Inspiring Student Research

GWU’s Alpha Chi Research Team Wins First Place in National Competition


Student researchers from Gardner-Webb University recently earned a top award during the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society Convention held in Portland, Ore. The four-member team placed first in the Nationwide Collaborative Research Competition and won the $5,000 prize.

Representing GWU were Alpha Chi Honor Society members: Chemistry major Tyler Hemingway (’18) of Cape Coral, Fla., biology major Damian Hutchins (’19) of Cherryville, N.C., psychology major Kelsi Williams (’18) of Lincolnton, N.C., and nursing major Hope Still (‘19) of Harrisburg, N.C.

A record number of 10 Alpha Chi chapters formed collaborative teams to compete this year. More than 40 students, representing 21 majors, were involved in the projects that were presented.

Competition guidelines require chapters to assemble a team of three to five student researchers from at least three different departments. The team develops a research problem from the general topic announced in the fall. This year’s topic was “Climate Change and the Future.” The GWU students chose to study “The Psychology of Oceanic Climate Change.”

Williams said the basic idea of the group’s study was to confront the apathetic attitude many people have towards climate change, and then give scientific evidence as to how climate change is causing great harm. “We used chemistry to explain the changes in the ocean, biology to explain the effects of those changes on sea life, and health sciences to show the effects of chemical and biological changes on health care resources,” Williams explained.

Alpha Chi National College Honor Society has 300 chapters at colleges and universities in the United States. The society recognizes academic achievement and invests in supporting students’ original research and creativity. A total of 16 students represented Gardner-Webb at the national convention, winning $10,000 in prizes and grants for their research presentations.

“Gardner-Webb sent the largest delegation and won the most prizes of any chapter in the nation at the national convention,” said Dr. June Hobbs, Alpha Chi sponsor and director of undergraduate research. “Our students’ superior preparation and professionalism were very obvious in the context of such intense academic competition.”

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