You are here


Erik Cordes teaching in front of the classroom.

Name: Erik Cordes

Title: Marine biologist & associate professor

Researcher involved with response to Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Profile Name: 

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, it spit millions of barrels of crude oil into the ocean in what would become the worst spill in U.S. history. Few people possessed the background to know what effect the disaster would have on life so far down in the water.

Erik Cordes was someone who did.

Within months of the spill, Cordes—a marine biologist and associate professor at Temple who has worked in the Gulf since 2001—and his university lab crew were en route to investigate the impact on the coral communities. They had spent years in the area, examining the largely uncharted part of the Earth known as the deep sea—the frigid area devoid of light that in some places begins about 600 feet down.

“When we were within 10 or 11 miles of the Deepwater Horizon, we found the first site—these corals were literally covered in oil,” Cordes remembers of his return to the Gulf after the spill, which was part of a federal natural resource damage assessment. “It’s the kind of thing that slaps you in the face.”

What began then would be a years-long and ongoing commitment to document, understand and help restore the vital corals, some of which are hundreds of years old. Many will take decades to recover if they ever do, Cordes says.

The response effort is now “moving into restoration and what [we] can do to actually put them back together again” to ensure the corals continue their function of providing nutrients to other ocean life, Cordes says. His work with the government has also included helping to ensure that the $8 billion earmarked for restoration is used effectively.

Cordes’ research might have long-lasting implications that extend beyond the Gulf. Part of his lab’s work has focused on conducting experiments exposing corals to oil and to the dispersants, chemicals employed to break down the oil, used in a cleanup attempt. At the same concentrations, the lab found, the dispersants proved more toxic to the corals than the oil.

“We’ve learned a lot about what we can do in the event of another one of these instances,” Cordes notes.

The idea of knowing the previously unknown and seeing the unseen is what has always attracted Cordes to marine biology and to the deep sea in particular.

It was what mesmerized him in the second grade, when he completed a science project by going out on a boat in a bayou in Mississippi with his grandfather and using a dragnet to collect shrimp, squid and other animals that he’d preserve in mason jars and identify on a diagram showing their relationships. It’s what keeps him climbing into underwater vehicles that are “tight and cramped and cold” but evoke the “most amazing feeling” as they plunge into the darkness.

And it’s what energizes his work on campus, where he’s preparing the next wave of marine biologists by giving students opportunities to get their hands dirty, in his lab and at sea.

“Working with these samples, with these animals, with the data—I think it makes [the work] more relatable,” Cordes says. “It’s much more powerful when students realize they’re the scientists; they’re the ones who can do this.”

In a world without Temple, our ability to understand and protect the deep sea might remain out of reach.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Amy Goldberg and Scott Charles working in a trauma bay.

Names: Amy Goldberg & Scott Charles
Titles: Chair of Surgery,
Lewis Katz School of Medicine &

Trauma outreach coordinator,
Temple University Hospital
Pioneers fighting violence through education

Profile Name: 

Trauma surgeon Amy Goldberg knew early in her career that the treatment for gun violence existed beyond hospital walls. A teenage boy whose life she saved in the early 1990s made her see that prevention was a necessity.

When Goldberg met him for a follow-up appointment, she learned that at 16 he had already dropped out of school.

“It occurred to me that I may not have made as much of an impact on this patient as I thought I had—that I had actually sent him back to the community that had gotten him shot to begin with,” Goldberg recalls. “I had just done an operation that I was impressed with but probably not really extended his life.”

She decided to do something about that. In 2006, she and Scott Charles launched Cradle to Grave, a hospital-based education program that uses stories of real victims to give an inside perspective on what happens when someone is shot. The program has taught more than 11,000 people—most of whom are at-risk youth who live in neighborhoods plagued by violence.

Charles knows about gun violence firsthand. When he was 2, his older brother was shot to death. When he was 9, his sister used a firearm to take her own life. Growing up in a rough neighborhood, he first carried a gun at 14.

Goldberg’s love of anatomy drew her to work in trauma—and with that came victims of shootings.

“We share a desire to make things better despite all the evidence that would suggest that that’s impossible,” Charles says.

In a world without Temple, more young lives might end before they begin.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Haseeb Goheer, standing in front of a goal net and holding a soccer ball.

Name: Haseeb Goheer
Class Year: College of Science and Technology, Class of 2017
Campus leader using soccer to prevent HIV/AIDS

Profile Name: 

It was a Friday night in the dead of winter, and inside the confines of a small gym on Temple’s campus, about 20 Temple students made two parallel lines facing one another.

“Move in closer,” Haseeb Goheer said, before instructing the teams to stealthily pass the soccer ball to each other behind their backs.

It was a noticeably curious exercise for a sport played with feet, not hands—and the facial expressions of some students showed as much. Nevertheless, the teams quietly and playfully handed off the soccer ball behind their backs until Goheer told them to stop. He then asked each team to guess who in the opposite line possessed the ball. No one guessed correctly.

Then came the point.

“When someone’s living with HIV, you can’t guess it,” Goheer, a senior honors biology major and public health minor, said.

Soccer might seem an odd forum in which to talk about HIV and AIDS—but Goheer believes it’s exactly the right way to talk about it.

Four years ago, Goheer came to Temple from Glenside, Pennsylvania, and noticed the absence of an organization committed specifically to HIV and AIDS education. So he started his own.

Grassroot Soccer at Temple University became the first collegiate chapter of the international nonprofit, which leverages the unifying power of soccer to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

A former high school soccer player who bounced from position to position—“except goalkeeper,” he noted—Goheer realized the sport’s potential for powerful connections at an early age.

“What I realized in soccer is that I was getting a more complete experience,” Goheer recalled. “That experience came from the diversity on the team. It was a sport where you didn’t have to speak the same language. You got on the same field (and) you could just play. All you needed was a soccer ball.”

Goheer discovered his passion for soccer around the same time he first encountered Grassroot Soccer through a friend. By the end of his high school career, he was helping to raise money for the organization.

Bringing awareness about HIV and AIDS to campus and the city has complemented his experience studying in the classroom, assisting in Temple’s Center for Biodiversity, and serving as a youth representative on the U.N. Economic and Social Council, where he has discussed global healthcare disparities.

All that work has fueled his aspirations. “I hope to pursue a career in global health, advocating for equitable healthcare in the world,” he said.

In its four years, Temple Grassroot Soccer has hosted pickup soccer events and lecturers to discuss HIV and AIDs (one speaker included chemist Jim Guare, ’77, ’83); raised money for local HIV and AIDS awareness organizations; and served more than 2,000 volunteer hours, including at needle exchanges. Other colleges have since started similar collegiate chapters, too.

“Our goal is to educate as many people as we can,” Goheer said. “We want to break down the stigma around the medical ailment.”

In a world without Temple, the global fight toward that goal would be down one passionate player.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Johnny Young

Name: Johnny Young
Grad year: Fox School of Business ’66
U.S. ambassador and refugee advocate

Profile Name: 

When Johnny Young was 7 years old, he boarded a northbound train called the Silver Meteor in his native Savannah, Georgia, with his sister and the aunt who raised them. The day was July 3, 1947, and the family was destined for Philadelphia.

“I thought this was the most exciting thing that I had ever done in my life,” he recalled in an oral history. “I had never been on a train and to think that I was going to go for such a long, long ride—I was just mesmerized by the whole thing, seeing the passing images of buildings and factories and things like that.”

In retrospect, the moment was pretty telling. Young would grow up to travel around the globe as a respected U.S. ambassador—not only seeing the world, but also working to change it for the better—and later, advocate for migrants and refugees on the national scale.

His path there was anything but common.

After growing up between projects in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, Young graduated from the Edward W. Bok Technical School in South Philadelphia and, despite what he called “dismal” SAT scores, soon enrolled in Temple as a nonmatriculated student. Young excelled at his night courses, leading to his admission to the university. After eight years, he graduated cum laude in 1966 as an accounting major and Spanish minor.

But his moment of true clarity came before he earned in his degree, in 1965, when the then-accountant for the city of Philadelphia attended an international conference through the Young Men’s Christian Association in Beirut.

“That meeting was a real eye-opener for me—I met people from countries that I (couldn’t place) geographically,” Young, 76, recalled recently. “I said, ‘Whatever I do next year when I graduate from school, it will have to be in the international arena.’”

You could say he accomplished that.

By 1967, Young had been accepted into the Foreign Service and began his first assignment in Madagascar. Over the course of the next nearly four decades, he would work as a diplomat in 11 foreign countries; become a four-time ambassador; and endure political strife, gunfire and even temporary imprisonment.

As an ambassador to Togo, Young’s embassy pushed for the U.S. government to accept a young African woman who fled to escape genital mutilation; she would become the first to receive asylum in U.S. for escaping the threat of that practice.

In 2005, Young retired as a career ambassador, a rare distinction that is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

But he didn’t stop there. Between 2007 and 2015, he served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration and Refugee Services, the world’s largest nongovernmental provider of services for asylees, migrants and refugees.

Under Young’s watch, the organization collaborated with the White House to continue accepting Iraqi refugees coming to the U.S. after national security concerns halted their flow. It also lobbied for children from Central America fleeing their native countries for their lives to qualify for refugee status.

Young, in a sign of his modesty, says he’s most proud of an office and staff that was “efficient, effective and very caring in helpings tens of thousands of refugees.”

He now lives in Maryland with his wife, Angelena. His retirement isn’t exactly that. In the evenings, he teaches English as a second language part time. He also helps prepare green-card holders seeking citizenship for their required civics test. And he sits on the board of directors of the Council on International Educational Exchange, which assists scholars, students and teachers travel abroad for educational and cultural experiences.

“The evidence is clear: A trip abroad makes a difference in one’s life,” Young says. “It’s a transformative experience. I am an example of that.”

In a world without Temple, refugees and migrants from around the globe would be short a key champion.

Image (full): 


Sharon Pinkenson standing in an empty theater.

Name: Sharon Pinkenson
Grad Year: College of Education ’71
Executive director, Greater Philadelphia Film Office

Profile Name: 
Sharon Pinkenson

If you’ve seen Marley & Me, National Treasure or Silver Linings Playbook, you’ll know that those very different movies have one thing in common—they were all filmed, at least in part, in Philadelphia.

More than 200 film and television productions have been lured to the city since Sharon Pinkenson, EDU ’71, became executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. Under her leadership, the office has generated more than $4 billion of economic impact for the southeastern Pennsylvania region.

A one-time owner of a trendy clothing boutique in Center City, Pinkenson parlayed her fashion skills into a career as a freelance costume designer. Actors donned her designs in films such as Confessions of a Suburban Girl, Mannequin II: On the Move and Renegades.

Throughout her stint as a designer, the film office that she and other Philadelphia-based freelancers relied on functioned as little more than a permit office. Pinkenson believed it could offer filmmakers—and the city—much more. When Ed Rendell was elected mayor in 1991 after having campaigned on making economic development a priority, she saw her opportunity. She approached him with her vision, and he appointed her to lead the office.

It didn’t take long for that vision to become reality. She hit the ground running, traveling to Los Angeles to pitch Philadelphia as a prime location for filmmakers. Director Jonathan Demme was one of the first to buy in: He chose Philadelphia for the setting of his groundbreaking and eventual Oscar-winning film centered on a man living with AIDS.

That he named the film Philadelphia is a tribute Pinkenson treasures. The impact of that film went far beyond the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a story that changed the world.

But Pinkenson isn’t driven by accolades and tributes—her love of the city is what motivates her. And like many other Owls, she approaches her work with fearlessness and perseverance.

In a world without Temple, Philly’s star wouldn’t shine as bright.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 

Pitch Perfect

Dan Baker standing in Citizens Bank Park.

Name: Dan Baker
Grad Year: College of Education ’72
Voice of the Philadelphia Phillies

Profile Name: 
Dan Baker

Every baseball stadium needs a voice. And at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, that voice has always been that of Dan Baker, EDU ’72.

His is the familiar one that calls out the starting lineup at every Phillies home game, the one that ushers the team onto the field with a thunderous proclamation: “Ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 Phiiiilaadelphia Phillies!”

Baker began his dream job as public address announcer for the Phillies in 1972 after earning a master of education at Temple.

“I used to lay in bed at night and listen to Phillies games and keep the balls and strikes on my fingers—it’s second nature to me,” Baker said. When he landed an interview with the team in 1971, he confidently told as much to his interviewers and got the job, fulfilling a childhood dream triggered by his first Phillies game with his father in 1954.

“When I saw that, the beautiful green grass and the lights—I thought I entered heaven,” Baker said. “I thought, man, wouldn’t it be great someday to be a part of this?”

Working his way up at the former Channel 48, Baker ascended from the mailroom to assisting with production operations and filling in for a wrestling announcer.

Baker continued to pursue such work while also satisfying his passion for education: He worked as an elementary school teacher while completing his master’s degree at Temple. His advisor encouraged him to continue both paths, he said, and that’s what he did until 1980, when he retired from teaching to focus on his announcing career.

Years later, he has announced more than 3,600 games, including five World Series; was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame; and is the longest-tenured public address announcer currently working in Major League Baseball.

In a world without Temple, game days in Philadelphia wouldn’t sound the same.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Jamira Burley walking around DC.

Name: Jamira Burley
Grad Year: Fox School of Business ’12
Gun Violence Prevention Advocate

Profile Name: 
Jamira Burley

Jamira Burley, FOX ’12, was born in Philadelphia at the height of the city’s drug epidemic. From an early age, she watched as violence overtook her community and knew she wanted better for herself. She just wasn’t sure how to go about it.

Then tragedy struck home.

When she was 15 years old, her 20-year-old brother Andre was shot and killed in Philadelphia. That same year, her father was convicted of a different murder in Virginia.

It was then that Burley knew how she would channel her energy.

She started at her school, West Philadelphia’s Overbrook High, where she co-founded an anti-violence peer mediation group. The program reduced violence in the school by 30 percent—and earned Burley a $50,000 grant to develop the program in 10 of Philadelphia’s most violent high schools.

Clearly, being a catalyst for change suited her.

At Temple, Burley majored in business and honed her leadership skills as an Owl Ambassador and a member of the Black Student Union and student government.

After graduating, she was appointed executive director of the Philadelphia Youth Commission at age 23—the city’s youngest agency executive.

The position gave her the opportunity to lead youth engagement programs for more than 600,000 people under the age of 25 in Philadelphia. After two years in the role, she was ready for her next challenge.

In 2014, she expanded the scale of her work when she became a senior campaigner who focuses on criminal justice, gun violence and human rights for the global nonprofit Amnesty International. That same year, she was recognized by the White House as a Champion for Change for gun violence prevention.

In a world without Temple, a voice against violence might not be heard. 

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Sister Mary Scullion

Name: Sister Mary Scullion

Grad year: School of Social Work, ’87

Visionary who cofounded Project HOME


Profile Name: 

Sister Mary Scullion has been quoted by President Obama, celebrated in Time magazine and credited with the fact that Philadelphia has the lowest rate of homelessness among the 10 largest cities in the U.S., despite it having the highest rate of poverty.

But Scullion attributes her accomplishments to “the power of we.” It’s what she credits with the success of Project HOME, the nonprofit organization she cofounded in 1989 to provide services to the homeless in Philadelphia. And it’s a lesson she learned as a graduate student at Temple.

“I discovered a lot at Temple about the importance of partnership and collaboration,” she says. “We all have to be involved in ending homelessness.”

It was her own desire to be involved and passion for social justice that led Scullion to enter the convent at age 19. “I was inspired by the Sisters of Mercy,” she says, “by the work they did with those living on the margins.”

She began working with the homeless as a young nun, and with other Sisters of Mercy started Mercy Hospice in 1976, the first shelter in Philadelphia open seven days a week. Scullion had earned an undergraduate degree at Saint Joseph’s University after joining the Sisters but realized additional skills and education would benefit her work. So she applied to Temple, where she earned her master’s degree in social work while working full time.

“I loved the School of Social Work,” Scullion says. “There was so much real-life experience, and I had excellent professors.” She was most strongly influenced by Associate Professor Philip Jaslow, whom, she says, “was a tremendous teacher and had a great impact on my life.”

The impact she felt at Temple helped Scullion have an impact on thousands of Philadelphians over the next 25 years. Soon after earning her master’s degree, she started a temporary emergency winter shelter in the locker room of the swimming pool at a local recreation center.

“But we realized shelter wasn’t enough; people needed housing, so we focused on affordable housing,” she says. “Then we saw housing wasn't enough; people needed jobs and education and healthcare.” To address all those needs, she and Joan McCannon founded Project HOME. HOME is an acronym for housing, opportunities for employment, medical care and education.

In the 25 years she has led the organization, it has grown from that temporary shelter to the provider of more than 700 units of housing and now includes a state-of-the-art technology and education center and a wellness center in North Philadelphia. In 2015 alone, Project HOME served 15,000 people, providing everything from housing to primary care visits to college access programs for high school students.

“Many organizations do one or two of these things,” says Scullion. “What makes Project HOME unique is the comprehensiveness of the services we provide to both end and prevent homelessness.”

What also makes Project HOME unique is that Sister Mary Scullion is at its helm, changing and saving lives in the city of Philadelphia and across the world.

Image (full): 


Kevin Sprouls

Name: Kevin Sprouls

Grad year: Tyler School of Art ’77

Artist responsible for The Wall Street Journal’s iconic illustration style


Profile Name: 

The constellations of dots and lines that nestle in the text of the prestigious pages of The Wall Street Journal have for decades depicted newsmakers of the day—from Margaret Thatcher to Donald Trump—becoming nearly as iconic as the Journal’s nameplate.

You can thank Kevin Sprouls for that.

It took only two years after his 1977 graduation from the Tyler School of Art at Temple for Sprouls to work his way onto the paper’s staff as an illustrator, shortly after landing a job at the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones & Co., in New York City. A Temple connection helped get him in the door, and lunchroom conversations with the paper’s editors and a passion for the craft seemingly did the rest.

The Journal used photographs in advertisements and simple pencil sketches at the time, but was otherwise devoid of art. It was in the sketches that Sprouls saw opportunity to enliven the pages with his pointillistic style, reminiscent of an engraving or stock certificate. The editors went for it, and the intricate illustrations—referred to as the Journal’s “hedcuts”—became a distinct feature of the paper.

“It certainly is a throwback to another time,” Sprouls, a New Jersey native and father of two, said recently in his North Carolina home. “It was a really good fit for the paper.”

Sprouls remained at the Journal until 1987, and helped establish a thriving art department, rising to the rank of assistant art director. He then embarked on a freelance career and has continued connecting the dots to create thousands of illustrations for organizations, people and publications such as Time magazine, The New Yorker and Harper’s magazine.

Today, Sprouls’ pen is housed in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. And despite the Journal’s adoption of photographs and color, and the industry’s shift to the web, the news organization has retained its hallmark hand-drawn illustration style.

In a world without Temple, we might have missed the point.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 


Photo of Jimmy Curran

Name: Jimmy Curran

Grad Year: Fox School of Business '11

Founder of [dis]Able

Enables a Dialogue



Profile Name: 

Jimmy Curran, age 26, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy when he was 2 and has been in a wheelchair ever since. But his condition didn’t stop him from landing internships on Wall Street and Capitol Hill or from graduating with honors in finance. It didn’t keep him from a job as a research analyst at Independence Blue Cross, or from [dis]ABLE, the apparel brand he started in 2015.

It was the Fox School of Business that charged his entrepreneurial spirit.

With his college roommate and business partner Eddie Doyle ’10, he created and launched [dis]ABLE, a clothing brand that aims to “disable the limits” of those with disabilities and challenge stereotypes about them. Its logo is the word [dis]ABLE—with the “dis” crossed out—and its slogan is “For those who thought I couldn’t.”

Curran hopes [dis]ABLE will become a resource for books, documentaries and empowerment. In a world without Temple, the dialogue about disabilities might be missing his force and strength.

Image (full): 
YouTube ID: 
Subscribe to World Without Temple RSS