Conferences – National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Atlanta

Honors Program Directors Kacy Tillman and Ryan Cragun recently took three UT students to the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Atlanta. Two members of the Honors Council, Carla Shapira and Delaney Russell, attended the conference, along with Honors student Hanifah Griffith, who was presented a poster titled, “Do Honors Symposia Affect Student Beliefs, Values, and Behaviors? A Pre- and Post-Test Study”. We attended a number of sessions and enjoyed a number of meals together where we discussed what we were learning at the conference.

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The conference was in downtown Atlanta, which meant it was quite close to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. The five of us took some time late one afternoon to visit the site and learn more about the life and activism of Dr. King.

Guidance – Honors Conferences

The Honors Program at UT is a member of three Honors Councils. At the national level, there is the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). At the regional level, there is the Southern Regional Honors Council (SRHC). And at the state level, there is the Florida Collegiate Honors Council (FCHC). Each of these Honors Councils holds annual conferences (typically in the fall for NCHC and in the spring for SRHC and FCHC).

The current Honors Program Directors have decided to prioritize students attending disciplinary conferences with faculty members at UT where they can present their research and make contacts that will be helpful as they consider graduate school (like this and this). However, there are some benefits from attending the various Honors Conferences. The primary benefit is that Honors Conferences often have a focus on Honors education and have a number of sessions that can help Honors Program Directors and Honors Councils improve the Honors Program at UT. Additionally, presenting scholarship at an Honors Conference can also provide experience in how to present scholarship to a scholarly audience.

UT Honors Program students who would like to attend an Honors Conference have to do the following:

  1. Complete an application that details the scholarly work they would like to present at the conference.
  2. The Honors Program Directors will evaluate the application. Only high-quality applications will be accepted by the Honors Program Directors.
  3. If the application is accepted, the student will then have to apply to the appropriate Honors conference (i.e., NCHC, SRHC, or FCHC) through their website.
  4. If the application is accepted, the student will notify the Honors Program Directors so appropriate travel arrangements can be made.
  5. Prior to attending the conference, the student must present their research to the Honors Program Directors so they can provide feedback on the presentation.

Students who are selected to attend an Honors conference will be expected to professionally represent UT’s Honors Program when presenting their work.

Additionally, it is the expectation of the Honors Program Directors that the student will attend other sessions at the conference both in the interest of learning and also to find ways to improve UT’s Honors Program. 

Conferences – Florida Communication Convention

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Dr. Kristen Foltz and Dr. Chris Gurrie took 13 students from their Honors Speech courses to the Florida Communication Convention this past weekend. Of the four awards given at this conference, UT Honors students received two of them: runner-up for the best work/poster overall and the best oral presentation.

Conferences – Caitlin Nordheim

Caitlin Nordheim at the Ecological Society of America's Annual Meeting
Caitlin Nordheim at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to present my research on the morphology of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a highly contagious pathogenic fungus that is causing mass amphibian decline worldwide, at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Portland, OR. I was able to attend thanks to funding from UT’s Honors Program. Through various poster presentations, oral sessions, and symposia, I was exposed to a broad variety of current ecological research. In between the organized talks, I got to meet scientists from all over the country and was able to inquire about their research methods, backgrounds, and ask for advice for the future. While I have presented my research at a regional undergraduate conference in the past, it was a very different experience at the national level. While presenting my poster, I got to network and brainstorm with established scientists about future work and potential collaboration. Overall, the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting helped me to better prepare for my future science career.

Conferences – Christian Pilot at American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Honors student, Christian Pilot, recently presented his research project, Buffer Therapy for Cancer, that he has been working on at Moffit Cancer Center, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Chicago.  This presentation is part of his ongoing research into foods that can provide a buffering effect against the acid used by cancer cells to weaken and kill surrounding cells in order to spread.

Honors Conferences – Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Meeting

Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Conference
Zachary Gregg at the American Chemical Society National Conference

The Spring 2017 American Chemical Society National Meeting almost felt like the culmination of my undergraduate chemistry career. I was able to share my work with my peers from all over the country as well as immerse myself in the fascinating research of my peers. The topics presented ranged from probing how students can better learn chemistry in the classroom to developing a precursor for a more durable, data-dense hard drive. It is always inspiring to see the incredible work being done by others, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to practice explaining the details and significance of my work, a skill I will need as I grow as a student and academic.

The highlight of the conference was being able to see top researchers present in my field. Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, whose work inspired the research I do at UT, lectured on his recent work that allows reactions to be performed with dramatically less waste, often with a higher efficiency. His talk put my work into perspective: my research is not just the outcomes of individual experiments, but rather a part of a larger search to find more environmentally friendly ways of performing chemical reactions.

Honors Conferences – Ashley Morales-Pacheco

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Honors student Ashley Morales-Pacheco recently traveled with Honors Program Directors Ryan Cragun and Kacy Tillman to Asheville, North Carolina for the Southern Regional Honors Council conference.  At the conference, Ashley presented her paper “The Effects of a Multiparty System on U.S. Polarization.”  The paper describes how the “first past the gate” political system in the US is likely contributing to increased political polarization in the US.

While in Asheville, we were able to visit the Biltmore Estate and go for a hike, as shown in the pictures above.