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UW-Eau Claire Introduces New Scholar Cohort

| Casper Crump and Anna Wendorff

Twelve University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students have been chosen to participate in the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. This federally recognized TRIO program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for graduate level study.  

On behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the McNair program is proud to introduce its newest scholars: 

Muhaison Ibrahim of Tema, Accra, Ghana is majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His research focuses on white matter degeneration: biomarkers in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of determining the extent to which structural disconnections predict cognitive decline. Muhaison is currently mentored by Dr. Barbara Bendlin of UW-Madison and Dr. Knoche Gupta at UW-Eau Claire. After graduation, Muhaison hopes to earn a MDPhD.   

Sydney Johnson of Spencer, Wisconsin is majoring in Social Work and mentored by Jamie Tester-Morfoot. Sydney is researching how social work departments incorporate macro social work content into their courses. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school for a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) and pursue a career in school social work. 

Cameron Merline of Madison, Wisconsin is majoring in Psychology. His research provides an overview of the effects of overparenting on the reported levels of resilience, self-efficacy, and fear of negative evaluation in students with or without disabilities, and potential trends within different disabilities. Cameron is mentored by Dr. Mary Beth Leibham. After graduation, he plans to pursue his PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in child development and hopes to work in behavior intervention and counseling with underrepresented populations. 

Mary Agnes Obias of Eau Claire, Wisconsin is majoring in Psychology with a Family Studies minor. The focus of her research is the factors that facilitate self-recovery within young adults of NSSI (non-suicidal self-injury). Mary is mentored by Dr. Jennifer Muehlenkamp. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school to further her education through the Counseling Psychology path. 

Jack Orta of Bloomington, Minnesota is majoring in Photography. He is researching representation within the photographic production fields for minority groups and people with disabilities. Jack is mentored by Professor Wanrudee Buranakorn. After graduation, Jack hopes to attend graduate school and earn his MFA in photography or art practice with the goal of working in a teaching position at a university or facilitating instructional workshops. 

Shantel Pierce of Minocqua, Wisconsin is majoring in English: Critical Studies in Literature, Film and Culture. She is studying how the implementation of the female gaze in coming-of-age films assists identity construction and diversity acceptance. Shantel is mentored by Dr. Jon Heggestad. After graduation, Shantel hopes to earn a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in English, to reform literary teaching practices in early childhood or elementary school settings. 

Sandra Prickett of Eau Claire, Wisconsin is majoring in Biochemistry Molecular Biology. She is studying the effect of alcohol extract of Monotropa uniflora on human cell culture to determine the presence of a neurotoxin. She is mentored by Dr. Michael Walsh. After graduation, Sandra plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to continue research with tissue cultures. 

Miranda Ricci of Cumberland, Wisconsin is majoring in Organizational Communication. She is studying how McNair Scholars perceive their experiences in college while pursuing a graduate program and is mentored by Dr. Nicole Schultz. After graduation, Miranda plans on completing a Masters in Higher Education and/or Student Affairs program. After completing her master’s program, she intends to work as a Student Assistance Coordinator, where she hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education. 

McKenzie Rombach of Grantsburg, Wisconsin is majoring in Psychology. She is studying the attitudes of teachers towards inclusive education practices. She is mentored by Dr. Christine Vriesema. After graduation, she intends to attend graduate school for industrial-organizational psychology. 

Lili Shank of Elkhart, Indiana is majoring in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology. She is currently researching a secondary analysis of the Mayo Clinic family medicine resident wellness study. Such research examines the impact of altered sleep patterns on mental fatigue and perceived burnout among family medicine residents, as mentored by Dr. Saori Bruan. After graduation, Lili hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree and ultimately work in a children’s hospital or assisted living center. 

Hannah Temes of Genoa, Illinois is majoring in Political Science Legal Studies.  Mentored by Dr. Damir Kovačević, Hannah’s research examines how conspiracy theories, specifically Q-Anon, spread online by analyzing tweets with certain hashtags and cross-referencing with news references.  After graduation, Hannah plans to pursue a PhD in Political Communication.   

Courtney Westlund of Iron River, Wisconsin is majoring in Chemistry and currently researching organic synthesis with focus on Biaryl Lactone molecular switches with Amine donors with her mentor Dr. Bart Dahl. She is the lead student researcher within her current research group, which aims to synthesize four new three-state molecular switches. Courtney plans to pursue her PhD in organic chemistry.