Coker Students Engaged in Diverse Research Projects

For more information, contact James Jolly | 843.383.8018

Hartsville, S.C. (June 14, 2010) -- From coyotes to chemistry to computer science, Coker College students are engaged in diverse research projects that are being funded by more than $16,000 from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc. (SCICU).

“Coker College provides students with the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art research alongside our excellent faculty,” said Dr. Robert Wyatt, president of the college. “Our students gain hands-on experience in their major and their research findings lead to a greater understanding of the world around us.”

Junior biology major Emma Hayes (left) of Hartsville is studying the diet of coyotes in Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, about 17 miles from Coker’s campus.  She is collecting coyote scat at the refuge and examining it in the lab at Coker to determine its composition. Based on her findings, Hayes will determine whether the apparent increase of coyotes in the area has the potential to impact important game species such as turkey and deer. Ecologist Dr. Jennifer Borgo, assistant professor of biology, is supervising Hayes’s research.

Austin McJunkins (below), a junior chemistry major from Hartsville, is researching how molecules vibrate and rotate when heated. Advised by Dr. Gordon Brown, assistant professor of chemistry, McJunkins is specifically measuring the effect of temperature changes on the rotational spectrum of cyclopropanecarboxaldehyde. The results will offer insight into chemical reactivity and how molecules interact during the production of pharmaceutical drugs and other compounds. As part of his research project, McJunkins is also building a spectrometer, an instrument that measures molecular interactions with light.

Sophomore chemistry major Caitlyn Driscoll of Grand Island, NY, is researching the use of microwaves to combine chemicals, in particular bolaamp hiphilic diimines. Her work is bein g overseen by Dr. Pramod Chopade, assistant professor of chemistry.  Microwave-assisted synthesis of chemicals could be a better way of combining chemicals rather than the traditional mixing or stirring. If so, Driscoll’s research may help establish faster, easier, and more reliable methods of making pharmaceuticals and polymers.

Freshman computer science majors Timothy Barrett of Langley, S.C., and Trent Edwards of Greer, S.C., are working on complicated mathematical equations that could optimize the order in which manufacturing jobs are processed. They are using massively parallel programming environments to determine the most efficient way of prioritizing job orders while minimizing delays and processing time. Their research is under the guidance of Dr. Paul Dostert, assistant professor of mathematics, and Dr. Ed Holsenback, assistant professor of business administration.

Representing 20 private colleges and universities, SCICU's mission is to support and promote the values of independent higher education in South Carolina. SCICU seeks to advance higher education through fundraising, scholarships, research, and by facilitating collaborative activities a mong the member institutions. The organization also encourages government policies that support independent higher education.


Founded in 1908, Coker College is an independent, comprehensive college with a liberal arts core required of all students. Coker provides quality educational experiences in and out of the classroom that prepare graduates for professional and personal success. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Coker one of America’s Best Colleges. The Princeton Review rates Coker a Best Southeastern College based on academic reputation and student satisfaction.


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