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Photo of a student conducting field researchAre you interested in pursing undergraduate research with one of our faculty members? The faculty list and descriptions below highlight research projects and areas of interest for some of our faculty actively engaged in undergraduate research. If you are interested in working with a particular faculty member, please contact them directly.

Dr. Sukhdeep Gill, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

I am a lifespan developmental psychologist interested in early development, interpersonal relations, mindfulness practices, and community-based action research. My current areas of research include preventive interventions for families with young children from poverty backgrounds to promote health, social-emotional development, and school readiness. Students who work with me learn skills such as developing rationale for research, become familiar with data entry, coding, and analysis, and report writing. My students participate in undergraduate research fairs and co-author technical reports, manuscripts, and conference presentations. Past students have completed research projects on engaging difficult families in preventive interventions, truancy prevention in York County, and staff stress and burnout in Early Head Start programs. Current students are working on understanding conflict and peacebuilding efforts for young children and their families. Opportunities are available to work on two Early Head Start projects to learn data coding and analysis. I also encourage students to develop their own research ideas and complete projects as an ‘Honors’ option within a course I am teaching or as an independent study.

Dr. Andy Landis, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

My research projects are centered in the area of polymer science. Specifically, I study how methacrylate-based monomers can be photocured using visible light into cross-linked polymers. When used in dental restorative applications such as a cavity fill, these cross-linked polymers exhibit polymerization shrinkage which limits the performance of the polymer. My students and I quantify this shrinkage to see how altering the properties of the monomer and fillers affects the final polymer. Another area of research includes the study of ion-containing methacrylate polymers in blends with fluorocarbon polymers which are used in high-performance architectural coatings. Techniques such as small angle laser light scattering, polarized optical microscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry are used to characterize the crystallization and compatibility of these blends.

Dr. Fulgentius Lugemwa, Associate Professor of Chemistry

My research focus is in two areas. In one area, students extract and purify abundant betulin from white birch bark. The extraction is accomplished using green solvents. The pure betulin is then used as a substrate to make new derivatives that have potential for anti-microbial and anti-viral activity. In another area of focus, students design new catalysts for the acetylation of alcohols using acetic anhydride. In both areas, students are trained in carrying out multi-step synthesis, followed by purification using column chromatography, and structure determination of the products using IR, NRM and mass spectrometry.

Michael Marcus, Associate Professor of Engineering

Penn State York’s Baccalaureate EMET students (in phase I) are collaboratively developing specifications for the design of a computer controlled, low-cost and comfortable, hand-opening assistive device(HOAD) for Stroke and other Traumatic Brain Injured (TBI) patients who currently lack the ability to accomplish routine activities-of-daily-living. Additionally, participating PSY students will (in phase II) design and fabricate a proof-of-concept, weight-lifting prototype. This research is being performed in collaboration with a research team from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) Capstone Course Students at Penn State York.

Dr. Maureen Muller, Assistant Professor of Business

Dr. Muller works in the area of corporate governance, strategic leadership and entrepreneurship. Students working with Dr. Muller have assisted in data collection on female CEOs (Chris Vazquez, Beryl Achieng, Chelsea Smith), examined gender differences in entrepreneurship in China (Enping Jiang) and contrasted entrepreneurial activity in Japan, Brazil and the United States (Branson Small).

Dr. Judy Owen, Instructor in Biology

Students working with Dr. Own perform a variety of plant-based and molecular studies, such as the study on differential expression in germinated and dormant plant seeds by Jacob Moore. Additionally, Vienna Huso is currently working with Dr. Owen to develop new plant-based lab experiments using Wisconsin Fast Plants.

Dr. Jorge Santiago-Blay, Adjunct Instructor in Biology

The main focus of my research seeks to provide answers to this question: What processes cause and what patterns correlate with speciation and biodiversity? Because my training, experience, and interests are multidisciplinary, I seek answers from numerous areas of biology, including paleobiology, ecology, behavior, development, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and others using different biological systems. Therefore, I can comfortably accommodate those who wish to do research with me on a wide variety of topics of mutual interest particularly, but not exclusively, arthropods and plants.

Dr. Anne Vardo-Zalik, Assistant Professor of Biology

My research focusses on the ecology and genetics of parasites and their hosts, and also microbial ecology. Students who work in my lab become well-trained in microscopy, microbiological and molecular genetic tools. A sampling of previous undergraduate research projects include: alterations in white blood cell density due to infection by malaria (Victoria Motz), developing a molecular protocol for sand fly species identification (Shanna-Kay Samuels and Komal Shaikh), and the protection of yeast cells by different antioxidant compounds (Komal Shaikh).