Center For Applied Research

CFAR students and faculty

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 (Former CFAR Director)

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 and Tim Holler

Participating Faculty: Vicky Causer and John Prellwitz

Participating Students: Alexis Beblo, Hayley Frye, and Nicole Plack


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 Faculty: Frank Wilson and Geoff Wood

Participating Staff: Courtney DeCarlucci

Participating Student: Alexis Beblo


Excela Health Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)

CFAR has partnered with Excela Health to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for Westmoreland County. CFAR faculty and students will assist with primary and secondary data collection, analysis of local data on demographic, economic, health, and social issues, and the development of a comprehensive report for Excela Health.

Project Leader:  Geoff Wood

Participating Faculty: Victoria Causer and Ron Ott

Participating Students: Taroniar Sevathas and Stephanie Vargas




“CFAR provided me with a great opportunity to expand my research skills and knowledge of multiple fields.” Speaking about a past project, he continued, “While manufacturing falls under the scope of business, it is interesting to be researching topics outside my scope of studies. CFAR provided 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, Financial Research Administrator, Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Former CFAR Research Assistant
CFAR Affiliated Faculty and Staff


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


Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD

Director, Center for Digital Text
Associate Professor of English

Dean Nelson, PhD
Associate Professor of Statistics

Neelima Bhatnagar
Assistant Professor of Information Science

John Prellwitz, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication

Victoria Causer
Visiting Instructor of Statistics

Ronald Ott
Director of Healthcare Management

Sheila Confer, EdD
Director of the Academic Village; Part-time Instructor, Theatre Arts

Jacob P. Rubus
Part-time Instructor, Biology

Courtney DeCarlucci
Manager, Foundation and Corporate Relations

Ewa Rudnicka, PhD
Assistant Professor of Business

Jessica Ghilani, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication

Sharon M. Turchick
Assistant Professor of Management Accounting

Pilar Herr, PhD
Assistant Professor of History

Jonathan Vallano, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology

Timothy Holler, PhD
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Frank Wilson, PhD
Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs

Assistant Professor of Sociology

CFAR Student Research Assistants 

Alexis Beblo

Taroniar Sevathas

Hayley Frye

Stephanie Vargas

Nicole Plack






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