Local students present at UNG Annual Research Conference

press release from merit pages

100 students presented research at conference

The 29th Annual Research Conference was held at UNG’s Gainesville Campus on March 29 in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building. Contributed photo

DAHLONEGA, GA (04/17/2024)– March 29 marked the return of the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) 29th Annual Research Conference (ARC) featuring 100 projects in various areas of study. The event designed for students from all disciplines and campuses to present their findings is presented each year by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA).

“It was wonderful to see so many departments and campuses represented at this year’s ARC,” CURCA Assistant Director Diogo Pinheiro, an associate professor of sociology, said. “We at CURCA are immensely inspired by all the innovative and engaging research happening at UNG. We are also thankful to all of the mentors who make all of this possible.”

Held in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building, the event lasted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and was open to the public.

  • Alexander Howell from Loganville, GA, presented during the conference.
  • Jennifer Hardy from Loganville, GA, presented during the conference.
  • Mallory Mendenhall from Monroe, GA, presented during the conference.
  • Marshall VandenOever from Monroe, GA, presented during the conference.
  • Oneika Bigby from Loganville, GA, presented during the conference.

Of the projects presented, trio Christian Dale, Sabrina Boggs and Naydelin Trejo Martinez earned an honorable mention for social sciences and humanities from their project mentored by Dr. Efren Velazquez entitled “Analyzing Avoidance of Healthcare among Emerging Adults.” Dale pitched the project in August to Velazquez, who shared that he is extremely proud of the work these students have produced.

“I’m really excited that they got the honorable mention. They really worked hard on that from the beginning to the end,” Velaquez, an associate professor of psychological science, said. “I’m looking forward to publishing it.”

The trio is working to publish their research in an undergraduate journal.

UNG alumna Madison Rollins also had an interesting research project titled “Lasers are Cool but Are They Better? A Comparative Analysis of Surveying Techniques.” Mentored by Dr. Jacob Bateman McDonald, Rollins earned an environmental spatial analysis degree from UNG in fall 2023.

Rollins shared she loved the work she was able to do in McDonald’s class and plans to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia.

“The concentration allowed me to focus on my research and freely map river systems and helped me realize how much I enjoy hydrology work,” Rollins said.

Dominique Cunningham and Hasten Veal also presented their project, “The Computational Study of Neurological Binding Affinity of Cocaine,” at ARC. Their mentor is Dr. Rosi Gunasinghe, assistant professor of chemistry.

Cunningham, a Buford, Georgia, resident pursuing a degree in biology, shared she was grateful to be a part of the conference.

“ARC was a great experience as it allowed me an opportunity to strengthen my presentation skills,” Cunningham said. “It was incredibly gratifying to work dutifully on my research projects for a year and be able to connect with peers and faculty.”

In addition, the following awards were awarded during the conference:

Best Paper:

Stephanie McBride, “Protestant Foundations: How Church Formations Exemplified Military School Ideology at North Georgia College and State University until the 1960s” | Mentors: Dr. Ana Pozzi-Harris & Dr. Elissa Ferguson

Honorable Mentions, paper:

  • Marshall Vandenoever, “The Presidency and Labor: A Policy of Pragmatism” | Mentor: Dr. Erin Bush
  • Ariana Harvey, “Can Mindful Self-Compassion Lessen the Impact of Social Media on Mental Health?” | Mentor: Dr. Shelley Aikman

Best Poster, Natural Sciences:

  • Lillie Hayes and Atticus Tomcho, “Elucidating the Effects of Artificial Lighting on African Mammal Behavior” | Mentor: Jessy Patterson

Honorable Mention, Natural Sciences:

  • Mary Dickens, “Evaluating the Chronological Distribution of Late Pleistocene Fossil bearing Localities in Southeastern North America” | Mentors: Dr. Christopher Seminack, Dr. Alfred J. Mead (GCSU), and Dr. David Patterson

Best Poster, Social Sciences and Humanities:

  • Asa Conroy, “Fannie Harrell’s Diary as a Representation of Women’s Leisure in the Early Twentieth Century” | Mentor: Dr. Melissa Schindler

Positioned in the fastest-growing region of the state, the University of North Georgia comprises five campuses united by a single mission focused on academic excellence and academic and co-curricular programs that develop students into leaders for a diverse and global society. The University of North Georgia is a University System of Georgia leadership institution and is The Military College of Georgia. With more than 18,000 students, the University of North Georgia is one of the state’s largest public universities. The university offers more than 100 programs of study ranging from certificate and associate degrees to doctoral programs.

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