Monthly Archives: April 2020

Age As a Factor For Difference In Graft Type Used In ACLR Surgery

DEMOREST — It’s well-known that knee injuries are more common in female athletes than with male athletes, as are knee surgeries. Erica Balkum, a senior health science major and volleyball player, wanted to discover what types of anterior cruciate reconstruction (ACLR) surgery might work best.

“I particularly studied the difference between autografts and allografts used for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery, and how these differences may affect surgeons choosing a specific graft type for certain age groups,” she said.

As a volleyball player Balkum spends hours in the training room, but not for the reason one might think. She gains experience working with athletes to build knowledge for her future profession as a physician assistant in orthopedics. She will see many ACLR surgeries and assist the orthopedic surgeon in procedures. At the 2020 Piedmont Symposium, Erica gave her virtual speech on “Age As a Factor For Difference In Graft Type Used In ACLR Surgery.”

“I chose my topic because of my interest in sports medicine, specifically the surgical aspect,” she said.

Looking at young, mid-aged, and older patients she was able to evaluate her hypotheses. One being confirmed and another was opposed.

“There would be no difference in graft type used by the age group,” said Balkum.

There are two common types of ACLR surgeries. Allografts uses grafts from a cadaver, while autografts use the middle-third of the patient’s tendon. Discovering that 71% of patients used allografts despite previous readings stating they were inferior to autografts, she was surprised when doing her research. The allografts used in her study had been through new and alternative sterilization process, allowing the graft type to be highlighted and eliminate the disadvantages.

Physical therapist Chris Olsen was not surprised by the findings. “There is not a huge difference in healing and the outcomes of each were essentially the same.”

Dealing mostly with allograft, which is a cadaver graft, and autograft, a bone-tendon-bone harvest, he stated that most doctors he works with in Tampa, Florida only use those types.

“Age is the most important in recovery. Teens heal quicker than those over thirty years old,” he said. “Also overall health and fitness level are big factors in healing, usually less unfit people with lower muscle mass have a slower healing process, and those with more muscle mass have a quicker healing process.”

Compliance with the physical therapy and home exercise programs also play a huge role in the six-month recovery. People who do the work get better quicker, right?

“Basically I learned that my current findings showcased how the medical world and certain methods and techniques, are constantly evolving,” said Balkum. “The improvements allow for previously frowned upon concepts, in this case allografts, to sometimes surpass their counterparts (autografts), in both efficiency and practicality.”

Symposium Story – Using data science to understand and prevent sports injuries

Demorest — A group of business students are hoping to change Piedmont sports forever utilizing data science. 

Mark Mitchell, Julia Nichols, Maggie Moody, Geeth Mahagamage and Valeriya Zhurakovskaya presented at the session, “Using Data Science to Understand and Prevent Sports Injuries” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium. Working with the athletic department, the students examined where injuries most occur among the Lions’ athletes. 

“We used data from the sports department, from every sports team on campus to see how injuries have occurred, some background from the athlete there, like height, weight, race, gender, and type of injuries,” said Mitchell. “Using this data helped us see what we need to do to move forward with Piedmont Athletics pertaining to their players, and what helps and what doesn’t help.” 

The group wanted to focus on this topic in the hopes of helping future Piedmont Lions athletes. “It was something we could use to help the school, and what another way to help our school by giving them data that can help them in the long run that could improve our athletics,” said Mitchell. “Remember numbers don’t lie. Plus, data science is used across sports to see what works and what doesn’t.” 

They wanted to prove that in certain sports, players can be kept on the field by changing a few things. One of those things would be the addition of a certified strength and conditioning coach. 

Symposium Story: Website Design

COVID-19 forces Piemont Symposium students online but, with a good website, this is no problem. 

Piedmont College Technical and Design Theatre Arts double major Taylor Pope designs an extraordinary website exploiting her work and talent. 

“Building my own website has benefited me in that I got to use it as my professional portfolio”

Graduating in May, Pope has been searching and preparing for the job force after college. “I gave the link to my website to companies I interviewed with at the Southeastern Theatre Conference,” she said. 

Taylor Pope presented her session, “Professional website design: How it works” at the 2020 virtual Piedmont Symposium. During her presentation, Pope explained how she constructed her own website highlighting her experience in technical and design theatre over the past four years. Pope started the website after enrolling in Bill Gabelhausen’s audition techniques class. The curriculum includes preparing for professional work including, mock auditions, mock interviews, and website design. 

Each project Pope has been in is displayed on her website with details. For example, Pope showcases her work from a number of Piedmont productions.

“If you click on one it then takes you to the page that is for that show and shows you pictures and the work I did for that show.”

Although Pope’s website is built and ready for employers to navigate, there’s still more work to be done. The project took Pope an entire semester to complete and will continually need minimal work. As each project or job Pope embarks on, she must continue to update her website. “My website does not require much management. I really only need to update it as I add on more experience.” 

Pope wishes to continue in the Theatre Arts and Technical Theatre field after graduation. Having an easily accessible website has already helped Pope in the job force. Not only was making the website an assignment for the class but also gave Pope the chance to look back at all her work and accomplishments.

“I was very proud of Taylor’s website. She worked very hard and it showed.” A fellow classmate of Taylor said. 

Allie Torres Sports Feature

With a conference championship in her sight, Allie Torres is left wondering what could have been.

“Covid ruined our season,” said criminal justice major Allie Torres. “There was a lot of potential for the team to win the conference title again, and it’s just disappointing that all the work that we’ve put in this season has gone to waste.”

A sophomore thrower on the Lady Lions track team, Torres and her teammates were just beginning the outdoor season when news of the NCAA shutdown came. As a Division III athlete, every year of eligibility counts.

“I threw all four years of high school,” said Torres. “I made the all-region and all-county team, came in first at the region championship meet and placed 4th at the state championships.”

These successes set her up for her future achievements at the USA South Track and Field Championships with the Lions in 2019.

“It’s actually kind of a funny story,” said Torres. “The only reason why I got into track in the first place is because my older sister was a thrower in high school, so I decided to tag along and fell in love with the sport.”

Four years and a diploma later, Torres found herself traveling from the metro Atlanta area up to quaint downtown Demorest in Northeast Georgia.

I went on a visit and fell in love with the school,” said Torres. “Track was just a plus.”

However, once Torres reached Piedmont she quickly got involved with Piedmont athletics and two hour-long daily practices with her new teammates.

“I know a lot of people say their high school team was closer, but with mine it’s always been the sprinters, distance peeps and throwers,” said Torres. “It’s the same at Piedmont.”

Due to the different types of events offered in track and field, it’s typical for practices to be held in different groups. The way that athletes competing in field events train is often very different from how running events train.

“I will say that the throws program at Piedmont is a lot closer than the throws program at my high school,” said Torres.

The throwers at Piedmont are one of the smaller groups within the team, and have a family-like dynamic that was built by long bus rides and track meets spent together.

“Allie’s a great teammate,” said former Piedmont thrower Tyler Fisher. “She has many great leadership qualities that have earned her the title of being ‘the mom’ of the team. She’s very respectful and encouraging, but isn’t afraid to call someone out when they’re out of line.”

However, the team’s time together has been limited and their progress paused by the global pandemic.

“Coach knows that we can’t go to the gym and lift,” said Torres, “but he does expect us to stay in shape as best we can. Many of us including myself spent countless hours at practice and the trainers to make sure that we’re at our best,” said Torres. “It’s just sad that we won’t be able to show it on the track.”

Though things did take a turn for the worse early on in Piedmont’s 2020 track and field season, Torres is maintaining a positive outlook and doing her best to prepare for next season.

“It’s said all good things take time,” said track and field assistant coach Brian Gawne. “Allie is an example of that statement. Over the course of the last two years, she has had to retool her throwing techniques. Going into her junior year, she is ready to take off as an elite thrower for our Lions.”

Symposium Presentation: Coronavirus Impact on Telecommunications


After a last-minute change in their entire presentation and research, seven mass communications students gave insight on telecommunications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students Joey Brovont, Alyssa Emmett, Cameron Graham, Matthew Leemann, Marion Mealor, Garrett Stafford and Cameron Verona, along with their Professor Melissa Jackson, delivered a presentation at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium that gave insight on how coronavirus is affecting the telecommunications world. 

“Millions of people around the world use apps like Zoom to continue to work and go to school.” said junior Garrett Stafford

Before coronavirus put society to a halt, the group had planned on discussing what they thought the future would look like in 25 years. They had planned to do a skit of them landing on Mars. Normally, the Symposium takes place on a stage in front of all attendees, not virtually.

Senior Marion Mealor noted how everyone relies on technology from the time people wake up.

“Technology has become a big part of my daily routine, and I am not alone in that.”

Professor Jackson echoes that same idea and commends senior Marion Mealor for starting off the presentation reminding everyone that our daily lives heavily involve technology.

“At the very beginning Marion Mealor did a wonderful introduction about how technology has become such a vital part of our daily lives,” Jackson said. “She related to the audience immediately and made that transition on into the pandemic and how it has changed our daily lives.”

Jackson continued talking about other group members and how they focused on different aspects of the presentation and research to bring to life this idea of a thorough look into what the Coronavirus is doing in the telecommunications world. 

“The other class members went from there. Each one picking up a different element,” she said.

With COVID-19 presenting itself as an obstacle, Piedmont students had to quickly evolve all future classes and events, such as the second annual Symposium. However, the group did find light in having to unexpectedly and quickly transitioning to using Zoom.“The fact that no one had ever presented on Zoom before made it fun,” Stafford said. “It was like we were all in this together learning something new.”

Piedmont Symposium: Hand Sanitizer or Hand Soap?

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, one solution to avoid infection is to keep your hands clean. Which works better, hand sanitizer or hand soap? 

Piedmont students Anna Owenby and Briana Lesniak-Sellers sought to find an answer to that question, concluding that hand soap is better for cleaning your hands. They present their study, “Hand Soap vs. Hand Sanitizer” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium. 

Lesniak-Sellers uses a spot flashlight after washing her hands with soap one day and notices that there is still a lot of bacteria on her hands. This is what motivates Lesniak-Sellers and Owenby to conduct an experiment on soap and sanitizer. They have always been told that hand sanitizer kills more germs than soap so their hypothesis states, “Hand sanitizer would kill more bacteria than hand soap and that hand soap was not more effective when washing your hands.” 

However, they are surprised after finishing the experiment. Hand soap kills more and stops more colony growth compared to hand sanitizer. During the experiment, Owenby and Lesniak-Sellers test two different soaps and sanitizers. They contaminate their hands and place it on Agar plates, then they clean their hands and do the same thing. They let the plates sit at a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. If the temperatures slightly change while sitting for 24 hours, it would definitely change the results. 

Although they started the study before the COVID-19 outbreak, the students recognize the importance of their research at this critical time. “Emerging scientific studies have proven the spread of COVID-19 can be reduced by the simplest tasks of just washing your hands,” Lesniak-Sellers said. 

Owenby was not expecting her outcomes of the experiment but it helps lead her into her next project. “We can further test handwashing by repeating this experiment and test if air drying or using a paper towel to dry our hands will reduce bacteria production.”

Presley Field: Symposium Story, Website Design

Due to COVID-19, Taylor Pope and other Piedmont students were forced to present their symposium projects online this year.

As seniors graduate and look to enter a competitive job market, senior theater major Taylor Pope hopes an attractive website helps her stand out among the crowd.

“I think website design can really help anyone,” she said. “It is a good way to show you and your talents off without having to be face to face.”

Having a website can help people show more about themselves without having to go through an interview process, she said. A potential employer could go to your website and see all your accolades and credentials and know from there if they might be interested in hiring you. 

Another way website design could help is to demonstrate technological proficiency. Most companies have a website, but having a good looking, well organized website could help people navigate to where they need to go to find what they are looking for. If a website is too hard to navigate through, people likely will lose interest and go to another website, Pope said.

For Taylor, the reason she chose to present her website was for her professor.

“I chose to present this topic because my professor, Bill Gabelhausen, said that my website was very well done and recommended that I present at the symposium,” she said.

Gabelhausen said he was very pleased with Taylor’s presentation and thought it was very informative.

“Taylor is a great student and works very hard at professionalism and it shows in her website and through her presentation at the symposium,” said Gabelhausen.

Pope was very detailed about her website and gave plenty of good examples for others to use. 

Anyone can design a website, but making it professional is much harder and requires more attention to detail, Pope said.

She hopes her website will give her an edge when looking for a job, allowing her to showcase multiple abilities. “This website (gives) easy access for employers to see what you do and to be able to access it without having to email a bunch of files back and forth.”

It’s Electric: The 2020 Piedmont Symposium

The COVID-19 pandemic moved the second annual Piedmont College Symposium to a virtual platform, but organizers say the event was still a success with 138 students presenting their research and more than 1,000 views on the event website.

Even though there has been a lot of promoting and conversation about the Syposium, Dr. Julia Schmitz, QEP Director and Chair of the Piedmont Symposium Committee, recognized that there were still some who were unsure of the event. 

“We have to build up momentum because it is new,” said Dr. Schmitz. “People are still a little bit undecided about it.” 

This confusion grew when the symposium was moved online.  There were many who wondered how the symposium would be done virtually or who would even attend.  Others wondered who would be able to put together an online forum for students to present in. Enter Dr. Melissa Tingle, QEP Assessment Fellow and mass communications professor.  

“My role shifted considerably when we had to move the symposium online.  At one point, we did not think we would have a symposium at all,” said Dr. Tingle. “However, Dr. Schmitz and I sat down, talked it all through and I decided since I am the web design teacher, that I should design a website for the symposium.”

However, Dr. Tingle still faced the challenge of putting everything together in a very short amount of time and being able to get it approved by the administration.  Working through the time crunch, Dr. Schmitz and Dr. Tingle were determined to find a way to allow students who had finished their research to be able to present at the Symposium. 

“I only had about 48 hours to come up with a structure and a game plan to submit to the administration so that we could get their approval,” Dr. Tingle said. “I was able to build the website in about 24 hours and then once we got the approval from everyone, we just started to program as much as we could.”  

Students were indeed able to present their research at the Piedmont Symposium virtually and just as planned on the Symposium’s originally scheduled day, April 15. Student presenters were appreciative of being able to present online.  Many of these students had finished their research well before the symposium was shifted to a virtual platform, and they wanted to be able share their findings.  Freshman Computer Science major Christophe Donsereaux was still very excited and pleased with how his presentation went.  

“Presenting was great.  We would have rather done it in person, but presenting online still impacted us very well,” Donsereaux said.  “I think the symposium is a great thing.  It shows other students how their peers are working in other classrooms and majors. I hope that the symposium continues.”  

Looking forward to future Piedmont Symposiums, Dr. Tingle is really invested in the idea of how the virtual aspect can be involved with the face to face presentations.  She also wants to see a few new outside faces involved with and attending the symposium.        

 “Moving forward, we want to see how we can keep the website going and integrate the virtual component with the face to face component without taking away from either,” Dr. Tingle said. “We also want to get the outside community and professional networks involved.  These students are presenting this great research, so how cool would it be to have professionals come in to give you critique and potentially offering you an internship?” 

The 2020 Piedmont Symposium was a success. Even though moving to a virtual platform cut the presentations from 300 to about 138, there was still a lot of viewership.  There were 692 people present at the live zoom presentations, as well as the Piedmont Symposium website had 1,100 views on the day of the symposium.  There was great research presented, many missed faces seen and a Piedmont College community reunited during this difficult time. Dr. Tingle gave an insight to how everyone felt that had involvement with the symposium.  

“We really did have a great time,” said Dr. Tingle.  “The students’ presentations were top notch.  I can only imagine what it would have been if we would have done it face to face.” 

The Importance of Web Design

Taylor Pope is a theater arts and technical theater and design double major with dreams of becoming a sound designer on Broadway, and she hopes her website will help her get there.   

“It’s important to have your website because it’s a perfect way of showing who you are without the face to face contact,” Pope said. “I’ve always been a technology person, so it wasn’t hard for me to figure out Wix.”  

Pope presented her session, “Professional Website Design: How it Works” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium this year, talking about her website on Wix and the importance of having a website. Pope is incredibly versatile in the play world, from working on the soundboard to creating crazy noises for characters as well as directing her own scene for her capstone project. She wants possible future employers to see just how versatile she is, so she stressed the importance of having a website to get ready for the real world. 

Pope has had to do many different things for different plays. For the musical “Cabaret,” Pope was the sound engineer. She had to run the soundboard, make sure the receivers for the mics were working, see that the mics themselves were working, and had to run around to make sure everything was going planned, all with a sprained ankle. For the second show of the year, “Gathering Blue,” she was the sound designer, creating new sounds for the show. She was directing her capstone at the time as well. To be in her position, you have to be pretty versatile, and that is something future employers are looking for, which is why she detailed all of this on her website. 

“I went with a premade layout (on Wix) because it was a lot easier, and then I could edit things to make it specific to me,” she said.

Pope started working on her website in January 2020 for her audition techniques class. She used Wix, a widely used and popular website startup. In her presentation for the Symposium, Pope goes through the ins and outs of her website, showing what she has done for each play that she worked on. She also had a section about who she was, including her contact information in case any possible future employers needed to reach out. 

“I would like to become a sound designer, hopefully in New York, but we’ll see how that goes,” Pope said. 

Pope’s post-grad dreams are to move to New York and become a sound designer on Broadway. She has plenty of experience doing different things for the play community, and this will transfer over to her profession one day as well. 

“Even if things don’t work out the way I planned it, at least I will have this website to help in any way possible.” 

2020 Symposium: Web Design

Senior technical theatre and design major Taylor Pope has dreamed about being a sound engineer on Broadway, and she hopes a personal website might help get her there.

“I have always been a technical person, but building a website was difficult,” she said. “Wix is an amazing web design software, and once I got used to using the controls it was easy.”

Pope presented the session, “Professional Website Design: How it Works” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium. Having a personal website helps influence people and adds value by sharing one’s value. It helps recruiters find potential employees much easier when applying for a job, and is a first great impression to help secure that first interview, Pope said.

In designing a website, Pope said the key is to plan your design. Think of how to appeal to a particular audience. In web design you don’t want to use the same templates that everyone else is using. Designing a site that is unique to your skills and personality will attract users to follow through and use your service.

“You want to make sure your website represents your uniqueness by appealing to those who you want to attract,” she said.

Pope uses Wix as her design software. Wix is a user-friendly site utilizing a drag and drop builder to make it simple for users to create their own website unique to themselves, Pope said. Wix has a lot of features to choose from and they make it easy to market your website.

“One of the things I loved about Wix is they give you step-by-step instructions about how to do navigate their website,” said Pope

Building a website can get frustrating at times. Taking advantage of her experience and building projects has helped Pope navigate Wix. “Think outside of the box and try something that you haven’t done before.”

Things shift very quickly in the design world. When designing a website, you have a lot of creative freedom. Pope explains not to overthink about how difficult or impossible things are. Instead, think outside of the box. Trying things that are different have haven’t been done before has help Pope explore new things.

“It might not work out, but it will work at least once more than it will if you never try.”

Pope finished her project explaining how her website is organized and the purpose of the class. Learning what employers are looking for, she was very happy with the outcome of her website. She has already used her site professionally at the South Eastern Theater Conference in February.

“I really enjoyed designing my website,” Pope said. “It’s amazing to look back on the things I’ve done.”