Penn State faculty receive funds to explore students’ participation

WYOMISSING, Pa. —The Flemming CEED Center faculty members and faculty members from Penn State recently received funding from the Penn State Social Science Research Institute’s (SSRI) "Reducing Social Disparities" initiative. The research team was awarded a grant for the project titled "An Investigation of Factors Affecting Underrepresented Groups’ Participation in Student Innovation Competitions, Exhibitions, and Training Programs." This two-year grant, which became effective in May 2021, seeks to uncover underlying factors affecting low participation rates among underrepresented groups in these programs, including historically marginalized groups, females, and students with disabilities.

The project team is studying how students decide to participate in innovation competitions and training programs. The team is also investigating barriers that prevent underrepresented students from participating in these programs. The proposed research objectives will be achieved through semi-structured interviews and qualitative data analysis by theoretical and inductive thematic text analyses.

The interdisciplinary project is a collaborative initiative of five faculty members from two Penn State campuses. The principal investigator is Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems, director of the Flemming CEED Center, and program chair of the entrepreneurship and innovation minor, Penn State Berks. Co-principal investigators include Abdullah Konak, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State Berks; Alexandra List, associate professor of education, Penn State University Park; P. Karen Murphy, department head, distinguished professor of education, Harry and Marion Eberly faculty fellow, Penn State University Park; and Nicole Webster, associate professor of youth and international development and African studies, director of the Youth Civic Lab, Penn State University Park.

Kulturel-Konak explained, “The results of this preliminary investigation will provide us a theoretical grounding for a follow-up external grant proposal.”    

For additional information, contact Sadan Kulturel-Konak at [email protected].

About the Penn State Social Science Research Institute
The mission of the Penn State Social Science Research Institute is to foster research that addresses critical human and social problems at the local, national and international levels, by bringing together researchers from different disciplines around emerging areas of study, and by providing consultation; financial support; shared, accessible infrastructure; and services to social scientists at Penn State.

About the Flemming CEED Center
The Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Center (CEED) Center was established in the fall of 2011 as part of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. The mission of the Flemming CEED Center is to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking in the Penn State Berks community. The Flemming CEED Center fosters economic growth and development in the Greater Reading area through technology-based solutions, human capital development, and enterprise creation. The Flemming CEED Center provides student entrepreneurs with an incubator in which to develop their startup ideas. It, and it provides mentoring from faculty and volunteers from the local business community. The Flemming CEED Center’s programs include creativity training workshops, 3D printing workshops, speaker series, the Customer Discovery Lab, the STEM Business Idea Challenge, and the Student Enterprise Award. For more information, visit or contact Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems and director of the Flemming CEED Center.


Sadan Kulturel-Konak

Sadan Kulturel-Konak, professor of management information systems, Penn State Berks

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