STEM education and the rise of female inclusivity


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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, January 31, 2019:

As men continue to dominate the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the visibility of women in the those professions often goes unseen.

In fact, women make up almost half of the workforce in the United States. But when it comes to STEM-related careers, they quickly become outnumbered by men, making up only 24 percent of Americans in these fields.

Fortunately, the youngest generation of women is making their way up to the top as early, secondary, and post-secondary education programs begin to put a focus on females in STEM.

In Pennsylvania alone, many undergraduate programs are providing ample opportunities for women to establish careers in STEM-related fields. From 2013-2017, there was an 84 percent increase of female students enrolled in STEM courses at Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology. And at institutions like Harrisburg University, more than half of enrolled students are in graduate programs involving analytics, microbiology and “techpreneurship,” with 50 percent of the overall student population being women.

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss the rise of women in STEM and the potential lack of inclusivity in STEM education is Stephanie Slocum, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Central Pennsylvania representative, Judd Pittman, STEM Advisor for the Department of Education, Beth Teske, Assistant Head of School for Academics and Science Department Chair at Linden Hall School for Girls, and Olivia Bennett, sophomore engineering student, York County School of Technology.

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Judd Pittman, Olivia Bennett, Beth Teske, and Stephanie Slocum

Deer season starting on Saturday?/Reconstruction: Forgotten history/Living history/Bethesda Mission expanding?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, January 30, 2019:

The Pennsylvania Game Commission gave preliminary approval Tuesday to starting the firearm deer-hunting season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If adopted, the move would break a long-standing tradition of starting deer season on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau joins us on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to provide details.

The Reconstruction period after the Civil War is generally thought to be from 1865 to 1877. It’s a time that doesn’t get much attention in the history books, yet it’s a time when decisions were made that still are being felt today. Many of those decisions didn’t have a positive impact.

On Wednesday’s program, we’re joined by Dr. Allen Guelzo, author of the new book Reconstruction: A Concise History. Dr. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director, Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College.

Events at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) typically include living-history activities. These feature individuals dressed in period clothing, reenacting the lives of soldiers from different time periods in the Army’s history.

Reenactment events allow visitors the opportunity to see how soldiers lived, and to gain an understanding of the complexity of military operations during the different wars.

On Saturday, February 9th from 10am to 4pm, the USAHEC Visitor and Education Center will host a free public event that will feature many living history organizations, along with hundreds of reenactors from all periods of U.S. Army and world military history.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the event is Karl Warner, an educator with the USAHEC.

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Karl Warner

Also, the Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg recently launched the #iheartHBG campaign, a partnership with 14 local coffee shops. Their goal is to build greater community pride, bolster local business, and raise awareness for a new Community Center on Herr Street in Harrisburg.

Coffee shop patrons will receive a #iheartHBG cup sleeve when they purchase a cup of coffee at the participating businesses.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the initiative is Katie Andreano, Communications Manager, Bethesda Mission and Rick Hawtry, owner of Capital Joe, with locations in both Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg.

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Rick Hawtry and Katie Andreano

Area highway upgrades and PA firefighters are impacted by shutdown funding

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 29, 2019:

Anyone traveling in and through central Pennsylvania on area highways knows that truck and car traffic volume is on the rise. Traffic growth is one of the pitfalls of a thriving economy.

More traffic means greater wear and tear on the highway system and highlights the need for possible road expansion projects.

Construction projects on I-83 around Harrisburg are currently underway. The master plan includes improvements to area interchanges and bridgework. Funding is approved and work on I-83 will happen over the next 10 years. I-83 could be expanded to 12 lanes between Paxton and Second Streets in Harrisburg.

The I-81 “plan,” however, is still in the concept phase. A feasibility study is complete, but no money is allocated and there is no timeline, either. A lot must happen before any construction takes place. I-81 may be widened to six lanes between the Maryland border and I-78.

Appearing on Smart Talk Tuesday to discuss highway planning is Mike Keiser, PennDOT District 8 Executive.


Mike Keiser

Also, fire companies in Pennsylvania are experiencing extreme shortages of volunteers. Since the 1970s the number of volunteers have dropped dramatically.

Some area companies recently received a FEMA grant to help pay for a recruiting campaign to attract volunteers. The problem is that while companies have obligated the grant money, they have yet to be reimbursed due to the recent government shutdown.

The shutdown may be over for now, but that doesn’t mean the money is flowing yet.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the impact this has on recruitment is Duane Hagelgans, spokesman for the Lancaster County Fire Chiefs Association.

Pennsylvania counties’ legislative priorities


What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, January 28, 2019:

There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania, each one with unique municipalities and governing challenges.

Every year, the state’s County Commissioners assemble a list of legislative priorities that best represent the interests of all of them. Because county governments provide direct human services to their publics, their priorities are often high stake. The 2019 legislative priorities reflect this.

Voting system improvements and broadband expansion are just two of the priorities that appear on the list this year.

Joining us on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss the 2019 County Government priorities are Lisa Schaefer, Director of Government Relations, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, and Kathi Cozzone, CCAP president and a Chester County commissioner.

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Lisa Schaefer, Director of Government Relations for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, and Kathi Cozzone, CCAP president and a Chester County commissioner.

Smart Talk Road Trip to Phillips Museum at Franklin & Marshall College

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Image Credit: Michael Wells, Southern Arizona, 2010, Photograph, Courtesy of the Artist

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, January 25, 2019:

It’s a Smart Talk Road Trip to the Phillips Museum at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. A new exhibit at the museum, titled Hostile Terrain, is a timely art expression on migration and border crossing between Mexico and the United States.

Hostile Terrain is a multi-media installation that utilizes material drawn from the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), which is a long-term research, education and art collective. The UMP employs a combination of archaeological, forensic, ethnographic, archival, and visual approaches to document and understand the often-secretive migration between Latin America and the United States. The art installations focus on sensory expression to illuminate the world of clandestine migration.

The Hostile Terrain exhibit is a collaboration between curator Jason De León, artist Lucy Cahill, and founding UMP photographer Michael Wells. They appear on Smart Talk to discuss the exhibit and its inspiration.

Also appearing on the program are Amy Moorefield, Director of the Philips Museum of Art and Kourelis, an Associate Professor of Art History and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at F and M about how the exhibit can be used as a teaching tool.

The war in Afghanistan comes home / Ben Franklin Technology Partners


A U.S. Air Force carry team prepares to place a transfer case containing the remains of Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin into a vehicle, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (Patrick Semansky,AP)

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, January 24, 2019:

He was described by others as kind, funny, generous and helpful; memories of a loving son, brother and friend.

These images are in sharp contrast to Dylan Elchin’s other role in life: A special forces airman, combat controller. The person responsible for calling in Air Force assets during a fire-fight. Confident and cool under pressure; tasked with protecting his team in very tense life and death situations.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin died November 27th, while on deployment in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. He and three other Americans died after their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Elchin was 25 years old.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin will be laid to rest Thursday — as he requested — at Arlington National Cemetery.

PA Post Reporter Ed Mahon appears on Smart Talk to discuss the impact Elchin’s life, and death, has on his family and friends from Western Pennsylvania.

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Dylan Elchin is seen as a child in this photograph at left, wearing a Boy Scout uniform and red beret. Years later, he would earn the honor of wearing a scarlet beret as a combat controller in the Air Force. (Ed Mahon/PA Post) Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, seen here at right, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Nov. 27, 2018. (photo Submitted/U.S. Air Force)

Also on Thursday’s Smart Talk, Ben Franklin Technology Partners in one of the nation’s longest-running technology-based economic development programs. They help new companies take root in the Pennsylvania business climate.

However, state funding of the organization has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past decade. Ben Franklin Technology partners believe that Pennsylvania economic development has suffered, as a result.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the impact of the budget cuts is Ryan Glenn, Director of Statewide Initiatives at Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

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Ryan Glenn

Solving old cases with DNA technology

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This Monday, June 25, 2018, file photo on the left shows Raymond Charles Rowe, of Lancaster, Pa. Rowe was charged and plead guilty this month to the 1992 rape and murder of 25-year-old Christy Mirack at her home. The crime had stymied investigators until genealogical research led them to Rowe, known professionally as DJ Freez. (Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office via AP, File) On the right, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman announces charges during a news conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lancaster, Pa., Monday, June 25, 2018. Christy Mirack, an elementary school teacher, was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled in her home as she was getting ready for work. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, January 23, 2019:

Since the identification of DNA in the mid-twentieth century, scientists have made incredible advances developing uses for the genetic information goldmine. Medical diagnostics, genealogy research and crime investigations routinely concentrate on the information, and direction, that DNA provides.

Criminal investigators are now using DNA databases to help crack older, unsolved cases. In Pennsylvania, one such case captured the national spotlight.

In 1992, 25-year-old Christy Mirack was raped and murdered in her Lancaster County home. No one was ever apprehended or charged with the crime until last summer, when investigators looked to genetic genealogy to help break the case.

A local man, Raymond Charles Rowe, 50, was charged with the crime, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole this month. The DNA evidence linking him to the crime is a combination of solid police investigative work and chance, when his family member submitted DNA to a genealogy database.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss DNA forensics and the Mirack case are Craig Stedman, Lancaster County District Attorney, and CeCe Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist with Parabon Nanolabs, the organization who assisted the Lancaster DA with identifying Christy Mirack’s murderer. Also joining the conversation is Dr. Mitchell Holland, Penn State Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a fellow with American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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Craig Stedman, Lancaster County District Attorney

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CeCe Moore and Dr. Mitchell Holland

Clean Slate Law and food safety

Clean Slate Law and food safety

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 22, 2019:

Criminal justice reform legislation is unifying state and federal legislators on the way to what President Trump calls a “necessary step toward addressing the deep-rooted issues in our country’s criminal justice system.”

In Pennsylvania, lawmakers approved the Clean Slate Law in summer 2018. The law expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses, including some first-degree misdemeanors. The Clean Slate Law enjoyed wide bipartisan support and is the first of its kind in the nation.

Criminal justice advocates say this law will “enable Pennsylvanians with records to earn a second chance, lift families out of poverty, reduce crime and recidivism.”

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the impact of Clean Slate are State Representative Sheryl M. Delozier, 88th District, Cumberland County (part), Mark Walmer, lawyer with Bentley, Gibson, Kopecki, Smith, P.C. and Eileen Cipriani, PA Labor and Industry Department, Deputy Secretary for workforce development.

*Correction — Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta is the Co-chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, not Sen. Lisa Baker as stated on Smart Talk. Sen. Baker chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. The other Co-Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Reform Caucus is Democrat Sen. Art Haywood.

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Mark Walmer, Sheryl Delozier and Eileen Cipriani

Also, how safe is the food we eat? With one of the safest food systems in the world, Americans make a lot of assumptions about the reliability and safety of our food.

But the frequency of food product safety recalls in the last few years should make consumers take pause.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss trends and recent case studies is Michael Samuelson, PennPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) associate.

Race relations, have we made progress?

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, January 21, 2019:

More than 50 years have passed since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. His murder sent shock waves around the world and became an accelerant thrown onto the fire of the civil rights movement.

Today, as Americans celebrate his life, it is also an opportunity to examine the status of race relations in our communities.

In the past year, Pennsylvanians have experienced, firsthand, multiple high-profile cases of discrimination, bias and hate.

An incident at a York County Golf course drew national attention when a white owner called police on a group of black golfers for a seemingly minor disagreement. Then, KKK fliers were distributed in York County on three separate occasions, over a four-month period. And the murder at an area bar of a 25-year-old man for defending a black man who was being called racial slurs.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss racial justice and race relations are Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and Dr. Amanda Kemp, a visiting scholar of Africana Studies at Franklin and Marshall College and racial justice and mindfulness mentor.

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Chad Dion Lassiter and Dr. Amanda Kemp

Chancellor takes helm of State System universities

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Chancellor Daniel Greenstein addresses the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors on January 16, 2019. (Photo courtesy of PASSHE)

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, January 18, 2019:

The Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is under new leadership.

Dr. Dan Greenstein officially became the fifth Chancellor this week before presenting his vision at the quarterly meeting of the Board of Governors.

He said that to steer the State System through these times of “challenge and opportunity” it will have to undergo a “fundamental transformation and redesign.”

Greenstein has been on the job since September and recently completed a campus tour of all 14 State System universities.

“We are facing significant challenges – challenges that are present across U.S. public higher education, and that are concentrated in super-high doses here in Pennsylvania,” Greenstein said.

Chancellor Dan Greenstein appears on Smart Talk to discuss the way ahead for the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education universities.


Dan Greenstein