Monthly Archives: March 2014

Learn about SBU worldwide projects during Global Connections Week

Southwest Baptist University students will learn about the University’s Center for Global Connections January 2015 projects during Global Connections Week April 7-9.

The week begins with Global Connections chapel at 10 a.m. Monday, April 7, in Pike Auditorium. All of the January 2015 projects, both domestic and international, will be announced, and participants may begin signing up to interview for the projects after that chapel service. Community members are welcome to apply for projects alongside SBU students, faculty and staff.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, the Global Fest is in the Goodson Student Union. Anyone who is interested in participating in a project can view exhibits and visit with team leaders.

Pastor Mike Lopp will speak about a vision for tent-making during the 10 a.m. chapel service Wednesday, April 9, in Pike Auditorium. Lopp is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Reedsburg, Wis. He has a bachelor of arts in religious studies and psychology from SBU and received his master of divinity degree from Luther Rice University in 2009.

Everyone interested in participating in global projects will be required to do an interview during the week of April 8-15.

For more information, contact the CGC office at (417) 328-1900.

SBU Speaking Bearcats are national champions in debate sweepstakes

The Southwest Baptist University Speaking Bearcats debate and forensics team competed against 80 other schools in the Pi Kappa Delta national tournament March 20-23 in Indianapolis. SBU won first place in debate sweepstakes, third place in overall sweepstakes and sixth place in individual events sweepstakes.

The SBU debate and forensics team had great success at the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta national tournament. Front row (l to r): Micah Jordan, Jessica Palen, Kati Clair, Lydia Swisher, Catie Lathrop, Meg Burns, Julie Strubinger, Leah Cleek Back row (l to r): Taylor Howe, Nik Fischer, Reed Dressler, Brooks Stotts, Maggie Thomas, Will Wheeler

The SBU debate and forensics team had great success at the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta national tournament.
Front row (l to r): Micah Jordan, Jessica Palen, Kati Clair, Lydia Swisher, Catie Lathrop, Meg Burns, Julie Strubinger, Leah Cleek
Back row (l to r): Taylor Howe, Nik Fischer, Reed Dressler, Brooks Stotts, Maggie Thomas, Will Wheeler

According to Dr. David Bailey, assistant professor of communication arts and director of forensics, this was the largest PKD national tournament yet with 80 schools and more than 800 competitors from across the nation.

“I am very proud of our team, not only for their placement at the tournament, but even more because of the hard work they put in to achieve these results,” Bailey said. “We still have lots of growing to do, but I am pleased with how we did especially since we competed against schools with much larger teams than ours.”

Several individual accomplishments contributed to the team’s debate sweepstakes championship.

Will Wheeler and Meg Burns won the title of national champions in open public forum debate. Lydia Swisher and Kati Clair won the title of national champions in novice public forum debate.

Taylor Howe was named “Outstanding Legislator” in student congress.

Leak Cleek finished as a semifinalist in the open division of public debate and Catie Lathrop finished as a quarterfinalist. Jessica Palen was a semifinalist in novice public debate.

Micah Jordan claimed a few victories in open Lincoln-Douglas debate and was named fifth place speaker.

Although they did not advance to elimination rounds, the open parliamentary debate teams of Nik Fischer and Reed Dressler and Julie Strubinger and Maggie Thomas each won several debates contributing to the overall team win. Brooks Stotts also claimed several debate victories in novice public debate.

The SBU Speaking Bearcats also had many individual success in speech events contributing to their third place overall sweepstakes result.

There were so many competitors in individual events this year that there were quarterfinals and semifinals in addition to the traditional finals rounds. A quarterfinalist is in approximately the top 25 in the nation, semifinalists in the top 12 and finalists in the top 6.

Nik Fischer won third place in impromptu speaking, an event which had more than 250 entries this year. He also earned fourth place in extemporaneous speaking. Fischer advanced to the semifinals of persuasive speaking and received an “excellent” rating in after dinner speaking. These strong finishes earned him fourth place in pentathalon, an award to recognize top individual events performers.

Meg Burns finished as a semifinalist in persuasive speaking, quarterfinalist in program of oral interpretation, quarterfinalist in prose and was a semifinalist in communication analysis.

Julie Strubinger reached the semifinals of communication analysis and quarterfinals of extemporaneous speaking.

Will Wheeler finished as a quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking.

Reed Dressler was a semifinalist in impromptu speaking.

Lydia Swisher was a quarterfinalist in both program of oral interpretation and prose interpretation. She also reached the quarterfinals of duo improvisation with her partner, Kati Clair.

Maggie Thomas received an “excellent” award in persuasion.

The partnership of Jessica Palen and Leah Cleek reached the semifinal round of duo improvisation.

Catie Lathrop, Micah Jordan and Brooks Stotts also had solid performances in preliminary rounds of individual events that contributed to the team’s overall success.

The team was coached by faculty members, Dr. David Bailey and Mrs. Rebecca Godsey. They were assisted by alumni/assistant guest coaches Amy Bopp, Jordan Hart and Justin Wessels.

“We look forward to continuing to develop our forensics program here at SBU,” Bailey said. “We believe that there are even better things to come.”

SBU accounting student to intern with Heritage Foundation

For the fourth consecutive year, a Southwest Baptist University accounting major has been chosen for the prestigious Heritage Foundation Internship Program in Washington, D.C.

Jenna Durnell, sophomore at SBU, will intern this summer with The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Jenna Durnell, sophomore at SBU, will intern this summer with The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Jenna Durnell, a sophomore accounting and information assurance major from El Dorado Springs, Mo., will spend this summer in Washington, D.C., as a marketing technology/CRM intern. She is the daughter of Michael and Suzan Durnell.

Meg Goodman, a junior accounting major from Cape Girardeau, Mo., interned in 2013. Pearl Karamitros, a senior accounting and international business major from Fort Worth, Texas, who grew up in China, interned during the summer of 2012. Jordan Taylor, a senior marketing and economics/finance major from Greenfield, Mo., interned in 2011.

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute with a mission to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense, according to its website.

“This is a very prestigious opportunity because the Heritage Foundation fits in with many of the ideals of SBU,” said Wayne Clark, chairman of the SBU Accounting Department and an assistant professor of accounting. “We are really excited they selected Jenna for this internship and especially pleased that her additional information technology skills and education with her accounting and information assurance degree are being recognized.”

About 70 students across the country are chosen for internships in various departments of the organization.

While these students’ internships include gaining hands-on experience in accounting in a business environment, they also are given many opportunities to learn conservative ideology and its founding principles.

As the marketing technology/CRM intern, Durnell will primarily be working with the integration of a new database that tracks fundraising efforts at The Heritage Foundation.

“This job perfectly aligns with the information assurance part of my degree,” Durnell said. “Internships this specific to my unique major are not common; I am very thankful for the opportunity to put into practice what I have learned in the classroom.”

Durnell is confident that her time at SBU has equipped her for this prestigious opportunity because of the combination of academic rigor and personal attention she has received.

“Professors at SBU do more than simply funnel you in and out of a classroom; they want to help you succeed, even if that means staying past the required office hours,” Durnell said. “I have full confidence that SBU has prepared me to not only succeed in this internship, but also to take full advantage of the opportunities with which I will be presented in Washington, D.C.”

“Having these four students chosen to intern with The Heritage Foundation for consecutive years is impressive because of the competition they face for the limited number of internships the foundation offers,” said Dr. Troy Bethards, dean of the College of Business and Computer Science and associate professor of business administration. “It gives affirmation to the quality of our program and our students.”

SBU inducts 115 new members into Phi Eta Sigma

Freshmen from 2012-13 inducted into Phi Eta Sigma, pictured with the chapter officers

Freshmen from 2012-13 inducted into Phi Eta Sigma, pictured with the chapter officers

The Southwest Baptist University chapter of Phi Eta Sigma welcomed 115 new members during an induction ceremony Tuesday, March 11.

Phi Eta Sigma is the nation’s oldest and largest honor society for first-year college students. SBU is one of 377 campuses in the country to have a chartered chapter of the society.

Freshmen are eligible to join Phi Eta Sigma if they meet the following criteria: a minimum 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale at the end of any full-time curricular period, a normal academic load in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree and a class rank in the upper 20 percent of their class.

2013-14 freshmen inducted into SBU's chapter of Phi Eta Sigma

2013-14 freshmen inducted into SBU’s chapter of Phi Eta Sigma

Freshmen from the 2012-13 and 2014-15 freshmen classes were officially inducted into the SBU chapter of Phi Eta Sigma. The ceremony was led by the following student officers:

  • Meg Goodman, senior advisor, from Cape Girardeau, Mo.
  • Kara Phipps, president, from Bolivar, Mo.
  • Maggie Martinez, vice president, from Houston, Texas
  • Stephen Zahner, secretary/treasurer, from Wentzville, Mo.
  • Vicki Neumann, media and publications director, from Osborne, Kan.

“Our chapter seeks to recognize and support academic achievement among first year students by sponsoring Coffee Talks, which facilitate academic conversations between faculty and students in a more relational setting,” said Jodi Meadows, instructor and advisor in the University Success center and faculty advisor for Phi Eta Sigma. “We also provide goodie bags and encouraging notes to first year students during midterms and finals week.”

Membership in Phi Eta Sigma is beneficial for SBU students because of the scholarship and academic development opportunities it offers. PES students are able to participate in a national scholarship competition. Since 2007, SBU students have received approximately $20,000 in PES scholarships, according to Meadows. Phi Eta Sigma chapter officers also have the opportunity to participate in PES on a national level by traveling to the society’s convention held every other year.

The following is a list of the new inductees:

  • Miranda Applegate, Stockton, Mo.
  • Shelby Baker, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Andrew Barnes, Independence, Mo.
  • Sean Bates, Summerfield, Ill.
  • Rachel Bausinger, Carthage, Mo.
  • Jeremiah Bechtold, Westminster, Colo.
  • Nickolas Bettis, Nixa, Mo.
  • Christian Binger, Lees Summit, Mo.
  • Rebecca Brandon, Alton, Mo.
  • Patricia Brandt, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Tiffany Bressner, Moweaqua, Ill.
  • Paul Brooks, Raytown, Mo.
  • James Canon, Buffalo, Mo.
  • Miranda Carlin, Lees Summit, Mo.
  • Leah Carr, Sedalia, Mo.
  • Mallory Chapman, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Douglas Chronister, Stockton, Mo.
  • John Clinton, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Darcy Cochran, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Taylor Coram, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Sarah Couch, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Jessica Crotinger, Marshfield, Mo.
  • Sidnee Crowley, Allen, Texas
  • Reed Dressler, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Jenna Durnell, Harwood, Mo.
  • Kaylee Dye, Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Jessica Fabro, Billings, Mo.
  • Rebecca Ferguson, Godfrey, Ill.
  • Jacqueline Fox, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • Harley Gault, Elgin, Okla.
  • Alyssa Glasgow, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Aric Gooch, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Tarah Goodknight, Princeton, Mo.
  • Courtney Hagan, Nixa, Mo.
  • Michael Harris, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Steven Harris, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Chelsea Hilbert, Owassa, Okla.
  • Emma Howlett, Peculiar, Mo.
  • Kayla Hunting, Centerview, Mo.
  • Elizabeth Jacobsohn, Oakdale, Calif.
  • MariaLynn Jaeger, Ashmore, Ill.
  • Thomas Jeffries, Florissant, Mo.
  • Audrianna Jensen, Springfield, Mo.
  • Brittany Jones, Grain Valley, Mo.
  • Megan Jones, Hopkins, Mo.
  • Melissa Jones, Grain Valley, Mo.
  • Micah Jordan, Ponca City, Okla.
  • Aleeca Kanai, Aurora, Ill.
  • Regan Katz, Hampton, Iowa
  • Dustin Kerb, Lebanon, Mo.
  • Kayla Kespelher, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • Hannah Kirby, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Mallory Kirsch, Mt. Vernon, Ill.
  • Tabitha Kohl, Harrisburg, Mo.
  • Brady Kornrumpf, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • Hannah Laws, Joplin, Mo.
  • Ashley Lawson, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Katherine Leiker, Independence, Mo.
  • Elizabeth Linberger, Shelbyville, Mo.
  • Corie Liska, Mountain Grove, Mo.
  • Hollie Lundstrom, Willard, Mo.
  • London Martin, Crown Point, Ind.
  • Ryland Massey, Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Sierra Massing, Paola, Kan.
  • Marissa McClure, Assaria, Kan.
  • Caitlin McEwen, Lees Summit, Mo.
  • Christine McIntire, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Kelli McNabb, Clever, Mo.
  • Lindsey Midkiff, Troy, Ill.
  • Katelee Miller, St. Joseph, Mo.
  • Allison Molbach, Ballwin, Mo.
  • Hunter Moore, Malone, Wis.
  • Jonathan Munton, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Abraham Pascoe, Branson, Mo.
  • Derrick Penticuff, Springfield, Mo.
  • Joshua Phipps, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Matthew Randolph, Lebanon, Mo.
  • Raigan Ratliff, Monett, Mo.
  • Gina Reeves, Kearney, Mo.
  • Mariah Roberts, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Laura Sappington, Higginsville, Mo.
  • Kim Saunchgrow, Florissant, Mo.
  • Allison Schriver, Springfield, Mo.
  • Michelle Schulte, Ravenwood, Mo.
  • Damon Sewell, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Matthew Shaffer, O’Fallon, Ill.
  • Meghan Shrewsbury, Crete, Neb.
  • Spencer Smith, Springfield, Mo.
  • Zachariah Sparks, El Dorado, Ark.
  • Philip Staley, Fort Belvoir, Va.
  • Seth Stelzer, Neosho, Mo.
  • Susan Stoops, Pleasant Hope, Mo.
  • Janie Story, Richmond, Mo.
  • Chara Sutcliffe, Peculiar, Mo.
  • Lydia Swisher, Newton, Kan.
  • Margaret Thomas, Warrensburg, Mo.
  • Brad Tippin, Shawnee, Kan.
  • Caitlin Tufts, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Laura Turner, Sedalia, Mo.
  • Tyler Underdown, Spring Hill, Kan.
  • Rebecca Vold, Plymouth, Minn.
  • Valerie Waddell, Olathe, Kan.
  • Carley Waggener, Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Seth Walley, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Samuel Ward, Dexter, Mo.
  • Caleb Whaley, Fair Play, Mo.
  • Elisabeth Whaley, Fair Play, Mo.
  • Hillary Wheeler, Moberly, Mo.
  • Kelli Windes, Springfield, Mo.
  • Jessica Wingerd, Ontario, Calif.
  • Rachael Wingerd, Ontario, Calif.
  • Beth Winship, LaGrange, Mo.
  • Richard Young, O’Fallon, Mo.
  • Joshua Yuhnke, Wyoming, N.Y.

SBU Concert Choir and Bolivar Community Chorus to present joint concert

The Southwest Baptist University Concert Choir and Bolivar Community Chorus will present their annual spring concert at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 8, in Pike Auditorium.20130424_7538

The concert will begin with a compilation of different movements from various settings of liturgical masses. Individual pieces have been selected from “Gospel Mass” by Robert Ray, “Mass in C” by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Mass in G” by Franz Shubert, “Lord Nelson Mass” by Joseph Haydn and “Crucifixus” by Bill Hooper. The concert will also feature compositions by Mark Hayes, Joshua Shank, Eric Whitacre and Dan Forrest.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the SBU Music Office at (417) 328-1644.

SBU professors serve as new editors for ‘The Missouri Reader’

Dr. Julie Bryant, associate professor of education, and Jennifer Fox, instructor of education, recently took over as the new co-editors of “The Missouri Reader,” the state peer-reviewed literacy journal published by the Missouri State Council of the International Reading Association (MSC-IRA).

Jennifer Fox (left) and Dr. Julie Bryant (right) from Southwest Baptist University are the new co-editors for “The Missouri Reader,” the state’s peer-reviewed literacy journal.

Jennifer Fox (left) and Dr. Julie Bryant (right) from Southwest Baptist University are the new co-editors for “The Missouri Reader,” the state’s peer-reviewed literacy journal.

Bryant and Fox have completely redesigned the publication, taking it from a static PDF document to a fully interactive online journal. The new look is more visually appealing with full-color pictures and embedded videos and is fully interactive with the ability to rate articles, leave comments and have immediate access to extended information.

They have also redesigned the types of content in the publication. In the past it was simply a scholarly research-based journal mostly featuring long research articles. While it is still a scholarly publication, they now feature shorter research articles, book reviews, classroom stories, author interviews and more.

Both Bryant and Fox had previously served as peer reviewers for “The Missouri Reader” and when the previous editors were ready to step down, Bryant and Fox were approached with this opportunity.

Fox’s area of expertise is in the intersection of technology and literacy and she wanted to use this knowledge to help move “The Missouri Reader” forward. “Through communication with the previous editors, we realized that this organization was struggling,” Fox said. “We want to do what we can to make it better. I knew that helping to overhaul the publication would really help our organization.”

Serving as editors is completely voluntary and they will hold the position until they are ready to step down. “The biggest challenge so far has been the time commitment,” Bryant said. “It has been really time consuming, yet so much fun. We are really contributing to literacy and so it is worth it.”

“It took me longer than expected to just figure out the platform for the digital publication and how to design it with the new format,” Fox said. “But the new interactive design is definitely worth the time I invested!”

Bryant and Fox are also excited about how this will benefit students in SBU’s Department of Education. The students also will have the opportunity to submit book reviews or articles and learn from the information presented through the publication. Three SBU students had work published in this latest edition.

“In the world of education, it is very significant to be published,” Fox said. “So this is a tremendous opportunity for our students.”

“This is also very much a professional journal,” Bryant said. “So it’s great for our students to be able to gain knowledge and be exposed to these professional development opportunities.”

Bryant and Fox teach their students that it is important to not just be active in their fields, but to be leaders. They want to be role models for their students and feel that serving as editors for “The Missouri Reader” is one way they can do this. According to Bryant, “we tell our students all the time that we never want to quit learning and this was another opportunity to demonstrate that.”

With the new online platform, they are confident that readership is increasing. Both professors also recently attended the Write to Learn conference where they were able to promote the publication as a means for promoting literacy in Missouri.

“The Missouri Reader” is a free publication and available to anyone. Membership to MSC-IRA is not required. The journal can be directly accessed at

Bryant and Fox feel this has been a great opportunity for them as individual professionals but also, more importantly, is a great opportunity to promote SBU in the education world and provide SBU students with additional professional development opportunities.

“We believe in literacy so much that this has been worth the time. It has been so much fun to do,” Fox said. “It gives us a way to better connect with authors, teachers, readers and others who have a vested interest in literacy in Missouri.”

“We’re completely excited about this,” Bryant said. “It has been so much fun to reveal the new and improved publication!”

14 SBU social work majors inducted into Phi Alpha honor society

Phi Alpha inductees

Front row (l to r): Rebecca Case, Courtni Lovell, Amanda Clay, Clarissa Slattery, Kimberly Bell
Back row (l to r): Natalie Ahrens, Lauran Gilstrap, Kimberly Kuykendall, Trinity Griffin, Morgan Simpson, Rachel Smith
Not pictured: Merrie Jo Cisneros, Cassandra Eggert, Alexandra Phillips

The Southwest Baptist University chapter of Phi Alpha welcomed 14 new members into its organization during a recent induction ceremony.

Phi Alpha is a national honor society for social work majors designed to recognize excellence in scholarship and social work achievements, promote humanitarian goals and ideals, and foster a close bond between social work students.

To be eligible for Phi Alpha students must be a social work major, have achieved sophomore status, have completed at least nine hours of social work courses, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and have a minimum 3.25 GPA in required social work courses.

The following students are the newest members of SBU’s chapter of Phi Alpha:

  • Natalie Ahrens, Littleton, Colo.
  • Kimberly Bell, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Rebecca Case, Buffalo, Mo.
  • Merrie Jo Cisneros, Center, Colo.
  • Amanda Clay, Piedmont, Mo.
  • Lauran Gilstrap, Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Trinity Griffin, Belleville, Ill.
  • Cassandra Eggert, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Kimberly Kuykendall, Eldon, Mo.
  • Courtni Lovell, Lone Tree, Iowa
  • Alexandra Phillips, Arnold, Mo.
  • Morgan Simpson, Troy, Mo.
  • Carissa Slattery, Nixa, Mo.
  • Rachel Smith, Arnold, Mo.

For more information, please contact Amanda Keys, director of field education for the Bachelor of Social Work program and faculty advisor for Phi Alpha, at

SBU Chorale to present spring concert

The Southwest Baptist University Chorale will present its spring concert at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 3, in Pike Auditorium.

20130424_7759Under the direction of Dr. James R. Tarrant, director of choral studies and professor of music, the selectively auditioned Chorale will present works from several eras of choral music represented by composers such as William Byrd, Heinrich Schütz and Giancarlo Aquilanti. Many of these works will be performed a capella style. The ensemble enjoys a reputation for performing varied works from the spectrum of choral music.

The Southwest Baptist University Chorale travels to churches and high schools to perform during the academic year. In the past decade, the Chorale has performed at the Missouri Music Educators Association state convention, the Missouri Baptist Convention and numerous churches and schools across the state. Since 2005, the Chorale also has performed in cathedrals and other historic venues in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany, including a rare performance opportunity in the “Singers Room” in the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

The Chorale’s spring concert is free and open to the public.

Sandy receives award from University Libraries

Kaisi Sandy of Country Club, Mo., has been selected by the Southwest Baptist University Libraries as the “Outstanding Student Assistant of the Month” for February 2014.

The award has been established by the faculty and staff of the University Libraries to recognize outstanding employment characteristics such as dependability, quality of work, motivation, attitude and cooperation. The University Libraries employs 27 student assistants through the work study program.

Sandy currently serves as an intern in the graphic design program for the 2013-14 academic year. She has assisted the University Libraries with many marketing initiatives over the past two years.

Sandy received an award letter from Dr. Edward Walton, dean of the University Libraries, a certificate of recognition and a gift. She will graduate in December with a degree in commercial art with a concentration in graphic design from SBU’s Geneva Casebolt College of Music, Arts and Letters.

A shared passion: SBU professor involves students in unique research opportunities

One of Southwest Baptist University’s newest biology faculty members has a passion for practical research and is sharing that passion with his students, allowing them the opportunity to join him in unique undergraduate research opportunities. This research experience makes SBU biology students some of the most qualified candidates for graduate schools and is also helping them discover their own God-given callings.

Dr. Tao Wei, associate professor of biology at SBU, has a passion for research and for helping students learn.

Dr. Tao Wei, associate professor of biology at SBU, has a passion for research and for helping students learn.

Dr. Tao Wei’s extensive ongoing research in microbiology currently focuses primarily on studying biofilms, which are colonies of bacteria that form on biotic or abiotic surfaces, can resist traditional antibiotic treatments and cause chronic infections in the immunocompromised.

Wei says this research is important because the public needs to know about possible side effects of antibiotics involving biofilms. So far, Wei’s research has discovered that some antibiotics can actually increase biofilm formation. Thus, when biofilms form to cause an infection, some antibiotics may actually contribute to making the problem chronic.

Dr. Wei’s extensive research and enthusiasm about biology is impressive, but what matters more is his desire to see his students learn and succeed. At the start of the 2013-14 academic year, Dr. Wei was selected as the Faculty Newcomer of the Year. In his nomination, one student said of Dr. Wei, “I like that he has us think critically about experiments so that we come to conclusions with our own thoughts, rather than spoon feeding us the answers; this helps us develop thinking skills while learning and understanding the information.”

Kara Phipps, senior, and Annie Wolfe ’13, work in the biology lab on undergraduate research.

Kara Phipps, senior, and Annie Wolfe ’13, work in the biology lab on undergraduate research.

Wei has recruited several students to help with his ongoing research, giving them the unique opportunity to participate in scientific research at the undergraduate level. Kara Phipps, senior biology major, has long dreamed of pursuing a career in scientific research. By working as a lab assistant for Dr. Wei, she has had the opportunity to play a critical role in this research.

Last summer she participated in SBU’s Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, which enables SBU students to experience significant research projects with SBU faculty. This led to Kara’s senior capstone project for the Dutile Honors Program. With Wei, she has co-authored a recent journal article and received invaluable experience with lab work and presenting research findings. After graduation in May, Kara plans to go on to graduate school and says that this lab experience she is receiving at SBU is making her dreams possible.

The opportunity to participate in undergraduate research with Dr. Wei has been so profound for Kara that she recruited several more students to help, including Annie Wolfe, ’13, and Ellie Fjellman, junior.

“I love getting to think for myself, design experiments and discover answers,” Annie said.

Ellie just recently switched to a biology major and wanted to have hands-on experience.

“I figured this would be the best way to transition to a new major and they need younger students to ensure the research keeps moving forward,” she said.

The students explained that in a typical week they read journal articles and then meet with Dr. Wei to discuss what they read. Based on that discussion, they develop research questions, design experiments and spend their weekends in the lab conducting experiments and compiling results.

“I’m learning how to manage and organize an entire research process,” Kara said. “I love the lab work and the opportunity to apply what I’m learning and to think creatively.”

According to Wei, undergraduate research opportunities are a great asset for SBU and ensure our students are well-prepared and top candidates for graduate schools.

“I’ve met the most intelligent students at SBU since I came,” he said. “I really enjoy working with them, and I can’t do this without them.”

For Kara and other students, this is a dream come true.

“Some days, I wake up and realize how blessed I am to be working on things I love to do in a place I love,” she said. “I am so glad God opened doors for me to pursue undergraduate research at SBU!”