• Fleming Awards Support Scholar Travel

At a liberal arts university like Southwestern, sustained, collaborative research is an integral part of every student’s experience. Likewise, the chance to put observations and research into dialogue with other scholars is crucial in developing competency and engagement in each student’s field of interest.

But, for many students, the expenses associated with presenting at the various conferences, symposia, meetings, and lectures that allow them to fully engage with their subject matter and with an audience of other scholars in their field, is cost-prohibitive. Fleming Student Travel Awards, funded from an endowment gift, help to defray these costs. By covering up to $650 in conference travel expenses per student, these awards enable many more students to participate in scholarly activities.

In 2017, 33 Southwestern students received Fleming Student Travel Awards, presenting 18 different projects (individually and in small groups) across the spectrum of disciplines. Here’s just a sampling of the presentations:

The Price of Parks: Parks and Recreation Land, Demographic Change, and Housing – presented by an Environmental Studies major at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Boston, MA

Using Austin, TX as a case study, this project explored the relationship between park designation, housing costs, and gentrification.  Austin has increasingly relied on environmental amenities and a sustainable discourse to promote and protect these amenities as well as its reputation as a green, sustainable city.  However, this discourse is firmly rooted in past historical zoning and ignores social consequences generated by this planning process.

Titanium Mediated Synthesis of Cyclobutanes – presented jointly by four Chemistry/Biochemistry majors at the ACS National Organic Symposium in Davis, CA

Substituted cyclobutanes are important intermediates in the syntheses of many organic materials, including several pharmaceutical compounds. In this study, a novel method for the formation of cyclobutane derivatives was developed using a variation of the Kulinkovich reaction.  Using tosylates or mesylates of cyanohydrins as starting materials, substituted cyclobutanones were produced with up to 64% yield.

Can I Instagram This?:  A Millennial’s Academice Investigación of Gabriel García Márquez – presented by a Spanish major at the 25th Annual Latin American Studies Symposium in Birmingham, AL

During his rich life, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s influence permeated international literature, politics and culture and his work continues to have scholarly and cultural rippling effects around the world. This project explored archival research conducted by an undergraduate student in a world-renowned facility, analyzed the difference between digitized and analog information in the digital age, and connects the fictional work of an author notorious for intertextuality with elements from the author’s own life.

LOL, ILY: The Effects of Textspeak and Gender on Dating Profile Perception – presented by a Psychology major at the Southwestern Psychological Association in San Antonio, TX

This project examined the effects of textspeak and gender on the perceived attractiveness of a fictitious Tinder profile.  Participants viewed a screenshot of either a male or female Tinder profile that included an About Me section written in standard English (e.g., “I love to write”) or textspeak (e.g., “i luv 2 write”).  The study found no significant interaction between textspeak or gender on profile attractiveness, but participants perceived profiles written in standard English as somewhat more attractive than profiles written in textspeak, indicating that users should be conscientious of their grammar use in messaging.

Vamos Caminando: A Story of Waters, Peoples and Activism Along the Texas-Mexico Border – presented by a Business major at the 25th Annual Latin American Studies Symposium in Birmingham, AL

While working with the non-governmental organization Texas Impact, participant-observation and interviews were conducted in Laredo, Brownsville, McAllen and surrounding areas to ascertain how border residents experience and perceive issues of water in their communities. This research suggests that socioeconomic status is tied to residents’ concerns about quality vs. quantity of water and information availability. Furthermore, it underscores that attention to cultural contextualization is key to better understanding the issues border residents face and the problem-solving approaches they employ. A more nuanced approach by Government and NGOs is critical to successfully crafting policy and solutions to address these concerns.

Several of these opportunities to present research outcomes at conferences and to engage large communities of scholars this year were also made possible by additional funding given by a former Southwestern parent.