Georgia State undergrads honored for research, adding to knowledge

3/30/2009 – Jeremy Craig, University Relations

For anthropology major Monica Ponce, her research into the diet of our ancient human relatives using dental analysis was more than just an exploration into an interest. It was a booster of confidence that will help her in her future academic career.

"I was very nervous coming into it, and I didn't know what to expect," said Ponce, a senior from Carrolton, Ga. "After the entire experience, I feel more comfortable with myself, as well as my research."

Ponce was one of five winners at the 2009 Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference, held March 13.

Winners included:

  • Provost’s award and first place poster: Isaac Solomon, “Synthesis of Iminosulfuranes as Dermal Penetration Enhancers”
  • Second place poster: Monica Ponce, “Diet Variability among Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus robustus Through Dental Microwear Analysis”
  • First place oral presentation: Heather Kravagna, “Kushite Archaism in the 25th Dynasty: An Examination of Gender and Agency in Nubian Art”
  • Second place oral presentation: Kelly J. Pittman, “LuxS Expression Influences Escherichia coli Biofilm Macrostructure”
  • First place art and design: Donnie Reider, “The Bond of Brothers”

Students conducted research and scholarship in a wide field of topics, from chemistry, mathematics and neuroscience, to psychology, anthropology and business, among other subjects.

The research completed by students participating in the conference is more than a pure academic exercise solely for practice. Undergraduate researchers are performing inquiries which become part of a larger body of knowledge — knowledge for which they should be recognized in academia, Georgia State professor Tracie Stewart said. Stewart, assistant professor of psychology, was awarded the 2009 University Faculty Award for Undergraduate Research.

“Can undergraduates make significant contributions to research literature and the canon?” asked Stewart during the conference’s keynote address. “It is audacious to think so.”

“Undergraduate research is not necessarily less rigorous research. It's a lot of work, but you can make a major contribution to the field,” said Stewart. “It is a contribution that no one can ever take away from you.”

For more information about the conference and past winners, visit