New Kensington faculty feted for awards, publications, promotions

Annual event recognizes educator's accomplishments

Robert Mathers, professor of chemistry at Penn State New Kensington, does a “peer review” of the works of his colleagues at the annual faculty publications party.

Credit: Bill Woodard

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — 'Tis the season of giving, and Jennifer Gilley, head librarian at Penn State New Kensington, gave faculty their annual holiday gift -- a special reception to honor their accomplishments throughout the year. The 14th Faculty Publications Party on Dec. 6 in the campus’ Elizabeth S. Blissell Library recognized faculty publications and awards.

"We are excited every year to honor the accomplishments of our faculty in order to bring greater awareness to the work they do outside the classroom and the prestige they bring to our campus," said Gilley, who has headed the library since 2001.

Three faculty produced chapters for books. Donald Bruckner, associate professor of philosophy, wrote a chapter, “Strict Vegetarianism is Immoral,” that appeared in “Moral Complexities of Eating Meat.” According to the Oxford University Press website, the book, edited by Ben Bramble and Bob Fischer, is a “collection of provocative and often counterintuitive conclusions on the ethics of meat eating.”

Robert Mathers, professor of chemistry, co-authored a chapter, “Moving Towards Greener Cationic Polymerizations,” in “Green Polymers and Environmental Pollution Control,” edited by Moayad Khalaf. Published by Apple Academic Press, the 436-page book examines the latest developments in the important and growing field of producing conventional polymers from sustainable sources and presents cutting-edge research from a group of leading international researchers from academia, government, and industrial institutions. Mathers also merited plaudits for his promotion to full professor.

Also on the “book tour” was Gilley, who had the opportunity to honor herself at the social. Her essay, “Feminist Publishing/Publishing Feminism: Experimentation in Second-Wave Book Publishing,” was published in “This Book Is an Action: Feminist Print Culture and Activist Aesthetics,” edited by Jaime Harker and Cecilia Konchar Farr. The book investigates the print culture that emerged as the feminist movement reawakened in the late 1960s.

"My research explores the question of who in our society has access to the means of publication and distribution of ideas, and how political ideals can be communicated through commercial book publishing," Gilley said.

Gilley holds a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in women’s studies, and a master’s in library and information science. Her research interests include feminist publishing, third wave feminism, and women’s studies librarianship.

In addition to distinguished publications, faculty received accolades for earning the campus’ 2016 Excellence in Teaching award. The award recognizes contributions in teaching, as well as other activities such as advising, supervision of learning outside the classroom, and course development. The 2016 awardees were LaVarr McBride, instructor in administration of justice (full time); Joshua Karelitz, instructor in psychology (part time); and Skip Laratonda, adjunct instructor in engineering (Continuing Education).

Awards also were garnered by Jeffrey Roth, assistant professor of administration of justice, and Jennifer Wood, associate professor of communication arts and sciences. Roth earned the SAGE Junior Faculty Professional Development Teaching Award by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He was selected in recognition of his significant promise as a teacher. The national accolade is reserved for young educators who are untenured and have taught full time for less than five years. Wood received the 2016 Harvey Kelly Excellence in Teaching Award from the Pennsylvania Communication Association (PCA). The Kelly award recognizes a PCA member who demonstrates a passion for and a mastery of teaching, both in and out of the classroom.

"This annual event gives us a chance to showcase the expertise of our faculty who are not only fantastic educators, but also known experts in their disciplines,” said Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs.  “A large part of the job of a faculty member includes both staying up to date in the field and also, for many, actively contributing to the state of the field. We have an engaged and dynamic group of faculty here who bring this scholarly work into their classrooms, giving students a chance to learn from the experts."

Reference librarian Amy Rustic and library assistant Yesenia Figueroa-Lifschitz aided in planning the afternoon reception.

2016 Faculty Honorees


Donald Bruckner, associate professor of philosophy, wrote a chapter, “Strict Vegetarianism is Immoral,” for the book “Moral Complexities of Eating Meat” and an article, “Quirky Desires and Well-Being,” for the Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy.

Jennifer Gilley, head librarian, wrote a chapter, “Feminist Publishing/Publishing Feminism: Experimentation in Second-Wave Book Publishing,” for the “This Book Is an Action: Feminist Print Culture and Activist Aesthetics.” 

Robert Mathers, professor of chemistry, co-authored a chapter, “Moving Towards Greener Cationic Polymerizations” for “Green Polymers and Environmental Pollution Control.”  In addition, he co-wrote three articles: “Post Polymer Modification of Polyethylenimine with Citrate Esters: Selectivity and Hydrophobicity” for RSC Advances; “Azeotropic Preparation of a C-Phenyl N-Aryl Imine: An Introductory Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory Experiment” for the Journal of Chemical Education; and “Synthetic Design of Polyester Electrolytes Guided by Hydrophobicity Calculations” for Macromolecules.

Javier Gomez-Calderon, professor emeritus of mathematics, authored an article, “On the Ring of Algebraic Integers of Cyclotomic Subfields,” for the Far East Journal of Mathematical Sciences.

William Hamilton, assistant professor of biology, and Deborah Sillman, senior instructor in biology, blogged about the flora and fauna of western Pennsylvania for their “Ecologist’s Notebook” website.

Robert Bridges, professor of psychology, and Richard Harnish, associate professor of psychology, wrote a piece, “Mall Haul Videos: Self-Presentational Motives and the Role of Self-Monitoring,” for Psychology and Marketing.

Richard Harnish and Joshua Karelitz, instructor in psychology, co-authored an article, “Compulsive Buying: Prevalence, Irrational Beliefs and Purchasing,” for International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Richard Harnish, Robert Bridges and Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs, teamed up to write a piece, “Volunteerism: Its Impact on Personal Development and Educational Experience,” for Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning.

Xiang Ji, assistant professor of mathematics, authored an article, "Deformation in Holomorphic Poisson Manifolds," for Differential Geometry and its Applications.

Rujirutana “Dr. A” Mandhachitara, associate professor of business, co-wrote a paper,  “Fashion – A Comparative Study of Eastern and Western Styles,” published in the Northeast Business and Economic Conference Proceeding; wrote a paper, “Professional Women’s Fashionable Clothing Decisions in Bangkok and New York City,” for the Journal of International Consumer Marketing; and delivered a paper, “Monogamy and Promiscuity: A Study of Consumer (Mis) Behavior of Luxury Brands in Thailand,” at the Mystique of Luxury Brands Conference, in Shanghai, China.

Jeffrey Roth, assistant professor of administration of justice, and Vanessa Trecki, former campus student, co-authored three articles: “Burglary Expertise: Comparing Burglars to Other Offenders” for Deviant Behaviors; “Gender Differences in Acquisitive Delinquency: A Macro-Level Routine Activities Analysis” for American Journal of Criminal Justice; and  “A City-Level Analysis of Property Crime Clearance Rates” for Criminal Justice Studies.

Yang Xu, associate professor of business, wrote an article, "Entrepreneurial Social Capital, Cognitive Orientation and New Venture Innovation," for Management Research Review.


Jeffrey Roth, SAGE Junior Faculty Professional Development Teaching

Jennifer Wood, Harvey Kelly Excellence in Teaching

LaVarr McBride, Excellence in Teaching (full time)

Joshua Karelitz, Excellence in Teaching (part time)

Skip Laratonda, Excellence in Teaching (Continuing Education)


Robert Mathers, professor of chemistry


Jennifer Gilley, Spring and Summer 2016
Craig Hammond, associate professor of history, Fall 2016
Jennifer Wood, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017


Bill Woodard

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

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