Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Public Health department have done over the years.

Abstract: Disease is an overlooked force of change in historical events, but can be significant in understanding modern landscapes. This is a retrospective study analyzing the influence of pandemics from 1820 to 1920 in the Willamette Valley with special attention to the place that is currently occupied by Willamette University. During the 18th and 19th centuries the historic populations of Native Willamette Valley people were devastated by multiple local pandemics introduced with the arrival of European explorers and colonists. These deadly European-born diseases reduced populations from many thousands to only hundreds. The vacancies of productive land in the Willamette Valley facilitated the recolonization of the area by primarily white European immigrants. The primarily white colonists and their descendants were free of major pandemics in the Willamette Valley until the H1N1 influenza virus swept the world in 1918 on the heels of WWI. This pandemic resulted in greater worldwide population devastation than the losses of WWI and WWII combined. As Willamette University donors, faculty and students perished, disease once more shaped the population landscape of this valley and the culture of its inhabitants.

Elizabeth Larson (2019)

Abstract: The U.S. has undergone two major drug abuse epidemics in the past forty years: 'crack' in the 1980s and opioids in the 2010s. The Federal Government responded in markedly different ways--overtly punitively to the former but with relatively remedial policies for the latter--thus prompting the question, why was Federal drug policy tweaked? This project seeks to explain the change in federal legislative approaches to drug abuse and addiction. From the scholarly literature, five competing explanations are identified: 1) advancements in brain science, 2) "decarceration," or the growing awareness of the social costs of prison, 3) policing as a function of relative drug use visibility, 4) the mitigation of associated crime and violence, and 5) the social identities of drug users and policymakers. A rhetorical analysis of the semantic devices used most prominently in Presidential and Congressional drug policy statements associated with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act of 2016 will be used to determine how well each of the competing approaches explains the change in drug policy rationale.

Paige Spradlin (2019)

Abstract: An in depth look into the use of music to influence societal change around disability representation. The multifaceted project includes a 16 track album created entirely by myself to explain the present and past treatment of those who with mental impairments. Lyrical analysis of a few select tracks will help showcase the intersection of activism and music.

Tyler Griswold (2015)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Public Health department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.

  • Changing Ableist Views Within Medicine: Educating with Music (Pariah: Asylum Fury) - Tyler Griswold (Colloquium Grant)
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