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Faculty Awarded Undergraduate Research Development Monies

5/15/2006 —

The University is currently funding four undergraduate research projects at Penn State McKeesport.  Students are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects focusing on Psychology, Business, IST, and Communications while pursuing their studies in these fields.  Students may earn credits toward graduation for their research work, and, in some cases, a small stipend. 

Dr. Kathy Taylor Brown, Assistant Professor of Communications, and Jeanna Cooper, Instructor of IST, are currently compiling data with Penn State McKeesport Business and Communications students to quantify how valued diversity is in the business world.  Surveys, compiled by the Penn State McKeesport faculty members, are being sent to over 100 local and national corporations.  Upon their return, students will review, code and enter the data for further analysis.  For many years employers have stated the value of diversity to their business with no quantifiers.  The survey designed by Brown and Cooper is meant to better define and express exactly what this value means to the economy and the business world.

A student research assistant was also used in compiling a survey and overseeing the printing and reproduction of the campus's literary and arts magazine, Absence.  All members of the Penn State McKeesport campus community (faculty, staff, and students) are invited to submit their creative work to the magazine for inclusion in the publication.  Dr. Clifford Manlove, Assistant Professor of English, oversees the publication and the student editorial board.  The magazine is printed annually.  This year the campus hosted an evening program where faculty and student works were highlighted and performed by the authors.  Awards funded by the Chancellor's office were presented in the literary and visual arts categories. 

Penn State McKeesport IST faculty are heading a proposal for "Data Collection for the Survey of Computer/Internet Usage of Senior Citizens."    The project, written by Dr. Guangfeng Song, Assistant Professor of IST, will be used to collect data from senior citizens in three different assisted living facilities managed by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority.  Two IST majors are helping Dr. Song to distribute the survey and compile the collected data.   Survey questions focus on the amount and type of Internet usage.  The survey also attempts to gauge seniors' understanding of the Internet and possible security problems that might result from uninformed usage.   The project is headed by Galen Grimes, Assistant Professor of IST and head of McKeesport's IST department.  Dr. Song has assumed the responsibility for overseeing the student researchers.

Two Penn State McKeesport students will benefit from the Undergraduate Research project submitted and funded by Dr. Elizabeth Mazur, Associate Professor of Psychology.  Applied Psychology majors, Crystal Carroll and Ashley Tyszkiewicz, worked as research assistants on the "Parents with Physical Disabilities and Their Adolescent Children" project.  Both students formulated their own hypotheses, which they then tested with the data collected. Their findings , in the form of a research poster,  has been accepted  for presentation at the Pennsylvania Psychological Association annual meeting in Harrisburg, PA, June, 2006. Both students used the project as a one credit course, PSY 494, during Spring 2006 and earned stipends for their work. 

This summer, Dr. Mazur will be collaborating with Lauri Kozarian, an Applied Psychology major entering her senior year, on how adolescents portray themselves on their web logs or blogs.  Blogs, very popular among adolescents, especially girls ages 15-17, are personal commentaries that typically detail the young person's daily world, especially his or her relationships (romantic, peer, and family), struggles, ideals, and emotions.  Dr. Mazur previously introduced her students to the world of blogging in her Adolescent Psychology class, PSY 426, where students searched for informative teen blogs in order to analyze why adolescents write blogs, and their appeal and drawbacks as a form of communication.  In 2005, Dr. Mazur published a report of this class project in Teaching of Psychology, a highly competitive academic journal.   The summer research will continue her work not only with Ms. Kozarian but also with two Penn State McKeesport students who will “learn the ropes”  as coders.

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