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 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

Meet a Lucerna Author: Brooke Friday

What is your Lucerna project about?

My project, “The Neuropathological Analysis of Sport and Blast TBIs,” co-written with Lauren Cooper, is about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Essentially, we’re looking at how the brain is impacted on a short and long-term basis once a TBI has occurred.

Why are you interested in this topic?

There were a lot of things that drew me to this topic. First, I have always loved the intricacies of the brain, and how it is able to adapt and constantly change, especially during injury. Second, a lot of my family is in the military and have been deployed across seas and have had to face the idea that something could change their lives in an instant, so it was almost a tribute to them in a way as well. We’ve seen a lot of studies that have focus specifically on sports injuries. We wanted to see how a military versus sports traumatic brain injury differed.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

There was definitely a challenge in getting the research we needed, especially on the military blast side. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to investigate it. The government isn’t going to just publish all this on their soldiers. But after intense research and even contacting currently deployed relatives, we had so much research at our hands. There was a lot of sifting through information to figure out statistics and the specific impacts of the mechanism that an IED had on the brain. There were weeks where we were just going through this information with a fine-tooth comb and it really taught us the importance and diligence of this information and why it is so important to get out there for others to see.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

If I had to give any advice, it would be to put your heart and soul into your research. That sounds cheesy, but if you love what you were researching and you have such an affinity for it, you won’t back down until it’s perfect. And once you think you’re done, go over it five more times. See if there’s any more information out there to help you. We gain access to more information every day and research that spans our knowledge that needs to be examined. Use your resources and professors, and reach out to people who are experts in the field you are researching.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My professional plans are to become a surgeon and specialize in neurology. I graduated from UMKC in May 2021, and I currently attend St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada. I plan on taking part in further neurological research opportunities here.

The UMKC Honors College Helps Students Achieve Their Goals

Elizabeth Hemenway works quietly on her Apple laptop in a comfy chair on the fourth floor of Cherry Hall. Her gaze is fixed to the screen while her long blond hair drapes over her dark blue T‑shirt with the bright gold lettering that reads “Honors College.” Hemenway, a junior biology major, is glad she became a member of the Honors College, and credits the college with helping her decide what she wants to pursue in graduate school.

“The Honors College definitely helped me toward my post-graduate goal,” she said. “I thought I wanted to go to medical school, but after taking Honors Genetics with Dr. Scott Hawley, I changed my mind and am now focused on research in biology. The Honors College literally changed my course of study.”

So what is this Honors College?

According to its website, the honors program at UMKC was started in 1979 by Professor Bruce Bubacz as an academic program within the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Bubacz served as the founding director from 1979 until 1985, and during that time developed the honors program along with an oversight board and an introductory honors seminar.

Then on July 1, 2015, the honors program became the UMKC Honors College with Dr. James McKusick (“Dean Jim”) as its founding dean and Dr. Gayle Levy as director.

Levy was made director of the honors program in 2003, and continued through its transition to the Honors College. Levy is energetic, enthusiastic and excited about what the honors program accomplished and anticipates an amazing future for the new Honors College. Her excitement is contagious and the vision she and Dean Jim share is inspiring to their students. Neither of them takes credit for the success of the college though.

“The students are incredible,” Levy said, “Alumni. Current students. They are absolutely amazing, and they keep getting better and better.”

So what does it take to be an honors student at UMKC? And what can you expect to get out of it besides one of those sweet dark blue T-shirts with the bright gold lettering?

For incoming freshman, the Honors College website states that a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 in the core curriculum is a good “target.” Transfer students should have a college-level GPA of 3.7 or higher, or have participated in the honors program at their previous school. Currently enrolled students at UMKC with a GPA of 3.5 or above are eligible for admission into the Honors College.

While priority is given to students who meet or exceed these target criteria, the admissions committee takes into consideration the totality of each student’s application, with emphasis on academics and civic engagement. According to Levy, the Honors College is looking for students who want to be leaders in the classroom – and in all aspects of campus and community life – and grades are only a part of that equation.

Once admitted into the Honors College, in order to graduate with University Honors, an honors student must complete 27 honors credits. To graduate with the university’s highest distinction, Honors Scholar, an additional six-credit senior honors thesis is also required. This does not mean a lot of additional work, however.

There are many ways to earn honors credits, and most of them do not involve taking additional classes. For example, the Honors College offers honors-only seminars, anchor, and discourse classes that allow students to fulfill the university general education requirements while simultaneously earning honors credit. Students can also complete an “honors contract” in almost any other class, and earn honors credit equal to the three or more credit hours earned for that class. Honors discussion groups are also available for honors students enrolled in chemistry, biology, accounting, French, Spanish and German courses, and are a great way to both earn honors credits and get to know other honors students.

Honors credits can also be earned through study abroad programs, beyond the classroom experiences, graduate courses, and departmental honors courses that count toward the credit requirement for graduation.

For those students who are interested in the Honors College, but are concerned about paying more for their education, Levy would like to put those concerns to rest.

“The Honors College is a great addition to the wonderful education you will receive at UMKC, and it doesn’t cost anything extra. It is ‘value-added,’” she said. “We want all of the high-achieving students at UMKC to be a part of the Honors College,” she continued. “For a student who is gifted, talented, high-achieving, or whatever other term people want to use, there is a certain way of teaching that corresponds to their way of learning, so the classes are not harder, they are simply more tailored to the way high-achieving students learn best.”

Besides the cool-looking dark blue T-shirts and other “swag” that honors students receive, perhaps the most valuable rewards are the intangibles.

“I have met a lot of people in other majors that I might not have met otherwise,” Hemenway said. “The Honors College has definitely enriched my undergraduate experience. Also, I took classes like, ‘Honors Anchor – The Value of Beauty,’ that I might not have otherwise taken, but that I really enjoyed.”

Levy wants students to know that the Honors College is not just some snobby, private, exclusive club for future Mensa candidates to gather and mingle with others like them. There is something for everyone in the Honors College, and the focus of the college is on allowing individuals to explore what they want to explore – whatever it may be.

“Almost any student can find their niche in the Honors College,” Levy said. “This is a place for students to create what they want to create, and to pursue whatever it is that interests them. We give students a way to earn credit for research and other work they are already doing. The focus of the Honors College is to make learning more individualized, while offering the support of the honors community.”

Levy believes that the community provided by the Honors College for incoming 18-year-old students is especially invaluable. There are currently 60 honors students residing in Oak Street Residence Hall in the honors-only Living/Learning Community, and the college is working to expand into Oak Place Apartments in order to offer this same community for upper-level honors students no longer living in the residence hall.

There are currently 130 new honors students starting in fall 2017, and Dr. Levy expects that number will rise significantly before the start of the semester.


Tom Osborne grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa, where he lived for over twenty years before moving to Kansas City with his wife, Sheri, in 2008. Tom spent twenty years in the restaurant business, mostly as a manager of fine dining restaurants, before returning to school in 2012. An interest in the law sent Tom to Penn Valley College, where he earned an associate’s degree with highest honors in paralegal practice in 2014. Tom worked as a paralegal at a local law firm for two years before deciding to return to school and pursue a law degree. Tom has been a member of the Honors College since 2016, and plans to graduate with University Honors in May 2018. Tom was recently admitted to the UMKC School of Law where he will begin classes in the fall. After graduating and passing the bar, Tom plans to pursue a new career in environmental law. Tom and Sheri live in a condo in Quality Hill with their two cats, Fred and Morris. Besides playing guitar and cheering on his favorite teams, Tom enjoys cooking, eating good food, golfing, reading, and vacationing in San Diego, where his parents and brothers live.

The 2017 Lucerna Symposium Was a Success!

This year’s Lucerna Symposium was a success!

Four authors presented their research in front of the UMKC community on February 7th, celebrating the launch and publication of the 11th volume of Lucerna. Big congratulations to Claire Godfrey, Sydney Harvey, Alexander Peuser and Madison Lackey for their amazing contributions to undergraduate research! Read more about their research and the symposium here.

Read the 11th volume of Lucerna (PDF) or stop by 424 Cherry Hall to pick up a FREE copy!