Hollins Junior Selected for Prestigious Fellowship in Brain Research

This summer, Gabrielle Lewis ’18 will move one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming a physician.

The Roanoke resident has been selected to receive a neuroSURF Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) in Roanoke. The ten-week program runs from May 22 – July 28 and provides hands-on research experiences in one of VTCRI’s state-of-the-art neurobiology labs. At the end of the program, she and other fellows will deliver presentations based on their investigative work at the annual Virginia Tech Summer Research Symposium.

“The applicant pool for these fellow positions was extremely qualified and deep,” said Michael Fox, director of the VTCRI neuroSURF program.

Lewis is on the pre-med track at Hollins, double-majoring in biology and biochemistry. After graduating from Virginia Western Community College with an associate’s degree, she chose Hollins over an esteemed but much larger state university to complete her undergraduate education. “I went to a small high school and didn’t know if I wanted a small college,” she explained. “But after experiencing large classes in community college I realized that I liked the small classroom and the connection I would get with professors.”

Another deciding factor for Lewis in selecting Hollins was the university’s Batten Leadership Institute. “I learned about it during my tours here and I loved it. It was really important to me that I pursue Batten because I want to be a physician and that requires having strong leadership skills.”

As someone “more introverted than extroverted,” Lewis said she went into the program knowing that she wanted to change things about herself. She understood that she needed to build her self-confidence “and my relationship with my own authority so that I could speak up and feel validated in what I was saying. Batten has changed my entire perspective of my leadership role. I always thought that being a leader meant being in front of the group and loud. Abrina [Schnurman-Crook, executive director of the Batten Leadership Institute] has helped show me that sometimes it’s the person in the back pushing people forward that’s the strongest leader.”

Along with exploring team dynamics and organizational culture, Lewis said, “I’ve learned that leadership is really about the connection you make with people and how you can unite them in working towards a common goal. And Batten has provided me with a lot of opportunities and insights that a lot of people have to spend years and years in a profession to get.”

During her neuroSURF fellowship, Lewis will be doing translational neurobiology research (“why and how the brain works the way it does”) with a possible focus on glioblastoma (a malignant, aggressive tumor that affects the brain or spine) or brain cancer. She said she is going to go into medicine with an open mind, “but my heart lies with pediatric oncology.” After graduation next year she hopes to attend an M.D./Ph.D. program at either Georgetown, Ohio State, the University of Virginia, or Wake Forest.

In the meantime, Lewis is busy keeping up with a rigorous schedule, both academically and away from campus. She maintains a 3.95 GPA and still finds time to work as the youth sports coordinator at the Roanoke YMCA and serve as an EMT with a local rescue squad. She’s also preparing to take her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this summer.

“I’ve always been very organized and had good time management skills,” she explained, “and Batten has definitely helped me to prioritize things in my life.”

 

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Hollins Student Conference Winners Announced

Congratulations to this year’s winners at the annual Hollins Student Conference, held April 30 in Moody Student Center.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the conference spotlights students’ scholarly and creative endeavors through a variety of podium presentations, poster displays, and performances from across the disciplines.

“The conference reflects our goal of preparing our students for a life of educational and professional development,” said Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jill Weber, who each year coordinates the event with Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole.

Awards for first, second, and third place were presented by the judges to the following students:

Green and Gold (First Place)

Madi Hurley ’17: “Horses in Motion: Paintings and Drawings of the Mechanics of Equine Locomotion”

Rory Keeley ’17: “Statistical Dimension Analysis of Structural Permutations in British Medieval Monastic Properties”

Emili McPhail ’18: “Contemporary Women’s Travel Blogs and Millennial Identity”

 

Green (Second Place)

Dani Raymond ’18: “Hauntings at Hollins: The Social Impact of Ghost Lore and Legends at Hollins University”

Abigail Sease ’16: “Anxiety of the Unknown in Art: Xu Bing’s A Book from the Sky

Elizabeth Trout ’17: “American Stories: The Use of Personal and Familial Narratives in State of the Union Addresses”

 

Gold (Third Place)

Cici Earl ’18: “South Korean Perceptions of Black People”

Whitney McWilliams ’19: “When Speaking of the South and Her Children”

Mandy Moore ’16: “Howell and Lake”

 

 


Conference Celebrates Undergraduate Work

Hollins is showcasing students’ scholarly and creative endeavors at the annual Hollins Student Conference on Saturday, April 30, from 1 – 5:15 p.m. in Moody Student Center.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the conference features a variety of podium presentations, poster presentations, and performances from across the disciplines. Awards are given for the top presentations and performances.

“The conference reflects our goal of preparing our students for a life of educational and professional development,” said Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jill Weber, who each year coordinates the event with Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole.

All Hollins undergraduate students are invited to submit an abstract of sound scholarly or creative work that has been completed under the guidance of a current faculty or staff member.

During the conference, students will present during three separate sessions:

  • Session 1 (1:30 – 2:20 p.m.)
    Exploring Ideas: Hollins 102 Honors Program Projects
    Exploring Identity and Sexuality
  • Session 2 (2:30 – 3:20 p.m.)
    Exploring Modes of Expression – Performances
    Exploring Politics and the Political
    Exploring Women in History
  • Session 3 (3:30 – 4:20 p.m.)
    Exploring Questions in Science – Poster Presentations
    Exploring Art and Architecture
    Exploring Sustainability and the Myths that Sustain

This year’s conference schedule and a complete list of the event’s 29 student presentations is available here.


Hollins Sophomore Earns Prestigious Summer Residence Internship in Economics

Lan Nguyen ’18 has been awarded an eight-week Summer 2016 Residence Internship at the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) in Massachusetts.

Nguyen, who is double-majoring in economics and environmental science, was selected from a highly competitive pool of qualified candidates. Her internship will take place June 20 – August 12.

Founded in 1933, AIER is a widely recognized independent source of economic information, stemming from its proprietary research and publications. The institute’s internship program provides highly accomplished high school and college students with an introduction to economic research. Students work closely with AIER research fellows, which enhances their understanding of economic concepts, theories, and real-world applications.


Sophomore Receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

The School for Field Studies (SFS) has recognized Lan Nguyen ’18 with its Distinguished Student Researcher Award, honoring the work she completed at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia during the fall of 2015.

Each semester, SFS faculty nominate one student from their Center who has demonstrated exceptional skill and care in contributing to the Center’s research agenda, as evidenced by their Directed Research paper, oral presentations, and approach to the research project.

“The award recognizes not only excellence and diligence in research, but also teamwork and leadership shown during the semester,” said SFS Dean of Academic Programs Mark Seifert. “Of those nominated students, only a few are selected to receive the Distinguished Student Researcher Award.”

Seifert noted that Nguyen’s Directed Research paper, “Morphology and niche partitioning of fish assemblage in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve – a case study in Prek Toal core area,” “provides a sound foundation for future research at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies.”

In her nomination, SFS Research Advisor Chouly Ou stated that the Hollins sophomore was “passionate about [her] research topic and [was] proactive, diligent, and efficient…[and] exhibited strong leadership skills, particularly in the area of cultural and community engagement.”

With the award, the double-major in environmental science and economics is also eligible for a small stipend to help offset costs incurred if she presents her research at a conference this next academic year.

Nguyen is the second Hollins student to be honored with the Distinguished Student Researcher Award in the past six months. Kayla Deur ’16 was recognized last September for the research she conducted during the spring of 2015 at the Center for Mekong Studies.

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Its educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by its local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where people live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.


Political Science Professor Sees Oman’s Significance to U.S. Foreign Policy During Middle East Fact-Finding Trip

Hollins University Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch recently traveled with seven other American academics to the Middle East nation of Oman as part of a trip sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR).

Lynch, who was selected as an Oman Alwaleed Fellow by NCUSAR in July, journeyed to the Omani cities of Muscat, Nizwa, and Salalah, August 13 – 23.

Lynch said the trip highlighted the importance of Oman to U.S. foreign policy, especially in the wake of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. “The first contacts between the Obama Administration and the government of Iran occurred because the Omani government was able to talk to both sides and get them together,” Lynch said. “This is a part of the story that the U.S. media is not telling.”

Oman’s foreign policy is based on the principle of “friend to all, enemy to none.” Its leadership has been particularly friendly to the U.S. government. Lynch was told by one U.S. official, “There isn’t much that we ask of the Omanis that they don’t provide.” Lynch added that Oman’s actions were instrumental in all but destroying the threat of piracy from Somalia.

Lynch emphasized that Oman’s friendship is crucial to American consumers: 60 percent of the world’s oil flows through its territorial waters. “Any serious upheaval in Oman could result in the return of $4 or $5 gas in the U.S.,” he explained.

The trip also made it clear to Lynch that this U.S. ally will potentially be in great trouble in the near future. The long-time Sultan is elderly and in ill health. He has no children or brothers and has not named a successor.

At the same time, Oman finds itself in a difficult position in between mortal enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran. A civil war in Yemen threatens Oman’s southern province. While spared the violence and upheaval of the Arab Spring so far, Lynch said Oman’s future is far from clear.

Founded in 1983 and based in Washington, D.C., NCUSAR  is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. Hollins will continue its relationship with the organization this fall when the university hosts the Appalachian Region Model Arab League, November 6 – 8.

Photo caption: Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch meets with  H.E. Mohamed Al Hassan, Chief of Minister’s Office, Oman Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Senior Receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

In recognition of the exceptional environmental research she performed while studying abroad during the spring of 2015, The School for Field Studies (SFS) has presented its Distinguished Student Researcher Award to Kayla Deur ’16. She was recognized for the research project she conducted at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia.

Each year, the SFS honors a student from the Center who has demonstrated extraordinary skill in contributing to the Center’s research agenda, as evidenced by their Directed Research (DR) paper, oral presentations, and approach to the research project. The award not only cites excellence and diligence in research, but also teamwork and leadership shown during the semester. Outcomes of the projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Deur explored the usage of traditional medicine on a household level, as well as how traditional knowledge is being transmitted cross-generationally and spatially across village domains. According to Lisa Granese, SFS vice president for enrollment and institutional relations, “Her work provides a sound foundation for future research at the Center, and Professor Lisa Arensen, Deur’s DR advisor, comments that her project ‘is an impressive example of undergraduate research.'” Through her work, Deur contributed to a growing list of plants that were indicated as medicinally important by locals.

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Its educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by its local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where people live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.


Hollins Research Featured in New Book by Leading Authority on Treating Mood, Sleep Problems

chronotherapyA Hollins University research study focusing on the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is highlighted in an acclaimed new book that offers clinically proven ways to improve your mood and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep is co-authored by Michael Terman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center. Terman and his work have been featured on NBC’s The Today Show and NPR’s All Things Considered as well as in The New York Times and Psychology Today, and Chronotherapy is earning praise from clinicians for the scientific insights and treatments it shares. Josephine Arendt, Ph.D., M.D., a chronobiologist and endocrinologist, calls it “essential reading for anyone with persistent sleep problems” and Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., author of Winter Blues and Transcendence, says, “Chronotherapy is a timely and valuable book, packed with information that can help just about anybody.”

Chronotherapy cites a two-year investigation by faculty members and students from Hollins’ departments of psychology, biology, and physics into the effects of negative air ions on SAD, blood oxygen, and pulse rate. Professors Randall Flory, Bonnie Bowers, Morgan Wilson, Rebecca Beach, and Marshall Bartlett, and psychology majors Chesley Ammerman ’13, Rachel Cohen ’12, Kristen Jones ’11, Katherine Rediske ’11, Lauren Staley ’11, and Gennesis Zuleta ’13 found that “exposure to high-density negative ions is more effective in alleviating the symptoms of SAD (depression, irritability, social withdrawal, daytime fatigue, and loss of concentration) than is exposure to low or near-zero levels of negative air ions,” corroborating previous studies conducted by Flory and colleagues in 2010 and Terman in the 1990s.

The book profiles a Hollins student who participated in one of the study’s clinical trials. The student said she had always struggled during the winter months with a lack of energy and motivation and was asked by Flory to take part after he reviewed her score on a campus-wide SAD survey.

The student spent an hour each morning sitting in front of an ion generator and after the sessions, “I had this energy….I didn’t feel like sleeping in class.” She quit using the device after the study ended and the following winter once again began experiencing the same energy deficit. Despite being “a poor graduate student,” she bought an ionizer.  “I wouldn’t have spent a hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars on it if I didn’t think it worked. I felt I had really seen the results. I use it in the winter all the time….I don’t see how I wouldn’t use it as I go on….”

In the preface to the book, Terman and co-author Ian McMahan, Ph.D., state, “We are grateful to many colleagues who collaborated in research and offered their insights for our book,” including Flory.

Chronotherapy is published by the Penguin Group.


Professor’s Study Suggests Background TV Harms Toddlers’ Language Development

pempekA new study co-authored by a Hollins University professor indicates that the presence of background television adversely impacts the development of children’s language skills.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Tiffany Pempek and fellow researchers Heather Kirkorian and Daniel Anderson conducted the study, “The Effects of Background Television on the Quantity and Quality of Child-directed Speech by Parents,” which was published in the Journal of Children and Media June 11. Parents of toddlers aged 12, 24, and 36 months were observed interacting with their children while they played during a 60-minute session. For half of that time, a TV program consisting of content designed for older children and adults played in the background. While the TV was on, the quantity of words and phrases spoken as well as the number of new words spoken by the parents was lower than when the TV was off.

Given that child language development and language used by parents are fundamentally linked, the study suggests that prolonged exposure to background TV has a negative influence. Since American children under 24 months have been found to watch an average of 5.5 hours of background TV per day, the effect may be significant.

“Our new results, along with past research finding negative effects of background TV on young children’s play and parent-child interaction, provide evidence that adult-directed TV content should be avoided for infants and toddlers whenever possible,” said Pempek. “Although it is impractical and probably not desirable for parents to play with their young child all the time, children do benefit greatly from active involvement by parents during play. Ideally, parents should play with their child without the distraction of TV in the background.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to warn against media exposure for children under two years of age. While foreground media exposure has been the focus of previous guidelines, the potential harm as well of background exposure, a form of media which parents may not be aware has any effect on their child at all, is now noted by recent reports.

Read the full article online here.

The Journal of Children and Media is published by the Taylor & Francis Group, one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks, and reference works.