Schreyer Honors College (SHC)at Penn State

Distinguished Honors Faculty Program (DHFP)

DHFP discussion over tea

At the Schreyer Honors College we have an inspired program, The Distinguished Honors Faculty Program (DHFP), that at the heart is about sharing information and connecting with some of the most distinguished faculty at Penn State.

Select faculty together with Schreyer Scholars participate in innovative, interactive programs that extend learning way beyond classroom walls.

Sometimes over dinner table conversations, often during field trips, and always in small-group discussions on timely topics, Distinguished Honors Faculty and students share experiences and perspectives that may venture beyond the labels and definition of an academic major or course.

This is a program deeply rooted in the belief that when you create small group learning experiences that are relaxed, well-conceived and special, students and faculty connect with each other in profound ways. Over the past six years, hundreds of inspired programs — from visiting the Smithsonian to learning about the importance of effective and thoughtful end of life communication—our Scholars and our Distinguished Honors Faculty members have participated in transformational learning experiences.

Faculty members submit proposals outlining programs to be offered should they be selected for the program. Typically, faculty are selected to participate in the program for two consecutive academic years.

Announcements about upcoming Distinguished Honors Faculty Program activities will be e-mailed to Schreyer Scholars over the course of the academic year.

Faculty Members

Eliyana Rebecca Adler headshot

Eliyana Rebecca Adler Associate Professor, History and Jewish Studies

Memory and Memorials

Penn State is our home, and we all learn our way around, but how many of us pay attention to the many small and large, public and private, straightforward and subtle monuments and memorials around campus? Professor Adler will introduce scholars to thinking critically about how visions of the past are memorialized all around us. Through discussions about memorial culture and field trips to see it first-hand, she will encourage scholars to think about the ways that street names, statues, squares, war memorials, and other aspects of the built environment have an impact on their lives. Discussions will combine insights from Urban Studies, Public History, and Memory Studies among other fields, with our own lived experiences.

Rachel Brennan headshot

Rachel Brennan Associate Professor, Environmental Engineering

Humanitarian Service Practicums for Schreyer Scholars: Solving Global Sustainability Challenges at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus

Dr. Brennan’s goal is to enhance the learning experiences of Schreyer scholars through engaged global scholarship in humanitarian service practicums that demonstrate the theoretical and applied skill sets necessary to provide fundamental human rights to food, energy, and water. By understanding the relationships between Engineering and Humanity, scholars will have the opportunity to increase their global awareness, global literacy, global competency, and global citizenship, and be better equipped to serve as influential leaders for solving tomorrow’s challenges.

Xiang Gao headshot

Xiang Gao Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences Director, Nutritional Epidemiology Lab

Brain Health and Arts

Dr. Gao will take scholars to visit museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, to introduce them to Asian art history and show the potential impact of health status on artistic expression. In addition, he will discuss published literature regarding the potential impacts of brain health on arts and how to use Artificial Intelligence techniques for image classification to understand the potential link between brain health and arts.

Pearl Gluck headshot

Pearl Gluck Assistant Professor, Film

Don't Make Me Laugh: The Fine Art of the Transgressive in Comedy

Through a series of screenings, trips, and dinner discussions that explore some of the most transgressive and resonant comic artists, starting from early pioneers and continuing to contemporary artists in recent decades, this program will focus on trendsetters and trailblazers who called truth to power through comedy. Events include screenings, discussions, and even a trip to the Comedy Museum in Jamestown, NY.

Ying-Ling Jao headshot

Ying-Ling Jao Assistant Professor, Nursing

Inspiring Young Scholars Through the Study of Older Adults

Professor Jao plans to increase scholar’s awareness of the vulnerable elderly population. By hosting dinners with scholars and senior citizens, taking field trips to long-term care facilities and viewing a documentary showing the experience of a 19-year-old temporarily living in an assisted living, she will encourage scholars to share their feeling and thoughts about their experience and lead a discussion on ways to serve this population from their specialty areas and perspective.

Matthew Kaplan headshot

Matthew Kaplan Professor, Agricultural and Extension Education

Intergenerational Programs and Aging

The aging society trend has wide-reaching implications for how we experience family life, school, work, recreation, health care, and civic engagement. Dr. Kaplan will prepare scholars for living and thriving in an aging world. He will provide scholars with an intensive introduction to the key principles and basic values that apply to intergenerational engagement across settings and disciplines.

Jon Nese headshot

Jon Nese Teaching Professor, Meteorology

The Science and Communication of Weather and Climate

Dr. Nese is firm in his belief that tomorrow’s leaders should be well-informed in the science and communication of weather and climate information. Through a series of trips to various weather-based locations around State College, Scholars will come face to face with the sophisticated tools and breadth of personnel responsible for the prediction, broadcast, and monitorization of weather worldwide. Events will engage Scholars in discussion with industry professionals as they explore the intersection of weather and climate monitoring technology, taxpayer funding, televised weather productions, and hot button issues such as climate change.

Kenji Uchino headshot

Kenji Uchino Professor, Electrical Engineering

Ethics, Entrepreneurship, and Global Crisis Technologies for Engineers

Professor Uchino will discuss ethics in engineering from different viewpoints. He will also offer programming on entrepreneurship for engineers, business & law school students with an engineering background, or for engineering students with ambition to be an international program/project officer. He will also discuss global crisis technologies and security alliances, covering a wide variety of information in the business and engineering fields.

David Witwer headshot

David Witwer Professor, History and Humanities

Reflection, Discussion, and Comparison of Labor Racketeering

By showing our scholars the 1954 classic movie, “On the Waterfront”, Professor Witwer will set up a larger discussion about the history of labor racketeering in twentieth century American history. Then, he will follow up with an event focused around a more recent piece of popular culture to demonstrate how deeply ingrained these tropes and stereotypes about labor corruption have become.

Ming Xiao headshot

Ming Xiao Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

Introducing Scholars to Geotechnical Earthquake Research and Coastal Erosion in the Arctic

Professor Xiao has planned laboratory visits where scholars can experience model testing and will be introduced to geotechnical earthquake research. In addition, other events will focus on his workshops and field trips in Alaska where they will be introduced to the global issues of climate change and multidisciplinary research so scholars can have a broader vision when pursuing graduate studies.

Andrew Zydney headshot

Andrew Zydney Distinguished Professor, Chemical Engineering

Ethical and Financial Issues to the Life Saving Technology of Hemodialysis

Dr. Zydney will engage a group of Schreyer Scholars in a series of discussions regarding the artificial kidney and current research efforts targeted at developing a fully implantable artificial kidney. This program will also include a trip to one of the local hemodialysis centers in State College, so that Scholars can see the technology “in action” while also meeting with dialysis patients and nurses.


For more information about the Distinguished Honors Faculty Program, please contact:

SHC Academic Team
(814) 865-4257

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