Honors Student Recognized as 2018 Portz Interdisciplinary Research Fellow

December 3, 2018

Honors biology student Benjamin Moran ’20 is one of five nationally recognized 2018 Portz Interdisciplinary Research Fellows, an award granted by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Moran received a $5,000 award for his project, “ReWire Movement Method as Therapeutic Practice for Performers/Dancers with Cerebral Palsy.”

In collaboration with Honors faculty mentors Associate Professor of Classical and Contemporary Dance Dr. Nina Martin and Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry Dr. Eric Simanek, Moran’s project focused on facilitated dance-derived intervention designed to improve the quality of life of participants living with spastic cerebral palsy. The dance-derived intervention (the Martin ReWire Movement Method) was developed by Dr. Martin and is a somatic dance/movement practice that strives to access pre-conscious movement states through a body-brain approach.

The project represented a major interdisciplinary collaboration between Moran and faculty from the John V. Roach Honors College, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Science and Engineering, and the Department of Kinesiology.

Recognizing a New Passion
Moran credits Dr. Nina Martin with first introducing the concept of dance-derived intervention to him in her Honors Dance and World Cultures course. After taking the class, he notes, “I joined her research-based course (Honors Colloquium “Directed Studies in Modern Dance: Cerebral Palsy and Dance”) in order to learn more about [dance-derived intervention], help quantify the data, and later involve it in my Honors thesis project.”

He also has a personal connection to the project’s subject matter. “Back home in Chicago, I have a friend living with cerebral palsy who is dealing with the ongoing challenge of being phased out of treatment as an adult. Unfortunately, this is a fairly global problem for many adults living with cerebral palsy,” Moran said.

Moran hopes to continue researching solutions that will have a positive impact in the lives of others. “I am planning on using the money to help further our research on cerebral palsy with equipment that will make our work much more efficient.” He hopes he can somehow work on expanding his own Honors thesis research on children living with Down syndrome.

Exploring the Complexities of Knowledge
Opportunities for undergraduate research with graduate-level inquiry are a hallmark of a TCU Honors education. Moran reflected, “As an undergraduate, I never thought I was going to get such autonomy in a research setting. Dr. Martin and Dr. Simanek granted us the independence to design, innovate, and refine our experiment in a way that mimicked a graduate studies program.” He worked with other undergraduate students and helped write a paper that the cohort hopes to publish in a nationally recognized journal.

NCHC rules allow only one applicant per Honors College per year to be considered for the Portz Fellowship. “I was honored to represent TCU and be a recipient of this prestigious award on the national level for my beloved school,” Moran said.

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