Skip to main content

Two Events Hosted by USD Honors Program Support Liberal Arts Mission

USD Honors student Mattie Jones presents Sage Kelmelis with a trophy for winning the Lifeboat Lecture. USD Honors student Mattie Jones presents Saige Kelmelis with the Lifeboat Lecture trophy.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Honors Program hosted two events to connect students with faculty and share interdisciplinary research.

On April 21, the Honors Program and the Honors Association, a student-led organization, hosted the Lifeboat Lecture. The Lifeboat Lecture placed some of USD’s best faculty on a metaphorical sinking ship. These faculty members were challenged to debate their colleagues as to why their discipline deserved the last spot on the lifeboat.

Saige Kelmelis, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology, won the last spot on the lifeboat after a student vote. Kelmelis’ competitors included Biology Associate Chair and Associate Professor Jake Kerby, Ph.D., Psychology Professor Cindy Struckman-Johnson, Ph.D., Sustainability & Environment Chair and Associate Professor Meghann Jarchow, Ph.D., and Philosophy Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor Zoli Filotas, Ph.D.

“The Lifeboat Lecture is such a great way to connect students with faculty outside of the classroom,” said USD Honors Program coordinator and staff advisor to the Honors Association, Dallas Doane. “The event is both a fun and unique way to demonstrate the importance of the liberal arts.”

On April 22, the Honors Program hosted their version of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. Based on the popular USD Graduate School event, the Honors Program challenged seniors to condense their capstone thesis projects into a presentation for a general audience in just three minutes.

Laura Nelson, a senior medical biology major set to attend the Sanford School of Medicine in the fall of 2021, won the competition.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to present my research to the USD community in such a fun way,” Nelson said. “I hope that the Honors Program continues to host this awesome event."

For more information on the Honors Program or its events, please contact


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News