Published on May 5, 2023 by Diamond Nunnally  
Heaven Colquiett and Christa Chery
Heaven Colquiett and Christa Chery present their "Parental Criticism and Willingness to Intermarry" research at the 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Undergraduate research is considered one of the most significant "high-impact practices" in higher education. According to data from the 2022 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Samford University is a leader in high-impact education. Ninety-nine percent of Samford graduates from the class of 2022 participated in at least one high-impact practice, with 46% involved in undergraduate research.

This practice continued during the 2022-23 school year. In April, nine Samford students in Orlean Beeson School of Education and Howard College of Arts and Sciences presented their research at the 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The 2023 National Conference on Undergraduate Research student participants included:

  • Kendall Bearden, Sarah Westmorland (Howard College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Heaven Colquiett, Christa Chery (Howard College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Zachary Overton, Dylan Lee (Howard College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Rebekah Marsh (Orlean Beeson School of Education)
  • Faith Jones (Orlean Beeson School of Education)
  • Gracie Van Orden (Howard College of Arts and Sciences)
Dylan Lee, Sarah Westmorland, Kendall Bearden, Zachary Overton

Dylan Lee and Zachary Overton presented their research on how disease infiltrates and affects ecosystems using predator-prey math models, the focus of their student research group, led by math professor Kwadwo Antwi-Fordjour.

"This means a lot to me," Lee said. "To be able to present my work at a profound conference for undergraduate research was a big achievement, especially as a sophomore."

Alums of this group published their findings in a prestigious math journal last year. Fordjour, being a trailblazer in his field, was also recently selected to collaborate with the most prestigious mathematicians and statisticians in the nation. 

Zachary Overton, Dylan Lee"We examined a novel mathematical model with three distinct populations: susceptible prey, infected prey and predators," Lee said, "Then we observed the presence and influence of the Allee effect in our model."

The Allee effect is the positive correlation between population size and the average individual fitness of a population or species within a specific period.

"My partner and I found that we can drive our populations into different equilibrium states by individually changing the Allee Threshold and disease transmission rate," Lee said.

Having spent the entire year researching this topic, Lee said sharing his group's findings with prominent scholars and peers nationally was rewarding.

"I learned new things, saw a new place and culture in Wisconsin, and made new friends," Lee said. "I hope to continue attending conferences like this in the future."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.