Park student wins Great Plains Honors Council award
Loren Ray Laughlin, senior biology major and a student in Park University's Degree with Honors Program, was selected as a winner of the Dennis Boe Award at the Great Plains Honors Council 2010 Conference, March 26 in Tulsa, Okla. According to Virginia Brackett, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of English and modern languages and director of the Honors Program, Laughlin is the first Park student to garner the award.
The annual award goes to select students who present honors research projects at the GPHC conference to showcase and reward outstanding scholarly work by honors program students of its member institutions. Laughlin developed her independent research project, "The Itch of Awareness: Comparison of Resin Ducts in Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and the Mango (Mangifera indica)" over three semesters, working with her honors faculty mentor, Don Williams, Ed.D., associate professor of biology.
Brackett said that Laughlin became interested in poison ivy and decided to use it as the basis for her research due to her own allergies to the plant. As current research typically focuses on the allergenic resin released by poison ivy, the purpose of the project was to determine the physiology of poison ivy as it relates to the physiological research that has been conducted on the mango. In her research, Laughlin concluded that poison ivy and mangos have a similar physiology for their similar anatomical features; and more importantly, poison ivy is a bane to those affected. Brackett added that although Laughlin's research did not result in decreasing its effects on the susceptible individual, the greater understanding of the physiology of poison ivy adds to the knowledge base of this and other resin-secreting plants.
As a winner in the senior-level division (students with more than 60 earned credit hours), Laughlin received a $200 cash award and a plaque, and Park's Honors Program is eligible to apply for one $500 travel grant during the next academic year for either the National Council of Honors Colleges conference or the GPHC conference.
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