College Honors Sampler: 2013

Emory College of Arts and Sciences

At Emory, the high caliber of resources of a national research university adds depth and rigor to the undergraduate liberal arts education.

Participants in the Honors Program of the Emory College of Arts and Sciences conduct original research, write a thesis and defend their work in front of a committee. Graduates are recognized with the distinctions of Honors (cum laude), High Honors (magna cum laude) and Highest Honors (summa cum laude).

Browse this page to read how select 2013 honors recipients describe their research and how they anticipate it will affect their future careers and graduate studies. For more topics, review the full college honors list and refer to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations database.

Imani LewisImani Lewis

Honors Thesis: The Other N-Word: The History and Signification of Black Women's Hair in the United States

Adviser: Leslie Harris, Associate Professor of History and Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities, 2011-2014

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My thesis explores the significance of hair for black women. The n-word I infer in the title is "nappy," an often derogatory term for black women's hair. Throughout history, dominant groups have marginalized blacks based on ethnic signifiers such as hair. These groups associated the characteristics of Afro-textured hair with negative factors, while the characteristics of European hair were associated with positive factors. My study demonstrates that dynamic black women have responded by finding power in hairstyling and challenging those stereotypes.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I plan on shaping my career around my interests in African American Studies and race and difference by working as a civil rights lawyer. My thesis has not only helped ground my understanding of black history in the United States, it has also given me insight on the power of ethnic signifiers and cultural hegemony in shaping societal norms.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Two-year fellowship with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama

Keitra ThompsonKeitra Thompson

Honors Thesis: "It Just Ain't Like It Used To Be": The Relationship of Food, Culture, and Metabolic Disease in African American Senior Citizens of the South

Adviser: Peter Brown, Professor of Anthropology

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
African American senior citizens are one of the largest groups dependent on state-funded health care programs and assisted living resources. They are also experiencing high rates of chronic disease and limited resources. This study has aimed to explore the intersection of food and culture and how it relates to the prevalence of metabolic disease in the African American senior citizen community through appraising the health beliefs, life choices, dietary patterns and food accessibility among low-income residents of a facility in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta, Georgia.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
My research strengthened my interest in human health, food accessibility, community-based participatory research and health disparities. I plan to pursue advanced degrees planned in nursing and feminist medical anthropology, to design and implement successful health programs for underserved communities, and to explore issues of national food insecurity.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Bachelor's to master's program in nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Rebecca LevitanRebecca Levitan

Honors Thesis: Visibility and Impact: The Role of Color on the Parthenon's Ionic Frieze

Adviser: Bonna Wescoat, Professor of Art History

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My thesis examines issues of visibility on the Parthenon, especially that of the architectural sculpture which is now displaced from the original building in Athens. A large factor in that visibility was color because virtually all ancient Greek white marble sculptures were originally painted. As part of this study, an Emory team created colored canvas mock-up panels of the Parthenon's Ionic frieze. Using a lift, the team installed them on the Nashville Parthenon, a life-sized replica of the Athenian building in Tennessee. This allowed us to gauge how visible the Parthenon frieze would have been in its original viewing conditions with color. | Thesis blog | YouTube video

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
Writing this thesis was a kind of preview for the higher levels of scholarship demanded by graduate level study of Art History and Archaeology that I hope to pursue. My advisor and I hope to publish the findings of this study in the fall of 2014.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Master's degree as a Bobby Jones Scholar (Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship) at St. Andrews University in Scotland

Victoria ReinesVictoria Reines

Honors Thesis: Targeted Clinical Drug Trials for Intellectual Disabilities: The Decision-Making Process

Adviser: Stephanie Sherman, Professor of Human Genetics, School of Medicine

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
This study explores decision-making about clinical drug trial participation and medication for individuals with intellectual disabilities. By interviewing parents of individuals with Fragile X Syndrome or Down Syndrome, we assessed the factors that influence parental decision-making about potential clinical drug trial involvement for their children. Literature discusses prenatal decision-making for individuals with intellectual disabilities; however, because targeted clinical drug trials for intellectual disabilities are so new, research has not yet explored how decisions are made for individuals with intellectual disabilities with respect to drug experimentation and treatment.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I will pursue a specialty in health-related law, and I am specifically interested in health policy and bioethics. As a lawyer, I plan to continue working with bioethical issues and advocating for health care policies. I hope to continue doing research projects, similar to this one, that will ultimately affect policy.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Boston University School of Law

Nick ThompsonNicholas Thompson

Honors Thesis: Enhancement of Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Due to Treadmill Training and Electrical Stimulation Is Dependent on Androgen Receptor Signaling

Adviser: Arthur English, Professor of Cell Biology, School of Medicine

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Hundreds of thousands of new nerve injuries occur every year. Although many nerves have the capacity to regenerate, full recovery is rare, and most nerve injuries result in permanent damage. Exercise and electrical stimulation have been identified as methods of enhancing nerve regeneration after injury. The purpose of my research was to delve into the mechanism of the enhancement of regeneration due to exercise and electrical stimulation, specifically, the role that androgens play in this process. Results showed that androgens are necessary for exercise and electrical stimulation to enhance regeneration.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
Although I am not looking to pursue a career in scientific research, I am very happy that I have had this laboratory experience. My work on this thesis has been invaluable to me, as it has given me a comprehensive understanding of the scientific research process, will aid me as a clinician in any collaborations I may have with scientists in the future, and will translate well to any clinical research I engage in throughout my career as a doctor.

What I'm doing after graduation:
2013-14 Luce Scholar in Cambodia, studying public health and traditional Eastern medicine

Sarah KlassSarah Klass

Honors Thesis: Characterization of Novel HydX Protein and Its Involvement in the Formation of the Active Site in [Fe-Fe] Hydrogenases

Adviser: Stefan Lutz, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My research entailed examining a novel protein HydX, that is believed to be involved in hydrogen gas production in bacteria. I performed experiments to determine the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of the protein. I also examined the interaction between HydX and other proteins known to be involved in hydrogen production. From these experiments I determined that HydX is folded protein which exhibits secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure that may interact with another protein that is known to be involved in hydrogen gas production.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I believe the work I performed in Dr. Lutz's lab was the number one factor that played into getting my job at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I believe that my job and the research experience I gained with writing my thesis will help me to get into the graduate programs I'd like to attend in the future.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Newborn Screening Lab, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Leah DodellLeah Dodell

Honors Thesis: Revisiting Biblical Games in a Bayesian Framework

Adviser: Sue Mialon, Assistant Professor of Economics

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
In my thesis, I revisit a few of the most debated tales from the Old Testament and model them using game theory. I model three situations -- Jacob's deception of Isaac, G-d's 10 plagues, and Abraham's sacrifice -- as dynamic games in which characters possess private information. By solving for the Perfect Bayesian Equilibria that occur in the Torah, I find conditions that must hold for characters to be willing to take the actions that they do. I also examine how characters' actions would have changed if they had held different values. My results shed light on which interpretations of biblical stories hold the most weight when characters maintain consistent beliefs and act upon them in a sequentially rational manner.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
Along with being an economics major, I enjoy acting and creative writing. Applying game theory to biblical stories has allowed me combine my passions for quantitative analysis and storytelling.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Bloomberg L.P.

Max AshtonMax Ashton

Honors Thesis: Tempered Gold and Blessed Exile: Theological Coherence Through Poetics in the Old English Phoenix

Adviser: James Morey, Professor of English

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Many accept that the extant 30,000 lines of Anglo-Saxon poetry are in the style of a more ancient Germanic oral formulaic verse form, the conventions and themes of which are sometimes incompatible with Christian doctrine. My thesis proposes that the Old English poem The Phoenix recognizes and critiques this incoherency through a number of poetic mechanisms such as irony and dynamic metaphor. The resultant poem endeavors to dictate the primacy of Christianity both conceptually and artistically in a poetic style typically indebted to its violent, materialistic and pagan ancestry.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I have grown particularly interested in the self-awareness of the Anglo-Saxon poetic identity, and I'm keen to investigate the understudied Late Antique influence in Old English poetry at large. I plan to address these inquiries, among others inspired by my thesis, in graduate school.

What I'm doing after graduation:
PhD in English at Stanford University

Lucy AndersonLucy Anderson

Honors Thesis: Distinguishing Feral and Managed Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Using Stable Carbon Isotopes

Adviser: Berry Brosi, Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Honey bees, integral to human agriculture, are experiencing health threats and population declines. Feral honey bees, commonly thought of as wild honey bees, exhibit resistance to these threats, but this resistance isn't seen in managed honey bees. Being able to distinguish these two types of bees could help in creating resistance breeding programs and give insight into broad ecology of the two types of bees. My research found that feral and managed honey bees can be differentiated by looking at stable carbon isotopes in their leg tissues.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
This research expanded my enthusiasm for learning about and understanding how our evolving agricultural practices will impact honey bees. Learning every aspect of planning and implementing a project like this helped me realize that I want to do research long term.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Fulbright Research Scholar in India, studying the effects of pesticides on native bee health and efficiency

Preston HoguePreston Carter Hogue

Honors Thesis: "The Tie that Binds": White Church Flight in Atlanta, 1955-1985

Adviser: Joseph Crespino, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of History

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
As residential neighborhoods in Atlanta transitioned from being predominately white to predominately black in the 1960s and 1970s, white churches in those communities had the opportunity to integrate. Many congregations fled the changing communities. Others lingered in the transitioning neighborhoods as they disputed the proper response to the changes. All faced deep moral and spiritual struggles. My thesis explores those struggles to learn from a moment in history when Atlanta churches could have integrated and almost always failed at doing so. | WABE Radio Interview, May 2013

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
My research helped me understand how the evangelical church in the United States became deeply racially divided. I want to work with low-income urban communities to overcome barriers to growth and development often created by white flight in the period I researched. Completing the honors program led me to consider more seriously the prospect of higher education after working for a few years. I hope research will be a part of my career whatever I do.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Mission year

Jacob MurphyJacob Murphy

Honors Thesis: Meditating Chaos: The Response of American Intellectuals to Threats and Acts of Terrorism: 1991-2011

Adviser: Patrick Allitt, Cahoon Family Professor of American History

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
With the end of the Cold War, the bounds within which American intellectuals had responded to both foreign and domestic issues disappeared. Over the next two decades, the "new" challenge of terrorism led to a significant realignment of intellectual groupings, forcing the historian to reconsider what it meant -- in 1991, in 2001, in 2011 -- to be a neo- or paleoconservative, a leftist or a liberal. Many histories and analyses of the American experience with terrorism focus on the government and/or military response. While my work addresses these reactions, it does so from the intellectual standpoint: i.e., how do the actions of the government align with or diverge from the measures and ideas of the American intellectual population. It also examines the reaction in its cultural framework, looking at the ramifications of terrorism and counterterrorism for multiculturalism, civil rights, and the nation's conception of itself.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
The entire thesis process -- from generating and refining a topic, to researching in archives and becoming better acquainted with the massive amount of material, to actually writing the paper itself -- has prepared me for any graduate endeavors. I will be able to use my thesis as the grounding for years of more focused graduate work.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Writing and applying to graduate schools

Rebecca NocharliRebecca Nocharli

Honors Thesis: Gender Inequality: The Case of Derivative Citizenship in Lebanon

Adviser: Regine Jackson, Assistant Professor in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My thesis looks at how citizenship and citizenship acquisition by descent (derivative citizenship) have been gendered in France, Germany, the United States and Lebanon, and it examines why Lebanon is the only one of the four countries that continues to prohibit women from passing their citizenship on to their children in cases of mixed marriages. Religious and national patriarchal norms emerge as the main obstacles in the way of gender equality in citizenship.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
My research helped me gain a better understanding of the significance of issues of citizenship, immigration, human rights and gender inequality. I definitely see myself using the knowledge I have gained in a future career, working for a cause related to immigration and/or gender equality.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Gap year

Perrinh SavangPerrinh Savang

Honors Thesis: Making Spaces: Gay and Lesbian Student Activism at Emory University (1972-1988)

Adviser: Leslie Harris, Associate Professor of History and Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities, 2011-2014

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My research examines how gay and lesbian activism at Emory University changed from the 1970s to the 1980s, particularly with respect to the gay and lesbian movement occurring nationally at the time. Using archival material and interviews, I have constructed a historical narrative that traces how gay and lesbian activists fought for recognition and inclusion within the university and the challenges they faced while doing so. My narrative begins in 1972 with the formation of the first gay student group on campus, the Gay Liberation and Committee, and ends in 1988 with inclusion of "sexual orientation" in Emory's Statement on Discriminatory Harassment.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I want to look beyond the United States to the work of international human rights activism, and to incorporate historical research within activist work in hopes of motivating communities to appreciate and advocate for social change.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Humanity in Action Fellowship | Emory News Center video, May 2013

Emily CalvertEmily Calvert

Honors Thesis: The Effect of Internet Usage on Media Freedom in the People's Republic of China

Adviser: Thomas Remington, Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
I started my thesis with a very broad question: "What effect does the Internet have on traditional media freedom?" Social media in China has played an increasingly important role in bring controversial cases to the public eye, leading to a public who is now better informed and more likely to demand accurate reporting from the media. By quantitatively and qualitatively studying the relationship between provincial Internet usage rates and each province's media  coverage of certain recent controversial events, I found that provinces with higher Internet usage rates are more likely to provide detailed, accurate and critical information.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I experienced first-hand the type of research I hope to engage in at the graduate level in a few years, as well as expanding my knowledge about the increasingly important world of the Chinese Internet. I've also gained more familiarity with Chinese politics and society, which will be helpful next year as I live and work in China.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Education consulting in China

Sarah LeiterSarah Leiter

Honors Thesis: Christianese: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Evangelical Christian Dialect of American English

Adviser: Benjamin Hary, Winship Distinguished Research Professor in Middle Eastern Studies, Linguistics and Jewish Studies and Director of the Program in Linguistics

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Evangelical Protestants, especially in the American South, have a distinct way of speaking English. They give special meanings to certain words, use prepositions in a way that might sound strange to non-evangelicals, and use certain verb tenses in order to reference their religious beliefs. The focus of my research was this dialect of English, which speakers call "Christianese." I was interested in the particular linguistic features of the dialect and how using Christianese helps speakers create and maintain a communal identity.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
Writing this thesis allowed me to explore a relatively new academic field that my advisor calls "Religiolinguistics." I would like to continue to study the intersections between religion and linguistics in graduate school.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Teaching English abroad

Erica JordanErica Jordan

Honors Thesis: Musical Expressions of Somali Identity in the North American Diaspora

Adviser: Kristin Wendland, Senior Lecturer in Music

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
I looked at cultural hybridity in immigrant communities, specifically through the lens of musical identity in the Somali diaspora. Close analysis of traditional and contemporary Somali songs revealed both retentions and changes in musical characteristics. Interviews with musicians and community members provided insight into the function of new Somali music in society and generational tensions surrounding production and transmission. Young musicians are creating new hybrid musical forms reflective of their multi-cultural context and expressing their Somaliness within the diaspora.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I would like to continue working in community engagement and public scholarship, bridging the gap between the academy and the community. In future research I would also like to continue using hybrid methodologies in order to gain a broader understanding of complex situations.

Hannah KimHannah H. Kim

Honors Thesis: From Supremacy to Complementarity: The Development of Platonic Time

Adviser: Frederick Marcus, Instructor of Philosophy

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Timaeus describes time as "the moving image of eternity," and my thesis traces how four Platonic philosophers -- Plato, Plotinus, Immanuel Kant and Alfred North Whitehead -- takes this concept to develop their own philosophical systems regarding time and eternity. They all argue that temporality should not be subordinated to eternity because time empowers us to be autonomous, creative and moral. The human emerges as a dynamic agent in the continual unfolding of the universe because creativity becomes an expression of the complementary relationship between time and eternity.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
I believe that separating time and eternity and putting them on a hierarchical structure (as classical philosophy and religion have often done) results in the devaluation of our time here on earth. My thesis aims to attribute meaning to our everyday lives by examining the unique powers we have by virtue of being temporal creatures.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Master's degree in philosophy

Charles EvavoldCharles L. Evavold

Honors Thesis: Defined Orbital Elements and Solution Parameters for Binary Star System ET Tau

Adviser: Richard Williamon, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Director of the Emory Planetarium

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
One of the only ways observers on Earth can determine the mass and related properties of a star system is by looking at the orbit of eclipsing binary stars. My research centered on the binary system ET Tau. We were able to combine data taken at Fernbank Science Center with novel data taken at Emory's observatory. Using the Wilson-Devinney model program, we were able to model our experimental data on the system by the method of differential corrections on various parameters. The solution parameters then told us the physical properties of our binary star.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
My research helped me develop laboratory methods, gain computational experience, and prepare for graduate school in the future. It has also reaffirmed my love of the stars and of investigation.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Healthcare software company

Daniel LedfordDaniel Lynn Ledford

Honors Thesis: Augustanization of Sacred Space: The Sanctuary of Apollo in Pompeii

Advisers: Sandra Blakely, Associate Professor of Classics; Bobbi Patterson, Professor of Pedagogy in the Department of Religion

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
Sacred space claimed a large portion of the urban layout of a city in Ancient Roman society. At Pompeii, the Sanctuary of Apollo lies at the heart of the city's landscape and presents evidence of the worship of Apollo in Pompeii from the city's founding until its destruction by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. I argue that this sanctuary presented political, cultural and social ideas of the Augustan Age (27 BCE-14 CE) through art, architecture and inscriptions. I present a comprehensive discussion of the archaeological and epigraphic evidence of the sanctuary and provide a mapping of depictions of Apollo in the urban and suburban landscapes of the city.

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
Mapping the depictions of Apollo in the wall paintings and sculpture in Pompeii is something I would like to pursue further in a study of Pompeii and its patron deity, Apollo.

What I'm doing after graduation:
Master of Arts in Religion, Yale Divinity School

Ariella FaitelsonAriella Tali Faitelson

Honors Thesis: Female Athletes in a Dual-World: How They Manage, Negotiate, and Tread the Waters of Conflicting Notions of Body Types

Adviser: Tracy L. Scott, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Simplifying the abstract: How I'd explain my research to friends
My thesis explores how female athletes deal with societal notions of femininity as well as stereotypes about female-athletes. I interviewed 20 undergraduate female athletes at Emory, then analyzed patterns from that information. In particular, my analysis showed how perceptions and negotiations of femininity/body type and stereotypes vary by sport. The athletes had different strategies for negotiating these images and stereotypes. Also, most of the women felt empowered by playing sports, offering an alternative notion of "femininity."

Making a difference: How my research will impact my future
My research serves as a foundation to understanding experiences of female athletes. If not graduate studies, then this research serves as a platform with which I hope to use in order to act as a civil rights lawyer for Title IX.

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