Focus on Faculty

Read news and highlights about faculty from the fall 2019 and early spring 2020 semesters.

Nathaniel Frissell operates a ham radio station in a tent at the annual Field Day operating event. The Personal Space Weather Station project seeks to use signals by stations such as these to help understand the ionosphere and the impact of space weather on communications. INSET: Nathaniel Frissell, Ph.D., physics and electrical engineering professor
Nathaniel Frissell operates a ham radio station in a tent at the annual Field Day operating event. The Personal Space Weather Station project seeks to use signals by stations such as these to help understand the ionosphere and the impact of space weather on communications. INSET: Nathaniel Frissell, Ph.D., physics and electrical engineering professor

Professor Awarded $1.3 Million Grant

A $1.3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to physics and electrical engineering professor Nathaniel Frissell, Ph.D., seeks to harness the power of a network of licensed amateur radio operators to better understand and measure the effects of weather in the upper levels of Earth’s atmosphere.

The highly competitive grant awarded by NSF’s Aeronomy Program for the project titled “Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments (DASI)” will be implemented over a three-year period. As principal investigator, Dr. Frissell, a space physicist, will lead a collaborative team, which will develop modular, multi-instrument, ground-based space science observation equipment and data collection and analysis software. He will also recruit multiple universities and ham radio users to operate the network of “Personal Space Weather Stations” developed.

The space weather equipment will be developed at two levels of sophistication: one at a low-cost, easy-to-use level for the ham radio operators; and one that is more complex for university partners that will allow for the collection of additional data.

“The equipment and network allows us to measure and characterize ionospheric and geomagnetic short-term,

small scale variability on a large geographic scale in order to understand the response of the ionosphere to sources from above (space weather) and below (atmospheric forcing),” said Dr. Frissell in the grant project proposal. “By designing Personal Space Weather Stations variants at multiple price points, open sourcing the hardware and software, and directly engaging with the ham radio community, this project maximizes the chances of widespread adoption of this system.” In the U.S., there are more than 730,000 licensed amateur radio operators and nearly 3 million worldwide. For this initiative, Dr. Frissell will target the ham radio community through the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation collective, which he leads, and the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR) amateur radio engineering organization. Dr. Frissell joined the faculty at Scranton in the fall of 2019. He earned a master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, and a bachelor’s degree in physics and music education from Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is the founder and lead organizer of the international citizen science space physics research collective known as the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (

Professor Speaks with Royal Reads Author

Stephanie Saldaña was the Ignatian Values in Action Lecture keynote speaker at Scranton on Sept. 19. She has written two books including The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith, this year’s Royal Reads book, required for first-year students.

Here, Michael Azar, Ph.D., associate professor of theology, has a conversation with her about her work. Dr. Azar received his master’s degree from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and master’s and doctoral degrees from Fordham University.

Azar: Why did you choose to write The Bread of Angels? What is it about your personal story that you most wanted to share with others?

Saldaña: I’m pretty shy, and so I can only have the courage to write a book by pretending that no one is ever going to read it. In many ways, I wrote The Bread of Angels in order to make sense for myself of what I lived in Syria. It was a remarkable year. I was an American on a Fulbright in Syria during the American invasion of neighboring Iraq, and tensions between our countries were high. The American ambassador was even removed during my time there. At the same time, I experienced this extraordinary hospitality from the Syrians themselves, who loved me and welcomed me. The time I spent as a Christian studying Islam with a female sheikh and teaching in a Quranic school for girls would have been remarkable under any circumstances.

And yet, despite the extraordinary circumstances of the book, I think that it is really a very universal story, a story about my search for faith, about finding God and falling in love. I hope that it’s a story anyone can relate to.

Azar: Most would probably say that a year in Syria and falling in love with a novice monk in the desert are fairly unique events, but what do you hope college students at a place like The University of Scranton might learn from these events in your life?

Saldaña: I was so thrilled to learn that students at The University of Scranton would be reading The Bread of Angels, because they are really my ideal readers. The book is a coming-of-age story about accepting who we are, about learning to heal from the wounds of our pasts, and about having the courage to say “yes” to what we feel called to in life.

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Faculty Notes

David Black, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, received the John L. Earl III Award for service to the University, the faculty and the wider community. The award is given annually to a member of the University community who demonstrates the spirit of generosity and dedication that the late Dr. John Earl, a distinguished professor of history, exemplified during his years at Scranton. Dr. Black joined the faculty of the University in 1984.

Amanda Marcy ’10, G’11 and Ashley Stampone ’10, G’11, Accounting Department faculty members, recently had their research featured in an article by the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Their work, titled “Emerging Technologies Will Impact More Than Office Duties,” published in the Pennsylvania CPA Journal, concerned how technological advancements will bring changes to CPA licensing and the CPA Exam.

Ismail Onat, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, criminal justice and criminology, received the 2019 Rutgers Center on Public Security (RCPS) Kaleidoscope Award. RCPS specializes in applying geospatial technologies to scholarly research and addressing crime, terrorism and other threats to public security. It presents the Kaleidoscope Award each year to a recipient who has demonstrated innovative applications of Risk Terrain Modeling.

David Salerno, Ph.D. ’97, G’06, an associate professor of accounting, and John Ruddy, D.P.S. ’91, an assistant professor in the Economics and Finance Department, recently had their research cited in a Texas Supreme Court decision. Their work, titled “Defining and Quantifying Pension Liabilities of Government Entities in the United States” and published in the Journal of Corporate Accounting and Finance, was cited by the Supreme Court of Texas in rendering a government employee pension decision involving the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

Daniel J. West, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Health Administration and Human Resources Department, was recently awarded an honorary doctorate degree (Dr.h.c.) from Trnava University, Slovakia. Dr. West currently holds a professor in public health appointment at Trnava University, as well as a visiting professor appointment at the University of Matej Bel, Slovakia and affiliated faculty at Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. Dr. West joined the faculty at Scranton in 1990.

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