IUP Students Presenting Original Research During Research Appreciation Week 2019

Posted on 3/27/2019 11:58:09 AM

More than 250 Indiana University of Pennsylvania students at the undergraduate and graduate level will present original research, art, and music during the university’s annual Research Appreciation Week, April 1 to 5.

Research Appreciation Week spotlights the spirit of innovation and collaboration shared by all disciplines and recognizes the contributions that IUP original research and scholarship make to this region and to the world.

IUP researchers received $12.6 million in sponsored activity funds for fiscal year 2017–18.

Events noted below are free and open to the community. All events are in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

  • April 1: 14th Annual Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Program
    4:00–6:15 p.m., Toretti Auditorium
  • April 3: IUP Scholars Forum
    9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
  • April 3: Three-Minute Thesis Final Competition
    3:00–4:00 p.m., Toretti Auditorium
  • April 3: Scholars Forum Awards Ceremony
    4:00–5:00 p.m., Toretti Auditorium

The April 1 event begins with students from Indiana Area High School presenting original research in the Kovalchick Complex lobby from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. as part of the John J. and Char Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics High School Research Partnership.

The partnership was created informally in 2016 as a collaboration between Indiana High School science teacher Emily Hixson and IUP biology faculty member Holly Travis.

Now established as a more formal partnership, this program is designed to give high school students an opportunity to participate in academic research projects with university faculty to foster their own interest in the STEM fields, and in many cases to help them acquire awards and scholarships through competitions such as the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, the Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, and the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. 

The 2018–19 school year has seen continued growth and new opportunities for students involved in the program to collaborate with IUP faculty in the Kopchick College. Students participating in the program this year had the opportunity to participate in university-level research in biology, chemistry, computer science, geoscience, and psychology.  

Indiana students (regardless of gender) were selected by their teachers to participate in the poster session, which is being coordinated by Travis and Hixson.

A total of 30 student posters are expected, with 11 of those projects being supervised by IUP faculty. The posters by students being supervised by the IUP faculty will be judged for recognition and will also have opportunity to be part of the April 3 Scholars Forum.

Including the 11 students who worked with IUP faculty, a total of 35 students from Indiana Area High School participated in the Region 9 Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences competition, winning 31 first-place awards, four second-place awards, and eight special awards.

IUP faculty participating in the research partnership this year, in addition to Travis, include Bill Farrell, psychology; Terry Fries, computer science; John Ford, chemistry; Steve Hovan, geoscience; Eric Morschauser, biology; Lisa Newell, psychology; and Jana Villemain, chemistry.

At 5:00 p.m. there will be a panel discussion titled “Sharing Our Stories, Creating Your Stories” with IUP alumnae Sharon Cowden, Dana McElroy, and Karlin Toner.

Cowden, an accomplished physician specializing in pediatrics, is a 1971 graduate of IUP with a degree in medical technology and is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Cowden continued onto Chatham College, now Chatham University, for a degree in chemistry and then medical school at the University of Pittsburgh.  She completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She currently practices at CCP Pittsburgh Pediatrics and is actively involved in the Pennsylvania American Academy of Pediatrics as a board member and physician educator on immunizations and pediatric obesity. Cowden has volunteered for short-term medical missions in Ecuador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Cowden is also a breast cancer survivor and is the cofounder with Janette Poppenberg of Strength & Courage, a nonprofit program that provides exercise resources to breast cancer survivors looking to regain physical and emotional strength after treatment. They co-created the DVD Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors, which teaches health care providers and survivors the importance of regular exercise to improve the quality of life and reduce recurrence of cancer.

She is the recipient of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jefferson Award for public service.

McElroy is a 1994 chemistry major and biology minor graduate of IUP. Her graduate studies took her to North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she received a master’s degree in food science, followed by professional career in food safety and public health at Penn State University. While working in public health and addressing foodborne illnesses, she became interested in the field of medicine. She enrolled in her second master’s degree program in physician assistant sciences at Saint Francis University.

Following completion of her physician assistant degree, she went through rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, behavioral health, general surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics, and gynecology. She currently focuses her work in the field of cardiology, practicing in the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and joining the IRMC Physician Group in Indiana.

Toner is a 1983 applied mathematics graduate of IUP and Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and has master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida. She began her career with NASA, where she held several key positions in aerospace planning and research at the Ames Research Center in California before moving on to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. She established and managed the Aerospace Operations Modeling Branch, an organization focused on modeling and simulation of air traffic operations within NASA. Later, she was charged with developing long-range technical and resource plans for aeronautical projects. 

Early in her career, Toner also served as lecturer in the Aerospace Engineering Department at San Jose State University. Beginning in 2009, Toner served as director of the Joint Planning and Development Office and concurrently as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Transportation on modernizing the air transportation system. Since 2014, Toner has served with the Federal Aviation Administration as the director of Global Strategy, providing executive leadership in planning and coordinating the goals of the FAA’s international strategy. She provides direction on FAA’s engagement with the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure a unified US presence for aerospace standards setting. Toner received a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The Patricia Hilliard Robertson Memorial Scholarship for Women in the Sciences recipient will be announced following the panel discussion. This scholarship was established to honor the memory of Dr. Robertson, a 1985 alumna of IUP who became a physician and an astronaut. Robertson was from Homer City. She passed away in May 2001 from injuries sustained in a flight accident.

The undergraduate and graduate research forum on April 3 will feature 229 research posters, 61 oral presentations, three music and dance performances, and artwork by 14 students. The student art will be on display in the lobby; presentations will be held in rooms throughout the Kovalchick Complex.

Oral presentations are broken down by topic and are offered concurrently. Sessions from 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. include “New Approaches to Teaching Writing,” “Environment and Life in and Around Water,” “Environmental Health,” “Crime and Drugs,” “Contemporary Criminological Concerns,” a study of the Keystone Junior-Senior High School in Knox, Pennsylvania, and a business case competition.

From 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. students will present research on “Medical Advances,” “Media and Public Opinion,” “Portfolio Development and Planning,” “Issues in Higher Education,” and “Demographic Trends and Implications.” 

From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. research topics are “Purpose and Self,” “The Impact of Culture and Ideology,” “Using Evidence in the Pursuit of Predictive Knowledge,” and “Municipal Planning.”