Preface to The Eagle Feather 2013

College of Arts & Sciences, UNTThis year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Eagle Feather! More than 250 students have published their work in TEF. The College of Arts and Sciences has had far and away the largest number of student publications (139), followed by the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (44), the College of Visual Arts and Design (32), the College of Engineering (24), and the College of Education (15). Other colleges with at least one student publication in TEF include the College of Business, the College of Hospitality, Merchandising and Tourism, and the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS). The departments with the greatest number of students publishing are political science (55), anthropology (39), and art history (30).

The success of the Department of Political Science in mentoring undergraduate researchers is due in no small part to the work of Dr. John Ishiyama who developed and coordinated the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program in Political Science at the University of North Texas from 2010 to the present. For his outstanding efforts on behalf of undergraduate research at the University of North Texas, the editors of The Eagle Feather have selected Dr. Ishiyama as the Outstanding Eagle Feather Mentor of the Year.

Dr. John IshiyamaBehind each of our successful students is a faculty mentor (or a faculty mentor in training) who has worked with the student to develop and refine a research problem, critically review the existing literature, develop the research design, collect and analyze the data, and to draw conclusions. The mentor has then further worked with the student to edit and revise the research report to turn it into a publishable paper. In this special issue of The Eagle Feather, we would like to single out faculty members and graduate students who have mentored multiple undergraduate students. Of the more than one hundred faculty members and graduate students who have mentored undergraduate researchers, five have mentored 5 to 9 students; these mentors are Mickey Abel, Department of Art Education and Art History; Marijke Breuning, Department of Political Science; Kelly Donahue-Wallace, Department of Art Education and Art History; Doug Henry, Department of Anthropology; and Eric Keels, Department of Political Science. Nine faculty members or graduate students have mentored 10 to 14 undergraduate students; these individuals are Beverley Davenport, Department of Anthropology; Susan Eve, Departments of Sociology and Applied Gerontology, and Honors College; J. Michael Greig, Department of Political Science; John Ishiyama, Department of Political Science; Angela Nichols, Department of Political Science; Mariela Nunez-Janes, Department of Anthropology; Joseph Oppong, Department of Geography; Jennifer Way, Department of Art Education and Art History; and Michael Widmeier, Department of Political Science.

Dr. Jeanne L. TunksThe record for most undergraduate researchers mentored goes to Jeanne Tunks, in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration in the College of Education, who has mentored 15 Eagle Feather authors since 2006! The curriculum for undergraduates in the College of Education is so tightly structured that it is very difficult for  undergraduates to get involved in research projects. Dr. Tunks has solved this problem for students in her program by requiring them to conduct research on their student teaching experiences. She selects the best papers to publish in The Eagle Feather. She uses these papers with her students in Thailand as examples of innovative ways to  teach children new concepts and to involve their parents in their education. For their contribution to undergraduate research in the field of education, The Eagle Feather editors have selected Dr. Jeanne Tunks’ Department of Teacher Education and Administration as the Outstanding Eagle Feather Department of the Year.

The Eagle Feather editors are deeply grateful to the Dean of Libraries, Martin Halbert, and Associate Dean, Cathy Hartman, who encouraged us to try an all digital publication. The staff of the User Interfaces Unit, Digital Libraries Division—Neena Weng, Head; William Hicks, Technology Coordinator; Dianne Jansing, Digital Publications Coordinator; and Madison Coe, Student Assistant—have  consistently produced a professional journal that  reflects the quality befitting the most comprehensive university in North Texas. We would like to single out Dianne Jansing for her patient, day-to-day work with the editors on the tedious task of getting the copy material loaded into the system and formatted. Her good humor, cool head, and professional expertise through all the frustrations and revisions are appreciated more than we can ever tell her. We would also like to thank the Libraries, and especially Neena Weng, for the beautiful new format and new features in this issue, including the rotating banner highlighting faculty and students in this issue and the “Where Are They Now?” section. Highest kudos to the UNT Libraries!

We have a special feature in this issue which harkens back to our first issue in 2004. At that time, Cristina Wasson, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, had two students who had participated in a field research project in her class on language and culture. We could not publish the student articles because the students had not gone through the IRB’s Human Subject’s training. To salvage the situation, we suggested Cristina write a pedagogical piece on the opportunities to improve undergraduate research by having the students get the required IRB training. We had always thought we might include more such pedagogical pieces in future issues but the right opportunities just never presented themselves until this past year.

Laura Waugh and Spencer KeralisIn fall 2012, Laura Waugh, the Repository Librarian for UNT Scholarly Works in the UNT Libraries contacted us about a scholarly panel the libraries wanted to host on the benefits of faculty mentored student research. The panel was so extraordinary that we decided to organize a special panel on the topic for University Scholars Day 2013. Two of the papers presented in this panel appear in this issue. The lead article is co-authored by Laura Waugh and Spencer Keralis on the value of open access publication like The Eagle Feather for undergraduate researchers. The second is Jeanne Tunks’ article about her experience using the “servant leadership” model of undergraduate research with her student teachers. These two articles are cutting edge in undergraduate research and we hope that they are beneficial to many faculty and students in the future.

In this issue, we have 33 articles written by 34 student authors mentored by 30 faculty and graduate student mentors. The articles are listed elsewhere so we will not repeat all the students and topics here but we would like to highlight a few of our authors and mentors for special recognition. Among our students, we have some whose research is sufficiently meritorious that they have received significant recognition outside of UNT. 

Daniel Munro, mentored by Dr. Qunfeng Dong from the Department of Biological Sciences, has had a stellar undergraduate research career. Daniel worked in Dr. Dong’s bioinfomatics lab for two years, and also participated in the Department of Biology’s Undergraduate Research Program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Daniel MunroInstitute. He has multiple professional presentations to his credit including three professional conference papers and two publications, with another under review. In 2013, he received the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and Phi Kappa Phi’s National Fellowship Award which he will use to fund his graduate research in biology at Princeton University.

Lisa McAlister, mentored by Dr. Matthew Eshbaugh-Soba in the Department of Political Research, is another outstanding undergraduate researcher. Lisa presented her paper at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Chicago in August 2013. Her paper was recognized as the Best Undergraduate Paper in the Section on Presidents and Executive Politics. Like Daniel Munro, Lisa is also a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Heather QuinnHeather Quinn received an award of a different kind for her research—a job! Heather became involved with Serve Denton through UNT Service Learning in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. Serve Denton is being planned as a multi-tenant nonprofit center located in Denton, Texas. Heather conducted a research study as a part of her Honors College thesis that helped her design the central intake system of the organization. As a result of her outstanding research, Heather was offered a position as the Collaboration Director for Serve Denton! Congratulations to Heather!

Finally, we have two articles on environmental issues from Dr. Irene Klaver’s students in the Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, Julie Cain and Corina Gomez. Their articles are on environmental issues, and are important because they address one of the most important issues of our time. They also provide an opportunity to showcase one of UNT’s premier research areas. We welcome the addition of this important area to the scope of The Eagle Feather and hope that we will have many more articles along these lines in the future.

Corina Gomez

Finally, we wish to thank this year’s outstanding Student Associate Editors, Justin Wood from the Department of Political Science, Rachael Swiatek from the Department of English, and Najah Syed from the Department of Biological Sciences. They were an awesome team and represent the best of our Honors College students.

Gloria Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Susan Eve, Editor