McNair summer interns get a jump on research

— The 2015 summer interns include: Crystal Alexander of Jacksonville; Kristen Bell of Little Rock; Cody Blees of Hot Springs; Josiah Burns of Van Buren; Brian Cole of Bismarck; Kanesha Evans of El Dorado; KarDashia Howel of Waldo; Tanner Oglesby of Benton; Dylan Powell of Magnolia; Kaniel Purifoy of Bluff City; Marcus Sanchez of Longview, Texas; and CamRyn Stillman of Benton.

Twelve undergraduates participating in Henderson State’s Summer Research Internship program presented their research proposals July 29 following weeks of workshops and preparation.

These McNair Scholars will have a competitive edge when they enter graduate school, according to Dr. Shanea Nelson, assistant director of the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Scholars Program at Henderson.

“The fact that each of them will have completed a research project as an undergraduate is really phenomenal,” Nelson said. “We hope that most will go on to publish and present their work.”

When students enter graduate school, they must complete a research project before they graduate. The Summer Research Institute gives the McNair students a head start by preparing them for the process.

The McNair Scholars Program is designed to prepare low-income, first-generation and minority undergraduates for graduate study at the doctoral level. It targets highly motivated students and prepares them to enter and complete graduate school through their involvement in research, scholarly activities, and support services.

Through a series of sessions that began June 16, Henderson faculty provided a wide range of strategic tips to help the students with their research. The first workshop covered research topic development and library resources. Subsequent workshops focused on additional components of the research process.

The students will conduct their research during the upcoming fall semester, completing it at the end of the term. The topics are wide-ranging, Nelson said. One student is experimenting with tungsten to develop a new material, while another is studying views on student athletes and their academic performance.

“They can choose whatever topic they are interested in. We have lots of intriguing ideas,” Nelson said. Students are paired with faculty mentors who advise them throughout the research process.

“All of the students have done exceptionally well,” Nelson said. “They have really embraced the program and taken advantage of what we had to offer.”

The undergraduates are mostly seniors who will apply this fall to attend graduate school. They also developed personal statements and curriculum vitaes to use for the application process.

Nelson said recruitment of McNair students for the next internship program begins this fall. Participating students will start a pre-research component next spring. “They’ll already have the basics of research, giving them a head start for next summer’s internship,” she said.

The McNair Scholars Program is federally funded to serve 25 students each year. The application process is competitive, and all scholars can participate in the internship program.

“The program encourages Henderson faculty and staff to recommend student candidates,” Nelson said. “We also welcome students from all disciplines whose research interests align with a field that can be pursued at the doctoral level.”

For more information about the McNair Scholars Program and the Summer Research Internship, contact Nelson at 870-230-5100.