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Ogden Honors Students Named 2017 LSU Discover Scholars

All five of this year's scholars are students in the Ogden Honors College

Five LSU students have been selected as the 2017 LSU Discover Scholars – Bryanna Fields, a senior psychology major from Fond du Lac, Wisc.; Vernell Dunams, a junior photography and Spanish double major from New Orleans, La.; Camille Boechler, a senior liberal arts major with a concentration in film and media arts from Baton Rouge, La.; Shelby Stewart, a senior psychology and criminology major from Metairie, La.; and Connor Rouillier, a sophomore anthropology and religious studies major with double minors in linguistics and Arabic studies from Baton Rouge, La.

The LSU Discover Scholar award recognizes students who exemplify the potential for undergraduate research and creative endeavors at LSU. These outstanding students were nominated by a faculty member and selected by a panel of judges.

The students received their award plaques during a ceremony on March 2. They will also be recognized at LSU Discover Day, LSU’s annual undergraduate research and creativity symposium, on April 4 and will receive up to $1,000 for travel reimbursement for costs associated with attending or presenting research, a project, or the like at an academic or professional event such as a conference or symposium.

The following students were selected as the 2017 LSU Discover Scholars:

Bryanna Fields

Fields was nominated for LSU Discover Scholars by Assistant Professor of Psychology Jason Harman. After her May 2017 graduation, Fields plans to attend graduate school and continue research on the mathematical modeling of decision-making psychology.

Fields was first introduced to undergraduate research through a required online psychology course, where she learned about the opportunity to complete an honors thesis and receive upper division honors in psychology through the LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College.

Fields was always interested in how people think and wanted to find a way to intertwine mathematics and psychology. Under the mentorship of Harman, Fields uses mathematical modeling to predict preferences for decision reversibility in human decision making. Her thesis is titled “The Effects of Reversibility as an Attitude in Decision Making,”

Participating in undergraduate research has allowed Fields to strengthen her applications for graduate school and also gain a deeper understanding of knowledge and evidence-based practices in her field of study. She is currently a member of the LSU Psychology Club; Psi Chi, the international psychology honor’s society; and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Vernell Dunams

Dunams was nominated for LSU Discover Scholars by Assistant Professor of Photography Kristine Thompson. After his graduation in May 2018, Vernell plans to perfect his crafts and work as a practicing artist and fine arts photographer. He hopes to later attend graduate school and obtain an advanced degree in photography and/or Spanish.

Dunams’ current research project, titled “Toumai Words: Songs of Your Primordial Ancestor,” is a combination of his personal experiences and his coursework in areas such as anthropology, literature and photographic processes. Research was a major component of Dunams’ coursework. He learned to combine these experiences and was urged by faculty in the photography department to view his creative works a “result of research.” Dunams works closely with Thompson, who constantly encourages him to “carry out his concepts from start to finish.”

As an artist, Dunams values his undergraduate research experience because working closely with a mentor “removes the fear of failure from the art-making process” and allows for exploration of artistic concepts. He is a part of the Ogden Honors College and LSU Spoon University.

Camille Boechler

Boechler was nominated for LSU Discover Scholars by Assistant Professor of English Chris Barrett. After May 2017 graduation, Boechler plans to take a gap year and later attend graduate school to obtain a doctoral degree.

Boechler became interested in undergraduate research after completing an independent study centered on queer film theory with Assistant Professor of English Phillip Maciak. Boechler’s current research project is “The Potential Worlds of 2001: Imagining a Queer Physicality in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Boechler works closely with Barret on this project. Boechler met Barrett at the 2015 Louisiana Queer Conference and later enrolled in her Shakespeare course. The two share similar research and academic interests, which led to Barrett serving as Boechler’s mentor.

Boechler believes that participating in undergraduate research will provide an advantage when applying to graduate school because it demonstrates characteristics of an outstanding applicant. Boechler is currently a member of the Ogden Honors College.

Shelby Stewart

Stewart was nominated for LSU Discover Scholars by Associate Professor of Psychology Amy Copeland. Stewart is expected to graduate May 2017 and plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Stewart is currently working on her honors thesis project, titled “Using Low Socioeconomic Status, Poor Sleep, and Drinking Motivations as Predictors for Outcomes of Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) Treatment.” She was inspired to do this work because of the proliferation of problematic alcohol use on college campuses. Her work was supported by the Tiger Athletic Foundation’s Honors Thesis Scholarship, which she received fall 2016.

Stewart currently works on this project with Copeland, who she has worked with since her sophomore year. She connected with Copeland after working at the LSU Psychological Services Center, where encouraging graduate students helped her to pinpoint her specific interests in psychology.

Stewart is a member of the Louisiana Service and Leadership Ogden Honors College Academic Scholar Program and is an Undergraduate Representative for the Committee for Diversity in Psychology. She is also the president of LSU’s Psi Chi chapter and the Psychology Club.

Connor Rouillier

Rouillier was nominated for LSU Discover Scholars by Linguistics Professor Gregory Johnson. Rouillier is expected to graduate in May 2019 and plans to pursue a master’s and a doctoral degree in Linguistics. He later hopes to become a professor so that he can share his knowledge of languages and their structure with future generations.

Rouillier was encouraged to participate in undergraduate research while still in high school by the late Elizabeth “Lisi” Oliver, a professor in the Department of English at LSU. Johnson, Rouillier’s current mentor, introduced him to an interdisciplinary team to help develop his current work, “This Better Had Be One Lexical Item: The Modal Verb Better Had in Southeastern Louisianan English,” supported by the President’s Future Leaders in Research Program.

Rouillier enjoys participating in undergraduate research because it has allowed him to work closely with faculty, who have helped him to develop personally and academically, and access unique resources that support his work. Rouillier will present his work at the LSU Mardi Gras Conference and the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics in Charleston, S.C., this month.

Rouillier is a part of the Linguistics Society of America; the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics; Alpha Lambda Delta, the National Honor Society for First-Year Students; Ogden Honors College; and currently serves as the vice president of the Geography and Anthropology Undergraduate Society. He is also on track to become a Communication across the Classroom, or CxC, Distinguished Communicator.

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