Symposium showcases student scholarship

Photograph by Emerald McIntyre/Louisiana Tech University

Louisiana Tech University recently hosted its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium to celebrate the academic research, scholarly activity, and service-learning experiences of students within each of the university’s five colleges. 

“This event offers students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to address a scholarly question, investigate a phenomenon, solve a global challenge or address a community need,” Dr. Jamie Newman, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies for the College of Applied and Natural Sciences said. “This symposium exemplifies the experiential learning that Louisiana Tech strives to offer its student.”  

Over the course of the symposium, students presented 51 research and service-learning projects. Topics ranged from disease-specific oral supplements and the history of Saturn’s rings to hair discrimination in the workplace and a Woodard Hall beautification project. 

Victoria Wells, a senior in Political Science from Shreveport presented her research on academic funding and how it contributes to student achievement. Her poster presentation was judged among the top five in the category. 

“I truly believe that everyone should have equitable access to quality education,” Wells said. “Most people don’t know that their property taxes fund the schools in their area. If published, my research could help educate cities and parishes on how better funding for school districts can improve student achievement across our state.” 

Dr. Jennifer Hill, an assistant professor of Biological Sciences, said the experience gained at the symposium can provide students with the tools needed to succeed beyond their undergraduate degree. 

“The symposium is a great way for our students to create impactful research and opportunities while still in their undergraduate degrees,” Hill said. “Students get to experience what it is like to share those projects with people from different backgrounds and get valuable feedback for the future.” 

Not all of the student presentations are chosen to move forward to the University of Louisiana Academic Summit but the experience gained gives students the chance to work in their passions. Judge Nathan House, a Louisiana Tech Forestry graduate said he was impressed by the research from students who shared personal stories of their connection to their research. 

“As a Louisiana Tech graduate, it is encouraging to see so many students who are passionately intertwined into their research,” House said. “Seeing the high-caliber research developed by students who experienced the shift from in-person classes to online and then back to in-person learning was impressive, to say the least.” 

The top five presentations in each category will represent Louisiana Tech at the University of Louisiana Academic Summit to be held April 7-8. All 20 students received a $250 scholarship awarded by University Advancement. Top presenters in each category are listed below. 

Oral Research Presentations 

  • Crabtivating Behavioral Analysis: The Impacts of Fipronil Pesticides on Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Behavior – Annabeth Rawls, Dr. Jennifer Hill 
  • Transition to Virtual De-Implementation of Feeding Practices in Early Care and Education Settings – Megan Gremillion, Janna Martin, Daphne Gaulden, Peyton Percle, Dr. Taren Swindle, Dr. Julie Rutledge 
  • Police Officer Eye Training Program: Improving Field Decision Making Skills – Meredith Fisher, Hali Mitchell, Hayden Shoemaker, Nathan Valez, Gabe Courville, Maggie Young, Alexandra Crovetto, Aislinn Cobb, Dr. Todd Castleberry 
  • Cu/Ni and Cu/CuNiCo Bilayer Interfaces – Peter Ford, Ibrahim Altarabsheh, Dr. Xiang Chen 
  • Evaluation of Physical Fitness and Skill of Collegiate Dancers – Alexandra Crovetto, Jessica Syzmanski, Lori Jacques, Dr. Rachel Atkins, Nathan Velez, Dr. Todd Castleberry 

Poster Research Presentations 

  • Spare No Expense: An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship Between School Expenditure and Student Achievement, featuring a Case Study of Louisiana – Victoria Wells, Dr. Amanda Sanford, Dr. Bryan Zygmont 
  • Pollinator Diversity on a Shortleaf Pine-Oak-Hickory Restoration Site – Taygan Kohlman, Chanse Takaccs, Dr. Natalie Clay, Dr. Don Shepard 
  • Effects of Bark Beetle-Attacked Wood on Leaf Litter Invertebrate Biodiversity – John Carrier, Courtney Siegert, Juliet Tang, John Riggins, Dr. Natalie Clay 
  • A Brief Astronomical History and Analysis of Saturn’s Rings – Benjamin Meleton, Dr. John Shaw 
  • Food Science Students Design Disease Specific Oral Supplements Using Curricular Knowledge – Brittney Burford,C. Beck, K. Banks, A. Henington, M. Horne, H. Koenig, A. Lau, C. Yan, N. Levitt, E. Whiteman, M. Pennywell, K. Johnson, M. Sesser, B. Burford, M. Parks, A. Butts, K. Ware, K. Howard, C. Alvarez, Dr. Catherine Fontenot, Dr, Simone Camel 

Service Learning Presentations 

  • Choudrant Master Plan: The Pursuit of Smart Small Town Growth – Jenna Roblee, Ashley White, Yuan Zhou, Emery Johnson, Robert Brooks, Brad Deal 
  • STI Prevention and Contraceptive Usage – Wesley Wilkerson, Mary Kathrine Eastman, Tanya Sims, Dr. Sherry Peveto 
  • The Journey Starts Here: The Benefits of Hands On Learning – Ashleigh Ogden, Kyle Sieberth, Curtis Gremillion, Will Higginbotham, Brad Deal, Robert Brooks 
  • Reimagining the Food Pantry Experience at Louisiana Tech – Abigail Henington, Emery Johnson, Martha Pennywell, Mr. Brad Deal, Dr. Simone Camel, Dr. Ethel Jones, Dr. Mary Fontenot 
  • Woodard Hall Beautification Project – Kerington Bass, Kyleigh Bass, Sonni Tarver, Dr. Paul Jackson 

The Symposium was also generously supported by Justin and Jeanette Hinckley, Cathi Cox and Tom Boniol, Danna and Rusty Mabry, Rufus and Brena Estis, Johnny and Karen Armstrong, Jason Smith and Citizens National Bank. 


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