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Creating a Research Community: How Penn State Researchers Impact Our Lives

by on April 06, 2013 8:00 AM

If you saw the stacks of research papers and books resting on any of my colleagues' desks at the Penn State Research Communications offices, might suggest we pitch a new reality show, maybe "Office Hoarders."

I get that a lot.

But, if you looked a little closer, you would be impressed by the depth and breadth of Penn State research in those papers. Beyond the sheer amount of research that Penn State produces, as the stacks of papers testify, what really impresses me is the commitment our researchers have toward not just their work, but also to the community.

Recently, I had the chance to talk to Josh Stapleton, who is a research associate at the Millennium Science Complex -- that's the futuristic-looking new building at the corner of Curtin and Pollock roads on campus. As Josh and I talked, it dawned on me that the building is more than just a place to stash labs and researchers; it's a sign of Penn State's collaborative and community-based approach to research.

The complex brings a lot of Penn State researchers together who were once scattered across the campus. Its reach, however, doesn't end at the gates of the University. Businesses and other universities can use of the complex's equipment -- which includes some advanced types of research gear. Stapleton said organizers have scheduled a Materials Research Institute open house for business and industry leaders on April 11 at MSC. Click here for information

In just a few months of operations, the complex has become a center for community outreach and a way to boost interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – one of the key goals for today's educators.

The complex has hosted local students and Big Brothers and Sisters groups. That gives these kids up-close looks at the state-of-the-art equipment in the facility. Kristin Dreyer, the program director for education and outreach at the Material Research Science and Engineering Centers, said that the complex played host to a teachers' nanotechnology workshop for NanoDays. That's a nationwide education effort to raise awareness on nanotechnology. Researchers also gave talks at the Discovery Space for Central PA and will offer a Science Café at Zola New World Bistro on April 11.

Here are some examples of Penn State research.

Postpartum Anxiety More Common than Postpartum Depression

New mothers are more likely to experience postpartum anxiety than they are postpartum depression, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, yet screening for anxiety does not routinely occur during maternity hospital stays or during the postpartum period.

You can read more about the study by clicking here

Unhealthy eating can make a bad mood worse

Taking part in unhealthy eating behaviors may cause women who are concerned about their diet and self-image to experience a worsening of their moods, according to Penn State researchers.

In a study, college-age women who were concerned about their eating behaviors reported that moods worsened after bouts of disordered eating, said Kristin Heron, research associate at the Survey Research Center.

Read more here:

Autistic children may be at greater risk of suicide

Children with an autism spectrum disorder may be at greater risk for contemplating suicide or attempting suicide than children without autism, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

The research is the first large-scale, broad age and IQ range study that uses data provided by parents to analyze the rates of suicide contemplation and attempts in children with autism.

"We were looking at suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among children with autism versus those that didn't have autism," said Angela Gorman, assistant professor of child psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine. "What we found is that there were some risk factors that were much more greatly associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than others."

Interested in finding out more about Penn State research? Click here to subscribe to Penn State's free weekly Research & Discovery newswire!

Matt is a Research and Technology Information Officer at Penn State. He also is a Public Relations Manager and Adjunct Journalism Instructor at the university.
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