Homeland security research presentation earns student first place at PAWC

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kyle ChildsSC State sophomore Kyle Childs captured first place for outstanding scientific research presentation at the Professional Agricultural Workers Conference, which was held Dec. 6-8 at Tuskegee University.

The Knoxville, Tenn. native received a plaque and will receive a cash award of $500 for presenting a research project entitled “Organic Scintillators for the Detection of Thermo Neutrons.” His presentation was based on a multi-university research project, “Transformational Scintillation Materials for Neutron and Gamma Detectors and Education Integration.” The study’s findings will aid the advancement of homeland security by helping professionals in the field better detect nuclear weapons. Dr. Zheng Chang, visiting associate professor of radiochemistry at SC State, is leading the University’s research efforts for the five-year project along with colleagues from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Laurence Miller, professor of nuclear engineering at UT Knoxville, is the principle investigator.
Childs, a radiochemistry major, said the win proves that hard work has its reward.

“I’m glad I won. There were a lot of presentations of great caliber that were presented at the conference,” said Childs. It’s great to know I’m on the right path to building my career [in radiochemistry]. It’s good to know I’m doing something right,” he continued.

Childs joins several other SC State students who garnered top honors since 2005, the first year the University began participating in the PAWC oral and poster presentation competitions.

“The award-winning legacy of our students at the PAWC reflects the exceptional talent and academic excellence that SC State students demonstrate in and out the classroom,” said  Dr. Christopher C. Mathis Jr., research associate for 1890 Research and advisor to conference participants.

For Childs, however, the experience was a valuable learning opportunity that will become the springboard for his future aspirations.

“Oftentimes, undergraduates don’t have the opportunity to work with such groundbreaking research. I am glad to have had this experience while pursing my baccalaureate degree, and I am confident that what I gained from this opportunity will be useful when I conduct my post-baccalaureate work,” said Childs.

Several SC State faculty, staff and one other student presented or competed at the conference. Dr. Mathis and Shobha Choudhari, 1890 Research statistician, presented “Distribution of the Free and Reduced Lunch Participation By Hispanics in Pee-Dee and Coastal Regions of South Carolina During the Period of 2000-2003.” Dr. Thomas Thompson, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership; Dr. Donald Tetrault, associate professor of educational leadership; Dr. Jesulon Gibbs, assistant professor of educational leadership and Dr. Mathis delivered a presentation on “Legislative Initiative on Dropout Prevention: A 50 State Review.” Another student competitor, Cedric Shamley, a senior biology major and chemistry minor, presented “The Effects of a Warmer World.”

“SC State’s participation in forums like the Professional Agricultural Workers’ Conference gives faculty, staff and students opportunities to showcase our excellence in scholarship and research to other institutions,” said Dr. Louis Whitesides, 1890 Research administrator. “The awards that any member of the SC State family receives at these events are well deserving recognitions for the work we all do collectively,” he continued.

An annual event, the PAWC provides a forum for professionals in agriculture-related fields to discuss emerging policies and programs that are used for the advancement of people and communities.

Students or faculty interested in participating in next year’s PAWC, can contact Dr. Mathis at (803) 536-8974 or cmathis@scsu.edu.