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September 30, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU undergraduate history paper praised, published

Anthony Scibilia, a spring Slippery Rock University history graduate whose grandfather was instrumental in bringing penicillin to the masses, has had his undergraduate paper published in the journal “Pennsylvania History,” the first such undergraduate paper in the past 15 years.

The work also brought praise to the University’s history department for encouraging student research and presentations at conferences.

Scibilla’s paper, which was based on the work of his grandfather, Julius A. Vogel, was titled “Being Prometheus in 1943: Bringing Penicillin to the Working Man” appears in the Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Volume 80, Number 3, Summer 2013. Scibilia’s original poster presentation at the 2012 meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association, earned the “Outstanding Poster” honor in the conference’s undergraduate poster session.

An excerpt of the report notes: “In 1943 the United States was engulfed in World War II, which had forced the American people to make sacrifices. The limited availability of gasoline and certain foods became commonplace nuisances, but by reserving all manufactured penicillin to care for injured soldiers, the American people put their own health and safety at risk. Penicillin, which later became known as the ‘Wonder Drug,’ had the ability to cure many life-threatening infections for which there was no other therapeutic option. The ability to manufacture penicillin on a major scale was hindered by the belief that the drug could only be grown in a completely sterile environment at academic hospitals. On Nov. 10, 1943, Julius A. Vogel, a plant physician at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Plant in Aliquippa, Pa., discovered a method for creating usable penicillin in his kitchen. What became known as ‘kitchen penicillin’ would change an entire nation's view about this medication and help to treat infection in the United States as well as across the globe.”

“Anthony presented his poster last fall and the journal’s editor, William Pencak, encouraged the submission. He told me the work is the first undergraduate research paper they have published in 15 years - and the last student they published is now a history professor at Temple University,” said Aaron Cowan, SRU assistant professor of history.

Cowan also reported Pencak “commended Slippery Rock University's history department for encouraging undergraduate research, saying, ‘The article would probably never have been written if Anthony Scibilia was not the doctor's grandson, happened to be interested in history and attended a college where faculty encouraged individual research and student presentations at conferences. And so the world – or, at least, readers of the journal - now knows more about a man to whom it owes much.’"

The complete paper is available at:

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