NACOGDOCHES, Texas — A graduate student’s investigation into attitudes and perceptions regarding handguns being allowed on college campuses has been named a winner of the Best Paper Award at the Stephen F. Austin State University 2018 Graduate Research Conference.

Longview native Hayden Holmes presented research he has conducted regarding Texas Senate Bill 11, which allowed for campus carry of licensed handguns for permit holders over age 21. Holmes wanted to better understand how the perception of handguns on campus affects daily interactions and classrooms.

Working alongside Dr. Lauren Brewer, assistant professor of psychology, and graduate student Stacey Kerr in Brewer’s research lab, Holmes found that although many people hold an unfavorable attitude toward campus carry, there is no difference in perceived campus safety.

Holmes began his research as an undergraduate at SFA and continued to work with Brewer when he joined the psychology graduate program.

“Dr. Brewer has helped mold and guide me to become the researcher and student I am today,” Holmes said. “She is a great inspiration, and she and Stacey both helped me become a much stronger writer.”

The annual conference serves as encouragement to SFA students to conduct research and present and communicate their findings to others, either through paper or poster presentations. Professors often work with students to help guide the research and give advice throughout the process.

“Research opens up many opportunities for students that otherwise may have not been there,” Holmes said. “Because of this research I’ve conducted, I have an award that is a large stepping stone toward my eventual goal of obtaining my doctoral degree.”

For more information on SFA’s Graduate Research Conference, visit