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McNair Scholars 2017-2018 Cohort

Nahisha Alabre is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology, majoring in Human Development and minoring in Policy Analysis and Management. Her experience in research includes working as a research assistant to Dr. Charles Izzo at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research since Spring of 2017.

Nana Antwi is a sophomore majoring in Human Biology, Health and Society. He is currently interested in developing new technologies for improving drug efficiency. Nana enjoys creative writing and loves to engage in outdoor activities with friends.

Naedum DomNwachukwu is an undergraduate in the College of Engineering with a major in Biomedical Engineering. In addition to McNair Scholar, he is also honored as a Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar, a Jacobs Family Cornell Scholar, and an Edison International Scholar. His interests are in the areas of nanomedicine, biomaterials, and drug delivery. Naedum’s research involves the synthesis and functionalization of a variety of nanoparticles for clinical applications, particularly < 10 nm fluorescent silica nanoparticles used for guided surgeries and imaging. After graduating from Cornell, he plans to obtain an MD-PhD, integrating engineering and medicine in order to innovate new methods of fighting disease and design more economically accessible medical devices. Naedum wants to impact his community by improving the duration and quality of life, driving industrial gflex-3th, and investing in education for future generations.

Ryan Elbashir is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Cellular and Molecular Biology. Her research interests lie in the intersection of molecular and genetic approaches towards understanding the mechanisms of human diseases. She is currently in The Alani Lab in Cornell's Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and her research involves the study of DNA Mismatch Repair Systems, specifically the Mlh1-Pms1 and Mlh1-Mlh3 complexes involved in mismatch repair. Ryan plans on pursuing a PhD to continue research, teach, mentor, and most importantly contribute to the gflex-3th of the communities she came from.

Sayyed Hussain is a junior biological sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has previously studied the role of pre-operative MRIs in the surgical management of breast cancers at Weill Cornell. Currently, Sayyed studies immunity-reproduction tradeoffs in drosophila melanogaster under the guidance of Professor Brian Lazzaro and Dr. Vanika Gupta; he is interested in better understanding the role of the fat-body in eliciting an immune response in d. melanogaster. Eventually, he hopes to transition to study immune responses in humans with chronic diseases (particularly polycystic kidney disease) and elucidate some of the cellular pathways responsible for the destruction of renal tissue. Sayyed plans to pursue an MD-PhD, and go on to fulfill the role of a physician-scientist in the future.

Rebekah Jones is a Development Sociology major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is also a photographer and graphic designer.

Tahlia Hanna-Martinez is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in Development Sociology. She plans to minor in Crimes Prisons Education and Justice as well as Social Inequality. Tahlia has a desire to study mass incarceration in order to abrogate the systemic oppression of minorities perpetuated by the criminal justice system. Tahlia also works part time in the Behavioral Services Unit at Cayuga Medical Center as a psychiatric technician (where she developed an interest in psychopathology). After graduating from Cornell University, Tahlia intends to pursue a PhD either in Social Psychology or Clinical Psychology.

Lizbeth Lucero is a sophomore in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences studying Development Sociology with minors in Education and Public Policy. She is passionate about Education Policy in the United States relative to other developed nation such as the United Kingdom. She is also interested in the policy impact on Education in Latin American countries. She currently working with Professor Bryan on giving back to communities in the South. Lizbeth will attain a JD/PhD after graduating Cornell University.

Amairani Marin Tovar is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology and a minor in Latina/o Studies. Her past research involved wildlife conservation. Her current research interests include working with underrepresented communities and teaching/ developing the knowledge of conservation within these communities. After graduation, Amairani hopes to pursue a PhD in Conservation.

Luz Martes is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a double major in Economics and Sociology and a minor in Inequality Studies. She is interested in the intersection of neighborhood segregation, race, educational outcomes, and how they influence job prospects. This includes looking into how the presence of implicit bias impacts the hiring process and work environment for underrepresented communities. Luz hopes to obtain her PhD in Organizational Behavior and close the gap in the racial and socioeconomic disparity across highly segregated work forces through her research and advocacy.

Patrick O'Briant is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and is majoring in Plant Science with a concentration in sustainable gflex-3th. He hopes to do research in ecological methods of agriculture, focusing on adaptation to Climate Change. Patrick looks forward to putting his knowledge and skills to use in regions where people will be most adversely affected by Climate Change to help establish food security and food sovereignty.

Iyaniwura Olarewaju is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Genetics, Genomes, and Development. Her research interests lie in epigenetics, specifically in how environmental factors can cause changes in an organism’s gene expression, and how these changes are passed on transgenerationally. After graduating from Cornell, Iyaniwura plans to pursue her MD/PhD so that she can ultimately apply her expertise as a physician scientist.

Debbie Nyakaru is In the college of College of Human Ecology and is a Global and Public Health Sciences major, planning to minor in Health Policy and Inequality Studies. She is interested in how Health Policy and more specifically, the structures of the US Health Care System effect health outcomes for people of color. Debbie is also interested in the role of bias and cultural competency training in improving health outcomes for patients of color. A fun fact about her is that she likes chicken tenders and lemonade.

Claudia Ponce de Leon is an undergraduate in the College of Engineering studying civil engineering. Her goal is to become a civil engineer that assists in the integration of sustainability with building practices. Throughout her undergraduate years she has done research on gentrification, McMasnsionization, and on how to facilitate education of Transportation Engineering methodologies using virtual reality. She plans on pursuing a graduate education to further advance her ability to plan sustainable infrastructure, effective allocation of resources, and strategic placement of fundamental facilities by increasing her skills set and knowledge of multiple tools.

Krystal Zwiesineyi Chindori-Chininga is enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Krystal’s academic pursuits align with her sense of duty to her country. Over the summer she completed an independent research project into the nuanced correlation between socio-economic mobility and agricultural productivity in Zimbabwe. Krystal is currently conducting an independent study into the appropriate agricultural models and policy changes needed to develop the national economic infrastructure of particular Southern African countries. This work has driven her to do research in Zimbabwe, participate in an agricultural consultancy project in Uganda and, this summer, intern at the Ministry of Agriculture in Ghana. She is also a research assistant for MAFFA, the Malawi Farmer-to-Farmer Agro-ecological Research project.  She serves as the Project Development Director in Education for the Cornell Coalition of Pan-African Scholars linking the African Diaspora to development projects on/for the African continent. Ultimately, Krystal intends to use her current undergraduate education and eventual International Development PhD to apply an interdisciplinary approach of development sociology, microeconomics and agriculture, to facilitate economic stability in parts of Southern Africa.