Hampden-Sydney students are doing exciting things in research. Here are their stories.
From epics in Western Culture to social psychology, students covered wide-ranging topics recently during the Fall 2017 Student Research Symposium:
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, while students in 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.
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.
David Bushhouse '19 received a $750 Undergraduate Research Grant from the Virginia Academy of Science for his poster presentation at the Fall VAS Undergraduate Research Meeting. He presented summer research on the role of the FOXC2 transcription factor in melanoma progression. David is working with Dr. Kristian Hargadon to identify novel genes regulated by FOXC2 in melanoma. Bushhouse will also be presenting his work at the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, a national conference held in Philadelphia, PA.
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.
James H. Lau '17, a biology major and Goldwater Scholar, performed research with Elliott Associate Professor of Biology, Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01. The goal of James' research was to understand factors that control melanoma growth and metastasis. Specifically, he investigated the role of the FOXC2 protein as a regulator of melanoma progression.
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.