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Second MTSU scholar earns grant from Phi Kappa Phi

Another MTSU student has received a stipend from the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate multidisciplinary honor society.

Phi Kappa Phi has awarded a $1,000 study-abroad grant to Samuel Kane Hulsey, a junior majoring in Spanish and global studies. He is one of only 50 students in the country to receive the award.

Samuel Hulsey

Samuel Hulsey

“I feel extremely humbled to have been selected as a recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi study-abroad grant,” said Hulsey. “This award was integral in making summer study in Brazil financially possible.”

phi kappa phi logo webHulsey, a native of Lebanon, Tennessee, used the money to finance a May 31-July 5 conservation biology and ecology field course at Serra do Mar State Park in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The park is the largest protected area in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of the most endangered rainforests in the world. It contains 46 percent of all the amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals in the region as well as the source of water for 1.5 million people.

“During this course, I learned how to properly conduct ecological fieldwork through the development of my own research project in one of the most endangered environments in the world,” Hulsey said.

Hulsey also studied in Cuzco, Peru, this past spring semester. He currently is in Peru again to begin an internship with an environmental nongovernmental organization.

In June, Robert Daniel Murphy, who graduated from MTSU in May with bachelor’s degrees in physics and philosophy, won a $5,000 national fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi. Murphy, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, resident, will use the money in pursuit of a doctorate degree in physics at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi inducts approximately 32,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni each year through chapters at more than 300 select colleges and universities. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and the top 7.5 percent of juniors.

For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, go to www.phikappaphi.org, or call national headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 800-804-9880.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

‘MTSU On the Record’ heads to the land of Rio and rainforests

Two stellar scholars from MTSU explained their upcoming research expeditions to Brazil on a recent edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with graduate students Jennifer Benetti-Longhini and Kevin McDaniel first aired June 30 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org). You can listen to their conversation here.

Fulbright Scholarship winners Kevin McDaniel and Jennifer Benetti-Longhini are shown in this MTSU file photo. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Fulbright Scholarship winners Kevin McDaniel and Jennifer Benetti-Longhini are shown in this MTSU file photo. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

In April, Benetti-Longhini and McDaniel won fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Student Program, one of the most distinguished awards of its kind in the nation.

Fulbright fellowships are administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Benetti-Longhini, a Chula Vista, California, native now living in Tullahoma, Tennessee, will spend a year conducting research on butterflies while working with an ecological program funded by the U.S. and Brazil

“I’ve become more and more interested in the area,” Benetti-Longhini said of the region where she will study. “It contains a large part of the Amazonian Basin, which is the iconic center of biodiversity and has a huge impact on the world as far as climate is concerned.”

McDaniel, a Memphis, Tennessee, native now living and working in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will continue his work mapping prehistoric sites in Brazil through the study of soils.

“People think the soil is so acidic, but you see this rich diversity,” said McDaniel of Brazil’s archaeological history. “Where are the people? It’s just that big empty question. Where did they go? There had to have been people here.”

Benetti-Longhini’s and McDaniel’s awards bring MTSU’s number of Fulbright recipients to 12 over the last seven years and a total of 16 since 2001. To view a list of past and current Fulbright recipients, visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/FULBRIGHT.php.

To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to the searchable “Audio Clips” archives here and here.

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

– Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

 

 

MTSU senior SURFs into summer forensic-science research

An MTSU senior is SURF-ing through samples of body fluids this summer in a research project that will ultimately help her assist investigators in their quests to solve crimes.

Brooke Taylor Morgan

Brooke Taylor Morgan of Rutledge, Tennessee, an honors student who’s majoring in forensic science at MTSU, received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, or SURF, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Her 11-week fellowship with the Applied Genetics group in the Material Measurement Laboratory at the organization’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus has her participating in several fascinating research projects.

With her NIST mentors, Drs. Peter Vallone and Mike Coble and Erica Butts, Morgan has been engrossed in DNA samples, data collection and more.

“Everything that this group does is exactly what I want to do as a forensic scientist,” Morgan said. “My long-term career goal is to work for the FBI as a DNA analyst. I am immersed in DNA typing and STR (short tandem repeats) profiling research here at NIST, and I am gaining valuable knowledge and experience every day that can easily be applied to my intended career.”

MTSU senior Brooke Taylor Morgan, right, works with biology professor Dr. Drew Seig in MTSU’s University Honors College Science Lab. Morgan is participating in a National Institute of Standards and Technology summer fellowship in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Morgan’s also been working on “optimization of qPCR assays,” or, in layman’s terms, optimizing the testing procedures used in forensic laboratories when analyzing DNA samples. “qPCR” refers to “real-time” or quantitative polymearse chain reactions, which are used to amplify a minute amount of DNA.

“In the area of research, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” Morgan explained. “You are not constantly in the lab performing experiments. You can spend hours researching literature and preparing for the experiment, and once you are finally in the lab, all you have to do is push a button and wait for the results.

“You have to learn how to make the best of your time. While you are waiting for an experiment to complete its run, you can either waste time surfing the Internet or continue researching your topic to gain more knowledge.”

Morgan, one of the University Honors College’s Transfer Fellows, also has been an academic peer mentor to assist her fellow students as well as a housing resident assistant and is an MTSU Student Ambassador for 2014-15.

She provided the keynote address in May for the first East Tennessee Expanding Your Horizons Conference at Walters State Community College. EYH is a hands-on math and science event that encourages girls to consider careers in the sciences, math, engineering and technology.

Dr. Alicja Lanfear, the postdoctoral research assistant for MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, and University Honors Dean John Vile told Morgan about the fellowship. Morgan competed for it with fellow MTSU students earlier this year, and Lanfear prepared her nomination form.

  “Everyone urged me to apply since I have such strong interests in a lab-based career,” Morgan said. “The NIST-SURF program seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain hands-on experience and be surrounded by some of the best scientists around!”

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, also known as SURF, lets top students spend part of their summer working elbow to elbow with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST, founded in 1901 and now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories.

It’s also one of the world’s leading research organizations and home to four Nobel Prize winners.

The SURF opportunities are open each year to students majoring in biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, chemical science and technology, computer science, electronics and electrical engineering, engineering, information technology, mathematics and physical sciences, and materials science, including forensic science.

For more information about the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, visit www.nist.gov/surfgaithersburg and www.nist.gov/surfboulder.

For more information on MTSU’s University Honors College, visit www.mtsu.edu/honors, and for details on the Forensic Institute for Research and Education, visit www.mtsu.edu/fire.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU senior Brooke Taylor Morgan, right, poses with MTSU chemistry professor Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross in May at the first East Tennessee Expanding Your Horizons Conference at Walters State Community College. Morgan provided the keynote address for the event. (Photo submitted)

Students unearth history at MTSU Archaeological Field School

EAGLEVILLE, Tennessee — The MTSU Archaeological Field School has taken the classroom outdoors for the last six weeks, keeping students hoping for breezes and wearing extra sunscreen as they dig and learn at a site in the rolling hills of western Rutherford County.

At a special event June 24 at the Magnolia Valley property near Eagleville, about 20 miles west of the MTSU campus, Dr. Tanya Peres, an associate professor of anthropology at MTSU, and her students welcomed more guests to learn about the field school and even try a bit of digging themselves.

MTSU junior Taylor Lee, left, an anthropology major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, carefully shovels dirt Tuesday alongside senior Tara Imoto, a sociology major minoring in anthropology/archaeology from Clarksville, Tennessee, at the Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville, Tennessee. The students are participating in the MTSU Summer Archaeology Field School at the site. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

MTSU junior Taylor Lee, left, an anthropology major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, carefully shovels dirt June 24 alongside senior Tara Imoto, a sociology major minoring in anthropology/archaeology from Clarksville, Tennessee, at the Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville, Tennessee. The students are participating in the MTSU Summer Archaeology Field School at the site. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

“This event is really important, and I’m excited that the rain held off for us to have it,” Peres said as students continued working all around her beneath overcast skies.

“Part of our mission for the field school and the Rutherford County Archaeology Research Project is to educate the public. … People seem really interested in the work that we’re doing.”

The MTSU Archaeological Field School is the only one in Tennessee currently certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists and is one of 16 in such schools in the United States.

It’s a part of the newly formed Rutherford County Archaeology Research Project, a university-based research program focusing on the ancient peoples that called Rutherford County home between 12,000 and 500 years ago. That span stretches from mankind’s first known first farming societies to the medieval period, and the latter includes the well-known Mississippian period of the Native American farmers of the southeast.

Peres noted that Rutherford County has far fewer recorded prehistoric sites — only 275 so far — than the 1,300-plus sites in adjoining Williamson and Davidson counties, meaning there’s great potential for discovering more about the area’s prehistory with these digs.

University Provost Brad Bartel, a veteran archaeologist who now serves as MTSU’s senior academic administrator, was among those attending the June 24 event. He said the field school and research project provides valuable scientific research, trains future generations of archaeologists and connects the community to its roots.

RCARP logo web“There are many jobs out there for archaeologists, and we’re fulfilling the needs of the state and the region by training these students. And when the community comes out, it gives them an appreciation for the past,” said Bartel, who has participated in archaeological digs throughout Europe and the United States during his 45-year career.

Dr. Brad Bartel

Dr. Brad Bartel

The field school kicked off May 13 as the field school crew used remote sensing to target potential areas of interest on the property.

Under the guidance of Peres and co-director Jesse Tune, an MTSU alumnus and doctoral candidate at Texas A&M, the field-school students learned how to identify, secure and prepare potential areas to excavate and study during their eight-hour days on site.

When rain forced them indoors, the students did research at the Rutherford County Archives, cleaned artifacts in their campus lab in Peck Hall and participated in workshops to help identify their discoveries, such as learning the differences between rocks that have been “worked,” or manipulated by man to serve as tools, and naturally broken rocks.

Peres said the students discovered five unexpected “cultural features, meaning ones created by humans,” at the site, including an old gravel road in the middle of what’s been a horse pasture for decades.

Research revealed that its early 1800s-era construction may link it to the nearby U.S. 31A, or Henry Horton Highway, which is one of Middle Tennessee’s oldest thoroughfares and is believed to follow an ancient Native American trading and hunting path stretching from northern Kentucky to northern Alabama.

Like his classmates, MTSU senior Eric Stockton, a geosciences major from Greenback, Tennessee, worked up quite a sweat Tuesday as he carefully scraped thin layers of soil with a shovel. He assisted the visiting MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee as they worked in an area Stockton said appeared to have served as a hearth at some point.

“This project applies to my mapping (concentration),” said Stockton, who was doing excavation work for the first time. “The first two weeks we did surveying, which involved a lot of data collection that’s not excavating, and that falls into my mapping preference.

“But I’m actually enjoying this (excavating). It’s part of my plans for the future as far as surveying and remote-sensing data and being fully prepared to go on any cultural research management site or any excavation site being prepared by a university.”

The MTSU Field Archaeology School ends June 30. For more information about it and the Rutherford County Archaeology Research Project, visit www.facebook.com/MTSURCARP and http://mtsurcarp.wordpress.com.

For more information about the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu/soc.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu) and  Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU archaeologist Dr. Tanya Peres, director of the MTSU Summer Archaeology Field School, explains the excavation process June 24 at the Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville. MTSU invited community members to visit the excavation site to see the students’ work.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, looks on as MTSU alumnus Jesse Tune, co-director of the MTSU Summer Archaeology Field School, explains the excavation process June 24 at Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville.

MTSU senior Sara Northcutt, an anthropology major from McMinnville, Tennessee, carefully sifts through dirt June 24 during an excavation at Magnolia Valley equestrian farm in Eagleville, Tennessee. Northcutt is one of 15 students participating in the MTSU Summer Archaeology Field School at the site.

TBR votes to increase student tuition and fees for 2014-15

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved a recommendation to increase tuition and fees at its institutions this year, including a $348 increase for full-time students at MTSU.

Among other actions at its June 20 meeting, the TBR approved the Finance and Business Operations Committee’s recommendation to increase hourly maintenance fees 5.8 percent at the 13 community colleges across the state, 8.5 percent at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, and ranging from 0 to 6.9 percent at the six TBR universities.

Construction on MTSU’s new $147 million Science Building, shown here in May 2014, remains on schedule for it 2014-15 official opening. Construction on the building began in May 2012. (MTSU file photo)

Construction on MTSU’s new $147 million Science Building, shown here in May 2014, remains on schedule for it 2014-15 official opening. Construction on the building began in May 2012. (MTSU file photo)

The 5.3 percent tuition increase for MTSU means a student taking 15 credit hours will pay $330 more per year in tuition, plus an $18 mandatory fee increase.

Because of an unexpected decline in state revenue collections, the outcomes-based funding formula used to allocate state appropriations was not fully funded this year. As a result, fee increase recommendations were higher than planned, a point expressed by TBR Chancellor John Morgan.

“Had the state been in a position to fund the improved outcomes, the recommended rate increases you see here would have ended up at roughly half of what they are,” Morgan said.

“We have continued to talk about the need for us as a state to really have an opportunity to strategically look at how we’re going to finance the higher education aspirations that we have so clearly understood as necessary for the future of our state.

John Morgan

John Morgan

“There are basically four ways to finance the activity that we undertake: tuition that we ask students to pay, state appropriations, private fundraising, and efficiency —finding ways to do the business we do in a more productive fashion.

“What the right mix of those resources are needs to be carefully considered. What is realistic in terms of looking forward to a tuition policy not just on an ad hoc basis, but looking toward the future horizon several years out when in terms of financial planning for doing what the state needs us to deliver?”

When combined with mandatory fees — which are unique to each campus and include fees for athletics and student activities — already approved, the proposed increases for students taking 15 credit hours will amount to:

  • $83 per trimester at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
  • $198 per year for community college students.
  • $304 at Austin Peay State University.
  • $307 at the University of Memphis. (Mandatory fee increase only.)
  • $348 at MTSU.
  • $442 at East Tennessee State University.
  • $450 per year at Tennessee State University.
  • $634 at Tennessee Technological University.

TBR seal webA list of increases for 2014-15 and the new price students will pay can be found here.

The two-day meeting at Tennessee State University also included a number of other agenda items, including information reports and committee updates.

Regents heard about programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness at TBR institutions.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges reported on their efforts to establish common curricula for degree programs offered by a majority of the 13 community colleges, including programs like computer information technology, EMT/paramedic training, business management, and medical informatics, among others.

The effort will ensure that courses are aligned across the system so students can transfer seamlessly from one institution to another and employers can expect more consistent workforce preparation. The colleges are also collaborating to align their business processes to operate more efficiently as a system.

Regents also received a report highlighting the number of degrees and certificates awarded by its universities and community colleges last year. TBR institutions awarded about 33,400 degrees and certificates statewide in 2013-14, almost a 28 percent increase from the number of awards in 2009-10.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions and providing quality post-secondary education to more than 200,000 students across the state.

In this file photo, MTSU students navigate the quad area in front of the James E. Walker Library. (MTSU file photo)

In this file photo, MTSU students navigate the quad area in front of the James E. Walker Library. (MTSU file photo)

Bonnaroo gives MTSU students multimedia experience (+VIDEO)

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — MTSU students John Coulston and Kimi Thompson are enjoying this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival from a unique vantage point.

They are part of a select student team from the College of Mass Communication providing multimedia coverage of the world-famous music event for The Tennessean and other media platforms, thanks to a partnership with festival organizers initiated by Dean Ken Paulson.

MTSU College of Mass Communication sophomores Kimi Thompson and John Coulston roam the grounds of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Thursday in search of stories for The Tennessean. (MTSU photos)

“They are having a terrific time,” Paulson said of the student team. “It’s a great educational experience for them. and they get to cover the music they love up close.”

Coulston, a sophomore journalism major, was making the most of the experience on Thursday, roaming the festival grounds and capturing photos and videos for The Tennessean through an iPad.

“I’m covering all kinds of events going on — all the bands, interviewing some Nashville acts that are playing the festival and looking for interesting people to profile,” he said.

Thompson, a public relations sophomore, had similar goals as she traveled between music venues.

“I’m looking for great stories and situations worth reporting,” she said. “And it’s a chance to prove myself and show what I can do.”

That’s what Paulson and the other faculty mentors at Bonnaroo said they want to hear from all the students on the team.

“Our hope is that students will get first-hand experience on what it is like to cover a music festival,” the dean said. “It’s about … using cutting-edge tools, multimedia, and making sure you capture the story.”

You can watch a video report about MTSU’s partnership below.

 

 

Paulson brokered the partnership earlier this year between the college and Bonnaroo. In April, Bonnaroo partners Ashley Capps, owner of AC Entertainment, and Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly Presents, came to MTSU to work with students in the college.

The partnership also includes a symposium that MTSU will host this fall on the “Anatomy of a Music Festival: The Bonnaroo Story and the Future of Festivals.”

“We are delighted to have this partnership with Bonnaroo and The Tennessean, giving our students real-world experience covering the festival, talking to artists and looking behind the scenes at what really goes on at a world-class festival,” Paulson said.

Bonnaroo 2014 logo web“MTSU has a unique college: We’ve got recording industry, we’ve got journalism, we’ve got electronic media communication. All of that makes Bonnaroo a perfect laboratory for what we do.”

MTSU boasts the fifth-largest mass-communication college in the nation and is the only one that features departments of recording industry, journalism and electronic media communication.

It also is home to the Center for Popular Music, which maintains a large research library and archive and interprets various aspects of American vernacular music.

A survey by Radio Television News Association, published by TV Week’s NewsPro magazine, listed the college among the nation’s top 20 programs last year. More information about the college can be found at www.mtsu.edu/masscomm.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Ken Paulson, left, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, confers with adjunct professor Pat Embry and Michael Fleming, associate professor of recording industry, Thursday at the media tent on the grounds of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Ken Paulson, left, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, confers with adjunct professor Pat Embry, center, and Michael Fleming, associate professor of recording industry, Thursday at the media tent on the grounds of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

MTSU sophomore Kimi Thompson captures video of the crowd with her iPad at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday. (MTSU photo)

MTSU sophomore Kimi Thompson captures video of the crowd with her iPad at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Thursday. (MTSU photo)

MTSU students give Jekyll Island’s gilded heritage a dose of reality

In a mere three weeks, some MTSU students have transformed a national historic site.

Their three-week field school took place May 10-31 on Georgia’s Jekyll Island, where the multimillionaire magnates of America’s Gilded Age created a retreat fit for royalty.

The 13 graduate students of MTSU’s Current Issues of Public Policy Practice class were hardly on site to lounge around, however.

Dr. Brenden Martin, the class professor, said curators remarked that MTSU students accomplished more in their first week and a half of work than all other field schools conducted at Jekyll Island combined.

“They’re begging us to come back now,” said Martin. “I think it would be a tremendous opportunity to go there again.”

Participants in the MTSU Jekyll Island National Historic Site field school pose for a photo at Indian Mound Cottage. Shown on the front row, from left, are MTSU students Torren Gaston and Jenna Stout, Dr. Brenden Martin and students Mark Mullen, Caleb Knies, Katie Brammel, Veronica Sales, Kayla Pressley and Aleia Brown. On the back row are, from left, MTSU student Lane Tillner; Dr. June Hall McCash, MTSU professor emerita; MTSU student Lindsay Hager; Jekyll Island Museum program coordinator Andrea Marroquin and curator Gretchen Greminger; and MTSU students Rachel Lewis and Beth Rouse. Not pictured is MTSU student Michael Fletcher. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Brenden Martin)

Participants in the MTSU Jekyll Island National Historic Site field school pose for a photo at Indian Mound Cottage. Shown on the front row, from left, are MTSU students Torren Gaston and Jenna Stout, Dr. Brenden Martin and students Mark Mullen, Caleb Knies, Katie Brammel, Veronica Sales, Kayla Pressley and Aleia Brown. On the back row are, from left, MTSU student Lane Tillner; Dr. June Hall McCash, MTSU professor emerita; MTSU student Lindsay Hager; Jekyll Island Museum program coordinator Andrea Marroquin and curator Gretchen Greminger; and MTSU students Rachel Lewis and Beth Rouse. Not pictured is MTSU student Michael Fletcher. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Brenden Martin)

In the three weeks, the students:

  • set up three exhibit projects.
  • conducted four oral history interviews.
  • developed an interactive multimedia website.
  • developed a booklet interpreting African-Americans’ contributions to local history
  • initiated a records-management training program for new employees.
  • developed an outreach program for schools connecting local history to science, technology, engineering and math disciplines, as well as projects related to archival and records management.

The state of Georgia purchased the island, located off the Atlantic coast some 13 miles from Brunswick and 93 miles from Savannah, in 1947 and is obligated by law to keep 65 percent of it in a mostly natural state. Its uniquely rich history includes Native American and Spanish and English colonial cultures.

In addition, the Du Bignons, a family of French Huguenots who moved there during the French Revolution, established plantations and introduced slavery to the island.

In 1888, the descendants of the original Du Bignons sold the island to a private group of wealthy investors, who established the Jekyll Island Club for their exclusive use.

Martin said the curators’ main interpretive focus has been on the millionaires. His MTSU students instead gave voice to women, servants, children and other marginalized people — the ones who enabled their wealthy employers to relax in their two- and three-story cottages and enjoy what the privileged class called “the simple life.”

On a field visit to a former plantation site, MTSU student Michael Fletcher, left, shows one of several pieces of an historic bottle he found to John Hunter, director of historic resources for the Jekyll Island Authority.

On a field visit to a former plantation site, MTSU student Michael Fletcher, left, shows one of several pieces of an historic bottle he found to John Hunter, director of historic resources for the Jekyll Island Authority.

Students Rachel Lewis and Jenna Stout created a tactile, interactive display in Mistletoe Cottage to show tourists what the servants’ lives were like.

“Our goal for the exhibit was to show that, yes, there’s this extravagance that everybody’s attracted to,” said Lewis, “but somebody still has to make the food. Somebody still has to empty the chamber pots.”

Lewis said she and Stout created a table setting based on the rather complicated, detailed instructions the servants had to follow. They also invited tourists to pick up an empty wooden crate, which is heavier than it appears, to given them an idea of the physical burden of carrying those same crates, filled with goods, in the heat and humidity.

Dr. June McCash

The students’ accomplishments are expected to remain part of the Jekyll Island experience for a long time, Martin said, enabling tour guides to learn things they can incorporate into their dialogues with visitors.

Working with curator Gretchen Greminger and Dr. June Hall McCash, MTSU professor emerita and founding director of the University Honors Program, the budding historians added an experience to their resumes that will serve them well in the job market.

“They can sell their time in school as ‘professional work experience,’” Martin said.

“It’s extremely gratifying to be able to see something that you’ve worked very hard on, that your peers have critiqued and have helped you bring to fruition, up on the wall,” Lewis added.

In addition to Lewis and Stout, who are from Evanston, Illinois, and Siler City, North Carolina, respectively, the student team included:

  • Katie Brammel of Clinton, Missouri;
  • Aleia Brown of West Chester, Ohio;
  • Michael Fletcher of Smithville, Tennessee;
  • Torren Gatson of Durham, North Carolina;
  • Lindsay Hager of Nashville, Tennessee;
  • Caleb Knies of Dale, Indiana;
  • Mark Mullen of Higden, Arkansas;
  • Kayla Pressley of Maggie Valley, North Carolina;
  • Beth Rouse of Nolensville, Tennessee;
  • Veronica Sales of Hendersonville, Tennessee; and
  • Lane Tillner of Collierville, Tennessee.

For more information on the project, contact Martin at 615-898-2643 or brenden.martin@mtsu.edu. To sample the students’ work, visit their interactive website at http://jekyllislandmuseum.wix.com/jekyllislandoralhist.

Gina K. Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU students Lane Tillner, left, and Caleb Knies stand at the exhibit opening for “Pieces of the Puzzle: Childhood at Jekyll,” the exhibit they conceived, researched, curated, designed, mounted and installed in less than three weeks at Jekyll Island Museum.

MTSU students Lane Tillner, left, and Caleb Knies stand at the exhibit opening for “Pieces of the Puzzle: Childhood at Jekyll,” the exhibit they conceived, researched, curated, designed, mounted and installed in less than three weeks at Jekyll Island Museum.

2 new MTSU Fulbright recipients to perform research in Brazil in 2015

Brazil will serve as the backdrop and host country for Jennifer Elizabeth Benetti-Longhini and Kevin McDaniel, MTSU’s newest Fulbright fellowship award recipients.

Fulbright logoThe two graduate students, along with the Undergraduate Fellowships Office in the Honors College, learned in April that Brazilian officials selected them for Fulbright U.S. Student Program research.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program sends students, young professionals and artists to teach and/or conduct research for up to a year.

Benetti-Longhini, 28, of Tullahoma, Tennessee, and McDaniel, 30, of Murfreesboro, will perform their work in 2015.

MTSU butterfly researcher Jennifer Elizabeth Benetti-Longhini of Tullahoma, Tennessee, is ready to take advantage of her Fulbright award to study and teach in Brazil in 2015. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

A butterfly researcher, Benetti-Longhini will continue an ecological program already jointly funded between the United States and Brazil on the “Assembly and Evolution of the Amazonian Biota and Its Environment.”

McDaniel, an anthropologist and archaeologist who already has visited Brazil twice and is about to make a third trip in July, will continue his work mapping prehistoric sites in the South American country.

A native of Chula Vista, California, in metropolitan San Diego, Benetti-Longhini is a graduate of both the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts, earning undergraduate degrees in biology and Spanish in 2013. She currently is working on her master’s degree in biology.

Benetti-Longhini will be assisting in a multidisciplinary international project. Most of her work and study will be conducted with professor Andre Freitas at the University of Campinas, or UNICAMP, in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“We’re trying to discover what we can about the natural history of the Amazon region,” she said, adding that her study will focus on two species of butterflies.

Her data will be integrated with the evolutionary and additional findings of collaborators as part of a larger project aiming to model the natural history of the region.

“Brazil is a country that, because of its exuberant biodiversity, offers the unique and exciting opportunity to work with hundreds of students who are interested in natural history, ecology and organismal biology,” Benetti-Longhini wrote in her Fulbright application.

“Working in this environment would be an extraordinary way to launch my career as an ecologist.”

MTSU biology professor Andrew Brower, who also conducts butterfly research, serves as her mentor.

When she isn’t studying butterflies, one of Benetti-Longhini’s hobbies is playing the bagpipes; she performs at 9/11 memorial ceremonies and funerals for local military heroes and police and firefighters. She and her husband, Leo, also own a business, Jonker Sailplanes Inc., in Tullahoma.

An anthropologist and archaeologist, MTSU graduate student Kevin McDaniel of Murfreesboro plans to use his Fulbright fellowship award to teach and continue his research mapping prehistoric sites in Brazil next year.

McDaniel, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology from MTSU in 2013, minoring in Portuguese and archaeology. He pursued the Fulbright opportunity, he said, to “involve himself in research on a professional level and interact with people because it is an exchange of culture and a matter of broadening your horizons.”

“We’re part of a big global family, and the Fulbright gives you the ability to understand one another,” McDaniel added. “The way to understand people is to talk to them, and it’s a way to break down barriers and stereotypes.”

McDaniel traveled to Brazil in 2011 to complete a minor in Portuguese for associate professor Soraya Nogueira in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; he returned in spring 2012 to conduct an archaeological survey with one of his mentors, MTSU cultural anthropology professor Richard Pace.

This map of Brazil, courtesy of The World Factbook, shows the city of Belem in the state of Para near the northeast Atlantic coast and the city of São Paulo near the south Atlantic. Belem is about 3,546 miles from Murfreesboro, while São Paulo is 4,853 miles from Murfreesboro. The cities are slightly more than 1,500 miles apart.

This map of Brazil, courtesy of The World Factbook, shows the city of Belem in the state of Para near the northeast Atlantic coast and the city of São Paulo near the south Atlantic. Belem is about 3,540 miles from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, while São Paulo is 4,850 miles from Murfreesboro. The cities are roughly 1,500 miles apart.

His 2012 trip was the cover story for the fall 2012 edition of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts magazine, which you can read here via PDF beginning on page 18.

Dr. Tanya Peres, MTSU sociology and anthropology associate professor and an archaeology expert, serves as McDaniel’s other mentor. She advised him to pursue the Fulbright.

McDaniel, who is working toward a master’s degree in geosciences, conducts his research primarily through studying soils that indicate the presence of civilizations and by examining ceramics and other artifacts. With his Fulbright, McDaniel also will be participating in community outreach activities through the Goeldi Museum in Belem, Para, Brazil.

A cook at O’Possum’s Irish Pub in Murfreesboro and a former sous-chef who also relishes cooking for his friends, McDaniel said he enjoys martial arts and reading — particularly anything informational, biographical or related to archaeology, anthropology or Brazil — too.

The Fulbright fellowship, one of the world’s most prestigious educational exchange programs, is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential.

Benetti-Longhini’s and McDaniel’s awards bring MTSU’s number of Fulbright recipients to 12 over the last seven years and a total of 16 since 2001. To view a list of past and current Fulbright recipients, visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/FULBRIGHT.php.

Honors College Dean John Vile continues to credit Undergraduate Fellowships Coordinator Laura Clippard for her role in MTSU students receiving Fulbright, Goldwater and numerous other awards and fellowships in recent years.

To learn more about the Undergraduate Fellowships Office and the steps to obtain national scholarships, visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/ufo, call Clippard at 615-898-5464 or email Laura.Clippard@mtsu.edu.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU student team nabs national award for sports coverage (+VIDEO)

MTSU’s student production team has taken a top national award for their live broadcast coverage of a January men’s basketball matchup inside Murphy Center.

EMC @  MTSU logoMembers of EMC Productions, all top students in the university’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, won the “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” collegiate category at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards, which were announced Wednesday in Atlanta.

“Our students, faculty and staff have poured their hearts into this, and I could not be more proud of this accomplishment,” said Billy Pittard, EMC chair in the College of Mass Communication.

EMC Productions submitted footage from the Jan. 30 men’s 84-67 win over East Carolina, which aired live on Sinclair Broadcasting’s WUXP Channel 30 in Nashville, in the competition. You can watch the entry in high definition below.

 

 

MTSU’s College Sports Media Award win came over six challengers: student production teams from Indiana’s Ball State University, Minnesota’s Bethany Lutheran College and St. Cloud State University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Virginia’s Liberty University.

“On the faculty side, major congratulations go to Dr. Dennis Oneal, who has done an outstanding job of managing our ‘varsity team,’ EMC Productions,” Pittard said. “Major congratulations and thanks go to our technical team of Marc Parrish and Mike Forbes.

“And congratulations to all of the EMC faculty who have helped build, educate and train this outstanding group of students, with (assistant professor) Bob Gordon at the top of that list.”

Three members of MTSU's EMC Productions student TV production team accept the top national collegiate honor Wednesday for “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards in Atlanta. From left are senior Chris Robertson of La Vergne, Tennessee, director of EMC Productions; ESPN's Rece Davis, who served as host for the awards event; senior Justin Beasley of Humboldt, Tennessee; and junior Joshua Cragg of Murfreesboro. (Photo courtesy of Mike Forbes)

Three members of MTSU’s EMC Productions student TV crew accept the top national collegiate honor Wednesday for “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards in Atlanta. From left are senior Chris Robertson of La Vergne, Tennessee, director of EMC Productions; ESPN’s Rece Davis, who served as host for the awards event; senior Justin Beasley of Humboldt, Tennessee; and junior Joshua Cragg of Murfreesboro. (Photo courtesy of Mike Forbes)

MTSU signed a pact in 2013 with Sinclair for EMC students to produce and direct 11 athletic events for live broadcasts on the company’s channels. MTSU crews produce content regularly for national sports channels, including ESPN and Comcast Sports South, and continue building a strong reputation for their work on projects with PBS affiliates.

EMC students work inside MTSU’s 40-foot, $1.7 million HD mobile production laboratory, also known simply as “The Truck,” to cover sports, concerts and other events for local broadcast, cable stations and national cable networks.

Members of the EMC Productions team compete for positions on the elite crew to get real-world experience producing live television events, along with material for their portfolios and résumés.

Sponsored by Ross Video and PROMISE Technology and presented by the Sports Video Group and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the College Sports Media Awards celebrate the best in video production at all levels of college sports, from students and university athletic departments to regional and national networks.

For more information about the EMC department at MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu/emc and www.mtsu.edu/programs/video-production.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

 

MTSU institute attracts budding leaders across disciplines

For MTSU rising junior Joshua Pentecost, attending the Institute of Leadership Excellence on campus recently added another level of useful knowledge he’ll carry into his eventual career.

An undeclared major from Kitchener, Ontario, in Canada, Pentecost was nominated by his English professor to attend the weeklong program of the University Honors College, started in 2006 and held each spring in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building on the MTSU campus.

“I’d heard really good things about it from people who had attended before,” Pentecost said. “It’s very diverse in the backgrounds that people bring into it, the different perspectives. I’ve enjoyed all those times of getting to talk to my fellow students.”

At right, MTSU student Austin Wood, a history major, makes a comment during a Wednesday session of the 2014 Institute of Leadership Excellence held inside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. Looking on are students Jimmy Pruitt, a management major, and Cheyenne Plott, a foreign language major. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

At right, MTSU student Austin Wood, a history major, makes a comment during a Wednesday session of the 2014 Institute of Leadership Excellence held inside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. Looking on are students Jimmy Pruitt, a management major, and Cheyenne Plott, a foreign language major. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Dr. David A. Foote

Dr. David A. Foote

Dr. David Foote, institute director and associate dean for the Jones College of Business, said students earn three credit hours for attending the institute, with some colleges allowing the course to substitute for an upper level course within a particular major.

Students study leadership theory and practice through a combination of lecture, discussion, activities, speakers and interaction with classmates. Pentecost’s experience during the May 12-16 course this year prompted him to think about leadership issues that he hadn’t thought of previously.

“One of the things we talked about on the first day was the idea of managing versus leading,” he said. “Is there a difference and if so, what are the differences?”

During one session, the topic was how leaders can motivate others, and after students watched a short clip from the 1991 comedy “Office Space” in a classroom just down the hall, the lively group returned to the Honors College amphitheater for an interesting discussion on what motivates employees to perform their best.

Dr. Deana Raffo

Dr. Deana Raffo

Leading the discussion was Dr. Earl Thomas, faculty coordinator for the institute and a professor of management in the Jones College. Thomas served as one of the lecturers throughout the week, and after showing a number of slides highlighting research and theories surrounding employee motivation, he opened the floor.

What followed was a rapid-fire discussion, with some students pointing to money as an important motivator, while others pointed to personal satisfaction and fulfillment and still others to challenging work and/or some combination of these and other factors. The point was to help students tap into their own leadership potential and understand the factors at play when they assume leadership roles.

But as much as anything, the program “is about life,” said Foote, who facilitated this year’s course with Thomas and Dr. Deana Raffo, an assistant professor of management and marketing in the Jones College.

Pentecost said he has an internship this summer with an international business, which is the career field he eventually wants to enter upon graduation.

While his grandparents live in Murfreesboro, his father’s work as an international educator took the family to locales around the world over the years. Pentecost wants to work for a company that goes into war-torn areas to help those communities rebuild and recover.

“I grew up in Central Asia and several countries that were having to rebuild after war, and there’s a lot of rebuilding that has to go on,” he said. “I want to go in and be a part of building up and helping stabilize.”

Faculty nominate students during the fall semester, with roughly 140 nominees submitted for this year’s class. That number was narrowed to the 33 students who were selected for the latest course — upper level students with majors ranging from biology to psychology and from history to political science to aerospace.

Dr. Earl Thomas, faculty coordinator for the MTSU Institute of Leadership Excellence and a professor of management in the Jones College of Business, teaches a session during this year's institute held May 12-16 at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

Dr. Earl Thomas, faculty coordinator for the MTSU Institute of Leadership Excellence and a professor of management in the Jones College of Business, teaches a session during this year’s institute held May 12-16 at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

“They always talk about how exciting it is and how interesting it is to be sitting next to someone from an entirely different college who has a very different view on life … but they’re all talking about leadership,” Foote said. “One of the really cool things is you have a chemistry major sitting next to an art major sitting next to a marketing major, talking about leadership from completely different perspectives.”

Foote noted that some colleges across the university have increased support for the program by providing scholarships, either partial or full, to allow students to attend.MTSU ILE logo

Cheyenne Platt, a rising senior foreign language major from Lewisburg, Tennessee, said the institute provided practical knowledge that she plans to use immediately in her job as manager of a local coffee shop.

“I’ve been put in positions of leadership recently at work and with organizations on campus,” Platt said. “I really wanted an opportunity to learn more and synthesize my real life experiences at the moment. I want to learn how I can improve my own leadership abilities in those positions.”

Rising senior Carly Davis of Murfreesboro said she’s using the class credits to fulfill an upper division honors requirement. But the biology major, who is minoring in secondary education also, expects to benefit beyond graduation.

“I really want to take this into the classroom of high school students,” Davis said. “Leadership skills are an important part of personal development and finding out what you stand for.”

Anna Neal, also a rising senior, is studying biology with a concentration in zoology and a minor in agriculture. The Rockvale, Tennessee, resident also attended the institute to satisfy a class credit, but she wanted to learn more about leadership and how to motivate and inspire others as well.

MTSU biology major Joseph Mosqueda, center, makes a point as classmates look on during the 2014 Institute of Leadership Excellence held May 12-16 at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

MTSU biology major Joseph Mosqueda, center, makes a point as classmates look on during the 2014 Institute of Leadership Excellence held May 12-16 at the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

She and her classmates were impressed with the interdisciplinary approach to the institute, including the use of leadership examples and speakers that went beyond well-known models such as the late Steve Jobs of Apple fame. Now organizations are moving away from more authoritarian structures and toward servant leadership models that place more value on developing relationships.

“The best way to motivate or inspire someone is to come alongside them and help them achieve their potential,” she said, adding that she plans to use the knowledge gained at the institute to support interns and help students interested in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The institute typically features a diversity of accomplished guest speakers from a cross section of professions. Among this year’s speakers were founders of the Rutherford CABLE women’s professional networking group; a former Bridgestone corporate executive; a diversity advocate and entrepreneur; and a music industry attorney.

“We did not want it to be the standard sort of lecture course,” Foote said. “There’s a lot of give and take between the presenters and the students. That’s a big part of it. And because of that, we learn a lot from the students.”

For more information about the institute, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/ile/index.php.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)