November 18, 2022
Ten students from Pearl River Community College participated in the Fall 2022 Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute Research Symposium hosted at University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Center on Tuesday (Nov. 16). They gave oral presentations of research conducted covering a variety of topics.
Kathryn Scharwath of Hattiesburg won first place in oral presentation. Her topic was “A Childlike Faith: Children’s Storybook Bibles and What They Teach.” Aiden Levy of Bay St. Louis was second in oral presentation: (“How Does Car-Centric Infrastructure Affect Our Cities and the Way We Live?” and Kaylynn Brewer of Greenville was third: (“Does Social Media Affect Cognitive Development?”)
Another four students presented poster presentations.
In poster presentations, Honors Elchos of Hattiesburg won first place: (“Designing a Perfusion-Compression Bioreactor for Culture of Bone Explants”) and Caitlyn Williams of Sumrall was second: (“Can Moody Songs Affect Mental and Physical Health?”).
Dr. Jennifer Seal, Dean of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute – Poplarville Campus, said that, “These students elicited pride from the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute Deans by gaining extensive knowledge through conducting individualized semester-long research projects. The student researchers presented their findings to a panel of judges and peers in a university-level venue. Participants in the research symposium carried on an academic standard and tradition established by Dr. William Lewis in 2011.”
Other oral presentations were presented by Delanie Dublin of Atlanta, Kyle Sloan of Hattiesburg, Elijah Barberi of Ocean Springs, Mackenzie Galbraith and Bailey Parker, both of Kiln; Savannah Sylvest and Andrew Purvis, both of Sumrall.
Other poster presentations included Carlo Catlett and Savannah Gygi, both of Hattiesburg.
Dr. Ryan Ruckel, Dean of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute – Forrest County Campus, said the Symposium serves the overall effort to encourage students to engage with undergraduate research by learning how to ask a good question and propose a way of researching the answer to it.
“These students will be able to compete at the Mississippi Honors Conference in February, which is a statewide conference of two-year and four-year schools,” said Dr. Ruckel. “The Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute has participated in the MHC every year, and we have had winners every year.
“USM has also generously offered for the top scorers at the symposium to compete in the undergraduate research symposium at USM in April, where they could win cash prizes.”
Dr. Seal, Dr. Ruckel and Interim Dean of USM’s Honors College Dr. Sabine Heinhorst offered opening remarks for those present.
Said Dr. Ruckel, “This event makes it possible for a student to present on a topic they think might be of interest to them, whether it is in a poster or oral presentation, and often discover their career path or major by doing so. I cannot say enough about the devotion and hard work of our honors faculty, who mentor the presenters through the proposal process, and especially Mary Ann Stewart who worked individually with each of these students to develop their research and presentation skills.”
Judges for this year’s competition included Dr. David Collum, Dean of Career and Technical Education at the Forrest County Campus; Chris Christen, Chair of the Science Department at the FCC; Michelle Wilson Stokes, Dean of Student Services at the FCC; and Dr. Greg Underwood, Academic Dean at the FCC.
Dr. William Lewis, former PRCC President, was on hand for the presentations.
“Among the personal development goals for these special students is exposure to academic research techniques and development of personal oratory and presentation skills,” said Dr. Lewis. “The Research Symposium provides an opportunity for the Honors Institute students to expand their skills in this regard. I was most impressed with the research topics and the conclusions the students presented on these real-life issues. These students demonstrated the ability to become problem solving agents for some of the most complex societal issues.”
Article and photography by Chuck Abadie.