From DNA to sexuality, Honors students’ research shines

Dec 2, 2013

Katharine MurphyFor 16 Honors students, a semester of intense study and research, and in many cases, more than a semester, culminates this week when they present the results of their senior projects. Working with a faculty mentor, each of the students chose a topic that derives from their major and deepens their understanding of the topic.

Although her project is purely scientific, the root of Katharine Murphy’s Science is the Search for Truth: Use of DNA in the Criminal Court System was mainstream television. “I really liked watching some of the forensic crime shows on TV,” she said. That interest peaked during her biology studies at Heidelberg.

For her project, Katharine looked at DNA and its influence – historical and practical – in the criminal court system. Working with faculty mentor Dr. Kylee Spencer, she tested DNA to determine the accuracy of new technologies to help identify criminal suspects.

Danielle Howard“(With technology), you can have DNA and a crime scene and no suspect and from there, figure out what a suspect looks like,” she explained. Specifically, she examined eye color in DNA, and found that it was a relatively accurate indicator. “It was really cool when the eye color test worked well.”

For her project, Religion and Sexuality: The Differing Views on How Sexuality is Viewed and Defined within Christianity and Hinduism, Danielle Howard examines a wide range of factors related to ways humans respond biologically to sexual desire, how they define sexuality and the favorable types of marriage through the views of Hinduism and Christianity. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Doug Collar.

Amber Welfle“Hinduism and Christianity offer radically different views of human sexuality, the morality of it and how it relates to the spiritual side of religion,” she said. She did a great deal of reading, including The Kama Sutra and the Song of Solomon, to determine how sex is viewed.

Amber Welfle wanted to do something hands-on, so she chose to explore the topic There's an App for That: Comparing Traditional and Modern Methods of Mobile Application Development, for her project.

They say anyone can create an app, so I wanted to check it out,” Amber said. “I do have programming experience, and so many apps have already been created.”

Caitlin PurkShe decided to look at native apps and the new technologies of web apps, comparing and contrasting them across platforms. The process involved a lot of trial and error and working around bugs, she said. Her faculty mentor is Sean Joyce.

As she plans a career in employee wellness, Caitlin Purk got a jump on graduate studies by exploring the topic Wellness in the Workplace. With assistance from ‘Berg alumna and Trustee Jerilyn Medrea, Caitlin researched the planning and implementation phases of creating an employee wellness program at Champion International. She found that Medrea spent 11 years on that project. “It was pretty inspiring how she got started, how she dealt with management and getting people to buy in,” Caitlin said.

Next, she examined Heidelberg’s new employee wellness program with help from HR Director Margaret Rudolph. “Productivity and employee wellness are definitely linked together,” she said. “I was surprised how many companies don’t really have anything that encourages employee wellness. But I think in the next couple of decades, it will change and become the norm. People will see the importance of it.” Her faculty mentor is Dr. Julie O’Reilly.

Honors students will present their senior projects Tuesday and Wednesday.

Presenters and their topics are as follows:

  • Jacob Thompson -- Where’s My Spring? An Examination of the Arab Spring in Morocco
  • Emily Jones -- Social Media and the Arab Spring #RealTalk
  • Taylor Stoll -- Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Escapism, Fantasy Proneness and Political Attitudes Compared to the Popularity of Zombies
  • Taylor Rambo -- You Mean I Have to Talk to Parents?! Strategies for Parent Involvement for Preservice Teachers
  • Kearstin Bailey -- People: The Landscape of the American West as Portrayed by Richard Avedon & Compared to John Steinbeck
  • Rebecca Dickinson -- Ohio Museums: What Have They Faced, What Have They Changed and Will They Survive?
  • Melissa Flowers -- The Future of Catholic Liturgical Music
  • Sebastian Williams -- Demystifying God with Individualism
  • Eric Gobel -- The Return of Martin Guerre: From History to His Story
  • Lauren Stainbrook -- Synthesis and Extraction of Chemical Derivatives for Perfume Development
  • Jackie Stanziano -- Shakespeare Transformed: Women’s Changing Roles and their Societal Realities
  • Jessica Reed -- Unrelenting Norse: The Influence of Norse Mythology on the Making of Skyrim