MGA Students Present Scholarly Work at National Undergraduate Research Conference

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: School of Health Sciences | Students | Pressroom | School of Business | Honors/Awards | College of Arts and Sciences

Kennesaw, GA

Clockwise from top left: Emerald White; Abby Embro; Dr. Pushpa Yadav, Hung Ho, and Andrew Bryan; Sarah Istanbouli and Dr. Clay Morton; Elley Gunter; and Drew McIntosh.

Seven MGA students presented their work at the National Undergraduate Research Conference, which was held at Kennesaw State University April 11-13. Their proposals were selected from over 4,000 submissions because they demonstrated unique contributions to their fields of study.

Junior English major Drew McIntosh presented “The Sense Memory of ‘My Father’s Martial Art.’” Through careful analysis, this essay links the poetry of Stephen Shu-ning Liu to a psychological, synesthetic tradition stretching back to Marcel Proust, one that aims to find expression for “the ineffable bonds our senses have to memory and our experience of the world.” It was recently published in the peer-reviewed publication Liberated Arts: A Journal of Undergraduate Research ( Dr. Laura Thomason, director of International Programs and professor of English, was McIntosh’s faculty mentor for the project.

Elley Gunter, a student at MGA since fall 2016, presented her paper “Shalom to the Saviors of Savannah.” Gunter conducted archival research to tell the little-known story of the early Jewish settlers in Savannah and the contributions they made to the colony. Gunter plans to pursue a business administration degree at MGA. Her faculty mentor for this project was Dr. Matt Jennings, professor of history.

Junior biology major Hung Ho and junior math major Andrew Bryan presented a poster on “In Vitro Induction of Polyploidy of Stevia Rebaudiana by Colchicine Treatment of Micropropagated Diploids.” This study sought to induce polyploidy in Stevia through in vitro culture system in order to increase the herb's therapeutic value and thus meet its supply deficit. The results have been promising, and the next phase of the research will involve an MGA chemistry class. Dr. Pushpa Yadav, associate professor of biology, was faculty mentor to this project and accompanied Hung and Bryan to the conference.

Abby Embro, a sophomore business administration major, read her paper “Two-Sided Coin: A Contrast of Duality Regarding Stoicism in Melville.” Using Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” as an exemplum, Embro demonstrates the ideals of emotional balance formulated by Hellenistic philosopher Zeno of Citium, providing a fresh interpretation of the classic short story in the process.

Sophomore psychology major Sarah Istambouli’s paper was entitled “Is This As Good as It Gets?: Film, Social Perceptions, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” Istambouli discussed the disjointed use of humor that is often utilized to represent OCD within the media and identifies how the 1997 romantic comedy highlights the serious implications that result from such social attitudes.

Emerald White, a dual-enrollment student and president of the Honors Student Association, presented “From Wheatley to West: A Comparative Analysis of Double-Consciousness.” White’s research applies W.E.B. Du Bois’s concept of double-consciousness to the careers and writings of eighteenth-century poet Phyllis Wheatley and contemporary musician Kanye West, finding in these two outsider artists unlikely parallels that exemplify the continued relevance of DuBois’s ideas. After graduating high school, White plans to study biomedical engineering, though her MGA professors have found her to be equally gifted in the humanities.

Dr. Clay Morton, director of the Honors Program and professor of English, was faculty mentor for the work of Embro, Istambouli, and White, and he accompanied them and Gunter to the conference. Funding for these students’ conference presentations was provided by the Honors Program, the Office of Experiential Learning, and a STEM grant.

Through the Honors and Experiential Learning programs, MGA students have the opportunity to participate in high-caliber research endeavors, often publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals and presenting at state, regional, and national conferences. For more information about the Honors Program, see For more information about Experiential Learning, see