News@Gettysburg Latest news coverage from Gettysburg College Biology Prof. Alex Trillo's research attracts international attention Tropical rainforest frogs in Central America may provide the latest evidence of a changing planet, according to a new paper co-authored by Biology Prof. Alex Trillo. The study is receiving worldwide media attention, and was featured on the PBS Newshour and in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper as well as The Atlantic, among others.

The Study

Thirty years from now, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, according to the United Nations. Trillo, as part of a larger team at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, says that has serious implications for nature. As human settlements expand into previously forested areas, wild animals must either adapt to live among us or be displaced.

Living in urban areas, however, can have major effects on the biology of these animals. Evidence of this can be seen in the mating habits of frogs in Panama. Writing in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Trillo and fellow researchers zero in on the sounds male Túngara frogs make to attract females. Their work suggests frogs more accustomed to urban environments can adjust their calls in response to reduced risks of predation or parasitism in the city, ultimately making their calls more attractive. Frogs from the rainforest, on the other hand, lack this ability.

A Corothrella midge parasitizing on a male frog

The Take-Home Message

“Our study shows that urban life can affect animals in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. Previous studies have shown that light pollution and noise can impact how animals communicate, but this study shows that cities can alter predator and parasite communities, allowing frogs to call in ways that are more appealing to mates,” Trillo said.

This innovative research underscores Gettysburg’s collaborative approach to the sciences. Trillo’s partnership for this project included faculty from Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, Purdue University, the University of Texas, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the University of New York at Abu Dhabi. Funds were provided by a Marie Curie grant, a Veni grant, Holland’s Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Celebrating 2018 midyear graduates Continuing a Gettysburg tradition, College leaders Dec. 12 honored nearly 50 students for their perseverance in completing degree requirements midyear.

President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, in remarks at her final Midyear Graduation Recognition Ceremony before retirement, called on graduates to be problem solvers in a challenging world. Her charge to students: act with courage and integrity. She urged them to carry their Gettysburg experience forward and do great work as ethical leaders at home and abroad.

“Gettysburg College has prepared you to make a difference,” Riggs said. “In this chaotic time, it can be easy to lose ourselves in a sense of self-importance, in a race to the top. Instead of stepping over others, I encourage you to lift others up, to help them realize the promise that is within them, to engage with others in helping to make this world a better place.”

Alan Perry

Italian Studies Prof. Alan Perry spoke on behalf of the faculty. He reflected on graduation as a “rite of passage.” And he drew parallels between the students’ achievements and 14th century Italian poet Dante’s quest for enlightenment, in which Dante is crowned “lord” of himself – “upright, wholesome and free…”

“I’d like to think that this evening we too as an institution now crown you all as lords of yourselves so that you may go forth and embrace the same mission,” Perry said. “Like Dante, you have done the hard work. You have sharpened your wits to engage problems that you might not even now foresee, and you have gained insight and experience in knowing how to work with others to resolve them.”

The annual Midyear Graduates Recognition Ceremony honors students who have completed degree requirements in August 2018 or are expected to complete their degrees in December 2018. The event concluded with a reception for students and guests.

Watch the livestream of the ceremony.

All midyear graduates are invited to participate in May’s Commencement Weekend, where Newbery Medal-winning author Jerry Spinelli ’63 is set to deliver the keynote address.

View photos on Flickr.

Ben Tabor ’13 on making connections at home and abroad The air was electric in the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom in Parsippany, New Jersey. Democrat Mikie Sherrill—a former Navy pilot, ex-prosecutor, and mother of four—had just won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in a district held by Republicans for the last 30 years. It was a massive upset and Ben Tabor ’13 had a front-row seat.

“Our district was the biggest swing of all the districts in the country at +32 percent,” said Tabor, who volunteered full-time on Sherrill’s campaign. She won by 13 percent.

Tabor was inspired by Sherrill’s run. A true Gettysburgian, he didn’t sit on the sidelines and watch, but took action. He saw an opportunity to grow through hands-on experience, challenge his own assumptions through interactions with constituents, and be a part of the change he wished to see in the world.

That drive to make change through a political campaign was seeded while a student at Gettysburg College. Tabor was inspired by a trip taken to Washington, D.C., in his junior year through an Eisenhower Institute semester-long program. “We met with a campaign consultant, and I knew immediately that working on a campaign was something I wanted to do one day,” said Tabor.

That day became the lead-up to the midterm elections of 2018. Tabor worked across all areas of the Sherrill campaign, including in fundraising, phone banking, research, policy, and ultimately, doing constituency work with veterans and unions. He also knocked on a lot of doors.

Ben Tabor ’13 visits government counterparts in Hail, Saudi Arabia, for the city’s annual off-road rally in the desert

Tabor said working on the campaign re-emphasized for him the value and importance of talking to people face-to-face. “We’ve kind of lost that,” he said, commenting on the American political divide. “People will sit in their houses all day watching MSNBC or Fox News and get all fired up, and yet they haven't had a conversation with an actual person.”

Canvassing for Sherrill, Tabor had the opportunity to meet people he wouldn’t have otherwise. Sometimes, they didn’t agree. However, Tabor says, he could always find common ground and connect across disagreements, particularly when talking about his candidate.

“Sherrill is a veteran, a prosecutor, a mom. She used to ride a motorcycle. She’s got so many levels from which to connect with people,” explained Tabor. “When I knock on her behalf, I may meet a veteran who doesn’t agree with her political stances, but we can talk about the value of military service to this country. Sometimes, connecting with people is as simple as that. Listen. Empathize.” Through concerns about healthcare, the Kavanaugh nomination, the economy, and a breadth of other issues, Tabor says he “broke barriers,” busted stereotypes, and made real connections.

Tabor learned the art and power of connecting with people across lines of difference while taking part in Gettysburg College’s global study, language-immersion program in Paris (read more about that program) and working abroad for five years in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Kenya.

While in Tunisia, the site of the awakening of the Arab Spring in 2010, Tabor learned about the value of the youth uprisings and why revolutions occur and vary across regions. The Arab Spring would officially spread to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Yet Tabor believes Saudi Arabia is “the untold story of the Arab Spring.” Unlike the other countries where the youth revolted, “the Saudi government brought the revolution to the people,” he said.

At the home of Ben Tabor’s ’13 Saudi client for the breaking of the fast, Iftar dinner, during the holy month of RamadanBen Tabor ’13 visits government counterparts in Hail, Saudi Arabia, for the city’s annual off-road rally in the desert

In the wake of widespread transformation across the region, Saudi Arabia began moving towards progressive changes domestically and enlisted an army of international consultants to help. After a brief time working with NGOs in Tunisia, Tabor began working for Numu Consulting, commuting by plane from Tunisia (and later, Dubai) to Saudi Arabia to become a part of this historic moment.

Tabor initially focused on youth unemployment issues and then transitioned to work on macro-economic reforms. Specifically, he worked on energy subsidy reform, which Tabor calls “one of the largest economic reforms that Saudi Arabia has passed in the last 50 years,” with an expected savings of $30 billion by 2020. Tabor had to quickly understand the geopolitics and nuances of the region, as well as connect with diverse peoples, in order to be taken seriously. He met with hundreds of Saudis ranging in position—from minister, governor, and prince, to student, Uber driver, and the unemployed.

“No matter how remote or far away from home I traveled—and I worked in very remote areas in the Saudi Kingdom—I was able to find ways to connect with people, no matter how different,” said Tabor when talking about his time in the Middle East. “For example, people universally care about their family, access to healthcare, job opportunities. So, whether it be the Saudi Uber driver or my work colleagues from the Middle East or Europe, I could connect through those similarities right away.”

At the home of Ben Tabor’s ’13 Saudi client for the breaking of the fast, Iftar dinner, during the holy month of RamadanAt the home of Ben Tabor’s ’13 Saudi client for the breaking of the fast, Iftar dinner, during the holy month of Ramadan

That ability to break down barriers and connect, cultivated at Gettysburg College and honed abroad, prepared Tabor well for his role in the Mikie Sherrill congressional win.

Tabor credits Gettysburg College for providing him with the opportunities and support to broaden his horizons, explore the world, and realize his passions.

“At Gettysburg, there are endless amounts of opportunity,” he said. “I was encouraged to complete an independent study on youth unemployment. I studied abroad, received funding, and was exposed to campaigning all because of Gettysburg College. I’m so appreciative of the one-on-one attention I received to reach my goals.”

What can you do with a music degree? Gettysburg College inspires students to pursue their passions, without limits. Whether you want to study music and music alone, or combine your study with other academic pursuits, our Sunderman Conservatory of Music offers you this freedom.

At Sunderman, you have the opportunity to choose between three distinctive degree programs—Bachelor of Arts in Music, Bachelor of Music Performance, or Bachelor of Music Education, in addition to a music minor—to help you build a strong musical foundation through performance, music theory, music history, and world music.

Our music students benefit from the best of both worlds: a music conservatory rooted in the liberal arts. Our graduates go on to enter a variety of fields—from composing music for our favorite movies and TV shows to teaching the next generation of aspiring young musicians.

Take a look at how Gettysburg’s recent music graduates are using their music degrees.

Allison Geatches Cantor ’09

Film and television music composer

“My passion for composing began when I started playing piano at age 4, and I composed my first piece at 5. My parents aren’t particularly musical, it’s just something that I’ve always loved. At age 11, I realized that composing music could be a career.

 “At Gettysburg College, I participated in concert choir, college choir, camerata, and other musical ensembles. The Sunderman faculty, such as Profs. Buzz Jones and Jocelyn Swigger, encouraged me to seek out my love for composing—and they taught me a lot of life lessons, including how to practice, how to learn, and of course, time management.

“One thing that made the Sunderman Conservatory so special was having constant access to learning and growing musicians. As a developing composer, I could always ask, ‘Hey, can you play this on the French horn? I want to hear how it sounds.’ Sunderman students are all super helpful and so excited about what they do. I had 30 to 40 people involved in my senior recital alone—it was just incredible.”

Read more about Allison Geatches Cantor ’09.

Kate Anderson ’09

Television and musical theatre songwriter

“My Gettysburg experience showed me what it is to have a life that is busy and fulfilling and happy. It sounds obvious, but I think it’s actually harder to find that kind of balance than you would think.

“When I graduated, I felt an enormous void where all that fulfillment used to be. It drove me to seek it out in my professional life. I found the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater writing workshop and started to feel the old familiar feelings of fulfillment and joy return. I became more and more passionate about songwriting, and more and more driven to make that my career.

“I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do. I’m very excited to keep working in this area, especially for Disney. Working in LA, writing songs, receiving feedback from the Disney-Pixar Braintrust—it’s just been amazing.

“I will never forget my voice teacher, Prof. Kathleen Sasnett, asking me what I wanted to do after college. She said, ‘If you’re not going to pursue this, then what are you doing?’ It made me really think about what direction I wanted to go in. I loved comedy and writing. I wrote parodies throughout my time at Gettysburg, and I eventually chose to do a creative writing minor. It all led perfectly towards a career as a songwriter and playwright.”

Read more about Kate Anderson ’09.

Alice Broadway ’14

Elementary School Music Teacher at Mechanicsburg Area School District

“I entered Gettysburg with an intent to participate in music, but not major in it. I quickly found myself taking advantage of the liberal arts setting and all the ensembles and programs available to all students. It did not take long for me to realize that my then-deemed ‘hobby’ of music was truly my passion; I was enjoying playing music more than anything else.

“Through teaching small groups in music rehearsals during marching band, I realized I wanted to not just play music—I wanted to teach it. The music education major at Gettysburg College was the best college decision I made to help me continue learning and sharing my passion of music and music education with many more kids. Gettysburg College prepared me for teaching a wide variety of music classes and provided me with an adaptable skill set and supportive educator network to be able to find success teaching children anywhere I ended up working.

“Being an elementary music teacher allows me to inspire and be inspired by young musicians on a daily basis. Their enthusiasm for learning and exploring music in their lives is contagious.”

Read more about Alice Broadway ’14.

David Dalton ’15

External relations manager at Washington Performing Arts

“I found my niche in music during high school, but attended Gettysburg College to expand my musical opportunities. At Gettysburg, I participated in wind symphony, jazz ensemble, marching band, symphony orchestra, and brass quintet. I also got the chance to go on tour to China, Singapore, Nicaragua, Turkey, Italy, and France with these ensembles.

“During my senior year, I worked on band staff for Prof. Russell McCutcheon, and I very much enjoyed the responsibilities of that job. I remember toward the end of that year, I made a joke about working on band staff forever, and that was the first time I actually thought to do a search to see if there were other ensembles that I could serve in this capacity. Six months later, I was on staff at the Eastman School of Music supporting five of their large ensembles. They had an opening for someone who was well-versed in a wide variety of musical repertoire (orchestra, band, jazz, choir), knew what these ensembles needed to succeed, and had a passion for the intricacies of the behind-the-scenes work. My experiences at Gettysburg set me up well for my current position."

Heather McConnell ’17

Teaching assistant in music at Temple University

“I was passionate about pursuing a music degree long before I arrived at Gettysburg College. At Gettysburg, I was part of the opera workshop every year and performed on the weekly informal recital. I was also a peer learning associate (PLA) for music history and an office assistant for the voice and opera department.

“Without a doubt, the amazing faculty at Gettysburg, particularly Profs. Jeffrey Fahnestock, Marta Robertson, Scott Crowne, and Susan Hochmiller, guided me every step of the way, and they are still amazing resources even after my graduation. My study abroad experience in Vienna was also one-of-a-kind, shaping me both as a singer and a person.

“This year, while pursuing my master’s in voice performance, I am working as the office assistant for the voice/opera department coordinator at Temple University. I also teach private voice lessons to music therapy, music education, and theatre majors.”

Read more about Heather McConnell ’17

2019 Commencement speaker is author Jerry Spinelli ’63 Jerry Spinelli ’63 will speak on Sunday, May 19, 2019, at Gettysburg College’s 184th Commencement ceremony.

The 11 a.m. ceremony will take place—rain or shine—on Beachem Portico on the north side of Pennsylvania Hall.

Daisy Sullivan ’19 recommended Spinelli’s name as speaker after rereading her favorite book, Crash, by the author this summer: “The book has such a strong message that I believe is important for people of all ages to hear,” she said. “I’m so excited to learn that he will be our speaker because our generation grew up reading his books. They reflect a type of wisdom that my peers and I could really benefit from as we gear up to enter the ‘real world.’”

About the speaker:

One day in second grade Jerry Spinelli dressed up in his cowboy outfit, complete with golden cap pistols and spurs on his boots. He went to school that way. It was not Halloween. When the teacher asked if he "would like to do something for the class," he got up and sang "I Have the Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle."

Shortly thereafter he ceased to be a singing cowboy and decided to become a baseball player. In eleventh grade he wrote a poem about a high school football game. It was published in the local (Norristown, PA) newspaper. He traded in his baseball bat for a pencil and became a writer.

The story of his life to that point is told in his memoir Knots in My Yo-Yo String. His sixth novel, Maniac Magee, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1991 for "The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children." His eighteenth book, Wringer, received a Newbery Honor. Stargirl will be a Disney film on the company's new streaming platform, expected to launch in late 2019.

Jerry Spinelli's books appear in more than 40 languages. Anti-apartheid forces in South Africa recruited Maniac Magee to their cause. Loser travels through rural Japan as a stage play. There are Stargirl Societies around the world.

Jerry Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow author, Eileen, in Media, Pennsylvania. They have six children and thirty-six grand- and great-grandchildren. And counting.

He received an honorary degree from Gettysburg College in 2005.

For more information about Commencement, please refer to the Commencement website. It will be updated frequently as Commencement weekend approaches.

Succeeding in STEM Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates are in high demand. However, these fields of study continue to struggle to retain almost half of the students who major in them, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The challenge for students who come from underrepresented backgrounds is even greater.

At Gettysburg College, we strive to create purposeful educational pathways that are designed with the supports, mentorship, and academic experiences needed to help students succeed.

Our Gettysburg College STEM Scholars Programs is uniquely designed to recruit, support, and retain STEM students who are academically promising, first-generation, and/or an underrepresented minority. The program, which was created with the help of a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant, now has 32 members from three cohorts on campus.

Read about three of these remarkable students who used the STEM Scholars Program as a springboard to realize their academic and research goals within a peer cohort of support.


Major: Computer science

Minor: Math

“I think a lot of young people who don’t have parents who went to college lack a certain confidence. Honestly, if it weren’t for the STEM Scholars Program, I probably wouldn't have gone to a four-year college."

Ricardo Hernandez ’21 grew up with Gettysburg College in his backyard, yet he never visited or gave it much of a thought. “I think that happens a lot when you grow up in a college town,” said Hernandez. “You kind of forget to see something great because it’s so close.”

It was only at the suggestion of a friend that Hernandez decided to give Gettysburg a real look. When he toured the campus, it felt right. “I was impressed,” he explained. “I particularly enjoyed talking to the professors. It just seemed like they really cared about me.”

Even so, Hernandez wasn’t convinced that a four-year college was for him. As a first-generation student and a self-described introvert, he didn’t feel prepared. He was scared. But Hernandez said the program provided a critical support group that helped him navigate new experiences and challenges, as well as a peer cohort with similar interests and backgrounds.

Now a sophomore and computer science major, you can find Hernandez leading his own Gettysburg campus tours without a trace of shyness. In fact, he’s adamant about finding a career in computer science that allows him to regularly interact with people. “I’m definitely more confident,” he said with a laugh.


Major: Chemistry

“The STEM Scholars Program gave me the support group I needed to succeed as a first-generation student. I’ve not only had direct interactions with several faculty members on campus, but I’ve also gained a group of lifelong friends within my cohort.”

When Shelby Nicolau ’20 was considering which college to attend, the STEM Scholars Program at Gettysburg College was a deciding factor. The program’s support and financial assistance gave Nicolau the confidence she needed to matriculate as a first-generation college student at an institution with a strong academic reputation. “The program is a tremendous resource that gives first-generation and minority students an equal opportunity to succeed in college,” she said.

At Gettysburg, Nicolau was exposed to hands-on STEM research early through a freshman course called Phage Hunters, in which students become research scientists hunting phage (a virus that infects and replicates within bacteria and archaea). She also later became a member of the nanolab that explores the surface chemistry of gold nanoparticles.

Now a junior, Nicolau has taken part in multiple research opportunities and internships, strengthening her love for STEM. During her first summer at Gettysburg College, Nicolau completed an internship with Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center, where she was able to continue working on phage therapy. After that summer, she shifted her focus to chemistry and continues to work in the nanolab with her advisor Chemistry Prof. Lucas Thompson, whom she credits with keeping her solidly connected to the college and her major. She is currently working on research in materials chemistry.


Major: Biochemistry and molecular biology

“The STEM Scholars Program ensures that students know they can succeed in majors that are famous for being notoriously difficult.”

While other colleges treated Alexander Paredes ’20 like a number, Gettysburg College made him feel seen—and wanted—from the moment he arrived on campus. Finding the right place was exciting, but that enthusiasm was tempered by the price tag.

“For the longest time, college wasn't really a thought for me. It was never anywhere near affordable,” said Paredes.

An invitation to the STEM Scholars Program changed that. “Through the STEM Scholars Program and its financial support, college became a real opportunity for me,” he explained.

Once Paredes was officially a student, he found encouragement and comraderies in his STEM Scholars cohort. They, and his own successes in the classroom, reinforced again and again that he could flourish academically and within the sciences.

“The STEM Scholars Program creates an environment that supports collaborative success,” said Paredes when reflecting on the power of the cohort. “I’ve often faced times when I felt unable to grasp a certain topic in a class, but I was able to reach out to another member in my cohort and receive help—and I was able to do the same for them.”

Now in his junior year, Paredes’s research resume is impressive. For a semester, he worked with Biology Prof. Véronique Delesalle on genomic annotations, which is the process of identifying the locations of genes and the coding regions in a genome and determining what those genes do. Additionally, since his freshman year, Paredes has been conducting bioinorganic research with his adviser, Chemistry Prof. Katherine Buettner. With Buettner, Paredes has been investigating ways to prevent metals from becoming unstable when they interact with water.

Paredes plans to become a doctor. He encourages others with big dreams in the sciences to explore the STEM Scholars Program.

“The program ensures that students know they can succeed in majors that are famous for being notoriously difficult. It teaches you that there are no boundaries,” he said.

Winnie Wang ’18: Committed to fighting homelessness in San Francisco Winnie Wang ’18 has always been dedicated to social justice. At Gettysburg College, Wang forged a path that allowed her to immerse herself in the issues of homelessness immediately after graduation.

Hailing from San Francisco, California, the transition to Gettysburg was an enormous one for Wang. However, the community and opportunities she witnessed while visiting campus during Get Acquainted Day drew her to the institution and ultimately shaped her four years here.

“I remember sitting in on a political theory class and thinking that the structure of the class and the content was what I wanted in college,” Wang said. “During my first semester at Gettysburg, I actually enrolled in the course and the professor still remembered who I was simply from my visit a few months prior.”

At Gettysburg College, professors are dedicated to their students, and they recognize that college life can be challenging. Wang’s professors cared about her as a student and as an individual, and that meant a lot, especially being 2,579 miles from home.

Once settled on campus, Wang joined the Eisenhower Institute, a distinctive program that provides connections to global experts who lead undergraduate programs, helps students translate theory into practice, and allows them to build a professional network. She participated in three Eisenhower Institute Programs—Women in Leadership, Inside the Middle East (the Institute now offers a similar program, Contours of the Middle East and North Africa), and the Undergraduate Fellowship.

“I think outside of just the contextual knowledge I gained from each program, they also taught me life skills—how to ask the right questions and engage with people who are well-established experts in their careers,” she said. “These are networking skills that aren’t taught in the classroom, but rather through experience.”

With an office located steps from the White House in Washington, D.C., the Eisenhower Institute allows students to immerse themselves in national and global affairs. “Being that the Eisenhower Institute is a distinctive program only offered at Gettysburg College, the public policy exposure is something I see to be extremely valuable,” she said. 

Wang’s participation in the Eisenhower Institute allowed her to travel extensively throughout her time at Gettysburg College. She mentioned her trips to Israel, France, and the United Kingdom. “I truly got to be a global learner,” she said.

Connecting her academic knowledge with global awareness allowed Wang to think critically about a variety of social issues. During her final semester, she centered her philosophy thesis around corporate social responsibility. Using a case study of the San Francisco Bay Area, she analyzed patterns of homelessness in one of the most vulnerable populations within her home community.

“It’s odd to think about how a few months ago I was writing about housing and homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area and today I’m working within an organization whose mission is to combat just this,” Wang said. “To jumpstart my career in the city that has shaped much of who I am is priceless.”

After graduating from Gettysburg in 2018, Wang returned to San Francisco where she is currently working as a program associate within the learning and evaluation department at the Community Housing Partnership, an outcomes-focused nonprofit that aims to help individuals experiencing homelessness secure housing and become independent.

“My role is data-focused, so I contribute in creating a number of evaluation tools that gauge and help our residents in becoming more self-sufficient,” Wang said. “My job is exciting in that I’m contributing to a cause that quite literally changes people’s lives.”

Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Wang’s experience at Gettysburg provided her a cultural and social shift that was very different to how she grew up. “My time at Gettysburg, even as a first-year student, taught me how to navigate spaces that are not partial to me, and it also taught me to form relationships with those who are very different from myself,” she said. “This is something I find invaluable.”

Computer science majors augment historic exploration through virtual reality projects At Gettysburg College, two computer science majors are reimagining how Gettysburg tourists experience Lincoln Cemetery, as well as Pennsylvania Hall on campus. Through the College’s Digital Technology Summer Fellows Program, Orrin Wilson ’20 and Just Hoang Anh ’21 developed cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) tours that empower inquiring minds to explore the historic sites from the comfort of their own homes.

Within Gettysburg’s Innovation Lab—a campus space designed for the exploration of bold, technological ideas—Wilson and Anh had access to leading software tools, such as Blender and Unity Pro, in addition to two College-owned DJI Mavic Pro drones.

computer science department students Orrin Wilson ’20 and Just Hoang Anh ’21

Wilson, a member of the Bullets track team and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, focused his design efforts on the color, texture, and lighting of Gettysburg College’s iconic campus landmark, Pennsylvania Hall, which served as a field hospital for hundreds of Union and Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg.

“I used Blender for texturing and creating the details in the models. Unity Pro was used to create things in the world and in the model, like lighting, wind, sound, and terrain,” Wilson said.

At Gettysburg College, students are encouraged to pursue academic interests with open minds and to be unafraid to follow their curiosity down unexpected paths. Originally a biology major, Wilson discovered a passion for computer science through his coursework.

“I had taken a computer science class in high school, so I thought I’d try it out again at Gettysburg,” he said. “Now it’s become a great part of my life and a potential future career.

Anh dedicated his VR tour to Lincoln Cemetery, the burial site of Gettysburg’s African American citizens and veterans during the Civil War era.

computer science department students Orrin Wilson ’20 and Just Hoang Anh ’21

Segregated even in death, more than 30 members of the U.S. Colored Troops were laid to rest on the plot, having been denied burial in Soldiers’ National Cemetery—the location of President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address 155 years ago.

“With this project, I sought to bring back the importance of the past and its forgotten history, while utilizing technology of the future,” said Anh, an international student from Vietnam, and president of the Vietnamese Student Association on campus.

“There are so many international students like myself who are not able to feasibly make a trip to Gettysburg. This gives them the opportunity to see Lincoln Cemetery firsthand and feel what it is like to be here,” he said.

Anh’s tour consisted of two different models, enabling viewers to teleport back and forth from each. “I used tools such as ZBrush, which adds roughness to the tombstones, and Substance Painter to add texture and lightning to the tombstones,” said Ahn. “These tools add a realistic touch to the 3D models, which allows the users to immerse themselves in the virtual reality.”

computer science department students Orrin Wilson ’20 and Just Hoang Anh ’21

Both students emphasized the guidance and encouragement they received throughout the Fellowship, most notably from their mentor Eric Remy, director of educational technology. Remy helped the students broaden their original project ideas, gain an understanding of the Innovation Lab’s VR tools, and prepare for a public presentation to campus community members.

“Even if you are not a computer science major, Gettysburg gives you a great opportunity to find your passion and revolutionize,” said Wilson. “In our Innovation Lab, you can create any project. It has been a very rewarding experience.”

VIDEO: Celebrating tradition with Servo Thanksgiving 2018 A fork or a spoon?

With what utensil do you use to eat mashed potatoes? For the majority of our students, it’s a fork. For our other students, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re eating Servo’s annual Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

At Gettysburg College, our annual traditions elevate the pride we feel in our community, and the importance of coming together to reflect on our shared values.

Waiting in line outside for hours for the delicious turkey dinner, students reflected on things that they were thankful for—family, friends, professors, and JMR. Check out the video to find out more about what our students are thankful for or watch it on Youtube. View photos from the event on Flickr.

Tyler Mitchell ’20 creates potentially revolutionary medical device in Gettysburg Innovation Lab At Gettysburg College, innovation occurs when a student’s academic pursuits and personal passions collide. Just take Tyler Mitchell ’20, a computer science major who is leveraging 3D printing technology on campus to aid those with Type 1 diabetes.

“I’ve lived with diabetes all my life, and realize the limitations it can have on you every single day,” said Mitchell. “My goal is to make the quality of life better—to make life normal—for those living through a similar experience as me.”

Through the College’s Digital Technology Summer Fellows Program, Mitchell invested months of hands-on experimentation to develop a potentially revolutionary medical device—an affordable, closed-loop insulin pump for diabetics.

Created in Gettysburg’s Innovation Lab—a campus space designed for the exploration of bold, technological ideas—the insulin pump operates entirely from reading blood sugars that continuously move through a glucose monitor. With access to the College’s 3D printer, Mitchell manufactured the necessary components for the pump, such as the casing and the gears responsible for administering the insulin.

Tyler Mitchell“The pump can’t be connected to anyone yet, but the way things measure on it demonstrates that it works. It definitely feels good to be one step closer to making a difference,” he said.

While Mitchell takes great pride in his closed-loop design, which controls a complex path of blood sugar data, the technology’s promise lies in its cost savings for patients.

The beauty of 3D printing is that it does not require industrial-sized equipment, which dramatically lowers manufacturing costs on a per-unit basis. Mitchell’s closed-loop insulin pump costs roughly $800 to produce—that’s a staggering $9,200 less than the inflated sticker price of a hybrid closed-loop pump on the market today.

When factoring that 1.25 million Americans currently live with Type 1 diabetes—according to the American Diabetes Association—Mitchell’s groundbreaking work at Gettysburg College could be life-altering for diabetics across the nation and around the world.

“This project would not have been attainable or nearly as successful without access to specific courses at Gettysburg and the support of my mentors,” said Mitchell, citing the guidance of Eric Remy, director of educational technology, and Rod Tosten, vice president of information technology.

“Dr. Remy and Dr. Tosten would always answer my questions without hesitation, especially when it came to the physical components of the project, which I needed help with. I also received help from every professor in the computer science department. They inspired ideas on how to make [the pump] even better, and I’m currently implementing some of those ideas. To this day, they’re still guiding me through this process.”

Tyler MitchellRecently, Mitchell was recognized through a Facebook post by Charles Riley—a member of the College Diabetes Network—for his advancements in biotechnology for Type 1 diabetes.

To Mitchell, the acknowledgement signified the tremendous progress he’s made—and the unfinished work still before him.

“At Gettysburg College, I was given the freedom to build whatever I wanted through my summer fellowship—and it seems to be paying off,” he said. “My hope is that this project will have a real-world impact on those suffering with diabetes, and that I can truly help those individuals in a meaningful way.”

College honors 14 Gettysburgians who made ultimate sacrifice during Vietnam era Vietnam Memorial Dedication Ceremony

On Veterans Day Weekend, Gettysburg College dedicated a Vietnam Memorial in honor of 13 alumni and one staff member who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States during the 1966-1973 period of the Vietnam War.

Gettysburgians recognized in the ceremony included Ronald Thomson ’60, Edgar Burchell ’62, Joseph Murphy ’63, John Colestock, James Ewing ’65, Andrew Muns ’65, George Callan ’66, Robert Morris ’66, Charles Richardson ’66, J. Andrew Marsh ’67, Stephen Warner ’68, Daniel Whipps ’69, and Stephen Doane ’70, in addition to ROTC instructor Millard Valerius.

Today, their legacies are now immortalized on the Gettysburg College campus—each name etched into the black granite memorial embedded in the exterior of the College Union Building.

Vietnam Memorial Dedication Ceremony

“The location for this memorial is deliberate. Every day, hundreds of Gettysburg students walk across this patio and enter this building. It is a place of fellowship, a place of community,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 in her dedication remarks.

“Going into the future, our students will look up at this memorial and read the names of these 14 Gettysburgians, 13 of whom were students very much like themselves—going to class, studying in the library, hanging out with best friends and girlfriends, participating in clubs and organizations—individuals who had dreams for the future. As a Gettysburg College family, may we never forget these 14 Gettysburgians, who continue to walk with so many of us in spirit and in our warm memories.”

Black Hawk on Memorial Field

“We mark not only deaths but also legacies, never forgetting that we are still linked to and informed by the character, liveliness, love, and accomplishments of these 14 men,” added Sue Colestock Hill ’67, who helped to spearhead and fund the memorial with a group of devoted alumni.

In addition to the Vietnam Memorial Dedication, attendees from across the state and around the nation experienced a variety of other events, including a panel discussion moderated by History Prof. Michael Birkner ’72, Musselman Library exhibits and reminiscences, and the landing of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter on Memorial Field.

To learn more about the Vietnam War era and its impact on Gettysburg College, read the cover story from the spring issue of the Gettysburg Magazine, Complex Memories, and explore Musselman Library’s Vietnam Memorial Project.

View photos from our Vietnam Memorial Dedication weekend.

Battlefield as teacher Mere steps from Gettysburg College, the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) is fertile ground for history scholars. But, its role as a living laboratory for disciplines beyond history may be surprising.

Learning through observation and experience is a core tenet of a Gettysburg College liberal arts education. The GNMP provides students and faculty personal, hands-on connections to learning and research in history— as well as science and the arts.

A scientific connection

Did you know the battlefield is a prime site for studying geology of the Mesozoic Era? Or that the stones on the bridge near Big Round Top are embedded with dinosaur prints? Many students at Gettysburg College are intimately aware of these facts from their fieldwork in geology, ecology, and environmental sciences.

“Ecology is the study of interactions between species and their environment, but even the most basic concepts can seem rather arcane until students are able to witness them in the field,” said environmental studies Prof. Andrew Wilson, who uses the park in his Principles of Ecology and Environmental Science and Society classes. “Students are generally quite naïve to just how much wildlife there is right on their doorstep.”

The chatter of Wilson’s Principles of Ecology class can be overheard by the students in environmental studies Prof. Sarah M. Principato’s Earth System Science class, as their fieldwork often overlaps.

Principato’s students learn about the geologic history of the area, then study how the different rock types make up the topography of the battlefield and how they influenced the Battle of Gettysburg. From the vantage points of Seminary Ridge, Devil’s Den, and the Overlook Tower, students learn about the geology of the area long before the Civil War: when dinosaurs roamed the earth and when Pangaea began to break apart into the continents.

“My students can see that the layers of rock are mostly at an angle, signaling that there has been tectonic activity. That’s a real ‘aha’ moment for them, like, ‘Oh, wow, the earth was moving!’”

The landscape as teacher

For history and social science scholars, the landscape of the battlefield provides different lessons. Civil War Era Studies Prof. Peter Carmichael, director of the Civil War Institute (CWI), brings his students to the battlefield to read the letters and journals of the soldiers— on the grounds on which they felt, fought, and often perished in 1863.

“These moments on the battlefield are powerful for students, who can feel the presence of the past, whether it is at an obscure grave site at Culp’s Hill or at a more popular tourist haunt like Little Round Top,” Carmichael said. “They discover that the words of a single soldier offer a pinhole through which to explore the broader social and political currents of the Civil War. They see that the battlefield is not just a chessboard of tactical moments.”

Experiential learning in the battlefield

History Prof. Ian Isherwood ’00 said a central goal of a liberal arts education is to instill critical thinking skills. “It’s our job as faculty to encourage our students to learn new ways of approaching the past through its tangible symbols in our community,” he said.

As another example demonstrating the instructional value of Gettysburg’s landscape, Isherwood has his students conduct deep readings of Civil War letters while overlooking the fields of Gettysburg. In his First-Year Seminar, students use the letters to reflect on individual trauma, probe the meaning of monuments through the decades, and write reflections on sacrifice while viewing the headstones at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

“When you are between the ages of 18 and 25—prime military service age—the cemetery takes on a particular resonance,” Isherwood said. “Students reflect on their own lives at a leafy liberal arts institution and juxtapose that with the sacrifices that soldiers their age were making in the past. It’s a powerful moment for them.”

Blurring the truth

Challenging assumptions is integral to a Gettysburg College education. In Prof. Jill Ogline Titus’s class, Rewriting the Past: Historical Fiction and History, she teaches excerpts from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, a novel that may be the best-known and most widely read book ever written on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Her class visits Little Round Top after reading the novel to probe how the book has shaped popular understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg and the 20th Maine. “Students, like all people, are sensitive to the power of place, and enjoy the opportunity to make connections between ideas, historical experiences, and landscapes,” explained Ogline Titus.

In art as in other disciplines, rigorous thinking and questioning is required, whether the historical context is examined through a contemporary lens or a historical lens is used to study contemporary events.

“War is a frequent motif for artists and a topic of contemplation for students of art and art history,” explained Prof. Shannon Egan, director of the Schmucker Art Gallery.

The art gallery—small, but mighty—hosts eight to 10 exhibits a year and houses major artistic works depicting the battlefield. Many past exhibits have included interpretations or responses to the Gettysburg Cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge.

Through Egan’s History and Theory of Photography class, Erica Schaumberg ’18, an art history major, said she analyzed the works of Civil War photographers such as Alexander Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, and Mathew Brady.

“Many of the photographs taken after the battle were staged or manipulated to create a more dramatic effect,” Schaumberg said. “They pushed my understanding of how, as Americans, we view the war today and how that perception is intertwined with politics, economics, and a sense of celebrity.”

As dusk descends on the GNMP and the tourists head home, Gettysburg students and faculty continue to muse upon their living laboratory. How did everyday soldiers feel contemplating the same moon back in 1863? Will the camera traps capture the mysterious nocturnal movements of the battlefield wildlife? In what ways will future artists be inspired by the landscapes outside the College’s front door? Every day, the GNMP gives the Gettysburg College community the opportunity to answer these questions and more.

William M. Matz ’61 introduces president at WWI centennial ceremony Major General William M. Matz ’61, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), introduced President Donald J. Trump at a ceremony at the American Cemetery of Suresnes, outside Paris, on Sunday.

The ceremony, organized by the ABMC, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

A link to the ceremony coverage is available on CSPAN.

View photos on Flickr:

Matz is a member of the national advisory council of The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College and has served on the Board of Fellows and the Commission on the Future at the College. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2011.

He was appointed as ABMC secretary in 2018.

Emily Vega ’19: Building community, bridging divides As a first-generation Latina college student, Emily Vega ’19 arrived at Gettysburg unassuming, yet ready. With the support of her parents, she was ready to transform herself into an explorer, take on the world, and find her passion. “Much of the process of getting into college, finding internships, and growing in an academic and professional setting has been new to both my family and I,” she said. “My parents never sat in a college classroom, experienced syllabus day, or had advisor meetings, but despite not having a college experience of their own, they are delighted to see me at Gettysburg College.”

Life as a first-generation college student like Vega comes with its own unique set of challenges. From college applications and essays to financial aid to choosing a major, everything seems extra hard when you’re maneuvering through the ultimate college checklist on your own. “I recognize how hard it is for first-generation students to find a sense of belonging and transition into a place that is so foreign,” Vega said. “While other students can talk to their families about their college experiences, many times our families don’t understand what we’re talking about.

Because of these challenges, Gettysburg College is committed to improving the experiences of first-generation students on campus. The Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME), led by Executive Director Darrien Davenport, is a place where students are encouraged to engage and participate in initiatives and programs that stress the value of diversity.

The OME strives to create distinctive opportunities for healthy discourse, allowing students to feel empowered while sharing aspects of their own diversity. “We need to make sure that all of our students have a great experience here—that every student has a chance to investigate who they are as individuals and has access to the resources available at Gettysburg College.” said Davenport.

Vega, who stepped in as OME’s First-Generation Programming Intern, is helping achieve that goal. Her job is to bring together other first-generation students on campus and create a community where they can relate and support one another. “Learning something new doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be bumps and hiccups along the way,” Vega said. “But there is a place where we can talk about the expectations and pressures we feel and recognize that they do not have to negatively define our experience.”

So far, Vega’s Gettysburg experience is defined by two words—determination and success. At first, she was convinced she would be an English major, but after taking several courses it was clear to her that her passions span the disciplines. So instead of focusing on just English, Vega created her own major—Conversations from the Margins—which focuses on the personal narratives and multimedia public representations of marginalized communities.

“The narratives of marginalized communities are studied across many disciplines, including English; Africana studies; women, gender, and sexuality studies; and sociology,” Vega said. “While I valued the opportunity to take classes in each department, I realized that my own academic interests would require me to put these classes into conversation with one another in a more intentional way.”

Through its interdisciplinary studies program, Gettysburg College encourages students to be innovative and find ways to make their education unique. To do this, the College allows students to integrate and design a major that combines coursework from at least two departments or fields with other experiences such as internships and off-campus study. Not only do students make connections across courses, they are also self-reflective and able to express a growing self-awareness about themselves and their education.

To enhance her interdisciplinary major, Vega spent four months in Morocco working as a student journalist. She traveled across the North African country learning about its history, current events, and people. She wrote stories about those she became friends with, talked to street artists about their large murals in the souks, and even learned how to make different Moroccan meals. “Being in Morocco pushed me out of my comfort zone and yet, I loved every second of it,” Vega said. “Between every awkward moment I had due to the language barrier, there were many more moments of laughter, discovery and growth.”

Prof. notes - Charles (Buz) Myers Jr. P'09 BuzMyersProfNotes-1170px

Buz on campus

I like to tell people it’s a Biblical name from Genesis 22, but that’s not why I have the nickname. My parents gave it to me—I’m a junior and my father was “Bus” so I am “Buz.” There’s no significance to the one “z.”

On the meaning of life

Emeritus Prof. Carey A. Moore taught a course on death and dying for 25 years, and when he retired he made me promise to continue teaching it. The thesis of my Death and the Meaning of Life course, now a First-Year Seminar, is that you can’t understand the meaning of life if you haven’t confronted the reality of your own death. Death is in everything around us, but we rarely talk about it— we are a death-denying society. I am interested in getting students to wrestle with the reality of death.

On gratitude

I was once asked what I would say to students if it were my last lecture. What I would say is, “Thank you.” Every class has its own character; the excitement of my students is contagious, and they challenge me to think more deeply and be more engaged.

I was on my way to class 10 or 15 years ago when I got a phone call from a former student, Martha Griswold Quijano ’93. She had been through brain surgery and endured a great deal of pain. She said that during that time she thought about my lecture on how much pain Jesus must have endured during his crucifixion (pictured, a first century Roman nail) and she called to thank me.

I was so touched by the story and to hear what impact I’d had on her, then heartbroken when I learned that she died in 2015. Martha was a remarkable person. Students don’t know the impact they have on the people who teach them.

Prof. Charles (Buz) Myers Jr. P’09 held the Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities Chair and served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, Myers teaches and preaches in local churches and regional and national conferences. He has received awards for his work in prison ministry.