Honors College presents Trey Carlock Rising Scholar Award to students for academic research

May 11, 2021 | Honors College |

In April, two students received the 2021 Trey Carlock Rising Scholar Award, an award given by the Honors College that recognizes students who plan to attend a research-focused graduate program.

Honors College faculty selected Mary Grace Golden, public administration and communication studies double major, and Alicen Wilcox, biochemistry and molecular biology major, as this year’s recipients based on their commitment to a Christ-centered career in scholarship, their trajectory of scholarly activity, and their demonstration of presenting research at an academic conference in the next year. Beyond just recognition, each student also received a grant of $1,300 to present their research at a major academic conference.

Dr. James Huff, Honors College faculty fellow, said after generous donations from the family of Trey Carlock, the Honors College faculty decided to use the funds to continue scholarly development for Harding students.

“Where we saw at the Honors College that we could be stronger is the student works of scholarship — how can they be understood to be externally credible beyond just strong exercises in their classes and even capstones by which they're conferred Honors graduation?” Huff said. “How can the work you're doing translate to changing the world because the world outside of Harding knows about it?”

Golden is on track to graduate from the Honors College with Distinction in May 2022 and is pursuing a research-focused master's degree in organizational communication with the plan to continue her work in a Ph.D. program. She is working in Huff’s research lab to develop an interpretative phenomenological study on the lived experiences of political identity in first-time voting Christian women.

Golden said she is thankful to have the unique perspective brought by conducting research at a Christian institution.

“Oftentimes academia is viewed with a secular lens,” Golden said. “However, at Harding, research that allows further conversation and discussion around faith is encouraged. Unpacking political identity in first-time voting Christian women allows for further exploration into the challenges these women face while creating new [understandings] of ways to promote their voices.”

Wilcox is on track to graduate from the Honors College with Distinction in May 2022 and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biology beginning in fall 2022. With Dr. David Donley, assistant professor of biology, as her research mentor, she is developing an honors thesis that examines the relationships between microglia and TDP-43, an important phenomenon to understand in advancing treatments to neurological disorders.

Wilcox said the experience of conducting her research at Harding has been one of the most rewarding parts of her work with the Honors College as she looks toward her future plans.

“I know that when I get to grad school, I'll be doing some very similar things in my work there,” WIlcox said. “So, it's given me confidence going into grad school that I'll know what I am doing because I've already had this high quality work through the Honors College that really has prepared me for that aspect of my life.”

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