Are you interested in pursing undergraduate research with one of our faculty members? The faculty list and descriptions below highlight research projects and areas of interest for some of our faculty actively engaged in undergraduate research. If you are interested in working with a particular faculty member, please contact them directly.
Selected Research Projects
Dr. Eugene Botanov
Assistant Professor of Psychology
“I lead the Clinical Science Literacy Lab at Penn State York. Our goal is to increase comprehension and dissemination of science-based information about clinical interventions. We examine the efficacy of different interventions, particularly for depression and suicide. We are also interested in mechanisms of change or what are the therapeutic elements of a particular intervention. Perhaps most importantly, our goal is to understand and disseminate information about clinical interventions to the world. As a part of that goal, we study how knowledge and understanding of science and health influences personal decision making in health practitioners and consumers. We have numerous projects being developed, conducted, and completed simultaneously. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in any our current or potential projects. More information about the Clinical Science Literacy Lab at Penn State York can be found on our website.”
Dr. Joe Downing
Associate Professor of Corporate Communication
Dr. Joe Downing’s students work broadly on marketing communication topics. A recent project his research team is currently investigating is how different reward factors (social justice versus more traditional, transactional rewards) motivate tipping behavior among English-speaking tourists who visit resorts in Mexico.
Dr. Sukhdeep Gill
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
“I am a lifespan developmental psychologist interested in early development, interpersonal relations, mindfulness practices, and community-based action research. My current areas of research include preventive interventions for families with young children from poverty backgrounds to promote health, social-emotional development, and school readiness. Students working with me develop a variety of research skills depending on their interests and aptitude. Typically, students learn to develop questions and rationale for research, become familiar with data entry, and code observational data and qualitative interviews. In addition, students who work on the research projects for multiple semesters have opportunities to become involved in data analysis, preparation of presentations, and report writing. All students learn fundamentals of research ethics as well as the use of software such as Microsoft EXCEL, PowerPoint, and SPSS. I encourage my students participate in undergraduate research fairs and co-author technical reports, manuscripts, and conference presentations. Past students have completed research projects on engaging difficult families in preventive interventions, truancy prevention in York County, staff stress and burnout in Early Head Start programs, and understanding conflict and peacebuilding efforts for young children and their families in parts of the world. Currently, students are examining data from a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded intervention study, ‘Recipe 4 Success’ regarding parenting practices to promote healthy eating among toddlers. Opportunities are available to work on similar projects to learn data coding, data management, data analysis, and preparation of presentations at professional conferences and undergraduate research fairs I also encourage students to develop their own research ideas and complete projects as an ‘Honors’ option within a course I am teaching, or as an independent study.”
Dr. Andy Landis
Associate Professor of Chemistry
“My research projects are centered in the area of polymer science. Specifically, I study how methacrylate-based monomers can be photocured using visible light into cross-linked polymers. When used in dental restorative applications such as a cavity fill, these cross-linked polymers exhibit polymerization shrinkage which limits the performance of the polymer. My students and I quantify this shrinkage to see how altering the properties of the monomer and fillers affects the final polymer. Another area of research includes the study of ion-containing methacrylate polymers in blends with fluorocarbon polymers which are used in high-performance architectural coatings. Techniques such as small angle laser light scattering, polarized optical microscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry are used to characterize the crystallization and compatibility of these blends.”
Dr. Fulgentius Lugemwa
Associate Professor of Chemistry
“The current focus of my research is in three different areas. The first project deals with the discovery of novel a-glucosidase inhibitors from fruits and vegetables. In order to obtain compounds that have the potential to work as therapeutic agents for the treatment of type 2 of diabetes mellitus, crude extracts are evaluated for their ability to inhibit a-glucosidase in vitro. Students learn how to extract compounds from plants and use bioassays to evaluate their bioactivity. For the second project, bioactive compounds are extracted, isolated, and purified from medical plants. Students learn several different methods used to purify organic compounds, followed by structure determination using spectroscopy. The third project involves the synthesis of copper and silver micro-particles via solution metal reduction. The particles generated are then tested for their ability to catalyze the oxidation of alcohols and aldehydes in different solvents. In this last project, students learn to make micro-particles and use them as catalysts in organic synthesis.”
Dr. Sonia Molloy
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Dr. Molloy leads the Men in Families and Society research team. Her primary research interests include father involvement and fathering processes, parenting prevention and intervention services, feminist family studies, masculinity, and intersectionality. Her current research projects include A Qualitative Study of Services Provided to Fathers of Infants, A Qualitative Study of Fathers of Infants in Rural Appalachia, The Paternal Involvement With Infants Scale (PIWIS), Grandfathering, and Military Masculinities. Dr. Molloy’s research focuses on the processes that influence how men identify and behave within their lived context. Undergraduate students working with the Men in Families and Society research team can participate in both quantitative and qualitative research. Students can assist with recruitment, interviewing, data management, qualitative coding, literature reviews, conference proposals, manuscript development, and research presentations. Additionally, students can gain software skills in Excel, SPSS, and MAXQDA. Student opportunities are available as a research assistant on current projects, or students can proceed with their research project through independent study with the Men in Families and Society research team.
Dr. Maureen Muller
Assistant Professor of Business
Dr. Muller works in the area of corporate governance, strategic leadership and entrepreneurship. Students working with Dr. Muller have assisted in data collection on female CEOs (Chris Vazquez, Beryl Achieng, Chelsea Smith), examined gender differences in entrepreneurship in China (Enping Jiang) and contrasted entrepreneurial activity in Japan, Brazil and the United States (Branson Small).
Dr. Jennifer Nesbitt
Associate Professor of English
“As the professor who teaches the senior seminar in English, I work with upper-level English majors on independent research projects they develop as capstone experiences. Recent student projects have included creating contextual material for modern fairy tale and a comparative analysis of film adaptations of Turn of the Screw. These projects, which students present at Penn State York's annual undergraduate research fair, allow students to use their skills and knowledge to explore a topic of personal or professional interest.”
Dr. Jessica Petko
Assistant Professor of Biology
The Petko lab studies genetics and developmental biology of the spider species, Parasteatoda tepidariorum. Student researchers in my laboratory use molecular techniques to answer questions that are relevant to all areas of biology including human health. Current projects are focusing on the effects of starvation on neurotransmitter levels, genetics of sex determination, and molecular mechanisms regulating circadian rhythms. Aside from lab work, students performing research in my lab are expected to participate in project design, grant writing, data analysis, and presentations at conferences, campus recruitment events, and community outreach opportunities.
Dr. Jorge Santiago-Blay
Adjunct Instructor in Biology
“The main focus of my research seeks to provide answers to this question: What processes cause and what patterns correlate with speciation and biodiversity? Because my training, experience, and interests are multidisciplinary, I seek answers from numerous areas of biology, including paleobiology, ecology, behavior, development, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and others using different biological systems. Therefore, I can comfortably accommodate those who wish to do research with me on a wide variety of topics of mutual interest particularly, but not exclusively, arthropods and plants. Also, I actively pursue research in the history of science.”
Dr. Amber Seidel
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Dr. Seidel leads the Aging Families & Community Health Research Team. Her research focuses on context specific bi-directional effects of relationship interactions throughout adulthood such as educationally engaged, chronic illness, military, or poverty settings. Research projects include aspects of social relationships (e.g., social support & control, relationship well-being, adult child/parent interactions), behavioral components (e.g., depressive symptoms, mindfulness, compulsive media use), and health outcomes (e.g., diet, sleep quality, diabetes). Undergraduate students working with the Aging Families & Community Health Research Team assist at community programs such as the Annual Diabetes Expo, Senior Centers, and Area Agency on Aging programs. Further, in the lab, students can assist with questionnaire design, quantitative methods, data entry, and literature reviews.
Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik
Associate Professor of Biology
“My research integrates parasite ecology and population genetics to deduce factors influencing the evolution of parasite infection dynamics, transmission, host behavior, and overall distribution of wildlife diseases in a natural system. My students and I work on a variety of host-pathogen systems, some of which are field based while others are strictly laboratory focused. Current research topics in my lab include: (1) the effects of natural disasters on a lizard-malaria parasite-host system in CA; (2) the behavioral, biochemical and genetic effects of tapeworm infection on flour beetles; (3) genomic sequencing of the lizard malaria parasite, Plasmodium mexicanum; (4) the surveying for blood parasites and viral infections in eastern fence lizards.”
Additional Undergraduate Research Opportunities
View information about additional undergraduate research opportunities offered through the University. Select “Undergraduate Education” under the heading “All Opportunities on this Site” after following the link.