Carter, Meads Claim Undergraduate Research Symposium Winners

Lenix Carter and August Meads
Lenix Carter and August Meads

Carter, Meads Claim Undergraduate Research Symposium Winners  


Gordon State College held its first virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) last week. Lenix Carter of Newnan won the Podium Presentations “Politics of Hopelessness: Ideological Trends in Pat the Bunny’s Lyrics” and August Meads of McDonough took top honors in the Poster Presentations, “The Changing Brightness of the Star Betelgeuse.”  

Gordon transitioned to a remote learning environment in March and the URS was rescheduled online Thursday following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to avoid large gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first URS was held in 2011.


Associate Professor of Biology and 2019-2020 Chair of URS Committee Dr. Amanda Duffus shared, “The purpose of the URS is to have a chance for students to share their intellectual efforts with the Gordon State College community and present their accomplishments to a receptive and intellectually-minded audience.” 


Faculty provide research assistance to students by serving as sponsors or mentors. By hosting the URS virtually, students were still able to engage in scholarship by presenting their research using Zoom, a web-based conferencing platform. 


“The Undergraduate Research Symposium has been invaluable in terms of getting me comfortable with the process of research and encouraging me to take that extra step in fields other than my own,” said Carter. Dr. David Janssen and Dr. Brian Webb served as faculty mentors for Carter.  


The URS is one way Gordon instills the Highlander’s EDGE, the institution’s path to the Momentum Approach and strategic plan, Building the Power of WE! As students conduct research and make their presentations, they embody skills to become Engaged Innovators, Dedicated Scholars, Gifted Communicators and Ethical leaders: the Highlander’s EDGE. 

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs C. Jeffery Knighton stated, “As a part of our Highlander EDGE initiative, this year we as a college decided to make the high-impact practice of Undergraduate Research our top priority.  Little did we know how our spring semester would be disrupted.  However, the students engaged in undergraduate research this year truly excelled, proving that they do, in fact, have the EDGE.”

"I will never forget the hours I spent stargazing on clear Friday nights at Gordon,” Meads said. “This entire undergraduate research experience has done away any question I have about what I'm going to do with my future. I'm going to be an astrophysicist and neither the forces of nature nor Sallie Mae can stand in my way!" Dr. Richard Schmude Jr. served as the faculty mentor for Meads.   


Other presenters included: Olivia Garcia, “Lonely Child Syndrome,” with Dr. Jane-Marie McKinney as a faculty sponsor; Britney Reid, “Exploring the Minds of Entrepreneurs” with Dr. Brenda Johnson as a faculty sponsor; Elizabeth C. Hanson, “Affective Early Irrigation in Young Peach Trees,” with Dr. Alan Burstein as a faculty sponsor.


Garcia said, "Being a part of this year's URS has shown me both the difficulties and achievements of conducting research."

“Organizing the Undergraduate Research Symposium, with the help of the Undergraduate Research Symposium Committee, is one of the highlights of my academic year,” Duffus said. “It is so awesome to see students excited about something that they have invested a lot of time and effort into and to present that work to their peers and the faculty. While this year we have had extenuating circumstances with the emergence of SARS – CoV2, the students have, amazingly, still been willing and able to make time for the URS after their examinations.  


“Things like the URS simply wouldn’t happen without the support of the faculty and the administration. It really gives our students a place where they can show how dedicated they are to their education and to academic scholarship. So, thank you to the faculty mentors, the administration, and the URS Committee!” 


Other 2019-2020 URS Committee members consisted of: Dr. Alan Burstein, Dr. John George, Dr. Gregory Hartman, Dr. David Janssen, Dr. Stephen Powers, Dr. Katie Wester-Neal and Dr. J. Franklin Williamson.