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Alpha Chi Members Earn Scholarships, a Fellowship, and Attend National Convention


alphachi-group.jpgTwo Catawba College students are among the 26 members of Alpha Chi, the national college honor society, who have been named to receive the society's national fellowships and scholarships, and one other student earned a scholarship from a regional organization within Alpha Chi. In order to compete for these scholarships, students must submit an academic project. More than 130 undergraduates applied for these competitive scholarships which amount to more than $60,000.

Kathleen Burris of Mt. Pleasant, N.C., a junior double-major in psychology and sociology, was awarded one of two Edwin W. Gaston Scholarships. This is the most prestigious scholarship the society gives to a rising senior. Burris' project which is entitled "How Does Fitness Priming Influence Self- and Other-Judgments of Personal and Physical Characteristics?" was advised by Dr. Sheila Brownlow, professor and chair of Psychology. Burris began the experiment a year ago in her experimental psychology course. The project initially focused on men's body image only, but during the summer of 2014, Burris decided to expand her research to include women. 

Burris says that this project taught her how to design and conduct an ethical, real-world experiment. She further credits the project with helping her become a better writer overall, including both finding and interpreting others' results, and preparing her own manuscript. Most importantly, she says, "I have learned that nothing great comes that easy."

In addition to completing the manuscript that she submitted for the Gaston Scholarship, Burris also composed a poster which she used to present her research at the Southeastern Psychological Association Conference (SEPA) at Hilton Head in March, and the Carolina's Psychology Conference and the Catawba Research and Creativity Showcase in April 2015. "It was thrilling," she notes, "to present my own original research with psychology students and psychology professionals from all across the Southeast and share ideas with others who have similar interests."

Burris, a member of the Catawba College Honors Program and Psi Chi honors society, plans to pursue her interests in non-profit work during her senior year. She is currently an intern with Food for Thought, a community backpack program that provides easy-to-prepare, shelf-stable weekend meals to food-insecure school children in Salisbury and Rowan County.

Ekaterina Kruglov of Karmiel, Israel, a senior psychology and mathematics double major, is the recipient of one of 10 H. Y. Benedict Fellowships. These fellowships are awarded to graduating seniors and must be applied to graduate study.

Kruglov's project, "The Influence of Ego Depletion on Self-Enhancement Strategies" was also advised by Brownlow. Her project grew out of research she conducted in Social Psychology during the fall of 2014. Kruglov notes, "This project enriched my knowledge in multiple areas." In addition to specific knowledge about ego depletion, Kruglov says she learned to conduct and present a scientific research as a member of a team. This, she says, requires effective communication and trusting one another.

Like Burris, Kruglov presented her research at the SEPA Conference which she shares was "was a great experience because I was able to talk to people and tell them what I studied and why this research is important to our daily lives."

After graduating from Catawba, Kruglov plans to attend graduate school in applied mathematics. While at Catawba, she has served as President of the Alpha Chi Chapter and was a member of the College Swimming Team.

Both Kruglov and Burris credit Brownlow with being a supportive mentor who assisted them with every aspect of their projects. "Dr. Brownlow has a genuine passion for her work and goes above and beyond for her students," said Burris. 

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 Spillman

Taylor Spillman of Boonville, N.C., a junior biology major, won an Alpha Chi Region III scholarship. These scholarships, which are awarded by a regional organization within Alpha Chi, are open only to students whose chapters fall within the region. In addition, in order to be eligible for this scholarship, students must submit a project and present it at the Alpha Chi National Convention.

Spillman began working on her project, "An Isotopic and Molecular Study of Mycoheterotrophy in the Southern Blue Thread (Burmannia capitata)" during her first-year at Catawba.

"I became a biology department work study student as soon as I entered Catawba as a freshman," she recalls. "Dr. [Jay] Bolin, my advisor, asked me if I was interested in doing independent research soon after that." The research was so interesting, and the mentoring she received from Dr. Bolin, an assistant professor of biology, so good, that she continued to pursue it through her junior year.

Of the project, Spillman says, "This research project taught me a great deal of perseverance. Even though we had to try something multiple times in order to get it right, we finally found a solution and obtained excellent results. I have also learned a lot about plants and the types of relationships they have with fungi."

In addition to presenting her research at the Alpha Chi National Convention in Chicago in March 2015, Spillman presented earlier findings from the same project at the 2014 NCAS Meeting in Raleigh and at the Tri Beta sector of the ASB Meeting in Spartanburg. She says, "I have thoroughly enjoyed presenting at all locations and meetings. I got to travel to areas that I have never been and also connect with fellow undergraduate students from all over the country."

Spillman's current research is drawing to a close, and she has not yet determined what project comes next. In addition to her involvement with Alpha Chi, Spillman is a member of the Honors Program Student Council and an active member of the Student Government Association.

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 Mechling

Three additional Catawba students attended the Alpha Chi National Convention where they presented their original research.

Junior Kyle Mechling of Quinton, Va., a double major in Physical Education and Spanish, presented a poster which summarized his mixed methods research project entitled College weight change: the perception of upperclassmen on their weight change from freshman year. The project was advised by Professor Carrie Graham.

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 McCollister

Senior Andrew McCollister of Rockwell read, "Bathroom," an excerpt from his memoir A Fish Flew out of the Water. McCollister is an English Writing major who was advised by Dr. Forrest Anderson.

Senior Darby Reedy of Reading, Pa., presented her project, We Win and Lose Together: NASCAR Fan Identification and Its Implication for Sponsorship. Reedy is an English Writing major, and her project advisor is Dr. Margy Stahr.

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 Reedy

The Catawba College chapter of Alpha Chi is advised by Dr. Stahr, associate professor of English and Writing Center director. The chapter has earned the Star Award for being particularly active among chapters for 18 out of the last 19 years. Student members have won national and/or regional scholarships for four straight years.