Center For Applied Research

About CFAR

The mission of the Center for Applied Research (CFAR) is to establish mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations that provide curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills related to empirical research and expand professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.

The Center for Applied Research (CFAR) serves as a campus resource to benefit student learning, facilitate course development, expand professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, and establish mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations.

CFAR began in the Fall of 2012 when funding was obtained through the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The primary activities of the Center involve the quantitative and qualitative performance of empirical research. The CFAR provides a valuable resource for research and data collection and analysis for both the campus and Westmoreland County, by working with other institutions/organizations who are pursuing grants and in need of independent evaluators.

“CFAR provides an outlet for multi-disciplinary collaboration between faculty members from all divisions. The Center allows faculty to work on applied projects that have a direct impact on improving the University or the local community.  It is particularly rewarding to see the initial impact produced by our interactions with Pitt-Greensburg and community organizations." -Jonathan Vallano, PhD

CFAR will provide:

  • Valuable curricular and co-curricular experiences for students;
  • Coordinated resources for project completion;
  • Enhanced collaboration among faculty;
  • Campus resources for staff and faculty for evaluative projects;
  • Development of collective skill sets;
  • Pitt-Greensburg and Westmoreland County with a valuable community resource.


Current Projects

Blackburn Center Partnership
Pitt-Greensburg has partnered with the Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to examine students' attitudes toward domestic and sexual violence.  In collaboration with the campus Committee for Gender Equity, CFAR faculty and students are working to establish and assess the success of curricular and co-curricular activities that focus attention on these important issues.

Project Co-Leaders: Sheila Confer, Tim Holler, Frank Wilson

Participating Faculty: Jessica Ghilani, John Prellwitz

Partcipating Students: Virginia Elinsky, Nichole Johnson, Rachel Haras


Community Arts and Reintegration Project in Westmoreland County
The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County Impact Fund is providing support to CFAR to develop an implementation plan for the Community Arts and Reintegration Project (CARP) in Westmoreland County.  CARP is a restorative justice-based program that will bring together community members and organizations, victims and victim advocates, and both recently released and currently incarcerated inmates to develop and construct murals that will be placed on dilapidated buildings in targeted cities throughout the county.

Project Leader: Tim Holler

Participating Staff: Courtney DeCarlucci


Private Industry Council
Conducting an evaluation of a Substance Abuse Education in Workforce Development grant.

Project Leader:  Geoff Wood
Participating Faculty: Tim Holler

Participating Students: Rachel Haras, Nichole Johnson, Kaleigh Murphy, Taylor Szczepankowski


Excela Health: Community Health Needs Assessment
Participating in an effort to identify community health assets, strengths, and needs as well as describing the state of chronic disease prevalence and the needs of underrepresented and disadvantage populations in Westmoreland County.

Project Leader:  Geoff Wood
Participating Faculty: Vicky Causer, Diane Cheek, Frank Wilson

Participating Students: Rachel Haras, Nichole Johnson, Mitchell Kirk, Emily Gernhardt


“CFAR provides me with a great opportunity to expand my research skills and knowledge of multiple fields.” Speaking about a current project, he continued, “While manufacturing falls under the scope of business, it is interesting to be researching topics outside my scope of studies. CFAR will provide me with an experience of which few other students have the chance to be a part, and it will prepare me for my future career.” - Scott Szypulski, senior accounting major.
CFAR Affiliated Faculty and Staff

Geoffrey L. Wood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Director of CFAR


Victoria Causer
Visiting Instructor of Statistics

Dong Woo Ko, PhD
Assistant Professor of Management

Diane Cheek
Instructor of Biology

John Prellwitz, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication

Sheila Confer
Academic Village Coordinator

Linda Szypulski
Administrative Secretary

Courtney DeCarlucci
Manager, Foundation and Corporate Relations

Jonathan Vallano, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Jessica Ghilani, PhD
Assistant Professor of Communication

Frank Wilson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Timothy Holler, PhD
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Dean Nelson, PhD
Associate Professor of Statistics

Student Research Assistants - Fall 2015
Virginia Elinsky, Senior, Applied Mathematics Emily Gernhardt, Sophomore, Psychology
Rachel Haras, Senior, Applied Mathematics Kaleigh Murphy, Senior, Psychology and Statistics
Nichole Johnson, Junior, Psychology and Criminal Justice Taylor Szczepankowski, Senior, Applied Mathematics
Mitchell Kirk, Senior, Actuarial Sciences  


If you are interested in learning more about how CFAR can assist you to develop and/or perform a research project, please contact: Dr. Geoffrey Wood at (724) 836-9873 or via e-mail at