Summer Scholars 2018

Research Begins for Largest Field of Summer Scholars in GWU History


The Gardner-Webb University Undergraduate Research Scholars program will fund a total of 13 students during the summer 2018 terms, which represents the greatest number of scholars in the program’s history. As part of their research project, scholars will spend five weeks on campus working on his/her topic for 40 hours a week. At the same time, students will be mentored by a dedicated faculty member providing information and guidance to ensure a successful research experience for the scholar. The program is directed by Dr. June Hobbs, who oversees GWU Undergraduate Research and serves as a professor of English for the Department of English Language and Literature.

Students taking part in Summer Term I research include:

Madeline Bame will conduct a research project to determine if students who participate in vocal or instrumental music programs in low-income high schools are more likely to graduate than students who are not involved in these programs. Bame is a junior music education major from Gastonia, N.C. Her mentor is Dr. Morgan Soja.

Luke Gazak will explore and analyze the condition of the black bullhead catfish population at the Broad River Greenway and assess its current and future condition in a small portion of the river. This project will also serve as a baseline for future research at the Broad River Greenway. Gazak is a senior biology major from Wilmington, N.C. His mentor is Dr. Joseph Oyugi.

Yuri Kurerov will develop a method to separate and characterize the chemical compound sulforaphane from commercially-available dietary supplements—a compound known to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Manufacturers do not have to seek FDA approval before selling dietary supplements. Thus, the efficacy of supplements claiming to contain the compound is not clear. Kurerov will be the first to use the new NMR spectrometer recently acquired by the chemistry department in his work. He is a senior biology major from Russia. His mentors are Dr. Ben Brooks and Dr. Stefka Eddins.

Bethany Leap will investigate the connection between indiscriminate violence and duration on the probability of an insurgent group’s victory in a civil war, positing that indiscriminate violence may be successful in the short-term, but its effectiveness wanes as the conflict continues. Leap is a senior global studies major from Sarasota, Fla. Her mentor is Dr. Casey Delehanty.

Hannah Roberts will begin a science-fiction novel examining ethnocentrism, anthropocentrism, exploration, and conquest inspired by the pursuit of capital, as well as how these colonial behaviors conflict with the ecology of a sentient astronomical body and the philosophy of Animism. Roberts is a senior English major from Summerfield, N.C. Her mentor is Dr. Chris Davis.

Sarah Traylor will analyze the life of Elisabeth Elliot within its historical context and her understanding of her role as a woman within this context in light of her Christian calling. She eventually hopes to write a full-length biography of Elliot. Traylor is a senior biblical studies major from Staunton, Va. Her mentor is Dr. Anna Sieges Beal.

Kate Vriesma will begin a novel to explore the young adult genre, specifically the idea of mental illness in teenagers. In her reading experience, she has stumbled across numerous books that portray mental illness inaccurately and even seem to glamorize or romanticize it. Vriesma is a senior English (writing) major from Whitinsville, MA. Her mentor is Dr. Chris Davis.

Ally Ward will analyze gendered language in sports magazines to learn how women are portrayed and included in the hunting world and how they use language differently from men when writing about hunting. Ward is a senior English major from Norwood, NC. Her mentor is Dr. June Hobbs.

Madison Weavil will work through Forgiven Ministries, a prison ministry, to produce a photographic documentary of interactions between incarcerated parents and their children. Weavil is a senior business administration major from Concord, N.C. Her mentor is Dr. Bob Carey.

With a vision to offer increasing opportunities for Gardner-Webb’s undergraduate students, Undergraduate Research Director Dr. June Hobbs hopes to facilitate the program’s continued expansion. “Without question,” she shared, “these projects are a very important way we can add value to the overall educational experience for our students.”

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Program at Gardner-Webb, email Dr. June Hobbs