WMU News

Undergraduate researchers honored

May 9, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Twenty-eight undergraduate scholars were honored during Western Michigan University's third Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholars Program Luncheon this spring.

In addition to recognizing members of the McNair program, the event draws attention to the research projects these talented undergraduate students focus on during the annual Summer Research Institute, an eight-week capstone learning experience held on campus in May and June.

This year's luncheon featured nine 2001-02 McNair scholars who already have graduated or will graduate by the end of June. [Scroll down for list.] Helping them celebrate their accomplishment was keynote speaker Dr. Orlando L. Taylor, dean of the Graduate School and a professor of communications at Howard University, the nation's largest on-campus producer of African American doctoral degree recipients.

Also speaking at the event was Robert Jones, mayor of Kalamazoo; Dr. Elson S. Floyd, president of WMU; and Dr. Diane K. Swartz, interim vice president for student affairs at WMU.

Each of the McNair Scholars works with a faculty mentor. During the program, Dr. Gwen A. Tarbox, assistant professor of English, was recognized as the Mentor of the Year. Tarbox worked with Bethany Salgat, an English major from Pinconning, Mich., who graduated in April.

The McNair program is one of seven congressionally funded educational opportunity programs that help U.S. students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. Collectively known as TRIO programs, they require that more than two-thirds of participants come from low-income families, where neither parent graduated from college.

"Congress established the McNair program in 1989 as a way of increasing the enrollment of underrepresented student groups in doctoral programs," says Maxine Gilling, director of WMU's program, which is housed in the Division of Multicultural Affairs.

"We initiated our version of the program in 1999 to help WMU students with strong academic credentials hone their research skills in preparation for enrolling in graduate school here or at another university."

Gilling says McNair Scholars are introduced to research concepts and activities as sophomores and juniors, then work closely with faculty mentors in their final two years to design research projects, conduct research, and present and/or publish their findings.

The scholars are awarded a $2,800 stipend to support their required research activities and compete for selection to attend the Summer Research Institute. During the institute, they receive free room and board while living on campus and fine tuning their research.

"The idea is to work closely with these students so that by the time they graduate from WMU, they'll be prepared to enter graduate school," Gilling says.

"Having a solid research background gives our undergraduate students a competitive edge when applying to graduate school and helps them develop key skills they'll need to be successful after they're admitted. It also enhances their marketability if they decide to enter the labor force right after obtaining their bachelor's degrees."

McNair scholars who already have graduated or will graduate in June

Mary Elizabeth Crawford, Inkster, Mich., is a double major in political science and philosophy and a Lee Honors College member who graduated in December 2001. Her research paper was on "Homosexuality and the United States Supreme Court." Her faculty mentor was Dr. Thomas L. Gossman, ombudsman and professor of finance and commercial law.

Eluehue Crudup II, Saginaw, Mich., is an English major and a Lee Honors College member who graduated in April. His research paper was on "Transcendence and Escapism as Thematic Continuums in African American Poetry." His faculty mentor was Dr. Leander C. Jones, professor of Africana studies.

Jennifer Dionne Earley, Lansing, Mich., is a double major in marketing and Black Americana studies who graduated in December 2001. Her research paper was on "The Impact of Hip-Hop Culture on Today's Consumer." Her faculty mentor was Dr. Ben Wilson, director of the Africana Studies Program.

Awet Embaie, Manteca, Calif., is a biomedical sciences major originally from Eritrea who graduated in April. His research paper was on "The Effect of Cadmium and cisPlatin on Salmonella Typhimurium (TA1535/psk1002)." His faculty mentor was Dr. Gyula Ficsor, professor of biological sciences.

Tammy Jeffries, Mattawan, Mich., is an interpersonal communication major who will graduate in June. Her research paper was on "An Autoethnographical Exploration of Racial 'I'dentity." Her faculty mentor was Dr. Mark Orbe, associate professor of communication.

Karika Phillips, Kalamazoo, is a sociology major who will graduate in June. Her research paper was on "The Influences and Behaviors on Academic Help-Seeking of African-American Students at Western Michigan University." Her faculty mentors were Dr. Douglas Davidson and Dr. Paul Wienir, both associate professors of sociology.

Bethany Salgat, Pinconning, Mich., is an English major who graduated in April. Her research paper was on "Quilting as a Means of Control and Transformation in Terris' Nell's Quilt." Her faculty mentor was Dr. Gwen A. Tarbox, assistant professor of English.

Carla Sharp, Muskegon, Mich., is a sociology major who graduated in April. Her research paper was on "An Investigation of Changes in the Quality of Life in a Black Community." Her faculty mentors were Dr. Douglas Davidson, associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Subhash Sonnad, professor of sociology.

Natalie Wallace, Eaton Rapids, Mich., is a biological sciences major who graduated in April. Her research paper was on "The Increase of Nerve Growth Factor and Change in Nerve Innervation Pattern in Hypertensive Rats." Her faculty mentor was Dr. John M. Spitsbergen, assistant professor of biological sciences.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu


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