INDIANA, Pa. – An Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate has made a donation to support student research at IUP.

Dr. Dianne Mittura Rothstein, a 1975 biology major graduate and her husband, Marc, of Ambler, are helping to create more research opportunities for IUP students through a $10,000 donation to IUP for the Research Experience for Summer Scholars (RESS) program.

Dr. Rothstein has recently retired as vice president of research at biotech company Prime Synthesis.

Now in its fifth year, the RESS program allows IUP students the opportunity to do research in a field of their choice under the guidance of a faculty member and participate in programs designed to help them develop as researchers and scientists. Events of the program focus on research experiences, communication, and professional development and networking. A total of 40 students – the highest number to date -- are involved in the 2019 program, and come from disciplines throughout the university.

The culminating event of the RESS program is a poster presentation by the student researchers and a keynote presenter from a scientist. Dr. Rothstein was the 2017 keynote presenter.

Her presentation, “I Was a Kindergarten Dropout,” discussed the life events and decisions that shaped who she became, and the persistence and open-mindedness that kept her moving forward.

She also discussed her research at Aston-based Prime Synthesis (PSI), which produces key raw materials used in the synthesis of artificial DNA. PSI’s primary product, controlled porosity glass, is used in the making of therapeutic drugs that target genetic diseases. She previously worked as principal scientist and Electrochemistry Group leader for Leeds & Northrup and as senior chemist for a company involved in water chlorination.

She holds four patents—three for her work in controlled porosity glass and another for an instrument that measures free chlorine in water.

A Philadelphia native, she started her IUP studies at the Punxsutawney campus. She is also a graduate of Drexel University, having earned a master’s degree in chemistry and—at age 54—a PhD in materials engineering. She is a member of IUP’s John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean’s Advancement Council.

“Diane’s presentation to the RESS group was very inspirational,” Dr. Deanne Snavely, dean of the Kopchick College, said. “She talked about how her personal life and professional life interacted with each other and eventually culminated in her receiving a doctorate from Drexel. Her life story showed how she overcame barriers to not only find her passion, but to pursue it.”

“She is very involved in the work of our college, offering her expertise in planning and insight,” Dr. Snavely said. “It’s extremely helpful to us to have people like Dianne, who have used their IUP education to build their lives and professional careers, and who are willing to bring their rich experiences to help us grow our programs and build more opportunities for our students.

“We are extremely appreciative of this gift to help support the RESS students, and we are very pleased that Dianne, in her time with the students and faculty as a keynote presenter, recognized the impact of RESS and is willing to help us to advance this program,” Dr. Snavely said.

The final event of the RESS program is a poster session on Aug. 8 featuring the student research projects and Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Dr. Doug Kupas as the keynote speaker. He will present “Habits of Highly Effective Lifelong Scholars.”

Dr. Kupas is a 1986 IUP graduate who serves as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Medical Services medical director and has positions at Geisinger Health Systems and Temple University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rachelle Bouchat, mathematics faculty, is the lead coordinator of RESS program, working with Dr. Justin Fair, professor of chemistry, the original director of the program.

The RESS program is open to students in all disciplines who are engaged in original inquiry-based research, scholarship, and creative endeavors. Students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average to be accepted into the program.

“The RESS program affords IUP students a competitive advantage on many fronts,” Bouchat said. “It offers students experience doing research in their field, it adds to a resume for a future job, improves chances of getting into graduate school, and increases a student’s confidence in relating information.”

The RESS is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates programs.

“Nationally, REU programs are seen as one of the most valuable summer experiences students can participate in, yet the acceptance rate for most REU programs is only around three percent,” Fair said.

“Through the RESS program, IUP can offer IUP students from any major the chance to participate in a cutting-edge experience that links knowledge and skills learned in coursework to real-work research and societal problems,” he said. “Students who have participated in past years have presented their research both nationally and internationally and have published with their research advisor in journals and books.”

Rothstein’s donations are part of IUP’s Imagine Unlimited $75 million comprehensive campaign, which currently has gifts totaling over $62 million. The campaign will enable the IUP community to reach its shared vision and step forward as a national leader, distinguished by new thinking that has no limits and that cuts across traditional academic boundaries.

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