Hack YSU is] partnered with Code Youngstown and NEOACM to bring programmers in during the weekend so participants don’t get stuck on things,” Joe said. “A lot of people are going to be trying to create their first iPhone or Android app, [or it’ll be] their first time programming a web app, their first time using a 3D printer, and we don’t want them to get stuck. They have 36 hours to do something really cool; we don’t want them to get stuck on a little bug that they can’t figure out.”

To take part in HackYSU students should register at HackYSU.com to make sure they are able to reserve a spot – limited registration will be available at the door.

If you would like to inquire about HackYSU, email contact@HackYSU.com.

18th Annual Edward W. Powers Women in Science Engineering Career Workshop

The Youngstown State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics makes it a mission to encourage young students — especially young women — to explore what STEM can do for them. This year, the 18th annual Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering Career Workshop offered a full day of workshops and experiences to young women.

On February 21, young women from all around the Youngstown area explored several career options from forensic dentistry to dieticians to environmental engineers. The day started out with opening remarks from Dr. Diana Fagan, director of the WISE Career Workshop and a professor of biological sciences, and a welcome from YSU President James Tressel. Interim Provost Martin Abraham introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Ms. Rhonda Franklin.

Following the keynote speaker, the girls were able to attend two sessions where they were introduced to many kinds of careers, including engineering, biochemistry, technology development, and clinical pharmacist.

After lunch — where STEM Interim Dean Gregg Sturrus welcomed the crowd — the girls were then able to participate in a couple hands-on activities and labs. The hands-on activities are really what make the day for the students. They got to have experiences with programming, DNA fingerprinting, and bioengineering, to name a few.

On behalf of the STEM College, thank you to all of the speakers, presenters, and volunteers that come out to WISE. We couldn’t continue to encourage diversity in STEM without you!

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Register for this year’s STEM Showcase!

Each year, STEMians come together to highlight our students and the projects that they’ve worked on throughout the year. This year’s STEM Showcase will be Saturday, April 25, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Moser Hall. Come out to support our students and to see what great things they’ve been putting together this year! Along with seeing all the projects, you’ll have the opportunity to tour YSU STEM facilities, including our new Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing!

This year, $1000 in scholarship money will be awarded at the STEM Showcase. Prospective students are eligible if they attend the showcase and complete a short survey at the event. The award will be applied when the student enrolls in the STEM College at YSU.

Previous projects have included the Baja Car, the Concrete Canoe, and some nanoflowers.

STEM students who want to register their project should visit stemshowcase.ysustem.com.

Teachers Experience The Flipped Classroom

On December 16, area high school chemistry teachers and several faculty of the STEM College were introduced to the concept of The Flipped Classroom as a part of Professional Day, which was jointly hosted by the Department of Chemistry and the Beeghly College of Education. The Flipped Classroom, pioneered by Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, provides a way for students to have a more hands-on learning experience.

“The basic idea of flipped learning is to present lecture material outside of the classroom. This is usually done through the preparation of videos that are then posted to sites like YouTube. Students are expected to view the videos before class,” said Dr. Mike Serra, an Associate Professor of Chemistry, and the principle organizer of the event . “Some teachers present students with an outline of the notes that students fill in during each presentation. During class the students can focus on other things such as problem solving or performing more experiments. It can be beneficial for the STEM disciplines that are more problem based.”

This year, there were 45 participants from local high schools, as well as some participants from the Department of Chemistry. Sams gave a presentation introducing all of the participants to flipped learning.

Faculty Faction: Doug Genna

Dr. Genna

For Doug Genna, a new assistant professor of organic chemistry, the love of chemistry didn’t come early on.

“When I went to college, I actually didn’t want to be a chemist. I did not like chemistry in high school, and I did not like general chemistry,” he said.

Doug started out as a biology major, but quickly realized that that wasn’t where he wanted to be. In order to fulfill the requirements for his major, he had to take a year of general chemistry and a year of organic chemistry before entering his biology classes.

“When I was taking organic [chemistry], I really started to enjoy it,” Doug said. “When you actually get into [organic chemistry], it’s actually a lot of reasoning and logic problems, and once you understand a certain set of rules you can reason through anything, even if you haven’t seen it before, and that’s really what I like about the most: the problem solving.”

­One of the things he said he loves about YSU the most is the mixture of teaching and research.

“It’s not like a big research university where there’s so much stress on doing research — although I love doing it — the pressure to produce is so ridiculous. Here, it’s much more low pressure and [you get to] research what you want and engage the students,” Doug said.

For his research, Doug is working on making metal organic frameworks, which he described as a hybrid of an inorganic metal and organic materials that polymerize to make three-dimensional, cage-like structures. The focus point of his research is to figure out how those structures are made, since the structure’s synthesis is not understood. Along with the creation of the structures, Doug is also attempting to do different chemical reactions inside the cages.

Another thing Doug said he loved about YSU is that the chemistry program is comparable to larger research institutions.

“We have a very good chemistry program. Not even just for a small school. We have really state-of-the-art instrumentation. For students who are doing student research they get a lot of hands-on experience with using state-of-the-art equipment that some big schools don’t even have,” he said.

Doug said he has good relationships with his students, which is something that was difficult to achieve when he was at larger institutions.

“That’s been the fun thing about teaching this semester. I have scheduled office hours, but students come in all the time, and working with students has really been fun,” he said.

YSU STEM has a new minor! Natural Gas and Water Resources!

YSU STEM students now have the opportunity to pursue a new and relevant academic minor in Natural Gas and Water Resources, a program that provides a focus on the emerging oil and gas industry. The STEM College’s Department of Geological and Environmental Science heads this minor.

With the rapid emergence of the regional natural gas industry, the Natural Gas and Water Resources Minor at YSU was first proposed in November 2011 and was quickly approved by the Board of Trustees in April 2012.

Continue reading “YSU STEM has a new minor! Natural Gas and Water Resources!”

Student Spotlight: Katie Smith

Katie Smith
Katie Smith, a senior chemical engineering major.

Most college seniors dread looking for careers in the months after graduation. Katie Smith, a senior chemical engineering major, is ahead of the game, having already procured a position with the Edison Engineering Development Program at General Electric Lighting, in East Cleveland, Ohio.

Starting in June, Katie will embark on the first leg of the Edison Engineering Development Program’s two-year rotation. The program is an accelerated track for gaining leadership within the company.

During the past two summers, Katie has interned with the company in two separate departments: LED Technology and Fluorescent. Continue reading “Student Spotlight: Katie Smith”

Faculty Faction: Dr. Michael Butcher

Dr. Michael T. Butcher
Dr. Michael Butcher poses with a biology academic poster.

Youngstown State University collects all sorts of people as students, faculty, and professors. Each of these people has something specific and unique to offer the community and the university. Dr. Michael Butcher, assistant professor of anatomy and physiology, has been an essential part of the research initiative in the Department of Biological Sciences for the last five years.

Michael feels at home in the Biological Sciences department; the position is what brought him to the Youngstown area.

“The Department of Biological Sciences was a good fit for me and they were very supportive of my research program,” Michael says.

Dr. Butcher studied Continue reading “Faculty Faction: Dr. Michael Butcher”

Kerry Meyers, Ph.D.- Faculty Faction


Youngstown State University is privileged to have Dr. Kerry Meyers on the faculty this year.Kerry brings passion, fun, and learning to the job of “First-Year Engineering Director.

Dr. Meyers earned her bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue. She continued with her masters in Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. Returning to Purdue, Kerry earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education. For her Ph.D. Kerry did research in student engagement and engineering identity (who goes into engineering, who stays in engineering, and why?).

Continue reading “Kerry Meyers, Ph.D.- Faculty Faction”

Inside STEM Professional Practice

by Kara Miller

Stacks of STEM Professional Practice pamphlets.

In just over a year, the STEM Professional Practice Program has shown me, and many other students, all it has to offer. Students have the opportunity to meet with the program’s coordinator to discuss the opportunities offered to them, like constructing a resume and landing an internship. Students are also offered a variety of resources like career development and professional etiquette techniques. The opportunities for students are always growing with new grants and programs being added all the time.

The crowd starting to gather at the expo...
The entryway to Williamson, where you can see students gathering inside.

Continue reading “Inside STEM Professional Practice”

Faculty Faction: Colleen McLean

Colleen McLean, assistant professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences

New to the College of STEM’s faculty is Colleen McLean, assistant professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences. The Bazetta native started in the spring of 2009 with a term position. When the opportunity for a faculty tenure position became available, Colleen was happy to be selected.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geology, with a minor in chemistry, at YSU. McLean moved on to Kent State University for her Master of Science in Geology. At Michigan State University, she earned her doctorate in Environmental Geoscience and completed an additional specialization in Environmental Science Policy.

McLean’s research focus is aqueous and environmental geochemistry.  She likes to investigate the impacts of water quality, and she studies historic ecological conditions using geochemical and biological archives in sediment cores.

McLean lectures a group of students on-site in the woods.

“Biological indicators, such as fossil diatoms and ostracodes, reflect the water chemistry and climate conditions at the time they were living,” McLean explained. Quantifying these parameters makes it possible to reconstruct environments from the past. “Understanding the past environmental response can help us make predictions for the future,” she continued.

When she isn’t collecting core samples or doing research, she is at home with her children. As a mother and professor, she understands the importance of teaching her kids about global environmental issues. She has passed down her love of science to them.

Colleen likes to talk to YSU students about their ideas, but what she loves most about the students is that they are motivated and fun. They are good at giving her updates on environmental news stories at the start of class. McLean likes the reciprocal learning from her students that comes from their common interests.

McLean co-advises the STEM Leadership Society and participates with student groups in the department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. She was also involved with the Sustainable Institute for Teachers. McLean would like to see a YSU student chapter of the Friends of the Mahoning River on campus as well as activities for high school students to experience geology and environmental science related to local causes.

McLean and students find something interesting in the woods.

This year at YSU, there is a new minor in Natural Gas and Water Resources. McLean is excited about the new minor because of the opportunities for teaching and research, especially with water quality and quantity issues.

Most recently, Colleen McLean has published an article in a Past Global Changes Newsletter, “Integrated Paleoscience for Sustainable Management”. Her article, assessing anthropogenic impacts in a Great Lakes watershed using paleolimnology, can be found by clicking here.

STEM Leadership Society: Making You a Success

By: Teresa McKinney

A group of SLS members take a break from working on a house to take a picture.

“Making you a success.” Youngstown State University STEM Leadership Society, known on campus as SLS, is working to do just that for its members—the top students in YSU’s STEM college. SLS was created to provide outstanding students with the tools to grow and develop into leaders in their respective STEM fields. The organization is working to become a presence both on campus and in the community. It offers members the opportunity to have a supportive network of peers and faculty that will help pave the way for a successful, undergraduate experience at YSU.

STEM Leadership Society is a student organization that gives students the tools to succeed. One of its main goals is to convince top high school seniors of that YSU is the university for them. Continue reading “STEM Leadership Society: Making You a Success”