Recently in School of Graduate Studies and Research Category

Thumbnail image for phikappaph_260pxi.jpgPhi Kappa Phi, the oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society in the nation, honored its IUP chapter as a "Chapter of Excellence" in November.

Now, IUP junior, senior, and graduate students in the top 10 percent of their classes have the chance to join this most excellent chapter.

The honor society recently sent membership invitations to 430 undergraduate students and 557 graduate students, mailing the invitations to the students' home addresses on record with the university.

The IUP chapter will have two initiation ceremonies: March 28 for undergraduate students and April 3 for graduate students. Both ceremonies will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Blue Room, Sutton Hall.

Students may accept the invitation to join by mailing in a form or completing one on the web and should indicate whether they will attend the ceremony -- for undergraduates, the deadline is March 7; for graduate students, March 13.

"We really hope that all invited students respond to this invitation -- it's a wonderful opportunity for students to be part of a national network of scholars," said Professor Dennis Giever, IUP chapter president.

In addition, he notes that "Phi Kappa Phi has more than $700,000 in scholarships and graduate fellowships for its members nationally, and several IUP students have been selected for these awards since IUP's chapter was chartered in 1993."

He asks that faculty encourage invited students to reply. "We know that students get inundated with information and mailings, but this is something that can be of great benefit to them, especially if they have an interest in scholarships or graduate fellowships."

Check your mail. You are already a winner! 

Foreign Film Festival Brings Reel World to Indiana

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DSC_0009_unityDay_260px.jpgThe Spring semester Foreign Film and Music Festival, starting this Sunday, February 19, is the whole package.

Not only does the series, presented by the IUP Office of International Education, show great films from all over the world, it also features musicians from all over the world.

And it's all free!

Screenings are every other Sunday night, with each film shown twice, at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m., in McVitty Auditorium, Sprowls Hall. All films are in native languages with English subtitles. The series is open to the public.

The series begins with the guitar and vocal duo of Pengfei Yi and Yuxiang Qiu, students from China, performing in conjunction with the screening of I Bring What I Love, a portrait of Senegalese pop sensation Youssou N'Dour, this Sunday. 

Kittiphong "Mu" Praphan, a student from Thailand, will play guitar for the Argentinian movie The Paranoids on March 4. Mu (short for "music," he notes) is well known on campus, having played at the 2011 Foreign Film and Music Series, International Lunch Hour, and other community events.

Dr. Carl Rahkonen, IUP music librarian and professor of music, known throughout the region for his talent on the violin, will be the guest artist on March 18, in conjunction with the showing of the Irish movie Kisses.

The April 1 screening of the Chinese movie Last Train Home will feature Si Lu Jia, a student from China, performing on the erhu, a traditional Chinese two-stringed instrument.

The showing of the Italian movie Mid-August Lunch on April 15 will feature Faisal Jousari, a student from Saudi Arabia, who will sing and play the lute. 

The series ends on a Terribly Happy note on April 29, featuring student John Grant along with the screening of this Danish noir flick. Grant is a 30-year performer who sings and plays banjo and guitar. 

It's a great two for one evening. Bring the popcorn.

Comics Are No Laughing Matter, IUP English Professor Finds

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Gian Pagnucci, English professorEnglish Professor Gian Pagnucci is a very well-rounded guy.

His scholarly interests include narrative theory and research, technical writing, and technology and literacy, and he's well published on this topic.

BUT he's also written and published a number of creative non-fiction pieces about his Italian-American upbringing and a chilldren's book of folk tales, Don't Count Your Chickens! Stories for Kids to Tell!

He has also been recognized for his outstanding record of teaching, research, and scholarly activity and service with the 2009-2010 University Professor Award. The University Professor designation is something that award recipients hold for a lifetime. So, I'm not surprised to see interesting and diverse research and presentations from Dr. Pagnucci.

Recently, he presented "The Death of America in Comic Books: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Identity Crisis Narrative in Superman and Captain America Comic Books" at the 22nd annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association.

Dr. Pagnucci was joined on the panel by Alex Romagnoli, a doctoral student in IUP's Composition and TESOL program.

He describes this conference as an opportunity for scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore how trends and events in popular culture shape the world in which we live.

In his presentation, he compares Superman and Captain America, and notes that these fictional characters have true cultural significance beyond comic book pages. He also asks how these events reflect the current notion of American identity and several other interesting questions, including "Are these superheroes merely fictional or do their evolving identities represent a moment of crisis for the nation?" He also concludes that what happens in the pages of comic books needs to be given significance in the academic world.

His work makes me think about another extremely innovative student research project and internship. Melissa Rogers, a graduate of IUP's Robert E. Cook Honors College and an IUP McNair Scholar, did an internship with Marvel Comics in New York City. She also explored autobiographical comic books by women and how they challenge the portrayal of women in mainstream comics and traditional literature.

This certainly makes me think very differently about comics as literature!

Student Success in Schools? Thank a School Counselor

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John McCarthyIt's a chance for IUP to recognize and honor the work of professional school counselors throughout Western Pennsylvania.

On December 16, the College of Education and Educational Technology will host the ninth annual School Counselor Professonal Development Day. The event, which annually draws about 100 school counselors, will be in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. The event is free and open to all area professional school counselors. It includes panel discussions and workshops conducted by Counseling Department faculty and students.

IUP's Counseling Department ofers two graduate degrees--the Master of Arts in Community Counseling and the Master of Education in School Counseling. IUP also offers these programs at the Monroeville Graduate and Professional Center.

The Department of Counseling also has significant outreach programs and opportunities through the Center for Counselor Training and Services. This center, launched in 2005 and directed by John McCarthy, offers programs for both undergraduate and graduate students and for professionals in the field. In fact, on April 20, 2012, the CCTS will host a pioneer in the career counseling field, John Krumboltz. He will present the program "Helping to Create a Meaningful Life in a Difficult Economy."

The Department of Counseling is part of the IUP College of Education and Educational Technology and is just one of the departments that serve our region, our commonwealth, and our nation in preparing educators, couselors, and so many others who create success for our children.

Creating a Culture of Writing Success

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There's an old saying by writer Red Smith: "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

Many students might very well agree with that sentiment.

Fortunately for IUP students, there is a great resource to help with becoming better writers, the IUP Writing Center. Students make good use of the facility and its tutors: The Writing Center helps more than 1,500 students each semester.

Ben Rafoth in his officeThe IUP Writing Center is directed by Bennett (Ben) Rafoth, a member of the IUP Department of English, who also holds the title of University Professor. (He was selected for this honor, which recipients hold for a lifetime, in 2010.) As the University Professor, he was the undergraduate commencement ceremony speaker in December 2010.

He is recognized internationally for his work with teaching writing, and during his tenure as University Professor, his projects included a book focused on better serving multilingual writers in writing centers and an online writing center, which is now offered through the IUP Writing Center. His most recent book is ESL Writers: A Guide for Learning Center Tutors.

The center, located in Eicher Hall, took its expertise "on the road" recently, when Dr. Rafoth; Mitch James, assistant director of the center; and Lindsay Sabatino, a teaching associate in the English Department, visited West Virginia University for a special colloquium last month focused on creating writing center learning cultures.

They joined 21 tutors and directors from WVU and Duquesne. IUP's presentation at the event focused on online writing centers. (IUP's online center was launched in September.)

Dr. Rafoth will continue to showcase IUP's Writing Center and its successes when he co-hosts the International Writing Centers Association Summer Institute in July 2012 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. This weeklong event is expected to draw writing center directors throughout the nation.

Our IUP alumni also are demonstrating what they've learned at IUP about teaching writing and writing centers. Columbia University recently published a new book on writing centers, The Successful High School Writing Center: Building the Best Program with Your Students, co-authored by Dawn Fels and Jennifer Wells, graduates of IUP's Composition and TESOL doctoral program.

And they did not forget about IUP and Dr. Rafoth in writing the book. He co-authored the first chapter with the former students.

IUP's John McCarthy: "Let's Talk about Suicide"

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In addition to teaching, researching, and mentoring students, IUP's faculty members are often part of local, regional, national, and international groups and nonprofit agencies offering expertise in a variety of fields.

John McCarthyJohn McCarthy, a professor in IUP's Department of Counseling and director of IUP's Center for Counselor Training and Services, is a member of the Westmoreland County Suicide and Awareness Prevention Task Force, among other organizations.

In observance of tomorrow's Annual International Survivors of Suicide Day, Dr. McCarthy authored a powerful editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on November 17.

Titled "Let's Talk about Suicide," the editorial points out that the topic of suicide is often a taboo topics for families, communities, and societies. However, Dr. McCarthy notes that while homicides are often in media headlines, suicides rarely make the news.

He then offers the startling figure that the act of suicide took the lives of more than 34,000 Americans in 2007 (according to the Centers for Disease Control). This compares to more than 18,000 homicides commited that same year.

He also shares data from the American Academy of Suicidology that indicate that more than 1,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to suicide in 2008. And, for every life lost, as many as 25 people attempt suicide.

He ends his editorial urging awareness and discussion.

"Suicide. It is a sensitive topic, to be sure, yet it too often is on the Taboo List of things to discuss. Let's remove it. Let's talk."

Dr. McCarthy is well-known in the field of counseling. In addition to his work at IUP and with this regional group, he serves on the board of directors of the Center for Credentialing and Education, a corporate affiliate of the National Board of Certified Counselors.

During spring 2011, he seved as an academic visitor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. He is widely published and, since 2009, has participated in the International Academic Fellowship Program in the Higher Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute. In this role, he works with the Department of Psychology at Yerevan State University in Armenia.

I grew up in Indiana. I loved my childhood, and I love my hometown then and now, but I certainly realize that it is a pretty homogeneous community. I believe that Indiana does offer more diversity (in the interest of full disclosure, this is NOT scientifically or statistically proven) over other towns of its size because of places like IUP and Indiana Regional Medical Center, which tend to draw individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

I also appreciate that the university truly values diversity and has a dynamic and active Office of International Education that does extensive outreach throughout the year, including International Education Week (October 10-14 this year). I'll be talking more about the week, which includes a naturalization ceremony, a first for IUP, in a future blog.

But with diversity comes challenges. The tragedy of September 11, 2001, changed the way that we look at the world (that's not news to anyone) and placed the Islamic culture and religion in the spotlight in ways that it had never been before.

Parveen AliThat's why I felt that the results of a study by Parveen Ali, an assistant professor in IUP's Department of Developmental Studies, on "Perception of Islam and Muslims among College Students" would be both interesting and important to reporters.

The good news? Dr. Ali found that most students have an overall satisfactory attitude toward Muslims and Islam.

The not so good news? Most students have a misperception about where the majority of Muslims live, and some still associate Muslim with "terrorist."

Any guesses about what was top-of-mind for students when they were asked for reactions to the word "Muslim"?

Forty-four percent responded with "normal people." Twenty-one percent responded with "terrorist"; forty-four percent with "Arabs." (They could choose more than one answer.)

And clearly, IUP students need to bone up on their geography. Eighty-four percent of surveyed students believed that the region where most Muslims lived is the Middle East.

Wrong answer.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of all of the world's countries (15.6 percent), and Asia and the Pacific have 61.9 percent of the Muslim population, compared to 20.1 percent in the Middle East.

There is an increasing presence of Muslims on U.S. college campuses. That's just a fact, Dr. Ali says.

That said, what's the take away from this study?

"It is crucial to create awareness about Islam in college campuses in order to prevent discrimination, intolerance, false myths, and prejudice toward its believers."

Well said.

Eating Less in the Presence of Men

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thesalt-banner-4622.gifOver morning coffee, NPR listeners recently learned about eating habits that were discovered right here in Indiana, Pennsylvania. You can see the full story in The Salt, NPR's food blog, which describes research by two former students and two faculty members. It suggests the gender of your dining company can influence what you eat.

Molly Allen-O'Donnell '04, M'06, Marci Cottingham M'09, Kay Snyder, and Tom Nowak of the IUP Sociology Department collaborated on "Impact of Group Composition and Gender on Meals Purchased by College Students," which was published in September in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

The research shows that men and women both eat less when in the presence of men. Read or listen to NPR's coverage. UPDATE: ABC News also has covered the issue and has cited the research done by Allen-O'Donnell, Cottingham, Snyder, and Nowak.

Nowak and Snyder retired in the summer. Currently, Allen-O'Donnell, whose bachelor's degree is in Nutrition, is a social worker at Helpmates, Inc., in Ridgway, Pa. Cottingham is a graduate student at the University of Akron.


I keep coming back to the IUP Criminology Department for feature stories and experts.

First of all, these professors are so accessible. They are busy teachers and researchers, but they are willing to talk with me and to talk with the media when reporters have questions about current issues in criminology.

Second, the work they do is just plain interesting. They ask questions that I might never have thought to ask, and these studies almost always have relevance to reporters and writers.

Jennifer RobertsCriminology professor Jennifer Roberts (who recently was promoted to the rank of professor--congratulations, Dr. Roberts!) did research with one of her doctoral students, Laura King, to try and determine if hometown types have an impact on how people think about rape. She surveyed a sample of IUP undergraduate and graduate students for her study.

You'd think that urbanites, who probably have more exposure to news about crimes like sexual assault, would have a different opinion about these crimes than people from small towns, where the crime rate is lower and there are fewer media reports on sexual assault.

Not so, they found. It's not about the hometown, but it is about gender. Men were still more likely to accept rape myths than women.

Dr. Roberts and Ms. King's "Traditional Gender Role and Rape Myth Acceptance: From the Countryside to the Big City" was published in the 2011 Women and Criminal Justice Journal, showing that hometowns have little to do with the acceptance of "rape myths." Rape myths are stereotypical beliefs about rape.

Dr. Roberts and Ms. King explain that rape myths traditionally blame the victim, excuse the perpetrator, and minimize the severity of the attack based on a number of situational and background characteristics.

Okay. Interesting, but it begs the question: Why does this study matter to the media (which means you and me)?

Here's why: Accepting these myths influences how survivors are treated AND contributes to the underreporting of this crime, Dr. Roberts says.

That's the big headline for this story.

But there is some good news in this research to add to the headline. The overall rape myth acceptance within the pool of students she surveyed was lower than in similar studies conducted decades ago.

There is still much more to be done, Dr. Roberts stresses. Unfortunately, the acceptance of rape myth is still prevalent enough to warrant additional attention through things such as educational programs focusing on myths about rape and dating violence.

Nursing Simulation Lab Makes Music Video Debut

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IUP's Nursing and Allied Health Professions degrees are some of our most rigorous programs, and for good reason--the things that the students learn there ARE a matter of life and death.

The faculty work very hard to create real-life experiences for students, so they are well prepared for work in hospitals and other health care settings. In September 2010, faculty members Lisa Palmer and Julia Greenawalt were successful in receiving amost $300,000 to create a simulation lab, which mirrors the home of a rural patient with a common chronic illness. The lab is designed to help train nurses for home health care especially and includes telehealth monitors used by home health care agencies. Dr. Palmer explained that with the shortage of nurses, more and more patients are being treated in their homes, and this laboratory offers a significant advantage to IUP students who go on to work with home health care agencies.

This new home health care simulation lab adds to the department's current simulation laboratory, established by the department in 2007 and renovated in 2009. This lab includes manikins of all "ages," including an infant, two simulated hospital rooms, and IV and other training devices.

While this laboratory gets very heavy use by students and faculty and will undoubtedly help future nurses save lives, it was the site of a very unusual project this summer.

David Altrogge, a 2006 IUP art studio/graphic design graduate, is making a name for himself as a cofounder and creative director of Vinegar Hill, a full service production company and creative agency based in Indiana. IUP has used his company for projects, and he has used IUP and Indiana places and spaces for several of his productions.

David recently was contracted by Centricity Records to produce a music video for Aaron Shust's My Hope Is in You. The story is about a couple waiting as their daughter is treated in a hospital following an accident. I won't give away the ending, but you might want to have a few tissues handy while you watch it.

If you've ever visited Johnson Hall (home to the department), and the "hospital" in the video looks sort of familiar to you--well, that's because it is. IUP's Nursing and Allied Health Professions Department's simulation lab is the hospital, and the hospital lobby is the lobby of the Nursing department in Johnson. The video features several IUP Nursing graduates, including Megan Wallwork (doing chest compressions), Janelle McCombie, and Kristi Altrogge. The Bennets, of Indiana, are the grieving parents.

While IUP is proud of David's work, we are also proud to know that the simulation lab did exactly what it was supposed to do, albeit in a fairly unorthodox setting: It offered a very real hospital environment, with a realistic patient and believable injuries. A win-win for all involved.

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