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Dr. Cassandra Miller-Butterworth helps a student in class.

Listen to Dr. Cassandra Miller-Butterworth speak, and it quickly becomes clear that she’s not from the United States.

Sometimes she’s asked if she’s from England. Other times, people ask her if she’s from Australia.

“I very rarely have somebody say, ‘You’re from South Africa,’ ” she said.

Miller-Butterworth, an assistant professor of biology, moved with her husband to the United States in 2003.

Her accent might not make that clear, but the decorations she surrounds herself with do. Stepping into her office is like leaping into a National Geographic magazine, with pictures of wild animals covering the wall.

After working at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., Miller-Butterworth spent time doing research at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2008, she came to Penn State Beaver, where, she said, she can experience “the best of both worlds” by being at a big-name school like Penn State while still spending time in a smaller environment.

Miller-Butterworth came from a very different environment in South Africa, and adjusting to life in the U.S. took some time.

In addition to cultural differences, she had to adjust to the U.S. school system, which varies from the British system she was used to.

In the British system, academic courses are more concentrated, so she had to adjust to only seeing her students three days a week when she came here.

Miller-Butterworth said she likes Penn State Beaver because it gives her the opportunity to teach and work on her research, in which she’s extensively studied white-nose syndrome in bats. And she’s even gotten used to the U.S. school system.

One thing she hasn’t quite adjusted to, however, is winter in the Pittsburgh area.

“It’s much colder here than it is in South Africa,” she said with a chuckle.

Originally written by Matt Jones '10 for the Penn State Beaver Nittany News alumni magazine, Spring 2011.