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Sparking passion and purpose through undergraduate research

Junior Job Gutierrez will present topics in front of two national audiences this year

Feb 20, 2024
Dr. Eric Lambert (left) stands alongside student researcher Job Gutierrez.
Dr. Eric Lambert (left) stands alongside student researcher Job Gutierrez.

Allowing undergraduate students to engage in authentic research, then publish and present their work is one of Indiana University’s core commitments.

At Indiana University Northwest, a regional IU campus, undergraduates have the chance to work with faculty on exciting, cutting-edge projects, and in some cases, they can publish and present their work in front of national audiences.

“I don’t think people realize the quality of research that is done at the regional campuses,” said Eric Lambert, director and assistant dean at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

And he should know. Lambert was recently named — yet again — at the top of a prestigious list from Stanford University that represents the top two percent of world researchers in terms of impact on their field of study. In the field of criminal justice/criminology subfield this year, Lambert ranks in the top one percent.

First-hand research experience

Job Gutierrez, a junior, has experienced the benefits of working with IU Northwest faculty to analyze and present research. A criminal justice major and President of the IU Northwest Criminal Justice Club, Gutierrez will be presenting along with Lambert at two upcoming conferences in 2024.

Both Lambert and Gutierrez are vitally interested in how the people who work in correctional institutions view their jobs and how improving morale can help the entire prison system.

At the March 2024 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference in Chicago, Gutierrez will be part of a panel presentation on topics such as: “Aspects of the Psychological Climate of Correctional Facilities and Effects on Correctional Staff” and “Impact of Prison Work on Correctional Staff in Different Nations.”

He says the work he has done with Lambert has fed his passion for the field of criminal justice. Gutierrez says he has learned a lot, such as how to appropriately word surveys on what may be sensitive — but vital — topics.

Gutierrez would like to continue his education post-college by attending law school. He says he would like to focus on the fundamental issues of the law and personal liberties because of what he has learned in class and in the research with Lambert.

“I’m learning how you have to be very specific in choosing your topic for a survey,” says Gutierrez, “Especially when you are asking something personal, you have to be very careful with your words. Many people don’t think about that.”

He also learned how to analyze the data and interpret results that can be used in published articles.

Opportunities within reach at IU Northwest

At many schools, faculty research assistants are usually graduate or PhD students, Lambert says. But at IU Northwest, he and his colleagues believe in encouraging undergraduates to step in and work on the same research now that they might be doing one day as graduate students.

“My colleagues and I do this because our focus is undergrads, and we want to involve the students. Because our classes are smaller, we get to know them and what their interests are.”

When those interests coincide with research that an IU Northwest faculty member is conducting — along with a chance to present — there are great opportunities for the students, just like Gutierrez, to get their names on publications that may result in global impact.


IU 2030: Student Success and Opportunity
IU Northwest will ensure the long-term success of all students while remaining grounded in our unique identity as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and as a Minority-Serving Institution, with a commitment to meeting the needs of our entire student body.

IU 2030: Transformative Research and Creativity
IU Northwest will engage in high-impact research and creative activity, advance knowledge, and improve the lives of people in Indiana and beyond.

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