20 Years and Growing

Karen Boze explains the two-way powered rickshaw her project team designed

Expansion plans unveiled at milestone anniversary of undergraduate scholars symposium KENNESAW, Ga…

Georgia (Apr 21, 2015)

Expansion plans unveiled at milestone anniversary of undergraduate scholars symposium

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 21, 2015) --  It is a banner year for Kennesaw State’s Symposium of Scholars and Undergraduate Research.  On April 16, the annual event celebrated its 20th year of recognizing excellence in student scholarship and creative activity. It’s also the year that will launch efforts to increase visibility, participation, communication and student engagement in research. 

In addition, as it has for several consecutive years, the 2015 Symposium recorded its highest number of participants and projects — 234 students collaborating with 75 faculty members to produce 153 research and creative projects.  Included among this year’s participants were students from the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

“This symposium is the highlight of the academic year,” Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp told students, faculty and guests at the annual undergraduate research ceremony. “You are shaping your minds, adding to knowledge and possibly shaping your career,” a reference the President made to his own experience as an undergraduate assistant to a professor whose research focus was on Russia. Papp launched his academic career as a scholar of Russian military history.

Papp also announced an undergraduate research initiative that includes the creation of a faculty advisory council, a newly designed website and a commitment to increase the number of undergraduate scholars attending the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.     

As members of the new advisory council, representatives within each college will be responsible for facilitating increases in symposium participation, submissions to the Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research, membership in the Undergraduate Research Club, and submissions for funding, explained Amy Buddie, associate professor of psychology and associate director for graduate student support and undergraduate research and creative activity for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the symposium’s organizer.

“I'm really excited about this group,” Buddie said of the Undergraduate Research Faculty Advisory Council. “I think they're going to have great ideas about how to improve undergraduate research experiences at KSU.”

The proposed website will provide more content and flexibility than the current site. For example, it will include space for showcasing ongoing student and faculty projects and give researchers the ability to upload photos, videos, and articles. The site will host content about best practices for mentoring students, publishing and presenting research with students and getting started.  It will also provide data about undergraduate research at KSU and promote current programs, funding opportunities and events.

While the number of Kennesaw State undergraduate students presenting at academic conferences and publishing research increased to about 30 percent of 2015 symposium participants, the new initiative seeks to increase that number. For example, it hopes to fund expenses for up to 75 people — mostly students and a few mentors — selected to present at next year’s National Conference on Undergraduate Research.  

Students participating in this year’s Kennesaw State symposium, under the guidance of their faculty mentors, answered probing research questions: from the far-reaching “How does the exploration and degradation of finite resources by industrial oil producers affect our future planetary environment?” to the more immediate and practical: “What are you going to do with [an anthropology degree]?”

They challenged convention with research like “Stay-at-home fathers and flexible masculinities” and took on issues like race, alcohol consumption, rape and LGBT identity. They analyzed existing research and advanced new hypotheses across the scientific and mathematical spectra. They examined phenomena like chemistry classes and optimal living arrangements right here on campus, gardening in North Georgia, deviant art in Europe and material culture in the Mewar Plain of India. They tackled contemporary problems like designing messaging for the Ebola Crisis and analyzed cutting-edge trends like the success of hashtags in social media movements. They assessed market demands and came up with fresh insights and novel ideas like a dual-powered rickshaw and a wheelchair carrier for airports. They even researched undergraduate research. 

“Every year, I am so impressed by the amazing work that is being done by the undergraduates at KSU, and this year was no exception," said Buddie, who organized the symposium. 

Karen Boze, a December graduate of Southern Polytechnic’s mechanical engineering program, took advantage of the opportunity to exhibit her work as an undergraduate on a design for a two-way powered rickshaw. 

“We took on this project to improve the safety and functionality of an already shoddy piece of equipment,” Boze said, explaining that rickshaws have caused many deaths in Bangladesh, the home country of her project faculty mentor, Mir Atiqullah, who had a family member suffer such a death.  “We wanted to come up with a design that was not only safer, but one that provided faster transport.”

Boze explained that the model her team created is powered by pedal and battery and features a lower center of gravity, which will add to the safety of rickshaws.

Designing the model require extensive research, Boze said. “Design development doesn't happen overnight. I researched different types of steel for many weeks before finally deciding on AISI 4130.

Though she works as a sales engineer for a local firm, Boze said she was pleased to have the opportunity to present her team’s research and design at the symposium. 

“Research is an important tool in expanding the knowledge we already have,” Boze said. “It builds on existing theories and hypotheses, which continually gets us one step closer to the greater goal, such as curing cancer or intergalactic travel. It's also important to be here because [taking part in something like this] will look great on graduate school applications.”

Better methods of teaching and motivating young piano students to learn rhythm was the research focus for Soyoun Sheehan, a junior, majoring in piano performance. The project evolved from a piano pedagogy class, in which her professor and faculty mentor, Soohyun Yun, encouraged her to explore a topic in piano pedagogy that reflected her own experience in teaching beginning students. 

“Since I have realized the rhythm study is such an integral part of piano teaching, I started to think about how I can teach and motivate my own students for rhythm study,” said Sheehan, who devised different activities using arms and foot tapping to keep student’s attention while teaching rhythm counting. She tested her methods on her students and found they had fun and improved rhythm counting skills.

Sheehan said participating in the symposium gave her a chance to share her experience and knowledge with her peers and allowed her see what other students are working on.  

“It gave me a great sense of achievement because I have developed my topic for this entire semester and experimented with different techniques while I taught my own students,” she said.  “My participation also helped me to prepare my own career as a teacher and researcher.” 

For students like Myles Robinson, a junior chemistry major who hopes to become a physician, participating in a research project for the symposium is a great opportunity to learn how to do research. With faculty mentors Carol Chrestensen, John Salerno and Jonathan McMurry, Robinson researched “eNOS regulation by MAP kinases” to “expose myself to how biochemistry research is conducted in the laboratory.”

“I am taking the biochemistry course right now, so it reinforced a lot of things I was learning in the classroom,” Robinson said. “The key thing is getting to see how experiments are designed and executed around a research question. It’s very important to participate in research projects because it exposes students to how knowledge is acquired outside of the classroom. There's only so much one can learn in a lecture or a textbook.”

A highlight of the annual symposium is awards and prizes presented for the best oral and poster presentations. This year’s awardees are:

Best Oral Presentation ($200 gift card):

"The Success of Hashtags in Social Media Movements: A Linguistics Approach"

Student: Hannah Smith

Faculty Mentors: Letizia Guglielmo and Chris Palmer

Department of English


Runner-Up Oral Presentation ($100 gift card):

"Crystal Nucleation of Palladium Doped Lithiumdisilicate Glass"

Student: Gregory Humble

Faculty Mentor: Kisa Ranasinghe

Department of Physics


Best Poster ($200 gift card):

"Multisite Phosphorylation Of eNOS By Various Kinases And The Impact Of Calmodulin"

Students: Alberto Romero and Mallory Welton

Faculty Mentors: Carol Chrestensen, John Salerno, and Jonathan McMurry

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


Runner-Up Poster ($100 gift card):

"Can The Misattribution Of Blame Contribute To Falsely Taking The Blame?"

Students: Geena Washington and Olivia Alexander

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Willard

Department of Psychology



— Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by David Caselli



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu