Women’s and Gender Studies Majors Present at National Conference on Undergraduate Research


MACON – Four senior women's and gender studies majors in Mercer University's College of Liberal Arts presented research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), April 16-18, at Eastern Washington University.

All of the students began their research projects during the fall semester in Dr. Natalie Bourdon's Methods in Gender Studies Research course. The course includes a service-learning component in which students have to complete at least 30 hours of service with an organization or institution closely aligned with their research goals.

“The class demands a lot from the students, and I saw that these four students were really passionate about their projects and focused on their research design, so I encouraged them early on in the semester to think about applying to NCUR,” said Dr. Bourdon, associate professor of cultural studies.

“I could not be more proud of them. Their research projects were excellent, and the students were thorough, reflective and ethically engaged throughout the research process. It is one of my great pleasures as a faculty member to be able to work with students who not only are engaged in exciting and important research but who also bring questions to the table that challenge me as a researcher.”

Caroline Payne, from Dublin, made a presentation, titled “Perspectives on Domestic Violence and American Media: How the Question 'Why did you stay?' Affects Victims.” She also presented this research at BEAR Day, where she received an Outstanding BEAR Day Paper Award. She participated in service-learning with Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia.

Nancey Price, from Girard, made a presentation, titled “The Effects of Sexual Education: It's More than Just Knowledge.” She also presented this research at Mercer's annual Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research (BEAR) Day, where she received an Outstanding BEAR Day Paper Award, as well as the Southeastern Women's Studies Association Conference in Boca Raton, Florida. She participated in service-learning with Mercer.

Lauren Williams, from Marietta, made a presentation, titled “Women and Aging: Ageism and the Natural Face and Body vs. the Unnatural Face and Body.” She participated in service-learning with Carlyle Place, Navicent Health.

Cory Zeller, from Lawrenceville, made a presentation, titled “Finding Common Ground: Student Access to LGBT Resources in Bibb County School District High Schools.” He also presented this research at BEAR Day, where he received an Outstanding BEAR Day Paper Award. He participated in service-learning with Common Ground, the University's LGBTQ-straight alliance.

“While women's and gender studies students at Mercer produce research to enhance our community every year, we are especially happy this year to have four students nationally recognized for their excellent work,” said Dr. Janell Johnson, associate professor and chair of women's and gender studies.

NCUR, established in 1987, is an interdisciplinary conference where students representing institutions from around the U.S. and the world present their research and creative works in oral, poster and performance/visual arts presentations.

The conference is put on by the Council on Undergraduate Research, a national organization of individual and institutional members representing over 900 colleges and universities that is dedicated to providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving undergraduates. Mercer is an enhanced institutional member of CUR. For more information, visit http://www.cur.org/.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.