news-category: Summer Scholar Fellowships

Three Gardner-Webb Students Receive Summer Scholar Fellowships

Fellows Conduct Five Weeks of Focused Research with Faculty and Staff Mentors

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— Through Summer Scholar Fellowships (formerly Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars), Gardner-Webb University students have an opportunity to conduct focused research outside the boundaries of the classroom. During the second summer session, three Fellows will be working with their faculty mentors on projects that involve extracting essential oils, examining books, and explaining nonverbal behavior.

Fellows are awarded grants for room and board on campus as they devote approximately 40 hours per week to their projects. After their research experience, they are required to present, perform or publish their project by the end of the following academic year.

The 2024 Fellows

Kyndal Jackson

Mentor: Dr. Ben Brooks, professor of chemistry

Jackson graduates in December. A Tucker Scholar, she is a biology/biomedical major with chemistry and Spanish minors. Her goal is to be a compassionate, devoted physician assistant. Jackson will continue her research in the 2024 Fall Semester, with Brooks and Dr. Meredith Rowe, associate professor of biology, as her advisors. Jackson received a competitive grant from North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) to conduct the fall research project.

Research project: Jackson will extract essential oil from grinded caraway seeds. To achieve a pure product, steam distillation will be practiced along with other additional steps for purification. Once the purification process is complete, she will prove that it is pure and that she was able to isolate a compound known as (S)-carvone. Comparison with standard extraction methods may also be attempted if time allows. Jackson’s project will contribute to an ongoing set of experiments. Cinnamon oil, thyme oil, clove oil, and orange peel oil have been experimented with two bacterial strains to see if their purified compounds inhibit bacterial growth. Her research will potentially strengthen preliminary results and extensively test the antimicrobial resistance of caraway seed oil with common skin microbiota.

Reese Jones

Mentor: Dr. Venita Totten, professor of chemistry

Jones is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and plays on the lacrosse team at Gardner-Webb. She is a senior biology/biomedical sciences major with a minor in Spanish. She has completed a certificate program in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals. Her future plans include applying for medical school and practicing as a pediatrician.

Research project: Jones will evaluate heavy metal contamination in old books and artifacts in the Gardner-Webb library and nearby museums. These treasures are so old that some of them might have been made with materials that can be harmful like heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, and mercury.

To make sure these treasures are safe, Jones will use an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer to determine if they have any dangerous metals inside them. This project is very important to help protect everyone who loves reading old books and looking at historical artifacts. By finding out if there are harmful metals, we can make sure everyone stays safe while enjoying these treasures.

Jones will also be working with Library Dean Natalie Bishop, who received a grant to purchase a portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. This project will focus on the initial phases of integrating the new instrument into the project, which will include software analysis, standardization, and initial assessment of both the technology and application to GWU’s library collections, as well as surrounding museums.

Caleb Roten

Mentor: Dr. Iva Naydenova, professor of psychology and counseling

Roten is a senior psychology major, who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology. His other interests include nature conservation, hiking, and talking with and getting to know other people. 

Research project: He will examine an overview of body language and nonverbal behavior and how it relates to emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the internal ability to understand, manage, and use our emotions to strengthen our interactions with others. Examining the relationship between nonverbal behavior (i.e. body language) and emotional intelligence can give more understanding to what types of emotional management certain people have based on their body language usage. This could be crucial in strengthening social interactions in everyday life and even during a prestigious interview process.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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