McNair scholars to present research at symposium

| Madigan Knuth

Undergraduate research is a critical thread that weaves through the fabric that is UW-Eau Claire, and that theme will be on display in December when the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program holds a special research symposium.

The McNair Scholars Research Symposium will showcase the research of more than a dozen undergraduate students Dec. 12-14 in the Ojibwe Ballroom of Davies Center. The symposium will be open from 3:30-5:30 p.m. each day, and students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to come to campus to review the impressive work of these academic stars.

UW-Eau Claire was recently named the top master’s-level university in the country for undergraduate research by the Council on Undergraduate Research, and the McNair students are continuing the rich tradition of excellence in research that led to the prestigious honor.

The McNair Program is not only a perfect outlet for undergraduate research; it also provides opportunities to students who have traditionally been underrepresented in research. The McNair Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and it was created to provide ample research opportunities to students of color and students who come from challenging economic situations. The program consists of a junior cohort and a senior cohort, and a total of 30 students are involved this academic year as UW-Eau Claire is focused on leveling the playing field in graduate studies.

The two-year program has an intensive structure that challenges students while also teaching them leadership skills. During the Summer Research Institute, the senior scholars have the opportunity to conduct research with some of the most highly respected professors on campus. Once they have completed their research, the scholars prepare to present their research at the annual research symposium in December.

“The McNair Program is a life-changing experience for students from diverse backgrounds who want to go to graduate school. It is an incredible support system for the entire range of elements that must come together in order for someone to successfully enter graduate school. We connect them with mentors and other resources on campus. We motivate them, encourage them and counsel them when they need it. We build lifelong relationships with our scholars. Last, but very importantly, McNair scholars bond with one another, they reach out and care about one another,” Chaudhuri said.

Chaudhuri added that more than 80 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s McNair scholars go to graduate school, and more than 40 percent go on to complete doctoral degrees.

“We invite the community to come to the McNair Research Symposium because this is their opportunity to witness and be part of the incredible research produced by our students and their mentors,” Dr. Sanjukta Chaudhuri, director of the McNair Program, said. “The McNair scholars are the future researchers of America, and it is important that everyone experience firsthand the research being generated by these future luminaries while they are still at UWEC.”

The McNair Research Symposium is the largest event hosted by the McNair Program, and it highlights the many interests and talents of a diverse group of scholars. The senior scholars will offer the research they conducted through individual presentations. All 16 senior cohort scholars will present their work during the course of the three-day symposium.

Photo caption: The 2016 McNair scholars senior cohort includes (front row, left to right) Sarah Loew, Ashley Suhku and Nicholas Reitano; (Second row, left to right) Dr. Sanjukta Chaudhuri, McNair Program director; Emilio Taiveaho, Megan Schilling, Joshua Stringer, Tiffany Huynh and Jenna Jandrt. (Back row, left to right) Ashley Lato, Alexander Kleinschmidt, Carly Goedhart, Kyle Tollefson, Clorice Reinhardt and Alexander Woodworth.