A look at 10 student projects featured at the Academic Symposium

March 31, 2014 | Leave a Comment

A look at 10 student projects featured at the Academic Symposium

BUIES CREEK -- Some of the best work Campbell University students produced over the past year were on display Wednesday for the Wiggins Memorial Library’s 4th Annual Academic Symposium. More than 120 students from 22 academic disciplines participated in the 10-hour event, making it the largest -- and longest -- university-wide research symposium the library has held since it began hosting the event in 2011.

Though senior pre-law major Kia Small didn’t present during the Academic Symposium, she attended several presentations to support her peers and to learn more about topics that interest her. “Depending on your major, you can always learn more about the subjects that professors are talking about in class by listening to other students’ research,” said Small, who plans to attend law school after graduating in May. “It helps with your understanding and can even give you an idea about what you might be interested in.”

Two new additions to the symposium this year were the performance of original compositions at Butler Chapel and the display of original artwork in the Wiggins lobby. “I know there are lot of presentations that highlight important events and issues, but it’s nice for us in the fine arts to be recognized for what we do, too,” said senior art major Sarah Uphole, who had a charcoal sketch of a woman reclining on a bed included in the symposium. “Hopefully next year there will be more artwork in the symposium.”

Senior Anna Slaughter is eyeing more musical performances. “It’s fantastic to showcase the fine arts,” said Slaughter, who had two compositions -- one a flute piece and the other a piano piece -- performed  Wednesday. “It shows the importance of our work and gives a good variety to the symposium.”

In all, this year’s Academic Symposium featured more than 70 compositions, pieces of artwork and oral and poster presentations. The students’ work touched on range of topics, from “Effects of Music Tempo on Aerobic-Based Exercise” to “Synthesis of Peropyrene Derivatives.”

Below is a look at 10 of the student projects. Head over to the Campbell University Libraries’ site to see a list of all the presenters and their topics.

Making music with your best friend

Campbell University student Joelle Hilton had to hold back the tears as she played the piano composition “Morceaux de a Cathedrale” Wednesday in Butler Chapel. It’s not often when the composer of the piece is among those present for the performance. “When the composer is still alive, it’s bizarre, and they have expectations,” said Hilton, a junior piano pedagogy major.

What’s more: the composer is her best friend, Hannah Stayton, a senior at Campbell. “I know what [Hannah] had in mind and how creative she wants it be and her ultimate goal,” Hilton said. “There’s a lot of emotion that comes with it.”

It was an honor to hear Hilton play the piece, too, said Stayton, adding her composition was inspired by her love for cathedrals. She wrote most of the piece in Butler Chapel, because “I wanted the echo” that was similar to cathedrals, she said.

Stayton’s senior recital will be April 22 at 8 p.m. in the Scott Concert Hall in the Taylor Botts Fine Arts Building.

What PAs consider when they decide where to practice

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, only 17 percent of the physician assistants (PA) in the U.S. practice in rural locations. In North Carolina, there are 31 counties that experience persistent shortages in health professionals, according to the AAPA, including part of Harnett County, home of Campbell University. “There is a deficit for health providers and definitely a need for them, especially in rural and underserved counties,” said Maegen Hellberg, a Master of Public Health student who graduates in May.

For the past two years, Hellberg has worked on a pilot study with Assistant Professor of Public Health David Tillman to understand what factors PA students consider as they make decisions about where they intend to practice after graduation. More specifically, what role do clinical experiences play in their decision-making?

One part of Hellberg’s study included surveys and interviews with Campbell PA students after their clinical rotations. Those surveys and interviews revealed three primary factors that influenced their decision about where to practice: preceptor relationships, patient interactions, and comfort and confidence with their skillset. “The one theme students said affected their decisions the most were patient interactions,” she said. “So the better their relationship with their preceptor and the more quality of interactions and the quantity of interactions led [the PA students] to experience more confidence and comfort with skillset required by the profession.”

She added: “My research was very specific, but I would hope it encourages other institutions to consider incorporating [rural clinical rotations] into their programs and improve literature about factors that do influence PAs’ decisions about practice location.” Doing so, she added, may go a long way in helping narrow the health gap in the U.S.

Chasing the American Dream

Stephine Rutowsky, a senior history major, grew up in a bicultural community in Corpus Christi, Texas, near the Mexico-U.S. border. Some of her friends had parents who didn’t speak English, and she saw the challenges they faced as they tried to adapt to the U.S. and shift back and forth between two cultures. Their experiences stayed with her and led her to research the reasons why Mexicans have immigrated to the U.S., the challenges and opportunities they have faced in doing so, and the impact it has had on their families.

“Many Mexican Americans have found a way to adapt, but discrimination and deportation is still a major challenge they face,” Rutowsky said. “I hope people understand that when others immigrate to the U.S., they are trying to better their own lives and those of their children. They are trying to chase the American Dream and help themselves, not take away from those already in the U.S.”

How not to get stubbornly stuck in one view

James Demmel, a religion major, grew up in a church where the elements of the Lord’s Supper were a purely symbolic act. But during his time at Campbell, as he came into contact with different beliefs and deepened his knowledge, he went through a theological wrestling, including with the Lord’s Supper. For an upper-level course taught by religion professor Glenn Jonas, he had the opportunity “to take a moment to work through [the wrestling],” he said. To do so, he went to “the original documents” to examine the changes the Church of England made to the doctrine of the Eucharist in the 16th century, including the wording to the first three books of the Common Prayer.

His takeaway from this research? An admiration for the Church of the England. “No matter what your views are on things, you can get stubbornly stuck in that view and say ‘This is my way’ and outcast other people,” he said. “But the Church of England crafted its own middle road to meld multiple views.”

The research and participation in the symposium also gave him the opportunity “to see if the academic world really clicked,” he said. It did. After he graduates in May, Demmel will attend Duke Divinity School. He plans to pursue a career in academia.

Chickens "are more like us than we ever imagined"

John Ezell, a senior in psychology, took a lab last semester in which he studied the embryos of chickens. After the assignment, Ezell and other students were invited to take the chicken embryos home to hatch. Ezell got two of them. When those two chickens died, he got two more -- Bonnie and Clyde.

This semester, when Ezell and senior psychology majors Julia Hottel, Cameron Hunter and Andrew Taylor were looking to conduct a study for an advanced research methods class taught by Jutta Street, they turned to the chickens, making them the first Campbell students to conduct an animal study in the psychology department.

Their study confirmed what previous studies have found: chickens respond to colors but not shapes. Another takeaway: Chickens have personalities, too. “It’s evident with pets like cats and dogs that animals have personalities, but you typically don’t think of a farm animal with personality,” Hunt said. “After spending time with the chickens, you see that each has his own individual and distinct personality.”

Taylor added: “They are more like us than we ever imagined.”

Making math easier to understand

Sophomore Megan Lenaghan began her academic studies at Campbell as a major in the sciences. During her courses, though, she discovered math catered more to the way she learned and how her brain operates, which is orderly. “I got hooked on math,” said Lenaghan, now a math major.

For a History of Math course, she delved into the roots of logic and probability, discovering, for example, that statistics traces back to early Rome when people were trying to figure out the chances of rolling certain numbers during a game of dice. This research gave her a greater appreciation for statistics.

It also helped her to recognize that “anybody can learn math,” she said. “When you learn where it came from, it makes math a lot easier to understand.”

Beginning to understand the anxiety student-athletes experience

Ethan Hall, a senior in sports management, knows something about the anxiety NCAA Division 1 student-athletes experience. He was a goalkeeper on Campbell’s soccer team the past four seasons. He wanted to know: Do other student-athletes experience anxiety?

In a research study for a course taught by Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Elizabeth Lange, Hall administered the Sports Competition Anxiety Test to 66 female student-athletes who compete on four of the Campbell’s women’s sports. The degree of anxiety experienced by the student-athletes varied across the fours sports. In one sport, for example, more than 40 percent of the athletes experienced a high-level of anxiety, while another sport had zero athletes reporting a high degree of anxiety.

“So many things can impact anxiety. It’s not just fans or individual pressure. It’s everything, including ambiguity and unpredictability of sports,” said Hall, who graduates in May and then will join the Greensboro United Soccer Association as director of recreation. “But what’s more interesting is how much the anxiety varied from sport to sport. . . .

“This data gives us the ground basis to start asking the why that’s so.”

Drawing for the love of drawing

Senior Nicholas Beaver was walking out of one art class and passing by another when he saw students sketching a model that had a bright light shining down from behind her. The students were working on light and contrast, and Beaver has been trying to improve his shading. So he joined the class that day and sketched the model, too. That sketch was on display Wednesday in the Wiggins Memorial Library’s lobby as part of the Academic Symposium.

“One of my difficulties is shading, and I just really wanted to work on shading,” Beaver said. “I was hoping to get the light and how it was hitting clothing right.”

Beaver hopes those who saw it displayed “just acknowledge the drawing” and “take what they can from it.”

“It’s great to be recognized, and it’s good to know that people think something I’ve done is good,” he added. “But I draw because I love to draw.”

“The way we perceive things in our mind can be quantified”

There has been little research done on people who have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD). Not many people are even familiar with the disorder that causes nerves to send constant signals of pain to the brain. That’s what drew sophomores Autumn Bass, Brittany Hawley and Allison Miller together to research how different environments affect people with RSD for a biology course taught by Associate Professor of Biology John Bartlett.

For their study, Bass, Hawley and Miller used a portal EEG headset to measure the brainwaves of a student with RSD as she sat through classes to determine which factors, such as HVAC systems or particular professors, cause vibrations that induce pain. One finding was “that the stress the student felt for the class caused significant amounts of pain,” Hawley said.

Miller found the results fascinating. “We all experience vibrations, but most of us brush them off, and it’s not a big deal,” she said. “But to some people with RSD, it causes pain and affects concentration.”

“The way we perceive things in our mind,” Hawley added, “can be quantified.”

Courts still hearing cases related to desegregation

Chris Waivers, a third-year law student, grew up in Greenville, N.C., the county seat of Pitt County. So when one of his assignments for a seminar taught by Assistant Professor of Law Lisa Lukasik was to explore current issues in constitutional law affecting public schools, he picked Everett vs. Pitt County Board of Education.

Broadly, that case is about Pitt County’s quest for unitary status, or when the federal government declares that a school district has achieved integration, Waivers said. Everett vs. Pitt County Board of Education was originally filed in 1965 when Pitt County adopted a freedom of choice school plan. Few students chose to change schools at the time, though, and the result was de facto segregation. Pitt County had failed to achieve unitary status, a court found, and the county came under federal control.

The case sat dormant for the next 30 years until the mid-2000s when a parents group filed suit against the Pitt County Board of Education over an assignment plan. Pitt County then “found out they were still operating under federal control,” Waivers said. After a series of court cases and judges’ rulings, a trial was held to determine whether Pitt County had reached unitary status. In the summer of 2013, more than three decades after the original case and nearly four decades after Brown vs Board of Education, N.C. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled unitary status should be granted to Pitt County.

“It’s tough for school districts to operate under federal orders, and it’s questionable whether those should be used still now,” Waivers said. “But that’s the most interesting thing that came out of this research: that these issues still exist and there are still desegregation cases.”

Article by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator; Photos courtesy of Campbell University Libraries

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