Judson Honors Program graduates present research

By Mary Anne Garner, Associate Professor of Biology, and Mary Amelia Taylor, Associate VP for Marketing & Communications

The Judson College Honors Program hosted project presentations in Adams-Armstrong Lecture Hall on April 9, 2021.

The Judson College Honors Program provides an opportunity for students to undertake scholarly, independent, original research that exceeds the graduation requirements for their academic majors and then present that research to the College community. Honors Program students must have completed 30 hours of coursework at Judson College and have maintained a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 from all college credits. Candidates must be recommended by a faculty member who serves as project sponsor.  Upon successful completion of the Honors Program, students receive “Degrees with Distinction” during Commencement, and their works are bound and kept in the Judson Archives.

Judson seniors Anna Mag Reynolds, Laura Grace Terry, Jyasmine Torres, Savannah Townley, and Ti-Ara Turner presented their original research for the campus community April 9 and posed before the event with their faculty advisors (L to R): Dr. Mary Anne Garner, Dr. Laura Crawford, Laura Grace Terry, Jyasmine Torres, Savanah Townley, Anna Mag Reynolds, Ti-Ara Turner, and Mrs. Stephanie Peek. (Not pictured is Dr. Jessica Spafford, advisor for Jyasmine Torres.)

Anna Mag Reynolds
Degree with Distinction in Religious Studies and Psychology
Thesis: Created for Community: A theological and Psychological Evaluation of Loneliness

Anna Mag Reynolds of Selma, Ala., discussed the topic of loneliness from both a theological and psychological perspective. She spoke about the theological point that “it is not good that man should be alone” in the establishment of Christian community and incorporated studies that analyzed self-reports of loneliness for members of Christian and non-Christian communities. Reynolds also included data that reported an increase in loneliness common in church leaders who may not enjoy all of the benefits of the communities they serve. Her talk was particularly significant given the past year of increased isolation and loneliness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and less in-person involvement in our communities.

Laura Grace Terry
Degree with Distinction in English
Thesis: The Great Conspiracy: Conrad, Anti-colonialism, and the Ivory Cult

Laura Grace Terry of Atmore, Ala., discussed Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a novel about a Congo sailor named Marlow. Terry pointed out various instances of Conrad’s use of “cultic rhetoric and imagery” to describe British Imperialism. She explained the language commonly used by cults and described various instances where this language occurs throughout Heart of Darkness.

Jyasmine Torres
Degree with Distinction in Biology
Thesis: Controlling Universal Chaos: A Comparison of Internal and External Musical Therapy Effects on the Human Mind, with a Focus on Victims of Major Depressive Disorder

Jyasmine Torres of Dothan, Ala., combined her major in Biology and minor in Music in her study on the use of music therapy in Major Depressive Disorder. She discussed how music therapy works on an individualistic basis and described the tools used to functionally image the brain to determine whether the therapy produces a physiological benefit in addition to the self-reporting psychological benefit. Various studies were analyzed to determine whether a benefit exists and Torres determined that music therapy could be an important tool in treating depression on its own or addition to medicines and other therapies.

Savanah Townley
Degree with Distinction in Biology and Chemistry
Thesis: Investigating the Connections Between Parkinson’s Disease and the Gut Microbiome

Savanah Townley of Orange Beach, Ala., worked over the past year to develop a comprehensive study on the effects of the gut microbiome on Parkinson’s Disease. She combed the literature and combined her findings into a broad review on the subject, developing a mechanism for how gut microbiota could ultimately lead to the degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons that selectively die in Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, Townley developed her own experimental setup for studying the effects of the microbiome in initiating the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Ti-Ara Turner
Degree with Distinction in Biology
Thesis: Testing Oyster Shell as a Proxy for Tissue to Detect Trace Metal Pollution

During the summer of 2021, Ti-Ara Turner of Montgomery, Ala., worked with Dr. Ruth Carmichael at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab as part of the competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates Program funded by the National Science Foundation. While in Dr. Carmichael’s lab, Turner’s project focused on the use of oyster shells as a way to detect trace metal pollution. Because oyster shells are long-lasting (compared with the soft tissues of the oyster) and sessile, the shell could be potentially used for detecting trace metal pollution over long periods of time in a particular region. This is especially important in the Gulf of Mexico where oil spills have occurred and where the health of the flora and fauna of the Gulf impacts various communities, including those in Alabama. Turner has also been accepted into a Ph.D. program in Immunology at the University of Iowa.