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New Honors Summer Scholars take inspiration from inaugural researchers during presentation

June 4, 2013
Wayne Duerkes and Anastasia Kocher

Wayne Duerkes and Anastasia Kocher

Wayne Duerkes and Anastasia Kocher – NIU’s inaugural University Honors Scholars – delivered the findings of their Honors Capstone projects at a public presentation and reception hosted April 25 by the University Honors Program.

In attendance? The 2013 University Honors Summer Scholars: Octavio Escalante-Aguirre, Elliott Ihm and Lauren Nale.

Provost Ray Alden and about 50 other members of the NIU community also attended the special event, which marked the successful culmination of the first year of the University Honors Summer Scholars Program.

The event was coordinated by Jason Goode, who serves as the assistant to the associate vice provost for University Honors and oversees the University Honors Summer Scholars Program.

NIU’s Great Journeys Strategic Plan initiative provides a select number of outstanding University Honors students with the time, financial support and faculty mentoring to pursue an in-depth research or artistry project during the summer between their junior and senior years. The project is intended to create a solid foundation for the Honors Capstone. Students initially hold the title “University Honors Summer Scholar” and then the prestigious title of “University Honors Scholar” during their senior year.

Photo of the word "research" circled in the dictionaryDuerkes, a student in the Department of History, presented “There’s No Valley so Sweet: Market Development in the Lower Fox Valley River Region, 1833-1852” for his Honors Capstone. James Schmidt served as his faculty mentor.

He delivered an enlightening presentation of the historical development of the Lower Fox River Valley, as he spoke about how exciting it was to travel to Harvard University to conduct archival research. Duerkes discovered every historian’s dream when he uncovered new information about a subject that has not been studied extensively.

Kocher, a student in the Department of Political Science, presented “Central Asian Regimes Trample Women’s Rights: the Effects of Political Transition on the Status of Women in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan” for her Honors Capstone. Kikue Hamayotsu served as her faculty mentor.

Kocher’s visual depiction of the status of women in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan was riveting. Pictures brought life to her presentation and immersed the audience into her research.

Lauren Nale

Lauren Nale

Both students fielded a number of questions from the audience, which included the new scholars.

  • Escalante-Aguirre, Department of Physics, will conduct a study on the Muon G-2 Experiment that will re-measure the gyromatic factor or spin of a muon which is a subatomic particle similar to an electron but much heavier. The experiment will determine if other subatomic particles exist. Michael Eads will serve as mentor.
  • Ihm, Department of Psychology, will study the moderation of the effects of extreme childhood stress on allostatic load by components of executive function. His research will be guided by his faculty mentor, David Bridgett, and co-mentor, Angela Grippo.
  • Nale, Rehabilitation Services, will conduct a mixed methods study to examine the variety of treatments used for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Lucy Bilaver will serve as her mentor.

To learn more these interesting projects throughout the 2013-2014 academic year, follow the students’ blogs online.