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CHANGING HEARTS

Polina Gross standing in a lab

Name: Polina Gross
Title: PhD candidate, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Researcher studying heart disease

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Polina Gross
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Polina Gross was in class at her high school in Israel when she received a text message that would set the course of her career.

The text from her sister told Gross she was in an ambulance with their mother heading to the hospital. Her mother was having a heart attack.

It was the beginning of a traumatic ordeal for Gross and her family.

“My mother had open heart surgery,” recalls Gross, 33, now pursuing a PhD in biomedical sciences in Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine. “We really didn’t know if she was going to make it.”

Her mother’s illness inspired Gross to embark on a career helping others facing heart disease—and eventually, one working to prevent it. Gross worked as a nurse for two years, but yearned to make a different kind of change.

“We have tremendous medical capabilities to prolong human life,” she explains. “However, with many chronic diseases, we’re still focusing on treating the symptoms rather than curing the disease.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology engineering, Gross still wanted to learn more to improve outcomes for patients like her mother. In 2012, that desire brought her to Temple for her PhD.

There Gross began working in the Cardiovascular Research Center, investigating heart failure and treatments for it.

Her work has already garnered national attention: Last year, the American Heart Association awarded Gross a predoctoral fellowship for her research on a specific class of ion channels, some of the mechanisms in the heart that contribute to degeneration of the cardiac muscle in patients with heart failure. Her hope is that understanding more about these channels will eventually lead to the development of a novel therapy to slow, or even stop, the progression of heart failure.

Gross’ work could affect hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and millions around the world: Heart disease claims more than a half million lives annually in the U.S., and in 2015, it killed more than 7 million people worldwide.

Gross’ mother eventually succumbed to her illness—but she continues to inspire her daughter’s research.

“[Her] story is driving me to find novel cures,” Gross says.

“Science can sometimes be frustrating,” she notes. “But knowing I’m doing work that one day is going to impact other people—that’s what’s keeping me going.”

In a world without Temple, heart disease may never be cured.
 

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HEAD OF NETWORK

Lew Klein standing near a camera

 

Name: Lew Klein
Title: Adjunct Professor
Broadcast pioneer

 

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Lew Klein
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To hear Lew Klein describe it, that thing that draws people into journalism and communications isn’t happenstance or luck or chance—it’s a sort of magnetism.

“When it comes to journalism, when it comes to broadcasting, when it comes to communication, you just feel it. You’ve just got to do it,” Klein says. “They talk about ink in your blood. And I don’t know that it’s ink in our blood, but it’s video and stories and excitement.”

Video. Stories. Excitement. All of which Klein knows a thing or two about.

For nearly seven decades, Klein—a broadcast pioneer and adjunct professor at Temple—has left an indelible mark on broadcasting and those entering the industry.

A Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, native, Klein’s storied career began in 1950, when he was hired at the then-WFIL-TV (now WPVI Channel 6 in Philadelphia). There he became a producer and a director known for his work on American Bandstand, the influential show that featured teenagers dancing to pop songs, and other programs.

Among his many successes, Klein helped launch Channel 6’s Action News format, featuring more news stories, shorter segments, local coverage and crisp, fast delivery. He also co-created the popular children’s series Captain Noah and His Magical Ark, directed programming for TV stations across the country and co-founded the National Association of Television Program Executives.

As much as Klein has invested in his own journey, he’s invested in others’.

Klein began teaching at Temple in 1952, before the university had a school designated for media and communication. In that capacity, he’s mentored scores of students who’ve launched impressive careers—CBS Evening News Executive Producer Steve Capus, KLN ’86; actor and comedian Bob Saget, KLN ’78; Philadelphia Eagles announcer Merrill Reese, KLN ’64, to name a few.

“After 65 years, I can tell within the first 15 minutes of class who the good students are going to be,” Klein says. “They’ve got energy, they are interested, you get a feeling they have some passion for why they are there.”

That’s important, Klein says, because the industry is vital to the public.

“The world has gotten very small,” Klein says. “An event happens in Moscow and within an hour, live, you’re in Moscow. The ability to deliver a story—especially a news story or commentary—so quickly, live, remote from any corner of the world, I think, has such total impact.”

Impact is the context in which Klein’s former students describe him, too.

“You have helped so many people, and many of them are known, and many are just off on a career in production,” Saget told Klein during a 2017 ceremony that marked the official naming of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple. “You are a conduit for a world of talent.”

In a world without Temple, the airwaves might be missing their energy.

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HEAD OF NETWORK

Lew Klein standing near a camera

 

Name: Lew Klein
Title: Adjunct Professor
Broadcast pioneer

 

Profile Name: 
Lew Klein standing near a camera
Body: 

To hear Lew Klein describe it, that thing that draws people into journalism and communications isn’t happenstance or luck or chance—it’s a sort of magnetism.

“When it comes to journalism, when it comes to broadcasting, when it comes to communication, you just feel it. You’ve just got to do it,” Klein says. “They talk about ink in your blood. And I don’t know that it’s ink in our blood, but it’s video and stories and excitement.”

Video. Stories. Excitement. All of which Klein knows a thing or two about.

For nearly seven decades, Klein—a broadcast pioneer and adjunct professor at Temple—has left an indelible mark on broadcasting and those entering the industry.

A Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, native, Klein’s storied career began in 1950, when he was hired at the then-WFIL-TV (now WPVI Channel 6 in Philadelphia). There he became a producer and a director known for his work on American Bandstand, the influential show that featured teenagers dancing to pop songs, and other programs.

Among his many successes, Klein helped launch Channel 6’s Action News format, featuring more news stories, shorter segments, local coverage and crisp, fast delivery. He also co-created the popular children’s series Captain Noah and His Magical Ark, directed programming for TV stations across the country and co-founded the National Association of Television Program Executives.

As much as Klein has invested in his own journey, he’s invested in others’.

Klein began teaching at Temple in 1952, before the university had a school designated for media and communication. In that capacity, he’s mentored scores of students who’ve launched impressive careers—CBS Evening News Executive Producer Steve Capus, KLN ’86; actor and comedian Bob Saget, KLN ’78; Philadelphia Eagles announcer Merrill Reese, KLN ’64, to name a few.

“After 65 years, I can tell within the first 15 minutes of class who the good students are going to be,” Klein says. “They’ve got energy, they are interested, you get a feeling they have some passion for why they are there.”

That’s important, Klein says, because the industry is vital to the public.

“The world has gotten very small,” Klein says. “An event happens in Moscow and within an hour, live, you’re in Moscow. The ability to deliver a story—especially a news story or commentary—so quickly, live, remote from any corner of the world, I think, has such total impact.”

Impact is the context in which Klein’s former students describe him, too.

“You have helped so many people, and many of them are known, and many are just off on a career in production,” Saget told Klein during a 2017 ceremony that marked the official naming of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple. “You are a conduit for a world of talent.”

In a world without Temple, the airwaves might be missing their energy.

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MAN OF LETTERS

Solomon Jones sitting in a studio

Name: Solomon Jones
Grad Year: Klein College of Media and Communication ’97
Writer and talk radio personality

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Solomon Jones
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Solomon Jones, KLN ’97, can trace his writing career back to a grade school bet.

He was in seventh grade, in the 1980s, when a classmate challenged him to write a rap. Jones rose to the occasion and penned lyrics that started him on his path as a professional writer.

Though his stint as a rapper didn’t pan out, he continued to put pen to paper to express his thoughts. He honed his natural ability at Temple and has since written eight novels. He’s also a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

Jones expanded his media presence in 2014, when he began hosting Wake Up With WURD, a weekday morning program that airs on the only African American-owned and -operated talk radio station in Pennsylvania. He uses the platform to explore the topics he writes about in his column while providing listeners with real-time news commentary and context.

The show has cemented his status as a leading voice in the Philadelphia region—a responsibility Jones doesn’t take lightly.

“I don't think I’ve ever had a job in journalism where people depend on me so much for information, for perspective, for context, as they do now that I’m in radio,” he says.

Both on air and in print, Jones facilitates dialogues with his audiences. He covers the issues that matter to them and suggests ways they can use information to shape what happens in their communities.

“Your voice is most powerful when you can influence what other people are talking and thinking about, and what other people are doing,” he says.

In a world without Temple, critical conversations wouldn’t be amplified.

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A DEEPER DIVE

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

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ERIK CORDES
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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.

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BULLET PROOF

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

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AMY GOLDBERG & SCOTT CHARLES
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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.

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TWO GOALS, ONE GAME

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: 
HASEEB GOHEER
Body: 

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.

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TRAVELER’S ASSURANCE

Johnny Young

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

Profile Name: 
JOHNNY YOUNG
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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.

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STARRING PHILADELPHIA

Sharon Pinkenson standing in an empty theater.

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

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Sharon Pinkenson
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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.

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Pitch Perfect

Dan Baker standing in Citizens Bank Park.

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

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Dan Baker
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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.

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