Choosing a Thesis Topic


Choosing A Topic_Illustartion

It’s hard to pick just one topic for your history research paper. It’s hard to choose a topic that’s feasible enough for your lab report. It can be really difficult to brainstorm an idea for your creative writing class. But we all know our honors thesis is a whole new beast. Continue reading

Posted in Advice/Tips, Honors thesis, Journalism | Leave a comment

Gage Greening: Sharing Research on Cancer Detection

Male student stands in front of research poster, at a conference.

Gage presenting a poster at the OSA Biomedical Optics conference in Miami, Fla.

Thanks to an Honors College travel grant, I got the chance to travel with my advisor, Dr. Timothy Muldoon, to the Optical Society of America (OSA) conference in Miami, Florida to present my research and collaborate with other students and professionals. My specific research focused on the development of a non-invasive diffuse reflective microendoscope, that could improve the early detection of cancer in epithelium, such as the lining of the oral cavity or gastrointestinal tract. [See Gage's earlier posts, Shining a Light on Cancer Detection and Highlighting Advancements in Cancer Detection for more info.]

My trip lasted four days. Throughout the duration of the trip, I spent most of my days listening to graduate students, professors, and industry leaders present their research. Most of the information was well beyond my knowledge base. But it was still extremely beneficial because you learn to familiarize yourself with common terminology, learn how to clearly and concisely present research to a large and diverse crowd, and learn about current state-of-the-art biomedical devices and surgical techniques using these devices. Continue reading

Posted in Advice/Tips, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Conference, Research Travel | Leave a comment

Beyond the Daily Grind: Coffee Research Brews Opportunity in Costa Rica

girl holding a cup of coffee in a tropical environment

Honors International Business/Marketing major Alexandra Somborn conducted her undergraduate research on perceptions of Costa Rica and their influence on new business ventures, particularly linked to coffee. Although she originally dreaded the process, her project evolved into much more than she expected – even paving the way to her first post-graduate job in Costa Rica. 

I did not expect that I would enjoy the Honors research process as much as I did. In my head, I imagined it to be this awful process of collecting data, making graphs and writing 100+ pages of information. In the end, however, it was a tool with real-world applications that even helped me land my first job.

I conducted my research on people’s perceptions of Costa Rica and how those perceptions influence purchasing habits – specifically related to coffee. As it turns out, I will soon be working in the marketing department of a coffee company – which is completely relevant to my research. You can bet that I used the information I had gathered in my interview with the company. That was definitely one of the most exciting parts of the honors research process.
Continue reading

Posted in Honors thesis, International Business/Marketing, Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business | Leave a comment

Postcard from Madrid: Christian Buechel


Beautiful afternoon in Lisbon, Portugal. Best pastries ever!

Christian Buechel is an honors supply chain management major who has been dreaming of a trip to Spain since he first stepped foot on campus. His semester in Madrid introduced him to new food, new classes, and especially – new places: his travels took him to Belgium, the Netherlands, Morocco, England, Portugal and Italy. 

I do not even know where to start. I have been planning this experience in Spain since my first day at the University of Arkansas. It is actually one of the defining components of my choice to attend the university and I could not be happier. Madrid has been everything I could have hoped for and more. The atmosphere is incredible, the people are magnificent, and the city is always alive. From day one, I knew this was going to be the best four and a half months of my life and boy was I correct.


A dream come true. Go Blues.

Now that I have fully adjusted, Spain isn’t too different than the U.S. in my opinion. Sure, you eat later meals and walk/take public transportation everywhere. But overall, students live the same way and it will eventually feel like your second home. Still, my first few days were a whirlwind of change. My favorite story was my first adventure to the store to buy groceries. I was used to the Walmart policy of “take as many plastic bags as you can handle.” In Spain, you have to pay for each one. I was not aware of that the first week and I’m sure the cashier knew I was new here. Continue reading

Posted in Management, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Spain, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Water Hogs Travel to Washington, D.C. … and Win!


Kieron Durant, Cayla Tichy and Lauren Cole holding the ASCE Sustainable Development Award.

Senior honors chemical engineering student Cayla Tichy and eight other engineering students recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to present the team’s senior design project, designed to provide clean drinking water at low cost in developing countries. The team was excited to develop a simple solution that could potentially save lives; winning the American Society of Civil Engineers Sustainable Development Award was a nice plus.

My name is Cayla Tichy and I am a senior honors chemical engineering student. I recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. to present my senior design project. The project was designed to provide clean drinking water to the developing country of India. My team wanted a system that was simple in design and made of local materials. Continue reading

Posted in Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, Conference | Leave a comment

Gage Greening: Highlighting Advancements in Cancer Detection


Gage turning on the diffuse reflective microendoscope

Welcome to my second blog entry! During the fall 2013 semester, I wrote about my research experience thus far as part of the College of Engineering Honors Program. I am now in my last semester before I graduate and am in the process of writing my honors thesis.

My research is focused on designing a diffuse reflective microendoscope (DRME), a non-invasive method that may aid in the early detection of cancer in the oral cavity or gastrointestinal tract. Under this umbrella, my research is divided into two goals. My first goal is to develop a method for creating optical phantoms that replicate the optical properties of epithelial tissue. My second goal is to build the DRME and computationally model how light behaves through phantoms and epithelial tissue.

The majority of my research last semester was the development of my first goal. I was able to design ultra-thin phantoms that replicate optical properties of human epithelial tissue, such as in the oral cavity. When epithelial tissue becomes cancerous, it becomes more optically absorbing, meaning that cancerous lesions appear darker than surrounding healthy tissue. While a dark cancerous region on the tissue surface is easily detectable by normal endoscopic methods, occasionally cancer will exist below the tissue surface. This results in undetected cancer and abnormalities. Thus, the DRME attempts to reduce the amount of false negatives. My goal is to detect hidden cancers that are not easily detectable by conventional clinical methods. Because of this, I created “dark” phantoms to simulate cancerous tissue and “light” phantoms to simulate healthy tissue. Then, I was able to stack individual layers to create a multi-layered phantom with “dark” cancerous regions buried at varying depths within “light” healthy regions. Continue reading

Posted in Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Research | Leave a comment

Hands-on History

A professor and three students examine a small, leather-bound manuscript.

Professor Steve Sheppard and Bumpers College honors students (l-r) Andrew Dugan, Christina Crowder and Grace Heymsfield examine a ca. 1350 copy of the Magna Carta, currently on display in Mullins Library.

Honors students enjoyed an opportunity to examine, touch and discuss rare historical documents in Mullins Library yesterday. Pages from the Gutenberg Bible, a leather-bound, ca. 1350 copy of the Magna Carta and the front page of the Sept. 23, 1862 Issue of the New York Times, where the Emancipation Proclamation was printed for the first time, are currently on display in Mullins as part of an exhibition featuring rare materials from the Remnant Trust.

Two students examine a large page, laid out like a medieval manuscript.

Honors students Hogan Heathington and Shana Kolesar examine a page from the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed book.

Hogan Heathington, a mechanical engineering/physics major, was especially taken with the copy of the Magna Carta, written in a fine chancery script with notations in the margins. “That’s real gold,” he said, pointing to an illuminated letter decorated with elaborate swirls of blue and gilt, “but it’s the lapis used for the blue that was most valuable then.”

Steve Sheppard, associate dean for research and faculty development and the William H. Enfield Distinguished Professor of Law, dropped by to give the big picture background on the pocket-sized Magna Carta, one of many copies of the Charter and statutes distributed to courts and noblemen across England.  “This was the 1350 version of the Arkansas Code,” he explained. Continue reading

Posted in Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences, Events, On Campus | Leave a comment

Portrait of an Artist, Mid-Career: 5 Questions for Jura Margulis

Pianist is performing at a grand piano, arms outstretched above the keyboard.

Jura Margulis performing in Lugano, Switzerland, 2013. Photograph by Adriano Heitmann/IMMAGINA.

Pianist Jura Margulis has won international acclaim for his compellingly communicative performances, as well as for the range of his tonal palette and his consummate virtuosity. He has performed around the world for 35 years and has recorded twelve CDs covering a wide spectrum of repertoire, with the latest CDs to be released this spring. Since 1999 he has taught at the University of Arkansas and was named the inaugural holder of the Emily J. McAllister Endowed Professorship in Piano in 2008. He has performed at venues ranging from the Berlin Philharmonic Hall to the Hollywood Bowl and, in a halftime performance for football fans, at the Reynolds Razorback Stadium. it has been more than two years since he last performed in Fayetteville.

Jura Margulis. Photograph by Adriano Heitmann/IMMAGINA.

Jura Margulis. Photograph by Adriano Heitmann/IMMAGINA.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday evening, April 3, 2014, Jura Margulis will discuss his repertoire selection with students and music lovers, then perform an intimate “house concert” in the Honors Student Lounge in Ozark Hall, with a reception to follow. This special evening with Jura Margulis is the latest event in the Honors College Invites series, in which renowned thinkers and doers share their craft with the campus and community. Join us! (Be sure to R.S.V.P. at and plan to come early, as seating will be limited.) Below, Margulis recalls his earliest encounters with the piano, and shares what he most enjoys about his career now. Continue reading

Posted in 5 Questions, Careers, Events, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Music, On Campus | Leave a comment

Postcard from Rome: Darby Guinn


Darby Guinn overlooking the Roman Forum.


Darby Guinn, honors English and journalism major, took her January intersession course abroad in Rome. Darby was one of 15 students who worked with classics professor David Fredrick to establish narrative and initial level designs for an online, game-centered version of the course Introduction to Classical Studies in Rome. The game will focus on the fictional (but plausible) history of a Roman family from the mid-Republic through late Antiquity, and the action will take place in the Circus Flaminius, the Theater of Marcellus, The Temple of the Vestals and the Ara Pacis, among other ancient sites. Once in Rome, Darby was met with towering 2,000-year-old architecture, the stress of trying to order a salami sandwich in Italian, and a new-found love for making the past come alive through video game writing.

Without Dick Kelty, I would not have survived my trip abroad. No, Dick was not on my trip, and no, I’ve neither met him nor know what he looks like. Dick Kelty invented the modern backpack in 1952, and I thanked him for it every day that I was abroad in Rome, Italy, studying Ancient Roman society for a video game. Whether it was toting around my books and sketchpads as we ran around an ancient ghost town or packed to the brim as we sprinted through the infamous Charles de Gaulle Airport, my backpack proved its worth time and time again as others fumbled with rolling bags. I’ll just go ahead and start this out with some advice: if you go abroad, bring a backpack, and make sure it’s a good one. It could very well save your life.

The one thing people really didn’t prepare me for was how much walking I’d be doing. After day two, I learned to pop ibuprofen in anticipation of the bruised feet and twisted ankles the cobblestone roads tended to give me, and for the sore shoulder from my backpack (which is a necessary evil). However, they also didn’t prepare me for how awestruck I’d be every second of every day that I was there. One second, I was certain that we were lost, and the next we would all be frozen to the spot, staring at the 2,000-year-old temple (now a functioning church) that is the Pantheon. Continue reading

Posted in Classical Studies, Italy, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Arkansas Engineers Abroad: Surveying More Tomorrow


Standing water in More Tomorrow, Belize. Photo by Jake Pitts.

Most students spend their winter break relaxing, visiting with family and friends, and logging a good amount of time on the couch; this winter break, a group of engineering students left their homes early and flew more than 1,300 miles away from Fayetteville.

Arkansas Engineers Abroad (AEA) is a student-led organization at the University of Arkansas. Over winter break, eight AEA students, six of them members of the Honors College, went to the village of More Tomorrow in Belize to work on a Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) project to improve the water quality in the village. The students plan to improve the water quality by implementing a deep-aquifer well and water tower to replace the current water sources: shallow-aquifer wells, rainwater catchment systems, and the local river, which have tested positive for various contaminants. The project is currently in its final stages; the foundation, piping and drilling of the well have been completed, and this past trip was spent surveying the villagers to assess their health, sanitation practices and water uses. The students also collected water samples from domestic rainwater catchment systems in the village.


Photo by Kimberly Cribbs.

During the rainy season, the roads to More Tomorrow are almost impassable, a major reason why More Tomorrow is so poverty stricken. Although the village is only 15 miles outside the capital of Belize, it is often overlooked due to the lack of accessible roads.

Continue reading

Posted in Belize, College of Engineering | Leave a comment