John C. Young Scholars present research at Symposium

Posted by Centre News in Campus, News, Research 09 May 2013

After spending the entire academic year researching and writing, the seven 2012-13 John C. Young (JCY) Scholars presented their research at an annual Symposium in conjunction with the Research, Internships and Creative Endeavors (RICE) Symposium in April.

“Watching the John C. Young presentations was genuinely exciting,” says John Kinkade, assistant professor of English. “When you see the high-quality work that our students are doing and their skill in presenting that work, you feel very good about Centre’s intellectual community and our students’ readiness for graduate school or the world of work.”

The 2012-13 John C. Young Scholars and their topics were:

•Ben Boone ’13: “MurA: Production, Purification, and Characterization of Antibiotic Potential”
•Haley Crigger ’13: “Throw Away the Book: A Psychological Survey of Life and Literature through Poetry”
•Kaitlyn Lee ’13: “An Analysis of Regional Dialects: Owensboro, Kentucky and Evansville, Ind.”
•Nathan Likert ’13: “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: The Oxymoron in Romantic Literature”
•Cara Monical ’13: “Computer Science Genetic Coloring of Dynamic Graphs”
•Natalie Orms ’13: “A Computational and Synthetic Investigation of Potential Inhibitors of the MurA Enzyme”
•Kate Wintuska ’13: “An Evaluation of the Administration of Non-Educational Services in Kentucky Schools”

For some of the Scholars, research topics came easily as extensions of previous work—including Boone, who had already spent considerable time researching the MurA enzyme.

“I thought that continuing this research as a John C. Young Scholar would allow me to combine the different aspects I had been involved in beforehand,” he says. “I was interested in the prospect of conducting research that could one day have a very tangible impact on public health—even perhaps my own medical practice down the road as I pursue medicine as a career.”

johncyoung_wintuskaWintuska chose her research topic as a culmination of the most significant aspects of her time at Centre: academics, service with the Bonner program, and her plans to teach in the future.

“My academics fueled my passion for learning and gaining a deeper understanding of Kentucky public schools,” she says, continuing, “Service has provided me a different perspective of nonprofit organizations and their administration, and my commitment to and love for educating students pushed me to learn more about an organization that serves them.”

For Lee, a research topic presented itself through a course on the History of the English Language.

“Dr. [Mark] Rasmussen suggested that I write about speech where I’m from—Western Kentucky,” says Lee. “I tried to research the topic but couldn’t find anything, so I decided to do the research myself.”

As she began to work on her JCY project, Lee realized just what an undertaking it would be.
“I started reading all the material that I could find on dialects, and also conducted interviews—46 in total,” she says. “The process was brutal at times, but I wouldn’t change anything, because I know that this has made me a better student.”

johncyoung_leeBoone and Wintuska had similar experiences of working extremely hard and finding satisfying results.

“The research process was constantly generating new ideas and angles of experimentation and having those ideas refined by my mentor, Dr. January Haile,” Boone says. “There was almost always a guarantee of unexpected results. The trial and error nature of my project was trying, though rewarding upon achieving promising and informing results.”

“Partnering with the Family and Youth Resources Services Coalition of Kentucky, I was given access to 327 elementary schools with Family Resource Centers in Kentucky. FRCs are aimed at eliminating nonacademic barriers to learning,” Wintuska says. “Learning about this number of schools—although at times overwhelming—provided me with a great ‘big picture’ understanding of what FRCs look like in Kentucky—their mission, services they provide and barriers they encounter to providing services.”

While it required a year of dedication and hard work, the JCY Scholars are appreciative of the opportunity to do such intensive research. For some, the projects won’t end here—Lee, for instance, plans to continue her research as part of her Master’s thesis.

“I’m still really passionate about the subject. I learned tons of things—not only about my project but also about how to conduct research and about myself as a student,” says Lee. “One of the most important things I learned was to ask for help. I consulted teachers on campus, off-campus, and even sent emails to textbook authors. The cool thing was that everyone helped me and was even glad to help me.

johncyoung_boone“I feel very grateful to have had this opportunity,” Lee continues. “It’s a wonderful program and has really added to my ‘personal education’ that Centre promises. It was truly the best learning experience I’ve had at Centre and I feel like I’ve grown tremendously from it.”
Wintuska agrees.

“It was an honor to be chosen for the research project,” she says. “I’m thankful for the many opportunities with which I’ve been blessed to learn more about my passion for education here at Centre.”

The John C. Young Scholars for the next academic year have already been selected, and Kinkade says they are just as impressive as this year’s batch.

“Next year’s topics are equally exciting, and some of the projects really capture the strength of the John C. Young Program, which is its flexibility to support non-traditional research projects that students probably wouldn’t be able to do in another context,” he says.

The John C. Young Fellows for 2013-14 are:

•Tony Huffman: “A Comparative Analysis of the Top and bottom Performing Public School Districts in Eastern Kentucky: Closing the Achievement Gap”
•Danika Isdahl: “The Gothic Tales of Louisville: Writing the Stories of Louisville in the Gothic Genre”
•Warren McKnight: “Phenomenology and the Self-Attribution of Gender”
•Stephen Metcalf: “On the Search for Meaning: An Analysis of Major Themes in Spiritual Memoirs and Autobiographies”
•Bailey Nelson: “Conservation Genetics of Eastern Pterospera”
•Olivia Palmer: “Presentation of the Person and the Persona: Theatrical Analysis of Identity Performance in an Online World”
•Sarah Welch: “An Era of Distrust: Public Reactions to the Pre-Stonewall Gay Rights Movement”

By Elizabeth Trollinger