Donna Avina, ’24

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Major: Anthropology
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program

FURSCA project: Figurines, Faces, and Feathered Serpents: Researching and Exhibiting Ceramics from Teotihuacán.

The Kingman Museum in Battle Creek has more than 70 items labeled as coming from Teotihuacán, a 2,000-year-old metropolis located outside present-day Mexico City. These items were donated with very little information and – like most museums with a small working staff – the Kingman has not had the resources to research this collection. For my FURSCA project, I will photograph and measure all items and update their descriptions in the Kingman Museum’s collection management software records. I will also select items to research more thoroughly and prepare a potential public exhibition.

The most challenging thing about my project will probably be preparing for the public exhibition because I have to put everything together to tell a story that catches the audience’s eye. But with my adviser and FURSCA, I’m pretty confident I can do that.

Rae Baker, ’24

Hometown: Jackson Michigan
Major: Biology
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program

FURSCA project: The Impacts of Management on Mile-a-Minute Weed in Michigan

Mile-a-minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) is an invasive species discovered in Michigan in 2020 by Albion College Professor Emeritus of Biology Dr. Doug White, who found it in Albion’s Whitehouse Nature Center. My FURSCA project will research management techniques of mile-a-minute Weed and how it grows. This will inform us about the best strategies to protect and/or restore the native plant and animal species in the Nature Center and other communities in the region.

When working with many species every day, it’s important to be accurate in labeling plants. I will employ the help of new technologies such as mobile apps and Google Lens that use the internet to identify plants with my phone. This project will help sharpen my field skills, writing and presenting skills. It’s also great practice for being resourceful when recording data and communicating my findings.

Nomin Bilegdemberel, ’25

Hometown: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Major: Engineering dual degree program
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Model United Nations treasurer, Society of Physics Students treasurer

FURSCA project: Performance Evaluation of Neuromorphic Chips in Small Robotic Cars for Object Recognition and Avoidance Tasks

This study will measure the accuracy, speed and energy efficiency of these chips in real-world scenarios. The results of this research will provide insights into the capabilities and limitations of neuromorphic computing in small robotic cars and inform future design decisions in this area. It’s been a challenge setting up my car and coding the test program, but I love learning more about engineering and physics. It’s mind-boggling to even grasp how we’re living in such a technologically advanced time.

I like FURSCA for the freedom it offers to explore our interests while supporting and nurturing our curiosity.

Cass Burgess, ’24

Hometown: Fife Lake, Michigan
Major: Theatre
Campus Involvement: Interfaith Ambassador, Graphic Designer for Esports

FURSCA project: The Edge of Humanity: Examining Humans through the Lens of the Vampire Mythos

I am spending the summer reading popular vampire media through several centuries to explore how Europeans and Americans have used vampires as literary devices to explore potentially taboo topics such as sexuality, gender and love. By looking at sources from the 19th through the 21st century, I am also tracing how attitudes towards vampires have changed over time. After this research, I will be writing a full-length stage play that explores this topic in an accessible and interesting manner.

I want to write a full-length play that I will eventually publish. I believe that looking at the topic of vampires and what they represent on stage will help people to have a stronger understanding and more empathy with their fellow humans to whom the word “other” has been applied for longer than European authors have been writing about vampires.

Isaac Hautala, ’25

Hometown: Caledonia, Michigan
Major: Geology and Anthropology, minor in Geographic Information Systems
Campus Involvement: Center for Sustainability and the Environment, Jazz ensemble, Earth & Environment Club

FURSCA project: Green Clay Glauconite as a Paleoenvironmental Indicator

Glauconite is a green mineral that forms in sedimentary rocks throughout geologic history, with most formations found in deep marine environments. In the U.S. Midwest, glauconite is found in formations showing evidence of shallow marine environments in the Paleozoic era (541 million years ago). This contradiction drives my project. I aim to better understand the formation of Glauconite of the Paleozoic Midwest so that the mineral can be used to indicate conditions of other ancient environments that contain glauconite.

A big challenge of this project is simply reading research papers written by geologists. I will manage this by drawing diagrams from the readings, organizing the results discussed in each article and creating hypotheses based on the results. I hope to get results that shed some new light on glauconite formation.

Rana Huwais, ’25

Hometown: Jackson, Michigan
Major: Studio Art (BFA emphasis) with minors in Marketing Management and Art History

FURSCA project: Venus Fly Trap: A Soft Sculpture Installation Exploring Intimacy and Comfort as Consumption

Through this project, I explored how the position of the viewer (literally and figuratively) changes the way a piece is interpreted, seen and, most importantly, felt. I also wanted to create a space for tenderness, calm and emotional intimacy with the use of writing and imagery, giving viewers/participants the opportunity to just lie down for a moment and know they are loved. At the same time, the piece is formulated as a mouth, making the viewers who lie down to view themselves open to being eaten by the comfort they experience – the ultimate vulnerability.

FURSCA gave me the space to see this piece through the ups, downs and conceptual changes that inevitably happen when you’re left in your studio to make art. I was able to get a tufting gun and learn that process (something I likely wouldn’t have done outside of this) and gained strength in my conceptual artmaking. So much of being an artist is having the time to read, doodle, think, and most importantly not think at all – letting ideas come to you. FURSCA gave me the irreplaceable time and funding I needed to do this.

Kali Johnson, ’24

Hometown: Lincoln Park, Michigan
Major: English with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language and a concentration in Secondary Education
Campus Involvement: Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development

FURSCA project: Empowering Youth Through Diverse Voices: Ensuring Equitable Access to Books that are Mirrors and Windows

My project will result in a resource for Albion College education students and graduates: a website of multicultural books written by authors of color. Included in my website will be engaging summaries of each book and interactive lesson plans. I will also be working with Albion’s Big Read to develop enrichment activities that could be used with these books or integrated into other lesson plans.

It’s very important to me to have multiple identities represented through the books I chose. I’m also curious to learn how historically marginalized students are represented through this literature.

FURSCA is great because of how well Renee NAME and Elizabeth Palmer, (FURSCA coordinator and director) take care of us! They provide so many resources and really care about the well-being of everyone on campus. They also plan fun events for us to destress and build a community with each other.

Kevie Lamour, ’25

Hometown: Cap-Haitian, Haiti
Major: Political Science and Economics
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, James L. Curtis Institute for Race and Belonging, Black Student Alliance, African and Caribbean Student Union, International Student Union, library assistant, IT help desk worker, Albion College telerecruiter, international student peer mentor, Albion-O leader

FURSCA project: Engagement in the City of Albion: Understanding the role of racial perception

I’m looking at how registered voters answer the question “how might race influence how or if you engage in community or political activity in Albion?”

I hope to better understand how people from different backgrounds come together to participate in politics and community work. I hope also to learn whether and how their differences might influence their interactions with local government and each other. I anticipate contributing to existing literature on community and political engagement in small cities and informing strategies and recommendations for improving representation and participation in Albion.

Sheridan Leinbach, ’24

Hometown: Lansing, Michigan
Major: Political Science and History with a minor in Women’s Studies
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, President of Student Senate & College Democrats, Students for Reproductive Justice, Kappa Delta, Admission tour guide

FURSCA project: Censorship in the Digital Age

My project is a historic and modern policy analysis of domestic and foreign movements to ban books and other printed materials.

I am analyzing how censorship policy impacts political representation and has been historically linked to fascism and diversity-related issues within communities. I am also looking into the success of book banning/censoring attempts in various communities, including communities with differing levels of internet accessibility.

Since this is a current hot-button issue, I have had to be diligent in verifying sources, interviewees and articles, which has strengthened my research skills. Through my interviews and discussions on this issue, I have had tremendous practice remaining neutral in highly polarized situations. This work will add to my senior thesis highlighting the stark similarities between historic rises of fascism and modern U.S. politics.

Bonnie Lord, ’26

Hometown: Alma, Michigan
Major: Environmental Science with minors in Environmental Biology and Mathematics
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service, Center for Sustainability and the Environment, Earth and Environment Club, Albion Pleiad, Albion-O, Albion Community Gardens volunteer

FURSCA project: Surveying the Reactivity of Dissolved Organic Carbon with the Stream-Groundwater Interface of the Kalamazoo River

I’m looking at how different sources of carbon break down in the bioreactive streambed of the Kalamazoo River, simulating how urban landscapes contribute organic reactants, such as broken-down leaf matter or grass clippings, to streams. This will provide a clearer picture of the reactions at work in the river. I want to make a meaningful contribution to the body of Albion College student research done on the Kalamazoo River, present my findings and emerge as a more experienced scientist.

What I love about FURSCA is being on campus with all of the other students and learning about their projects. This group of people is so interested and devoted to their work, and it’s really inspiring and interesting to spend time with them.

Dulce Martinez, ’24

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Major: Religious Studies, Art (photography emphasis)

FURSCA project: The Creation

Through my research, I’m creating a series of unique photographic portraits of my participants with and without special effects makeup and prosthetics. A total of 15 prints will aim to demonstrate conceptually the identity struggles of members of the Hispanic/Latinx community. These portraits will illustrate how growing up simultaneously in Latinx and white cultures has affected their views of their identities, compounded by family pressures and societal expectations that may be different in these two cultures.

Through this research project, I look forward to expanding my skills as a special effects makeup artist while learning different photography and printing techniques. My goal is to engage and become closer with my own Latina identity and to speak up about the struggles and identity issues in Hispanic/Latinx communities that aren’t often talked about in public spaces.

Jimena Perez, ’23

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Art History with a minor in Spanish
Campus Involvement: Co-founder of Active Minds Albion Chapter

FURSCA project: Forgotten Latinidades: How Historical Amnesia Has Excluded the Nikkei Community from Latin American/Latinx Identities

This project explores the complexities of cultures and identities of Peruvians and Venezuelans of Japanese descent. It also aims to challenge the conventional notions of what “Latinidad” is, as it relates to the myth of “racial democracy” that has been dominant in Latin America.

For my research, I have studied the context surrounding “Nikkei,” a documentary by filmmaker Kaori Flores Yonekura. This film tries to re-inscribe the stories and experiences of Latin Americans of Japanese descent, or “Nikkei,” into the historical consciousness of people who are Latin Americans and U.S. Latinx. My goal is a deeper understanding of the complexities of Latin American and Latinx identities. I also hope to become a fundamental contributor to this particular topic within Latin American studies.

Heather Phipps, ’24

Hometown: Flint, Michigan
Major: Theatre and English-creative writing, Sexualities minor
Campus Involvement: Alpha Psi Omega, Sigma Tau Delta, Albion College Gaming Club

FURSCA project: The Art of the Bard: Integrating Celtic Folklore Into Modern English Poetry

The presence of Celtic culture in English poetry (and English media in general) is severely lacking, so I aim to expand the niche by writing a collection of poems informed by research into Celtic folklore and myth. The biggest challenge for this project may be deciding what stories to include and how to include them.

I hope to learn more about the Celtic pantheon and its stories and heroes, ultimately using those stories to expand my abilities as a poet. I want to relate Celtic myth and folklore to the modern world and subsequently promote their more common use in English writing, as has been the case with Greek, Roman and Norse mythos.

Ashlynn Reed, ’24

Hometown: Palmyra, Michigan
Major: English and Environmental Studies
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Center for Sustainability and the Environment
AmeriCorps, Earth and Environment Club, Albion Community Gardens, Albion College Student Farm, Albion Healthcare Alliance

FURSCA project: Exploring Food Stories in Albion

I collected culturally significant and memorable recipes from Albion community members and interviewed residents to assemble the Albion Community Cookbook. This research project aimed to investigate how diet and social experiences create a sense of community and belonging in Albion, a diverse community with a rich history of gardening and food. This research will document the ways in which environmental injustice and food insecurity have affected residents, while also sharing the recipes that are part of the community’s cultural heritage.

I am a student studying the humanities, and I feared I would struggle to receive funding for my project. FURSCA accepted my project and helped fund something I am passionate about.

Luke Rivard, ’24

Hometown: Wilson, Michigan
Major: Music Performance
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program
Albion College Symphony Orchestra, Music Department student worker

FURSCA project: A Theoretical and Performance Analysis of the Late Wind Sonatas of Francis Poulenc

I used FURSCA 2023 to write performance guides for three of Poulenc’s sonatas. I researched performances of these pieces, from their premieres in the mid-20th century, to the present day, and compiled information on how different artists handled special moments in the music. These guides can direct the performer so that the audience can enjoy these pieces as much as I do. A compelling performance helps the audience connect with the music.

Through this scholarship, I learned about the compositional style of Francis Poulenc and about techniques of music theory analysis. I am interested in the ways in which standard performance practices are developed and whether they are within the vision the composer had for the piece. My hope is these performance guides will help musicians to make choices in their playing that are within the intent of the composer and compelling for the audience.

Amelia Stevenson, ’25

Hometown: Salem, Oregon
Major: Biology with a minor in German
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Lisa and James Wilson Institute for Medicine, Delta Gamma

FURSCA project: Regulation of a Von Willebrand Factor by Tetrahymena Mating Type Proteins

Gene VWAT_17 is the one that codes for Von Willebrand Factor Type A. For my research I deleted VWAT_17 from the tetrahymena cell samples. I then tested those samples to see whether gene expression still exists when those cells interact with wild-type cells. I used the information gained to answer questions about single-cellular and multi-cellular mating processes as well as gain previously unknown information about Von Willebrand Factor proteins.

Besides the research, I think FURSCA is about meeting new people and the warm weather. It also gave me research experience and the time to gain more familiarity with the lab, which will help me do even more in the future.

Riley Zoll, ’24

Hometown: Bluffton, Indiana
Major: German with minors in Teaching English as a Second Language and Educational Studies
Campus Involvement: Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, Kappa Alpha Theta, Peer Writing consultant

FURSCA project: Astro Restoration Project Lesson Plans

The Astro Restoration Project (ARP) is an all-volunteer organization that works to restore and preserve the Astro payload, which flew on space shuttles in 1990 and 1995. The payload included the only space-flown telescopes to return to Earth; these are currently on display at museums around the country.

For my FURSCA project, I wrote lesson plans for the ARP exhibit at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, enabling visitors of all grade levels tp explore the role these telescopes played in advancing our knowledge of space. Through the ARP website, these lesson plans will be available for teachers to use all around the world.

Thanks to FURSCA, I was able to better my lesson-planning skills as a future educator, create a closer relationship with my advisors and be surrounded by other students who were participating in research. I enjoyed learning about all their different types of projects.