John C. Young Scholars present research
RELEASED: May 8, 2008
The John C. Young Scholars Program offers outstanding seniors an opportunity to engage in independent work, guided by faculty mentors, in their major discipline or in an interdisciplinary area of their choosing. The results of their research or artistic projects are presented at a symposium held each spring and are subsequently published.
The program represents the very best that Centre has to offer academically: talented, highly motivated students working closely with faculty mentors on projects of compelling intellectual substance.
"Selection as a John C. Young Scholar is one of the highest achievements a student can attain at Centre," says W. David Hall, assistant professor of religion and director of the program. "While the project is overseen by a faculty mentor, the proposed research is generally initiated by the student and the credit goes to the student. It's one of the many really special opportunities that Centre offers."
Following are brief descriptions of the research conducted by this year’s Young Scholars.
Kerri Howard, a sociology and Spanish double-major from Mt. Sterling, Ky., presented "Being Brown in the Bluegrass: Hispanic Assimilation and the Importance of Legal Status in Central Kentucky." Her faculty mentor was Beau Weston, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Sociology. Howard explored how immigration from Mexico to the United States has created a sort of historical subclass in this country, and how this structural feature has been racialized throughout the years in U.S. mainstream culture, resulting in periods of intense anti-Hispanic sentiment. For the project she focused on how the national structure is or is not reflected at this local level.
Annie Maggard, an anthropology major and creative writing minor from Ashland, Ky., presented her work, "The Things that Remain: A Poetic Triptych of Art, Nature, and Culture." Lisa Williams, associate professor of English, collaborated on the project. Maggard's project focused on the intersections between nature, culture, and past, and how those themes can be explored creatively in poetry. The final product of her work was a collection of pieces inspired by various aspects of the sciences and arts, tied together by the poetic thread of "things that remain."
Josh Qualls, a physics and mathematics double-major from Danville, presented "Plasma Particle Accelerators: A Study on the Progress of Plasma and Laser Wakefield Accelerators." His advisor was Andre Wehner, assistant professor of mathematics and physics. Qualls's project focused on the exciting new field of laser-driven particle accelerators. Potential applications for such accelerators include imaging and treatment of cancerous cells. The final product of his John C. Young work was a progress report on the current status of laser-driven particle accelerator research and the feasibility of Centre College contributing important future research in this field.
Will Rall, a history and religion double-major from Murray, Ky., presented "Blood and the Book: The German Christians' Attack on the Old Testament." His faculty mentor was W. David Hall, associate professor of religion and philosophy. The project explored the German Christian relationship with the Old Testament. The German Christian Movement attempted to fuse Nazi political and racial ideology with the theology and teachings of Christianity. Rall researched the German Christians’ efforts to modify Christian scripture in order to achieve their goals.
Mandy Smith, a mathematics major from Tullahoma, Tenn., presented "Persistence Barcodes and Learning Algorithms for Digits." Her research with Anne Collins, assistant professor of mathematics, looked into the possibility of a faster algorithm for computer digit recognition. Expediting the process would improve programs that deal with scanning in hand-written numbers, such as tax forms.
Candice Steiner, a music major and psychology minor from Louisville, presented "Taking the Hula to Heart: A Study of Western Music in Light of the Western World." She collaborated with Nathan Link, assistant professor of music, and Larry Bitensky, associate professor of music. Steiner explored Hawaiian culture, particularly music and dance. She visited the islands as part of the Centre in Hawaii program and composed music using the knowledge she gained. Ultimately, this project focused on advocating an accurate and respectful understanding of Hawaiian culture.
Students apply for the John C. Young program in the spring of their junior year by submitting a thesis proposal to a faculty member who – if the proposal is accepted by the John C. Young committee – will serve as their project director and who will collaborate with them in designing the program. The 2008-2009 John C. Young Scholars are Sarah Baird, collaborating with Phyllis Passariello, W. George Matton Professor of Anthropology; Dan Burkey, collaborating with Patrick Kagan-Moore, Charles T. Hazelrigg Professor of Dramatic Arts; Talha Ijaz, collaborating with Steve Asmus, Elizabeth Molloy Dowling Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Jillian Kenyon, collaborating with Sarah Goodrum, assistant professor of sociology; Molly Lindle, collaborating with Keith Dunn, associate professor of chemistry; Virginia Reynolds, collaborating with Clarence Wyatt, Claude D. Pottinger Professor of History; and Qianyu Yang, collaborating with David Anderson, Paul G. Blazer Associate Professor of Economics.
John C. Young took office as Centre's president in 1830 when the College was struggling to survive. In its 11-year existence, Centre had graduated only 25 students, and that year had an enrollment of 23. In addition, the school was also suffering financially, a constant problem for most colleges in that era. Under Young's administration, however, Centre grew in size, strength, wealth and prestige. The faculty was increased, the endowment fund enlarged, and the academic standards raised. He led the College until 1857 and is regarded as one of Centre's greatest presidents.
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