The following is a list of departments and programs from which faculty have volunteered to be potential mentors for the 2017 program. Click on the links in the box to the right to see the lists of faculty in each area. Keep in mind that you must schedule an appointment to meet with your potential faculty mentor to begin the conversation about possible projects, their availability to serve as a mentor, etc.
While there is no limit to the number of students any one faculty member may mentor, it is important to keep in mind that the program is highly competitive and the number of spots available are limited. As such, not all students who apply will be selected for support through the program. Please discuss this with your potential mentor as you are formulating your proposal.
Participating Faculty Members By Department
Dr. WaQar Ghani
I have a multidisciplinary research focus. My work has been published in some of the premier journals in finance (Journal of Fixed Income), marketing (Journal of Public Policy and Marketing), and accounting (International Journal of Accounting). I developed and taught a course titled: Cooking the Books: Lessons in Business Ethics. This course is based on my research interests in issues of earnings management and corporate ethics.
In summary, my research interests include issues of Earnings Management, Financial Shenanigans and Business Ethics; Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability; Issues of Corporate Governance; Impact of Regulations on Shareholder Wealth; International Trade Agreements and Shareholder Wealth: Business groups, Corporate Governance, Firm Performance, and External Financial Reporting in Emerging Economies; and Economic Value Added (EVA)© and Firm Performance.
Dr. A. J. Stagliano
I will engage students–as many as three–to assist with any of my six major on-going empirical research projects:
1. Sustainability reporting by companies that participate in the European Union Emissions Trading System;
2. Comparative examination of financial ratios by companies under IFRS and U.S. GAAP;
3. Extension of databases on climate change and sustainability disclosures by large domestic public companies;
4. Cybercrime financial disclosures by SEC registrants in a major U.S. sector;
5. Analysis of alternative cash flow reporting models under SFAS 95; and
6. Comparative analysis of codes of ethics for major U.S. corporations.
For all these projects, student tasks will include data collection, refinement, classification, and analysis.
Dr. Catalina Arango
I study gene regulation in bacteria, specifically on a system that controls how bacteria use some food sources in preference to others, called catabolite repression. In many bacteria this system also controls genes that are important for virulence and symbiosis. The model organism I use is Sinorhizobium meliloti, a plant symbiont that helps alfalfa and other legumes to thrive in nitrogen-poor soil.
Research in my laboratory has uncovered the binding site of an activator participating in gene regulation, and we are investigating the role of a signaling protein that may transmit the catabolite repression signal to this activator and probably other proteins involved in turning genes on and off.
Dr. Jonathan Fingerut
My lab is working to understand the basic life-history and ecology of an invasive fruit-fly, Drosophila suzukii, which is a major agricultural pest nationwide and in our region. Students in this project will work cooperatively with students from the McRobert lab to design, execute and analyze data that will be used to develop sustainable and ecological sound control methods for this important pest. We are looking for detail oriented self-motivated creative students who want to learn about what research is like.
Dr. Brian Forster
(Science Pedagogy) Students will be given the opportunity to develop and/or optimize laboratory protocols that will be used in the GEP Natural Science Instructional Laboratories. Successful lab activities will be used by Biology 165 or Environmental Science 106 students (lab-based GEP science classes for non-majors). It is recommended that students interested in working on this should contact Dr. Brian Forster (email@example.com) before completing an application to discuss what lab activities can be developed. Currently, we are interested in:
(a) Identifying via 16S rRNA gene sequencing nitrifying bacteria that may be present in a wetlands filter that was constructed and in operation since summer 2016.
(b) Developing a new lab activity on ecology to be used in our non-majors Biology course.
However, other lab activities that the applicant may be interested in developing can be worked on as well.
Dr. Eileen Grogan
Field Research on the Bear Gulch Fossil Deposit
The opportunity exists for one or two undergraduate students to participate in a long-standing field research program dedicated to the collection and study of fossils from the 323 million-year- old Bear Gulch Limestone Deposit of Montana. Successful students will learn about the fauna and flora (biology, ecology, taxonomy, taphonomy) of a Paleozoic bay through study of the relevant literature, examination of lab specimens and by engaging in team-based field excavations in a remote region out west. During this process, the student will see and or discover fossil forms which are entirely new to science and, so, contribute to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History fossil collections. He/she will also be trained in the geology and formation of this deposit. Beyond science, the student will be exposed to “life out west” by virtue of our research teams’ interactions with the local ranch community. Qualified candidates must have prior field or significant camping experience, the physical stamina required for manual excavation of the rock unit, and are required interview with Dr. Grogan prior to submitting an application for a position on the expedition team.
Dr. Julia Lee-Soety
My lab studies the dynamics at the ends of linear chromosomes. We use baker’s yeast as model organism. Understanding how telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes sheds light on the natural processes of cell aging and cancer. We use various molecular biology tools in the lab to answer specific genetics questions.
Dr. Edwin Li
My interest is in the dimerization of membrane proteins, with emphasis on proteins associated with cancer.
Students will learn basic molecular and cellular (bacterial and mammalian) techniques to measure dimerization and cellular trafficking.
Dr. Scott McRobert
My research involves studies in the behavior of animals. In one project we are studying the factors that impact aggregation and learning in fish. These studies involve asking fish to choose potential shoal-mates, or asking whether fish can remember objects within their environment. In another project we are examining the social and sexual behavior of an invasive fruit fly that has become an agricultural pest in the Unites States. These studies involve collection and study of wild populations as well as lab studies to document behavioral traits.
Dr. Christina King Smith
Dr. King Smith’s research focuses on understanding mechanisms of intracellular organelle transport in eukaryotic cells. As a model system, her lab uses retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells from the eyes of fish. Fish RPE cells contain numerous melanin pigment granules (melanosomes) that undergo massive migrations within the cells in response to light. RPE cells can be isolated and cultured in vitro, allowing study of the cytoskeletal mechanisms that mediate melanosome motility. Summer research projects will focus on characterizing the regulation of pigment granule transport and other aspects of motility in RPE cells. Skills to be learned will include SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, fluorescence microscopy, RPE cell isolation, among other techniques.
Students who wish to be considered for SSP research should plan on doing volunteer research during the spring 2017 semester.
Dr. Karen Snetselaar
The main area of research in my lab is fungal disease of plants. We use the corn smut fungus, Ustilago maydis, as a model system. Projects range from characterizing mutants to doing basic research into the fungal life cycle and how it interacts with its plant host. It is also possible for students to do projects on the green roof of the science center.
Dr. Clint Springer
Research in my laboratory examines the physiological and developmental responses of plants to human-induced climate change. In doing so, the goal of this work is to provide an detailed understanding of how plants will respond to these major environmental challenges now and in the future with the goal of informing vegetation modelers and agricultural scientists in their work on projecting the consequences of human-induced climate change.
Dr. Jennifer Tudor
Molecular and cellular signaling pathways in the brain affect all facets of life. Projects are available to examine the impact of sleep deprivation on protein synthesis pathways critical for learning and memory in mouse brain.
Rev. Peter Clark, S.J.
The Institute of Clinical Bioethics has various research projects that are on-going dealing with ethical issues in the fields of neonatology, end-of-life care, beginning-of-life issues, pediatric genetics, pain management and the opioid problem, medical disparities, medical care for undocumented individuals, etc.
Dr. Mark Forman
The focus of my research program involves the synthesis and study of non-natural products that possess unique properties and enhanced reactivity as a result of forced deviations from their ideal geometries. In particular, my research group has been interested in studying the effects of bond angle distortion on the structures and properties of alkenes.
Dr. Peter Graham
In my laboratory we are investigating transition metal complexes which might catalyze the reaction of carbon dioxide with other simple molecules such as ethylene, hydrogen, or methanol. To this end, my students and I are synthesizing a variety of compounds containing the transition metals tungsten, rhenium and molybdenum that can coordinate carbon dioxide and activate it towards such reactions. Gaining a better understanding of how such metal complexes interact with carbon dioxide is paramount to developing new catalysts for carbon dioxide utilization.
Dr. Jean Smolen
My overall interest is in the area of water quality. Currently, we are using Standard Methods to evaluate the water quality on campus and in water bodies neighboring SJU’s campus. Students collect field samples and analyze them in the lab using ICP and visible spectroscopy. One ongoing aspect of this study is examining the effectiveness of household water filters in removing lead from drinking water.
Dr. E. Peter Zurbach
Areas of interest include developing methods that improve the limits of detection and quantification of compounds on several departmental instruments, including, but not limited to Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP-OES) and Liquid Chromatography (LCMS). Other interests include instrument design and method development for several electrochemical analytical techniques.
I would be interested in working with one (or more) 2017 Summer Scholars student(s) in one of three areas:
1. I have been working with a micro-scale sustainable economic development project in Kono District, Sierra Leone
since 2010. There are several different projects on which a student or students could work, one such
project being the design and creation of a database of project financial information.
2. I am working on another research project that can be broadly classified under the topic web analytics. I would be
happy to discuss how SSP student(s) could assist with this project.
3. Having been involved in mentoring undergraduate students in research projects for a number of years, some of the
projects have developed out of student interests. I would be happy to discuss potential projects generated from
Students interested in doing a Summer Scholars project should come up with a specific project proposal and meet with a suitable faculty member to determine if he or she will be able to mentor the project. Faculty areas of expertise and research interests are listed on the English Department website. Or contact Dr. Norberg, the departmental chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a list. Some of the faculty have also asked to be listed here.
Anthony Berret, S.J.
Since about 2000 my main research activity has been on the relation between music and literature. I did some early essays on this topic in the works of Toni Morrison, but then switched to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I gave papers at conferences of the Fitzgerald Society on how songs functioned in Fitzgerald’s novels and stories, extended a couple of these papers into a journal article and a chapter in a collection of essays, and finally published a book, Music in the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013). In 2002 I began offering the English course Music and American Literature every other year. This course treats mostly popular music of the 20th century as it appeared in songs, shows, and novels.
Most recently I have done a paper and an article on religion and literature and applied successfully for a Faith and Reason course in the English department.
Dr. Owen Gilman
My areas of interest are literature/film of war, literature/social change related to the 1960s in America, Southern literature, literature of New England and imaginative ways of representing the American West.
Dr. Jenny Spinner
Interests include journalism, women essayists, writing center pedagogy and creative writing.
My interests include creative writing (poetry, essay, fiction, and creative nonfiction). I am also currently working on a project documenting the lives of rural midwives in Brazil, and in relation to this project, I am interested in oral history, women’s health (midwifery in particular), and Latin America.
Dr. Ernest Baskin
My research involves psychology of consumer decision making with a focus on food, consumer judgments and mis-predictions and environmental nudges to change purchase behaviors as well as to encourage healthy eating. I would be most interested in working with a student that is interested in a research career in either psychology or marketing. The summer would consist of doing literature reviews on a topic of our mutual interest, developing hypotheses and testing these hypotheses using experimental design in the laboratory setting, online and in the field.
Dr. Reecha Sharma
My research interests are in the field of autism. My current project focuses on improving communication between health care providers and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Last summer, we assessed the effectiveness of an informational questionnaire and its role in facilitating communication at doctor visits.
Dr. John Neiva
My research is interdisciplinary in nature, occupying the intersection between international business, strategic management, and sustainability. The two overarching and interrelated objectives in my research are to advance the understanding of organizational sustainability in the global context and to use the models of management science and the tools of strategic management to improve organizational efficiency while contributing to a more sustainable world. My desire is to address specific needs on a case-by-case basis and offer practical contributions to the betterment of individuals and society, in other words, mostly applied research. I believe research not only should contribute to the academic literature and the practitioner community, but also should be a means towards the improvement of our collective lives on the planet.
My research on sustainability focuses on two broad areas. First, the research seeks points of synergy in which actions contribute simultaneously to the three components of the triple bottom line: people (social aspects); planet (environmental aspects); and long-term financial health (economic aspects). Second, when complete synergies among the three components are not present and trade-offs are necessary, the research seeks to find resolution of these trade-offs in ways which guarantee preservation of the environment and enhancement of equality and human dignity. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a major driver towards optimal resolution of such trade-offs because business is inherently efficient and CSR leads these efficiencies to benefit all stakeholders.
Research interests include the following:
Gender issues in the workplace
Diversity in the workplace
Discrimination in hiring
Measuring work behaviors and attitudes
International Human Resource management
Dr. Steven Porth
My research interests include ethics in the pharmaceutical industry; a continuation of research into how ethical issues are reported in the media.
Dr. Ken Weidner
Rather than pursue my research, my past scholars have thrived pursuing their own interests.
I work with each Scholar to develop their own proposal; in the past 4 years, I’ve worked on 5 SSP projects with 4 different Summer Scholars researching:
• the prevalence [lack] of living wage policies in American higher education;
• alternative histories that could have prevented slavery in America or hastened its decline, preventing the US Civil War;
• methods for girls and young women to navigate harmful media messages regarding ideal body image;
• critical pedagogy, including developing evaluation methods for my FY seminar “Serious Comedy and Social Justice”; and
• elder economics in America.
My own research interests include:
• ethics in society and business;
• social justice (including “serious comedy”); and
• change in society and organizations.
I’m working on these topics that may trigger potential Scholars’ interests:
• Privacy/psychological safety: My research indicates most colleges lack policies prohibiting surreptitious recording in classrooms; this topic is at the intersection of technology, privacy, and teaching/learning.
• Tobacco control. I’m trying to advance research-based tobacco control efforts (US or abroad), tobacco company strategies and tactics, and/or tobacco usage.
• Serious comedy + social justice. I’m researching the use and impact of comedy to advance social justice. Depending upon scholars’ interests; the results could be traditional research, multimedia, or in other forms.
• Environmental justice: At least 11 to 12 million people live within 1 mile of an EPA “Superfund” site. I’m interested in research related to a specific site (or sites), and/or communities’ responses to environmental risks.
Dr. Paul Klingsberg
My fields of research are combinatorics and graph theory. In very general terms, combinatorics deals with enumeration of the number of ways to perform a mathematical task (such as choosing a delegation of three people to represent a group of 15 people), and graph theory is concerned with diagrams you make by connecting dots with lines. Since these areas are relatively accessible to undergraduates, they are often sources of undergrad-level research problems, but not all the projects I have directed have been purely combinatorial, because the choice of topic is in large part driven by the student’s needs and interests. I have directed projects each of the last five summers. In ’06, I directed two summer scholar projects: The role of invariance in mathematics (which, among other things, investigated the use of an invariant in a number of combinatorial problems) and Generalized Möbius Inversion (which is abstract combinatorics). In Summer ’07, I directed a project in another area of combinatorics, Pólya-de Bruijn Theory, which deals with enumeration questions in which not all the ways of performing a task count as different. (For example, consider painting the faces of a cube using k colors. Rotating the cube will make some colorings coincide with others.) I directed a project centered on probability theory in ’08, on stochastic processes and the Black-Scholes formula in ’09, and on problem solving in ’10. For more details on these projects, please see the one-page summaries prepared by the students.
Dr. Peter Habdas
Microrheology of dilute colloidal suspensions.
Particle dynamics in dense colloidal suspensions with inter-particle attraction.
Dr. Douglas Kurtze
Interaction of Ocean Circulation and Sea Ice (computational)
The Meridional Overturning Circulation is a planetary-scale pattern of flow in the Atlantic Ocean which is a major contributor to the energy balance that determines the Northern Hemisphere climate. This project uses a simplified computational model to explore how the extent of Arctic sea ice affects, and is affected by, this circulation. The idea is to explore a number of scenarios modeling past climates and also possible future climates as affected by global warming. The project may also involve modifying the model to incorporate interactions between the circulation and the carbon cycle.
Pattern formation (analytical)
This project involves using mathematical tools to investigate systems in which patterns form spontaneously. I am currently focusing on the formation of traffic jams, but I would also be interested in looking at the theory of formation of washboard patterns on roads, or of the formation of ripple marks by waves on a sandy shore.
Dr. Lisa Baglione
I would love to have a student work with me on one of two projects:
1) authoritarian peacebuilding (particularly in Russia). The peacebuilding literature tends to assume that after conflict, peace is best assured with democracy; yet, Russia has created a form of “peace” in the Caucasus that needs to be understood and could be relevant to other areas of the world. Types of research: theoretical work in peacebuilding and substantive analysis of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia (also potentially looking at Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Crimea)
2) Russian foreign policy: I am interested in exploring Russia’s relations with Europe, in particular with its former Warsaw Pact allies and former Soviet states. Under Putin, Russians have reasserted their interests in that area, contending that these states are part of a “natural” Russian sphere and that Russia has done so much for these peoples. I want to explore the Russian sense of entitlement to dominance in Europe, and particularly look at why Russia has felt no need to apologize or make amends for its previous brutality there. I am also interested in the ways that Russia is seeking to make new connections to these states, particularly through far right parties and other movements. We will explore the theoretical literature on apology, as well as to analyze Russian actions toward Europe in the post-Soviet era.
If you are not interested in working on one of these projects, I suggest that you look for a different summer scholars mentor.
Dr. Becki Scola
During the 2017 summer, Dr. Scola will be developing a project that focuses on diversifying the curriculum at SJU and across institutions of higher learning. There will be many different components of this research agenda, and she welcomes applications from students who are interested in working with her on that project.
Dr. Clare Conry-Murray
My research examines social and moral development and gender development.
Dr. Alex Skolnick
I am a biopsychologist interested in health and emotion research. Some examples of research topics include: gender differences in emotion, how people’s emotions influence their views on animals and nature, how to make bats less disgusting to the public, how one’s view of the origins of behavior influences emotion, how emotions might influence casual sexual behavior, hook-up behavior and sexual compliance, among other related topics. I am also interested in the history of the concept of disease contagion and the history of some ideas about emotion.
A summer scholar would be helping conduct and transcribe interviews, organize data collection efforts, conduct basic qualitative data analysis, and write memos to help identify patterns. I am looking to work with students who have basic qualitative data analysis skills and sharp sociological insights.
Dr. Janine Firmender
My research interests are in the areas of gifted education and elementary mathematics education, primarily related to pedagogy, curriculum, and mathematical writing. In addition, I am interested in investigating how teachers’ expectations effect their instructional decisions and the mathematics learning opportunities they provide for their students and the integration of technology in mathematics instruction to enhance teaching and learning at the elementary level.
Dr. Stacy Olitsky
I am currently engaged in a qualitative study of the relationship between identity and the retention of science and math teachers in high-need urban secondary schools.
Dr. James Caccamo
I am interested in working with students on the study of Catholic social teaching, and on issues of justice and ethics within society. I would be willing to work with students on a variety of topics in social justice, but my current research emphasizes ethical issues relating to technology and media in contemporary America.
Dr. Millicent Feske
My research interests include western Christian thought; feminist theologies; christologies; infertility and pregnancy loss as theological issues and PTSD as a theological issue, with special attention to the idea of the imago Dei (all human beings being born in the image of God, Genesis 1:26-28).
Dr. Shawn Krahmer
My interests include gender studies and Christian spirituality, as well as mysticism, monasticism, pilgrimage, ecstatic experiences and visionaries.
Dr. Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu
My research interests include Islam, interpreting the Quran in the contemporary age, Christian-Muslim relations, science and religion and faith and reason.