July 17, 2013

McNair summer research scholars earn honors

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A junior majoring in cinema and photography at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is this year’s McNair Scholars Summer Research Symposium winner.

Shahan Bellamy of Marion presented his winning research on documentary films and definitions of gender and transgender individuals during the 10th annual McNair/ILSAMP Summer Research Symposium last week.  Bellamy’s research presentation was, “Either, Other: A Contextual Analysis of Gender Fluidity in Documentary Films over the last 25 years.” His faculty member is Angela Aguayo, an assistant professor in cinema and photography.

Bellamy is a member of a family of SIU alumni.  He plans to pursue a doctoral degree and remain in an academic environment.  As a student now, he is working to bring a chapter of the national mental health advocacy group to SIU Carbondale. (Read more about him here.)

The symposium includes SIU Carbondale undergraduates in the elite McNair Scholars program and the Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ILSAMP) who participated in the Summer Research Institute. The research institute is an intensive eight-week program during which the scholars work with their mentors to master advanced research skills, including fieldwork and literature review, compiling data, and writing research papers.  The institute also focuses on Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, training sessions.  The GRE is a standardized test and a requirement for admittance to many graduate schools. 

The symposium is the end result of the summer institute.  Participants share their advanced research projects through research posters and oral presentations in a friendly, but competitive academic environment.  Winners receive a cash award.

This year’s judges were: Royce Burnett, associate professor in the School of Accountancy and associate dean of University College; Rodrigo Carramiñana, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research; Lizette Chevalier, professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering; Vanessa Sneed, director of the REACH undergraduate research program, and a research project specialist in the Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, and Danielle Soto, assistant professor or criminology and criminal justice.

The McNair Scholars program, formally called the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, helps low income or first generation college students, or students from populations often under-represented in advanced studies, to make a successful transition to graduate school.  Students in the program conduct grant-funded research or creative projects with a faculty mentor.  SIU Carbondale accepts 28 McNair students each year.

Students in the McNair Scholars program often present their research at other professional or academic conferences in addition to the summer research symposium.  The opportunity to join advanced scholars in an academic setting is a further benefit of the program.

Other award recipients are:

  • Second place -- Jazma Sutton, a psychology major from Romeoville, “Transcending the Fire: Motherhood and Enslaved African American Women, 1840-1865.”  Her mentor is Pamela Smoot, director of recruitment, retention and outreach, College of Liberal Arts.
  • Third place -- Chelsea Bridgmohan, a chemistry major from Midlothian, Va., “Density Functional Theory Studies of Fluorescein-based pH Sensors for Bio-analytical Applications.”  Her mentor is Lichang Wang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Fourth place -- Gregory Harris, Jr., an education major from Chicago, “Soldiers to Students: An Examination of Military Veterans’ Transition to College.”  His mentor is Randy Burnside, associate professor of political science.
  • Fifth place -- Kimberly Jarosz, a civil engineering major from Des Plaines, “Producing Microbial Lipids Using Hydrolysates of Corn Fiber and Sweet Sorghum Bagasse through Yeast Fermentation.”  Her mentor is Yanna Liang, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.
  • Sixth place -- Javanna White, a psychology major from South Holland, “The Influence of Gender and Ethnicity on Relational Aggression among College Students.”  Her mentor is Karla Horton, assistant professor in the School of Social Work.

Other participants were: Jasmine Jackson, a psychology major from Glendale Heights, “What Goes on in this House, stays in this House: African American College Students’ Views on Counseling and Counseling Practices, mentored by Cynthia Sims, associate professor of workforce education and development; Martisia Mitchell, an agribusiness economics major from Chicago, “A Study of Price Relationships Across Farmers Markets in Southern Illinois,” mentored by Dwight Sanders, professor of agribusiness economics; Tapiwa Saliji, a psychology major from Dolton, “Is Tyrone’s mistake worse than Brad’s? Effects of Race/Ethnicity on Perceptions of Leadership,” mentored by Meera Komarraju, associate professor of psychology and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Erin Scott, an education major from St. Louis, Mo., “Challenging Stereotypes of Female Athletes and the Culturally Prescribed Performance of Femininity,” mentored by Melinda Yeomans, coordinator for University Women’s Professional Advancement; and Jason Voyles, a horticulture major from Darien, “Low-Input Establishment of Zoysia Grass in Differing Soil Aggregates: Seeded,” mentored by Ken Diesburg, assistant professor, plant, soil and agricultural systems.