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BFSDoArt Students Participate in Honors Research Symposium

Phi Kappa Phi Research Symposium Honors Top Undergraduate and Grad Students

Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art students, Kenneth Olowoyo and Emmitt Smith, participating in Georgia Southern University’s 2014 Phi Kappa Phi Symposium.

During their research projects, students are paired with faculty members in a mentorship, which helps students work on their research and presentation skills, and develop their final project.  “That’s the real key,” said Brent Tharp, director of Georgia Southern Museum, who is in his second year as president of Phi Kappa Phi. “It’s a very close relationship between the two and really vital to the project.”

Senior Kenneth Olowoyo from Stratford, London, is double majoring in 2D studio art and apparel design with a minor in art history. His research, “Fashion, Materiality, and Composition: A Study in Identity and Perception” explores fashion from multiple viewpoints based on the subject of his photographs’ identity, personality and how they are perceived.

Junior Emmitt Smith, BFA , is focusing on 2D studio art. His research, “The Re-Exploration of Place” investigates the way his mind recalls visual and sensory information. His work is greatly influenced by the heightened awareness that results from traveling to new destinations and German abstract painters such as Albert Oehlen. Most recently, he has traveled to Zurich, Switzerland; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Basel, Switzerland.

Paired with their 2D Studio Art Professor Elsie Hill, they enjoyed the partnership throughout the research period. “I’ve known Elsie since my sophomore year when she started the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art,” says Olowoyo. “Working with her has helped me develop my sense of color pairing and 2D development, and my painting skills. She’s really hands on. She will push you until you break. We all need to fail sometimes. Realizing what we can learn from our failures is only a good thing. When you’re down so low, you can only go up,” he states.

The Honor Society Phi Kappa Phi held its 17th Annual Research Symposium Wednesday, April 9th,  recognizing the research projects of 47 selected undergraduate and graduate students. During the event, Georgia Southern President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D., provided the welcome remarks and helped to present each of the students with a certificate and small gift recognizing their achievements.

Representing all academic fields, more than 65 research projects were submitted for consideration and only 45 were selected to present during the public event. Projects submitted to the Symposium organizing committee for review are rated on three criteria including research idea, research method and how well the abstract is written. Predominately consisting of undergraduate students, only the top 7.5 percent of applicants from the junior class and 10 percent of senior students are chosen to present. During the poster sessions, students who are still conducting research were able to display their findings on poster board and were available to discuss their research with participants. Students who had completed their research projects presented them in 15-20 minute increments throughout the day.

Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest and largest collegiate honor society dedicated to the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in all disciplines. Since its founding in 1897, more than one million members have been initiated. The Phi Kappa Phi Research Symposium is an initiative by Chapter 123 to highlight academic achievement at Georgia Southern. The Symposium seeks to recognize student research projects from all academic fields, encourage the love of learning and discovery and publicize the academic endeavors of students.  

Note: Portions of this story are quoted from Georgia Southern University’s press release located on



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