Lee Holds McNair-Ledford Undergraduate Research Symposium

Thursday, September 23, 2021 - by Eliza Souers, Lee University

Lee University held the third annual McNair-Ledford Undergraduate Research Symposium on its campus, featuring 33 presentations with cash awards for the winners. The symposium was held at Lee’s Science and Math Complex.

The event showcased student research from various disciplines across campus, including biological science, biology pre-professional, chemistry, criminal justice, engineering science, English education, health science, history, human development, humanities and anthropology, marketing, mathematics, music, piano performance, political science, pre-vet, psychology, sociology, and theological and professional studies. Topics ranging from chemistry, psychology/mental health, finance, social justice, political science, history, music, and biology were covered in the presentations.

The symposium committee included Dr. Kevin Ung, Dr. Debra Gladden, Dr. Michaelia Black, Mrs. Sheila Daft, and Mrs. Jeni Turner.

“It is a privilege for the committee to organize an event where Lee can showcase and celebrate the excellent research work that students are engaging in across the university,” said Dr. Ung, director of the McNair Scholars Program and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. “The annual McNair-Ledford Undergraduate Research Symposium provides a platform where students from diverse academic fields can offer original, intellectual, or creative contribution where the Lord has drawn them. Through the investment of committed faculty mentors, students can take the key skills from this research experience and apply it to their current and future calling.”

Dr. Justin Phillips, author of “Know Your Place,” executive editor of “The Other Journal,” and adjunct professor at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tn., was the keynote speaker of the symposium. Dr. Phillips presented “Kingdom Calling: Following Jesus and Finding Your Place” and offered encouragement for listeners to reflect where they’ve been, research where they want to be, and reimagine who they are and who they could be.

“I’m passionate about mentoring students about the process of discovering a calling that leads to a vocational path,” said Dr. Phillips. “I think more than anything I want students to be prepared for a volatile economy and job market and not think that their calling is locked into a job.”

Following Dr. Phillips’ address, students presented posters and gave oral presentations of their summer research in the SMC, and 20 faculty and administrative staff members from various disciplines served as judges.

The overall winner of the event was Lake Preston-Self, a junior history and political science major, who received $150 for his presentation “Contemporary Historiography: Framing the Role of the American Church in the AIDS Crisis.”

“Working with Dr. Ung, Mrs. Turner, and the McNair Scholars Program has been one of the most impactful experiences of my time at Lee,” said Mr. Preston-Self. “The summer research process was especially challenging for me as I struggled to balance my work with various other hurdles in my life at the time. However, finishing my project and presenting at the symposium has helped bolster my confidence, develop my passion, and remind me of the many wonderful opportunities and supportive people in the McNair Program and at Lee.”

For both poster and oral presentations, first place received $100, second placed received $75, and third place received $50.

There were 18 poster presentations. “Alteration of MUC2 and OCLN in Lung Epithelial Cells After E-Cigarette Chemical Exposure,” presented by junior biology major Kristen Huynh, won first place. Jonathan Moye, a senior biology major, won the second place award for his presentation “A Mitotic (Check) Point of No Return.” In third place was Christina Endara, a senior biology major, for her presentation “Palmitoleic Acid suppresses Fibrogenic Activation Within Hepatic Stellate Cells.”

There were 15 oral presentations. The first-place winner was Taylor Odum, a junior biology/pre-professional major, for her presentation “VERU-111 Therapy Inhibits Growth and Mobility in the TNBC Cell Line in Hs578T.” Emma Webb, a senior piano performance major, won second place for her presentation “Metrical Dissonance in Brahms’ Rhapsody in B minor, Op.79, No. 1.” The third place winner was Japheth Varlack, a senior mathematics major, for his presentation “From Codes to Lattices Over Real Quadratic Fields: The Comparison of Associated Theta Functions.”

For more information about the McNair Program or to apply, visit https://www.leeuniversity.edu/mcnair/.

 


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