Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief
Jacksonville State University proudly celebrated the 25th year of its Student Research Symposium from February 14-16, 2018. Students from every school participated at both the undergraduate and graduate level, competing for the ultimate prize of Best in Showcase.
This year was the first year for the Best in Showcase award, and the grand prize went to Joy Pinckard for her creation of the app “Feathered Friends” under the mentorship of Dr. David Thornton, an associate professor of computer science. “Feathered Friends” is a game where users can breed, raise and bond with a pet bird. Players can also dress their birds in clothing they purchase using in-game coins and race their birds in a “Flappy Bird” style mini game. Pinckard, who hopes to go into video game development, designed the app from scratch, including 3D modeling, programming and animation.
“Joy is one of the most productive students I’ve ever worked with,” Thornton said during Picnkard’s presentation. “Almost nobody has the skills to do all that.”
“I took Game Design I and II with Dr. Thornton, and that inspired me to continue my studies and work in game design,” Pinckard said. “It’s something that I’m very passionate about because it combines my love of 3D modeling, programming and human interface.”
Pinckard plans to continue to update the app, eventually adding additional mini games like a beauty pageant.
A second top award went to Griffin McDaniels for Best Graduate Paper. McDaniels is a biology graduate student who is currently working on his master’s thesis with Dr. George Cline. McDaniels’ paper, which covered his thesis work thus far, was entitled “A broader approach to ecology and timing of symbiosis between the Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and a unicellular green alga.”
“Craig Guyer [of Auburn University] was kind enough to recommend that these guys come to JSU so we could work together, and I have been absolutely thrilled,” Cline said. “Griffin has an absolutely cool project that consumes my thinking and his thinking on almost night and day.”
McDaniels is studying the symbiotic relationship between spotted salamander larvae and a green alga that appears inside the salamander’s eggs. The alga produces oxygen for the larvae, and the larvae, in turn, produce carbon dioxide for the alga. McDaniels’ goal is to determine whether the alga enters the eggs via the female salamander or through the environment and when in the salamander’s developmental cycle the alga appears.
“Unfortunately, the verdict is still out,” McDaniels said. “Weather has been a problem, and, due to the drought last year, the salamanders didn’t breed, and, this year, they decided to wait and not breed until last week, so I haven’t had time to gear up that data yet. So, if you want to hear the end of the story, show up to my thesis defense.”
The full list of winners from the 2018 Student Research Symposium are:
Best of Showcase: Joy Pinckard mentored by David Thornton
Best Cover Design: Kelsey Blangin mentored by Chad Anderson
Best Graduate Paper: Griffin McDaniels mentored by George Cline
Best Undergraduate Paper: Marelly Balentina mentored by Joy Maloney
Best Graduate Poster/Demo: Daniel Wicker mentored by Lori Tolley-Jordan
Best Undergraduate Poster/Demo: Dianna Thompson, Shelby Harris and Samia Meera mentored by Roger Sauterer
Best of the School of Arts and Humanities: Connor Holcome, Gen Ulanday and Alex Worsham mentored by Allison McElroy
Best of the School of Health Professions and Wellness : Kyndal Sanford, Carl Hood, and Alexis Johnson mentored by Allison Pearce
Best of the School of Human Services and Social Sciences: Hannah Galloway and Brittany Cangialosi mentored by Heidi Dempsey
Best of the School of Education: Becky Peters mentored by Teresa Gardner
Best Undergraduate Presentation for the School of Science: Taylor Pack mentored by Jim Rayburn
All the presentations from the 2018 symposium can be found online on the JSUStudentSymposium YouTube channel.
See more pictures from this year’s event below or find “The JSU Student Symposium” on Facebook!