Bizarre creatures swarm TU field station as All Hallows’ Eve approaches

As TU’s resident ghosts, goblins and zombies prepare for the revelry of All Hallows’ Eve, the TU Field Station (located 19 miles north of campus in Monkton, Md.), has been invaded by a swarm of eerie and mysterious creatures.

Field station

The tiny aliens are not otherworldly, however. They’re the nymphal stage of the woolly aphid, a common insect pest. Field Station director Don C. Forester observed them next to an experimental plot where TU biologists are studying the impact of deer browsing on the forest ecosystem.

According to Professor Emeritus Forester, a behavioral ecologist, “The nymphs completely covered a two square-meter segment of the forest floor. Each insect was waving its conspicuous furry abdomen in the air, and as I approached, their activity became increasingly frenetic. Apparently this is a genetically controlled, synchronized anti-predator response.”

Instead of warding off predators, Forester says the nymphs’ ghostlike fluttering alerted him to their presence. He reports that many were inadvertently crushed as he lay on the forest floor trying to film them with his iPhone. “They became unintentional collateral damage in my exuberant practice of scientific inquiry,” he adds.

Founded in 2010 through a partnership with Al Henneman ’66 and his wife Suzie Henneman, TU’s Field Station provides a place for faculty and students to investigate and research the natural world. Adjacent to the Gunpowder Fall State Park and protected from development by a conservation easement, it is one of the largest natural preserves in central Maryland.

The TU Field Station is used for field trips and as an outdoor laboratory for student and faculty research To support long-term ecological research, the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics has funded the construction of 11 fenced plots called deer exclosures. Each plot is paired with an adjacent, unfenced control plot. TU scientists and students monitor the plots throughout the year to determine the impact that deer browsing has on the forest vegetation, leaf litter, soil invertebrates and salamanders.

A portable weather station installed this year will enable TU scientists to monitor the influence of climate change on the health of the forest ecosystem. There are also plans to study honeybee populations as well as dung beetles.

TU senior in the spotlight at premiere of “The T Word”

Shane Henise, a senior psychology major with a minor in LGBT studies, has been enjoying the media spotlight on the red carpet. Henise, from Silver Spring, Md., was one of only seven U.S. students selected to participate in “The T Word” documentary produced and hosted by Laverne Cox. He graciously answered our questions about the project.

Shane Henise, center with cast from The T Word at Red Carpet Premiere.

Shane Henise, center with cast from The T Word at Red Carpet Premiere.

What is “The T Word” project?
It’s an hour-long documentary that premiered on MTV and LOGO on October 17. (It’s also available online on the LOGO website.) It broke ground as the first documentary to show transgender individuals in a human light. “The T-Word “didn’t focus on surgery, birth names, or any of the other topics that usually come up when talking about trans people. It focused instead on lived experience and how we exist in the world as transgender individuals, which I believe is a great place to start.

How did you get involved?
I met Laverne Cox last semester when she came to speak at Towson. I had a few minutes to sit with her at the meet-and-greet hosted by the Center for Student Diversity (CSD). We talked about my experience as a transgender individual and what it’s like to be trans on a college campus. After her speech, everyone lined up to take a picture with her. When it was my turn, she tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to wait on the side. She then took me into a room in the CSD and told me she was producing a documentary about transgender youth and asked if I would be interested. A couple interviews later, I found out that I was one of seven chosen from around the country.

What was it like to be featured in a documentary?
It was unlike any other experience I’ve had. I was followed by cameras for 24 hours around campus and my home, which took some getting used to. But even more than the filming process, the experience of meeting the other cast members has been so amazing. They are all the most incredibly warm and welcoming humans. Also, I’ve been propelled into an entirely different world. I’ve been interviewed for Huffington Post, for the New York Daily News, and even got to attend a red carpet premiere for “The T Word.” I was able to meet trans celebrities that I have looked up to and admired since I started my journey.

Would you tell us more about Laverne Cox?
Laverne Cox is a transgender actress and activist. Most people know her from her role as Sofia on “Orange is the New Black.” She was also the first transgender woman ever nominated for an Emmy, and the first transgender woman to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Having her name attached to the project really gave it visibility and got people excited about it. She is a pioneer in the transgender rights movement.

Did Towson University support your involvement?
Towson has been amazingly supportive throughout the whole process. Not only did we film on campus, but Towson also had an event for the premiere. Although I was in New York, it was amazing to see how much support I have on campus as a student and an individual. Not only did Towson invite diversity speakers who talked about social-justice issues—it also invited Laverne to campus, and that’s what started this whole process.

How has your college experience been affected?
Being involved in the project has really helped me give a voice to transgender students. I have been invited to speak in many classes this semester, and professors are more excited about hearing trans voices. I am now able to share my story and shed light not only on transgender issues and policy on campus, but also to show that Towson has transgender students. By being visible I hope that students can see that trans people aren’t any different from anyone else.

Henise is scheduled to graduate in May 2015. He is applying to doctoral programs in experimental psychology and expects to begin his graduate studies next fall.

Athletics Weekend Roundup: Women’s soccer heading to its first CAA Tournament.

Towson's women soccer will play in its first CAA Tournament after picking up a victory over William and Mary this weekend.

Towson’s women soccer will play in its first CAA Tournament after picking up a victory over William and Mary this weekend.

For the first time in program history, the Towson women’s soccer team has earned a spot in the CAA post-season tournament.

The Tigers made history after picking up a 2-0 victory over William and Mary on Sunday at the Tiger Soccer Complex.

Sophomores Natalia Pinkney and Marissa Green each scored goals in the win that propelled to Tigers to win in the team’s Senior Day game. Senior goalkeeper Erin Quinn recorded her eighth shutout of the season.

“I’m really proud of our team today with the efforts they exerted today with their backs against the wall after a slow start in CAA play,” said head coach Greg Paynter. “To be able to clinch a playoff spot on senior day against a big team in our conference, it was just a great accomplishment all the way around.”

Towson will be back in action on Nov. 2 against No. 3 seed Hofstra in the first round of the CAA Tournament on Hempstead, N.Y.

Volleyball Adds to Win Streak

The Towson University volleyball team won its seventh-straight match, picking up a 3-0 win at Delaware on Friday.

Senior Saitaua Iosia led the way with 12 kills, five digs and two aces, while junior Haley Pa’akaula added 11 kills and nine digs. Junior Aimee Schubert dished out 21 assists.

Towson returns to action this Thursday, Oct. 30, for the first of three straight home matches.

Before the match, the team will be hosting an indoor trick-or-treat starting at 6 p.m. around the SECU Arena concourse. Student-athletes and cheerleaders will handout candy in costume.

There will also be a costume contest during the game between the second and third sets for kids under the age of 12, and another contest for Towson University students.

Halloween-themed music will be played throughout the match.

Tigers tip-off new basketball season.

The new basketball season started last Friday, as the Towson men’s and women’s basketball teams were introduced at Tiger Tip-off.

Each team was introduced to its own walk-out song while throwing T-shirts to the crowd.

Following introductions, the teams competed in a hot-shot competition, a three-point shootout and a slam dunk contest.

A.J. Astroth won the hot-shot competition, Byron Hawkins outlasted Four McGlynn in the three-point shootout, and Timajh Parker-Rivera won the slam dunk contest.

Fans will have the chance to see both men’s and women’s teams in action on Nov. 7 in a doubleheader of exhibition games at SECU Arena.

The women’s team will host Stevenson at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s team game against Slippery Rock.

Other Athletic News:

Towson’s Homecoming Week looks to be a real “Nightmare”

webad_1Towson University is getting ready to scare up some school spirit, as the 2014 Homecoming Week falls during the same time as Halloween.

Because of that coincidence of timing, Towson’s Homecoming week will be called “Nightmare on York Road: A Haunted Homecoming.” Many of this week’s student-planned events will have a Halloween theme to go along with the classic Homecoming fare.

Monday will feature the annual Homecoming Talent show at Stephens Hall Theatre at 8 p.m. The campus can check out a showcase of talent and student-produced acts from talented Towson students.

On Tuesday, Tiger Plaza will be buzzing with the annual Homecoming Block Party. The Block Party lasts from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m and will be jam-packed with prizes, a DJ, pumpkin painting, T-shirt giveaways, free food, a cornhole tournament and more festive fall activities.

Wednesday will start with a break from the “Nightmare,” to hold the Positive Homecoming Rally starting at 1 p.m. at Tiger Plaza. Students can enjoy free Rita’s and participate in T-shirt giveaways. Students will also be able to sign the Positive Homecoming Pledge, which says the student will celebrate in a fun, safe way while respecting their school, community and their peers.

Wednesday also features a chance for students to dye a free T-shirt. Students can also participate in “Glentastrophe 2014” Glen Horror Stories,” which is a haunted walk through the Glen Woods. Students must arrive by 8:30 p.m. to be guaranteed a tour.

A mix of classic Homecoming events and Halloween-themed tricks will highlight Thursday. The Health and Counseling Center at Ward and West will host a TU Mystery Party. Students can try to crack the case while enjoying a costume contest, candy, photo booth, live music and many other free goodies.

Thursday will also host the Homecoming Pageant, which is held in the Chesapeake Rooms at the University Union starting at 8 p.m. The campus will be able to meet its’ homecoming court, who will participate in different challenges throughout the night.

Friday night will bring a zombie apocalypse to Towson. The West Village Commons Ballrooms will host “Survive Towson.” Students will put their zombie-evading skills to the test in this award-winning, annual event. Check-in starts at 6 p.m. with the event beginning at 7 p.m.

And on Saturday, the Towson Tiger Football team will host Elon at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 4 p.m. Prior to the opening kick-off, Lot 14 will host a Homecoming tailgate party starting at 1 p.m.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit the Towson University Homecoming website. To stay up to date with all the events, students can visit the Towson University Homecoming Facebook page.


Andrew Solomon delivers positive Disability Awareness Month messages

When award-winning author Andrew Solomon was born, homosexuality was considered an illness. Throughout his lifetime, he has witnessed the evolution of homosexuality into a dynamic, vibrant identity for himself and millions of others.

“A great deal of attention has been paid to the advancement of gay people, but less ink has been given to the acceptance of other types of differences,” explains Solomon, who spent the better part of the last decade exploring how differences evolve into identities for exceptional children.


Solomon conducted some 300 interviews with families and children coping with such conditions as deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism and more for his 2012 book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. His conclusion:  Individual differences in children, often the basis for much stigmatizing, can unite them as well.

“While each of these experiences can isolate those who are affected, together they compose an aggregate of millions whose struggles connect them profoundly,” says Solomon, who shared his message with university faculty, students and staff last week as part of Disability Awareness Month activities. “The exceptional is ubiquitous; to be entirely typical is a rare and lonely state.”

Department of Family Studies and Community Development Chair Karen Eskow was so impressed by Solomon’s work that she personally emailed him and began months of discussions that resulted in his visit.

“Our department has a unique and distinct commitment to raising awareness and promoting an appreciation of individual differences,” says Eskow.

Following a well-attended noon Book Talk at the University Union, Solomon was joined by some 350 students, instructors and community members in a workshop on “The Diversity of Disability: Raising Awareness,” which included a panel presentation by five Towson students with various disabilities including learning issues, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hydrocephalus, mental health concerns and dwarfism.

“The dialogue that Andrew Solomon brought to campus was the highlight of our Disability Awareness Month activities,” notes Susan Willemin, director of Disability Support Services. “Following an initial review of feedback from students who attended the workshop, without a doubt they were positively impacted by what he had to say.”

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Department of Family Studies and Community Development, Disability Support Services and the College of Liberal Arts.  For more information on the month’s activities, contact Disability Support Services.

Far From the Tree received the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Solomon’s previous book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression was honored with the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2001 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2002.