McNair Scholars Present Research Findings

Chip Chandler

WT McNair Scholars Research Showcase and Poster Presentation in the Cornette Library. Photo by WTAMU Communication & Marketing

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]


CANYON, Texas — Fourteen of West Texas A&M University’s top students presented research findings Oct. 12.

The 14 students took part in the WT McNair Scholars Research Showcase and Poster Presentation in the Cornette Library.

The undergraduates presented their findings in a variety of topics, ranging from social media’s impact on elections to sex offender registries to neonatal physical therapy — even brand placement in superhero movies.

“Students taking part in this event learn the process of conducting research and benefit from guidance of the McNair Scholars staff throughout,” said Victoria Salas, director of the McNair Scholars program. “The research they produced this summer is now ready to be presented at research conferences. Building presentation skills is part of the McNair Scholars process with the guidance of their mentors and our staff to teach them to be effective and confident presenters.”

McNair Scholars are an important component in WT’s goal of becoming a regional research university, as outlined in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is being fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The research period lasts about 16 weeks, from May through early September, Salas said.

The application period to join the McNair Scholars program is open Nov. 1 to March 1; applications may be filled out here. Selected students receive the guidance of a mentor overseeing the research project; seminars on graduate school admission process, research methods and financial aid; a $2,800 research stipend; a $300 research supply allowance; tutoring, academic counseling and intense GRE or GMAT preparation; admission and financial aid assistance; preparation for research conference preparations; and fee waivers for graduate applications, paid conference travel and fellowships.

McNair Scholars is a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential.

Students and their projects include:

  • Daniela Cervantes, senior digital communications major from Amarillo: “The Effect of Social Media Presence on Election Outcomes”;
  • Jose Duenas, senior computer science major from Dimmitt: “Detecting Driver’s Cognitive Load Dynamics with Brain Signal Analysis”;
  • Omar Garcia, senior mechanical engineering major from Amarillo: “Effects of Carbon-Based Materials on the Thermodynamic Properties of Solid Fuel”;
  • Madeline Kleinschmidt, senior international business major from Kenai, Alaska: “Transitional Justice Mechanisms After Enforced Disappearances”;
  • Ashlynn Lester, junior history major from Perryton: “Women and the Making of Modern Day Korea: An Analysis of Post-WWII Family Planning Programs”;
  • Lizbeth Lopez, senior biology / pre-dental major from Spearman: “Preparation of Cast Resins from Plant-Based Starting Material”;
  • Gabriel Martinez, senior history major from Hereford: “Mexican Migration: How Drought Influenced the Migration during the Mexican Revolution”;
  • Jazmyn McGuire, senior criminal justice major from Borger: “Requirements of the List: Sex Offender Registry and State Statutes”;
  • Maliyah Mendoza, senior communication disorders major from Glenn Heights: “Patient Satisfaction with Hearing Devices and Bluetooth Technology”;
  • Ashley Oakes, senior business marketing major from Amarillo: “Strategic Brand Placement Inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe”;
  • Annalee Noel, senior environmental engineering major from Canyon: “Modeling and Analysis of Emissions from Cleary Flood Power Generation Station”;
  • Kassandra Razo, senior sports exercise science major from Houston: “Biomechanical Differences in Sitting Positions”;
  • Madison Shuck, senior health sciences major from Hugoton, Kan.: “Neonatal Physical Therapy”; and
  • Tuyizere Sandrine, senior health sciences major from Abilene: “Causation of Scoliosis and the Demographic Group at Risk.”

The program is named for Dr. Ronald E. McNair, who was killed in the Challenger mission on Jan. 28, 1986. McNair was the second African American to fly in space. He began his career with NASA in 1978, flying his first space shuttle mission in 1984. After McNair’s death, Congress provided funding program, dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Over the course of the program’s 22-year history at WT, 70 percent of McNair scholars enter graduate school directly after graduation, 85 students have completed a master’s degree (41 of them at WT), and 20 scholars have completed a doctoral or professional degree.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


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