McNair Scholars Program

Meet the Scholars

Our Summer Research Experience is an intensive 10-week research study whereby scholars work full-time on a faculty-mentored research project. Here are the McNair Scholars who participated in this year’s summer program. To view each scholar's Research Topics and Abstracts, just click their pictures.

Adam Allocco

Research Topic: Relationships between Yuri Andropov and Mikhail Gorvachev

Abstract: Since Gorbachev’s rise to power, the Western world praised him for his role as a grand reformer and an independent thinker. Such qualities were demonstrated in his eradication of the last vestiges of Stalinism and his introduction of liberalization. Mikhail Gorbachev was a product of the Soviet system. How then did Gorbachev develop his views? More importantly, how did the much-maligned Yuri Andropov, his mentor and predecessor, influence him since Andropov historically was a staunch supporter of Communism? By analyzing their relationship and examining each man’s policies, Gorbachev’s degree of divergence or deference to Andropov’s vision can be determined.

Ariele Murph

Research Topic: Mechanical and Thermal Characterization of Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and Thermoplastic Corn Starch (TPS) Hybrids.

Abstract: The primary goal of the study is to investigate the mechanical and thermal characteristic of various Liner Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and thermoplastic cornstarch (TPS) blends. The LDPE and TPS are blended with three different ratios, such as 90:10, 80:20, and 70:30, respectively. The LDPE and TPCS blends are extruded and pelletized by a single screw extruder system. Testing samples are prepared by injection molding in order to investigate the effects of the blend ratios on the mechanical and thermal properties of the hybrids. The tests are performed according to the ASTM standards.

Domenique Malone

Research Topic: The Effects of Information Technologies on Learning Outcomes of African American College Students

Abstract: Much research discusses the links between educational attainment and various life outcomes, such as professional attainment, employment status and income. Therefore, it is important to investigate tools that enhance learning outcomes, as well as barriers that limit access to these tools among certain groups of college students. This research analyzes the digital divide at the university level. After reviewing the literature on access to technology (the digital divide perspective), it presents alternative concepts of technology utilization among college students which can enhance their learning experiences and future socio-economic attainment.

Joy Carrera

Research Topic: High Performance Liquid Chromatography method development for quantification of Vitamin D3 uptake in Daphnia pulex.

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to determine survival and reproduction rates of Vitamin D3 exposed Daphnia pulex under UVA and UVB conditions. High Performance Liquid Chromatography is used to analyze Vitamin D3 and its metabolites in ecosystem (daphnia, algae, aqueous) samples. Mobile phase composition and flow rate, sample injection volume, and wavelength detection parameters are adjusted to develop a method with ideal compound separation. Optimal separation of the compounds allows correct identification and quantification through external calibration. Further work is required to identify and quantify these separated compounds.

Keywords: HPLC, Vitamin D3, Method Development

Steve Rutagarama

Research Topic: Isolation and identification of bacterial endophytes from Saccahrum sps.

Abstract: This main objective of this study is to assess the presence of bacterial endophytes from surgar-cane grown in Jamaica. This was accomplished by the isolation of bacteria on five different media (nutrient agar, tryptic soy agar, LB agar, R-2A agar, potato dextrose agar) from surface sterilized stem tissue. The genomic DNA from different bacteria was isolated and variable (v3) region of the 16S rDNA region was amplified by PCR and subjected to nucleotide sequencing. The v3 nucleotide sequences were compared to sequences deposited in the NCBI genome database (http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi) using the blastn algorithm.

Maribel Rodriguez

Research Topic: Importance of McNair Scholars Mentors for McNair Scholars

Abstract: This research explores how mentoring impacts students in their personal and professional development. Data will be collected through interviews and photographic images will be created of students and alumni at the Rochester Institute of Technology participating in the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. If the mentoring relationship is found to be beneficial this contribution will help support the implementation of similar programs in a variety of institutions.

Angelic Brown

Research Topic: An Examination of Gamification in Education and the Motivational Techniques Used to Garner Student Interest in Learning

Abstract: Gamification in education, or the incorporation of game elements in educational settings, has not been fully researched at the college level. This research project will be an extensive literature review of current research and opinion pertaining to potential benefits and risks of gamification in educational settings, as well as the use of games and game mechanics to motivate student interest in learning and improve student retention at the undergraduate level.

Meridangela Johng

Research Topic: K-ranking of Oriented Ladders and Cycles.

Abstract: The vertex k-ranking of a graph is a labeling of vertices by assigning positive integers such that, on every path between two vertices of the same numerical label, there exists a higher numerical label. The rank number of a graph is the minimum number of labels that can be utilized in a ranking. Among the real -world applications of k-rankings are parallel factorization of matrices, Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) layout and the scheduling of manufacturing systems. This research focuses on the rank numbers of a particular family of oriented graphs, namely, P2 x Pm, and Pn x Cm.

Paula Garcia

Research Topic: The Redesign of Hand Splints Used by Individuals With Spinal Cord Injuries

Abstract: Individuals with paralysis due to spinal cord injuries often use the hand splint designed by North Coast Medical Inc. The splint facilitates daily activities by partially immobilizing a person’s hands, wrists, and forearms. A redesign of the currently used dorsal hand splint is necessary in order to permit self-application. It will also address the limited interaction among the hand, splint, and implements used for eating, writing, grooming, etc. to promote the independence of the user. Further analysis of the manufacturing techniques will address profitable pricing for distributors, while maintaining a reasonable price for consumers.

Peatros Haile

Steve Rutagarama, Peatros Haile and André O. Hudson

Research Topic: Isolation and identification of bacterial endophytes from Saccahrum sps.

Abstract: This main objective of this study is to assess the presence of bacterial endophytes from surgar-cane grown in Jamaica. This was accomplished by the isolation of bacteria on five different media (nutrient agar, tryptic soy agar, LB agar, R-2A agar, potato dextrose agar) from surface sterilized stem tissue. The genomic DNA from different bacteria was isolated and variable (v3) region of the 16S rDNA region was amplified by PCR and subjected to nucleotide sequencing. The v3 nucleotide sequences were compared to sequences deposited in the NCBI genome database (http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi) using the blastn algorithm.

Robera Tasissa

Research Topic: A Novel Method to Determine Hydraulic Conductivity (k).

Abstract: Nearly 99% of the total volume of freshwater is found in the form of ground water. Darcy’s Law of hydraulic conductivity (k) quantifies the rate at which water moves through subsurface mediums. A falling head test such as a slug test is used to determine k; the test is especially useful in sites with suspected water contamination. But the method is not time-efficient for mediums with low permeability. The Slug Test Accelerator introduced in this research is able to determine k more efficiently by speeding up the process to produce results while maintaining the effectiveness of the traditional method.

Rose Campbell

Research Topic: The Women’s Reentry Project.

Abstract: Data collected for this research will be taken from the Judicial Process Commission’s Women’s Reentry Project (WRP) which was implemented in the winter of 2010. WRP’s objective is to help incarcerated mothers with young children successfully reenter their communities by offering counseling, mentoring, housing, support groups, and other services. The participants will include women who have been dismissed, graduated, and those who remain in the program. Through a case-study analysis, the unique issues that these women face, the effectiveness of these services, and what improvements should be made will be identified and expanded on.

Sandy Francois

Research Topic: Organizational Factors as Antecedents of Human Error in Healthcare.

Abstract: This research is focused on the organizational influences on human error in healthcare. Hollnagel’s Cognitive Reliability and Error Analysis Method (CREAM) identifies several factors that fall under the category of organizational influence either as common performance conditions (CPCs) or antecedents of human error. Several root cause analyses (RCAs) will be reanalyzed using CREAM and organizational CPCs and antecedents will be analyzed separately. Scholarly literature will be reviewed to examine the current understanding and significance of organizational factors in patient safety, and the CREAM results compared to and contrasted with those discovered in the literature.

Sean Bourke

Research Topic: Massive Reconfigurable Hardware Array

Abstract: Advances in computer systems are facing barriers due to scaling problems of the von Neumann architecture and 2D semiconductor technologies. To overcome these, research and development of new architectural designs is necessary. It is the goal of this research to create a Massive Reconfigurable Hardware Array (MRHA), comprised of 468 Xilinx Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), to support research of new multi-core computer architectures. The MRHA will first be used to emulate a Tera Cell-Core Processor Architecture. In the future we envision that it will also be used in neural networks, networks on chip (NoC), and systolic arrays.

Keywords: MRHA, Tera Cell-Core Processor, neural networks, NoC, systolic array, von Neumann architecture, Moore’s law