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2013 Outstanding Graduate Student Research Awards

Sean Carswell, English – Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism

Advisor: David Downing (summary below by Dr. Downing)

A Thomas Pynchon Guide to Contemporary Resistance

Dr. Carswell’s dissertation has opened new ground in our understanding of Thomas Pynchon’s fiction, but his study draws on so many interdisciplinary resources that it is also a major contribution to cultural studies insofar as it offers new ways to think about the relations between literature and politics. He is the first critic to notice and clearly articulate a major change in Pynchon’s career beginning with his 1991 publication of Vineland. Dr. Carswell demonstrates this change by linking close reading of the texts with changes in global economic conditions. His special skill has been bringing wide-ranging research about the neoliberal economy such as deregulation, privatization and globalization, and using it to illuminate his careful readings of Pynchon’s novels. Dr. Carswell is also an internationally well-celebrated novelist and creative writer, having thus far published three novels and two collections of short stories. His dissertation provides further evidence that he is a remarkable critic, writer, and influential scholar.

 

Jeffrey RothJeffrey J. Roth, Criminology – Ph.D.

Advisor: Jennifer Roberts (summary below by Dr. Roberts)

An Analysis of the Factors Affecting the Target Choices of Residential Burglars

For his dissertation project, Dr. Roth collected all of his data from male, jailed county inmates during hour-long interviews. During the interviews he combined a photographic survey with a traditional survey approach, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. Dr. Roth showed each inmate photos of 50 houses shot at two different angles. The photos systematically varied on a variety of factors related to routine activities theory and empathy, and each inmate was allowed approximately 45 seconds to review the photo and then make a decision as to whether he would burglarize the home now, later or not at all. This distinction on the dependent variable is unique to the burglary literature and, based upon Dr. Roth’s results, will likely produce methodological changes to future burglary studies.

 

Connie KramerConstance M. Kramer, Counseling – M.A.

Advisor: Michelle Bruno (summary below by Dr. Bruno)

Cyberbullying: A Pilot Study

Ms. Kramer stands out as a student who consistently stretches herself to learn as much as she can while serving as an advocate. She conceptualized the project and completed a literature review on cyberbullying. Her search resulted in a comprehensive overview of the literature, identification of a psychometrically sound assessment tool, and a realization that additional data (beyond the instrument) could augment the current knowledge base on cyberbullying. Ms. Kramer managed all aspects of the project, including recruitment of schools, data entry, analysis, and eventually she participated in a conference on bullying to present the findings of her study. She returned to the schools in which she collected data and shared aggregate findings,and has coauthored an article which will be published in Research for Middle Education Online.

 

Meghan Pace, Applied Archaeology – M.A.

Advisor: Beverly Chiarulli (summary below by Dr. Chiarulli)

How Many Graves are in Memorial Park? Using Geophysical and Historic Data to Search for “Lost” Graves

Ms. Pace developed an outstanding thesis project in which she used geophysical instruments to investigate possible “lost” graves in Memorial Park in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Her research went well beyond developing the technical skills she gained through using the instruments to conduct a survey. Her thesis connected her technical results to archival research on the 19th-century tombstones she discovered. In one case, her research led to communications with descendants who drove to Indiana, Pa., from Ohio to see the stone. As part of this project, Ms. Pace worked with the County Parks and Trails Department and the Indiana County Historical Society. She was engaged by residents of all ages, some who could provide her with information on the park itself. In all these interactions, she was an excellent representative of our university.

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