July 16, 2004

McNair Scholars to report on their research

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Thirteen of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's 18 McNair Scholars will report on original research they conducted over the course of this summer during the first-ever McNair Symposium Friday, July 23, in Wham Auditorium. Presentations begin at 9:50 a.m., capped by a half-hour awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

"Their projects are diverse and creative, and their results represent substantial contributions to disciplines from agriculture to psychology," said Karen Renzaglia, a research professor in plant biology who directs the program. "Their talks promise to be engaging, stimulating and informative. I hope everyone will come and listen to, learn from and interact with this group of scholars."

Named for an African-American physicist who died in the Challenger explosion, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program channels federal dollars to 155 universities across the country to support graduate school recruitment among two groups of college students -- those who are the first in their low-income families to attend college and those from minority groups whose members don't usually go on to earn doctoral degrees.

SIUC's McNair program premiered June 1 with a two-week orientation that covered topics ranging from graduate school selection and preparing for the Graduate Record Examination to time management and teamwork. Since then, the scholars have been working with faculty mentors on individual projects while continuing to prepare for the graduate exam. When school starts up again in the fall, they will enroll in a newly developed class that will focus on helping them succeed as undergraduates, as graduate students and as new faculty members.

Acquiring funding to recruit and retain graduate students is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the University's development by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.