A Successful 2018 STEM Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum

On Friday, November 9th, Youngstown State hosted the STEM Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum in partnership with North East Ohio Innovates and Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio. At this event, the College of STEM and the Williamson Business College seamlessly combined their core elements to teach high school students about the intersection between STEM subjects and entrepreneurship, and to help them succeed in their field of interest.

This year, 111 students from seven local high schools attended the forum, and 27 student and faculty mentors from YSU aided the students on their path to innovation.

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The forum kicked off with introductions between students and YSU faculty, and a short motivational video was shown which emphasized the students’ ability to change the future. YSU President Jim Tressel spoke to the students, encouraging them to stick by the friends in their life who are honest and inspire them. Great friends, said Tressel, are important for academic success in any setting.

After the students were acquainted, three speakers from different paths of life spoke to the students about their experiences in STEM and/or entrepreneurship. The first was Marisa Sergi, founder and CEO of RedHead Brands. After telling her story, she offered the students an important piece of advice: “The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask”. R. K. Khosla, Chief Business Officer of Black Beret Life Sciences, spoke to the students next. He shared two situations of STEM business projects he and his children worked on while they were in high school. One was a success story, and one was not-so-successful, but R. K. noted the importance of both of these projects and their learning opportunities. The final speaker was Dr. Martin Abraham, a professor of Chemical Engineering and Founding Dean of STEM. Dr. Abraham spoke about the many accomplishments in STEM fields in the past and the potential for STEM innovations in the future.

The high school students in attendance to this event seemed to find many new insights from the speakers and YSU staff. “I’m glad that people are working to make the world a better place,” said Hannah from MCCTC. Another MCCTC student, Kayla, expressed that she found it difficult to “find a place to start” in entrepreneurship, and that this event gave her hope that she could make a difference in STEM. Two students from TCTC planned to take action with their own innovative STEM plans after the event. Ethan, a student with a technology-based project in mind, said, “There is a major correlation between computer science and business”.

After lunch, the students began to brainstorm in their groups about important problems and potential innovations to solve them. To assist them in their problem-solving process, the YSU mentors for each group walked the students through the Believe in Ohio Roadmap. The groups then presented their ideas one by one, and their ideas came alive on the stage of the Chestnut Room.

For more information on the event, or to learn how get involved with your own innovative ideas as a student, visit the Entrepreneurial Engagement Ohio site here.


The Youngstown State University Office of Research honored faculty and staff at the annual research awards luncheon earlier this month.

Provost Joe Mosca and President Jim Tressel with the recipients of research awards from the YSU Office of Research.

Awards included:

  • Excellence in Research: Advanced Manufacturing Research, Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
  • Research Enterprise Support: Controller’s Office, Office of Grants Accounting.
  • Beeghly College of Education Research Award: Center for Human Services Development, Angela Cameron.
  • Bitonte College of Health and Human Services Research Award:Physical Therapy Department, State Department Cultural Exchange with China, Weiqing Ge.
  • College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Research Award: Dean Kristine Blair and National Endowment for Humanities Proposal Team.
  • Cliffe College of Creative Arts and Communication Research Award: Dana School of Music, Artistic Citizenship, Daniel Keown.
  • Williamson College of Business Administration Research Award:Small Business Development Center, Patricia Veisz.
  • Special Recognition: Biological Sciences Department, YSU Animal Laboratory Enhancements, Dawn Amolsch.
  • Career Award: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Choose Ohio First Scholarships, Stephen Rodabaugh.
  • Catalyst Award: Small Business Development Center, Ohio SBDC Export Assistance Network at YSU, Mousa Kassis.

This article was retrieved from YSU News, and can be found (610) 946-7027.

(774) 992-3774

Youngstown State’s STEM College as we know it today was created in 2008 by merging the College of Engineering and several departments from the College of Arts and Sciences. This means that 2018 is the year of YSU STEM’s tenth anniversary!
Students, faculty, and the Youngstown community have accomplished a vast amount since the founding of the STEM College. According to Wim Steelant, dean of STEM at YSU, the STEM College “has grown 25% over the last four years and as such is the fastest growing academic unit at YSU”. Find the dean’s article about the growth of STEM enrollment (203) 455-2707.
Each year, students and faculty of the STEM College produce research publications that span many areas of study, and several of these researchers receive awards for their efforts. Additionally, there have been a great amount of important events in STEM since 2008.
Below, you can read a brief overview of the accomplishments of the STEM College for each year from 2008 to present.


In April, Youngstown State University’s campaign to boost recruitment of students with aptitudes in STEM subjects was awarded $600,000 from the National Science Foundation. “We developed some aggressive strategies to attract underrepresented groups, and we’re excited to have an opportunity to put them into action,” said Robert Kramer, the leader of the grant application team. The program successfully provided $5,000 scholarships to 28 or more STEM students for up to four years.


The Collaborative Learning Laboratory (CoLab) was founded through a partnership with the Department of Art and College of STEM Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program. Their goal was to bring STEM students and Arts majors together for a joint educational experience. In this event, the art students built metal sculptures, and the STEM students executed their creative ideas by developing machine parts. Since its induction, CoLab has been able to grow due to the generous support of local businesses and YSU.


In 2010 alone, STEM attracted more than $10 million in research funding, allowing STEM students and faculty to advance their studies as they attended YSU.


  • MathFest took place in Lexington, KY. Nine YSU Math majors presented their research, and two won awards for their oral presentations.
  • In September, the 7th Annual ASM Summer Camp for Pre-College Teachers took place, which united 25 pre-college educators as they learned the basics of Material Science Technology (MST) and how to integrate it into their course material in an exciting and educational way.
  • Solar Panels were installed on the roof of Moser Hall, which would provide a lifetime savings of $160,000 in 25 years from installation.
  • A Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering was implemented. This program focuses on industrial collaboration, where students participate in research projects relevant to current industry innovations.
  • YSU began development on a Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute, designed to educate professionals and provide research for the emerging multi-billion dollar shale natural gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • In December, YSU launched the STEM Outreach Initiative, aimed at encouraging Youngstown city high school students to pursue college degrees and careers in STEM fields.

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  • Lake-to-River Science Day took place in Beeghly Arena. This event featured students in grades 5-12 from all around the district, and they were all connected by one thing: a passion for science.
  • The STEM Leadership Society is a strong, student-centric organization that provides unique and attractive opportunities for exceptional STEM students at YSU. This organization thrived in 2012, providing students with many useful career tools and great friends along the way.
  • The Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering career day on March 3, 2012 smashed the previous attendance record. One hundred and eighty five middle school and high school girls from over 50 different schools attended.
  • The Youngstown State University Cyber Defense Team placed second in the Midwest Regional Cyber Defense Competition.
  • Youngstown State University’s Concrete Canoe team dominated their regional competition at the University of Pittsburgh on March 30, placing first in four out of five races.
  • The annual STEM Showcase took place in Moser Hall. About 30 projects were on display, such as the concrete canoe and moon rover, all created and researched by students and faculty at YSU.
  • Youngstown State University held the annual STEM Explore Summer Program for middle school students in the Youngstown area. The program helped to increase interest in STEM related fields through experiments, lectures, and activities.
  • The YSU College of STEM was one of only 25 universities to be featured at the American Society of Engineering Educators meeting in San Antonio, TX.
  • The International Planetarium Society’s Service Award was presented to YSU’s Planetarium Lecturer, Sharon Shanks, at the annual IPS Conference.
  • Fifteen Engineering students from YSU’s National Electrical Contractors Association chapter won the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge in Las Vegas, NV.

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  • YSU STEM students were given the opportunity to pursue a new and relevant academic minor in Natural Gas and Water Resources.
  • The YSU Biological Sciences Herbarium reached over 112,139 specimens, making it one of the largest repositories of plant seeds in the nation.
  • The STEM Showcase began to increase in the amount of STEM subjects it encompassed. The 2013 Showcase included many science-related projects to go along with the usual engineering displays.
  • Youngstown State University College of STEM celebrated its first ever Sonia Kovalevsky Day. This all-day event was designed to introduce the ever-expanding world of math to young women.
  • YSU’s Concrete Canoe Team moved onto the national Concrete Canoe Competition in Illinois.
  • The McDonough Museum of Art featured a new exhibition exploring the wonders and advances of 3D printing.
  • A group of YSU Math majors won six awards at the 2013 MathFest, beating YSU’s 2005 record for this event.
  • New research labs were installed in Moser Hall for both Geology and Environmental Science students and faculty.
  • The YSU STEM Mathematics and Statistics department held the 11th Annual MathFest in Kilcawley Center.
  • The “Fishbowl” lounge in Moser Hall was dedicated as the Dr. Jack D. Bakos Jr. Student Collaborative Lounge, following an unveiling ceremony of the updates to the lounge.
  • YSU Electrical Engineering major Emily Conroy accepted a resolution before the Ohio House of Representatives on behalf of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station Composite Squadron 051 Drill Team.
  • NASA and the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network arrived on campus for the NASA Roadshow.

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  • YSU Chemical Engineering senior Estee George was the 2014 recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Professional Promise Award.
  • YSU held the Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition, where students applied different engineering principles to building small wooden bridges.
  • World-renowned theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, visited Stambaugh Auditorium for a Q&A session, and many interested YSU STEM students and faculty attended.
  • The STEM College held its first recognition banquet for the graduating seniors of STEM Leadership Society. SLS is a student organization that wishes to offer unique opportunities to STEM students who go above and beyond the curriculum.
  • Almost 400 people from the Youngstown area gathered for the Maker Shootout. This event was part of the Maker Magazine’s efforts to show our communities the advances in 3D printing.
  • Dr. Tom Oder, a professor of Physics and Astronomy, received a patent for a silicon carbine barrier diode. This marked the first patent ever received by YSU.
  • Assistant professor of materials chemistry Ruigang Wang received a $200,640 grant from the National Science Foundation for his research to help improve vehicle catalytic conversion systems.
  • Hudson Fastener brought the first ever Fastener Symposium to Youngstown to explore the details about what 3D printing could mean to the fastener industry.
  • Drs. Pat Durrell and John Feldmeier, both astronomy professors at YSU, received time to use the Hubble Space Telescope for their research.

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  • The Seventh Annual STEM Awards Dinner was held, and had over 200 people in attendance.
  • YSU’s first ever hackathon took place. Students were invited to join HackYSU in Meshel Hall to use the weekend to code, tinker, and create something amazing.
  • YSU has received $307,422 in funding from the National Science Foundation in order to purchase a plasma etching system. The purpose of the system is to remove unwanted materials; these materials can be as hard as ceramics and metals or as soft as polymers.
  • More than 500 students filled Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room for the fall Internship/Co-Op Expo in order to make connections with employers.
  • STEM student Ashley Martof was named a Believe in Ohio STEM Exemplar. This award is given to innovative thinkers who serve as role models for students who wish to pursue STEM careers.
  • Dr. Tom Wakefield, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was named a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.
  • The YSU Chemistry Department partnered with the Lubrizol Corporation to create a safe, healthy, and environmentally conscious culture on campus, comparative to that of general industry and R&D.

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  • Youngstown State University teamed up with TECH CORPS to offer FREE Techie Camps in the summer. These camps were designed to engage elementary and middle school students in activities that can stimulate a deeper interest in technology.
  • A team of six YSU mechanical engineering students developed a reverse-engineered 3D model and custom fabricate prosthetics for mobility assistance and improved quality of life for Shelby, a 12-year-old small border collie.
  • The MAC (Math Assistance Center) received many upgrades, including increases in tutor staff, access to additional computers, and an expansion of online services.
  • The college of STEM welcomed Dr. Wim Steelant as its new dean.
  • The annual STEM Showcase was a huge success, with more student projects presented than ever before.
  • Kyle Myers was the first to receive a Ph.D. in the new materials science and engineering program offered by YSU.
  • Ashley Orr was named YSU’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar, and later won a prestigious award from the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
  • Associate Professor Dr. Bonita Sharif received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.
  • The Ward Beecher Planetarium celebrated its 50 year anniversary, featuring fan-favorite planetarium shows along with all-new productions.
  • YSU STEM began offering a Manufacturing Engineering program and major, one of only about twenty programs of its kind in the nation.
  • Ward Beecher Planetarium received funding through a cooperative agreement with NASA, to work with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on CosmoQuest.
  • The STEM Internship and Co-op Expo was transformed into the STEM Expo as we know it today.
  • The first annual Youngstown State University Veterinary Science Expo was held in DeBartolo Hall.
  • The YSU Biology Club hosted its first Bird Day. This was a fundraising event that the YSU Biology Club held for the local bird sanctuary, Birds in Flight.
  • The first 12-hour local Hack Day was held in Meshel Hall, providing learning opportunities for CSIS students on subjects such as game development, functional programming, generating music, and how to land an internship.
  • Seven classrooms in Ward Beecher were renovated as part of Instructional Space Upgrades.

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  • The American Chemical Society at YSU was selected to receive a Commendable award for its activities conducted during the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Local area teachers attended the first Physics Professional Day sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Youngstown Area Physics Alliance. At this event, the teachers learned about the many resources available to them, including travel expenses to bring their students to YSU’s campus.
  • The attendance at YSU’s Hackathon was incredible, with more than 140 participants, 23 mentors, and 26 total projects submitted for judging.
  • Jenna Wise, a computer science and mathematics graduate, was awarded a 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
  • The CSIS Department at YSU conducted a week-long coding camp at Jackson-Milton High School, which introduced students to various aspects of the computer science field.
  • The YSU Association for Women in Mathematics Student Chapter was awarded the AWM Award for Professional Development at the MathFest Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
  • The Ward Beecher Planetarium and the Room of Requirement hosted a Harry Potter Weekend as a part of the planetarium’s 50-year-anniversary celebration.

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  • United Way’s Young Women’s Mentoring Program made its way to YSU STEM. In this program, female STEM students mentored 5th and 6th grade girls from Youngstown area schools, giving the girls the knowledge they needed to be well-informed citizens, take care of their bodies, and develop communication skills.
  • The engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi, hosted a number of engineering students to learn about Analytical Problem Solving and Effective Presentation skills.
  • The Spring 2018 STEM Expo was a huge success, as more than 600 students attended the expo in hopes to score an internship or co-op with nearly 70 employers.
  • Dr. Doug Genna, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at YSU, was awarded a generous grant of $293,000 from the National Science Foundation that will fund his laboratory research for the next three years.
  • YSU was named to the 50 Best Value Engineering schools for 2018, according to this 254-559-4975 on BestValueSchools.com.
  • YSU Steel Bridge and Canoe teams both won the Ohio Valley Student Conference in their categories. This is the first year that YSU has won both first place positions.
  • Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht, planetarium lecturer at Ward Beecher Planetarium, was chosen to be a 2018 ACEAP Ambassador.
  • The YSU Pre-Veterinary Society held three summer pet clinics. The clinics were low-cost and offered several minimal services such as vaccination updates and physical examinations.
  • The first Technological Innovations in Metals Engineering conference in Haifa, Israel was co-organized by Youngstown State University and Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology).
  • YSU Chemical Engineering alumnus, Steven Little, was the recipient of the 2018 Young Investigator Award.
  • YSU Engineering Technology students are helping to restore an iconic Youngstown landmark – the Fifth Avenue grand staircase and front facade at historic Stambaugh Auditorium.
  • The Ward Beecher Planetarium was featured in the August-September 2018 newspaper from Metro Monthly.
  • Saidah Yusuf, a third year Biology major at YSU, was nominated for Sight for All United’s 2018 Eagle Vision Award.
  • Medical Mutual Scholarships in Actuarial Science will soon be available to YSU undergraduate or graduate students studying the subject.

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STEM Students Included in The Eastern Ohio AHEC Scholars Class of 2020

The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is a program that wishes to promote the practice of primary medical care in Ohio, and also to educate students in the health profession about the needs of medically underserved populations. The Eastern Ohio center of the AHEC recently announced its very first class of AHEC Scholars from YSU, three of which are pre-med students in the College of STEM.

The Eastern Ohio branch of the AHEC, according to the 450-424-6407, “focuses on providing education, experiences, and opportunities to expose students to health care careers with a primary focus on under-served rural and urban communities in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana counties in Ohio.”

The AHEC Scholars Program represents the goal of the AHEC’s Eastern Ohio center at YSU. When YSU health professions students in this program reach their Junior year, they participate in community-based training, which helps them to better understand the many factors that contribute to health care, both individually and on a community level.

The three STEM students who were included in the AHEC Scholars class were Abigail Beaver, Salam Picard and Sarah Godel, who are all pre-med majors.

To read more about the first ever class of AHEC Scholars, check out this article from The Business Journal.

To learn more about the goals of The Area Health Education Center, head to myogenous.

New designation strengthens YSU’s reputation in advanced manufacturing

Youngstown State University has been designated an Alliance Partner of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, a recognition that strengthens the university’s growing reputation as a center for advanced manufacturing research and workforce training.

“This is a noteworthy accomplishment that is highly-recognized in defense manufacturing circles,” said Mike Hripko, associate vice president for External Affairs, Government Relations and Economic Development. “It positions YSU as a potential partner for a number of research opportunities and academic learning experiences for our faculty and students,”

Ralph Resnick, NCDMM president and chief executive officer, said in a letter notifying YSU of its designation, “I believe this will be a mutually beneficial relationship, with YSU adding unique capabilities to the NCDMM team, and NCDMM providing opportunities for YSU within the manufacturing industry and new defense areas that you are not already engaged.”

Hripko said NCDMM secures contracts to provide engineered and manufactured systems to bases, arsenals and military installations across the country. NCDMM, which Hripko said has a huge government client base that includes all branches of the military, manages the project and builds teams from amongst high-performing and reliable Alliance Partners, who perform the engineering and manufacturing work.

As an Alliance Partner, YSU now has the opportunity to provide a skill, talent or capability in support of a relevant NCDMM project, Hripko said. “All of our advanced manufacturing, material analysis and characterization assets, as well as numerous other STEM assets, are potentially in play,” he said.

The designation is the latest in a series of steps that have firmly established YSU as among the top additive and advanced manufacturing research universities in the world:

YSU is one of just two universities in the world to own all seven additive manufacturing technologies.
The university’s Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing boasts some of the nation’s top AM researchers, including a new endowed chair in Manufacturing.
The university has received significant awards to support AM research, including a collaborative, $27 million federal project with America Makes and other partners to utilize AM to improve the replacement of spare parts for aging Air Force aircraft.
Other collaborations have gone global, including partnerships with Israeli-based Printsyst Software and XJET printing. YSU helped organize the first Technological Innovations in Metals Engineering meeting in Israel in summer 2018 and will host the next conference in 2020.
YSU’s PhD program in Material Science and Engineering continues to grow, and the university has also established a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering, one of just 21 such programs nationally.
The university was a founding partner in both America Makes and the Northeast Ohio Additive Manufacturing Cluster.
YSU President Jim Tressel was invited to discuss YSU’s role in meeting the future workforce needs in 3D printing manufacturing at an event hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Manufacturing Caucus, the Center for Public Policy Innovation and HP Inc.
YSU has received $7 million in special state capital allocations, as well as $4 million in federal funding, to establish the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center adjacent to campus, a workforce development, education, innovation and research hub focused on advanced manufacturing.

This article was retrieved from YSU News, and can be viewed adenomeningeal.

Students embark on effort to renovate campus rain garden

Students in the Youngstown Environmental Sustainability Society have launched an effort to renovate the rain garden on the campus of Youngstown State University.

Students working on the Rain Garden

The rain garden, located adjacent to Coffelt Hall on University Plaza on campus, was constructed several years ago to decrease storm water runoff into the sewer system, said Curtis Burns, a YSU student and a member of YESS. Burns said storm water runoff from parking lots contains a variety of pollutants, including oil, gasoline, brake fluid, antifreeze, metals and sediment.

“These pollutants get transported into the sewer system during rain events and eventually into the Mahoning river without being treated,” he said.

The project, expected to take two semesters to complete, is a joint effort of the departments of Geology and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Construction Engineering Technology with the leadership of associate professors Felicia Armstrong, Colleen McLean and Robert Korenic.

The rain garden consists of two bio-swells and the actual garden. The bio-swells should hold the rain water and allow it to slowly drain into the rain garden, allowing pollutants to settle out of the water where they are taken up by the plants and bio-remediated, Burns said.

The problem is that drains in the bio-swells are positioned too low and, as a result, drain the storm water directly into the garden, causing erosion and making it impossible for plants to thrive.

“The plan is to raise the drains to allow the storm water to slowly permeate into the ground, while the rocks in the garden protect the soil and plants from erosion and give the plant’s roots a secure place to grow without drying out,” Burns said.

Students are adding rocks to decrease erosion, improve storm water retention and infiltration.

They also are raising the drains in the bio-swells to decrease the water velocity draining into the rain garden, and they are clearing weeds and planting native plants. The project also involves increasing the size of the exterior soil berms so that water entering the garden does not flow over the sides and into the street’s sewers.

This article was retrieved from YSU News, and can be viewed here.


Thomas Wakefield, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Youngstown State University, has been named the first Medical Mutual of Ohio Endowed Professor of Actuarial Science at YSU.

Dean Wim Steelant, YSU President Jim Tressel, Professor Tim Wakefield and Ben Stoffer, Medical Mutual regional vice president

“Dr. Wakefield’s excellent scholarly record in mathematics and actuarial science makes him eminently qualified to be the inaugural appointment for this prestigious position,” said Wim Steelant, dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Interim Provost Joe Mosca agreed: “Tom is a committed scholar, a devoted teacher and strong advocate for his students, his research and for the actuarial science profession. We congratulate him on this appointment and look forward to his work on behalf of the university and our students.”

Medical Mutual established the professorship earlier this fall through a gift to the YSU “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign. The professorship funds the salary and administrative support for a professor to teach undergraduate and graduate courses, maintain an active agenda in research and scholarships, and serve as a nationally recognized scholar of actuarial science.

Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries. The median annual wage for actuaries is $101,560, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment is projected to grow 22 percent by 2026.

Wakefield earned bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Economics from YSU in 2002 and master’s (2004) and Ph.D. (2008) degrees in Pure Mathematics from Kent State University. He joined the YSU faculty in 2009. In 2015, he was named a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, the largest professional actuarial organization in the world and the highest designation bestowed by the Society.

“I am honored to receive this appointment and thank Medical Mutual for its generosity and foresight in creating this position,” Wakefield said. “There is much opportunity in the actuarial science profession, and we look forward to making YSU a leader in the field.”

Wakefield is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon/National Honor Society in Mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America, the American Mathematical Society, Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and the YSU Gould Society. He earned the YSU Distinguished Professor Award for Scholarship in 2013, the Mentor of the Year Award from YSU Student Activities in 2015 and was recognized as an excellent educator by Ohio Magazine in 2013. He has published nearly a dozen scholarly articles, written more than two dozen reviews, earned five grant awards and presented at dozens of conferences and workshops.

This article was retrieved from YSU News, and can be viewed here.

Recent Publication: Dr. Jack Min

Title:  A Survey of Alternative Splicing in Allotetraploid Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)

Author: Dr. Xiangjia “Jack” Min

Date published: July 27, 2018

Publication Place: Computational Molecular Biology, 2018, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Find the research article 585-203-3027)


Allotetraploid cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), accounting for more than 90% of cultivated cotton worldwide, provides textile fibers and seeds. Alternative splicing (AS) is a post-transcriptional process that generates more than one RNA isoforms from a single pre-mRNA transcript, increasing the diversity of functional proteins and RNAs. We surveyed the alternatively spliced genes in cotton using expressed sequence tag (EST) and mRNA sequences available in the public databases. A total of 56,080 AS events, including 41,150 (73.4%) basic events and 14,930 (26.6%) complex events were identified, which were generated from approximately 23,930 genes. Intron retention was the most frequent event, accounting for 34.8%, followed by alternative acceptor site events (18.8%) and alternative donor site events (11.8%), and exon skipping being the least frequent event (8.0%). Complex types, which are formed by more than one basic event, are accounted for 26.6%. The estimated AS rates of genes generating AS isoforms was 27.1% in cotton. Gene Ontology and protein family analysis showed that the products of alternatively spliced genes were involved in many biological processes with diverse molecular functions. The transcripts to cotton genome mapping information can be used to improve the predicted gene models in cotton. The annotation information of AS isoforms of these genes provides a basis for future investigation on the functions of these AS genes in cotton biology. The data can be accessed at Plant Alternative Splicing Database.


(714) 238-4315The College of STEM welcomes a new Administrative Assistant to the Biology office, Ms. Katie Fetty. Katie was born in Canton, Ohio and she graduated from Poland Seminary High School. She then attended school here at YSU, and received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education. After graduating, she spent almost 20 years as an art teacher.

“It has been my dream to work at YSU. I had a wonderful experience here during my undergrad and have always felt like this was home,” said Ms. Fetty. “There is nothing like the Biology department. Every day is an adventure! I look forward to coming to work daily. The staff and faculty are unique, silly, and kind.”

One of Katie’s favorite things about YSU is the fall semester each year, where she enjoys seeing the process of new students finding their way around their careers and interests. She also has a passion for campus activities, such as tailgates before football games.

In Katie’s time here, she plans to do her best to help students and the Biology department by making it a bit easier to fill out and keep track of various paperwork. “As an administrative assistant, I see too many paper trails. I would love to update our website to allow students to find forms online,” said Ms. Fetty on the subject.

When she’s not working, Katie enjoys spending time with the geckos and guinea pigs in the Biology department. She considers Dexter, a crested gecko found in the Biology office, to be the mascot of Biology at YSU.

Students are able to get in contact with Katie by emailing her at kbfetty@ysu.edu, or visiting her in the Biology office which is in room 4037 of Ward Beecher Hall. She can also be reached by telephone at 330-941-3601. As Ms. Fetty says, “There is never a dull moment in the biology office,” so feel free to stop by while the office is open if you have any questions.  


Youngstown State University is taking important steps toward building and improving the pipeline for actuarial science careers by establishing scholarships and a professorship that support this field of study. The university is able to do so because of the support of Ohio’s oldest health insurance company – Medical Mutual of Ohio.


“On behalf of everyone here at YSU, we thank Medical Mutual for its commitment to the future of the Mahoning Valley, our students and the actuarial science profession,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “These new scholarships and the new professorship will help lead our actuarial science program to new heights.”

Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries. The median annual wage for actuaries is $101,560, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in this field is projected to grow 22% by 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The scholarship and professorship are being established through a gift by Medical Mutual to the YSU “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign. “We See Tomorrow” is a $100 million initiative, the largest in YSU history, and is spearheaded by the YSU Foundation, the official fundraising arm of YSU.

“We are committed to doing all we can to be fiscally responsible and run our business with the best interest of our members in mind,” said Rick Chiricosta, chairman, president and CEO of Medical Mutual. “We rely on the knowledge and discipline our actuaries provide to make sure this happens and we felt it was important to support this field of study and our customer, Youngstown State.”

The Medical Mutual Scholarships in Actuarial Science will be available to YSU undergraduate or graduate students studying actuarial science. Recipients will be chosen by the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in conjunction with the YSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the YSU Office of Financial Aid and the YSU Foundation.

The Medical Mutual Endowed Professorship in Actuarial Science will fund the salary and administrative support to hire a professor of actuarial sciences to teach undergraduate and graduate courses, maintain an active agenda in research and scholarships, and serve as a nationally recognized scholar of actuarial science. The professor, who will be chosen by YSU’s provost and STEM dean, will be actively involved in the actuarial science profession at the national, regional and local levels.

This article was sampled from The Business Journal. Find the original article on their website (301) 249-3731.

STEM Student Nominated for Sight for All United 2018 Eagle Vision Award

Sight for All United is a local non-profit organization that recognizes a need to connect Ohio citizens to proper vision care. Understanding the many impacts of vision loss on Mahoning County, Sight for All has found many ways to give back to the community. Doctors for Sight, an organization of optometrists and ophthalmologists who provide Mahoning Valley patients with routine eye examinations and treatments, has paired with Sight for All. In December of 2017, Sight for All United collaborated with Youngstown City Schools, United Way, Classic Optical, and the Essilor Foundation to provide 250 schoolchildren with eye examinations and, if needed, glasses of the students’ choice. “Every child has the right to see and be given the best opportunity to thrive in school,” says the Sight for All Board of Directors in their 9075757120.

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Sight for All United extends a yearly award, known as the Eagle Vision Award, which recognizes members of our local community who go above and beyond in benefiting the organization for the year. Saidah Yusuf, a third year Biology major here at Youngstown State, has been nominated for the 2018 Eagle Vision Award. This is due to her many contributions to Sight for All this past year. Saidah was overseas in Palestine when she learned of her nomination, and she said that she felt “touched and very honored to be recognized”. Some of her accomplishments include: being the first ever recipient of the Polena Intern Research Award, presenting her research nationally at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and serving as the president of Students for Sight, which promotes the message of Sight for All United at YSU.

Saidah’s research centers around the effects of providing improved vision to school aged children. “Many factors were analyzed including children’s test scores, attendance, behavior, and more,” Saidah described, “and ultimately [these factors] were found to have improved after the students’ vision had progressed”. She also commented that Sight for All United is continually working to improve their system of examining Youngstown students and providing them with the resources they need to improve their sight.

The winner of the 2018 Eagle Vision award will be announced at Sight for All’s third annual “Eye Ball”, which will take place at the DeYor Performing Arts Center on October 13th. At this event, Grammy winner Diane Schuur will be performing, followed by dinner catered by Chrystal’s Catering and music by Backbeat. If you would like to support Saidah and her many notable efforts with Sight for All, please visit the organization’s (772) 398-6124, or purchase
tickets for the upcoming Eye Ball here.

To learn more about Sight for All United’s cause, visit their website 8332870141.

CCET OCA Holds “Constructor For A Day”

Robert J. Korenic, Youngstown State University Associate Professor of Civil and Construction Engineering Technology, in collaboration with the Ohio Contractors Association (OCA) hosted the 26th annual “Constructor for A Day” program. The event is a proven way to strengthen ties between contractors and students attending YSU who are majoring in Civil and Construction Engineering Technology as well as Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Approximately 25 students met at the A.P. O’Horo Company on Belmont Avenue and then toured local job sites (such as Boardman and Youngstown wastewater treatment plants, New Springfield round-a-bout construction and more). The program allows students to see first-hand practical applications of their education. It also provides students the opportunity to network with area contractors and to see the various areas of the field that are available to work in with a degree in Civil and Construction Engineering Technology or Civil and Environmental Engineering.

YSU STEM & WCBA Hold Internship & Co-Op Appreciation Event

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the Williamson College of Business Administration (WCBA) will host the fourth annual Ohio Internship and Co-op Appreciation Day on Saturday, October 6, 2018, before Youngstown State University’s Homecoming football game against Southern Illinois. The Appreciation event will be held in conjunction with the YSU All Alumni Reunion event and the YSU Homecoming festivities which will be located in the F55 parking lot (Corners of Lincoln and Fifth Avenues, and Rayen and Fifth Avenues). All STEM & WCBA students/alumni, faculty, staff and employers who are currently involved or in the process of being involved with the colleges’ internship and co-op programs are invited to attend the celebration.

In 2015, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill designating an annual Ohio Internship and Co-Op Appreciation Day, and this event marks the fourth year in a row YSU’s STEM and WCBA will host an appreciation event.

“The idea is to celebrate and raise awareness of the value of internship and co-op opportunities in our state and to promote the creation of more internship and co-op programs at businesses throughout the state,” said State Sen. Bill Beagle, chair of the Senate Workforce and Economic Development Committee.

The YSU event is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. at the YSU F-55 Parking lot on campus with food, beverages, door prizes, and laid-back networking. The event will end around 5:30, just in time for you to start moving towards the stadium for the football game. The event is invitation-only, but those companies interested in getting involved with the College of STEM or WCBA’s internship/co-op programs are welcome to contact Sherri Hrusovski (slhrusovski@ysu.edu) or Christina O’Connell (cloconnell@ysu.edu) to participate.

(586) 731-5731

Authors: Spainhower KB*, Cliffe RN, Metz AK*, Barkett EM*, Kiraly P*, Thomas DR*, Kennedy S, Avey-Arroyo J, Butcher MT. 2018.

Title: Cheap Labor: Myosin fiber type expression and enzyme activity in the forelimb musculature of sloths (Pilosa: Xenarthra)

Publication Place: Journal of Applied Physiology 125: p. 799-811. 801-909-2943


Sloths are canopy-dwelling inhabitants of American neotropical rainforests that exhibit suspensory behaviors. These abilities require both strength and muscular endurance to hang for extended periods of time; however, the skeletal muscle mass of sloths is reduced, thus requiring modifications to muscle architecture and leverage for large joint torque. We hypothesize that intrinsic muscle properties are also modified for fatigue resistance and predict a heterogeneous expression of slow/fast myosin heavy chain (MHC) fibers that utilize oxidative metabolic pathways for economic force production. MHC fiber type distribution and energy metabolism in the forelimb muscles of three-toed (Bradypus variegatus, n = 5) and two-toed (Choloepus hoffmanni, n = 4) sloths were evaluated using SDS-PAGE, immunohistochemistry, and enzyme activity assays. The results partially support our hypothesis by a primary expression of the slow MHC-1 isoform as well as moderate expression of fast MHC-2A fibers, whereas few hybrid MHC-1/2A fibers were found in both species. MHC-1 fibers were larger in cross-sectional area (CSA) than MHC-2A fibers and comprised the greatest percentage of CSA in each muscle sampled. Enzyme assays showed elevated activity for the anaerobic enzymes creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase compared with low activity for aerobic markers citrate synthase and 3-hydroxyacetyl CoA dehydrogenase. These findings suggest that sloth forelimb muscles may rely heavily on rapid ATP resynthesis pathways, and lactate accumulation may be beneficial. The intrinsic properties observed match well with suspensory requirements, and these modifications may have further evolved in unison with low metabolism and slow movement patterns as means to systemically conserve energy.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY Myosin heavy chain (MHC) fiber type and fiber metabolic properties were evaluated to understand the ability of sloths to remain suspended for extended periods without muscle fatigue. Broad distributions of large, slow MHC-1 fibers as well as small, fast MHC-2A fibers are expressed in sloth forelimbs, but muscle metabolism is generally not correlated with myosin fiber type or body size. Sloth muscles rely on rapid, anaerobic pathways to resist fatigue and sustain force production.


The Engineering Technology associate and bachelor degree programs (Civil & Construction Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology) have been re-accreditated through September 30, 2024. These programs are accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ETAC-ABET) which is the recognized industry standard of accreditation for engineering technology programs.

For more information about the accreditation, contact Engineering Technology at (330) 941-3287.