Dr. Bakermans received her Ph.D in Microbiology from Cornell University in 2001, and began her study of cold-adapted microorganisms from permafrost (permanently frozen soils) at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With the aid of a NASA fellowship, Dr. Bakermans’s research continued at Michigan State and Montana State Universities prior to beginning at Penn State Altoona in 2009 where she teaches courses in microbiology and bioinformatics. Her research on the physiology and adaptations of bacteria that live in permafrost has resulted in over 30 peer-reviewed publications to date and she recently published (as editor) the book Microbial Evolution under Extreme Conditions. With the assistance of a grant from the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, Dr. Bakermans's current work focuses on the genomic basis of thermal adaptation and carbon metabolism in permafrost isolates.
Mihai Comanescu received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering form Bucharest Polytechnic University in 1992 and his M.S. and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, in 2001 and 2005. Since 2006, he has been with Penn State Altoona where he is currently Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. His research interests are in the area of power conversion, power electronics, AC motor drives, sliding mode control and applications related to renewable energy technologies. He is a member of the IEEE Industrial Electronics and Power Electronics Societies.
Sandra Harbert Petrulionis is the author of To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau’s Concord, the editor of Thoreau In His Own Time, and Thoreau's Journal 8: 1854, and the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism and More Day to Dawn: Thoreau’s Walden for the 21st Century. In addition, she has published on Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, and other American writers and reformers. Her current research includes two long-term projects--a cultural biography of 19th-century activist, author, and editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson; and, with Noelle A. Baker, a scholarly, annotated, digital edition of the complete Almanacks of Mary Moody Emerson. Sandy is also the Director of the NEH Summer Institute on "Transcendentalism and Social Reform."
Grant A. Risha received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Penn State in 2003. His primary research interests are reactive flows/combustion, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and propulsion. He has performed research on the enhancement of hybrid rocket solid fuel performance by introducing nano-sized energetic particles, solid propellant airbag combustion, pyrotechnic igniter characterization, solid, hybrid, and bi-propellant rocket combustion, diffusion flame combustion, aluminum/water combustion, and solid fuel pyrolysis.
Nicholas Rowland got his Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, Department of Sociology in the Sociology of Technology with a minor study in Cultural Studies. He joined the faculty of Penn State Altoona in Fall 2007 as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. He teaches 9 or more contact hours per semester and conducts research year-round. His teaching responsibilities include: SOC 001 (Introductory Sociology), SOC 005 (Social Problems), SOC 424 (Social Change), and STS 200 (Contemporary Topics in Science, Technology, and Society). Each spring he also team teaches a core course in Environmental Studies (ENVST 200) and has recently contributed to an innovative new course on preparing interns for internships (INTSP 370). In addition, Dr. Rowland routinely offers independent study credit (SOC 296 or SOC 496) to students serving as research or teaching assistants or those interested in conducting their own research projects.
Dr. Rowland contributes to the Penn State Altoona community in a number of ways: his student-centered courses advance one of the college's most popular minor studies, the sociology minor; for the past two years Dr. Rowland has participated in interdisciplinary teaching with colleagues in Environmental Studies; he oversees a growing handful of interns in collaboration with Tom Shaffer; he works closely with undergraduates outside of the classroom, presenting with them at conferences, aiding them in preparation for the Penn State Altoona Undergraduate Research Fair, editing and writing professional manuscripts with them, and conducting research with them; he continues to prepare manuscripts for publication and has remained active with regard to the regular delivery of conference presentations; and, over the last two years, Dr. Rowland's service to the college and broader university has been enhanced. Above all, he sees himself as a "teacher-scholar" and shares the view that teaching, research, and service, when carefully coupled, are synergistic endeavors.