Penn State Harrisburg

Research Council funds faculty research projects

Dr. Marian Walters

Dr. Marian Walters

Penn State Harrisburg’s Research Council Grant Program assists faculty research, but the main beneficiaries are students.

 “The college each year sets aside a modest sum of money and competitively awards grants to faculty seeking to expand their research. As the major research university presence in the region, that is part of our mission,” explains Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Marian Walters.

“However, that new knowledge gained through faculty research greatly benefits students,” she adds. “Research enables faculty to stay up-to-date on current trends and discoveries in their respective disciplines, which greatly enriches the quality and depth of their instruction. Having hands-on knowledge of cutting-edge research topics allows faculty to provide experienced insight into academic advancements as they develop over time.”

Grant requests are reviewed by at least three members of the elected Research Council Executive Committee– all experienced faculty scholars – with junior faculty encouraged to submit proposals. “The intent is that faculty will publish the results of their Research Council-funded studies and use the studies as a basis for larger funding requests from sources outside Penn State,” Walters adds.

Recipients of funding this year range from recently appointed faculty to longtime, experienced researchers. They include:

Associate Professor of History and Humanities David Witwer will continue his research into the history of journalism and organized labor by focusing on reporters who specialized in covering labor from the early 1930s to the late 1950s. The research will trace the history behind the newspaper labor beat’s coverage and will review the impact of this journalism.

Assistant Professor of Public Administration Triparna Vasavada will study the leadership style of women leaders of nonprofit organizations. The results could serve as a guide for nonprofits by providing information on the role of women leaders and the dynamics of cross-sector relationships.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Balwant Chohan is undertaking a project to better understand metalloenzymes – a diverse class of enzymes that require a catalytic metal ion for activity. A thorough understanding of these enzymes would be significant for fundamental inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and enzymology and could open up the possibility of a clean, renewable fuel from nature’s most abundant resources, sunlight and water.

Associate Professor of Sociology Kamini Grahame’s investigation aims to examine the influence of transnational networks on the experiences of Indo-Trinidadian families in their country of origin as well as the family members residing abroad. Building on her prior research on the impact of globalization upon families, the study follows recent scholarship on international migrations which have turned attention to transnational families.

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ma’moun Abu-Ayyad is taking a unique approach in designing a controller for the open/close phase in an injection molding machine. The objective is to reduce the duration of the open/close phase time, thereby reducing the overall duration of the manufacturing cycle.

Associate Professor of Adult Education Edward Taylor and Associate Professor of Engineering Seth Wolpert are partnering in an interdisciplinary study of amateur scientists in the region. The aim is to provide insights on how they learn, how their formal educational experiences impact their lives, and how they interact with each other. The study also hopes to educate the researchers on the process of informal learning while connecting the amateur scientists to the educational community.

Professor of Adult Education Elizabeth Tisdell will continue her study on the interconnection of spirituality and culture and what it suggests for teaching diversity in adult and higher education in a global context. Returning to educators she interviewed 10 years ago to see how their spirituality has developed, how it intersects and diverges from religion, and how it informs their current teaching.

Professor of Public Policy and Administration Jeremy Plant and Professor of Supply Chain Management Richard Young are combining their respective areas of expertise to address potential terrorist threats to the U.S. rail industry. The national study is designed to identify threats and gaps in security that need to be addresses by legislative action or by redirecting administrative efforts.