Gannon Professor Named President of National Biological Honor Society TriBeta

Posted: December 21, 2016

Paleontology isn't the biological specialty of Steve Ropski, Ph.D., but it provides a convenient metaphor for his experience with Beta Beta Beta "I was an officer of TriBeta as a student at Gannon University when dinosaurs were on the earth," Ropski said. "It all started there."

It certainly didn't end there as Ropski, professor of biology, was named president of the national biological honor society at its 44th National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota in June. TriBeta's more than 670 chapters in 12 districts throughout the United States and Puerto Rico count a membership in excess of 6,500. Ropski's connection to TriBeta began nearly 40 years ago, and for 20 years, he had served as director of the Northeast-3 district that comprises some 40 chapters at colleges and universities in southwestern New York, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ropski and Gannon University are well known by the national organization, which has twice selected Gannon as the site of its national convention. In addition, Gannon's Theta Omega chapter has won TriBeta's annual Lloyd M. Bertholf Award as the outstanding chapter in the country four times since 1962.

So when the outgoing TriBeta president called to say, "let's talk about doing this," Ropski was happy to respond. "When you have involved and committed students and have organized and handled the conventions well, they must have thought I'd make a good organizer," Ropski said. Organizing will be a large part of his duties in his two-year term. "To some degree, I'll be troubleshooting, Ropski said, "and you have to work with the local chapters that organize the biennial conventions."

Ropski sees service as TriBeta's main purpose. "At Gannon, our chapter has conducted blood drives, staffed tables for organ donor programs, and served as judges for science fairs at local schools," he said. Encouraging and supporting research by students is also an important goal for TriBeta, which awards research grants. "Many of our students at Gannon have been lucky to receive those, and we've had students' undergraduate research published in 'Bios,' the journal of TriBeta," Ropski said.

"I'm humbled that they have the confidence in me to do this job," Ropski said, "but I'm confident that after being an advisor and having organized two conventions, I can bring a new perspective to TriBeta-not necessarily better-but new. I want to ask how it might benefit students if we did things in a different way."