July 28, 2006

McNair scholars present research projects

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For researchers, doing the fieldwork is only part of the game. They also must develop strong communication skills so they can pass on what they've learned to colleagues and the public.

A group of students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently practiced those skills as they presented their research as members of the 2006 Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. Three students also received awards for their work.

The students presented their research findings at the McNair Research Symposium on July 14, said Julia Spears, associated director of the program. The symposium followed an eight-week summer research session, which saw the students working with SIUC professor/mentors on a variety of research projects.

The program prepares undergraduates for graduate studies and careers as professors and researchers. The federal government has funded the work of McNair Scholars at SIUC since 2004. The program honors the late Ronald E. McNair, the African-American physicist who died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986.

Students apply to the program following their sophomore year and participate during their junior and senior years, Spears said. During that time, they take two specialized classes and work with faculty members who serve as mentors for their research. During summer, the participants complete an eight-week research institute that focuses on research, team-building and communication skills, among other things.

"It a very intense experience," Spears said.

Here is a look at the students and their research, by hometown.


Belleville: TeSha Dozier, a psychology student in the College of Liberal Arts, studied the relationship between body type preference and emotional well being among black and white women. She found both races preferred a slimmer body type, but that black women classified as overweight had higher body esteem than white women of the same classification. She also found black women classified as overweight were significantly more anxious than black women in the normal range. A second portion of the study found that women not meeting their ideal body type were more anxious and had lower levels of body esteem compared to those who achieved their ideal body type.

Dozier received a third-place award for her work. Her mentor was Ellen Teng, assistant professor of psychology. Her mother is Denese Drummond (7 Cameron Drive).

Bellwood: Willy Walker, an industrial technology student in the College of Engineering, studied the efficiency of serving walk-up customers at a residence hall carryout facility at SIUC. Walker tracked data such as customer arrival time and food usage at one so-called "Grab and Go" in April 2006. Walker found only 30 percent of customers had the option of receiving hot food and that many who had the option chose cold food instead because of wait times.

Walker's mentor was Mandara Savage, assistant professor of technology. He is the son of Willy and Alicia Walker (626 Eastern Ave.)

Chicago: LaQuita Smith, a manufacturing engineering student in the College of Engineering, focused on decreasing the number of child fatalities related to improper use of car safety seats. A team she put together designed a seat with an alarm system that detects six common and deadly mistakes made by caretakers when installing the seat. The system also confirmed when the seat was properly installed and ready to be safely used.

Smith's mentors were Max Yen, director of the Materials Technology Center at SIUC and Keith Stanek, of the University of Missouri Rolla. She is the daughter of Ulysses and Debra Smith (1466 W. 107th St.).

Chicago: Nadia Lopez, a zoology student in the College of Science, studied the effects of enriching the environments for several groups of captive primates at Lincoln Park Zoo, which aimed at increasing their well-being. She found the various groups had different preferences for type of climbing structure and the height at which they perched. The groups foraged for food less than they do in the wild. She also found no abnormal behavior exhibited by the primates during the length of the study.

Lopez received the second-place award for her work. Her mentor was Susan Ford, chairperson of the anthropology department. She is the daughter of Julian and Rosa Lopez.

Chicago: Esteban del Valle, an art student in the College of Liberal Arts, studied the visual and psychological atmosphere of Times Square in New York City under daylight and artificial light conditions. He used mixed media, sketches, paintings and description to explain how the atmosphere evolves as lighting conditions change. His final series of paintings shows the artificial lights at night can be overwhelming, placing the conscious observer in a position of self-reflection.

De Valle received the first-place award for his work. His mentor was Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, assistant professor in the School of Art and Design. He is the son of Miguel and Lupe del Valle (2218 N. Lamon).

Chicago: Antonio Rodriguez, a political science student in the College of Liberal Arts, studied the role of Spanish-language news media in Chicago Latino political organizing. Through interviewing members of the Spanish-language media and Latino politicians and organizers, he found such media does play a role in the Latino community, especially in certain high-profile issues such as immigration reform.

Rodriguez's mentor was Celeste Montoya Kirk, assistant professor of political science. He is the son of Antonio and Carolina Rodriguez (2700 S. St. Louis St).

Cisne: Miranda Griffith, a workforce education and development student in the College of Education and Human Services, studied attitudes about posting personal information online at sites such as MySpace and Facebook among college students, and how those attitudes are affected by their involvement with such sites. Her survey found students using such sites are surprisingly aware of the risks involved with posting such personal information yet they continue to do so. The findings shows the need for further education efforts to help students better understand the risks.

Griffith's mentor was Mark Kittleson, professor of health education and recreation. She is the daughter of Fay P. and Debbie S. Griffith (R.R. 2).

Marion: Brenda Sanders, a university studies student in the College of Liberal Arts, studied whether a one-person performance depicting the experience of a Holocaust survivor would produce measurable changes in adolescents' empathy index levels. Sanders gathered 32 seventh-graders from two Southern Illinois schools to witness the performance and found that empathy index scores increased, indicating that such interventions can produce positive effects in the way adolescents view others.

Sanders' mentor was Thomas Thibeault, director in the College of Liberal Arts. She is the daughter of Harrisburg residents Wayne and Stella L. Wright (416 W. Homer).

Pittsburg: Kelly Smith, an information systems technologies student in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, organized a pilot study to examine how and to what extent ethics are taught in information technology programs at Midwest universities. She found that course requirements for students in IT programs and instructional methods vary greatly when it comes to ethics. Smith hopes the study will lead into a larger, yearlong study of ethics instructional practices in IT programs across the country.

Smith's mentors were Diane Davis, professor, and Belle Woodward, assistant professor of information management systems. She is the daughter of Jim M. and Donna V. Halleran (110 N. Dallas St.).

Ridgway: Jennifer Musselman, interior design student in the School of Architecture, studied how the community of Thebes adapted an old Works Progress Administration library for reuse. She used various methods, including field data, site analysis, case study information and graphic imaging to examine whether such reuses are culturally advantageous for such communities. The results could impact the decisions by the community and others and could aid in providing an identity that highlights the importance of preserving rural communities throughout the historical districts of Illinois.

Musselman's mentor was Robert Swensen, associate professor of architecture. She is the daughter of Robert R. Rider (post office box) and Anne Rider (102 S. Karber St.).


Madisonville: Ty-Nica Davis, a communication disorders and science student in the College of Education and Human Services, studied course syllabi objectives within the Rehabilitation Institute at SIUC in order to determine where they fall on Revised Bloom's Taxonomy. Davis analyzed the data using logistic regression tests for ordinal data. Instructors can use the results to develop clearer objectives for future classes.

Davis' mentor was Kitty Martin, an instructor at the SIUC Rehabilitation Institute. She is the daughter of Shelia R. Davis (328 Hall St.).


Humble: Amarachi Ukabam, a health education student in the College of Education and Human Services, studied the experiences of black female head coaches in the NCAA. Females in general and especially black females are few in the ranks of the NCAA. Ukabam sought to understand their experience through interviewing three. The themes that emerged during the interviews included perceptions of male and female coaches by female athletes, hiring standards versus the need for colleges to fill positions with minorities and the lack of grooming black female athletes for coaching positions.

Ukabam's mentor was Julie Partridge, assistant profess or kinesiology. She is the daughter of Chidi M. Iwueve (18911 Owen Oak Drive).

Increasing by 100 percent the number of qualified applicants for graduate study is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Amarachi UkabamAntonio RodriguezBrenda SandersEsteban del ValleJennifer Mussleman

Kelly SmithLaQuita SmithNadia LopezTeSha DozierTy-Nica Davis