COVID Response



RISE Above Research Conference

The 2021 RISE Above Research Conference will be presented on Thursday, APRIL 15. 

2021 THEME

The 8th annual Rise Above conference is themed “Toward Healing.” Presentations and poster sessions will be in-person; however, virtual sessions are optional.

My plan is to make online presentations an option for anyone who wants that option. I also plan to make Zoom links to presentations available for anyone who wants to attend virtually. So, presenters need to express their desire to present online when they register for the conference so they can be added to a virtual session.

Any research topic is welcome, but prizes will be given for projects that are reflective of this year’s theme. Consider whether your research or creative project informs the process of healing (physical, spiritual, relational, etc.).

Students are encouraged to explore the concept of healing through the lens of their specific discipline and with the guidance of a faculty mentor. Professors are encouraged to take up the theme in their classes in anticipation of this theme.


This conference is a culminating event for students who have been engaged in mentored research. Presentations will showcase the scholarly and creative research from all disciplines and majors. Both graduate and undergraduates are encouraged to attend and present. Any faculty-sponsored research project, proposal, or demonstration is welcome.

Abstracts are due March 29.


2021 Conference Schedule & Topics

Attendance & Participation Instructions

Unfortunately, in-person attendance is limited to Milligan faculty, staff, and students this year. If there is a classroom location listed, you may attend in person up to the maximum seating capacity (14 in Derthick). You can attend any presentation virtually with a Zoom link. Poster sessions are in-person only, but all posters will be uploaded to Milligan’s digital repository. The faculty lecture will be virtual only. In the event of inclement weather, the alternative location for posters will be Gregory Lobby.

Masks and social distancing rules apply for any in-person events. Click here to view abstracts.


2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  |  Derthick Lawn
Joy Drinnon, host

“Effects of game-based learning on information retention and improvement of cognitive skills in elementary-school aged children”
Jasmine Guerrero  |  Mentor: JP Abner

“Painting the Trauma: A Study Into How Art Can Heal”
Callie Daniel  |  Mentor: Kayla Walker Edin

“Examining the Relationship Between Christianity and Feminism”
Korynne Taylor  |  Mentor: Jeff Miller

“Mental Health in Student-Athletes Affected by COVID”
Taylor Begley  |  Mentor: Ashley Stiltner

“Using Nature to Connect”
Ethan Wymer  |  Mentor: Rachel Jones

“Does This Bumper Sticker Make Me Look Reckless? Stereotypes About Driving Ability Based on Perceived Gender”
Lydia Helton  |  Mentor: Joy Drinnon


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.  |  Derthick Lawn
Joy Drinnon, host

“Analysis of Alpha Helices in the Receptor Binding Domain in Botulinum Types A, B, D, G”
Dakota Topp  |  Mentor: Jediddiah Griffin 

“Compilation of Data from Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Assays Using Synthesized Novel Antibiotic Candidates”
Madison Blanton  |  Mentor: Kristen Mudrack

“The Effects of Purified Halogen Antibiotic Compounds on Pseudomonas aeruginosa”
Kali Pitman & Aria Binkley  |  Mentor: Kristen Mudrack

“A Combination Approach: Quorum Quenching and Antibiotics against P. aeruginosa”
Danielle Bryant  |  Mentor: Kristen Mudrack


2:00 – 4:00 p.m.  |  tent by the cross
Greg Harrell, host

“Engineering Design Project: Improving the Ride and Increasing the Impact of Affordable Ride on Vehicles Designed for Children with Limited Mobility”
Ian Kelly  |  Mentor: Landon Holbrook

“Sustainable Irrigation for Turkana, Kenya”
Nathan Baker, Josh Clemens, Ty Wilcox, Levi Holloway, Mackenzie Simpson  |  Mentor: Greg Harrell

“Steer Assist”
Matthan Yonas  |  Mentor: Ke Bao

presentation session 1: Music & art

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.  |  Derthick 309
Kayla Walker Edin, moderator

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 928 2318 4246 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 550804

“Art of Hope”
Abigail Russell  |  Mentor: Heather Hoover

“Arranging Tchaikovsky’s Finale from Symphony in F Minor No. 4”
Sarah Baker  |  Mentor: Hunter Mullins

“Revisioning Children’s Songs for the Future”
Michael Nickens  |  Mentor: Kellie Brown 

presentation session 2: psychology

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.  |  Derthick 108
John Paul Abner, moderator

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 921 7425 0679 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 921536

“Perceptions of Appropriate Facebook Disclosure”
Hannah Alford & Alynda Worrell  |  Mentor: Joy Drinnon

“Yoga as an Intervention for Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder”
Kristin Kumbera  |  Mentor: Christine Browning

“College Student Peer Perceptions of Alcohol Use Amid Alcohol Use Policy Changes”
Alexis Terrell  |  Mentor: Joy Drinnon

“The Impact of Virtual Reality Technology on Public Speaking Anxiety”
Amber Mitchell  |  Mentor: John Paul Abner

“Pets vs. Humans: Psychology of Moral Dilemmas”
Christina Triplett, Jeston Mason, Herandy Lucas Pino, Breanna Coley  |  Mentor: John Paul Abner

presentation session 3: graduate projects in theology

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.  |  Derthick 207
Paul Blowers, moderator

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 750 500 1643 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 465452

“Spirit and the Cosmic Crisis”
Caroline Kangwa  |  Mentor: Samuel Elolia

“Futility and Virtue: Gregory of Nyssa’s Fourth Homily on Ecclesiastes”
Alyssa Elliott*  |  Mentor: Paul Blowers

presentation session 4: technology & innovation

3:30 – 4:15 p.m.  |  Derthick 208
Dave Hampton, moderator

Meeting Link  or Enter Meeting ID 543 357 3259 in Zoom Application.

“Addressing the Great Digital Divide using Out of the Box Design and Technical Concepts”
Tamica Carlisle  |  Mentor: Namyoun Choi

“Sustainable Irrigation for Turkana, Kenya”
Nathan Baker, Josh Clemens, Ty Wilcox, Levi Holloway, Mackenzie Simpson
Mentor: Greg Harrell

presentation session 5: “Fissures and Fusions: Cross-Cultural Studies of the Spanish-Speaking World”

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.  |  Virtual Event
Allysha Martin, moderator

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 927 0264 4533 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 145600

“Trade Between United States and Spanish Speaking Countries”
Austin Corcoran  |  Mentor: Allysha Martin

“Romanticized Socialism in “The Last Supper”
Daniel Robinson  |  Mentor: Allysha Martin

“Ableism in Latin America”
Rachel Dove  |  Mentor: Allysha Martin 

presentation session 6: religious studies

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.  |  Derthick 309
Mark Matson, moderator

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting  ID 646 310 5999 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 1234

“Perfectionism and Spiritual Struggle”
Alynda Worrell  |  Mentor: Lori Mills

“The Big Idea: How VeggieTales used Bible Stories to teach kids about God”
Matthew Haagen  |  Mentor: Mark Matson

“Societas and Salvation: Augustine and his Theological Discourse on Marriage
Andrea Hyder  |  Mentor: Lee Blackburn


4:30 – 5:30 p.m.  |  Wilson Auditorium
Joy Drinnon, moderator 

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 943 8057 2097 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 764296

“The Racial Disproportionality of the Foster Care system”
Hannah Alford  |  Mentor: Todd Edmondson

“A Study on Defunding the Police”
Hannah Brokaw  |  Mentor: Rachel Jones

“Attitudes Towards Black & Blue Lives Matter”
Alexandria Thomas  |  Mentor: Joy Drinnon

“The Anti-Democratic Logic of Christian Nationalism”
Marcos Nuchurch  |  Mentor: Amy Edmonds


4:30 – 5:30 p.m.  |  Hyder Auditorium
Aaron Allen, moderator 

Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 923 9677 4621 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 990260

“Determining from Which Part of the Willow Tree to extract The Bark From in a Survivalist Situation”
Andre Levarity  |  Mentor: Matthew McDonald

“Exhaling a Breath to Foster Healing: Unnatural Dipeptide Synthesis targeting Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Cystic Fibrosis Patients”
Amy Hyder & Leah Jamerson  |  Mentor: Kristen Mudrack

“Evaluation of the in vivo and in vitro Effects of Polyphenols in Virgin Coconut Oil on Oxidative Stress”
Drake Shull  |  Mentor: Kristen Mudrack

“Is Burger King playing God? A study in genetically modified organisms in commercially available soy products”
Rachel Dove  |  Mentor: Michael Whitney


6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  |  Virtual Event
Joy Drinnon, moderator 

 Meeting Link or Enter Meeting ID 960 9333 7884 in Zoom Application.
Meeting Password: 227983

“The Sound of Hope: Holocaust Music as an Agent of Resistance, Resiliency, and Reconciliation.”
By Kellie Brown


For almost 20 years, Dr. Kellie Brown has researched music during the Holocaust through the lives of remarkable people—composers, conductors, and performers, who stubbornly clung to music, wherever and however they could, to preserve their culture, to uplift the human spirit, and to triumph over oppression, even amid incredible tragedy and suffering. Her work highlights how music became an agent of spiritual resistance and resiliency for the Jewish people as they battled against a force that sought to exterminate them. Dr. Brown has also cultivated relationships with Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren, and through these connections, she has witnessed how music has been, and continues to be, a vital means for remembrance and reconciliation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can present at the conference?

Any current or recently graduated Milligan student may present his or her research or creative projects as long as they have the sponsorship of a faculty mentor. Sponsorship just means that the faculty mentor agrees that the presentation is acceptable for this conference. Acceptable research may include 499 projects, COMP 211 projects, HIST and HUMN 490 projects and graduate research projects. Projects should be original and primarily the work of the student rather than faculty sponsor.

What types of presentation formats are acceptable?

Most any presentation format can be accommodated with enough notice, but the two main types of presentation formats are either oral or poster.

Most oral presentations will be held in classrooms and will be scheduled in 15-20 minute time slots. However, a longer time slot or different venue can be arranged, if you have a creative presentation.

There will be a poster presentation session where you will have an easel that can hold a 30 X 40 poster board. You will have 1 hour to stand by your poster and answer questions.

Is there any cost for presenting or attending?

No. There is no cost to present or attend the conference.

Are all presentations accepted?

If your research is sponsored by a faculty mentor, then we will accept the presentation.

Can a presentation have more than one presenter or co-author?

Yes, there are no limits on the number of co-presenters or faculty mentors listed on a project. However, no more than TWO presenters can give an oral presentation or stand by the poster. If a project is completed by a large group or by an entire class, you should consider breaking the project into sections and having two students assigned to present each section of the work. This situation is best presented in the poster session format.

Can I submit more than 1 paper or project to the conference?


Do I need to submit my entire paper to the conference?

No. You will only need to submit an abstract (500 word or less).

May I request a specific time slot or change my time once it is set?

No. Sorry, we are unable to accommodate requests.

May I change the title, abstract, or presentation format after I have already submitted my registration?

You could change the title and abstract, but I can’t guarantee that the change will be made to schedules or programs. Send your changes to research@milligan.edu.

Your presentation will be grouped with presentations on similar topics based on what is in your abstract. Changes you make after the time slots are set will not result in a change to your allotted time or location. If you wish to change formats (oral vs. poster), that will depend on available space and time. There is no guarantee that change can be made, especially if it is requested less than a week before the conference.

Why is there a theme to the conference, and how do I win a prize?

Beginning in 2018, an annual theme was added to the conference to provide some additional inspiration to students. Students in COMP 211 use the same theme, and it is promoted campus-wide throughout the fall. Four prizes ($50 Amazon gift cards) will be award; 3 for the best undergraduate project and 1 prize for the best graduate project related to the theme. Undergraduate projects will be subdivided and judged by discipline, with one prize being given within each of the following areas: a) fine arts, humanities, and Biblical scholarship, b) social science and education, and c) science and technology. The Undergraduate Research Oversight Committee will judge the entries based entirely on the abstract submitted during registration for the conference. Winners will be announced prior to the conference.

May I withdraw my presentation after I have submitted it?

Submitting an abstract for presentation is a professional commitment. If you submit an abstract, you are agreeing to present it at the conference on that day. If you are, for reasons beyond your control, unable to attend, you should first try to get a colleague to present the paper for you. If you can not find someone to replace you, send an email to both your faculty mentor and to research@milligan.edu to inform us that you are unable to attend and are unable to find a replacement. We will inform the session chair that you will not be able to present.