Spotlight: Student Research

Student Research

The Student Research Symposium

The Seventh Annual Student Research Symposium showcased the academic research of more than 300 students from each of the University’s six colleges and schools. Students presented their research to their peers and the academic community. Below are a few of the projects.

A Silent Epidemic

Graduate student Rebecca Bagnato studied the issue of self-injury among adolescents 11 and older and discovered that school staff can spot the behavior but often lack the training needed to effectively deal with it. She developed a protocol for schools for handling these students. She created an informative training PowerPoint presentation for middle school and high school faculty, families and counselors, outlining warning signs and providing advice and resources for effective treatment and intervention.

According to Bagnato’s research titled “Breaking the Silence; Understanding Self-Injury,” the practice has become an epidemic among adolescents, especially girls, with an estimated 12 percent engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. Cutting and burning are the most common forms of self-injury, and causes can range from physical and psychological abuse to a history of depression or other mental illness to traumatic events such as losing a parent.

Bagnato’s aim was to create greater awareness of the epidemic and to help teachers and others who deal with children more effectively assist those who injure themselves. She has also presented her research to a graduate Child Advocacy & Policy class.

Consumer Behavior

School of Business graduate students Urmila Kishore, Andrew LaBarbera and Douglas Bergquist, working with Avinandan Mukherjee, chair of the Marketing Department, analyzed buying patterns and trends in thousands of households with the goal of providing  recommendations to online retailers. They used clickstream data from ComScore, a leading digital analytics company that collects online shopping data. Their analysis offers insight into consumer behavior as well as potential growth indicators for retailers.

Their research of consumer spending found that an average consumer spent around $40 more on single-branded apparel websites, such as Gap and Victoria’s Secret, as opposed to multibranded apparel websites, such as and Macy’s. Holiday season buying behavior indicated that 30 percent of all yearly transactions were made during November and December.

They also found that households with incomes exceeding $100,000 contributed to the rise in online movie ticket sales, as most affluent American households purchase online tickets on every premiere weekend. 

Healing Touch

Healing TouchIn graduate student Shunda Wallace’s research of schizophrenia and depression, she found that symptoms such as hallucinations and physically aggressive behaviors can be treated with nonpharmacological approaches including massage, music therapy, meditation and other sensory interventions.  

Wallace also found that patients with schizophrenia and depression are similar to Alzheimer’s patients in that they are not touched as often as the average individual. Expressive touch and auditory touch are necessary displays of empathy for these individuals because they produce improved physiological responses in the body and increased levels of serotonin in the brain. Studies show that these interventions reduce the inappropriate behaviors of Alzheimer’s patients and suggest that they could help treat patients of schizophrenia and depression as well.