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Published May 03, 2019
University of Wyoming students were recognized for excellence in research related to the liberal arts during UW’s recent Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Across the Disciplines symposium.
Undergraduate researchers from across disciplines and throughout the state presented their projects for the opportunity to receive one of two $1,000 awards. The awards are made possible by an endowment presented to UW’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter by Harald V. Johnson, in honor of Louise A. Lee Johnson. Louise Johnson graduated as the valedictorian of Cheyenne High School in 1935 and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1939.
Of nearly 500 submitted projects, 152 were selected as possible contestants for two distinguished awards given by Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious honor society. The judging team was composed of UW faculty and staff members. Judges reviewed all 152 abstracts and selected 11 finalists in the two award categories.
The winner of the best liberal arts project was Kathryn McVicker, a political science major from Cheyenne. Her project, titled “Ethical Understandings and Approaches to Autonomous Vehicles,” was a nuanced study that considered questions of what aspects of autonomous vehicles governments should be allowed to regulate and what programmers should be allowed to program into autonomous vehicles, such as the ability to speed or run a red light.
Other liberal arts category finalists, listed by hometowns and majors, were:
-- Cheyenne: Jon Chenchar, English.
-- Fort Collins, Colo.: Holly Stooksbury, history and social studies education.
-- Laramie: Emily Wood, international studies.
-- Wasilla, Alaska: Mariana Marvel, English.
The second award for excellence in nonvocational, nonprofessional and nontechnical studies went to a project that integrated science and the human condition. The team constructed a web-based story map that can be accessed on computers and mobile devices. It allows users to experience the rich narratives of John McPhee’s book “Rising from the Plains” with their own personal discovery of Wyoming’s geoheritage.
Team members were geology majors Logan Fox, of Casper; Henry Hoes, from Plymouth, Minn.; Jiwei Kang, of China; Lou Mallon, from Magnolia, Texas; Patrick Megown, from Webster Groves, Mo.; Blaire Voss, from Billings, Mont.; and Hollis Marriott, of Laramie.
Finalists in the second category, listed by hometowns and majors, were:
-- Lander: Rita Bove, wildlife and fisheries biology and management.
-- Laramie: Brittany McDonald, psychology; and the team of Carolina Chong Liao, physiology, and Nikka Solatorio, family and consumer sciences.
-- Riverton: Kasandra Kister, physiology.
-- Thermopolis: Zoe Stone, psychology.
A team of Phi Beta Kappa scholars judged undergraduate research presentations to select the winners, including Mike Edson and Ric Reverand, both from the Department of English; Jim Herrold, Office of Research and Economic Development; Erin Stoesz, Wyoming State Science Fair; and Rachel Watson, Science Initiative and Department of Chemistry.