July 31, 2014  

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13 Students Awarded in Arts & Letters Undergraduate Research Conference

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Mark Harris, senior philosophy major from Mobile, Ala. and Anna Todd, a sophomore history major from Ridgeland, Miss.

Thirteen University of Southern Mississippistudents put their research know-how to the test and took home top awards and prizes from the 2nd Annual College of Arts and Letters Undergraduate Research Conference held Saturday, April 16 on the Hattiesburg campus.

From 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., students presented research from various categories of the liberal arts disciplines. Students presented their research or project for 15 - 20 minutes orally.  First-place winners received a $500 prize; second-placers got a certificate and a handshake.  The best in show winners Anna Todd, sophomore History major from Ridgeland, Miss. and Mark Harris, senior philosophy major from Mobile, Ala. received a prize of $700.

"I was impressed by the care that went into judging, and I know the students at the conference are grateful for the support and encouragement they received from faculty members who were willing to give up a big chunk of Saturday to moderate panels," said Dr. Phyllis Jestice, chair and professor for the Department of History. This conference was sponsored by the Department of History and Jestice served as coordinator.

Harris and Todd, who are both Honors Collegestudents, described the conference experience as intense, but necessary for liberal arts majors. “This is my second time presenting at a conference. As a history major, I’m going to have to do this a lot especially when I go off to graduate school, so I wanted to get some experience presenting papers and research now,” Todd explained. 

Her paper, “Spirited Belles and Selfless Mothers: A Generational Analysis of Women in the Civil War South” won first place in two separate categories, best paper dealing with a gender issue and best paper dealing with a government, political or military topic, in addition to winning best in show.

“The money I won is going towards graduate school,” said Todd, who is also a 2011 recipient of the John E. Gonzales scholarship awarded by the Department of History.

Harris presented research on the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and the rule of categorical imperative. In his paper, “Examining Moral Necessity in the Kantian Categorical Imperative,” Harris questions whether or not Kant’s rule should be followed.

“This was an excerpt out of my undergraduate thesis,” Harris explained. He was recently accepted into law school at the University of Alabama and plans to enter in the fall. 

“My conclusion was no, you do not have to follow Kant’s rule. This was my third time presenting research, I had a very tough commentator, but it was a good experience,” he continued.

The complete list of conference winners is below:

Best Paper Using Statistical Methods

  1. John Barr, Sociology major from Gautier, Miss.: “True Dialogue? Investigating True Blood's Explicit Discourse”
  2. Tyler Cargill, Anthropology major from Swanton, Ohio: “Linear Enamel Hypoplasia Analysis of Shady Grove Mount Site (22QU525)”

Best Paper Using Interviewing Techniques

  1. Tahseen Shams, Sociology major from Dhaka, Bangladesh: “From Cradle to Daycare: How First-Generation Bangladeshi Immigrant Mothers View Daycare/Preschool in Hattiesburg, MS”
  2. Gabrielle Rivero, History major from Picayune, Miss.: “Perspective of a Civil Rights Worker: Freedom Summer”

Best Paper Dealing with a Gender Issue

  1. Anna Todd, History major from Ridgeland, Miss.: “Spirited Belles and Selfless Mothers: A Generational Analysis of Women in the Civil War South”
  2. Matt Salter, History major from Lucedale, Miss.: “Disney and Feminism: How the Disney Corporation Defined Women’s Roles”

Best Paper Dealing with an Issue of Race and/or Ethnicity

  1. Gabrielle Rivero, History major from Picayune, Miss.: “Perspective of a Civil Rights Worker: Freedom Summer”
  2. Wendolyn Martin, English major from Gulfport, Miss.: “Hip-Hop Education in The Coldest Winter Ever”

Best Paper Dealing with a Transnational or International Issue

  1. Jacob Key, English & History major from Lanett, Ala.: “New Interpretations of the Cuban Intervention in the Angolan Civil War”
  2. Michael Blickenstaff, Political Science major from Claremont, Calif.: “Examining China’s Decision to Enter the Korean War”

Best Paper Dealing with an Aspect of Religion of Ideology

  1. Mark Harris, Philosophy major from Mobile, Ala.: “Examining Moral Necessity in the Kantian Categorical Imperative”
  2. Tyler Hanks, Philosophy major from Chickasaw, Ala.: “The Genesis of Atomic Theory: Perspectives on Reality from Parmenides to Democritus”

Best Paper Dealing with a Political, Government, or Military Topic

  1. Anna Todd, History major from Ridgeland, Miss.: “Spirited Belles and Selfless Mothers: A Generational Analysis of Women in the Civil War South”
  2. Matthew Flint Welch, History major from Smithdale, Miss.: “Roman Matrons and the Effects of the Principate on their Political Influence”

Best Oral Presentation at the Conference

1st place was a tie between:
Tahseen Shams, Sociology major from Dhaka, Bangladesh and Amber Langley, Communication Studies & French major from Mobile, Ala.

Best in Show

  1. Mark Harris, Philosophy major from Mobile, Ala.
  2. Anna Todd, History major from Ridgeland, Miss.