Top Drexel Stories of 2017


Last year, Drexel University celebrated its past with a yearlong celebration of the 125th anniversary of its 1891 founding. Fresh off of its blockbuster anniversary, the University changed gears and looked toward the future.

Here's a collection of the biggest Drexel stories from 2017.

Making the University Stronger

The University built for its own future this year, welcoming a record-breaking freshman class with more Dragons and a higher yield rate than in previous years. Drexel also moved up in prestigious national and international rankings, including those from the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, as well as U.S. News & World Report.

The University City Campus is also changing for its future with the groundbreaking for the Drexel Square, the first project of the Schuylkill Yards innovation community.

Creating a Healthier You (Plus Ticks?)

Crash diets seem like an easier option to drop weight, but ultimately they do more harm than good, according to research from College of Arts and Sciences psychologist Michael Lowe, PhD. Developing stable, repeatable behaviors is more likely to help with your quest for a long-term weight-loss solution.

College of Computing & Informatics researchers found that people in pain are overcoming silence by using Instagram to post images that explain feelings or experiences that might be too much to put into words.

College of Medicine researchers asked the public to mail any ticks they might find to their lab (yes, really) so that the researchers can analyze the microbiome of each creature and determine the bacteria living inside. The Philadelphia Inquirer story on the project was shared over 3,400 times, and the Drexel team has received over 200 ticks in the mail so far (which is actually a good thing). 

Another big tick-related story (again, yes, really) for Drexel this year was a Q&A with Garth Ehrlich, PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the College of Medicine, who discussed what can happen if Lyme disease is not treated early enough.

If you want to activate your brain’s reward pathways, doodling might be a good start, according to research from a team led by Girija Kaimal, EdD, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

A study led by Alex Ortega, PhD, a professor in Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, found that Spanish-speaking, non-U.S. citizen Latinos are half as likely to feel like their doctor listens to them as well as English-speaking and U.S. citizen parents.

Changing the Way We’ll Live

A study from researchers in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure how a listener’s brain syncs up with a speaker’s when a message is well-communicated. This has huge potential to improve communication, including with important conversations taking place in classrooms, business meetings, political rallies and doctors’ offices.

Ever hear about smart fabrics? If you haven’t already, then you definitely will — especially on campus. In November, Drexel announced that it will open the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center, a collaboration with the Department of Defense-supported Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA). Drexel got another head-start on smart fabrics this year by offering incoming freshmen free programmable backpacks (which aren’t even on the market yet!).

Another life-changing upgrade, courtesy of Drexel: A team led by Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Bach Professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, is working with MXenes, a highly conductive, two-dimensional material that could completely change energy storage (like fully charging your cell phone in a matter of seconds).

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a redistricting case that could have a huge impact on the future of American politics. Lisa A. Tucker, JD, associate law professor in the Kline School of Law and expert on the Supreme Court, discussed its implications in a Q&A about Gill v. Whitford.

Researchers from the Center for Food and Hospitality Management in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the LeBow College of Business and the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems worked together on a study revealing that people are likely to enjoy foods created from discarded ingredients.

What happens when a company takes a stand on a political issue? Daniel Korschun, an associate professor in the LeBow College of Business, has researched that phenomenon and wrote about it in a popular opinion piece for Fast Company.

This year, Drexel’s Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection joined over 180 cultural institutions from around the world through a “We wear culture” project from Google Arts & Culture. Now, people can tour the costume collection from the comfort of their home through the online exhibition.

Barnegat Bay’s salt marshes are extremely important to our coastal environment, but climate change could wipe them out in a decade, according to new research led by David Velinsky, PhD, vice president for Academy Science and head of the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences.

There’s a Drexel App (or Startup) for That

Psychologists in Drexel’s Laboratory for Innovations in Health-Related Behavior Change created a smartphone app for patients who suffer from binge eating disorder or bulimia.

Danish Dhamani, an undergraduate in the College of Engineering, and Parish Gupta, an undergraduate in the College of Computing & Informatics were featured in stories about their speech coaching app called Orai

“Sole,” a video game designed by Nabeel Ansari, an undergrad in Pennoni Honors College, and Vincent DeTommaso, an undergrad in Westphal College, and recent graduates Nina DeLucia and Thomas Sharpe, was mentioned in stories by several media outlets including VentureBeat about the Intel University Games Showcase Competition. The students’ startup company, Gossamer Games, is supported by the Entrepreneurial Game Studio in the ExCITe Center and the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Close School of Entrepreneurship. 

The 24-hour online delivery service goPuff, co-founded by former students Rafael llishayev and Yakir Gola while at Drexel, also made headlines, most recently in a CNBC article.

A Banner Year for Sports

Can you say five-peat? Because that’s exactly what happened when Drexel Rowing competed at the Dad Vail Regatta in May. The Drexel rowing team nabbed its fifth (!) consecutive overall team title and its first ever women's points title at the event.

For a two-peat: Rachel Bernhardt from Drexel’s women’s swimming team qualified for the NCAA swimming championships for the second year in a row; she became the first Drexel women's swimmer to ever reach the championships a year ago. In March, she qualified for both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events at the 2017 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.

Good news for the Drexel faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends who use the Drexel Rec Center: the space was ranked #7 in the country by College Magazine.

And good news for anyone who likes a heartwarming comeback story: the men’s lacrosse team stunned Hofstra University in April when it scored seven fourth-quarter goals, including three within 46 seconds in the final two minutes of the game, to win 13-12 against the no. 2 seeded team.

Top Social Media Posts

Drexel’s top Facebook post linked to one of this year’s top stories — the University’s new 2018 U.S. News and World Report ranking.

The top Instagram post was of an explosive kickoff to Drexel’s Welcome Week at the Franklin Institute — with a perfectly timed video of a bus with a Drexel “Ambition Can’t Wait” advertisement driving by at the right moment.

Over on Twitter, the top tweet from Drexel University all stemmed from a bet (which, unfortunately, the University and Drexel President John Fry lost). Earlier this month, Drexel’s men’s basketball team played against Robert Morris University — whose president issued a bet that the president of the losing team would have to wear a shirt from the university of the winning team. Drexel lost — and Fry had to pose for a picture with a “Bobby Mo” shirt.