On Friday, April 28th, Faith Taylor presented on her travels as the recipient of the Timothy M. Smith Award for the 2016-2017 academic year. Faith traveled to the Bahamas with Professor Michael Slattery of The University of Tampa to study a coral reef that was documented nearly 50 years earlier. They spent several days snorkeling in the reef, taking photos, and gathering data. This initial visit provided enough information to allow Faith and Dr. Slattery to develop a research program that will continue to investigate the reef.
On April 20th and 21st, eight recipients of Honors Undergraduate Research Fellowships presented the results of their work in two separate symposia. The students – Zachary Gregg, Nicholas Braganca, Christian Pilot, Tonie Schankweiler, Daniela Delvescovo, Nicoletta Pappas, Ricardo Thompson, and Kelly Fryar – studied a variety of topics, from the pervasiveness of antibiotic resistant staphylococcus aureus in the Hillsborough River to the factors that contributed to the growth of the Bolivian GDP. Honors Undergraduate Research Fellowships pay students $1,000 to work with a UT faculty member conducting original scholarship.
On April 27th, actress, author, and social worker Terri Muuss performed her one-person show, Anatomy of a Doll, for Honors students in the Reeves Theater. Muuss is a sexual abuse survivor. Her one-person show portrays both some of her experiences as a child being abused by her father as well as the social, emotional, and physical toll the abuse caused in her life, including her struggle with substance abuse. Also detailed in the play are the therapy she underwent and the struggles she faced in recovering from the abuse. Muuss’s book, Over Exposed, combines poetry with memoir in recounting her experiences.
On Thursday, April 13th, Juan Melendez spoke to UT’s Honors Students. Juan Melendez was wrongfully convicted of murder in Florida and spent over 17 years on death row before he was exonerated. In his talk, he detailed how he was wrongfully convicted, what his life was like in prison, and how he was finally exonerated. His talk detailed how flaws in the justice system and those who work for the justice system can lead to potentially deadly consequences for innocent people.
On Wednesday, April 12th, three Honors students who participated in the Oxford Semester Abroad Program spoke with other students from the Honors Program, describing their experiences at Oxford University. The three students, Nik Lampe, Erin Brosnan, and Maggie Poling, attended Oxford in Fall 2016. Nik graduated from UT in Fall 2016 with a degree in Sociology and is now planning on attending graduate school. Erin Brosnan is a Marine Science/Biology major and Maggie Poling is a Writing major. Both plan to graduate soon and continue their studies.
All three students described the experience as both exhilarating and challenging. They noted that they spent a lot of time reading in the libraries of Oxford. They encouraged students to take writing classes and to practice their debating skills, as being able to write well and defend your views are essential aspects to the experience. They also noted that there are some opportunities to explore England and Europe during the Oxford Semester Abroad Program, but most students stay after the semester is over and travel in Europe.
The Honors Program recently screened After Spring, a documentary film about the largest Syrian refugee camp, Zaatari, in Jordan. The filmmakers, Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching, came down for the screening. There was a Q&A after we watched the movie, during which the filmmakers provided a number of insights into the documentary filmmaking process.