July 27, 2007

McNair scholars present research projects

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A group of select students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale presented their research earlier this month as members of the 2007 Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.

The McNair Research Symposium helps the budding researchers develop the communication skills they will need to pass along what they've learned to their colleagues and the public. It follows an eight-week summer research session, during which the students worked with SIUC professor/mentors on a variety of research projects.

The program honors the late Ronald E. McNair, the African-American physicist who died in the space shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. It 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.

Students apply to the program following their sophomore year and participate during their junior and senior years. 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.

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


• Folasade A. Ajayi, a senior in health care management, studied barriers, beliefs and stigmas of black college students on HIV testing, specifically examining what prevented many from being tested. Ajayi used the SIUC HIV/AIDS Behavioral Surveillance Questionnaire to collect a convenience sample. Ajayi found that the level of education among those surveyed affected the rate of testing.

Ajayi's faculty mentor was Cheryl A. Presley, assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs. She is the daughter of Haziz and Mosunmade Ajayi.

• Krystelle Jean-Michel, a senior in psychology, studied help-seeking attitudes among African-American college students. She surveyed 104 such students at a Midwest university. Using several accepted attitude scales, Jean-Michel found one in particular was significantly related to help-seeking attitudes.

Jean-Michel's faculty mentor was Ezemenari M. Obasi, assistant professor of psychology. She is the daughter of Bernateau Jean-Michel.

• Naketa M. Ross, a junior in psychology, studied factors contributing to college retention. Ross surveyed 96 undergraduate students through SIUC's Career Services. Her results indicated that even though these students had continued their education, they had concerns about student support services. The findings provide additional factors that can impact retention and persistence.

Ross' faculty mentor was James E. Scales, director of Career Services and adjunct professor in the SIUC School of Social Work. She is the daughter of Eloise Ross and James Buckner.

• Karie E. Stewart, a senior in biological sciences, studied the role a specific protein played in the stress response of F. tularensis, a non-pathological strain of the bacteria that causes tularemia or rabbit fever, a deadly disease and potential biological weapon. Her research indicated the protein must be present for the bacteria to grow normally and might lead to a potential vaccine for the deadly form of the bacteria.

Stewart's faculty mentor was Kelly S. Bender, assistant professor of microbiology. Stewart is the daughter of Linda L Woods and the late John E. Stewart.

• Toya K. Wilson, a senior in health education, studied barriers to physical activity and healthy eating habits among adolescents at risk for type two diabetes. Once known as "adult onset" diabetes, the disease is becoming more prevalent among adolescents. Wilson's work provided a needs assessment for programs aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of the disease among young adults identified as "at risk." The most frequently mentioned barrier identified by the study was a lack of motivation by subjects to eat right and exercise. Others included lack of age-appropriate programs, an adolescent's preference for junk food and mother's work schedule.

Wilson won second place for outstanding research presentation during the program.

Wilson's faculty mentor was Sharon L. Peterson, assistant professor of animal science food and nutrition. She is the daughter of Alicia Wilson and Kenneth Taylor.

Mount Vernon

Krishna N. Pattisapu, a senior in speech communication, examined the racial discourses in the 2005 movie "Crash," challenging its status as a social commentary on race and arguing its images further marginalize groups. Pattisapu used Stuart Hall's theories on race, media and representation for theoretic insights.

Pattisapu's faculty mentor was Naida Zukic, assistant professor of speech communication. Pattisapu is the daughter of Jacque Sullivan of Mount Vernon and Rao Pattisapu of Carbondale.


Andrea E. Arnieri, a senior in philosophy, studied the need to respect the intelligence of pediatric cancer patients in order to preserve their dignity. Arnieri examined a series of case studies that illustrated ways in which the dignity of the pediatric cancer patient is not adequately respected by parents, who withhold information from them. She argued that recognizing and acknowledging such prejudices will allow caregivers to better preserve the child's dignity.

Arnieri won third place for outstanding research presentation during the program.

Arnieri's faculty mentors were Patsy A. Manfredi, associate professor of philosophy, and Andrew Youpa, assistant professor of philosophy. Arnieri is the daughter of Frank S. Arnieri.


Donald M. Hughes, a junior in sociology, applied theoretical analysis to crime rates in Baltimore during the 1990s. Hughes looked at the effects of social factors in determining community crime, focusing on the disparity in crime rates within neighborhoods. Hughes used several approaches, testing theoretical models of crime while considering factors such as ethnic heterogeneity, economic and residential stability, drug arrests, legal cynicism and the physical condition of the neighborhood. Hughes found support for some models of crime and evidence against others. The biggest factor he identified was the absence of traditional mentors and role models and the concentration of African Americans.

Hughes' faculty mentor was Timothy W. Clark, assistant professor of sociology. Hughes is the son of Donald and Leatha Hughes.


Vanessa A. Enriquez, a senior in zoology, studied a genetic factor that could make individuals more prone to exhibit symptoms of depression. She used cheek swabs to collect DNA and isolate an indicator. The research correlated genotypes with depression symptoms, age, ethnicity and sex.

Enriquez won first place for outstanding research presentation during the program.

Enriquez's faculty mentors were Jodi I. Huggenvik, associate professor of physiology in the SIU School of Medicine, and Rheeda L. Walker, assistant professor of psychology. Enriquez is the daughter of Cynthia A. and Victor A. Enriquez.


Karen E. Stone, a junior in rehabilitation services, studied ways to provide evidence that picture exchange communication systems in older adults with developmental disabilities is an effective means of communication. She studied eye contact and vocalizations made by subjects in relation to the system, along with training time and percentage of correct responses during training blocks.

Stone's faculty mentor was Ruth A. Rehfeldt, associate professor at the SIUC Rehabilitation Institute. Stone is the daughter of Laura Wall and John J. Gorgosz.