Honors College Office of the Provost

Allen Li Awarded Truman Scholarship

Auburn University student Allen Li has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship, one of 58 nationally this year.

Li, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is an Honors College junior majoring in political science and economics with a minor in philosophy within the College of Liberal Arts.

“Allen’s selection as a Truman Scholar is a testament to his remarkable impact on our campus community and his ability to continue influencing those around him,” Interim Provost Vini Nathan said. “His commitment to identifying important LGBTQIA+ issues on our campus and initiating meaningful solutions represents, in my opinion, the very best of our students.”

Created in 1975 by an act of Congress, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded to approximately 60 college juniors each year based on four criteria: service on campus and in the community, commitment to a career in public service, communication ability and aptitude to be a “change agent” and academic talent that would assure acceptance to a first-rate graduate school.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Allen for receiving this prestigious award,” said Ana Franco-Watkins, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “This is an extraordinary recognition, as only a select few students are honored nationally. We are extremely proud of Allen for his commitment to excellence in public service.”

The Truman Scholarship Program was established to provide scholarships to outstanding students who are committed to a career in public service. Scholars receive an award of $30,000 toward postgraduate education. They participate in leadership development programs and have opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.

“This is a richly deserved recognition of Allen’s role as an agent of change,” said Tiffany Sippial, director of the Honors College. “He has repeatedly demonstrated the power of moving toward a problem, listening to those involved, asking hard questions, being willing to take risks and then taking bold and decisive action to bring about transformative change. I am so proud of all that Allen has already accomplished and know his journey as a leader is only beginning. This is a truly outstanding honor.”

Li was awarded the Truman Scholarship thanks to his work with LGBTQIA+ issues at Auburn. As a sophomore, Li developed the Inclusive Housing Project, which specifically addresses LGBTQIA+ student issues regarding the roommate matching process. Li developed a three-phase plan with SGA that focuses on prioritizing a safe space for students who may be dealing with harassment, misgendering, fear and anxiety.

“It means a lot that an organization like the Truman Foundation recognizes the intersectionality of my communities and the work that I did through Auburn’s Student Government Association and the Human Rights Campaign,” said Li. “I am so excited to have a platform to magnify the work I’ve done at Auburn on a bigger stage and talk about issues in the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI community with leaders all around the nation.”

Li accredits his accomplishments to much of his Auburn family.

“For the endless support, reassurance, application edits, interview prep and for caring deeply about the LGBTQIA+ community, much thanks must go to Alex Sauer, Honors College coordinator for scholarships and research,” Li said. “I also must thank Dr. Paul Harris, department chair and professor of political science with the College of Liberal Arts, for supporting me academically, giving me the opportunity to study under him about one of Truman’s most influential policy decisions, connecting me with alumni that were incredibly helpful for interview prep and for being so willing to provide the space and accommodations needed for a successful interview.”

Li also acknowledges Sam Wilcox, Azeem Ahmed, Marian Royston, Ray Griffin, Sara Rains, Kelly Krawczyk, Dr. Soren Jordan, and Dr. Ryan Williamson for their support in preparing for the interview. As well as those at the Human Rights Campaign and Auburn SGA, “two organizations that spring boarded me into the field that I want to pursue in Public Service.” 

Finally, Li would like to thank Abby Stapp, Sierra Berry, Molly Grubb, and Maggie Nelson for cheering the hardest and believing in him every step of the way, and of course his parents for their love, support, and inspiration.

Fulbright Virtual Information Session

Students who wish to travel abroad, work, live with and learn from different cultures as a Fulbright U.S. Student are encouraged to attend a virtual Fulbright Scholarship information session on Monday, April 6 at 3 pm CST. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. This event is open to all Auburn University juniors, seniors, graduate students, or anyone with future interest in applying.  

During the virtual information session future applicants will learn more about campus and national deadlines for the 2021 scholarship, resources and support provided by Auburn University, online workshops provided by the Miller Writing Center, hear details about life as a Fulbright scholar, and have their questions answered. 

The Auburn University campus-wide intent to apply deadline is May 1, 2020.

To attend the moderated event, login to the following Zoom broadcast on April 6 at 3 pm CST. 

Fulbright Information Session

Time: Apr 6, 2020 03:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada) 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://auburn.zoom.us/j/214104108

Connect using Computer/Device audio if possible.

Or Telephone: Meeting ID: 214 104 108

    Dial: +1 312 626 6799 (US Toll) 

        or +1 646 876 9923 (US Toll)

Or an H.323/SIP room system:

    H.323: 162.255.37.11 (US West) or 162.255.36.11 (US East) 

    Meeting ID: 214 104 108

    SIP: 214104108@zoomcrc.com

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

For additional information about the Fulbright Scholarship or the virtual information session, contact the Honors College Coordinator for Scholarship and Research, Alex Sauer at ras0046@auburn.edu.

It’s All About the Journey

Even though Justin Rist didn’t receive the Fulbright scholarship he applied for, he said the process has been very beneficial to him in professional connections, communication skills, and application experience. Rist, an industrial and systems engineering major, applied for the Fulbright Germany Research and Travel Award. 

The Application Process

Rist heard of the Fulbright Award while studying abroad in Bavaria, Germany after meeting the former Fulbright scholar Dr. Paul Harris. Afterward, Rist began working with Alex Sauer, the Honors College Scholarship and Research Coordinator, and professors in industrial engineering. He was put in contact with Dr. Shulz at FHWS in Schweinfurt, Germany, to design a project that they were both interested in and would work well for his application. This project involved applying data analytics to improve the play of foosball, a popular sport in Germany. 

For the application process, Rist had to submit his plan of study, which included a detailed explanation of the research project, a timeline for the completion of the project, and an explanation of the courses or other activities he would do to supplement the research. He also had to take a language proficiency exam, provide a statement about cultural engagement outside of research, and provide letters of recommendation.  

Professional Connections

Rist needed to show that he was able to complete the project within the grant period, so he formed relationships that could help him achieve it. Two German companies, Holisticon and Leonhart, were willing to provide him and Dr. Schulz with information and funding. 

He plans to continue working with Dr. Schulz on the project without the grant while he is getting a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering in the US. Even though he did not receive the scholarship, he still was able to strengthen his research portfolio from these connections and the project.

Communication Skills

Creating and maintaining these relationships with professionals and companies in Germany gave Rist stronger communication skills. He said it was intimidating at first to set up meetings with Germans he had never met before, but he was able to gain valuable relationships he otherwise would not have had access to. 

Rist said the main communication skills he strengthened were his confidence and initiative. He realized that even though it was intimidating to talk to his superiors, they were willing to take time to help him and wanted him to succeed. For example, he was only able to set up the meetings by himself, so he had to take the initiative and make that connection. As he progressed in the application process, making these connections became easier since he had built up his confidence.

Application Experience

Going through this application process prepared Rist for his graduate school applications. He said they had many similarities, including the letters of recommendation. He was able to use many of his recommenders from the Fulbright scholarship for the graduate school applications since they were eager to help Rist and were already prepared to write another letter. 

The tone of his writing was also similar in both applications. He understood how to write about himself in a way that made him an appealing candidate. Even though each application is specific to the program he applied to, he knew how to “brag on” himself in a formal way. 

Through the application process, he was able to take his love for sports data analytics, which he thought could only be a hobby, and turn it into a research project. He also had a greater appreciation for Germany and hopes his relationships there will lead to more opportunities to visit the country and work on his fluency in the language. 

If you are interested in the Fulbright, or other national prestigious scholarships, please contact our coordinator for scholarship and research, Alex Sauer.


Story by: April Garrett

Ada Ruth Huntley new SGA President of Auburn University

The Honors College recently followed up with new SGA President and Honors College student Ada Ruth Huntley, to ask her what this historic win means to her.


Ada Ruth told us, “I am so blessed and excited to get to serve as Auburn’s SGA President. This university and the people in it mean the world to me, and I am thankful that so many students believed in my ability to do this job. I am also very thankful to everyone in the Honors College for their support, and I am also thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had to grow as a leader within the college. I would not be the leader I am today without those experiences.”

Congratulations President Huntley – we are thankful for you!

You can read more about this story in Auburn Universities Student-run Newspaper: The Plainsmen.

Link to the story: https://www.theplainsman.com/article/2020/02/column-new-sga-president-is-shattering-glass-ceilings1

Locke’s Life-Changing Experience

It is not often that a student has a genuinely life-changing experience, but that is how Riley Locke, a sophomore in computer science and Honors College Ambassador from Clanton, Alabama, described the 2019 Global Grand Challenges Summit. 

The summit, held every two years and rotating between three countries, is an organization of students and engineers from the U.S., U.K., and China that formed in 2008 to set engineering goals for improving the planet. The goals set by the academies of engineering from these countries range in disciplines from education to medicine to cyberspace to the environment. 

Each country sends 100 students to attend the summit, and Locke was one of the 100 students selected from the U.S.  He was the only student selected from Auburn University. 

Dr. Edward Davis, an assistant professor in materials engineering in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, chose Locke to participate in the summit held in London this September. Dr. Davis said Locke is a “highly motivated student” and that during the summit he was able to engage with current leaders in engineering and the next generation of engineers.

As a student in the Auburn University Grand Challenge Scholars Program (AUGCSP), Locke had the opportunity to express interest in the summit. The AUGCSP’s primary goal is to produce students with the skills, broad knowledge, and ideas to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing technical issues and the engineering grand challenges.

Locke wants the organization to  grow not only within the engineering department but also into other departments. One of the focuses of the program is multidisciplinary study, and Locke said that this crossover to other departments is where the magic happens.

The Trip

On the first day of his ten-day trip, Locke attended the finale of the intercountry competition where five teams from each country who had won a competition in their respective country competed. 

For the rest of the first half of the trip, Locke participated in the student-collaboration lab event. Six-member teams—consisting of pairs of students from each of the three countries represented at the summit—collaborated to come up  with a product that would help solve one of the grand challenges. Locke joked that this hefty task placed “no pressure” on them. 

A mentor assisted each group. Locke’s group actually used their mentor’s own research to inform their product proposal. Their mentor, a chemical engineering professor from China, is working on the creation a model for turning bamboo into aerogel insulation. Since Locke’s  academic focus is coding, he said this product made him “get out of [his] comfort zone” and explore another kind of engineering. 

During these first few days, the students also went to break out sessions where they learned about entrepreneurship, how to grow the Global Grand Challenges program, and the theme for this year’s summit. The theme, “Engineering in an Unpredictable World,” encourages students to think about how engineers can help solve the challenges created from a global population of 10 billion people, and whether AI and other transformational technologies can change our world for the better.

The summit took place during the last five days of Locke’s trip, where he said, “things get really fancy.” The trip became a business formal event with well-known academics, industrialists, entrepreneurs, and invited speakers from around the world.

The Results

Locke was able to connect with leaders of Lockheed Martin. When he returned to Auburn the next week, Lockheed Martin was recruiting on campus. He said it was “kind of like fate.” Locke spoke with the recruiters and was able to get a summer internship with the company. 

When asked about the most important experience of his trip, this networking opportunity was one of Locke’s top choices. Another key experience was befriending fellow students from all three countries. During the day, he said, “you give it your full attention because it deserved your full attention,” and afterward, “you go out at night with other students to see the city and have fun.” The pace of the ten-day experience was tiring, but Locke still wishes he could have seen more of London.

As possibly the youngest student participant attending the summit,  Locke felt mentored by every other student. They encouraged him in his education and his fight against the “imposter syndrome” that is common to college students. Locke said these students getting jobs at large companies and doing incredible things inspired him.

The Big Picture

The summit also helped Locke see the big picture of what engineers can do. Dr. Davis described the summit as showing “that engineering serves humanity and that engineers should work together to solve society’s problems.” 

Locke’s participation in the summit, the networking with leaders in engineering, and the friends he made from around the world all helped him realize that he is capable of more. He said he recognized his own self-worth within the field and elevated his dreams for the future. 

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.