Andrew Tubbs ’16 found his passion for research as a member of the Wartburg forensics team.
“I wholeheartedly believe that was the biggest contributor to my success as a scholar,” said Tubbs, a music major. “Dr. (Penni) Pier and Professor (David) Brennan truly taught me how to research, write, and present in such a way that I could advocate for causes that were important to me.”
For Tubbs, those causes were music and disability. He has thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome, which causes insufficient and abnormal platelet formation, creating bleeding risks and skeletal malformations.
His research took him to Germany to look at how disabled individuals in the 1930s were marginalized and then exterminated. Through Wartburg West, he also performed with the Phamaly Theater Company in Denver, Colo., the only theatre company in the U.S. to strictly hire disabled actors.
Tubbs presented his work at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference, Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities, Iowa Musicology Day, National Conference of Undergraduate Research, and the Society for Disability Studies Conference.
The McElroy Fellow is continuing his research at the University of Iowa, where he is pursuing a doctorate in musicology and disabilities studies.
“Speech and debate taught me how to be an advocate and create positive change with words,” Tubbs said. “Music is one of the most powerful forces in our society. Understanding how musical narratives can both positively and negatively impact societal constructions of disability enables me to use my scholarship as a means to advocate to a subjugated social group.”