George Washington Carver Research Program Concludes With Poster Competition

Winners of the poster competition were (left to right) Eric Craig, Ruth Wangia and Jaylan Dawson
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Winners of the poster competition were (left to right) Eric Craig, Ruth Wangia and Jaylan Dawson

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Interns in the George Washington Carver Research Program participated in a poster competition on Wednesday, July 9. The competition allowed the interns to discuss their research with University of Arkansas faculty and students and marked the conclusion of the eight-week summer program.

Shani Farr Newton, director of the Carver program, described the poster competition as one of the pinnacle events during the internship.

“The poster competition is one of my favorite events during the program. I really enjoy watching the interns proudly display their research. This year’s cohort really encouraged and uplifted each other throughout the program, which resulted in a very close, yet friendly, competition. Each intern did great work,” she said.

Eric Craig was awarded first prize for his poster “Ready, Aim, Adopt: Why States are Adopting Stand Your Ground Laws.” Craig attributed his first place accomplishment to his peers. He indicated that he was pushed to work harder than he anticipated on his project because of the excellent quality of the research from his competitors. 

“I want to thank every one [of the interns] for making me put my best game forward,” Craig said.

Second and third place prizes were awarded respectively to Ruth Wangia for “Constraining the Sources of Ore Metals in Picher, Oklahoma Using PB Isotopes” and Jaylan Dawson for “Transmitting and Receiving Electromagnetic Signals with Antennas.”

Dawson said conducting his research was a new and challenging experience for him.

“I have never done anything in electrical engineering before. Last summer, I participated in a computer engineering program, but I wanted to get a feel for what electrical engineering would be like. After spending time in this program and completing my project, I have definitely decided to pursue electrical engineering,” Dawson said.

Dawson’s faculty mentor was T.A. Walton, the managing director of the university’s National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, and his technical coach was Chris Farnell, a test engineer in the electrical engineering department. Dawson gave full credit to Walton and Farnell and said they made all the difference in the success of his project.

“I couldn’t have done it without my mentor and technical coach. They helped keep me on track, helped me with the construction of my project and really helped to make things fun,” he said.

Each of the interns were given the opportunity to reflect on their experiences following the poster presentations, and they all had high praise for the program.

Alfredo Esparza Garcia interned in the computer science and engineering program. He emphasized that his mentor, Jia Di, professor in the computer science and computer engineering department, helped him learn what it takes to be successful in graduate school and also helped to reveal qualities in himself that he was unaware of previously.

“Dr. Di showed me what to expect in graduate school, how to apply myself and helped me learn how much personal drive I have,” Garcia said.

Mahkilai McGee served as an intern in the business program and had similar compliments for her mentor Barbara Lofton, director of diversity and inclusion in the Sam Walton College of Business.

“Dr. Lofton was great. She really pushed me to think outside of the box,” McGee said.

LeRoy Cofield was also mentored by Lofton and was more than pleased with the knowledge he gained from her.

“She was a big help. When I asked her questions, she didn’t give me an answer directly, but she would hint at it. That really caused me to think and made me learn how to find the answers to my own questions,” he said.

Cofield was so pleased with his experience in the Carver program that he is making plans to apply for graduate school at the University of Arkansas.

“This program is amazing. It’s wonderful. I cannot put into words how satisfied I am with my experience,” he said. “I will definitely come back for a graduate degree in finance or accounting.”

The following is a complete list of this year’s interns and their projects:

  • Alfredo Esparza Garcia, John C. Smith University: “Hardware Trojan Detection Using Structural Checking Tool.” Mentor: Jia Di
  • Angel Spigner, South Carolina State University: “Breast Cancer Immunotherapy: IFN-y and TNF-a in an Autologous Breast Cancer Vaccine.” Mentor: David Zahoroff
  • Eric Craig, Xavier University of Louisiana: “Ready, Aim, Adopt: Why States are Adopting Stand your Ground Laws.” Mentor: Josh Mitchell
  • Jaylan Dawson, Fort Valley State University: “Transmitting and Receiving Electromagnetic Signals with Antennas.” Mentor: T.A. Walton
  • Johnnieshia Frazier, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff: “Genetic Diversity of Chicory Using SSRs Markers.” Mentor: Ainog Shi
  • LeRoy Cofield, Saint Augustine’s State University, “Summer Camp Bakeoff.” Mentor: Barbara Lofton
  • Mahkilai McGee, Claflin University: “Pet Boot Camp for Aspiring Teen Entrepreneurs.” Mentor: Barbara Lofton
  • Ruth Wangia, Spelman College: “Constraining the Sources of Ore Metals in Picher, Oklahoma Using PB Isotopes.” Mentor: Ainog Shi

The Carver program was established in 1997 as a recruitment initiative that identifies and provides internship opportunities to superior undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges.



Amanda Cantu, director of communications
Graduate School and International Education


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