University of South Carolina

USC students take top awards at undergrad research conference

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Six TRIO Ronald E. McNair program participants from the University of South Carolina placed at a regional undergraduate research conference in Atlanta in June.

Seventeen students from the USC program, which provides opportunities to prepare TRIO-eligible students for doctoral studies, presented their research at the annual Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP)/McNair undergraduate research conference. More than 500 students from 25 colleges and universities attended.

“With so many colleges represented and students in attendance, it is truly impressive to have six students from our USC McNair program win,” TRIO director Paul Beasley said.

The SAEOPP conference provides opportunities for undergraduate scholars to share their research, gain exposure to opportunities for graduate school enrollment and interact with graduate school representatives, graduate faculty and TRIO McNair scholars from across the country.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program is a federally funded program named for the late Ronald McNair, former NASA astronaut from Lake City, S.C., that aids Trio-eligible students in their goal to attend graduate school. Students are considered TRIO-eligible students if they are the first in their families to attend college, are eligible to receive the Pell grant or are from a group traditionally under-represented in higher education.

USC’s TRIO program selects 25 students each year for participation in the McNair program. Students enroll during the spring, participate in summer research activities and, during the school year, continue research projects and complete requirements for graduate school enrollment. The USC students who placed at the conference were:

Christopher Johnson of Spartanburg, S.C., a junior communications/journalism major at USC-Upstate, was the first place winner in the humanities category for his project, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Portrayals of African American Romantic Relationships in the Media.” His research advisor was Bobby Donaldson of the USC history department.

Clarissa Felima of Calhoun Falls, S.C., a junior public health/pre-med major at USC-Columbia, was the first place winner in the health category for “Dlo nan Ayiti: Exploring How Water Quality Impacts Health in Haiti.” Her research advisor was Claudia Benitez-Nelson, department of earth and ocean sciences and the marine science program.

Adam Port of North Augusta, S.C., a junior chemistry major at USC-Aiken, was the second place winner in the social science category for his project, “What in the Fukushima Should We Do?: Analyzing the Costs of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster and Japan’s Reaction.” Port was also the winner of the Distinguished McNair Scholar Award, the top award given by the USC McNair program to the scholar who exemplifies the spirit of hard work, dedication and excellence in all aspects of work. His research advisor was Kevin Elliott in the philosophy department.

Margaret McCoy of Pelion, S.C., a senior nursing major at USC-Aiken, was the second place winner in the health category for her project, “Lite Foods, Tight Belts: The Real Story Behind Healthy Foods.” Her research advisor was Kevin Elliott, philosophy department.

Ruqayyah Jamila Hagen of Aiken, S.C., a senior history major at USC-Aiken, was the second place winner in the humanities category for “From Aristotle to Al-Ghazali: The Incorporation of Greek Thought in Early Islamic ‘Mirror for Princes’ Literature.” Todd Shaw of political science was the research advisor.

Henry “Trey” Capps III of Galivants Ferry, S.C., a junior history/English major at USC-Columbia, was the third place winner in the humanities category for “Pee Wee Gaskins and the Subjectivity of History.” His research advisor was Bobby Donaldson of the history department.

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Posted: 07/17/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 08/10/12 @ 4:34 PM | Permalink