2019 McNair Scholars

alyssaAlyssa Aubin

Research Title: "Silencing Ventral Hippocampus Inputs to the Basolateral Amygdala During Trace Fear Conditioning"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Marieke Gilmartin

Abstract: Many individuals struggle with PTSD and other anxiety disorders including phobias and generalized anxiety disorder. Most current treatments have adverse side effects or are ineffective for certain individuals, causing sufferers to seek to find new and improved treatments, which are often created through a better understanding the bodily mechanisms behind the disease. More specifically, fear learning research seeks to understand these unknown and complex mechanisms in the brain. This research seeks to understand how fear is involved in the learning process, which can then lead to the adverse reactions present in anxiety disorders including PTSD. There are many interconnected pathways in the brain that connect different structures to each other to create a circuit. Some structures involved in this fear learning process include the amygdala, hippocampus, cerebrum and more. The pathway between the ventral hippocampus and basolateral amygdala is of interest due to the many connections the basolateral amygdala has and the undefined role of the ventral hippocampus, though it has been implicated in emotional learning. This study seeks to understand the role this pathway has in fear learning by studying the way its inhibition affects the learning process.


mariaMaria de la Soledad Cobo Nieto

Research Title: "Hispanic Students in Speech-Language Pathology: Where Are You?"

Faculty Mentor: Stacy Ko, M.A. & Wendy Kreuger, M.S.

Abstract: The demographics in the United States are constantly changing with a larger percentage of Hispanics and/or Latinxs living in the country. Meanwhile the demographics in the speech-language pathology and audiology field are not. Bilingual English-Spanish speech–language pathologists are in high demand with only 6% of ASHA’s member’s self-reporting as bilingual (ASHA).  Research has been done to investigate holistic ways of how to accept and retain students of Latinx and Hispanic backgrounds, but multiple factors such as cultural differences, socioeconomic status and lack of resources are not taken into consideration by institutions. Qualitative and quantitative data taken from Marquette University’s undergraduate and graduate students in the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Department reveals that Hispanic and Latinx students in the program are more likely to be first generation Americans, first generation college students, be of low socioeconomic status and have a high proficiency in both English and Spanish. Results showed that Hispanic and Latinx students have the potential to obtain a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology in order to work with the bilingual English-Spanish population in the United States but factors related to their culture, make it harder for them to achieve this.


veronicaVeronica Davalos

Research Title: "Exploring the Dynamic Response of High-Density Casted Sugar Disks Under Impact"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. John Borg

Abstract: This paper describes the researched performed on an inert mechanical simulant of a Polymer Bonded Explosive (PBX). The dynamic event that will be analyzed is an impact that serves as a simulation of an explosion on a target designed to hold two samples of casted sugar. The casted sugar serves as the mechanical simulant. The reason being is there is a lot of experimental data on studies conducted on granular sugar. It is for this reason that molten sugar disks are the concern of this research experiment. The aim of this research is to further the understanding of the material that is PBX during dynamic events. This will be achieved by analyzing the mechanical response of the molten sugar once the shockwave caused by the impact travels through the target. This goal comes from a lack of experimental data on PBX in general but more so a simulant with a higher density. Applications from observing these dynamic events can range anywhere between armor, penetration, and explosive welding. 


ninaNina Gary

Research Title: "A Study on Masculinity as an Agent of Female Power in Three Medieval French and English Romances: Mélusine, Le Roman de Silence, and Sir Eglamour of Artois"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Liza Strakhov

Abstract: This project follows the relationship between masculinity and power within the medieval English and French romantic genre. My claim is that the two female characters on whom we focus, Mélusine from Coudrette’s 15th century French romance Mélusine and Silence from Heldris de Cornualle’s 13th century French romance Le Roman de Silence, find such power and success within their own personal narratives and the broader narratives within which they lie because of their overwhelming masculine characteristics. Sir Eglamour of Artois, a 14th century English romance, adds a base off which our ideas of masculinity form. This project trusts that Sir Eglamour, the knight of his eponymous story, is the pinnacle of medieval masculinity. By using his incredibly canonical story, our understanding of the pursuit and grasp of power by Mélusine and Silence is enhanced.


noraNora Godoy-Gonzalez

Research Title: "Disculpas: A comparative study of apologies in first-generation Mexican American heritage Spanish speakers and Mexican Native Spanish Speakers"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Todd Hernandez

Abstract: The present study examined the apologies of 10 Mexican native Spanish speakers (NS’) and 10 first-generation Mexican American (MA) heritage Spanish speakers (HS’) in college assessed by a discourse completion task (DCT) consisting of five vignettes that varied across three variables: relative social status of interlocutor, relative social distance and seriousness of the offense. Before taking the apology questionnaire, participants were asked to take a background questionnaire. The background questionnaire for first-generation MA HS’ consisted of 22 questions regarding their exposure of Spanish in their daily lives and educational history. The background questionnaire for Mexican NS’ consisted of 10 questions regarding the Spanish of the HS’ in their family. The background questionnaires were used to determine the role Spanish proficiency and cultural awareness of HS’ plays when they answer the apology questionnaire.  Examination of the participant’s background and apology questionnaires revealed that HS’ and NS’ used similar apology expressions when it comes to scenarios related to social status of interlocutor, relative social distance and seriousness of the offense. Offer of repair and acknowledgement of responsibility were apology expressions commonly used among both participant groups. Moreover, it is hard to determine a HS’ Spanish proficiency and cultural awareness using background questionnaire. Other measures should also be investigated.


shaylaShayla Husted

Research Title: "Environmental Resources Disparities: Low-income and Minority Communities Facing Environmental Inequality"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stefan Schnitzer

Abstract: Environmental resources can differ within urban communities. Urban parks and green space are appreciated for their benefit to ecological and human systems, however park area, green space, and the amount of trees possible have racial and economic disparities. This study examines forty census tracts in Milwaukee measuring the area of parks and green space and the number of tree in several groups categorized by unemployment rate or race. These findings suggest no significant difference in environmental resources among income level but found racial inequalities specifically in Latinx communities.  Findings suggest that additional policies and community involvement should focus on green sources within disadvantaged communities.


syedSyed Hussain

Research Title: "Assessment of a Markerless Motion Analysis System for Manual Wheelchair Users in Adaptive Sports"

Faculty Mentor: Jacob Rammer

Abstract: Athletic manual wheelchair users participate in adaptive sports and recreational programs, and these programs are often recommended by clinicians to supplement rehabilitative outcomes. Manual wheelchair use, however, involves substantial risk of injury, particularly to the shoulder, and it is possible that this effect is amplified under the unique stresses of adaptive sports. Further, athletes, coaches, and trainers are interested in new techniques to train for the unique requirements of wheelchair-based adaptive sports. Current literature has yet to provide a simplified, yet effective, method to analyze and train athletic wheelchair propulsion technique and biomechanics for adaptive sports participants. The goal of this research is to develop a motion capture testing protocol to assess function of athletic manual wheelchair users through the AHPRC’s new SIMI marker less system and characterize manual wheelchair propulsion in a sample population of wheelchair athletes participating in adaptive sports activities such as wheelchair lacrosse. The characterization will involve the measure of specific patterns and movements associated with propulsion. It will also include propulsion strategy and upper extremity kinematics. Ideally this research will take advantage of the new technology offered by the AHPRC to develop a new understanding of athletic wheelchair propulsion and to develop a standardized protocol for testing that can be used for performance assessment of wheelchair users in the AHPRC.


esmeraldaEsmeralda Lezama-Ruiz

Research Title: "Preliminary Study: Gendered Racial Microaggressions & Coping in Black Women"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ed de St. Aubin

Abstract: This study was done to research stress, resilience, the well-being of black women in correlation to coping strategies. This research is part of a larger project that will continue to be done throughout an extensive period of time having started in January 2019. In this smaller project of the main research, the question at hand is: how does stress and microaggressions effect a black woman’s copping strategies? This study will be looking at only the quantitative aspects of the larger research project. The purpose of the study was to help identify different coping mechanism and how trauma is related in the development of them. The problem here is the stress, trauma and discrimination black women face daily here in Milwaukee, WI. The central themes of the research project include stress, microaggressions, and coping. For this the Gendered Racial Microaggression Scale(GRMS) created by Lewis, J., & Neville, H. A. (2015) in their article “Construction and initial validations of the Gendered Racial Microaggressions” will be used to determine amount of stress from the microaggressions and the frequency of them and the Africultural Coping Systems Inventory (ACSI) will be used to measure types of coping habits used by participants (Ritual Centered, Spiritual Centered, Cognitive-Emotional Debriefing and Collective Centered). These quantitative measures allowed to view the differences among the women in regards to the trauma, stress and microaggressions experienced and how they coped with them. This research aims to connect these different topics with the evaluations of questionnaires on stress, coping, gendered microaggressions and demographics.


calistaCalista Lopez

Research Title: "Reused Reseen: Assemblage Art in MKE"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Lynch

Abstract: Trends in art are directly influenced by the cultural contexts in which the artists themselves create, the environment it is displayed, and the many factors effecting any relationship. This research aims to tackle a sliver of these influences from Milwaukee based artists and their exhibits on Marquette University’s campus. The project focused on two winners of the 2019 Nohl Fellowship who incorporated thrifted/discarded materials in their art pieces. What began as an interest in garbage and environmentalism, transformed into the pressing inquiries about the intersections of material value, effects of art, and triangulated relationships of artist-artconsumer. During the summer project, my methodologies were literature analysis, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews which involved ethnographic writing and field notes. Literature analysis informed a theoretical framework to expand on. Alfred Gell’s book, Art and Agency formed theories of agency that have acted as a base for other work in the anthropology of art. “Scrappiness” became a major analytic from Mateusz Laszczkowski’s work in a post-Soviet community apartment complex. He defined this term as the “general capacity of material things to stabilize and destabilize places within networks of social and material connections” (2015). Implications of “scrappiness” revealed themselves in the artists use of discarded materials, especially Rosemary Ollison’s literal use of every scrap of fabric. These ideas worked together since the art objects mediate the networks between artist and art viewer. Patterns of cultural values emerged as well. The visibility of laborious work was valued highly and often times equated with talent. Although short-term, this research had promising implications on the interactions between recognition of value, labor, and affective impulses towards found art objects. 


chaimaaChaimaa Maghfour

Research Title: "Determining the Dynamic Behavior of Heterogeneous Material"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. John Borg

Abstract: Great strides have been made in the methods used to map out internal structures of crystalline materials, however, there is still a gross lack of understanding in the dynamic behavior of heterogenous material.  Many factors contribute to material complexity such as grain size, orientation, and the infinite variation in geometric shape. The purpose of this research is to better understand these materials’ properties within the elastic region as a baseline for shock loading experiments. The dynamic behavior of granular sediment and sucrose were analyzed in terms of sound speed using a pulse receiver, a device that generates acoustic waves. Data was collected using a digital phosphor oscilloscope.  Sucrose is a mechanical simulant of explosives, meaning it has a high dynamic response.  Samples of cast of sucrose are analyzed to determine how mechanical properties change with respect to variation in moisture. The mechanical properties of cast sugar that were measured are utilized to develop the simulations of the intense dynamic behavior of cast sugar when undergoing shock. The experimental results of sucrose and sediment are then compared by their dynamic responses.


aishahAishah Mahmood

Research Title: "Minding the [Acculturation] Gap: Hybridization of Identity in first-generation Asian American Diasporal"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christine Krueger

Abstract: Within the field of writing studies, specifically the discourse and literature of process there is a wealth of information available regarding the pedagogy of process, namely looking at the friction between process and post-process theory and where approaches diverge in the classroom. But the disparity within process literature lies in the absence of student voices. This absence is what this research intends to address. The discourse surrounding transfer also influences many of questions central to this project. Transfer refers to transfer of learning which is the phenomenon that describes (broadly) the ways in which prior knowledge is utilized, the means by which knowledge from past learning experiences and understanding, influences, develops, and can be applied to present-day learning. Many topics in transfer literature stretch across disciplines and attempt to address issues regarding the question of how transfer occurs and how to promote transfer, wherein student voice and experiences is imperative. To better understand how first-year writers write in terms of process, practice, and prior experiences, this research aims to discuss process and transfer in tandem with one another, focusing on student experiences’ writing in their first year. The questions that this research intends to address are: What practices and processes are first year students using to write? Are these students informed by prior writing experiences? If so how? Do their writing practices change in the transition between high school and college? What do students believe about their own their writing practices and processes? How do their experiences compare to relevant process and transfer literature? The methods for this research are qualitative, beginning with a survey detailing self-reported qualitative and quantitative data. From that pool interview applicants will be selected randomly, and discursive interviews will be conducted. Necessary data analysis methods will likely be transcription and coding. In terms of potential outcomes for research—I hope to see first evidence of transfer and gaining a better idea of what types of (if any) practices and processes are transferred knowledge and if there is a correlation between assignment demographics (details about assignment) that promote/influence transfer.


valeriaValeria Martinez-Cabrera

Research Title: "Mediodorsal Thalamic Input to the Prefrontal Cortex is Required to Form Trace Fear Memories"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Marieke Gilmartin

Abstract: The question our lab seeks to answer is how inactivation of the prelimbic cortex (PL) or the basolateral amygdala (BLA) affect ventral hippocampal (VH) activity. The purpose of this research is to specify the role of the VH during fear learning in relation to the components of the fear circuity which includes the BLA and PL. In a more general rationale, the research further contributes to the work done on understanding how the fear circuitry works. Such research is important in understanding how malfunction within the fear circuitry can lead to psychiatric diseases like post-traumatic disorder and anxiety. As for the literature review, persisting topics involve understanding the role of the VH in learning and memory as well as the connections between the ventral hippocampus and other structures within the fear circuitry. The lack of information on the VH in relation to the fear circuitry is one of the motivating factors for this experiment. Of course, the experiment cannot be realized without the proper methodology. Methodology will involve quantitative methods such as measuring neural activity and freezing behavior during conditioning as well as examining brain histology to identify proper location & insertion of the cannulas. After conducting the experiment, we anticipate finding decreased freezing in rats who have inhibited pathways between the VH, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex during fear conditioning. We also anticipate seeing projections from the VH to the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex directly affected by optogenetics. Through these findings, we plan to conclude optogenetic tagging as an effective identifier of neuronal populations affecting the VH. Finally, we anticipate concluding that the VH is essential for cue learning but not necessarily context learning.


leonLeon Mason

Research Title: "A study on Coping Mechanisms among African American Males in Higher education"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Heather Hlavka 

Abstract: This study will examine how to increase the retention and graduation rates of African American male students in higher education by analyzing the ways these students cope with stress while attending college, and how effective those strategies are. To analyze these coping mechanisms, this research will assess the possibility of a correlation between early childhood trauma, how the participants manage their stress, and how those coping methods developed throughout their lives to the current day. Presently, there exists a minute amount of knowledge on this specific topic because various researchers have examined the pressures that African American students endure in college, and how they address those stressors, but hardly if there exists a link between the two. One of the monumental studies that transformed the way academia thought about childhood trauma was initiated by researcher Vincent J. Felliti. Felliti is the pioneer of the ACE scores study, which examines how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect the development of the individual’s health and developmental trajectory. This study will utilize a survey method in which its participants answer a series of questions regarding their levels of stress in college and their coping habits. These participants will also answer questions regarding their developmental history in order to provide data to examine the possibility of a correlation between trauma and coping strategies. During the examinations, it is anticipated that there will be a strong correlation between early childhood trauma and coping strategies among Black males in higher education. The anticipated conclusion will include that there is a strong correlation between those two variables and include prospective methods for the next set of researchers who replicate this data.


gerardoGerardo Mendez

Research Title: "Investigating the Relationship Between Variables of Land Use, Indicators of Crime, and Community Outlook"

Faculty Mentor: Jodine Deppisch

Abstract: The research at hand poses the following question: Is there a direct relationship between neighborhood land use variables and reported instances of crime within the City of Milwaukee? This research will analyze variables of land use (commercial, residential, vacant, park presence) in relation to aggregated data of robberies and assaults. Five communities of different levels of economic development and equity within the City of Milwaukee are compared. Data was processed by aldermanic district, specifically districts 4,6,9, and 13. These districts were selected based on the Burgess Concentric Zone model. Researchers were interested in scoping how neighborhood composition and outlook would change moving further away from the central business district, represented by district 4.


alondraAlondra Meraz

Research Title: "Cultural Values in the Latinx Population as Moderators Between Racial Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol Use"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lucas Torres

Abstract: This study aimed to explore the relationship between racial discrimination, cultural values, depressive symptoms, and alcohol use. The sample of the study included 304 Mexican Americans in the Milwaukee area. The culture values used in this study included religion, gender roles, and family support. A moderator analysis was used in order to explore whether or not these cultural values influenced the relationship between racial discrimination and depressive symptoms and alcohol use. It was found that religion moderator the relationship between discrimination and alcohol and serves as a protective factor. In other words, it was found that if an individual is experiencing high discrimination and are high in religious beliefs then they will use alcohol less than one that is experiencing high discrimination but is low in religious beliefs.


samanthaSamantha Perez

Research Title: "Conforming Experiences of Sex Work and Trafficked People"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Corinne Schwarz

Abstract: Sex work is considered one of the oldest professions; women have been commodifying their bodies for income longer than many of us have been alive for. Women have also been extorted and coerced into sex trafficking rings for even longer. What mainstream media, movements, activist, and public officials fail to realize is although both include the trade of sex for monetary gain, these two categories do not embody the experiences within their population. Policy makers and influencers don’t stop to think, what is the damage from the attention being given to sex trafficking and sex workers under a false light? What seems to happen over and over again, is that the experiences of women who are workers and trafficked people are being erased. My research is to show how the experiences of sex workers and trafficked people are being exploited, conformed, and erased in order to support the need for social movements, data representation, and recovery programs that are tied to the criminal justice system. To be able to find information that supports this, I’m looking into research over real and personal accounts from women who have been through the justice system. My hope is that through this research I am able to uplift the actual experiences of women who participate in sex work and trafficked victims.


stephanieStephanie Perez

Research Title: "Cultural Identity’s Impact on the Relationship between Parenting Practices and Alcohol Use of Mexican-Americans’ Children"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristin Haglund

Abstract: Often, a young child’s flexible and impressionable mind reflects the beliefs, practices and traditions of their parents. This holds true in relation to the child’s cultural orientation as well as their attitudes towards controlled substances. There is research across the board that supports that a child’s attitudes and behaviors towards substance use is directly influenced by risk factors in their environment, and this includes the cultural values a parent may instill within the home. This study examines the parental indicators of acculturation and cultural orientation and how those two elements affect the relationship between the parenting practices – monitoring and rules – of Mexican-American identifying parents and their children’s behaviors towards alcohol. Data will be collected from the ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) Study, a database with unique data on around 4,500 participants across the nation. This data will undergo multiple statistical tests and then analyzed for relationships and associations.


korynKoryn St. Clair

Research Title: "Influence of Exposure to Genetic Ancestry Test Results on Race Essentialism"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Simon Howard

Abstract: In less than a decade, genetic ancestry testing has grown exponentially in popularity. For example, in 2013, only 330,000 individuals had completed a genetic ancestry test (GAT), however, at the beginning of 2019 that number had risen to over 26 million (Regalado, 2019). Perceived beliefs about GAT results endorse essentialist beliefs about race.  Those who are high in race essentialism place a higher level of importance upon race (Prentice & Miller, 2007). GATs use biology and quantify race which has been shown to increase race essentialism. We had a one directional hypothesis that exposure GATs would significantly increase race essentialism. One hundred and fifty participants were recruited for this study. Participants were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).  A total of nine social media posts were created featuring topics commonly shared by individuals on Facebook (i.e., voting, higher education acceptance, marital engagement, children's first day of school, cooking, GAT results, prom, graduation, and new employment). Participants in the experimental were exposed to GAT results via Facebook post in an online survey in a between-subjects design. Following procedures in (Young, Sanchez, & Wilton, 2013), race essentialism measured using a shortened version of the Race Conceptions Scale (RCS; Williams and Eberhart, 2008). As predicted, the results indicated a significant effect of exposure on race essentialism. The results supported the prediction that exposure to GAT results would result in significantly higher levels of race essentialist beliefs. We found that when participants viewed Facebook posts about a user’s GAT results, they were more likely to conceptualize race as more biological. Due to the perceivably negative consequences associated with increased levels of racial essentialist thinking, it was important that this topic be explored because of its significant influence. 


franciscoFrancisco Tejeda

Research Title: "The Influence of Social Media Posts about Racism on Perceptions of Black Job Applicants and their Job-Related Outcomes"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Simon Howard

Abstract: According to Pew Research center, ninety percent of people aged eighteen to twenty four in the United States use social media in 2019. The current study explored whether posting about race on social media negatively affected a Black individual’s job prospects. Previous research has shown that speaking about racial discrimination leads to stigmatized individuals being perceived as a complainers and less likable. Participants were asked to read a job description for a manager’s position at a department store that the mock-applicant has applied for. After, the participants read the mock-applicant’s cover letter, resume, and a print-out of their Facebook profile. The subject then rated the applicant through various questions that were answered on a Likert Scale. The results showed that likability and interview had significant effects. The implications of this show that posting about race does yield negative consequences for prospective applicants such as the applicant is seen as less likable and less like to be called back for an interview. This is consistent with previous research suggesting that those who speak up about racial discrimination are associated with subjectively negative traits. When individuals speaking up about discrimination it does in fact make them less likable. The more likable an individual is, the higher chance to be employed due to being like those involved in the process. This can be due to ingroup biases where those who are associated with someone’s group will be perceived more positively versus those in the outgroup.


sirSir Lawrence Tender

Research Title: "What Impacts Success and Self-efficacy of Marquette University First-generation and Students of Color Pioneers’ in STEM Related Programs?"

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Maney

Abstract: In this research article, scholars from background of first generation, low-income, and person of color are not represented in many majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This seems to happen after completing their first year of undergrad or coming into college or university. Scholars changing their major have reason behind their decision, yet many universities are not concern for the underrepresentation in many science classrooms or the steady change of STEM major into non-science or mathematical related courses. Not being concern of diversity in discipline in STEM fields, provides not many aspirations for students to approach majors like chemistry, civil engineering, or computer science. Leading to why many students of color don’t choose career in STEM fields?