Spring 2017 URCA Conference & Creative Showcase

As a part of the program, Emerging Scholars must participate in The University’s Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Conference. This year, the event will be separated into two days with a creative showcase kick off and then the following day will be the annual conference. At the Emerging Scholars Program, we believe that creativity enables innovation. Along with other major changes to our program’s structure, we are encouraging a focus on STEAM over STEM. The creative showcase allows students in the arts – dance, theatre, music, poetry, fashion design, creative media, and public relations – to showcase their research. Some of the acts include Documenting Justice: Private Probation and the Court System in AlabamaOctober 14, 1996; Conception and Implementation: Secret Meals Grand Gala; and Hamlet Act III Scene II.  

Another way the creative showcase will incorporate the arts and research is through the Da Vinci Studio. This is a project that pairs a researcher with an artist to capture the essence of the project on canvas. After the showcase, these paintings will be auctioned off.

Science cannot exist without art, and vice versa. As Leonardo Da Vinci said “Principles for the development of a complete mind: study the science of art. Study the art of science. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” We highly encourage our scholars to support their peers in the arts, and those in the arts, to support their peers in the sciences.

The Creative Showcase will be held in the Ferguson Theatre on 3/29 starting at 5 PM. Refreshments will be provided.

OUR 2016 Research Report

The University of Alabama’s Office for Undergraduate Research has released a report concerning the involvement of undergraduates conducting research. We are proud to announce that Emerging Scholars were highlighted throughout the pamphlet. If you are a current Emerging Scholar or hope to become one, we encourage you to view the last page of the document to get a full grasp of how this program can shape you while you are here and beyond!

Office For Undergraduate Research Annual Report

Meet Einstein!

The Adventures of Einstein the Elephant

Einstein the Elephant is the Emerging Scholars Program’s new mascot! This cute little buddy is bent on sharing events and student achievements. In the picture above, he is posing for the spring 2017 cohort class picture, but you can see his face each Thursday on twitter. If you are a faculty mentor or a current Emerging Scholars and would like to take Einstein on a field trip to learn more about your research, please contact his care-keeper at klbruce@crimson.ua.edu

Be on the look out for him at Creative Showcase and URCA on March 28th & 29th!

Spotlight Scholar: Manoj Sunny


Manoj Sunny is a junior from Des Plaines, Illinois pursuing his undergraduate degree in economics and finance while simultaneously taking master’s degree classes.

Manoj received an email advertising the Emerging Scholars Program before starting his freshman year at The Capstone and realized that participating in an undergraduate research program in his respective field of finance could help him stand out in a field with less academics than hard science counterparts. Hoping to utilize the concepts he was learning in his business classes and apply them to the professional world, Manoj was able to enlist Dr. Paul Drnevich via the Emerging Scholars network and eventually Collin Gilstrap during his research semester.

The three studied returns through a market reaction lens at mergers and acquisitions deals, but specifically how investors-rather than corporations- reacted to it. They hoped their study would provide investors with knowledge on how to respond to mergers, as well as benefit the companies. With the help of Collin Gilstrap, a PhD student (now an assistant professor at Toledo University), Manoj gathered information from databases and statistical analysis using SAS. They found that there was an excess return of 14 basis points -basis points being a measure of financial return- in the data, which implies that mergers allow investors to receive more from their investment using this particular strategy.

After presenting at URCA, Manoj and his mentor have decided they want to edit the study. They are currently planning to determine how robust their 14 basis points are, generate more random samples, and collect more data about the company’s’ stock before and after the announcement of the merge. They hope these edits will allow the study to be solid enough for journal publications.

Manoj had this advice for Scholars: “I’ve found research is more about determining what questions to ask rather than what you are trying to answer. Once you know what question you are trying to ask, the answer will come naturally. A lot of people conduct research just to find answers, but they don’t oftentimes think of what is the more important question. Coming to the question is way harder than coming to the answer.”

After college, Manoj hopes to work for a large investment bank, move into consulting after, and eventually own a venture capital firm investing in biotechnology.

Spotlight Scholar: Caroline Prichard


Caroline Prichard, a junior from Coppell, Tx., is double majoring social work and international studies.

Caroline received an email advertising the Emerging Scholars Program before starting her freshman year at The Capstone and realized that partaking in the program would offer her the opportunity to learn about research in an academic setting. Interested in applying the research skills she learned in the classroom to her intended field of social work, she teamed up with Dr. Brenda Smith to complete a project.

Dr. Brenda Smith and Caroline studied child welfare worker retention and how workers are recruited. They looked at publicly available realistic job preview videos across the US, and Caroline analyzed and coded them with positive and negative key words. The hope was that the research would provide insight on how prospective employee expectations might play a role in low retention rates of child welfare professionals. The results indicated that the challenges within bureaucratic child welfare organizations led to the lack of retention rather than the challenges employees faced working with families. Caroline presented these findings at URCA and placed third in the oral division category for The College of Social Work.

While she is not currently engaged in a new research study, she is creating a presentation of the research and it’s findings to showcase at the Council on Social Work Education’s Conference in Atlanta with Dr. Smith. She is also hoping to start on a new project next semester.

She had this advice for Scholars: “Use research as an opportunity to build connections, specifically in your college. Emerging Scholars gives you a reason to reach out to faculty and start your network.”

After graduation, Caroline would like to attend graduate school to pursue her MSW and perhaps get a joint masters degree in another area as well. She hopes to use her education to work in Not-for-profit development.


Spotlight Scholar: Alaric Rohl

Alaric Rohl is a sophomore from Castle Rock, Colorado studying mathematics and theatre while pursuing a pre-med track.

Alaric received an email about the Emerging Scholars Program and knew the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate student would help him later in his college career. However, he quickly realized in the introduction to research course he wanted to do something different beyond work in a lab: he wanted to work with math and music. He was put in contact with Dr. Amir Zaheri, a professor in the department of music, and the two came up with a way to combine his interests.

Currently enrolled in UA 156, Alaric is attempting to create a new musical scale using irrational numbers (or numbers that have a repeating decimal). He is taking the sequence of decimals and reverse engineering properties about the numbers utilizing music. He is hoping to find what the pitch frequencies sound like, where harmonies occur, or even whether a song could be composed from the sequence – they want to determine properties about the numbers they already know, similar to a control group. Alaric thinks the coolest outcome of the experiment is the possibility that there could be a new musical scale for composers to use when creating music.

He had this advice to give for students pursuing research: “Choose a topic that you are already well versed in. I’ve never learned how to play an instrument, I do not sing, and I’ve never taken a music theory class, and here I am trying to do math and music. It is hard. I do have a float – math, but by picking a project you understand there is less of a learning curve when you start your research and so you can ask meaningful questions.”

Alaric plans on submitting his and Dr. Zaheri’s project to The University’s Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity conference in 2017, for those who would like to learn more about his research.

After graduation, Alaric hopes to attend medical school and become a pathologist.


Spotlight Scholar: Towanda Pettway

img_1107Towanda Pettway is a junior from Bridgeport, Connecticut studying Psychology and Sociology.

Although she did not initially plan on conducting research during her undergraduate career, Towanda visited the Emerging Scholars website and after seeing the potential to go above and beyond classroom learning changed her perspective. With the aid of the Emerging Scholars Program and Dr. Bronwen Lichtenstein (her faculty mentor), she did exactly that through her research on resistance to tuberculosis testing in Perry County, Alabama.

In the spring of 2016, Towanda conducted surveys and interviews trying to determine why the residents of Perry County refused TB testing from health officials. The data she collected revealed that the residents opposed TB testing because of mistrust in the health officials, fear of being reported to law enforcement, and misconceptions about the source of TB transmission. She presented these findings at URCA and placed first in the Arts & Sciences oral division. Towanda still feels honored that her research had such a positive influence on the judges.

While she is not currently doing research, she is composing a paper surrounding her findings in Perry County and conducting background research on how health care cutbacks may have led to her study’s results. Towanda hopes that this paper will enlighten her audience on the poor health conditions in the county.

Towanda has this advice for other students interested in research, “Go for it. I was just a regular student – I didn’t have the best of grades – but when I pulled my GPA up, started doing research, and found something that I love at UA, I feel like I found my place here. Don’t be afraid to explore and try new things, especially when it comes to your education.”

After graduation, Towanda hopes to continue her education at The University by pursuing a Masters degree in clinical psychology.


Spotlight Scholar: Joanna Urli

Joanna Urli


Joanna Urli is currently a junior from Massapequa, New York majoring in biology as she continues her research as an Emerging Scholar.

Initially drawn to a degree in chemical engineering, Joanna knew before she enrolled at the University of Alabama that she wanted to get involved with research as early as possible. She was introduced to the Emerging Scholars program the summer before beginning classes and knew right away it was an excellent opportunity she had to seize.
In the spring of her freshman year, Joanna began working with Dr. Margaret Liu in the chemical engineering department. She was assigned to Dr. Liu’s biopharmaceutical project and focused on work using Chinese Hamster Ovarian cells. These cells are known to have the ability to produce a certain protein that fights cancer cells, so Joanna was working to maximize this production and understand the transformation process.

Due to her work, Joanna has been published as the lead author for a paper in the Journal of Science and Health at the University of Alabama. Additionally, Joanna has presented her research at both the University of Alabama’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity conference and the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s national conference.
Joanna has noticed a great number of benefits because of her work with the Emerging Scholars, including having a close mentor in Dr. Liu. She has also gained some leadership experience of her own as she is currently training three younger Emerging Scholars in the lab, and encourages all students to try research at some point in their academic careers in order to expand their experiences.

Post-graduation, Joanna wants to continue on to grad school to pursue a degree in genetics. All of her research in Dr. Liu’s lab has been linked to genetics, so she believes this experience will help her as she works for another degree. In addition to the Emerging Scholars, Joanna completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates this summer at Penn State. Her work there was also related to genetics, so she believes her scope of projects will lead her to successful career.

Spotlight Scholar: Genevieve Miller

Genev Miller


Genevieve Miller, a member of the class of 2016 and a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, is this week’s featured Emerging Scholar.
Currently in her fourth year performing undergraduate research, Genevieve, a biology major, has been hard at work in the laboratory of Dr. Ryan Earley, who is an associate professor of biological sciences. She came to the University interested in performing social science research in either anthropology or psychology. After reading up on the host of research opportunities available to her, however, she found her home in the Earley lab, which studies animal behavior in the mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus. From histology and aggression studies to endocrine disruption and in vitro fertilization experiments, Genevieve knew she would find a project that would interest her in the Earley lab.
She first tasted research in the laboratory, where she worked on a team investigating different ways to encourage the hermaphroditic rivulus to lay unfertilized eggs – and then perform in vitro fertilization of those eggs. If successful, the project would have allowed the lab to carry out mating experiments, resulting in hybrid rivulus. She reports that behavioral and genetic studies of these hybrid fish “… would give us a better understanding of the nature versus nurture interaction” of different behavioral traits, such as aggression. Unfortunately, despite nearly a year of experimentation, the team was unable to force the rivulus to lay unfertilized eggs!

Nevertheless, Genevieve pressed on, securing funding for her own research project through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This funding allowed her to travel to Florida and muck through the mangroves of the Florida Keys, Tampa, and New Smyrna, where the mangrove rivulus lives naturally. Interestingly, these fish are able to jump out of – and then live outside of – water for up to six months! Thus, Genevieve decided to study this jumping behavior and its connection to avoiding predation. She has spent the last year quantifying and analyzing the data she collected. Currently, she is in the process of writing up her findings, which she will publish.

Over the years, Genevieve has learned that failure happens often in research – whether in the laboratory or in the mangroves. Despite failure, she has learned to pick herself up, brush herself off, and keep working to troubleshoot problems with her projects. She has also learned to sleep on mangrove roots, which apparently make comfortable beds, and to always check her pant legs for hiding crabs.
Since returning from the mangroves, she has attended numerous conferences to present her research: SICB (Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology), NCUR (National Conferences on Undergraduate Research), the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR Science and Technology Open House, WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), and the University’s annual URCA conference.

After graduating in the spring, Genevieve, who has distinguished herself in both the laboratory and classroom, will begin medical school. She decided to pursue an MD, as her degree will allow her to both treat patients and perform research. She also has an interest in working with Doctors Without Borders. She feels her time spent performing undergraduate research – which began with the Emerging Scholars program – has trained her to think critically, ask hypothesis-driven questions, and be flexible in her thinking. Additionally, she has sharpened her teamwork skills and her ability to work independently.

Ultimately, she remarks, “If I can survive working 20 hours a day, waist-deep in mud in the mosquito-infested mangroves, I think I can handle the stress of medical school!”


Spotlight Scholar: Bethany Corne

bethany corne

Bethany Corne, a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in Public Relations and Marketing with a minor in Computer Science, started the Emerging Scholars program in the 2014 fall semester. As Bethany started looking into research opportunities, she wanted to find a project that fit into her interests in social media and digital communications. During her search Dr. Chris Vargo’s name arose. A new addition to UA’s Public Relations faculty in August of 2014, Dr. Vargo was seeking to continue research from his dissertation. Bethany’s interests made her a perfect fit for the project.

Dr. Vargo’s research seeks to construct an algorithm that could be used by businesses for brand engagement on twitter. During her first semester on the project, Bethany combed through several thousand tweets from different businesses and attempted to create a tweet typology, or a set of categories into which any tweet could fit. The categories included topics such as promotion, useful information or advice, and pop culture references. The categories Bethany created weren’t mutually exclusive, so a tweet could fit into a few different categories based on the way it was constructed.

After creating the typology, Bethany and Dr. Vargo created a survey that asked participants from a crowdsourcing site to categorize tweets from a database. Once each of the 5,000 tweets in the database had been surveyed three times, Bethany and Dr. Vargo were able to examine the tweets and determine which categories were most effective for brand engagement. They quantified effectiveness by looking at the number of retweets and favorites a tweet in a given category received. Bethany and Dr. Vargo found that tweets that fit into multiple categories were more effective than tweets that only fit into one category. Bethany said that through their research, she and Dr. Vargo were able to build a better understanding of “what makes people respond, what makes people share, and what goes viral.” Bethany and Dr. Vargo’s research is extremely relevant to today’s business climate as “PR is going digital and the traditional press release is dying. Blogs are the new movement and snapchat is a news source.” Bethany is at the forefront of a new age of communications and branding.

Bethany presented her research at UA’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference last spring upon her completion of the Emerging Scholars Program. She continues to work with Dr. Vargo and hopes that they will publish their research by the spring of 2018, when she plans to graduate. Looking forward, Bethany is pursuing internship experiences in marketing, corporate communications, or content analysis. She expressed that participating in the Emerging Scholars Program was “the best choice” of her college career. Bethany is excited about her research and the opportunities it will present to her in the future. When asked what one of her favorite business twitter accounts is, Bethany replied with State Farm, “they are surprisingly funny!”

Spotlight Scholar: Alex Hale

Alex Hale

Meet Alex Hale.

After graduating at the top of his class from Ashville High School, Alex, a native Alabamian, chose to continue his education here at the University of Alabama, where he is a student in the University Honors program completing a major in biology.

As a member of the class of 2016, Alex applied for a position in the Emerging Scholars program just before matriculating at the University in the fall of 2012. In his first few months as a student, he was making connections with faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences and learning about their research.

Alex met Dr. Jeffrey Lozier, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, whose research blends laboratory and field work in population genetics, ecological, and evolutionary studies. Under Dr. Lozier’s guidance, Alex has performed morphological analysis on his favorite insect – bumble bees – ever since freshman year. Alex hopes that his research efforts will hopefully yield new insights to how populations facing varying environmental conditions adapt and evolve to overcome physical environmental challenges. He has presented the results of his work at the University’s annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference.

Because of his experience in performing research, Alex reports that he has sharpened many skills that will serve him well in the coming years. “Because research projects rarely go as planned,” he says smiling, “I have learned to be more patient. Also, because science demands accuracy and validity of results, I have to be absolutely meticulous in my work.” As I left the laboratory where I met with Alex, a freezer’s alarm began blaring. He quickly donned gloves, laughed, and said, “I’ve also learned to troubleshoot!”
An aspiring oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Alex is currently applying to dental school. While his grades and standardized test scores are certainly stellar, his experiences working in the same research laboratory for several years have taught him valuable lessons that separate him from the pack. Admissions committees are taking notice; Alex has received numerous invitations to interview at highly selective dental schools of major research universities. As he buzzes across the country in the next few months, he looks forward to discussing his years of performing research – which all began with an invitation to join the Emerging Scholars Program at the University of Alabama.

Spotlight Scholar: Mackenzie Ross


Emerging Scholar Mackenzie Ross is a junior from Meridian, Mississippi double-majoring in Public Relations and Political Science. She has spent a year researching the life of Mary Harmon Bryant, the wife of coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and an impressive figure in her own right. Printed below is Mackenzie’s account of the events that led her to this project, the process of collecting her data, and the implications of her research




Prior to my freshman year of college, my mom told me about a program called Emerging Scholars. I decided to research the program, and after learning about it, I knew it was something I wanted to apply for. In the application process, I had to write a brief summary on what I wanted to research, and originally, I thought I wanted to research the effects of the media on cultural thought. However, after beginning the Emerging Scholars program, my research interests changed.

My advisor, Dr. Meg Lamme, is a professor in the Advertising and Public Relations Department in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. During my first academic advising session, we began talking about my admiration for Amelia Earhart, especially since I am a female pilot. We discussed how there was probably an untold story about who Amelia actually was as a person – not just in the spotlight. That discussion transitioned to other notable women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Harmon Bryant. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of researching Mary Harmon Bryant because even though we have a building on campus named after her, not many people know who she was. I asked Dr. Lamme if she would be my mentor for the Emerging Scholars program, and the rest is history!

I began my research by contacting sources on campus. The Hoole Special Collections Library at The University of Alabama is a great resource for students who are looking to find information related to the University and to the community. When my mentor, Dr. Lamme, and I visited Hoole, we were given a list of resources (mostly books) that might be related to Mrs. Bryant. After reading those books, we decided to contact the Paul W. Bryant Football Museum at The University of Alabama. The staff at the museum was incredibly supportive and allowed me to come in the office and research whenever it worked with my class schedule.

Throughout the remainder of the spring semester of 2014, I studied newspaper articles about Mrs. Bryant and a collection of 147 postcards that Mrs. Bryant exchanged with members of her family. Through these articles, I learned who Mary Harmon Bryant was as a person – not just who she was as the wife of one of the most famous college football coaches. Mrs. Bryant graduated from The University of Alabama in 1935 with a degree in sociology, and she later married Paul “Bear” Bryant. They returned to Tuscaloosa in 1958 when Paul became the head coach of the Alabama football team, and she lived here until her death in 1984. She was an incredible lady who served the team, the community, and her family.

In the process of researching Mary Harmon Bryant, I have grown to admire her giving nature, independence, and joy for the simple things in life. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to tell her story publicly, and I hope to find more ways to tell her story. I want everyone to learn the things I have learned and see why we should give her credit for her positive influence on the community and the UA football team.

Spotlight Scholar: Ian Prado


Ian Prado, a senior majoring in Math and Physics, is just one of the Emerging Scholars Class of 2012 that had the opportunity to participate in an incredibly interesting and innovative undergraduate research project through the Emerging Scholars Program.

While in the Emerging Scholars Program, Ian worked with Dr. Irwin in the Physics department doing research on black holes. The goal of his project was to comb through data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra was launched by NASA in 1999 and is the program’s flagship x-ray telescope. Ian measured the luminosity distributions of different galaxies in an effort to locate the first observed, intermediate black hole.

After Ian finished the Emerging Scholars program and finished his project, he was able to report his findings with another undergraduate from Dr. Irwin’s group at the University of Alabama’s Annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference. While Ian and his group did not definitively find an intermediate black hole, they did find preliminary data that suggested the presence of one.

Through his involvement in undergraduate research, Ian says that he “learned how to collaboratively work on problems outside of the traditional classroom and how to read and decipher academic journals. The Emerging Scholars greatly assisted my journey through undergraduate research.”

Ian is graduating in May of 2016 and is planning to work as a nuclear engineer. He wants to pursue this through an internship experience at one of the nuclear power plants in the South or by attending graduate school. Ian is excited to continue his involvement in research and see what future Emerging Scholars students explore and discover in their own research projects.

Emerging Scholars Program Hosts Pizza with Professors

Emerging Scholars Program Hosts Pizza with Professors

On September 30th The Emerging Scholars Program hosted Pizza with Professors, a free lunch meet and greet for all UA undergraduates interested in research. The event, which facilitated casual conversation between professors from across disciplines and UA students, also included a talk from Dr. Bissel on the importance of undergraduate research.

In total 31 students attended and 5 faculty members spoke. The faculty speakers included Ryan Earley from Biology, Ryan Summers from Engineering, Emmett Lodree from Business, Laura Hopson from Social Work, and Jon Wingo from Kinesiology.Pizza with Professors

Emerging Scholar co-leads Spatial Ecology and Conservation Lab Project

A group of University of Alabama researchers, including Drs. Eben Broadbent and Angelica Almeyda Zambrano and Emerging Scholar Kathryn Shay, have been using technology to understand the migration patterns of birds. The team involved in the undergraduate co-led project by SPEC Lab undergraduate Kathryn Shay has installed multiple recording units within UA’s Arboretum.

The Arboretum is a 60-acre green reserve that acts as a living laboratory for the researchers. The recording units placed within the arboretum are capable of recording weeks of birdcalls. Kathryn is responsible for combing through the material collected. Kathryn’s team hopes to use these recordings to create a baseline for research into changing bird populations.

Photos by Jeff Hanson

Check out the full story here:


Emerging Scholar “Immersed” in Research Overseas

Wesley Taylor and faculty mentor Dr. Anthony Arguengo

Wesley Taylor and faculty mentor Dr. Anthony Arduengo


Wesley Taylor discovered firsthand that research can take you places – his research took him to Germany.  A member of the 2012-2013 Emerging Scholars cohort, Taylor traveled with faculty mentor Dr. Anthony Arduengo III for a three month research opportunity in Braunschweig studying synthetic olefin metathesis.  This trip was courtesy of the Humboldt Foundation, and typically faculty members use the student funding bring graduate students or post-doctoral researchers with them.

Dr. Arduengo chose to bring Wesley Taylor, a junior double majoring in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at The University of Alabama, whose dedication to research had impressed him.  Although Taylor found the experience challenging at times, he credits the Emerging Scholars Program for helping him build a relationship with Dr. Arduengo and find his passion for research.  Thanks to his hard work, Taylor opened the door for two more Emerging Scholars to study in Mainz, Germany.

To read more about Taylor’s experience in Germany, please visit the full article.

Emerging Scholar Studies Helmet Impact During Collisions

Photo credit: Erin Nelson, Tuscaloosa News

Photo Credit: Erin Nelson, Tuscaloosa News


Concern about the long-term effects of traumatic head injuries in athletes has received extra attention in recent years.  Although there are many approaches athletes and their support staff can take to reduce the risk and severity of these types of injuries, one Emerging Scholar and his faculty mentor are working on one project that may provide teams with a less costly and equally effective means of measuring the intensity of an on-field impact.

Brandon McChristian, a sophomore in the Emerging Scholars Program, has been working with Dr. Steve Shepard in the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering on experiments that study the relationship between the sound a helmet makes and the intensity of the impact during a collision.

While their findings cannot directly diagnose a concussion, they can be used to identify conditions where a concussion is more likely, alerting coaches and other support staff to take extra precautions with that player.

This groundbreaking research could be used to prevent and reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries an athlete sustains during their career, which is something we can all cheer about.

Read the full story at Tuscaloosa News Online.

2015 URCA Emerging Scholars Division Winners Honored

The University of Alabama Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Conference was held on April 7, 2015 at the Bryant Conference Center.  Over 700 undergraduate students from across the University of Alabama campus presented their research at poster and oral sessions throughout the day-long event.  The Emerging Scholars Division had 138 poster and oral presentations, and Emerging Scholars represented nearly every department on campus with their research.  The judges were impressed by the research that our Emerging Scholars are doing early in their undergraduate career, and the Emerging Scholars and their faculty mentors should be proud of their work.

Winners of the 2015 URCA Conference Emerging Scholars Division and their faculty mentors were invited to an awards luncheon on April 21 at the South End Zone of Bryant Denny Stadium.  The winners and their faculty mentors are listed below:

Fine Arts & Humanities

1st Place

Rachel MadeyURCA 2015 FAHU Winners

(Faculty Mentor: Kathryn Oths)

2nd Place

Sommer Hallquist

Madeline Anscombe

(Faculty Mentor: Ian Brown)

3rd Place

Katie Gatti

(Faculty Mentor: Meg Lamme)

Science, Mathematics & Engineering

1st Place

Matt BowenURCA 2015 SCME Winners

(Faculty Mentor: Jeff Gray)

2nd Place

Brandon McChristian

(Faculty Mentor: Steve Shepard)

2nd Place

Jacob Zarobsky

(Faculty Mentor: Jeff Gray)

Social Sciences, Business & Education

1st Place

Michael Scaglione150432_MW_undergraduate_research_awards_luncheon

Kathryn Reynolds

(Faculty Mentor: Philip Gable)

2nd Place

Matthew Barrett

(Faculty Mentor: Karl DeRouen)

3rd Place

Madison Elmore

(Faculty Mentor: Phillip Bishop)

Internationally Focused


Fine Arts & Humanities

1st Place

Rachel Madey

(Faculty Mentor: Kathryn Oths)

2nd Place

Katie Gatti

(Faculty Mentor: Meg Lamme)

3rd Place

Jared Tubbs

(Faculty Mentor: Amir Zaheri)

Social Sciences, Business & Education


Science, Mathematics & Engineering

1st Place

Matthew Barrett

(Faculty Mentor: Karl DeRouen)

2nd Place

Clare Ols

(Faculty Mentor: Eben Broadbent)

3rd Place

Sarah Harden

(Faculty Mentor: Shadi Martin)

Congratulations to all of the winners and their faculty mentors!  We can’t wait to see all of the amazing Emerging Scholars research at URCA 2016!

Emerging Scholars Present at NCUR 2015!

Five University of Alabama Emerging Scholars traveled to Spokane, WA to present their research to peers at the 2015 National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR).  NCUR is an annual event that is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research and creative activity, and this year’s conference was hosted by Eastern Washington University.

NCUR provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to present their research to an audience and to exchange ideas and information with other scholars.  During the conference sessions, each of the Scholars presented her work at a poster or oral presentation session.  They also visited other undergraduate researchers, spoke with graduate school recruiters, and learned more about research in their discipline.  After-hours the Scholars, accompanied by Dr. Kim Bissell and Dr. M.K. Shreves, toured Downtown Spokane and learned more about the history and culture of the city.

Emerging Scholars and Drs. Shreves (far left) and Bissell (far right) visit Spokane's famous "garbage eating goat"

Emerging Scholars and Drs. Shreves (far left) and Bissell (far right) visit Spokane’s famous “garbage eating goat”


Through the Emerging Scholars Program, students worked with research mentors to develop their ideas and gather data for their projects.  The students represented a range of disciplines and research topics, and all of them were winners in the 2014 University of Alabama’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference.

A round of applause for the five Emerging Scholars:

2015-04-16 11.39.27  Maggie Chavez

  Early Childhood Education

 iPad: A Tool for Distraction for Children Receiving  an Immunization




Erin Hein   2015-04-17 14.45.55 copy

Biochemistry and Art History

The Function of Frataxin in Iron Sulfur Cluster Biosynthesis  


2015-04-16 15.35.42Kelly (Madison) Hunter

  Communicative Disorders

  The Cultural Effects on Parent-Child Interactions


Genevieve Miller  2015-04-16 11.49.28


Does Predation Threat Cause Wild Mangrove Rivulus Fish to Jettison from the Water?   



2015-04-16 14.08.02 copy  Taylor Sheeran

  English and Communication Studies

  Oral Histories: Research Through Storytelling


We look forward to NCUR 2016 in Asheville, NC!

Emerging Scholars Talk About URCA 2015

Emerging Scholar Bethany Corne and her mentor Dr. Chris Vargo (APR) pose in front of her URCA 2015 presentation.

Emerging Scholar Bethany Corne and her mentor Dr. Chris Vargo (APR) pose in front of her URCA 2015 presentation.


Over 700 students presented poster and oral presentations at the 2015 University of Alabama Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference on April 7, 2015.  The Emerging Scholars Division was represented by 140 students in three categories.

Two Emerging Scholar presenters, Haley Bevis and Bethany Corne, talk about their involvement in undergraduate research in this CW article.

Stay tuned for this year’s conference winners!


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Emerging Scholars Win Big at ACM Student Research Competition

SIGSCE 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri

Emerging Scholars Matt Bowen and Christina Noe represented the University of Alabama at the Association for Computing Machinery Student Research Competition earlier this month in Kansas City, Missouri.  Competing against other students from across the nation, both made it through the first round of the competition into the Grand Finals, making them two of only five undergraduate students who moved onto this round.

Matt Bowen placed in second in the Grand Finals round of the competition, which means his project has been entered into another round of competition against winners from other ACM conferences.

Both Bowen and Noe are sophomores who started their competition-winning projects as part of the Emerging Scholars Program under the mentorship of Dr. Jeff Gray in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Alabama.

To read more about the competition and the students’ projects please see the full UA press release.

Director Ann Webb Retires, Changes Coming for Emerging Scholars

After serving as director of the Emerging Scholars Program for four years, Dr. Ann Webb has retired.

Dr. Kim Bissell, recently appointed as the Director of Undergraduate Research under the University of Alabama Office for Research and Economic Development, will oversee long-term plans for the Emerging Scholars Program.

Dr. M.K. Shreves has taken over as Director of the Emerging Scholars Program and will be coordinating daily operations for the program, as well as teaching UA 155 and organizing special events.

For more information about the Emerging Scholars Program, please explore our website or contact us.

UA Students to Present Research Findings at National Conference

group of students

Eleven University of Alabama undergraduate students will present their research findings April 3-5 at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

The annual event, held this year in Lexington, Ky., is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study, according to the conference’s website.

UA students scheduled to present are: Nathaniel Barr, electrical and computer engineering, Evans, Ga.; Zach Beasley, psychology, Attalla; Cameron Beg, chemical engineering, Tuscaloosa; Amanda Bennett, English, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Ruth Bishop, biology, Shreveport, La.; Sarah G. Cox, biological sciences, McDonough, Ga.; Derek Duncan, electrical and computer engineering, Plantation, Fla.; Jacob Fondriest, physics, Granville, Ohio; Johanna Obenda, history, Carrollton, Texas; Henry Weatherly, history, Montgomery; and David Zargardo, physics, Peoria, Ill.

Each of the UA students, whose research ranges from naming patterns among slaves in 17thCentury Barbados to alternatives to conventional solar cells, work with UA faculty mentors on their research projects.

Accompanying the students will be Drs. Ann Webb, director of UA’s Emerging Scholars Program, Andrew Goodliffe, assistant dean of UA’s Graduate School, and Susan Burkett, Alabama Power Foundation Endowed Professor.

The popular Emerging Scholars Program, designed specifically to attract freshmen to research, is in its 7th year. Each year, 225 first-year students begin it. Nine of the 11 UA students scheduled to present in Kentucky are members of the program.

Originally published by uanews.ua.edu.

Art Lessons


Kevin Jones, now a sophomore, was only a freshman when he began working as a research assistant under Curzon as part of the Emerging Scholars program. While looking through the Paul R. Jones Collection archives, he stumbled upon his research subject: “The Thai portion of it really hit me because I thought, what drew Paul Jones to this? This isn’t really his style based on the rest what he collected, so what are these and why did he see these as important?”

Paul R. Jones acquired the 16 pieces of Thai art in the collection during his travels as a high-level administrator in the Peace Corps in the ’60s and ’70s, but not much else is known about the works. “The most we have on any of them is the first name of the artist and maybe a year and a title,” said Kevin Jones, “so it’s a big uncharted territory within the collection.”

Therein lies the great opportunity presented by the Jones Collection: the chance for the student to be the expert, the creator of art history.

Read the rest of “Art Lessons.”

UA Engineering Student Selected for U.N. Climate Change Conference

chemical engineering student at The University of Alabama was selected to attend a United Nations climate change conference this fall.

Emily Bloomquist, a sophomore from Tucker, Ga., was chosen by the American Chemical Society Committee on Environmental Improvement to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 19th Conference of the Parties in Warsaw, Poland, Nov. 16-22.

She is one of only six students chosen nationally to represent ACS at the conference. Students were chosen under the criteria of demonstrating academic preparedness, awareness and enthusiasm in representing ACS.

Read the rest of “UA Engineering Student Selected for U.N. Climate Change Conference.”

More UA Undergrads Doing Research with Emerging Scholars

From The Birmingham News:

“A keystone in this research is the booming Emerging Scholars Program — the university’s effort to place freshmen like Hays into research during their first year. Emerging Scholars was modeled after the University Research Opportunity Program at the University of Michigan, said Ann Webb, who coordinates the effort. Students spent the first semester learning about the research process, meeting other Emerging Scholar freshmen and connecting with possible mentors.”

Click here to continue reading the article from The Birmingham News/al.com about Emerging Scholars’ participation in the UR&CA conference.