Rachel Cubbage - Research Project: Worldbuilding & Adventure Design in Table-Top Role-Playing Games Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sam Hamilton
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The Research Experience @ Bridgewater

Summer 2022 Projects

The Research Experience @ Bridgewater is a donor-funded initiative providing support for teams of BC faculty and undergraduate students to spend the summer in collaborative research and creative, scholarly work in any discipline. Faculty members invite undergraduates to participate as a collaborator in their summer scholarly work. Students are provided with a stipend and free housing on campus during the course of the research.

Select a project below for more information and to read personal thank you notes.

Grace Clem ’23
Hometown: Staunton, Va.
Majors: Political Science and English
Research Project: State Spending on Infrastructure Through Time
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bobbi Gentry

A thank you note from Grace:

I am a member of the class of 2023, majoring in Political Science and English. I transferred to Bridgewater College in fall of 2021, having completed my Associates Degree at Blue Ridge Community College. During my time at Bridgewater, I have participated in the ethics Bowl Competition and work with Dr. Gentry on voter registration in the Shenandoah Valley.

During the summer of 2022, I had the good fortune to work alongside Dr. Gentry as part of the Research Experience at Bridgewater Program. I performed a study comparing states and local government spending according to political culture identities derived from the work of Daniel Elazar. Elazar’s theory uses historical data concerning the beliefs and behavior of communities to identify patterns in the relationship between government and communities. My project focused solely on water infrastructure expenditures. Despite preexisting scholarship that identifies a significant relationship between culture and government spending, my research found no significant relationship. From this I concluded that, while beliefs expressed in political culture do affect government expenditure, there may be some areas in spending that are treated the same across the United States. By determining which areas of our culture are unified and varied, perhaps we will be better able to build cooperation across states and belief systems.

For this project, I wrote a research paper that presented my results. I learned a great deal, including how to structure an academic argument and work in a semi-professional capacity. I am applying to conference in the hope of presenting my research and will participate in the Celebration of the Arts, Scholarship, Performance, Innovation and Research Excellence (ASPIRE) event in the Spring 2023.

I am very grateful for this opportunity to learn, firsthand, the research process. I am now more comfortable and more confident in my academic abilities. This experience has provided me the opportunity to participate in political research and influenced my decision to continue research following graduation, whether in political science or in the literary discipline.


Catharine Grace Clem

Rachel Cubbage ’23
Hometown: Stanley, Va.
Majors: Professional Writing and Computer Science
Minors: Art and English
Research Project: Worldbuilding & Adventure Design in Table-Top Role-Playing Games
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sam Hamilton

A thank you note from Rachel:

For multiple years, I have been a Writing Center tutor, Digital Scholarship Guru, and tutor at Bridgewater College. I have always been interested in table-top role-playing games, particularly Dungeons and Dragons, and created the Bridgewater College Dungeons and Dragons Club to share my passion with others. Because of this interest and love of mine, I am forever grateful that I received a Summer 2022 Research Experience at Bridgewater grant.

My research project allowed me to explore the process of creating a world and involving and adventure within it while incorporating technical writing skills. Through this project I created an adventure module that detailed Riverlink College’s treasury and hunt for the medallion inside that turned the protector, Ernie the Eagle, into an evil version of himself. I have plans to release the full module on the Digital Commons so that other students can use it to experience table-top role-playing games.

Everything I learned through the experience was invaluable. I was able to create my own adventure module and, through my technical writing skills, incorporate it into a creative technical manual. This experience will be incredibly beneficial to my ideal future career in technical writing and has influenced me to pursue a career in designing table-top role-playing game modules.

Thank you,

Rachel Cubbage

Diamond Hawkins ’23
Hometown: Nokesville, Va.
Majors: Mathematics and Data Science and Analytics
Research Project: A Database to Analyze Chicken Depictions in European Painting
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Verne Leininger

Kiersten Haynes ’23
Hometown: Gerrardstown, W.Va.
Major: Psychology
Research Project: Religious Beliefs, Stress Overload and Mental Health
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall

A thank you note from Kiersten:

This experience gave me an amazing opportunity to explore the research field and helped me narrow down the area of therapy I would like to specialize in. My project, which focused on religious beliefs and well-being, helped me realize the importance of religion in psychology and to decide to pursue Christian counseling during graduate school, which I plan to enroll in after graduation.

I learned a lot from working with Dr. MacDougall on this study. The professor-student mentorship served as a catalyst for growth in my career and as a person. I learned and took away much more than I ever expected.

Thank you!

Kiersten Haynes

Aidan Keller ’24
Hometown: Strasburg, Va.
Majors: Health and Exercise Science and Spanish
Research Project: A Cross-Cultural Review of the Effectiveness of Pain Neuroscience Education Techniques with Chronic Pain Patients in United States and Latin American Communities
Faculty Mentor: Dr. B. Michael Ray

A thank you note from Aidan:

I am a Flory Honors Scholar and serve as a Student Ambassador and Eagles Success Mentor. This summer, I worked on a Research Experience at Bridgewater research project with Dr. Michael Ray to begin the process of a systemic review (SR). As an aspiring physical therapist, the research I conducted provided me with insights into a new intervention in the field.

Conducting an SR is a lengthy and extensive process. Dr. Ray and I made significant progress during the grant period this summer. We started by running database searches with our specific search criteria and downloading the citations to assess. Through the grant, we were able to purchase access to Covidence, online software that expedites the SR screening process by eliminating duplicate citations and allowing access to the data from different locations. This was crucial as the second reviewer on our team, Dr. Bronwyn Thompson, is located in New Zealand at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

At the conclusion of the summer, we had finished screening approximately 10,000 articles from database searches. The next step of our SR will involve reading the full articles that meet our inclusion criteria and drawing data to analyze. This SR will progress into my Flory Honors Project in fall of 2022. Upon conclusion of the SR, we plan to submit a manuscript for publication in a scientific journal and present at a conference. We will also be presenting at BC’s A Celebration of the Arts, Scholarship, Performance, Innovation and Research Excellence (ASPIRE) in Spring 2023.

I am grateful to have been awarded this grant and the opportunity to investigate important topics in my career interest.


Aidan Keller

Anton Kopti ’23
Hometown: McLean, Va.
Major: Computer Science
Research Project: A Compendium of Exact Sums of Infinite Series
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Verne Leininger

A thank you note from Anton:

I work as a Digital Scholarship guru for Bridgewater College’s Information Technology Center and am involved in many activities on campus. Coming to BC from Jerusalem, Palestine, I wanted to explore my passions deeply through research. Although I plan to work in the tech industry after graduation, a dream of mine is to, one day, pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics of Computer Science.

The Research Experience at Bridgewater grant allowed me to accomplish my research with Dr. Leininger over the summer of 2022. The objective of my research was to create a list of convergent infinite series and deduce the value that they sum to. I did so by using other series approximations of known functions. This project is being continuously upgraded, while we explore different methods of deriving the exact sum of different series. Dr. Leininger and I hope to present our findings at the Shenandoah Undergraduate Math and Statistics conference at James Madison University.

I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and your support. This experience will forever impact my professional and academic life.

Yours sincerely,

Anton Kopti


For more information on research at Bridgewater, visit bridgewater.edu/research.