Hard work takes center stage at Honors symposium

April 16, 2018 / by / 1 Comment

hundreds of students in the Honors College and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology who spent Saturday morning sharing their research and business proposals at the 2018 Honors Showcase and CSET Spring Symposium.

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau 

Isabella Ketcham and Silvana Burgos, two environmental science majors at Grand Canyon University, spent the 2017-18 academic year studying local waters of the Verde River to determine the effects of urbanization on water quality.

With the help of their professor and the collaboration with the Verde River Institute, Ketcham and Burgos looked at the biological levels of oxygen demand in the water supply using drone technology to collect water samples.

“The drones allow for us to easily access a site of interest, including runoff areas or areas not easily accessible by foot,” Burgos said. “Given that Arizona is a desert and a state that is experiencing a growing population, this is a precious resource.” 

Ketcham and Burgos were among hundreds of students in the Honors College and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology who spent Saturday morning sharing their research and business proposals at the 2018 Honors Showcase and CSET Spring Symposium, an annual event that aims to showcase recent student research.

Students presented Skeddio: An academic analytics program

The showcase gives students an opportunity to spotlight their drive and ambition, said Breanna Naegeli, Assistant Dean of the Honors College. 

“This event is really just a culmination of the work, dedication and countless of hours students have dedicated to research, business proposals and work-inspired projects,” she said. “They are at the top of their class, they have worked endlessly without anyone telling them to or paying them to, and that really speaks to their character. To see them celebrated and to have an opportunity to share that with their peers, faculty and prospective GCU students is an incredible thing.”

The Honors segment showcased the works of students from all different degree programs. CSET presentations emphasized the collaboration between students and faculty. Presentations started at 9 a.m. in the lecture halls of Antelope Gymnasium.

The Honors and CSET symposium had two different selection processes. Students in CSET applied through the Research and Design Program (RDP), an exciting opportunity for students to engage in faculty research, design and development projects. Within the Honors College, students submitted their work and took part in a preliminary presentation round for content evaluation, and the top 10 proceeded to the final showcase. 

RDP projects on display Saturday included research on antibiotic presence in locally sold meat, testing of a Central America home remedy against bacterial strains, the impact of college weight gain, and body image in female collegiate athletes.

Senior Jamie Terran, a biology major, presented research on weight-cycling effects on ambulatory blood pressure.

“We found that those individuals that were considered weigh cyclers had higher ambulatory blood pressure than those who did not, which has a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Terran.

Silvana Burgos, an environmental science major studied local waters of the Verde River to determine the effects of urbanization on water quality.

As a senior who soon will be going on to grad school, Terran said she hopes to continue doing independent research as she moves forward with her career.  

“I had no idea that this much research was going on at GCU because I’m in my own exercise and science world, but it’s neat to see that this is an area that is growing for GCU.”

RDP students could submit work in any five categories: microbiology, cell and organismal biology, exercise and health, genetics, and experimental and educational platforms.

The top five groups have been invited to present at the Learning Community Symposium at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in Building 57, Room 131.

  • Microbial Source Tracking Markers for the Identification of Fecal Contamination in Papago Park
  • Tissue-Specific Expression of Histone Variant H3.3 in Developing Drosophila
  • Impact of Daily Exercise Compared to Expercise on Alternating Days on Post-Exercise Blood Pressure Reduction in Men with Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Klinefelter Syndrome
  • Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer
  • Insect Husbandry & Curriculum Design

Honors College presentations

From TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity to water purification in Rwanda, a vast collection of students’ oral presentations capped the Symposium.

Farm Express, presented by Carly Smith, Aly Halbakkan, Shannon Walker, Isabella Ruiz, Kasey Davalos and Laura Arnold, an was an initiative to offer fresh and affordable produce to low-income areas. It operates as a donated Phoenix city bus targeting local schools, community centers and senior centers.

“Farm Express is different from competitors like Market on the Move because it is so much more easily accessible throughout the week. It reaches people where they are and strives to ensure that every consumer feels valued and important,” Smith said. “There is no shame in visiting this bus.”

Ultimately, the team created a proposal to have a bus stop stationed at GCU near Diamondback Hall on the east side of the main campus.

“One of GCU’s foundational pillars is Christian camaraderie,” Smith said. “One of the best ways to build relationships and community is by eating and dining together but not just eating and dining anything – which brings us to another one of GCU’s foundational pillars – wellness and well-being.”

After conducting a student survey of five questions, Farm Express found that 95 percent of respondents would be interested in having Farm Express stop at GCU.

Gabriela Calhoun, Ethan Nichols, Sean Thomason and Mark Locke talked about 3Derma, emergency-use hydrocolloidal bandages to prevent wound infection within developing countries.

With his love for astronomy, U.S. veteran Brent Phillips represented VEGA (Veteran Education Group Astronomy outreach), a self-funded astronomy outreach with the purpose to inspire and teach veterans and students of all ages.

“As a wounded veteran there were a lot of options for me to go to to relate to other people, but a lot of them didn’t interest me,” he said. “I find a lot of pleasure out of sitting outside under the skies and looking up.”

He then learned that many schools could not afford the cost of providing students with astronomy viewing equipment, and he began conducting free solar observation events for veterans, the community and local schools. He even held an event at First Friday in downtown Phoenix.

“The first night we had about one thousand people look through our scopes, and I think one of the biggest things I take away from this is that this reaches so many demographics that really can’t be judged on individual sections,” he said. “It reaches the 5-year-old who has to be held up to the eyepiece all the way up to the 83-year-old lady I witness cry after she first saw Saturn through a telescope.”

Scholarship winners for the 2018-19 academic year will be announced at the Honors Banquet on Thursday. 

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]


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One Response
  1. Brianda Arechiga

    Great job Sil!

    Apr.18.2018 at 2:57 pm
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