Chancellor’s New Faculty Research Symposium

MONday, Oct. 30

11 a.m.to 12:30 p.m.
Campus Center, main level, Multi-Purpose Room

Rutgers University–Camden is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and exceptional creative activities.  Our faculty members are leaders within their disciplines, exploring issues of great significance in today’s world.

Each year, the Chancellor’s New Faculty Research Symposium provides a venue to highlight the work of a number of new faculty members.  We are pleased to announce that the following scholars will share their current research during the 2017 symposium.  Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions during a Q&A session following each presentation. Refreshments will be served.


Rahshida Atkins, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.N., FNP-BC, D.R.C.C.
Assistant Professor
School of Nursing

Dr. Atkins’ presentation is titled "Community Based Participatory Research: Identifying Community Preferred Measurable Psycho-social and Physiologic Health-Related Outcomes that Motivate Sustained Participation in Urban Physical Activity Programs."

Dr. Atkins’ research seeks to promote mental and physical health in disadvantaged populations by facilitating the adoption and maintenance of healthy behaviors. Increasing participation in physical activity decreases the risk factors that lead to the developing chronic mental and physical health conditions such as depression and cardiovascular disease. A focus on the achievement of expected outcomes motivates individuals to adopt healthy behaviors. The achievement of community-preferred outcomes serves to promote both physical activity adoption and maintenance. Focus groups conducted with adult and youth urban community residents reveal that the achievement of their most preferred psycho-social (reduction in depressive symptoms, anger, stress, socialization, self-confidence), physiologic (losing weight, pain reduction, lowered blood pressure), and behavioral (eating healthy, decreasing sedentary behaviors) health-related goals encouraged continued participation in an urban physical activity dance program.


Kelly Dittmar, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Dittmar’s presentation will focus on a collaborative project ("Representation Matters: Women in the U.S. Congress") underway with Kira Sanbonmatsu and Susan Carroll from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

This project examines how the women of the 114th Congress attempt to have a meaningful impact on public policy and to provide effective representation in an institutional and political environment characterized by gridlock and party polarization.  Through interviews with more than three-quarters of all female members of Congress, the research provides first-person perspectives of the congresswomen's roles, discusses what motivates their legislative priorities and behavior, details the ways in which they experience service within a male-dominated institution, and highlights why it matters that they serve in the nation's federal legislature.  The research details the strategies employed to navigate challenges, including those tied to gender, race, and party polarization, in order to get things done.


Wenhua Lu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies
Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Lu’s presentation is titled “Adolescent Major Depression: Who Are Not Using Mental Health Services?” and reflects her research into child and adolescent health disparities, with a focus on minority and underserved populations.

Dr. Lu’s research explores the behavioral, psychosocial, and environmental factors that influence minority and underserved children’s health risk behaviors (e.g., unhealthy food purchase, lack of physical activity), negative health outcomes (e.g., childhood obesity), and mental health problems (e.g., adolescent depression).  She is working on two empirical research projects to examine the national trends in adolescent major depression and related health care disparities, and investigate factors underlying the unmet mental health service needs among minority adolescents with mental health problems.  She is the co-principal investigator of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored project to evaluate the impact of RWJF’s Next Generation Community Leaders initiative that is being implemented in 11 underserved New Jersey communities.


Kimberlee Moran, M.Sc.
Associate Teaching Professor of Forensics
Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Prof. Moran’s research focuses on the intersection of forensic science and archaeological investigation and the application of established techniques from those fields to answer new research questions.  She is the principal investigator of the bioarchaeological study of nearly 500 individuals dating from 1720 to 1860 recovered from the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia at 218 Arch Street.  She recently conducted an analysis of ancient fingerprints found on clay lamps dating from 300 A.D. from a site in central Israel resulting in the positive identification of several lamp makers.  Her ongoing projects include the study of taphonomic processes and their effect on crime scene processing, the detection of decomposition products, and post-mortem toxicology.


David Pedersen, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Finance
School of Business

Dr. Pedersen documents that mutual fund managers generate risk-adjusted returns (alpha) by investing in firms that become takeover targets.  A fund’s takeout return is the return due to its holdings receiving a takeout offer.  A fund’s excess takeout return is its takeout return minus its benchmark’s takeout return.  There is persistence in excess takeout returns, implying that funds have takeout ability.  A one-standard deviation increase in excess takeout return is associated with annual alpha of 0.6%.  Takeout ability is not driven by funds affiliated with investment banks. Takeout ability is essentially orthogonal to other measures of skill.


Adnan Zulfiqar, J.D. 
Assistant Professor
Rutgers Law School

Prof. Zulfiqar’s presentation is titled “Before Jihad: Competent Authority, Armed Conflict and Legal Duties.”

Since Sept. 11, 2001, jihad remains a topic of intense interest for academics, policymakers, and the general public. A range of material, from polemics to apologetics, has offered theoretical insights into jihad, what it means and how it operates under Islamic law. Unfortunately, most of these works are underwhelming, repeating unavailing arguments and providing little insight into the concept or the predicaments emanating from it. To rectify this, it is necessary to first situate jihad in its proper legal context: as a duty to fight. This duty emerged shortly after Islam’s founding in the seventh century A.D. and was a collective one (fard kifaya), meant to support the state’s war efforts in the absence of standing armies. The duty was regulated by the state and responsibility for it was shared across society. In other words, if some people performed the duty then it was satisfied for everyone else. However, colonial rule and the advent of weak post-colonial states produced circumstances that transformed the duty into an individual obligation (fard ayn) required of every person and not subject to state oversight. The result was a growth of non-state actors engaged in violent activities. Hence, the shortcomings of the current analysis stem from one primary deficiency: a failure to adequately address initial jurisdictional claims over legitimate violence in Islamic law. While limitations and guidelines on waging jihad, once underway, are frequently discussed, there is virtually no mention of the vital question of who possesses the competent authority to initiate jihad in the first place. Prof. Zulfiqar’s research utilizes historical methods, including source-criticism, to address this gap, examining jihad as a legal duty and the implications for the state on the transformation of this duty. He contends that shifting jihad from a collective to an individual obligation has serious consequences: states lose oversight over lawful violence, militancy among non-state actors increases, and profound distortions emerge in Islamic law’s interpretation and application. Only by appreciating historical context and legal change can we hope to adequately craft a strategy for our concerns around the extremism often tied to this discourse.