Elon names 2009 Lumen Scholars

Thirteen rising juniors at Elon have been named recipients of the 2009 Lumen Prize, the university’s premier award that comes with a $15,000 scholarship to support and celebrate their academic achievements and research proposals.

Lumen Scholars will work closely with their mentors over the next two years to pursue and complete their projects. Efforts will include course work, study abroad, research both on campus and abroad as well as during the regular academic year and summers, internships locally and abroad, program development, and creative productions and performances.

The name for the Lumen Prize comes from Elon’s historic motto, “Numen Lumen,” which are Latin words meaning “spiritual light” and “intellectual light.” The words, which are found on the Elon University seal, signify the highest purposes of an Elon education.

The 2009 winners include the following:

Andrew Black
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Ashburn, Va.
Mentor: Michael Pregill
Project title: Power of the periphery: Examining Islamic political movements outside the Arab world and the role of transnational Muslim networks

Amanda Clark
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Auburn, N.Y.
Mentor: Kathy Matera
Project title: Understanding the role of the body’s immune system in atherosclerosis through analysis of TLR4 and HSP interactions

Kaitlyn Fay
Major: Music Education
Hometown: New Milford, Conn.
Mentor: Matthew Buckmaster
Project title: The effects of jazz improvisation on student performance in second language studies

Taylor Foshee
Major: Political Science/Environmental Studies
Hometown: Arlington, Va.
Mentor: Sharon Spray
Project title: Rural poverty and the environment: Researching the relation between rural poverty and the environment to identity possibilities for intervention

Christopher Jarrett
Major: Spanish/International Studies
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Mentor: Michael Matthews
Project title: Cultural diversity in contemporary Latin American indigenous movements

Elizabeth Leman
Major: History/International Studies
Hometown: Ashburn, Va.
Mentor: David Crowe
Project title: The evolution of international humanitarian law: Case studies in Germany, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka

Maggie Pahos
Major: Art History/English
Hometown: Hinsdale, Ill.
Mentor: Evan Gatti
Project title: A point of perception: The complications of cross-cultural perspective and representation

Caroline Peckells
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Pinehurst, N.C.
Mentor: Joel Karty
Project title: The synthesis of ellagic acid derivatives: Implications in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Anthony Rizzuto
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Wilmington, N.C.
Mentor: Karl Sienerth
Project title: Electrochemical reduction in CO2 in ionic liquids: Homogenous vs. heterogeneous catalysts

Molly Strayer
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Lusby, Md.
Mentor: Kathy Matera
Project title: Delving into the mysterious mechanisms of prion chemistry

Amber Woods
Major: History
Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.
Mentor: Charles Irons
Project title: Ecclesiastical tensions in Kentucky, 1790-1854

McKenzie Young
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Huntington, W.Va.
Mentor: Hunter Bacot
Project title: The changing North Carolina voter: A study of evolving trends in North Carolina’s voting population and behavior

Renee Zale
Major: Political Science/International Studies
Hometown: Hopkinton, Mass.
Mentor: Michael Matthews
Project title: International memory knots: The global impact of torture in post-dictatorship Chile

Scholarship recipients were chosen through a two-step process. Candidates submitted applications with background statements and research proposals, a letter of nomination from their mentor, and an additional letter of recommendation. The second stage consisted of an interview.

The selection committee considered several criteria for choosing the winners: clarity and scope of intellectual inquiry, intellectual curiosity and critical reflection, distinctiveness, and feasibility.

“Given the committed work of the faculty and ongoing support from administration, the quality of undergraduate scholarly and creative work continues to improve across the board at Elon,” said psychology professor Paul Fromson, who led the Lumen Prize selection committee. “That makes selecting the Lumen Prize winners quite a challenge, as we were working with a pool of highly talented and committed applicants. I feel confident that our 2009 Lumen Scholars will prove that our faith in them was well placed, and that they will make noteworthy contributions to their disciplines, to the campus community, and to the world around them.”

Fromson noted that the 40 students who applied for this year’s Lumen awards came from all areas of the university. “Our selections in no way reflect any predetermined allotment of so many prizes for any particular school, department or program,” Fromson said. “Rather, we strive to be open to identifying distinctive excellence across the many ways scholarship is manifested at Elon.”

A dinner in honor of the 2009 Lumen Scholars will be held May 5 at the Alamance Country Club. In addition to the prize recipients and their mentors, the dinner will be attended by 2008 Lumen Prize award winners along with members of the selection committee, academic deans and President Leo M. Lambert and his wife, Laurie. Charles Irons, assistant professor of history will be the guest speaker.