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Hutton Honors College

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HHC Students Recognized for Research, Creative Projects

May 13, 2013

Six Indiana University Bloomington students have received the Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, recognizing exceptional and original academic work. Five were HHC students.

HHC Recipients of the 2012-13 awards are Amal Akbik and Andrew Johns in the category of Social and Applied Sciences; Courtney Burroughs in Natural and Mathematical Sciences; Ross Smith in Professional Inquiry; and Larrea Young in Performing and Creative Arts.

Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel presented the awards and recognized the students and their faculty mentors this month during the 2013 Student Honors Convocation at the IU Auditorium.

"These six students have made real contributions to research and created works of art that are original and exciting," Robel said. "Their accomplishments show the importance of our efforts at IU Bloomington to provide more undergraduates with opportunities to participate in research and creative activity. The students are to be commended, and so are their mentors, whose guidance has enabled them to achieve such success."

The Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity was created in 2010 to recognize excellence and celebrate the importance of engaging undergraduates in research and creative activity. Award sponsors include the offices of the provost, vice provost for undergraduate education, and vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. Students are nominated by professors, and recipients are selected by a committee of administrators and faculty.

Amal Akbik, from Valparaiso, Indiana, graduated in May 2013 with a major in speech and hearing sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her mentor was Tessa Bent, an assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.

Akbik was recognized for her departmental honors research project, in which she investigated the perception and categorization of types of speech variability, including American English regional dialects, international English dialects and foreign accents. Her research provides a broader view of how listeners respond to speech signals than previous studies, which focused on only one type or small subsets of types of variability.

Akbik's paper resulting from the research was accepted as an abstract for the International Congress of Acoustics, and she wrote a proceedings paper for the conference. She is now working on a manuscript for submission this year to a high-impact journal.

Courtney Burroughs, from Chrisney, Indiana, will graduate in May 2014 with majors in biology and neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 she joined the research lab of her mentor, Chancellor's Professor George Rebec in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. There she became an integral part of the lab's effort to identify neuronal abnormalities in transgenic mouse models of Huntington's disease, an inherited neurological disorder.

In her honors thesis, which she is on track to complete in the spring of 2014, Burroughs is investigating how the Huntington's gene causes dysfunction in neurons located in the cortical and striatal regions of the brain. The research may produce information that can guide new therapeutic strategies aimed at mechanisms of neuronal communication that are involved in Huntington's disease.

She will be lead author of a presentation this fall at the Society of Neuroscience meeting, and her honors thesis will be a major part of a research paper that the Rebec lab will submit for publication this summer. She also co-authored a presentation at last year's Society of Neuroscience meeting, and that research is being submitted for publication this spring.

Andrew Johns, from Indianapolis, graduated with majors in French, Spanish and neuroscience. A Wells Scholar, he was recognized for research in pragmatics, a subfield of linguistics that examines how context contributes to meaning. His faculty mentor was J. César Félix-Brasdefer, associate professor of Spanish and linguistics.

His research examined language use among university students in Dakar, Senegal. He analyzed data and described the language strategies the speakers used when speaking French, a language associated with formal communication in Dakar but not with day-to-day speech. The research describes how the formal role of French in Senegalese society is associated with relatively limited strategies for making requests.

Johns and Félix-Brasdefer presented data from the research at a sociolinguistic conference last fall at Indiana University. Johns subsequently completed the project, and his mentor has advised him to submit it for publication in a refereed journal this year.

Ross Smith, from Bloomfield, Indiana, is a May 2013 graduate who studied Spanish education in the School of Education. He was honored for his involvement in the Books & Beyond Evaluation Team. His mentor was Beth Samuelson, assistant professor of literacy, culture and language education in the School of Education.

Books & Beyond is the international service project of IU Bloomington's Global Village Living-Learning Center, in which students work to produce annual collections of stories written by children in the United States and Rwanda. Working on and leading the evaluation team enabled Smith to develop scholarship skills, including interviewing, data analysis, survey techniques and presentations.

He was second author with Samuelson on an article that has been submitted to the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. They co-presented a poster on the reflective process at the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement.

Larrea Young, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, will graduate in December 2013 with a BFA in textiles and a B.A. in fashion design. Her mentors are Deborah Christiansen, senior lecturer in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, and Rowland Ricketts, assistant professor of textiles in the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts.

Young has developed a unique style of creative work that bridges her studies in fashion design and fine art, resulting in the creation of unusually formed garments and inhabitable objects. According to Ricketts, her "inhabitable 'monsters' combine comfort with an uncomfortable physical seclusion." Her work includes a jacket and coat collection that takes inspiration from animal bones, cellular structures, trees and root systems.

Her designs won first place last year in the college-level category at Midwest Fashion Week in Indianapolis, along with other awards, including a Pygmalion's Award and Textiles Area Prize from the IU School of Fine Arts.

Student winners of the Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity receive a certificate and $500. Their faculty mentors receive a commemorative pin, $500 in research funds for personal use and $500 to support future mentoring of undergraduates.

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