2018-2019 Cohort

We're proud to welcome our new cohort of McNair Scholars. They were inducted November 30, 2018.

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: Spring 2020

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: Spring 2020

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
Resaearch 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 2019

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: Spring 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 2020

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.