Undergraduate research on display; Joanne Murphy receives award

Posted on April 10, 2018

Last week, 219 students representing 39 academic departments made presentations at the 12th annual Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo.

Those included poster presentations, oral presentations and several performances.

Dr. Joanne Murphy from the Department of Classical Studies was honored with the Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

“As faculty, research is such a huge part of our identity,” she said at the event’s opening. “If we involve our undergraduates in hands-on research, conferences, presentations and peer-reviewed publishing activity, we really complete the loop.”

This year’s expo saw several new additions that expanded the scope of undergraduate research at UNCG. A group of freshman and sophomores from the Residential Colleges presented their work as “Emerging Scholars,” with support and mentoring from the Residential College faculty.

“The skills I learned from Dr. Littlejohn about interviewing and evaluating sources are things that I can take with me through the rest of my academic career,” said Sohm Gough, a Strong College resident who presented a poster about the relationship between music and social movements in the late twentieth century.

In addition to research in topics as diverse as intra-urban agriculture, wildlife diversity, multilingual education and nurse-patient communication, artistic work made a big appearance at this year’s expo. The noon program included the presentation of an original piano piece by Andrew Savage, a theatrical presentation by Joshua Kellum and the screening of an original short film by media studies major Tumaini Johnson. The film, “Greensboro Four,” was a dramatic representation of the initial 1960 sit-in at the downtown Greensboro Woolworth’s counter.

Through a wide variety of subjects and methods, UNCG’s undergraduate researchers brought their best – projects that displayed innovative, inspired research with historical or creative resonance and real-world implications and impacts.

See list of the Expo winners below photos.

Charmaine Randolph and her project, “Public Health Education Evaluation of Racism as a Social Determinant of Health Case Study Module.”






“I like seeing how scholars in each field bring their creativity,” said Jiyoung Park, who presented a poster of illustrations she made of monstrous figures throughout the world.






Robert (Tyler) Born and his project, “Public Health Education Perinatal Opioid Use: Examining the Role of Intersectional Stigma in Service Provision.”






Award Winners:

Arts, Humanities and Education

1st Place:              Sarah Duncan (Classical Studies)

      Tie              Faculty Mentor: Joanne Murphy

Akhenaten and Collapse in the Ancient State

1st Place:              Curran Fitzgerald (Antrhopology)

       Tie            Faculty Mentor: Donna Nash

Archaeoastronomical Analysis of Wari Ritual Spaces in the Osmore Valley, Peru

3rd Place:              Dixie Ortiz (Music Education) and Jessica Lewis (Music)

                               Faculty Mentor: Rebecca MacLeod

Near Peer Mentorship as a Model for Private Music Instruction

Honorable Mention:

               Joshua Kellum, Michael Newman and Jordan Speas (Theatre)

               Faculty Mentors:  Denise Gabriel

MAMA “Mindfulness Arts Mindful Actions”

Economics, Behavioral and Social Sciences

1st Place:              Payton McGarry (Economics)

                               Faculty Mentor: Stephen Holland

UNCG and Intergenerational Mobility

2nd Place:             Sierra Rufino (Psychology)

                               Faculty Mentor: Rosemery Nelson-Gray

Does Facial Emotion Recognition Affect Friendship?: Borderline Personality Disorder

3rd Place:              Mengyun Li, Ruitong Li, Jessica Navarro, and Haley Morris (Human Development and Family Studies)

                               Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Tudge

Developing Connective Gratitude: A Intervention Study

Honorable Mention:

               Dahlia Alharoon (Psychology)

               Faculty Mentor: Paul Silvia

Daydreaming Styles and Brain Functional Connectivity

               Jordan Richmond (International & Global Studies and Political Science)

               Faculty Mentors: Roberto Campo and Lynda Kellum

Crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh: Sociocultural Underpinnings and Political Barriers to the 2016-2018 Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing Crisis

               Alexus Threatt (Nursing)

               Faculty Mentors: Sandra Blaha and Leslie Davis

How Meditation Works: Understanding the Mechanisms Behind the Practice

Mathematics, Life and Physical Sciences

1st Place:              Saman Baral and Shilpa Bhatia (Biology)

                               Faculty Mentor: Olav Rueppell

Virus Resistance in Honeybees

2nd Place:             Amanda Barclift (Kinesiology)

                               Faculty Mentor: Louisa Raisbeck

The Effects of Attentional Focus in a Fine Motor Skill and Task Difficulty Interaction

3rd Place:              Manead Khin (Chiemistry)

                               Faculty Mentor: Nadja Cech

Macleaya cordata as a potential cure for MRSA

Honorable Mention:

               Mark Perez (Chemistry & Biochemistry)

               Faculty Mentors:  Mitchell Croatt and Mohammed Al-Hunti

Palladium Catalyzed Deoxygenation of Alcohols


Emerging Scholars (Residential College Students):

1st Place: Jacqueline Teasley, Senior Archaeology Major: How Healthcare Policies Reveal the Discriminatory Nature of Immigration Laws in the United States, ES-A36 (Sara Littlejohn, mentor)

2nd Place: Breeana White, Sophomore Social Work Major: Not Legal Yet, ES-A41 (Sara Littlejohn, mentor)

3rd Place: Caroline Hanrahan, Sophomore Media Studies Major: Sociology of Autism, ES-A11 (Sara Littlejohn, mentor)

Honorable Mentions:

Lex Lee, Sophomore Social Work Major: Umbrella in the Rain, ES-A18 (Sara Littlejohn, mentor)

Morgan Fadely, Sophomore History Major: Should They Stay or Should They Go, ES-M06 (Sara Littlejohn, mentor)


Story and photography by Susan Kirby-Smith


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