success in undergraduate research | Penn StateAltoona


Penn State Altoona student Payton Perry published the article “Passing, but Far from Perfect: Assessing Public Confidence in Police and Desire for Reform in Pennsylvania” in the December 2021 issue of Policing, a leading publication on policies and practices in criminology and criminal justice.

Payton Perry standing next to a poster showcasing his research.

Picture: provided

Perry is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in sociology. A member of the Integrated Social Science Research Lab (ISSRL), Perry co-authored the paper with Nathan Kruis, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Nicholas Rowland, professor of sociology, both at Penn State Altoona, and Richard Donohue of RAND Corporation. .

The article shows that a cross section of Pennsylvanians have general trust and satisfaction with their local police, but study participants also expressed the need for reform. The most supported reforms relate to improving officer training around mental illness and de-escalation techniques, for example, as well as implementing policing models that increase transparency and agent liability.

Perry published a second article, also in December 2021, in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, a publication devoted to research on treating people with substance use problems.

“Exploring First Responders’ Perceptions of Drugs for Addiction Treatment: Does Stigma Influence Attitudes?” explores the link between provider-based stigma of opioid users and attitudes toward drug treatment (MAT). Perry co-authored the article with Kruis and Kate McLean, associate professor of administration of justice at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The study finds that first responders generally have negative attitudes towards MAT and many, in fact, feel that its use simply puts “more drugs on the street”.

“Most undergraduate students would have the chance to publish one paper in their entire academic career,” says Rowland, who co-leads the ISSR lab with Kruis. “Imagine our surprise when one of our lab students published two papers in the same month, that’s exceptional.”

“Without this lab research experience, I wouldn’t have stayed at Penn State Altoona, period,” says Perry. “Now that I am a senior and applying for higher education, I would like to thank my co-authors, not only for their help in this process, but also for allowing me to publish. This is something I a few years ago, I could hardly have dreamed.

“Payton is one of the longest-serving undergraduates in the lab,” Rowland says. “This not only means that she works on a number of research projects, but that she is instrumental in mentoring new students who are not yet accustomed to weekly seminar-style lab meetings. She demonstrates by example what it means to be a good citizen of the laboratory.”

“To see a hardworking student like Payton do so well is truly amazing to watch,” Kruis adds. “It’s reassuring as a faculty member to know that his future is bright after his time here at Penn State Altoona.”

“Passing, but Far From Perfect” was generously supported by a Research Development Grant from the Office of Research and Engagement led by Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Architecture Corey Gracie-Griffin.

Perry and his co-authors would like to thank the PA Association of Chiefs of Police for circulating the survey central to “exploring first responder perceptions of drugs for drug treatment.” .

The Integrated Social Science Research Lab is made possible by Penn State Altoona’s Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences, led by Dr. Leigh Ann Haefner, and is integrated with the Criminal Justice and Sociology programs coordinated by Mary Ann Probst, Esq. , and Dr. Karyn McKinney-Marvasti, respectively.


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