Andrew Bartlow ’10 Receives Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory
By Francisco Tutella
Andrew Bartlow ’10 discovered a new world when he began conducting research as an undergraduate at Wilkes University. In his sophomore year he joined the laboratory of Michael Steele, professor of biology and H. Fenner Chair of Research Biology, and the experience changed his career path.
“I was interested in veterinary medicine at the beginning of my undergraduate career,” Bartlow says. “I started doing research as a sophomore in Mike Steele’s lab and I didn’t realize that it was a profession I would like or that it was even a possibility.”
Yet Bartlow has made research his career. He is currently a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the laboratory best known for the Manhattan Project and the development of the first atomic bomb.
Bartlow joined Los Alamos’ Bioscience Division as a graduate research assistant in October 2017 and applied for the highly competitive fellowship in February 2018. He says that of more than 30 applicants, he was one of five chosen to receive the prestigious fellowship, which provides research funding for up to three years. A community ecologist, Bartlow studies biological communities and how environmental change, such as climate change and habitat change, influences communities.
Bartlow is currently researching bird communities in the Los Alamos area in relation to climate change and pine tree mortality and is involved in projects studying the microbial communities of people and animals. He describes himself as the “stats person:” he analyzes collected data to identify patterns and tests hypotheses related to ecological concepts. He hopes to use this research to better understand how environmental change impacts biological communities and if scientists can use certain communities as indicators of environmental change.
Bartlow credits the education he received and the research experience he gained at Wilkes for his career trajectory. After graduating from the University with a degree in biology, Bartlow pursued a doctoral degree at the University of Utah, where he studied parasite community ecology and received a prestigious National Science Foundation Research Fellowship for his work examining host/parasite interactions in the Great Basin Desert in western Utah.
“They are all the same,” Bartlow says. “They are all biological communities. Whether it is a bird, microbial, or parasite community, all the same concepts and skills apply. So I can use those statistics and those methods and analyze the data the same way. Having those skills and the basic foundation of ecology that I got at Wilkes as an undergraduate, and researching with Dr. Steele, allowed me to explore different areas of research and be involved in a lot of cool projects.”
Bartlow says it would be great to be converted to a scientist at the laboratory but thinks his ultimate goal would be to work at a liberal arts school, have a few graduate students working with him, and work with undergraduate students as well.
He states, “I know the benefit of getting undergraduates involved in research. Being at Wilkes and seeing Dr. Steele and the rest of the biology department foster that undergraduate research environment, I think I could do that myself. It’s rewarding, benefits many people and gets potentially the best people into science as a career.”
James Alfano Jr. ’15 Promotes Cultural Understanding With Fulbright
by Samantha Stanich MA ’18
James Alfano Jr. ’15 received the Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to Taiwan in education. Alfano is teaching teach English at Hualien City School Districts as part of a project to promote cultural understanding and language instruction to Taiwanese students. The award is presented by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Alfano graduated from Wilkes with majors in history and secondary education.
Alfano is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens conducting research, teaching English, and providing expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
“I feel very thankful for the opportunity to teach in Taiwan and provide English instruction while teaching their students about Western culture,” Alfano says. “It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m happy to represent my country and university in a way that’s impactful to students who are entering a very different, globalized world.”
Alfano was nervous about how the citizens of Hualien would respond to him since it is a small city with not much diversity. However, as soon as the Wilkes graduate set foot on foreign soil, everyone welcomed him and help make the cultural adjustment easier than expected.
Alfano will be in Taiwan until June 30, 2019, spending almost a full year in Taiwan. Before leaving, he researched the country’s school system and learned how they feel about learning English.
“I learned very quickly that it’s different from your typical American school setting,” he says. “I think having that prior knowledge allowed me to align my expectations properly and avoid getting too blindsided by the differences.”
He credits his ability to adapt and learn in new, unfamiliar environments to what he learned at Wilkes.
“My student teaching seminar was incredibly helpful for preparing me for this, as that was one of the busiest times of my life,” he says. “There were challenges to overcome, and I believe the counsel I received from the education and history departments allowed me to persevere and find my own teaching style.”
Alfano is hoping to learn about a culture that he believes “often goes unnoticed on the world stage.”
“Taiwan is in the news or brought up occasionally, but only in the context of escalating tensions with China,” he said. “The citizens of Taiwan have been incredibly nice and considerate, despite my vast unfamiliarity with the Chinese language. I aspire to continue learning about their culture to truly understand their values of both their citizens and students.”
When he returns, he aspires to teach his American students about Taiwanese culture in a more immersive way to remove misconceptions and stereotypes. In doing this, Alfano will continue the Fulbright Program tradition of building lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
“Ultimately, I believe this experience will make me not only a more culturally empathetic individual, but a more effective teacher that can draw on real-world, first-hand experiences that are critical when discussing concepts in high school social studies classrooms,” he said.
Andrew Seaman ’10 Earns Society of Professional Journalists Highest Honor
By Sarah Bedford ’17
Andrew Seaman ’10 attended the Society of Professional Journalists President’s Installation Banquet in Baltimore, Md., this September for the final time as the chair of the organization’s ethics committee. But what he thought would be a night of reflection turned into a celebration.
Seaman was awarded the Wells Memorial Key for Outstanding Service to the Society. It is the group’s highest achievement, awarded to the member who is judged to have served the society in the most outstanding fashion during the preceding year or over a period of years.
“He is one of the most reliable people I have ever worked with,” says Lynn Walsh, former Society of Professional Journalist president. “He is constantly available, timely with projects and just fun to work with. Andrew has a way of getting serious points across by adding in a bit of wit.”
In 2014 Seaman became the chair of the ethics committee for the organization. “It’s sort of surreal,” he says. “I wouldn’t have expected to be able to do that.” He first joined the organization’s board of directors as a student member, and then was named to the awards committee before chairing the ethics committee. He was part of the group which reviewed and edited the code of ethics which hadn’t been updated since 1996. The code provides the cornerstone for professional standards for all journalists.
But since then, Seaman has shifted fields in the world of communications. He joined LinkedIn in May 2018, not to find a job, but to accept one. Seaman joined the company, touted as the world’s largest professional network, as news editor. Based in New York City, he works with a team to provide the news and views that members need to know on what matters most in their fields.
“The way they approach journalism is unlike other tech companies—it’s really innovative,” he says. “I think of journalism as something that is unchanging—what changes is how you get that information.”
LinkedIn provides users with access to information from leading professionals and industries in resources like the LinkedIn Daily Rundown. Seaman explains that the team keeps up to date with professionals and industry trends to make sure users are in the know. “LinkedIn wants to start putting that information out there to utilize that information for other members,” explains Seaman, who majored in communication studies at Wilkes.
Working for a major media group isn’t new to Seaman. After earning his master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, he was employed by Thomson Reuters. As the senior medical journalist and then digital editor during his roughly seven years with the organization, he covered the Affordable Care Act, the White House and health policy. After covering health care, the job at LinkedIn provided him with new opportunities. “If you’re too comfortable it’s time for a change,” he says.
Though the Wells Memorial Key was his lastest achievement, Seaman also was recognized with the President’s Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work chairing Reuters ethics committee. Stepping down from his role at the Society of Professional Journalists has allowed time for a new perspective, Seaman reflects. “It’s been a wonderful part of my life.”
Seaman has been a journalist since his undergraduate career at Wilkes where he was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Beacon. “Wilkes was a fantastic education because it wasn’t big and you could do stuff right away,” he says adding, “That prepared me to jump in on projects.”
He credits his Wilkes mentors for their support – and notes that it does not end at graduation. Part of his support network includes Andrea Frantz, who was an associate professor of communication studies during his time at Wilkes, as well as Mark Stine, professor and chair of communication studies, and Evene Estwick, associate professor of communication studies.
“It’s fun to run into your Wilkes support network—to run into them in the city,” he says. “It’s good to have people from Wilkes with you throughout your career. Seaman says his time at Wilkes, as well as his various internships and career experiences, have positioned him for what comes next.
Erin Gallagher ’13 Creates Graphic Images of Social Media Activity
By Samantha Stanich MA ’18
Integrative media alumna Erin Gallagher ’13 of Kingston, Pa., has been creating visual representations of social media activity since February 2017. Her work has been gaining attention and has been featured on the online news site Buzzfeed. It recently earned her an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
Gallagher describes her work as “ongoing social media research.” She started her data visualizations to help others understand social media manipulation.
“After the 2016 election there was a lot of fear about propaganda bots swaying public opinion and trolls nudging us to vote one way or another, or to not vote at all,” she explains. “So my original intention was to show people what Twitter bots look like, and I’ve done that a few times. But I’ve found that there is also value in showing people what our real human interactions on social media look like.”
Describing her process, Gallagher says she downloads tweets for a hashtag or a keyword. She then creates a network graph of that Twitter activity using Gephi, an open source network visualization software that reveals patterns and trends in the data being researched. The result is a visual representation of a digital conversation shown by burst of color on a black background, resembling fireworks at night. Pictured here is a graphic reflecting the online activity around the hashtag #metoo, which exploded on social media amid news related to sexual assault allegations. It was featured in Artnet News in November 2017.