SEARCH Symposium Advances Student Scholars – Asbury University
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SEARCH Symposium Advances Student Scholars

April 24, 2018

student giving a poster presentation

April 24, 2018

A crowd of students surrounded a poster board where Alyssa Martin ’18 presented her Psychology research on the relationship between shame, thoughts about God and mental health.

“I’m a little overwhelmed by the attention, guys,” she said, laughing, to the crowd that had surrounded her. “Any other questions?”

Martin was just one of 50 students who presented research during Asbury’s annual SEARCH Symposium on Monday — an academic event celebrating the life of the mind through a panel discussion, keynote speech, poster presentations and a research competition.

“I love SEARCH,” Martin said. “I’m in the Psychology Department, so I’m already aware of the great research happening there, but this event unites us as the Asbury community, because it allows us to see the great work happening in all departments. This is a great school, and we have great faculty members who work alongside us, and everyone’s doing great work. It says a lot about the Asbury community.”

student giving a poster presentation

Spanning the Arts, Humanities and Sciences, students’ research explored topics like nutrients in organic forage for dairy cows (Savannah Neese ’18), the evolution of T.S. Eliot’s critical voice in his own work (Matthias White ’18), perceptions of others with opposing political affiliation (Jacob Junker ’18), electric vehicle structure implementation (Margaret Hull ’20), synthesis and metal complexing ability of a novel triether (Rebekah Israel ’18) and much more.

In addition to presenting research on Monday, many students also entered their papers in a research competition.

Sarah Browning ’18, a Creative Writing & English major, was the overall winner of SEARCH as well as the Student Scholar of Excellence in the Arts. Browning’s paper, “The Pluralization of Ithaka,” explored the writer’s relationship with the ocean. From Homer’s “The Odyssey” to Melville’s “Moby Dick,” the ocean is a literary tool that can represent the unknown, a mirror, the grave or a vehicle of transformation. Browning drew a connecting line between these author’s ocean literature and her own writing and experiences with the ocean. Browning was sponsored by Dr. Marcia Hurlow. Read one of Browning’s poems below.

Elaine Binnix ’18 was awarded the Student Scholar of Excellence in the Humanities. History major Binnix’s presentation, “Stuck in the Middle with You: A Glimpse into Kentucky’s Complex Experiences in the American Civil War,” examines Kentucky’s complicated position during the Civil War, which was neither simply neutral, Confederate or Union, but managed to be all three at once. Binnix’s faculty sponsor was Dr. David Swartz.

Psychology major Alyssa Martin ’18 won the award for Student Scholar of Excellence in the Sciences. Martin’s presentation was entitled “The Mediating Role of Shame in the Relationship Between Thoughts about God and Mental Health.” The presentation highlighted the relationship between shame, perceptions of God and mental health. During her research, Martin interviewed 82 undergraduate students and found that her results supported her hypothesis. Dr. Janet Dean was her faculty sponsor.

“SEARCH is an outstanding opportunity for students, faculty and staff to come together in celebration around faith and intellectual oxygen, to engage gracefully in conversation and to advance Asbury students and faculty as scholars for influence,” said Academic Dean Tim Campbell. “For the Asbury community, SEARCH is a reaffirmation of our commitment to love God not only with our hearts and souls, but also with our minds — and in our pursuit of truth, to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

This year’s SEARCH Symposium also featured special guest Dr. Deborah Haarsma, president of BioLogos, a Christian advocacy group promoting harmony between science and biblical faith. Haarsma participated in a panel discussion with Asbury faculty — Dr. Thane Ury (Intercultural Studies); Dr. Paul Nesselroade (Psychology); Dr. Malinda Stull (Biology); and Dr. Cheryll Crowe (Mathematics) — and gave a keynote speech on science and faith.

“I encourage you to continue your Christian scholarship,” Haarsma said, addressing students during her keynote speech. “Delve into your field; seek the truth; be the best you can. Build a tough mind with great reasoning skills, and learn all the skills of your profession. Have a tender heart towards the non-Christians you’re going to meet. Learn from them, love them, share your faith and your life with them. And above all, enjoy studying the unending mystery of the universe, and of human culture and of the human soul.”

Thirteen Asbury faculty members were also honored during SEARCH, recognized as “Faculty-Scholars” for their contributions both in the classroom and within their disciplines:

  • faculty members holding awardsBurnam W. Reynolds, Ph.D.
  • Marcia L. Hurlow, Ph.D.
  • R. David Rightmire, Ph.D.
  • Devin Brown, Ph.D.
  • David Coulliette, Ph.D.
  • Janet B. Dean, Ph.D.
  • Benjamin Brammell, Ph.D.
  • David R. Swartz, Ph.D.
  • Emily Walsh, Ph.D.
  • Kevin J. Brown, Ph.D.
  • Erin Penner, Ph.D.
  • George Allen, D.B.A.
  • Elizabeth B. Jones, Ph.D.

“This evening is an opportunity to honor faculty,” said Interim Provost Bonnie Banker during a ceremony on Monday recognizing the awardees. “We talk about you a lot and the good work you’re doing, but I’m not sure we pause often enough. That’s what we’re doing tonight. Thank you for being great scholars for Asbury University and for the Kingdom.”


Sarah Browning ’18
(As published in “The Asbury Review”)

There’s a skeleton in the bottom of Lake Iznik,
debatably. Theologians and archaeologists
can’t prove it, except by “I’m pretty sure
this is where the church was, and the earth
just swallowed it,” but guides tell tourists
the water is universally considered sacred,
and maybe if you just touch it and have faith,
the water will flood your mind’s eye
with the reality of God the father,
God the Son, and God
one in the waters of Iznik.

Bones as bricks covered in moss,
Swimming with ignorant fish
Atlantis when I bowed to drink
of the fount and disturbed, inhaled
bone dust, foundations, Christ
in the cornerstone,
obscured in Iznik, cerulean
water from water.

Somebody once asked me,
“Would you still believe if we found the bones of Christ?”
To which I said, “no,” then they said “yes,”
and I wonder if the world embraced it
or banished it beneath the waves
and if the relationship is embodied
eternally in Iznik.

To learn more about the SEARCH Symposium, visit: