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Lyon Students Shine at Alpha Chi Convention

From April 5 to 7, the students of Lyon College’s Alpha Chi National College Honor Society attended the annual Alpha Chi National Convention in downtown Portland where more than 300 juniors and seniors from across the U.S., representing the top ten percent of their classes, presented on their undergraduate research.

Lyon students attended opening and closing speeches by Jeff Vandermeer, best-selling author of Annihilation (DATE), and John Pistole, former Administrator of the TSA. In between these events, students both presented their work to the convention’s attendees and surveyed the research of other Alpha Chi members.

Rebecca Philpott (Chemistry) presented on research she performed in the Czech Republic through Princeton University. Hannah Templin (Political Science, Spanish) presented a paper called “A Supernatural State: The Use of Magical Realism in Dictatorship Novels” and was the runner up to the regional prize for outgoing seniors.

Jordan Trant (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics) presented “Fighting Drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis with Modified Rifamycins” and earned the title of runner up for the junior regional prize. Her outstanding presentation of her research won her the Joseph E. and Bessie May Prior Prize in Chemistry.

Lyon’s success continued from regional awards to national awards. Senior Amelia Gayle (English, French) won a Benedict Fellowship and a $3,000 scholarship for future graduate studies for her paper “Sight, Spectacles, and the Performance of the Patriarch in Richardson’s Pamela.

She said, “I was very honored and did not expect it. Lyon stood out because so many of us won awards. I was proud to be part of such a smart group representing the College.”

Lyon students also won second place and a $2,500 prize in the Collaborative Research Project portion of the competition. Prompted by the convention’s theme, “Our Green Planet,” Marisa Ayers (English) and Hannah Templin presented the group’s research, titled “Presence vs. Perception: Analyzing the Relationship Between the Presence and Public Perception of Climate Change by State.” The project featured collaborative work from Latricia Miller (Mathematics), Katie McGraw (Biology), and Samantha Westcott (Biology, Chemistry). Dr. Jennifer Daniels and Dr. Radek Szulga guided the work.

“This second place finish testifies to the interdisciplinary experience and cooperative environment that Lyon seeks to offer all students,” said Assistant Professor of French Dr. Brian Hunt, who led the convention trip. A first-year faculty sponsor, Hunt was impressed with the strength of undergraduate research currently being performed across the country.

Founded in 1922, Alpha Chi is an academic honor society that promotes academic excellence and exemplary character among undergraduate and graduate students. Inductees are in the top 10 percent of the junior and senior classes, possess outstanding character and integrity, and are engaged in the best undergraduate scholarship in all academic fields. Lyon’s chapter of Alpha Chi was founded in 1960 and is the only one to have won the society’s President’s Cup twice. The cup goes to the nation’s most outstanding chapter.