Doctorate student Rebecca McCormic publishes in peer-reviewed journal

Rebecca McCormicSecond-year doctorate student Rebecca McCormic ‘22 recently published an article as first author in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The article, “‘Me too’ decision: An analog study of therapist self-disclosure of psychological problems,” is based on her thesis.

McCormic’s research topic is self-disclosure, meaning how much a therapist should share about their personal experience with a problem. According to McCormic, the results of her study indicated that participants thought better of therapists when that therapist shared that they had a similar experience. Specifically, the level of disclosure most favored included the fact that the therapist had struggled with a similar issue and shared symptoms they had experienced.

McCormic is now working on a dissertation that focuses on improving the relationship between clients from multicultural backgrounds and therapists who are white. This is being done with the help of Dr. Michael Poulakis, assistant professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, who said McCormic is “really one of our best PsyD students.”

McCormic is also completing the first year of a practicum at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Marion, Indiana.

“I have done therapeutic work with veterans in the acute psych department, the residential substance abuse department, and the outpatient clinic for those struggling with severe mental illness. This typically involves one on one sessions, group therapy, or treatment planning meetings. Serving those that have served our country has been personally rewarding, since I have many family members who are veterans,” she explained.

McCormic says she is excited to continue her growth and development as a clinician and researcher at UIndy.

“I have many areas of interest, but right now I’m interested in ethical gray areas, multicultural support, improving patient/client care, and education,” she said.

 

Samantha Meigs participates in international College of Extraordinary Experiences

CollegeofExtraordinary500A 14th-century castle in Poland recently served as the backdrop for a unique conference with an intriguing name: The College of Extraordinary Experiences. Samantha Meigs, chair of the University of Indianapolis Department of Experience Design, was one of just 80 high-level experience designers to attend the peer-reviewed conference.

The College of Extraordinary Experiences is built on Experience Design techniques, with a focus on creating experiences that participants can use in their own professional settings, whether they are an event designer, a CEO or a filmmaker. Activities take place throughout the castle – in the dungeons, tower, secret passageways and courtyards, with a focus on immersive, physical world experiences.

“This conference was absolutely like no other that I have ever attended!” Meigs said. “You begin to get an idea of just how different when the bus picks you up at the airport to go to the castle. You are met by a group of goblins who make sure your name is on The List.”

After being sorted into “houses” à la Harry Potter, participants implement various design challenges, which are then prototyped to other participants. Meigs provided an experiential presentation on her “how to be a pirate” class and, as a member of the House of Engagement, created an experience based on the “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell.

Learn more about UIndy’s Experience Design Program

Late night pop-ups throughout the castle included magic shows in the dungeon, a fire dancing performance in the courtyard, storytelling around a bonfire and a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in the Knight’s Hall. Participants had to rely on networking to find out what was happening and where each event would take place.

Samantha Meigs

Samantha Meigs

While Meigs was already familiar with the key concepts of co-creation, flexible focus and rapid prototyping, she said, “seeing the extent and types of settings in which these were demonstrated gave me a lot of new ideas for classes and a framework that is reasonably easy to explain to students. Immediately after I got back, we started intensive rapid prototyping for all the events we are doing this semester.”

Meigs said the enthusiasm she encountered at the conference is another example of the growing significance of experience design. As scholars have noted a shift from the service industry to the experience economy, the field of experience design is gaining steam. Meigs said experience design delivers the experiential component of education or entertainment that an increasing number of people seem to crave.

“There’s just a sense of exuberance of how the field is growing and how it is valued globally. It was immensely exciting to learn about what the other experience designers are doing, and interestingly, to note that many of them already knew about our UIndy program!” she said.

Meigs hopes that experience design students can appreciate the growing recognition of the field.

“The sheer experience of seeing and interacting with this collection of people who all identify themselves as experience designers was just amazing. It is so clearly a defined field, with shared theories and methods, with growing applicability across many industries. I hope I can use my experiences at this phenomenal conference to help students to see this!”

Related: UIndy Experience Design Program gains worldwide attention

Written by Sara Galer, Communications Manager, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

Criminal justice brings new facility, faculty to campus

crime lab uindyCriminal justice is a growing, in-demand field and the University of Indianapolis is preparing students to meet those needs.

“Every course we teach has real world, experiential learning opportunities,” said Kevin Whiteacre, associate professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice.

The new Criminal Justice Education Lab is the first of its kind in the state, serving students, faculty and even agents from the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency who regularly visit campus to conduct tests and trainings. At the crime lab, students practice securing and evaluating a scene, interviewing witnesses and victims and gathering information: you name it. The crime lab is giving students a place to gain hands-on experience early in the program.

Another addition to the program: new faculty like Jim Perillo, who brings 42 years of asset protection and risk management experience to his loss prevention class, which is open to all majors.

“He’s bringing innovative ideas to the loss prevention program, which has been around for the last three years,” said Whiteacre.

Related: UIndy has one of the longest-running criminal justice programs in the state

Perillo says students from a variety of majors can benefit from the skills learned during the semester-long loss prevention course (CRIM 435).

“When you complete the loss prevention course, you get a certificate that’s good for life and that can give you an ‘in’ on interviews. The class is a great opportunity for business majors and for people interested in entrepreneurship among other things,” he said.

Skylar Hall ‘19 (criminal justice) plans to pursue a career in federal law enforcement and is taking the loss prevention class during the fall 2018 semester.

“I really enjoy the class and think it’s very informative and interesting,” he said. “It gives me a different perspective on criminal justice.”

Looking ahead, Whiteacre said, they plan to launch a freestanding minor in emergency and disaster management (EDM) for traditional undergraduates in Fall 2019. Every instructor for the minor will have firsthand experience as professionals in the field.

“EDM provides a breadth of experience for students. Unfortunately, emergencies and disasters aren’t going away, so this is an added value to anyone’s degree,” Whiteacre said. “If you’re studying public health, business, social work, nursing – this minor would be a nice compliment so you know how to work with first responders.”

Once students gain expertise within the classroom, faculty are ready to connect them with additional opportunities. Community partnerships with companies such as Simon Property Group facilitate meaningful relationships and internships for students in the program.

Learn more about the criminal justice program

Greta Pennell pursues study of toy design in opportunities around the globe

Greta Pennell and her husband Jim Pennell, professor of sociology, presented a paper at the International Toy Research Association (ITRA) World Congress in Paris, France in 2018.

Greta Pennell at the International Toy Research Association (ITRA) World Congress in Paris, France in 2018.

Greta Pennell, professor of teacher education at the University of Indianapolis, has devoted her life’s work to the service of children. That focus, combined with a passionate commitment to service-learning, drives her research and teaching, and has inspired her to pursue professional development opportunities around the world.

Pennell was selected to participate in the 18th International Symposium, Workshop and Exhibition on Toy Design and Inclusive Play in Berlin, Germany, in January 2019.

Pennell also was recently honored with a research fellowship at The Strong National Museum of Play and was elected vice president of the International Toy Research Association at the World Congress in Paris, France, during the summer of 2018, where she presented a paper with her husband Jim Pennell, professor of sociology. In August 2018, she was honored with the Teaching in the Core Award at the Faculty-Staff Institute for her first-year seminar, “Doing Gender in Toyland,” where she uses her expertise on gender identity, toy advertising and conceptual change processes to model the research process for students.

Pennell will be attending the Berlin symposium for the first time, and is one of just 20 participants selected to join a worldwide network of scholars, designers and educators dedicated to toy design and inclusive play.  

“The opportunity to work closely with such a diverse, imaginative and interdisciplinary team and to be part of a UNESCO-sponsored project is truly exciting,” said Pennell, who expressed gratitude to the the Sabbatical and Grants Committee for awarding her a sabbatical for the 2018-19 academic year.  

Through her work at the Berlin symposium, Pennell will focus on expanding her understanding of inclusive education, play and toys from intergenerational, intercultural and global perspectives. With her newly-gained insights, Pennell plans to develop new strategies to use playful learning in her teaching with pre- and in-service educators, including a new course planned for fall 2019 entitled “Developing Human Potential” as well as her “Doing Gender in Toyland” seminar.  

“I expect that I will be better able to support and foster my UIndy students’ ability to incorporate this kind of approach in their own classrooms and empower them to become creators and designers dedicated to expanding inclusive play and learning opportunities for all students and families, regardless of their ability status,” Pennell explained.

Students are already noting the benefits of Pennell’s approach to the first-year seminar. Kaitlyn Betz ’19 (exercise science) said the class made a huge impact on her outlook of freshman year.

“Many of my other courses were very cut-and-dry textbook definition courses. This FYS class allowed me to think outside of the box and gave me multiple opportunities to incorporate my knowledge learned outside of the classroom,” Betz said. She explained an assignment to visit a toy store to examine how girls’ and boys’ toys were marketed differently.

Pennell explained that as cultural artifacts, toys are imbued with symbolic content and meaning. “If play is the business of childhood, then toys, as one of the most ubiquitous aspects of children’s lives, serve as tools of the trade, helping socialize children into future roles,” she said.

Even small details can send powerful messages about what is and isn’t possible or appropriate depending on a child’s gender, age, nationality, race or ability status, Pennell noted. “This is why toy design that expands opportunities and possibilities, opens doors to new worlds and allows children to direct their own play is critically important.

Written by Sara Galer, Communications Manager, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

Virtual Dementia Tour puts students in the shoes of those with dementia

dementiatour290You never truly know the plight of another person until you are walking in their shoes. The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community gave students the opportunity to do just that during through the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT), which was part of UIndy’s recent Interprofessional Education (IPE) Week. With the country’s number of baby boomers set to become the largest living adult generation, all students will likely interact with a person with dementia, whether as patient or a family member.

The VDT simulates the sensory disturbances experienced by people struggling with debilitating effects of dementia. The VDT takes place in a home-like environment, and participants are given a simple task to complete within a 3-minute time frame. Before entering the mock apartment on the 4th floor of the Health Pavilion, participants were given headphones, visual obstruction goggles, and oven mitts to simulate poor hand control.

Janette Hensleigh, a Master of Occupational Therapy student, remarked, “The headset with the background noise and the occasional fire siren paired with the obfuscating glasses did a great job of muddling both the instructions I was given and my awareness of things around me.”

These multi-sensory disturbances are a normal daily occurrence to the millions of people living with dementia worldwide.

“This immersion into the world of a person with dementia has the ability to change perspectives of healthcare professionals across all fields,” said Kayleigh Adrian, CAC project coordinator. “The virtual dementia tour allows the student to switch their perspective from knowledge about a disease to true compassion for another person.”

dementiaglovesThe students who participated found that the short experience in the apartment will change their mindset for the long term. Samantha Wallenberg, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student, said the experience has allowed her to “be more mindful of those who have dementia and understand how to communicate with them better, as well as how to communicate with their family.” Her classmate, Nicole Scholl, agreed.

“If I ever work with a client who has dementia or even memory loss, I am going to be patient and understanding with them,” Scholl said. “I will also be advocating for people with dementia when interacting with their caregivers and other people because what people with dementia are going through is very difficult and challenging.”

Each participant’s reflection had a common theme: frustration. Scholl was frustrated when “I forgot what I was doing and I could not find anything. By the time I found what I was looking for I forgot why I needed the object in the first place.”

This emotional experience led Hensleigh to rethink how she interacts with not only patients, but family members. “I will definitely keep this experience in mind when I interact with people with dementia,” she said. “I have a family member in the early stage of dementia, and I will remember to keep questions or statements very simple so he can better understand.  I will keep that in mind when I work with people with cognitive deficits, too.”

Last month’s VDT received interest from students pursuing health careers, but the experience is open to all students, faculty, and staff. The VDT will be offered again in the Health Pavilion on Tuesday, November 13 from 5:00-6:30pm and again from 6:30-8:00pm. Space is limited and reservations can be made online here.

Written by Olivia Horvath ’20 (OTD)

Faculty-student collaboration sheds light on DNA forensic techniques

Krista Latham

Krista Latham

Krista Latham, associate professor of biology and anthropology, and Jessica Miller ’19 (M.S., human biology), recently published a paper on advances in the forensic sciences. Latham is director of the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center, which assists coroners throughout the country in identifying human remains. Latham’s work in identifying migrants who died while crossing the southern U.S. border has been recognized nationally.

“DNA recovery and analysis from skeletal material in modern forensic contexts” was published in Forensic Sciences Research in October 2018. Latham explained that the article “discusses developments in forensic genetics and focuses specifically on obtaining and analyzing DNA from human skeletal remains, as well as improvements in utilizing DNA for identification purposes.”

Jessica Miller ’19

Jessica Miller ’19

“Advances in DNA research have allowed for smaller quantities of  DNA to be analyzed,” Miller said. “This will ultimately lead to more identifications.  The article also discusses different databases that are available for comparisons of DNA from unidentified individuals to families of the missing.”

The faculty-student collaboration involved research on the newest forensic DNA technologies and collecting literature on the topic.

“Dr. Latham and I met weekly to discuss the material and work on the article. This included revising multiple drafts, creating a strong collaboration between the both of us that generated some great discussions, and inspiration that lead to my thesis research project on DNA transfer,” Miller said.

“It was a great experience working with Jessica on this publication,” Latham added. “A true benefit of the small program sizes at UIndy is the ability to work closely with students on research projects, presentations and publications that can have big impacts on the field of forensic science.”

Following graduation, Miller plans to develop her forensic and scientific skills by working in the local medicolegal community on death investigations, and hopes to pursue a doctorate in anthropology. She is grateful for the support of biology faculty.

“Dr. Latham and other human biology faculty have been very generous with their time and have always been present and active in my studies. They provide and supervise many extracurricular activities that make this program unique, like the ability to conduct research that I can present at conferences, the opportunities to publish in scientific journals and the ability to participate in forensic work through the Human Identification Center.”

Public health students present at national conference

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Public health students and faculty from the University of Indianapolis presented advocacy strategies to reduce gun violence at the Society for Public Health Advocacy (SOPHE) Advocacy Summit in October. The national event, hosted in Washington, D.C., brought students and professionals together to advance the discussion of firearm-related violence as it relates to public health.

The UIndy delegation included Master of Public Health (MPH) students Yordanos Gebru and Shawn Schweitzer, undergraduate Megan Davish, and MPH Program Director Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch. Their presentation, “Strategies for the Novice Advocate: Creating Advocacy Plans to Fight Gun Violence,” provided a toolkit for professionals to make a difference in their community.

Dr. Hancher-Rauch, who serves as co-chair for SOPHE’s Advocacy Committee, says the access to professional opportunities that the public health program offers is central to her students’ success.

“We worked together on the whole process, from start to finish,” she said. “Attending the conference is important, but often students don’t have the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of a professional experience. This takes their learning to the next level … These are the opportunities I would have liked to have as a graduate student.”

Learn more about the Master of Public Health program and the undergraduate Public Health Education & Promotion program

Presenting on such a hot-button issue at the national level was at first an intimidating prospect for Schweitzer. But he knew there was no turning back once their abstract was accepted.

“Not a lot of people want to talk about things like this, but it needs to be discussed,” he said. “This was a perfect opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.”

This conference was one opportunity among many for Schweitzer to engage with his field outside of the classroom.  For example, he is developing an after-school program to help area high-school students utilize coping skills in the face of stress.

“It’s amazing how much hands-on work we get to do. It has given me a lot to think about—what kinds of projects do I want to continue working on after I graduate?”

Hailing from Ethiopia, Gebru plans to attend medical school after earning her graduate degree.

“The MPH program has shown me the different factors that affect the overall health of a population—policies, programs, health education,” Gebru said. “Problems are more expansive than simple explanations like a lack of doctors or health facilities.”

Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch can be contacted at rauchh@uindy.edu.

Written by Logan McGrady, Communications Specialist for Graduate & Adult Learning Enrollment.

Colleen Wynn publishes research on residential segregation

ColleenWynnprofileColleen Wynn, who joined the University of Indianapolis Department of Sociology as assistant professor in fall 2018, published research in a special issue of the journal Social Sciences on Social Inequality and Residential Segregation in Urban Neighborhoods and Communities. Samantha Friedman, University of Albany-SUNY, was co-author.

Assessing the Role of Family Structure in Racial/Ethnic Residential Isolation” found that that white married-couple families are the most likely to live in neighborhoods with people who are similar to them. The study included American families in 85 cities living in all types of housing, and used census data from 1990, 2000, 2010 and data from the American Community Survey from 2006-2010.

The research examined the residential situation of white married-couple families, white female-headed families, black married-couple families, black female-headed families, Hispanic married-couple families, and Hispanic female-headed families. The study found that in 2010, the average white married-couple family in the US lived in a neighborhood where 68 percent of families were white married-couple families. All other family groups lived in neighborhoods with less than 20 percent of families of the same structure and race/ethnicity.

“While these findings may seem like they could be explained by socioeconomic status differences or differences in other sociodemographic factors, we think a better explanation is discrimination,” Wynn said. “Even when we account for a variety of factors that have been shown to impact where you live – including income, we find that families are still more likely to live in neighborhoods with families similar to their own.”

Wynn said the research confirms that family structure can play a role in residential segregation. The findings create an inroad for communities to address inequality and encourage further research into the field.

“Now that we know it does matter, we can look at how policies can include family structure to better address residential segregation,” Wynn said. “A lot of policies are based on families or individuals on the lower end, but this study shows that at least part of the persistence of segregation we see in cities is actually white married-couple families choosing to isolate themselves from other families and that they are likely moving to in the ‘best’ areas.”

Wynn’s research includes housing issues such as residential segregation, housing turnover (e.g. who moves in after a family moves out of a residence), and neighborhood and housing quality factors.

“Seeing the redevelopment of public housing into mixed income housing when I was in high school first got me thinking about housing issues and eventually led me to sociology, but rather than specifically focusing on public housing – of which there is less and less in existence – I study housing issues more broadly,” Wynn said.

Artist-in-Residence Drew Petersen creates unique learning opportunities for piano students

Drew Petersen master piano class - February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Drew Petersen master piano class – February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

INDIANAPOLIS – Music students at the University of Indianapolis are reaping the benefits of an artist-in-residence program that connects them with unique learning experiences and a global professional network.

Drew Petersen, 2017 American Pianists Awards winner, Christel DeHaan fellow and University of Indianapolis artist-in-residence, has held masterclasses, private coachings, lectures and performances as part of the partnership between the American Pianists Association and the University.

Petersen returns in October for a performance at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Oct. 29, followed by master classes throughout the week that serve as a catalyst for students in the University’s music program.

Learn more about the University of Indianapolis Department of Music programs.

Drew Petersen master piano class with UIndy students at CDFAC on the Ruth Lilly Perfomance Hall stage on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

A cum laude graduate of Harvard University in social sciences, Petersen pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in music at the Juilliard School. He also has been a prizewinner in major international competitions and has been profiled in the New York Times, New York Magazine and the documentary Just Normal.

Petersen said interacting with the talented music students on campus has been one of the biggest rewards of his new connection to the University.

“Whenever I interact with the students and faculty, I am reminded that each day at UIndy is an opportunity to explore great music together and examine and innovate the best ways we can share it with the community. I’ve been having a great time, and I look forward to all that lies ahead,” Petersen said.

Drew Petersen master piano class with UIndy students at CDFAC on the Ruth Lilly Perfomance Hall stage on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Students also have enjoyed Petersen’s mentorship. During her masterclass with Petersen, Carrie Atkinson ’18 (music – piano) was inspired by his remarkable playing technique and personable approach.

“Drew brought an excitement to the music that was inspiring to see as well as some wonderful insights to the music that reinforced what my teachers had already been instructing me in,” Atkinson said.

Richard Ratliff, professor of music, said Petersen’s fall 2017 performance on campus demonstrated the kind of grace under pressure that he encourages in his students.

“After our week with Drew, students approached the remainder of the semester with energy and enthusiasm. Students now realize that such mastery is a step-by-step process,” Ratliff explained.

Cole Snapp ’18 (music – piano, composition concentration) had a private lesson and a masterclass with Petersen and found both experiences to be motivational.

“Having an amazingly proficient pianist like Drew coach me was extremely valuable. He was able to bring things to my attention that I would not have otherwise thought. In a Zoltan Kodàly piece I was working on, he asked me to play the climactic section louder and louder until I was literally throwing my whole weight into the keys,” Snapp said.

“Since Drew is not much older than our students, his command in public presentation really made an impact. His expertise in a wide variety of repertoire — from the 18th century to the present — was apparent to everyone as he worked with students and spoke insightfully about the music he performs and is planning to record,” Ratliff said.

Atkinson said she’s grateful for the partnership between the APA and the University.

“I think that it is so enriching to get to work with musicians of his calibre. Drew is one of the top pianists on the scene right now, and getting to work with him was a very valuable and fresh experience. The best part, for me, was seeing how excited he got about the music,” she said.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

CAC’s Expressive Arts effort earns “Promising Practice” award

Painting ladyA program developed by the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community (CAC) is receiving recognition from the State of Indiana as an industry standard-setter.

CAC works to improve the quality of life for all people as they age. Many of those people live in nursing or long-term care facilities. In 2016 and 2017, CAC worked with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to use the expressive arts – drama, writing/memoir, dance, music, and visual art – to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers living in nursing facilities. That effort, called Expressive Arts for Long Term Care Professionals, has been recognized as the 2017 Promising Practice for Education and Communication by the Association of Health Facility Survey Agencies (AHFSA).

The program was funded by ISDH and coordinated by CAC. The CAC project team included Ellen Burton, MPH, senior projects director; Lidia Dubicki, MS, project director; and Kayleigh Adrian, MS and Kennedy Doyle, project coordinators. UIndy faculty Rebecca Sorley, Department of Music, and Sara Tirey, Department of Art & Design, served as faculty for the training workshops.  

Training workshops were conducted throughout the state of Indiana to teach nursing home personnel how to incorporate the use of the expressive arts into the daily lives of residents in a systematic and meaningful way. Participants were taught how to introduce and modify expressive arts activities based on the functional capabilities of the residents.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This stuff works!,” wrote one participant.

Another said “A nonverbal resident…spent most of every day sleeping or quiet in a chair. When the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was played, he perked up, began to mouth the words, and then began to sing.”

Expressive arts programming in the nursing facilities benefits not only the residents, but also the staff. One workshop participant said, “I’ve been working in long-term care for 25 years and was burned out. Now I feel refreshed!”

In a letter to CAC regarding the AHFSA Promising Practice Award, Terry Whitson, ISDH assistant commissioner, said, “This is an outstanding and well-deserved recognition of your efforts and contributions to healthcare quality.”

CAC Senior Projects Director Ellen Burton presented “The Power of Expressive Arts in Indiana” at the LeadingAge Indiana Fall Conference in late September.

CAC also received an AHFSA 2016 “Promising Practice” award for another ISDH project, “Regional Quality Improvement Collaboratives.”

Written by Amy Magan, communications manager for the Center for Aging & Community and the College of Health Sciences.

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