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Diverse Research at IUP Undergraduate Scholars Forum Has Something For Everyone

As part of Research Appreciation Week at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), the ninth annual Undergraduate Scholars Forum will be held on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

The forum is the perfect opportunity for students to learn more about issues and trends in their field. Concurrent Sessions bring several researchers together with similar topics, allowing audience members to ask questions, give feedback, and compare findings.

Don't have time to sit through a session? Stroll through the poster sessions from 12:30–1:45 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building Ohio and Susquehanna Rooms. Student researchers will be on hand to talk about their findings.

Here are five examples of student research featured at the 2014 Undergraduate Scholars Forum.

The Relationship Between Music and Crime

Music and Crime ResearchersIs there a correlation between violent crime and music? This is a question that IUP undergraduates posed in their Undergraduates Scholars Forum project entitled “The Relationship between Music and Crime.” Cody Rubin, Jose Aponte, Timothy Weaver, and Cykhira Walton explored this often-controversial subject in their project poster to be presented at the forum this week.

The criminology students concentrated the broad subject into three specific topics: the Jordan Davis shooting and racial profiling; the affects of violent and non-violent music videos on African-American males; and music genres and different types of violence.

“My initial thought about the correlation between music and crime was correct. Music is something that can affect the way people react to situations and cause them to act violently,” Walton said. “The overall project concept interested me before we started the research. I am fascinated as to why people commit crimes and the differences in the crimes committed.”

A Revolution on Tap: Determinants of Microbrewery Prevalence at the State Level

Nelson and Smith Research MicrobreweriesWhy do certain types of businesses suddenly appear at the same time? Why do they cluster in certain locations? Those are the questions IUP undergraduates Zach Nelson and Riley Smith sought to answer when they started their Undergraduate Scholarship Forum project titled “A Revolution on Tap: Determinants of Microbrewery Prevalence at the State Level.”

Nelson and Smith’s research project, which was originally created for their class in Econometrics, questioned why more craft beer businesses are popping up throughout the country and what are the factors that might be creating this increasing popularity. “We’re college kids, so we wanted something fun to research,” Nelson said. “What’s more fun to research than beer?”

The co-authors developed their research based on the number of microbreweries per every 100,000 residents of a particular state through data provided by the 2010 United States Census, the Brewers Association, Beermapping.com, and several publications.

Nelson and Smith will discuss their research in the concurrent session D5, “Topics in Applied Microeconomics,” from 2:00–3:20 p.m. in Allegheny Room #2.

Health Risks Associated with Wearing High-Heeled Shoes

Cherise KeyIUP student and McNair Scholar Cherise Key was shopping when she stumbled upon a pretty, glittery pair of sandals and a great research idea for her Undergraduate Scholars Forum project, entitled “To Pump or Not to Pump: An Analysis of Indiana University of Pennsylvania Female Perceptions of Health Risks Associated with Wearing High-Heeled Shoes.”

Key sent out surveys to all IUP female faculty members, staff, and students to discover what females of all age groups had experienced. She received over 1,000 return e-mails in response to her survey. The survey asked IUP females such questions as: How often do you wear high heels? Why do you wear them? On what occasions do you wear them? If a doctor ever told you to stop wearing high heels, would you? Do you know the health risks of wearing heels?

She explained there are many health risks associated with wearing high heels, including pain and injury to not only feet, but also to ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. “High heels can put your whole torso out of alignment,” she said. Her findings will be presented during the forum.

“Women don’t think about what they can do to their bodies by wearing high heels. The more comfortable you are now, the better you’ll feel when you’re older,” she said. “I just want women to be aware of the risks.”

Impacts of Health and Hearing from Hydraulic Fracturing

Emily RombergerCan your hearing and health suffer if you’ve been exposed to the noise of a nearby fracking site? Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology student Emily Romberger conducted research in a small Pennsylvania town for her Undergraduate Scholars Forum project entitled “Impacts of Health and Hearing from Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) in Local Pa. Residents.”

Romberger visited the small town of Finleyville near Washington, Pa., to discover whether residents were experiencing any kind of health issues because of the constant noise of a nearby fracking operation. She, along with an environmental nurse, used sound level meters to measure the amount of noise at about 500 feet away from the site. While she personally felt the noise didn’t seem terribly loud while they were taking the readings, results showed noise levels in the area were close to being considered a health risk.

Romberger also distributed surveys to Finleyville residents to find out how they were handling the ongoing noise and if they felt it was adversely affecting their hearing and overall health

Through these anonymous surveys, one man divulged that he had seen a doctor because he felt the drilling was causing an increase in his blood pressure and was making him anxious. Although there are over 6,000 active wells in Pennsylvania, she said very little prior research has been done on residential health affects. She plans to visit more fracking sites to conduct similar research over the next year before her graduation.

Romberger will discuss her research in the concurrent session B4, “Energy Extraction,” from 9:30–10:50 a.m. in Allegheny Room #1.

How Living Through the Civil War Affected Artists

How the Civil War Affected ArtistsIUP art student J.M. Wasko, one of last year’s Undergraduate Scholars Forum winners, will again be presenting his American Civil War research, but this time from a perspective of artisans who lived through the trauma of war. Wasko’s project, entitled “Makers; or the Cultural Dynamics of a Civil War,” reveals how those indirectly involved may have coped with the war through the items they created.

Wasko’s research is a type of material culture study in which human-made objects, such as clothing, furniture, or drawings from the period, were studied to make inferences about society’s beliefs or attitudes during this agonizing time in American history. His research finds that civilians suffered through the war just as soldiers who directly fought the battles. “Whether you were on the front lines or you were back home as a maker (craftsperson), you were engaging in the war,” he said.

However, as a “Cultural Historian,” Wasko’s research goes one step further by examining these objects, making inferences about them, and then—through historical records—researching whether these inferences might be true. “History has an advantage because it’s finite, whereas material culture is disadvantaged because you are making inferences about an object,” he said. “But I think we can bring the two together, by chasing down the historical records and confirming or refuting the inferences.”

Wasko will discuss his research in the concurrent session D6, “History,” from 2:00–3:20 p.m. in the Knowlton Room.

—Beth L. Koop

Undergraduate Scholars Forum