Hampden-Sydney students are doing exciting things in research.

Whether in the classroom or one-on-one with professors, students explore topics from social psychology and the natural sciences to sports and epics in Western Culture.

  • Students in Dr. Michael Utzinger's Western Culture 101 class examined Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Aeneid, investigating whether or not they meet the definition of epic found in certain academic articles.
  • Students in Dr. Claire Deal's Public Speaking class analyzed a trio of TED Talks.
  • Dr. Viktoria Basham's Freshman Seminar discussed effective forms of propaganda at work in our society.
  • Dr. Ivo Gyrovski '09 had his students analyze examples of social psychology at work in public policy.
  • Dr. Sarah Hardy's English Capstone students launched their online magazine Stone Cap. Her students investigated how certain short stories were influenced by the magazines in which they were published, such as Emily Dickinson's "Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church" in The Round Table.

Hampden-Sydney students presented at the 2018 National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Oklahoma.

  • Carlo Anslemo '18 showed how music can be generated through the predictive power of mathematical algorithms.
  • Joshua Elliott '18 analyzed the banya (a Russian version of a sauna) and associated drinks in Russian culture.
  • Travis Stackow '19 analyzed the role of baseball in the lives of the main characters in the novel Fences with "There Ought Not Never Been No Time Called Too Early: The Double Meaning of 'Past Time' in August Wilson's Fences."
  • Shelby Hanna '20 presented an analysis of President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy.

More Student Research Stories

Travis Stackow '19 was awarded a prestigious H-SC Summer Research Fellowship to explore three of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous works—Crime and PunishmentThe Brother Karamazov, and Notes from Underground. He was fascinated by the way Dostoevsky approaches the problem of 'heightened consciousness' through three of his characters—Raskolnikov, the Underground Man, and Ivan. After submitting his abstract, he was selected to present his summer research at the Central Slavic Conference, an honor granted to a select few undergraduate students.

Max Dash '18 devoted the bulk of his senior year to honors research in English, delving deep into what he calls a very personal, passion-driven project. With the help of his advisor, Dr. Sarah B. Hardy, Max divided his capstone research work equally between the creative and the critical. Including a series of multi-media projects utilizing audio, video, photography, and writing and a deep-dive into Tiger athletics past and present, Max's research analyzed the relationship between sports narratives and American culture.

Corey Williams '19, Coleman Johnson '19, and Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian M. Hargadon '01 published a review article on cancer immunotherapy in the journal International Immunopharmacology entitled "Immune Checkpoint Blockade Therapy for Cancer: An Overview of FDA-approved Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor." Their article highlights the emerging field of checkpoint blockade therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of many cancer types in recent years. Both students have been doing melanoma research in Dr. Hargadon's laboratory since the summer of 2017 and have been accepted to Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Medicine.

Will Fussy '18 chose an Honors Capstone research topic that combined his biology major with his desire to attend law school: the legal patenting of human genes. At the crux of Will's thesis is the 2013 Supreme Court case AMP v. Myriad, which ruled that natural DNA discoveries could not be patented. Will's paper examines the ruling's effect on research and innovation. The interdisciplinary project had Will working with professors from multiple disciplines: government professor Guy Burnett, who advised Will's legal research; biology professor Michael Wolyniak, who advised his scientific research; and classics professor Janice Siegel, who advised his writing.

David Bushhouse '19, 2018 Goldwater Scholar and recipient of an Undergraduate Research Grant from the Virginia Academy of Science, was recognized for his ongoing research on tumor immunology with Dr. Kristian Hargadon, Elliot professor of biology and a Goldwater Scholar himself during his student days at H-SC. They are determining, on the molecular-genetics level, how a protein called FOXC2 regulates the spread and metastasis of melanoma skin cancer. He has presented his work at the Fall VAS Undergraduate Research Meeting and the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

Persus Okowuah '18  is interested in combating invasive species without resorting to pesticides, which damage native plants and seep into groundwater. Inspired in part by the landscape he passes through between campus and his home in Northern Virginia, Persus found that disturbed soil, like that found on construction sites and near road work, benefits the invasive weed to the detriment of native plants; the introduction of clover, however, keeps the knap weed in check and helps other native species survive, as well. Understanding and adjusting to that dynamic early can prevent the development of a large-scale problem like the current invasion of kudzu in the southeast.

Sean Walden '18 is tackling a problem that poses a significant economic threat to the beer industry: fungal infections in Humulus lupulus-the common hop plant. In recent years, several H-SC students have studied hops and the downy mildew that attacks them, but Sean is particularly interested in studying the plants' own defenses as a potential fungicide—a natural alternative to current fungicides that seep copper into the soil and groundwater. He hopes he's laying the groundwork for future essential oil-based fungicides.

Brant Boucher '17 and James Lau '17 were among the approximately 100 undergraduate students to present research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, attended by more than 20,000 cancer researchers. They had to submit abstracts to present their work as well as be nominated by two AACR members. James and Brant's research with Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01,  focuses on the FOXC2 protein, which is overactive in many aggressive cancers. James' work has shown that FOXC2 in melanoma cells promotes the ability of these tumor cells to migrate and invade tissues, which relate to the capacity to metastasize.

Alex Abbott '17, a history and philosophy major, and Dr. Marc Hight, Elliott Professor of Philosophy, collaborated on a summer research project in the humanities. The two worked to relate the idea of immaterialism, as presented by George Berkeley, 18thcentury Irish philosopher and divine, and religious dogma from the incarnation of Christ to the re-inhabitance of bodies in an afterlife. They conducted research to project the relationship between ontological views (what people believe is fundamentally real) and religious beliefs.

Josh Chamberlin '17, was involved in Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Erin Clabough's research investigating the developmental patterns that regulate sea turtle hatching on Hatteras Island. The work involved the placement of sensors into newly laid sea turtle nests using an innovative, remote controlled, real time access sensor and communication system designed to monitor motion within the nests. This was an extension of his summer research through the H-SC Honors Program, which he did jointly with an internship at the Hatteras Island Ocean Center. 

The Journal of the Sciences, Hampden-Sydney's very own science publication, has half a decade under its belt. It showcases a wide variety of undergraduate research in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. According to Dr. Michael Wolyniak, Associate Professor of Biology and advisor to the Journal, it is a place to consolidate the great undergraduate scientific work taking place on Hampden-Sydney College's campus.


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