McNair Scholars Present Research

Knox McNair Scholars Present Research at California Conference

November 15, 2013

By Veronica Gockenbach ‘14

Student researchers from the Knox College McNair Scholars Program say they were inspired by participating in a 2013 conference at the University of California, Berkeley, where they presented their research and received advice about life after Knox.

Each year, the McNair Program selects 10 sophomores who work with faculty mentors through their senior year to develop academic and research projects. The McNair Program aims to prepare students -- especially first-generation college students and students from underrepresented groups -- for graduate and doctoral studies and encourages them to explore research-intensive careers.

After completing their summer research experiences this year, 12 Knox students attended a three-day conference in California. In addition to presenting their research projects, they had the opportunity to network with graduate school recruiters and to attend graduate school test preparation workshops and application seminars at Stanford University.

At UC Berkeley, students presented their summer research to university department chairs and other people interested in their topics.

Jade Ivy, a Knox junior from Chicago, Illinois, studied the ways in which gender and formality are represented in the Japanese and English sign languages. She said she enjoyed being spoken to "like a scholar," and being able to share unique information about the languages. She also appreciated being asked questions that she couldn't answer.

"If someone asks you a question you don't know the answer to, you have your next step in your research," Ivy said. "New angles and lenses to look at the information are always wonderful."

Knox senior Bryan Leslie shared the results of experiments that tested the effectiveness of two plant extracts to alleviate the symptoms of rats that had been given drugs to mimic Alzheimer's disease. Both extracts have shown results, he says, and he plans to continue research with the skills learned from the program.

"Knowing that I have this experience under my belt gives me a great sense of accomplishment and a lot of confidence for the future endeavors," said Leslie. Sophia Gimenez presents at 2013 McNair Student Conference

"Applying to the McNair program has really been one of the best decisions I've made at Knox," said junior Nicole Baldino, whose project examines the implications of gender in David Lynch films. "I know that graduate schools will look and see that I am a McNair Fellow and automatically know that I am ready for their school, already having a background in research, teaching, and working closely with a faculty member."

During fall term, the students have continued to work on their research papers for publication in the McNair Journal. Several Knox juniors in the McNair Program presented their research during Horizons on October 18. (Photo at right: Sophia Gimenez discusses her project, "Performance Art Meets the Art Institution," at University of California, Berkeley.)

Here is a list of the 12 Knox students who attended the California conference and their research proejcts.

• Natalie Baldino (mentored by Brandon Polite, visiting assistant professor of philosophy): "Trauma and Tragedy: Remaking Identity Through Personal Narrative."
• Nicole Baldino (mentored by Robert Smith, John and Elaine Fellowes Distinguished Chair in English): "Remember, We Are Dealing with the Human Form: Fugue and Fluidity in the Works of David Lynch."
• Nicolette Bridgeforth (mentored by Jon Wagner, professor of anthropology): "Success in the Community: Determining the Success of the Intentional Communities of Galesburg Colony, Bishop Hill, and Jonestown."
• Sophia Gimenez (mentored by Gregory Gilbert, associate professor and director of the Art History Program): "Performance Art Meets the Art Institution."
• Bryan Leslie (mentored by Esther Penick, associate professor of biology): "Memory and Learning in Scopolamine-induced Rats with Oral Administration of Turmeric and Bacopa Monnieri Mixture."
• Jade Ivy (mentored by Mat Matsuda, associate professor of Asian Studies): "Gender and Formality in ASL and JSL."
• Jakeb Maryott (mentored by Chad Simpson, associate professor of English): "A Case Study in Screenwriting and the Half-hour Television Sitcom."
• Elian Mercado (mentored by Magali Roy-Fequiere, associate professor and chair of Gender and Women's Studies): "Palestinian Perspectives on the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict."
• Christian Navarette (mentored by Matthew Jones-Rhoades, assistant professor of biology): "Diversity of Farming Symbiosis Within the Soil Amoeba Dictyostelium."
• Gabrielle Rajerison (mentored by Magali Roy-Fequiere, associate professor and chair of Gender and Women's Studies): "Storytelling, Cultural Memory, and (Re)presentation of the Jezebel in Gayl Jones's Corregidora."
• Lyana Sun Han Chang (mentored by Maria Barros Garcia, visiting assistant professor of modern languages): "Identity of Heritage Spanish Speakers: The Influence of Age and Language."
• Sa'Misty Utley (mentored by Heather Hoffmann, professor and chair of psychology): "Identity Security in Bi-racial Versus Monoracial College Students."