The Office of Student Research is proud to feature Derek Jones in this week’s “Scholar Story”. 


Derek Jones graduated from Longwood University in May 2020. His research focused on the intersection between high intensity exercise, music, and cognitive performance.  Specifically, Derek tested if music of different genres played during a workout had any effect on selective attention (a common measure of cognitive performance).   

Derek’s research project started with brainstorming with his research mentor, Dr. Jo Morrison, in late Fall 2018 - early spring 2019 semester and ended with publishing a research paper in the Journal of Kinesiology and Wellness.( in January 2021. While at Longwood, Derek participated in the Senior Honors Research program and also received a student travel grant from Longwood’s Office of Student Research to help him attend present his research at the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine annual conference in Jacksonville, FL along with a Longwood University professor, Dr. Laura Jimenez, who also coauthored the paper. 

Derek decided to become involved in independent research "in order to get a firm understanding of the scientific process, as well as determine if I actually enjoyed the process enough to make a career out of it. It was also a goal of mine to publish, as this would prove very helpful for graduate school applications.” 

Participating in research had a positive impact on Derek because it was “an incredibly challenging, yet rewarding experience for me. I think one of the main takeaways was just how difficult it is to get scientific research published, let alone accepted by others in the scientific community. In today’s age of science-denial, it only helped to strengthen my beliefs in the efficacy of the scientific process.”  

During his research experience, Derek realized that “I was lucky. Dr. Morrison’s main intent as a mentor was to allow me to take the reins and really do everything myself. She let me take the lead on brainstorming, recruiting subjects, running the actual experiment, and writing the manuscript. All while guiding me in the right direction and always offering constructive criticism. This allowed me to fully understand the challenges associated with any research project. I really feel that by allowing me to take the lead on most of this project, Dr. Morrison helped me to gain invaluable scientific experience that is uncommonly thorough at the undergraduate level.”  

Since graduation, Derek has shifted gears from exercise to climate change. He will be attending the University of Pennsylvania for a master’s degree in environmental policy, where he hopes to use his research experience to bridge the gap between scientists, policymakers, business executives, and the general public. 


Congratulations to Derek on his successful research!  

If you would like to have your research featured in a “Scholar Story”, or if you would like to learn more about getting involved in research at Longwood University, please visit Longwood’s Office of Student Research website 

or contact Amorette Barber, Director of the Office of Student Research ( or