Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Library Hosts Honors Program Showcase

Mark Pelfrey, Jenn Zimmer and Gary Franchy peruse research poster presentations

Library Hosts Honors Program Showcase

Published on May 11, 2021 - 3 p.m.

Ten research poster presentations by Southwestern Michigan College Honors Program students are showcased in Fred L. Mathews Library on the Dowagiac campus.

Posters are usually displayed in the Art Gallery with their creators on hand at a reception, but with social distancing restricting gatherings, the library was used to spread out the research projects.

SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald appreciated “the continuity of college life” the research exhibition illustrates. “There are not many things we haven’t done, outside of eating in groups, in spite of the pandemic. Most things have gone on — even theatre and honor-society inductions. People have found ways.”

  • “Free” by Gabrielle Munson for Dr. Maria DeRose. Munson dissects the deeper meaning of the main character repeatedly uttering the word in Kate Chopin’s 1895 “Story of an Hour.” The dual-enrolled Dowagiac Union High School senior plans to major in mathematics at Grand Valley State University.
  • “The Physics of Disc Golf” by Grant Lubbert of Watervliet for Andrew Dohm. “Three major things make a disc fly — angular momentum, angle of attack and the velocity of the disc,” explains Lubbert, an Andrews Academy graduate who will study mechanical engineering at Grand Valley State University.
  • “Toxic Masculinity: Causes and Effects” by Maria Springs for Daniel Johnson.
  • “Layers of Parsley” by Otto Reick IV for Dr. Maria DeRose. Rita Dove’s 1983 poem retells a 1937 Dominican Republic massacre. Rafael Trujillo, “El General,” was the country’s military dictator who ordered everyone put to death who could not pronounce the Spanish word for parsley, “pereji,” Those unable to roll “r” were judged Haitians and exterminated.
  • “Sources of Stress and Its Effects on Animals in Artificial Environments” by Jossalyn Rogalski of Dowagiac for Thomas Beaven. Of the “ethics of captivity,” she concludes, “Instead of focusing on how to improve conditions in captivity, the world needs to orient its attention to the real problem at hand: human activity contributing to habitat destruction.” Rogalski, majoring in biology to become a zoologist focused on ecology and conservation, transfers to Western Michigan University with a full-ride scholarship.
  • “Motifs and Mysteries of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” by Demitrios Cortez for Dr. Maria DeRose. The St. Joseph homeschooler hopes to pursue engineering at Michigan State University. “I think it held some relevance in regards to the ongoing pandemic” he said of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 story about mental illness and the impact of isolation and loneliness.
  • “Overpopulation: Effects and Solutions” by Maria Springs for Deirdre Kirk. With the world population at 7.7 billion people, every person who contributes to the exploitation of resources adds to climate change, which can be mitigated by reducing fertility rates through family planning and empowering women.
  • “Drug Resistance of Escherichia Coli in Domestic Canines” by Jessica Bowen for Thomas Beaven. “There are currently concerns about the dangers of resistant bacteria since we already have several superbugs that are practically untreatable,” Bowen wrote. She is from Dowagiac and attended high school in Berrien Springs. She is studying for an associate degree in biology and plans to transfer to Michigan State University for veterinary studies.
  • “Investigating the Biodegradation of Glyphosate by Fusarium in Local Agricultural Soils” by Jossalyn Rogalski for Thomas Beaven. Glyphosate is a chemical found in many herbicides.
  • “Examination of the Biodegradation of Glyphosate by Gly Bacteria from Local Michigan Agricultural Soil” by Grace Orpurt for Thomas Beaven. Orpurt grew up in Niles and graduated from Edwardsburg High School. “Growing up on a farm surrounded by horses since I could walk is when my dream of being a veterinarian became real,” the biology major said. After she completes her associate degree, Orpurt plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee to continue her undergraduate studies with the goal of admission to the Volunteers’ Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine Program.

“The Honors Program proved challenging,” Munson said, but “it has been a great experience. It’s pushed me to reach my full potential and prepared me to learn at a university level.”

“Ordinarily, we’re in the Art Gallery,” Mark Pelfrey, Honors Program director and faculty advisor with Gary Franchy, said, “but it’s not been open at regular times. With a social event where everybody typically enjoys pie while they walk around, we can’t do that with COVID restrictions.”

“They still have the opportunity to get their work out there and to put it on their resumes,” Franchy said. “That students get to do undergraduate research and present it their first and second years is a big selling point of the Honors Program. At most schools that might not happen until master’s level.”

Mathews Library is a frequent collaborator across the college. “We’re always happy to display student work and are open a lot of hours,” Coordinator of Library Services Jenn Zimmer said.