Lucerna 2022 available online

The latest volume of Lucerna, the UMKC undergraduate research journal published annually by the Honors Program, is available online now.

Lucerna 2022 features the scholarship of twelve UMKC students: Karah Chappel, “Exploration of the Referral Process of Social Work Within a Policing Structure”; Lauren Cooper and Brooke Friday, “The Neuropathological Analysis of Sport and Blast TBIs”; Robin Conrad, “The Many Names of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: How They Have Improved and How They Can Continue to Improve”; Anuhya Dayal, “From MMR to COVID-19: A Study of Vaccination Perception Over Time and the Modern Effects of Social Media”; Denise Dean, “Associations of Environmental Factors and Physical Activity Behaviors: A Photo Analysis”; Dominic Guillen, “A Simpler Annuity”; Ellie Jackson, “Iran: Analyzing the Dominant Coalition of an Authoritarian Regime”; Niki Joshi, “Reconciling Two Identities: The Letters of Anandibai Joshi”; Kai Milanovich, “Performing Escape: Imagining Future with Plato’s Symposium”; Carson Rau, “Spatial and Social Organization in Restaurants: The Dynamics of Cooperation and Contention”; and Lauren Textor, “The Necessity of Art Programming in Restructuring the Prison System.”

Lucerna accepts submissions from UMKC undergraduates in all programs. For more information and guidelines, go to

Honors senior Sean Purdue steers Concrete Canoe team to regional win

For the first time in more than a decade, UMKC engineering students designed and constructed a unique water vessel for the annual Concrete Canoe Competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Led by Honors senior Sean Purdue, a civil engineering major, the UMKC team won its regional competition, hosted by Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in April.

“The idea of making a canoe out of concrete is absurd, but that absurdity is what makes it so fun. You have to put your head together with your team and make a boat out of a really unsuitable material, so you’re forced to think outside of the box,” Sean said.

Sean is president of the UMKC student chapter of ASCE and was captain and project manager of the UMKC canoe team of fifteen students. He says the team tried to compensate for its lack of recent experience in the competition by keeping things simple and communicating effectively.

Of course, it is not simple to make and race a concrete canoe, but enabling students to test their skills in concrete mix designs and project management is the goal of the competition that began in 1988 and is known as the “America’s Cup of Civil Engineering.”

Sean said there were plenty of challenges. “Lack of experience made duration and cost estimating nearly impossible. I frequently underestimated how long construction tasks would take, which meant a lot of last-minute scrambling to finish things. Unifying the writing of the technical report was also a challenge, since multiple people contributed to it. We also did not do a good job with quality control (ensuring that construction matches design). Managing members who are busy with school, work, and other extracurriculars was challenging as well.”

Bad weather prevented the UMKC team from racing its canoe at the regional competition, where it took first place for the “Blue Phoenix,” which is 238 inches long, 26 inches wide, 15 inches deep, and weighed 395 pounds. Despite the win, the UMKC team did not participate in the national Concrete Canoe competition because it did not meet other ASCE requirements unrelated to the canoe project.

Sean aims to help the UMKC team repeat its regional win and qualify for the national competition next year.

Dr. John T. Kevern, chairperson of the UMKC Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering and faculty advisor to the Concrete Canoe team, praised Sean’s leadership on the project.

“UMKC hasn’t had a concrete canoe since the mid-2000’s and as such, had no institutional knowledge for the Blue Phoenix. Sean successfully organized all aspects of the team from scratch—canoe design, mold construction, concrete design, paddling, report writing, presentations, and especially fund raising. Under normal circumstances this is a significant bit of extra work, but to do it without anyone to ask, ‘What did you do last time?’ is huge, plus they won the regional competition. It’s safe to say that without Sean’s leadership it would have been a different outcome,” Dr. Kevern said.

Honors students restore Student Union Garden

The garden on the rooftop terrace of the UMKC Student Union looked more like a desert than an oasis for years.

Today, the garden blooms again, thanks to a campaign led by eight Honors students in Spring 2022. The students formed a new organization, the UMKC Gardening Club, as part of their project for an Honors class, Civic and Urban Engagement H202: Social Action. This class asks students to identify a social problem and take action to solve that problem in one semester.

For their social action campaign, Sonya Ahmad, Ashley Appleberry, Amelia Beharry, Jay Cravens, Sudhiksha Kumar, Hannah Leyva, Cassandra Ludwig, and Madi Sweeney focused on a campus garden that was abandoned during the COVID-19 pandemic. They collaborated to get permission and supplies to revitalize the space and organized a planting party on April 29.

For more information about the UMKC Gardening Club, go to Instagram @umkcgardeningclub


Honors students earn recognition at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Honors Program students won two of the six “Presentations of Distinction” awards at the 22nd Annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship at UMKC on April 21, 2022.

Senior Karah Chappel (left in photo above), a music therapy major, won the category of Behavioral and Social Sciences for her study, “Exploration of the Education and Experiences of Music Therapists in Trauma Care.”

“Receiving recognition that my work not only holds up but stands out against my peers is amazing,” Karah said. “It felt great to know that my research is accessible to those outside my field. Receiving the ‘Presentation of Distinction’ was really a crowning accomplishment for my time as an undergraduate researcher.”

Karah’s article, “Exploration of the Referral Process of Social Work Within a Policing Structure,” is published in the latest volume of Lucerna, the undergraduate research journal produced annually by the Honors Program, available here.

Senior Emma Leonard (right in photo above), a history major, won the Arts and Humanities category for her study, “Sports and Gender: A Comparative Historical Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Sports in the United States.”

“Winning the ‘Presentation of Distinction’ award was very exciting and unexpected for me,” Emma said. “After spending so much time on my research project and completing my Senior Honors Thesis, it felt fantastic to be recognized at the Symposium.”

Honors students accounted for 23 of the 86 students who participated in the poster presentation at the Symposium, which was organized by the UMKC Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship.

Karah and Honors students Niki Joshi and Kyle Broley earned the designation of Undergraduate Research Fellows in 2022. Niki’s study, “Reconciling Two Identities: The Letters of Anandibai Joshi,” appears in Lucerna 2022 and can be read here.

The Honors Program supports undergraduate research by helping students develop research, critical thinking, and communication skills through inquiry-based general education courses, the Senior Honor Thesis option, and the annual publication of Lucerna. For more information about these opportunities, contact Margo Gamache, Honors Program Student Services Director at