The University of Indianapolis held the first annual Health Pavilion Scholarship Day in May to showcase research conducted by students and faculty in the health sciences disciplines. Held in tandem with the Community Health Network Research Symposium on campus, the events highlighted the growing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network.
More than 20 faculty and students showcased their research experiences at the Scholarship Day event held in the morning, which was hosted by all of the disciplines within the Health Pavilion. In the afternoon, keynote speakers Chad Priest and Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez of Community Health Network addressed issues surrounding the health care professions at the Community Health Network Research Symposium.
For the past four years, a forensics team from the University of Indianapolis has traveled to Texas to exhume and conduct forensic analyses on the remains of migrants who died making the treacherous journey into the United States.
The group not only carefully digs and recovers the remains from unmarked gravesites, but it also works with Texas State University on identification of the bodies. The initiative highlights a humanitarian crisis as bodies continue to be found in small counties with no resources to identify them, said Krista Latham, an associate professor of biology who leads the group.
Latham traveled this month with four graduate students to Texas to analyze the dead and work to recover additional remains from unmarked gravesites. This is the sixth trip Latham has led to the area.
“Students are immersed in a humanitarian crisis where people are dying in mass disaster numbers due to the environment and exposure while crossing our southern border. It provides them with invaluable humanitarian and global citizenship experience. They learn about the complexities of border policies and the realities of thousands of people who are not as privileged as themselves in terms of the expectation of freedom from personal violence,” Latham said.
UIndy graduate student Leann Rizor
During the first week of the trip, the University team will work with Dr. Kate Spradley of Texas State University on the analysis of unidentified individuals exhumed from Sacred Heart Cemetery in Brooks County, Texas, during the 2013, 2014 and 2017 archeological field seasons. The following week, the forensic crew will then volunteer in Starr County, Texas, to locate and exhume the remains of undocumented migrants who died after crossing the border and were buried in pauper’s graves without identification.
With theU.S. Border Patrol reporting more than 6,000 deaths during illegal border crossings between October 2000 and September 2016, Latham said her work serves a crucial need to identify those who perished on the journey.
“There is a need for forensic experts to identify these individuals and provide their families with information on their fate,” Latham explained. “The dead are mostly South Americans that are fleeing systematic violence that is unimaginable to most people living in the US. We are volunteering a very specialized skill set to counties that have been overwhelmed with deaths that are in mass disaster numbers.”
“In the process, we are also able to bring awareness to the crisis at the border and work to promote social responsibility and humanitarianism as a response to the migrant death crisis,” Latham added.
The project provides numerous opportunities for Latham’s students as they apply their classroom skills in a real-world setting, including scientific skills honed in the University’s human biology program such as skeletal analysis, photography and archeology. Even more importantly, Latham said, students develop an understanding of the complex social, cultural and political realities involved in the work.
Haley Rock, a graduate student in human biology and field expert, is one of the graduate students in the group. She appreciates the experiential learning aspect of the project that allows her to gain a better understanding of human osteology and forensic anthropology.
“This humanitarian work is important to me because it allows me to take part in reuniting family members with their lost loved ones, as well as bring to light the unjust treatment individuals may have faced in their lives,” she said.
“I hope to gain a broader cultural perspective and understanding of the migrant situation that is currently going on in South Texas. Being in the midst of the humanitarian crisis that is occurring in Texas will likely impact me in a way that I cannot even begin to predict,” graduate student Erica Cantor said.
Both Latham and her team acknowledge the challenges of the project, which include working in the South Texas heat, as well as processing their emotions as they work to ease families’ pain in the midst of an untold humanitarian crisis.
“These students are not only learning scientific skills they could never learn in a classroom, but they are being empowered by their actions to promote a sense of common humanity. They are applying their liberal arts and sciences training towards the social responsibility of humanitarianism as a crisis response,” Latham said.
From Spain to Costa Rica, University of Indianapolis students are traveling the globe this month on experiential learning trips guided by faculty. Students will be visiting destinations in Europe, including France, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, and Austria, along with visits to less traveled corners of the world, including Ecuador, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ghana, Haiti and the Galapagos Islands. Another group is traveling to Japan.
The trips serve to expand the education of University students by opening them up to new cultures and international experiences, which can have a profound impact on their future lives. A group of students, including 13 members of the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College, is embarking on a walking pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across northern Spain to the Tomb and Cathedral of St. James. The group is led by University Chaplain Jeremiah Gibbs, Jim Williams, associate professor of history and Honors College executive director, along with Frank Bates, assistant professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy and Kelly Miller, director of the Student Counseling Center.
All photos courtesy UIndy Camino Adventure Sharing
The journey will take the group 21 days as they walk through 100 towns and villages in Spain, including Leon, Astorga, Ponferada, Compostela and Madrid. They will have the opportunity to interact with Spanish villagers and some of the 250,000 annual pilgrims from around the world.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our students, to take a Spring Term trip together with funding support from the Strain Honors College. Some of them are setting out on this journey as a formation of their spirituality, like pilgrims have been doing since the Middle Ages; some are going for the deep culture, history and language exposure they’ll find in Northern Spain; others are looking forward to the adventure and the physical challenge,” said Williams.
UIndy students are following the footsteps of Christians who have been making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for 1,200 years. “My hope and dream is that all of them will be profoundly transformed by the time we arrive in Santiago de Compostela, some 165 miles after we take that first step together,” Williams added.
Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director, notes that Spring Term trips continue to grow in popularity as students take advantage of experiential learning in a foreign country.
“Any major can study abroad, and there are so many programs to choose from. The May trips allow students to get a taste of life overseas, and some of them go on to participate in semester or year-abroad programs,” Kiefer said. Jennifer Camden, associate professor of English, will lead a group of 18 students through Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic sites, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye and the Highlands, York and London.
Kyoko Amano, professor of English, will guide a group of students on a trip through Japan. That includes a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima Castle, the National Peace Memorial Hall and lectures.
Jodie Ferise, assistant professor of business administration, is taking students to Ghana for the sixth time since 2011. Past projects have included opening a kindergarten and junior high school, a computer lab and several libraries. This year’s project will fund the construction of a school in the village of Papaase, Ghana, thanks to a generous donor. Becca Cartledge is continuing her tradition of leading nursing students on a trip to Haiti. Follow their progress here.
Other trips include:
Costa Rica, led by Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director
Ecuador, led by Kathleen Hetzler and Shannon Moore, assistant professors of nursing
France and Spain, led by Peter Vakunta, assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies
England and Austria, led by Sharon Parr, associate professor of music
Germany, Czech Republic and Austria, led by Milind Thakar, associate professor of international relations, and Paul Levesque, assistant professor of German
Cuba, led by Terrence Harewood, associate professor of teacher education
Galapagos, led by Douglas Stemke, associate professor of biology, with Sandra Davis, associate professor of biology and Kevin Gribbins, assistant professor of biology
Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.
A study at the University of Indianapolis focuses on the growing problem of sex trafficking in Indiana.
The research project conducted by Lisa Elwood-Kirkpatrick, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences, and doctoral student Samantha Goodin, received national recognition earlier this year when Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) highlighted their efforts in collaboration with the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) initiative.
Elwood-Kirkpatrick is a clinical psychologist who has served on IPATH’s outreach and victim services committees, as well as on the board ofRestored, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that works toward long-term services for human trafficking victims. She and Goodin worked with IPATH in 2014 to survey service providers, including therapists and caseworkers who work with high-risk youth. The goal was to estimate the rate of trafficking experiences in provider caseloads.
Preliminary findings from the study, presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Conference in the fall of 2015, revealed that 25 percent of the 76 survey completers had previously participated in training specific to human trafficking. Results indicated that while participants routinely assessed some common risk factors for human trafficking, such as sexual abuse, less than half reported routinely assessing experiences of sexual trafficking. After being provided with a definition of sex trafficking, approximately one-third of participants indicated they had worked with at least one youth in the past year who had experiences with sex trafficking. Data collection is complete and the manuscript is being prepared for publication.
The 2016 Indiana State Report on Human Trafficking, which is prepared by the Indiana Office of the Attorney General, includes data from the University of Indianapolis survey. The report documents the rising problem of human trafficking across the United States, including Indiana. One statewide IPATH partner reported 178 trafficked youth in 2016 alone, 94 percent of whom were girls under 21. The Indiana attorney general’s office reports four times as many tips of suspected human trafficking between 2014 and 2016.
“There’s been an increase in identification and awareness of the need here in Indiana over the past few years,” said Elwood-Kirkpatrick.
Sex trafficking occurs when someone forces an individual to engage in a sex act in exchange for something of value and takes the profit from that exchange. In the case of minors, force or coercion does not need to be used in order for the incident to be considered as sex trafficking. Victims do not need to be transported anywhere for sex trafficking to occur. In fact, someone can become a victim without leaving their own home, Elwood-Kirkpatrick said.
Ultimately, it’s a supply and demand problem, Elwood-Kirkpatrick said. “As long as there are people interested in the service and willing to pay for the service, the problem is going to continue,” she explained. “As a society, we have to start being aware of the demand side of it and increasing awareness for those potential purchasers of sex.”
Elwood-Kirkpatrick and Goodin see potential to apply their research findings to alleviate the problem of sex trafficking. Identifying potential victims is the first step toward rescue and treatment. Service providers can achieve that goal by carefully assessing trauma history, while recognizing that victims of sex trafficking tend to enter the mental health or juvenile justice system for other reasons.
“There is increasing interest in the issue of sex trafficking but not very much research yet, and so we hope that our study helps to better define the problem and potentially inform efforts to address it,” Goodin said.
Goodin, in the fourth year of her doctoral program in clinical psychology, appreciates the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on original research. She will spend her final year of the program working as a full-time intern at a college counseling center. “In applying for my internship, it was very helpful to be able to talk about this work as part of my experiences at UIndy,” Goodin said.
The IPATH survey is just one example of the statewide impact of University of Indianapolis research. Elwood-Kirkpatrick also is contributing to a study that examines treatment outcomes for post-traumatic stress disorder. That study involves nearly 50 community members, some of whom will receive therapy on campus as they work through interpersonal violence issues.
Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.
Community Campus Forum & Service Expo (Photo by D. Todd Moore)
The expo honored students and community partners for their dedication to serving local populations who are most in need through service-learning courses. Students held poster sessions reflecting on lessons learned and their experiences, followed by an awards luncheon. Several faculty members were presented with certificates recognizing their contributions to service learning and completion of this year’s Faculty Development Cohort on Service-Learning at the University.
The University of Indianapolis will impact the growing local and national need for STEM educators through a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.
Through the University’s Teach (STEM)³ program, the Noyce grant will enhance collaboration between high-need, local schools to prepare and mentor 36 teacher candidates, who commit to serve as high school STEM teachers after graduation. The grant—the first of its kind for the Teach (STEM)³ program—will help these candidates complete the intensive, one-year program without undue financial hardship. Graduates will emerge with a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree and fill a critical need to support STEM education.
“This grant is another successful example of the collaborative and strategic efforts of the University of Indianapolis with area schools to respond to the workforce development needs of our state,” said University President Robert Manuel. “Through innovation and creativity, we train future teachers to inspire students in STEM fields and best prepare them for the many future career opportunities while addressing the growing need of employers.”
College of Applied Behavioral Sciences study to address obstacles to overcoming addiction
Assistant Professor Katherine Kivisto
A study conducted by University of Indianapolis researchers examining the epidemic of teenage substance abuse will be supported through a grant from the National Institute of Health/National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The $300,000 NIH/NIDA grant will support the study by the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences to address an ongoing issue impacting communities across the nation, including Indiana. The grant will fund The Teen Resilience Project, which focuses on understanding the obstacles of addiction and long-term recovery for 13- to 18-year-olds. Assistant Professor Katherine Kivisto at the University of Indianapolis will lead the study.
What is the biggest problem in the world? That depends on who you ask.
University of Indianapolis Professor Dr. Peter Murphy, who teaches philosophy and religion, will address the question at the Provost’s Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. Register to attend here.
University of Indianapolis Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Peter Murphy
Murphy said identifying the world’s greatest dilemma could vary widely depending on who you ask and how they have been affected. The answers could range from poverty and cancer to issues like abortion, climate change or nuclear weapons. Read more
A University of Indianapolis research team in January continued the painstaking work to identify the remains of dozens of migrants who perished during the rough trek in to the United States.
Since 2013, Dr. Krista Latham, an associate professor of biology and anthropology, has led a team of University volunteers to Texas with hopes of identifying the remains of people who were buried in unmarked plots. The dead are migrants from Latin America discovered by landowners along the border between Mexico and the United States. Read more