Undergraduate research at UNCP goes on display


Undergraduate students put their research in science, art, music and more on display at the 7th Annual Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity (PURC) Symposium on April 3.


Dylan Fisher plays his original composition

Dylan Fisher plays his original composition


“What I learned today is that we have a lot of very intelligent students doing valuable work,” said Dr. Len Holmes, as he surveyed PURC 2013.

Dr. Holmes, who was advisor for several research projects on display, was engaged in a discussion with Andrew Sutton, a student and UNCP’s “herbarium curator.”

“I’ve started putting the 4,500 plants in UNCP’s plant collection into a database,” Sutton said. “When the project is finished, it can be put online with other collections to form a searchable global network.”

PURC Director Dr. Lee Phillips was pleased to see a record number of research projects on display.

“The symposium has grown so large, we are showing half the posters in the morning and half in the afternoon,” said Dr. Lee Phillips, PURC director. “We have 89 research projects and several presentations. It’s a record for us.”

In two presentations, students from English and Mass Communication classes reported on their oral history project, “The Voices of the Lumbee.” Students in service-learning classes taught by Dr. Michelle Fazio’s and Dr. Jason Hutchens are compiling written and video biographies of Lumbee Elders.

 Daniela Jimenez and her stone lithography

Daniela Jimenez and her stone lithography


In an oral presentation, Amelia Philbrook, whose job was to transcribe records into written records, described what she learned.

“This project came at a good time for me because I am doing my student teaching this semester,” Philbrook said. “The project allowed me to interact and gain insight into the local community where I will be teaching.”

Standing beside his poster, Moe Gazali said taking the classroom out into the community was an amazing experience. He said the interviews were “awkward at first, but once we started, it was amazing how we connected with them.”

“I had not heard of the Lumbee,” said Sandra Torres. “One of the people we were interviewing looked at me and said ‘you know you are Indian too.”’

Daryl Mott and Anna Sanford recorded another local phenomenon. They worked with Dr. Phillips, who is a geologist, to determine the age of the Carolina bay that comprises Jones Lake in Bladen County.

“We dug down four feet on the rim and took samples to be analyzed by optical stimulated luminescence,” Sanford said.

“The sediment can’t come into contact with light because it would alter it,” Mott said. “The lower layer was 50,000 years old and this upper layer is about 14,000 years old.”

 Betty Haughn and her research

Betty Haughn and her research


Betty Haughn, who wants to continue her studies in graduate school, investigated life above ground by determining what fire ants eat. She put a lot of time into the project.

“I started last semester, and since January, I’ve put in about seven hours a week,” Haughn said. “Dr. (Bruce) Ezell was a lot of help.”

Attached to every undergraduate research project is one or more UNCP faculty member. The importance of undergraduate research was driven home by 2009 graduate Ashley Clark, who works for Teleflex Medical, Inc., in Research Triangle Park.

“Several years ago, I was here to present my research that I did with Dr. (Siva) Mandjinny and Dr. (Roland) Stout,” Clark said. “Undergraduate research is very important for getting into graduate school and in future careers.”

Clark spoke during a panel discussion on careers and graduate study. Clark said her training at UNCP made her competitive in graduate school with graduates of the top schools in the nation.

UNCP’s student research on display was remarkably diverse and included an original jazz composition that Dylan Fisher wrote, explained, then performed with two other students.

In another part of the room, artist Daniela Jimenez explained that color lithography is a combination of art and science.

“I researched historical and contemporary artists,” Jimenez explained. “What I did is called stone lithography. It’s limestone from Germany at is etched with acid. It is one of the more complex forms of art.”

Curtis Brooks, a journalism major and sports editor for the Pine Needle school newspaper, studied the first amendment.

“I looked at a school free speech case,” Brooks said. “The First Amendment is powerful, but the Supreme Court found that school rights superseded students first amendment rights in this case.”

Brooks’ research was guided by Dr. Judith Curtis, who is also the faculty advisor for the Pine Needle. Not only do faculty work with students, but grants are available for undergraduate research, Dr. Phillips said.

“PURC awarded 38 grants, three research assistantships and 25 undergraduate scholarships,” he said. Two federal programs and student fees also support research.

“Research is a growing part of the undergraduate experience at UNCP,” Dr. Phillips said. “As a teaching institution, UNCP is focused on this important aspect learning.”

2013 PURC Symposium Awards


First Place: Emmanuel Manolukas – “Printmaking and the Student, Survival 2”
Faculty Mentor: Brandon Sanderson

Second Place: Abri Abumohsen – “The Origin Series”
Faculty Mentor: Brandon Sanderson

Honorable Mention: Melvin Morris – “Moments Forever Held”
Faculty Mentor: Carla Rokes

Honorable Mention: Daniela Jimenez – “Achromatic and Color Stone Lithography after Daumier and Kollwitz” Faculty Mentor: Brandon Sanderson

Business & Social and Behavioral Sciences

First Place: Lauren Bell – “Personal Characteristics through Speech” (Psychology)
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Erik Tracy

Second Place: Christopher Green – “Mitigating Negative Effects of a Criminal History” (Psychology)
Faculty Mentors:  Dr. Kelly Charlton  and Dr. Shilpa Regan

Honorable Mention: Melanie LaBeau and Samantha Suggs – “Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clark: Their Impact on the Study of Prejudice in Psychology and the Reduction of Prejudice in Society” (Psychology)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Beverly King

Education, Humanities and Mass Communication

First Place: Emily Gabzdyl – “Earthquakes in Southeastern NC?: Unit Plan about Earthquakes and the 1886 Charleston, SC Earthquake” (Geoscience Education)
Faculty Mentor: Amy Gross

Second Place: Ashley Cole – “Let's Play a Lovegame: The Prevalence of Sex in Lady Gaga's Lyrics and Music Videos” (Mass Communications)
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Judith Curtis

Honorable Mention: Karen Menzel – “Stereotyping of Women in Primetime Basic Cable Television Shows” (Mass Communications)
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Judy Curtis


First Place: Sarah Hafner – “Development of non-peptidyl small molecules for positive lysosomal modulation and protection against protein accumulation disorders”
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Ben Bahr, Uzoma S. Ikonne, Marsalis Smith, Meagan L. Wisniewski, Dennis J.Hoover, Kishore Viswanathan, Heather Romine, and Dennis L. Wright

Second Place: Ed Derosier – “Flexible and Inexpensive Laser Kit for Laboratory-Based Homework”
Faculty Mentor:  Dr. William Brandon

Honorable Mention: Anna Sanford – “Plankton Diversity of Krinshaw Pond”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patricia Sellers

Honorable Mention: Matt Bowen – “Effect of Simulated Microgravity on the Bacterial Characteristics of Nematode symbiont Photorhabdus luminescens”
Faculty Mentors:  Dr. Len Holmes and Mr. Floyd Inman III

Oral Presentations and Performances

First Place: Dylan Fisher – “Carlness:” an original jazz composition: Faculty Mentor: Aaron Vandermeer

Second Place: Amelia Philbrook – “Transcribing the Voices of the Lumbee” Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michele Fazio

Honorable Mention: Stephen Shane – “The Last Unicorn Stage Play Performance”
Faculty Mentor: Hal Davis

For more information about the Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Training Center, contact them at 910.521.6841, email purc@uncp.edu or go online to www.uncp.edu/purc/.