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SBU Honors students lead sessions at conference

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Three Southwest Baptist University students in the Gordon and Judy Dutile Honors Program presented at Ozarks Technical Community College’s fifth annual Honors Conference on Saturday, March 25, at OTC in Springfield.

shelby.bartaShelby Barta, a sophomore environmental biology major from Basehor, Kan.; Kat Jespersen, a junior biology/biomedical science major from Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Seth Walley, a senior chemistry and music major from Willard joined 15 other presenters at the conference for college honors programs in southwest Missouri.

The conference began five years ago to provide an opportunity for OTC honors students to interact with other honors programs and students, experience an academic conference and share their research and work. It included attendees and participants from OTC, Missouri State University-West Plains, Missouri State University, Missouri Southern State University, Drury University and SBU. 

Barta (top left) opened the conference with her presentation “The 70’s Aesthetic: A Look into the Art and Photography of the 70’s.” The presentation examined the colors, themes and values of photography during the 1970s, and was a tribute to the works of artists William Eggleston, Martin Parr and Wes Anderson.

kat.jespersenJespersen (center) presented “Parkinson’s Disease: A Pathological Perspective.” Her presentation was based on research she completed for one of her classes – pathophysiology. Jespersen shared her passion for the health field, specifically therapy, with the attendees.

seth.walleyWalley closed the conference with his presentation “Annotating Drosophila Elegans: Bioinformatics in Practice.” The session examined several bioinformatics tools and how they are used to annotate the contig 63 of D. elegans, a fosmid containing a 40kb region of the 4th chromosome.

“The honors program at Ozarks Technical Community College, directed by Todd Yerby, hosted a fantastic undergraduate research conference,” said Dr. Jodi Meadows, Dutile Honors Program director and assistant professor of university studies. “I was delighted for the opportunity for our students to present their work and see the work of other honors students in the area.

“In addition, we were able to meet OTC honors program students who may be interested in completing their four-year degree at SBU. Seth, Shelby, and Kat did an outstanding job with their presentations, and we are looking forward to attending next year and, hopefully, taking more students.”

For more information on SBU’s honors program, contact Meadows at (417) 328-1460 or