2014 Highlander-in-Action Awards announced by Scholar-Citizen Initiative

2014 Highlander-in-Action Class

The Highlander-in-Action class of 2014 and their faculty mentors. Front: Justin Anderson, Cassie Bonavita, Peter Weber, Joe Jones. Back:  Katharyn Self, Sara O'Brien and Emily Guise. Not pictured: Matti Hamed and Matthew Close.

Five RU undergraduates will embark on original research projects this summer thanks to grants from the Scholar-Citizen Initiative.

"These students stand apart," said Erin Webster-Garrett, director of RU's Scholar-Citizen Initiative. "They are intrepid travelers and researchers who have designed, developed and will soon be implementing their own research projects with faculty collaboration and encouragement."

The 2014 Highlander-in-Action Scholar awardees are:

  • Cassie Bonavita, a junior biology major from Radford, who will work with faculty at the Universidad de Costa Rica to collect and dissect mosquitoes to determine dengue infection status and then conduct an investigation at RU to analyze the samples for differences in their bacterial populations. Bonavita's faculty mentor is Justin Anderson, associate professor of biology.
  • Emily Guise, a senior biology major from Leesburg, who will study freshwater fish for the possible effects of the endocrine disruptor trenbelone, found in cattle steroids, as a model for assessing the potential public and environmental impact of prolonged exposure. Guise's faculty mentors are Sara O'Brien, assistant professor of biology, and Jason Davis, assistant professor of biology.
  • Matti Hamed, a senior biology major from Roanoke, who will assess the biodiversity of Selu Conservancy and then design and lead educational public workshops on identification of and information on local species of reptiles and amphibians. Hamed's faculty mentor is Matthew Close, assistant professor of biology.
  • Katharyn Self, a junior biology major from Virginia Beach, who will explore the synergetic effects of three common endocrine disrupting chemicals with strong estrogenic effects that leach into food from the protective inner coating of canned foods and other food storage devices on freshwater fish to elucidate behavioral and developmental effects. Self's faculty mentor is Sara O'Brien, assistant professor of biology.
  • Peter Weber, a junior philosophy and religious studies major from Winchester, will serve as a volunteer English teacher at a primary school in rural Nepal and complete two independent studies:  one utilizing Plato's Theory of the Forms to teach English and another studying local religious nationalism and recent historical changes. Weber's faculty mentors are Philosophy and Religious Studies Professor Joe Jones and Carter Turner, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies.

According to Webster-Garrett, the Highlander-in-Action awards support highly transformative summer learning opportunities for undergraduate students. Each of the awardees will develop an eportfolio of their experience, make oral presentations at the Fall 2014 Highlander-in-Action Forum and participate in the Scholar-Citizen Speakers Bureau about translating their experiences into social action for the community.

Apr 24, 2014