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Current Scholars

The Scholars ordinarily apply for admission to the two-year program as second-semester sophomores from the University of Kansas. Participants are low-income (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education), first-generation (neither parent has received a four-year bachelor's degree) students, or those from groups traditionally underrepresented in graduate education(African American, Hispanic, Native American). The scholars represent a variety of disciplines (the humanities, the sciences, mathematics, and education), but all share a common desire to pursue graduate studies.

Summer Research Internships: The McNair Program provides year-round assistance to its Scholars as they prepare for eventual graduate study. The capstone experience for Scholars is a two-month summer internship that provides them with the opportunity to perform independent research leading to a paper that is presented at symposia and conferences and, on occasion, published. McNair Scholars can participate in a maximum of two SRIs during their tenure with the program.

Current McNair Scholars


Major: Economics

Research Topic: The Effect of Religious Affiliation on Charitable Donations

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Donna Ginther

About Me: I am first generation American student. Over the course of a semester the McNair Scholar program has been able to foster and guide my academic goals. I am most interested in Behavioral Economics because I enjoy understanding the incentives that motivate a person’s actions. In the fall, I will be applying to MA programs to further enhance my academic career goals. 

Psychology; Minor: Social and Behavioral Statistical Methodology

Major: Psychology; Minor: Social and Behavioral Statistical Methodology

Research Topic: social-cognitive processes that contribute to stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination Faculty Mentor: Dr. Monica Biernat and Dr. Karin Chang

About Me: In addition to school, I work making coffee and decorating cakes, but my real passion is for research in social attitudes and behaviors. I always loved my psychology courses, but I began to grow into a researcher when I focused on attaining skills in statistical analysis and methodology.

Petroleum Engineering

Research Interests: Enhanced Oil Recovery; Hydraulic Fracturing

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Reza Barati

Anticipated Graduation: Spring 2017

About Me: I was born and raised in Topeka, KS about 20 minutes away from Lawrence. I am currently in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering program and am on course to get my bachelor’s degree in the Spring of 2017. I’m currently involved in the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Ascend KU, and a member of the Spring 2014 Alternative Breaks.

After I graduate in 2017 I plan on getting my master’s in Petroleum and Geosystems and working as a member of a research and development team.

Psychology, Spanish

Research Interests: Prejudice, Discrimination, Privilege, Inequalities, Human Interaction, Mental Diseases

Faculty Mentor: Ludwin Molina

Anticipated Graduation: May 2016

About Me: I like to travel a lot, I've traveled 20+ times outside the United States.  I also love to read a good book and people watch.

Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Research Interests: My areas of interest are intimate partner violence and sexual violence.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ruth Ann Atchley

Anticipated Graduation: Fall 2017

About me: 

I was born in Winchester Kansas, but raised for most of my life in Topeka Kansas. I am now living in Lawrence and loving every moment. I volunteer at The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center (formerly Gadugi Safe Center) as a Community Action Team member; I currently work part-time as a Landscape Supervisor for Low Maintenance Landscape, Inc. and have worked for the company for over 10 years.

When I enjoy spare time, I use it to read, write poetry, and listen to music. I am a non-traditional student in that I am a father of three, an orphan, and I am in my thirties. After I earn my Bachelor of General Studies in Psychology as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, I plan to earn a PhD in Psychology (Hopefully at KU!).

Research Interests: chemical imbalances & protein mutations that affect neuroplasticity of brain

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robert Ward

Anticipated Graduation: May 2016

Ecology/Environmental Biology; Minor: Prairie Acre/ Conservation/ Marine Biology

Research Topic:

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Trever Rivers

Psychology; Minor: Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology

Major: Psychology; Minor: Social and Behavioral Sciences Methodology

Research Topic: Mass media racial violence and negative psychological well-being among African Americans.

About Me: I am a Marine Corps veteran with six years’ service. Initially, conducting research was an intimidating proposition until I participated in my first research class. Under Dr. Banerjee I began to see the absolute value of the process toward the well-being of people generally; my passion was ignited.

Environmental Studies

Research Interests: Food systems, climate change, and perceptions of environmental problems

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul Stock and Dr. Robert Antonio

Anticipated Graduation: May 2017

About Me: I hope to pursue at least two more research projects before graduating

Psychology with a business minor

Research Interests: High school athletics, Mindfulness in sport, Exercise psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mary Fig

Anticipated Graduation: Spring 2017

About me: As a former athlete, I was drawn to research in sports psychology. At my time at KU I have had the priviledge to be a research assistant, student ambassador, and a peer mentor. Also, recently I have been working in the sport and exercise psychology lab. My future plans are to PhD in Sports Psychology and become a professor. I also would like to contribute to the research more as well.


Major: Chemistry/Ukanteach

Research Topic: Developing high school experiments based on NGSS

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher G. Elles

About Me: I got my first taste of research while I got my first taste of fatherhood. I was born in Dallas Texas, but moved to Olathe Kansas at a young age. I found my home in chemistry and the Ukanteach program. I hope to pursue a master’s of education after I graduate, and would like to eventually get a Ph.D in education.

Classical Antiquity, History

Research Interests: Gender and sexuality in the ancient world

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alexander E. Hall

About Me: A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Joy lives in Overland Park, KS, with her son, daughter, and vindictive cat.  She enrolled at Johnson County Community College in the summer of 2011, hoping to – at long last – determine what she wanted to be when she grew up. Latin I revealed a fierce and all-encompassing love of classical antiquity lurking within her heart, and it was quickly determined that the scholarly life of researching, writing, and teaching would suit just fine (the “growing up” part has been, however, shelved until further notice).  As a member of the honors program at JCCC, Joy published three papers, two of which were presented at state and regional honors conferences.  For her McNair research, and under the guidance of the Best Mentor, Ever, Joy explored the treatment of women within the work of biographer, historian, and moralist Plutarch, whose vast corpus serves to inform much of Western history and our understanding of the ancient world.  In addition to the McNair Scholars Program, Joy works as a Writing Consultant and Writing Fellow through the KU Writing Center. 


Major: Psychology

Research Topic: Motivational Climates in sport and exercise

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mary Fry

About Me: In the future, I plan to further develop and utilize my leadership skills while gaining more knowledge and skills to obtain a Master’s Degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Thereafter, a PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Journalism-News and Information track

Research Interests: I am interested in the experiences of female motorcyclists and how they navigate & challenge gender/social norms.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lisa McLendon

Anticipated Graduation: May 2017

About Me: I am originally from Denver, Colorado, btu moved to Kansas to attend the KU School of Journalism. I have always wanted to tell stories and help improve the lives of underrepresented groups. I hope to write for a radio/television show such as This American Life when I graduate. I love to travel, read and enjoy good food/music/company.

Classical Antiquity/Humanities Minor: Anthropology

Major: Classical Antiquity/Humanities; Minor: Anthropology

Research Topic: The roles of women in Shakespearean tragedies

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Johnathan Lamb

Journalism; Minor Dance and Creative Writing

Major: Journalism; Minor Dance and Creative Writing

Research Topic: Latina Characters in Literature

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christopher Perriera

About Me: I am a Journalism student who is interested in the power of documenting true events. Since a very early age I became fascinated by words and stories, reading voraciously novels outside those of my school's curriculum. I am interested in researching about Latina representation and visibility through many forms of mediums in the US.


Electrical Engineering

Major: Electrical Engineering

Research Topic: PCB design for a hybrid SCM system

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rongqing Hui

About Me: I love Mathematics and the Physical Sciences as well as their applications in Engineering.  I hope to earn a PhD and eventually become a research engineer.

Political Science

Research Interests: Political Science

Research Topic: LGBTQ Health Care Discrimination: An Analysis of Kansas Polices Regarding Long Term Care Discrimination Based on Gender Identity

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Donald Haider-Markel


Research Interests: Race and Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tamara A. Baker

Major: Human Biology; Minor: Journalism

Major: Human Biology; Minor: Journalism

Research Topic: Women and infant health, nutrition, reproductive health and epidemiology of infectious diseases

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sandra Gray

About Me: I enjoy baking since it provides me with an opportunity to unwind, relax, and dream big things. Additionally, I am a hopeless romantic and enjoy reading romantic thrillers and watching romantic movies and telenovelas.  I am originally from Kenya and would love to do a project back home based on one of my research projects.

Psychology; Minor: communications/applied behavioral science

Major: Psychology; Minor: communications/applied behavioral science

Research Topic:

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Monica Biernat

About Me: I am the first of my family that is going to graduate from college. Thanks to the support from McNair I am also the first of my family to be pursuing higher education to gain a PhD. My goal is to eventually conduct research full time and be able to take what I have learned and be able to positively affect others that are typically underrepresented in society. 

Social Welfare

Major: Social Welfare

Research Topic: Access to higher education among undocumented students; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival; Immigration

Faculty Mentor: Melinda Lewis, LMSW

About Me: Robert Sagastume is a senior in the Social Welfare program. He knows firsthand the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants in the Kansas City metropolitan area as someone who has worked closely with undocumented families and students through his activism, volunteer work, and through his own former undocumented experience.

Psychology and Sociology; Minor: French

Major: Psychology, Sociology, and French Minor

Research Topic: Effects of prejudice on mood

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Chris Crandall

About Me: I aspire to attend graduate school for Clinical Psychology. I enjoy volunteering my time at the Headquarters Counseling Center, the Willow Domestic Violence Center and for International Peer Support at KU. I find research as a daily challenge, and I have decided that it is my guilty pleasure. I am a member of the Chi Omega fraternity and consider my self-care time to be time spent with my friends.

Sociology; Minor: Journalism

Major: Sociology; Minor: Journalism

Research Topic: American Values, Sociology of Mental Illness

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Tracey LaPierre

About Me: I am currently applying to Masters Public Policy programs and studying for the GRE exam. I’m involved on campus with the Office of Admissions, the Honors Program, the Housing department and a few volunteer organizations. In the future I hope to be working in Education Policy and bettering the educational system. 

Psychology and Sociology

Major: Psychology and Sociology

Research Topic: Alchoholism and Social Class

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Monica Biernat

About Me: My research looks at the perception of alcoholism between social classes. I plan to go to graduate school and earn my doctorate in Clinical Child Psychology. I am a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, and am a multicultural ambassador for KU

Social Work

Research Interests: I am interested in anything that pertains to social justice.  I currently am documenting the experience of formerly incarcerated women who have had custody issues due to the timeline proposed in the Adopt and Safe Families Act.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andrew Zinn

Anticipated Graduation: May 2017

About Me: I am a non- traditional transfer student from JCCC.  I had an amazing first year at the University of Kansas but it has been a difficult journey to get here.  Becoming a McNair scholar introduced me to the importance of representation in research and an informed support system to become successful.  I intend to do policy reform and one of my ultimate goals is to create my own social program.  Within this last year my goals have grown and expanded to include a Doctorate degree.  Before I knew I wanted to achieve a Master’s to give me more flexibility within my field I have now chosen to go even further!

African American Studies; Minor: Psychology

Research Topic: African American Culture in American Society (i.e., Black men in hip hop, Rap music, and American values)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Anthony Bolden

About Me: I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. When I’m not engaging in school work, I enjoy listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, eating, and site seeing. My other hobbies include painting, drawing, organizing, and cooking. It is my goal to attend Georgia State University for Grad school and, obtain a PhD in Criminal Justice.