Academic Symposium a showcase of university’s brightest

Carson Murphy remembers her high school days, navigating an obstacle course in the dark alongside her fellow drama club newbies while upperclassmen yelled and tried to scare them.

She recalled the incident during her presentation on “hazing in higher education” at the 7th annual Academic Symposium, held Thursday in Wiggins Memorial Library.

Murphy guided the audience of her 9:30 a.m. presentation through a 20-minute presentation on hazing, its history and impact on the student experience. Her involvement in Greek Life at Campbell inspired her research, as fraternities and sororities are often the heart of collegiate hazing scandals or allegations. Her research went a step further, however, and included college athletics and other organizations, such as marching bands.

“You always hear about hazing from the Greek side,” said Murphy, whose sorority at Campbell participates in programs on the subject each fall. “I wanted to see what other groups had this problem, what was causing it and how to prevent it. Through my research, I learned that’s it’s very common, but really any club has the potential to haze.”

She said her high school experience didn’t seem like hazing at the time, but since her research: “I can see how students believed they were being hazed.”

Carson Murphy presents “Higher Education and Hazing: It’s Not Just Greek Life” at Thursday’s Academic Symposium. | Photo by Leah Whitt

More than 130 students presented their research orally and through posters at this year’s symposium, and another 20-plus students displayed their art or performed music. Five students also took part in a virtual symposium this year, presenting their work by video. The event continues to grow each year in terms of participation and attendance, according to Borree Kwok, assistant provost for administration.

“Many of our librarians and long-time faculty supporters consider this symposium or most successful to date,” said Kwok, who added that students who participated got valuable presentation experience in addition to valuable feedback from faculty experts. “Students who attend the symposium are afforded the opportunity to expand their knowledge base. At the same time, the symposium might ignite a spark of interest in these students to conduct their own research or to embark on a creative endeavor.”

Winners were named Thursday night in each category, with top honors going to oral and poster presenters in both undergraduate and graduate/professional categories. The oral presentation winners both focused on Christian studies, with senior Ariane Smith’s (undergraduate) research on Jesus’ “redefinition of family” and graduate student Jackson Adamah’s presentation on “recovering Christological ecclesiology.”

“I wrote this research paper for a class on family ministry — the main focus was understanding how to minister to biological families and reflecting on the role of the biological family in Christianity,” Smith said. “While it is important for ministers to aid biological families in their relationships with one another, Jesus’ definition of family is actually broader than this. I decided to research a biblical passage in which Jesus focused not on the biological family, but on the spiritual family of God. I felt that this research could benefit the church by highlighting an area of ministry that it is currently lacking in.”

Adamah said he chose his research because we live in a time when churches are identified more for their social commitments than their commitment to Christ. “My research,” he said, “is an attempt to recover a Christocentric understanding of doing church and the Christian life. I arrived at the profound thought that the church is a continuation of the Incarnation of Christ. This knowledge must be the foundation and context of our understanding of the church’s nature, purpose and mission of the church.”

Berenice Pena and Audrey Jordan present “‘Pobre Juan’ and the Challenges of Immigration to the U.S.” at Thursday’s Academic Symposium. | Photo by Billy Liggett

Sophomore Lydia Huth earned honorable mention for her oral presentation, “The Room of Mirrors: Bellefleur and Women’s Liberation,” and her research focused on the book’s female characters and their struggle for approval “within stifling boundaries crafted to support male supremacy.” Huth said presenting (rather than simply researching and writing) forced her to consider her material from the perspective of someone who’d never experienced the book or the topic before.

“I kept discovering new perspectives on my topic or new ways of explaining points that I hadn’t considered when writing,” she said. “And since I needed to turn academic writing into easily-understood slides, and be prepared for questions, it encouraged me to look at my research in a different light. I kept discovering new perspectives on my topic or new ways of explaining points that I hadn’t considered when writing.”

Associate professor of English Sherry Truffin, who guided Huth through her project, said the symposium encourages students to move beyond their tendency to think of college as merely an assortment of assignments and course grades.

“It encourages them to join larger scholarly conversations in their disciplines and figure out how to communicate their research findings someone other than their professors,” Truffin said. “It also gives underclassmen who attend incentives to work with a larger audience in mind.”

— by Leah Whitt and Billy Liggett
— Top photo: Sarah Schneider, co-presenting “Data Analysis of 2016 Presidential Election in North Carolina” with Monica Hammond. 


Kaela McCoy’s painting “Lilly” won first in the fine arts portion of Thursday’s Academic Symposium. Lilly is McCoy’s 3-year-old pup. “She is always my first choice when it comes to choosing a subject.” | Photo by Leah Whitt

The following outstanding presentations, posters, and creations were awarded prizes at the 2017 Academic Symposium. Each student is listed along with their faculty mentor.

Fine Arts

  • 1st: Kaela McKoy, “Sweet Lilly,” Prof. Larkin Tysor
  • 2nd: Megan Mahalik, “it is the beating,” Prof. Larkin Tysor
  • 3rd: Taylor Stewart, “Moments of Joy,” Prof. Brian Bowman
  • Honorable Mention (Tie): Jessica Furlipa, “Annulus,” Prof. Breck Smith
  • Honorable Mention (Tie): Julie Martin, “Hand Dissected,” Prof. Breck Smith

Undergraduate Oral Presentations

  • 1st: Ariane Smith, “Matthew 12:46-50 and Mark 3:31-35: Jesus’ Redefinition of Family,” Dr. Kenneth Vandergriff, Christian Studies
  • 2nd: Nathan Ameen, “Hamstring Strain of D1 Collegiate Football Player,” Dr. Sarah Christie, Exercise Science
  • 3rd: Austin Maynor, “Expanding the Southern Canon: The Case for Jim Wayne Miller,” Dr. Gina Peterman, English
  • Honorable Mention: Lydia Huth, “The Room of Mirrors: Bellefleur and Women’s Liberation,” Dr. Sherry Truffin, English

Undergraduate Poster Presentations

  • 1st (tie): Gabriel Haire and Gloribel Vanegas, “Identification and Characterization of Fluoroquinolone Resistant Bacteria from Swine,” Dr. Michelle Thomas, Biology
  • 1st (tie): Tiffany Sears, “Wrist-Worn Physical Activity Trackers Progressively Underestimate Steps with Increasing Walking Speeds,” Dr. Jennifer Bunn, Exercise Science
  • 3rd (tie): Houston Cole, “Synthesis of Heterodisubstituted Pyridines via Cyclization of Methyl Ketones, DMSO, and Ammonium Salts,” Dr. Sarah Goforth, Chemistry
  • 3rd (tie): Jacob Guthrie, “Determination of the Stoichiometry between an Anionic Surfactant and a Self-Assembled Aggregate,” Dr. Jordan Womick, Chemistry

Graduate and Professional Oral Presentations

  • 1st: Jackson Adamah, “Recovering Christological Ecclesiology,” Dr. Cameron Jorgenson, Divinity
  • 2nd: Sarah Lamb, Maria Lim, and Dallin Lindstrom, “Case Report: A Novel Presentation of Ringed Cranial Nerves,” Dr. Howard Reisner, Osteopathic Medicine
  • 3rd: Danny Koh, Victoria Lipinski, Kathryn Smid, and Kelsey Staudinger, “Complications of Synthetic Surgical Mesh,” Dr. Bonnie Brenseke, Osteopathic Medicine
  • Honorable Mention: Chelsey Anderson, “Can tNASP be used for cancer screening tests?” Dr. Oleg Alekseev, Osteopathic Medicine

Graduate and Professional Poster Presentations

  • 1st: Sri Ragavi Ashokkumar, “Erysolin as an inducer of antioxidants in cardiac cells,” Dr. Yunbo Li, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • 2nd: Maryam Unnisa, “Flavonoid components of passion flower extract antagonize various neuroreceptors,” Dr. Chris Breivogel, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • 3rd: Venkata Lakshmi and Anupama Puvvada, “Formulation, Optimization, and Evaluation of Caffeine Oral Disintegrating Tablets (ODT’s), prepared from the direct compression method using natural excipients,” Dr. Mali Gupta, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Honorable Mention (tie): Mamta Iyer, “Taste Masking of Isoniazid by Spray Drying Technique,” Dr. Rahul Haware, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Honorable Mention (tie): Leah Cashwell, “Assessing the Performance of Abdominal Muscles During Prone Bridge Exercise in Older and Younger Adults,” Dr. Jennifer Bunn, Physical Therapy

Virtual Symposium Video Presentations

  • 1st: Courtney Cunningham, “Emergency Response: Sarin Gas Attack,” Dr. John Mero, Political Science
  • 2nd: Angela Devlin, “Violence in Virtual Reality Video Games: The Impact on Aggressive Behaviors of Adolescents,” Dr. Katherine Van Allen, Psychology
  • 3rd: Natalia Ricks, “Excessive Cell Phone Use Among Parents and the Repercussions Upon Child Development and Parent-Child Relationships,” Dr. Katherine Van Allen, Psychology
  • Honorable Mention: Ryan Collinsworth, “Explaining Evil: The Person-Situation Debate,” Dr. Guy Vitaglione, Psychology