Research expands student opportunities

Research expands student opportunities

Posted on Friday, March 26, 2021

savanna hicks paints a backdrop for her play.

Savanna Hicks ’21 has a passion for children’s theater, having previously worked with Florida Repertory Theatre’s Camp Mini-Stars. 

When it came time to consider an Undergraduate Research project, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. 

“I wanted to adapt a Shakespeare play for children,” said the Theatre Arts major. “This semester, I’ve been producing ‘Roman & Julie: Shaking Up Shakespeare’ at LaGrange Academy.” 

Working with her mentor, Theatre Arts Professor Kim Barber Knoll, Savanna applied for a research grant that allowed her to purchase supplies, props and costume materials and to print scripts for the cast and programs for the show. 

“Essentially, the grant has given me the opportunity to make this show as fully realized as I can,” Savanna said. “I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity.”

Undergraduate Research is an essential part of the student-centered education for which the college is known, according to Dr. Karen Aubrey, Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

“LaGrange College stands out in the degree of support and the emphasis given to those endeavors,” she said recently. “It is one of our signature programs that has a lasting effect on student learning and academic engagement.” 

Dr. Christi Hu, Associate Professor of Psychology, coordinates the initiative. 

The definition of undergraduate research is to advance a profession through study,” she said. “Working with faculty mentors, our students learn to ask original questions and think outside the box. They play with an idea and see where it lands.” 

Not all the topics are science-based, she said. 

There are also works from Art, English, Music and Theatre,” she said.  

Dr. Toni Anderson leads the Music program and serves as a research mentor. 

“Our students showcase unique forms of creative expression, from one-act cabarets to fully produced EPs featuring original compositions,” she said. “Helping these young artists develop their artistic voices, create entertaining programs and collaborate with other musicians in rehearsal or a recording session are examples of how these projects help musicians hone their skills and prepare for future careers.” 

Dr. John Tures, Professor of Political Science, also serves as a mentor. 

“The most memorable undergraduate projects are those that made a difference beyond LaGrange College,” he said. “Several of my undergraduates did an in-class project on hate crimes, where we found that states that adopted measures against such crimes had lower murder rates as well as other violent crimes against people.” 

Dr. Tures shared those findings with every legislator in the Georgia General Assembly last year after Ahmaud Arbery was killed.  All the West Georgia legislators voted for the hate crimes bill, helping it pass and be signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp.   

The result of all this undergraduate research is spotlighted during the annual Poster Session, held every year on Honors Day. There the students present their findings and answer questions.  

But as with everything else last year, the event faced major roadblocks when the pandemic forced classes to move online, said Dr. Hu. 

“We had to quickly find a way for the students to present virtually,” she said. “We worked with a company that was rolling out a new online conference platform and offering it free to colleges during the pandemic.” 

The partnership is continuing this year, but with some exciting changes. 

“They have added some bells and whistles that will make the Poster Session more interactive with the students,” she said. “We have learned new technologies this year so we will be able to add different methods of presenting such as videos and virtual portfolios.” 

Dr. Hu expects to open registration for submissions April 5.  

“Last year, we had 66 students receive some level of funding for their research,” she said. 

The Poster Session will go live April 28 and will be available to stream for two days afterward. On the first day, students will be monitoring their work and will be available to answer questions. 

“I always look forward to that day,” said Dr. Hu. “I can’t wait to see what the students have accomplished this year.” 

Campus notes  

LC voice students were winners at the Southeastern Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing student auditions. Held virtually this year, 16 students from the studios of Dr. Toni Anderson, Coordinator of Music, and Dr. Andrea Mueller Jarmon, Voice Instructor, participated. The 12 finalist spots claimed by LC were the most from any participating school from Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Being named a finalist qualifies a student to enter the national student auditions. Winners include: Charlie Key, semi-finalist, lower-high school; Erika Hill, semi-finalist, first-year musical theatre; Erielle Robinson, first place, and Stevie Nix, honorable mention, second-year musical theatre; Jared McGregor, honorable mention, second-year musical theatre; Colby Bell, second place, Dean Kivotidis, semi-finalist and Ethan McKie, honorable mentionthird-year musical theater; Jaylynn Mangual, first place, and Joely Peterman, second place, fourth/fifth-year musical theatre; Landon Bell, second place, Kyle Hildebrand, third place and Malcolm Stephen, honorable mention, fourth/fifth-year musical theatre;  Joely Peterman, honorable mention, fourth/fifth year classical; and Kyle Hildebrand, third place, fourth/fifth year classical.

The Alumni Association and LC First Gentleman Mark Huffman will present a virtual book discussion at noon April 14. The topic will be Adam Grant’s newest book, “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.” The book examines the critical art of rethinking, learning to question opinions and open other people’s minds, which can position you for excellence at work and provide wisdom in life. Register to receive details about this event. Once registered, instructions for joining the Zoom gathering will be emailed. 

Congratulations to these graduating students who rang the Chapel bell to celebrate their Sound of Success accomplishments: Brittain Crowe (Biology), accepted into the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn (Alabama) UniversityKari Martin (Nursing), offered a full-time job as a registered nurse at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange; and Emily Hughes (Nursing), offered a full-time job as a registered nurse at Piedmont Hospital in Newnan, Georgia. 

Felecia Moore, Archives Specialist at Lewis Librarywrote an article  that was recently featured in a Georgia Department of Community Affairnewsletter   

Dr. John Tures, Professor of Political Science, presented How the West Was Won: The Way the Critical Election Of 1992 Helped Democratic Presidential Candidates Through 2020 at the Election 2020 Symposium in March sponsored by St. Anselm College in New Hampshire 

Cultural Enrichment events    

Check LC Connect for Virtual CE events and instructions. For in-person events, all COVID guidelines apply.     

Through March 28 

Young Alumni Virtual Interview Series – Wes Dismukes 17, Political Science 

Dismukes is pursuing his master’s degree at University of Alabama at Birmingham. He recently was nominated for the 2021 Blazer Way Award that is given to students, faculty, staff and alumni who embody the tenets of honor and integrity, scholarship, innovation, service and diversity. 

Local Professional Interview Series – Angie Montondo, Counseling 

Montondo is treatment coordinator at Counseling Services, Inc. in LaGrange. She will discuss her career in counseling and share her insights and wisdom with current students. 

Virtual Presentation: Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy 

Dean of Recruitment Michael Crouch and Manager of Student Recruitment Aaron Hux at the Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy provide a virtual overview of the university’s pharmacy program. 

Today and Saturday 

One Acts at Sunset – 6:15 p.m. 

Three short one-act plays will be presented outside at Sunny Gables. The playwrights are Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and David Ives. Open to all faculty, staff and students. 

Through April 4 

The Annual Fund and Its Impact on You 

Lincoln Anderson ’21, this years senior giveback intern, will discuss the impact of the annual fund on LC students. He will explain the ins and outs of the fund, how it works, where it comes from, where it goes and how to be a part of something big, impactful and legacy worthy. *SUSTAINABILITY CREDIT 

Monday-April 4 

Young Alumni Virtual Interview Series – Sarah Bearden Wagner, Marketing 

Wagner is associate manager of Marketing for Chico’s FAS in Fort Myers, Florida. 

Local Professional Interview Series – Roberta Robinson, Law 

Robinson is an attorney in LaGrange and owns her own practice. 

Virtual presentation – UGA College of Veterinary Medicine 

Representatives will discuss the program and offer insights to students interested in the field. 

Through March 31 

Career Exploration and Spirituality 

Join the Rev. Dr. Adam Roberts for a discussion on the role of spirituality in deciding on a career.  

Networking and Job Search Strategies 

Gain a foundational understanding of successful networking and job search strategies that are key to a successful career. 



Volleyball and Soccer adjust to playing in winter and spring. 


Senior Cameron Starr is the USA South Golfer of the Week for the second time this spring. Starr tied for fourth at the Jekyll Island Invitational last weekend. He is currently ranked fourth in the Golfstat Division III men’s rankings. LC is ranked 15th in the website’s Division III team standings. 


The Panthers (5-1, 4-0 USA South) remained unbeaten in USA South matches with a 3-1 win at Brevard last Sunday. Sophomore Ariel Modeste, freshman Journey Oden and junior McKenzie Richards combined for 35 kills to lead LC. 


The Panthers (7-4) beat Emory 9-4 at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium last Sunday. LC won two of the three weekend games with the Eagles. Junior McKinley Erves batted .545 with five RBIs in the three games. 

Women’s Soccer 

LC (2-5, 2-5 USA South) lost 2-0 at Brevard in a USA South game last Sunday. Leila Moss had six saves in goal for the Panthers. 

Men’s Soccer 

The Panthers (1-4, 1-4 USA South) fell 3-1 at Covenant in a USA South game last Saturday. Enrique Hernandez scored for LC on an assist from Andrew Valbuena. 


Today (Friday) 

Men’s Soccer vs. Piedmont, 5 p.m., Panther Field 

Baseball vs. Piedmont, 7 p.m., Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium 


 Baseball vs. Piedmont (doubleheader), 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium 


Volleyball vs. Maryville, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Mariotti Gym 


Softball vs. Maryville (doubleheader), 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., LC Softball Complex 

Faculty and staff April birthdays 

3 – Justin Muller 

6 – Tracy Riggs 

Jacob Wise 

7 – John Hughes 

10 – Richard Soash 

17 – Nicole Maddox 

18 – John Cody 

20 – David Wiggins 

21 – Sandy Blair 

24 – Ryan Dickson 

Video of the week 

Senior Lincoln Anderson talks about the LaGrange College Fund and why it is important. 

In the headlines 

Panthers win weekend series – LaGrange Daily News, March 23, 2021 


Category: Faculty, College, Academics

Keywords: undergraduate research theater art music political science

Press Contact

Debby Baker

Last updated: 03/31/2021