Liberty News

Five students receive Provost grants to further research projects

March 5, 2018 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ronald Hawkins honored the recipients of this year’s Provost's Award for Research Excellence (PARE) during an all-faculty meeting Monday, expressing his excitement for the recognition that their work will bring Liberty within the greater academic community.

Grants range from $2,500-$4,000 for students to continue their research domestically or abroad. The primary goal of the program to promote, support, and advance student research, scholarship, and creative endeavors at all levels and across all disciplines. Up to five recipients are selected annually by a faculty panel. Through the process of designing a research project, developing an application, and executing research, students will improve their chances of being selected for federal, state, and local grant opportunities, including the Fulbright U.S Student Program. Recipients must complete their projects this summer and are invited to present their research outcomes at the university’s Undergraduate or Graduate Research Symposium during Annual Research Week.

This year’s winners are: 

  • Junior Emily Parrow, a history student, plans to study the writings of Jacob Riis and Ward McAllister and how their works in the Gilded Age (late 1800s) bridged the gap between the rich and poor. She will conduct her research at the National Archives at New York City, Newport, R.I., and Washington, D.C.

    “I am thrilled to see how much the university is promoting this kind of research and just how far-reaching it is across so many disciplines,” Parrow said. “For me, it is just a chance to immerse myself in the history. Textbooks can only do so much, so (this grant) is really incredible.”
  • Senior Victoria Swart, a cinematic arts student, will study language and the entertainment industry in South Korea, with the goal of better understanding how it impacts international film culture.

    “Storytelling is a study of humanity,” Swart said, adding she hopes to contribute to “increasing the community of telling stories and how we interact with one another.” She said traveling overseas will give her “connections across cultures that will be indispensable for future filmmaking.”
  • Senior Lura Martinez, a social sciences student, will go on a three-stop trip — to New York, Ohio, and ending in Peru — shortly after graduation to investigate the U.S.-initiated deportation and internment of Japanese-Latin Americans during World War II.

    The experience, she said, will give her a jumpstart for graduate school.

    “This is going to put me way ahead,” Martinez said. “I am inspired to represent Liberty. It is a bit of pressure, but it is also exciting to become that representative, to not just help my career but also further the academic goals of the university.”
  • Junior Kristen John, who is studying cell and molecular biology, will be researching four genes within a fungal pathogen — Cryptococcus neoformans — with the goal of identifying their functions. The research, under the direction of Dr. Michael Price, could provide valuable information leading to possible treatment options for patients suffering from meningitis.

    “I am really looking forward to focusing solely on this over the summer,” John said. “I love how it gives me a greater sense of purpose. Potentially, down the road, this could help those who are suffering with this disease and also give more information to the science community to understand the pathogen and how to treat this kind of disease.”
  • Abigail Shimer, a graduate history student will study Mildred Lewis Rutherford’s influence on developing Civil War curriculum for history textbooks in the early 1900s. Her research will take her to archives at the University of Georgia and Emory University.

    “Whatever influence she had would have affected people who were going to be in leadership in the 1950s and ’60s, when you have a lot of the Civil Rights discourse,” Shimer said. “It has a lot of repercussions, and it is something we don’t often think about.”

Last year, Liberty awarded its first-ever PARE grants, and two of those winners are current Fulbright semifinalists for 2018-19 Fulbright grants. Liberty has five semifinalist candidates in total this year.

The PARE program is directed by the Liberty University Fulbright Committee, which is administered through the Office of the Provost and Chief Academic Officer

For more information on Liberty’s Fulbright scholarships and study grants, contact Edna Udobong, Fulbright program advisor and scholar liaison at or visit Liberty’s Fulbright page.

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