Skip to Content

South Carolina Honors College

And here are the finalists ….

They studied eye contact between physicians and patients, wrote college curricula, translated poems, arranged music, developed groundbreaking scientific methodologies, compared public education funding between South Carolina and Estonia. And that’s just a handful of the outstanding senior theses from the SCHC Class of 2020. Read on for the incredible work done by the 14 finalists for this year’s William A. Mould Senior Thesis Award. Like the winning projects, these theses will influence research and impact their respective fields in the future.

Zaria Coachman

Zaria Coachman

“The Relationship Between Eye Contact and Patient Satisfaction in Primary Care.”

Coachman, a biology major from Andrews, South Carolina, studied interactions between health care providers and their patients to examine the role of eye contact in patient satisfaction.

“Zaria not only collected but organized, analyzed, and presented her work in a way that was streamlined and easy to understand, even for those with no background in health research,” wrote Caroline Rudisill, Coachman’s thesis director, in her nomination letter. “She demonstrated a clear passion for the field of medicine as a whole and in particular for the delivery of primary care amongst disadvantaged and underserved communities. Her ambitious research provides a clearer view of how patient interactions in primary care may influence long-term health outcomes. It has also provided relevant data to craft further research improving healthcare delivery and support policies that encourage time away from computer screens and other electronic devices in favor of more interactive and interpersonal care.”

Coachman received the William A. Mould and Peter C. Sederberg Scholarship, as well as the Deborah H. Piellusch Annual Scholarship and the Robert Hampton Hill and Catherine Finely Hill Study Abroad Scholarship. She is taking a gap year to study for the MCAT and apply to medical school. Her goal is to be an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Kylie Dolbier

Kylie Dolbier

“The Great Transformation: A Recent History of the Carolina Band.”

A music education major from Boone, North Carolina, Dolbier researched and documented important changes the Carolina Band has made in the past 10 years. She also wrote original music arrangements and marching choreography for the Marching Gamecocks. Dolbier’s “Tribute to Columbia” includes city and UofSC songs. A “celebratory work of public art” is how her thesis director, Cormac Cannon, described it.

“Kylie's work in these creative components goes WELL BEYOND the standard of most PROFESSIONALS in my field, and required not only creativity and discipline, but the learning of two different complex computer software programs,” Cannon wrote. “There are few (likely fewer than 20) collegiate marching band directors with advanced degrees who routinely compose original arrangements AND field drill for a college band like ours. Kylie Dolbier, as an undergraduate, has done this, and in doing so raised the level of creativity and notoriety of our School of Music, Honors College, marching band, and University.”

Dolbier, one of the marching band’s drum majors, received the Academic Scholar – Elite Award. She plans to seek employment as a middle or high school director in the Charleston area. If there’s a 2020 Gamecock football season and the Carolina Band can perform, a shortened version of her “Tribute to Columbia” show will be performed at halftime Sept. 19.

Caroline Fairey

Caroline Fairey

“The Reconstruction Process: An Examination of Language, Publishing, and Digital Landscapes Through Translating Experimental Poetry by Contemporary Mexican Women.”

Fairey, an English and global studies major from Estill, South Carolina, translated the poetry collection of Isabel Zapata, Las noches son así (The nights are like this). She also partially translated work by Lorena Huitrón Vázquez and Rócio Cerón.

Besides studying “the nature of translation—what of content and language can be retained, and what is necessarily lost,” she examined “the global circulations of translated work and the possibilities and limitations when translating from one medium to another—specifically, when translating from a digital space to a traditionally formatted typed book.” Her goal was “to demonstrate the necessity of contemporary translation and the impetus to interrogate how circles of literary excellence are created and maintained without the inclusion of marginalized global voices.”

In his nomination letter, thesis director Sam Amadon wrote: “Caroline's translations of this difficult, complex, and important contemporary poetry in Spanish were exceptional. Her second reader and I agreed that these translations were graduate level work, or better, and we encouraged Caroline to seek out the original author's approval to look into a U.S. publisher. This thesis is the finest one I've reviewed as a thesis director or second reader, and it's likely to be among the finest I ever do see.”

Fairey received the Carolina, Provost, and Palmetto Fellows scholarships. While searching for a job in book publishing, she’s interning with Dzanc Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and volunteering as a reader for the literary journal Ploughshares.

Carolyn Fisher

Carolyn Fisher

“Retrospective Analysis of Progressive Aortic Cuff Inflation as a Model for Left Ventricular Pressure Overload Heart Disease."

Fisher, a BARSC major in Veterinary One Health from Cincinnati, Ohio, spent most of her four years learning from Shayne Barlow, studying heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HfPEF), a very common type of heart failure in humans. Therapies haven’t been developed to manage this disease because animal models, a prerequisite for treatment development, weren’t available. Fisher and Barlow used Yorkshire cross pigs to help find therapies.

“Cardiologists around the world are in agreement as to what criteria must be met for an animal model of HfPEF to be validated,” Barlow wrote in his nomination letter. “Carolyn's thesis describes her contributions to the development of a model that definitively meets four of these five criteria. We are currently proving the fifth criteria, exercise intolerance. Her thesis describes the development of this animal model in exquisite detail. Once experiments are complete, her thesis, along with the final piece of data that she was unable to complete due to COVID-19 restrictions, will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and will be referenced by all scientists working on HfPEF therapies.” Fisher will be first author on the article.

Fisher presented her preliminary data at the 2019 American Association for Laboratory Animal Science meeting in Denver. More than 4,400 people were in attendance, and as Barlow reports, his student’s research was “received with great interest.”

Fisher, who will be pursuing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Washington State University, wants to spend her career exploring the interactions between human and animal health.

Zachary Goldberg

Zachary Goldberg

“Teens, Tobacco, and Sleep.”

Goldberg, a public health and Spanish major from Louisville, Kentucky, studied how e-cigarettes affect the sleep patterns of youth, using the SAS program to analyze data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance and meeting with his second reader, Myriam Torres, to interpret it.

“This was a novice research idea and one that revealed e-cigarette or cigarette use may indeed affect the amount of sleep young users get per night,” wrote thesis director Edena Guimaraes in her nomination letter. “I believe the findings from Zach's work provides new and valuable insight into this public health crisis that we are currently witnessing in the United States and abroad.”

This fall Goldberg, a McNair scholar, will begin his MD degree at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

Joanna Haines

Joanna Haines

"A Young Singer’s Guide to Italian Arias: An Interactive Songbook Crafted for Young Prima Donnas.”

Opera singer Haines, an international business and marketing major who minored in Italian, created a songbook that examines four arias and one art song to help inexperienced singers learn the phonetics of Italian and what the librettos mean. Besides sheet music with translated lyrics, fun facts about Italy and opera (prosecco appears), Haines integrated QR codes into her songbook so readers can listen to recordings of correct pronunciations. Her accompanying research paper discusses Italian as the fastest dying language in America, the importance of young singers hearing the Italian spoken word, and the need for opera singers to understand the words they’re singing.

“The blend of the scholarly with the playful, engaging side of Italian opera is not something that is typically done in music pedagogy, but Joanna presents this in a masterful way,” thesis director Pia Bertucci wrote in her nomination letter. “Not only would young students benefit from her study, which she is hoping to publish, but anyone interested either specifically in Italian music or generally in Italian culture would find this work appealing.”

A soprano from Chapin, South Carolina, Haines received the Palmetto Fellows, Dean’s, Annie Epting Memorial, and International Chipotle Mexican Grill scholarships. She also received the university’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Language Studies (Italian) and the Outstanding Senior Award. After earning her master’s in management in hospitality at Cornell University, she plans to work in luxury hospitality marketing.

Jackson Hall

Jackson Hall

“Shepherding the Development of an Online Master of Science in Coaching Degree with Two Tracks, Athletic Coaching and Mental Performance Coaching.”

Hall, an experimental psychology major from Columbia, analyzed the employment prospects and effectiveness of people with graduate degrees in sports and exercise psychology. Additionally, he created an outline for a curriculum for master’s and doctoral programs, modeled after top-ranked programs in the U.S.

Thesis director Eve Monsma chose “serendipity” as the word to begin her nomination letter. “A perfect word to describe the inquiry, multi-mutual opportunity benefits, learning and authentic, high-impact product synthesized as Jackson Hall's honor's thesis. His work represents a seminal pre-authorization and degree proposal pieces of the new, two-track, online master's degree in Athletic Coaching or Mental Performance Coaching to be offered in the Department of Physical Education. As the adage goes, there is nothing like perfect timing. Moments after returning to my office from a department meeting where faculty had just approved moving forward with designing our new coaching degree, I read Jackson's thesis advisor inquiry.”

A recipient of the Palmetto Fellows and Dean’s scholarships, Hall is taking a gap year while deciding on graduate degrees in business administration, sport and entertainment management, or sport psychology.

Emily Herd

Emily Herd

"Comparing Public Preprimary Systems in South Carolina & Estonia: Closing Gaps in Educational Opportunities."

The research done by Herd, a political science major with minors in business administration, education, and Spanish, allows her to make sound policy recommendations to the state of South Carolina, wrote her thesis director, Kara Brown. Those suggestions “can provide trans-Atlantic policy inspiration for improving equitable funding for pre-primary schooling in South Carolina from a country which has one of the smallest equity gaps (in terms of educational outcomes) in industrialized countries.”

Also from Brown’s nomination letter: “The creativity of her project lies first in her ambitious selection and management of unlikely comparative cases (i.e., the U.S. state of South Carolina and the country of Estonia) … Ms. Herd had to navigate reams of digital data from Estonia and learn the tremendously different socio-cultural, historical, and political context of that country in order to set the stage for the comparative study with South Carolina. … Ms. Herd's thesis adds both an international, comparative element to school funding research through her comparison of South Carolina and Estonia as well as important attention to financing at the primary level.”

A native of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Herd will be working in Estonia as a recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. She received the Academic Scholar – Excellence Award, and would like to work for a congressional committee or nonprofit organization that supports equitable education policies.

Alex Jackson

Alex Jackson

“Darla Moore School of Business Sustainability Plan.”

Jackson, an international business and accounting major from Nashville, Tennessee who wants to work in sustainability consulting, created a plan for the DMSB to stay relevant as businesses change. He researched and combined information from various sources, including DMSB faculty/staff/students, UofSC/DMSB facilities, UofSC Office of Sustainability, leadership at other business schools, and secondary sources.

“This plan is not only thorough and represents the first of its kind within UofSC, it is implementable in its current state and has the ability to set the precedent for the development of similar plans for all colleges within UofSC to achieve our overall sustainability goals,” wrote Kealy Carter in her nomination letter. “He embraced this opportunity wholeheartedly and delivered a product that is on par (and even exceeds in some portions) with what I would expect from an independent consulting agency.”

This summer Jackson is taking the CPA exam and will be working for Deloitte in Charlotte, North Carolina within their audit practice starting this fall. He hopes to get the opportunity to work on some sustainability projects at Deloitte.

Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson

“Contraceptive Education in South Carolina Women’s Jails.”

Knowing that incarcerated women are more likely to experience unplanned pregnancies because of their histories of substance abuse, domestic violence, and prostitution, Johnson developed a curriculum about contraception. A biological sciences major with a minor in medical humanities, Johnson capitalized on jail time offering the best opportunity for education, including reproductive health education. She did her research at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia.

“She recognized explicitly the power and vulnerability dimensions that exist when working with women who are incarcerated and aimed to work in a way that would ensure that the women themselves defined the content and approach of the curriculum that would be created, but only after first making sure that such content would be of interest to the women,” wrote thesis director Deborah Billings in her nomination letter. “She accomplished this through discussions with people with deep experience working with women in jails and by asking these women themselves during data collection.”

A native of Mooresville, North Carolina, who received the Academic Scholar – Excellence Award, Johnson will be attending the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM-Carolinas). She plans to follow up with the jail and colleagues in the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative to make sure her work is adapted. As Billings writes, “The potential for Ms. Johnson’s work to make an impact on women’s lives is quite high.”

Kelsey Larkin

Kelsey Larkin

“Improved Filtering of Electron Tomography EDX Data.”

A biological sciences major from Ramsey, New Jersey, Larkin spent more than three years developing a comprehensive methodology for processing EDX tomography. In so doing, her thesis “solves a very complex real-world problem and is going to have a significant impact in improving the novel Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) tomography, wrote thesis director Peter Binev in his nomination letter. “This provides a roadmap for a wide range of scientific experiments involving EDX tomography and one can expect a profound impact on the field.”

The main results from Larkin’s thesis are being prepared for publication in a journal for electron microscopy. The thesis itself is so important it will be online, Binev adds. “It will have a significant impact in the field since it provides insight about the implementation and tools to check the consistency of the data and the reliability of the results.”

Larkin, who received the Academic Scholar – Excellence Award, will attend Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University. She plans to work directly with patients and do research, and currently is most drawn to hematology/oncology and obstetrics and gynecology.

Mairead Peters

Mairead Peters

“Grief During the Greatest Years: A Guidebook to Coping with Loss as a Young Adult.”

Peters, a social work major and Spanish minor who has lost her brother, father, cousin and uncle, created a guidebook for young adults that incorporated her own story with her educational research. As thesis director Brent Cagle pointed out in his nomination letter, there are very few resources specifically designed for young adults dealing with loss.

“Mairead’s contribution of a book has the potential to reach many young people and have a profound helping impact on the intended audience,” Cagle wrote. “Additionally, Mairead’s book project shows her ability to analyze and synthesize her own experience, to put it in a larger professional context, and to reach out to others with empathy and compassion. This is a profound goal, and Mairead’s focus shows her dedication to her chosen field of social work and her perseverance and resilience in incorporating her own history in ways that reach others.”

A native of Cheshire, Connecticut, Peters received an academic scholar merit award. She is taking a gap year to work on getting her thesis published and apply to graduate school. She wants to work in macro-based social work or civil justice.

Laura Snyder

Laura Snyder

The Usefulness of Left Atrial Area Rate of Change in Determining Severity of Heart Failure.”

Snyder, a marine science major with a minor in biology, developed novel ultrasound approaches to measure left atrial geometry in mice, previously considered impossible. Her research impacts cardiovascular disease.

“Since critical aspects in our understanding of heart failure have emerged from genetic mouse models, this left atrial imaging approach was a significant advancement,” thesis director Francis Spinale wrote in his nomination letter. “However, Laura did not stop there. Specifically, she applied this quantitative and serial approach into studies regarding surgical and genetic forms of heart failure in mice. Through months of work, in the evenings and weekends, Laura would tirelessly perform ultrasound studies and measurements in these complex mouse models of heart failure. The results were remarkable. … More importantly, Laura's work identified that the rate of left atrial enlargement was particularly important in an important form of heart failure - heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Since HFpEF afflicts millions of patients annually, methods of identifying early progression of this form of heart failure holds tremendous significance and clinical potential.”

A native of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, Snyder received the Academic Scholar – Distinction Award, the 2017 Marine Science Departmental Scholarship, and in 2018, the Experiential Education Scholarship and Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Marine Science. She will attend the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and wants to practice preventive care through focusing on lifestyle medicine for patients with chronic diseases.

Chad Wonder

Chad Wonder

“Does Environmentalism Affect Bid Premium Decisions for Cross-border Mergers and Acquisitions?”

Wonder, an international business major from Cincinnati, Ohio, designed a full study on how environmentalism and corporate social responsibility affect cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

“From the beginning of our discussions, Chad has always been deeply interested in examining how to integrate major firm issues, such as acquisitions, and firms' underlying social impact,” wrote thesis director João Albino-Pimentel in his nomination letter. “Chad's research is excellent and has the potential to impact understanding on how firms' valuate potential acquisition targets by also taking social factors into account. Chad developed an outstanding study which shows his ability to synthesize complex material, including large amounts of data, to produce something enjoyable to read.”

Wonder, who received the Cooper Scholar and Krammer awards, has joined 84.51° as a consultant, working predominately with retail and CPG clients.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

©