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Academic Exploration: MSU Undergraduate Research Featured at Interdisciplinary Symposium

April 26, 2018

Junior biochemistry major Auriana P. Tucker of Brookhaven explains her research project “Grimms Tales Made Anew: A Benjaminian Analysis of Contemporary Video Games” to Assistant Professor of English Eric Vivier during Mississippi State University’s Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. (Photo by Megan Bean)
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Animal and dairy sciences, biochemistry, biological engineering, chemical engineering, human sciences and psychology were among academic programs well-represented during Mississippi State University’s recent Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Hosted by the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, the annual competition received 165 submissions from students conducting faculty-guided research. Projects were assigned to one of four categories—arts and humanities, biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. Certain categories had multiple award winners due to the large number of submissions.

In recognition of the university’s Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a community engagement track also was included.

A team of 46 campus faculty and graduate students representing a cross-section of academic areas served as competition judges. Featured speaker for the symposium was John Bickle, professor and head of MSU’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.

David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development, said undergraduate students are an integral part of the multi-faceted research underway at MSU.

“Pursuing research opportunities is a critical part of academic life on our campus, and our students are recognized for their commitment to discovery, creation and exploration in our labs, studios, library, research farms and beyond,” Shaw said. “We are pleased that members of our faculty are committed to providing undergraduates with meaningful roles in the overall research enterprise and promoting interdisciplinary research as an important component of scholarly activity.”

Residents of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, India and Nepal, this year’s winners include (by project type and category):

ORAL PRESENTATIONS
  • ARTS AND HUMANITIES:
    • FIRST—Emily E. Turner of Starkville, a senior architecture major mentored by Alexis Gregory, associate professor of architecture.
VISUAL DISPLAYS
  • ARTS AND HUMANITIES:
    • FIRST—John-Taylor G. Corley of Poplarville, a senior landscape architecture major mentored by Peter Summerlin and Elizabeth Tofte, assistant professors of landscape architecture.
    • SECOND—Emily G. Coggins of Starkville, a senior educational psychology major mentored by Wendy Herd, associate professor of English.

  • BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING:
    • FIRST—Aaron W. Albee of Starkville, a senior microbiology major mentored by Donna M. Gordon, associate professor of biological sciences.
    • SECOND—Isabella J. Durham of Prattville, Alabama, a senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture/wildlife veterinary medicine major mentored by Garrett Street, assistant professor of wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture.
    • SECOND—Justin N. Yow of Hernando, a senior forestry/wildlife management major mentored by Heidi Renninger, assistant professor of forestry.
    • THIRD—Erin E. Rushing of Silver Creek, a junior biochemistry/pre-medicine major mentored by Barbara L. F. Kaplan, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Basic Science.
    • THIRD—Christopher W. “Chris” Nutter of Meridian, a senior biochemistry/pre-medicine major mentored by Donna M. Gordon of biological sciences.
    • THIRD—Maggie L. Tu of Smithville, Georgia, a senior animal and dairy sciences major mentored by Caleb Lemley, assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences.

  • PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING:
    • FIRST—Jeffrey D. Headley of Bay St. Louis, a senior physics major mentored by Chuji Wang, professor of physics.
    • SECOND—Phong C. Ly of Brandon, a senior civil engineering/environmental engineering major mentored by Jason Street, assistant professor of sustainable bioproducts.
    • THIRD—Aditya K. Shah of Nepal, a senior aerospace engineering/aeronautics major mentored by Rani Warsi Sullivan, associate professor of aerospace engineering.
    • THIRD—Sarah E. Darrow of Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, a senior computer science major mentored by Cindy Bethel, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering who holds the Billie J. Ball Endowed Professorship in Engineering.
    • THIRD—Martin G. McCandless of Ridgeland, a senior aerospace engineering/aeronautics major mentored by Xiao Wang, assistant research professor at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.

  • SOCIAL SCIENCES:
    • FIRST—Laura A. Herring of Panama City, Florida, a senior management/international business and foreign language/Spanish double-major mentored by Kathleen Ragsdale, associate research professor at MSU’s Social Science Research Center.
    • SECOND—Allison G. “AlliGrace” Story of Starkville, a senior psychology major mentored by Cliff McKinney, associate professor of psychology.
    • THIRD—Maggie D. Walgren of Milan, Tennessee, a senior psychology major mentored by Hilary DeShong, assistant professor of psychology.
    • THIRD—Emily A. Williamson of Purvis, a junior psychology major mentored by Danielle K. Nadorff, assistant professor of psychology.
    • THIRD—Lily A. Hebert of Brandon, a senior English and psychology double-major mentored by Deborah Eakin, associate professor of psychology.

THESIS RESEARCH COMPETITION
  • SPONSORS
    • The Graduate School
  • FIRST—Christina M. Loftin of Columbus, a senior biological sciences major mentored by Andrea Varela-Stokes, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Basic Science.
  • SECOND—Luke Acuff of Columbia, Tennessee, a junior biological engineering/biomedical engineering major mentored by Jan Chambers, Giles Distinguished Professor in MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the university’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences.
  • THIRD—Rebecca D. Keefer of Palmetto, Florida, a senior agribusiness/policy and law major advised by Amanda Stone, assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT RESEARCH TRACK
  • SPONSORS
    • Center for Community-Engaged Learning
  • ARTS AND HUMANITIES/SOCIAL SCIENCES:
    • FIRST—Laura A. Herring of Panama City, Florida, a senior management/international business and foreign language/Spanish double-major mentored by Kathleen Ragsdale of MSU’s Social Science Research Center.

  • BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING:
    • FIRST—Leah E. Gann of Aberdeen, a junior horticulture/fruit and vegetable production major mentored by Tongyin Li, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences.

  • PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING:
    • FIRST—Aaron W. Kimbrell of Carrollton, a senior software engineering major mentored by Cindy Bethel of MSU’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH COMPETITION ()
  • SPONSORS
    • Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion
    • Department of Communication
    • Mississippi Public Health Association
    • Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities.
  • FIRST—Jillian N. Masters of Marietta, Georgia, a senior biological sciences/pre-medicine and microbiology double-major mentored by Jonas King, assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.
  • SECOND— Christina M. Loftin of Columbus, a senior biological sciences major mentored by Andrea Varela-Stokes of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • THIRD (tie)— Laura A. Herring of Panama City, Florida, a senior management/international business and foreign language/Spanish double-major mentored by Kathleen Ragsdale of MSU’s Social Science Research Center.
  • THIRD (tie)— Luke Acuff of Columbia, Tennessee, a junior biological engineering/biomedical engineering major mentored by Jan Chambers of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

THETA TAU TOMORROW BUILDER AWARD
  • SPONSORS
    • Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity
  • OVERALL—Shuvam Saha of India, a senior aerospace engineering/aeronautics major mentored by Rani Warsi Sullivan of aerospace engineering.
In addition to the honors college and aforementioned competition sponsors, the symposium is supported by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, Office of Research and Economic Development, National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center and Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

For more on MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, visit www.honors.msstate.edu and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ShackoulsHonors.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Contact: Sasha Steinberg