2023 Stetson Showcase: Collaboration, Connection, Creation

On April 11 during Stetson Showcase, more than 160 projects were on display and/or presented to fellow students, faculty, staff and others. It was a campus-wide celebration of student research excellence.

Kailyn Douglas, a general biology major, had collected samples from 88 small rodents for lab study to identify parasites that were prevalent in their feces. Appropriately, her poster — explaining all from introduction to conclusion — was displayed in a hallway of new Hyatt & Cici Brown Hall for Health & Innovation.

Kailyn Douglas studied 88 small rodents. A common parasitic infection was found in 25 of them.

Saw Pyae Hsu Zaw, majoring in biology, had a project titled “Mycorrhizal Inoculation Potential of Soils from the rhizosphere of two Florida sandhill perennials, Pityopsis graminifolia and Arnoglossum floridanum.” She studied the soil surrounding those two Florida sandhill perennials, and determined how helpful arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are for the plants. She gave a presentation, complete with slideshow, in a classroom at the Sage Hall Science Center.

Kari Olson decided this project would be a big hit for her — “Get Pissed, Destroy!: Never Mind The Bollocks, Catharsis, and the Poetics of Punk Rock.” Olson, majoring in communications and media studies, analyzed the social function of punk rock music through the lens of theories of catharsis from Classical Greek to contemporary rhetorical theory. At Brown Hall, instead of viewing punk rock as merely being rebellious social and political commentary, she presented that it serves as a “means of cathartic liberation for those who are marginalized and disaffected, enabling them to remove the satisfaction of control from repressive authorities at all levels of power.”

Distinguished, Distinct and Disparate Research

Kimberly Reiter, PhD, chair of Stetson Showcase

Such was the distinguished, distinct and disparate research that took center stage as part of Stetson Showcase on April 11, an event established in 1999 to highlight the work of students throughout the campus. This year’s theme was Collaboration, Connection, Creation. 

The event has grown nearly each year in size and scope, and 2023 was no exception, with more than 160 projects on display and/or presented to fellow students, faculty, staff and others. Most of the work was started last May and completed by seniors now graduating in a scant few week. 

Additionally, a post-Showcase event included an address by the 2023 Grady Ballenger Lecturer Susan Rundell Singer, PhD, president-elect of St. Olaf College, as well as an awards ceremony. (Note: See below for awards.)

“We have presentations from every division, every school, every department,” described Kimberly Rieter, PhD, associate professor of history and chair of the Stetson Undergraduate Research Committee and Stetson Showcase. 

Most of the work was started last May and completed by seniors who will soon be graduating.  

For record, Douglas’ research found a common parasitic infection in 25 of her 88 rodents. 

Saw’s work provided insights into plant health and resilience, and informed soil management practices to improve fertility and productivity. 

Meanwhile, Olson’s research revealed that punk rock’s social function is to offer an alternative way of experiencing and interpreting the world, “subverting dominant cultural norms and allowing for a form of resistance against oppressive social structures.”

Junior Diana Quintero, a violin performance major, shined at Lee Chapin.

Then there was junior Diana Quintero, a violin performance major who played three different pieces, part of the same recital, at Lee Chapel in Elizabeth. In her words: “I think of it as a cumulative preparation that I’ve been doing throughout the years, just like a sport. You need to train your fingers, your mind and also develop your musical maturity. .. I was nervous. I don’t think there’s a single person who doesn’t get nervous about performing, just that you get used to the feeling and learn to function with it.”

Joshua Camden talked about a stage of another kind. At the duPont-Ball Library Auditorium, Camden, along with fellow senior arts majors Ashley Hew, Joshua Dennis, William Jackson Grey and Avery Heck, helped to describe a project called “Break the Cycle: A Conversation on Bridging Generational Gaps through an Empathetic Lens.” All are senior arts major, except Grey (2024), with focuses on theatre and/or digital arts. 

In a few simple words, their project was an original theatrical production that represents the likeness between generations, and how “we can connect through both our similarities and our differences,” Camden said. He cited these findings: “Despite generational differences that incite discourse, we discovered that we’ve faced similar issues that generations before us faced, just in different contexts.”

‘Mix of Emotions’

See the complete Stetson Showcase program here.

Finally, Michael Wojciechowski and business mates Enzo Olivia, Jose Valcourt III and Devin Shaffer were in the Rinker Auditorium at the Lynn Business Center to sell. The four students had represented the Roland George Investment Program in a statewide competition earlier this spring. They were given a company (Watsco Inc.) to conduct in-depth analysis on and formulate a recommendation based on their findings. Their Showcase presentation included what they calculated and all macroeconomic and idiosyncratic factors attached to their recommendation.  

Following that presentation, Wojciechowski ably summarized the mood of entire Showcase: “I feel a mix of emotions. That was the last time the team and I will ever present that PowerPoint together. Reflecting on the hard work and sleepless nights we put into this, it’s extremely sad to see it go. However, I am so extremely grateful … .” 

Stetson Showcase, indeed, was bittersweet for the students. Mostly, though, it was spectacular display of a university’s commitment to undergraduate research and creative activity across four-year curricula — with no sales job required.

Reiter, the current Showcase leader, concluded by pointing back to the event’s earliest days: “Twenty-five years ago, Dean Grady Ballenger [PhD] envisioned an undergraduate research day to celebrate the diversity of research and creative activities across Stetson. None of us who organized that inaugural Undergraduate Research Day could have envisioned what Showcase has become.”

-Michael Candelaria

2023 Stetson Showcase Award Winners

First Place Maris Awards


Grayson Taber Imaging Early Developmental Stages of Butterfly, Vanessa cardia

Margaret Struble The effect of hypoxia on apoptotic pathways in SKBR3 breast cancer cells

Kayle Cunningham Diversity of parasites in central Florida rodents: Neotoma, Sigmodon, and Peromyscus


Mario Saponaro Eternity Doesn’t Last Forever


Isabel Barbato Voice 

[Oral Presentations]

Xanthippe A. Pack-Brown Let Women Love: A Cross Examination of Sapphic Relationships in Fantasy and Reality

Mary Brandt United States and China: Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare in the 21st Century

Evans Asuboah Redesigning Black Home Schoolers of Central Florida’s Website for Improved User Experience and Increased Donations

Kaira Thevenin Exploration of Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Small Tumor Antigen in Transformation & Tumorigenesis

Chloe DeYoung Analyzing the function of Fus1 during cell fusion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Shadia Muñoz Najar Riches to Rags: The Paradox of Resource Abundance in Latin America

Honorable Mention


Gabrielle R Irons Effect of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-Based Herbicides on Apoptosis in Caco-2 Cells

Faith Hannah Lea Is Babesia microti Prevalent in Illinois Rodent Populations?

Carolyn Koch and Hannah Collins Wastewater Surveillance and Whole Genome Sequencing on SARS-CoV-2 and Poliovirus in Volusia County

Breanna Karon Parents’ and Peers’ Influences on Risky Drinking Behaviors


Lily Paternoster Uneasy: Commodification of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Sara Cook Enchantment Village


Peter Lorenzo Voice 

[Oral Presentations]

Dylaney Sabino The Creation of an Accessible Stage Performance

Catherine Kraft Speaking of Dictators: Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and the Language of Personality Cults

Lisa Jordan Do Kids Really Hate Learning, or Do They Just Need To Be Engaged?

Rebekah Brawley Examining Cell Fusion Defects of a Point Mutation in FUS1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Nicole Steiniger Pygmy Rattlesnakes’ Behavioral Fever Response to Exposure to Bacteria-Derived Antigens

Germaine Smart-Marshall The Anticancer Effects of Myrcianthes fragrans on SKBR3 Breast Cancer Cells

Michael Wojciechowski, Enzo Olivia, Jose Valcourt III, Devin Shaffer Watsco: Sell Recommendation – 2023 CFA Research Challenge

Leonard Nance Award for Research in Social Justice Presentation

Analee Monrreal Effects of Farm-related Risks and Exposures: Evaluating Environmental Injustice on Farmworkers in Pierson, Florida