Research Co-op Program Under Way with Four Students Employed
Four master’s and doctoral students are working on research projects with leading local organizations via the Ohio Means Internships & Co-ops Program. Carissa Bowlin-Smock, BS ‘05, MPH ’14, is one of those students, working with Akron General Health System to examine diabetes prevention services and focusing on how to further integrate clinical management of diabetes with Akron General Health & Wellness Centers.
Bowlin-Smock, who cites her research interests broadly as “the wellness lifestyle, along with the role of hospitals in disease prevention,” will likely survey patients at higher risk of developing diabetes among Akron General employees. The patients will be prescribed a wellness regimen. “We will analyze whether employees follow through with the prescribed program and what effect it has. In addition, we’ll assess the return on investment in health insurance benefits that provide for wellness program coverage,” she says. “Unhealthy lifestyles and growing rates of chronic disease, along with rising insurance costs, are driving increased attention to the value of lifestyle programming in the workplace and community,” she explains.
The doctoral student is working with Laura Kukral, Akron General director of strategy, planning and market research, along with Nairmeen Awad Haller, PhD, Akron General director of research. From the faculty, Dean Sonia Alemagno, PhD, is overseeing Bowlin-Smock’s study.
Bowlin-Smock and the three other Kent State co-op researchers are employed by the university, with student support funded equally by the program and the local partner organization. The students work 20 hours weekly at the partner’s facilities, while continuing their academic programs. Each co-op arrangement is expected to be at least one year in duration.
Other local organizations presently involved in the co-op program are GOJO Industries, Inc., and Summa Health System. Organizations interested in utilizing a co-op student may contact the college’s Director of Advancement, Margot McGimpsey, at (330) 672-6270.
Funded in part by a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, the state is investing $11 million over two years in co-ops and internships, with matching dollars directed to key industry sectors and functions, including biohealth and research and development. Some 25 education partners, including Kent State, are creating new or expanded programs to help build skills in demand by Ohio businesses and to better position students for jobs in Ohio after graduation, according to the Board of Regents.
The grants are part of a workforce development strategy to align Ohio’s higher education curriculum with skills in demand from Ohio’s businesses. The grants will provide Ohio employers with opportunities to benefit from the talents of Ohio’s graduate students, while putting students on track for successful careers in Ohio. Funding provided through the Ohio Means Internships & Co-op Program comes from Ohio-based casino license fees.