Community Research and Consulting Group | Fitchburg State University
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Community Research and Consulting Group

Fitchburg State University is committed to working with our community as we strive to improve the region’s quality of life.

The Community Research & Consulting Group of the Crocker Center for Civic Engagement is made up of faculty and staff from Fitchburg State with expertise in a wide array of areas who are open to working with community partners in the social services, business, and the government sectors.

Members of the Community Research & Consulting Group will collaborate on projects that solve real problems and answer practical questions. The group will help design, develop, and implement projects that meet the needs of our partners. As an educational institution, we want to make sure our role in the community goes beyond the classroom and meets the comprehensive needs of our neighbors.

Groups and organizations looking to complete work in which our faculty and staff expertise can assist should contact the Crocker Center for Civic Engagement by email

We look forward to forming rewarding and collaborative partnerships.

Community Research & Consulting Group Members

Patricia Arend

Professor of Sociology
parend@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative analysis
  • Field research/ethnography
  • Multi-interview methodologies including focus groups and surveys
  • Survey design

Projects recently completed:

  • Assessment of domestic violence exposure among women presenting in a hospital emergency department
  • Consumer behavior study
  • A community-based ethnography

Soumitra Basu

Professor of Industrial Technology
sbasu@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Research in manufacturing systems
  • Manufacturing curriculum design
  • Economic analysis of manufacturing system
  • Automation assessment in automation
  • Stirling Engines (waste energy recovery)
  • Area 5 Automation in Manufacturing (CAD/CAM & Microprocessor control)

Projects recently completed:

  • Economic Analysis of Dry Machining and Sampling of Small Airborne Particles in the Auto Industry

Deborah Benes

Professor of Nursing
dbenes@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and program assessment
  • Evaluation and staff training in research and evaluation

Projects recently completed:

  • Community perceptions of physical activity and access to recreational facilities
  • An assessment of regional food security assessment
  • Assessment and evaluation of healthy behaviors including: physical activity, healthy eating, and food access

Lyndsey Benharris

Assistant Professor of Education
lbenharr@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Critical Literacy
  • Early Childhood
  • Special Education


Projects recently completed:

  • Self Reflections on Critical Retellings: Our Process of Revisiting the Cultural Myths of Christopher Columbus through an Indigenous Lens (Covino, Benharris)
  • The LGBT+ March Towards Equity: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives (2019)

Catherine Buell

Professor of Mathematics
cbuell@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Quantitative methods and modeling
  • Statistical analysis

Keith Chenot

Professor of Industrial Technology and Architectural Design
kchenot@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Architectural Design
  • Land Planning
  • Zoning
  • Smart Growth
  • Historic Preservation
  • Sustainable Design
  • Architectural Computer Modeling/Rendering

Projects recently completed:

  • Main Street building reuse study for an Advanced Polymer Manufacturing Research, Technology Transfer and Training Facility
  • Neighborhood revitalization design studies for the eastern sector of the ReImagine North of Main area
  • Moran Square area new-building designs and building reuse studies

William Cortezia

Professor of Education
wcortezi@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and program assessment
  • Social change assessment and analysis

Projects recently completed:

  • Assessment of curriculum, public policies and educational practices in global education
  • Evaluation of Social Sciences in public schools
  • Evaluation of democratizing programs in public schools

Kathrine Covino-Poutasse

Professor of English Studies
kcovinop@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis and program assessment
  • Participant interview protocols
  • Participant observation (small group, large group)

Projects recently completed:

  • Action research (collaborative classroom research projects)

Danette Day

Professor of Education
dday@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Teacher and Educational Leader Professional Development (Cultural Competency and Mindfulness-Based Wellness)
  • School Culture and Climate Survey Design
  • Community Organizing and Social Justice Activism

Projects recently completed:

  • Fitchburg Friends of the Abolitionist Park and Fitchburg State University agree to build a pocket park honoring Benjamin Snow and others who contributed to Fitchburg’s abolitionist history

Dara Drawbridge

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
ddrawbri@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Risk assessment
  • Risk management
  • Drug courts
  • Homicide classification

Projects recently completed:

  • Multi-site Evaluation of the Impact of Adult Drug Court Participation on Recidivism and Relapse
  • An Assessment of the Implementation Fidelity of Evidence-based Practices within Community Correction Centers
  • Implementation of Risk-Need-Responsivity Principles Into Probation Case Planning
  • The Validity of Risk Assessment Instruments for Transition-Age Youth

Mike Greenwood

Professor of Business Administration
mgreenw5@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Strategic planning
  • Organizational effectiveness assessment
  • Leadership training

Projects recently completed:

  • Facilitated strategic planning process for local nonprofit
  • Established an organizational certified leader program
  • Developed and delivered a lean six sigma organizational reframing

Jane Huang

Professor of Earth and Geographic Sciences
jhuang2@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Geographic Information System mapping and data visualization
  • Urban and demographic analysis
  • Environmental Public Health
  • Qualitative research
  • Database management

Projects recently completed:

  • ReImagine North of Main—Neighborhood Property Mapping and Analysis Project
  • GPS Survey of Healthy-Heart Trails
  • Healthy Housing Initiative/Community De-Leading Project
  • Health of Fitchburg Communities Project and the Health of Nashua River Project
  • GIS Mapping for Regional Zoning, Transportation, Traffic, and Pedestrian Walkways
  • Data Driven GIS Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety in Fitchburg
  • Trends in Regional Economic Development across North Central Massachusetts

Benjamin Levy

Professor of Mathematics
blevy1@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Applied Math such as statistical analysis, math modeling, mapping and data visualization
  • Computer programming

Projects recently completed:

  • Mathematical Modeling of Animal Populations, species distribution and infectious diseases
  • General mathematical modeling of different systems

Yang Liu

Professor of Marketing
yliu4@Fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • International Business
  • International Marketing, Economics


Projects recently completed:

  • Economic Nationalism and Globalization
  • Economic Nationalism and Foreign Direct Investment
  • International Firms’ Economic Nationalism and Trade Policies in the Globalization Era
  • The Dark Side of Big Data: Personal Privacy, Data Security and Price Discrimination
  • Digital Transformation in Business and Society: Theory and Cases

Viera Lorencova

Professor of Communications Media
vlorencova@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Individual interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Oral histories
  • Ethnographic fieldwork
  • Survey design and dissemination

Projects recently completed:

  • A comprehensive study on the "Health of Fitchburg"
  • Ethnographic fieldwork
  • Qualitative interviews and focus groups with Slovak LGBTQ Rights Activists
  • Oral History Project feminist activists in Western MA titled "Valley Women's Collaborative"

Tara Mariolis

Assisted Professor of Nursing
tmariolis@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Medication and other treatments for opioid use disorder


Projects recently completed:

  • Systematic review comparing Buprenorphine to other treatments for opioid use disorder, presently studying treatment utilization and drug use during medication treatment with Buprenorphine.
  • I am also very interested in examining additional health outcomes during treatment with buprenorphine with a number of populations including prison inmates, if possible.

Christa Marr

Professor of Economics
cmarr2@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Quantitative (Linear and Non-Linear Regression Analysis, Latent Class
  • Methodology, Spatial Regressions, Varying Coefficient Modeling, etc.)
  • Economic Evaluation
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Data(base) Management
  • Mapping


Projects recently completed:

  • Assessing Determinants of Wage and Income Mobility in U.S. Commuting Zones
  • Application for Federal Credit Union Charte in Fitchburg: A Community Narrative Approach
  • Characterizing Food Deserts in New England: A Spatial Analysis Using Local and Regional Data

Zachary Miner

Professor of Sociology
zminer@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative research
  • Interviewing
  • Grant evaluation
  • Survey design

Projects recently completed:

  • Interviews with legal firearms owners regarding their experiences around firearms ownership
  • Interviews with students, business owners, and teachers evaluating the success of a grant project

Ozge Ozay

Professor of Economics
oozay@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Quantitative research
  • Survey Data Analysis
  • Economic evaluation
  • Regional development

Projects recently completed:

  • Using Time Use Surveys conducted by Turkish Statistical Institute to estimate the time poverty rates of women and men in Turkey
  • Studying the import/ export data and constructing a sophistication index of exports in South East Asia to understand the division of labor in the region
  • Studying the gendered employment effects of technological change and trade liberalization in Turkey

Kori Ryan

Professor of Human Services/Forensic Psychology/Criminal Justicekryan33@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Capacity building and staff training
  • Survey design and data collection
  • Program evaluation design

Projects recently completed:

  • Outcome evaluation of national training program on training law enforcement on responding to child abuse victims with disabilities
  • Clinical decision making and survey of best practice of psychological assessment of justice involving transgender individuals (in progress)
  • Assessing police and human services training and education

Renee Scapparone

Professor of Business Administration
rscappar@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Strategic planning
  • Market research/marketing plans
  • Comprehensive needs assessments
  • Economic evaluation

Projects recently completed:

  • Health & Fitness of Fitchburg Assessment
  • Women Entrepreneurs in Male Dominated Industries
  • Facilitated strategic planning and business planning with two educational institutions and three small businesses

Hildur Schilling

Professor of Psychological Science
hschilling@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Survey Design
  • Experimental Design
  • Correlational Design
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analyses

Projects recently completed:

  • Survey to determine Fitchburg residents' perceived funding needs. Results were used by Fitchburg City Planning Board for CDBG funding priorities.

Robert Shapiro

Professor of Education and Applied Behavior Analysis
rshapir3@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Working with children with disabilities (especially Autism)
  • Managing the behavior/productivity of employees
  • Community interventions designed to improve behavior in areas such as public safety, etc.

JJ Sylvia IV

Professor of Communications Media
jsylvia3@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Quantitative Analysis and Data Visualization
  • Critical and Creative Coding
  • Ethical Evaluation and Analysis
  • Communication and Leadership Training
  • Critical Making and Internet of Things

Projects recently completed:

  • Quantitative Analysis and Data Visualization for Summer Institute, Health and Fitness of Fitchburg Project
  • Creative Coding Project Visualizing Crime-Related Open Data
  • Public Community Discussions about Communication Ethics

Deborah Stone

Professor of Nursing
dstone1@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis
  • Database development and management
  • Violence prevention program assessment

Projects recently completed:

  • Assessment of violence prevention interventions

Kisha Tracy

Professor, English Studies
ktracy3@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Literature
  • Medieval/premodern studies
  • Cultural heritage
  • Disability studies
  • Teaching and learning
  • Writing


Projects recently completed:

  • Cultural Heritage through Image
  • Cultural Heritage Day at Fitchburg Art Museum
  • Medieval Disability Guide for Fitchburg Historical Society

Danielle Wigmore

Professor of Exercise and Sports Science
dwigmor1@fitchburgstate.edu

Areas of expertise:

  • Survey development and design
  • Survey data collection
  • Individual and community fitness assessment
  • Use of accelerometers for population-based physical activity assessment

Projects recently completed:

  • Evaluation of physical activity habits and health outcomes of Fitchburg residents
  • Assessment of physical activity habits in college students