Honors student Regan Moss switches to new research-based graduation distinction

Regan recently decided to switch to one of our new research-based graduation distinctions. Read more about what prompted her decision:

Why did you decide to switch to the new distinction?

I decided to switch because I see research as an integral part to my long-term career goals, as well as a key element to my time at Auburn. Auburn was recently named an R1 research institution (War Eagle to that!), and the Honors College is constantly providing new outlets for growth and opportunities to learn. This new distinction allows for me to become more immersed in the world of research while also allowing me to continue managing my time to complete my Honors College degree and learn from others within the Honors community.

What do you see as the benefits to switch?

This new distinction allows for me to grow as a research assistant (e.g. grasping a greater understanding of my role as an undergraduate in a lab, learning about different research methods, and opening my mind to varying areas of research). I can learn more about the world of research in general–both on and off campus– develop better techniques, and hold myself responsible to conduct ethical, replicable, and overall scientifically-sound research. Furthermore, I will be surrounded by others also involved in labs. I undoubtedly will be able to learn a substantial amount from not just the professors, but also from my peers. I am excited to hear about others’ research, and for the chance to grasp a greater hold on my future research goals and ideas.

How did you go about making the switch? 

I made the switch by contacting my advisor. I made a few adjustments to my 4-year plan in respect to the added course requirements listed and then scheduled an appointment.

Was it easy to make the switch?

It was incredibly easy to switch from my previously designated distinction. I had an idea prior to meeting with my advisor as to how it would work with my schedule, as well as a basic understanding of the new course descriptions. Mrs. Hunter made it very painless and easy and provided a lot of very helpful input in regards to structuring my 4-year plan and ideas for personalizing the courses that have some variability (in respect to my own interests and involvements.)

Alex Sauer New Scholarship and Research Coordinator

The Honors College is thrilled to welcome Alex Sauer, our new Scholarship and Research Coordinator! We are so excited to welcome him back to Auburn
to be a part of our team.

Let’s learn more about Mr. Sauer:

Name: Alex Sauer

Hometown: Charleston, SC

Degree(s): M.S., Psychology (Auburn University); B.S., Psychology (College of Charleston)

Why did you choose those degrees?

I have always been fascinated by Psychology, and more specifically, the study of behavior. As a child, I loved teaching our dog tricks and marveled at the way she seemed to “understand” what I was saying. As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work in an animal lab. In this lab, we taught rats to do some amazing things, but more importantly, we could apply the principles we learned with the rats to help human beings. This experience was simply amazing, so I majored in Psychology. After graduating with my B.S., I wanted to continue researching both human and animal behavior so I decided to get my M.S. in Psychology as well.

What brought you to the Honors College?

As a graduate student at Auburn, I worked as a teaching assistant. It was here that I discovered my passion for teaching and helping students realize their academic goals. When the opportunity presented itself to help Honors College students at Auburn get involved in research and guide them toward scholarships and career opportunities, I knew that this was the job for me.

Do you have any hobbies?

I really enjoy playing video games. Some of my favorites include: The Legend of Zelda, Elder Scrolls, and Super Mario. I also have two adorable dogs that need lots of love all of the time.

What are small things that make your day better?

Seeing puppies or dogs of any age…have I mentioned that I really like animals?

Movies, TV, or Books – or all three?

All three, for sure!

You’d be surprised to know that I can… 

Juggle, hula hoop, and use a pogo stick…I’m basically a clown.

What do you hope to accomplish here at the Honors College?

I want to be a reliable resource to guide students toward scholarships to help fund their college experience. I want to be a useful starting point for students that want to be involved in research opportunities. I want to prepare students for the next steps in their career after they graduate. But above all else, I want to help students realize their full potential.

What are you most excited about working at the Honors College?

I have heard some amazing things about Honors College students, so I cannot wait to start interacting with them and hearing their ideas and ambitions.

What advice would you give to an Honors College student?

Never be afraid to ask for help! Just because you are an Honors student does not mean that you will not need support, advice, or assistance. We have a dedicated staff here at the Honor College, and we will always be more than happy to help you in whatever way we can. But we cannot help, if you do not ask.

Do you have a favorite Auburn memory / or Auburn area memory?

The first time I “rolled” the trees at Toomers Corner is probably my favorite memory. I just remember the excitement as, all of a sudden, it looked like a blanket of snow had fallen over the entire area. I never knew that toilet paper could be beautiful, but in that moment it was.

Best way to contact?

Email is definitely my preferred method of communication, but you should  feel free to drop by my office in Cater anytime.


RESTORE Research Program

Honors students are known for their ability to constantly find ways to elevate their educational experience, which is exactly what is taking place in the new sex trafficking research study here on Auburn’s campus.

The RESTORE Program is a community based participatory program which focuses on a one-size-does-not-fit-all type of study. RESTORE works together with non-profit organizations, law enforcement, healthcare providers, and, most importantly, the survivors of sex trafficking, in order to gain an understanding of each survivor’s unique experience and how needs may vary from one survivor to another.

Through this research, RESTORE hopes to provide information about better healthcare practices and recovery support.

According to Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann, assistant professor at Auburn University and creator of the program, this type of research is especially important because it is the most practical. Through the work of the RESTORE program, therapists will begin to fully grasp the physical, psychological, and relational health of the survivors of sex trafficking, thus leading to more advanced clinical intercessions.

Dr. Ruhlmann currently has four Auburn Honors College students working as undergraduate research assistants with her, all from a wide variety of majors.

These Honors students range from freshmen to juniors and study neuroscience, microbiology, pre-med, and computer science. She finds it especially beneficial for the freshmen to learn and engage with the older students, including graduate students working with Ruhlmann, in order to fully benefit from researching with the RESTORE program.

The undergraduate research assistants tend to work for seven hours each week if they are volunteering with the RESTORE program, but if the research is for class credit they are in the lab for the duration of their class period. Along with the different projects the students are working on, their responsibilities include coding and entering data, cleaning data in computer software, writing manuscripts, and much more.

Rachel Howell, one of the Honors College students working as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Ruhlmann, states that social justice and advocacy have always been large parts of her life and the RESTORE program lets her combine the two, which elevates her love for research.

The students themselves are working on both quantitative and qualitative projects for the RESTORE program.

The quantitative project involves working on a one-size-does-not-fit-all survey, which is an online national resource. This quantitative survey is teaching the students how to translate science to everyday practice and how to communicate that research to the general public.

The qualitative work being done has to do with reading and analyzing the transcripts of interviews with survivors of sex trafficking. These interviews give researchers an insight into issues with healthcare, obstacles in survivors’ relationships, and the social stigma surrounding survivors of sex trafficking. Through this qualitative work, students learn how to incorporate social consciousness into their professions. Instead of seeing a list of symptoms, they will see the patient as a whole.

While Howell’s tasks may change from week to week, she regularly completes nine hours of research each week in the RESTORE lab with a  focus on examining and interpreting the current literature in order to contribute to the on-going projects. She is currently working on the qualitative segment of the project, researching the barriers survivors face, with her main responsibility being the literature review. According to Howell, this literature review specifically involves “reading the current research and interpreting it in order to contextualize your own research.” Once completed, the review will then be presented at a regional conference.

Although Howell finds herself with her own specific tasks, she views the work she does in the RESTORE lab as part of a team. She works directly under Dr. Ruhlmann’s graduate assistants, who not only work on their own research, but assign tasks for individuals on their teams. Howell states that each undergraduate research assistant is assigned projects based on their amount of experience and number of hours at the lab. While these undergraduate research assistants may not be assigned the same project all at one time, they still pride themselves on working together as a team.

When it comes to the future of the program, Howell is interested in combining her time spent in the RESTORE lab with parts of her Honors Thesis project. She specifically wants to include research on “the prevalence rates of body dysmorphia and eating disorders” in survivors of sex trafficking. Through the inclusion of this research, she hopes to be able to determine whether or not it is a significant factor in terms of recovery.

The Honors College itself has proved to be especially beneficial for Rachel Howell. From the start, she found that the Honors College could open her mind to much of the world’s issues. She began her freshman year as a participant in the Honors College k(no)w poverty? Week of Service, which gave her an opportunity to meet friends, but to also “strengthen [her] interest in social advocacy.” In addition to service/learning experience, Howell was introduced to the RESTORE program through the Honors College which then eventually led to her enrolling in an Honors Research Seminar in the Spring 2019 semester. The support the Honors College has given her, and continues to give her, has allowed her to travel and present the research done in the RESTORE lab.

Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann is only in her first year as an assistant professor at Auburn University and she has already managed to bring significant change to campus. Ruhlmann earned her PhD at Kansas State and it was there that she developed the idea to create a research program centered around survivors of sex trafficking.

Before she came to Auburn, Ruhlmann was the director of trauma services for survivors of sex trafficking in a residential recovery program. Through this residential recovery program and her history as a marriage and family therapist, she was able to provide trauma therapy to the survivors in the program. Additionally, Ruhlmann worked as both a clinician and a researcher as she met with these survivors.

Many times Dr. Ruhlmann encountered an issue in the trauma room that could not be addressed or met a survivor with such a level of trauma that she started to wonder if there was anything else that could be done. After finding that there was not much information on the severe levels of trauma she was witnessing, Ruhlmann took it upon herself to help start a one-size-does-not-fit-all national study that is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of its kind.

If you are interested in joining the RESTORE program, you can email Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann (lmr0051@auburn.edu) or reach out to any of the students currently involved. Applications will re-open in the fall for all those looking to join.

National Prestigious Scholarship Information Session Planned

The Honors College will host a national prestigious scholarship information session Thursday, August 31st from 1-2 pm in the ePortfolio Studio located on the 2nd floor of RBD Library.

The session will highlight various prestigious scholarship opportunities available to students on the Auburn University campus such as the Fulbright, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Udall, Rhodes, Marshall and Truman, to name a few. Learn more about the various scholarship opportunities and to read stories about recent recipients.

Undergraduate as well as graduate students who meet certain academic qualifications and who are U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for these awards

For additional information about prestigious scholarship opportunities, contact Paul Harris in the Honors College.

NSF Graudate Research Information Session Planned

The Honors College and the Miller Writing Center will host an information session on the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program on Tuesday, July 11 from 1-2:30 pm in the Caroline Marshall Draughon Auditorium located on the ground floor of RBD Library.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are pursuing a research-based Master’s or Ph.D. program in an NSF-supported field are eligible to apply.

More information about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program.

Applications are not yet open, but students can familiarize themselves with the respective programs to better prepare for the application process. For more information, contact Paul Harris at or Ken Thomas in the Honors College.

Honors College and the Miller Writing Center hosting National Prestigious Scholarships Information Session

The Honors College and the Miller Writing Center will host a national prestigious scholarship information session Wednesday, June 7th from 1-2 pm in the Writing Commons located on the 2nd floor of RBD Library.

The session will highlight various prestigious scholarship opportunities available to students on the Auburn University campus such as the Fulbright, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Udall, Rhodes, Marshall and Truman, to name a few. Learn more about the various scholarship opportunities and to read stories about recent recipients.

Undergraduate as well as graduate students who meet certain academic qualifications and who are U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for these awards

For additional information about prestigious scholarship opportunities, contact Paul Harris in the Honors College.