Student Life Study Finds Home in DI HUB

Researchers with the Student Life Study wanted to find the heart of campus. Their search brought them to the Design Innovation Hub.

“It's kind of our middle of campus laboratory,” said John Gunstad, a clinical psychologist. “It’s smack dab in the middle of campus in this beautiful building, with easy access for lots of students to be able to come through.”

The study has set up shop in the DI Hub’s Shared Faculty Studio – a space that has previously served as an industrial knitting studio and a laboratory for mushroom furniture. 

“It reflects our core purpose, which is to bring all these different people together in one location,” said Chris Holthe, director of the DI Hub and ecosystem.

Finding a place accessible to students was crucial to the study. Because of its central location, and focus on interdisciplinary work that brings students of all majors through the building, the DI Hub was a perfect fit. A first of its kind effort, Gunstad, along with Karin Coifman, a clinical neuropsychologist, plan to recruit 10,000 students for the project. 

College students today are unlike others before them, Coifman said. The first to grow up in the digital age, there are also signs they struggle more with mental health than previous generations.

“College is a time when we are becoming adults, and so there's all kinds of ways in which we're kind of changing and forming and developing habits that stay with us for our lifetime,” Coifman said. “That’s really important to understand.”

Students who join the study will answer questions through text message, such as how much sleep they got. Researchers will process much of this data through secure computers in the studio, where they will also run physical examinations. Responses from participants will help inform decisions by the university and provide understanding in areas such as mental health.

The study is not a one-department team, and more than 30 faculty members from across the university will use results from the study in their own areas of research.

While the study has signed on to use the studio for at least two years, Coifman and Gunstad hope to continue the project for decades.

“Our long-term goal is that this becomes a part of the culture of Kent State,” Gunstad said.

POSTED: Thursday, October 19, 2023 08:56 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2023 03:08 PM
Alton Northup