Ambitious student research collaborations with faculty members often lead to much more than good grades. The mentorships encourage professional growth, confidence and creativity, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Georgia Southern University’s Spring 2021 Honors Research Symposium, which is being held virtually April 26 through April 30, will showcase faculty-student partnerships through a broad range of scholarly and creative research projects produced by more than 100 honors students across multiple disciplines on the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses.
Chelsea Riley, a triple major in international studies, political science and Spanish, worked with political science and international studies professor Srobana Bhattacharya, Ph.D., on her thesis, “The Culture Gap: The Role of Culture in Successful Refugee Settlement.”
“Research is about mentorship, about growth, becoming a better writer and communicator, and presenting that research allows you to showcase that growth as well as your hard work and time,” Riley said. “Having opportunities to present your research also allows you to get feedback and to meet other people working on exciting and creative projects in your field and to build relationships that strengthen your network and can inspire your future work. For me, my research and experience presenting it has become a very key part of how I market myself to employers and to graduate schools, demonstrating my knowledge, high-level research and writing skills, and ability to summarize and present information.”
History and English major Jacey Thomas, mentored by associate professor of history Alan Downs, Ph.D., will present, “Irish Rock Music amid a Time of Troubles: Thin Lizzy and U2 as a Bridge During a Time of Division.”
“Having the opportunity to participate in faculty-mentored research has been one of the most rewarding opportunities I have had as a student of the Honors College,” said Thomas. “Being able to conduct and present my own research, with the assistance of my mentor, Dr. Alan C. Downs, has challenged me academically, personally and professionally, as well as prepared me for graduate school as I pursue a master’s degree in history. I am truly thankful to have had the support of publishing research that I am passionate about from the Honors College and the faculty at Georgia Southern.”
Biology major Susan Ihejirika’s presentation, “A Forward Genetic Screen to Identify Human Genes of Interest and Their Roles in Ovarian Cancer,” was guided by biology assistant professor Dongyu Jia, Ph.D.
“For me, the best thing about faculty-mentored research was that I was given the space to develop as an independent researcher,” said Ihejirika. “My chosen mentor gave me the space to pursue research I was interested in, and to learn to think quickly on my feet in order to address problems as they arose. I will soon be presenting my research to a wider audience, who will get to see the product of months of hard work, and hopefully give me feedback that will help me in my journey to becoming a professional scientist.”
The Honors College, as the university-wide center for excellence in undergraduate education, plays a crucial role with undergraduate research at Georgia Southern. Since the beginning of the College, students have been required to complete honors theses or capstone projects. The faculty-mentored projects have spanned traditional research models, applied research and creative activities in all academic colleges and majors.
“Through faculty-mentored research and scholarly activities, honors students create new knowledge and the Honors Research Symposium is the venue where we share it with the broader scholarly community,” said Honors College Dean Steven Engel, Ph.D. “ I am proud of the fact that they have been able to complete these projects despite the challenges of the past year.”
Presentations will be posted on YouTube and the comments section will be open for audience engagement with presenters. While many of the presentations will still be accessible after May 1, the comments will be turned off.
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving almost 27,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.