2024 SEARCH Symposium

Our annual Symposium and competition celebrates great ideas in art and research through conversation across the liberal arts. It’s an occasion for students and faculty of every major and level of experience to come together for learning and discovery.

In addition to showcasing student work, we welcome renowned guest speakers to share their knowledge and discoveries in various topics related to research, creativity and scientific innovation. All events are open to the public.

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2024 Schedule

April 8: 10 a.m. Chapel

April 9: 7 p.m. Keynote Lecture: Jameson Recital Hall

April 9: 8 p.m. Student Showcase: Shaw CLC Auditorium


Keynote Presentation


Keynote Speaker

Dr. Ryan Burge is an associate professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. He is the author or co-author of four books including The Nones, 20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America, and The Great Dechurching. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and POLITICO. He has also appeared on 60 Minutes, where Anderson Cooper called him, “one of the leading data analysts of religion and politics in the United States.” He has been a pastor of an American Baptist Church for over seventeen years.


Poster Presentations




Noah M. Clark ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Wilson Shafer
Class: CHE 422R

In Light of This: A Call for Reconciliation Between Faith and Science

Ever since the Enlightenment and the publication of Darwin’s theories, there has been a seemingly irreparable rift between those of the church and those of scientific academia, resulting in great intellectual division throughout the world. Since unity between faith and science is imperative for the effectiveness of creation stewardship and the continuation of scientific ethics, the reparation of an alliance between the worldviews of faith and science in general discourse is a worthy and necessary undertaking. This paper aims to establish the phenomenon of light as fundamental common ground between both scientific inquiry and Christian faith, proposing it as a bridge for reconciling faith and science due to its enigmatic characteristics and importance to human existence. Through an analysis of the scientific perspective on light, its biblical significance, and its importance in understanding the nature of God, the integration of science and faith may once again be achieved through a discourse surrounding the phenomenon of light, emphasizing the importance of humility and faith in the pursuit of knowledge.



Sara Brewer ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ben Brammell
Class: N/A

eDNA detection of four-toed salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum): Significance of mitochondrial evolution rates in assay development

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging tool that promises to greatly increase the ease, efficacy, and scope of ecological studies. Recent works have highlighted the need for carefully tested assays for use in species-specific marker studies, and the value of thoroughly vetting eDNA primers using as many local sequences as available. We developed a species-specific assay (primers and probe) for use in qPCR eDNA detection of Hemidactylium scutatum. We tested these primers in silico (212 species) and in vitro (7 species) against sympatric species to ensure specificity. We field tested our assay at 15 field sites in central and eastern Kentucky and detected H. scutatum DNA at 10/15 sites in a manner mostly consistent with field observations. Additionally, we collected H. scutatum tissue from specimens from four locations in central and eastern KY and obtained DNA from a New York collected H. scutatum specimen; our assay was successful in amplifying H. scutatum DNA from each collection locality. A previously published H. scutatum eDNA assay was used to detect specimens from NY but failed to detect specimens from KY; this assay targets the intergenic spacer region (IGS), while our assay targets cytochrome b (cytb). We completed sequencing of the cytb and the IGS region from both a KY and NY H. scutatum specimen and confirmed conservation of cytb but significant sequence differences within the IGS region of the two specimens. These results are consistent with our understanding of mitochondrial evolution and highlight the importance of locus selection in assay development.



Brynna Reynolds ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Bruce Branan
Class: CHE 400

Filter of Hope® Water Filter: How clean does it make “manure water”?

This research was performed to analyze the efficiency of the perforated filter by an organization called “Filter of Hope” on filtering microorganisms. A total bacteria test and a fecal coliform test were performed in triplicate on reservoir water before and after being filtered through the “Filter of Hope” water filter. Tap water and reservoir water filtered through a Brita filter were also analyzed with the same tests. Both tests indicated that the bacteria present in the reservoir water was removed by the filter being studied. A nitrate probe was used to analyze the nitrate levels in these samples indicating that nitrate ions were not removed. The filter from “Filter of Hope” was successful in filtering microorganisms, but it is unclear if the filtered water is always truly safe to drink due to the presence of other possible contaminants.



Caleb Becht ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Bruce Branan
Class: BIO 400 & BIO 475

Analysis of Acrylamide Using Fluorescence Spectrometry

Acrylamide (AA) is a somewhat recently discovered potential human carcinogen. It first attracted attention in Sweden, after contaminated water was tied to sealant used during the construction of a railway tunnel. The compound is a byproduct of the Maillard reaction; the reaction responsible for the characteristic aroma and flavor of browned foods. As such, AA can also be found in a variety of foods, and food products. This project will be addressing the effectiveness of fluorescence spectrometry as a method of AA detection. Fluorescamine will be used as the fluorophore for analysis.



Ewing Wiley ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marvin Ruffner
Class: BIO 300

Restoration of a Lonicera maackii invaded forest: Can native species compete in order to restore the forests?

The issue of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) within Central Kentucky has become an enormous problem throughout the native forests and farmland. This species has taken over the undergrowth of the forests, causing forest floors to be desolate from any growth. The main objectives of this study were to determine whether native plantings reduced the invasion of L. maackii and to determine whether biodiversity was increased in experimental areas where L. maackii was removed. In the summer of 2022, a study was designed with three replications where the treatments were untreated control; L. maackii removal with 20% (v/) glyphosate cut-stump application; and L. maackii removal with 20% (v/) glyphosate cut-stump treatment followed by spicebush, Elymus, and rough leaf dogwood plantings. As was predicted a year later, there was significantly lower canopy cover of L. maackii in plots where L. maackii was removed compared to the untreated plots. The average L. maackii cover in the untreated plots compared to their cover in the removal and plantings in the third treatment was 91% to 4%, respectively. There was also an observance of increased species richness in the plots where L. maackii was removed and plantings were done in the third treatment compared to the untreated plots; the average number of species for each plot was 8 and 2 species, respectively. These findings are encouraging for small farmlands and forests because one can begin to facilitate the recovery of native species where L. maackii has taken over.



Hope Brown ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ben Brammell
Class: BIO 400

Development of environmental DNA (eDNA) qPCR assays for the detection of darter species: Significance of phylogeography in assay efficacy

The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in organism detection has rapidly become a firmly established method that promises to greatly increase the ease, efficacy, and scope of ecological studies. We developed species-specific primers for use in qPCR eDNA detection of four darter species found in central KY streams: the Rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum), Fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare), Greenside darter (Etheostoma blennioides), and Logperch (Percina caprodes). Primers and probes were designed based on sequences obtained from Kentucky River drainage specimens and screened for specificity (in silico and in vitro) against sympatric or potentially sympatric darter species in the Kentucky River drainage. Additionally, each species was tested in silico and in vitro with eight darter species from the Cumberland River drainage, including the four target species. In most cases, assays demonstrated efficacy between drainages. However, in the case of E. blennioides the assay designed based on Kentucky River specimens was ineffective in detecting specimens from the Cumberland River drainage. Sequencing of the target regions for each darter species from the two drainages confirmed assay results; the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms in E. blennioides mitochondrial DNA prevented assay binding to target DNA in the Cumberland drainage. These data provide novel insight into the significance of phylogeography on the efficacy of eDNA assays and offer a cautionary lesson regarding the extent to which eDNA assays may be effective across the range of an organism.



Andrew Nelson ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marvin Ruffner
Class: BIO 400

Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) seed germination

Northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a native understory shrub ranging as far south as Florida, as far north as Vermont, and as far west as Kansas. L. benzoin is distinguishable by its bright red drupe fruit that is strongly aromatic, giving it the common name of spicebush. L. benzoin is important because of its commercial value of essential oils and teas, as well as its ecological value. It occupies the same niche as invasive Bush Honeysuckle, making it an important part of restoration plantings to restore the forest understory. The goal of this research is to determine the specific conditions that best allow L. benzoin to break seed dormancy. The L. benzoin seeds will all have the fruit pulp removed and have cold moist stratification completed in two different locations. The first is stratification in the refridgerator and the other outdoors. The second variable is the scarification of the seeds, having one group scarified and another non-scarified in each of the cold moist stratification treatments. The results will be able to help find the best practices for breaking seed dormancy of L. benzoin so it can be grown more readily for its commercial and ecological uses. A two-way ANOVA test shows that there is a significant difference in germination percentage within the interaction of the treatment groups, non-scarified and fridge scarification. Having the highest germination percentage of all treatment groups, 42.5%. Individual variables did not show a significant difference. The highest germination is found in the controlled stratification that is non-scarified.



Veronica Rojas ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Wilson Shafer
Class: CHE 400

Social Determinants of Health and Cancer Screening among Hispanic Adults in Kentucky

Cancer is the #2 leading cause of death in the overall US population but #1 in the Hispanic population. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics are diagnosed with cancer at more advanced stages. Little data exists on the cancer-related needs of the Hispanic population in Kentucky (KY). This study was conducted to 1) assess social determinants of health in the KY Hispanic population and 2) examine cancer screening rates in the KY Hispanic population. An observational cross-sectional survey was administered to a convenience sample of self-identified Hispanic adults (ages 18+) living in Kentucky (KY) to look at these relationships. Ninety-one (of 500) surveys have been collected to date (89 in Spanish and 2 in English). Preliminary data showed that social determinants of health negatively impact healthcare access and screening in the KY Hispanic population. The limitations of our study were that we had a convenience sample, a small sample size (survey is in progress), and the sample is not yet representative of most KY counties. We plan to finish collecting surveys from 500 people across many counties and distribute the results to community organizations and community members. Given the young age distribution of the KY Hispanic population, we will plan efforts to target cancer screenings.



Rebekah Bogle ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Wilson Shafer
Class: CHE 475

Quantifications and Verifications of Volatile Organic Compounds Evolving from a Polyurea Thickener

This research focused on identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of interest that are evolving from a polyurea thickener during a chemical synthesis process. It is important to understand what VOCs are evolving from this compound as VOCs are heavily regulated by the EPA for environmental reasons. In addition, it is necessary to quantify several of the VOCs which are a hazard to human health as well as the environment, such as cyclohexylamine and isocyanates, in order to meet the EPA’s and OSHA’s regulatory standards. To accomplish this goal, samples of the polyurea product were heated in a gas-tight container, allowing any evolved gas to be captured, and the evolved gas was removed by a gas-tight syringe and injected into a Gas Chromatogram – Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) for analysis. Qualitative analysis revealed compounds including cyclohexylamine, nitrogen, 2-methylcyclopentanone, isocyanato cyclohexane, oxime cyclohexanone, and various long chain (>10) hydrocarbons. A calibration curve was built using standard solutions of cyclohexylamine on the GC-MS, ranging from 1.7 x 10-9 – 1.7 x 10-8 moles of cyclohexylamine, so that this compound could be analyzed quantitatively. The weight percent of cyclohexylamine found in this sample varied widely, which may be due to the production of the polyurea thickener by the manufacturer. Future work will include analysis of more polyurea thickeners, as well as quantification of any isocyanates found within these.



Katherine Stanley ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Wilson Shafer
Class: CHE 400R

Characterization of a Molybdenum Carboxylate Catalytic Precursor for Hydrodesulfurization

This report focuses on the characterization of a molybdenum 2-ethylhexanoate, a material that is a precursor for hydrodesulfurization catalysis. It has been the subject of several studies, but a convincing molecular structure model has remained elusive.1 Several experiments were done to gain insight about the molecular structure, including: pair distribution functions (PDF) via high energy x-ray diffraction (HEXRD), simultaneous thermogravimetric analysis and differential thermal analysis (TGA-DTA), chemical analysis, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy, and electrospray ionization mass spectroscopy (ESI-MS). From these data, proposed structures were made by geometrical reasoning and chemical rationalization, and were compared to the diffraction data. Good candidates were geometrically minimized with density functional theory (DFT) electronic structure calculation with the metal ions fixed. Structures that achieved a stable minimum were re-assessed against the PDF. The best models had 3 to 4 molybdenum ions and were either neutral or dicationic. These models were allowed to geometrically relax with no constraints for comparison to the FTIR data. Overall, the strongest evidence is for a mixture of neutral and dicationic complexes containing three to four Mo ions with equivalent amounts of 2-ethylhexanoate ions in the presence of some free acid.



Emma Neely ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marvin Ruffner
Class: CHE 475

Testing Antibiotic Properties of Essential Oils Extracted from Native Kentucky Plants

Many plants have historically been used for medicinal purposes such as limiting or fighting infections by preventing the growth of bacteria. One way to obtain potentially medicinal compounds is to extract essential oils from the plants. This research aimed to assess the antimicrobial properties of several native Kentucky plants including Eupatorium perfoliatum, Lindera benzoin, and Adiantum capillus-veneris. These plants or their relatives are considered to have some antimicrobial properties, and it is hypothesized that their essential oils will decrease bacterial growth. Steam distillation was used to extract essential oils from each plant, and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to analyze the essential oils throughout this process. These essential oils were tested against control Penicillin, Vancomycin, and Erythromycin to observe the ability of the essential oils to stop the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Varying levels of antibiotic effectiveness were observed amongst the different essential oils with the different bacteria. Boneset Oil showed the largest average zones of inhibition for most of the bacterial species. Maidenhair fern also showed significant inhibition of P. aeruginosa.



Amanda Vick ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. David Swartz
Class: HIS 375

Thundering Voices: The Rise and Fall of Greek Rhetoric in the Roman World

Tracing the language used in the education of ancient Roman orators highlights the relatively rapid shift in Rome’s favored language from Greek to Latin over a period of about two hundred years. By tracking these changes, research reveals the role of rhetoric in the underlying political motivations of Rome’s leaders and the importance of language in a changing nation. This paper examines the intersection of politics, education, literature, and language, beginning with the early Roman Republic and continuing through the emergence of the Roman Empire and Augustus Caesar’s reforms. Rhetoric originated in Greece and soared to prominence during the Roman Republic as a pathway to political power. With the emergence of the empire, both rhetoric’s prominence and the use of the Greek language in oratory diminished, giving way to Latin. The great political power of the foreign, Greek-style rhetoric faded into educational texts as Augustus Caesar used the power of rhetoric and the native Latin language to shape a new, unified cultural identity for the Roman people. This shift in language from Greek to Latin represented the triumph of Rome as a unified nation and a new era of peace for the people.



Erin Grauff ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Joy Vaughan
Class: BTH 320

Witnessing the Divine Glory: An Exegesis of Exodus 33:19-23

Moses’ witness to the divine glory in Exodus 33:19-23 sparks questions related to interpretation and application. The former focuses on anthropomorphic imagery in the text, seeking to explain what it means to see God’s “back” and not be able to see God’s “face” and live. The latter asks what role revelation plays in the Israelite narrative along with what it means for today’s reader. This paper explores both kinds of questions, arguing that the theophany functions as covenant renewal and affirmation of Moses’ representative status. It will begin by covering the Ancient Near Eastern conception of divine glory (and the background concept of melammu), the place of the pericope within the Exodus narrative, and parallels to Elijah’s theophany and the Mount of Transfiguration. I will show how Exodus 33:19-23 occupies a crucial pivot in the story and explain the function of anthropomorphic elements. I will then give implications for divine veiling, intercession, and covenant renewal. To end the paper, I will reflect on the Asbury Outpouring as it connects to the exegesis.



Leah Bruns ’26
Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Esther Jadhav, Dr. Alex Mayfield
Class: N/A

The Anatomy of a Loyalist: The Nuances found in the America Loyalists as Viewed through the Trails of Samuel Seabury

Though the victor writes the narrative, the victim often has important views and beliefs that deserve our attention. During the American Revolution, the same was true about the patriots and the loyalists. After the colonies won, the loyalists became silent. Even today, some assumptions about this group of people are untrue. Both patriots and loyalists were crucial in the formation of America. They are two different sides of the same coin, and the patriot would not exist if there were no loyalists. To humanize this opposing side, the life, legacy, and trials of Samuel Seabury will be brought to light over two hundred years after they happened. Observing and studying why Samuel Seabury remained loyal to England will help us understand more about the loyalists. To more fully understand his thought process, the question to remain loyal or to become a patriot will be explored through both etic and emic perspectives.



Ethan Hoogerheide ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Ben Brammell
Class: BIO 400

Evaluating the effects of ecological restoration efforts on amphibian populations in lotic systems in the inner Bluegrass

Urban ecology is a rapidly expanding field of scientific research. Urban ecology focuses on the study of organisms as they adapt and persist in modified environments created by human infrastructure and development. Due to increased urbanization in the United States, there is a demand for urban ecological studies to determine the strain such pressures have placed on populations of native organisms. Collectively, amphibians are one of the most imperiled groups of organisms in the world; habitat loss has been a major main factor in their decline globally. Amphibians are of great ecological importance as they comprise a significant portion of ecosystem biomass, play significant roles in trophic nutrient transfer, and serve as indicator species. They have extremely low tolerances for alterations in their environment, such as pollutants and habitat degradation. In Lexington, Kentucky, extensive work has been done to remediate damage to lotic ecosystems caused by urbanization. This study will look at restored, unrestored, and minimally impaired streams to determine whether the stream remediation has impacted amphibian populations. Field surveys will analyze amphibian populations in seven sites that have been restored as well in corresponding non-restored sections of these streams as well as two pristine and two heavily degraded, non-restored sites. The results of this study will provide novel data regarding the significance of urban stream restoration on amphibian populations, providing insight into the coexistence of humans and amphibians in urban areas.



Abigail Colton ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Laura Walther
Class: BIO 400

Quantification of Ivermectin in Equine Dewormers and the Effect of Age

Ivermectin (IVM) is an antiparasitic agent, or anthelmintic, that treats billions of animals and humans every year. IVM works by causing paralysis of parasitic worms by enhancing the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters. Over the years, there has been an increase in resistance as they are overused, underdosed, or the wrong anthelmintic is used. There are a variety of ways that animals contract parasites, such as an insect bite, contact with an infected animal, or contaminated food or water. In this study, the effect of age on the concentration of IVM in dewormers was analyzed. Dewormer samples from three brands were used and with each brand, there was an expired tube and an unexpired tube. A calibration curve was made using mixtures of pure IVM and ACN with known concentrations. The peak area obtained from the dewormer samples was used with the equation from the calibration curve to calculate the percent concentration of IVM in the dewormer. It was found that there is a slight difference in concentration between new and old dewormers, with older dewormers having a decrease in their concentration. The obtained results also showed that the percent IVM in the dewormers is greater than the concentration that is on the box label. These results confirm that age does decrease the percent concentration of IVM in equine dewormers, but they are still more concentrated than as labeled so they are still able to be used for deworming horses.



Jessica (Jiaxin) Liu ’26
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Andrea Keller
Class: BIO 322

Bloom Syndrome: A Case Study of Patients with Genetic Diseases

Bloom syndrome is an autosomal inherited genetic disorder, first discovered by and named after Dr. David Bloom, a dermatologist, in 1954. Bloom syndrome involves the mutation of the BLM gene; which codes for RecQ-like DNA helicase, an essential protein for DNA replication and maintenance of DNA integrity. Bloom syndrome symptoms include growth deficiency, facial erythematic rash, diminished immunity, shortened lifespan, reduced fertility, and susceptibility to all cancers. Treatments are aimed at addressing these symptoms and secondary diseases that arise and are usually catered to each individual. Both pre-and post-natal screenings are available, and identification of the syndrome is determined through various types of gene sequencing. Considering the potential difficulties faced by Bloom syndrome patients and their families, many embryos screened for Bloom syndrome and other genetic diseases are often aborted. It is important to understand the thoughts and emotions behind those decisions while advocating and upholding the human dignity of all unborn children and their parents. Christians have a unique responsibility to support and guide those battling with genetic disorders with their actions and not just words. This research project delves into the history, symptoms, mechanism, and treatments of Bloom syndrome, as an example of the Christian responsibility to care for all life, especially patients with genetic disorders.



Emelia Conley ’25
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jim Shores
Class: COM 340

Connections Across the Board: The Asbury 2023 Outpouring, Social Media, and New Student Attendance Rates

Asbury University’s 2023 Outpouring was unique in the fact that it happened during the era of social media. In order to characterize the effects of social media on the Outpouring, an analysis of the Fall 2024 freshman and transfer class was conducted to know the scope of social media, the way it characterized the Outpouring, and the way it affected the incoming freshmen and transfer decisions to attend Asbury University.



Ella Fairbairn ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Rebecca Briley
Class: ENG 491R

Language as a Marker of the Holy

This paper explores the reverential nature with which both the Celtic Mythology and Old Testament narratives treat language itself, and the weighty significance of names. This reverence, occurring in such unrelated and disconnected traditions seems to flow from the image of God; God’s own treatment of language is being reflected by humankind.



Addie Tighe ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Erin Penner
Class: ENG 429

The Pitfalls of Representation of Disability in Media

William Faulkner represents disability accurately through his intellectually disabled character, Benjy Compson. Despite having done so successfully in the 1920s, the representation of disabled individuals in media is not up to the standard it should be for the modern era. Despite having more access to research and people than ever before, the representation of the disabled in media is harshly stereotypical and inaccurate to daily life. Whether it is overly inspirational through stories written to make the disabled sound heroic for the smallest things, or making them supernaturally powerful in a way that negates the disability all together. These stereotypes affect disabled people in their everyday lives, and the media should work harder to present more accurate portrayal of disabled people. Faulkner successfully avoided all of these stereotypes almost a century ago, it is time for other creators to start doing the same.



Meghan McGuffin ’25
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. David Swartz
Class: HIS 375

Hopper’s Eye for Women

Edward Hopper was an early 20th-century painter who is most famous for his urban scenes of isolation, and night. The manner in which Hopper portrayed women in his drawings and paintings changed alongside American society. His views were formed during the late nineteenth century, they were challenged by his wife, and they opposed social movements during the 20th century. Edward Hopper grew up in the Gilded Age which would have encouraged his negative associations with female dominance. Edward Hopper’s wife’s liberal views and lifestyle challenged and conflicted with his conservative views of women. After the turn of the 20th century came social shifts with the feminist social movement of the 1920s and World War II. His art went from resenting women of authority to portraying liberated women in the workforce. While women were objectified throughout his artworks there is a trend from passive portrayals of women to active portrayals.



Luke Watson ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Elise Kearns
Class: CHE 400

Getting Information from the Lab into the Workforce for Professional Development: A Literature Review

This project attempts to summarize the literature around the dissemination of published research into the medical and educational workforce. This is a dissemination and implementation project focused on ways to spread information from researchers to working professionals efficiently. Continuing professional development (CPD) looks at how new ideas are being used in everyday practice. This was a literature review project that took from twenty-two journal articles to see where the current research is on professional development. Mobile education was found to be a prominent method of development for professionals with hope to continue this medium for spreading information to be implemented in practice. The future of this project would include the creation of a mobile application for a set of professionals and comparing the ease of use and efficiency to other forms of professional development.



Grace Monsanto ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Nathan Miller
Class: MHL 491-R

Echoes from the Holler: Nostalgia and Community at Rockhouse Brewing Old Time Jam

“The old-time jam at Rockhouse Brewing created a participative egalitarian community that nostalgically embodies traditional Appalachian music, culture, and values. Through my time attending the Jam, I engaged in ethnomusicological fieldwork in order to discover why this community was so vital to its participants. My study included observation, participation, interviews, and bibliographic research.”



Joanne Jung ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Daniel H. Strait
Class: ENG 232

Hyde and Seek: Suble Things Hidden in Literature

In the words of C. S. Lewis, “one must look both along and at everything.” Literature offers a powerful medium with which to view things both directly and obliquely, in ways that, as both G. K. Chesterton and Robert Louis Stevenson seem to suggest, disciplines like science and politics are not wholly able to encapsulate. In Stevenson’s gothic novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he uses layers of duality to do just that: allow a way of “looking along” things as well as “looking at” things. From as simple of a detail as a one-line description of London’s streets to a nuanced discourse between two central characters, Stevenson creates subtle layers of dual images and ideas to address questions that were raised during his time, the prolific Victorian age of scientific advancements. These layers combine to echo one of his famous lines, “Man is not truly one, but truly two”—pointing to the need for more than one interpretation of life to question, explore, and understand these nuances, creating a richer, fuller human experience.



Sara Clark ’26
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Kim Brockman
Class: N/A

Foster Care and Educational Performance

In Kentucky, there are over 8,000 children in foster care and many face hardships during their transitions (Latek, 2023). The purpose of this study was to discover how foster care affects student performance at school. Twelve foster care parents in Kentucky were interviewed about twenty-five students regarding the educational experiences of their children. Four common themes of students in foster care were identified through the research: difficult transitions, lack of communication, behavior issues, and academic challenges. Though we see many challenges with these students in the school setting, research addresses how vital school connectedness is, and meeting these students where they are. Schools must provide foster care parents with reassurance and ways to cope and assist in discipline as it can be difficult. Parents must be advocates for what their child needs in the school setting, as they know the child best. A greater level of support from public school personnel is needed to adequately address the needs of students in foster care. School personnel and parents must work together in partnership to address barriers and help students succeed.



Ashton Montgomery ’26
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Glenn Harden
Class: PS 307

Political Polarization, the Israel-Hamas War, and Language

What strategies do political actors use to best persuade and dissuade audiences surrounding foreign policy? How do these strategies vary between political parties? Previous studies have focused on specific core political concepts represented in political speech, but the concepts represented in previous studies are not all-inclusive. Additionally, this study adds to the scholarly conversation by further considering the implications of audience biases on political speech. This paper shows how the continuation of the Israel-Hamas War is presented and viewed by the two major American political parties in the context of a larger conversation surrounding the variance in discursive strategies between Republicans and Democrats. This study utilizes Critical Discourse Analysis to detect discursive structures from within the transcripts of speeches from political actors. Taking ideological and audience restraints into consideration, I coded for specific types of language and messaging. The strategies political actors use to emphasize empathies and antipathies, religion, positive self-representation, and negative other-representation are an accurate criteria for the evaluation of goals, constraints, attitudes, and opinions.This study found that Republicans and Democrats do not utilize the same strategies or emphasize the same parts of issues – even when they agree on the principles of the issue at hand. This study also found that Republicans use antipathy towards the groups committing injustices to legitimize the issue, while Democrats take the opposite approach and emphasize empathy towards groups experiencing injustices to legitimize the issue.



John Walt ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Prof. Park Smith
Class: ART 400

Tikkun Olam

Works in this series depict scenes and symbols from both our conscious and unconscious lives. Figures, landscapes, and imagery inspired by the natural world, art history, and the life of the agrarian represent our earthly, natural, and conscious lives. From the plane where consciousness lies—the place where we sow and reap—discernment of thoughts and reality become possible. In my experience, the journey of the artist is the way of the alchemist. The quest of the alchemist is not about turning lead into gold but of psychological maturation and the transmutation of the self. It is not about perfection but wholeness. Similar to the goal of practicing art, finding wholeness emerges through co-creation and not from seeking perfection in what already exists. I refer to this practice of co-creating as, “Tikkun Olam.” This is an ancient Hebrew phrase which gets at the concept of repairing the world. Tikkun Olam not only captures the personal journey of identity formation through my years in Wilmore, Kentucky, and Asbury University, but it captivates my emerging and enlarging sense of vocation. It represents a great convergence to the search for where the soul resides, restoration with the self, connection with God and the repair of his temple—within and without. We can begin to untangle the modern lost soul, bringing stillness by realizing the inner self through creation. This is one of the roles of art, infusing the chaos of creativity into the facade of control which poses as order, displacing mere knowledge with deep knowing.



Peighton Sowder ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Elise Kearns
Class: EXS 475

A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Platelet-Rich Plasma vs. Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Managing Knee Osteoarthritis: A Quest for Optimal Treatment

This paper presents as a critical appraisal topic that was completed in my EXS 475 Senior Seminar Class. The poster is a large summary of the findings detailed in the paper. I completed it with the help of Dr. Elise Kearns. It investigates the comparative effectiveness of intra-articular platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and traditional hyaluronic acid (HA) injections in adults with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Knee osteoarthritis, a prevalent degenerative joint disease, poses a significant burden on individuals and society. As minimally-invasive interventions gain popularity, PRP, harnessing growth factors, and HA, providing lubrication, emerge as potential treatments. Two meta-analyses, comprising 15 and 20 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), respectively, were examined to evaluate the outcomes, focusing on pain reduction, stiffness, and functional recovery.



Abigail Garland ’25
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marvin Ruffner
Class: N/A

Christian Attitudes Toward Environmental Issues: A Natural and Social Science Analysis

There is often a discrepancy between pro-environmental affirmation versus action, leading to an interest in looking at the trends associated within an institution. The main objective was to evaluate the environmental awareness and action of Asbury students, staff, and faculty in regard to the topics of microplastics, deforestation, commercial fishing, fast fashion, and biodiversity loss. Hypotheses are as follows. 1) Younger generation (18-44) are more likely to know about these topics. 2) People from coastal areas are more likely to know about these topics and more likely to respond. 3) Christians who know about these topics and prioritize creation care are more likely to engage in pro-environmental action. 4) Christians find creation care important and generally agree on its meaning. Through these hypotheses, the goal is to gain an understanding of the “environmental atmosphere” on Asbury’s campus, which will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the kinds of action that will be required in the future to make the campus more environmentally friendly. Findings show that age-knowledge data has limited statistical significance, knowledge-action data has many statistically significant points, while location-knowledge data has no statistical significance. The Pearson Correlation values for microplastics r= 0.302, P< 0.001; deforestation r= 0.262, P< 0.001; commercial fishing r= 0.294, P< 0.02; fast fashion r= 0.60, P< 0.01; and biodiversity loss r= 0.469, P< 0.001. Creation care was seen to be important to people. There is a correlation between pro-environmental knowledge and action, and this data has academic, religious, and occupational ramifications.



Melissa Richard ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Wilson Shafer
Class: N/A

Imperfect Pitch: Exploring the Interplay of Genetics and Learning in Absolute Pitch Acquisitio

While studies have suggested a genetic basis for absolute pitch acquisition, recent research has begun to explore the influence of learned behaviors, particularly visual and auditory learning, on this phenomenon. A sample of 28 participants was taken to investigate two primary learning modalities—visual and auditory—in five distinct sections featuring sentence and musical examples, to determine what could be retained and reproduced. One outlier lacking a musical family background excelled in an auditory portion of testing and displaying that the trajectory of obtaining absolute pitch may come with challenge but is not too far for any individual.



Christian Phillips ’24
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marvin Ruffner
Class: CHE 400S

Effects of Leaf Extracts from Invasive Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) on the Germination and Growth of Four Elymus Grass Species

In 1897, bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), originating from Northern China, Japan, parts of Korea, and Eastern Russia, was introduced to the United States. Bush honeysuckle has been classified as invasive and outcompetes many plant species native to Kentucky. The success of the bush honeysuckle in outcompeting many native plant varieties may be attributed in part to the allelopathic properties reported to be found in the leaf and root tissues of the bush honeysuckle. Those who remove this shrub desire to know which native wild rye species is best suited to be planted in its place. This study seeks to understand the allelopathic effects that bush honeysuckle leaf extracts have on the germination rates and growth of four species of wild rye native to Kentucky: Elymus macgregori, Elymus villosus, Elymus virginicus, and Elymus hystrix. In this study, seeds of all four rye species were exposed to various concentrations of bush honeysuckle leaf tissue extract, and the time of seed germination was recorded. Additionally, seedlings of all four rye species were exposed to varying concentrations of bush honeysuckle leaf tissue extract, and the growth rate was recorded after six weeks (determined by measuring the dry weight of the seedlings above ground growth). It was found that increasing concentrations of bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) leaf tissue extract reduces the germination rates of all four species of wild rye to a statistically similar effect. It was also found that the concentrations of bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) leaf tissue extracts influenced the growth rate of the wild rye species in that the growth of Elymus seedlings was either reduced or increased depending on the Elymus species, and the concentration of bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) leaf tissue extracts applied.