Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Alison Moore and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) led an interactive crime-solving event for students last Thursday during a convocation event. With a theme reminiscent of the popular CBS TV series “CSI,” students were challenged to play the role of Crime Scene Investigators and draw conclusions about a hypothetical crime based on their research.
Students looked at evidence including fingerprints, DNA analysis and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, which identifies different substances within a test sample. The students also investigated footprints and the ink chromatography of a note to evaluate suspects in a supposed murder. Evidence was used to include or exclude suspects during the investigation.
“It was cool to have a convocation event that allowed me to learn the material interactively instead of simply listening and taking notes,” senior Josh Hoelker said. “I was fascinated to see how the evidence came together to pin the guilty suspect.”
Earlier in the week, the “CSI: Belmont” experience also offered a visit from a training specialist from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), who talked about the educational background required to work in crime investigation as well as the training investigators go through after they get the job.
While working at local app development company Aloompa, Belmont senior Bryn Bodayle partnered with photographer Jeremy Cowart as the primary IOS developer for OKDOTHIS, an iOS app that provides an idea community for photography. The app has been steadily climbing the Apple App Store charts since its launch in late November. Aloompa, which was co-founded by two Belmont alumni, specializes in mobile apps for music, food, conference and community events.
OKDOTHIS allows users to share both their favorite photos and the creative ideas (“DOs”) that led to it. Users can connect with other photographers, become inspired by their DOs, and watch as their DOs spark the creativity of others. Recent examples of inspiring “DOs”include “Use car headlights to light a subject” and “Show off a piece of art that a friend made.”
“It has been great to work on an app of such scale and potential. It’s been incredibly rewarding to see how users have used the app as a creative tool,” Bodayle said. “It’s really a new kind of social network, and I’m excited to see it continue to grow.”
Asian Studies and Chinese Language Assistant Professor Dr. Qingjun (Joan) Li and four of her students–Anna Croghan, Samantha Hubner, Joseph Minga and Ryan Pino–recently were awarded an ASIANetwork/Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Grant. Of 27 team applications, only eight were selected for grants which will fully fund the team’s research project in China this summer.
“I am so excited about this invaluable research opportunity which allows me to take four of my remarkable students to China and work together with them for over three weeks. We all carry the great passion for China, and our study of the commodification of culture will result in new understandings about how Chinese culture is being made into a profitable industry. This is an intriguing project,” Li said.
The team will be in the People’s Republic of China for approximately four weeks in May and early June 2014. The research project, titled “The Commodification of Culture in China’s New Cultural Industry,” will examine the role of culture in China’s new cultural industry, which is a pillar economic commitment of over $172.95 billion or a full 2.78% of the country’s GDP.
Five Belmont sophomores are working hard this month to build a movement to address the national debt, a figure that currently stands at over $17 trillion. Belmont “Up to Us” formed last fall when the five students–Paul Shaw (international business), Jawon Taylor (political science), Sordum Ndam (political science), Olivia Nishi (corporate communications) and Lindsay Bond-Harris (music business)–applied to participate in the national Up to Us competition, which is sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and Net Impact. The Belmont team was selected as one of 25 teams nationwide and is competing against teams from Duke, Cal State-Fullerton, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Rice, George Washington and New York University, among others, with the contest set to end this Friday, Feb. 21.
The group was first interested in the competition as a means to have hands-on experience in a campaign that would benefit their diverse studies in political science, business and communications. However, this campaign has hit a nerve for all of them. Noting that $17 trillion is a difficult figure to grasp and contextualize, Ndam said, “You start telling people how serious this is, and the more you repeat these facts, the more you begin to realize how truly serious an issue it is… I’m afraid of the uncertainty of it all.”
“We want people to be thinking about the national debt and get discussion going,” said Bond-Harris. “We’re not asking for answers, but we do want people to get involved in finding answers.”
A group of Belmont students and alumni are working to increase civic responsibility through a web application that explains United States government and politics. Funded through a $15,000 investment, the app, Poliana, aggregates millions of data points on a wide range of government activity, including voting records, financial contributions, lobbying, bills and industry influence.
Nashville business incubator Jumpstart Foundry awarded Poliana founders with the start-up cash during a 14-week process. Throughout the process the founders–Belmont students David Gilmore and Patrick Cason along with alumni Grayson Carroll, Kenny House and Seth Whiting– were guided and mentored by Nashville’s most influential business people, designers, developers, lawyers, marketers and entrepreneurs. Their entrepreneurial jumpstart culminated with “investor day,” where Poliana presented a 10-minute business pitch to hundreds of potential investors from all over the country.
“I was pushed to learn and produce results at an extremely accelerated rate, and the progress I made was clear. Overall, the experience more than prepared me for the trials of running a successful business, and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to learn from the brightest minds of the Nashville business community,” said Carroll (’13), Poliana’s chief executive officer.