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Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Experience

Summer Research Projects Nashua River 2017The Fitchburg State Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Experience offers a paid opportunity (30 hours per week at $11/hr) for students to engage in interdisciplinary projects focused on the environmental and public health of the Fitchburg community.

The projects that make up this summer research experience will involve a collaboration between students, their peers, and faculty across a variety of settings (hands-on field and laboratory work and personal and professional development).

To be eligible, students must:

  • be enrolled in a degree program leading to bachelor’s degree at Fitchburg State University
  • be entering your sophomore, junior, or senior year
  • be able to work for the entire term, which runs M-Th, May 29 – July 26, 2018

Click here to download the application form (deadline to apply is Friday, April 6).

The Projects

Health of Fitchburg Communities

This project seeks to understand relationships between perceptions of health and physical activity, including access to fitness/recreation resources, physical activity behaviors, and indicators of health.

A secondary aim is to investigate the fitness industry in Fitchburg and better understand the factors that lead a fitness-related business to be successful in the Fitchburg area.

A diverse group of faculty (from Earth and Geographic Sciences, Business Administration, Communications Media, Nursing, and Exercise and Sports Science) and students will work together toward answering the following research questions:

  • Do Fitchburg residents have an accurate perception of accessibility to fitness/recreation resources?
  • Does actual or perceived access to fitness/recreation resources impact physical activity habits?
  • How do physical activity habits impact health outcomes (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body composition)?
  • What does a fitness-related business in Fitchburg need to remain viable?

Depending on experience, students on the research team may be involved in:

  • Collecting and analyzing GIS data of fitness/recreation facilities in Fitchburg
  • Distributing surveys and/or measuring health outcomes (blood pressure, body composition, blood glucose and cholesterol) during health fairs
  • Interviewing owners/managers of fitness-related businesses in Fitchburg


Deborah Benes, Nursing
Carolyn Gustason, Nursing
Jane Huang, Earth and Geographic Sciences
Viera Lorencova, Communications Media
Renee Scapparone, Business Administration
Danielle Wigmore, Exercise and Sports Science

Health of the Nashua River

This project seeks to understand the health of the Nashua River and its relationship to Fitchburg communities by studying water quality indicators and connecting those to river and regional land use.

Students and faculty from Biology, Chemistry, and Earth and Geographic Sciences will work together toward answering the following research questions:

  • What is the health of the Nashua River from geological, biological, and chemical perspectives?
  • How has the land-use/water-use in the watershed region changed in the past century?
  • How are land and water use connected to water quality indicators?

Students involved in this research may be involved in:

  • analyzing GIS data of historical and current land use
  • collecting and analyzing fish populations in the field
  • performing chemical analyses on water samples in the field and in the lab, collecting and analyzing river sediments.


Emma Downs, Chemistry
Elizabeth Gordon, Earth and Geographic Sciences
Jane Huang, Earth and Geographic Sciences
John Ludlam, Biology
Aisling O’Connor, Chemistry
Daniel Welsh, Biology

Regardless of background, all students will have an opportunity to learn about each part of the project.