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Eleven undergraduate researchers named new McNair Scholars

RELEASED: Nov. 29, 2011

EAU CLAIRE —Eleven students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have been selected for the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair Program is a learning community that prepares students for careers in research.

Each year six to 12 talented UW-Eau Claire undergraduates are recognized for their academic achievements and selected by faculty nomination. McNair Scholars plan to attend graduate school to pursue doctoral degrees. As undergraduates they engage in two years of collaborative research with faculty, which generally leads to publication and scholarly presentations in their respective disciplines.

Following are new 2011-12 UW-Eau Claire McNair Scholars:

  • Jordyn Beranek, daughter of Kurt Beranek and Stacey Tubbs, Rice Lake, will pursue research on the representation of historical figures in two operas: "The Ballad of Baby Doe" and "La Traviata." She will collaborate with Dr. Mitra Sadeghpour, associate professor of music and theatre arts.
  • Abigail Doering, daughter of Jeff and Kathy Doering, Altoona, will pursue research on a comparison of the employment and funding systems of American opera companies and the German 'fest' opera system. She will collaborate with Dr. Mitra Sadeghpour, associate professor of music and theatre arts.
  • Cheng Her, son of Sai Houa Her and Blia Xiong, Altoona, will pursue research on the characterization and analysis of an amino-acid peptide potentially useful in vaccine development. He will collaborate with Dr. Thao Yang, associate professor of chemistry.
  • Britta Marquand, daughter of Brad and Tammy Marquand, Amery, will pursue research on an analysis of the effects of study-abroad experiences on students' perceptions of cultural values and communication styles and behaviors. She will collaborate with Dr. Judy Sims, professor of communication and journalism.
  • Courtney Nelson, daughter of James and Carolyn Nelson, Apple Valley, Minn., will pursue research on an analysis of anxiety behavior in rats after the administration of anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals. She will collaborate with Dr. Blaine Peden, professor of psychology.
  • Ashley Niebauer, daughter of Mark and Rochelle Niebauer, Appleton, will pursue research on a comparison of the effectiveness of two teaching methods used to instruct children with autism. She will collaborate with Dr. Kevin Klatt, associate professor of psychology.
  • Asia Riel, daughter of Pamela Riel, Waupun, will pursue research on the design and characterization of a specific molecule with potential utility as a molecular switch in nanotechnology applications. She will collaborate with Dr. Bart Dahl, assistant professor of chemistry.
  • Phillip Rynish, son of Paul and Beth Rynish, Seymour, will pursue research on the analysis of otoliths, bony structures of the inner ear, in fish populations of northern Wisconsin as an indicator of population dynamics. He will collaborate with Dr. David Lonzarich, professor of biology.
  • Douglas Schwoch, son of Loren and Judy Schwoch, Eau Claire, will pursue research on an exploration of how environmental ethics contribute to the decision-making processes of corporations during industrial-environmental catastrophes. He will collaborate with Dr. Kristin Schaupp, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies.
  • Cristina Soto, daughter of Daniel and Tamra Soto, Mequon, will pursue research on a consideration of the role of motivation in academic achievement among underrepresented students. She will collaborate with Dr. Jeff Goodman, assistant professor of psychology.
  • Mai Neng Vang, daughter of Chai Kao Vang and Xue Thao, Eau Claire, will pursue research on an analysis of the effects of acculturation on generational differences in attitudes toward child-rearing and values behind discipline practices in Hmong households. She will collaborate with Dr. Ann Collier, adjunct assistant professor of psychology.

UW-Eau Claire is one of 200 institutions nationwide to house a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education. McNair, the program's namesake, earned a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was an expert on lasers. He joined NASA in 1978 and died aboard the space shuttle Challenger, along with six other astronauts, when it exploded in 1986.

-30-

JB/DW

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