Scholar Week 2019 Showcases Student and Faculty Research

Presentations across campus featured undergraduate, doctoral and faculty projects.

April 29, 2019 Academics, Research

Each spring, Olivet Nazarene University celebrates faculty and student scholarship by hosting Scholar Week. Dr. Lisa McGrady, dean of assessment, teaching, and learning at Olivet, coordinates the program of events each year to showcase the research projects and academic achievements.

Throughout the week, more than 70 students and 30 faculty presented on 70 research topics.


“Scholar Week is a fantastic opportunity for students to share their scholarship and experiences with the broader campus community,” says Dr. Stephen Case, honors program associate director and associate professor of chemistry and geosciences. “Scholarship is the engine that drives our intellectual life as a college and our connection with God’s world.”

Dr. Beth Patrick-Trippel, department of communication, assembled a panel of students to discuss Women of History Speak: Research and Performance of Significant Women’s Speeches in U.S. History.

Members of the political science club, The Capitol Hill Gang, and students from the criminal justice program debated the legalization of medical marijuana, mentored by Dr. Craig Bishop, Dr. Shelly Stroud, and Professor Matt Adamson. Deputy director Chris Kidwell and special agent Joe English from the KAMEG Unit (Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group) were present to add professional insight to the discussion.

For the first time in Scholar Week history, two poster sessions were featured. Student work mentored by Dr. Ruth Reynolds, department of education, was showcased by Vanessa Candela, Alex Kempen, Haley Lapanowski, Elise Raquel, and Jasmine Torres. Additional research was presented by Crystal Sauder, Professor Darl Rassi, Dakota Henn, Lateefah Williams, Vanessa Van Oost, and Aileen Scarim on a variety of topics. 


Seniors in the Olivet Honors Program demonstrated depth of thought through their research and presentations.

Cole Doolittle says of the experience, “The Honors Program continually challenged me to step into the full reality of God’s plan for my life. The material is challenging, the work is difficult, but the reward for persistence is an eye-opening spiritual, relational, and academic understanding of what it means to be human.” 

During the 2019 Scholar Week, Cole presented on Stand Location Variance as an Indicator of Disturbance Regime in a Monotypic Tsuga Canadensis Forest. Throughout his research, Cole was mentored by Dr. Randal Johnson.

Other honors program projects included:
Michael Resciniti (Walker School of Engineering; Dr. David Ibrahim, mentor) Performance Analysis of an Exhaust Heat Recovery System Utilizing Heat Pipes, Metal Foam, and Thermoelectric Generators

Marlena Kalafut (Department of English and Modern Languages; Dr. Rebecca Belcher-Rankin, mentor) It’s Not the End of the World: An Analysis of the Similarities in Dystopian Literature and Their Shared Reflection of the Innate Fears of Humanity

Katie Dickey (Walker School of Engineering; Dr. Stephen Case, mentor) Thermal and Orbital Analysis of DarkNESS CubeSat

Vanessa Van Oost (Department of Biological Sciences; Dr. Gregory Long, mentor) Alpha Mangostin as a Chemoprotective Agent via Activation of the P53 Pathway for Breast Cancer

Evan Dexter (Walker School of Engineering; Dr. John Tatarko & Dr. Dan Sharda, mentors) Evaluating the Scalability of Graphene Synthesis 

David Kok (Walker School of Engineering; Dr. David Ibrahim, mentor) The Effect of FLiNaK Molten Salt Corrosion on the Hardness of Hastelloy N 

Elisa Klaassen (Department of English and Modern Languages; Dr. Karen Knudson, mentor) Tolkien’s Tribute to England and its Roots in Beowulf

Jarrett Stalinger (Department of Theology and Christian Ministry; Dr. Tim Mercer, mentor) The Japanese Way in America: A Comparison of the Religious Beliefs, Habits, and Ideas of the American Religious ‘Nones’ and Contemporary Japanese Nationals

Erica Sandtorv (Department of Behavioral Sciences – Psychology; Dr. Lisa Gassin, mentor) Mental Health First Aid Training for College Students: Evaluation of Effects on Students’ Knowledge and Responses to Mental Health Issues in Their Peers 

Amanda Roche (Department of Behavioral Sciences – Psychology; Dr. Kristian Veit, mentor) The Relationship Between Faith Maturity and Life Satisfaction

Amy Kaczor (Department of Dietetics, Dr. Cathy Anstrom, mentor) The Relationship Between Black Coffee Consumption and Weight Status in Undergraduate Students

Kimberly Zralka (Department of Biological Sciences; Dr. Derek Rosenberger, mentor) The Role of Endangered Oak (Quercus Spp.) Savanna Characteristics in Supporting Red‐Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes Erythrocephalus L.) Populations. Kimberly’s work studying the endangered species of woodpeckers was in the black oak savannah near Pembroke Township, Illinois, which is the best-preserved habitat of this type in the world.

McKenna Conforti (Department of Biological Sciences; Dr. Derek Rosenberger, mentor) The Effects of Cattle Grazing on the Health of Bumble Bee (Bombus spp.) Populations in a Historical Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem  

Tim Mayotte (Department of Biological Sciences; Dr. Ryan Himes, mentor) Hexavalent Chromium: Elucidating its Carcinogenic Mechanism, and Testing Potential Preventative Treatments. Tim and Dr. Himes’ research was additionally presented at the 2019 Experimental Biology conference in Orlando, Florida and featured in Science Daily.  


All honors program capstone research projects will be published later this year in the ELAIA: The Honors Journal of Olivet Nazarene University. Last year’s projects can be read in this digital issue.

Fourteen members of the Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership (Ed.D) Class of 2018–2019 presented their dissertation projects during the Ethical Leadership Colloquium on April 6, 2019. The variety of projects represented students’ interests in the fields of education, leadership, justice, the Church, emotional intelligence, law enforcement, health care and business.

To learn more about the Honors Program and additional research opportunities at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.

Photos were submitted and used with permission.

Published 4/29/19

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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