Gerald Goldstein, Recipient of the Adam Poe Medal

Gerald Goldstein, Professor of Botany and Microbiology, is retiring at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year after serving on the faculty of Ohio Wesleyan University for 36 years. Jerry received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and had originally intended to pursue wildlife management as a career until taking a job managing the microbiology labs at his alma mater. Cleaning test tubes and Petri dishes led to teaching introductory labs, and soon Dr. Goldstein found himself pursuing his own research into viruses and viral replication. He earned a master’s degree in 1979 and his Ph.D. in 1983, the same year he was appointed Assistant Professor at Ohio Wesleyan.

Throughout his career, Dr. Goldstein mentored students in research at all levels, from the beginner to the advanced, always focusing on helping students develop their potential. As one former student said, “Jerry introduced me to the joy of the scientific question. His gentle ability to build confidence in students while teaching rigorous skills and complex concepts helped me and countless students gain mastery in the field of microbiology, but also to have the self-assurance to continue to pursue challenging work.”

Dr. Goldstein’s early research efforts at OWU focused on studying the properties of inhibitors of viral replication, for which he was awarded a National Institutes of Health grant in 1987 that led to several presentations and publications with students.

Then in 1991 an unusual research opportunity presented itself when workers enlarging a golf course in Newark, Ohio, unearthed an intact skeleton of a mastodon preserved in a peat bog. Dr. Goldstein wondered whether the preserved specimen might contain any prehistoric microbes, and he was granted permission to attempt to culture the contents of the animal’s intestines. When he was able to culture Enterobacter cloacae, a bacterium common to animal digestive systems, the discovery earned enthusiastic acclaim in the national and international media. Dr. Goldstein and his students went on to sequence the DNA of antibiotic resistance genes of the organism they had cultured, enabling comparison with the genomes of modern descendants of these prehistoric microbes.

In 1991, Dr. Goldstein collaborated with several other faculty members across the sciences at OWU to pursue an institutional grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) aimed at improving undergraduate science education, with an emphasis on providing authentic laboratory research experiences for students. Over the course of the following decade, Dr. Goldstein and collaborators were awarded over $2 million in HHMI funding, which laid the foundation for the rich research experiences OWU offers to students across the sciences today, including the Summer Science Research Program, which was initiated through the series of grants from HHMI.

The next chapter of research would begin to take flight in 1995, when Dr. Goldstein joined an interdisciplinary project including Jann Ichida in Botany and Microbiology, Jed Burtt in Zoology, and David Lever in Chemistry to study the microbes that degrade bird feathers, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Goldstein and his students cloned and sequenced the genes that help microbes degrade keratin, the major protein making up feathers, in environmental isolates collected by students under the mentorship of Drs. Burtt and Ichida. The research would go on to span 15 years and was supported by over $1.5 million in external funding, resulting in numerous publications and patents and providing research experiences for dozens of Ohio Wesleyan students.

In addition to his deep and lasting impact on the lives of OWU students, Jerry is a proud father of Kaye and Sara and husband of Marty. He plans to continue his microbiology “hobby” in retirement, studying the effects of herb and spice extracts, some of which actually increase the replication of bacterial viruses.

A. John Gatz, Recipient of the Adam Poe Medal

A. John Gatz was born in the suburbs of Chicago and developed an early passion for animals while visiting the Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos and hiking in the local forest preserve. After his family moved to Augusta, Georgia, his fascination with biology continued while roaming the countryside collecting insects and otherwise enjoying nature. John left Georgia for Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors in biology. His honors research on spotted salamanders culminated in a couple of his earliest publications. He spent his college summers at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory researching the effects of heated discharge water from electric power stations on estuarine organisms. John continued his education at Duke University, where he was first a teaching assistant and then an instructor. His time at Duke was interrupted by his active duty service as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He returned to Duke to complete his dissertation on the ecology of stream fishes in North Carolina; his publications from this research on the ecomorphology of fishes are still widely cited internationally today.

Directly after earning his Ph.D., John came to Ohio Wesleyan University, where he was hired to teach courses in ecology, comparative anatomy, and an introductory course for non-majors. By his third year here, he added “Evolution” to his teaching in response to student requests and also went to the Galapagos Islands for the first time. Later he joined the rotation of faculty teaching “Island Biology” and took groups of students to the Galapagos multiple times between 1979 and 2015. In 1983, John developed and taught a new and unique Travel-Learning Course, “Biology of East Africa,” and took students to Kenya. Now through The OWU Connection program, John has taught the course multiple times and taken nearly 50 students to Tanzania. Multiple prospective students who ultimately matriculated at Ohio Wesleyan cited their visit to this course as heavily influencing their decision (classroom sessions that included visits by cheetah cubs from the Columbus Zoo helped). John started teaching his newest course, “Human Anatomy,” so that students interested in a variety of advanced health professions could complete their required courses at OWU. Besides these regular courses, John also led a variety of seminars associated with the National Colloquium in its early years and a wide diversity of departmental seminars.

While at Ohio Wesleyan, John has continued research in multiple areas and supervised undergraduates both during the academic year and in the summer. This work has culminated in papers – many coauthored with students – related to sexual selection in frogs and toads, movement and homing in stream fishes, effects of electroshocking on fishes, foraging behavior of beavers, using the Index of Biotic Integrity for the Delaware Run that flows through campus, and the morphology of lizards. Additional publications grew out of data sets gathered as part of the ecology course he taught for many decades. In addition to this local research, he served as a visiting faculty member in the Oak Ridge Science Semester Program and intermittently did research associated with the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. These years culminated additional publications on the ecology of fishes.

Beyond his teaching and research at Ohio Wesleyan, John has been heavily involved in our faculty governance system. He chaired the Zoology Department for several terms. John served on multiple standing committees of the faculty, and ultimately chaired most of those on which he served. These included both the Academic Status Committee and Academic Policy Committee, and also the Faculty Personnel Committee, a committee on which he served nearly a decade and chaired most of those years. For the past nine years, he has been the Chief Health Professions Advisor and has helped guide numerous students in their quests to gain acceptance into medical school, dental school, or other health professional programs.

Outside of Ohio Wesleyan, John prefers activities that keep him active and outdoors. He has completed 20 marathons, pedaled more than 55,000 miles on his current bicycle, kayaks regularly in the summers, and enjoys visiting and hiking in state and national parks with his wife, Tami, sons, David (OWU 2010) and Michael (OWU 2012), and daughter-in-law, Erin (Hanahan) Gatz (OWU 2010).

Nine faculty retire from OWU

Ted Cohen, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN), retired at the May commencement ceremony.

Cohen, who was hired in 1984, estimated he had taught roughly 6,000 to 7,000 students during his time at OWU.

“I wish I had an accurate count,” Cohen said.

Senior Alyssa Acevedo described him as a passionate professor, which made is easy for her to learn from him.

“He also helped me with one of my internships and he was my apprentice teacher who also advised me throughout that time and really helped me find the career that I really want to go into,” Acevedo said.

Not only did Cohen teach at the institution, but his wife and two children are also familiar with the campus.

Cohen’s son, Dante Santino (’09) and daughter Allison Cohen (’10) both majored in sociology and anthropology at the university. Allison Cohen took three classes with him, Cohen said.

Cohen’s late wife, Susan, worked as an archivist and curator of the United Methodist
collection for roughly 20 years, he said.

Cohen described the SOAN department as a “very stable family,” because he had been working with people in the department ever since he started.

Cohen will miss his colleagues and his students after retirement.

Alper Yalçinkaya, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, worked with Cohen since his arrival to the institution in 2010. Cohen was the first person Yalçinkaya met at OWU.

“He made it extremely easy for me to feel happy at this institution,” Yalçinkaya said.

“It’s been a wonderfully fulfilling place to be,” Cohen said. “And very supportive place
to be.”

After retirement, Cohen plans to move to New Jersey. He will also teach part-time at The College of New Jersey and to teach online summer school course for OWU. He also plans on working on a new edition of his textbook, The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationships in a Changing Society.

Also, retiring at the 2019 commencement were: Mary T. Howard, a 35-year professor of Sociology-Anthropology; Gerald Goldstein, a 36-year professor of botany and microbiology; Alan Zaring, a 29-year professor of computer science; John Gatz, a 44-year professor of zoology; Lynette Carpenter, a 30-year professor of English and film studies: Amy McClure, a 40-year professor of education; Paul Kostyu, a 20-year associate professor of journalism; and instructor Tom Burns, a 21-year instructor of English.