Honors Summer Research scholars to delve into Sweet Briar history, land resources

Lower Lake
Sweet Briar’s Lower Lake will be a valuable resource for several honors projects this summer.

It’s summer at Sweet Briar and that means it’s time for the annual Honors Summer Research Program. For eight weeks, students work eight hours a day with faculty mentors in various disciplines on a topic of their choice. This year, there’s a strong emphasis on science and the campus environment.

The 2018 Honors Summer Research scholars are Rosa Bello ’20, Karlynn McCarthy ’20, Lacey Tucker ’20, Rylee Runyon ’20, Alexis Culley ’20, Emily Wandling ’20, Sophia Dessart ’20 and Theresa Carriveau ’21. Students introduced their projects in Mary Helen Cochran Library on Tuesday afternoon.

Working with engineering professor Bethany Brinkman, Bello and McCarthy, who are both majoring in engineering and minoring in math, will investigate water quality. Bello, from Towson, Md., will measure how water quality changes over the course of the summer in Sweet Briar’s Lower Lake and nearby Otter Lake, while McCarthy, from Bend, Ore., is interested in creating simple concrete filters in order to improve water quality in third-world countries.

Sophia Dessart
Sophia Dessart introduces her project (Rosa Bello and HSRP director Jessica Salvatore in the background).

Carriveau, with the help of history professor Lynn Laufenberg and librarian Katie Glaeser, is researching the history of Sweet Briar Athletics, particularly field hockey and lacrosse. From West Chicago, Ill., Carriveau plans to create an interdisciplinary studies major while minoring in biology.

Mentored by environmental science professor Sarah Cadieux, Culley, from Louisa, Va., is continuing a 2016 Honors Summer Research project to monitor hydrilla in Sweet Briar’s Lower Lake. The environmental science major and chemistry minor is also creating a lake management plan.

In collaboration with economics professor Michael Michaelides, Dessart will analyze the relationship between oil prices and macroeconomic indicators such as GDP and inflation. Dessart is a business major with double minors in Spanish and economics from Rockford, Mich.

Rylee Runyon and Lacey Tucker
Rylee Runyon (right) and Lacey Tucker introduce their engineering project during Tuesday’s session. (In the background, from left: Emily Wandling, Karlynn McCarthy and Alexis Culley; right: Theresa Carriveau)

Working with engineering professors Hank Yochum and Kaelyn Leake, engineering majors Runyon, from Knoxville, Tenn., and Tucker, from Swansboro, N.C., will build on a project started by Runyon and another student, Clara Rogers, last summer. The goal: improving a fabrication technique for layer-by-layer nanoscale systems. To do that, they’ll have to make adjustments to a robot Runyon and Rogers built previously.

Wandling, a biochemistry major with a math minor from Mechanicsville, Va., has teamed up with chemistry professor Abe Yousef to extract betulin from birch bark and synthesize a betulin analogue. Betulinic acid has the potential to serve as an anticancer agent, among other benefits.

The 2018 Honors Summer Research Program will end on July 13 after final papers and presentations are due. For more information, contact HSRP director Jessica Salvatore at jsalvatore@sbc.edu.

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