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Honors EXCEL: Dec. 2021 Update

By Eugen Nagy, Program Coordinator, Honors EXCEL Program

The Honors EXCEL program is a unique academic program, which allows upper-division students to engage in self-designed experiential and community-engaged learning. The goal is to help students make the most of the last two years of their undergraduate degree, while proactively preparing for the next step within their career.  

The Honors EXCEL projects designed and implemented by our students are as diverse as the students themselves. For example, our students have used their Honors EXCEL projects to write, record and launch their first music album; to deepen and expand on their lab research; to study the situation of noblewomen in medieval Italy based on evidence from Italian archives; to build a coaching app for track runners; to design a coloring book about superheroes that helps teach West Virginian children about a healthy diet; to study the possibility of developing a mini-village for homeless people in Morgantown; and more.  

Once students complete the Honors EXCEL program by successfully concluding their project, our students find themselves in a very advantageous position when applying for graduate school, for a job in their field, or for a fellowship or scholarship. Our students have gone on to great things immediately after graduation. 

For example:

  • After using his Honors EXCEL project to revive, rebuild and relaunch WVU's student-led undergraduate research journal, the "Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review (MURR)," immediately after graduation Jeff Petty (WVU ’21) was offered the position of editorial coordinator with the prestigious review "Science Advances" with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Noah Spencer (WVU ’21) is currently pursuing a PhD in evolutionary biology at the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University. This comes as a natural continuation of Noah’s Honors EXCEL project, within which he was able to pursue lab research studying the evolutionary development of the relationship between tsetse flies and certain symbiotic microbes.
  • Will McNeil (WVU ’21), whose Honors EXCEL project focused on the effects of climate change on future water supplies, through a study of the Monongahela River, was recently awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to study in the Master of Civil Engineering program at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. This will allow him to continue to pursue his research interests, studying the environmental impact of agriculture and of soil erosion, through the examination of different hydrological and permeable surface modeling methods.

We are proud of our students, of their ingenious and creative project ideas, of the resilience and personal growth they demonstrate while implementing their projects, and of the great things that they go on to achieve, supported by their Honors EXCEL experience.