Whitney Martinko

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The First-Year Match student will join a small team of researchers who are developing a deeper understanding of the history of the Morris Animal Refuge, founded in 1874 by Elizabeth Morris in Philadelphia and still operating today. We are working to research and write a more in-depth history that will be shared in many forms during the 150th anniversary of the shelter in 2024. We also will develop a plan to preserve historic records and artifacts of the organization and apply for historic landmark status from state and national entities.

The First-Year Match student will work with Dr. Martinko and a History graduate student to do research in online newspaper databases and digitized records to uncover more information about the history of the Morris Animal Refuge. The student will participate in research and writing tasks related to drafting an application for a state historical marker at the site of the shelter. The student also will have the opportunity to visit historic archives and artifact collections in Philadelphia and transcribe 19th-century records of the Morris Animal Refuge, if the student's interests and schedule allow.

Grant Berry and Joseph Toscano

Spanish and Psychological & Brain Sciences
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Language is a ubiquitous but highly variable phenomenon prone to structural change. When small-scale patterns start to take shape, as is often the case with sound change, humans have to learn to distinguish meaningful shifts from noise and then adapt to those changes in the speech around them. Though our ability to adapt is guided by language experience and cognitive processing, scientists currently know little about how the two interact.

The student will work with researchers in the Language Use and Variation Lab to address this theoretical gap by simulating sound change in a controlled, laboratory setting and measuring the degree to which English monolinguals and English-Spanish bilinguals integrate changes from their auditory input into their own speech. We will compare their adaptation ability to cognitive processing performance and measures of their ability to detect sound change derived from electroencephalography (EEG), a sophisticated technique capable of measuring brain activity at millisecond-level timeframes. Experimental data will be analyzed alongside demographic information and participants’ language histories to explore the interaction of change detection ability, cognitive processing, and language experience on a person's tendency to adapt to language change. Results will inform theories of psycholinguistics and laboratory phonology by identifying factors that promote language and category learning, but findings will also be directly relevant to society by helping us predict how the demographic changes that will occur in the US over the next three decades may influence linguistic structures and patterns of use.

The Match student will be involved in participant recruitment, running experiments (including learning to correctly configure an electroencephalography cap for reading brain waves), analyzing data, and dissemination of findings to the wider population. They will work closely with other members of the Cognition cluster of the Language Use and Variation Lab (LUV Lab) as well as the faculty mentor to accomplish these goals.

Lindsey Carfagna

Sociology and Criminology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

This project is an exploration of how privatization and financialization in the online education space affects on-campus academic initiatives and organizational practices at non-profit universities. Online offerings at public universities have “dramatically increased” over the last decade, with the pandemic intensifying the investment into online education (Hamilton et. al., 2022). These investments have often included contracts with private, for-profit Online Program Managers (OPMs) to provide some if not all of the services associated with the enablement of online learning (technology, design services, marketing, recruitment, enrollment, etc). Newton (2016) estimates that “up to 80% of the non-profit colleges delivering online education are utilizing OPM services of some kind” (Hamilton et. al., 2022). These companies are a direct descendant of the for-profit university model, which applied financialized logics to the provision of higher education to underserved students, particularly low-income students of color (Cottom, 2017). The rise of online initiatives in universities combined with the presence of financialized operational models lend to a growing scholarly interest in the diffusion of platform capitalism in higher education (e.g. Hamilton et. al., 2002; Cottom, 2020).

Platform capitalism “captures a dynamic set of new work modalities that are mediated by platforms and have been brought about through advances in Information and Communication Technologies, adjustments in consumption modes and preferences, and changes in how work is conceived” (Liang et. al., 2021).  From the early days of internet enabled crowdsourcing, to the rise of the sharing economy and “Uberification” of multiple industries, platform scholars have developed a research agenda that asks how this new form of capitalism is reshaping our world (Schor, 2016; Schor, 2020; Vallas and Schor, 2020). In this study, I will conduct an institutional ethnography of multiple universities in order to better understand how taken-for-granted logics of capital extraction, commodification, and outsourced risk in the online education space affect on-campus academic initiatives and organizational practices.

The Match student research assistant will support the procurement and organization of relevant literature for this study. Additionally, the research assistant will help the principal investigator classify institutions for in-depth study, through internet research and direct connection with online learning staff at potential research sites (email, phone call, etc). Finally, the research assistant will locate and organize relevant statistics (enrollment, online offerings, on-campus offerings, etc), policy documents (university credit hour policies, intellectual property policies), organizational charts, governance models, and other relevant data at research sites. If time allows, the research assistant will help the principal investigator use the above information to develop a typology of organizational models related to measures of centralization and integration at universities with a significant online presence.



Garey Hall 200 (top floor) 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085