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Top Drexel Stories of 2016

December 05 2016

top stories

A lot has happened at Drexel in 2016 — and not just because it’s the 125th anniversary of the University’s 1891 founding. As we finish the year, now is the time to remember the excitement of Schuylkill Yards, the achievements of our student-athletes, and the big contributions Drexel researchers made to science and society over the past 12 months.

Looking Towards the Future of Drexel …

Drexel’s campus is always changing, but the University took it one step further in March when it unveiled plans for Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Yards development, which will completely change the land adjacent to Drexel’s main campus and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and Brandywine’s Cira Centre. This new neighborhood of mixed-use spaces will feature entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues and public open spaces. The renderings of the skyline and neighborhood are astonishing, just like the news itself — which is why this story was the No. 1 most-read story on DrexelNow in 2016.

… While Remembering Drexel’s Past

2016 marked the 125th anniversary of Drexel’s 1891 founding, which made this academic year a pretty exciting time to be a Drexel Dragon. To celebrate, the University is throwing itself a yearlong anniversary party, complete with a custom Drexel beer designed by an alumnus; a Drexel history book co-edited by two professors and featuring contributions from faculty, staff and students; a free public lecture series offering discussions about Drexel’s past and a University-wide celebration on Dec. 7 to honor the Dec. 17, 1891, founding of Drexel. Throughout the year, various aspects of Drexel’s history, from a remembrance of Drexel’s former presidents to the mysterious life of University founder A.J. Drexel, were published as part of a series on DrexelNow and can be found here.

Advances in Technology

Drexel made great strides in a variety of fields and disciplines on campus.

Two Drexel researchers in the Laboratory for Innovations in Health-Related Behavior Change in the College of Arts and Sciences developed a computer game and smartphone app to help users control their unhealthy eating habits and lose weight.

Researchers in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems are working to see how our brains react to Google Glass. The Drexel professors are using fNIRS — functional near-infrared spectroscopy — to measure a person’s brain activity and see how “smart” eyewear integrates augmented reality with our own.

Interdisciplinary research will be making strides on campus through the National Network for Advanced Functional Fabrics Manufacturing, a consortium of university, industry and government research partners that will support American textile manufacturers in bringing sophisticated new materials and textiles to the marketplace and the military. The U.S. Department of Defense designated Drexel as a regional leader in the creation of the $75 million national research institute.

Drexel students have also made the news for their research. In June, nine seniors (now alums) in the College of Computing & Informatics found a way to turn the Paralympic Games sport of goalball into a video game. More than 70 Drexel students are also participating in the Hyperloop challenge, a competition held by SpaceX founder Elon Musk to design a transportation pod for SpaceX’s high-speed transit test track.

Great Studies Yielded Great Results

A professor in the Center for Hospitality & Sport Management found that you probably can’t tell the difference between bourbon and rye.

Depressive symptoms are prevalent among Division I college athletes, according to a College of Medicine professor’s findings.

Reducing stress hormones could be easily accomplished by making art at any skill level. The news from the College of Nursing and Health Professions certainly made a case for doodling and the coloring book market that exploded on the scene this year.

Touching sandpaper, of all things, could boost charitable donations, according to a professor in the LeBow College of Business.  

One College of Arts and Sciences professor completed a study that has implications for police interrogations. Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the country, but taser shocks can disrupt brain function and impair suspects’ ability to understand what rights they have or may be waiving in an interrogation.

Drexel Made Waves

If you were thinking of becoming a vegetarian — don’t. You can’t. That philosophy, written about extensively in a new book from a College of Arts and Sciences professor, was detailed in a post on the Drexel News Blog. The post got more than 100,000 views this year — and almost as many comments in the heated comment section.

A PhD thesis by a Westphal College of Media Arts & Design professor found its way in a Wall Street Journal article — and then to a slew of other publications. Joseph Hancock, a design and merchandising professor, wrote his thesis about cargo pants and found his insights applied to the item’s mismatched popularity (guys seemingly love them while women can’t stand them) in an article with the headline “Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa.” The story proved so popular that it was covered by many other publications and the reactions were so strong that the reporter published a second piece on the aftermath that occurred after she wrote the first piece.

A new, gigantic and ancient armored fish was discovered and named B. rex by scientists in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the College of Arts and Sciences. Why call it B. rex? The extinct fish with external, bony armored plates covering its head, shoulders and front fins reigned as king in the days before dinosaurs and the T. rex.

French choreographer Boris Charmatz, a renowned name in the world of contemporary dance, brought his acclaimed Levée des conflits (Suspension of Conflicts) to campus as part of the Fringe Festival in September.

Drexel Dragons Soar in Athletics

Drexel’s student-athletes had a banner year in 2016 — and so did an alumnus!

Crew has been a part of Drexel’s sports offerings since the early years of the University and in 2016 Drexel students were at the top of their game. In May, Drexel’s crew teams won the Dad Vail Regatta for the fourth year in a row. One month later, the men’s crew team competed in the prestigious 2016 Henley Royal Regatta in England and won for the first time; the team previously raced in the Henley in 1972 and again in 2012. Drexel student-athletes wore elegant Henley blazers that were designed by Drexel’s first lady, Cara Fry, and featured blue-and-gold edging and the Drexel family crest.

In June, Chris Crawford, a senior golfer, qualified for the U.S. Open, making him the first Drexel player ever to do so. He participated along with some of the top professional players in the sport.

Steve Kasprzyk ’05, a former student-athlete at Drexel, competed in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as part of the United States men’s eight crew team. The team finished just shy of a medal in fourth place — just like in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, in which Kasprzyk also participated.

Drexel’s men’s and women’s squash programs were ranked nationally in the top 10 in October. That’s the highest ranking Drexel has received since the sport started on campus in the 2012–2013 season.

Top Social Media Posts

One of this year’s top posts on Drexel’s Facebook page was related to the opening of Eat Café, a pay-what-you-can restaurant that was an entrepreneurial collaboration between Drexel Associate Professor Mariana Chilton and chef Marc Vetri ’90. This picture garnered 2,215 reactions, comments and shares.

On Instagram, this picture of spring blossoms on campus received 804 likes and 14 comments.

The top @DrexelUniv tweet this year was about the Drexel men’s lacrosse team welcoming its newest member — a 9-year-old superstar.