The research says that Lehigh University is taking on the world’s most complex problems and asking challenging questions. Driven by the impact of their work, our faculty are examining issues that affect lives both globally and locally. From obesity to oligarchy and hip-hop to health care, Lehigh’s enduring commitment to deepening understanding and broadening perspectives has a profound effect on how we see ourselves and how we address humanity's most pressing problems. Learn more >
Casagrande, an associate professor of anthropology, is leading a ten-member interdisciplinary team to determine how hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” affects the lives of people who reside near fracking sites. Casagrande and his colleagues are examining the economic, sociological and psychological costs and benefits of an extremely polarizing industry that impacts interpersonal relationships as much as it does a local economy. Casagrande’s research seeks to unearth the human impacts of unconventional shale gas extraction to form the basis for policy recommendation.
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Japan’s Tohoku Earthquake triggered a tsunami that ravaged a nation and caused significant loss of life. With support from the National Science Foundation, Associate Professor Naito leads a multi-university team of researchers to assess the effects of tsunami-driven debris impact on the built environment, and collaborates with colleagues in Japan to design better evacuation centers. By understanding and predicting how structures perform, engineers like Naito can develop new rules and recommendations for design, so lives can be saved.
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More than 400,000 children are infected with HIV each year in sub-Saharan Africa where hospitals and clinics lack resources to diagnose a significant portion of the population suffering from the disease. In response to staggering mother-to-child transmission rates, Assistant Professor Cheng is developing a handheld point-of-care device that provides health workers with a fast, easy and inexpensive way to diagnose and stage HIV in the field. For thousands of people one small device can change the fate of their future.
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Michael George, Director of the Centennial School of Lehigh’s College of Education, recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington D.C. in support of legislation that limits seclusion and restraint of students with emotional and behavioral issues. The Centennial School has repeatedly shown that research-based, positive teaching practices that focus on building a fun,engaging school environment are more effective than archaic forms of physical discipline. These methods help nurture the learning process and bring joy to the students’ lives.
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The brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi has sparked a public outcry that is unprecedented in India. Students, feminist activists, unions, men, women, and people across the political spectrum have come together for justice and change. As Assistant Professor of Political Science, Nandini Deo’s research shows that social movements are more likely to succeed when the participants are members of a broad cross section of society. Social change is harder than political or legal change but it lasts longer—so this collective fight on behalf of women’s rights could transform a country.
For more information on Deo's work:
Rape in India: A crime of power >
The Politics of Collective Advocacy in India >
Obesity in America has reached epidemic proportions, and the scales aren’t tipped in our favor. The healthcare costs of obesity are estimated at nearly $200 billion annually. That number will only grow as the 20 percent of America’s children who are already obese reach adulthood. Some suggest that taxing or banning high-calorie foods would offset this problem, but research suggests that is not the case. Chad Meyerhoefer, Associate Professor of Economics, has found helping obese people with diabetes buy healthier low-carbohydrate foods is a more effective solution. The bottom line? A $6 billion savings in healthcare costs annually.
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From athletes and pop stars to the President himself, we’re surrounded today by exceptional black success stories. Unfortunately, these high-profile successes can mask the fact that many African-Americans today still face high unemployment, incarceration, and school drop-out rates. James Peterson, director of Africana Studies at Lehigh, is shining a light on this disconnect. While still celebrating successes, he also urges a recommitment to end the suffering, discrimination, and lack of opportunity that results from racism in America today.
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Infections caused by drug-resistant “superbug” bacteria have become an increasingly menacing reality. These “superbugs” are often transferred to vulnerable patients through contaminated hospital equipment such as ventilators and respirators. Bryan Berger, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, is collaborating with the Lehigh Valley Hospital Network and local industry to develop a practical solution. By engineering proteins and designing systems that prevent bacteria from colonizing hospital equipment in the first place, these infections can be prevented—and an epidemic stopped before it can get started.
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When more than 50 percent of all high school students with severe behavioral issues don’t make it to graduation they are deprived of their ability to become productive and engaged members of their communities. Professor Kern leads a team of national education and mental health experts developing a series of school-based interventions, grounded in research, that provide tools for teachers and counselors to tackle the toughest behavioral challenges. Her work is not just about changing education, it’s about changing lives.
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American popular culture is rife with the macabre: zombies, witches, serial killers, and even murderous plants. Keetley, an associate professor of English, studies contemporary Gothic and horror fiction, film and television and its messages about violence, the fragility of life, and the connection between “us” and “them.” By examining the role of horror in popular culture, Keetley explores what its appeal says about humanity and whether it can help us navigate our sometimes frightening world.
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Austin, an assistant professor of sociology, has learned that the inability to receive sustenance from coffee crops leads to malnutrition in coffee-growing communities, and the intense labor involved in harvesting coffee cherries often prevents children from attending school. Countries dependent on coffee exports also experience significant environmental consequences. Through her work, Austin hopes to bring attention to the negative side of one of the most valuable exports on the world market.
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Microfinance has delivered millions out of poverty, but isn’t accessible to millions more. After seeing firsthand the plight of people in Zambia, Honduras and other impoverished countries, Todd Watkins, Professor and Director of Lehigh’s Baker Institute, sees technology as a way to bring financial access to all corners of the world. He mentors teams of students who create handheld devices and wireless technologies that aim to cut microfinance transaction times, reduce overhead costs, lower interest rates and ultimately provide opportunity for those who need it most.
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Amid major corruption investigations, harsh police crackdowns of anti-government protests and suppression of the Turkish press and social media, Prime Minister Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic leadership has further distanced Turkey from the EU’s core values of freedom, equality, respect of human rights and the rule of law. Professor Henri Barkey, a leading expert on Turkey and a former member of the U.S. Department of State Policy Planning Staff, can provide the context and insights needed to understand the implications of Turkey’s shift on the world stage and help inform American foreign policy.
For more information on Barkey's work:
The End of Erdogan >
Obama’s New Problem: Turkey >
Icarus and Erdogan’s Corruption Scandal >
Once a local art form found on the streets of New York City’s West Bronx, hip-hop has evolved into an international form of artistic inspiration. Associate Professor Johnson explores hip-hop as a theatrical tool of empowerment. Theatre, she says, is more than entertainment: it’s a vehicle for social change. By bringing hip-hop to the stage, she helps students find their voice, spark community activism and inspire new forms of self-expression using an emerging genre.
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Arsenic poisoning afflicts nearly 140 million people worldwide. That’s changing, due to the work of Professor and Fulbright-Nehru scholar Arup SenGupta. He invented the first polymer-based, reusable arsenic-selective absorbent, used in a filtration system that removes arsenic from well water without using electricity or chemicals. It has provided people with relief from symptoms and reduced new cases of arsenicosis in eight countries, from India to Italy to the United States.