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McNair Scholars ready for research

Applicants to graduate school encounter intense competition for admission and funding. The McNair Scholars Program helps increase the odds of acceptance to graduate school by offering students a unique research experience during their undergraduate careers.

Participating students spend more than 400 hours exploring topics, developing a thesis, collecting and reviewing data, and preparing a formal presentation of their findings. Research provides the opportunity to develop a mentoring relationship by working one-on-one with a faculty member. Students also gain extensive skills and knowledge in a discipline, experience using methodological techniques, and writing and public speaking practice by submitting papers to professional conferences and journals.

Rebekah Dupont, North Star STEM Alliance Coordinator, taught the research proposal writing course this year. Starting May 18, the following scholars will be conducting research with a faculty mentor and a library mentor .

BatsonMychal Batson, English with John Harkness and Jane Ann Nelson

The Groundhog Decade: Drawing Parallels Between the Sixties and Today Through the Use of Poetry

The sixties is considered the Groundhog Day decade as its influence is repeatedly seen in our fashion, music, commercials, TV shows, movies, books, and the list continues. The decade of the sixties sustains as a catalyst for every decade to follow, shaping them culturally, artistically, and politically. Through my research I aim to provide insight on what this country can expect artistically and socially from its people in the near future. This unique decade will be explored through poetry by Allen Ginsberg, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni. A plethora of poets could serve as the voice of this period and its angst, but I have chosen to focus on these three poets to compare the anxiety and rebelliousness of the sixties to our current decade.


HongVan Hong with David R. Hanson and Bill Wittenbreer

Role of Oxalic Acid in Climate Processes and Kidney Stone Formation

Invisible to the naked eye, the atmosphere contains a variety of organic components. The process in the atmosphere that forms solid oxalic acid particles is unknown. These oxalic acid particles may be a threat to the human body when inhaled. Oxalic acid is also ingested in a typical diet and it may go on to form solid particles (i.e., kidney stones) via a process that is similar to what happens in the atmosphere.

The purpose of this research is to measure the stability of oxalic acid in the atmosphere and explore the amount of oxalic acid we might inhale or ingest. The research should benefit human health in some form and will be a benchmark for further study. Coupled with attempting to better understand oxalic acid’s role in climate processes, the research will aim to look at the biological effects of the substance whether it is inhaled or ingested.


HorkeyAdam Horkey with Sandra Olmsted and Bill Wittenbreer

Adventures in Green Chemistry: A Green Pathway to Benzoic Acids

The oxidation of an aromatic compound’s alkyl side chain is industrially significant. These kinds of oxidations have been important to the chemical industry because they produce key intermediates in textile, plastics, and pharmaceutical chemistry.

Unfortunately, besides high energy use, many use environmentally unfriendly solvents and heavy metals that contribute to heavy metal wastes, water pollution and atmospheric pollution. My research will explore whether a procedure using aqueous copper(II) sulfate and potassium peroxydisulfate can be perfected to convert an aryl methyl group to a carboxylic acid, as an example of Green Chemistry, by reducing the amount of energy required, the quantity of toxins put into the reaction, and the output of organic pollutants during the process.


LeHeidi (Kieu) Le, Chemistry with Arlin Gyberg, Laboratory Manager Susan Hill, and Bill Wittenbreer

Analysis of the Combined Use of Over the Counter Children’s Medicines and Toxicity levels of Acetaminophen Drugs

For the last few years, concerns have arisen regarding the active ingredients being ineffective and acetaminophen poisoning with regard to children’s over the counter cold and cough medicines. This study consisted of two parts: (1) Testing various children’s medicines to confirm acetaminophen levels and (2) Developing a toxicity scale relating to acetaminophen dosage for a variety of combinations of children’s medicine.


MassopCaitlin Massop with Stacy Freiheit and Stacy Cutinella

Children’s Humor Style and its Relation to Social Interaction, Self-esteem, and Mood

Children’s abilities to use humor may affect their psychological well-being. Although humor can help buffer the effects of stress and increase physical and psychological functioning in adults, few studies have examined humor in children. The present study will examine how three distinct humor styles may be related to social interaction, self-esteem, and mood in 4th- to 7th-grade children.


PraskaDavid Praska, Psychology with Stacy Freiheit and Boyd Koehler

Use of Evidence based Practices for Children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Survey Study

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an empirically-validated intervention for pediatric obsessive compulsive disorder. However, it is unclear to what extent psychologists use cognitive-behavioral interventions in their practice. The purpose of the present study is to examine how often psychologists use cognitive-behavioral interventions to help children with obsessive compulsive disorder.

SewellJulia Sewell, Psychology with Nancy Rodenborg, Mary Lee McLaughlin, and Ron Kurpiers

Barriers: Why do some make it? A closer examination of the various definitions of success and the barriers that exist among African-American and Caucasian men, ages 18-30

This study examines the definitions of success according to African American men and Caucasian men between the ages of 18-30. Definitions of success will be compared and contrasted. The research strives to understand the themes that arise, comparing the differences in beliefs between the two cohorts, and identification of the barriers each group confronts.


WardNicholas Ward, Physics with Ben Strottrup and Mike Bloomberg

Construction of Surface Potential Sensor, Calibration, and Measurement

Surface potentials exist across the interface of two materials. For my research, I will measure the surface potential of two dimensional thin organic films so I can get a better understanding of their structure. These measurements will contribute to ongoing studies in the Lipids Biophysics Lab to determine the mixing and phase behavior of lipids, which are found in cell membranes.


WorrallKaela Worrall, Psychology and Sociology with Deborah Eckberg (Metro State University) and Ron Kurpiers

No Place Like Home: Determining the effects of parental marital status during childhood on the occurrence of adult criminality

Many researchers have suggested that the development of criminality and antisocial behavior can begin as early as childhood. Although researchers in the fields of sociology, psychology and criminology have not yet developed a concrete list of the factors, many of those factors surround family and familial influences. My project will look at how the influences of parental marital status (e.g. divorced, separated, widowed, single parent) during childhood contribute to the commission of property crimes in adulthood.

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