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Honors College Students Present Their Research at the 2012 Undergraduate Research Colloquium

Held in April every Spring semester, the Honors College Undergraduate Research Colloquium hosts presentations of Honors Thesis Projects in a conference format.  At this year’s colloquium, which featured a keynote speech by Erich and Lea Sternberg Honors Professor Vince Licata, eighteen Honors students presented their thesis work to an audience of faculty and their peers.  Here is a sampling of the students who presented their ongoing or completed thesis work at the colloquium.

Jerika Marchan, English  

Jeri Marchan

Dead or Exploding: An Exploration of Love, Panic, and Identity through Contemporary Experimental Poetry”

Jerika Marchan is an English senior with a concentration in creative writing.  Her poetry can be found in Volume 54 of LSU's Delta journal, and she also serves as the journal's co-fiction editor.  In 2011, she was nominated for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Prize for poetry.  For fall 2012, Marchan has been accepted into the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where she will pursue her MFA degree and teach undergraduate creative writing.

Marchan’s thesis is a full-length collection of original work that sublimates the internal workings of the heart into experimental forms of poetry.  The poems, constructed with the knowledge of inherent linguistic flaws, attempt to open up the possibility of sincerity and expression in the midst of miscommunication.  She chose this topic to be able to explore the boundaries of poetry as well as establish new modes of confessionalism. 


Victor Lashley, Jr., Marketing  

Victor Lashley

“Marketing Mainstream Financial Services to Baton Rouge’s Unbanked Population: Assessments and Recommendations for the Bank on Baton Rouge Initiative”

Honors Advocate and LASAL Scholar Victor Lashley, Jr. spent winter break on a tour of international businesses in Europe. Since returning, he has completed his thesis research, placed in the National Collegiate Sales Competition, and been named a 2011-2012 Outstanding Honors College Senior. Lashley will soon receive a Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a minor in Leadership Development. After graduating, he will relocate to New York, NY where he has accepted a position with J.P. Morgan.

Lashley’s thesis, entitled “Marketing Mainstream Financial Services to Baton Rouge’s Unbanked Population: Assessments and Recommendations for the Bank on Baton Rouge initiative," analyzed the consumer behavior of unbanked individuals and empirical studies of effective marketing techniques. The techniques were then compared to Bank on Baton Rouge’s current approach. He selected this topic in order to merge his knowledge of poverty gained through the LASAL curriculum with his Business Marketing major. Lashley hopes his recommendations can be used to combat the predatory lending issue plaguing Baton Rouge.


Rebekah Myers, Political Science 

Rebekah Myers

“Explaining Attitudes Toward Racial Preferences and Affirmative Action: A Multi-Racial Perspective”

Rebekah Myers, a recipient of the Golden Oaks Scholarship and a two-time recipient of the Aspire Undergraduate Research Award, spent last summer in Ireland with the help of the Honors College TAF Study Abroad scholarship. She has represented LSU at Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national competition in 2009 and 2010 and currently serves as vice president of the LSU Equestrian Team.

Myers, who will be entering the PhD program in political science at Texas A&M University, wrote her thesis on attitudes towards affirmative action and racial preferences due to her interest in public opinion.

“We find that overall every racial group is less supportive of racial preferences and more supportive of affirmative action,” she said. “I was researching affirmative action and noticed that most of the research focused on whites' attitudes towards affirmative action. I was interested in what drove attitudes towards racialized policy for minority groups.”

Arundhati Bakshi, Biological Sciences  

Arundhati Bakshi

Seizure Phenotype by Haploinsufficiency of the Epigenetic Regulatory Gene Aebp2”

Arundhati “Runa” Bakshi is a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. She is very involved in Dr. Kim’s epigenetics lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she started her undergraduate research as an HHMI Summer Research Scholarship awardee. Bakshi has recently presented at a scientific conference in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and has won the Honors College Student Council Research and Promising National Scholars awards in addition to her Tiger Scholars Scholarship. Her interest in science is matched by her interest in teaching, and she has been a Supplemental Instruction Leader as well as a Tutor with the Center for Academic Success. Bakshi intends on pursuing her Ph.D. after graduation.

Bakshi’s lifelong interest in DNA led her to her thesis project, in which she is investigating the gene regulatory roles of an evolutionarily well-conserved protein, Aebp2. Aebp2 is suspected to have major roles in brain development and cell migration during the early stages of embryonic development, and Bakshi’s work involves identifying potential genes controlled by Aebp2, which might shed more light on its global functions in vivo. Her junior year was spent characterizing the seizure phenotype displayed by the mice mutant for this gene, and it has provided her with several clues as to the genes which may be targeted by Aebp2. Bakshi will follow up on these cues in her senior year before she defends her thesis next Spring.


Cailidh Pedersen, Kinesiology  

Cailidh Pedersen

A Comparison of Handwriting and Typing with regard to the Enhancement of Learning”

Cailidh Pedersen is a senior pursuing a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology. After graduation, Pedersen will begin the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Pedersen is very active in the physical therapy community. She has volunteered at a physical therapy clinic in Kathmandu, Nepal and is the Volunteer Chair of LSU's Association of Pre-Physical Therapy Students.

“I chose the topic of my thesis after a family discussion on the academic ramifications my ten year old cousin will encounter because she completes her vocabulary and most other assignments on the computer,” she said. “I began to wonder if the recent transition from handwritten work to typed work had any detrimental effects to learning.”


Hannah Smitherman, Communication Disorders 

Hannah Smitherman

Children’s Nonword Repetition Skills as a Function of Their Race, Dialect, and Clinical Status

Hannah Smitherman is a senior who will graduate in May with a degree in communication disorders and minors in French and theatre. In the fall, she will be pursue her master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology at LSU, where she will study as a graduate research assistant under Dr. Janna Oetting.

After working in the research lab with Dr. Oetting as an undergraduate research assistant, Smitherman began to wonder how the nonword repetition task could be successful in determining a child's clinical status, even though it was comprised entirely of non-English words. She successfully defended her Honors Thesis to her committee, and she plans to use what she has learned from the thesis process to help her develop her future master's thesis.


Joanna Zimmerman, English and Mass Communications 

Joanna Zimmerman

“Books as Weapons: Metafiction in Female Victorian Writing”

Joanna Zimmerman is a senior pursuing a dual degree, majoring in English with a concentration in Literature and in Mass Communication with a concentration in Journalism. She is also pursuing a minor in Italian. Throughout the four years of her undergraduate career, Zimmerman has worked as a research assistant through Chancellor's Future Leaders in Research.  Additionally, she has spent her senior year as the marketing intern at AlwaysCare Benefits.  After graduation, Zimmerman will pursue an MA in Literature at the University of Tennessee.

Her thesis is a literary analysis of the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell.  It focuses on the way books are used within the novel to argue that they ultimately serve to remind the reader of the power and control of the author.  She chose this topic due to her interest in Victorian Literature and a desire to discuss the way the physical book is a symbol for the author.


Annette Denton, Philosophy 

Annette Denton

Behind the Seams: Individual Responsibility & Global Poverty”

Annette Denton is a graduating philosophy senior with minors in English and Italian. She traveled to China with the Honors College Gateway to China program in 2009, and spent last summer in Rome studying literary translation. Last summer she also worked at an internship in New Orleans with Louisiana Right to Life.

“My thesis examines individual responsibility for global poverty [and] provides an ethical framework for consumers to examine whether their own participation in the economy is adversely affecting the poor,” she said. “I chose this topic because I was interested in discovering how our economic decisions affect other peoples.”


Story by Elizabeth Clausen, LSU Honors College

For more information, contact the Honors College at 225-578-8831

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