Bridging the Gap between Honors Programs

Students from Georgia Southern’s and Armstrong State’s honors programs met at the Southern Regional Honors Council annual meeting to discuss the future.

In preparation for Georgia Southern’s upcoming consolidation with Armstrong, six honors students from both schools have taken initiative in bridging the gap between the two schools’ honors programs.

Students from Georgia Southern include Hannah Dorough (psychology ’18), Morgan Gallahue (biology ’18), and Caitlin Shelby (graphic design / interior design ’20), and students from Armstrong include Kaley Powers (biology ’18), Linnea Ryan (history ’19), and Leila Caughran (ASL interpretation ’20).

At this year’s annual Southern Regional Honors Conference (SRHC) in Asheville, South Carolina, they led a panel titled “Bridging the Gap: Attempting to Foster Community Among Honors Students in a Consolidation.” Their discussion focused on methods of fostering community and building rapport between multiple campuses, something they all consider important for honors students in the upcoming years.

Ryan said, “I got involved with this project because I wanted to connect with the students in the honors program at Georgia Southern and be involved with the consolidation process as much as possible. What I’ve learned is that the honors programs at both ASU and GSU have a lot to learn from each other and great potential for growth.”

The students were encouraged to join forces by their respective honors program directors, Dr. Steve Engel of Georgia Southern, and Dr. Jonathan Roberts of Armstrong.

“At this stage in the process, we still do not know a great many details about how the new Georgia Southern University will be structured,” Dr. Engel said. “We know this much, however, at the end of the process, we will be one university. Consequently, Jonathan and I are both working to make sure we ensure that all of our honors students feel like they are in a shared community of scholars. There is no better way to do that then to get students together with each other and giving them the opportunity to play a part in building their new share future together.”

Dr. Roberts agreed, saying, “For the better part of the last decade Armstrong and Georgia Southern’s Honors programs have collaborated quite well with one another.  I feel strongly that the consolidation of the two institutions, done correctly, will lead to more opportunities for students on both campuses.”

These six students come from a larger group of honors students that travelled to the conference in late March; twenty-nine Georgia Southern students and eight Armstrong students had proposals accepted by SHRC, which brought in around 700 students. Their presentations included posters, papers, and thesis work from all disciplines.

Gallahue spoke about their experience: “Our goal at the conference was to begin to open doors and form the beginning bonds of friendship and community between attending Georgia Southern and Armstrong students. As we left Asheville on Saturday, it was impossible not to notice a newfound sense of unity between Armstrong and Georgia Southern students. The initial reaction to the consolidation was not enthusiastic from either campus, but when this group of students from Georgia Southern and Armstrong came together in the same room, there was nothing but warm welcome and excited anticipation of what will come as we continue merging both our academic and social programs.”

Alumni Update: Blalock Wins Fulbright for Research in Chile

After completing her honors thesis in 2011 titled “The Voices of the Lost: How the Poetry and Prose of the Great War Reveal the Mentality of the Lost Generation,” Danielle Blalock (history and Spanish) switched gears and focused her studies on Latin America while completing her Ph.D. in history at the University of Arizona. With the aid of a Fulbright grant, Blalock has the opportunity to travel to Chile to finish her research. She will live in the country for nine months, conducting research for her dissertation, tentatively titled “Collaborative Activisms: Chilean University Student Networks and Mobilization, 1964-1990.” Her research aims to contribute to the historical understanding of universities as political spaces.

Danielle Blalock at work in the archives.

Blalock further explained the goals of her dissertation: “I examine how Chilean university activists in Santiago, Valparaíso, and Concepción mobilized during this period, questioned the status quo, and gained leadership experience through the construction and maintenance of communication networks with political parties and other social movements to foster social change.”

While in Chile, she will also work closely with Professor Oscar Aguilera of the Universidad de Chile as an affiliated researcher on a Chilean Science and Technology Development Fund (FONDECYT) funded project, “The Visual Construction of Youth in Chile: Canon Representation, Intermediality, and Sensorium from Visual Images in Newspaper and Photographic Archives (1910-1973).” Her role in the project will include cataloguing and digitizing archival materials.

To keep up with her travels, you can visit her blog at this link:

Honors in Action: Ashwood at the American Physical Society

After a year and half of research, Elizabeth Ashwood (physics ’17) presented her honors thesis at the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The goal of APS is to unify the scientific community to advance people’s awareness of physics. The conference separates over 8,000 presentations into specific categories such as “biological physics and chemical physics” over the course of a week, said Ashwood. She was given the opportunity to present at the level of professionals, instead of presenting with other undergraduates.

Elizabeth Ashwood outside the Math/Physics building on campus.

“My research is a development of programming tools to rapidly evaluate experimental set ups in atom interferometry,” she explained. “Atom interferometry measures the interference patterns produced by a phase difference of atomic waves.” Her goal is for her research to be used on the International Space Station (ISS) in the Cold Atom Lab, which is being sent to the International Space Station in June 2017. This amazing opportunity would move Ashwood’s thesis, “Developing Tools for a Precision Measurement of Newton’s Gravitational Constant,” from the academic setting into a professional setting.

Ashwood says her mentor, Dr. Edwards, has been an influential aspect of her research. She said, “When I first started research with Dr. Edwards, I had only basic physics 1 and 2 level knowledge, and I was just beginning to take differential equations. Dr. Edwards helped in the start by teaching me what Bose-Einstein condensates were.” Dr. Edwards aided her at the genesis of her project, explaining new, difficult concepts that would eventually become the overarching argument behind Ashwood’s thesis.

Dr. Edwards explained his experience with working with a dedicated student who genuinely loves learning: “I have enjoyed being Elizabeth Ashwood’s research mentor.  She is quick to grasp new concepts, incorporates them into her skill set, and is able to think on her own.  She is quite mature for her age and is a natural leader of other students.”

After graduation, Ashwood will enter the Peace Corps and spend two years in Swaziland.

Honors Program Travels to Southern Regional Honors Council Annual Meeting

Asheville, North Carolina is a unique city. Home to eclectic stores, local art shops, numerous music venues, and a diverse selection of restaurants, its creative vibe provided the perfect backdrop for this year’s Southern Regional Honors Council conference (SRHC), which brought in over 700 honors students from a wide range of disciplines. Of these students, twenty-nine were from Georgia Southern, and their presentations covered several forms and disciplines, from a lecture on emotion in Disney films to a panel on consolidating Georgia Southern’s and Armstrong State’s honors programs. (See the separate news story about this panel on this website.)

Melina Gunby (psychology and criminal justice ’17) showcased her honors thesis “Social Attitudes and Experiences: Accuracy of Biases” with a poster presentation.

“People were so excited about my research which caused a revitalization of my efforts,” Gunby said. “The topic is something that I really care about and people were so encouraging. I had some people give recommendations which was actually really cool.

While Gunby enjoyed meeting people in her field, Bailey Kirk’s (mathematics ’18) favorite part of the conference was its interdisciplinary nature, which allowed her to explore subjects outside of her usual coursework.

“I loved seeing presentations on topics that I wouldn’t normally see since they were not in my major. My favorite presentation was actually about making clothes out of bacterial cellulose. My friends and I attended that session for a different presentation, but that one blew us away.”


Here is a complete list of the students who presented and the titles of their presentations:


Exploring the Role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): European Fashion Corporations’ Compliance and Future with CSR

Maria Amiel


Ashlyn Avera presents at the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting.

How Do We Teach Emotion?

Ashlyn Avera



Taylor Close and Madelyn Harvin



Bridging the Gap: Attempting to Foster Community Among Honors Students in a Consolidation

Morgan Gallahue, Kaley Powers, Hannah Dorough, Linnea Ryan, Caitlin Shelby, and Leila Caughran


Kong Fuzi and the Chinese Connection: The Teachings and Implementation of Confucianism in Han China

Kadien Hill


Social Attitudes and Experiences: Accuracy of Biases

Melina Gunby


Examining Gender Injustices in La Carpio

Bailey Kirk and Emily Pressler


Intertwining Reality with Fiction: How Research Informs Creative Writing

Summer Kurtz, Devan Pride, and Margaret Delisle


An Open Book to Women and a New Sub-Saharan Africa

Shya Lewis


Honors Living: Inside and Out

A group of first-year students presented on the Honors Living Learning Community. L-R: Trina Biswas, Hailey Baker, Maygen Martinez, and Gabriel Petkewich.

Maygen Martinez, Hailey Baker, Trina Biswas, and Gabriel Petkewich


Policing the Traffic: The Capacity of Legal Change to Arrest Human Trafficking in the European Union

Charlotte McDonald


An Exploration of the Factors Related to the Career Expectations of Sport Management Students

Andrew Mitchell


An Exploration of the Underlying Mechanisms of Spasticity of the Lower Extremity among Young People with Cerebral Palsy

Jordan Nourse discusses her research during the poster session at the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting.

Jordan Nourse, Alexis Carnes, Li Li, Gavin Colquitt, and Manuela Caciula


Gloria Anzaldua’s El Mundo Zurdo: The Necessity of a Historical Assessment

Malik Raymond


Tongues That Tell the Anger of the Heart: Language As Power in The Taming of the Shrew and The Book of Job

Aleyna Rentz


A Case Study of the Underlying Causes and Implications of the Landmark GM-Opel Automobile Plant Closure in Bochum, Germany

Jennifer Shaffer


Investigation of the Thermal Performance of Small Sierpinski Carpet Fractal Fins in a Natural Convection Environment

Jennifer Shaffer


Jarvis Steele presenting at the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting.

Cut the Bias: Fidelity in Historic Preservation

Jarvis Steele


An Area-Based Fan Beam Projection Model

Richard Steele




Jewish Resistance in World War II and Zionism: Making Aliyah in the Death Camps

Cierra Tomaso



Serenah Tyson and Maria Amiel



An Awarding Experience

While many honors students have showcased their research at conferences across the country, symposiums on Georgia Southern’s campus have given them the chance to stay local and see their efforts rewarded.


Charlotte McDonald with her CURIO award.

Charlotte McDonald (international studies and German ’17) and Elise Rustine (graphic design ’18) both took home prizes at this year’s annual Center for Undergraduate Research and Intellectual Opportunities (CURIO) symposium. McDonald’s thesis, “Policing the Traffic: The Capacity for Legal Change to Arrest Human Trafficking in the European Union,” mentored by Dr. Maureen Stobb and Dr. Jamie Scalera, won Best Presentation in the Social Sciences. Best Presentation in Fine Arts went to Rustine, whose poster project, “Connotation and Denotation: Meaning in Graphic Design” was mentored by Professor Ed Rushton.

Elise Rustine with her award-winning poster.







In addition to CURIO, Georgia Southern also recently hosted the Eagle Showcase: Excellence in Service-Learning event. Freshman Sarah Rogers (biology ‘20) presented a poster called “A Dog’s Love: Animal-Assisted Therapy and Service to the Community,” which won the Best Poster award. Her project stemmed from coursework in her Animal-Assisted Therapy FYE class, taught by Dr. Jerri Kropp and Dr. Trent Maurer.

Sarah Rogers with her award-winning poster.

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