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Below are descriptions of the research and teaching interests of Penn State Beaver faculty who have recently offered honors courses, honors options in their regular courses, and honors independent study opportunities.


Dr. Robin M. Bower, Associate Professor of Spanish

Ph.D., Columbia University
M.A., M.Phil., Columbia University
B.A., West Chester University
Dr. Bower's major field of research specialization is in the area of Spanish and Comparative Medieval Literary studies. Secondary fields include Renaissance and Golden Age Spanish Literature and the impact of religious and governmental organization and practice on popular and literary culture. She teaches courses in Spanish, Latin American, and Comparative Literature. Dr. Bower is the faculty advisor for the Foreign Language Club and has been a Penn State faculty member since 2000.

Dr. John Chapin, Professor of Communications
Ph.D., Rutgers University
M.S., Shippensburg University
B.S., Bloomsburg University
Dr. Chapin's research interests are in social effects of media, popular music and popular culture, social networks, and the effectiveness of public health campaigns on adolescents. He teaches courses in cinema art, broadcasting and cable television, news writing, and mass media. He is also the advisor to The Roar, the Penn State Beaver student newspaper. Dr. Chapin joined the Penn State faculty in 1998.

Dr. Kristen L. Olson, Associate Professor of English
Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
M.A., Case Western Reserve University
A.L.M., Harvard University
A.B., Colby College
Dr. Olson’s research specialization is in Shakespeare Studies and the poetry and drama of the English Renaissance. Her current research incorporates archival work at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where she has also participated in professional colloquia on poetics and visuality (see Folger Institute link to "Shakespeare in an Age of Visual Culture"). At Penn State, she has taught courses in these areas as well as a course on women writers. Additional areas of research interest and teaching experience include Children’s Literature and Modernist Poetry and Fiction. Dr. Olson joined the Penn State faculty in 2000. She was the Honors Coordinator from 2001 to 2008 and is currently the Program Coordinator for the Honors Program.

Dr. Carol Schafer, Associate Professor of Theatre, Women's Studies, and Integrative Arts
Ph.D., University of Texas
M.A., University of South Carolina
B.A., Western Carolina University
Dr. Schafer's research is in Dramatic Literature, History of the Theatre, Gender Studies, and Popular Culture. She has extensive experience in acting, directing, and writing for the theater and she teaches all theater classes at Penn State Beaver. She joined the Penn State faculty in 1998.

Dr. Robert Szymczak, Associate Professor of History
D.A., Carnegie-Mellon University
M.A., West Virginia University
B.S., West Virginia University
Dr. Szymczak's area of research is Eastern European History and he has conducted extensive research in Polish-Russian relations. In addition to all introductory history courses, he teaches the History of Fascism and Nazism as well as Russian History. He has done fundamental research in Poland and has published extensively on World War II and the Holocaust. Penn State Beaver students have honored Dr. Szymczak twice as an Outstanding Professor at the campus. He has been a Penn State faculty member since 1983.

Dr. Chuntao Chris Wu, Professor of Mathematics
Ph.D., University of Arizona
M.Sc., Chinese Academy of Sciences
B.Sc., Guizhou University
Dr. Wu is recognized internationally for his research and scholarship in the field of Mathematics and is also a recipient of the Penn State Commonwealth College Excellence in Teaching Award and the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board's Excellence in Research Award. He joined the Penn State faculty in 1992.