2012 Summer Scholars

2012 Summer Scholars Projects

Ms. Tyler Barnes, working with Dr. Chris Lassiter in Biology on "Estrogen Activity in the Roanoke River"

Every day, waterways are contaminated with estrogenic compounds.  The origin of the contamination includes agricultural and industrial run-off as well as wastewater treatment entering rivers.  Estrogenic compounds pose a threat to wildlife by acting as endocrine disruptors, causing hormonal imbalances within exposed organisms.  This imbalance can cause a decrease in organismal reproductive success.  The threat to human health caused by these estrogenic contamination levels is unclear.  This project will examine if there is detectable estrogenic activity within the Roanoke River by exposing zebrafish embryos to collected water samples and measuring the activity of an estrogen-sensitive gene using qPCR.

Tyler Barnes is a rising junior Biology major interested in veterinary medicine.  Since she was a child, she has always been around animals and developed a deep passion for them.  It was not until her senior year in high school that she decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.  In her AP Biology class, she absorbed and yearned to learn more - so much that she began finding mistakes within the textbook! Science is not only her way to investigate difficult questions, but to understand the how the world (and those organisms) works.  Since arriving at Roanoke College, Tyler has worked in Dr. Lassiter's research lab gaining graduate-level research experience as an undergraduate student.  When she is not in class, studying, or working in the research lab, Tyler enjoys doing Zumba, volunteering at various animal rescues, and watching movies.

Dr. Christopher Lassiter is an Associate Professor of Biology at Roanoke College.  His research interests include how sex steroid are used during the normal development of embryos and how environmental contaminants that act as sex steroids affect development.  He teaches courses on embryology, paleobiology, immunology, and leads a travel course to National Parks of the Southwest.

Ms. Maura Belanger, working with Dr. Cathy Sarisky in Biochemistry on "Thermococcus kodakarensis (T.k.) Plasmid Preparation for Creation of Purine Biosynthesis Knock-outs"

This project would be part of a larger project which is attempting to create a complete set of Thermococcus kodakarensis (T.k.) knock-out strains.  Thermococcus kodakarensis is an archaeon, meaning it is are part of that domain of life and can be used to further our understanding of how our own cells function and evolved.  The main procedure that would be used would be to create knock-out plasmids that will then be used at Ohio State University to create specific knock-out strains of T.k.

Maura Belanger is sophomore biochemistry major from Amherst, NH.  Maura is involved in a few different groups on campus including: SACCS (the chemistry club), the biology club, Alpha Phi Omega (national service fraternity), and is a URAP scholar.  She has been conducting research since her freshman year and enjoys friends she has made because of those opportunities.

Dr. Catherine Sarisky earned a B.A. in Chemistry from New College of Florida and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, where she worked on protein structure and design with Dr. Stephen Mayo.  Her current research interests focus on the biosynthesis of purine molecules, especially in archaea.

Ms. Jennie Blaney, working with Dr. Julie Lyon in Business Administration on "Measuring the Climate for Learning at Roanoke College"

In recent years, researchers have been using new strategies to assess and improve student learning at undergraduate institutions (NSSE, 2011; Brent et al., 2012; Fardows, 2011; Padilla, et al., 2008). In the past, most of this research has focused on individual students and faculty members. It was not until recently that the research in this field expanded beyond the individual perspective to include environmental factors such as campus involvement and organizational support. In contrast to previous research, this study will focus on overall campus environment, rather than individual student and faculty members. This summer's goal is to develop a measure that can be used to assess and ultimately improve the climate for learning at Roanoke College. Over the long term, we plan to introduce targeted interventions aimed at improving student perceptions that academic achievement is valued on campus.

Jennie Blaney is a rising junior from northern Virginia. She is a music major and education minor, with an interest in social science research. She joined Dr. Julie Lyon's research team during her freshmen year, and has since presented her work on and off campus. Jennie works on campus as a resident advisor and is also a member of the Roanoke College Choir. Jennie aspires to make a positive impact on the Roanoke College community through her research on undergraduate research opportunities and climate for learning.

Dr. Julie Lyon received her B.A. in Psychology from NC State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Maryland. She joined the Business Administration and Economics Department at Roanoke College in 2007 and currently teaches Organizational Behavior & Management as well as a freshman seminar on Gender and Leadership. Dr. Lyon's research interests include diversity and selection, climate and culture, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is currently the Director of Student-Faculty Research for the College.

Ms. Kendra Boyd, working with Dr. Marilee Ramesh in Biology on "Characterization of hAT Transposons in the Coprinopsis cinerea Genome"

The Coprinopsis cinerea genome contains a variety of repetitive elements. One subcategory of repetitive elements is DNA transposons that operate using a cut-and-paste mechanism. My research focuses on characterizing the hAT family of DNA transposons. There are 9 hAT elements that have been identified. To study the functionality of this family of transposons, I have selected the best candidate for analysis based on transposon structure and expression. I plan to use PCR to amplify this element from the C. cinerea genome and clone it into an expression vector. The cloned element will be used in an assay to study functionality.

Kendra Boyd graduated from Lebanon High School in Lebanon, VA and is a Biochemistry major at Roanoke College.  After she earns her degree from Roanoke, she plans pursue a career in genetics and neuroscience by earning a Ph.D. in genetics. She is a member of the freshman honor society and has been on the Dean's List for two semesters. Currently, she is a URAP scholar for Dr. Marilee Ramesh characterizing hAT transposons in C. cinerea.

Dr. Marilee Ramesh joined the faculty at Roanoke College in 2002 and is currently an Associate Professor of Biology.  Dr. Ramesh earned a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and a Ph.D. in Biology from Indiana University.  She has performed postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia and Emory University.  During her sabbatical leave (2008-2009), she was appointed as a Visiting Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  She has had the opportunity to supervise many undergraduate research students both at her research positions and at Roanoke College.  She teaches courses in general biology, genetics, molecular biology and genomics.  Her research interests are in the evolution of meiosis and fungal genomics. 

Mr. David Guynn, working with Dr. Matt Fleenor in Physics on "The Influence of Galaxy-Galaxy Harassment in Galaxy Evolution Along Supercluster Filaments"

At the largest scale, the Universe is conjectured to have a structure similar to a web, with galaxy-containing filaments of relatively high density surrounding void areas containing very little matter. Interactions between galaxies originating in the filament and void regions are not well understood. In this project, our goal is to understand the processes driving galaxy evolution along the interface between filament and void, especially evolution driven by outside processes and the local environment. This project will use a combination of imaging at both the visual and radio wavelengths to determine the nature and extent of galaxy interaction.

David Guynn is entering his final year as a physics major and mathematics minor at Roanoke College. David's current research interests include radio astronomy techniques and instrumentation, and interaction between galaxies. David is a candidate for Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society, and Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society. In his (exceedingly rare) spare time, he serves as the varsity outdoor track coach at Roanoke Catholic School in Roanoke, Virginia.

Dr. Matthew C. Fleenor is an associate professor in the Physics Group at Roanoke College. After teaching high school chemistry and physics for four years as a recovering engineer, he was privileged to study observational extragalactic astrophysics at the University of North Carolina. Currently, Dr. Fleenor is interested in research problems involving galaxy environments and multi-wavelength synthesis (primarily radio, X-ray, and optical data). He maintains that education is a continual process of deepening relationship between knower and known through asking better questions. He is also an aspiring husband, father, and adult.

Mr. Alex Hawes, working with Dr. Gary Hollis in Chemistry on "The Synthesis of Novel, Highly Flourinated Derivative of 1,2,3,4-tetrakis(Pentaflourophenyl)cyclopentadien"

This project involves the synthesis of several novel compounds from two different starting materials, 1,2,3,4-tetrakis(pentafluorophenyl)cyclopentadiene, and 1,2,3-tris(pentafluorophenyl)cyclopentadiene. These compounds will be reacted with multiple types of alcohols, such as 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol,  2,2,3,3,3,pentafloropropanol, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether, and methanol. The resulting mixes of products will be extracted from the initial reaction mixture, separated with column chromatography, and characterized with both 1H and 19F nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Some new compounds that have already been synthesized by this author are  1,2,3-tris(paratrifluoroethoxyperfluorophenyl)cyclopentadiene, and 1,2,3-tris(paraethoxymetholxyperfluorophenyl)cyclopentadiene.

Alex Hawes is a chemistry major performing research with Dr. Gary Hollis in the field of organic fluorine chemistry. Knowing that he wanted to be a man of science since the 3rd grade, Alex read his first college level chemistry textbook when he was 14. Since then he has strived to gain more knowledge in the field of chemistry and had come to Roanoke College to do just that.  At the college he has been able to perform research every semester, and was allowed to continue research over the summer through the through a stipend and housing provided by the chemistry department.

Dr. Gary Hollis earned a B.S. in Chemistry and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Hollis is currently Professor and Chairperson of Chemistry at Roanoke College.  His research lies in the area of preparing, purifying, and identifying novel, highly-fluorinated organic compounds.  Recent publications of the work from his lab can be found in The Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, Transition Metal Chemistry, and The Journal of Organometallic Chemistry.  In his time at Roanoke College, he has proudly mentored over 25 students in his lab.

Ms. Charla Henley, working with Dr. José Bañuelos-Montes in Modern Languages on "The Economic Role of the Mexican Sweatshops: Exploitation or Saving Grace?

What are the impacts of Maquiladoras, or sweatshops, in the communities of Northern Mexico?  Do they help the locals better their lifestyles or simply exploit and alienate them?  Who makes up the labor force?  Maquiladoras are manufacturing plants situated in Mexico that transform imported materials and assemble products for export back to the US.  These manufacturing plants have been the target of criticisms because they employ workers at low wages, for long hours, under poor conditions-exploiting those living in poverty. On the other hand, Maquiladoras can be considered a way to improve economies and living conditions in many local communities.  This study analyzes historical and modern literature, economic data, and other forms of media in order to shed a different light on the significance of the Maquiladoras in Northern Mexico.

Charla Henley is a rising junior highly involved in the campus community.  She is double majoring in Spanish and Business Administration, with a minor in Economics and a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.  Aside from working as a resident advisor and Rooney handler, some of Charla's many hobbies include running, shopping, hiking, and reading.  She also enjoys volunteering at the Samaritan Inn and Rescue Mission in downtown Roanoke in her spare time.  While her career path remains unclear, she plans to study abroad in Mexico in the second semester of her junior year and hopefully move to Spain upon graduation in May 2014.  She is interested in studying the economies, cultures, and traditions of other nations, particularly those that are Spanish-speaking.

Dr. José F. Bañuelos-Montes is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Modern Languages Department.  His research interest is poetry written in exile as a form of social alienation in Southern Cone and Cuban poetry and the representation of national identity.  His is currently completing the Spanish to English translation of a book of poetry from the exiled Cuban poet Jesus J.  Barquet.  He will be researching exile and the relation to anguish and loss in Jesús J. Barquet's poetry. 

Mr. Patrick Kohlhaas, working with Dr. Skip Brenzovich in Chemistry on "Palladium Catalyzed Synthesis of Hydroxyproline Derivatives"

Derivatives of naturally occurring molecules have been found to exhibit valuable medicinal activity, thus the ability to cheaply synthesize these molecules is paramount to new drug development. Specifically, hydroxyproline, a common amino acid found in many proteins in the body, is of increasing interest in the pharmaceutical industry.  We will explore the synthesis of hydroxyproline derivatives using palladium as an active catalyst.  Not only is palladium a versatile metal in terms of its synthetic capabilities, it is cost effective compared to many related species such as platinum and gold.  By using palladium, inexpensive amino acids will be converted into new and interesting starting materials for pharmaceutical drugs. 

Patrick Kohlhaas is a rising junior majoring in biochemistry. He graduated from Strasburg high school, Strasburg VA, in 2010. Patrick has been a member of the Cross County, Track team and the honors program since freshman year. He is also an employee at Information Technology. He intends to attend graduate school to obtain a degree in organic chemistry. Given the opportunity, he would enter into a doctorate program and enter into research.

Dr. Skip Brenzovich joined the faculty at Roanoke College in 2011.  He received his B.S. in chemistry from the College of William and Mary and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.  Dr. Brenzovich then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, designing new reactions involving gold.  Dr. Brenzovich's research interests focus on the interplay of the metals and organic and biological molecules, both inside and out of the reaction flask.

Mr. N. Reid Mizelle, working with Dr. Brooks Crozier in Biology on "qPCR Detection of Fecal Markers for the Detection of Source-Specific Fecal Contamination"

The monitoring of genetic markers near livestock has become an important component of assessing water quality and the associated health risk. The complexity of the microbial community within surface water may greatly affect the detection of the intended genetic marker. The aim of this study is to determine the presence or absence of fecal genetic markers and/or the precision of that detection by evaluating through qPCR 1) the longevity of fecal marker detection in water 2) the influence of non-target DNA on host-specific genetic markers, and 3) the association of genetic fecal markers with other possible markers of fecal pollution.

N. Reid Mizelle is a sophomore biology major from Suffolk, Virginia. Before joining Roanoke College in Fall 2011, Reid studied at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA while working on a research project concerning mycobacteriophage. For the 2011-2012 academic year, Reid worked intensively in the research lab of Dr. Brooks Crozier studying genetic markers of fecal pollution. He plans to leave Roanoke with a degree in biology before pursuing graduate school in the field of microbial pathology.

Dr. J. Brooks Crozier, a Roanoke College graduate, began teaching at Roanoke College in 1997. He and his students have been conducting research in the area of Microbial Source Tracking for over 12 years. His current research interests include the detection of virulence and host-specific DNA markers (cow fecal markers for instance); performance criteria for such markers; and their application in target-oriented water resource management. Other research interests include molecular fungal identification and tracking. He recently co-authored a book chapter entitled Training Future Scientists: Teaching Microbial Source Tracking (MST) to Undergraduates in Microbial Source Tracking: Methods, Applications, and Case Studies (Springer Publishers).

Ms. Sarah Perkins, working with Dr. Lynn Talbot in Modern Languages on "El mundo desapercibido de las mujeres no reconocidas: Un estudio de la construcción de género e identidad nacional a través de la ciencia ficción escrita por las mujeres hispánicas/The Unnoticed World of Unsung Women: A Study of the Construction of Gender and National Identity through Science Fiction Written by Hispanic Women"

This project explores the development of Hispanic female identity and the influence of nationality on female identity within Latin American and Spanish science fiction, as well as the impact of Hispanic feminist science fiction on national identity  from 1984-1994.  These identities will be analyzed and compared through four novels written by Argentinian Angélica Gorodischer, Cuban Daína Chaviano, Spanish Elia Barceló, and Spanish Rosa Montero, influential Hispanic female authors of the genre during this time period.

Sarah Perkins is a Spanish and English major at Roanoke College with a passion for foreign language and literature.  She is a member of the national honorary foreign language fraternity Xi Theta Chi, the national honorary Spanish fraternity Sigma Delta Pi, and the national honorary English fraternity Sigma Tau Delta.  She is the foreign language department senator in the student government, tutors Spanish in the Subject Tutoring Center, and is co-editor of the on-campus literary magazine On Concept's Edge.  Sarah will graduate in 2013 and plans to teach both abroad and in the United States.

Dr. Lynn Talbot, Professor of Spanish, specializes in contemporary Spanish literature, with a special emphasis on literature by women.  She has published numerous articles and presented conference papers on contemporary Spanish women writers, including Carmen Martín Gaite, Marina Mayoral, Rosa Montero, and Lourdes Ortiz. Additional research interests include the contemporary Camino de Santiago and the letters of Frieda Lawrence, the wife of D. H. Lawrence.

Mr. Tim Smith, working with Dr. Paul Hinlicky in Religion & Philosophy on "Filoque as Key to East-West Division and its Reconciliation"

One of the most painful and embarrassing events in the history of Christianity was the division in 1054 between the Eastern and Western churches. One of its main causes was disagreement over the filioque. This Latin word appears in the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions of the Nicene Creed, but not in the Creed of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This single word has been a major theological point of contention between the East and the West since 1054 and continues to be a theological barrier today. This project will focus upon the theological differences the filioque has caused between East and West and propose a solution that could facilitate ongoing ecumenical dialogues.

Tim Smith is a senior at Roanoke College. He is a Religion major and plans to return for another two semesters to pick up a Philosophy minor and complete a Concentration in the Classics and Mediterranean World. He is also a member of Roanoke College's Track and Field and Cross Country Teams, which he serves as a captain. Tim finished 38th at the NCAA DIII National Cross Country Championship in the fall of 2011 and was named an Academic All-American by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association. He enjoys running, studying theology, and hopes to continue studying theology at the graduate level.

The Rev. Paul R. Hinlicky, Ph.D., is the Tise Professor of Lutheran Studies at Roanoke College, where previously he had held the Jordan-Trexler Professorship of Religion and Philosophy. He began teaching part-time for Web-based seminary, the Institute of Lutheran theology (ilt.org) in its MDiv graduate program in 2010. Ordained a Lutheran minister in 1978 in a predecessor body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he has been the pastor of the New River Parish, Blacksburg, Virginia, in partnership with his wife Ellen (2003-2008), and previously assistant to the pastor at St Mark Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Virginia and interim pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, Roanoke. He was Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology at the Protestant Theological Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, from 1993-9, where he earned the title "Docent" in 1999 on the basis of the successful defense of his habilitation work, "Buducnost Cirkvi: Co by pre nas mal znamenat lutheransky-katolicky dialog?" ("A Future for the Church: What the Lutheran - Catholic Dialogue Should Mean For Us"). He holds the B.A. from Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, IN; the M.Div. from Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, MO; the Ph.D. (1983) from Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY. He has published numerous academic articles and book reviews and chapter length contributions to books, as well as many popular and occasional pieces.

Mr. John Stang, working with Dr. John Selby in History on "Fields of Iron Crosses: Community and Daily Life for Volga-German Immigrants, 1876-1900"

Around the 1860s, German immigrants from the Volga river region in Russia migrated to the U.S. due to religious persecution and new economic opportunities in the Midwestern United States.  Many settled in Kansas, particularly in Ellis County, due to the rich farmland and the good conditions to plant a special type of winter wheat called red turkey.  In these communities, Roman Catholicism also played a huge role in the everyday lives of these new immigrants.  This paper will examine a microhistory of Catharine, Kansas to draw a broader understanding of the Volga German identity and daily habits of the immigrants. 

John Stang is a rising senior at Roanoke majoring in history.  He is originally from Great Bend, Kansas.  John is an active student leader in many campus organizations, including the vice president of the Honors Program and Programming Director for WRKE 100.3 FM, the college radio station.  John is also the treasurer for the Roanoke College Historical Society.  He is a URAP scholar working on American Civil War research with Dr. John Selby.  In 2011-2012, he was also a George C. Marshall Scholar where he worked on a project about George Kennan and the intellectual origins of the containment doctrine during the Cold War. 

Dr. John G. Selby is the John R. Turbyfill Professor of History at Roanoke College.  A professor at the college for 26 years, Selby has been active in faculty governance and in research in his field of specialty, the American Civil War.  Selby has written one book on the Civil War, Virginians at War, and in May 2012 his second book on the war, Civil War Talks, will be published by the University Press of Virginia.

Mr. Tyler Stoneham, working with Dr. Michael Wise in Biology on "An Investigation of Hormonal Control of a Novel Plant-Resistance Trait: Defense by Ducking in Goldenrods"

While plants form the base of nearly all food webs, plants are far from defenseless. Plant defenses generally involve physical obstacles (like thorns or spines) or chemical toxins. Recently, an entirely new kind of adaptation has been identified in goldenrod plants: "defense by ducking." Most goldenrods grow vertically from emergence through senescence. Ducking plants emerge vertically but bend like a cane in spring before straightening again later in the summer. Ducking plants suffer only half the usual level of insect attack. Through greenhouse and laboratory studies, this proposed research will begin to address hormonal control of this fascinating plant behavior.

Tyler Stoneham is a sophomore biochemistry major from Rochester, New York. He is involved in the Outdoor Adventure Club at Roanoke and works in Admissions as a campus tour guide. Tyler is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta (a pre-med honor society) and is also an Eagle Scout. The thing that he likes most about Roanoke College is the wealth opportunities that Roanoke offers its undergraduate students that larger universities will not. "Just the fact that I am even able to apply to do paid summer research my sophomore year is incredible!" says Tyler.

Dr. Michael Wise is a Roanoke native, graduating as valedictorian of his class at Cave Spring High School in 1986. He earned a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. Prior to graduate school at Duke University, he spent one year working at the Smithsonian University in the Entomology Lab and several years as an environmental consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Wise earned his doctorate in Biology from Duke University in 2003, where his dissertation research was on the evolutionary ecology of resistance to herbivory in a native weed called horsenettle (Solanum carolinense). From 2003-2008, Dr. Wise was a teaching and research fellow at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he performed research on goldenrod and taught classes in conservation biology and entomology. From 2008-2009, he was a research faculty member of the University of Virginia, working under a grant from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Wise returned to Roanoke and has been a visiting assistant professor in the Biology Department of Roanoke College since 2010. At Roanoke College, he has taught both freshmen biology courses (BIOL 120 and 125), general ecology (BIOL 205), and an Inquiry course called Biology on a Changing Planet.

Mr. Jonathan Thumas, working with Dr. Marwood Larson-Harris in Religion & Philosophy on "Mountain Religion and Ecology: Finding a New Perspective on Modern Shugendo Practice"

This study will observe and interpret the modern rituals and community lives of practitioners from the Japanese religious tradition, Shugendō. Text analysis as well as interviews of devotees and scholars will be combined with fieldwork consisting of travel to sacred areas in Japan in order to observe and develop a deeper understanding of Shugendō on its own terms. The overall purpose will be to find a new perspective on Shugendō by looking at how ecological awareness and activism have worked their way into the religion and also at the community relationships between laypeople and clergy.

Jonathan Thumas was born in Louisville, Kentucky and currently lives in Roanoke, Virginia. He is a junior at Roanoke College, and will be graduating May of 2013 with a major in Religious Studies and a concentration in Anthropology. East Asian religion is his primary area of interest within his major, with the Japanese Shugendō tradition being that which he will devote his Summer Scholar research project to studying further in depth. In addition to his studies and developing work in Shugendō, Jonathan applies some of his knowledge in Asian religions, notably of Buddhism, as president of the "Group Meditation" student organization on campus. In between semesters and during breaks he can often be found hiking around the various mountain trails spread throughout the Roanoke area.

Dr. Marwood Larson-Harris received his BA in History from Reed College and his MA (English), MTS (Theology), and PhD (Religion) from Boston University. He teaches Asian Religions, Native American Religions, and Environmental Studies in the Humanities at Roanoke College. His research interests include Buddhist visual culture and Buddhist film as well as religion and the environment.

Mr. Connor Toomey, working with Dr. Dolores Flores-Silva in Modern Languages and Dr. Virginia Stewart in English on "Columbia: A Sociopolitical Study of Past and Present Realities Using One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez"

This project will examine how Colombia's political history has produced a fragmented society. Research into Colombia's history as well as analysis of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most complex novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, from historical, economic, social, and political perspectives will provide a framework through which to interpret the past and present realities of Colombian society. In addition, data collected during a four-week stay in Cali and Medellin, Colombia in May 2012 will be analyzed, synthesized, and applied in order to compose a more integrative and lucid understanding of how political histories affect the cultural values, norms, and circumstances of Colombian society.

Connor Toomey is a rising senior from San Antonio, Texas. He started off his college career as an Economics major, but then switched to English at the end of his freshman year. After a life-changing marketing and sales internship in Arequipa, Peru the summer after his freshman year, he decided to add the study of Spanish to his academic workload. He is now an English and Spanish major, and is involved in multiple organizations on campus, including the Honor's Program, Varsity Basketball, Kappa Alpha Order, and HOLA (Hispanic Organization of Leadership and Achievement). He has worked as a campus tour guide and is currently a returning Resident Advisor for the International Village community. Starting next semester, he has accepted a paid internship that places him as the student president and founder of a chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success at Roanoke College, a national leadership honor society that strives to build student leaders who will promote positive change in the campus community. This coming year, Connor will be applying for a teaching Fulbright scholarship in Latin America, and aspires to eventually become a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department.

After completing her graduate studies in Latin American Studies and Latin American Literature, Dr. Dolores Flores-Silva joined the Roanoke College Faculty in 2001. Upon her arrival, she began working on the implementation of courses that could support students' knowledge on Latin America and she also created, along with the History Department, the Latin American and Caribbean Concentration. The majority of her research focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of Literature and History and how they influence the development of the cultural identity and structure of a society. She recently published her book The Sword and the Cross in the Works of Rosario Ferre and Mayra Montero where she studies the importance of the two fundamental systems of power in the Caribbean: religion and politics. She has published numerous essays in Colombia, Puerto Rico, England, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and the USA, and considers traveling, as well as the interpretation of past cultures in order to understand present realities, to be one of her chief pleasures in life. She is currently working on Chicano Literature by tracing back the influence of Mexican ancestry and history in the formation of these literary works.  

Virginia Stewart has been a member of Roanoke College's English department for 21 years and mentored countless students in their independent research.  Her own research areas are postcolonial studies, particularly in Caribbean literature and culture, and Southern U.S. and African-American literature.  She teaches the year-long senior English seminar, American and Caribbean literature courses, INQ 110, and INQ 300.

Ms. Chava Urecki, working with Dr. Chris Buchholz in Psychology on "The Development of the Tolerance for Unpredictability Scale"

Why do we like the things we like?  We hypothesize that the complexity/unpredictability of a given stimulus or event directly relates to our aesthetic experience of that stimulus or event.  Furthermore, we propose that individual differences in one's tolerance for unpredictability will be predictive of the types of stimuli and events those individuals prefer and/or are drawn to.  We plan to conduct a literature review exploring related constructs.  Informed by the literature review, we plan to construct a scale that measures tolerance for unpredictability.          

Chava Urecki '13 has been actively involved in psychology research for the past three years at Roanoke College.  As Lab Coordinator of Dr. Buchholz's Social Psychology Lab, Urecki has completed multiple studies on an array of topics including: personality and music preferences, uncertainty and music preference, uncertainty and film preferences, and cognitive load.  Urecki's most recent study, "Examining Closed-Mindedness and Uncertainty's Effects on Likelihood to Hire Ex-Convicts," was the completed product of her independent study which she presented at the Southeastern Psychological Association's annual meeting recently in New Orleans, LA during the spring 2012.  She has also presented her research at the Eastern Psychological Association's annual meeting in the spring of 2011 in Cambridge, MA.  While Urecki has a variety of research interests, her current research focus is on understanding how people handle unpredictable situations and how personality factors determine such a reaction.

Dr. Chris Buchholz has spent the last seven years looking for a universal aesthetic principle that ties together all of the things that we love in life (e.g., music, film, literature, humor, friends, romantic relationships). His research started by examining how individual differences in personality predict music preferences and has since ranged from preferences for film to exploring the nuances of physical attraction. His research indicates that the things we are attracted to in life have an optimal level of complexity that matches our ability to process that complexity. Dr. Buchholz's research lab is characterized by a cooperative effort of student researchers who are involved in the entire research process from generating research questions to presenting findings of the experiments that are designed to test those questions. Efforts in this lab have led to 13 conference presentations at regional and national conferences by student researchers over the last seven years.

Ms. Stephanie Vogel, working with Dr. DorothyBelle Poli in Biology on "Extraction and Ignition of Lycopodium Oils"

This project is a continuation of an independent study that will delve further into the topic of the effects of fire on Lycopodium, a topic that I have published on already. This project puts an increased focus on the oil present in Lycopodium spores that could account for the spore's high flammability characteristics. This work will be the foundation of future research necessary before spores develop naturally.   

Stephanie Vogel is a rising senior, majoring in biology and a minoring in physics. She is active on campus as a member of the Maroon Ambassador staff, Alpha Sigma Alpha, and the Varsity Women's Lacrosse Team. She participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters and various other volunteering activities. As a member of the Honors program and as a biology major, she engages in Lycopodium research in Dr. Poli's laboratory.

Dr. DorothyBelle Poli graduated from the University of Maryland with a PhD in Plant Biology. Trained as an evolutionary plant physiologist, Dr. Poli focuses on understanding how plants evolved by using plant chemicals rather than DNA sequences primarily in the bryophytes (hornworts, liverworts and mosses). Her ability to examine plant fossils and use those trends to extrapolate to living plant processes has earned her the title of a Research Associate at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. There she helps curate the plant fossil collection and is editing a book about fossils from Virginia.

Ms. Rebecca Ward, working with Dr. Len Pysh in Biology on "The Role of Ethylene in Stem and Root Elongation of Cellulose-Deficient Mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana"

Cellulose is a major component of the cell wall, providing structure to plants. The presence of ethylene in Arabidopsis results in shortened roots and stems, swollen roots and an exaggerated apical hook. Ethylene insensitive mutants do not express these traits. To determine the effects of ethylene response in cellulose-deficient mutants root and stem length as well as root cell length and width will be measured. Cellulose content assays will be performed to determine effects on the percent cellulose in the double mutants.

Rebecca Ward is a junior from Gray, Maine. She is majoring in biology with a psychology minor and a concentration in neuroscience. Since spring 2010, she has been doing research on Arabidopsis thaliana with Dr. Pysh. She is a member of Oriana Singers, Mu Beta Psi and Intervarsity.

Dr. Leonard Pysh has Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and chemistry from Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN) and a PhD in Biology from the University of California, San Diego.  He was a post-doctoral associate at New York University before taking an assistant professor position at Roanoke College.  His main research focus is understanding how plant cell shape is determined, and he uses a combination of molecular, cellular, and genetic techniques to understand this complex process in the roots of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. 

Ms. Casey Wojtera, working with Dr. Tim Johann in Biochemistry on "Investigations of 5,10-Methenyltetrahydrofolate synthetase (MTHFS) from Plasmodium falciparum"

Malaria is responsible for approximately 300 million medical cases and 1 million deaths every year (Kubler-Kielb et al. 2009). One of its causative parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, causes the deadliest form of the disease (Kubler-Kielb et al. 2009) and has become more resistant to many treatment drugs (Costanzo and Hartl, 2011). Additional research has suggested that bacteria are more susceptible to specific compounds called antifolates if a certain enzyme is removed (Ogwang et al. 2011). Investigation of this enzyme, or 5,10-methenyltetrahydrofolate synthetase (MTHFS), could assist other researchers in developing compounds that inhibit MTHFS, making antifolate drugs more effective. Therefore, malaria prevention and treatment may become more effective. This study will investigate characteristics of MTHFS from P. falciparum.

Casey Wojtera is a rising junior at Roanoke College. She is majoring in Biochemistry and is pursuing a minor in Spanish. She does research in the Biochemistry lab on a weekly basis as a URAP scholar, has completed a full summer of research. Also, she works as a Chemistry tutor in the Center for Learning and Teaching. She hopes to pursue a medical degree, or both a medical and a doctoral degree. Additionally, in her free time, Casey plays on the Ultimate Frisbee club team and is the secretary for the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS).

Dr. Johann received his B.A. from Hamline University in Biology and Chemistry. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He had a seven year career in biotechnology where he was a scientist, project manager, and the director of a research group. After leaving industry, he taught for four years at Radford University and is now pleased to be a member of the Roanoke College Department of Chemistry. His hobbies include cooking, comic books, video games, and building Lego projects his 5 year old son.

Ms. Yuki Yamazaki, working with Dr. Ed Whitson in Psychology on "Assessing Cognitive Processes of Self-Actualization"

The purpose of this study is to study the validity and relative effectiveness of three instruments that purport to measure Maslovian self-actualization (Maslow, 1954).  This will be achieved by comparing which of the three instruments can best predict cognitive and behavioral dimensions outlined by Maslow.  The three self-actualization measures will be the Personal Orientation Inventory, a short form of the POI (The Short-Index of Self-Actualization), and the Measure of Actualization Potential (MAP).  The cognitive aspects being assessed through behavioral measures are transcending dichotomous thought and the ability to perceive reality accurately.

Yuki Yamazaki, having transferred to Roanoke College from Towson University in Spring 2011, is a current junior psychology major and philosophy minor.  She has previously done research on self-actualization, particularly studying the validity of Shostrom's Personal Orientation Inventory in measuring Maslovian self-actualization (Shostrom, 1974).  Yuki currently works as the psychology tutor for the college and as a psychology student assistant for the department.  She plans on interning at Carilion Hospital on the behavioral health floor this May Term.  In addition, Yuki is a new member of the Virginia chapter of the pre-med/health service honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta and of the psychology honor society, Psi Chi.

Dr. Ed Whitson is an Associate Professor of Psychology whose teaching and research interests include positive psychology, abnormal psychology, personality, and creative thinking and problem-solving.  His current research interests fall in three areas:   (a) self-actualization and its measurement, (b) obsessive and hysterical personality patterns and their characteristics and correlates; and (c) the pedagogy of creative thinking and problem-solving.  He has worked with Roanoke students doing research or independent studies in each of these areas, and has publications and/or conference presentations on these topics.  Dr. Whitson obtained B.S. degrees in Mathematics and in Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University, the M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Antioch Graduate School, and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from State University of New York at Buffalo.  He returned to full-time teaching in Fall 2009 after serving for fifteen years as Roanoke's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

 

Choose core courses that interest you

Say goodbye to ordinary introductory courses in the core curriculum.

Learn More

Facilities Showcase

Get a closer look at the exceptional facilities available to students at Roanoke College.

Learn More