Successfully Sustaining Research in a Remote Environment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty in NJCU’s William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences have continued scholarly research initiatives in a remote capacity and were able to sustain the college’s already successful initiatives.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions—Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (HSI STEM) Grant Program

This initiative moved online this summer. Some of the highlights of the program, coordinated remotely by program assistant Kristina Harb, included:

  • 19 undergraduate paid research interns are working under the supervision of 11 faculty mentors from Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Nursing and Psychology. Once conditions will allow, an annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be scheduled.
  • 36 students are subjects of a study by Dr. Reed Carroll, Dr. John Grew, Dr. Alberto Pinkas, and colleagues from Rutgers and Vermont on the impact of conducting a summer bridge program in an online format.
  • Dr. Sue Gerber, Kristina Harb, Jennifer Aitken, and Dr. Grew are investigating the educational and institutional financial benefits of Supplemental Instruction, which is now also being delivered remotely.

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EESC)

NJCU students Kyle Oldenwalder (an English major) and Alex Rodriguez (an Environmental Science major) are participating with students from all over the Northeastern United States in a “Green Team” that continues to create a reliable, informative, spatial inventory of trees in public thoroughfares in Jersey City.

These efforts, in conjunction with PSE&G and Montclair State University, build upon previous NJCU student-driven data collection and mapping that has already inventoried almost 5,000 trees in Jersey City and Hudson County.

NJCU’s EESC Department expects to continue to contribute personnel, equipment, and resources to community and City-based efforts to use GIS/GPS technology to improve the quality of life in our community.

Department of Psychology

Dr. Wei Zhang, Assistant Professor, conducted three research projects that are expected to continue throughout the 2020-21 academic year. The first project involved using both online survey and lab assessment tools to investigate emotional conditions, health, and behaviors in handling trauma-related stress among individuals from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. The original lab version of Dr. Zhang’s study was supported by a Separately Budgeted Research (SBR) grant and a proposal based on this project has been submitted to the American Psychological Foundation.

A partnership between Dr. Zhang and Dr. Xiaodi Zhu from the NJCU School of Business has resulted in a pair of timely studies dealing with the mental health impacts of the pandemic. Their work will result in manuscripts and new grant proposals. The team’s projects are entitled "Analysis of Social Media Data in Understanding Trauma-Related Stress and Information Distribution During COVID-19" and "Analysis of Archival National Cohort Data in Understanding Longitudinal Changes on Health, Emotion, and Behavior Among the US Population.“

Two students on STEM undergraduate research internships—Muntaha Chaudhry and Maria Zia—are working on the project under the mentorship of Dr. Zhang and Dr. Zhu, and will present their findings at the end of the program. Finally, a project in collaboration with CUNY and Mount Sinai researchers, involves using previously collected data to understand the longitudinal effects of trauma exposure due to Hurricane Sandy on offspring's behavior and emotion development and the neurobiological basis of antisocial behavior in children. There will be a high number of continuous peer-reviewed publications generated based on the existing data from this project.