Dani Davis, a senior biology major, is the winner of the Spring 2020 Honors Thesis Pitch at Georgia State University.
Davis’ presentation, “Conservation of the World’s Most Ancient Flowering Plant Through Cryopreservation,” highlighted her undergraduate project in which she is developing a long-term seed storage protocol for plant species.
“Biodiversity around the globe is declining at an alarming rate,” Davis said during her presentation. “Plants provide many of the medicines we rely on, a large portion of our food and are also a living history book, with species alive today that grew alongside dinosaurs.”
Davis’ research, under the supervision of Georgia State senior biology lecturer Rebekah Chapman and in partnership with Atlanta Botanical Garden, focused specifically on Amborella tricopoda, which is believed to be the world’s oldest flowering plant. Davis used cryopreservation, a method also used to preserve human tissues, to freeze seeds at -200 degrees Celsius in liquid nitrogen.
The Honors Thesis Pitch challenges undergraduate students to articulate their research projects in a compelling and engaging way in just three minutes or less. The competition is hosted each semester by the Honors College at Georgia State and is co-sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Students and Alumni (CASA).
While usually a live competition, this semester’s Thesis Pitch occurred as a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six students were paired with coaches who helped them prepare a compelling oration. The students then recorded and uploaded their timed presentation to a video sharing platform, where a panel of judges evaluated them. The honors community of students, faculty and staff voted on the People’s Choice Awards through an online survey. First place included a monetary award of $150; second place was $75; and the CASA-sponsored People’s Choice award was $50.
The second place Thesis Pitch winner was senior English major Victor Sledge Jr. whose presentation was titled, “Black on black representation: Exploring spectacle and determinism in Black media.” Sledge’s faculty sponsor was Renée Schatteman, assistant professor of English.
Sabrina Bothwell, a senior psychology major, won the People’s Choice Award, for her presentation, “Effect of alcohol and substance use discordance on relationship functioning.” Bothwell’s faculty sponsor was Dominic Parrott, director of the Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence and professor of psychology.
Other presenters included:
- Haley Dourron, psychology, “Psychedelics & Schizophrenia: a Neuroimaging Perspective;” Faculty mentor: Jessica Turner
- Rachel Odendahl, music education, “Diversity in the Music Classroom;” Faculty mentor: Martin Norgaard
- Maggie Welch, neuroscience, “An Overview of Conditioned Defeat in a Syrian Hamster Model;” Faculty mentor: Kim Huhman
This semester’s thesis coaches were:
- Jaye Atkinson, associate professor and associate chair for the Department of Communications
- Jacob English, director of the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships
- Mary Fernandes, Ph.D. candidate in clinical neuropsychology and first place and People’s Choice winner of the 2019 Georgia State Doctoral Three Minute Thesis competition
- Kyle Frantz, director of Georgia State’s Center for the Advancement of Students and Alumni (CASA) and professor of neuroscience and biology
- Marise Parent, Honors College faculty associate for Research and Theses and professor of neuroscience and psychology
The panel of Thesis Pitch judges included Raeda Anderson, assistant professor and quantitative data specialist with the University Library; Jessie McCrary, scholarship coordinator in the Honors College’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships; and Jose Rodriguez, Honors College librarian.