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

Several projects are in progress including:

Offender Re-Entry
An examination of the current offender re-entry practices in Westmoreland County, in an effort to devise an empirically supported re-entry plan.
Project Leader: Jon Vallano
Participating Faculty:  Frank Wilson
                                   John Prellwitz
                                   Timothy Holler

Manufacturing Survey
A survey of manufacturing companies to assess their employment needs, conducted in conjunction with the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland.

Project Leader: Dean Nelson
Participating Faculty: Ewa Rudnicka
                                  Sharon Turchick

“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

Dean Nelson, PhD
Associate Professor of Statistics
Director of CFAR

Jonathan Vallano, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology

John Prellwitz, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication

Frank Wilson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Timothy Holler
Instructor of Criminal Justice

Geoffrey L. Wood, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Courtney DeCarlucci
Manager, Foundation and Corporate Relations

Linda Szypulski
Administrative Secretary

Student Research Assistants
Emily Adisey William Moore
Adam Balliet Eugene Olaiya
Iesha Black  
Virginia Elinsky  
Past Student Research Assistants
Jeffrey Durmis Scott Szypulski
Vincent Holden Brittany Turley
Nicole Howard  


Faculty interested in learning more about how CFAR can assist and facilitate in the development and performance of research may contact: Dr. Dean Nelson at (724) 838-8044 or via e-mail at