The Ohio State University at Mansfield

Student Research Experiences


Julie Prosser - Psychology

Do people tend to be more or less honest depending on the situation? This is a topic Julie Prosser has been studying at Ohio State Mansfield for the past two years.

As a senior psychology major, Julie has focused her research on social psychology and the gender differences between self-disclosure privately, versus publicly. Julie explains, “My study is all about honesty and what you are willing to disclose about yourself when asked certain questions.” Julie became interested in this research through personal experience, “people I know not willing to talk about certain aspects of their life.”

Julie has presented her research at the Ohio State Mansfield Student Research Frenzy; additionally, she looks forward to presenting at the upcoming Denman Undergraduate Research Forum (on the Columbus campus) in March and the Midwestern Psychological Association (in Chicago) in May.

Julie has great expectations for her future. Julie, who will be graduating with research distinction, would like to see the publication of her thesis. Additionally, her plans are to attend graduate school and “do a spin-off of my current thesis. There are many avenues I want to explore that I can make into a master’s thesis, and then a doctoral dissertation too. I want to use this as my basis to branch off from.”

Julie’s advice to students interested in getting involved in research is to start early. “There are many faculty on campus that are more than willing to take in undergraduate students and lead them to successful pathways. The earlier you start, the more avenues that open up. If grad school is a possibility for your future, student research is the best way to gain experience and to build your curriculum vitae.”


Charles Swank - Psychology

Have you ever wondered why it is that, from a distance, a hill may appear to be extremely steep, yet the closer you get, the less steep it truly is? What about this – How do search and rescue workers pick clues out of a completely new environment and use them to accomplish their task? These are questions psychology major Charles Swank, a junior at Ohio State Mansfield, is determined to answer.

Deep into his second year of studying perceptual psychology, Charles explains, “Recently I’ve been working on how people interpret slants and inclines. How we perceive our environment plays into how we are going to recall our environment.” What initiated Charles’s interest in perceptual psychology is that, “people tend to be good at picking something out when it’s different, but if you’re not used to that environment, everything’s different.” As part of his research program, this summer Charles will have the opportunity to work with members of Ohio’s search and rescue teams to run pilot studies and gather important data.

Charles’s future goals include – becoming published; Blind(fold)ed by Science is an article Charles played an active role in completing the study with Dr. Dennis Shaffer, and it is currently in its final stages of review. Charles also plans to extend his research to the improvement of memory and memory techniques. Eventually, Charles plans to obtain a doctoral degree in psychology.

Charles’s advice for any student who is thinking about getting involved in research is, “Try it! Get involved as soon as you can. Starting out sophomore year for me was nice; it gave me something to do and got me involved quicker.”

In closing, Charles states, “Research is important, it’s the only logical way to find things out, and apply them to life. Research is what fuels us becoming a better society.”


Justin Huguenin - History

When Justin Huguenin decided he wanted to research “something different, something that not too many people had written about,” he did just that. As an Ohio State Mansfield senior, Justin’s study is centered on the Tobiad family, a powerful Hellenizing Jewish family who served as government officials under the Ptolemies and Seleucids.

Justin admits that his research on the rise and fall of Hellenism in the ancient Jewish community didn’t exactly come easy, “It requires a ton of reading – almost thirty books, not including articles or primary sources – much of which is not even directly on topic but information that you have to know in order to understand the historical context.” As far as research goes, Justin states, “It’s a great opportunity and something you should definitely do if you’re willing to put the effort into it.”

Putting the effort in is precisely what Justin has done. Last fall he presented his research findings at the Ohio State Mansfield Student Research Frenzy, and this March he will be presenting at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Columbus. In 2012, Justin was awarded the History Book Award. In both 2011 and 2012, he won 2nd place in the Florence B. Allen “Writing Across the Curriculum” writing competition, having already won 1st place for the same contest in 2010.

Justin, a world history major, looks forward to graduate school where he intends to specialize in the study of Near Eastern Religions. Starting his research at Ohio State Mansfield was a great opportunity to “try it on for size; see if I enjoy it.” In addition, “Undergraduate research… gives you the flexibility to study a more specialized field of interest of your own choice.”


Marissa Baker - English

Marissa Baker, who recently graduated from Ohio State Mansfield with an English major, is a wonderful model for future student researchers. She has examined trends in books written by Francis Burney and Mary Wollstonecraft, and her detailed analyses resulted in presentations of her research at the Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Columbus for two years in a row.

Marissa’s research simply started from reading novels that interested her. She states, “I really like how research gives you a chance to dive into a subject more deeply.” Marissa wanted to write an essay on how influential the Bible was for Burney and Wollstonecraft’s novels, so she asked to do an independent study with some help from Professor Noelle Chao.

“Most professors would be enthusiastic to have a student interested in doing an independent study,” says Marissa. She also believes that her research will help towards graduate school and hopes one day to teach creative writing. Students interested in conducting their own research can take advantage of the new research thesis option at Ohio State Mansfield.


Rachel Culler - Math and Biology

"I started working with Dr. Abedon the summer before last and it has really changed my entire understanding of what research is all about. Prior to my working with him, I had no idea how directly related biological sciences and mathematics could truly be. They were always presented in very distinct separate ways, and I enjoyed learning about each area. Thankfully, things are not always as clear-cut as they seem. Dr. Abedon's research on phage optimal latent period optimization gave me a unique view of microbiology and mathematics intertwined. I was continuously fascinated by how many concepts that I had learned in calculus could be directly applied to bacteriophage plaque formation. The more math courses I take, I continue to see more connections between the mathematical concepts and their biological applications. I am continuously amazed, and this is one of the reasons why I decided to change my major from pharmaceutical science, to a math and biology double major. I am so thankful to have had this exciting opportunity working with Dr. Abedon."


Mark Bodkin - Sociology

"Getting involved in research at Ohio State Mansfield was the best decision I ever made. Not only did it enrich my undergraduate experience in a way that classes alone cannot, but it allowed me to work closely with faculty. Doing research as an undergraduate gave me a taste of what graduate work is like, and my research interests played an important part in my decision to go to graduate school. Now that I'm in my first year of graduate school at North Carolina State University, I look back on my undergraduate research experience and am thankful for all the benefits it provided me."


Trisha Kick - Psychology

Trisha Kick, a senior Psychology major, is currently taking advantage of the new research thesis option at Ohio State Mansfield. Her research on the sexual double standard was presented at the Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Columbus on May 9th, 2012. Listed below are some great benefits that she believes will come from presenting her own research at the Denman forum:

  • Possible internship opportunities
  • Resumé builder that will help towards being accepted to graduate school
  • Networking with professors in her field of study
  • Opportunity to be published in scholarly journals

“I am so pleased that Trish has challenged herself by doing a research thesis,” says her advisor, Dr. Terri Fisher, Professor of Psychology. “I have been very impressed with her insights and her work habits. This thesis experience will serve Trish well in the future, whether she pursues graduate school or goes straight into the work world.”

Before writing her own thesis, Trisha started as an assistant. She states, “Being a research assistant is the easiest way to get started for somebody interested in gaining research experience.” Trisha has participated in several research studies at Ohio State Mansfield and was even a part of Dr. Dennis Shaffer’s study that was recently televised on the BBC network.


Tyler Fortman - Psychology

"Undergraduate research = advantage. My senior honors thesis allowed me to practice the research methods I learned in the classroom and apply my knowledge to the real world. It also bolstered my resume and received notice from graduate school faculty who commented during my interviews, "Your research background is impressive" and "We would love for you to bring your research background to" this program." More than any other academic or extracurricular activity, undergraduate research propelled me into graduate school and an assistantship that pays for graduate school. The rewards far outweigh the effort."


Nicholas Deems - Psychology

“Narcissism is a personality dimension characterized by self-centeredness and a lack of empathy towards other’s feelings, opinions, and well-being. People high in narcissism often believe they are entitled to everything because at the core of their beliefs they are the only person that matters in the world. Since they believe that they should have everything, they often exploit others to attain what they want.”

Nicholas Deems, a junior at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, is not a narcissist but rather, he is a student with a deep interest in what makes narcissists tick. When he took General Psychology a few years back, he became fascinated with the field and began to pursue research after he met his mentor, Dr. Amy Brunell, an Assistant Professor of Psychology, who researches narcissism. She lectured on narcissism during a class, and Nick thought it was some rather cool stuff and asked Dr. Brunell about research opportunities. Then, a door opened during his academic career.

Today, Nick is a research student who is exploring the “Dark Triad,” which is a combination of three personality traits – narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Specifically, Dr. Brunell and Nick have worked on a project that assesses narcissistic behavior when mate poaching occurs. Mate poaching is when a person steals a mate from an already established and presumably monogamous relationship. They found in their study that, as expected, narcissists do prefer to poach a mate.

Nick has presented his student research at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum in Columbus and will present the research at the Association for Psychological Science meeting in New York City. On April 23, 2015, Nick won a Psychology Book Award at the Ohio State Mansfield Academic Awards Ceremony. Prior to this, he won an Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship, which helped finance his education so that he could focus on his studies. He is also currently working on a research thesis.

If you get a chance, talk with Nick about the research that he has worked on at Ohio State Mansfield because he has an interesting story about the research design used to conduct the narcissism/mate poaching study.