July 22, 2015

McNair Scholars recognized for research

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – A senior in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts is the winner of this year’s McNair Scholars Summer Research Symposium at Southern Illinois University Carbondale 

Demetrius Green, of Cairo, majoring in radio, television and digital media, won a $150 cash award for his presentation titled “Black Sitcoms and White Fragility: How to become a successful American television show.” His mentor was Saran Donahoo, associate professor of educational administration and higher education. 

The annual symposium, held July 16, highlights the work of SIU undergraduates in the McNair Scholars program. 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. 

This year, 12 students from the McNair Scholars Program and 10 students from the SI Bridges to the Baccalaureate program presented their research at the symposium. 

The McNair Scholars Program is named for the late Ronald E. McNair, a physicist and astronaut who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The program provides enriched instruction for first-generation or otherwise underserved students. It emphasizes strong mentoring, professional development and research opportunities that promote academic excellence and encourage success at the graduate level. 

The SI Bridges to Baccalaureate program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and provides paid biomedical and behavioral science research training and professional development for underserved community college students. Students receive assistance in transferring to SIU and completing a baccalaureate degree in science, technology, engineering, math or social science disciplines. SI Bridges is a cooperative effort among SIU, John A. Logan College and Shawnee Community College. 

Other award recipients, with the title of their research and mentor were:

  • Second place: Naomi Tolbert, a junior in political science from Carbondale for “Unequal Access: Factors Contributing to the Disproportional Representation of Marginalized Groups within Study Abroad Programs.” Her mentor was Chris Stout, assistant professor of political science.  Tolbert received a $100 cash award.
  • Third place: Magan Snowden, a senior in psychology from Zion, for “On the Quest to Become a Female MD: Perspectives from African-American Female Students.” Her mentor was Cynthia Sims, associate professor and department chair in workforce education and development. Snowden received a $75 cash award.
  • Fourth place (tie): Michael Sall, senior in horticulture from Carbondale, for “In vitro screening of native Trichoderma spp. isolates as potential biological control agents of seedling diseases of soybean caused by Macrophomina phaseolina and Rhizoctonia solani.His mentor was Ahmad M. Fakhoury, associate professor of plant, soil and agricultural systems. Sall received a $50 cash award.
  • Fourth place (tie): Shantel Franklin, a senior in political science from Chicago, for “Student Political Engagement: A Comparative Study of Higher Education Political Programs.” Her mentor was Scott McClurg, professor of political science. Franklin received a $50 cash award. 

Students who also made presentations include: 

  • Essence Brown, a senior in biological sciences from Rockford, for “Early Prefrontal Traumatic Brain Injury.” Her mentor was Michael Hylin, assistant professor of psychology.
  • Tim DeKoster, a senior in zoology from Colona, for “Composition and Quality of Farm-Raised vs. Wild-Caught Fish.” His mentor was Jesse Trushenski, associate professor of zoology.
  • Raven Gougis, senior in biomedical science from Chicago, for “Brain GLP-1 Receptor mRNA expression after stroke in rats.” Her mentor was Joseph L.Cheatwood, associate professor of anatomy in the SIU School of Medicine.
  • Dakota Justice, a senior in anthropology from Westmont, for “Portrayals of Native Americans in American Movies.” His mentor was Gray Whaley, associate professor of history.
  • Gabrielle Morris, a senior in rehabilitation services from St. Louis, for “PECS Usage and Training at the Center of Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Her mentor was Valerie Boyer, associate professor at the SIU Rehabilitation Institute.
  • Leslie Murray, a senior in philosophy from Carbondale, for “The Immanence of the Eschaton & the Scientific Discoveries of the Present.” Murray’s mentor was Randall Auxier, professor of philosophy.
  • Luis Trevino-Pena, junior in philosophy from Cobden, for “Physician-assisted suicide: Addressing the ‘right to die’ argument.” His mentor was Andrew Youpa, associate professor of philosophy. 

Judges for this year’s event were:

Angela J. Aguayo, assistant professor of cinema and digital culture; Elom Amuzu, doctoral student in counseling psychology; Ashani Hamilton, senior in animal science and a McNair Scholar; Sosanya Jones, assistant professor of educational administration and higher education; and Pamela Smoot, director of recruitment, retention and outreach for the College of Liberal Arts, and a clinical professor of history and Africana studies