The Honors College

Oak View Hall, Room 210
509 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester , MI 48309-4452
(location map)
(248) 370-4450
Fax: (248) 370-4479

four women jumping on a beach with water in the background

Student Experiences

As an Honors College student, you’ll learn, lead and explore. Standing alongside esteemed mentors, you'll discover new experiences. You'll enhance your education. You’ll grow in your personal and academic endeavors. You’ll reach your greatest potential. See where an honors education can take you through these HC student experiences.

Completed Theses

“La Brigada Sonrisas”: A Creative Endeavor to Address Oral Health Disparity of Hispanic Children
Dayna Tan, a Spanish major, completed a creation of a children’s book written in Spanish about oral health and hygiene. The book draws on current knowledge in the oral health field to create a new resource that fills a gap in the existing juvenile literature written in Spanish on this topic. Following publication, copies of the book were donated to an organization that serves Hispanic children at risk for poor oral health. The book serves as an educational tool that can increase oral health awareness and knowledge of oral hygiene practices in the target population and ultimately contribute to the reduction of oral health disparity.

The Coffee Derivatives Market: A Brief History and Predictive Analysis
Jacob Norman, A finance major, explored the coffee derivatives market. This analysis involved analyzing the trading strategies and practices from the past and the present, with a brief look at the future.

A Review of Emerging Adults' Prescription Drug Perceptions and Their Relationship to Spare Pill Distribution
Caroline Mitton, A Criminal Justice major, completed a research project that focused on emerging adults’ perceptions surrounding prescription medication. The Opioid Epidemic, which refers to the increase in opioid addiction and related deaths, often brought on by nonmedical opioid use, has been in the forefront of the media, and, more recently, in criminological research. This research project seeks to identify how emerging adults view opioids, sedatives and mood medication and how such perceptions may affect their disposal of extra prescription pain-relieving medication. In contrast to current research, this study focuses on emerging adults’ understanding of what should be done with so called “extra pills”, as these perceptions may prove critical in grasping how the sharing of prescription medication can begin and continue to flourish. Furthermore, this research makes university drug policy recommendations based on the findings.

Supporting Caretakers of Alzheimer’s Patients with Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence Techniques
Nicholas Kerns, a computer science major, designed his project to assist potential caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients with the task of caretaking. Specifically, this project entails creating an environment for a VR simulation, where the caretaker can learn how to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient, or how to deal with potential scenarios that may arise. The simulation created for this training purpose utilizes both VR environments and inputs, along with an AI that can use a variety of factors to enable a virtual Alzheimer’s patient to make decisions on what to do.

Japanese Conditionals and Information Structure
Austin Pickwith, Japanese Language & Literature, Linguistics Major, In my thesis, I hypothesize that information structure is responsible (at least in part) for the distribution of, and differences in felicity between, the conditionals –ba, –tara, nara, and to. Under this broad hypothesis, I proposed separate narrow hypotheses for the distribution of each of the conditionals with respect to the information structure of sentences. I sought to show how such hypotheses, broad and narrow, are supported by various findings in the previous literature on the Japanese conditionals.

The Effect of Ingested Plant Estrogens on the Human Body
Joseph Paul Pacis Javier, Biology major. This thesis will ascertain the potential application of phytoestrogens in the field of medicine. One notion running in certain “health conscious” circles in Western countries is that plant estrogens are harmful to the human body. Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone which promotes the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the human body, among other roles. Consuming plants (like the soy bean), which contain compounds similar to human estrogen, are believed to cause hormonal imbalances in the body. This contradicts the general belief in Asian countries that soy-based food products are good for one’s health.
My thesis will explore the validity of both of these claims through a meta-analysis of research from studies done in the East and the West. The scope of this paper will identify foodstuffs, such as the soybean, that contain plant estrogens and how they can affect the body.

Exploring Afrofuturism in the Work of Hip-Hop Group Clipping
Kaley Barnhill, Communication major. This thesis explores the different facets of Afrofuturism as it applies to the work of the hip-hop group Clipping. Afrofuturism is a lens with which to view the culture and achievements of the African Diaspora as well as an alternative way for viewing their past, present, and future. It also provides a way of thinking that often incorporates mystic or fantastical aspects combined with science fiction.

Photo-documentary of Syrian refugees
Journalism student Salwan Georges' project began as an  Honors College thesis to document the life and struggles of Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn. He took more than 1,000 images over a six-month time period to illustrate their stories. Some of his photos were selected to be part of the  March 5 Washington Post article “Starting over in Dearborn, Michigan: The Arab capital of North America.” Since that article ran, the newspaper has asked him to serve as its Detroit area freelance photographer.

Peace by with you, Jamal’s father. Welcome. How is your health? Sit down, sit down.

My name is Salwan Georges and I’m currently a photo intern at the Detroit Free Press. My thesis project focused on the struggles that the Iraqi refugees faces coming to a new country. Walking around the places like this and it just, it just brought memories back to me and I wanted to share that with other people that sometimes they see it from the outside but they don’t really see what’s inside.

When I first started I thought like each story is gonna be like the same but ya know like all the refugees they, they gonna you know tell me that they struggle all about like, some of them like ya know I was, I was surprised to find out like each person had a different story and different perspective on the situation in here and back home. Like some people said they’re very happy they’re here. Some people they said they’re happy but they wish to go back. Some people don’t wanna go back, you know i just saw all type of you know opinions and it’s not about just taking photos it’s about getting the stories and, and the best way for me is just to get to know the people you know so I can, I can get the best out of them.

I was looking for, of course, memories. I was looking for interesting stories. I was looking for characters, you know? That’s what I love. Each, each person I talk to is different. Each person has their own, own job they did back home and their own history and you know they share and tell you everything you need.

I’m very proud of my project and this project is very close to my heart because it shows the struggle of my people and I’m very happy with the, like it makes me proud to see how much, how much like you know achievement it, it, it brought to me personally and to my family as well.

Undergrad research is very important for students because going deep about the subject will help you understand it better so that’s why the research is very important because it could lead you to other things. You know, like I started, you know, doing my project then it lead my a job, you know? So doing, doing the research will open doors for you and especially with the Honors College and a connection and the fun they help you. It’s definitely, definitely worth it.

Exploring eye diseases in premature babies
Nathan Spix studies retinopathy of prematurity, a disease that occurs in premature babies. He discovered a passion for research, and his experience in the lab has made a positive impact on his classroom studies.

So this is a close-up of a lens from a mouse eye and I’ve performed about one hundred and fifty or two hundred of these dissections over the course of my work here. Well my name is Nathan Spix, I’m a junior here at Oakland University. I’m majoring in biochemistry. I’ve been involved in undergraduate research here for about a year and three months.

My research is focusing right now on a disease called retinopathy of prematurity, which is a disease that affects prematurely born infants, especially those that are receiving oxygen treatment and that oxygen actually causes cells in the retina to degrade and can affect vision, can even cause blindness in some severe cases.

Well one of the big problems with this disease I’m studying is that a lot of the children who have it will end up being myopic or nearsighted and so this machine is measuring whether the mice that have this treatment are actually myopic or not. And it’s using this infrared camera on the left side and analyzing the reflection off the cornea to get that information from the mouse.

My work in the research lab has made me really comfortable with reading publications, research papers and that sort of thing and I think that just helps me be a lot more fluent in the scientific language and that helps me as I’m going through classes to understand what I’m learning quicker and to retain it better I think. I’ve been really happy with my research experience at Oakland. I feel like the emphasis that Oakland places on undergraduate research has been a big benefit to me and I’ve learned so many things from this lab. I’ve discovered a passion for research that I really didn’t know I had before I started working here.

Religious pilgrimage and New Age Spirituality
Anthropology major Alex Morton’s research led her to the mountains of northern Spain, where she took part in El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the historic cathedral  some believe houses the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Great. Morton observed and interviewed pilgrims to better understand the journey’s cultural significance. The focus of my research was about the reasons people do El Camino de Santiago, the impact El Camino has on the individual and the community, and the differences between routes of the Camino,” said Morton. 

Cognitive psychology in young children
Rooted in cognitive psychology, Kathleen Saigh’s research explores “physical, social, and relational categorization formation in young children,” particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and also highlights “emotion recognition and theory of mind.” The psychology major presented her work at the 2013 Cognitive Development Society meeting and at Meeting of Minds conferences the past two years.

Causes of blindness
Mark English conducted research at OU’s Eye Research Institute (ERI) examining how the absence of peripherin/RDS, a protein in the eye, can lead to vision loss. He has presented his research during the ERI’s SUPER program. When peripherin/RDS is not present, photoreceptors lose their shape, which leads to blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration,” the biology major explained. “To provide a more complete understanding of the relationship between peripherin/RDS and photoreceptor structure, I have developed a standard measurement for the affinity of peripherin/RDS and cell membranes."