Atkins Scholars find research interests across careers, backgrounds

by Matt Overing

Centre College's 2024 Atkins Scholars, from left to right: Lana Amoudi, Sudeep Gadde, Kasey Montgomery, Emma Peterson, Lorelei Watson. Not pictured: Arthur Jenkins '23.

A key program goal for Centre College’s J.H. and Artie Atkins Scholars Research Program is to prepare students for future academic and professional endeavors.

The Atkins Scholars program launched in 2021, thanks to a generous grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation. It helps students prepare for a lifetime of active leadership that contributes to an equitable society and a more just, inclusive and diverse world.

Scholars work closely with faculty advisors on yearlong research projects focused on analyzing or engaging one of the following areas:

  • Underrepresented groups or marginalized identities; or spaces and dynamics of privilege.
  • Systems of inequity, injustice, resistance or empowerment.
  • Theories or practices of inclusion, equity or social justice.

Rising senior Kasey Montgomery noted that her Atkins research helped motivate her to build community.

 “I absolutely feel as though Atkins has better equipped me to integrate equity and inclusion practices into my career and future,” Montgomery said. “The value of social science research has only become clearer to me, and the explicit call that my research serve a tangible purpose on campus was an important part of orienting my academic pursuits to community impact.”

 Montgomery will serve as the student government president at Centre in 2024-25.

 “My project was on belonging and community building, and along the way I feel like my community grew around me in such beautiful ways,” Montgomery said. “I'm not sure I would have engaged with the people and resources available to me in this way were it not for the opportunity — and excuse to reach out — that Atkins provided me.”

For Emma Peterson, class of 2025, her experience as an Asian-American in Kentucky fueled her research — and her sense of belonging in a state that she found lacks historical research around her identity.

I want to go to law school, and a huge part of this research was independently thinking, researching and digging into a topic that isn’t super talked about,” Peterson said. “One thing I tell people through this project, it’s a lifelong pursuit on my end. I’m never going to stop being Asian-American— I love Kentucky, and I want to stay here. I want people who are Asian who live in Kentucky to feel like they can stay here or move here. 

“This has been a super fun journey. I have this issue — sometimes I feel like my research is not valuable and not needed, especially coming from a perspective like mine. My Asian identity has always been something I really struggled with — I was adopted and raised in a white household, but I'm never going to be white, right? This research project really allowed me to grasp that identity.”

Lorelei Watson ‘24, a member of the College’s esports team, brought that experience to her Atkins research.

“Through this study, I've conducted a thorough examination of the conditions affecting women and other marginalized groups,” Watson said. “Consequently, I firmly believe that by cultivating a robust body of knowledge on this subject, we can pave the way for concrete solutions to address these issues.”

Lana Amoudi ’24 noted how her project on identity as a philosopher will aid in postgraduate plans.

“My research has cultivated the analytical skills necessary for law school,” Amoudi said. “I feel as though I am better equipped to read between the lines — that is, what is said and what is not said in dense pages of text. I will be better prepared to critically decipher the detrimental gap between written and enforced law that perpetuates today's color of the law in both interpersonal and institutional practices.”

Atkins Scholars, 2023-24

Lana Amoudi ‘24

Major: Philosophy and Politics double major

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Advisor: Eva Cadavid, Cantrell Associate Professor of Philosophy

Project: “The Identity of a Philosopher and Her Trade”


Sudeep Gadde, class of 2025

Major: Behavioral Neuroscience

Advisor: Aaron Godlaski, associate professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience

Project: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Schools: Investigating the Positive Impact of Professional Wellness Program in Low-Income Public Schools


Arthur Jenkins ‘23

Major: Politics and History

Advisor: Jonathon Earle, Grissom Associate Professor of Social Studies

Project: Homophobia and Anti-LGBTQ+ Action in Uganda


Kasey Montgomery, class of 2025

Major: Anthropology/Sociology

Hometown: Clayton, California

Advisor: Jamie Shenton, associate professor of anthropology

Project: Active Reflection on Study Abroad: Negotiating Student Belonging for Underrepresented Students at Centre and Away


Emma Peterson, class of 2025

Major: Politics

Hometown: Lebanon, Kentucky

Advisor: Anwesha Kundu, assistant professor of English

Project: Asian-Kentuckian Histories and Identities


Lorelei Watson ‘24

Major: Anthropology/Sociology

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Advisor: Kaelyn Wiles, associate professor of sociology

Project: Examining the Treatment and Portrayal of Women in Online Video Games: A Critical Analysis

Pictured at top: The 2024 Atkins Scholars cohort, from left to right: Lana Amoudi, Sudeep Gadde, Kasey Montgomery, Emma Peterson, Lorelei Watson. Not pictured: Arthur Jenkins '23.