2013 Honor Students Featured

Want to see firsthand how attending a liberal arts college at a top-tier research university adds depth and rigor to the educational experience?

Browse the 2013 College Honors Sampler homepage to learn more about the research of students from across the spectrum of majors, and find out more about how their work will affect the students’ future careers and graduate studies.

For more topics, review the full college honors list and refer to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations database.

2013 College Honors Sampler homepage

Related Video

Rebecca Levitan (seated) talks about her honors project involving the Parthenon frieze


Trethewey Named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

U.S. Poet Laureate and creative writing instructor Natasha Trethewey has been named a 2013 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and a center for independent policy research.

Trethewey, who is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory, is serving as 19th Poet Laureate, and is in residence through May 2013 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, “Native Guard” (2006), which Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre will adapt for the stage in 2014 as part of the National Civil War Project.

In the literary arts at Emory, Trethewey joins Shoshana Felman (2010), Robert Woodruff Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and French, and Ronald Schuchard (2012), Goodrich C. White Professor of English at Emory University, as Fellows. In total, 12 Emory faculty belong to the Academy.

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

See news release

Selected Video Links

Creativity Conversation: Natasha Trethewey & Rosemary Magee (2012)

Why I Write: Natasha Trethewey on Poetry, History, and Social Justice (2010)

Natasha Trethewey Reads a Poem from “Beyond Katrina” (2010)

Announcing “The Visit 2013”

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University, will return to Atlanta on October 8-10, 2013, for a series of public and campus events.

Two events—a public talk titled The Pillars of Responsible Citizenship in the 21st Century Global Village, and an afternoon panel session on Secular Ethics in Education—are scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. Admission to both (or either) events is included with each ticket purchased.  Tickets go on sale beginning Friday, April 26 at 10:00 a.m. at http://www.gwinnettcenter.com, in-person at the box office at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, or by phone at 1-888-9-AXS-TIX. (Tickets will go fast!)

In addition to the public events, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will spend two days (October 9 and 10, 2013) on the campus of Emory University teaching students and engaging with the faculty. Emory community tickets to the on-campus events will be free and available through a lottery beginning September 1 through this website. A traditional Buddhist teaching will be arranged on campus through Drepung Loseling Monastery Inc. in affiliation with Emory University for their members and guests.

Public tickets are not available for the on-campus events/teachings except through sponsorship opportunities. See http://dalailama.emory.edu/support for details on how you can further the work of the Emory-Tibet Partnership as they work to bridge two worlds for one common humanity.

As in previous visits, His Holiness offers his appearance for the promotion of peace and does not receive any speaker fee. Funds generated through ticket sales are used solely to cover expenses, with any surplus being disbursed to charitable organizations under the advisement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Visit 2013 Homepage

The Rising Obesity Epidemic

Check out this new YouTube video to hear Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, Vice President for Global Health and former director of the CDC, talk to undergraduate students about the rising obesity epidemic and corresponding health risks (April 9, 2013). Because obesity is associated with several chronic diseases, it represents a major public health concern. The culprits behind this alarming growth in the national waistline, as Dr. Koplan points out, are the availability of more food with higher energy content, the spread of the fast food industry, the omnipresence of snack foods, the decline of family meals, and the presence of “food islands” where affordable healthy food is hard to come by.

His talk was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Human Health, which was established to centralize and organize Emory’s vast resources in health-related studies. The Center provides a home for a unique interdisciplinary undergraduate curricula, as well as a place where faculty can develop groundbreaking programs and research.

Human Health YouTube Channel

Plans Underway for Human Health Major


Plans are underway in the College to offer a Human Health major, building on a strong foundation in health-related studies within a liberal arts education.

In March, the Emory College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee approved the development of an “innovative and interdisciplinary major in Human Health.”

The committee’s approval marks an important first step in advancing the major. The plan must also now be endorsed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and Emory’s Board of Trustees before it may be formally offered — perhaps as early as fall 2013.

Read full article in Emory Report

Center for Study of Human Health Homepage

See Student Profile on YouTube

See Human Health YouTube Playlist


In the News: Richard Prior (Music)

Emory composer and orchestra conductor Richard Prior recently received Awards of Merit for composition and symphonic music for his “hymn for nations united” at this year’s Global Music Awards. He currently has two active commissions from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: one for a celebratory orchestral fanfare that will be premiered in June, and the other for a large-scale symphonic poem that will receive several performances this fall.

Read more

Media Spotlight on Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology, is interviewed by NPR “Talk of the Nation” host Ira Flatow about his book The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates.

[T]he philosophers always assume that our sense of justice and many of our moral principles are things that we logically derive. We think about these issues, and then we come to a logical conclusion, and we say this is how we ought to behave.

But what I show with the primate studies is that a lot of these things are actually based on emotions, basic emotions, a bit like David Hume, the philosopher, tended to speak about moral sentiments. So that’s the view that’s becoming dominant, also dominant, I would say, among neuroscientists now, and psychologists. And so the philosophers have to deal with this new kind of science that’s coming out.

See full interview

A “Whole Human” Healing Approach

Dr. Yoon Hang John Kim of Georgia Integrative Medicine talks about his healing-oriented approach that takes account of the whole person (body, emotion, and spirit) including all aspects of lifestyle (March 26, 2013). Integrative medicine emphasizes the healing relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative, including:

  • Conventional Medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
  • Energy Healing
  • Nutrition – Food As Medicine, Anti-inflammatory Foods, Low Glycemic Foods, and Hypoallergenic Food Choices
  • Naturopathy
  • Mind-Body Medicine

His talk was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Human Health, which was established to centralize and organize Emory’s rich resource base of opportunities in health-related studies. The Center provides a home for unique interdisciplinary undergraduate curricula, as well as a functional unit where an interdisciplinary faculty-based consortium can develop path-breaking programs and research.

See Human Health YouTube Playlist

In the News: Jan Akers (Theater)

Jan Akers, senior lecturer and artistic director for Theater Emory, is featured in this article (“Theater Emory artistic director a quadruple threat”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 28) by Bert Osborne.

Be they actor-singer-dancers or writer-director-producers, so-called “triple threats” are nothing new in show business.

Janice Akers takes it one step further as a quadruple threat: actor, director, educator and — with her appointment last fall as the new artistic director for Theater Emory — administrator.

Her growing list of duties has made finding time to act more difficult, but she is getting back to her first love this spring in Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” running April 4-14 at Theater Emory.

Akers portrays Madame Ranevskaya, the deeply conflicted matriarch of an aristocratic Russian family on the brink of financial ruin. Like all Theater Emory shows, many of the younger roles are played by students, who will mix with professional actors: James Donadio, Mark Cabus, Clint Thornton and Donald McManus as Chekhov, who becomes a character in this production.

Consumed by guilt and grief involving the drowning death of her young son years earlier, Ranevskaya returns from a self-imposed exile in Paris to confront her demons.

“She’s an incredibly complicated woman, caught between two worlds, tied between Russia and France, navigating between the past and the future,” Akers said.

“Many things about her really resonate with me. She’s at an incredible juncture in her life where her choices are very difficult. Not everyone is going to approve of them. Sometimes, we all reach a point in our lives when we may be fragile but need to act boldly and take a risk.”

As Akers’ three-year term as Theater Emory artistic director develops, one thing is certain: Risks will be taken.

“We’re in a privileged position here to be able to focus on new work and innovative approaches to the classics,” noted her husband, Tim McDonough, also a teacher, actor and director at Emory. McDonough is a former artistic director for the company.

“Chekhov wrote this last play when he knew he was dying and there’s a real haunted quality about it,” McDonough said. “It’s preoccupied with time and death, with the letting go of a way of life and of life itself. There are many ghosts haunting the people in this play.”

Chekhov did not write himself into the play, but “in our production, Chekhov himself is one of them,” he said.

“Other (commercially driven) companies don’t always have the freedom to experiment in the same way, so it almost feels like our responsibility in contributing to the Atlanta theater community at large,” McDonough said.

A native of California, where she was one of the founding members of the still-thriving Sacramento Theatre Company, Akers and McDonough relocated to Atlanta in 1990 when he was offered a teaching position at Emory.

For the first several years, Akers was primarily regarded in Atlanta as an actress. Her local career included eight seasons performing the classics with Georgia Shakespeare and culminated in 7 Stages’ widely acclaimed “Black Battles With Dog,” which toured the world for some seven years, off and on.

But the scheduling demands of that show and Akers taking a full-time position with Emory’s theater in 2003 meant her stage appearances grew less frequent.

“I’ve certainly had my fair share of work around town over the years, but teaching simply prevents you from having the time to really get out there and audition for things as an actor,” Akers said.

While she has taken occasional acting roles at Theater Emory, such as 2009’s “Peer Gynt,” most of Akers’ work with the group has been off the stage, directing such productions as “Buried Child” and “The Night of the Iguana,” both of which featured McDonough in the cast.

“It’s a delicate balance,” she said. “My primary commitment is to Emory’s theater program and my primary focus is on educating our students.”

At the same time, auditioning and working is a valuable part of research as a teacher, in a sense practicing what she and her husband preach, she said.

Akers’ return to the stage will give her a chance to, like her character, “act boldly and take a risk.”


A Buddhist Perspective on Studying Science

Geshe Lhakdor, the director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, talks about how science and spirituality, especially Buddhism, can complement each other to increase well-being and happiness.

Since the beginning of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI), he has played an integral role in establishing the connection between the Tibetan monastic community and Emory University, developing the science courses for the monastics, and preparing the add science materials into the core curriculum of the major Tibetan Buddhist monasteries throughout India.

His talk was held in conjunction with Emory’s Tibet Week, an annual celebration of the culture of traditional and contemporary Tibet (March 25-29). Tibet Week events include lectures, panel discussions, meditation, films and music.

Emory-Tibet Partnership Homepage