2019-2020 Cohort

We're proud to welcome our new cohort of McNair Scholars. They were inducted December 6, 2019.

Vianney

Vianney Campos
Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
Major: Sociology
Graduation: Spring 2021

“The Latinx Male: An intersectional study of
service providers and mental health services among Latinx men”

Research directed by Dr. Laurie Heffron, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

The lack of conversation on the mental health of Latino men has larger scale societal impacts such as the sustainment of mental health stigmatization among Latino men. It is crucial for social service providers to use an intersectional lens when assessing the factors that are influential to mental health service access among Latino men. These factors may include but are not limited to: race, culture, sexuality, and gender identity. Low rates of mental health service use among Latino men is influenced by barriers such as socioeconomic status, cultural/traditional ideologies, knowledge of mental health services, availability of mental health services, and discrimination within mental health services. The intent of the current study is to explore the cultural responsiveness among social service providers to identify and  address different factors of Latinx identities and assess in what ways these factors affect Latino men’s views on mental health and access to services. Participants will be asked questions about their experiences providing services to Latino male clients, their perspectives on access to mental health, and recommendations about how service providers can provide their clients with optimal assistance.

Carlos Chavira
Hometown: Brownsville, TX
Major: Biology
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Do P. granatum extracts have synergistic activity with antibiotics against S. aureus?”
Research directed by Dr. Trish Baynham, School of Natural Sciences

The phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has increased and threatens public health as it results in infections that can no longer be controlled with current therapeutic approaches. This calls for global urgency to address this issue with novel methods in combating this problem. Recent studies have shown that certain plant extracts have antimicrobial compounds and have the potential in fighting AMR bacteria. A fruit that has shown antimicrobial activity in previous studies is the pomegranate or P. granatum. Ms. Zoe Lichtenberg found that pomegranate extracts showed antimicrobial activity. This study will confirm that P. granatum has antimicrobial activity and also determine whether it has any synergistic activity with an antibiotic. For this study, extracts previously prepared by Ms. Lichtenberg will be used to test for antimicrobial activity using a Kirby Bauer disk diffusion and a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) against the standard strain of S. aureus (ATCC 29213). Gentamicin will also be tested for the MIC. Once the MIC of both extract and antibiotic are acquired, an assay will be performed to test for synergistic activity using various concentrations of each in combination. The fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) index will then be used to determine if there is any synergistic interaction between the plant extract and the antibiotic against the bacterium. If successful, this could lead to effective therapeutics for use in AMR bacteria.

Marianne

Marianne Garcia
Hometown: Alamo, TX
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Graduation: Spring 2022

“The Social Competence, Self-Perceptions, and Quality of Life of Autistic Adults”
Research directed by Dr.  Emily Barton, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication, social perception, and maintaining social relationships. Traits of ASD are often observed and diagnosed in early childhood but are present throughout the individual’s entire lifetime. However, most of the literature focuses exclusively on children and adolescents, largely excluding adults. This narrow focus results in limited information on the functionality of support networks and social relationships for autistic adults. This study will investigate the social competence and self-perception of autistic adults to determine overall quality of life and any areas in need of more support. An online survey assessing social competence, self-perception, and quality of life will be created and disseminated on social media to reach a participant sample of 50 autistic adults, aged 18 and older. This research will help to identify the difficulties that autistic adults face in their lives, social relationships, and self-perceptions.

Mia

Mia Garcia
Hometown: Laredo, TX
Major: Biology
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Refining Assay Recipes to Measure Insect Immunological Responses”
Research directed by Dr. Matthew Steffenson School of Natural Sciences

Immunology is the study of how organisms protect themselves against pathogens. The way the host’s body responds to pathogens is by using specialized cells and proteins to attack invaders, collectively called the immune system. Vertebrate immunology is an extensively researched area of biology; however, the innate immune response of invertebrates is still not well understood. For example, it is unclear how the cost of activating an immune response differs among species with conserved immune pathways. The two species that will be studied in this proposal are Tigrosa helluo (a wolf spider) and Apis mellifera ligustica (the Italian honeybee). Because both species differ biologically, the same assay recipe cannot be perfectly optimized for both organisms.  This project aims to develop optimized assay recipes specific to each species for antioxidants involved in the innate immune response (peroxidase, catalase, and superoxide dismutase).

Cristobal

Cristobal Garcia-Quiroz
Hometown: Austin, TX
Major: Biology and Political Science
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Quantifying Health Attitudes and Access in U.S.-born and Immigrant LGBT+ Latinx People”
Research directed by Dr. Robert Buchanan, KM, MD, The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School

According to the Pew Research Institute, there are approximately 44.4 million immigrants, a vast majority of whom identify as Latinx. Out of this number, 2.4 million, both undocumented and documented, identify as LGBT+ as well. Economic, social, and political factors, especially those racialized against Latinx people and discriminatory towards LGBT+ people, contribute to deleterious effects in the lived experiences of LGBT+ Latinx people in the United States. Specifically of interest within this project are the various factors and their subsequent effect on the health access in this population, as measured by access to primary care and perceived attitudes towards health services. Additionally, an investigation into the ways immigrant policing impacts skepticism in health service utilization within LGBT+ Latinx people will be performed. Such immigrant policing has been suggested to decrease enrollment in public health programs meant to increase health access in this subgroup. To accomplish this study, data from patients of the Seton Healthcare Family, a Catholic medical network in the Greater Austin area, will be collected through interviews and survey intake. This project aims to identify the critical areas of need within the LGBT+ Latinx immigrant and U.S.-born population.

Viviana

Viviana Jaimes
Hometown: Austin, TX
Major: Sociology
Graduation: Spring 2022

“The Effects of News Media on Social Trust and Well-Being in the Latinx Community”
Research directed by Dr. Lori Peterson, School of Arts and Humanities

This study investigated the levels of social trust and well-being within the Latinx community, in particular, when presented with negative or positive media clips, posts and excerpts about their community. Volunteer participants from the Latinx Community from ages 18-25 took a pre-test survey to determine their initial levels of well-being and social trust, after which they watched and read either positive or negative media clips and excerpts about their community. The three negative clips included an example of how Latinos are underrepresented in Hollywood, a clip of a Tucker Carlson guest warning that Democrats are trying to replace whites with Latinos to “transform the United States,” and an excerpt about how Latinos should not speak Spanish in public places. The three positive examples included one on how Latin music is now more popular than country and Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in America, an example of how Latinos may be the key to future US economic growth, and an example of how speaking Spanish in the United States brings a competitive edge. A post-test was administered to determine any changes in levels of well-being and social trust. It was predicted that those who viewed the negative clips, posts and excerpts would report lower levels of social trust and well-being and those who viewed the positive clips, posts and excerpts would report no change in levels of social trust and well-being.

Alberto

Alberto Limones
Hometown: Austin, TX
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Fall 2020

“Emptiness in the East and West: Nagarjuna and Jean-Pierre Duprey”
Research directed by Dr.  Jonathan Heaps, School of Arts and Humanities

The doctrine of sunyata is among the many principle teachings of Buddhism. It asserts the belief that everything is inherently empty because nothing is substantial to arise by its own nature. One of the first and highly regarded thinkers to systematically develop sunyata is Nagarjuna, a late second century CE Buddhist monk and scholar. In his identification of sunyat (also translated as voidness or emptiness), Nagarjuna will argue against the problems of reality, language, and identity. The approach to these problems is cognate to the development of the artistic and literary movements of early to mid-20th century Europe. One of the predominant movements of that era was Surrealism, and within this group was a young post-WWII poet whose expressions of the void are cognate to Nagarjuna’s sunyata. Therefore, a comparative analysis between Nagarjuna’s sunyata and Duprey’s work is called forth to investigate a correlation between their understanding of the void. This research will examine the expressions and similarities found between Nagarjuna’s sunyata and Jean-Pierre Duprey’s poetry that may generate a language of voidness that is cross-culturally understood between Eastern and Western audiences.

Varlie

Valerie Martin
Hometown: Leander, TX
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Foster Parents’ Experience: An Analysis of Secondary Trauma, Burnout, and Available Resources for Foster Parents”
Research directed by Dr. Adam McCormick, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Children in the foster care system often experience multiple traumas in their lifetime. When they move in with their foster parents, they are bringing these traumatic experiences with them into the home, and this can result in secondary trauma for the foster parents. The purpose of this research is to provide an analysis of literature that examines the lives of and resources available to foster parents to provide a deeper understanding for why they may be more susceptible to secondary trauma. This study also analyzes current resources available to foster parents to be able to recommend ways to improve them to accommodate for secondary trauma. The intentions of the study are to increase support for foster parents that will be appropriate to their experience.

Jimmy

Jimmy Martinez
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Major: Chemistry
Graduation: Spring 2021

“The Synthesis of Structural Molecular Models of the Active Site of Aberrant Copper Zinc Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1): Evaluating How  Structural  Deformations Lead to Disease”
Research directed by Dr. Santiago Toledo, School of Natural Sciences

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive malady that leads to the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. The origin of ALS is linked to the oligomerization of aberrant copper zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). SOD1 forms dioxygen and hydrogen peroxide to act as an antioxidant and scavenge for superoxide. Superoxide is a form of oxygen that possesses an extra electron. It is highly reactive and can give rise to the damage of cells. Certain alterations of SOD1 may have an influence on the development of ALS in several ways. Fluctuations within the electrostatic loop (ESL) of SOD1 allow for the formation of aberrant oligomers. The restriction of the electrostatic loop leads to a loss of mobility which in turn has an impact on the active site of SOD1. This influences the mobility of the molecule and leads to aberrant behavior. Aberrant behavior of the active site leads to overoxidation and results in the loss of copper. A deficiency of copper destabilizes the enzyme and in turn gives rise to the local unfolding of the ESL. This promotes aggregation and in a prion-like process transmits disease. In order to obtain an understanding of how different geometrical deformations such as the structural distortions caused by the restriction of the ESL, impact disease, a survey of literature on N4 Cu(II) complexes has been conducted to determine how the nature of the ligand impacts the geometry of the complex. The survey of literature was conducted to understand how the structural properties of the ligands impact the geometry of metal complexes. The geometries of N4 Cu(II) complexes are distinguished between square pyramidal and trigonal bipyramidal. Given this understanding, two novel ligand structures have been proposed. They will be used in the synthesis of model complexes for the active site of SOD1. These model complexes will then be used in the analysis of how aberrant behavior is linked to geometric deformations.

Karina

Karina Moreno
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Major: Biology and Spanish
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Assessing the Localization of DAF-16 in C. elegans unc-33 mutants”
Research directed by Dr. Andrea Holgado, School of Natural Sciences

Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), under stressed conditions form a larval stage called dauers (1). The dauers undergo processes that increase longevity and survivability1. However, unc-33 mutants are unable to form dauers. A major regulator of dauer formation is DAF-16 (2, 3). DAF-16 is influenced by 5 pathways; however, a main pathway is the IIS pathway, also known as the Insulin/Insulin-like signaling pathway (1–10). The IIS pathway is regulated by DAF-2 (1, 11). Under normal conditions, the pathway is activated when insulin or insulin-like peptides (ILPs) bind to DAF-2, downregulating the phosphorylation of DAF-16 (1,11). In stressed conditions, the pathway is not activated, and DAF-16 is not phosphorylated (1, 11). When phosphorylated, DAF-16 is localized in the cytosol (1, 11). When not phosphorylated, DAF-16 is translocated into the nucleus, causing the inhibition of hormone synthesis genes and generating dauers (1, 11).

In this study, unc-33 mutants are tested to determine the localization of DAF-16 in stressed conditions. In order to test this, three isoforms of DAF-16, DAF-16a, DAF-16b, and DAF-16d/f, are tagged with a GFP to reveal where these protein isoforms are localized. We hypothesize that the DAF-16 protein is not localized in the nucleus when unc-33 mutants undergo stressed conditions leading to the inability to inhibit the hormone biosynthesis genes and inability to produce dauers. If these unc-33 mutants display DAF-16 to be localized in the cytosol, this could be a good indicator as to why these C. elegans mutants are not producing dauers.

Destiny

Destiny Nicoll
Hometown: Mebane, NC
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Spring 2022

“Assessing Compassion Fatigue Amongst Social Workers in the Child Welfare System”
Research directed by Dr.  Adam McCormick, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Child welfare research has historically placed little emphasis on the social workers who are on the frontlines in their work with children and families. Compassion Fatigue is a concept that refers to the emotional and physical exhaustion that can affect helping professionals and caregivers over time. This study aims to utilize a mixed method approach to explore the factors that contribute to compassion fatigue, as well as its effects on social workers in the child welfare system. Social workers will be assessed using the Compassion Fatigue Self-Test for Psychotherapists to examine the causes and symptoms of compassion fatigue amongst child welfare social workers. In addition, this study will utilize qualitative interviews with a few key stakeholders who will be selected using an availability sample process.

Melvin

Melvin Vizcaino
Hometown: Kyle, TX
Major: Communication
Graduation: Spring 2021

“Bilingual Speech Production: The Spanish of Central Texas as a Case Study”
Research directed by Luís Avilés González School of Arts and Humanities

The language dynamics in Texas between Spanish and English have a mutual influential relationship.  As observed in Willis (2005), he provides an early account of vowel shift in the Spanish of the southwest due to contact with English. Additionally, Flege’s Speech Learning Model (SLM; 1995) provides an understanding of phonetic acquisition and its relationship to the vocalic space as seen by age of acquisition (Guion et al., 2004), and instances of contact induced bilingualism (Flege, 2007 & Menke, 2009). Moreover, the exploration of race in Thomas and Ericson’s (2007) study lacked depth, thus rendering the need to include race in the study (Rosa, 2016). The present study consists of eight bilingual residents of Central Texas that participated in a sociolinguistic interview (Labov 1972) and completed the Bilingual Language Profile (Birdsong et al. 2012). The results of the interview were acoustically analyzed in PRAAT (Boersman & Weenik, 2019). The F1 (height) and F2 (frontness) of stressed and unstressed vowels will be plotted using R studio. The expected results of the study aim to shed light on the relationship between the external (societal) and internal (linguistic) factors that influence the vowel space of Mexican American Bilinguals in predominantly small rural Anglo speaking communities.

2018-2019 Cohort

Isabella

Isabella Barnes
Hometown: Washington, DC
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Graduation: Spring 2020

How Do Our Parents' Relationships Affect Us? Associations between Parental Relationship Status and Adult Attachment
Research directed by Dr. Katherine Goldey, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

The current study investigated the correlation between parents’ relationship status and quality during childhood and their offspring’s attachment style in romantic relationships as a young adult. This study asked participants to disclose the status of their parents’ relationship when they were a child and then presented a questionnaire to determine attachment style. We hypothesized that there would be a significant connection between the relationship status of one’s parents during their childhood and their relationships as an adult; furthermore, high quality rated parental relationships would correlate with healthier attachment styles in adult romantic relationships.

Cole Calderon

Cole Calderon
Hometown: Fairview, Texas
Major: Biology
Graduation: Spring 2020

The effects of microbial competition on microbiome colonization in C. elegans
Research directed by Dr. Teresa Bilinski, School of Natural Sciences

Caenorhabditis elegans is a model organism that is used to study a wide range of biological processes. This research was designed to utilize wild C. elegans strains as a model for host-microbe interactions that occur within the animal gut. The purpose of this research was to investigate how using different bacterial food sources, including bacteria native to soil environments, influences the rates of gut colonization. Results indicate that the type of bacterial strain and competition between bacterial strains, influenced C. elegans gut colonization rates. This research provides foundational knowledge to the usefulness of C. elegans as a gut microbiome model.

Rachelle

Rachelle Cardoza
Hometown: Weslaco, Texas
Major: Kinesiology
Graduation: Spring 2021

A Comparison of Recreational Therapy and Pharmacological Therapy in Reducing Behavioral Problems in Alzheimer’s Patients
Research directed by Dr. Kristy Ballard, School of Human Development and Education

With an aging population, there is an increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. This study conducted a meta-analysis using eResources on the effectiveness of recreational therapy compared to pharmacological therapy in reducing behavioral problems, the most frequent symptom encountered in Alzheimer’s patients. In addition, this study examined how the disease affects the quality of life for the patient and their caregivers. With early diagnosis, treatments help manage the disease by reducing negative outcomes and impairment on daily activities.  Preliminary findings indicate that the impact of recreational therapy leads to greater quality of life for patients and caregivers compared to pharmacological therapy.

Shawntia Dunna

Shawntia Dunna
Hometown: Peachtree Corners, GA
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Graduation: Fall 2019

The Influence of Race and Gender on Pain Empathy
Research directed by Dr. Jessica Boyette-Davis, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Racial and gender disparities in society negatively impact many outcomes, including basic healthcare and treatment for pain. In the current study the influence of race and gender on empathy for pain was examined. Participants (n=146) provided ratings of empathy before and after viewing a photo of a person in pain. Results indicated race and gender of photographed faces did not affect empathy ratings. A non-significant trend identified that Hispanic and black faces were rated differently than white faces. Further research on this topic is warranted in hopes of understanding the racial disparities that exist within healthcare.

Isabel Garcia

Isabel Garcia
Hometown: McAllen, Texas
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Spring 2021

Substance Abuse: A Comparative Analysis of Psychosocial Factors Unique to LatinX Immigrants
Research directed by Dr. Adam McCormick, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Addiction is a condition characterized by the compulsive drug seeking behavior that monopolizes the person’s time and health, and in severe cases, their life. Classical research done in this field has strictly surveyed white American citizens on their drug use habits, neglecting large transnational populations who face discrimination-related problems that strongly correlate with drug abuse. This meta-analysis explores unique risk factors faced by Latinx immigrants, such as stress, stigma, and inability to maintain healthy coping mechanisms through the psychosocial model of addiction.

Bianca Garcia-Gonzalez

Bianca Garcia-Gonzalez
Hometown: McAllen, Texas
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Graduation: Spring 2021

UNC-33, a protein that may link genetic and environmental factors underlying schizophrenia
Research directed by Dr. Andrea Holgado, School of Natural Sciences

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that affects over 2.6 million Americans. Research shows that schizophrenia may result from neurodevelopmental defects as well as environmental factors such as prenatal stress. Work from Lee and colleagues determined that prenatal stress induced via starvation results in decreased levels of DPYSL-2 in the pre-frontal cortex and the hippocampus of rats. UNC-33, the C. elegans homolog of DPYSL2, mediates axonal formation, transport of presynaptic protein and the nematode’s neuronal connectome. Herein, we present work from our laboratory demonstrating that prenatal stress alters the levels and cellular localization of a transcriptional reporter for unc-33.

Carolina Hernandez

Carolina Hernandez
Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
Major: Global Studies
Graduation: Fall 2019

Concentration Camps in America: A Comparative Analysis of the Detainment of Japanese Americans and Central Americans
Research directed by Dr. Justine Hernandez, School of Arts and Humanities

The upsurge of Central American migrants arriving at the southeastern border of the United States in the summer of 2014 subsequently expanded civil detention. Henceforth, the reopening of Fort Sill, a former internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, to house migrant children called the attention of Jewish and Holocaust scholars and politicians, with many voicing alarming parallels. This paper comparatively analyzes the implications, continuities and differences between the detainment of Japanese Americans and Central Americans within the paradigm of national security.

Victoria Jaimes

Victoria Jaimes
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Spring 2021

The Effects E-cigarette Marketing Has on Perceptions About Smoking Among College Students
Research directed by Dr. Moira Martin, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

E-cigarette use is becoming an alarming public concern, primarily due to the popularity of the devices with young individuals. Attempts to minimize usage such as narrower age restrictions, limiting of flavors and recent prohibition point to the need to understand the root cause of e-cigarette usage among college students. E-cigarette industry’s direct and indirect marketing suggests a correlation between perceptions and smoking behavior. This survey study asked 55 participants a series of questions related to their level of exposure from numerous marketing platforms. Additionally, questions sought to understand the effects of marketing perceptions about e-cigarette addictiveness and harmfulness.

Ryder Nicholas

Ryder Nicholas
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Graduation: Fall 2019

The Influence of Biopsychosocial Education on Substance Use Disorder Stigma
Research directed by Dr. Jessica Boyette-Davis, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

This study sought to decrease substance use disorder (SUD) stigma by educating participants about the biopsychosocial contributions to SUD. Participants (N=193) read a vignette describing an individual’s diagnosis of SUD, brain injury, or bipolar disorder. Stigma levels were then collected followed by a brief biopsychosocial educational intervention. Post-intervention stigma levels were collected.  Results showed stigma was highest for SUD, followed by bipolar disorder and brain injury. Post-intervention stigma did not change for SUD but did decrease for bipolar disorder. These results suggest SUD stigma is higher and more resistant to changes than other conditions.

Miriam Osheyack

Miriam Osheyack
Hometown: South Stafford, Vermont
Major: Psychology
Graduation: Spring 2020

Do Trigger Warnings Mediate a Physiological Response to the Anxiety Provoking Stimulus?
Research directed by Dr. Michael Disch School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Trigger warnings are used when topics are discussed or images are shown that have the potential to “trigger” difficult emotional responses. This experimental study investigates if trigger warnings mediate a physiological response, a change in heart rate, to a high anxiety stimulus, a three-minute news clip of the 2017 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. We examine how trigger warnings impact the physiological response that an individual has associated with a psychological stressor. Although this study is ongoing, preliminary data suggests there might be a correlation between the use of trigger warnings and a change in heart rate response.

Leslie Rios

Leslie Rios
Hometown: Hidalgo, Texas
Major: Political Science
Graduation: Spring 2020

Rhetoric Under President Trump: Citizenship as a Zero-Sum Game and Tragedy of the Commons
Research directed by Dr. David Thomason, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

When you think about border security and the conversations being held in our national government, it all starts to boil down to citizenship: who is allowed to enter and who should have access to our resources. This study addresses where citizenship is heading by studying the current rhetoric behind President Trump. An argument will be addressed through a meta-analysis of Game Theory, Border Security, and President Trump’s rhetoric with the expectation that President Trump is analyzing citizenship through a “Zero Sum” and “Tragedy of the Commons” lens, which explains his negative rhetoric towards border security and immigrants.

Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Major: Sociology
Graduation: Spring 2021

Dating Apps and Women’s Sexual Empowerment
Research directed by Dr. Katherine Goldey, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Understanding hookup culture is largely dependent on understanding technology, such as dating apps. This study examined ways women feel empowered or disempowered when using dating apps. An online survey (n=104 women) included questions about what women find sexually empowering and disempowering about dating apps and questions on sexual pleasure and risk. Results show women found apps empowering in that they provided autonomy, attention and safety; but factors like objectification and lack of trust could be disempowering. Reasons for not using apps included a perceived lack of safety. Overall, safety was paramount in women’s decisions about and experiences with dating apps.

David Weier

David Weier
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Major: Biology
Graduation: Fall 2019

Immunopathological perspective investigation on Colony Collapse Disorder in Apis mellifera as age in colony increase
Research directed by Dr. Matthew Steffenson, School of Natural Sciences

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) populations are reported to be in decline during the past decade, the cause of which is not fully known or understood; but the phenomenon has been termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). By investigating how honeybee populations and overall immune function change over time after being established in a new area, we can create a more complete picture of stress responses in honeybees. We quantified the immunology of two newly established colonies by measuring protein concentration and prophenoloxidase activity in honeybee hemolymph. Preliminary results show that colonies went through what appeared to be an “adjustment” period post-establishment.

2017-2018 Cohort

The 2018 Cohort was inducted into the McNair Scholars Program in December 2017. Their work was presented July 2018 McNair Research Symposium following eight weeks of a research internship.

Guadalupe

Guadalupe Aguilar
Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
Major: Forensic Chemistry
Graduation: Spring 2020

The Development of a Novel Dual Chemical for the Development of Blood Utilizing Titanium Dioxide and a Fluorescent-based Chemical
Research directed by Dr. Casie Parish Fisher, School of Natural Sciences

Blood-based evidence is a common type of evidence found within crime scenes. To date, there are many chemicals that are used to develop various amounts of blood; however, most turn blood a dark color. This project aims to develop a novel dual chemical that would produce a white reaction color in ambient light and a fluorescent hue when utilizing an alternate light source. 1,8-Diazafluoren-9-one (DFO) and Acid Yellow 7 (AY7), which reacts with amino acids and proteins combined with Titanium Dioxide, which produces a white reaction, have been chosen to attempt to optimize a novel chemical solution for these samples.

Andrea

Andrea Calderon
Hometown: Spring, Texas
Major: Environmental Science and Policy
Graduation: Fall 2019

Does awareness to the risks associated with unethical product sourcing influence consumer purchase behavior?
Research directed by Dr. Peter Beck, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Consumers are interested in an organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, and have an affinity for industries that abstain from the conventions of production that lend to existential abuses of human rights and environmental degradation. And while consumer ideologies towards corporate social responsibility are well recorded, the impact of the awareness factor remains an enigma. The purpose of this study is to bridge this gap and examine whether awareness to the risks associated with unethical standards of production influences consumer purchase behavior. If there is a direct correlation, then industries have an obligation to release full disclosure of the PLC.

Kaylee

Kaylee Delgado
Hometown: Brownsville, Texas
Major: Biology
Graduation: Spring 2021

Toxicity of Chlamydomonas Chloroplast-expressed CRY11A Protein on Caenorhabditis
Research directed by Dr. Charles Hauser, School of Natural Sciences

Plant parasitic nematodes have devastated crops by destroying roots and have contributed to decreased plant diversity. This experiment examined the impact(s) on the viability of the model organism C. elegans (N2) when exposed to a potential nematicide (cry11A) expressed from an engineered strain of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Five experimental conditions and two controls were tested to determine toxicity. In order to determine if the strains are toxic to free-living nematodes, a longevity assay was performed for each of the seven conditions. If the strains prove to be toxic, there is a possibility of using these strains in crop pest control.

Alessandra

Alessandra Urbina
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Major: Global Studies
Graduation: Spring 2020

Measuring the Effectiveness of Applying the Vietnam and Germany Reunification Models Towards the Reunification of North and South Korea
Research directed by Dr. Selin Guner, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

EPolicy experts have strategized for the reunification of North and South Korea since 1953; however, no substantial progress has led towards the restoration of a unified Korean state. This research aims to analyze the internal factors contributing towards the successful reunifications of North and South Vietnam in 1975 and West and East Germany in 1990 and how they compare to the two Koreas. After identifying such factors from the reunification models of Vietnam and Germany, conclusions will be made concerning which factors—political, economic, and/or cultural—are most integral in creating optimal conditions leading towards the reunification of both Koreas.