Senior Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity

Mary Baldwin University’s distinctive major programs allow seniors to carry out original research or creative projects, ensuring the chance for hands-on experience that provides substance to your passion for knowledge.  The Capstone project integrates and builds on your classroom work, community service, international travel, internships, and/or undergraduate research experiences, putting you one step ahead of others when you enter graduate school or launch your career.  Each year, the best senior projects are nominated by faculty to be featured at the annual Capstone Festival, where the entire community celebrates the seniors’ achievements.

Anthropology majors pursue research on a theme or issue of their choice, joining other seniors in the World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department to share work in progress.   Your work culminates in two oral presentations and a well-written research paper, which is presented to all members of the department.

  • Hannah Vargason ’09, “An Unlikely Exburb: The Meaning of Changing Preferences in the Housing Market in Frederick County, Virginia,” Capstone Festival Participant

Art History
As an Art History student, you will select a research project during your junior year that suits your major and your personal background.  The fall semester of your senior year is dedicated to developing a bibliography, outline, and draft.  Your work culminates in an oral presentation and a well-written research paper, which is presented to all members of the department.

  • Aubrey Cheubell ’09, “Crafting Content,” Capstone Festival Winner

Studio Art
The senior project in Studio Art is regarded as the culmination of the major. Affording the opportunity for independent scholarship and creative work, the project is an important and exciting step that will help prepare you for professional activity and/or graduate work. You will have the opportunity to produce and present for exhibition a cohesive body of work that represents serious investigation of a theme or specific idea. Majors in studio art may focus on painting, graphic design, ceramics, drawing, printmaking, extended media, or photography.

  • Olivia Burn ’10, “Abstract Forms:  A Body of Work Dedicated to Instinct and Self-Expression,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Lana Elder ’10, “In Between Time,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Erika Mikhailova ’10, “A Creation Story,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Tiffany Miller ’10, “In Full View / Theoretical Memories: Two Senior Shows in Photography and Printmaking,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Hannah Scott ’10, “2,300 Marks:  A Senior Thesis Exhibition in Painting” and “Work: A Senior Thesis Exhibition in Printmaking,” Capstone Festival Winner
  • Aubrey Angelique de Cheubell ’09, “Crafting Content,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Lindsay Gwaltney ’09, “Eggshells,” Capstone Festival Winner
  • Deidre Hiner ’09, “Voices of Small Town Business: Portraits of Monterey, Virginia,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • McKenzie Taylor ’09, “Cocoa and Daisy Go to the Fair, a Children’s Book Written and Drawn by McKenzie Taylor,” Capstone Festival Participant

Art Management
As an Art Management student, you will select a research project during your junior year that suits your major and your personal background. The fall semester is dedicated to the bibliography, outline, and a draft. Your work culminates in an oral presentation and a well-written research paper, which is presented to all members of the department. You may choose to focus your research on art, music, or theater.

Asian Studies
As an Asian Studies major, you will pursue research on some aspect of a theme or issue chosen annually by the department. You will receive feedback and input from faculty and fellow seniors, and your work will culminate in an oral presentation and a research paper written in English.

  • Jessie Blekfeld-Stztraky ’10, “Racism:  The Root of the Cambodian Genocide,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Kathleen Todd ’10, “Hikikomania:  Existential Horror or National Malaise? The Japanese Psyche Post-World War II as Symptom of a Dying Nation,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Perri Weldy ’10, “Strengthening Hamas:  Israel’s Role and Repercussions,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Pamela Mendoza ’09, “When Did South Korea Get This Cool?: Korean Pop Culture’s Influence on Japanese Opinions of Korea,” Capstone Festival Participant

Your senior project in Biology will give you the chance to put what you have learned into practice as you write and submit a formal research proposal and carry out an original research project of your own design.  During “lab meetings” you will get the opportunity to work with the biology staff and your fellow students to present results, including giving one long presentation similar to a paper presentation at a scholarly meeting.  Your research will culminate in a written thesis and an oral defense.

  • Margaret Bivans ’10, “Effects of the CB8 and 5-HT Complex on PC3 Cell Proliferation,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Johanna Gleason ’10, “The Effects of Different Latitudinal Characteristics on the Intensity of Avian Malaria in Red-eyed Vireos,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Garnett Mingledorff ’10, “Neuroendocrine Differentiation Induced by Epidermal Growth Factor:  Effects on and Implications for Chemoresistance in Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Cells,” Capstone Festival Winner  
  • Samantha Skiba ’10, “Comparative Study of Avian Malaria Parasites Plasmodium and Haemoproteus in Relation to Foraging Height in Red-Eyed Vireos and Ovenbirds,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Elizabeth Gifford ’09, “Stabilization of Lipase in Chitosan,” Capstone Festival Participant 

Business Administration 
In Business Administration, you will apply your accumulated business knowledge to the comprehensive analysis of a publicly traded company. Using the case analysis process learned in preparation, you will analyze a company and present your findings as a written case analysis and oral presentation.

  • Megan Hall ’10, “Staunton City Schools:  Waste Reduction,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Rena Pegram ’10, “Staunton City Schools:  Waste Reduction,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • LaShante Robinson ’10, “Staunton City Schools:  Waste Reduction,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Brittanie Baughman-Rovira ’09, “An Analysis of Microsoft,” Capstone Festival Participant

Marketing Communications
As a Marketing Communications major, you will conduct a thorough review of a selected firm or competitive industry, including collecting customer communication components, analyzing the competitive environment, and determining a revised relevant target market and marketing mix. You will then develop alternative strategies, write a comprehensive recommendation, and produce a variety of new marketing communication components in a format ready for client presentation. You will make an oral presentation of your recommendations. This opportunity will help you generate a professional-quality and comprehensive sample worthy of inclusion in your portfolio to submit to potential employers.

  • Alicia Bortone ’09, “Olay,” Capstone Festival Participant

As a Chemistry senior, you will have the opportunity to experience research as it is carried out in practical situations. This research will result in the presentation of your findings both orally and in writing.

  • Katherine-Jo Galayda ’10, “Use of the Yeast Estrogen Screen to Determine Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in and Around the Shenandoah River,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Abigail Turner ’09, “A Spectroscopic Study of Cucurbit[7]uril Host-Guest Recognition Properties,” Capstone Festival Winner

Clinical Laboratory Science
In Clinical Laboratory Science, you will have the opportunity to use your knowledge learned in the classroom to complete a 12-month, hands-on training program.  This training, as well as your class work, will provide you with excellent preparation for the National Registry Examination that all health professionals must pass.

As a major in Communication you will have the opportunity to independently conduct a major research project or thesis demonstrating your understanding of communication issues, theories, research methods, and skills on a topic of your choice. You will get the chance to apply primary and secondary research to a selected issue associated with human and/or mass-mediated interaction. Your thesis or project will be presented orally and in writing to members of the department and other students in the major.

  • Corinne Kasura ’10, “Got Melamine? A Thematic Analysis of the Tainted Milk Melamine Scandal in China,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Elizabeth Dattilio ’09, “ ‘I’m So Sorry:’ A Thematic Analysis of Bereavement Support Communication,” Capstone Festival Participant

Computer Information Systems and Computer Science
The culminating academic experience for computer information systems and computer science majors will allow you to integrate the knowledge from your course work in the major and your liberal arts experience as you develop a programming project, a systems analysis and design project, or an academic paper. You will present your project in both written and oral formats throughout the semester to project sponsors, supervising faculty, and discipline peers. At semester’s end, a formal oral presentation is made to the college community, and a final written document is presented to the discipline faculty.

  • Elizabeth Daniel ’10, “University of Virginia Facilities Management, Human Resources and Training Website,” Capstone Festival Participant

You will have the opportunity to design and implement a major independent research project on a topic of interest to you. The project will draw on your mastery of economic theory and quantitative reasoning and will result in written and oral presentations in the middle and at the end of the course.

  • Rachel Paulus ’10, “Learning from Honduras: Examining the Costs of Maternal Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa and Policy Options for Reducing It,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Hannah Vargason ’09, “Helping People Help Themselves: Policy Options that Promote a Higher Personal Saving Rate,” Capstone Festival Participant

You will have the opportunity to work together with other senior English majors to become familiar with different theoretical approaches to literature and to incorporate that theoretical knowledge into your own close readings of primary texts.  Your senior capstone experience will culminate in a written research project that will be presented orally to faculty and student peers.

  • Jill Jordan-Long ’10, “Blending Eastern and Western Cultures in Multigenerational Relationships in the Novels of Amy Tan,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Kathryn Reyna ’10, “Analysis of Lord of the Rings from the Perspectives of Feminist, Post-Colonial, and Queer Criticism,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Denise Kinsinger ’09, “Creating Opportunities for Civic Engagement by Reading Chaucer Aloud,” Capstone Festival Participant

As a French major, you will pursue research on a literary theme or issue of your choice.  You will have the opportunity to share work in progress in French with members of the French discipline as well as in English with other foreign language and Asian Studies majors.  Your work will culminate in two oral presentations (French and English) and a research paper written in French.

Health Care Administration
Health Care Administration majors have the opportunity to participate in seminars that synthesize material from the entire curriculum and focus on health care administrators as professionals. Classroom material is integrated with experiential learning through a major research project.

  • Angela Bartolacci ’10, “The Impact of Cultural Competence on Quality:  A Case Study of Rockingham Memorial Hospital,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Shaterika Parks ’10, “Employing Health Promotion Initiatives in School Settings:  A Program Evaluation of theWorking on Wellness Program in the Staunton City Schools,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Kathryn Stephens ’10, “The Effectiveness of an Interoperable Electronic Medical Records System between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs in Improving System and Information Quality:  A Case Study
  • Brooke Lohr ’09, “Restless Leg Syndrome: The Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Mirapex and its Effects on the Prevalence of the Condition,” Capstone Festival Winner

As a History major, you will have the opportunity to participate in seminars that examine the method of historical analysis and its specific application to a research problem.  A general research theme is selected each year by the faculty; you and your fellow History seniors will prepare and defend a research paper on a topic related to the theme.

  • Jennifer Holshey ’10, “Mission Incompetence:  President Reagan’s Deregulation of OSHA in the Meatpacking Industry,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Ruth Sousa ’10, “The Power of Cattle:  The Supremacy of the Cattle Industry in the West During the Late 1800’s,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Skye Hartman ’09, “Communication: Power Behind War,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Samantha Hudson ’09, “The Gullah: A People’s Resistance to Cultural Domination,” Capstone Festival Winner
  • Catherine Kammer ’09, “Words for Weapons: The success of the Nineteenth Century Non-violent Irish Independence Movement,” Capstone Festival Participant

International Economics and Business
International Economics and Business majors have the opportunity to design and implement a major independent research project on a topic of interest. You will present your results in written and oral presentations.

  • Kimberly Clum ’10, “Austerity in a Time of Recession:  Hungary’s Experiment in Giving Priority to International Obligations over Domestic Well-Being,” Capstone Festival Participant

International Relations
In International Relations, you will have the opportunity to conduct a major independent research project in an area of international or comparative politics.  Your research will culminate in a written thesis.

  • Rachael Evans ’10, “The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda:  Genocide, Reconciliation, and the Future of International Humanitarian Law,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Robyn Stegman ’09, For the Dalai Lama’s Consideration: Civic Engagement and the Tibetan Peace Movement,” Capstone Festival Winner

Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics seniors have an opportunity to complete a research project and present their research as a written paper and as an oral presentation. Learn more here,

Each Music major is given the opportunity to showcase her talent in a full Senior Recital (40–55 minutes).

Philosophy and Religion
As a Philosophy or Religion major, your senior research project will be a culminating academic experience in which you demonstrate a mastery of your major field of study by focusing on a selected topic in philosophy or religion.

  • Leslie Freed ’10, “Beyond True and False:  Wittgenstein and Religious Sense,” Capstone Festival Participant

Seniors in Physics have the opportunity to experience research as it is carried out in practical situations. This research will result in the presentation of your findings both orally and in writing.

Political Science
In the Senior Seminar in Political Science, you will conduct independent research and write a 30 page original thesis. A weekly seminar will provide you with structured guidance of your progress, providing a forum to address common areas of difficulty in the research process and to discuss ideas and findings related to your research. Senior theses build upon a solid foundation of coursework in political science, focusing on the subfield of political science in which the greatest amount of your coursework previously has been completed. The senior seminar allows you to demonstrate your overall level of mastery of the use of the analytical tools of political science.

  • Erin Paschal ’10, “Taking the Initiative:  A Case Study of Proposition 8 in California,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Elizabeth Vukelich ’10, “A Recipe for Realignment?  Dealignment and the Responsible Party Model,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Laura Dean ’09, “North African Immigration and its Political and Social Effects on France,” Capstone Festival Participant.
  • Mary Elizabeth Schwab ’09, “Skepticism within the European Union about Monetary and Foreign Policies,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Chelsea Smith ’09, “A Time for Change:  The Transformational Roles of Modern U.S. Foreign Assistance and the Challenges Faced in Reform,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Casby Stainback ’09, “A Political Perspective on Hunting with Hounds in Virginia,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Cytha Stottlemyer ’09, “Makin News and History:  Race, Gender, and the Media in the 2008 Presidential Primary


Lindsay Wenger
Lindsay Wenger ’10 was runner-up in the best undergraduate poster contest at the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience annual meeting in Toronto, Canada, July 2010.

The senior thesis is an opportunity for you to integrate what you have learned in the major by conducting a large-scale exercise under the mentorship of a psychology faculty member. You have two options: 1) you may propose a data collection project based on a pertinent literature review, design, and conduct the study; or 2) you may complete a comprehensive literature search of primary sources in a contemporary topic in psychology and write a critical analysis of the data that presents an evaluation of the current status of the topic area. With either option, you will make a formal oral presentation of your results and present a final written thesis.

  • Aubrey Cooper ’10, “The Effectiveness of Case Linkage and Analysis,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Daniel Guzman ’10, “Non-Discriminating Pheromones:  Female Scent Preferences in Regards to Race,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Erin Hall ’10, “A Social Psychological Review of Body Image in Black and White College Women,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Rachel Nieves ’10, “Cutting Back:  College Students Spend More with Meal Plan Cards than with Cash,” Capstone Festival Winner
  • Kathryn Polak ’10, “Sexual Differentiation in the Dorsolateral Nucleus of the Asian Musk Shrew (Suncus murinus),” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Naianka Rigaud ’10, “Hormonal Birth Control Affects Women’s Face Shape and Perceived Attractiveness,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Lindsay Wenger ’10, “Sexual Behavior Differences Based on Experience and Gender of the Asian Musk Shrew,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Lucy Billiter ’09, “Factors in Decision Making,” Capstone Festival Participant 
  • Alanna Warnick ’09, “Effects of Horses on Self-Esteem and Locus of Control,” Capstone Festival Participant

As a Sociology major, you will get the opportunity to participate in a combination of lectures and group discussions that will cover the historical development of sociology as a science by focusing on the early founders of the discipline and proceed to modern developments in sociology. You will write research papers and give oral reports that incorporate research and draw conclusions from various areas of study within the field of sociology. Alternatively, you may compose and defend an interdisciplinary research paper in Sociology/Anthropology or Sociology/Psychology.

  • Pamela Brown ’10, “Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Alcoholism,” Capstone Festival Participant
  • Erin Hall ’10, “A Social Psychological Review of Body Image in Black and White College Women,” Capstone Festival Nominee
  • Masayo Maeda ’10, “The Impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on College Students’ Social Life:  An Exploratory Study of ICT Usage at Mary Baldwin University
  • Sarah Wisecup ’09, “Women at War,” Capstone Festival Participant

Social Work
You will get the opportunity to participate in a hands-on supervised field instruction in a social service agency designed to provide you with opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills in social work practice. Under the supervision of the Field Instructor, you will participate in the delivery of social services, and develop insights, habits, and attitudes that facilitate professional growth. You will also get the chance to participate in an integrating seminar class.

As a Spanish major, you will pursue research on a literary theme or issue of your choice.  You will have the opportunity to share work in progress in Spanish with members of the Spanish discipline as well as in English with other foreign language and Asian Studies majors.  Your work will culminate in two oral presentations (Spanish and English) and a research paper written in Spanish.

  • Sarah Firaben ’10, “El Valor de la Pasión Versus el Honor en Bodas de Sangre y La casa de Bernarda Alba (The Worth of Passion Versus Honor in Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba),” Capstone Festival Nominee

For your senior project in theatre, you participate in a seminar series on theatre history, culminating in the opportunity to create your own project.  Your project may be in an area of production such as acting, directing, or lighting; a major research project; or any project accepted by the faculty.  Your project will include some form of analysis, research, analytical journal of the process, culminating in a written paper and oral presentation.