Lyon students teach French, broaden horizons for middle schoolers

Lyon College French Club members started a French enrichment class at Southside Middle School during the 2020 spring semester. Katie Cruse, John Pruden, and Wilson Borkowski presented nine weekly lessons to a group of 20 students.

“The purpose of the class is not only to teach about French,” Cruse said, “but also to open the students’ minds to diverse opportunities.”  

“I hope the class will help them see further than Arkansas,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones.

Many of the Southside students were unaware that international experiences are accessible to kids in rural Arkansas. In response, the French Club members held a panel discussion to share the opportunities they have received as a result of studying French.

Cruse mentioned essay competitions and study abroad scholarships, Borkowski described visiting Paris during a Nichols Trip, and Pruden highlighted study abroad experiences and college scholarships.

In addition, Jones, a native of France, visited the class to discuss some unique cultural aspects of her home country.

“They seemed eager to know more about life in France,” she said. “I hope this class helps them be open-minded about other cultures.”

Cruse agreed, adding that “learning to respect cultural differences could help the students form positive relationships with their classmates, teachers, coaches, and future coworkers.”

To further encourage students to seek out opportunities, the volunteer teachers also discussed college life.

“I was surprised to find that most of the students felt like they couldn’t afford a college education,” said Pruden. “That drove home how lucky I am to have the scholarship that I do.”

He advised the students to keep working hard on their education so they can receive student support at Lyon or another university.

Jones encouraged the students to pursue a college education, highlighting the unique advantages of Lyon’s liberal arts environment. 

“We showed these young students that professors in college are accessible, that we care about our students, and that all we want is to give them the tools to reach any goal they have.”

The experience was beneficial to the Lyon students leading the course, as well. 

“This is a fantastic learning experience for Lyon students,” said Jones. “They are fully in charge of developing and teaching the class and must be responsible, organized, and reliable.”

The Lyon students also enjoyed giving back to their college and community.

“Starting this class was my way to say ‘thank you’ to Lyon College,” Cruse said. “For three years, Lyon allowed me to take dual enrollment courses and participate in various campus activities. They helped open my eyes to opportunities, so I am glad to do that for others.”

Cruse hopes other Lyon students will offer new enrichment courses at Southside Middle School. 

Pruden concluded, “I am 100% going to do this again next year.”

Lyon College launches student emergency fund

Lyon College is launching the Student Emergency Fund to support students with financial needs during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lyon took the unprecedented step March 16 of dismissing students from campus and preparing to convert the remainder of the spring semester to remote instruction. Vice President for Advancement Dr. David Hutchison said the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences will lead to unexpected challenges for many students. 

“Within hours of President Joey King’s announcement on Monday, we heard from many alumni and friends who just wanted to say ‘let me know what I can do.’”

In that spirit, the Student Emergency Fund was established to help the most vulnerable students in their time of need. Hutchison said 100 percent of every dollar given to the emergency fund will be used to aid individual students’ needs. Lyon is establishing an online form for students to request aid. 

A committee, led by Vice President for Student Life Dr. Patrick Mulick, will review each case submitted and determine the level of funding on a case by case basis. Payments will be made directly to the student’s account.

“We are navigating uncharted waters,” Hutchison said, “yet I am confident that when we come together as one Scots community, we will persevere.”

To give a gift to the Emergency Student Fund, visit

Lyon College postpones Arkansas Scottish Festival

Lyon College is postponing the 41st Annual Arkansas Scottish Festival until later in 2020.

Due to the continuing spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the College is exercising caution for the safety and health of the entire community. The Scottish Festival was originally scheduled for April 3-5. Patrons are encouraged to continue to watch the Lyon College and Arkansas Scottish Festival pages for updates on when the festival will be rescheduled.

Contact with any questions. 

In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Lyon College has formed a response team to determine the best course of action to ensure the health and safety of the college community. The College is sharing all updates on

Hill and Pyle promoted in Lyon College Marketing and Communications Office

Lyon College promoted Chris Hill and Madeline Pyle, ’15, to Director of Creative Services and Director of Communications, respectively. These promotions aim to unify the efforts of the Marketing and Communications Office as the College strives to become a nationally-known liberal arts college.

In their new roles, Hill and Pyle will co-lead the Marketing and Communications Office to oversee strategic direction, execution, and sustainment of the College’s marketing and communications initiatives. Hill will oversee the creative side of the department, including branding, imagery, and advertising. Pyle will direct the communications side, including public relations, internal communications, and media relations.

“Lyon College is a special place, and I’m proud to continue to promote such an inspiring community,” Hill said.

Pyle added, “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve my alma mater in this capacity. Lyon holds a special place in my heart.”

Hill has a background in marketing and graphic design, receiving his B.F.A. from Arkansas State University in 2013. Hill joined Lyon’s marketing department in 2015 as a graphic designer and was promoted to Creative Director in August 2017.

Pyle received her B.A. in English with a journalism concentration from Lyon College in 2015 and completed her master’s in applied communication from UA Little Rock in 2018. She joined the marketing department in July 2018 as the Associate Director of Communications.

One of Hill’s most recent projects is leading the College’s branding committee.

“As members of the Lyon community, we are all brand ambassadors. Everything we do impacts how people think and feel about Lyon. When we pull together, we speak with a stronger voice.”

Meanwhile, Pyle’s latest project is implementing the College’s social media influencer program and fostering better media relations.

Both are ready for their new positions.

Pyle concluded, “The College’s marketing and communications initiatives have improved significantly since I was a student five years ago. I’m looking forward to continuing our efforts with our awesome team.”

Hill and Pyle will report to the Vice President of Advancement Dr. David Hutchison.

“In addition to helping our students mature and develop their skills, we also take time as a college to provide opportunities for our staff to develop as well. I am pleased that we have a unique opportunity here to recognize a talented pair of team members, and make use of strengths we already have within our team,” Hutchison said.

Lyon junior published in scientific journal

Lyon College Junior Hannah Zang

A Lyon College student had her research published in a scientific journal.

Junior Hannah Zang, of McKinney, Texas, conducted research with Dr. Nagayasu Nakanishi at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville last summer with the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE). This February, their research was featured in an article in Frontiers in Endocrinology. 

“I’m still kind of in shock,” Zang said. “I didn’t really expect this because publishing research is one of those things you hear is incredibly rare as an undergrad.”

She and Nakanishi studied the function of a novel neuropeptide in sea anemones. Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules (peptides) used for functions such as metamorphosis, the process of transforming from one to distinct stage to another.

After the project concluded, Nakanishi presented some of his and Zang’s findings at conferences, compiled the data and put the experimental process into words for the article. Zang reviewed a draft of the article last fall and helped him edit it. They then submitted it for the peer review process.

Two reviewers and an editor looked over the article and submitted comments on how to improve it. After Zang and Nakanishi sent in the edits, the reviewers approved the article, and it was accepted for publication in Frontiers in Endocrinology.

“It’s a free scientific journal,” she said. “That’s nice because for most you have to pay to read the articles.”

During the research process, Nakanishi worked on immunostaining while Zang used CRISPR-Cas9, a new gene-editing technology.

“This technology wasa big reason I joined the lab. It’s been a hot topic in the science community for the past couple months because the idea is eventually you may be able to treat a variety of human diseases.”

Using a CRISPR-Cas9 mediated approach, Zang would completely “knock out” the gene responsible for producing the neuropeptide in sea anemones and see how they were different from those with it. While they originally thought the neuropeptide was unique to sea anemones, they discovered that it was also present in other animals in the Cnidarian phylum, such as jellyfish.

“My evolution and genetics courses with Dr. Cassia Oliveira helped prepare me for this research.”

Zang got to present some of her findings in January at the Society for Integrative Comparative Biology conference in Austin, Texas.

“It was intimidating because I was the only undergrad in my session,” she said. “There was a guy before me that was from Harvard and the guy right after me was from Stanford.”

She will present her research again at the Alpha Chi National Convention in March in Albuquerque, NM. 

Zang encourages Lyon students interested in publishing research to share that goal with their professors.

“They can’t read your mind, so it helps to say that is one of your goals. That does mean getting results for a paper, so you’re going to have to work toward that.”

Zang plans to attend medical school to study osteopathic medicine and is looking into dual programs that allow her to continue doing research.

“I always think it’s important to share your findings with the scientific community, so I hope to continue doing that.”

Lyon students present STEM research at Capitol

A group of Lyon College students presented their research to state legislators and the public at the Arkansas Capitol.

The 2020 Posters at the Capitol event featured over 140 undergraduate students from 17 Arkansas colleges presenting their original work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research on Feb. 19.

“It is a wonderful way to disseminate STEM research to the general public and legislators,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Irosha Nawarathne. 

Senior Daniel Armstrong, of Cabot, and junior Téa Mason, of Batesville, presented “C-8 Modifications of Rifamycin Core Leading to Potential Antibiotic Agents.” Mason said they worked with Nawarathne on deriving and purifying Rifamycin derivatives to target drug-resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (MTB).

“It was a great learning experience,” said Mason. “I was nervous before presenting, but once we started I actually really enjoyed discussing our research and accomplishments with others.”

Junior Allison Mundy, of Bryant, and senior Victoria Prater-Rochier, of Lowell, presented “Assessing Water Quality and Macroinvertebrate Communities along a Gradient of Poultry Agriculture in Northeast Arkansas.” 

“I enjoyed getting to tell politicians the effects of poultry houses on local waterways,” said Mundy.

“Apparently this exact issue is being addressed this legislative session, and we got requests to share our data with them.”

Junior Jordan Webb, of Mount Pleasant, presented “Impact of Nonpoint Source Pollution on Crustacean Physiology in Northeast Arkansas” with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Maryline Jones. They researched the water quality in the Eleven Point and Black River watersheds. Poultry houses cause phosphorus and nitrogen runoffs, which can create harmful algae blooms in the water.

“These blooms can deplete the water of oxygen,” said Webb. “We’re studying how this pollution is affecting the crayfish species that live in these watersheds.”

Sophomore Ethan Turner, of Searcy, presented “Refining Slater’s Rules of Electron Shielding and Effective Nuclear Charge,” using the research he and Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Burt Hollandsworth have been conducting.

“Getting to share so much active research in a real, open forum full of other students doing just the same was a unique experience that I’d love to have again and again,” said Turner.

Junior Michael Humphrey, of Cave City, presented “Modified Michael Addition Leads to Biologically Significant Naphthoquinones.” 

Junior Hannah Zang, of McKinney, Texas, presented “The Evolution of Novel Neuropeptides in Cnidaria: Investigating the Function of a Lineage-Specific Neuropeptide RPamide during N. Vectensis Development,” using research she worked on with Dr. Nagayasu Nakanishi at the University of Arkansas last summer.

“It was a lot different than research conferences I attended in the past because the audience was widely variable,” said Zang. “A lot of high school students came by to ask questions, and it was almost a way for me to reflect on where I was five years ago.”

“I realized how far I’ve come and how important my mentors at Lyon have been for me to get where I am.”

Students had the chance to work on career skills like public speaking.

“You had to be able to communicate complex topics effectively, regardless of who exactly you were talking to,” Turner said. 

The event was also a good opportunity to network.

“I got the chance to speak with a water quality specialist,” Webb said. “She informed me of several graduate programs available to continue my research on water quality and about organizations working on water quality that are looking to hire new scientists.”

“We had so much interest in participating that we ran out of available slots,” Nawarathne said. 

“Our students did a wonderful job presenting their research to peers and state officials,” Jones said. “They have bright futures ahead of them.”

Lyon ROTC: Full-tuition scholarships available in March

Students interested in pursuing the Lyon College ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) Program can apply for full-tuition scholarships from the Army National Guard this March.

Military science instructor Master Sgt. James Bacon said the scholarships offer many fiscal benefits for students. They can be applied to tuition and fees or room and board and include a $600 book stipend per semester and an ROTC allowance of $420 per month.

“Students can stack this with their other scholarships,” Bacon said. “If there are funds from their other scholarships already being used, that which is left over each semester will go back to the student’s pocket, up to $5,000.”

As a member of the Guard, students will also receive drill pay.

To qualify for the scholarships, students must be U.S. citizens, have a minimum high school GPA of 2.5., have a minimum score of 19 on the ACT or 920 on the SAT, complete the ROTC Basic Course requirements or Basic Combat Training, and be medically and morally qualified.

“Typically, if a Lyon student walks in they’re already reaching 75 percent of what we’re looking for,” Bacon said. “The other 25 percent is the physical fitness aspect.”

The Army Physical Fitness Test consists of a two-mile run, timed push-ups, and timed sit-ups. 

“If they can get about 70 push-ups and 70 sit-ups in the two minutes allowed and do the two-mile run in about 15 minutes, then we’re looking pretty good,” he said.

“That puts you in the competitive range. We’ve gotten some scholarships for less than that.”

Bacon said the Army National Guard also considers extracurriculars, like sports and JROTC, when selecting scholarship recipients.

Students who qualify can pursue full-time Army serve, the Army National Guard, or the Army Reserve. They will attend drill one weekend a month.

Bacon added that academics are a top-priority for the cadets, as well as their other college commitments.

He continued, “If a student is on the football team and has a game on Saturday, we do a memorandum here at the school, and they don’t go to drill that weekend.”

While at Lyon, ROTC students will attend military science courses that teach interpersonal communication skills, ethical decision-making, time management, and managerial skills in addition to the tactical aspect.

“Not only will they be learning these approaches, they’ll also be practicing them,” Bacon said. “As they progress through the program, they are charged with more responsibility.”

“By the time they’re seniors, they actually facilitate and run the program with the cadre oversight.”

Students can take the military science courses without committing to the Army, he said, but they will not be eligible for the Army National Guard scholarships.

“This program allows students to understand the Department of Defense better, as well as the worldwide operations that are occurring,” Bacon said. “It’s not just news anymore.”

He encourages students interested in ROTC to research and prepare before the scholarships become available in March.

“It’s a competitive process. The scholarships are very much first come, first served,” Bacon said. “The Army wants to make sure we’re picking the right people to get such an advantageous incentive.”

Visit Lyon’s ROTC page for more information.

Big smiles: Lyon College students achieve 100 percent acceptance at top dental schools across U.S.

Lyon College had three students and one graduate apply to dental school this semester, and all four were accepted.

Keifer Hartwig, ’19, of Corning, will attend the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry. Senior Vinston Van, of Batesville, will attend the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Senior Taylor Dale, of Batesville, has been accepted to five dental schools and is still making her decision.

Senior Ayden Henry, of Thayer, Mo., will attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and received the university’s Dental Academic Scholar Award, which is presented to the top students in the incoming dental class.

“When I got the call that I had been accepted, I felt like I was on top of the world,” said Hartwig. “This has been a dream of mine for a while, so finally getting accepted felt amazing.”

Henry said he “couldn’t stop smiling” when he got the news.

“It’s been a stressful couple of months. Knowing that my future was set, and I didn’t have to worry about that anymore made me very happy.”

Van got the call from the University of Florida at 6 a.m.

“I was still kind of dazed when they told me,” he said, laughing. “It didn’t sink in until a couple of days later.”

Dale said she felt “excited and overwhelmed” because she has to select which university she will attend by the end of December.

Their professors were equally excited.

“I was thrilled when I heard that all four students were accepted,” said Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Cassia Oliveira. “I wasn’t surprised, though.”

She continued, “All four of them are top students and worked hard during their tenure at Lyon in preparation for the dental school application. It is fulfilling to see our hard work recognized by their own personal success.”

The students credited Lyon’s biology department for preparing them for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and application process.

“It was hard material, but a lot of it was review because I’ve learned it here,” Dale said. “Lyon taught me the discipline and focus it took to succeed on the test.”

While his biology professors prepared him for graduate level education, Henry said Career Services helped him with communication and interview skills.

“The faculty and staff here prepared me in more ways than I can even explain,” Henry said. 

“The professors are always there to motivate you and encourage you to pursue your dreams,” said Hartwig. “I could not have gotten in without the awesome professors at Lyon.”

Lyon College professor elected to Scottish historical society

Photograph of man wearing eyeglasses and a colorful bow tie.
Dr. Mark Wallace

Associate Professor of History Dr. Mark Wallace was elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

According to, the organization’s aim is to promote the cultural heritage of Scotland. The oldest antiquarian society in Scotland, it was founded in 1780 and has existed for over 235 years. 

“I am honored to be a part of such a prestigious society,” Wallace said.

There are 3,000 Fellows worldwide, the site says, and only about 331 in the United States.

“The preservation of Scotland’s past and the promotion of its history through research and teaching is important,” Wallace said, “and working with like-minded individuals allows me to achieve these passions on an even larger global scale.”