Skip to main content

Fitchburg State uses technology to gather information and better understand visitors’ experiences. By continuing to use this website, you consent to this usage in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

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

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

Areas of expertise:
Research in manufacturing systems, manufacturing curriculum design, economic analysis of manufacturing system and 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

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

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

Areas of expertise:
Quantitative methods and modeling

Statistical analysis

Keith Chenot

Professor of Industrial Technology and Architectural Design

Areas of expertise:
Architectural Design

Land Planning

Zoning, Smart Growth, Historic Preservation, Sustainable Design and 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

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

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

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

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

Areas of expertise
Strategic planning

Organizational effectiveness assessment

Leadership training

Projects recently completed:
Facilitated strategic planning process for local non-profit

Established an organizational certified leader program

Developed and delivered a lean six sigma organizational reframing

Jane Huang

Professor of Earth and Geographic Sciences

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Areas of expertise:

Qualitative research


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Areas of expertise:

medieval/premodern studies

cultural heritage

disability studies

teaching and learning


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

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