2013 Cohort


Bruce Barnes
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Phame Camarena
 "My name is Bruce Barnes and I am a new McNair scholar. I have many different interests, but if I had to slim my hobbies down to just a few I would have to say art, music, and nature. I am currently 4th year at here at CMU, studying Sociology: Youth Studies. I am working with Dr. Amanda Garrison on my research project and we will be looking at "Institutional Censorship of Children and Their Bodies/Sexual Pleasures." I am excited to be working with Dr. Garrison, she has been one of my favorite professors for a while now and has really ecouraged me in a lot of different ways. My long-term goal is to earn my Phd and teach Sociology at University of San Juan."

Amanda Clark
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lee Choon
"My current research project is the organic synthesis of antioxidant dendrimers under the supervision of Dr. Lee in the chemistry department.  Antioxidants are molecules that scavenge harmful free radicals that are formed in the human body through natural metabolism.  I became involved in undergraduate research as a freshman at CMU, but the McNair Scholars Program gave me the opportunity to really delve into an independent research project. Being immersed in research has given me hands-on experience in lab techniques and instruments, in addition to giving me an insight to what life as a graduate student will be like. By doing research in the chemistry department, I am certain I want to pursue my doctoral degree in chemistry with research interests in organic, synthetic and medicinal chemistry. Specifically, my long term goals are to do research on the synthesis of compounds for cancer treatment."
Andrew Derry
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mary Tecklenburg
"My research this summer allowed me to gain valuable laboratory techniques and study the effects of hypergravity on the crystallinity of apatite, the mineral component of bone. My research interests are the effects of micro- and hypergravity on bone and muscle biology, so my project exposed me to current literature and research in the field and provided hands-on experience. This summer has been a great foundation to better prepare me as I work towards my doctoral degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in space life sciences. My ultimate career goal is to perform space research at NASA or at the university level where I can combine my passion for the human body and space. "

James Dunn
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deric Learman
"Working on this project has broadened my understanding of interdisciplinary science. Spending two years on a project that integrates biology, chemistry, and geology has taught me how to bring knowledge and techniques from various areas together in order to answer complex questions. As a biochemistry major this project has been an invaluable experience, as I have learned many classical biochemical techniques. I also have learned how to develop protocols, work both independently and as part of a team in the laboratory, analyze data, and present results both orally and in writing. Continuing on as a contributing member of Dr. Learman’s lab will further prepare me for graduate training as I pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry."
Matt Forbes
Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paik Won
"My research takes a bottom-up approach to analyzing globalization instead of a typical top-down approach that is more prevalent in the political science field today. I am very interested in the effects of globalization on the working class. For my project, I employed empirical methods to examine per capita income and the average wages of certain professions in comparison to the measures of globalization over the past thirty years. I will be applying to Ph.D. programs in Political Science this fall and my goal is to become a professor so that I can work with students and help grow their knowledge and challenge their thinking within the realm of this important area of study."
Rhianna French
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Acevedo
"The intensive summer prep of the McNair program has prepared me for success at the graduate level. My research experience under Dr.Acevedo-Polakovich has allowed me to explore the intensity of the research-to-practice gap. This has led me to my ultimate goal of effectively disseminating information to researchers, practitioners, and the public. I am pursuing my Ph.D. in clinical psychology with aspirations to become a faculty member and clinician."


Shantell Johnson
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tim Hartshorne
"My research this summer has truly been life-changing. It has allowed me the privilege of traveling to Scottsdale, Arizona to present at the International CHARGE Syndrome conference. At this conference, I was able to speak with incredible families and children who have CHARGE Syndrome. This project is very exciting because it allows me to examine some of the most familiar areas of human interaction: work and friendships. Being able to design and complete a research project such as this has allowed me to fluidly marry my areas of interest: Psychology and Family Studies. Working with the McNair Scholars program has been a life altering experience and has allowed me to gain invaluable knowledge to help catapult me to achieve a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology."
Nicole Lynn-Bell
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Peter Kourtev 
"My research examines the influence of the invasive shrub autumn olive on soil microbial communities. This summer I have furthered my investigation on the below-ground impacts of autumn olive by examining its legacy effect in the soil. My plan is to enter a doctoral program in the field of microbial ecology. My long-term goal is to run my own interdisciplinary research lab addressing environmental issues that have implications for environmental management strategies."
Leah Mays
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sivaram Narayan
"My research this summer has allowed me the opportunity to research a topic in the wonderful world of mathematics. This experience has given me the chance to learn how mathematics research is done and how to write it. I have also learned how to prepare a mathematics article using the computer software, LaTex. This research experience has been one of hard work, perseverance, and focus. I look forward to using what I have learned and applying it to another research experience as I work toward achieving a Ph.D. in Education."
Ashley Pollock
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Matt Liesch
"I was born and raised in Chicago. I came to Central as my last resort, but I am extremely glad that I came here. I do not think I would have the amount of great opportunities I have experienced if I went to my first choices. I was super surprised that I was chosen to be a McNair scholar because it is going to be a tremendous experience being able to conduct my own research and connect with faculty that I maybe would not have without the program. It's an honor to be in an environment where other college students value learning and challenging themselves!"
Amanda Slezsak
Health Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bill Saltarelli
"My research this summer allowed me the opportunity to study a topic within the realm of public health and exercise science, my major, while also giving me the chance to try my hand at seeing the different aspects of research within this field. The project is very exciting because the implementation of prevention programs in American Indians has been studied very little. Being able to design and complete a research project such as this has shown me how to go about conducting research and has been an invaluable experience that will definitely help me be better prepared as I work toward achieving a career in health disparities and cardiovascular disease."

Jayson Smith
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Steve Gorsich
"Over the past several months I've had the chance to explore the exciting world of biology research, specifically research in cell and molecular biology. My project is interesting because it deals with RNPs, a popular topic in biology research currently, and S. cerevisiae, a eukaryotic model microorganism. Also interesting about my project, the ZWF1 gene in yeast is a homolog to a gene in humans, which gives my research some medical implications. My experience in the Gorsich lab has not always been smooth, but the challenges I have faced and the process of overcoming them will inform the way I will conduct myself in any future lab position, further making these last couple months in the Gorsich lab a remarkable, unique, and unforgettable adventure."

Tara Vancil
Biomedical Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tara Hefferan
"My project focuses on the political efforts to license Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in Michigan. This is an exciting time to investigate midwifery, as many U.S. states have recently licensed or are in the process of licensing CPMs. Familiarizing myself with the research interview process and the policies surrounding birth and pregnancy has been an invaluable experience that will propel me forward in my journey of becoming a professional bioethicist and earning a Ph.D. in Philosophy."
Mickey Wong
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tracy Davis
"My name is Mickey Wong and this is my first semester with McNair. I'm working on a project this semester on third language acquisition with Dr. Davis in the English/Linguistics department. McNair has given me the opportunity of a lifetime to work closely with an experienced researcher to begin my own research and I couldn't be more grateful. My first choice school is UCLA because of their awesome Ph.D. program and it also gives me a chance to be back with my family in California. I hope to make them proud and I hope that my aspirations will do that."