Virtual Undergraduate Scholars Forum Viewed by Alumni and Friends

As a virtual event, this year’s Undergraduate Scholars Forum (USF) offered a unique experience, including students, faculty, staff, friends, and family members, all of whom met on Zoom to support students’ research projects. Despite the complications of meeting and presenting virtually, the day proved to be an excellent demonstration of the richness of our students’ work and a testimony to Westminster College’s deep commitment to academic excellence.

The opening session included keynote speaker Dr. Rizia Bardhan, ’05, who is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University. Dr. Bardhan gave an inspiring talk about her years at Westminster as well as her journey into significant medical research. The session also featured student presenter, Stephen Rogers, who posed as Winston Churchill to discuss conspiracy theories surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania. Stephen’s impersonation of Churchill will long be remembered.

The opening session concluded with the acknowledgement of several academic awards, as well as awards for the best paper, poster, and recorded presentation at the Scholars Forum. It was followed by three break-out sessions, including a special session for first-year students, 10 paper sessions, five poster sessions, and a demonstration by the pre-engineering students. The day concluded with an ice cream social on the patio of Sloss Hall.

Special thanks for the success of the USF went to the presenters and their dedicated faculty sponsors; the Teaching and Learning Committee for organizing the event; and the Education Association and Alpha Chi for serving as student monitors. For their ongoing support of the USF, the Stubbs family was recognized, as well. And in order to acknowledge her years of dedication to the USF, as well as her retirement this year, Angela Grogan, Director of Library Services, was given special thanks.

Because this year was particularly challenging, students were given the opportunity to be included in drawings for gift cards. The following students won $50 gift cards for their attendance at the opening session: Sydney Bateman, Jax Centrella, Brennan Jeffries, Matt Schulte, and Connor Zoellner.  For their attendance all day, the following students won $150 gift cards: Alyssa Hays and Emily Bergman.

All sessions were recorded and have been uploaded to Canvas (for students, faculty, and staff) and to the Westminster’s Youtube page. Although we all prefer to be in-person for such important events, the virtual USF has taught us the value of technology for both bringing guests to campus and preserving our students great work for all to enjoy.

In addition to the presentations, Honors Program students were announced, and a variety of awards were given.

New Members of the Honors Program

Erin Carr
Jax Centrella
Tim Fitzpatrick
Jenna Frisella
Caitlyn Huber
Merissa Hertubise
Hannah Lind
Maddie Marrero
Ally Oglesby-Watson
Ben Parks
Earthis Pascua
Blaine Ravert
Connor Sherman
Lee Turk
Shelby Weathers

Students Who Will Join Next Year as Sophomores

Jonathan Banza
Grace Ann Choate
Gracie Hamrick
Ayanda Huate
Paige Hurley
Fildaross Swai
Matt Trout

Cameron and Jessie Day Prize in Biology: Ben VanHoogstrate

The Margaret McDonald Jaeger Psychology Award – Senior Award Winner: Anna Oliver

Junior winners: Katherine Bloom and Doris Pirmantgen

Harmon L. Remmell III Prize for the Outstanding Thesis in History: Sarah L. Ayers and Kyle Miller

Cranshaw Scholarship: Joseph Garner

Vernon W. and Marian K. Piper Overseas Study Endowed Scholarship:

Haleigh St Clair

Outstanding First Year Academic Performance

Megan Davidson
Matt Trout

Outstanding First Year Campus Citizen

Earthis Pascua
Katie Wood

New Alpha Chi Members

Michael Ellinger
Hannah Fuglaar
Cydney Funk
Joesph Garner
Makayla Jackson
Ashlynn LaFlamme
Anna Oliver
Doris Pirmantgen
Olivia Schroyer
Matthew Trout
Rebecca Zile
John Langton (Honorary member)

Undergraduate Scholars Forum Awards

Best Paper

Jakob Gibson, “The War on Terror and the Problem of Indefinite Detention”

Best Poster

Colette Faiella, “Preliminary Ta-fa-NAH-mic Interpretations of a Triceratops from the Grand River National Grasslands, South Dakota”

Best Recorded Presentation

Elena Cisneros, “Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Predict the Weather?”


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