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Muncie, Indiana has a long history of research. Back in the 1920s and ’30s, two scholars conducting the Middletown Studies used our middle-American city as a model for deciphering national sociologic trends. In keeping with its local heritage, Ball State continues to put Muncie on the map for graduate research and innovation in a number of disciplines.

One way we do it is through technology. The Center for Media Design is a sociological test bed that assesses content and products to identify how users really interact with and understand digital media—thus helping everyone from educators to marketers craft real-life communications solutions. Because the center’s research exists at the intersection of a number of disciplines—psychology, education, design, communications, computer science—graduate students and researchers from across the university work together there.

Ball State’s Digital Middletown Project has helped broadband providers map potential new service areas in rural Indiana and many other areas. The project—which involved wireless mapping and GIS development—is narrowing the digital divide for many Americans. It’s also launching careers—many employers working on the project were so impressed with the Ball State students they worked with that they offered them full-time jobs after graduation.

In addition to helping spread the benefits of technology, Ball State’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management is also helping to mitigate some of its negative aspects—such as figuring out the effect of all those discarded obsolete-in-two-years computers on public health and the environment.

Then there’s Ball State’s research into the most complex machine of all—the human being. From the social to the physical, we’re researching life on all levels. A study in our sociology department is attempting to understand gender differences in attitudes toward divorce. Our Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services is examining the coping strategies of Tibetan women who have fled their country. Cutting-edge research is also being conducted in our Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology is examining how heart disease and diabetes affect hearing.

And studies at our Human Performance Laboratory reach beyond the planet. Researchers have worked with NASA to determine how exercise can help astronauts fight muscle loss.