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McNair Scholars engage in summer research

mcnair_summer Often in Minnesota, it doesn’t really feel like summer until July arrives. However, for 16 McNair Scholars, this month is less about the blue skies and relaxation as it is about long hours spent hunched over reference books, computer screens, and lab equipment. July marks the peak of the scholars’ summer research projects.

The McNair Scholars Program offers undergraduate students the unique experience of participating in graduate-level activities. One component of the program is an intensive 10-week long summer research project. Participating students spend an average of 40 hours a week exploring their topics, developing a thesis, collecting and reviewing data, and preparing a formal presentation of their findings.

The 2008 McNair Scholars are:

Maria Benaros, a music performance junior, is writing about Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino with an analysis of musical tools used to reflect the lyrics of each song in the “Flores Argentinas” cycle. Benaros will also be performing the piece as a part of her final presentation. (Faculty mentor: Merilee Klemp, Associate Professor, Music)

Peggy Cooper, a senior studying accounting and economics, has been researching the consequences that increased dependency on student loans to post-secondary schooling has on degree attainment rates in public four-year universities. (Faculty mentor: Stella Hofrenning, Associate Professor, Economics)

Robert Goodman, a sociology junior, is exploring the motivations of self-identified heterosexual men that engage in surreptitious homosexual relationships. (Faculty mentor: Shonda Craft, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Family Social Science)

Courtnie Higgins, a sociology junior, is examining the attitudes that undergrads have towards immigrant employment. The focus is on whether or not the students consider immigrants as qualified for blue and white collar positions as native citizens and if race is a factor in developing those opinions. (Faculty mentor: James Vela-McConnell, Associate Professor, Sociology)

Chaundra Kakish-Thotland, an education senior, is conducting research related to the Paideia teaching style. She expects to answer the question “Does training in Paideia seminar methodology affect teachers’ attitudes and behavior towards constructivist learning?” (Faculty mentor: Anne Kaufman, Associate Professor, Education)

Thomas Lopez, a junior majoring in math and physics, is observing and analyzing the effects that mixing odd-even carbon chain structures has on viscoelastic qualities in lipid monolayers. (Faculty mentor: Ben Stottrup, Assistant Professor, Physics)

Jessica Love, an education senior, has been studying the ways that silence is employed in domestic abuse situations between victim and abuser as well as how society, as a whole, reinforces the silence by excusing or disregarding these violent occurrences. (Faculty mentor: David Lapakko, Associate Professor, Communication Studies)

Vanessa Manning, a junior English major, is researching the specific techniques by Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen in their writings translating their theoretical ideas about being African American poets. (Faculty mentor: Mzenga Wanyama, Assistant Professor, English)

Bernell Martin, a history and American Indian studies senior, has been examining federal repatriation in the North Platte Valley and the factors that attracted movement to the Upper Midwest, including industry, railroads and sugar cultivation. (Faculty mentor: Elise Marubbio, Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies)

Krystal Mattison, a history and American Indian studies junior, is working on a comparative study of the East German and North Korean defectors and the influence they have on reunification. (Faculty mentor: Donald Gustafson, Professor, History)

Jenna Mead, a sociology senior, is developing a descriptive analysis of variation in the international portrayal of the events of Abu Ghraib committed by American Soldiers in Iraq. (Faculty mentor: Diane Pike, Professor, Sociology)

Erin Scott, a junior studying sociology and Spanish, is researching the conceptualization of the GLBT movement among a sample of openly trans-identified people. (Faculty mentor: Kathleen Hull, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Sociology)

Zachary Sommer, psychology and sociology junior, has been analyzing the social structure, norms, and relationships within the video game “Second Life,” with the intention of comparing the virtual world to the existing frameworks of the real world. (Faculty mentor: James Vela-McConnell)

Mohammad Sweidan, an accounting and finance senior, is studying the unstable, changing real estate market to find out if it’s still more economically beneficial to own property versus to rent. (Faculty mentor: Stuart Stoller, Professor, Business-MIS)

Latisha White, a senior majoring in English and journalism, is collecting and interpreting data to help understand why educated African American women between the ages of 20 and 40, interested in relationships with African American men, have never married. (Faculty mentor: Catherine Squires, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Journalism)

Emily Wiles, a youth and family ministry junior, is looking at the question “Do parentally-bereaved adolescents understand the image of God and how God works in the world differently than adolescents who have not lost a parent?” (Faculty mentor: Jeremy Myers, Assistant Professor, Religion)

Article by Lara Crombie

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