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September 12, 2013

Student researchers present findings

CSU disbursed $250,000 to fund 35 undergranduate projects

By Daniel Herda

Undergraduate students and their respective faculty advisors came together on Thursday, Sept. 5, to present their research in a poster session organized by the division of Undergraduate Engaged Learning Research/Creative Achievement Awards.
In summer 2013, Cleveland State University funded 35 undergraduate projects with grants totaling about $250,000.

The hardwood floors of the Student Center atrium were lined with poster panels, while student researchers stood by their work and informed the patrons of their recent discoveries in biology, archeology, engineering, anthropology, chemistry, psychology, film and the School of communication.

Phil Wanyerka, professor in the department of anthropology, stood next to his student researchers and explained what they researched over the summer.

“To escape the potato famine, many Irish-immigrants came to Cleveland to work on the Erie Canal, living in Irishtown Bend, and our students practiced excavating artifacts found in many of the working-slums that these people lived in,” said Wanyerka.

One of the prized artifacts — a crucifix discovered from one of the catholic families that lived in Bend — was placed next to a coin of President James Garfield. Overall, the student-group curated over 82,000 items.

Student Researcher Arvin Raj Mathur explained how his team was able to find these Irish artifacts.

“We looked for things representative of Irish life, like the crucifix because many Irish-immigrants were catholic,” Mathur informed.

To the right of the Irish-artifact display was a poster-panel indicating a student’s trip to Senegal, West Africa, where he engaged in participant-observation as he researched men’s health, while living in the city for five weeks. Richard T. Powis III studied men’s attitudes on reproductive health and sexual behavior, interviewing friends and learning about their lives, as he spoke to them in French, with the Senegal population speaking primarily French.

“Ninety-eight percent of the population is Muslim, but men there are the same as they are in America, like ‘locker room talk’ about how many girlfriends they had growing up,” Powis said.

Powis explained how one of his friends concealed an empty box of 144 condoms wrapped in newspaper to keep them hidden and how men consider condoms ‘taboo’ and even feel embarrassed when purchasing them.

“It took him six months to go through the box, and right away I started to do the math,” Powis laughed.

On the other side of the wall, student-researcher Dominique Rose studied the effects of race and perceived knowledge when hiring applicants during selection procedures and how individual-merit was a key factor in the fairness of the hiring process.

“Out of 927 survey applicants, who filled out their surveys online after being interviewed, the individuals who had the most knowledge about their work felt they were treated better than those who had less knowledge,” Rose informed.

Rose explained that her research proved that those who were more qualified were more likely to receive a callback than those who were less qualified, with race and gender not playing a factor in any part of the process.

“Prejudice does not really exist anymore, it is all in our minds,” said Rose.
At the end of the aisle, Shannon Walker stood by her poster-panel and revealed her conclusions on her studies in Cleveland State’s Master Plan with student-surveys.

Master Plan was started in 2002 and was designed to involve student and faculty interests in living in downtown Cleveland so they could live close to Cleveland State’s campus. Walker explained that after a decade there was a need to update the plan, based on the growth of Cleveland’s population.

“The population of downtown Cleveland has grown over thirty percent in the last decade, our survey replaced the outdated Master Plan in 2002.”

Walker surveyed over 200 students, spreading them equally through each of the many departments, and revealed that over half of the respondents would live downtown if there were more available housing in the downtown area.

“The grand scheme of this study is to propose a grant to the Cleveland State administration and suggest more housing opportunities to keep our students on campus,” Walker said.