Finalists present their research during the poster session at Stephen F. Austin State University’s 2023 Undergraduate Research Conference.

Finalists present their research during the poster session at Stephen F. Austin State University’s 2023 Undergraduate Research Conference. The 2024 conference is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. April 9 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center theater and Twilight Ballroom. The conference is free and open to the public.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Seven student groups and individuals from Stephen F. Austin State University and Tyler Junior College were named top scholars for their research, which they will present during the 2024 Undergraduate Research Conference from 4 to 7 p.m. April 9 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center theater. The conference is free and open to the public.

“We celebrate the best of student research and their mentors,” said Dr. Leslie Cecil, director of the new SFA Center for Student Research and Creative Discovery, which hosts the conference. “For many faculty members, undergraduate research is what drives our research and enthusiasm to keep involving students in research.”

Since 2009, representatives from each of SFA’s six colleges have selected outstanding undergraduate student research from the previous calendar year. The best individual or group research project within each college and one from a non-SFA institution is awarded the top scholar title; SFA top scholars receive $500, while the non-SFA top scholar receives a scholarship to SFA. Additional outstanding student research projects are selected per college, and these finalists present during the conference’s poster session.

In 2012, the conference expanded to include regional colleges. Students from Lone Star College-North Harris, Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler have participated in the conference.

The 2024 top scholar award recipients and their faculty mentors are:

  • Amanda Albright, James I. Perkins College of Education, “Diet Considerations to Promote Bone Health, Prevent Chronic Disease and Optimize Healing After Orthopedic Surgery,” faculty sponsor: Justin Pelham, clinical instructor of dietetics and nutritional sciences at SFA
  • Amelia Beam, Tyler Junior College, “Grounded: The Causes and Consequences of Pilot Shortages on the Airline Industry,” faculty sponsor: Dr. Andrea Hathcote, professor of learning framework at TJC
  • Megan Beeksma, College of Sciences and Mathematics, “Exploring the Diversity of Cichlid Fishes in Rivers of Guyana, South America,” faculty sponsor: Dr. Carmen Montaña-Schalk, assistant professor of biology at SFA
  • Carson Chulp, Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, “‘Plane of Existence’: A Composition by an SFA Percussionist, for the SFA Percussion Ensemble,” faculty sponsor: Dr. Bradley Meyer, associate professor of music at SFA
  • Victoria Hoover, College of Liberal and Applied Arts, “Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, Cleopatra? A Study of Past Life Regression, Practitioners and the Impact of Reincarnation Beliefs,” faculty sponsor: Dr. Karol Chandler-Ezell, associate professor of anthropology at SFA
  • Cari Mitchell, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, “An Interactive Map of Historical Buildings of Downtown Nacogdoches, Texas,” faculty sponsor: Dr. I-Kuai Hung, professor of forestry at SFA
  • Hana Roers and Toby Sherman, Nelson Rusche College of Business, “2021 American Housing,” faculty sponsor: Dr. Rebecca Davis, assistant professor of economics at SFA

A Faculty Mentor of the Year also is honored at the conference. This year, Montaña-Schalk received the award and $500 for demonstrating a commitment to undergraduate research by sponsoring students who have been selected as top scholars and finalists.

Following the top scholar presentations, a poster session featuring more than 50 finalists will be held in the student center’s Twilight Ballroom. Refreshments will be served.

The Undergraduate Research Conference gives students the opportunity to gain poster and oral presentation skills as well as connect with experts who may help them with their future educational and professional goals, Cecil said.

“They present their research to a general audience that includes many people both inside and outside SFA,” she said. “This helps them with entrance to graduate schools or job-related critical thinking and research skills.”

The Center for Student Research and Creative Discovery was recently established in SFA’s Office of Research and Graduate Studies to promote, support and showcase the research, discovery and creative efforts of SFA’s undergraduate students. It does this by connecting students with faculty mentors and research opportunities and by offering resources, such as funding to present projects at conferences.

To learn more about this center, visit the website. Visit the Undergraduate Research Conference website to view a list of finalists.

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.