Summer Research Program
Each year the Honors Program awards fellowships to a select group of Sweet Briar students to support them in conducting independent research projects under the supervision of a faculty member. The Honors Summer Research Program is an eight-week, on-campus program that brings together students and faculty from all disciplines. The program creates a unique academic experience for the participants by providing the opportunity for intensely focused research, a one-on-one working relationship with a faculty mentor, and weekly meetings and presentations by both faculty and students highlighting their ongoing research as well as research methodologies across the academic disciplines. To see a listing of projects from previous years go to the previous research projects page.
The 2013 Honors Summer Research Program begins May 28 and ends July 19.
Eleven students received Honors Summer Research Fellowships for the 2013 program.
Ashley Baker, Class of 2015
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Rob Granger (Chemistry)
The first step of photosynthesis is the reduction of carbon dioxide into free radical anions. This first step can be replicated using organometallic catalysts (molecules that contain both carbon and metal atoms). I will work on designing potential catalysts in the hopes of understanding the initial steps of photosynthesis.
Kaitlyn Cartwright, Class of 2014
Faculty Sponsor : Professor Abraham Yousef (Chemistry)
In anti-cancer research, platinum compounds have been found to affect cancer cells. However, an important aspect of anticancer research is the development of compounds that possess selectivity to cancer cells and the ability to avoid resistance from cancer cells. This summer, I will synthesize a novel organic compound with a phenanthroline scaffold that will allow for binding to platinum. The compound will later be tested against various cancer cells, both with and without platinum. This project will serve as the beginning of my Honors thesis work.
Rebecca Dalley, Class of 2014
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Janet Steven (Biology)
Clonal growth in plants is a form of asexual reproduction. Genets consist of all plants derived from a single zygote and are genetically identical to other seemingly independent plants. Ramets are potentially or actually physiologically independent units of a genet and have all functions common an individual non-clonal organism. Clonal growth in plants can be used to approximate the age of the ramets, by measuring the distance between known ramets of a genet when the growth rate of the plant is known. I will be investigating the age of interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana L.) by using DNA markers to determine the ramets of each genet. Interrupted fern stems are known to grow at a slow rate of about a quarter inch per year. Using this with the measurements taken during sampling we can determine the approximate age of the genets and elucidate the history of the current forest understory.
Moriah Donaldson, Class of 2015
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Scott Pierce (Engineering)
The intent of this project is to help create a new treatment for phantom limb pain, a syndrome that affects 80% of all amputees. My role will be to create a realistic, computer-based simulation of hands as they perform grasping and pointing motions. The two major goals of my summer research will be to construct a complete kinematic model of a hand in motion and to utilize a solid modeling library to create dimensionally-correct models of hands in motion.
Anna Donko, Class or 2014
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Pamela DeWeese (Modern Languages and Literatures)
A profound cultural shift at the turn of the 20th century influenced Spanish writers to break away from realism. Authors developed new literary movements revolving around emotion and perspectivism, which aesthetically challenged the previous generation. Ramón del Valle-Inclán, a noted playwright and novelist, created one of these new approaches in 1920, calling it “Esperpento.” Through the deformation and exaggeration of reality, and with the goal of satirizing and criticizing society, this style allowed for a new way of perceiving and depicting reality. My aim is to demonstrate exactly how Valle-Inclán’s concept of “Esperpento” molded his creation of the fictitious, dictatorial world in his masterpiece, ""Tirano Banderas,"" a novel depicting the fall of a cruel South American dictator. My analysis will demonstrate how the use of “Esperpento” as a technique and an approach to reality allows Valle-Inclán to achieve thematic verisimilitude within the imaginary setting in which the novel unfolds.
Katlyn Fleming, Class of 2014
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Abraham Yousef (Chemistry)
In preparation for my senior Honors thesis, I plan to undertake a research project involving a novel organic compound containing a phenanthroline scaffold designed to bind to platinum. Platinum containing compounds are known to be effective against cancer cells. However, not all compounds are equally effective and some cancer cells can develop resistance to currently known drugs. Therefore, the continual research and development of new potential drug compounds is important. The target compound will be synthesized this summer and later tested against various cancer cells, both with and without platinum.
Dolores Gallagher, Class of 2015
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Bryce Walker (Classics, Philosophy and Religion)
My Summer Honors Research project will look at medicine in ancient Greece. I would like to study the relationship between Greek culture and medicine. Namely, who had access to medical care and the quality of care they received. I also wish to look at who became physicians and how the public viewed them. The Hippocratic corpus is one of the largest bodies of work of ancient medicine. I will use it in my research by studying the “art of medicine” works. I will also look at the Hippocratic oath and its influences on doctors at the time and its modern influences now.
Jennifer Gray, Class of 2013
Faculty Sponsors: Professor Lynn Laufenberg (History); Professor Eric Casey (Classics)
Historically, women with political power have not been taken seriously by scholars: they have been over-sexualized, demonized, and belittled in popular conception. Even today, in contrast to their male counterparts, female political figures are frequently under-emphasized or misrepresented. I propose to do a comparative historical study of four women in the ancient world: Aspasia, Cleopatra, Livia, and Theodora. Using primary sources, I will compare how these women were viewed by their contemporaries and examine how their subsequent reputations developed. By comparing these four figures, I hope to gain insight into how the perception of women with political power evolved over a roughly one-thousand year period spanning from the 5th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. I am interested in examining whether women in power faced predominantly gender-based criticism, or if the charges against them changed with the passage of time and differences in culture.
Amy Kvien, Class of 2015
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Sherry Forbes (Economics)
This research project seeks to understand the effect of the recent financial regulations in response to the recession of 2007 and 2008 on the financial services industry. This study will specifically examine the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which aimed to “end ‘too big to fail’”, as well as similar laws. I would like to start by looking at how the laws affected industry structure. I plan on using regression analyses to analyze industry structure before and after the laws went into effect.
Fumin Li, Class of 2015
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Bethany Brinkman (Engineering)
The purpose of this research is to generate a 3D model for Sweet Briar House using AutoCAD, a software application for computer-aided design and drafting. Sweet Briar House has been home to the presidents of the College since 1901 and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The model of the House will be created and visualized based on its blueprint. Ultrasonic tape measurement will be used as a supplementary tool to size the architectural details of the House. After all the measurements are finished, the full 3D reconstruction of the House will be performed in AutoCAD. The ultimate goal for this research is to create a visual reality model for Sweet Briar House so that people can visit this historical building online.
Lilian Tauber, Class of 2014
Faculty Sponsor: Professor Lynn Laufenberg (History)
The Arab Spring moved human rights concerns to the political forefront in several countries that are currently grappling with governmental reform. The citizens of these states have previously suffered from internal political repression. I will investigate the extent of the emergence or expansion of political rights as a result of the Arab Spring. In addition, I will explore whether U.S. interests in the region have had a substantive impact on this process. The U.S. has traditionally shown strong support for liberal political ideologies and human rights worldwide. I will conduct a comparative, historical investigation into discernible U.S. influence in two case studies (Egypt and Morocco), focusing on the integration of political rights into government institutions in the 20th and 21st centuries. I will examine political rhetoric in media and independent sources, as well as government documents, which will include declassified primary sources.