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Annual Research Week hits all-time record participation, winners announced

A combined 59 total faculty from different departments volunteered to serve as the week’s judges.

Liberty University has announced the winners for its annual Research Week, held April 12-16 and sponsored by the Center for Research & Scholarship, the Graduate School, and Jerry Falwell Library.

Following a successful research week last spring, despite all presentations given virtually due to COVID-19, this year’s in-person event at the library proved to be the largest Research Week since its inception in 2017, with 263 presentations.

“Research Week serves to provide all our students — whether residential, online, graduate, or undergraduate — an opportunity to showcase all the hard work they have put into their research, scholarship, and creative works,” Associate Director for the Center for Research & Scholarship Darren Wu said. “It is an opportunity for them to develop soft skills such as demonstrating their work ethic, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, performing under stress, and communication in a low-stakes environment.”

Research Week serves as a time for Liberty students to display their hard work and dedication to learning from the past year.

Research Week is a multidisciplinary event. A combined 59 total faculty from several different departments volunteered to serve as the week’s judges, and cash prizes were given to every first-place presentation. This year also offered a new category featuring remote poster presentations for online students.

“Having come from a big public school for undergrad, we never had anything like this that was campus-wide,” said engineering Ph.D. student Daniel Wilson, who won three first-place prizes. “This was an awesome opportunity for us as students to present our research to faculty and other students. And for me, it was also fun to see what everyone else was doing.”

Wu said that the success of this year’s weeklong dedication to in-depth study can be attributed in part to the university’s desire to expand learning opportunities for students.

“Research Week is a résumé builder for our students, for their graduate programs, and future employment. Many institutions offer some kind of internal research symposium, but rarely does the opportunity last for an entire week, have quite as many different venues, or offer cash prizes for winning presentations. That is a reflection of the commitment that our Provost, Dr. Scott Hicks, has for our student researchers.”


Research Week 2021 first-place winners

View this year’s full list of winners

Poster Presentations



  • Daniel Wilson – applied, From Waste to Power: Efficient Conversion of Human Waste to Usable Energy
  • Julie Elms – creative, The Human Touch of Relief Printing Aesthetics using Digital Tools
  • Meredith Busch – textual or investigative, Presbyterian Anticommunism: Opposition to Marxism and McCarthyism
  • Jessica Campbell – theoretical proposal, Improving Nurse Job Satisfaction to Improve Health Outcomes



  • Isaac Liu – applied, Observations on the Use of Chemical Treatment for the Modification of Dielectric Elastomer’s Mechanical Properties: A Work in Progress
  • Gabrielle Dampf, Jonathan Westlake, Neal McCaffrey, Pierce Knepley, Rachel Nas, Robert Fisher – basic, An Examination of the Effects of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol A Derivatives During Zebrafish Development
  • Maggie Mynhier – textual or investigative, The Sweet Efforts of Hershey’s Chocolate Corporation During World War II
  • Sarah Mann – theoretical proposal, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Insulin Resistance: An Evaluation of Treatment Modalities and Complication Prevention


Oral Presentations



  • William Crawford – applied, Locus of Control and Support for or Opposition to Concealed Carry on Campus: A Correlational Study
  • Mark Lawton – creative and artistic, History Mysteries: An Exploration Into the Development of a Mystery at the Outset of the 1918 Spanish Flu in a New England Mill Town
  • Sarah Perkins – textual or investigative, A Rhetorical Analysis on Carrie Chapman Catt in the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Cathleen Beachboard – theoretical proposal,  Why Hope Matters: Fostering Resilience, Well-being, and Success in Students



  • Dylan Ureno – applied, Cialdini’s Principles of Liking and the 2016 Presidential Election
  • Miranda Sheridan – basic, The Cutaneous Microbiomes of Appalachian Salamanders and Their Role as an Innate Defense Against the Pathogen Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis
  • Samantha Pearce – creative and artistic, The Bell Jar: An Investigation into the Life and Style of Sylvia Plath
  • Dalton Davis – textual or investigative, The Return of a Judicial Artifact?: How the Supreme Court Could Examine the Question of the Nondelegation Doctrine’s Place in Future Cases
  • Ashley Dawson – theoretical proposal, The Perceived Differences in Employee Engagement Through Multiple Generations in the Workplace: An HR Perspective


Three-minute Thesis



  • Daniel Wilson, From Waste to Power: Efficient Conversion of Human Waste to Usable Energy



  • Hayley Yukihiro, Groundbreaking Self-Breathing Ventilator Investigation


Juried Arts

  • 2-D: Laura Bialecka, The Family Farm
  • 3-D: Rainier Gleich, Robotic Paper Unicorn
  • Graphic design: Christopher Knight, Mathieu Angell, Natalie Dodd, Nathaniel Hammond, Redefine Kids Online


Performing Arts

  • Hope Dornfeld, Travelin’ to the Promised Land: Symbolism of the Jordan River in African Spiritual, English Hymn, and American Folksong Selections


People’s Choice 

  • Laura Bialecka, 3MT, The Family Farm
  • Daniel Wilson, 3MT, From Waste to Power: Efficient Conversion of Human Waste to Usable Energy
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