Tag: george cline

Student Research Symposium marks 25 years

Katie ClineEditor-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 Pinckard (center left) took home the biggest award of the symposium: Best in Showcase. She is pictured following her presentation with her mentor, Dr. David Thornton (center right) and her classmates (The JSU Student Symposium/Facebook).

“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.”

Dr. George Cline (center) with his graduate students Katelyn Henderson (left) and Griffin McDaniels (right). Henderson and McDaniels both took home awards at the 2018 Student Research Symposium, Henderson for Best Graduate Presentation for the School of Science and McDaniels for Best Graduate Paper Overall (Katie Cline/The Chanticleer).

“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

Best Graduate Presentation for the School of Science (tie): Katelyn Henderson mentored by George Cline and  Kristin Carlisle 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!

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Professors vs. students: Honors Bowl sparks competition

On October 21 the 11th floor of the Houston Cole Library held some of JSU’s top students and teachers and tested their knowledge to see who could reign victorious in the JSU Honors Program’s annual Honors Bowl.

There were eight teams made up of both teachers and Honors students. The Honors Bowl is similar to Scholars Bowl competitions in that teams compete against each other by answering questions covering various topics such as biology, history and mathematics.

The event was made up of five rounds, with five questions each. Each question covered a different category.

After a question was asked, the teams would have two minutes to write down their answer. In addition to the answer, the teams would have to write down a point value of either five, 10, 15, 20, and 25 points, and each point value could be used only once.

Each team also had a “lifeline” available, in which one team could copy the answer from any other team.

After each round, teams were given a worksheet with multiple questions to fill out in a limited amount of time.

At the end of the five rounds, the top four teams moved on to the finals.

Unlike the previous rounds, the final rounds consisted of team members using buzzers to answer the questions first, as well as more worksheets.

The finals consisted of two teams: The Minecrafters, and Jenny and the Bets.

Jenny and the Bets emerged victorious. Dr. George Cline, one of the team members of Jenny and the Bets, was quite pleased with winning. “It’s fun! It’s always fun,” said Cline.

According to Honors Program Coordinator Janet Whitmore, the Honors Program is headed up by the Elite Honors Scholars.

The Elite Honors Scholars are students that have been awarded the Elite Honors Scholarship, which is the highest scholarship possible at JSU. “This event tonight was to bring the entire Honors Program in with the Elite Honors Scholars… We are trying to do more activities to bring them all together.”

No prizes were awarded. Instead, the teams compete for the sake of competition.

For membership in the Honors Program, students must have above average ACT scores, maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 and be currently taking honors classes.

Taylor Brown
Staff Writer