Thursday Sep 05, 2013
One of the hallmarks of an Indiana University Northwest education is the opportunity to work collaboratively with faculty mentors on real research – the kind done in a lab or out in the field that is ultimately documented, published, presented and used by scholars to advance their respective disciplines. It’s an opportunity that can be hard to come by at larger universities, but the opportunity is plentiful at the Gary campus, even for undergraduates.
Students who qualify have an opportunity to receive a stipend for their research through the Minority Opportunity for Research Experience (MORE) program, which provides students with opportunities to engage in faculty research projects and empowers students, especially those from underrepresented and lower-income populations, to participate in research as early as possible.
Meet IU Northwest’s 2012 MORE recipients:Ava Meux studies evolution of gender
Recent political science graduate Ava Meux, who received a MORE research award last year, worked with adjunct faculty member Patricia Walker, Ph.D., to study the evolution of gender from the 1950s to today.
Through her research, Meux learned that gender, traditionally defined strictly through biological criteria, has been redefined according to additional psychological and theological assertions. Gender, she said, is continually recreated from social and cultural influences, human interaction and the context of such dynamics.
Meux said the MORE opportunity is not a typical research program.
“The MORE program was different than any other opportunity I’ve received because it was self-directed, self-driven, flexible, and I was getting paid,” she said. “The program and Dr. Walker’s mentorship exemplifies how the professors at IU Northwest are dedicated to student success.”
Meux said that her research experience made possible through the MORE program “completely enhanced my college experience.”
“Through the program, I was able to advance my professional and academic career by developing the necessary skills essential to my future professional and academic career such as critical thinking, communication, analytical, and writing skills,” she said.
Meux is currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies degree at IU Northwest. Once she earns her degree, she intends to attend law school.
Chris Gordon takes a Quantum Theory model to a new level
Under the guidance of Associate Professor of Mathematics Axel Schulze-Halberg, Ph.D., senior Chris Gordon studied a particular model that recently became popular among researchers in Quantum Theory. Gordon’s work ultimately resulted in brand new findings that physicists can use in their research.
As physicists know from Quantum Theory, small particles confined by external forces cannot move freely and continuously. Their movement is restricted by certain laws.
“If you take the walls that confine our particular system and pull them apart or put them together, what would happen? How would a particle between these walls behave?”
This is the question Schulze-Halberg posed to Gordon when the two embarked on this research. Creating such parameters in a number of mathematical equations provided tables of calculations that effectively answered those questions.
Their resulting paper, titled, “Spectral properties of a confined nonlinear quantum oscillator in one and three dimensions,” was published in a spring edition of the Journal of Mathematical Physics, a highly-ranked international research journal.
Schulze-Halberg said the work Gordon did was akin to that of a doctoral-level scholar, because it contributed something entirely new, something that was not previously known.
“What Chris was learning could not be found in any book, or anywhere. It was not something he could look up. It didn’t exist,” Schulze-Halberg said. “That is what distinguishes the research and his findings and makes it exceptional.”
Gordon said he appreciated the opportunity presented by the MORE program.
“I had the opportunity to explore real world applications for the math taught at IU Northwest, discuss mathematical concepts in depth, and receive exposure to computer applications such as Mathematica and La-Tex,” Gordon said. “I was presented the opportunity to work on theories that are in their infancy. Physicists are just starting to explore the impact of particles in confined space. For an undergraduate, this was an unbelievable opportunity.”
Gordon is currently student teaching and intends to graduate in August with two bachelor’s degrees, in elementary education and mathematics.
Elise Ozier studies stereotype threat in African Americans
Under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Psychology Frances Daniel, Ph.D., recent psychology graduate Elise Ozier wanted to extend previous research that had been done about stereotype threats. Specifically, research indicates that when presented with a negative stereotype, one is at risk of confirming that negative stereotype. Further, Ozier said, African-Americans appear to be especially at risk of confirming negative stereotypes, especially when dealing with challenging material.
To examine whether this is true, Ozier wanted to know whether stereotype threats can be induced in minorities in a virtual context. To find out, Ozier explored whether avatars in computer-based tutorials could induce stereotype threat in minorities. According to her abstract, “undergraduates completed either a high stereotype threat or low stereotype threat version of a computer-based tutorial on solving standardized test problems. The participants then completed a test consisting of the same type of problems.”
Ozier said that her results did not support her predictions and she is currently collecting data for a second phase of the study which corrects some methodological issues that may have affected the results. She has been awarded a second MORE grant in order to further her study.
Ozier said she appreciated the opportunity to experience research from a different perspective.
“Prior to participating in the program, I had assisted with collecting data for others' projects, but the MORE program allowed me to gain insight into the process of designing and implementing my own study,” Ozier said. “I believe that participating in the MORE program has contributed a great deal toward making me a better candidate for graduate school . . . Additionally, the program gives you an opportunity to build meaningful and beneficial working relationships with faculty mentors.”