MURRAY, Ky. — Below is information regarding recent news, notes and accomplishments from Murray State University for the week of Dec. 10–14.


Murray State nutrition and dietetics students recently competed in a contest sponsored by Allegro Fine Foods of Paris, Tennessee, to develop recipes featuring three new Allegro marinades the company is introducing to stores in 2019.

The recipes were submitted for consideration by junior and senior students enrolled in the nutrition and dietetics program’s Experimental Foods course as well as the Quantity Food Production and Purchasing course. Students could include any of Allegro’s three new marinades in their recipes, which included Tennessee whiskey, honey garlic and black pepper.

“This recipe contest was a positive extension of [Murray State’s extensive relationship with Allegro] that provided a fun activity for the students while building on things they have learned in the classroom,” said Dr. Karen Byrd, assistant professor and dietetic internship director.

Sixteen Murray State students participated in the contest with recipes ranging from entrees to side dishes. On Thursday, Nov. 29, five finalists prepared their recipes for a panel of five judges. The following students ultimately won for their recipes:

  • Megan Claspell of Murray, Kentucky, won the first place prize of $300 for her open-faced pulled pork sandwich with southwestern slaw on a Mexican cornbread waffle.
  • Bridgette Holt of Calvert City, Kentucky, won the second place prize of $125 for her honey garlic shrimp and vegetables.
  • Erika Gordon of Benton, Kentucky, won the third place prize of $50 for her Tennessee whiskey stuffed bell peppers.

The two other finalists included Britney Tilford of Paducah, Kentucky, for her honey garlic shrimp and Karly Stom of Paducah, Kentucky, for her instapot Tennessee country style ribs.

“The recipe contest allowed me to get creative and explore new flavors and ideas to help broaden my cooking knowledge,” said Claspell, who will graduate in spring 2019 and has plans to attend culinary school.


Sixteen student leaders from the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State were recently invited to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the Agriculture Future Farmers of America Conference (AFA).

“I am extremely proud to have 16 students invited to attend this conference,” said Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture. “These students represented themselves, our Hutson School of Agriculture and Murray State professionally. This program was very innovative and expansive. It will no doubt be an asset to each of these students in their future endeavors.”

AFA started in 1996 as a program for young agriculture leaders who had not quite started their careers. It has since developed into a national program that provides four challenging tracks to help students grow and develop as leaders and professionals.

Students at the conference in track one worked to build résumés in addition to learning about networking and how to present oneself in a professional manner, while students in track two improved their communication skills and learned about the importance of diversity in the workplace. Track three was designed to prepare juniors and seniors to live and work in a global market, focusing on topics like rural policy, personal financial management and international agriculture business. The fourth track was designed as a capstone experience for seniors. It built off the other three tracks and aimed to help participating students make the transition from college to career.

In addition to the learning opportunities within the tracks, the conference also featured an Opportunity Fair that allowed the delegates to meet with companies about internship and career possibilities.

Murray State students in attendance included the following individuals:

  • Mackenzie Sonner of Lanesville, Indiana (track one)
  • Tanner Hicks of Murray, Kentucky (track one)
  • Jenna Straub of Mahomet, Illinois (track one)
  • Lauren Rascher of Dexter, Missouri (track one)
  • Grace Sink of Cadiz, Kentucky (track two)
  • Kaylin Smith of Cadiz, Kentucky (track two)
  • Liz Hawkins of St. Charles, Missouri (track two)
  • Cristen Shaw of Benton, Illinois (track two)
  • Gabriel Sharp of Campbellsville, Kentucky (track two)
  • Hannah York of Princeton, Kentucky (track two)
  • Mallory Unverfehrt of Okawville, Illinois (track two)
  • Matthew McIntosh of Princeton, Kentucky (track two)
  • Noah Ferguson of Clinton, Kentucky (track three)
  • Rebekah Donoho of Bluford, Illinois (track three)
  • Jonathan Reynolds of Clinton, Kentucky (track four)

“The students from Murray State put themselves out of their comfort zones to grow as professionals,” Sink said. “The AFA Conference is just one way Hutson School of Agriculture students are seeking more than a degree but are obtaining an education.”


Several Murray Students from a variety of academic disciplines attended the 2018 annual meeting of the Kentucky Academy of Science with multiple students bringing home awards for their respective presentations.

“The annual Kentucky Academy of Sciences conference is a great opportunity for our students and faculty members to share their research and make connections with other scientists from across the state,” said Dr. Claire Fuller, interim dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “This event helps stimulate the sharing of ideas and initiation of collaborations — that’s what science is all about!”

The Kentucky Academy of Science hosted the event Nov. 2–3 at Western Kentucky University, bringing together hundreds of students and faculty members from across the state to share research findings. The students shared their work in both poster and oral presentations with the following students bringing home awards:

  • Erin Clayton of Hardin, Kentucky, earned first place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology Oral Presentation category
  • Nicole Creeden of Warrenton, Virginia, earned second place in the Health Sciences Poster Presentation category
  • River Dowell of Morgantown, Kentucky, earned third place in the Agricultural Sciences Poster Presentation category
  • Riley Mabe of Henderson, Kentucky, earned first place (tie) in the Agricultural Sciences Poster Presentation category
  • Brittney Nelson of Utica, Kentucky, earned first place in the Chemistry – Analytical/Physical Poster Presentation category
  • Samantha Sims of Hickory, Kentucky, earned first place in the Chemistry – Organic/Inorganic Poster Presentation category
  • Alexander Thome of Murray, Kentucky, earned second place in the Chemistry – Analytical/Physical Poster Presentation category
  • Marie White of O’Fallon, Missouri, earned second place in the Geology Poster Presentation category
  • Samuel White of Shelbyville, Kentucky, earned first place in the Zoology Oral Presentation category

The Kentucky Academy of Sciences includes thousands of members across the Commonwealth working to foster scientific discovery and understanding in Kentucky.


Students and faculty members from Murray State’s teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program attended the Kentucky TESOL Conference (KYTESOL) in Louisville on Oct. 26–27.

“Murray State’s TESOL program has worked hard to develop a legacy with the Kentucky TESOL organization,” said Dr. Latricia Trites, program director. “We as faculty encourage our students to attend and present at every [KYTESOL] conference, which gives them the chance to present at our international TESOL conference and to get their papers published.”

Six representatives from Murray State presented at the conference, including the following Murray State students, alumni and faculty members.

  • Ding Zhao and Dr. Ho-Ryong Park (assistant professor of English) presented “Electronic-reading Strategies of EFL Preservice Teachers in the Electronic Age.”
  • Naser Maliar, Christopher Buck, Jiajia Li and Liliia Shaekhova presented “Using Online Dictionaries for ESL Literacy Tasks: Guidelines and Strategies” and “Translanguaging in Language Classrooms: Guidelines and Activities.”
  • Dr. Saihua Xia (associate professor of English) presented “Five Strategies to Use a Free Linguistic Corpus to Teach Lexicogrammar.”
  • Trites, Lamia Abudaoud, Maliar and Shaekhova presented “Fulbright: Experiences and Opportunities.”
  • Alumna Ruqayyah Moafa presented “Investigating Interculturality Development of Student Sojourners in the Academic Environment.”

“Participating and presenting at the conference was a very valuable experience,” said Maliar, a Fulbright scholar and TESOL master’s student. “Our professors encouraged and guided my classmates and me to present in the conference. Presenting motivated me to plan for participating in more academic conferences.”

Three Murray State TESOL faculty members also served in leadership positions for the state organization. Park served as president at the conference and is now past president, while Xia served as past president and was re-elected as an at-large member of the board. Trites served as both the SETESOL/TESOL liaison and treasurer for the organization.

Additionally, four graduate students from the University’s TESOL program volunteered at the conference to help run the event, including Maliar, Li, Buck and Yiding Zhao.


Eleven Murray State students in the School of Nursing and Health Profession’s nutrition and dietetics program recently passed the Foodservice Purchasing Certification Exam from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF).

The certification is one of eight foundational topics that can be completed while obtaining credentials from NRAEF ManageFirst. The exam was administered to students in NTN 372: Quantity Food Production and Purchasing, which is taught by Dr. Karen Byrd, RD, LD, a registered NRAEF ManageFirst program instructor and proctor.

The eleven students who earned the certification include the following individuals:

  • Sarah Frederickson of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Erika Gordon of Benton, Kentucky
  • Emma Heise of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Kylie Jones of Rosiclare, Illinois
  • Bailey Lankster of Lexington, Kentucky
  • Zach Lawrence of Bartonville, Illinois
  • Bethany Meredith of Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Haley Ploetner of Shepherdsville, Kentucky
  • Madison Stewart of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Karly Stom of Paducah, Kentucky
  • Jane Watts of Bowling Green, Kentucky

“Passing this certification exam reflects important foundational knowledge these students attained this semester in the Quantity Food Production and Purchasing course,” Byrd said. “This certification sets Murray State nutrition and dietetics students apart from other students graduating from similar programs.”


Shania Cole, a master’s student in clinical psychology at Murray State from Bolckow, Missouri, presented the findings of a co-authored study at the 34th annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies in Washington, DC on Nov. 8.

“Attending conferences is a great way to grow as both a clinician and a researcher,” Cole said. “Attending this conference allowed me to network with other individuals with the same interests, attend research presentations that sparked my own ideas and have conversations around my interests as a clinician and researcher.”

Cole co-authored the project with two professors in the Department of Psychology at Murray State: Dr. Marie Karlsson and Dr. Mike Bordieri.

Their research investigated the role of psychological flexibility, which is the concept of doing what matters to an individual even when their thoughts, feelings and emotions are uncomfortable, in the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The study specifically focused on college women who were and were not victims of unwanted sexual encounters and examined their psychological flexibility, determining that psychology flexibility or a lack thereof serves as a strong predictive factor for the development of PTSD symptoms.

Undergraduate and graduate students in the University’s Department of Psychology are encouraged to pursue research opportunities during their time at Murray State. Faculty members directly mentor them on research projects, encourage them to present at conferences and publish their work and prepare them to enter the professional world.

“Going to the conference to present on trauma-related research provided a great learning opportunity for Shania as it allowed her to directly interact with trauma experts from around the world,” Karlsson said. “Not only was she able to discuss her research and long-term career plans with trauma experts, but she was also able to attend the many research symposia and workshops available during the conference, which gave her insight into the latest and most intriguing research in the trauma field. She did all of this with great enthusiasm and professionalism.”


Murray State was recently recognized by the Financial Planning publication as the sixth best program in the southern region for its financial planning programs.

“This high ranking for our finance programs speaks to the excellent quality of our faculty in this area,” said Dr. Tim Todd, dean of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business. “Drs. Durr, Lacewell, Dunn and Acharya are some of the most student-oriented finance faculty one will find at any university in the United States. This high honor reflects directly on the teaching and research of these excellent faculty and, most importantly, their teaching and research focus on their students, providing the best student-learning experience possible.”

The full list and rankings are available at

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