Students in classroom

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

Among the many academic experiences offered at Penn State Schuylkill is the opportunity to collaborate with a Penn State faculty member on a real research project. Working one-on-one with a faculty member, or as part of a supervised research team, students are able to investigate important issues related to their academic interests.  These projects are sometimes part of a course, for which students earn academic credits, or a student can serve as a wage assistant during the regular semester or summer. At the end of each semester, students participate in the Undergraduate Poster Conference, a research exhibition where they present the results of their work.

As a result of their research collaborations with faculty, students gain valuable experience to include in their resumes or graduate school applications, make professional contacts, and have even earned co-authorship on scholarly publications and conference presentations.

Recent projects involving undergraduate researchers and their faculty sponsors.

Dr. Elinor Madigan, assistant professor of information sciences and technology, routinely involves students in her research and community projects. Current projects include the use of gaming as a learning tool, developing a distributed cluster to work with large data sets, and low cost computing solutions for Schuylkill County Emergency Management.

Dr. Cory Scherer, associate professor of psychology, and his students conduct research in social and evolutionary psychology. In social psychology, Dr. Scherer is interested in person memory and how memories affect emotion. In evolutionary psychology, he has conducted research looking at the sex differences in jealousy hypothesis and the long-term attractiveness of widows and widowers. He has also had students present research at national conferences and publish in research journals.

Dr. Valerie Lynn Schrader, associate professor of communications, directs students in rhetorical criticism research. Though her own research focuses on bringing to light the rhetorical messages found in musical theatre works, and how those messages are conveyed to an audience, she encourages her students to choose rhetorical texts relating to their own interests and then guides them in applying a communication or rhetorical theory to the text of their choice in order to bring to light messages about life or society. Her students have examined political debates and speeches, films, musicals, advertisements and even social media posts as rhetorical texts. Several of her students have been competitively selected to present their work at the Pennsylvania Communication Association’s Annual Conference and the Eastern Communication Association’s James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference.

Dr. Lee J. Silverberg, associate professor of chemistry, has involved many students in his organic chemistry research. Approximately half of those students have been authors on papers published in refereed journals. Overall, the research being done involves the synthesis, reactions, structures, properties and biological activities of cyclic compounds that contain carbons, a nitrogen and a sulfur in the ring. Compounds known as 2,3-diaryl-1,3-thiaza-4-ones are synthesized by the students by a method the group has developed. A collaboration with Dr. Hemant Yennawar of the Penn State University Park campus has allowed determination of x-ray crystal structures of many of these.  Collaboration with Dr. Carlos Pacheco, University Park campus, has provided Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectra of all compounds. Dr. Anthony Lagalante of Villanova University has provided infrared (IR) spectroscopy. In collaboration with Dr. Hany Sobhi, Coppin State University, the compounds prepared are being tested for antimicrobial activity. Investigation of the reactivity of these compounds by students currently includes conducting laboratory reactions including reduction, oxidation and complexation with triphenyltin chloride.  

Dr. Jeffrey A. Stone, senior instructor in information sciences and technology, has overseen undergraduate research projects involving a diverse set of computing topics. Most recently, student research into the relationship between gender, gaming and computing; the use of computer programming to solve statistical- and sustainability-related problems; and the use of computer graphics to engage and educate students about sustainability.