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Honors Program

Latest News


Westminster announces 2024 Summer Research Fellows

Friday, May 24, 2024

For the eighth consecutive year, the Westminster College Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research has awarded Summer Research Fellowships to student-faculty research teams.

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Four students selected to give podium presentations during URAC

Monday, April 15, 2024

Four students have been selected to present their research at podium presentations during this year’s Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration (URAC) on Wednesday, April 17, at Westminster College.

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Senior honors students defend capstone research projects

Friday, March 29, 2024

Several Westminster College honors students will publicly defend their capstone research projects this spring, marking the end of nearly two years of high-level academic exploration.

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Honors student earns Drinko grant for art project

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A Westminster College honors student used grant funding from the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research to strengthen her senior art project.

Sophia Galietta, a fine art and psychology double major from Bethel Park, Pa., used the grant to produce her work, “Nurture vs. Nature.”

Galietta used hand-building clay, underglaze and stain to create hexagonal-shaped tiles. She also used embroidery floss, fabric and hoops for embroidery pieces.

“My interest in nature has greatly influenced my research in both the discipline of art and psychology,” said Galietta. “Earning a research grant has allowed me to create a body of artwork that will be beneficial to my portfolio. I was able to experiment with different materials without adding an extra financial burden.”

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Taylor Harman earns Drinko grant for neuroscience research

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Westminster College neuroscience major Taylor Harman earned a Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research grant to analyze amphetamine and nicotine use and examine how those stimulants influence anxiety in male rats.

Harman, a senior honors student from Edinburg, Pa., used the grant to fund her research project “Does Stimulus History Affect the Anxiety-Like Response to Nicotine in Male Rats?”

Harman examined how the history of amphetamine exposure can influence the anxiety-like response to nicotine in male rats.

“I was interested in studying these effects and how they relate to an ADHD model. The results of this study could be used to evaluate why individuals who have ADHD, and use amphetamine, are more likely to use nicotine and how the use of amphetamine and/or nicotine could cause anxiety-like behavior,” said Harman.

The grant enabled Harman to conduct personal research and further her education through hands-on experiences and investigation.

“Performing research has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding for how we go from a question to creating an experiment to explore the question in mind,” she said. “It has also allowed me to gain more confidence in literature review and data analyses, which will be important in medical school and as a physician to be able to read and understand new studies and treatments that are being published, as well as perform further research of my own.”

Harman's research mentor was Dr. Deanne Buffalari, associate professor of neuroscience and psychology at Westminster.

Westminster’s Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research financially supports undergraduate research through various grants aimed at either the undertaking of research and creative projects at Westminster College or the external presentation and dissemination of research and creative works at conferences.

For more information on the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, contact director Dr. Patrick Lackey at

For more information about the neuroscience program at Westminster, visit

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Westminster’s Model UN wins award at Chicago conference

Monday, January 29, 2024

Westminster College attended the 34th annual American Model United Nations National Conference (AMUN) in Chicago last fall, bringing home an award for their representation of China.

This year 29 students traveled to Chicago to compete with thousands of students from over 70 colleges and universities. Westminster’s students represented China, Hungary and Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. Westminster has participated in the AMUN conference since 2009, making this the 15th consecutive year of attendance.

Westminster’s China delegation was represented on eight committees, while Hungary and North Korea each participated in five. Delegations were given several topics to pursue including humanitarian decisions for natural disasters, prohibition of development, production and stockpiling of biological weapons and more.

The four-day conference included committee meetings, press conferences, speeches and debates. Alliances were made between countries and resolutions were presented as topics became more involved. Emergency meetings were held day and night to mimic the actions of the actual United Nations with their procedures and unpredictable schedules.

Delegates McKenzie Means and Shannon Mullan won the Outstanding Delegation Award for their exceptional representation of China in the General Assembly, Second Committee.

“Within the four days of the conference, we wrote resolutions, gave many speeches, negotiated with other delegates and even held a press conference,” said Means, a sophomore political science major from Meadville, Pa. “I am so proud of the work Shannon and I completed and I am very grateful to be awarded an Outstanding Delegation Award for all our hard work throughout the conference.”

“We were extremely shocked about winning, we really struggled through the conference to get other delegates to cooperate,” said Mullan, an exchange student from Antrim, Northern Ireland. “However, perseverance, continuous speeches and continuous confidence in the committee room definitely paid off.”

Christina Loewe, a junior from Austin, Texas, is the president of Westminster’s Model UN organization and is double majoring in international studies and political science. The permanent head delegate this year was Victoria Valcarcel-Matos, a junior from Winter Springs, Fla., double majoring in marketing and professional sales and mathematics.

“I think that the most valuable thing about attending as president of the club and in a security council is all the practice we get in public speaking and overall building relationships with the other countries throughout negotiations with them,” said Loewe.

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Twelve students selected for Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Honors Band

Friday, January 26, 2024

Twelve Westminster College instrumentalists have been selected to perform in the 76th annual Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Honors Band, which will perform Feb. 2-4 at Grove City College. A public concert will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, in the Pew Fine Arts Center on the college’s campus.

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Westminster student earns Drinko grant for psychology research

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Westminster College student Samantha Reed earned an individual Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research grant for her research project, “The Effects of Caffeine on Emotional Memory.”

Reed, a senior psychology major and honors student from Zionsville, Pa., used the grant to fund three semesters of research. She studied how caffeinated versus non-caffeinated beverages affect emotional memory. Reed distributed a memory test to 40 participants over two sessions to collect data based on the participants' ability to remember positive, negative and neutral words.
Dr. Eric Fields, assistant professor of psychology at Westminster, mentored Reed throughout the research.

“I think this experience has greatly helped me by giving me the chance to work alongside my adviser. I have learned more through this research process than in any class. It has taught me to work individually and problem solve,” said Reed.

Westminster’s Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research financially supports undergraduate work through various grants for students participating in academic programs, conferences and creative projects at Westminster College.

For more information on the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, contact director Dr. Patrick Lackey at

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Westminster honors student presents at national conference

Friday, December 15, 2023

Westminster College honors student Lily Hefner presented a research paper, “Using Low-Activity MAOA as a Mitigating Factor in the United States Criminal Justice System,” at the 58th annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) in Chicago in November.

A junior molecular biology and criminal justice studies double major from Washington, Pa., Hefner’s paper was a product of work completed for her interdisciplinary Honors Program research project.

Hefner’s research examines the role a particular gene can play in the likelihood of someone committing a crime. She evaluates how an unstable or abusive environment during adolescence combined with this genetic predisposition may be more likely to cause certain behaviors.

“Attending NCHC was a great learning experience. I feel much more confident in my own knowledge and my ability to share my thoughts in a clear and polished way. I think this was an important first step into larger academic circles,” said Hefner.

Funding for conference expenses was provided by the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research. The All-College Honors Program provided additional funding which supports participation in academic programs and research for honors students.

Attending the conference with Hefner was Dr. Jamie Chapman, associate professor of sociology and director of the Honors Program.

Click here for information about the All-College Honors Program at Westminster College.

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Biology, microbiology majors present capstone research

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Several biology and molecular biology majors from Westminster College presented their capstone research posters at a semester-end event on Friday, Dec. 1.

In these disciplines, the focus of the capstone project is the application of the scientific method through the design, execution, analysis and presentation of an experimental study.

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