BPC Biology Student Completes Undergraduate Research

Jake McCarthy (BPC Junior Biology major) in the laboratory at the University of Central Florida during his work on his undergraduate research.

MOUNT VERNON – Brewton-Parker College (BPC) Junior Biology major and Chemistry minor, Jake McCarthy had the opportunity to perform a summer undergraduate research project at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando from June 10 through July 31, 2022. Dr. Sampyo Hong (BPC Associate Professor of Physical Sciences) was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation in 2020 and was able to select BPC students to participate in summer undergraduate research funded by the grant.

The science and biology courses from BPC prepared McCarthy for his undergraduate research and his research experience that will prove beneficial for McCarthy if he decides to pursue a graduate degree. The undergraduate research performed by students like McCarthy is an excellent opportunity to gain science education, inspiration, personal, and professional development. Through this program, students experience hands-on learning, practical research skills, increased interest, and expand professional references. Both the students and the college benefit from this research through sound science education and improved graduation and retention rates among science majors.

The title of the project was an investigation of the density effect of Pt (Platinum) and Pd (Palladium) single atom catalysts on ZrO2 (Zirconium dioxide) for the C2H2 (Acetylene) reaction. The project involved characterization and reaction mechanism study on the catalyst systems. Kailong Ye, a Ph.D. candidate and the lead investigator of the project, guided McCarthy in the research project. McCarthy participated in the whole process of preparing the solution, making the catalyst pellets, and testing the structure of the formed catalysts using IR spectroscopy.

McCarthy shared his thoughts on the experience by saying, “Overall, this summer was a great experience in the lab. It took a lot of time and effort but was all worth it in the end. The graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at UCF are still finishing the project at this time but will let me know when the research has been completed. I want to say special thanks to Dr. Sampyo Hong for giving me this opportunity and to Mr. Kailong Ye who advised me this summer.”

During McCarthy’s time at UCF, he worked in a laboratory with state-of-the-art testing equipment such as IR spectroscopy. In the laboratory, the researchers were doing multiple projects but allowed McCarthy to help with a single-atom catalyst project. His project consisted of preparing support, preparing a catalyst, testing for a single-atom structure, and testing the catalyst. McCarthy explained that single-atom research is done meticulously and tediously. Any small mistake in the preparation of the catalyst can skew the structure, making it unusable. To get used to preparing the catalyst, Mr. Kailong Ye advised McCarthy while McCarthy prepared the catalysts. Several steps are involved in getting this ready. A decision was made that their support would consist of Zirconium Hydroxide. They had to add exactly 25.1119 grams of Zr(OH)4 in a large clay cup. Eventually, they had to dilute three samples of Palladium Nitrate with H2O, one for each sample of Zirconium. Finally, they added the Palladium Nitrate to the three Zirconium supports dropwise and calcinated each prepared catalyst in a furnace at 550 degrees Celsius for two hours.

McCarthy explained how particular the steps were, “Testing was the most crucial part of each project. We needed to determine whether the structure of our catalysts was a single-atom catalyst. The testing started with gathering a glass tube and placing a cotton swab in the middle using a rod. Then, the catalyst for testing was poured into the glass rod. Finally, another cotton swab was placed to enclose the catalyst in the middle. This rod was then placed into a machine that would pump gas from one direction to another. The catalyst would then oxygenate the gas to make it into a natural gas.” McCarthy continued, “For example, CO would be pumped through the glass tube and the catalyst would change the gas into CO2. This test simulates what a catalytic converter does in cars, which turns gasses like Carbon Monoxide into Carbon Dioxide.”

Dr. Hong said, “He [McCarthy] worked very hard, and his project has been successful. Although he doesn’t participate any longer, he has already gotten intermediate results. These results will be presented in major conferences and be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the future.”

Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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