Honors Students Earn Accolades at Great Plains Honors Council Conference

For Honors Program student Noah Fansler, the highlight of the Great Plains Honors Council Conference in March was not winning the Humanities poster competition or helping UMKC bring home the trivia contest trophy.

“The highlight was hearing how interested people were in my research,” said Noah, whose presentation addressed a famous artwork at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. “I presented on Friday, and on Saturday, I had several people tell me that my research was thought provoking. Creating a project that encouraged discussion was so rewarding because it made my research feel meaningful.”

Noah was one of eight UMKC Honors students and two advisors who traveled 1,000 miles in three days to attend the conference at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. More than 300 students from four states participated in the annual event, which featured poster and oral presentations on topics from diverse disciplines.

Honors Program student Jessica Kim won first place in the STEM poster competition for her research on a dynamic circadian complex.

“I was able to present my research in front of new faces and reaffirmed it is relevant and important. Furthermore, I loved seeing Wichita Falls and eating at Braum’s for the first time!” Jess said.

Noah and Jess helped UMKC win two of the six poster awards of the conference; each student also received $100 as a prize.

The other UMKC participants were Symone Franks, Chinecherem Ihenacho, Ebele Mgbemena, Diana Perez, Theo Raitzer, and Elliott Smith. Margo Gamache, Honors Program Director of Student Services, and Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood, Honors Program Teaching Professor, organized and chaperoned the trip funded by the Honors Program.

Elliott shared his research on the history and current impact of KCUR, the Kansas City public radio station based at UMKC. “My favorite part of the GPHC was interacting with students from other colleges and universities. Learning about the work they do in their communities and seeing how involved they were was very inspiring. We were even able to team up with some students from Texas and win the conference’s trivia challenge!” he said.

The conference was the first time these Honors students had presented their scholarship to a university audience.

“The Great Plains Honors Conference introduced me to what an academic career in my field looks like,” said Ebele, who talked about how three UMKC conservatory professors and composers think of their work. “I enjoyed preparing for the presentation, sharing my research, and discussing the material with my fellow presenters. It was such a positive learning experience, and I look forward to participating in more academic conferences in the future.”