Packing (and mapping) through Pompeii

Austin Kreulach, a rising computer science junior, recently spent two weeks of his summer in southern Italy with a program led by Dr. Dave Fredrick and Dr. Rhodora Vennarucci. Throughout his time, Austin learned how to map, how to pack, and most importantly how to eat! 

Two weeks of southern Italy, where to begin? The heart of the experience was the lectures in the ruins. We walked an average of twelve miles a day through dusty, sunbaked ancient history, while our professors covered a combination of abstract urban analysis and a potpourri of Roman life. At first it felt like a more in-depth version of a normal tour of Pompeii, but as the program went on the tone shifted from covering a huge swath of the city to the virtual reality aspect. We learned how to use photogrammetry software to create 3D models from any given physical object by taking a mountain of pictures. This was the point where the program went from enriching my understanding of both ancient and modern Italy to giving me directly applicable skills for future projects.

Taking pictures of the ancient city.

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Posted in Advice/Tips, College of Engineering, Computer Science Engineering, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Italy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blooming in Brighton

Thea Winston is a rising accounting senior from Forrest City, Arkansas. Before a hectic senior year of taking the GMAT and participating in her many student organizations, Thea traveled to Brighton, England. From academics to street art to some timely lessons on acceptance, Thea shares her experiences abroad. 

First time in London, England near Covent Garden

January 30th, my first day of class, was the beginning of a completely different academic experience. I woke up early to make sure I could catch the train and grab breakfast at Daisy’s Sandwich Shop, a family-owned business right across from the station. I made it to the classroom in about 15 minutes and there I met the girl who would become one of my closest friends. 

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Posted in Accounting, England, France, Germany, Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Spain, Study Abroad | Leave a comment

Finding your Mist

Jacob Maestri is a rising senior math major from Fort Smith, Arkansas. He recently traveled to Cape Town, South Africa and on a hard, fog-cloaked climb up Table Mountain, found new insights on the journey, the people, and the experience. 

Enjoying the view of Seal Island

After a short Uber yesterday, we found ourselves at the trailhead to hike up Table Mountain, the iconic backdrop for the city of Cape Town. After a long stare up the ragged edge of the cliffs, we started along the trail. It was arduous and breath-taking (literally). For the first hour of the hike, visibility was clear, expectations were high, and altogether we were in good spirits. However, just like with any long hike, about halfway up I started to become a sentimental pastoralist, beginning to feel comically and ironically close to the nature surrounding me. I took in the vista with hope and enthusiasm as the skyscrapers below were becoming smaller and smaller.

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Posted in Honors College Study Abroad Grant, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Mathematics, Service, Service Learning, South Africa, Study Abroad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Flip Chip Trip

Ange Iradukunda, an honors mechanical engineering major working with electronic module optimization, recently presented his research at the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems technical conference in Illinois, where he was able to expand his knowledge of related design variables and interact with leading experts in the field.  Ange was the only undergraduate granted this opportunity at the conference, and recounts the experience here.  

As part of honors research, I have been working on the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) Project. POETS is an NSF Engineering Research Center with the aim of increasing the power density of electrical systems. Basically, the center is working to fit more power into smaller footprints. The University of Arkansas is a member of the center along with Stanford, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Howard University. Every year, a POETS technical conference is held, coinciding with the site visit by the NSF review panel for the Center. Thanks to an Honors travel grant, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference in Illinois and present my work.  

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Have Accent, Will Travel- Tips on Research Conferences

Faithe is a Senior Communication Disorders major from Fayetteville, Arkansas who has successfully defended her thesis project on the connection between spoken accents to recall performances. Faithe will be graduating Saturday- congrats!  Her next steps include continuing her research with the University of Texas in Dallas, where she will earn her Masters in Speech Pathology (and likely find many more southern accents).  Her blog shares useful tips and advice on presenting at and attending a research conference.

In November 2016 I attended the American Speech Language and Hearing Association’s (ASHA) annual convention in Philadelphia, PA to present my research. My research is over the effects of spoken accent difference on participants’ number recall performance. In my study, I had two test administrators with different spoken accents administer number recall tests to 20 college students to see whether the difference in accent between the speaker and the listener has an effect on the listener’s test performance. From the 20 students I’ve tested so far, I’ve discovered no significant effect on number recall performance based on spoken accent.

Student displays her research poster.


 My tips for any undergraduate preparing to attend their first research conference:

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Posted in Advice/Tips, College of Education and Health Professions, Conference, Honors College Research Grant, Honors thesis, Research, Research Travel | Leave a comment

Off She Goes into the Wild Blue Yonder: A Research Success Story

Haven Frazier, an honors biology major from Chandler, Arizona, has finished her thesis project researching tumor recurrence in relation to immune systems and will graduate summa cum laude – congrats Haven! She will attend medical school at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and will join the Air Force, where she plans to serve as an Air Force physician. Haven’s research could lead to methods to combat the recurrence of tumors that suppress the immune system.

I performed research at the Laboratory for Vaccine and Immunotherapy Delivery (LVID) under the guidance of my research mentor Dr. David Zaharoff and Ph.D. candidate Sruthi Ravindranathan. The goal of LVID, also known as Zaharoff Laboratory, is to develop effective vaccines and immunotherapies for different types of cancer using different delivery methods.

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Design Thinking: A Human-Centered Approach

Students' projects hang on a wall.

Honors students in the Design Fiction workshop created a variety of whimsical products made from twigs.

Imagine a situation. Think of a quirk or need that might exist. Design a product to address that need using the materials at hand – in this case, twigs gathered from Old Main lawn.

This is the basic framework for design thinking taught by Michael Hendrix, a partner at international design firm IDEO, during the two-day Design Thinking workshop for University of Arkansas honors students last fall.

Hendrix led students through a creative exercise similar to the ones his interdisciplinary team at the IDEO design studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, engages in weekly.

Students fashioned the twigs they collected into an array of fanciful products, including ear bud clips, a navigational aid, a miniature modem and a dating service for squirrels.

“This might seem a little frivolous, weird and playful – but it’s really important, I assure you,” Hendrix told the 32 Honors College students who took part in Design Fiction, a half-day workshop open to all honors students. “This is about the mindset important for design thinking versus the methodology.”

Hendrix encouraged students to get out of their analytical minds and into the creative flow that comes from the subconscious. “Get active. Think with your hands. Think with your body. Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.”

Woman standing by board of post-it notes and maps.

Tamsan Mora works with a team to brainstorm ideas for human-powered forms of transportation on campus.

Hendrix also led Designing for People, an in-depth day-and-a-half session for honors students in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Students in this workshop tackled the challenge: How might the U of A campus be served exclusively by human-powered transportation?

Potential solutions included a network of above-ground tunnels dubbed Hamsterdam, a zip-line flight onto campus, an elevated bike trail and Woo Pup Sooie, a dog-walking service to encourage pedestrian traffic.

The University of Arkansas Honors College and the Fay Jones School Honors Program collaborated to host the Design Thinking workshops on Oct. 22-23. Hendrix also presented an Oct. 24 lecture, “Design and the Priesthood of Black Turtlenecks.”

Students share their responses:

Two men sitting on floor amid design materials and tools.

Brothers Dylan and Evan Hursley work on their prototype.

“Designing a process versus a building has been interesting. Most of the time we’re working with a building in mind. … Embracing the quick, messy model (for making a prototype) turns out to be a good idea.” — Evan Hursley, fifth year, architecture.

“We talk about human-centered design a lot in our program. Understanding the process – how to kick-start creativity – is really helpful. So much of our coursework is about critique. It’s hard to just launch out there and be comfortable in creativity.” — Brianna Jenkins, senior, graphic design

“It’s a very different way of thinking than in my engineering classes. It’s good to stretch myself. I’ll use this in my group projects – start with the problem and work from there.” — Madison Crowl, senior, biological engineering

“One thing that’s different is the wild ideas! Our teachers push us to be more innovative, but to make that an integral part of brainstorming is different. It becomes a creative adventure without any kind of goal in mind. I’ve enjoyed the chance to loosen up. Michael’s done a really good job of walking us through this, but leaving enough ambiguity that we have to figure it out on our own. It’s a good way of learning.” — Erin Cox, third year, landscape architecture

Two women write on whiteboard while two classmates look on.

Caleb Bertels and Erin Cox, seated, work with Anna Ibru and Tamsan Mora during a brainstorming session.

“This is really engaging. I’m actually having the chance to think. In most of my classes, I’m responding to a prompt. But this: Go find a twig, and imagine something. I didn’t know there were so many ideas I could come up with. I’ll use this process again to generate ideas.” — Anna Ibru, second year, architecture

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La Cocina Peruana: Arequipa

Our resident food critic and H2Passport: Peru student Dennis Mitchell walks us through the tastes of Peru in a two-part series, ending in Arequipa.

Within our first two hours in Arequipa, I realized that it was everything Lima was not. Whereas Lima was big, hot, wet, and buzzing with car horns, Arequipa was cool, strangely quaint, despite being the second largest city in Peru, and rather dry. As much as I truly loved Arequipa as a city, the food didn’t measure up to Lima’s. Remember, of course, that this is an account of my personal experience, which only spanned two brief days. However, it was in Arequipa that I had perhaps my most adventurous meal, an experience worth sharing.

A meal of cuy chactado and choclo

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Hiking the Inca Bridge

Honors student and H2Peru explorer Rachel Lindsey reports on how the experience of Machu Picchu measured up to her lofty expectations and on the scenic path of the Inca Bridge that gave her that sought-after transformative experience.

I had the remarkable opportunity to visit Machu Picchu along with the rest of the H2Peru group. Most of what I knew about Machu Picchu before actually visiting concerned the effect it can have on the observer—I have always heard that seeing the site for yourself is a mystical, transformative, experience.

 Without realizing it, I had set expectations for how I should feel while at Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world. This schema I had developed was not initially fulfilled. We arrived at the site and spent most of the sunny, dry, morning maneuvering through droves of fellow tourists in an effort to keep up with our chatty tour guide. Strikingly aware of the experiences of those before me, I felt pressured to discern a change within myself, or meet with a significant moment of clarity. Frustrated, I left for lunch along with the rest of the students and faculty. Continue reading

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Taking the Peruvian Polar Plunge

After their visit to Taquile Island, H2Passport: Peru student Dani Carson was one of five ladies brave enough to jump into the frigid waters of Lake Titicaca, and she says she’d do it again. Read about Dani’s experience, and follow to the bottom to see the plunge yourself.

After following our tour guide Lute down the side of the island of Taquile, five of us girls prepared to jump from the roof of our boat into the cold depths of Lake Titicaca. Physically, we prepped by changing into mostly makeshift swimsuits. Mentally, the preparation included accepting how cold we were about to be, and that it may be hard to breathe in that water at 12, 500 feet above sea level, as well as facing the fact that a camera crew, eyes of our classmates, and of the crew of the boat were on us.  Despite these pressures, we all climbed up and over the metal rail to the edge of the roof. There wasn’t quite room for all of us to fit along it, so three of us went first, including me.  Continue reading

Posted in Honors College Study Abroad Grant, Honors Courses, Honors Passport/Peru, Peru, Study Abroad | Leave a comment