Campus News: 2020 Ledford Scholars Announced

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2020 Ledford Scholars Announced
Merritt Jenkins - 7/10/2020

2020 Ledford Scholars Announced


Seven students were recently selected by the Appalachian College Association (ACA) as Colonel B. Ledford Scholars.


The Colonel B. Ledford Scholarship offers financial assistance to eligible students who are conducting summer research at ACA member institutions.


"The Ledford Scholarship offers a valuable and unique opportunity for students to conduct research during the summer as their summer job and under the guidance of Lee faculty," said Dr. Debra Gladden, associate professor of mathematics. "The students with whom we work are creative, persistent, and intelligent. It is a pleasure to invest in the lives of these excellent students by mentoring them in research, and we are thankful that the Ledford scholarship affords us this opportunity."


This year's recipients of the Ledford scholarship are Lincoln Beavers, Alanis Burton, Samuel Gruber, Desiree LaPeer, Madison Mabe, Samuel Noble, and Andrea Wilhelm.


Beavers is a senior anthropology major. Her project, titled "When Coal Mines Disappear: Pursuing Revitalization in Southwest Virginia," explores what revitalization processes are suitable in the communities with economic disparity caused by the transition from coal mining to the search for other renewable resources. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Murl Dirksen, professor of anthropology and sociology.


Burton, a senior health sciences major, studied the correlations between income and obesity-related diseases in Tennessee in her project. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Benjamin Christmann, associate professor of biology and health science.


Gruber is a sophomore applied mathematics major. His project, "Dendrite Formation in Lithium-Ion Batteries," explored the formation of dendrites within Lithium-ion batteries. According to, dendrites are basically whiskers of lithium that grow inside batteries and can cause the devices they're powering to [lose] power more quickly, short out, or in some instances, catch fire. Gruber's faculty mentor is Gladden.


"I am really grateful for the Ledford Scholarship because it is giving me the opportunity to spend my summer exploring my curiosity," said Gruber. "Every day I learn something new that blows my mind."


LaPeer is a senior anthropology major. Her project was "Factors Influencing College Retention Rates for First-Generation College Students in Fentress County, TN," and her faculty mentor is Dr. Ruth Wienk, assistant professor of sociology.


Mabe is a senior mathematics and math education major. According to Mabe, her project "Dessins d'Enfant [mathematical graph] and Rational Billiards Surfaces" enabled her to do a math research project involving billiard surfaces and certain groups, combining math she previously learned with new topics that better prepare her for graduate school. Mabe's faculty mentor is Dr. Jason Schmurr, associate professor of mathematics.


"I have been working for several weeks now and have already gained lots of new knowledge and have discovered new things within my research that will allow me to continue to grow in my knowledge in this area," said Mabe. "Math research is like working on impossible problems at times, but I have had a great time expanding my brain and enhancing my problem-solving skills."


Noble is a senior biology major. His project is titled "Phytochemicals Effect on Cancer" and his faculty mentor is Dr. Lori West, professor of biology.


Wilhelm is a senior psychology major. Her project, "Divergent thinking: Creative fluency in bilinguals," aims to understand the cognitive similarities and differences of bilinguals and monolinguals. Wilhelm's faculty mentor is Dr. Bryan Poole, associate professor of psychology.


"We are proud of these students who were chosen through the competitive application and selection process," said Dr. Debbie Murray, vice president for academic affairs. "I am personally grateful for the faculty mentors who work so well with the scholars in planning and conducting their significant projects."


For more information about the ACA or the Ledford Scholarship, visit ACAweb.

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