TRIO McNair Scholars Program Selects Diverse Group of Undergraduates for 2014 Research Cohort
Lawrence, Kan.—Selected from a field of more than 60 applicants, the TRIO McNair Scholars Program’s 2014 research cohort assembles 18 high-achieving University of Kansas undergraduate students who aspire to join America’s next generation of college and university professors.
The program, established at KU in 1992, is part of the Achievement & Assessment Institute’s (AAI) Center for Educational Opportunity Programs and provides low-income, first-generation undergraduates with the necessary skills, resources and support to prepare and earn placement in graduate programs to pursue doctoral degrees. Fields of study represented in the new group include engineering, applied behavioral science, social welfare, psychology, biology, anthropology, political science, public administration, Spanish, clinical laboratory science and behavioral neuroscience.
“Qualifying for McNair Scholars program indicates strong academic potential and deep commitment to a rigorous and challenging academic track,” said Program Director Mulu Negash. “This is an impressive group. The diversity of these scholars and their wide range of research interests helps to advance the University's goal of engaged learning and increased undergraduate participation in research across the curriculum.”
McNair Scholars receive paid research opportunities, faculty mentors, a GRE preparation course, tutoring and assistance with graduate-school applications. Scholars begin their work by taking an interdisciplinary-research-method course taught by Neal Kingston, AAI director and professor in the Department of Psychology and Research in Education. With Kingston’s guidance, students design independent-research proposals that they will begin work on during the summer.
“This is an amazingly strong group of students,” Kingston said. “I can’t wait to hear of their research successes when they present their projects this summer.”
During their research, McNair Scholars work closely with faculty mentors to:
- Identify and read literature in their research areas,
- Refine research methods and academic-writing skills,
- Learn about the nature and rigors of research and teaching careers, and
- Build professional networks with scholars in their fields.
The 2014 McNair Scholars:
- Theresa Amante, Garden City, Kan., junior
Amante is a civil-engineering major with research interests in transportation, roundabouts and water resources.
- Cameron Arnold, Tecumseh, Kan., sophomore
Arnold is an engineering major currently researching the effects of nanoparticles in hydraulic fracturing with Reza Barati, KU assistant professor of chemical & petroleum engineering. In the future, Arnold plans to research other forms of enhanced oil-recovery.
- Jennifer Bailey, Hortonville, Wisc., sophomore
Bailey is a psychology major with research interests in developmental psychology, specifically child cognitive and linguistic development and related delays. She is also interested in biochemical approaches to improving cognition and the ways that interpersonal bonds affect development.
- Max Bearce, Johnson City, Kan., junior
Bearce is a psychology major with research interests in children and social habits.
- Rudolph Christopher, Emporia, Kan., sophomore
Christopher is a computer-engineering major with research interests in computing and biosciences.
- Natali Diaz-Yepes, Medellin, Columbia, junior
Diaz-Yepes is a biology major with research interests in the relationship between dance and technology and the effect that technology has in the modern world of dance.
- Sean Gilmore, Columbus, Kan., junior
Gilmore is a double major in the fields of social welfare and speech-language-hearing with research interests that combine the two. Specifically, Gilmore’s potential studies include researching anxiety among those who have autism and examining the stigmas associated with hearing loss.
- Jyleesa Hampton, Overland Park, Kan., senior
Hampton is a triple major in African & African-American studies, political science, and women, gender and sexuality studies, with research interests in hip-hop feminism, womanism, black feminism, the prison-industrial complex and issues surrounding transnational justice.
- Nicole Humphrey, Lawrence, Kan., sophomore
Humphrey is a double major in political science and public administration with research interests in comparative politics and the influences of globalization, specifically in Africa and the Middle East.
- Kaitlyn Jurgens, Omaha, Neb., sophomore
Jurgens is a psychology major interested in researching and measuring the effects that advertising campaigns such as Dove's “Real Beauty” and American Eagle's anti-Photoshop lingerie series have on women's body image and determine if there is a correlation in sales after implementing these new marketing tactics.
- Hannah Morrow, Skiatook, Okla., sophomore
Morrow is a behavioral-neuroscience major with research interests in treatments for schizophrenia and depression.
- Christian Orzano, Fullerton, Calif., sophomore
Orzano is a clinical-laboratory-science major with research interests in microbiology.
- Allora Richey, Augusta, Kan., junior
Richey is a double major in psychology and human biology with research interests related to violence, mental illness and substance abuse. She hopes her research will impact therapy and rehabilitation efforts in the community.
- Merritt Schenk, Buhler, Kan., senior
Schenk is an applied-behavioral-science major with research interests in nutrition, health and fitness through a behavioral perspective. Schenk hopes to work with local elementary schools to address the issue of childhood obesity and to identify and propose fresh initiatives to implement as part of a school-wide system.
- Dylan Smith, Olathe, Kan., junior
Smith is a double major in anthropology and East Asian languages and cultures with ethnographic research interests.
- Donald Spradling, Newburg, Mo., senior
Spradling is a civil-engineering major with research interests in soil changes and the recirculation of water.
- Carla Valenzuela, DeSoto, Kan., sophomore
Valenzuela is a double major in psychology and Spanish with research interests in memory, language acquisition, perception and personalities.
- Dakie Washington, Manhattan, Kan., sophomore
Washington is a social-welfare major with research interests in the interactions among high-school students from different cultural, racial and economic backgrounds.
Congratulations to McNair alum Richard Martinez on completing his Ph.D. this past December in Counseling Psychology from New Mexico State University!