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Ten undergraduate researchers named McNair Scholars

Ten University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students have been selected to participate in the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair Program is a learning community that prepares students for careers in research.

Each year eight to 12 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 the new 2014-15 UW-Eau Claire McNair Scholars:

  • Carissa Baier, daughter of Jodi Kendrick and David Baier, Durand, will pursue research on an analysis of the suitability and effectiveness of the smartphone app "Snapchat" in facilitating communication for individuals with aphasia. She will work with Dr. Jerry Hoepner, associate professor of communications sciences and disorders.
  • Michael Bomber, son of Jeff Bomber, Green Bay, and Barb Bomber, Fond du Lac, will pursue research on evaluating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in cataloging and mapping the flora and fauna of Chippewa River islands with Dr. Garry Running, professor of geography and anthropology.
  • Drake Bortolameolli, son of Gene and Nancy Bortolameolli, Appleton, will pursue research on evaluating the utility of ground-penetrating radar in detecting the presence of PCBs in abandoned industrial waste dumping fields. He will work with Dr. Harry Jol, professor of geography and anthropology.
  • Lauren Gilstrap, daughter of Gary Gilstrap, Sanford, Florida, and Kathy Gilstrap, Grafton, will pursue research on an analysis of the ways in which the religious identity of Irish immigrants to Milwaukee in the 19th century was affected by the transition from a rural, farming lifestyle to an urban, industrialized way of life. She will work with Dr. Jane Pederson, professor of history.
  • Lucas Henneman, son of John and LaRita Henneman, Grantsburg, will pursue research on exploring how language-parsing techniques used in interactive fiction might be developed to improve computer usability for the visually impaired. He will work with Dr. Chris Johnson, assistant professor of computer science.
  • Kyle Lobermeier, son of Allen Lobermeier and Cindy Lobermeier, Ladysmith, will pursue research on the development and characterization of back-side reflector films useful in increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. He will work with Dr. Jennifer Dahl, assistant professor of chemistry and materials science.
  • Cory Long, son of Jay Long, Chippewa Falls, will pursue research on the ways in which social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, have merged conventionally separate organization departments (marketing, sales, public relations and customer service, for example) in modern business corporate cultures. He will work with Dr. Nicole Schultz, associate professor of communication and journalism.
  • Neil McMillan, son of James and Jessica McMillan, Stoughton, will pursue research on the evaluation of multiple accelerometers to determine oxygen and anaerobic pathway utilization rates as a measure of caloric expenditure during resistance-training exercise. He will work with Dr. Jeff Janot, professor of kinesiology.
  • Jarred Wieser, son of Steve Wieser, La Crescent, Minnesota, and Teresa and Rich Wadell, Elk Mound, will pursue research on a comparison of math teaching methods in selected countries with Dr. Simei Tong, associate professor of mathematics.
  • Alexander Woodworth, son of John and Kim Woodworth, Osceola, will pursue research on an exploration of the nature of "rational disagreement," how individuals attempt to reconcile their own beliefs with the beliefs of others who hold contrary positions. He will work with Dr. Kristin Schaupp, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies.

UW-Eau Claire is one of only 152 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, received his doctorate in physics in 1976 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.