Outstanding Senior Scholars

Each year, the Honors Program recognizes graduating seniors who have distinguished themselves by completing three exceptional academic achievements:

  1. Maintaining a 3.9 GPA or higher, graduating Summa Cum Laude;
  2. Challenging themselves and enriching their education by completing the Liberal Studies Honors Program—in which they completed a minimum of 18 honors points;
  3. Earning Honors in their Major by completing an honors thesis.

To achieve any of these distinctions is a noteworthy accomplishment; achieving all three is a rarity. This year, we recognize 21 Outstanding Senior Scholars of the class of 2018.


Devan Bater

Double Major: Psychology & International Affairs
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Jeanette Taylor
Thesis Title: Reading Ability and Substance Use in Adolescents: A Twin Study
Thesis Summary: This thesis looked at possible correlations between reading abilities and substance use in adolescents. A twin study was used to discover if this possible correlation was due to genetics, environment, or both.
Plans after graduation: Taking a gap year to work and apply to master’s programs for Public Health


Alexander Bell

Double Major: Biological Science
Honors in the Major: Biological Science
Thesis Director: Dr. Hengli Tang
Thesis Title: Investigating SREBP2 as a Potential Zika Virus Host Cofactor
Thesis Summary: I investigated the relationship between cholesterol synthesis and Zika virus infectivity. I gained insights into how Zika virus infection can be modulated through the regulation of lipid synthesis.
Plans after graduation: After graduation I will be joining the lab of John T. Schiller at the National Institutes of Health as a post baccalaureate research fellow.


Olivia Rose

Major: Psychology
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Wen Li
Thesis Title: Neural Correlates of Tourette’s Syndrome in Mu Oscillations of the Sensorimotor Cortex
Thesis Summary: This project sought to better understand the underlying neural mechanism of Tourette’s syndrome. I aimed to establish abnormalities in patterns of cortical firing, indicative of decreased sensorimotor inhibition, in children and adults with Tourette’s syndrome. I also investigated the role of sensory gating deficits in the pathology of the premonitory urge to tic.
Plans after graduation: Ph.D. in Computational and Systems Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis


Josh Boyd

Major: Psychology
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Jonathan Folstein
Thesis Title: Categorical Perception in Complex Objects
Thesis Summary: We studied how people learn to categorize objects. We also examined how learning these categories affects a person's perception.
Plans after graduation: I want to attend medical school.


Destiny Bridges

Major: Biological Science
Honors in the Major: Biological Science
Thesis Director: Dr. Debra Ann Fadool
Thesis Title: Neuronal Activation in the Olfactory Bulb as a Function of Metabolic State
Thesis Summary: My project explores the activation patterns of neurons surrounding the glomeruli of the olfactory bulb. I was interested in seeing how metabolic state (ie being fasted or satiated) may influence neuronal activity after the olfactory sensory neurons are stimulated by their preferred ligand or odorant molecule
Plans after graduation: After graduation, I plan on applying to medical schools this summer, gaining more research and medical experience, and traveling.


Alex Brockdorf

Major: Psychology
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Pamela Keel
Thesis Title: Examining the Influence of Sensitivity to Punishment on Shame and Eating Disorder Symptomatology
Thesis Summary : My thesis investigated relationships between sensitivity to punishment, shame, and disordered eating by testing two mediation models. Results indicated that shame mediated the relationship between sensitivity to punishment and disordered eating, suggesting that shame may be a risk factor for disordered eating and a potential target for intervention.
Plans after graduation: I will be attending a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Julie Kate Brooks

Dual Degree: English and Psychology
Honors in the Major: English
Thesis Director: Dr. Leigh Edwards
Thesis Title: Streaming Narrative and Representational Variety: The Spreadability of Independent Cinema
Thesis Summary: Examines how independent cinema connects with specific audiences enabled by streaming services.
Plans after graduation: I will start UT Austin's Masters of Marketing program in July.


Samantha Chianese

Double Major: Psychology & Creative Writing
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Richard Wagner
Thesis Title: P-Curve on Categorical Perception Deficits
Thesis Summary: Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Wagner, I ran the data from a meta-analysis on categorical perception deficits in dyslexia, compared to the categorical perception of same-age and same-reading level controls, through the P-Curve App. P-Curve is a program used to test for evidentiary value in data sets and is a way to combat selective reporting.
Plans after graduation: Internship and doctorate in clinical psychology, with a focus on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)


Grace Garratt

Major: Psychology
Honors in the Major: Psychology
Thesis Director: Dr. Jesse Cougle
Thesis Title: An Exploration of the Role of ‘Not Just Right’ Experiences and Incompleteness in Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Thesis Summary: ‘Not just right’ experiences and incompleteness were investigated as potential vulnerability factors relevant to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), though these constructs may not be specific to BDD symptoms.
Plans after graduation: I will continue my role as the Mental Health Navigator at 2-1-1 Big Bend for a year, then attend graduate school.


Kyle Grosser

Major: Applied and Computational Math
Honors in the Major: Applied and Computational Math
Thesis Director: Dr. Nick Cogan
Thesis Title: Chemotactic Strategies in Marine Bacteria
Thesis Summary: We derived a model to describe the particular movement techniques of marine bacteria from a general equation for bacterial motility. We then simulated this model numerically, estimating solutions to our system with finite difference and forward Euler methods.
Plans after graduation: Going to UNC Chapel Hill for a PhD in Biostatistics


Allison Janzen

Major: Family & Child Sciences
Honors in the Major: Family & Child Sciences
Thesis Director: Dr. Frank Fincham
Thesis Title: Sustainable Consumption: Dyadic Evaluation
Thesis Summary: My project explored the relationship between self-control and sustainable consumer behaviors within romantic relationships. The overarching goal of the project was to develop a foundation for future research to enhance regulation in order to improve sustainable consumption attitudes and behaviors within households.
Plans after graduation: I will be moving to Seattle to pursue a graduate education in School Psychology at the University of Washington.


Nat Jones

Dual Degree: Biology & Double Major: Art History & Japanese
Honors in the Majors: Biology & Art History
Thesis Director: Dr. Yanchang Wang & Dr. Laura Lee
Thesis Titles: (1) Bmh1/Bmh2 Redundancy in the Control of the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint in Yeast Cells, (2) The Shiga Prefecture War Shrine: An Artistic Intersection of Religion and Regime
Plans after graduation: University of Oxford Masters of Science in History of Medicine, then medical school to specialize in transgender care


Zachary Jones

Double Major: Political Science & International Affairs
Honors in the Major: International Affairs
Thesis Director: Terry Coonan
Thesis Title: The Malaysian Model of Islamic Governance and Religious Freedom
Thesis Summary: In my thesis, I summarize the history of political Islam and religious freedom in pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Malaysia, and explain that there is a national model of religious freedom unique to Malaysia. I then explain the current threats and challenges to this model of religious freedom, and offer local, regional, and international solutions which could help revive Malaysia's historical commitment to religious pluralism.
Plans after graduation: I plan to work on congressional campaigns in Florida, before moving to Washington DC to begin working in foreign policy.


Sarah Kyle

Major: Exercise Physiology
Honors in the Major: Exercise Physiology
Thesis Director: Dr. Chet Ray
Thesis Title: Effect of ultrasonic bone stimulation on muscle sympathetic nerve activity in humans.
Thesis Summary: Dr. Ray and I completed a project utilizing ultrasonic vibration applied to the mastoid bone behind the ear to stimulate the otoliths organs of the vestibular system, eliciting an outflow of sympathetic activity to the skeletal muscles, known as the vestibulosympathetic reflex. This study was the first of its kind to suggest that the use of ultrasonic bone stimulation to augment muscle sympathetic nerve activity may offer a noninvasive treatment option to populations who suffer from orthostatic intolerance, in which blood pressure is not maintained during postural change.
Plans after graduation: I recently acquired a job as a Medical ER Scribe in Central Florida where I will work during my gap year(s) while applying to medical school


Taylor Merritt

Major: Biological Sciences
Honors in the Major: Biological Sciences
Thesis Director: Dr. Elizabeth Hammock
Thesis Title: Oxytocin's effect on brain activity in postnatal mice
Thesis Summary: My thesis is focused on oxytocin, which is a hormone known to play a role in the regulation and development of early social behavior. For my thesis, I asked the question: are there differences in brain activity when varying levels of oxytocin are administered orally?
Plans after graduation: I plan to attend the University of Florida College of Medicine this Fall to pursue my medical degree.


Laura Miller

Double Major: Studio Art & Editing, Writing, and Media
Honors in the Major: Studio Art
Thesis Director: Assistant Professor Julietta Cheung
Thesis Title: Writing in the Discipline for the Studio Art Undergraduate
Thesis Summary: My thesis argues for the incorporation of writing curriculum within undergraduate Studio Art programs.
Plans after graduation: I plan on pursuing a career in academic publishing.


Joe Pelt

Major: Biological Sciences
Honors in the Major: Biological Sciences
Thesis Director: Dr. Jonathan H. Dennis
Thesis Title: Nucleosome dynamics in a cell line model of Parkinson’s disease
Thesis Summary: I've worked to study the changes in nucleosome occupancy in a cell line of Parkinson's disease. Mapping the precise locations of nucleosomal changes will likely give insights into the etiology of Parkinson’s Disease
Plans after graduation: He will attend the University of Oxford to study neuroscience


Micayla Rigby-Seilkop


Savannah Savadel

Major: Biological Science
Honors in the Major: Biological Science
Thesis Director: Dr. Hank Bass
Thesis Title: Mapping and Analysis of Open Chromatin in Developing Ears of Maize
Thesis Summary: I worked under the direction of Dr. Hank Bass and used Maize ear shoots to study the landscape of chromatin in regards to regulatory elements. An enzyme digestion was used to analyze the accessibility of chromatin in specific regions, which were then correlated with transcription factor access. The goal of this research is to learn more about the regions of DNA important in regulating gene activity.
Plans after graduation: I plan to attend medical school.


Rachel Smith


Charles Vancini

Double Major: Theatre and History
Honors in the Major: Theatre
Thesis Director: Samer Al-Saber
Thesis Title: Finishing Sophocles: An Attempt to Recreate a Fragmented Satyr Play
Thesis Summary: Under the supervision of Samer Al-Saber, I researched ancient Athenian culture and the satyr play dramatic tradition in order to recreate the lost ending to Sophocles' Ichneutae. This project combined dedicated academic research with playwriting and artistic creativity.
Plans after graduation: I will be working for the Gillum for Governor campaign here in Tallahassee!

title-inside title-centered
2