Honors College Newsletter
Honors College Newsletter
Honors Study Abroad 2015: Greece
Karl M. Petruso
     The Honors College Study Abroad program marked its fifteenth season with a visit to Greece from May 27 to June 17 with three prior class sessions on campus before departure for Athens. Fifteen undergraduates (Honors and non) representing six schools and colleges enrolled in two courses: Topography and Monuments of Ancient Greece, taught by Karl Petruso; and Greek Mythology and Civilization, taught by Charles Chiasson, Director of the Program in Classical Studies.
     As is the case with all Honors study abroad programs, the itinerary was extensive: for the first time, we incorporated a trip to the spectacular island of Santorini, where the archaeological site of Akrotiri (a “Bronze Age Pompeii”) was covered by a volcano ca. 1600 BCE. Based in Athens, the students took full advantage of the sites and museums the city has to offer, including a hike up to the Acropolis on the first full morning after our arrival. Highlights included a four-day trip to the island of Crete to visit three of the four known palaces of the Minoan era, representing the first civilization of Europe.
     A seven-day trip by hired coach around southern and central Greece provided an opportunity for hiking the Greek countryside. Students explored the Franchthi Cave, occupied beginning ca. 38,000 BCE, the Venetian fortress of Nafplion, and the massive Bronze Age citadels of Mycenae and Tiryns.
     And as we have done in past Honors Greece programs, many students ran the one-stade race (ca. 192 meters) in the famous stadium of ancient Olympia (Watch the race). Several photos from the program can be seen here (view the photo gallery).
     Although our academic program focused on Greek antiquity, our students became intimately acquainted with modern European geopolitics and economics. Readers will recall that the spring and early summer of 2015 was a very tense period, as the recently elected leftist government stood firm in resistance to the stringent terms set by the Eurogroup as a condition of a bailout that would keep the country from defaulting. There were frequent demonstrations in front of the Parliament building, which was only three short blocks from the hotel where we stayed while in Athens. Prof. Chiasson and I saw this as a teachable moment: the ancient Greeks invented democracy, after all, and the Greek people ancient and modern have rarely been shy about expressing their political views loudly and visibly. A few days after our departure, the government invoked capital controls that limited cash withdrawals from banks, generating several weeks of financial chaos before the standoff with the Eurogroup was temporarily resolved. We were thus spared significant inconvenience to our itinerary and our academic program.
     The Honors College endorses any and all efforts to create citizens of the world. Since the College was founded in 1999, our study abroad programs have exposed well over a hundred UT Arlington students to the outside world for the first time, in the context of short-term but intensive academic work. Our students eagerly await the announcement each fall semester of the next summer’s destination. You will read elsewhere in this issue of Veneratio about our study abroad plans for 2016.  
Honors Study Abroad 2016: England
In 2016, Associate Dean Kevin Gustafson (English) and Dr. Amy Speier (Anthropology) will take the Honors Study Abroad Program to England. This intensive three-week program will be roughly divided between London and other places of historical and cultural significance, including Canterbury, Dover, Brighton, Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Manchester, the Lake District, and York. We will see where Henry VIII’s wives lived (and died), where Thomas à Becket was martyred, where Jane Austen danced, where the Industrial Revolution began, where Bram Stoker found inspiration for Dracula, and where Jack the Ripper stalked his victims. All students will take two courses: English 2319: Poetry and Place (Gustafson) and ANTH 2357: The Culture of Tourism (Speier). For further information, see our Study Abroad portal or contact Associate Dean Gustafson at gustafson@uta.edu.
The Honors College Becomes Home of the UT Arlington Center for Service Learning
     This fall, the UT Arlington Honors College became the new home of the Center for Service Learning. 
     The Center will be under the direction of Dr. Kevin Gustafson, Associate Dean of the Honors College. “Many UT Arlington students have done volunteer work in high school,” according to Gustafson, “and the University is rich with such opportunities, notably through Alternative Spring Break and UTA Volunteers. Service learning differs from volunteerism in that it is conspicuously academic.” The premise of service learning is that students can improve their grasp of course material and its social relevance through carefully organized academic projects designed to identify, study, and solve real-world problems. 
     Students at UT Arlington are currently able to do service learning in dozens of courses. The Center aims to expand these opportunities, primarily through the year-long Faculty Fellows Program, in which faculty develop tools for including service-learning components in their classes. The Center also works with individual students looking to do independent capstone research projects rooted in a nonprofit setting. “Serving learning,” says Gustafson, “challenges you think in new ways about your education and your place in the world.” 
     Also on staff in the Center is Ms. Ibukun (Blessing) Akinladenu, a Master’s student in the UT Arlington of Social Work. Students interested in service learning should feel free to contact either Ms. Akinladenu or Associate Dean Gustafson at servicelearning@uta.edu.
Student Uses Service Learning Scholarship to Study Poverty and Perception at Three Local Nonprofits
     Tony Curtis Hughes is the first recipient of the Dana Dunn Endowed Scholarship in Service Learning. The scholarship supports undergraduates engaged in community-based research, and Hughes, a double major in Sociology and Broadcast Communication, used that support this past summer to study poverty and theories of perception and social interaction while working at three local nonprofit service providers: Mission Arlington, Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, and the Austin Street Shelter in Dallas. The Dunn Scholarship was funded through a generous gift from Jim and Cheryl Lewis in honor of former UT Arlington Provost and Associate Professor of Sociology. Provost Dunn was a consistent supporter of service learning, so it is fitting that the scholarship bearing her name should support community-based research on issues of poverty and race. According to Dr. Kevin Gustafson, Associate Dean of the Honors College and Director of the Center for Service Learning, “Hughes has a distinguished history of volunteer work. The Dunn gave him a chance to combine his passion for social engagement with his academic work in Sociology.” For Hughes, the service learning project brought statistical studies and theories to life: “The perception of poverty project gave me time to see people, listen to their problems, and understand their positions, and as a result I was able to recognize the fears and false narratives behind homelessness and humanitarianism alike.” For more information about the Dana Dunn Scholarship, or other opportunities for service learning at UT Arlington, contact the Center for Service Learning at servicelearning@uta.edu.
McNair Scholars
     The Ronald E. MNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program was established in memory of Challenger Astronaut Ronald Erwin McNair, Ph.D. and funded by TRIO programs for undergraduate student achievement. The 2015 UTA McNair Scholars Program recognized the following Honors Students and their mentors at the Fall Banquet on August 7th for their Summer Research Presentations:
     Ryan Stevens (Biology), Mentor: Dr. Qing Lin (Psychology). Bumetanide Demonstrates Ameliorations of Learning and Memory Deficits Induced by Ketamine Administration in a Neonatal Rat Model
     Kinsley Munoz (Education), Mentor: Dr. John Smith (Curriculum & Instruction). Comparison of the Newbery and Bluebonnet Awards in Children’s Literature
     Kayleigh Miranda (Music), Mentor: Dr. Graham Hunt. Abhorrence or Adoration?: The Evolving Transverse Flute and Its Involvement in Mozart’s Life and Compositions
     Amanda Patrick (Mathematics), Mentor: Dr. Benito Chen-Charpentier. A Mathematical Model of Recycling
     Michael Perez (Psychology), Mentor: Dr. Jared Kenworthy. Aggression, Gender, Feasibility, and Brainstorming Factors in Relation to Perceived Novelty and Enjoyment
     Peter Hedleston (English), Mentor: Dr. James Warren. Sophist(icated) Pragmatism: Towards a Unified Theory of Language and Politics in Rhetorical Studies 
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Summer School 2015
Dianna Huyen-Tram Nguyen
     Amputee war veterans being able to better use prosthetic limbs, a child paralyzed from a car accident being able to walk again, patients needing organ transplants not having to fear for donor shortage—these are just a few scenarios that will potentially become reality with the aid of regenerative medicine (RM). Over the past few decades, advancements in RM have provided numerous breakthroughs in medicine. With the help of research, further advancements can be made to improve RM for patients in the years to come. Although I have been fortunate to gain RM research experience through being part of the Regenerative Neurobiology Lab and completing my Honors Thesis titled, “Axonal Guidance Enticed by Surrogate Targets of Muscle and Skin in Amputee Model,” under the supervision of my faculty mentors Mario RomeroOrtega, Ph.D. and Walter Schargel, Ph.D., there are still other aspects of regenerative medicine that I would love the opportunity to be exposed to so I can broaden my vision for the future of this field. Thus, I was extremely excited to learn about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Summer School from Dr. Romero and Dean Petruso, who also encouraged me to apply to the program.
     The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM) was established by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System and is the most ambitious regenerative medicine program in the nation. MIRM faculty address medical challenges through tissue engineering, cell-based therapies, and medical devices. Research conducted at MIRM greatly expedites the translation of technology for clinical usage. I had the privilege of being one of nineteen students to attend the McGowan  Though the duration of the program was relatively short, being able to participate in the MIRM Summer School Program was truly a life-changing experience.
     The MIRM Summer School Program was organized to have four lectures in the morning followed by hands-on laboratory workshop or laboratory-related activities in the afternoon each day. The lectures were presented by MIRM faculty and students and covered diverse aspects of regenerative medicine. The titles of my three favorite lectures are: “Skin Progenitor Grafting and Regenerative Medicine Therapy Development” presented by Jorg Gerlach, M.D., Ph.D.; “3D Printing Approach to Orthopedic Regenerative Medicine” presented by Riccardo Gottardi, PhD; and “Extracellular Matrix as a Biologic Scaffold for Regenerative Medicine” presented by Bryan Brown, PhD. Aside from the hands-on laboratory workshops for cell culture, tissue decellularization, and 3D printing, we also had the opportunity to go on tours to the Artificial Heart Program and Center for Biological Imaging as well as visit the machine shop to see how  bioreactors are created and to observe demonstrations for flow cytometry and electrospinning.
     Ultimately, I was amazed by the vast amount of information I was able to learn in the short amount of time I was at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. With every lecture, my curiosity expanded tremendously, and I had urges to learn coding and read a bunch of engineering books, despite being a Biology major. It was exciting to realize how much there is left to learn! Coming in with limited experience in neuroregenerative research, I became more aware of the future of regenerative medicine and left with a greater desire to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree. Aside from the academic aspect of the program, I had the opportunity to network with the faculty and graduate students and exchange ideas. Attending the program also provided me with many “firsts”: first time flying on a plane, first time using public transit (city bus, subway, and incline/funicular), and first time staying in a dorm and having suitemates. I also enjoyed exploring Pittsburgh with my classmates and am grateful to have participated in a program where I grew not only academically but also socially. I truly appreciate the Honors College for providing financial support that made  it possible for me to attend the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Summer School 2015. (View her photo gallery)
Allen in Georgia 
     Abby Allen, UTA Honors alumna  and former Archer Fellow, has been with the Peace Corps for a year in a very pastoral village in the beautiful country of Georgia, which is nestled in the Southern Caucasus between Turkey and Russia. She teaches English in the village school, where she is also currently helping the community with projects to renovate the school's sports program and acquire new technology and training for the teachers. Additionally, she has had the pleasure of assisting with several country-wide projects such as an English creative writing competition and girl's empowerment summer camp. When not doing that, Abby reports that she enjoys watching badly-dubbed Turkish melodramas with her host mom and saying things incorrectly in Georgian.
A Note from Katelyn Janes, Honors Alumna
     "Since starting my Ph.D. in English with a focus in medieval literature at the University of Connecticut, I've developed my interest in Piers Plowman, Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. If it's medieval and has to do with agricultural labor, then I'm interested! I've also started working with more historical sources about medieval agriculture: one of the texts I've been working with really recently is a treatise by Walter of Bibbesworth. It's an Anglo-Norman treatise that's meant to teach French, and it covers a lot of household subjects, including medieval farming and husbandry practices, which is my other main area of interest aside from Piers Plowman. So I get to learn about medieval agriculture and medieval French all at once! Another text I'm looking at is a translation of Palladius's treatise on husbandry that was translated from Latin in the 1400s. It's a book on estate management, which means that it's got a lot to say about the day-to-day tasks you'd need to run a medieval farm. All in all, I'm doing well here at UConn! The community is really welcoming and encouraging, which definitely helped this lifelong Texan make a smoother transition to Connecticut."

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