This item originally appeared in the Feb. 19, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.
By ALISA THOMAS
Dr. John Strait, an assistant professor of geography, will present his recent research to the American Association of Geographers at the annual meeting this March in Philadelphia, Penn.
Strait considers his research project an investigative approach to infant mortality rates and chose this type of research for two reasons.
"Health disparities remain a critical dimension of the broader racial disparity evident in our society, and I believe that certain health disparities can be explained by geographical factors," Strait said.
The Association of American Geographers is an international organization comprised of academics, geography professionals and students engaged in geographical research.
Strait, a member of the organization for 10 years, attends a majority of the annual meetings and was actually invited to take part in the pre-organized research session.
"I really enjoy presenting research at such forums, primarily because it enables me to interact with people who share similar interests; plus I get to hang with good friends," Strait said.
Strait has been engaged in this specific research topic for five or six years now.
Dr. Robert Toburen, head of the department of social sciences and a professor of political science, said he considers Strait a proficient addition to the department of social sciences.
"Dr. Strait has proved very capable, moving directly into offering the many classes that he has to offer to meet the needs of the geography majors and the many other students who take geography for general education requirements or electives," Toburen said.
Strait said he believes that his research is important because the university has a focus on serving the local community.
"Some of the areas that exhibit the greatest disparity among African-Americans and whites are evident in the rural South and include portions of northern Louisiana," Strait said.
Some students said they received stimulation in the classroom and encouragement for student participation in discussions.
"Professors who include research during classroom meetings actually make the class more interesting, and I feel inclined to participate and add some input of my own," Kristian Taylor, a freshman kinesiology and health promotions major, said.
Toburen said he is pleased with the way in which Strait has managed to take on the responsibilities of being the only geography professor. He has gained respect from students and has only been on board for a year now.
"He has proved to be a competent faculty member but also popular with students," Toburen said. "I'm very happy to have him as a member of the social sciences department."