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Walden Magazine // Jul 01, 2011

Putting Research Into Practice

The 2010 presidential fellowship recipients share how they hope their research will effect positive social change.

Judith Buenaflor

The recipients of the 2010 presidential fellowships from Walden University understand that research is more than just a paper—it’s a blueprint for social change.

Walden Doctor of Education (EdD) student Judith Buenaflor received the 2010 Don E. Ackerman Research Fellowship in Educational Leadership for her examination of the challenges of mixing mandatory civic service with instruction. With the help of this $10,000 award, she will use the findings from her study, Service Learning: A Potential for Growth for Student Teachers, to enrich the service learning experience for the students she teaches as an assistant professor of education at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa.

“My hope is that real social change will occur through the deepening of the service learning experience for pre-service teachers,” she says. “That will help them to become highly qualified, effective teachers.”

With the goal of helping patients find the best solutions for their mental health issues, Joanne Souza ’09 is investigating whether drug company advertising influences consumers as they pursue effective treatment. The MS in Psychology graduate and PhD in Psychology student at Walden received the 2010 Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change, an award of $10,000 toward her study, The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising on Health Seeking Behavior for Depressive Symptoms.

“Many mental health problems have been over-medicalized, and people may not be aware of the most effective treatment options,” says Souza, a faculty member at Stony Brook University in New York. “I hope to develop an educational campaign and to formulate cooperative efforts between medical practitioners and mental health providers.”

Dr. Leann Stadtlander’s interest in examining the way students function in an online setting earned her the 2010 Research Fellowship in Distance Education, an award of $10,000 to support the pursuit of her study, Doctoral Students’ Research Skills and Self Efficacy Gained in a Mentored Online Research Laboratory.

As a faculty member in the School of Psychology, Stadtlander is researching whether the skills and self-confidence gained by students in a virtual laboratory are equal to or greater than those gained by students in land-based labs.

“We hope that by demonstrating the viability of virtual labs, the online environment for research training will gain more credibility,” she says. “We also plan to use our findings to better train our faculty and to refine our labs for the future.”

Visit to learn about research grants available to alumni and returning Ph.D. students.