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Undergraduate Research Center

Dara Zwemer

  • SOAR Position: Member; Secretary (2021-22); URC Communications and Social Media Ambassador (2021-22); Alumni
  • Major: Pre-graduate Psychology
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. John Pennington, Dr. Tim Odegard, Dr. Emily Farris, Dr. Jamie Burriss

Current Focus: The Relationship Between Officer Workload and Fatal Officer-Involved Shootings of Unarmed Decedents

Additional Interests: Speech-sound integration and EEG research at the Center for Dyslexia

Project Description

Examining officer workload requires creating a measure of officer workload in the U.S. across several years and determining whether this measure predicts the occurrence of lethal, officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals. By comparing the rate of unarmed shootings between states and between different cities in a single state, places that may be more at risk for unarmed shootings based on the workload of their police force could be identified.

Why does this topic interest you?

In the past several years, significant attention has been given to officer-involved shootings in the United States. I have watched policing become a divisive topic in our country, and I hope that by researching this topic and presenting my findings in a largely nonpartisan manner, I can assist in garnering the knowledge our country needs to eventually take action and curb the number of unarmed citizen fatalities in the U.S. As for my research at the Center for Dyslexia, I love contributing to knowledge about dyslexia and learning to utilize EEG technology. I also find test administration and working with research participants to be rather fun!

What are your professional aspirations?

I hope to complete a Ph.D. program in experimental psychology, particularly social psychology. I really hope to be a professor and to teach students about concepts in psychology. I’d also like to continue researching. I would potentially continue my work on policing in the United States. I’d also like to write books and conduct research related to destigmatizing mental health in the United States through education and individual awareness. Additionally, I would be interested in researching online arguments (think a Facebook comments section) and how to make those spaces more productive and less aggressive.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Get to know your professors and engage in the classes that they teach. Ask them what they’re researching, and they may invite you to participate! Research can seem daunting in the beginning, but it is worth it. Everyone that I’ve conducted research with has been incredibly kind. Research may seem rigid, and often our methodology is, and must be, fairly strict. However, there’s something inherently human to asking questions and searching for the answers. No matter where you are in your college career, you can certainly make a good impact through joining or starting a research project.

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Jamie Burriss, Ph.D., Director
(615) 494-7669 
Jamie.Burriss@mtsu.edu

Casey Penston, Coordinator
(615) 809-4588 
Casey.Penston@mtsu.edu

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