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Six students win first place at 16th Annual Eckerd College Research Symposium

By Grey Curcio '24
Published April 13, 2023
Categories: Academics, Animal Studies, Film Studies, Marine Science, Political Science, Sociology

Sophomore Jenna Schell presents “Stable carbon isotope analysis from benthic foraminifera in the northern Gulf of Mexico.” Photos by Penh Alicandro ’22

Sixty-seven posters lined the hallways and lobby of the James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences on March 29 for the 16th Annual Eckerd College Research Symposium.

The event featured work from 130 students from 37 disciplines sponsored by 40 faculty members from various disciplines—including animal studies, sociology, film studies, political science and marine science.

Judges for this year’s competition were distinguished alumni who were assigned to the categories disease, ecology and basic biology, genetics and molecular biology, humans, marine biology, and marine geology and chemistry. Each category had a first- and second-place winner.

Junior Gabe Mopps presents “Changes in sediment accumulation associated with 1960’s anthropogenic development in Boca Ciega Bay, Tampa Bay, FL.”

This year’s first-place winner in the humans category was “Declaring Genocide: Framing Human Rights Abuses in the 21st Century,” by senior Macey Woodlock—an international relations and global affairs and environmental studies student from Crystal Lake, Illinois—and Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Burch, Ph.D.

Macey had started her research last January, examining “modern media portrayals of mass atrocities and the use of the term genocide,” she says. She analyzed multiple Western media sources from the start of the ISIS campaign from 2014 to 2020, looking at more than 400 articles over the course of her research. During this time, she also received grant money from the College’s Academic Research Fund to aid in her work. She says her project helped her figure out what she wants to do. “International relations is a broad field,” she explains. “I want to study how conflict impacts people.”

Senior Luke Hudson presents “Human rights violations in Palestine.”

Across the symposium, the undergraduate students worked with not only faculty but also outside organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michigan State University.

Junior Elizabeth Oliver shows off a mobile app for her presentation “Remora: Individualizing change through mobile application engagement.”

Beth Forys, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and biology and the symposium chair, says events like these are essential for undergraduate students because they allow students to present their research, build relationships with fellow students and learn about collaborators in their field.

“I think [the symposium] shows them what they can do,” Forys says. “Because we don’t have a graduate school, you don’t see graduate students at Eckerd, but here you get to see your peers doing research that often a graduate student would do. I think that’s really, really valuable.”

2023 Eckerd College Research Symposium Winners

Marine Geology and Chemistry


Ecology and Basic Biology

Junior Payton Bivens shows her presentation “Mathematically modeling the transmission of herpes virus in koi fish.”


Genetics and Molecular Biology

Marine Biology

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