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Annual Academic Symposium Showcases Student Research

April 18, 2016

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The 2016 Student Academic Symposium (SAS) provided a detailed look into the preparation and research done by Texas Lutheran University students. With presentations across more than 20 majors, topics ranged from “Intensive Care Nurses and Stress: Coping Measures and Perceived Effectiveness” (nursing students Tessa Nichols, Autumn Durst, and Brandon George) to musical performances from West Side Story led by student conductor Paul Jensen.

Senior Britnie Tucker wove both of her majors—history and dramatic media—into two separate but related presentations. Her history thesis, "The Capital of the North: The Political Alliance between the City of York and Richard III, Duke of Gloucester,” examined the relationship between Richard III and the people of York. She discussed the city’s confidence in Richard versus King Edward, as well as how The War of The Roses left England in disarray and cities like York vulnerable to Scottish invasion.

Her dramatic media presentation was directly influenced by the historical analysis of York and Richard III. Her script, “Richard, Son of York,” tells the story of 17-year-old Richard Plantagenet who’s forced to fight against one brother and join the other in exile when the father of the woman he loves decided to claim the English throne for himself.

Fellow double major Fernando Rover—history and English—combined his passion for history with his love of writing in his presentation, “Black Masculinity and Responses to the Moynihan Report in Ebony Magazine.” Rover discussed the black community’s response to the Moynihan Report—a leaked document from the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration detailing Assistant Labor Secretary Daniel Moynihan’s opinion that the fall of black society was the emasculation of black men by black women.

Rover’s analysis looked specifically at how writers at Ebony Magazine responded to the report. His presentation supported that the black community was aware the report hurt them and began redefining themselves and rejecting the idea that white family values were superior.

SAS also highlighted interdisciplinary studies. Senior Brittny Raup paired her business major with her environmental studies minor for her presentation, “Air Quality in Harris County.” Her interest in environmental regulations and enforcement inspired her research into what’s happening with the air quality in Texas, and specifically in Harris County where 20 percent of the state penalties occur.

She presented how the Environment Protection Agency and Texas Commission of Environmental Quality assess certain violations and penalties, including air quality, petroleum storage tanks, water quality, etc. She also looked at the environmental effects of benzene, a chemical compound with carcinogenic properties found in petroleum. Her presentation asserted that while there needs to be more regulation on large companies who violate environmental laws, there needs to be a separate discussion on how we continue to produce goods we’re dependent on.

Theology major Abigail Jackson’s capstone, “Against Biblical Literalism,” identified and repudiated sexist and racist perspectives within scripture. Her thesis defended that readers should heed the word of the Bible but that it isn’t infallible. Jackson supported that the Bible can’t be taken literally, especially because of the struggles modern society has with interpreting certain events, as well as interpolations made to scripture over time.

Biology major and registered nurse Aleesa Griffin, presented her capstone “Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and the Use of Predictive Factors in Treating Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).” Griffin focused on how dangerous this type of cancer can be to diagnose and how researchers are tackling the issue. TNBC often metastasizes compared to other types of breast cancer and 70 percent of patients die within the first five years of diagnosis. Her research explained how neoadjuvant treatment (pre-surgery anti-cancer antibiotics) and identifying the p53 BCL11A gene are becoming more promising for treating patients diagnosed with TNBC.

President Stuart Dorsey perhaps best summed up the symposium.

“TLU’s core value is supporting student success, so observing the excellence in research, presentation and performance delivered by so many students—not just a few carefully chosen presenters—was especially affirming,” Dr. Dorsey said. “I couldn’t attend every presentation, but I sampled enough to be confident that we are delivering on our promise. Our faculty can be justifiably proud of the quality of original research and strong presentations skills that were on display.”