Catawba College Science Students Bring Home 1st Place Honors

Two recent graduates of Catawba College, Austin Snide, ’21 and Arilyn Lynch, ’22, attended the 100th Anniversary National Beta Beta Beta (βββ) Biological Honors Society Convention in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from June 1 - 4, 2022. Dr. Carmony Hartwig, Catawba College Associate Professor of Biology, Tau Eta New Chapter co-advisor, and new Southeast District I (SE D1) Director of βββ, accompanied Lynch and Snide to the conference, the first βββ National Convention that Catawba has attended in over a decade.

Both Snide and Lynch were recognized at prior meetings of the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB) Conferences with 1st place honors in the βββ section. At the Spring 2021 (virtual) conference, Snide earned First Place Honors in the SE D1 Johnson C. Johnson Award for Excellence in Poster Presentation for his research titled “Eggshell Organizing Factor 1 Protein in Psorophora ferox Mosquitoes” (Research Mentor: Carmony Hartwig). This past spring, Lynch earned First Place Honors in the SE D1 Frank G. Brooks Award for Excellence in Paper Presentation, for her research titled “The Harder they Fall: Measuring the Decline of a Green Ash Swamp Forest due to Emerald Ash Borer Damage in North Carolina” at the ASB conference in Little Rock, Arkansas (Research Mentors: Jay Bolin and Andrew Jacobson). With these first-place honors at the regional ASB meetings, both students were invited to attend and present their research at the National Conference in Oklahoma City, fully funded by βββ.

Lynch, a Biology and Environment and Sustainability graduate, presented the research she conducted with Drs. Jay Bolin and Andrew Jacobson on the decline of the Ash tree stands in the Catawba College Fred Stanback Jr. Ecological Preserve (FSJEP) due to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Her talk at the National Convention was incredibly well-received by attendees that represented βββ chapters from all over the United States, from California to Puerto Rico. Her outstanding presentation earned her another First Place Frank G. Brooks Award for Excellence in Student Research, this time at the National level.

Lynch credited her mentors Drs. Jay Bolin and Andrew Jacobson, as well as fellow researchers Emma (Kate) Halstead, Madison Kluge, and Matt Rodriguez with contributing significantly to this research, and said of her experience in Oklahoma City that “The National βββ meeting was an incredible opportunity that allowed for students and academics from all over the country to exchange ideas and establish a sense of community.”

The βββ Biological Honors Society is “dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research.” Since 1922, with the establishment of the founding Alpha Chapter at Oklahoma City University, the organization has grown to include over 600 chapters and more than 200,000 members. The Tau Eta Chapter at Catawba College was founded in 1992 by Dr. Steve Coggin, retired Professor of Biology, and has been most recently led by Drs. Carmony Hartwig and Erin Witalison. Next year, Hartwig will be stepping down as co-advisor to the Chapter and Dr. Amanda Rushing will team up with Witalison to lead the campus chapter.

In addition to presenting their research at the National Convention, Lynch and Snide also represented the Catawba College Tau Eta chapter of βββ at the ‘roll-call’ and plenary session. The two alums presented the chapter history, with an emphasis on all of the current service and outreach activities, student research, awards, and conference presentations over the past two years.

Snide, a current Wake Forest University graduate student remarked that attending the National Conference was “critical to his continued development as a research scientist. Being able to attend this conference in person (as opposed to virtually in 2021) was truly exciting as it was the first time I was surrounded by other scientists that I could network with and learn from.”

Dr. Jay. F. Bolin, Dean of Sciences, added, “scientific meetings are critical in the development of our students as scientific communicators because, as we have learned through the pandemic, sometimes the weakest link in the scientific method is translating applied and basic science to the public in an accessible manner.”

Catawba plans to continue to grow and expand undergraduate research opportunities in the Sciences with the major renovations of the Shuford Science Building now complete. Updates include an Undergraduate Research Suite adjacent to the Microscopy and Molecular Imaging laboratory, as well as a Cell Culturing facility. 

The Center for the Environment building renovation will be complete in 2023 with updated classrooms and laboratories, all oriented towards undergraduate research.

“I am so inspired by our students, not because they are winning awards; it’s because of the caliber of their work and the robustness of their dedication,” said Hartwig. “When I think about what our students have been able to do through the exceptional challenges presented by the pandemic, I am overwhelmed with pride and excitement for their future. I am grateful for all the resources and facilities we have been gifted that will allow Catawba College students to continue to excel.”

National βββ Conference Titles and Abstracts – June 2022

Arilyn Lynch, Jay Bolin, Emma Halstead, and Andrew Jacobson. The Harder they Fall: Measuring the Decline of a Green Ash Swamp Forest due to Emerald Ash Borer Damage in North Carolina. Catawba College, Salisbury, NC.

1st Place Honors in Frank G. Brooks Award for Oral Presentation of Undergraduate Research at Regional ASB Conference (April 2022) and National βββ Biological Honors Society Convention (June 2022).

Austin Snide and Carmony Hartwig. Eggshell Organizing Factor 1 Protein in Psorophora ferox Mosquitoes. Catawba College, Salisbury, NC.

1st Place Honors in Johnson C. Johnson Award for Poster Presentation of Undergraduate Research at Regional ASB Conference (April 2021).