Faculty Research


Learn about the groundbreaking and highly touted faculty research that contributes to various fields and adds value to PennWest Edinboro students.

Why Faculty Research Is Important

Faculty-researchers at PennWest Edinboro add depth and energy to their classrooms, engaging students in the value of new scholarship.

Students often work alongside professors in this inquiry. For example, PennWest Edinboro students and faculty in the Biology and Health Services Department worked together to investigate the effectiveness of radiant catalytic ionization on bacteria responsible for food-borne illness, impressing other researchers with the quality of their research. Under the supervision of faculty emeritus Dr. Cynthia Rebar, Edinboro students spent three weeks in Africa, two of them focused on contributing to a long-term ecological study of wildlife at the Tuli Conservation Project in Botswana.

Just a few examples of faculty research include:

Dr. Patricia Neff Claster, Assistant Professor of Sociology, focuses her research on sociological studies of children and youths, family and ethnic, racial and gender differences of youths. Widely published and involved in the latest scholarship in her field, Dr. Claster regularly exposes her students to cutting-edge research and scholarship.

Dr. Melissa Gibson, Professor of Communications, is co-directing a large, multi-level health communication research project. The research project, involving faculty, staff and students, as well as community partner Boro Women’s Services, explores unexpected pregnancies among college students and the challenges those students face in completing their education.

Dr. Gerald Hoffman, Associate Professor of Chemistry, co-authored an article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry (October 2014). Titled “Atmospheric Significance of Water Clusters and Ozone-Water Complexes,” the research ranks among the most-viewed and downloaded papers from that issue of the prestigious journal.

Dr. David Hurd, Professor of Geosciences, has dedicated the last 14 years to producing and implementing tactile astronomy materials for the blind. Most recently, with support from NASA’s Lunar Science Institute, Hurd authored and directed the production of a primer on lunar cratering entitled, “Getting a Feel for Lunar Craters,” which showcases custom-made tactile products of major crater types found on the moon.

Dr. Heather SnyderProfessor of Psychology, involves her students as co-authors for her research projects, which have focused on creativity in college students. Past projects examined creativity measurement, self-perceptions of creativity, teaching of creativity, and beliefs about creativity. Dr. Snyder’s work led to her selection as the US-UK Fulbright-University of Surrey Scholar (September 2016-January 2017) where she conducted research on feedback and creativity, and she was selected as Edinboro’s 2014 Scholar of the Year.  Dr. Snyder and her students typically present their projects at the annual American Psychological Association Convention where her students get valuable conference presentation experience.

Dr. Dale Tshudy, Professor of Geosciences, studies the fossil record of crustaceans, especially lobsters. An Edinboro faculty member since 1992, Tshudy has published 26 papers in peer-reviewed outlets, mostly international journals. Most of Tshudy’s research is collaboration with paleontologists and marine biologists worldwide, especially in Europe and Asia. During his career, he has named six new species, one new genus and one new family of crustacean. He authored the first-ever, morphology-based family tree of the clawed lobsters in 1997 and the first-ever molecular (DNA) family tree in 2009. Tshudy utilizes his research not only to inform the content of his teaching, but also to give himself added vitality.

Michelle Vitali, Professor of Art and Fellow of the Edinboro Center for Forensic Studies, teaches anatomy, scientific illustration, painting and drawing and is an award-winning artist trained in painting and sculpture. Her knowledge of human anatomy and interest in law enforcement has led her into the forensic arts, including research related to ways to increase the efficacy of three-dimensional facial reconstruction. She’s currently organizing a large facial reconstruction project with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Dr. Jim Wertz, Assistant Professor of Broadcast Journalism and Digital Media, has researched the impact of the film industry on the Rust Belt cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit, identifying its effectiveness in promoting economic development as well as the effect of state-sponsored incentives.