Published on July 22, 2010 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University student researcher Aaron Carr took delight in describing his participation in the excavation of a large building in the first century CE town of Sepphoris for a group of campus guests Wednesday, July 21.

Sepphoris, a hilly metropolitan spot located not far from where Jesus grew up in Nazareth, “May have been the site Jesus referenced when he said ‘A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,’” said Carr, who recently returned from a five-week trip to Israel with Samford religion professor Dr. James Strange.

“You can see its influence on Jesus Christ,” said Carr, who feels called to the ministry but hopes to one day combine archaeological research with his chosen field.

Carr is one of 21 Samford Undergraduate Research Scholars whose work was highlighted during a luncheon honoring them, their faculty mentors and donors.

Their research topics range from Carr’s archaeological dig to one titled “Machine Consciousness and the Advent of Narcissistic Computers.”

Since its start in 2004 with one student/mentor pairing, the Samford Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) has grown to include support from a variety of businesses, foundations and other funding sources.

The benefits to students, explains Howard College of Arts and Sciences dean Dr. David Chapman, are many.

A research setting differs from the classroom model, where a faculty member knows the answer, but will not tell the student.  In research, faculty may not know all the answers.

“It’s a journey together as students and faculty seek to find the answers,” said Chapman, adding that along the way, there will be pitfalls, frustrations and challenges. 

“And that is where the greatest learning takes place, in learning how to work through the rough spots,” said Chapman.

Besides helping students determine what they want to do, or not do, with their lives, research offers a great boost to graduate school, to which some former Samford undergraduate researchers have received significant grants.

For those who choose to move directly into a career, Chapman said, the skills of being a good researcher become priceless, lifelong skills.

Guests at the luncheon included representatives of some entities, such as Birmingham’s Red Mountain Park, that provide a stipend for students and mentors to pursue a project on their behalf. The oral history of Red Mountain Park will provide valuable documentation of the mines and people that existed on the property in years past.

Chapman and associate Arts and Sciences dean Dr. George Keller, who oversees the research program, would like more such partnerships.

History major Tara White is working with her faculty mentor, historian Dr. Jonathan Bass, to compile the history of Balch & Bingham law firm.

The work, says White, has introduced her to contacts in libraries and the state archives, and to fascinating court cases and pieces of legal history involving one of Alabama’s oldest and largest law firms.

But just as important, says White, is the enthusiasm that such work generates.  “When just studying in the classroom, one can forget the passion that we have for our field,” said White, who relishes her contributions as a student historian helping to preserve stories and knowledge for the future.

To learn more about SURP, watch the video.

2010 SURP Students and Mentors

Laura Bedsole  

Use of White Rot Fungi to Remove Pharmaceutical Compounds from Waste Water  

Mentors: Dr. Denise Gregory and Dr. Lisa Nagy  

Scott Buess  

Synthetic Studies Toward CNS-Permeable Prodrug Scaffolds  

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Lampkins  

Aaron Carr  

Determining the Date and Extent of Byzantine Glass Industry at Sepphoris  

Mentor: Dr. James Strange  

Scott Cope  

Simulating the Evolution of Neural Architectures  

Mentor: Dr. Steve Donaldson  

Zach Evans  

Synthesis of Iodo-N,O-acetide Aminals  

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Lampkins  

Ryan Fee  

Mapping a Small Caribbean Island from Mountaintop to Coral Reef  

Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Rahn  

Callie Gibson  

The Need for Acceptance and the Cost of Social Rejection  

Mentor: Dr. Stephen Chew  

Jesse Kawell  

Machine Consciousness and the Advent of Narcissistic Computers  

Mentor: Dr. Steve Donaldson  

Cedrick Kousok  

Quantitative Determination of Binary Mixed Alkanesulfonates Having Different Endgroups by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry  

Mentor: Dr. Brian Gregory  

Larry McCutcheon  

The Languages of Jesus  

Mentor: Dr. Stephen Todd  

Casey Moore  

Does Diversity Matter in Reforestation?  

Mentor: Dr. Malia Fincher  

Josh Moore  

Defining, Mapping and Visualizing the Health of a Community  

Mentor: Dr. Brian Toone  

Tessa Pitts  

Gender, Religion and Public Policy  

Mentor: Dr. Theresa Davidson  

Drew Pomeroy  

Oral History of Red Mountain Park  

Mentor: Dr. Marlene Rikard  

Will Ricks  

Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometric Studies of Self-Assembled Monolayers Using a Thin-Layer Flow Cell  

Mentor: Dr. Brian Gregory  

Walter Turner  

Computational Studies of Potential Drugs to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease  

Mentor: Dr. Morgan Ponder  

Jessica Van Ausdall  

An Investigation of Endosymbiotic Bacteria in Local Freshwater Ciliates  

Mentor: Dr. David Johnson  

Richard Wakefield  

Pharmacophore Synthesis of Novel ß-Secretase Inhibitors  

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Lampkins  

Chris Walling 

Machine Consciousness and the Advent of Narcissistic Computers  

Mentor: Dr. Steve Donaldson  

Tara White  

History of Balch & Bingham Law Firm  

Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Bass  

Jon Zeiger  

Simulating the Evolution of Neural Architectures  

Mentor: Dr. Steve Donaldson 

#####
About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.