Milligan hosts 30th Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference

Published 1:39 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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Milligan University will host the 30th annual Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC) on Thursday, April 11, from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Students from institutions throughout the southern Appalachian region will present over 80 student research projects presented through posters, oral arguments and technical presentations.

The BRURC coincides with Milligan’s annual RISE Above Research Conference, allowing graduate students from Milligan and participating colleges and universities to participate in the BRURC for the first time.

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Many of the schools participating are affiliated with the Appalachian College Association. This year’s student participants will represent Milligan, East Tennessee State University, King University, Tusculum University, Emory & Henry College, Lincoln Memorial University, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Mars Hill University, among others.

Dr. Joy Drinnon, Milligan’s director of undergraduate research and professor of psychology, is excited to welcome students throughout the region to Milligan’s campus, just as she did when Milligan last hosted the BRURC 20 years ago in 2004 and 2003.

One of Drinnon’s first experiences at Milligan involved taking “students to the Blue Ridge Conference as a brand-new faculty member and research mentor in 2000.”

“I saw firsthand how valuable it was to have a regional conference where students from any discipline could go and present in a low-pressure environment,” Drinnon shared. “My hope is that each presenter will be excited and come away encouraged about their work, and I hope students who attend will learn something new and be inspired to pursue their own research question.”

The conference will include a keynote lecture titled, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Importance and Struggle of Self-Awareness,” from Dr. Ron Kastens, academic dean of Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan and associate professor of Christian ministry. Kasten’s lecture will occur at 11 a.m. in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium in Seeger Chapel.

“Self-awareness, or the lack thereof, has a tremendous impact on our personal lives and interpersonal relationships,” said Kastens. “The ability to see ourselves clearly and respond appropriately to what we see determines so much of our personal and professional success. Understanding the challenges of self-awareness can help us take intentional steps to look in the mirror with greater clarity.”

Kastens’ academic focus is preparing women and men for ministry in very practical and tangible aspects. His focuses include preaching and homiletics, leadership development, spiritual formation, pastoral care, and the Enneagram. Kastens is an ordained minister with over 30 years of local church ministry. He received his Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his bachelor’s degree in Bible from Milligan.