Student award recipients advance their research projects at USCA

Seven undergraduate students from the University of South Carolina Aiken will be granted up to $2,500 to help fund their research projects after receiving the Magellan Scholar Award during the Fall 2023 semester.

"It is such an honor to have received the award," said recipient Chloe Powell. "I'm very excited to use the funds for my project and see what we can accomplish."

Powell is a psychology major with a concentration in social psychology and is investigating whether clothing color and skin tone impact perceived criminality and aggression. "I am specifically interested in whether a combination of dark clothing and darker skin will lead participants to believe an individual is more aggressive or deserves a harsher prison sentence," she said. "I chose this topic as I believe that implicit bias is one of the main factors influencing the disproportionate amount of people of color who are currently incarcerated."

Powell added that she hopes to make strides in research that can be used to improve our justice system.

Simon Berry is a graduating senior majoring in history and chose to do his project on "Asphalt Over Graniteville: Dividing a Black Community." "I always found infrastructure interesting because it goes into everyday life and I've always been passionate about it," he said.

Berry chose to focus on how transportation infrastructure can negatively impact black areas, especially investigating how the construction of U.S. Highway 1, also known as Jefferson Davis Highway, divided blacks from major businesses and led to displacement.

Dr. Heather Peterson, an associate professor of history at USCA, served as Berry's mentor and said his interest in the subject peaked after she presented a set of oral recordings from the black Graniteville community to her capstone course last semester. "They were given to me by a local community member last year," she said. "Simon chose his topic because he sees how the automobile history has divided communities of color."

Berry said with the help of the Magellan Scholar Award, he'll be able to cut down on costs and eventually work towards getting his research published.

Haily Pineda is a junior molecular biology major, and her project focuses on insulin-like peptides in Stomoxys Calcitrans. "S. calcitransare stable flies that require a blood meal to begin egg development," she said. "I chose this topic because it ties into how gene expression impacts the larger physiological process of egg development in this particular insect."

Pineda said her overall goal with the Magellan Award is to gain hands-on experience under excellent leadership from her mentor, Dr. Mary Mills, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology.

To apply for the award, students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.2 and collaborate with a faculty mentor on their project. Funds support materials, salary, or travel needs. Magellan Scholar Awards recipients for the Spring 2024 semester will be announced by April 5.

Below is the full list of the students who received grants during the Fall 2023 semester:

Rachel Eubanks

Theta Power and Emotion Regulation in Caregivers Before and After a Parenting-Focused Intervention

Mentored by: Laura Swain

Nalany Richardson

Testing Candidate Genes for Color Polymorphism in Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Mentored by: Kristina Ramstad

Chloe Powell

The "Black Clothing Effect" and Perceptions of Aggression: Impacts of Gender and Race

Mentored by: Adam Pazda

Truman Brabham

Comparative Study of Pressure Drop of Nanoparticle Enhanced Ionic Liquids (NEILs) with Traditional Heat Transfer Fluids (HTFs)

Mentored by: Titan Paul

Simon Berry

Asphalt Over Graniteville: Dividing a Black Community

Mentored by: Heather Peterson

Haily Pineda

Insulin-Like Peptides in Stomoxys Calcitrans

Mentored by: Mary Mills

Luke Aldridge

Vietnam Veterans Oral History Project: From Aiken to the Library of Congress

Mentored by: Sarah King

For more information, contact Angela Saxon,