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University Communications

November 5, 2010

Through La Salle’s Undergraduate Research Program, Students and Faculty Take on Research Challenges Together

At La Salle University, students are encouraged to learn outside the classroom, whether its internships, co-ops, trips throughout Philadelphia, or performing research to name a few. La Salle students are provided with learning opportunities that go beyond the classroom curriculum—experiential learning at its finest. La Salle’s Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) in particular, partners La Salle students with faculty members for a semester-long research project in their academic area.

“There is nothing like undergraduate research and the validation it provides our students,” said Thomas Keagy, Ph.D., Dean of La Salle’s School of Arts and Sciences. “Research is a cornerstone to education—it provides students access to faculty as they conduct research together.”

Although La Salle students have performed research for many decades, the University created the USRP in 1999, led by Director James Butler, Ph.D. The program is open to all students with at least a 3.0 grade point average in the University’s three schools—Arts and Sciences, Business, and Nursing and Health Sciences. Students can suggest possible topics to faculty members or vice versa.

“Through such research experiences, participating students experience the thrill of experiential, or experimental, or scholarly discovery, and faculty members teach students one at a time,” said Butler. “A number of research projects over the years have produced joint publications or conference papers, and students—at the faculty’s insistence—have been listed as principal or sole authors.” In addition, every spring, students in the Undergraduate Student Research Program are invited to present their research to the campus community.

Currently, La Salle undergraduates are conducting research on such topics as “The Israeli Mandate and the Middle East Conflict,” “Emotion Expression,” “Environmental Sounds and Performance,” and “Cultural Attitudes and Philadelphia’s Ethnic Restaurants.”

Adam Kammler, a senior Integrated Science, Business, and Technology (ISBT) major from Telford, Pa. is working with Vincent Kling, Ph.D.,  professor of foreign languages and literatures, on “Tracing a Myth—Cinderella in Many Languages.” “Many people do not know that the Cinderella story originated in Germany and was much more violent than the version we know today,” said Kling.

“We have come to know Cinderella as a Walt Disney princess character. However, the original version of the story is very different, including the stepsisters mutilating their feet in attempt to have the prized glass slipper fit,” said Kammler.  With Kling as his mentor, Kammler is also researching Cinderella’s story through different cultures, the story’s symbolism and psychology, as well as the Cinderella story today.

Two psychology students, juniors Jessika Acilio and Jeff Fonseca, of Richland, N.J., and Waretown, N.J., respectively, are researching “Flowers and Mood States” with Patricia Wilson, Ph.D., professor of psychology. “There is research that suggests flowers are associated with happiness and encourage social interaction,” said Wilson. “Jessika and Jeff are studying whether flowers have an effect on negative mood states, such as anger and fear—in that the presence of flowers diminishes the negative mood.”

According to Wilson, through undergraduate research, “students learn what research involves, both the exciting components and the drudge work like entering data—a boring but necessary task.”  She continues, “Executing the project requires organization and perseverance.  It also involves learning to handle disappointments, both accepting such events and learning to move beyond the event.”