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John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference

The John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference was established as an annual event in 1990. Held in April each year, the conference provides an opportunity for students who are pursuing individual research projects to present those projects in a public forum. Research projects pursued by students at any level - freshman through senior - and in any academic program throughout the university, are eligible to participate. Research can be presented either in a poster session format, or in a (15-min) oral presentation.

The 2024 John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference will be held on April 13, 2024
The 2024 John Wesley Powell Keynote Speaker 
J. Aaron Simmons, Ph.D
"How Going Camping with Kierkegaard Can Help Us Live A Better Life."
2024 JWP Keynote speaker J. Aaron Simmons

J. Aaron Simmons was born near the Hiwassee River in Tennessee, grew up near the beaches of Florida, and now lives near the Carolina mountains. Simmons paid his way through college by working construction and playing drums professionally. He is now a professor of philosophy at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and specializes in philosophy of religion, existentialism, and phenomenology.

Having published widely, Simmons is the author or editor of numerous books including God and the Other (Indiana University Press), The New Phenomenology (Bloomsbury), Christian Philosophy (Oxford University Press), Kierkegaard's God and the Good Life (Indiana University Press), and RE-Examining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion (Duquesne University Press), among others.  

An award-winning teacher, Simmons's essays have appeared in some of the most distinguished journals in philosophy and religious studies, and he is a widely sought-after public speaker. Simmons is the former President of the Søren Kierkegaard Society (USA), the former President of the South Carolina Society for Philosophy, sits on the Executive Board of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology, and Theology, and has held other professional positions with the Society of Christian Philosophers and The American Academy of Religion. 

Simmons is actively engaged in public philosophy on his influential YouTube channel, "Philosophy for Where We Find Ourselves," and his frequent writings on Substack, "Philosophy in the Wild." He has been interviewed for numerous podcasts, television programs, and radio shows. An avid mountain biker and trout fisherman, Simmons thinks philosophy is always relevant to life. He has been married to his wife, Vanessa for 22 years and they have a thirteen-year-old son, Atticus, who loves parkour and skateboarding. His new broad audience book, Camping with Kierkegaard: Faithfulness as a Way of Life (Wisdom/Work), seeks to bring existential philosophy together with a life of meaning (especially in the outdoors). You can connect with him at


The John Wesley Powell 2024 Student Research Conference Schedule and Conference handout

The conference typically attracts more than 100 undergraduates, who showcase research projects from a variety of University departments and programs, including: psychology, economics, political science, biology, mathematics, chemistry, English, theatre, and history.