Administration of justice professor opens undergraduate research office

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — At the start of the Spring 2017 semester, an undergraduate research office will be up and running on the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus thanks to the effort of administration of justice assistant professor, Rick Dierenfeldt.

The space, located in the Science Building on the campus, is designated strictly for the use of undergraduates engaged in research collaborations with faculty and will be open to students from any program on the campus involved in such endeavors. The office, funded by an internal grant, is complete with three workstations, monitors, and software.

“The undergraduate research office space in another life was a faculty office that had since become a makeshift storage room,” explains Director of Academic Affairs Albert Lozano-Nieto. “The idea of utilizing this underused space in a way that truly benefits our students in multiple ways in invaluable.”

The undergraduate research office will have approximately six immediate tenants in the spring semester working on a total of eight co-authored projects culminating with publication in peer-reviewed literature. These projects range from hierarchical analysis of the influence of the "Southern Subculture of Violence," structural characteristics, firearm availability, and offender/victim/location characteristics on the likelihood of firearm use during aggravated assaults; to qualitative analysis of interviews with recovering heroin users for the purpose of identifying commonalities in use/desistance and time-series analysis of the “Ferguson Effect” on the frequency of intra- and inter-racial violence.

“Many of the students utilizing the office in the spring semester will be graduating with published material,” states Dierenfeldt. “That in itself is a huge advantage for them going out into the real world. These opportunities will provide our students with real outcome options in terms of the field and graduate school.”