Of the University's more than 16,000 acres of land, a substantial portion consists of recreation areas, farms and agricultural experiment grounds, and forest tracts that are used by graduate students in their work and research. Animal and wildlife students, for example, are conducting nutrition and reproductive physiology studies of whitetail deer, sheltered at one of the forest tracts. Astronomy students study at an observatory housing the largest telescope east of the Rockies. Those in civil engineering can carry out research at the only highway test track in Pennsylvania. Laboratories and equipment devoted to meteorology, mining, chemistry, combustion, biomechanics, engineering acoustics, psychology, and microbiology mirror the University's strengths in those disciplines. Biotechnology and microelectronics groups have established themselves here, and centers of expertise in computer-assisted design and manufacture, as well as robotics, have emerged. The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences provides centralized facilities for all researchers in the biological sciences. The Huck Institutes, Materials Research Institute, and the Penn State Institutes of the Environment enable new opportunities for multidisciplinary education and research within the life sciences, materials, energy, and environment-related disciplines.
The Social Science Research Institute has a Survey Research Center (SRC) that provides state-of-the-art and cost-effective survey research services to Penn State faculty and administrative units. SRC contributes to the education and training of Penn State students in areas related to survey research, and also serves as a focal point for Penn State faculty in a variety of disciplines whose research interests touch on the methodology of survey research. The SRC provides services in the areas of survey design, sampling, and data collection (including telephone, mail, face-to-face, and Internet surveys and focus groups); survey data management; and data analysis. Center staff assist researchers in estimating the costs associated with the collection and analysis of survey data. The center employs undergraduate and graduate students, serves as a resource on primary survey data collection for students enrolled in research methods courses, and offers short survey research workshops open to students and faculty each academic year. A major goal of the center is to serve as a focal point for Penn State faculty in a variety of disciplines who have an interest in the methodology of survey research. In the near future we will be developing a program to enable faculty to become associates of the Survey Research Center. The purpose of this program is to enhance collaborative research and training activities focusing on survey research methodology.
In addition to research conducted in academic departments or in organized research units within the individual colleges, opportunities for interdisciplinary research exist in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, the Materials Research Institute, the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium, the Penn State Institutes of the Environment, the Social Science Research Institute, and in research units: the Applied Research Laboratory and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The Animal Resource Program also provides University-wide services.