The College of Arts and Sciences understands the value of research for our students and faculty. We support, encourage and aid our students and faculty in their research and scholarly pursuits. For more information about research through individual departments, please visit their respective websites

Student Research and Creative Endeavors

 20th Annual Research Day Schedule (pdf 148 KB) 

***Highlighted sections indicate students from the College of Arts and Sciences 

For more about this celebration, visit the Office of Student Research.

Recent Student and Faculty Research Stories

Appalachian State solar vehicle places second in international track race

Solar CarSolar-powered Appalachian State University’s Team Sunergy took second place at the 2017 Formula Sun Grand Prix after hundreds of hours of preparation and three days of intense strategy and track racing. The annual race, which took place this year on the Circuit of The Americas track in Austin, is an international collegiate endurance competition that sets the standards for and tests the limits of solar vehicle technol.

“I am so proud of Team Sunergy and their vehicle, Apperion,” said Appalachian Chancellor Sheri N. Everts. “They have earned an international reputation for their solid work ethic and problem-solving skills in this grueling applied- design competition. But beyond that, they are developing sustainable transportation solutions we will see on the road in the near future.”

Concept for turning corn chip oil into biodiesel fuel earns Appalachian students second place in International Challenge

Corn Chip OilWhat has 18 wheels and runs on corn chips? Thanks to a food solution from two Appalachian State University students, a chip producer’s transportation fleet well could. Senior chemistry major and sustainable business minor Kelsey Simon and senior management major and nutrition and sustainable business minor Ali Moxley placed second in the international Food Solutions Challenge, held during the Global Food Solutions Conference April 19-21 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Their food solution converts used frying oil from corn chip production to biodiesel to fuel a chip company’s transportation fleet. The Food Solutions Challenge is designed to raise awareness and holistic thinking around issues stemming from food production and distribution with a goal of making the food supply chain more carbon neutral.

Saving the bees

Bee-hiveConsider this fact from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: More than $15 billion in U.S. agricultural production depends on the health and well-being of honeybees.

Unfortunately, these essential pollinators have been declining in number for decades, threatening an array of agricultural products – over 130 fruits and vegetables we routinely consume.

At Appalachian State University, students and faculty are developing research and special projects to help the recovery of bee populations and using campus space to promote hive activity. 

Two Appalachian faculty members named Fulbright Scholars

Dr. Anatoli Ignatov, assistant professor in the Sustainable Development Department and Dr. Susan Lappan, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, both at Appalachian State University, were honored with prestigious Fulbright Scholar Awards this spring.

Fulbright Scholars-Faculty

Ignatov and Lappan are among over 1,900 U.S. citizens selected for the 2017-18 academic year. Recipients of Fulbright awards are chosen on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Relationships of indigenous peoples to their land and the use of that land will be the primary focus of Ignatov when he begins two trips to Ghana, bolstered by the Fulbright Scholar award. Ignatov is no stranger to Ghana. His dissertation for a Ph.D. in political science was based on fieldwork in that country, where he studied political responses to an ongoing environmental crisis.

$100K grant from National Endowment for the Humanities provides funds to explore war and its effects through art

Three Appalachian State University professors have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to bring together veterans and their families to discuss how the humanities affect the understanding of armed conflict.

blurred boundaries groupPart of the NEH’s “Dialogues on the Experience of War” program, this grant project was developed by Dr. Valerie Wieskamp, Department of Communication; Dr. Lynn Searfoss, Department of English; and Dr. Clark Maddux, Watauga Residential College.

The interdisciplinary project, titled “Blurred Boundaries: The Experience of War and Its Aftermath,” will explore the ways in which texts, photographs and films illuminate two wars: the U.S. Civil War and Vietnam. Discussions surrounding the Civil War will focus on material related to western North Carolina, and connections will be drawn between the ambiguities of that war and Vietnam.

Treasure Trove of Ancient Human Footprints Found Near Volcano

Nine miles from the volcano the Maasai call the “Mountain of God,” researchers have cataloged a spectacularly rare find: an enormous set of well-preserved human footprints left in the mud between 5,000 and 19,000 years ago.


The more than 400 footprints cover an area slightly larger than a tennis court, crisscrossing the dark gray mudflat of Engare Sero, on the southern shore of 

Tanzania’s Lake Natron. No other site in Africa has as many ancient Homo sapiens footprints—making it a treasure trove for scientists trying to tell the story of humankind’s earliest days.

Some of the tracks seem to show people jogging through the muck, keeping upwards of a 12-minute-mile pace. Other prints imply a person with a slightly strange, possibly broken big toe.

Appalachian students and faculty partner with UNC Asheville to research threatened plant species

Logan-ClarkProfessors and student researchers from Appalachian State University’s and UNC Asheville’s Departments of Biology have partnered in a federally funded project to assess several aspects of an imperiled plant in western parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

The plant, called Spiraea virginiana, has been on the federal government’s list of threatened species since 1990. It dwells solely in white water, high-gradient streams in drainage from the Tennessee, Cumberland and New rivers in North Carolina. The streams are in North Carolina and Virginia.

The project – funded with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant of $30,194 – is called “Assessing Genetic Diversity, Polyploidy, Reproductive Effort, and Fitness within Spiraea virginiana Populations.” It includes biology professors and students from both Appalachian and UNC Asheville.

Cross-institutional research in physics and astronomy leads to best undergraduate student paper

Hunter StarkHunter Stark, an Appalachian State University sophomore communication major from Charlotte, and James Howe, a Southwestern Community College
senior and triple major in electronics, computer, and network engineering technology from Miami, Florida, have been awarded the best undergraduate student paper from the North Carolina Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

At each meeting of NCS-AAPT, undergraduate student papers are considered for an award, which includes a check for $100. In order to compete for the award, students must provide a presentation on their research. Stark and Howe worked with Appalachian State University’s Dr. David Sitar, astronomy outreach coordinator, in their partnership. “This was a great collaboration between students from different institutions and from different disciplines,” said Sitar.