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2017 Edgren Scholars

This year’s Edgren Scholars are (l-r) Mary Ann Harris, associate professor of business; Harley Schreck, professor of Anthropology; and Brian Turnquist, professor of mathematics and computer science.

The Edgren Scholars Committee announces the recipients of the 2017 Edgren Scholars Award. The faculty and student researchers chosen for this award are: Associate Professor of Business Mary Ann Harris and Morgan Johnson ’18; Professor of Anthropology Harley Schreck and Rita Mecicar ’19; and Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Brian Turnquist and Elise Courtemanche ’18.

This award was established in 2001 to encourage and support collaborative summer research between faculty and students. The award provides summer compensation to the faculty member and a $3,000 stipend to the student researcher. Over the years, many excellent scholarly publications and presentations have resulted from nearly 50 research collaborations. The following are proposal summaries from this year's recipients:

“Values Communicated via Storytelling in Advertisements,” Harris and Johnson: Over the past few decades, the advertising profession has undergone dramatic changes in how they pitch their messages to the masses. In particular, the storytelling technique has gained great favor with those developing ads as they try to fight media clutter and engage audiences. While this technique now dominates the high-profile ad world, the macro-level implications of this shift are not well understood. This issue will be the focus of the summer research project between Harris and business major Johnson. They will conduct a content analysis of award-winning television ads to determine which values are conveyed. They will use the 36-item Rokeach value scale to identify the ideals portrayed in the messages. Included in these values are items such as freedom, achievement, security, independence, among many others. They will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to identify value patterns displayed in ads ultimately consumed by the public.

“The Bethel Frogtown and Summit-University Partnership: a study of a long-term effort to create a community-based learning collaboration,” Schreck and Mecicar: The Bethel Frogtown and Summit-University Partnership has an 18-year history. In comparison to other university-community collaborations, it is unique in terms of its longevity and stated goal of developing a partnership in which the community is a full and equal partner with the university. Such a partnership is challenging on many fronts, including difficulties in cross-cultural understanding and communication, as well as vastly different modes of operating. This project is an ethnographic study of the partnership, including its origins and development, the impact of the partnership on the Frogtown and Summit-University community and Bethel University, how community members and organizations and Bethel students, faculty, and staff see the partnership and assess its value. They will also gather information on steps that could be taken for further development and strengthening of the partnership. Schreck and Mecicar, a sociocultural and reconciliation studies major, will work together, along with two community members, to carry out the research using participant observation, interviews, and focus groups. All four members of the research team will collect the data, carry out analysis, and write the final results and prepare them for presentation to the Partnership Advisory Committee, Bethel administrators, the Bethel community in an Edgren presentation, and selected professional conferences and journals.

“Anomaly Detection in the Internet of Things (IoT),” Turnquist and Courtemanche: In recent years, tens of millions of new “edge devices” have been connected to the Internet. These edge devices are not traditional computers. They may contain only a single sensor or an array of sensors continuously monitoring a piece of industrial equipment or a collection of network-connected thermostats in your home. Edge devices include camera arrays in self-driving cars and drones when they are networked to each other and to the cloud. It is projected that within three years there will be as many as 50 billion edge devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), dwarfing the number of Internet-connected personal computers and smart phones. Nearly all of the data collected in IoT applications represent a “normal operating condition” and should be discarded. However, when anomalies occur (an unusual surge in temperature or power, a sudden obstacle in the path of a car, an odd financial transaction), they must be identified immediately and given special attention. Turnquist and Courtemanche, a math and computer science major, will combine mathematical models with real-world data to determine optimal means of detecting the needle-in-the-haystack anomalies occurring in common IoT applications and report them in real time.

See the list of past Edgren scholars and projects.

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