Three undergraduate researchers represented Kennesaw State University at the Posters at the Georgia State Capitol, a showcase of the state’s best undergraduate research, on Feb. 24.

The event gives selected participants from Georgia’s colleges and universities an opportunity to present their research to state leaders. Sponsored by the Georgia Undergraduate Research Collective, the 2021 poster session will took place as a synchronous online virtual conference.

“We are so pleased to see KSU students accepted to this event, which began in 2019,” said Amy Buddie, director of undergraduate research at KSU. “This is such an important opportunity for our students to connect both with Georgia legislators as well as other undergraduate researchers around the state. This event helps show our state’s decision-makers that students at KSU and elsewhere are conducting meaningful, relevant research that makes a difference.”

The selected KSU undergraduates are Lawren Cumberbatch of Grayson, Artis Trice of Ellenwood, and Alexandra Walsh of Lawrenceville. Although their projects span from the sciences to the arts, each student’s research project began in a similar fashion.

Food Deserts

Cumberbatch, a senior biology major with a statistics minor, is conducting research on food deserts, areas which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as neighborhoods that have limited access to affordable and healthy food sources. Using her background in applied statistics, her research explores the causes of food deserts by analyzing the demographics of the affected communities. She presented this research at the fall Symposium of Student Scholars at KSU.

Cumberbatch was drawn into the world of undergraduate research through her degree requirements. Her journey began with a biostatistics course, in which a student guest speaker presented a research project and encouraged the class to take additional statistics courses. Cumberbatch heeded the speaker’s advice, which led her to meeting her current faculty mentor, Susan Mathews Hardy, senior lecturer of mathematics.

Community Gardens

Senior geography major and Honors student Trice is also conducting food insecurity research, which he also presented at the fall Symposium of Student Scholars. His research involves planning community gardens in DeKalb County in hopes that the produce grown will help sustain parts of the county that do not have access to healthy food options.

Prior to his research, Trice already had experience volunteering at various community gardens, such as the North Marietta Neighborhood Community Garden and a Seattle-based community garden during a summer internship. His idea for the project was a result of a research methods class that he took with Paul McDaniel, associate professor of geography. With McDaniel’s help as his mentor, Trice was able to incorporate his experiences into a research project.

A Ballet’s Popularity

Walsh, a junior dance student in KSU Journey Honors College, is presenting her first undergraduate research project. Her research explores the history of the renowned Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky-penned ballet, The Nutcracker, and the various factors that have contributed to its long-standing success.

Walsh’s research began as a final class project for a dance history course taught by her faculty mentor, Caroline Clark, assistant professor of dance history and theory. The project has since blossomed into a full-fledged academic research presentation.

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