Public-history partnership leads to full-time work for Temple graduate

Seth Bruggeman, director of Temple’s Center for Public History, has long seen Philadelphia as a living, vibrant classroom. He has sent his students to study at the Eastern Penitentiary Prison and brought a roaming, interactive museum to the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. Now, he is collaborating with the Print Center—an art gallery and education center in Rittenhouse Square—to offer an internship and a full-time job to Mary O’Neill, a graduate student of public history.

Founded in 1915, the Print Center showcases print and photography exhibitions, and examines the changing role print and photography have played throughout history.

“The Print Center contacted me about the possibility of involving a student in developing exhibits and programming surrounding its 100th anniversary celebration,” Bruggeman said. “We used a tuition waiver to recruit Mary O’Neill, a stellar applicant with a background in the visual arts. It occurred to me that Mary might be willing to tailor her master’s thesis project to the Print Center’s needs if we could offer something special in return. What is more special these days than a job?”

O’Neill’s internship commences this summer, when she will sift through the city’s archives and help assemble collections for display. Her work with the Print Center will be exhibited for its centennial celebration next year. O’Neill’s background in the visual arts and anthropology will help her bring the past century in Philadelphia history to life through the art she discovers tucked away in the archives.

“These are boxes no one has gone through before,” O’Neill said. “Meeting minutes, correspondences, letters; I’ll be sorting through them all.” As she leafs through the material, she will be looking for artifacts that connect the Print Center’s history with the larger art world.

“I don’t know of any other public-history programs that offer a more reliable route to postgraduate employment,” Bruggeman said. “It’s a model that makes perfect sense in Philadelphia, a city whose public historical resources—including museums, archives and historic sites—are unparalleled in scope and quality. It also makes sense for a public-history program that prides itself on training dedicated historians with a passion for community engagement.”

“It’s a model that makes perfect sense in Philadelphia, a city whose public historical resources—including museums, archives and historic sites—are unparalleled in scope and quality.” – Seth Bruggeman, assistant professor of history and American studies

While O’Neill’s job is guaranteed, there are a few conditions attached: She must complete her program of study successfully in order for the Print Center to offer her the position. And though her first year of employment is guaranteed, anything longer than a year depends on the funding the Print Center has available.

“At a minimum, we expect that Mary will serve for roughly a year in the capacity of a project manager, a typical entry-level position for public-history graduates and a great way to begin building a résumé,” Bruggeman said.

O’Neill’s position also furthers the Print Center’s mission to highlight the importance of both printmaking and photography and further appreciation of those media.

“In addition to telling a valuable historical story about Philadelphia, the scope of the center’s anniversary celebration will continue to raise Philadelphia’s profile as an art destination,” said Elizabeth Spungen, executive director of the Print Center. “Hopefully, it will launch us to places we haven’t imagined yet.”

– Anna Goldfarb, SMC ’08


Brittany Redfern: Experience and Determination

For her senior research project in sociology, Brittany Redfern set out to understand and bring awareness to barriers to breast feeding among low-income African-American women.

The idea for that research came from Joshua Klugman, assistant professor of sociology. Klugman encouraged Redfern to draw on her personal experience as a single mother to shed light on the poorly understood causes for socioeconomic and racial disparities in breastfeeding rates among women in the U.S..

A graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High School, Redfern learned she was pregnant as a sophomore at Temple and gave birth to her son  in October of her junior year. But her delivery did not stop her from earning her undergraduate degree in four years—nor did it keep her from gaining admission to Widener University School of Law, which she will begin attending in the fall.

Redfern is the first to admit she could not have done it without the network of support she found at Temple. That group includes an advisor who told her to stay in school, a professor who once allowed her to bring her son to a final exam and even an administrative assistant who let Redfern use the Department of Sociology’s fax machine to send an important document to her child’s pediatrician.

“My advisor, Rashidah Andrews, encouraged me to break down the stereotypes of young black mothers,” Redfern said. “When many said I should take a semester off, Rashidah pushed me forward and told me that a baby wouldn’t stop me from going where I planned to be.”

She also credits Associate Professor of Sociology Mary Stricker, CLA ’96, ’01, with helping her find her voice. “Mary constantly reminded me that my thoughts are valid and that I should speak up, because I represent a group that deserves to be heard,” Redfern said.

“Those at Temple have taught me what a support system is,” she said. “They want to see you reach your dreams and won’t stop helping you until you do.”

Kim Fischer


Three CLA students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awardees for 2014 have just been announced. Rochelle Coretta Cassells, and Kathryn Devlin – both pscyhology students – and Sierra Ross Gladfelter, geography major, have been awarded  NSF Graduate Research Fellowships for 2014. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. NSF received over 14,000 applications for the 2014 competition, and made 2,000 fellowship award offers.


Temple exhibit drives home local history

Temple exhibit drives home local history

“Manufacturing Fire”, the debut exhibit of the Philadelphia History Truck, opened Friday, documenting a people’s history of East Kensington. Temple University hopes to make the student-run project part of its permanent curriculum, and it may be a national model.

Read full story.

Jordan Klein, left, Exhibition Planning and Design Consultant, and Erin Bernard, right, Founding Director, are shown in the Little Berlin art gallery on April 2, 2014, where the exhibit is being installed. The painting “New Jerusalem” by Sister Helen Brancato, which is part of the exhibit, is shown by them. ( CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )

Joyce Rasing was awarded the SIG (Straw into Gold) Scholarship, endowed by Ronnyjane Goldsmith, CLA ’68, ’70, ’82, and given to a student in the College of Liberal Arts who has lost one or both parents, “in order that their personal dreams and professional aspirations may come true.”

CLA student turns hardship into service

Renee Cree

Growing up, Joyce Rasing, Class of 2015, did not know her father. And for years, she lived in an abusive household with her mother and stepfather. When she was about to graduate high school, she experienced parental abandonment. Rasing was able to stay with her grandparents for a while, but was soon homeless. The weekend just before her first semester at Temple, she was finally able to secure housing.

Charges against Rasing’s stepfather were filed, and he went to court eventually. At the end of the first semester of her freshman year, the verdict was announced; in the summer of 2011, he was sentenced to 12 to 24 years in prison.

Rasing’s adversity has fueled a passion for helping others that extends from studying political science to dedicating her time to several organizations across Philadelphia. She tutors math at a women’s shelter, serves as a hotline counselor and directs a site for an SAT-prep program for low-income high school students.

“It has been a long road,” Rasing said. “Finding opportunities around the city to give back is a part of the healing process.”

In May 2011, Rasing was awarded the SIG (Straw into Gold) Scholarship, endowed by Ronnyjane Goldsmith, CLA ’68, ’70, ’82. That award is given to a student in the College of Liberal Arts who has lost one or both parents, “in order that their personal dreams and professional aspirations may come true.” Rasing says that after struggling for so long, receiving the scholarship was an immeasurable gain.

“The scholarship alleviates a lot of stress for me,” Rasing said. “With that and my state grants, I don’t have to worry about tuition payments.

“Why Ronnyjane gives is so inspiring,” Rasing continued. “Despite her own hardships, she’s been able to move on and move up, and to help others. I hope I can be like her one day.”

After Rasing graduates in February 2015, she plans to use her political-science degree to begin a career in public service, following in Goldsmith’s footsteps of giving back.

For those who might be living through a situation like Rasing’s, she offers some advice: “Surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and will motivate you to keep going for whatever it is you really want. And don’t forget to pass that favor on to others.”


Psychology Doctoral Candidate Selected to Attend Prestigious 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany

PHILADELPHIA, February 28, 2014 – Steven J. Simmons, a doctoral candidate in Psychology with a specialization in Neuroscience, has been selected by the scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings to participate in the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Only 600 top young researchers worldwide are given the opportunity to participate in Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. This year, 34 Nobel Laureates are expected to meet with the young researchers to share their knowledge, establish new contacts, and discuss topics in medicine relevant to global health, the challenges to medical care in developing countries, and other future research approaches.

Steven’s nomination to participate in this prestigious honor was put forth by Zebulon Kendrick, Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Steven was selected from a pool of 20 outstanding candidates in Psychology as the department’s sole nominee. Steven states, “The attendees at the Lindau Meeting are elite with respect to their contributions and innovative thinking toward bettering their science disciplines.” He recognizes that this opportunity presents a unique way in which to “openly discuss ideas and consider experimental methodologies with peers in related disciplines to better their own research and acquire a professional network for detailing and advancing such procedures before improving methodologies in the laboratory.”

Steven’s research topic is “Behavioral Neuroscience: Effects of Nicotine on Learning and Memory.” His research requires the use of cellular, molecular, and genetic techniques to better understand

nicotine’s effects on learning and memory in mice. While nicotine is present in the animal’s system, he investigates the effects of associative learning, of nicotine, and of learning on neurogenesis rates in mouse dorsal and ventral hippocampi. His research also examines molecular intracellular signaling cascades involved in learning and nicotine addiction.

Thomas Gould, Professor of Psychology, recommended Steven for the honor because he was impressed with Steven’s diligence in researching, establishing a protocol for, and implementing a new technique for looking at the effects of nicotine and learning on hippocampal neurogenesis rates in mice. He calls Steven “a rising scientist.”

Steven has worked in drug addiction research for the past three years. As an undergraduate at Rutgers University, he examined changes in affect during drug use in cocaine self-administering rats and acquired evidence that a euphoric state is uniquely experienced during initial drug use but not after animals titrate and achieve drug satiety. This work resulted in two publications, two poster presentations, a summer research fellowship, and two awards for research proposals. As a doctoral student at Temple University, his research has earned him authorship on a study to be submitted in Fall 2014 examining the effects of nicotine and learning on intracellular signaling cascades. He is also writing an invited review with Dr. Gould on the contribution of the β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit in generating nicotine reward and symptoms of withdrawal. In September 2013, he earned a fellowship on a T32 institutional training grant through the National Institute of Drug Abuse. He plans to apply for a National Research Service Award through the National Institutes of Health when his training fellowship concludes.

Steven will attend the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, from June 29 to July 4, 2014.

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Temple Made: Michael Madeja


Name: Michael Madeja

Year: Senior

School: College of Liberal Arts

Major: Anthropology

Home town: Newportville, Pa.

Why I chose Temple: ”I knew from the get-go that I wanted a city school no matter what. In the city, there’s always something to do. My big three are music, museums and food. I’ve taken advantage of all things. Every Tuesday, I go to a new restaurant. It’s a tradition I started with some friends. I also wanted a school that offered biological anthropology. The final thing was the Temple Honors Program, because it offered the smaller-sized classrooms and a more personalized environment.”

Transformative moment: ”I’ve had two internships at the Philadelphia Zoo — the environmental education and animal behavior internship this summer and the public programs internship in the fall. It was an experiment. I didn’t expect anything. But I fell in love with the zoo. I’ve discovered that this is what I want to do with my life. It’s pure joy for me.

“This summer, I did a project on signs at the zoo and their relationship to the zoo’s mission. I’ve talked to zookeepers, people in conservation, curators and administrators of all types. Gradually, I got to know all about how a zoo works.

“The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation’s first zoo. It’s a world-class zoo right in Temple’s back yard. Kids Zoo U is the zoo’s new wildlife academy with an education center and a children’s zoo. Animals like goats and rats are a big part of Kids Zoo U. Adults are conditioned to think they’re disgusting. Kids love them. They pet them; they hug them. Kids see them for what they are — an animal they can connect with. Another part of Kids Zoo U helps kids learn about the connections between the things they do and saving wildlife. Kids learn that by doing really small things like making sure the lights are off and turning off the faucet when they’re brushing their teeth, they can save energy in small ways that add up to saving fishes and butterflies.

“The Philadelphia Zoo has really opened my eyes to a lot of different things. Before this I never saw myself working with kids in any capacity, but being here made me think about careers with children. I’ve also realized that zoos are more important than people think they are. There’s a research component, there are conservation efforts — all these behind-the-scenes things that people don’t think about.

“The zoo is a simple trolley ride away. It’s a great resource for Temple students. There’s something for everyone here. If you want to take some time off and hang out with cool animals and cool people, or if you want to learn about conservation efforts, it’s all at the Philadelphia Zoo. It’s like a city unto itself offering all these resources for people. It’s awesome. With the zoo in mind, Temple was the best choice I could have possibly made.”

CLA Alumni Prepare Students for the Future

Every year the College of Liberal Arts and the CLA Alumni Association host a career panel and networking reception as part of Temple University’s Career Week.

This year’s speakers were Garreth Heidt (CLA ’90, EDU ’97), Dennis McCrossen (CLA ’77), Paul M. Curran, (CLA ’75), Eric Applebaum (CLA ’95), and Richard David Weiss, M.D (CLA ’61).

CLA Alumni Board Secretary June Gordon (CLA ’80) is a consultant and adjunct assistant professor at Drexel University. She moderated this year’s event and told students that taking time off before going to graduate school could be helpful.

Mark Kaloko (CLA ’10, EDU ’12), the CLA Career Coach at Temple University, introduced the event and encouraged the students to use the Career Center as a resource.

During the panel discussion, Heidt focused on creativity and innovation. He also brought multiple copies of Only Connect: On the Goals of a Liberal Education by William Cronon, his “bible” for liberal arts majors.

Retired Equal Opportunity Employment Officer Curran emphasized writing skills in the work environment. He reminded students that having a good cover letter and well-written resume are your first impression, and they need to make a good one.

Applebaum, an attorney at Thomas, Thomas & Hafer, LLP told the attendees that looking for a career is a job itself. He gave advice to a student unsure about pursuing a law degree, telling her to look at the cost of education and how to pay for it, look at the job market in the area she wanted to work in, and to talk to lawyers and spend time in a firm.

Weiss, who is a retired radiologist, talked about the changes in his industry throughout his career, and told the attendees to not be afraid of change. He also stressed the importance of asking questions.

McCrossen, a senior human resource specialist at the Internal Revenue Service, emphasized having practical applications for the skills you have, and turned a commonly heard phrase around. “You don’t have to do what you like,” he said, “you have to like what you do.”

Evan Birnholz

History Ph.D student is author of NYTimes Crossword for Oct 3

Evan Birnholz

Courtesy of Evan Birnholz
In his spare time, Temple graduate student Evan Birnholz constructs crossword puzzles. He is the author of the New York Times Crossword for Oct. 3.

– Sarae Gdovin

The New York Times crossword puzzles are known for their difficulty. However, for second-year history Ph.D. student Evan Birnholz, simply solving the puzzles was not enough of a challenge.

Birnholz wanted to take his efforts to the next level and decided to create his own crosswords. Appearing in today’s edition, following countless hours spent crafting questions and clues, is Birnholz’s first New York Times crossword puzzle.

Birnholz spent years solving puzzles before trying his hand at constructing them himself. Then in 2009, he began submitting his puzzles to a variety of publications, including the New York Times, in hopes they would be published.

“At first I didn’t really know what I was doing in creating puzzles. I was coming up with themes that I thought to be creative, but as I found out, had been done many times before,” he said. “It took a lot of practice to get better at them.”

Over the past two years, Birnholz finally began to see his submissions accepted at national papers, including the Wall Street Journal. “I had to go through a lot of rejections initially, but I was persistent and kept trying to improve,” he said.

To create the puzzles, he begins with the long answers that follow the theme of the puzzle. “For instance, if I wanted a puzzle where the theme entries were made of two words with the initials B.G., I’d list all of the terms that I think would make for good, well-known entries, like BUBBLE GUM, BEER GARDEN, BOXING GLOVES, BILL GATES, and so on,” he said.

“A theme like this might lend itself to a good title like “The Bee Gees,” which you can sometimes insert as a separate answer in the grid as a way of tying the theme entries together — puzzle constructors call that kind of answer a ‘revealer.’”

From there, he makes sure the answers are symmetrical, starts positioning the words on a grid and populates the grid with black squares. “I have to make sure that I don’t create a grid shape that’s impossible to fill,” Birnholz said. “I don’t want to put myself in a situation where my theme entries force me to find a crossing five-letter word with the pattern A_Z_K, because there likely isn’t anything that works for that pattern.”

Next, he thinks of clues that are witty or funny to go with the answers. To create the puzzles he uses Crossword Compiler, a computer program that makes constructing the crossword puzzle much easier.

When Birnholz set out to publish his puzzles, he turned to puzzle blogs for information. An avid reader of Michael Sharp’s blog “Rex Parker does the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle,” Birnholz asked Sharp for advice. Sharp directed him to, a crossword constructor community website.

According to Birnholz, his current work as a graduate student in history has benefited from his puzzle construction.

“A constructor must have an attention to detail, almost to the point of being obsessive in avoiding reusing words in a grid, having consistent themes, and writing funny, orignal and accurate clues” he said. “I can apply that to being a historian with respect to the research I do and working to get the facts right.”

In addition to the puzzle appearing in today’s issue, three more of Birnholz’s puzzles have been accepted to appear in future editions of the New York Times.