July 2016

4 Unique “Research on the Road” Events

Penn Staters living near a few select metro areas benefited from a newly launched program this year: “Research on the Road,” a Penn State series that partners Alumni Association chapters with the office of University Relations and takes University researchers to hotspots around the country to engage audiences with the topics they know best. The most recent was held last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

John Hayes, assistant professor of food science and the director of the Sensory Evaluation Center, used the idea of wine tasting to illustrate the science of taste buds and sensory perception.

Beattie-Moss (center) with
Chicago alums

“We’ve had a very successful launch of the initiative this year,” said Melissa Beattie-Moss, manager of Research Communications, part of the Office of University Relations at Penn State. Both this recent Washington, D.C., event and one that occurred in May were planned in conjunction with the Alumni Association’s Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter.

“The ‘Research on the Road’ series is a great way to blend both the learning and social aspect reminiscent of the positive experiences that Penn Staters had as students,” said Joshua Funk ’04, who is on the board of the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter and also works at the National Press Club. “A big plus for us is that the program is great for all age groups and brings our local chapter together to network and get to know each other better. We’re thankful for the role that the University plays in the success of these events that help strengthen our chapter.”

Read more about this latest event in Washington, D.C., in Beattie-Moss’s recent blog entry on “Research Matters.”

And, check out the other three “Research on the Road” events that occurred this year:

Los Angeles—Oct. 27
Even younger generations are enthralled with the Beatles, and alumni and friends in Los Angeles were wowed by the presentation given by Kenneth Womack, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of English and integrative arts, Penn State Altoona. The Los Angeles Chapter picked a great venue, the Brittania, whose walls are lined with Beatles memorabilia, said Beattie-Moss in her Research Matters blog entry.

Chicago—Sept. 20
More than 50 Penn State alumni and friends attended this event, appropriately held at one of Chicago’s most famous blues clubs, Buddy Guy’s Legends, for a discussion entitled “Chicago: America’s Mecca for the Blues.” Jerry Zolten, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and American studies at Penn State Altoona, used audio and video recordings—including some rare footage—to trace the diverse roots and evolution of the blues as the music traveled up the Mississippi from the rural south to its new urban home in the Windy City. This event was hosted in conjunction with the Greater Chicago Chapter.

Washington, D.C.—May 10
How do we form our political opinions, affiliations and voting behavior? Eric Plutzer, academic director of the Survey Research Center and professor of political science and sociology, led this vibrant discussion at the National Press Club, hosted in conjunction with the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter. The evening included some laughs, nods of agreement and even a shock or two at some slides that Plutz showed, according to the Research Matters blog site—the purpose of one was to see how folks reacted to a photo of a spider crawling on a person’s face.