Whale skeletons and vacation time: Penn State Abington faculty in the news

Abington Capelotti Smithsonian

The National Museum of Natural History's whale warehouse, in Suitland, Maryland, is the size of a football field.

Credit: Smithsonian Insider

ABINGTON, Pa. — Members of the media often seek out Penn State Abington faculty experts. Recently, The Washington Post and Bloomberg.com asked Abington professors for comments on two very different topics: a collection of whale skeletons and a Seattle startup that converts unused vacation time into other benefits.

Arctic explorer

P.J. Capelotti, professor of anthropology, at the site of the Nansen hut at Cape Norvegia, Franz Josef Land.

Credit: Magnus Forsberg

When The Washington Post sought to tell the story of how the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian assembled its collection of whale skeletons, it turned to Penn State Abington's resident explorer P.J. Capelotti, professor of anthropology and a research associate of the Polar Center at Penn State. 

An international expert on polar exploration, Capelotti recently edited The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses, 1937-38, a report written by U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant (j.g.) Quentin R. Walsh during an extraordinary year aboard a whaling factory ship. Capelotti conducted an extensive oral history interview with Walsh just six weeks prior to his death in 2000.

The data Walsh collected was used by a Smithsonian curator to substantiate concerns about the whale population.

“They provided the scientific basis for showing that if you continued to harvest undersized whales, there would be no more whales left in the ocean,” Capelotti told The Washington Post. 


Lonnie Golden, professor of economics and labor-employment relations at Penn State Abington.

Credit: Maria Narodetsky

A reporter at Bloomberg.com talked to Lonnie Golden, professor of economics and labor-employment relations at Abington, about a Seattle-based startup that lets workers trade unused paid time off for travel or contributions to 401(k) plans and health savings accounts.

Golden discussed the American "work hard, don't play" attitude that inspired the new firm's founder.

“There is workplace peer pressure to minimize using time off," Golden told Bloomberg.com. “You get these mixed signals. If you leave your work for a week or two, you feel like [work] will just pile up.” 

Golden's expertise includes work hours and schedules, workplace flexibility, overwork, and student and contingent employment.


Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of our 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. The Lion’s Gate residence hall will open in August 2017.