Faculty Research Interests

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Chelsea Abbas

My general research interests lie in border studies, migration and the anthropology of conflict and violence in the Central American context. Within the U.S., my work focuses on issues central to Latino communities and advocacy, such as Latino representation in mainstream media, immigrant rights, language and education. Most recently, my dissertation work examines the dynamics of an international border dispute between Costa Rica/Nicaragua and how this conflict affects the lives of local villagers in the region. Over the course of summer 2018 & 2019, I will be traveling to Nicaragua on a Fulbright grant to teach and help develop an interdisciplinary research agenda on migration in Central America at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua.

Bretton Alvare

I am an ethnographer whose research focuses on Afro-Caribbean worldviews and faith-based political participation in the Anglophone Caribbean. I have been conducting fieldwork with grassroots, faith-based NGOs in Trinidad and Tobago since 2005. I am also interested in studying urban issues related to institutional racism, and I'm currently collaborating with a local community partner on an ethnographic study of the barriers to academic success facing students at Chester High School.

Yvonne L. Antonucci

My research interests are in the areas of Business Process Management (BPM), process analysis, business-to-business collaboration, and enterprise systems. I have published in numerous international journals, books, and conferences in the area of BPM, IT outsourcing, interorganizational trust and collaboration, workflow management, and enterprise systems and have been a frequent invited speaker to various international BPM industry events.

Harry Augensen

My research interests include galactic structure, planetary nebulae, and late stages in stellar evolution. I have carried out astronomical research at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, at the Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics at the NASA-Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and at the Sproul Observatory in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Most recently I have worked on the monitoring of suspected variable stars. Widener University is a member of the National Undergraduate Research Observatory (NURO), which operates a 31-inch telescope on the Anderson Mesa outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Joanne August

My research interests include interprofessional education, communication and collaboration, and integration of technology into nursing curricula.  

Luke Ayers

“Mens sana in corpore sano – to have a sound mind in a sound body”

As a behavioral neuroscientist, I try to understand the relationships between behavior, physiological processes of the body, and mental states. My work specifically focuses on the topics of fear, anxiety, stress, hunger, and habit-like behavior. I also have expertise in principles of learning & memory, psychopharmacology, hormonal control of behavior, and the neurobiology of addiction and compulsive behavior.

My research has two primary areas of focus. In humans, I study how states of hunger influence our food preferences and eating habits. I also work in animal-models of fear/anxiety behavior to develop novel treatments for anxiety-related conditions, such as PTSD.

I also truly value the opportunity to mentor students who are interested in research. All of my projects involve undergraduate research assistants, who gain first-hand experience in designing, implementing, and conducting empirical research experiments.

Jeremy Backstrom

My primary research interests are in the fields of international relations and comparative politics, which focus broadly on three concepts- political violence, state repression and human rights, and authoritarian political institutions. I am particularly interested in disaggregating concepts and processes regarding political violence in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the causal mechanisms and dynamics that influence decision-making in different institutional contexts. More specifically, I seek to understand the actions and behaviors of non-state and state actors, determining the conditions and factors that contribute to the outbreak of dissent, terrorism, and civil conflict as well as methods to deter and quell these forms of political violence.

Paul Baker

Paul T. Baker

Assistant Professor of Physics

My research interests include gravitational wave data analysis, Bayesian statistical techniques, astrophysics, astrostatistics, and general relativity.

Beth I. Barol

The focus of my work and the greatest part of my research agenda has been group dynamics, conflict resolution, developing compassion and empathy through the use of biographical timelines and other interventions, management, and leadership, as well as therapeutic approaches around trauma, mental illness, and supporting people with neurological differences including autism.

Loyd D. Bastin

My research with Widener undergraduate students focuses on the development of greener syntheses of pharmaceuticals. Currently we are working on the greener synthesis of isoxazole derivatives, which serve as building blocks for pharmaceuticals used as anticonvulsants, antiepileptics, and antimicrobials. To 'green' the synthetic process, we aim to reduce waste and to find alternative chemicals to use as reagents to replace those that are corrosive, toxic, volatile, and sometimes carcinogenic.

Rachel Batch

My research interests are immigrants, workers, and working-class cultures in the 20th century U.S. It was as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University when I learned the value of social history ("history from the bottom up"), the importance of cultural identity, and became fascinated by the histories of immigrants and labor. I focused on both fields in my graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania, and my dissertation took up industrial relations in the coal mining industry, welfare capitalism, and migrations of southern and eastern European immigrants to a 'model' town in western Pennsylvania in Finding Stability in a Company Town: A Community Study of Slickville, Pennsylvania1916-1943

My current research focuses on Croatian Americans during the Great Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War, and just how they used transnational networks to conjure ethnic and class-based activism for economic justice at home (in the U.S.) and for political freedom abroad (in the former Yugoslavia).

Linda E. Benavides

My research interests have always been guided by my desire to contribute to the practice literature in the area of family violence. During my work with survivors of family violence, I was struck by the resilience of children and adolescents, who despite being exposed to the most harrowing of circumstances, were not just moving forward but in many cases were thriving. This has guided my research on resiliency and protective factors for children and adolescents exposed to violence, focusing on spirituality as a strength individuals possess. I am interested in spirituality not only as a protective factor for children and adolescents but also the process of spiritual development from childhood to adolescence. I have published scholarly articles and presented at international and national conferences on my research interests.

Tom Benedetti

Thomas K. Benedetti

Associate Professor of Italian and Spanish

My research interests include mythological theater of 16th and 17th centuries in Spain and Italy, missionary theater, theater of colonization, meta-theater, Italian cinema, time and space in theater and cinema, and Spanish Golden Age literature.

Krishna Bhat

My research interests are to develop new greener synthetic routes to pharmaceutically relevant organic molecules and study their thermodynamic properties. Current efforts are focused on resveratrol and boronic acid derivatives.

Jill D. Black

Jill D. Black

Associate Dean of College of Health & Human Services

My research interests are in the areas of local community engagement and service-learning, international service-learning and clinical education, global health competencies, pro bono service, student leadership development, and oncological rehab.