Gordon State College Undergraduate Research Symposium Boasts Increased Presentations

By Karolina Philmon, GSC marketing manager 

Gordon State College held its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) at the Barnesville campus in April, seeing an increase in participation for both podium and poster presentations from the URS in 2023.

The event annually invites scholarly paper submissions across diverse fields. This year's symposium saw a 30% increase in participation, featuring nine podium presentations compared to last year's seven, and eight poster presentations compared to six in 2023. 

“The URS remains an excellent showcase of student scholarly work at GSC,” said Dr. Amanda L.J. Duffus, GSC professor of biology and URS committee chair. “Once again, the judges faced a challenging task, as all presentations were exceptional. Each student delivered work befitting graduate-level scholarship! As always, I am incredibly proud of our students and deeply grateful to the faculty for their dedicated mentorship.”

This year’s podium presentation winner titled, “Virtue Shamed Her: the Trials of Griselda Murray v. the Epistle of Mary Wortley Montagu,” was presented by Sierra Spencer of Lamar County.

Spencer attributes her ability to tackle stage fright to her participation in the symposium.

“The symposium was something of a trial by fire for my stage anxiety. Five minutes before presentations began, I asked another presenter if it was too late to back out. I was only half-joking,” Spencer said. “But during my presentation, my nerves finally gave out, and my passion took the wheel. It was exhilarating. It was terrifying. It was worth it.”

Runners-up included Elizabeth R. Hill of Pike County on her podium presentation titled, “Feminine Genesis: The Sexes’ Interpretations of Eve in British Literature,” and William Shiflett of Henry County on his podium presentation titled, “Evaluating the Differences and Strengths of Remote-Control Gliders and Quadcopter Drones.” 

“This experience would not have been possible without my mentor, Dr. David Janssen,” Hill said. “He encouraged me to pursue my interests, and because of him, I have been able to use my undergraduate research to create an opportunity to write for Answers in Genesis, my dream job!”

Faculty provided research assistance to students by serving as advisors or mentors.

“I encourage all my fellow students to not be afraid to chase your dreams. I know I was, but I have seen that Gordon is the best place to pursue your passions,” Hill said. 

This year’s poster presentation winner titled, “The Search for Local Adaptation of Ambystoma tigrinum virus in Western North America,” was presented by Katelyn Fowler of Henry County.

Runners-up included Aastha Jaiswal of Spalding County with her poster presentation titled, “Cost-effective Isolation and Putative Identification of Psychrotrophic Bacterial Species Producing Fluorescent Pigments,” and Qasim Ahmed partnered with Denis Martinez and Rebecca Smyly, all from Spalding County, on their poster presentation titled, “Observing RZ-Aries.”

“I was very motivated by the incredible research being conducted by my peers and thankful for this opportunity to share my projects with Highlander Nation!” Jaiswal said.

Duffus thanked Dr. Donald J. Green, GSC president; Dr. J. Ardovini, GSC provost and vice president for academic and student affairs; the judges; the faculty mentors; and the URS committee for their support.

The URS committee consists of: Duffus as committee chair; Dr. Alan Burstein; GSC professor of business; Dr. David Janssen, GSC professor of English; Dr. John George, GSC professor of mathematics; Dr. Stephen Powers, GSC professor of English; Dr. Joseph Jones, GSC professor of education; and Melanie Mertz, GSC assistant professor of nursing.