Fayette student places third in research competition

Kelsey Bailey a standout at the Undergraduate Exposition
Kelsey Bailey

Penn State student Kelsey Bailey is pictured with her award-winning poster at the Undergraduate Exposition at University Park.

Credit: Penn State

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Kelsey Bailey, a student at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, was one of only 16 students statewide to win awards for research at the annual Undergraduate Exposition, held April 5 at University Park. Her prize for taking third place in the social and behavioral sciences category was an engraved plaque and $100.

The exhibition featured more than 225 posters and 270 student presenters, giving the Penn State community and the general public an opportunity to learn about undergraduate research at the University. 

Joining student presenters at the event were faculty and graduate-student volunteer judges who evaluated posters based on content and display, as well as on oral presentations. Students were encouraged to submit work spanning the categories of arts and humanities, engineering, health and life sciences, physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and course-based projects (all disciplines).

The event culminated in an awards ceremony that celebrated winning poster entries and also the creative accomplishments of Penn State undergraduate students who dazzled the audience with performances of voice, dance and theater.

“At Penn State, we are fortunate to have an event such as this one to highlight some of the excellent work being done by our undergraduate students,” said Rob Pangborn, vice president and dean for undergraduate education. “The work presented here today is a snapshot of what undergraduate students are achieving during their time as students.”

Bailey’s research topic was “The Effects of Mutual Friendships on Romantic Relationship Outcomes.” The senior psychology major had personal knowledge in this area, so it naturally occurred to her to research the subject.

“I have found from my own experience and from speaking with others in a similar situation as my own that having a mutual friend appears to be very beneficial to one’s romantic relationship, potentially acting as an additional form of companionship to the partners and perhaps an external supporter of the relationship,” said Bailey.

To conduct her research, Bailey created an online survey through Penn State Qualtrics of people who were involved in romantic relationships lasting three months or longer. The questions pertained to the respondents’ satisfaction with their partners, as well as commitment, trust, and investments within their romantic relationship. Additionally, she posed questions regarding communication with the couples’ closest mutual friend.

She discovered the more that respondents communicated with a mutual friend, the better the outcomes were for satisfaction, commitment, trust and investments within their romantic relationship. Additionally, the closer that couples were with a mutual friend, the better outcomes were for trust and investments within their romantic relationship.

Bailey entered the Undergraduate Exhibition by submitting an abstract of her research paper online to University Park, where it was reviewed and invitations were issued. She said, “I felt honored to be taking part in an event in which other undergraduate students had worked very hard to compete. Being there representing Penn State Fayette was one of the biggest accomplishments of my undergraduate career.”

Bailey, who graduated this spring, most appreciated the family environment at the Fayette campus. “There you are not just a number in a crowd; you are distinguishable,” she said. “Professors care about each and every student’s personal journey through their college career at Penn State Fayette. I feel as though I could come back five years from now and still feel at home with the campus and faculty members.”

Now that Bailey has her degree from Penn State, the Albert Gallatin High School alumna will attend graduate school at California University of Pennsylvania for its Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, and then she has plans for a career as a licensed professional counselor.