2016 McNair Scholars

Alaa Shanaa  

Research Title: Control Hardware for Pneumatically Controlled Research ​Devices in the MR Environment 

AbstractThe goal of this projected was to design a portable, MRI-safe vibrotactile feedback system to examine the neurological pathways involved in learning vibrotactile sensory feedback. The physiological function of proprioception is critical for effective planning and real-time control of movement and will be assessed through this device. This system is designed to apply controlled perturbations to guide goal-directed flexion/extension movements. With the use of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) it is possible to determine which regions of the brain that are activated in response to the pneumatic vibrotactile sensory feedback. The overall of this project was effectively develop the electrical components necessary for the proper functionality of this device through PCB design and implementation. 

Israh K. Sarsour 

Research Title: The Relationship Between Positive Thinking, Religion, and Health from the Perspectives of Arab University Students 

Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative study is to identify the relationship between positive thinking, religion, and health from the perspectives of Arab University students. ​The sample population involves two focus groups (n=15) of 15 MU students who identified themselves as being of Arab descent, during which the questions below were posed. The focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed, and students were given false names, to preserve anonymity. The resilience theory that proposes that resilience is the interplay between risk and protective factors in the face of adversity provided the theoretical framework for this study. Religion has a unique influence on health beliefs and perceptions of illness, and physicians often do not account for this when treating patients, especially those from minority populations. With a growing population of nearly 3.6 million, Arab Americans make up a diverse minority group in the US, and they have been found to have strong religious values. They are also younger than any group in America, with 30% of their population under 18. It is imperative to identify religious factors that impacts Arab American students’ mode of thinking and health behaviors. This will assist clinicians in providing more culturally competent care, helping lessen health disparities that impact this group. 

Rahquiyah Williams 

Research Title: A Qualitative study of the Resilience Factors used by Black Students at a Predominantly White Institution 

Abstract: A Qualitative study of the resilience factors used by black students at a predominantly white Institution, where the initial questions asked them to disclose their academic standing to measure whether they live up to the standards of “successful” for the purposes of this research. Success was defined as being in good academic standing by having at least a 3.0 grade point average and are about to enter their sophomore, junior or senior year at the university. The targeted students were of an African American, and African backgrounds and most likely between the ages of nineteen years old to twenty-two years old. As the data collection survey was sent to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. Students that were enrolled in the program when the survey was conducted were emailed the survey. The research methods consisted of a survey that had a Likert scale and open-ended questions. The questions asked the participants to rate how much they relate to them on a scale of 1 to 5. The value 1 Being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree. The open-ended questions allowed the participants to openly discuss their situations that led to them showing resilience as an undergraduate student. 

Tyler Vicknair 

Research Title: Analytical Study of Human Resource Initiatives Surrounding Internal Socialization Process of Interns 

Abstract: The aim of this project consists of investigating the Social Exchange Theory, which focuses on how individuals compare the cost of benefits when beginning, sustaining, and terminating social relationships, and according to this theory, individuals are involved in a continuum of economic exchanges (salary, favors etc.) that are later evaluated (Putnman & Mumby, 2014). The following questions were explored in this study. Are Human Resource departments developing internship programs that facilitate the socialization process of potential hires in hope of retaining future talent? Are interns identifying with the values, goals, and culture of the organization? Do interns’ values and goals align with the culture and intent of the internship program? The following criteria were used to assess participants: Commitment​ Affective​ Normative​ Continuance (CANC), motivation, communication, and program value. The selection of organizations is based on gathering an array of businesses from multiple disciplines. Organizational selection was not based on a specific qualifier. The list of organizations will come from non-profits, corporate, local, non-local, small-sized, large-sized, mid-sized, and agency. Selection is based on whether the organization implements an internship program. The list of participants was accessed from available files listing organizations who have hired or Marquette Students. 72 organizations were contacted. Nine participated and 11 interns. ​ 

Angelica M. Rodriguez 

Research Title: The Determinants of Sex Trafficking ​in Milwaukee County 

Abstract: Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attainted 18 years of age (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000). An estimated 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking every year. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as of March 31st, 2016, 14 cases of human trafficking in Wisconsin have been reported to the state. (2016). An estimated 79% of human trafficking cases reported in Wisconsin occur in the City of Milwaukee. The purpose of this study is to Assess how sex trafficking of minors is relevant in Milwaukee County. Furthermore, the study aims to create awareness around the pressing issue of human trafficking that violates human rights ​and identify causes and factors that contribute to sex trafficking of minors in Milwaukee County in comparison to another U.S city. The study looked at identifying and examining socio-economic variables that can possibly be a determinant of sex trafficking in a city, examining similarities and differences between Milwaukee and another U.S City (i.e. Oklahoma City), and utilized the U.S Census and U.S Metro Economics Gross Metropolitan Product and Employment 2013-2015. ​With these three components the study aims to shine light on how do socio-economic factors contribute to the sex trafficking of minors in Milwaukee? And assess the prevalence of sex trafficking of minors in Milwaukee compare to another U.S City. 

Karina Pagan 

Research Title: Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment for Latino, White, and African American Inmate 

Abstract: In 2014, 18.1% of adults were diagnosed with a mental illness and 4.1% of adults were diagnosed with a serious mental illness. It was estimated that more than half of inmates in both prisons and jails had a mental health problem by midyear 2005. It was shown that replacement of long-stay psychiatric hospitals with community-based alternatives have led to prisons and jails now being the primary care facilities for thousands of mentally ill in the United States. The following study investigates the topic further by utilizing the following questions as appropriate scaffolding.  Do mental health diagnosis and treatment differ between African American, White and Hispanic inmates? ​ Are there significant differences between specific mental illness diagnosis? ​ To what extent are these differences moderated by gender? The data collected was processed with secondary data analysis using SPSS, where Random subsample N = 1,445​. Further analysis was done by implementing Bivariate and multivariate Chi-square tests of association​. The study implemented the surveying of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities (SISCF) and Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities (SIFCF) collectively referred to as Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 2004. Further supplemental information for the study was obtained from United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics​. There was a statistically significant relationship between race/ethnicity, sex, and incidence of mental illness diagnosis. In addition, a significant relationship was found with respect to educational achievement and having ever been diagnosed with a mental illness 

Fabiola Magana 

Research Title: Decision-Making of Pregnant Women Runners 

Abstract: Exercise is known to have a beneficial impact during pregnancy​, thorough research on physiological changes with physical activity but less on actual experiences​. Limited research exists on how women must change their routine to adhere to pregnancy Many women who are of child-bearing age exercise through running, which spawned the following questions. How has pregnancy impacted the experiences that self-identified “runners” have with running? ​Participants were recruited from a mother-runner group, via online community. The study, a short survey, was advertised through various resources provided to online community (i.e. newsletter, blog, podcast). Findings of the study resulted in women continuing to run were the following: therapeutic qualities and preservation of self-identity. Furthermore, on the contrary women often discontinued running due to induce feelings of fear and physical tolls.  

Joshua-Paul Miles 

Research Title: Analyzing the Gap: Policy and Managerial Implications on Organizational Climate​ 

Abstract: This study aims to analyze and measure the gap between policies and behaviors in businesses and organizations regarding diversity, inclusion, and equality. Moreover, this research examines organizational climate by using a bipolar Likert scale that identifies levels of agreement and disagreement regarding organizational commitment, managerial commitment, and individual employee commitment to diversity and inclusion. While, using the same scale to analyze human resources employees and manager’s perspectives on success of their organizations formal policies and other managerial practices.  

Atiya Muhammad 

Research Title: The Role of Social Cohesion in Neighborhoods Facing Eviction​ 

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to understand the role and effects of eviction in low-income neighborhoods, and how the role of social cohesion can stand as a positive factor for community members. ​If community members begin to work together in a positive way through communication and providing trust, compared to when families are faced with being evicted from their homes, they will be more willing to provide resources.  By providing resources, community members will be more willing to open-up their own home to families in need. This study used a secondary data analysis from Matt Desmond's Milwaukee Area Renters Study. Out of the 250 questions asked to various tenants, I analyzed 8 of the questions pertaining to maintenance and neighborhood. Through a numerical analysis, I identified the total number of respondents and categorized the responses by using "yes or no".  This study showed that majority of the questions relating to social cohesion were answered positively. Neighbors did feel connected to their neighborhoods, and strongly believed that they would be able to make a difference in their community if they did work together. Surprisingly, majority of the residents responded negatively when asked if they felt like they would make a big change in their neighborhood. This could be inferred by saying residents are willing to come together to make a change in their neighborhood, but they cannot make the change alone. Communities require leaders such as alderman's who are ready to stand with the residents in their community to build their community up, to provide social and economic stability. 

Marshall R. Freeman 

Research Title: Perceptions of the Milwaukee Police: Examining Individual and Community Correlates​ 

Abstract: There has been growing tension with the police and residence, since the Dontre Hamilton incident, Black Lives Matter social movement has gained momentum and increasing numbers of racial minorities are protesting police violence. Milwaukee provides a compelling location for research concerning police satisfaction because of recent high-profile incidences of police use of force and its intense racial and ethnic inequality. This study examines satisfaction of the Milwaukee Police Department in this contemporary context to better understand the connection between individual and aggregate correlates of police satisfaction. ​The study is centered around a three-part hypothesis, which is comprised of the following. Respondents with police-initiated contact will have lower mean levels of satisfaction, competence and trust than respondents that initiate contact with police. African American and Hispanic/Latino respondents will have lower mean levels of satisfaction, competence and trust than White respondents. Respondents that live in predominately minority community will have lower mean levels of satisfaction, competence and trust than respondents that reside in communities with fewer minorities. The study gathered and analyzed information from the City of Milwaukee Police Satisfaction Survey from 2014 (1,452 residence took the survey), implemented by UWM Center for Urban Initiatives and Research. Further information was gathered from the United States Census of 2013 and Wisconsin Based incident reports in 2013. A Bivariate and multivariate t-tests of mean difference was implemented to statistically analyze the data.  

Aseel M. Dahir  

Research Title: Evaluation of mitochondrial oxidative capacity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis using near-infrared spectroscopy 

Abstract: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the central nervous system that involves the demyelination of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ​Inflammation associated with MS leads to an increase in reactive oxygen species resulting in oxidative damage. ​ Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, spasticity, ataxia, paresthesia, dysarthria, dysphagia, bowel/bladder dysfunction, emotional and visual problems. ​The biological mechanisms leading to the disabling symptoms of MS have not yet been identified. ​ If discovered, pharmacological or non-pharmacological (e.g., exercise) treatment can be designed to target and inhibit the deleterious biochemical changes. ​ The purpose of this pilot study is to measure mitochondrial oxidative capacity to determine if altered oxygen utilization contributes to any symptoms of MS.​MS participants were recruited from the Wisconsin Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis or from a list of previous participants who have asked to be informed of future studies. ​ Healthy controls were recruited from the Milwaukee community or Marquette campus. ​Questionnaires were used to assess depression (CES-D), fatigue (FIS), quality of life (PROMIS Global Well-Being), physical activity (Godin), and patient-determined disease steps (PDDS). ​ 

Myra Khan  

Research Title: How stress influences the transition to an addictive state? ​ 

Abstract: Stress has been identified as a factor that is responsible to increase the susceptibility of addiction. It is defined as “processes involving perception, appraisal, and response to harmful, threatening, challenging events, or stimuli (Sinha, 2008). Stress can be an onset of external or internal stimuli of physiological or emotional features. Prolonged exposure to stressors can increase the risk of unpredictable and uncontrollable behavior such as cocaine addiction. The scope in which addiction is evident is through the escalation of cocaine self-administration (Mantsch, 2006). This phenomenon of cocaine addiction has been studied in numerous rat models to understand the neurobiological mechanism of cocaine self-administration and addiction (Koob, 2004). These models allow researchers to imitate and identify the determinants of human cocaine addiction (Mantsch, 2006). The epidemic of cocaine use has affected over 1.5 million Americans in the United States and is classified as a major health problem (Orio, 2009). The escalated use of cocaine self-administration has led to the development of stress related disorders such as PTSD, panic disorder, depression, and anxiety (Anthony,1989). Despite adverse consequences, human addicts struggle to terminate self-administration due to addiction. The goal of this research is to investigate how stress influences the transition to cocaine addiction in rats by using the progressive ratio schedule. This will allow researchers to see the increase of responses of cocaine self-administration. It will display how motivated a rat is willing to work to get an infusion of cocaine. In other words, rats will continue to hit the lever in their self-administration box until they hit the break point for a single infusion of cocaine. Previous studies have also suggested the responses for cocaine under a progressive ratio schedule has the motivation to seek infusions of cocaine (Paterson, Markou, 2003; Wee et al., 2008).  The application of a stressor will be randomly applied which is known as an intermittent electric foot shock. The escalation of the model is supposed to display the loss of control over drug intake. Thus, we hypothesize that repeated exposure to stress during self-administration is going to escalate intake of cocaine and increase motivation for cocaine. Overall stress leads to addiction and increases the risk of adverse psychological and physiological effects (McReynolds, 2007). Hence, this research aims to characterize the neurobiological processes of cocaine addiction and to really understand how stress influences drug use and other stress associated behaviors such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Ultimately, researchers strive to find an FDA approved treatment. ​ 

Roselee J. Ledesma 

Research Title: Ethnic Identity Statuses and Latino/a Mental Health Outcomes ​ 

Abstract: A strong sense of ethnic identity is associated with better mental health outcomes for ethnic minorities (Mossakowski, 2003).​ It is crucial to take a nuanced approach in examining ethnic identity and its relationship to specific mental health outcomes in Latino/a adults. ​Ethnic identity is defined as the multidimensional developmental process where individuals explore the meaning and implications of their self-identified ethnic group membership (Phinney, 1996; Phinney & Ong, 2007). The purpose of this study is to examine ethnic identity statuses as they relate to depressive symptoms, acculturative stress, perceived stress, and psychological distress among Latino/a adults. The study consisted of surveying 244 participants, Latinos/as living in a metropolitan area in the Midwest​ with a mean age of 40.79 years (SD =15.29, Range 18-84). Participants were recruited at local Latino cultural festival. Those who gave verbal consent completed a series of questionnaires. The following measures were assessed: Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised (MEIM-R), Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II (ARSMA-II), Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18), and Multidimensional Acculturative Stress Inventory (MASI) 

Sundus K. Jaber 

Research Title: Beliefs and Perceptions Regarding Disabilities: Muslim Arab Americans from the Greater Milwaukee Area 

Abstract: Arab American beliefs and perceptions regarding disabilities are not documented and known, which makes it difficult to identify the issues that significantly affect Arab Americans living with disability and hinders the creation of solutions to bridge the therapeutic healthcare disparity for people with disabilities in this specific population (Hammoud, 2005). ​This is a critical area to study because the results can increase the cultural competence of service providers in the Greater Milwaukee area and beyond, promote trust and increase confidence in reluctant clients whose lives could be enriched with therapeutic healthcare in the growing United States Arab population. The study was implemented to explore the diversity of Arab American beliefs and perceptions regarding the etiology, prevention and treatment of five subtypes of disabilities including learning, physical, medical, psychiatric and lastly speech & language impairments. ​Further application of this study aimed to demonstrate whether Arab Americans differ significantly from mainstream western in their beliefs and perceptions regarding the prevention and treatment of the five subtypes of disabilities. The study also examined whether or not Arab Americans feel there is stigma against any or all types of disabilities within their community, and if so, explore the cause perception of stigma. Lastly, the study delved into what Muslim Arab Americans from the Greater Milwaukee area cite as barriers to utilizing services and resources for people with disabilities and their families. 

Kera Johnson 

Research Title: In-home Peer Counseling to Increase Breastfeeding Rates Among Low-Income African American Mothers 

Abstract: Studies show that Racial disparities exist related to breastfeeding initiation & continuation. It was shown that African American Mothers (AAM) have lowest breastfeeding initiation & continuation rates of all races. It is important to note that breast feeding has been linked to reduced infant mortality rates​, enhanced cognitive development, decrease the risk of acquiring asthma, and decreased the risk of being obese later in life. The purpose of this study was to examine the recruitment and data collection process, availability of resources, and overall management of implementing an in-home postpartum BPC program to increase breastfeeding among AAM. This study is unique in that it examines the feasibility of conducting an in-home postpartum BPC program. The study provides insight on the need for implementation of standardized use of BPCs to include in-home support (e.g. WIC).  

Alyssa Cullinan​ 

Research Title: Perceptions of High School Dress Code Policy​ 

Abstract: Increasingly, dress codes in High schools are gaining attention when students take to social media to express their outrage after receiving disciplinary actions for dress code infractions. While many argue that dress codes are crucial to creating a positive environment conducive to learning, others criticize dress codes for being inherently biased towards female students. This study is based on this problem statement: Scholars assert that dress codes impose gender stereotypes and create a moral climate where a woman is sexually responsible for the attention they receive. Some argue that the main goal of dress codes is to reduce gang violence (DaKosta 2006; Gullatt, 1999), however, scholars criticize dress codes for focusing more on the possible infractions of female students (Raby 2010; Pomerantz 2007). 

Vanessa Diaquino 

Research Title: Narrating Legality in Mexican-American Immigration Stories As It Relates to Social Well-Being 

Abstract: Mexicans are the dominant Latino group in this country as well as being one of the most increasing ethnic groups in the US (US Latino Psych book). ​They subject to acculturation and enculturation, which eventually leads to cultural adaptation. One of the leading factors explaining Mexico/U.S. immigration includes financial need (Massey & Espinosa, 1997). ​Narrative psychology allows investigators to empower participants as it is the voice of the storyteller that drives the exploration. ​Social well-being, as defined and measured by Corey Keyes, captures the quality if one’s connection to their community. ​ Participants were recruited from Milwaukee’s south side, churches, 7-mile fair, United Community Services, etc. A “You help us, we help you” method was utilized as form of compensation. Participants completed a series of surveys relating to well-being and wrote about their immigration story. The study implemented the Social Well-Being (SWB) assessment which quantifies the quality of one’s connection to their community. ​ The parameters of interest consisted of Social Acceptance (SAP), Social Actualization (SAL), Social Contribution (SCB), Social Integration (SIG), Social Coherence (SCH), and Total Score (TOT). Participants were asked to tell the story of how they or their families came from Mexico to Milwaukee. One recurring theme was the unsolicited mention of legal immigration. We marked each story for the presence or absence of this theme. 

Mohamed Abdelrahim 

Research Title: Changes in Neuroplasticity Involved in the Escalation of Cocaine Self-Administration 

Abstract: Drug addiction, primarily cocaine addiction is a crucial problem within the United States and across the world. ​Cocaine addiction is a relapsing disorder which results in a compulsive behavior, regardless of the negative effects it may have on an individual’s life. It is characterized by the inability to control cocaine SA, which eventually results in the increased use of the drug (Mantsch & Katz). ​ Cocaine blocks the clearance of dopamine from the synapse. ​With chronic stress, something changes even though we are talking about the same dose of cocaine, the behavior escalates. ​What this suggests is that there is some sort of neuroadaptation, some sort of plasticity in the circuitry that is responsible for drug reward reinforcement. Based analysis of gathered data which was shown that this involves changes in the endocannabinoid system. The purpose of this study is to examine the differential between chronic and acute stress and the role they play in altering specific brain regions that result from the phenomenon of escalation.