Faculty Research Forum Held at Mount Union

November 25, 2009

Mount Union College faculty members Dr. Charles McClaugherty and Dr. Kevin J. Meyer presented their research at the Faculty Research Forum on Wednesday, November 18. 

McClaugherty, professor of biology, presented "Carbon and nitrogen dynamics during decay ofDr. Charles McClaugherty wood in temperate North American forests.” He explained that wood is a principal component of forest biomass but it is removed during forestry operations, effecting habitat, nutrient cycling and soil organic matter formation.  During his research, McClaugherty conducted three studies on the decaying process of wood.  The first study examined red maple and white pine chips from Wisconsin for 10 years.  The second study examined red maple and red pine logs and twigs from Massachusetts, which he followed for 15 years.  Lastly, he conducted a student-based study on wood at the Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center.

“Everyone thinks wood is wood, but it’s not,” said McClaugherty.  He explained that wood has a unique volume to area ratio, but contains few nutrients.  From his studies, he concluded that logs have a slow decay process but limited long-term residue, thus they contribute little to soil.

McClaugherty has been a member of the Mount Union College faculty since 1988, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Meyer, assistant professor of psychology, presented “Humor, Seriously: TheDr. Kevin J. Meyer Use of Humor in Couples Therapy.” Meyer, a couple’s therapist, explained that humor is one of the most controversial subjects in couples therapy. 

“One of the lessons I learned very quickly was when to use humor and when to shut it off,” he said.  “At times, it can be a social lubricant that forms a bond between two people, however, it has a paradoxal quality.”

Meyer explained that there is no empirical research on the use of humor in therapy, but in order to form a therapeutic alliance between a therapist and a client, humor may be useful. He has studied the scale of humor, which looks closely at destructive, harmful, minimally helpful, very helpful and outstandingly helpful humor. Meyer formed four hypotheses while researching client therapy sessions and concluded that humor is important to the therapist but it has no “toxic effect” on the clients’ perceptions.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, a master of science degree in human development and family science: early childhood development and a doctoral degree in human development and family science: marriage and family therapy from The Ohio State University.

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