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April 18, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU names inaugural Norton scholars

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Two Slippery Rock University students, Zoey Prokopiak, a physics major, and Melanie Seymour, a psychology and philosophy major from Spring, Texas, have been awarded the initial Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship created by SRU President Cheryl Norton and her husband, Henry.

The inaugural Norton Scholars will receive $500 each for research project work in their field of study.

The students were selected for the award by a committee comprised of faculty members from various disciplines who reviewed the proposals and made a recommendation to Philip Way, provost and vice president for academic affairs, for final selection.

"I am certainly pleased with the committee's selection. These two outstanding students have the potential to contribute great information that could have long-lasting benefits," Norton said. "Both Zoey Prokopiak and Melanie Seymour presented robust applications for the scholarships and I am certain their research efforts as Norton Scholars will be rewarding."

Prokopiak will work with SRU's Jennifer Willford, assistant professor of psychology, Dilrukshika Singhabahu, instructor in mathematics, and Athula Heart, associate professor of physics and pre-engineering, as faculty mentors on her project, "fMRI Brain Image Analysis Using Partial Least Squares Regression."

The research will involve the only viable non-invasive imaging technique available to detect brain activity that allows researchers to examine brain function in real time.

Seymour will work with SRU's Emily Keener, assistant professor of psychology, as her faculty mentor on her research project, "Health Behaviors of Minorities within Minority Groups: The Role of Gender Identity and Sexual Identify."

Her work will examine health behaviors, including healthy diet, exercise, smoking and drug/alcohol use, of minorities within a minority group. The research will examine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, which she reports is currently understudied.

The Norton scholarship was created to enhance quality-mentoring relationships between faculty and students who work collaboratively to answer questions, solve problems and provide learning opportunities of the highest caliber.

Research conducted by Norton Scholars is expected to contribute in meaningful ways to the knowledge base of a given discipline and support the strategic initiatives of the University.

The program is open to sophomore or junior undergraduate students who have a 3.0 grade point average or higher, both cumulative and in the major in which the research will be conducted.

Scholarship recipients are expected to submit an abstract for consideration of an oral or poster presentation at the annual SRU Student Symposium for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement held each spring semester. Copies of presentations or manuscripts resulting from work supported by the Norton Undergraduate Research Scholarship program must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of the college in which the research was conducted, as well as the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Norton Scholars and faculty mentors may be asked to participate in panel discussions, admissions events and other activities.

Application guidelines and forms for next year are available at:

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.