Published: November 09, 2007
Over the course of 11 days next summer, University of Tampa sophomore
Lorian Knapp will work aboard a boat in Hervey Bay, Australia, gathering
information with a team of researchers from the Pacific Whale
Using highly sophisticated marine science equipment,
the team will spend eight hours per day locating and collecting data on
the Australian humpback whale population.
research could find its way into any number of scholarly publications
and provide influence on environmental policy worldwide.
overseas voyage is a rare opportunity that Knapp chose to pursue upon
her receipt of the Timothy M. Smith Inspiration Through Exploration
Award – an annual scholarship awarded by the Faculty Honors Committee.
The highly competitive award provides $2,000 to a UT Honors student for
travel during the summer to virtually any destination. Upon returning to
the U.S., the student is required to write an essay detailing his or
her experiences overseas.
“Australia is a place I’ve always
wanted to go,” Knapp said. “I was floored when they told me I had won. I
couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I would get it.”
a native of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., who has never before traveled abroad, the
award is one of her more notable achievements in less than two years at
Knapp originally aspired to be an animal trainer at Sea
World, so her initial academic interests were focused in the field of
marine science. After having participated in an internship at Sea World,
however, she decided that knowledge of psychology was essential to
understanding animal behavior. Thus, she is now committed to a
psychology major with a marine science minor, with aspirations of being a
marine field researcher. Most of her extracurricular activities relate
to these fields of study.
Among her academic achievements, she
has recently started to work with Dr. Jeffrey Klepfer, an associate
professor of psychology, in an honors research fellowship study that
examines how emotions influence investment decisions.
“I knew it
would be beneficial to have a very sharp student to help with the
study,” Klepfer said. “Lorian is very bright. She has a lot of
initiative and a winsome personality.”
Knapp is involved in all
aspects of the study, a complex experiment involving the practice of
giving extra credit points to students in UT psychology classes, Klepfer
said. In addition to helping design and administer the study, Klepfer
said Knapp would also assist with an analysis of the final data and a
presentation of the initial results at a January conference. Klepfer
added that the final results will likely be published in a peer-reviewed
journal in psychology – something he hopes will benefit Knapp in future
academic and professional pursuits.
“I would love to see it
come to fruition before she graduates,” Klepfer said. “She’s a sophomore
and already she has accomplished a lot here at the University. She’s
just one of the very best. I would say she is one of the top 10 students
I have taught at The University of Tampa, and I’ve been here since ’93
so that really says something.”
In addition to her academic
involvement, Knapp serves as a resident assistant in UT’s Smiley Hall,
is a violinist in the UT orchestra, an active member of Campus Crusade
for Christ and one of the founders of a new group called Active Minds,
which strives to raise awareness about students with mental health
disorders on college campuses.
She has also participated in
several internships and leadership activities that correlate with her
interests in marine science and psychology. On a recent leadership
excursion, she traveled to Crystal River, FL., to swim with manatees and
other sea life.
“I’m used to having a lot of things to do,” Knapp said. “I feel very unproductive if I don’t.”
decision to use the Timothy Smith Award to fund an internship with the
Pacific Whale Foundation was one that was particularly impressive to the
members of the Faculty Honors Committee, according to Dr. Richard
Piper, the Director of the Honors Program.
“Lorian had such a
well-described project,” Piper said. “It tied right into her minor.
Her’s was the most clearly presented and the best written.”
the conclusion of her voyage overseas, Knapp will return to the United
States and write an essay detailing her experiences for publication in
Respondez!, UT’s honors journal. Beyond that, Knapp says she intends to
participate in more research fellowships before going onto graduate