Science history, study abroad flavor MTSU Scholars...

Science history, study abroad flavor MTSU Scholars Week projects [+VIDEO]

Hunter Hudson spent countless hours researching the history of MTSU’s early science faculty members and their association with the Tennessee Academy of Science. And it captured MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s attention.

English major and University Honors College student Madeline Kurtz utilized her freshman year study abroad trip to Italy in 2016 as a prerequisite to a Scholars Week poster presentation in the Student Union Ballroom.

The major portion of Scholars Week concluded with the universitywide Scholars Day Friday (March 23) in the Student Union Ballroom.


Scholars Week is an annual celebration of research, scholarship and creative projects. It has expanded beyond a one-week format.

While meeting with various participants in the room, McPhee stopped and talked to Hudson about his historical project titled “Contributions of Early Middle Tennessee State Normal School Faculty in Establishing the Tennessee Academy of Science.”

“He (McPhee) said he learned something new (about the university),” Hudson, 27, a nontraditional student from Nashville, said. “He was not aware of some of these things.”

Archibald Belcher (at the normal school from 1911-24), Jeanette Moore (there from 1911-22) and William Mebane (1930-43) were early pioneers in the Tennessee Academy of Science, which was founded in 1912, one year after the university opened, Hudson said.

Hudson, who estimates spending 125 hours minimum on the project, listed 48 references “chronicling where we came from.” He combed through about 2,000 newspaper articles. Chemistry professor Martin Stewart is Hudson’s project sponsor.

A biology major switching to biochemistry, Hudson, a senior, will have a double major and minor. He plans to graduate in 2020 so “my work here is not done yet,” he said.

MTSU senior Maeve Bleistein describes her research.

MTSU senior Maeve Bleistein, 21, a pshycology major from Franklin, Tenn., talks about her poster and research with people attending the universitywide Scholars Day during the annual Scholars Week March 23 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Honors College student Kurtz, 21, of Brentwood, Tennessee, titled her presentation “A Freshman’s Tale: An Italian Travel Memoir.” She listed 13 chapters, one for each day the group spent in Italy.

“I was homeschooled and had never been abroad,” said Kurtz, who was sponsored by Philip Phillips, Honors College associate dean.

The group visited Rome, Ostia Antica, Pompeii, Florence, Ravenna, Pisa and Venice, following the footsteps of various authors — including Dante, Vergil and Boethius — from Antiquity and the Renaissance.

“I reflected on these experiences,” she said. “My written recollections became the basis of my thesis. I expounded on the journal entries, diving into my personal history and philosophical reflections. I added new illustrations. The goal of my project was to explore through creative writing how travel affects a young person.”

Scholars Week judges’ winning posters will be displayed from Monday, March 26, through Thursday, April 12, in the James E. Walker Library atrium.

Remaining Scholars Week activities include:

• Wednesday, March 28, College of Business Scholars Day — a business plan competition trade show — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Building atrium.

• Monday, April 2, College of Education Scholars Day, with posters presented at 4 p.m. in College of Education Building Room 164 and a Distinguished Scholars Session with Vanderbilt University’s Emily Phillips Galloway at 6 p.m. in COE 160.

— Randy Weiler (

An overview of Scholars Week's university wide Scholars Day

MTSU Scholars Week participants wait to greet other attendees and share about their research and poster presentations March 23 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU chemistry major Mahmud Akter explains her research during Scholars Week.

MTSU chemistry major Mahmuda Akter, right, explains her research to fellow students attending the Scholars Week universitywide Scholars Day event in the Student Union Ballroom March 23. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Several hundred MTSU students showcase their research during the university wide Scholars Day event in Student Union Ballroom.

An MTSU student shares information about his research to other students at the March 23 universitywide Scholars Day event in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Acclaimed physics professor reveals biomedical research advances at Scholars Week

His work led to a Fulbright award for teaching and research in Ethiopia in 2016-17, and now, back at MTSU this academic year, professor Daniel Erenso was among nine College of Basic and Applied Sciences faculty who made 10-minute talks “to make you love science.”

The event was part of the March 20 MT Talks CBAS Scholars Day activity, a portion of the university’s annual Scholars Week events, held in the MTSU Science Building.

Physics professor Daniel Erenso

MTSU professor Daniel Erenso’s research and laboratory work have led to advances in biomedical physics. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

Open to the public and the MTSU community, MT Talks explain how science helps discover how the world works, from physics to biology to aerospace.

Erenso, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, discussed recent advances in biomedical physics research at MTSU, emphasizing the technique developed to measure radiation doses at the single cell level and recent observations made in creating electromagnetic radiation from blood.

Dr. Daniel Erenso

Dr. Daniel Erenso

His study pinpointed what has taken place in the past three years, though research in biophysics has been around since 2005. Erenso has been at MTSU since fall 2003.

“The research that led to these two interesting new things is our research on biophysical techniques in the study of human red blood cells in relation to the sickle cell disorder,” he said.

Erenso provided a brief review of the use of lasers in sickle cell research. A video within the PowerPoint reveals “interesting results: single cell ionization of various types of cancer cells and the transformation of blood into radiation,” he said.

Erenso collaborated with Nashville’s Meharry Medical College during his study of red blood cells in sickle cell disease and with MTSU’s Department of Biology in his study of cancer cells. He received his college’s Distinguished Research Award for 2016.

College of Basic and Applied Sciences logoMTSU alumnus Michelle Kelley, a physics major and University Honors College Buchanan Scholar, often assisted Erenso with laboratory work.

To learn more about his research, visit or

During his Fulbright experience overseas, Erenso taught an undergraduate physics course, mentored graduate students and conducted an outreach activity. He also trained physics high school teachers about a modern approach to teaching introductory physics.

Scholars Week logoOther MT Talks presenters and their topics during the 2018 Scholars Week event included:

• Dr. Karim Salman, Department of Engineering Technology, “Using Cellular Automata in Encryption/Decryption: Theory, History and Future Aspects.”
• Dr. John DiVincenzo, Department of Chemistry, “Pesticides in Our Environment: Should We Be Concerned.”
• Dr. John Wallin, Computational Sciences Program, “How Virtual and Mixed Reality Will Be Used in the Future Classroom.”
• Professor Tyler Babb, Department of Aerospace, “iPads as Electronic Flight Bags.”
• Dr. Mary Farone, Department of Biology“The Microbiome — Your 10 Trillion Frenemies and BFFs.”
• Dr. Clay Harris, Department of Geosciences, “To Model or Not to Model: Could There Be a Downside?”
• Dr. Sal Barbosa, Department of Computer Science, “Moving A.I. Into the Future Responsibly.”
• Dr. Brian Robertson, Department of Biology, “CRISPR Genome Editing and Its Biomedical Applications.”

To learn more about the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and its 11 departments, call 615-898-2613.

— Randy Weiler (


MTSU students, faculty await upcoming Scholars Week activities

MTSU students often work one semester — and sometimes year-round — to be part of the annual Scholars Week, which, through growth, has expanded to more than one week, March 19-23, across the MTSU campus.

MTSU Scholars Week is an annual weeklong celebration of research, scholarship, and creative projects.

Nearly all events are free and open to the public. To find parking and campus buildings, a printable campus map is available at

MTSU student Kirsten Cunningham received a Goldwater Scholarship.

MTSU rising junior Kirsten Cunningham, left, explains her biochemistry research to Lucy Watson in spring 2017 during the universitywide Scholars Day in the Student Union Ballroom. Cunningham has received a Goldwater Scholarship to assist with her studies. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Scholars Week highlights open to the public include:

Lecia Brooks, outreach director, Southern Poverty Law Center

Lecia Brooks

• Scholars Week Keynote speaker Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center, will give a talk, “The Rhetoric of Hate and the Art of Resistance,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, in the Keathley University Center Theater. A reception begins at 6 p.m.

• Universitywide Poster Exposition: Undergraduate, Graduate, and Faculty Posters will be on display starting at 12:40 p.m. Friday, March 23, in the Student Union Ballroom on the second floor. Judging will take place from 12:40 to 2:15 p.m., with a brief awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

Various colleges within the university will have their own events during Scholars Days throughout the week.

Extending to the following week and beyond:

• The College of Behavioral and Health Sciences will hold its Scholars Day event, the Textiles, Merchandising and Design, or TXMD, Runway Show, starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Miller Education Center on Bell Street. The2018 Interior Design Student Showcase, held by the MTSU Student Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers/International Interior Design Association,will start at 5 p.m. in the McWherter Learning Resources Center. Note: A fee and ticket may be required for this event.

• The Jones College of Business Scholars Day event, the Business Plan Competition Trade Show — will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, in the atrium of the Student Union Building.
• James E. Walker Library poster display — First-place winners of the universitywide poster event will be on display March 26-April 12 in the library atrium.

To learn more about Scholars Week, the complete schedule and students’ and faculty members’ abstracts a committee selected for participation, visit

— Randy Weiler (

A large crowd attends the universitywide Scholars Day event in March 2017 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)