While MTSU recording industry major and commercial songwriter Kristen Brassel was belting out four bluesy and folksy ballads Friday afternoon in a tent inside Murphy Center, more than 300 student peers were showcasing their research.
It was all a part of the university-wide Scholars Day, which concluded the five-day MTSU Scholars Week.
Across the way on the Murphy Center track, Cody Hazelwood had the assistance of a robot to explain his research: “Designing, Building and Testing a Low-Cost Autonomous Search and Rescue Robot Featuring Smartphone Surveillance and Control.”
Closer to the performance tent, Michael Floyd, a second-year master’s in biology student who plans to graduate in May, provided one of the most unique research projects.
Floyd is in an early Phase 1 exploration of using Chinese herbal extracts that inhibit the growth of trapyson, which causes African sleeping sickness.
“It’s a great project,” Floyd said. “The results have turned out fantastic (so far).”
Floyd said from 30,000 to 500,000 people die annually from the disease, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly, and eight to 10 people die after receiving an arsenic-based treatment currently used.
Brassel, a senior from Grenada, Miss., sang to a small but appreciative audience. She said she is used to playing to small crowds.
“I love a small audience,” Brassel said. “I play for waiters and people packing up every night.” She added that she has performed at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café and Murfreesboro’s 3 Brothers. She sang four songs she said she wrote and played her acoustic Martin guitar.
When asked about Scholars Day and Scholars Weeks, Brassel said, “Being in recording industry, I forget what’s on campus. I haven’t gotten to see everything (here today), but this is amazing to see.”
Todd Gary, recently hired as a part-time consultant and grant writer for the Office of Research, summed up the day perfectly.
“This is a fantastic time for students to share and showcase all of the work that they have put into it, all of the genius and scholarship,” he said. “This is the equivalent of a concert to a musician or a book signing to an author. This the culmination of all of their hard work and a very significant day.”
More than 300 undergraduate and graduate student posters, the presenters and many of their faculty mentors were selected. In addition to the musical and poetic performers, there was undergraduate and graduate multimedia, faculty research posters, and booths for centers, institutes and programs on campus.