CHANCE Fellows - Where are they now?

We would like to congratulate the following Fellows on their amazing accomplishments, awards, and adventures!

09 March 2019
Rebekah (Beki) Randolph holding a koala bear

CHANCE Fellow Starts Graduate Work at James Cook University

CHANCE 2018 Fellow, Rebekah (Beki) Randolph, has just begun her graduate studies in Global Development at Australia’s James Cook University (JCU). As a participant in the 2018 Australia program, Rebekah learned firsthand about JCU’s international prowess in the Environmental Science and Biology fields. Their external master's program will allow her to learn more about how to improve the earth through an interdisciplinary lens by merging her degrees in history and politics and her current work as an Environmental Science teacher at Steelton Highspire School District with her passion for sustainability and global studies. Rebekah states “The CHANCE program was a life changing experience and showed me just how important conservation and sustainability are for our world. By going on this amazing journey, I was able to discover JCU and find what topic I am really passionate about studying. I am truly grateful to CHANCE to provide me with these once in a lifetime opportunities.”

29 October 2018
Hannah Albright

CHANCE Fellow Embraces her Passion for Bee Conservation

CHANCE 2017 Cuba Fellow Hannah Albright, a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Environmental Resource Management and minor in Sustainable Leadership is currently working with honeybees. Her passion grew out of her concern for their declining population and their importance in pollination and honey production. She not only worked with Penn State New Kensington and a local beekeeper to establish 14 hives on the campus property, but also spent a year as the 2018 Pennsylvania Honey Queen where she educated over 16 million people about honeybees. To prove how gentle they are she even did a bee beard with approximately 15,000 honeybees! Currently, she has her own apiary with 3 hives, produces her own honey, makes beeswax lip balm, and hopes to continue educating people on honeybees. Here's to an amazing environmental educator and entrepreneur!!

29 October 2018
CHANCE Australia Fellows Dillon Lance and David Wong

CHANCE 2018 Australia Fellows Dillon Lance and David Wong

CHANCE 2018 Australia Fellows Dillon Lance and David Wong are both sophomores studying Landscape Architecture at Penn State, University Park. Currently they are working on their second year design project involving the creation of a small educational program located adjacent to Bartram’s Garden along the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia. For this project, they designed a program for a 7.5 acre “brownfield” site which was previously used as a petroleum refinery. Their goal is to create a space that brings the community together and provides opportunities for youth to become involved in learning about their local ecology in a fun and interactive setting while also restoring the site so that issues such as soil contamination and flooding from the Schuylkill River can be resolved in a natural way. Great team work! You make CHANCE proud!

12 August 2018
CHANCE Fellow poses in front of aircraft

CHANCE Fellow Trains with Air Force Weather Officers

This summer Grace Kimzey, CHANCE Australia 2018 Fellow, participated in Ops Air Force, a two-week Air Force ROTC program. She, plus 31 other cadets from across the country, had the opportunity to visit Keesler Air Force Base. As a University Park meteorology major, Grace was excited to shadow current Air Force weather officers, tour the weather training complex, and check out a WC-130J, a.k.a. "Hurricane Hunter". These aircrafts fly into tropical storms and hurricanes and livestream data to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NHC (National Hurricane Center). Working synergistically, these agencies then collect, organize, and publish the data received to provide understanding about climate changes and weather, and improve forecast models. After graduation, Grace hopes to become 1 of the 5 courageous crew members aboard one of these high-flying meteorological stations providing valuable data to help conserve our marine resources and coastal ecosystems as well as provide extensive outreach and education regarding high-impact weather events. One day, we just may find Grace flying into a hurricane in a WC-130J!

11 May 2018

CHANCE Fellows receive undergraduate research award

2018 Gerard A. Hauser Award for Best Overall Exhibit Presentation (Grand Prize)

CHANCE 2017 Fellows, Logan Staley and Ethan Liu, won the Gerard A. Hauser Award for Best Overall Exhibit Presentation (Grand Prize) at the 2018 Penn State Undergraduate Research Exhibition, State College, PA. Their presentation: Exploring the Economic Utilization of Invasive Species to Improve the Health of Ecosystems in Cuba, shared their summer 2017 CHANCE field research in Western Cuba. In this mixed-method field study they evaluated two of Cuba’s most notorious invasive species, the lionfish and marabou shrub, while also proposing solutions to economically utilize them to reduce their environmental impact. Both Fellows have been inspired by their CHANCE experiences. Logan, a senior Landscapes Architecture major, will pursue his interest in developing and designing eco-tourism resorts, and Ethan, a junior Microbiology major, will pursue his interest in creating and operating a sustainable vineyard. This year Ethan will serve as the teaching assistant for the CHANCE 2018 Australia program. CONGRATULATIONS!

22 February 2018

CHANCE Fellow researching in the field

Polaris Team Leader and Environmental Steward

CHANCE 2017 Fellow, Arin Lewis, is a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Physical Geography and a minor in Sustainability Leadership. Arin currently works at an outdoor gear shop and aims to get people outside to enjoy and connect with nature. This summer, Arin plans to be a team leader for a program called Polaris. He will chaperone a group of incoming freshmen on a backpacking excursion through the White Mountains of New Hampshire as part of their gym and orientation credits at Penn State. Through this program, Arin hopes to instill a sense of respect and stewardship for the natural world in students so that they may share new knowledge and skills gained with classmates. Afterwards, he intends to work with AmeriCorps before applying for a master’s degree in landscape architecture. Arin hopes to use his continued education to design creative solutions for ecological and social issues around the world.

06 November 2017

CHANCE Fellow holding sea turtle

CHANCE Fellow Continues Marine Biodiversity Research

CHANCE 2016 Costa Rica Fellow, Kelly Watson, is a senior at Penn State, University Park majoring in General Biology with a Marine Science minor. Since her CHANCE trip, she has participated in two other study abroad programs through Penn State – a week-long trip to Curacao studying Caribbean coral reefs and a week-long sailing voyage around Puerto Rico studying biological oceanography with Sea Education Association. Recently earning certifications as a PADI Open Water Scuba Diver and a NAUI Rescue Diver, she continues to pursue both NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver and AUS Scientific Diver training and certification. Presently, Kelly is carrying out undergraduate research in the Medina lab focusing on the gene expression and development of Cassiopeia xamachana (upside-down jellyfish) and its symbiotic algae, Symbiodinium. In addition to this project, she is study the biodiversity of fish in the North Atlantic and Northern Caribbean using water samples containing eDNA collected from her sailing trip.

06 November 2017

CHANCE Fellow hiking across a bridge

CHANCE Fellow Works to Increase Biophilia in PA

Summer 2017 CHANCE Fellow, Erifili Draklellis, is a Junior at University Park studying Earth Science and Policy and Geosciences with a dual minor in Geography and Sustainable Leadership. She has been around the globe twice with the CHANCE program, to both Costa Rica and Cuba in the summer of 2017. Currently, Erifili is an intern at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council where she is working on developing a conservation network through eleven different counties in Western Pennsylvania. By doing this, she hopes to increase biophilia in Pennsylvania by connecting humans with natural resources through outdoor recreation. Pennsylvania needs you, Erifili!

11 October 2017

CHANCE Fellow researching in lab

CHANCE Fellow Researchs with the PATHOGEN Project

Summer 2017 CHANCE Cuba Fellow, Casey Carr, is an undergraduate majoring in General Biology at Penn State University Park. For the past two semesters, she has been conducting research at Hines Laboratory, where primary studies focus on bee and wasp evolution and ecology. Casey is working with graduate student, Briana Ezray, on a specific project called the PATHOGEN Project which is designed to determine seasonal prevalence of pathogens in honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees in Centre County. This research is geared toward gaining a better understanding of the link between bee population decline and pathogen prevalence. She performs dissections, RNA and DNA extractions, as well as PCR and gel electrophoresis to screen bees collected in the country for the prevalence of 8 different pathogens. This is amazing research! Casey, you make CHANCE proud!

15 August 2017

CHANCE Fellow researching on beach

CHANCE Fellow Works to Design Green Urban Spaces

CHANCE 2017 Cuba Fellow, Logan Staley, has set his main career goals in ecotourism - uniting conservation and communities with sustainable travel. His vision is to design eco-resorts that are ecologically beneficial for mitigating rising sea levels as well as conserving diverse ecosystems. As a Landscape Architecture major at Penn State he is presently working on researching the effects of climate change on water and storm surge levels in Washington, D.C. With the data he collects, he will design a park network that will act as an ecological buffer to DC communities. This buffer will boast a variety of native plant species to expand the habitat availability in this highly developed city while at the same time connecting fragmented forests to encourage a healthier ecosystem. If this design would be implemented, the people of DC would have access to a greenway that would extend right into the heart of their city, providing recreational access for people of all socio-economic classes to enjoy. KUDOS and good luck to you, Logan! Your goal to connect people and nature is what CHANCE stands for!

15 August 2017

CHANCE Fellow in rainforest

CHANCE Fellow promotes Green Initiative on Penn State Campuses

This summer 2017 CHANCE Fellow, Jaagrit Randhawa, continues her work and involvement in the Penn State Housing Program, Eco-Reps. Eco-Reps focuses on peer engagement related to recycling and sustainable living. Many incoming students have never recycled before, others are used to single-stream recycling while Penn State sorts into multiple streams, and some may know how to recycle, but are just too lazy to do it. Thus, Eco-Reps are tasked with changing the recycling attitudes and behaviors of freshman residents to help increase university housing recycling rates.

As a marketing major and Eco-Rep, Jaagrit noticed that the program lacked an identifiable brand and unity in messaging that people could understand. With this in mind, she created “Roar into Recycling”, a recycling campaign that pridefully aligns sustainability with Penn State identity. Launching this idea included designing freshman recycling bags, displaying visual messaging on elevators, providing informational flyers in rooms at move-in, and messaging at dorms and educational events, all in an effort to raise awareness on the importance of proper waste management and natural resource preservation at Penn State. Additionally, Jaagrit plans to use this campaign to further address the 3 R’s and encourage students to actively Roar into reducing, reusing, and recycling. Thank you for creating this GREEN initiative!

08 June 2017

CHANCE Fellow standing near rivers edge

CHANCE Fellow Continues Research on Ecosystems and Conservation

CHANCE 2014 Fellow, Victoria Vayer (Torey) is a recent graduate from Penn State majoring in biology. She is currently conducting research through the Penn State Ecosystem Sciences and Management Department, focusing on Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. Her future plans include pursuing a Masters degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. Torey's quest is to continue sharing her experiences through educational video production. In her spare time, she is a backpacking leader for Penn State Aurora Orientation Programs. Thank you Torey, for putting so much of your creativity, talent, and time into the video you produced for CHANCE, The Ripple Effect. Tortugas siempre!!

Are you a CHANCE Fellow?

Email Dr. McLaughlin,, to let us know what you've been up to!

28 April 2017

JoAnna receiving graduation accolades

CHANCE Fellow Pursuing a Masters in Life Sciences

JoAnna Hofstaedter, CHANCE 2014 Fellow, earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Secondary Education, Biological Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016. She was selected as the program marshal for the spring commencement ceremony. After graduation, JoAnna took some time off to spend the summer exploring the wilderness of several U.S. national parks (though nothing could ever compare to the stunning biodiversity of Costa Rica), before beginning her career as a high school biology teacher in southeastern PA. Wherever possible, JoAnna aims to incorporate the experiential learning model into her lesson planning. Whether it is through sharing stories and photographs of her own experiences or planning field trips and research investigations for her students, she hopes these authentic learning experiences will instill a sense of biophilia in all of her students. In the fall, JoAnna plans to continue to her studies in the life sciences as she pursues a Masters degree from Clemson University. Go Joanna!!

28 February 2017

Angela collecting water samples along a creek

From Bluebirds to Snails, She's a Conservationist!

CHANCE 2016 Fellow, Rebecca Luft, is majoring in Biology, with a minor in Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona. She is an avid conservationist whose work in conservation is exemplar and heartfelt. She is a volunteer at Canoe Creek State Park, Hollidaysburg, PA, where she participates in their bluebird citizen science project by monitoring the bluebird boxes (numbers of birds) within the park. She is also working on a research project under the direction of Dr. Edward Levri, Professor of Biology, Penn State Altoona with different genotypes of the invasive New Zealand mud snail to better understand their predator avoidance behaviors and population dynamics in local PA streams. She has presented her snail research at the 2016 Pennsylvania Academy of Science meeting and Penn State Altoona's Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Fair, and will be doing so again in 2017. Let's hear it for Rebecca!!

Angela collecting water samples along a creek

02 February 2017

Angie Spagnoli Tackles Polluted Wastewater

Angela's co-authored article, Adsorption of Methylene Blue on Cashew Nut Shell Based Carbons Activated with Zinc Chloride: The Role of Surface and Structural Parameters, was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Molecular Liquids. Her research project was advised by Penn State Abington chemistry professor, Dr. Svetlana Bashkova, and utilized agricultural waste (cashew nutshells) obtained from an African Cashew company and created by a Penn State alum. Using this product yields benefits to orphaned children and poor farming communities as they get 90% of the profit. Angie used the shells to make highly adsorbent activated carbons which work to remove toxic dyes from waster-water poured into streams from textile industries. Through her research at Penn State and her experiences with the CHANCE program, she is learning how to apply science and research to real conservation efforts across the globe.

Photo of Amanda helping dig for turtle eggs

22 December 2016

CHANCE Fellow publishes research on biofuel production using algae

Amanda Geis, a 2016 CHANCE Costa Rica Fellow, is now finishing up her junior year at Penn State Brandywine, with a degree in Biology, vertebrate physiology option. Amanda has recently teamed up, by becoming a brand ambassador, with companies like Sand Cloud and DavinityLA that donates profits to conservation groups like STC (Sea Turtle Conservation), SSCS (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society), and the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), among others. It was in Amanda’s sophomore year when her interest in conservation was ignited while working in the biology lab at Penn State Lehigh Valley to help answer questions focusing on biofuel production using algae. Amanda published her work as cited here: Geis, A., Sampson, W., Huang, T.-Y. & McLaughlin, J. S. (2016) The Effects of LED Lights on the Growth of Chlorella vulgarus. Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, 3(5), 1-7. She also presented her group's research at several undergraduate research symposia, including the 2016 Undergraduate Research at the Capitol -- Pennsylvania event wherein her research group was one of eight posters selected to represent Penn State University. Currently she is focusing on her upper level coursework in biology. She plans to join the Peace Corps upon graduating in May of 2018. Go Amanda!!

Photo of Dorothy, a CHANCE 2014 Fellow

24 August 2016

World Wildlife Fund Advisor for Nature Zambia

Dorothy Mwambazi, CHANCE 2014 Fellow, graduated with a bachelors degree in environmental engineering from Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China. She has just been accepted into a Young Expert Program (Agrofood) carried out jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands, Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP), and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform. She will be employed under the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Zambia. Her work will involve, but not be limited to, providing expert knowledge in conservation agriculture, supporting climate smart technologies in marginal areas, demonstrating the environmental and social impact of WWF Zambia’s climate smart agriculture initiatives, as well as serving as a liaise officer between WWF Zambia Conservation Agriculture team and local experts. You are bettering the world, Dorothy!!!

Fellow, Hou Xiaoxue, in graduation cap and gown

01 August 2016

Hou Xiaoxue (Snow)

CHANCE 2015 China Fellow, Hou Xiaoxue (Snow), has just graduated from Nanjing University, China with dual degree in geography and finance. She is beginning her graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering this fall. Her studies, aimed at earning a Master's degree under the guidance of Professor Hugh Ellis, will be supported by the CSC (China Scholarship Council). Her current research interests lie in understanding environmental systems and engineering in areas that relate to air pollution control and its intersection with public health. Her primary focus is the dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere and how it can influence global climate and human health. She has been concerned about China’s environmental protection for a long time and became a conservationist after the CHANCE China program which focused on China’s water realities and sustainable solutions. She is devoting her future life’s work to effective engineering practices that will improve China’s environmental issues in the future. Thank you for your commitment to our world!

Jonathan digging sand to protect turtle nest.

01 May 2016

Jonathan Kearney

Jonathan Kearney, a 2015 CHANCE Fellow, and Penn State Wildlife and Fisheries Science major has just been awarded the position of Bat Survey Technician at the Sanders Environmental Inc., Bellefonte, PA. Sanders specializes in Indiana bat surveys and mortality monitoring, avian surveys, and wildlife regulation compliance analysis. Presently, Jonathan is active in the Penn State Wildlife Society and Forestry Club while assisting in undergraduate research on maternal stress in Eastern Fence Lizards in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Sheriff, Assistant Professor, Mammalogy and Ecology, College of Agricultural Sciences. EXCELLENT WORK J Man!!

Angela receiving top award

10 April 2016

High awards received by CHANCE Fellow

2015 CHANCE Fellow, Angela Spagnoli, won the Gerard A. Hauser Award, Penn State's top honor for undergraduate research, at the Undergraduate Exhibition at Penn State University held on April 7, 2016. Her project, Absorption of Methylene Blue by Zinc Activated Carbon from Cashew Nut Shells, shared her story of discovering a way to remove toxic chemicals from waste water streams around the world. AMAZING conservation work, human spirit, and devotion to bettering our planet.

CHANCE Fellow, Angela, using a microscope

02 March 2016

Carly Hawkins

CHANCE 2015 Fellow, Carly Hawkins, is a senior Biology Major/Wildlife and Fisheries minor at Penn State University Park, and has always had a passion for conservation ecology. As a freshman, she worked in an ecology lab, which studied the effects of climate change on arctic biota in Greenland. In her junior year, she began her undergraduate project in Dr. Jim Marden’s lab, involving the development of new antibiotics from antimicrobial peptides discovered in tropical tree roots. She presented her findings in the Undergraduate Research Exhibition in April 2015, and is currently in the process of having the peptides screened against various pathogens to determine their effectiveness. As of February 2016, she now works as a research assistant for a start-up company out of Penn State that intends to develop novel fungicides, which hopefully will allow farmers to use fewer fungicides on their crops while maintaining protection from fungal pathogens. Carly is a graduate student hopeful, and is in the process of applying for both Ecology and Conservation Biology graduate programs. Her main interest is to research how various anthropogenic disturbances are affecting wildlife dynamics. Keep going strong, Carly! The world needs YOU!

CHANCE Fellow, Angela, performing field research

21 August 2015

Taking the Next Step in Research and Conservation

Angela Spagnoli, CHANCE 2015 Costa Rica and Panama Fellow, has continued her conservation work with the Blair County Conservation District to monitor the surface water quality of three headwater streams of the Chesapeake Bay. She is working to pinpoint input areas of concern which are adding to the already damaging nutrient levels in the Chesapeake watershed. Additionally, Angela has started an undergraduate research project under the supervision of Dr. Svetlana Bashkova, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Penn State Altoona, to analyze the use of cashew nutshells, an agricultural waste product from an African cashew company, as a potential activated carbon source to be used as an adsorbent to remove toxic dyes and heavy metals from industrial wastewater streams. Angela will also be presenting a poster, Crossing the Borders of Costa Rica and Panama in the Name of Conservation, at the 3rd Annual Western Pennsylvania Conservation Conference (WPACC) on November 7th, 2015, at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is CHANCE inspiration and a role-model conservationist!

CHANCE Fellow, Shivani, posing with a statue

21 August 2015

Shivani Priyam

CHANCE 2015 China Fellow, Shivani Priyam, is beginning her graduate studies at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering this fall. She has been awarded a graduate assistantship to earn a Master's degree in Energy-Water-Environment Sustainability (EWES) -- a new cross-cutting program focused on providing and supporting sustainable solutions for the exploration, production, delivery and use of energy, and their intersection with water issues and the natural and built environment. Shivani's research interests lie in the development of technologies and decision-making tools that increase access to, and the sustainability of, environmental infrastructure. Her primary focus is on sanitation and the development of biotechnologies that manage wastewater as a renewable resource for energy production, chemical production, and nutrient and water recovery. By integrating experimentation, modeling, and quantitative sustainable design (QSD), her research group will leverage fundamental insights into molecular and cell-scale processes to advance sustainability, connecting technology innovation with broader societal initiatives for advancing energy, food security, health and nutrition in both developing and technologically advanced communities. GO Shivani, GO! The world needs you!!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Lauren

15 May 2015

Lauren LaRue

CHANCE 2014 fellow, Lauren LaRue, began studying cell envelope stress responses under Dr. Sarah Ades in the Penn State Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department in August, 2014. She presented a poster at the Penn State Undergraduate Research Exhibition on April 8, 2015 with two other undergraduates regarding their current research on the involvement of the Rcs Phosphorelay in the acquisition of resistance to B-lactam antibiotics. Their work was analyzed by a group of esteemed judges and won 2nd place in the health and life science category. Out of the number of presenters in this category, they came out on top! Go Lauren!!

Gabrielle in science lab

29 April 2015

Gabrielle Corso

Gabrielle Corso, a CHANCE 2013 Fellow, began performing undergraduate research in Dr. David Eissenstat's lab at Penn State University, College of Agriculture in January, 2014. Since that time she has been part of a team working on a rather large project that involves the investigation of mycorrhizal colonization on various tree species (14 in all). Considering how important the symbiotic partnership between trees and mycorrhizae are for nutrient exchange, she and her teammates are seeking to learn what exactly stimulates colonization, whether it is the availability of nutrients, the thickness of the cortical cells in the root, or the age of the tree. This summer she will be continuing this project and working out in the field at Shale Hill Critical Zone Observatory, Susquehanna, PA. Following her graduation this fall, she will be starting a Masters degree program at the University of Connecticut in cell and molecular biology. CONGRATULATIONS Gabi!!

Ben performing field research

14 March 2015

CHANCE Fellow researches in Brazil

Benjamin Fowler, a CHANCE 2013 Fellow, began working in Dr. David Hughes's laboratory a few months after the conclusion of the CHANCE field program. Dr. Hughes' lab works with the Ophiocordyceps/ant parasitic relationship (known colloquially as "zombie-ants") in order to better understand disease dynamics in social communities and mechanisms of parasitic host-manipulation, an example of the extended phenotype. Ben's work focuses on understanding how the Ophiocordyceps fungus is able to transmit from an infected ant cadaver on a leaf or twig to a naïve host on a trail nearby. After receiving a grant from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ben and a graduate student, João Araújo, traveled to Reserva Florestal Adolpho Ducke near Manaus, Brazil. During two weeks in the Amazon, Ben conducted several novel experiments to document the quantity and timing of Ophiocordyceps spore release. In addition, Ben and João located, collected, and are working to identify potentially more than a dozen new species of entomopathogenic fungi. GO BEN!

Erica researching in Costa Rican jungle

10 February 2015

CHANCE Fellow Studies Saki Monkeys in the Peruvian Jungles

According to CHANCE Fellow, Erica Charnock, her favorite memories of CHANCE 2013 was when Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientist, Eric Griffin, took her research group off the trail on Barro Colorado Island to follow a group of black howler monkeys. So, when the opportunity came up to study monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon a summer latter, she jumped at the chance. This hardy, young lady spent two months living in the Los Amigos Biological Field Station; a full day's trip up the Madre de Dios River into the jungle. There she worked as a research assistant to Dara Adams, a PhD student at the Ohio State University. Together they studied the predator-prey dynamics between bald-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia irrorata) and their predators, such as ocelots, eagles, boas, etc. It appears that this undergraduate can't get enough biodiversity! CHANCE looks forward to her next research adventure!!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Alison

25 January 2015

A Force for Marine & Environmental Law

Alison Hoffman, CHANCE Fellow 2009, is currently working towards a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) in Marine and Environmental Law from Roger William University, School of Law. Her experience in the CHANCE program was the spark to her passion for marine conservation and since her time in Costa Rica and Panama, Alison has dedicated her life to continuing her work with sustainability. This past July, Alison finished her two years of service with the Peace Corps in the Philippines, where she worked with a small fisher-folk village and helped them to sustain and rebuild their marine resources. She hopes that her experiences with CHANCE and Peace Corps will allow her to bring a new and unique background to the marine law field. Hopefully, in a few years, Alison will be fighting hard to make a difference in the ocean community! Go Ali!

Eric instructing CHANCE participants

30 November 2014

CHANCE Field Scientist Gives Research Poster at National Conference

Eric Griffin, a CHANCE 2013 field scientist mentor and graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh under the mentorship of W. P. Carson, presented, Foliar bacteria decrease tree seedling performance in a tropical rain forest: research in tandem with the CHANCE undergraduate program in Panama, at the 2014 National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) 2nd Annual Global Perspectives Committee Panel Discussion and Poster Session, held on November 13, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Eric shared his long-term research effort at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Gamboa, Panana to determine whether bacteria on and inside seedling leaves are important drivers of plant communities in a tropical forest, and how CHANCE undergraduate and teacher participants joined him in the field to assist him in his field work in June 2013 as part of their research agenda. Together, Eric and CHANCE participants tested the following hypotheses: 1. Foliar bacteria will cause a major reduction in plant performance in situ 2. Impact of foliar bacteria will be greatest when soil resources are low. Overall, their joint findings suggest that plant-microbial interactions aid in the maintenance of tree diversity and will soon be published. For Eric and CHANCE, this collaborative effort demonstrated the importance of using ongoing long-term projects run by field scientists to teach undergraduates how to utilize inquiry-based strategies in order to conduct cutting edge and real-world research.

Portait of Susan

26 October 2014

CHANCE Fellow Earns Graduate Fellowship in Water Resource Engineering

Susan Hollingsworth Elliott, CHANCE 2006 Costa Rica Fellow, has been driven to work with rivers since she first floated down the Lehigh River. After learning field methods during her Costa Rica CHANCE course, she continued to dive into tropical research during a semester in Ecology in Ecuador. Today, she is beginning a Masters degree program at Oregon State University where she will focus on the effect of riparian ecosystem engineers on river bed form evolution and feedback cycles. She has received her department's most prestigious award, the Ronald Miner Graduate Fellowship. Well done, Susan!!

Picture of Nell

08 October 2014

CHANCE Fellow Studies and Teaches Polar Science

Nell Herrmann, a CHANCE 2004 Fellow, is an educator with fifteen years' experience. She is currently teaching middle school science in Blue Hill, Maine. In 2012, Nell traveled to Palmer Station Antarctica, as part of an NSF funded program called PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) where she participated in research about ocean acidification.

In 2013, Nell completed a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) with the Palmer Station Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Education and Outreach Program. Nell has continued to pursue her interest in polar science and currently serves on the Executive Council of Polar Educators International (PEI) and as a member of the steering committee for the Polar Center at Penn State University.

In May of 2014, Nell joined forces with climate scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Richard Alley, to present the first Master Class in a series being organized by PEI. Nell will again collaborate with Dr. Alley and other climate scientists in January to present a workshop for teachers, sponsored by the Polar Center at Penn State University. More information about the Polar Center can be found here: Congratulations, Nell. Your students are so fortunate to have you as their teacher!

Eagle emblem

24 July 2014

CHANCE Fellow Wins U.S State Department Prestigious Award

Congratulations to CHANCE 2014 Fellow, Cinda Murray, for being selected for the Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) program offered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of educational and Cultural Affairs! As part of the TGC, Cinda will be participating in an online professional development course, attend a Global Education Symposium in Washington D.C., travel on an international fellowship for a two or three week in-country visit, and be available for alumni professional development sessions and micro-grants. CHANCE knows that Cinda will take her conservation experiences (and spirit) to enrich the curriculum in the international classrooms, and all the classrooms, that she embraces. Good luck and keep us posted along your TGC journey.

Group portrait of Penn State Wind Research Team

31 May 2014

CHANCE Fellow Competes at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition

Congratulations to CHANCE 2013 Fellow, Bridget Dougherty! For her Penn State Schreyer College thesis in April, 2014, she developed a business plan for small-scale, portable wind turbines used for charging small electronics (batteries, phones, laptops, communication devices) during the aftermath of natural disasters. This research was based on her work for the Department of Energy's (DOE) inaugural Collegiate Wind Competition which took place May 5-7, 2014. She participated as a member of Penn State's team, Remote Wind PSU. The competition tasked ten colleges that DOE selected from across the nation to design and manufacture a small scale, portable turbine for whatever market they thought it would best cater to as well as develop a business plan for the product and their company. As for Bridget's role, she led her team in developing a business plan for their company that involved picking their market and defending it, company structure, risk assessment and mitigation plan, supply chain development, financial viability, company growth, and request for investment. Overall, Penn State won 1st place at the competition, and their turbine will be displayed at DOE in Washington D.C. for a year. What a CHANCE alumnus!!
Watch rotor collet video »

Jennifer and Benjamin, CHANCE Fellows

15 March 2014

CHANCE 2013 Fellows Presenting at Pennsylvania Student Sustainability Symposium

Jennifer Evans and Benjamin Fowler, CHANCE 2013 Fellows, are presenting at the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium's 2014 Pennsylvania Student Sustainability Symposium on March 21st at Dickinson College. The presentation will begin by introducing the history of the CHANCE Program and end with information about the upcoming CHANCE Program in Panama and Costa Rica. The focus will be upon characterizing the unique viewpoint provided by CHANCE through the synthesis of online modular education and hands-on field teaching. Jennifer and Ben will also take some time to recount a few CHANCE- Panama experiences that have deepened their understanding of applied biology and shaped their work in, respectively, Dr. Maria del mar Jimenez-Gasco's and Dr. David Hughes's research laboratories. BRAVO Jen and Ben!

Erica holding a tropical bird

31 January 2014

CHANCE 2013 Fellow Researching Neural Aspects of Bird Migration Behavior

Erica Jo Charnock, a CHANCE 2013 Fellow, felt the passion for research in avian behavior while working with Smithsonian scientist, Dr. Ioana Chiver in the rain forests of Gamboa, Panama. Since her return to the states she has been working in Dr. Bartell's laboratory at Penn State University whose research focuses on the regulation of biological clocks in birds at the systems level. His team uses behavioral, molecular, and electrophysiological techniques to understand the neural and endocrine mechanisms by which these daily clocks and yearly calendars control the temporal organization of behaviors and life history stages. Currently, Erica is asking questions about the role that adiponectin plays in the behavior of migrating Zonotrichia albicollis; white throated sparrows. Good luck with your research, Erika!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Christine

3 November 2013

Congratulations to 2010 and 2012 CHANCE Fellow, Christine Yukech!

The University of Akron along with two other universities in the United States was chosen as the host of an Entrepreneurial Education NSF I-Corps grant. The grant is to partner 17 lead entrepreneurial scientists with a faculty mentors (one being Christine!!) and business mentors while assisting in the start up and funding for new companies. The team has lessons and meetings each week to learn about the entrepreneurial education ideas presented through Udacity and in-class lessons about customer segmentation, market needs, and value assessment. The grant takes place in 2 parts and will continue into 2014. CHANCE looks forward to see what the entrepreneurial and "green" sides of Christine come up with!!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Kathryn

22 September 2013

CHANCE Fellow Earns Graduate Assistantship at Iowa State

Congratulations to CHANCE 2007 Fellow Kathryn Bus who is beginning her studies at Iowa State University in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition this fall, 2013, where she received a graduate assistantship to earn a Master's degree. She is currently exploring the area of community nutrition and researching youth activity and healthy living through outreach programs that are implemented in the ISU community. She also hopes to research vitamin A and the most effective way to deliver vitamin A to countries with a high rate of vitamin A deficiency. In addition to earning her Master's degree, she is trying to fulfill the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian. CHANCE is SO PROUD of you, Katie!!

Patrick standing with fellow researchers

17 July 2013

CHANCE Fellow Participating in Summer Research Internship in Germany

After participating in the Frontiers in Aging and Regeneration Research advanced training course for undergraduates at Xavier University, New Orleans, LA, CHANCE 2012 Fellow, Patrick Hullihen, was invited by Dr. Jan Pruszak from the Emmy Noether-Group for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Freiburg ( to help unravel the mechanisms for growth and differentiation o the human nervous system. The lab he is working in is currently focused on cell cluster differentiation (CD) of neural stem lines. They are investigating the cell surface molecule that provide for immunophenotyping for neuronal stem cell lines. Also, they are exploring how the YAP signaling cascade works in these neuronal cells. Indeed, Patrick is getting an amazing amount of cell culture experience and as well as training in flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. According to Patrick, ¨Soon I will be conducting my own flow cytometry experiment to determining TH and MAP2 expression with various cell marker antigens in a pluripotent stem cell line.¨ Now that's undergraduate research!!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Michael

04 June 2013

CHANCE Fellow earns degree of Doctor of Medicine

CHANCE 2007 Fellow Michael Devine recently graduated from St. George's University School of Medicine, earning the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He is very excited about beginning his residency training at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA this July. There, he will spend the next three years as a resident physician of internal medicine where he will further hone his skills and master the art of medicine. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply their scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a broad spectrum of illnesses in adults. After these three years, he will have the opportunity to either practice general internal medicine (i.e. primary care physician or hospitalist), or continue his training via pursuing a fellowship in one of a multitude of subspecialties (i.e. cardiology, gastroenterology, critical care, endocrinology, etc.). Congratulations to you, Michael!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Steve

25 May 2013

Congratulations to CHANCE 2009 Fellow, Steve Edmonds!

He is currently working for Herpetological Associates (HA) and for Dr. Gian Rocco, Research Assistant, Riparia, Department of Geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University. As a herpetologist in both jobs, he is working with candidate, threatened or endangered species. This summer he is traveling throughout Pennsylvania to track herpetofauna in restricted and/or private property to help preserve and protect desired and important species. His main job is acting as the radio-telemetry technician in the field. Thereafter, he will be moving to northern New Jersey to specifically track timber rattlesnakes; but, he will also track a few other snake species. The over arching goal of his research is to obtain information on snake behavior and their adaptations for survival when they are deprived of their natural over-wintering sites. Steve states, "Basically, I will be married to the selected snakes and to discover everything about them for the sake of their survival." That's the Steve we all know and love! Good luck in the field, Steve.

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Leah

28 April 2013

TABT Award Winner

The Texas Association of Biology Teachers is pleased to announce the selection of this year's TABT teacher award winner. Leah Feist is a biology teacher at Bremond High School in Bremond ISD, near Waco. Leah is a CHANCE 2007 Fellow who participated in the CHANCE field course to Costa Rica.

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Patrick

13 May 2013

CHANCE Fellow participating in the Frontiers in Aging and Regeneration Research training course for undergrads

CHANCE 2012 Fellow, Patrick Hullihen, has been selected to become a participant and has received a full scholarship plus travel expenditures to partake in the Frontiers in Aging and Regeneration Research advanced training course for undergraduates at Xavier University, New Orleans. Sponsored by NIH, this intense training course will include daily lectures by respected scientists from select universities including University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Tulane University, Emory Stem Cell Center, University of Pittsburgh, University Hospital Freiburg, and many more. Each day also includes hands-on laboratory research relative to the lecture material ranging from how telomeres, telomerase and aging correlate, the development of nerve cells from stem cells, the molecular process of the aging brain, neuroplasticity, and brain disorders. Patrick is highly anticipating this wonderful opportunity as this will asset him in deciding his future education as a neuroscientist. KUDOS from CHANCE!

Jireh and Ewa, two CHANCE Fellows

29 April 2013

CHANCE Fellows - Intern Field Biologists at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Lima, Montana

CHANCE 2012 Fellows, Jireh Saba and Ewa Trusz, have been selected to serve as intern field biologist under the supervision of Dr. Kyle Cutting, Wildlife Biologist, United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Services at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Lima, Montana this summer. This refuge was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 22, 1935, and is one of the most remote in the contiguous United States. The refuge boasts the largest wetland complex within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well as expansive tracts of grasslands and sagebrush steppe habitats, and a small amount of forested areas. These habitats support over 230 species of birds, including brewer's sparrow, endemic arctic grayling, bald eagles, short eared owls, sandhill cranes, sage grouse, and numerous species of songbirds and waterfowl. Common mammals include Shiras moose, Rocky Mountain elk, mule and white-tailed deer, badger, coyote, and red fox. In addition, wolves and grizzly bears have been documented using the refuge in recent years. Ewa and Jireh will be working on an existing sagebrush songbird project which is monitoring habitat destruction of the fragile sagebrush ecosystem and effective conservation efforts to sustain endemic bird populations. So proud of our CHANCE Panama fellows!!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Kissy

01 December 2012

CHANCE 2012 Fellow Takes on Metabolomics Research and the World's Nutrition

Kissy Thal, is currently a sophomore majoring in biology at The Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer Honors College, University Park campus. This energetic and bright young researcher is working in a metabolomics research lab in preparation for writing her honors thesis. The goal of her research project, which is funded by the Gates Foundation, is that of finding a dietary supplement that can improve the immune response and overall health of the gastrointestinal tract in humans.

In various parts of the world, individuals do not have the access to green, leafy vegetables due to environmental or economical circumstances. Poor intestinal health is the result, which often leads to excessive diarrhea, the number one cause of death in many of these underprivileged nations. With the implementation of a dietary supplement that contains the same beneficial nutrients as those found in most green, leafy vegetables, Kissy hopes that the intestinal health of malnourished individuals and their progeny can be improved. Her project involves altering the diets of mice and examining the effects that different diets have on their intestinal tissue. She also collects and analyzes the breast milk of lactating mothers to discover if chosen health-promoting supplements are being transferred to their pups. CHANCE is so proud of Kissy's undergraduate research efforts!

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Nurul

02 October 2012

CHANCE 2012 Fellow Volunteers at Hawk Mountain and Penn State Shaver's Creek

Nurul Salmi, Instructor of Biology at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia spent part of her summer learning how to create higher-end inquiry activities and field programs for her college students by shadowing CHANCE Director, Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin, throughout the 2012 CHANCE field courses in Panama and Yellowstone. Wanting even more, this courageous and spirited women volunteered her time at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA and Penn State Shaver's Creek in Petersburg, PA. While at Hawk Mountian, Nurul was mentored by Dr. Keith L. Bildstein, Director of Conservation Science at the Sarkis Acopian Center, and explored raptor conservation efforts and methods in different parts of the world.

At Shaver's Creek, she was able to learn about designing nature education programs, ecological literacy, nature interpretation methods, community engagement and administration of an environmental center under the direction of Mark McLaughlin, Director of Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. CHANCE looks forward to learning about all the positive strides Nurul makes in the name of environmental education over the years to come in Malaysia. Nurul's story is a wonderful example of educational outreach and the good work of community partners.

Portrait of CHANCE Fellow, Dr. Paula Wang

09 Aug 2012

Paula Wang

Congratulations to CHANCE 2007 Fellow, Paula Wang, Sidewell Friends School, Washington, D.C., for receiving her 2nd master's degree at Montana State University - Bozeman on nest taphonomy in common terns and Caribbean flamingos.

Project Title: Nest Taphonomy of Poplar Island Common Terns and Caribbean Flamingos of the Smithsonian National Zoo

Abstract: Some theropod dinosaur nesting localities suggest egg incubation in a manner similar to birds. Two modern avian ground nesting sites with different nest structure were studied as potential models. Eggshell concentration and orientation were examined in post-reproductive Common Tern and Caribbean Flamingo nests, along with nest density and distribution. Eggshell fragments were more abundant at nest centers; hatched and predated nests favored concave-up orientation, whereas actively trampled areas favored concave-down.

10 June 2012

CHANCE Fellow serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Congratulations Ali Hoffman as you take on this new adventure! Ali will be volunteering in the Philippines for the next 2 years, as a Coastal Resources Management Advisor. She will be departing July 2012, so be sure to wish her luck and follow her blog »