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Faculty Project Examples

Faculty members often work with us to create and execute research projects as well. Below are examples of professors and the work that they’ve done.

Farah Gilanshah 

Associate Professor of Sociology

Community: Herman

Objectives: Gilanshah, a sociologist specializing in gerontology, led research that included a review of literature on housing and independent living service options, a survey of seniors (and others) in the community, an analysis and interpretation of data collected, and preparation and presentation of a final report with recommendations.

Stacey Aronson; Windy Roberts

Associate Professor of Spanish; Teaching Specialist of Spanish

Community: Stevens County

Objectives: There were many challenges associated with the introduction of a new immigrant population to the region. In an effort to provide a better understanding of the immigrant experiences, establish bridges between newcomers and local schools, employers, social services provides, etc., and assist in incorporating the new population in the civic life of the community, Aronson, Roberts, and students conducted personal interviews, gleaned oral histories, conducted focus groups, distributed surveys, analyzed data and prepared a written report. As a result of their efforts, bridges were established that have led to important cultural exchanges, including a community Cinco de Mayo celebration and the creation of a new Jane Addams Project–a student and community led organization that strives to strengthen intercultural friendships. In addition, revisions were made to the approach towards placement tests, transportation issues, child care provisions, and to ESL courses taught by volunteers.

Barbara Burke

Associate Professor of Communications, Media and Rhetoric

Community: Lake Ida 

Objectives: Burke led research that included an evaluation of comparative effectiveness of message media forms, a survey to assess the public’s understanding of invasive species and current campaign messages, and an analysis of social networks of community members. Data collected was analyzed and recommendations were formulated.

Kristin Lamberty

Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Community: Local government organizations as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Objectives: Poorly designed or user-unfriendly websites can be a significant impediment to efficient service delivery, yet there is no obvious way for organizations without highly specialized staff to assess such problems, let alone to address them. Over the past few years, the Center for Small Towns has been approached by several communities and organizations wanting to improve their websites to make them easier to access and better able to serve constituents. Lamberty reviewed the literature on website usability studies and methods, and designed a functional template to be applied in website usability studies.

Engin Sungur

Professor of Statistics

Community: Townships of Eagles Nest, Fall Lake, Morse and Stony River (near Ely)

Objectives: Sungur collected data from existing primary sources, and created a comprehensive website devoted to economic, environmental, demographic, and land-use data for the four townships most affected. Phase two (anticipated fall 2012) will survey local officials, business leaders, and community members to obtain further insight into the economic dynamics in the region.

Jim Cotter

Professor of Geology 

Community: Kandiyohi County 

Activities: Lake owners aided in the collection of sediment cores, while the student used air photos to identify potential sources of pollutants and charted the growth of the delta and island at the mouth of the drainage ditch. The student assisted in coring the lake sediments. She also described the cores, analyzed the sediments for constituent products (mineralogy, tar residue or particle fragments), and pre-treatment sediments for chemical analysis. She then analyzed the sediment pollutant chemistry using campus or USDA Soils Lab equipment. Along with faculty member Jim Cotter, they assessed the data and made recommendations on additional analysis beyond the scope of local analytical equipment, and generated a final report to the lake association.