2020 Virtual Expo

Judging Round

Symposia in the Periphery: Koressos on Kea and Sympotic Ideologies

Student Author(s): Michael Bell, Senior (Classical Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s): Joanne Murphy (Classical Studies)


The symposion (pl. symposia) was a uniquely Greek form of drinking party in which its participants, usually of the same economic status, drank water-mixed wine and engaged in an assortment of leisure activities. The institution is often attested in Greek literature of the Archaic to Hellenistic periods (8th to 1st century BCE).

In this paper I will argue that symposia were not merely settings for alcohol consumption among social peers. In fact, they also presented a venue for the proliferation and concentration of power among upper-class Greeks through mutual obligation and the development of political and economic networks. I will also trace the development of the city-state of Koressos on the island of Kea by investigating the proliferation of symposion ideologies and practices through material evidence collected by the Kea Archaeological Research Survey.

I will apply GIS data of surface-collected fragments of ceramic vessels used exclusively for symposia in order to characterize the spread of sympotic activities to Kea from the Greek mainland. I will also draw upon anthropological correlates related to hospitality practices to explain how the development of Koressos might have been facilitated by the participation of its elites in symposia.

Social Media and Political Mobilization: The ABC Day Care Fire in Hermosillo, Mexico

Student Author(s): Alicia Connelly, Senior (Anthropology)
Faculty Mentor(s): Arthur Murphy (Anthropology)


On June 5, 2009, a fire in the ABC daycare center in Hermosillo, Sonora, left 49 children dead and 40 hospitalized. This paper examines the crucial role social media, including Facebook and Twitter, played in initiating and executing political mobilization, organizing events, articulating feelings, placing blame, and discussing strategies to achieve justice. Several identifiable groups have emerged on social media.  Through content analysis, this paper identifies the factors that distinguish the groups. These results build on our past social network analysis of how parents of injured vs. deceased parents created new webs of relations after the fire.

Myanmar’s Religious and Ethnic Conflict: A Case Study

Student Author(s): Lindsay Jamerson, Senior (Peace and Conflict Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s): Jeremy Rinker (Peace and Conflict Studies)


This case study analyzes the Rohingya ethnic cleansing and investigates the current conflict while explaining more complex questions involving the crisis; this is done by describing and addressing its escalation. The framework used to support this analysis is Christopher Mitchell’s SPITCEROW. By using this framework as a guide to analysis, it is conclusive that the Rohingya are being systematically abused as a result of historical oppression and European imperialism. Additionally, multiple intervention strategies are introduced.

War on the Homefront: Responses to the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 at Three North Carolina Colleges

Student Author(s): Abigail Knight, Junior (Nursing)
Faculty Mentor(s): Erin Lawrimore (University Libraries)


In 1918, an influenza pandemic began to spread across the globe. Across the United States, fears mounted as the death toll rose and it was up to many towns and colleges to figure out a way to protect their families and students. Unlike other diseases, the Spanish Flu struck the young and vigorous, making college students particularly susceptible. This research project explores the impact of the Spanish Flu on three North Carolina colleges: State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG), North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (now NC State University), and the University of North Carolina (now UNC Chapel Hill). In particular, it explores the public health response to the pandemic at each university and how the outbreak affected campus and students who attended it. It aims to draw connections between each university in how the faculty, students, and families linked to these universities responded and the precedents that the campuses set for future epidemics during this pandemic when responding to the deadly outbreak of 1918. Also examined is the role that gender played in the response across the campuses and the language used in official university communications.

Julia Domna: A Woman in Her Own Right?

Student Author(s): Abbey Linnell, Sophomore (Classical Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s): Robyn Le Blanc (Classical Studies)


This paper considers how the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (ruled 193-211 CE) used images of his wife Julia Domna on coinage to help legitimize his reign. Because his rise occurred during a civil war, he wanted to project stability and unity in his art. He minted coins with specific imagery, iconography, and messages to cement both his image as a legitimate ruler and to emphasize the stability of the imperial family. I am particularly interested in whether he promoted Julia Domna’s Near Eastern background to help legitimize his reign in the Near East. Since Domna was from a priestly family in Syria, her family’s connections may have helped his image there. From 193-202 BCE coins minted by the Roman government in two cities of Syria, (Laodicea ad Mare and Domna’s hometown of Emisa), illustrate ideals such as prosperity, stability, and abundance through depictions of his wife and her associations with goddesses who represent certain positive ideals. These include both Roman goddesses like Ceres and Venus, and Near Eastern goddesses like Isis and Cybele. For example, the agricultural goddess Ceres reflected abundance, and Venus Victrix (Victorious) symbolized both military conquest and fertility. The coins sometimes used Near Eastern specific imagery in Syria, like Julia Domna’s Syrian hairstyle and a crescent moon symbol. The use of objects to represent gods and goddesses on coinage is a Near Eastern tradition, similar to baetyls. There are exceptions, but overall the coinage stresses messages that appeal to the entire empire.

The Lawn Sign Project

Student Author(s): Irvin Maldonado, Senior, Victoria Landers, Senior (Art), Filberto Hernandez, Senior (Business Administration)
Faculty Mentor(s): Leah Sobsey and Adam Carlin (Art)


When is a time when you feel free, and a time when you feel your freedom taken away? In 2018, students enrolled in Professor Leah Sobsey’s Photographic Installation course invited the Greensboro, NC community to respond to these two prompts. Students interviewed participants, photographed them, then printed the portraits along with their responses, installing them in public spaces.

The Lawn Sign Project, made possible through a UNCG Diversity Grant, is in collaboration with UNCG’s Community Arts Collaborative, the UNCG School of Art, and in association with For Freedoms. Founded by artist Hank Willis Thomas, For Freedoms is a non-partisan nationwide initiative that uses art to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values for people who want to be more engaged in public life.

The lawn signs had their first exhibition in the fall of 2018 at Greensboro Project Space, UNCG’s off-campus gallery space. Since then, the exhibition has traveled to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY in November 2019. Students collected more portraits and responses from a diverse pool of participants.

The Lawn Sign Project uses public art to approach deeper public discussions on civic issues, core values, to advocate for equity, and civic participation. Each exhibition adds more portraits and responses from the last, allowing community members to think critically with themselves about what it means to be free.

The Archaic Temple of Apollo in Karthaia: A Case Study of the Interaction Between the Cultures of Mainland and Cycladic Greece

Student Author(s): London Nance, Senior (Classical Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s): Joanne Murphy (Classical Studies)


In this paper, I examine the chronology and geographical placement of the ancient Temple of Apollo in Karthaia within the context of earlier Cycladic temples. The contrast between this Cycladic development and that of the mainland temples illuminates the complex exchange between diverse groups of ancient Greeks. This reveals a multifaceted pattern of cultural exchange, assimilation, and deviation communicated through religious ritual and material remains.

The brief period between the development of the Doric temple style (7th century BC) and the construction of Karthaia’s Temple of Apollo (approximately 6th-5th centuries BC) shows the rapid adoption of the mainland temple style in Karthaia. Yet the temple’s peculiar placement defies the conventional east-west orientation of mainland Greek temples to a degree which does not indicate haphazard response to topography. Rather, this unusual positioning required an intentional deviation from the typical east-west pattern.

These features serve to refine our understanding of the relationship between the Cyclades and Greece as a whole. Greek culture was not homogenous. Instead, the Greeks were a group of distinct yet related cultures using shared symbols to express local manifestations of prestige, wealth, and security.

Meeting Mary Blair: The Early Life of One of Disney’s Best-Known Artists

Student Author(s): Ariana Pappas, Senior (Art)
Faculty Mentor(s): Heather Holian (Art History)


Mary Blair is often considered one of the most influential concept artists and credited on animated feature-length films from Disney between 1940 and 1948, and it’s vital to learn what led her to the position she held at the Walt Disney Studios for several years. My proposed timeline will explore notable events of Blair’s early life, such as her entry into the animation field with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer prior to being hired by Walt Disney in 1940. Her early work ranged in time from Dumbo (1941) to the end of the addressed period with Song of the South (1946) and So Dear to My Heart (1948).

My illustrative timeline will display key events in Blair’s early life starting just before her graduation from Chouinard Art Institute in 1933 and progressing all the way through the year 1948. There is limited reliable information on Blair’s early life. The vast majority of my research will be done through reputable online sites and more current books from the university library. My goal is to condense the verified, available information about Blair’s early life into one graphic (a timeline with visually distinct text) for ease of comprehension, and perhaps even find something new.

Funding for the Apostle Paul’s Missionary Journeys

Student Author(s): Alexandra Pardo, Senior (Classical Studies)
Faculty Mentor(s): Robyn Le Blanc (Classical Studies)


Early Christians, who faced an assortment of challenges, relied on letters, advice, and teachings from the traveling Apostles to help establish the structure of the early church. It is from the Apostle Paul’s epistles that we learn about the early Christian communities in cities like Rome and Corinth. Paul’s missionary journeys, detailed in the Book of Acts, which acted in a similar fashion, covered thousands of kilometers. They would have been carefully planned around resources, weather and the time of year, as sailing and travel via roads were unavailable under certain conditions. Even when the weather permitted travel, it was expensive and difficult because of piracy, robbers, and cost. As a tentmaker earning one denarius a day, it is doubtful that Paul would have been able to afford these trips on his own. By researching Paul’s letters and using a geospatial network model of the Roman world, I will be calculating the price of Paul’s trips, while also looking at where Paul was getting funding for his journeys. This will shed light on the organization of the early church, the economic hardships they faced, possible funding models for these congregations, and, in turn, the participation of the congregation members.

“The Damning Word”: The People’s Side of Irish History in Frank Delaney’s Fiction

Student Author(s): Eliza Rosebrock, Senior, (English and Art History)
Faculty Mentor(s): Ben Clarke (English)


Frank Delaney was an Irish author, broadcaster, and journalist working from the 1970s to the early 2000s. While Delaney developed the narratives of his fictional characters so they would intersect with events in modern Irish history, his main focus was on the emotions and internal struggles of the common man. This use of an ‘everyman’ character is not unusual, but all of his main characters have something that sets them apart from others and affects their perspectives; this can range from PTSD to severely underdeveloped social skills. The personal dramas of these characters ultimately take precedence over the historical events, even as the characters are pulled into the events themselves.

By telling Irish history in the form of a fictional narrative in Ireland: A Novel (2005), Delaney both made it accessible to a wider audience and paid homage to the long tradition of storytelling and oral narrative found in Irish culture. I will examine sections of Ireland, as well as historical information that I gathered while completing a GE-URCA-funded research trip to Ireland, in order to trace the progression of the characters’ internal histories and the historical events running parallel to them and identify where personal history supersedes national history.

Sylvia Holland: Her Life and Impact at Walt Disney Studios

Student Author(s): Eliza Rosebrock, Senior, Emily Moser, Senior, Kelsey Daniel, Senior, and Hannah McCarthy, Senior (Art)
Faculty Mentor(s): Heather Holian (Art History)


Sylvia Holland was hired directly into the Story Department at Walt Disney Studios in August of 1938 and immediately began work on Fantasia. Holland eventually led the team working on the Tchaikovsky segment and was the first woman to be a story director in any Disney production to that date, opening up this department more for other women. She went on to contribute concept art for several other pictures and projects that were not completed before being laid off at the end of WWII but continued making art until her death on April 14, 1974.

We hope to demonstrate both Holland’s individual contributions to the projects on which she worked at Disney and her influence as a pioneering woman as she paved the way for other women in animation. We will construct a timeline showing how Holland’s career and personal life intersected with relevant world events in a time where a woman’s position in society was beginning to change. By looking at Holland’s artwork, various academic sources, accounts of her by her contemporaries, and her own writings, we will construct a comprehensive representation of Sylvia Holland at Walt Disney Studios and the impact she had that is still felt today.

Regulation of Extrahypothalamic Kisspeptin in the medaka brain by BPA

Student Author(s): Alexis Starr, Senior (Biology), Deborah Killian, Senior (Biology)
Faculty Mentor(s): Ramji Bhandari (Biology)


The physiologically active peptide, kisspeptin, has been shown to initiate sexual maturation and ovulation by activating GnRH neurons in several vertebrae species. However, despite a wide kisspeptin (KISS) receptor distribution in the brain, especially in the preoptic area and hypothalamus, the research focus has mostly been confined to the kisspeptin regulation of GnRH neurons and reproduction. We have demonstrated that an exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound that leaches out of plastics, results in an increase in expression of kisspeptin and their receptor mRNA levels in the brain without altering GnRH expression. This change was correlated with an increased impairment of fertility in the male medaka fish. In the present study, it was hypothesized that kisspeptin and their receptors are localized to extrahypothalamic areas including nucleus preopticus and that BPA exposure stimulates their expression leading to activation of isotocin/vasotocin neurons leading to alteration in mating behavior in males. Determination of the expression pattern of Kiss mRNAs their receptors in the hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic area of medaka brain and their regulation by BPA is currently in progress and the results will be presented at the 14th URSCO meeting.

At the Intersection of Art, Research and Inclusion: Using Devised Theater as a Research Methodology to Explore Student Worldviews on Inclusion

Student Author(s): Kara Yost, Sophomore (Theatre), Torey Allen, Sophomore (Deaf Education), and Catherine Minton, Senior (CTP)
Faculty Mentor(s): Lalenja Harrington (Education Leadership and Cultural Foundations) and Marcia Hale (Peace and Conflict Studies)


Although there is a large body of scholarship exploring definitions of inclusion in education, student voice in the development of those definitions is not well-represented. HSS 218: Devising Inclusion in a Global World is a course-based undergraduate research study that was designed to address this gap. The course used devised theater as a research methodology to explore college student perspectives about inclusion in education. During the course, students learned about arts-based research approaches and specifically the process for devising theatre. Students were involved in multiple elements of the research process, as they created and then analyzed data, culminating in a final theatrical production that was performed publicly at the end of the class. Thematic analysis highlighted student perspectives related to barriers to inclusion, their embodied, lived experience with inclusion/exclusion and their vision for inclusion for the future; themes that all speak to implications for inclusive research and teaching practice in higher education. The study was a Mellon funded faculty/undergraduate partnership that has and still provides mentorship to the student researchers, and will work collectively to finalize analysis and reporting for the study.

Access presentations not submitted for the judging rounds through our program link on the virtual expo homepage.