Center For Applied Research

CFAR logo

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.

Pitt-Greensburg students, faculty, and staff make up the Center for Applie Research

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 (Initial Center 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, Tim Holler, Frank Wilson

Participating Faculty: Jessica Ghilani, John Prellwitz

Partcipating Students: Emily Gernhardt, Nichole Johnson, Amanda Smith


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

Participating Student: Joshua Watson


Private Industry Council 2
Conducting an evaluation of a Substance Abuse Education in Workforce Development project for Fayette County.

Project Leader:  Geoff Wood

Participating Faculty: Tim Holler

Participating Students: Morgan Anderson, Joshua Watson


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: Emily Gernhardt, Nichole Johnson, Joshua Watson


Community Foundation of Westmoreland County: FutureWorks Westmoreland

Collaborating with the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County to alleviate poverty through the enhancement of workforce development programs focused on career and technical education.

Project Leader:  Geoff Wood

Participating Faculty: John Prellwitz and Frank Wilson

Participating Students: Morgan Anderson, Emily Gernhardt, MacKenzie Lovelace, Allison Reed, Dylan Knapp-Scott

“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
Associate Professor of English

Victoria Causer
Visiting Instructor of Statistics

John Prellwitz, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication

Diane Cheek
Instructor of Biology
Chloe Rowland, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Sheila Confer
Academic Village Coordinator

Jacob P. Rubus
Part-time Instructor, Biology

Courtney DeCarlucci
Manager, Foundation and Corporate Relations

Ewa Rudnicka, PhD
Associate Professor of Business

Jessica Ghilani, PhD
Assistant Professor of Communication

Sharon M. Turchick
Assistant Professor of Management Accounting

Pilar Herr, PhD
Associate Professor of History

Jonathan Vallano, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology

Timothy Holler, PhD
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Frank Wilson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Sociology

CFAR Student Research Assistants 

Morgan Anderson, Psychology

Dylan Knapp-Scott, Public Policy

Alex Fell, History and Public Policy

Amanda Smith, Communications

Emily Gernhardt, Psychology

Joshua Watson, Psychology

Nichole Johnson, Psychology and Criminal Justice


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