Hope College senior Michael Parrish of Midland won two awards during the 16th annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference held at the State University of New York at Oneonta on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30.
Parrish presented the paper "Neuroscience and the Mind: A Scientific and Philosophical Defense of Materialism" during the conference. He received both the "Matthew Grappone Prize in Philosophy of Science" for presenting a paper that was exceptional in the philosophy of science and the "Spirit of the Conference Award" for noteworthy contributions to the academic, intellectual and positive social atmosphere of the conference.
A biology major, Parrish originally developed his paper for the college's Philosophy of Science class taught by Dr. Joseph LaPorte, associate professor of philosophy, who encouraged him to submit it to the conference. Parrish subsequently refined the paper, with LaPorte providing additional mentoring, continuing even after the class concluded.
"It was the only philosophy class I have ever taken and it was incredibly interesting to see an interdisciplinary approach to science," Parrish said. "The specific reason why I wanted to write the paper was to investigate the philosophical positions behind neuroscientific discoveries and the concept of Materialism as applied to the mind."
Parrish is the son of the Rev. Daniel and Jeanne Parrish of Midland, and completed his home school program in 2008. His activities at the college have included the Pre-Dental Club, Student Congress, Swing Club, "Geek Life" and Dance Marathon, a student-organized fund-raiser held on behalf of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital of Grand Rapids.
The conference featured presentations by undergraduates from 18 colleges and universities from across the United States and in Canada. In addition to Hope, institutions represented included Belmont University, Boston College, Cedarville University, Connecticut College, Hampshire College, Hartwick College, Nazareth College, Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, Siena College, SUNY Oneonta, Syracuse University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Illinois, the University of Louisville, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo-Ontario, Canada.