Professors and students conduct and contribute to research studies

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The University of Indianapolis contributes to ongoing research in current fields including sociology, kinesiology, psychology, biology and many more. Professors within these fields conduct research both independently and alongside students.

Assistant Professors of Kinesiology Nathan Eckert and Trent Cayot, and some of their students, have been working on a Parkinson’s Disease-related study in partnership with Rock Steady Boxing, a non-profit boxing program. This organization was co-founded by Scott Newman and Vince Perez. Newman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 40. Rock Steady Boxing has attained the mission “to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to ‘fight back.’”

Eckert has also worked towards “understanding neurophysiological mechanisms associated with acute and chronic pain…[and applying] this new understanding in ways to develop and assess current rehabilitation and reintegration techniques…” as his research goals and has been able to integrate this into his curriculum at UIndy.

“We really run the gamut when it comes to the research we’re doing here at UIndy,” Eckert said. “We’re all over the spectrum, so if a professor teaches the course, they’re bound to be doing research on it.”

Eckert explained that UIndy is just scratching the surface of any and all fields of expertise. Research is never truly complete because each project digs deeper into the knowledge of its subject, uncovering ideas and avenues for further research to be done, according to Eckert.

“When it comes to research,” Eckert said, “It is an acquired taste and can be frustrating at times, but getting a better understanding for the subject, a better understanding of the craft, that makes it worth your while.”

Students are encouraged to get involved in projects for the various benefits that researching offers, according to Eckert. Students can talk to professors about researching for ongoing projects, or they can suggest new ones. Eckert said that the only requirement for a student to get involved is to have an interest in the project.

“Research is not as intimidating as people might think it is,” Cayot said. “It’s very easy to get involved in research if you put yourself out there.”

According to Associate Professor of Kinesiology Michael Diacin, research within higher education is not only applicable to, but compliments, real world career paths ranging from practitioners to clinicians to sports coaches.

“Every study has a weakness and should be left open-ended so that any and all researchers are able to learn from and build off of past research,” Diacin said. “Research is for the benefit of all of us so it is important that we leave it open to everyone.”

A few of UIndy’s kinesiology-related research studies include topics that correlate with service learning and managerial studies,  carried out by Diacin. Diacin has been recognized by the National American Society for Sport Management, as well as in academic journals including International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and others.

Some of the sociology research currently going on at UIndy includes Associate Professor of Sociology Amanda Miller’s research on cohabitation and community improvement. Miller has been recognized in Food Network as well as academic journals, including Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, Marriage and Family, Social and Personal Relationships and Qualitative Sociology.

According to Miller, research experience for students within the same major sets them apart from each other and makes their resumé stand out from other applicants and is also beneficial for their future careers.

“…99 percent of students will be using research at some point in their careers, either as consumers or producers, so building this skill set now will not only help you get a job, but it’ll allow you to move up the ladder in the one you have,” Miller said. “Just as importantly, though, it’s a lot of fun. To get to ask the burning questions that come to you… and then actively and systematically try to figure out the answer is interesting and rewarding….”

Like Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology Erin Fekete has also been recognized in various journals, including Psychology and Health, Emerging Adulthood, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Psychoneuroendocrinology and more. Fekete is currently conducting research on prejudice reduction, health stigma, social identity, women in STEM and other subjects

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Amie Wojtyna and her research on community-based health and wellness has been recognized at Butler University undergraduate research conferences, Harvard research presentation conferences and when the community is considering changes around UIndy.

“Any ongoing research at UIndy has an impact on the field of study it is within, but some of these projects have a direct impact on our communities,” Wojtyna said. “Community gardens have been built on University Heights Methodist, as well as Bethany Lutheran church grounds. We have even created a food pantry that is community-run through donations and is accessible 24/7 by the public.”

Students that wish to get involved in research are invited to attend UIndy’s first annual campus wide Scholars Showcase. This event highlights undergraduate and graduate students’ academic accomplishments from all UIndy units and departments across campus. Student and faculty research will be on display April 12, 2019 on UIndy’s campus.

According to Director of College of Health Sciences Movement Science Lab Stephanie Combs-Miller, students and faculty can submit current research, projects, and previously presented work is also encouraged to be displayed again at the Scholars Showcase.

“Jump in,” Fekete said. “See the excitement that comes with researching for yourself.”

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