Stetson Showcase Shined Again 

The words of Professor Kimberly Reiter, PhD, chair of Stetson’s Undergraduate Research Committee, pretty much summed up the day, April 16, on campus:

“Stetson’s 25th Showcase lived up to its theme, ‘Together, Be Heard.’ The judges and moderators agreed that this year the posters, presentations, exhibitions and music recitals were outstanding. Dr. [Judith] Bense’s keynote address exhorted all of us to stay curious and to keep asking questions. The 12 Maris Prizes awarded across all three undergraduate schools and colleges exemplify the breadth of curiosity in all our disciplines this year. Two students, August DuPuis and Devin Hernandez, received the Dr. Leonard Nance Prize for Excellence of Research in Social Justice, a signature honor reflecting Stetson’s commitment to its core ethical values. Finally, the 13 2024 SURE Grant recipients were announced and honored at the reception. 

“Given how many 2023 SURE recipients won Maris Awards and Honorable Mentions at Showcase this year, I feel certain the pattern of excellence in undergraduate research will once again be on full display at the 2025 Showcase next April 15.”

For good measure, Professor Rosalie A. Richards, PhD, associate Provost for Faculty Development, added this commentary: “Stetson Showcase shines a light on our faculty’s expertise. What our students are able to demonstrate during Showcase — as a result their engagement with our faculty — is just magical!”

2024 Showcase37
View photos on Flickr.

If those words aren’t enough, one only had to see any of the nearly 150 projects, as current students from all years and schools shared their research during the Stetson Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creativity. The projects were presented in professional settings for audiences that included judges, faculty, fellow students and interested members of the community.

In addition, a Donor Appreciation Lunch was held midday, enabling students to meet and mingle with charitable donors. To close the Showcase program, Bense, President-Emeritus and professor of Anthropology at the University of West Florida, presented “Human Curiosity: An Unstoppable Force.”

Widespread Student Achievement

During a morning session, there was Sydney Holder on stage at Lee Chapel as part of the Junior Music Recitals. With oboe in hand, Holder, a Music Education major, performed three selections. They included Sonata in G Minor, H. 542.5 by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788); Two Pieces for Two Oboes and Car Anglais by Gordon Jacob (1895-1984), with accompaniments from fellow students Andrei Caquimbo (oboe) and Madeleine Eddy (horn); and Four Personalities for Oboe and Piano (from 2007 by Alyssa Morris). 

Junior Sydney Holder

Characteristically, Holder’s performances drew rich applause. 

“I was pretty anxious. I’m a little relieved that it’s over,” Holder said, moments after walking off the stage. Holder noted that as a non-performance music major, she wasn’t required to perform, but she ambitiously chose to do so, adding that it took “probably months” to prepare. 

Cas Bradley’s work was on display at The Elsewhere Studio, a space typically used by Creative Arts faculty and students for experimental projects and installations. A senior, Bradley majors in Psychology and Digital Art with a minor in Marketing. Additionally, she heads up the student-run Hatter Network media operation. 

Senior Cas Bradley

For her project, “Gods and Ghosts,” she  took photos of friends and others and, ultimately, created pixelated abstractions of their images through digital editing. “I love working with abstraction in photography because photography captures the real moment, but when you abstract something, it’s not really the real moment,” she said.

To add a component from her Psychology major, she incorporated Infrasound — sound waves with a frequency below the lower limit of human audibility. “So, when you walk into the room, you get hit with this wave of sound that you’re not exactly sure where it’s coming from. And I wanted people to experience that disconnect between what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing, and what’s actually there,” described Bradley, who plans to take a gap year before applying for graduate school. 

During the afternoon, at the Cici & Hyatt Brown Center for Health & Innovation, Ashley Baccus, a senior transfer student from Daytona State College, stood in front of her poster, “Does Social Media Use Affect College Students’ Mental Well-being?”

Senior Ashley Baccus

The research sought to determine if there was a relationship between social media use and mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. In the end, Baccus found that time spent on social media had a positive relationship with generalized anxiety and depression levels. She also found that females tend to use social media more often than males (which coincides with previous studies), and that females tend to score higher on the anxiety and depression measure.

Baccus hopes to become a licensed mental health counselor with a focus on anxiety and depression. For now, there was a sense of satisfaction. 

“I’ve definitely enjoyed the past two years that I’ve had my experience here at Stetson,” Baccus said. “It’s a little bittersweet that I’m graduating in a few weeks, and it’s very rewarding to see all the progress I’ve made in the past two years, especially with the senior research project that I just completed.” 

Meanwhile, the School of Business Administration was buzzing with talk of entrepreneurship, investments and finance, among other topics. In the cavernous Lecture Hall at the Lynn Business Center, juniors Jackson Hockenberry, Andrew Permenter and Steven Vetter were on another type of stage — pitching investments, as well as being evaluated for their own merit. Each is a member of Stetson’s acclaimed Roland George Investments Program. The pressure from peers and faculty was palpable. 

Some students even presented multiple projects, such as Halle Block’s “Bioplastic Decomposition and Compost Fertility” and “Axolotl Cell Shape Analysis During Tissue Spreading.” 

Senior Halle Block

Block is a senior major in Physics and president of the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society. Named Stetson’s outstanding graduating senior in Physics, she has been accepted at Purdue University to pursue a doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering on a full fellowship, starting this fall. At Purdue, Block will be researching and developing innovative, sustainable materials.

In her first Showcase project, she examined the benefits of eco-friendly product alternatives as solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. The second project studied the thinning and spreading of tissue collected from axolotl embryos as part of a larger study on the physics that underlies the vast cell and tissue movements during early development.

In 1999, Stetson Showcase was established as a celebration of achievement to foster an appreciation for academic excellence at Stetson. 

Did this year’s version hit the mark? 

The answer was clearly on display. 

-Michael Candelaria

2024 Maris Prizes 

First Prizes


Justine Horne Infection experiments with the invasive pentasome (Raillietiella orientalis) in invasive cane toads (Rhinella mariana)

Jordan Calderara Documenting the Spread of an Invasive Pentastome (Raillietiella orientalis) Throughout Southwest, Central, and Northern Florida.

Ryan Mossell A tale of two habitats: Why are copepods larger in Mosquito Lagoon than in Halifax River?

Creative Arts:

Jodi-Ann Taylor Exploring the Interconnectivity Between Nature, Technology, and the Arts

Junior Music Recitals:

Nicholas Dieux Baritone Voice

Oral Presentations:

Coral Kehm Infection of Curly-Tailed Lizards (Leiocephalus carinatus) with the Pentastome Parasite, Raillietiella orientalis

Tristyn Rampersad Analyzing Racial Disorientation Through Predictive Processing

Abria Doe Efficiency Enhancement Initiative

Christian Berberich Rodent species in a Midwestern prairie ecosystem serve as potential reservoirs of ehrlichiosis-causing bacteria 

Christa Assi Understanding State Fragility through Media: Why Hezbollah Thrives in Lebanon and Not Jordan

Ryan Mason Factors affecting improved agricultural output under Khrushchev versus Stalin in the Soviet Union

Rosemary McHugh The Emotional Labor and Identity Sensemaking in Recruitment: It’s Not For Everyone

Honorable Mentions


Cayla Skeete Social Media Campaigns to Reduce Mental Health Stigma Across Racial Groups

Richelle Eastridge Analyzing the Relationship Between Distance of Occupational Migration and Mental Health in Military Members

Alicia Ollie Baith Effects of fragment size and urbanization on the frequency of pollinator visits to parks in DeLand, Florida

Emily Thompson Invasive fish biomass equals native fish biomass at Volusia Blue Spring

Creative Arts:

Ciara Kelley Experimental Ekphrasis

Grant Wolf The things that were here before the rest of us were

Junior Music Recitals:

Michael Fantaro  Saxophone

Oral Presentations:

Emily Blizzard Abundant microplastics within two species, Panopeus herbstii and Crassostrea virginica, in Coastal Northeast Florida

Hosanna Folmsbee Traumatic Medicines: Victor Frankenstein’s Catastrophic Creation

LillyAnna Zaleon Bridging Educational Gaps Between Teachers and Tutors for Student Benefit

Alyssa Fernandez Myrcianthes fragrans Displays Dose-Dependent Cytotoxic Effect on Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Jurkat Cell Proliferation, Metabolism, & Apoptosis

Lilinoe Sheridan Scottish “Perspective” in Novel Series Outlander: Falling in Love with Jaime of the Outlander Highlands

Audrey Berlie Taking Sustainability to Infinity and Beyond: The Ethical Gap Plaguing Space Policy

Graham Jump Unraveling the Development of Business Incubators: A Qualitative Cross-Country Analysis in the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia

Leonard Nance Prize for Research in Social Justice

August DuPuis Stolen Language, Stolen Spirit: An exploration of Indigenous Two-Spirit language loss and its impacts on gender expression

Devin Hernandez  Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. The History of Methadone, 1947 to 1974

2024 SURE Grants 

Diana Godinho (William Nylen, PhD): Brazil Case Study: Political Polarization and its Effects on a Democratic Youth

Amarige Champion (Ekaterina Kudryavtseva, PhD): Bum Painter or so-called Architect?: Oscar Bluemner’s Transition to Painting

Jason Albea (Leander Seah, PhD): The United States-Philippines Military Alliance: Ferdinand Marcos and the Cold War, 1965-1986

Sophia Maritz (Chadley Ballantyne, PhD): Changing Postures and Breathing Patterns: Insights into Singing through the RespTrack System

Tajah Garrett (Chadley Ballantyne, PhD): Embracing the creative art of songwriting, filming and recording

Natalie Thomas (Luca Molnar, MFA): Literature in Relation to Society and the Artworld

Braedyn Wasden (Christopher Jimenez, PhD): The Spaces and Bodies of Ligotti and Kafka: Between Space and Body in Capitalist Organizational Management

Nikki Membiela (Eric Johnson, PhD): The Self-Conscious Bi-Racial: How Examining Historic and Contemporary Literature Creates an Evolution in the Idea of Boisean Double Consciousness

Frueauff Research Grants

Savannah Goodwin (Corie Charpentier, PhD): Do Tidal Rhythms Effect Larval Dispersal in Aratus Pisonii?

Blair Durda (Sarah Garcia, PhD) Kirtan Kriya Meditation on Amnestic and Non-Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Proposed Study

Maxwell Shiffman (Holley Lynch, PhD): Collecting the first live images of Vanessa cardui embryos

Naya Adla (Thomas Vogel, PhD): Tracking Hate Speech on Twitter among the Arab Diaspora in the West  using Machine Learning Models

Sowren Wildingcrayne (Lynn Kee, PhD): Investigating Ginkgo Biloba Extract (EGb761) Amyloid beta (Aβ) inhibition using a transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans model.