NCHA Conference

 North Carolina Honors Association Conference. September 29 - 30, 2017  

This year, the Honors College at UNC Charlotte was fortunate to have the opportunity to host the annual North Carolina Honors Association Conference, titled “Crossing Borders. Building Bridges.” Across two days, students and faculty gathered to discuss honors education and share their research projects at North Carolina’s urban research university. Led by Dr. Cherese Childers-McKee, the Honors College conference committee welcomed 166 participants from 22 colleges and universities to Charlotte for a weekend full of critical thinking and experiential learning.

Learning does not just happen in a classroom or research lab but also in our community. Conference participants were given the opportunity to venture through the city of Charlotte, explore the four wards of the Uptown area and learn about the history of our city through the City as TextTM program. This interactive learning experience allowed students to investigate issues in our community, while fostering critical inquiry and integrative learning across disciplines. Group experiences like City as TextTM help provide a complete perspective on a place in an engaging environment.

Along with these unique events we included this year, the main focus of the conference is the presentation of research that honors students have been completing all year in their various fields. From UNC Charlotte, 14 of our Honors College students presented at the conference.

These are the UNC Charlotte students who presented research throughout the weekend:

Brianna Thurman — “Bell Jars, Physics and Jumping Off Cliffs: An Exploration of Adolescent Depression in the Coming of Age Novel”
Shelby LeClair — “Serious Matters: How Humor Functions in Young Adult Literature about the Holocaust”
Nephdarlie Saint-Cyr — “The Construction of Minority Identities in Video Games” Chelsea Moore — “A Country that Hath yet her Maidenhead: Representations of Landscapes as Female Bodies in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and A View of the Present State of Ireland”
Nicole Kaufman — “Race, Gender, and Publishing: Policing Public Perception in Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road”
Allie Knuckles — “Building the Bridge from You to Inclusivity”
Henry Weaver — “Identifying Novel Plasma Membrane to Endosome Fusion Machinery using Fluorescently Labeled Alpha-factor”
Susanna Parkhill — “Eye Contact Across Gender and Culture”
Zachary Osborne — “Population Governance in the People’s Republic of China: Outcomes from the One-Child to Two-Child Policies”
Rachel Jones — “Investigating the Role of Global Medical Brigades in Developing Sustainability through Community Engagement”
Kristin Smoot — “Endothelial Cell’s Inflammasomes and Breast Cancer” Nicholas Osborne — “Macao’s Political Awakening”
Benjamin Osborne — “China, Africa’s New Colonial Power: Myth or Reality?”
Jaylon Smallwood — “Hushpuppies: A Defining Food of the South”


The following research projects were selected to receive Honors Research Awards at the 2017 NC Honors Association Conference:


Tyrone A. Fleurizard, Wingate University - “To Cope, or Not to Cope - That is the Question: Strategy Reporting and School Engagement Among Black Adolescents” 
Mentor: Dr. Allison Kellar
School-based psychosocial interventions tend to improve student engagement. A “Mindset Intervention” on urban and rural elementary and high school students (N = 308) was conducted to promote STEM engagement. Black students reported using significantly less strategies compared to non-black students. Findings suggest a need to improve interventions for minority students.

Kristin Smoot, UNC Charlotte - “Endothelial Cell’s Inflammasomes and Breast Cancer”
Mentor: Dr. Didier Dreau
The inflammatory microenvironment is a critical mediator of tumor formation, progression, and metastasis. The multi-protein cytoplasmic complexes inflammasomes are key players in the inflammatory microenvironment . Here, we determined the presence and effect of inflammasomes in endothelial cells in an in vitro model of the breast tumor microenvironment.

Oral Presentations

Mallory Munden, UNC Wilmington - “Evaluating Informal Marine Science Education Programs in the Chesapeake Bay”
Mentor: Dr. Kate Bruce
Marine science summer camps are fun, but are children learning? A study from Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve shows short-term and long term knowledge increases and personal development impacts. These camps are important for teaching new information to children and building their confidence as scientists and environmental stewards.

Jonathan Rife, Catawba College - “Why So Serious… About Revolution? An Analysis of the Political Philosophies of The Dark Knight and Frankenstein”
Mentor: Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery
By utilizing political criticism, this presentation analyzes the political implications of Frankenstein and The Dark Knight, manifested through the author's’ commentary on revolution. By exhibiting similarities and differences between the two revolutionaries, Victor’s monster and the Joker, this presentation discusses the cycle of revolution and its social effects.

Henry Weaver, UNC Charlotte - “Identifying Novel Plasma Membranes to Endosome Fusion Machinery using Fluorescently Labeled Alpha-factor”
Mentor: Dr. Richard Chi
We have identified novel PM-Endosome fusion machinery by using fluorescently labeled alpha-factor. We visualize fusion to the endosome by the appearance of internal puncta and by using a candidate approach, we pair our probe with a series of knockout yeast strains to determine the proteins involved in this membrane fusion.


Our first time as hosts, the 2017 North Carolina Honors Association Conference was successful thanks to the vision of Dr. Malin Pereira and the leadership of Dr. Cherese Childers-McKee. Thank you to Darby Ford, Alana Hadley, Allie Knuckles, Afra Mahmood, Kenia Rios, Janessa Schwallie, Noah Vetter and Dr. Stefani Thachik of the Business Honors Program, who all served on the NCHA Conference Committee and helped ensure the successful planning and execution of the conference. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2017 NCHA Conference. Your research continues to drive the success of honors programs throughout the state of North Carolina. Lastly, thank you to Mrs. Shannon Zurell-Carey, along with everyone else in the Honors College, who contributed significant time and effort into the conference. We would not have been able to do it without the assistance of everyone: the committee, faculty, staff, and student volunteers. From the beginning stages of planning until the last day of the conference, they exemplified the theme of “Crossing Borders. Building Bridges” and created an event fit for all honors programs across North Carolina.