Collaborators present study findings

Collaborators present study findings

Nathan Bottiger

Professor Kristen Majocha presents photos from her research in Ponce, Puerto Rico to Psychology Professor John Mullinnex.

Taylor Fowler, Features Editor

Pitt-Johnstown students and faculty members presented scholarly projects Oct. 9 in the Cambria room.

Faculty members and students involved in research projects during the summer were invited to present their findings at the social showcase, titled “Fall into Research“

The program was a product of collaboration with Pitt-Johnstown and Windber Research Institute.

Windber Research Institute is a biomedical research center focused on breast cancer, gynecological disease, cardiovascular disease, health promotion and disease prevention.

Cancer Biology Projects Institute Director George Iida said the purpose of the partnership is to provide research and training in science fields to Johnstown area residents.

“This is to establish a very basic education,” he said.

Researchers from Pitt and the Windber Institute met at a mixer in March, and many common scientific interests were discovered. This pushed for collaboration, according to Iida.

An agreement for the partnership was signed by Pitt-Johnstown president Jem Spectar and Windber Research Institute CEO Tom Kurtz last summer.

Associate Chemistry Professor Lisa Bell-Loncella said, with the partnership, a minimum of five students can be involved in mentorships on mutual interest projects with institute researchers. From there, research continues and projects grow.

Many projects were stumbled upon due to mutual interests between researchers and students. Bell-Loncella said members are just starting to see the ways working together is beneficial.

“The more we interact, the more we discover,” she said.

A total of 33 students and faculty members presented their findings at the showcase.

Pitt-Johnstown senior Preston Lehman worked with Assistant Professor Jill Henning on surveillance of the common deer tick.

Lehman said research was focused on the counties surrounding the Pitt-Johnstown area, especially Cambria and Bedford counties. Lehman and researchers were observing bacteria that causes lyme disease.

According to Lehman, the researchers used multiple methods to collect ticks including dragging a white cloth across fields and removing them from freshly harvested deer.

With 219 ticks analyzed, 33 tested positive for the bacteria, their research is to continue.

Pitt-Johnstown junior Amy Dundorf presented research on aviation diversity and golden-winged warbler bird conservation on the Pitt-Johnstown campus.

Dundorf and fellow researchers were attempting to observe a population decline of the bird but struggled to find them on campus due to the season.

Dundorf said the focus was switched to a field sparrow found nesting on campus.

She said she and fellow researchers are to attempt to find the golden-winged warbler on campus next summer and continue research.

“We want to join in the conservation effort to create a home for the birds,” she said.

Communications Assistant Professor Kristen Majocha presented her research, which she called “A Heideggerian Approach to Caring for Others.”

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher who is known for his explorations of the “question of being.”

Majocha is to philosophically examine caring for others by way of Heidegger’s philosophy.

She spent three weeks of summer volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity House in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Majocha spent her time with elderly patients. She fed them through feeding tubes, cleaned beds and changed adult diapers.

Ponce only has two nursing homes in all its area, Mother Teresa’s being one of them. Regardless of conditions, Majocha said the home was always clean and well maintained.

“The care is unmatched,” she said.

Majocha said one of the caretakers said there was one primary difference between nursing homes in the U.S. and Ponce.

“People in the states work for money, we work for God,” he or she told Majocha

Majocha said the project is not complete, and she is currently analyzing her data. She said she will eventually compile her research and write a book on Mother Teresa’s work with the poor.