Professors

Nichol Nelson

A single, fully loaded 18-wheeler truck does as much damage to Minnesota roads as 2,000 passenger cars.
That information was part of a road pavement study researched by Mark Snyder, associate professor of civil engineering. Snyder and 23 other University McKnight Professors showcased their research on topics ranging from anthropology to child psychology Thursday in Coffman Union’s Great Hall.
Unparalleled Minds, sponsored by the Graduate School, gave University professors a chance to display research they conducted as McKnight professors. McKnight Land-Grant Professorships are two-year appointments that include a research grant of approximately $40,000.
Christine Maziar, dean of the Graduate School and vice president for research, said the showcase was an important way for faculty to communicate their work.
“There aren’t many venues where a faculty member can display work for the larger University community,” Maziar said.
University President Mark Yudof, who addressed the crowd gathered to see the research presentation, stressed the importance of science knowledge. Yudof joked about his own shortcoming in scientific arenas, but said he hopes to include scientific research into the curriculum for all students at the University.
Snyder’s work is a result of a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the University. Using new gauges to sense road strain, Snyder attempted to update information about effective road materials.
“Most pavement design is based on data 35 years old,” Snyder said. “It’s a whole new ballgame now.”
Snyder’s booth sat directly across from Patricia Frazier, associate professor of psychology. Frazier’s research centered on the prevalence and effects of traumatic life events.
Frazier’s work revealed that in a study of 894 randomly selected adult women in Hennepin County, 98 percent had experienced at least one major trauma. Frazier said major trauma is defined by psychologists as an event that causes intense fear or hopelessness such as a sexual assault, sudden death of a family member or a serious accident.
Frazier, who worked on the research for eight years, found those who are younger, have lower incomes, are ethnic minorities and unemployed have a greater risk for experiencing traumatic events.
Frazier said the showcase served an important purpose.
“I think a lot of this information is really useful to the community and to policy makers,” she said.