CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — As a prominent research institution, Penn State emphasizes the value of research and supports student initiative to contribute to their field of learning in significant ways. Penn State Lehigh Valley students have the opportunity to work with esteemed faculty members to complete research at the undergraduate level. Students have ample opportunities to present their research and findings at conferences and regional symposiums. Students published research and delivered poster and paper presentations to a wide range of symposiums, journals and research competitions in degrees ranging from arts administration to electrical engineering.
The students from Penn State Lehigh Valley who published research, poster presentations and paper presentations between May 2019 to April 2020 include:
— “Access & Adaptations in Public Art Destinations” by Elise Schaffer (Class of 2020, arts administration); Elizabeth Flaherty, associate teaching professor, arts administration and honors programs coordinator, served as faculty mentor. Schaffer’s research determined how public art destinations in the United States can become more accessible to create an equal experience for people with disabilities while remaining specific to the general meaning and design of the artwork and discussing the attitudinal, financial, organizational and architectural barriers in creating adaptations and becoming more accessible. Suggested adaptations for improving accessibility were included. Her research was presented at the virtual 2020 Penn State Undergraduate Research Symposium and placed second in the arts and humanities category.
“When I learned that Elise had been awarded Penn State’s Undergraduate Student Engagement Network grant, I knew that her work would be transformative not only for her, but for the larger community. Flash-forward to May 2020, and anyone on social media is seeing hundreds of cultural institutions making their venues accessible to the entire world. Elise’s research couldn’t be timelier, because it taps into the essential human need for connecting people to the arts,” Flaherty said. “Her enthusiasm, passion, and professionalism has taken the project to a whole new level, and I couldn’t be more delighted to see her earn that University-wide recognition with this second-place award.”
— “Health and Wellness Resident Survey: Conducted for the Allentown Housing Authority,” by Sierra Camburn (Class of 2021, general science: biological and health professions); David Livert, associate professor of psychology, served as her faculty mentor. Camburn’s research focused on the physical and mental health and wellness of residents residing in the low-income support housing of the Allentown Housing Authority. Her report provided evidence for medical needs to the administration in implementing new programs while conducting social science research in the Fall of 2019. Her report was sent to the administration of the Allentown Housing Authority in October 2019.
— “Combined Heat and Power,” by Ryan Cassidy (Class of 2022, electrical engineering). Tracey Carbonetto, lecturer in engineering, served as his faculty mentor. Cassidy’s research focused on the use of government-issues energy data in order to determine the feasibility of a conversion to a combined heat and power system in a building similar to that located on Penn State’s Lehigh Valley campus. He presented his poster at the Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates, University Park in July 2019.
— “Preserving Pennsylvania’s History” by Joseph Fantuzzi (Class of 2022, civil engineering) and Austin Azar (Class of 2022, civil engineering); Tracey Carbonetto, lecturer in engineering, served as their faculty mentor. Their research focused on rehabilitation of historic structures in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania with emphasis on scaffolding for safe accessibility. Virtual poster presented at the 2020 Undergraduate Exhibition, University Park in April 2020.
— “Dynamic-Haptic Robotic Trainer Performance Feedback for Lung Needle Biopsies,” by Saira Hussain (Class of 2022, mechanical engineering). Tracey Carbonetto, lecturer in engineering, served as her faculty mentor. Hussain’s research focused on an instrument and technique that allowed training physicians to perfect lung biopsies in order to prevent complications. The instrument provided instrumental feedback to the physician. Poster presented at the Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates, University Park in July 2019.
— “Coating Polyurethane with Palmitoleic Acid and Bovine Serum Albumin to Prevent the Host Response to Foreign Materials,” Sheherbano Hussain (Class of 2020, biology), Zoha Babar (Class of 2020, biology) and Jimmy Hadid (Class of 2020, biology). Jacqueline S. McLaughlin, associate professor of biology, served as their faculty mentor. Research was undertaken to investigate the potential of coating polyurethane with the 'self-like' molecules palmitoleic acid and albumin to reduce or prevent the body’s host response from damaging implanted medical devices. The results suggest the potential role of using these 'self-like' molecules in reducing the inflammatory response to foreign materials. Research was published in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research in March 2020.
— “Lithium Ion Battery Feasibility Study,” by George Issa (Class of 2021, electrical engineering). Tracey Carbonetto, lecturer in engineering, served as his faculty mentor. Issa’s research focused on the continuation of findings for sensors aimed at optimizing solar power residential systems. Poster presented at the Multi-Campus Research Experience for Undergraduates, University Park in July 2019.
— “Behavioral and Academic Impact of Electronic Cigarettes: A Mixed Method Study of Users and Non-Users Among a College Population,” by Simranpreet Kaur (Class of 2020, biobehavioral health), Sahira Mughal (Class of 2020, biobehavioral health) and Fadi Mamari (Class of 2020, biobehavioral health); Samantha Beebe, biobehavioral health program coordinator and lecturer in biobehavioral health, served as their faculty mentor. Research examined the behavioral and academic impacts of electronic cigarettes on the college population between users and non-users. Research was accepted into the Society of Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) 2020 Poster Presentation and presented virtually in March 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. The research was also accepted into the Pennsylvania State University 2020 Spring Research Exhibition and presented virtually in April 2020.
— “Family support and psychological distress among commuter college students" by Abigail Yacoub (Class of 2020, biobehavioral health). Jennifer Parker, associate professor of sociology, served as her faculty mentor. This cross-sectional study assessed how perceptions of family support predict psychological distress among commuter college students and how demographic variables moderate this influence. Females and low-income students were found to have disproportionately high levels of distress while emotional bonds and quality time spent with family members were found to alleviate distress. Results of the study were presented at Eastern Sociological Society, peer review presentation, in February 2020 in Philadelphia and presented at the virtual Penn State Undergraduate Exhibition, April 2020.