For senior honors students at AU, the rigorous course load and academic excellence is matched with the opportunity to conduct research and present on a subject that they are interested in.
As part of the senior honors curriculum, each student picks a topic that they find important, relating to their major or interests, and conducts research over the course of the year
The students have the chance to present their ideas and findings in the form of research projects, papers, business ideas or artistic layouts. The culmination of knowledge from these projects allow the students to present their findings and dive deeper into their majors and interests, ultimately engaging in the opportunity to showcase their efforts.
The senior honors projects take a little more weight than previous assignments, allowing growth and hands-on research.
A year-long endeavor, this project takes hold of their senior year. Working with Dr. Stull and an adviser from their major, each student conducts some form of original research to be presented at the Nicholson Library at the end of the year.
Unique to each person, every student’s project holds a different piece of significance.
Brianna Beer, a senior biology major, is conducting a study that specifically correlates to the research she is completing for her senior science seminar.
“For my project, I will be attempting to learn more about whether there are genetic components to food preferences,” Beer said.
A hands-on study, she plans on asking students to taste PTC, a compound that tastes different to each individual depending on their genetic makeup. She will document how different people react to the PTC as they sample coffee and explore the bitterness of the compound.
Her research directly relates to her interests in biology and connects to her efforts in completion of a project specific to her major.
Like Beer, Michael Weigel, a senior political science major, is planning on conducting research that directly relates to his interests and studies within his major. Researching gun deaths and violence within the United States, Weigel plans on writing a paper on behalf of the common and pressing issue.
“I chose the project for a variety of reasons,” said Weigel. “It relates directly to my chosen field of political science in that potential fixes will most likely be the result of policy changes, it’s a pressing social problem.”
This assignment is allowing Weigel the chance to research a topic that is meaningful to him, stretching his knowledge and allowing the opportunity to make others aware as well.
“Empathy motivates me to apply my academic gifts in the struggle to find an equitable solution through research,” he said.
Such projects, providing a way to relate to others while relating to a specific major and interest, allow the seniors to use their gifts and abilities to discover their passions and do something about them.
Hannah Overstreet, a senior majoring in history, is creating an online exhibit that is based on the collection in the museum in the basement of the School of Theology. “I chose this project because of an internship I had with the exhibitions department of the Field Museum in Chicago,” she said. “I plan to work in museums, so I wanted to have the experience of creating an exhibit from start to finish.”
Projects like these allow the students to research and collect data and information on subjects that are meaningful and interesting to each individual. Putting together their proposals, these honors students are leaning into the studies they have been a part of over the course of their college careers.
Allowing their voices to be heard and their experiences to be recorded, they are given the unique opportunity to expand their own horizons and those of others as well. Even helpful outside of the classroom, this assignment looks into and records critical issues such as medicine, business, psychology and politics.
The senior honors students presented their posters of preliminary works in Nicholson Library last Friday for prospective honors students during academic honors day.
The final projects will be presented at AU Scholars’ Day in April. Each student will give their honors thesis to the library at the end of the year.