CSU Students, Professor Featured at Columbus Museum

Columbus State University students Shyrisse Ramos and Jordan Spires, along with CSU chemistry professor Dr. Kerri Taylor, are now featured in an exhibit at The Columbus Museum. The CSU and museum teams co-organized the museum’s “Mystery Science 3000” exhibit. The exhibit exposes the hidden stories and medical treatments found in two doctor’s kits used by Chattahoochee Valley physicians in the early 20th century.

“Working with Dr. Taylor and her bright, dedicated students has been a fantastic experience for the museum,” said Rebecca Bush, the museum’s Curator of History. “Collaborating with CSU undergraduates as they conduct research has helped us learn more about our collection and has also provided fresh perspectives on the stories we tell. We’re so pleased to spotlight this team’s outstanding work, and we laud Dr. Taylor for facilitating connections between the study of chemistry and its applications in the arts and humanities.”

Ramos, Spires, and Taylor researched medical kits that were used by Chattahoochee Valley physicians in the early 20th century. Under Taylor’s guidance, the students conducted chemical analysis on medical vials and instruments used to treat various illnesses and emergency conditions during house calls, which ranged from the common cold and syphilis to cardiac arrest. Shyrisse, a chemistry major, studied the various medicines that were used and replicated them using chemistry. Jordan, a nursing major, discovered the important role that Columbus played in the treatment and detection of tuberculosis.

“One major goal was to assist the museum in preserving the integrity of these chemicals so that they can be maintained for years to come,” Taylor added. “Understanding the makeup and how these chemicals react with everyday conditions was important in the preservation process of these collections.”

Bush, who spearheaded the exhibition, was integral in its organization and layout, but it was Taylor who had the initial idea for the show. When Dr. Taylor asked curatorial staff what her students could do to support the museum, Aimee Brooks, Museum Collections Manager, suggested that the team investigate potentially unstable substances and help identify best practices for preserving these chemicals in its collection. From there, the project was born and CSU students began investigating the real mysteries lurking in the museum’s permanent collection.

The exhibit opened on July 25 and will be on display until January 31, 2021. Note that face coverings and physical distancing are required inside the Columbus Museum. For more information visit the exhibit’s website.

Shyrisse Ramos is a senior chemistry major and Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) scholar from the Columbus, Georgia, area. Ramos is actively researching the chemical composition and restoration of Pasaquan. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in the field of chemistry and pursue a career as a medical examiner. Jordan Spires is a senior nursing major and servant leader scholar from Columbus, Georgia. Spires works as an aide in the Whole Tree Dentistry firm. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her education to be a nurse anesthetist.

Kerri Shelton Taylor, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of organic chemistry at Columbus State University and has been conducting research for five years. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry from The University of Akron and M.S. in chemistry from The University of Kentucky. Taylor has a broad knowledge and varied skill set in the fields of synthetic medicinal chemistry and material science, which enables her to be a contributor to the scientific community. Her exposure to multiple areas of chemistry, particularly organic and material science, has led to strengthened synthetic skills and increased her chemical knowledge as an academic researcher.

Rebecca Bush has been Curator of History & Exhibitions Manager at The Columbus Museum since 2011. She holds an M.A. in public history from the University of South Carolina; graduate certificate in Museum Management from the University of South Carolina; and B.A. in history from Kansas State University. Bush’s award-winning work at the museum includes the recent Making Conversation with Warren Williams Homes project and Fort Benning at 100, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the post.

Aimee Brooks has been Collections Manager at The Columbus Museum since 1999. She oversees the preservation and storage of more than 10,000 objects of art and history in the museum's permanent collection. Brooks has an M.A. from Texas Tech University in museum science and a B.A. from the University of Virginia in archaeology.