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McNair Scholars 2012-2013 Cohort

Nonye Acholonu graduated in 2015 from the College of Human Ecology. Majoring in Human Biology, Health, and Society, she worked in the O'Brien laboratory. As a McNair Scholar, she studied nutrient flux and mineral dynamics across pregnancy and gestation in this laboratory for five semesters, including two summers. During this program, she was also able to present her research at the annual UB McNair Conference in Niagara Falls, obtain strategies to career planning/research involvement, and receive support from her many faculty and peers! In the Fall of 2015, Nonye will be attending Temple University School of Medicine in hopes of earning a degree in Medicine.

Martina Azar is a junior in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, majoring in Human Development, with a concentration in Social and Personality Development. She is interested in public health systems and policies and is also looking to be involved in research focusing on mental health disparities among different ethnicities and role of public health in these observations. She is involved in Infant emotion word comprehension and infant social referencing. With aspirations to become a clinical psychologist, Martina is currently studying abroad in Copenhagen and interning at a psychiatric mental health district. She has interned with psychologists who conduct clinical trials of Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and depression. She has volunteered at a nursing home and worked as a Resident Advisor with first-year students and was involved in peer counseling and crisis management, as well as worked in a baby lab in order to establish which population she will focus her studies in clinical psychology. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Martina will begin a PhD program in clinical psychology, and perhaps get involved with research focusing on mental health disparities but will ultimately pursue her career as a clinical psychologist.

Sandy Chan is currently a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Business. She is working on the effects of aspirin in microhemorrhage bleed size in Dr. Chris Schaffer and Dr. Nozomi Nishimura’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has presented her work at the McNair Conference and Leadership Alliance Conference. Sandy’s goals in the future involve pursuing a MD/PhD dual degree.

Yanqiao Chen joined the McNair Scholars program after discovering his passion for teaching chemistry. Through Mcnair, he will pursue his goal to become a professor, and to share the fascinating story of chemistry with students. He seeks to share his happiness for the subject and foster the opportunity for future students to experience those magical moments he has experienced. As a chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Yan has worked as a TA for the pre-freshmen summer program to prepare incoming Cornellians in chemistry. Currently, Yan is an undergraduate TA for physics and chemistry and also a tutor for the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. Ten years from now, Yan sees himself teaching chemistry at a major university, while spreading his passion for chemistry and education.

Teresa Danso-Danquah is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and is pursuing minors in Spanish, Law & Society, and Inequality Studies. She plans to combine these studies in a doctoral and law degree in order to obtain a career in disability law, advocacy, and research. As a McNair Scholar, Teresa is interested in disability policy analysis with a focus on translating policy and research into practical services and employment solutions for people with disabilities. Along with being a McNair Scholar, Teresa is also a Hunter R. Rawlings III Presidential Research Scholar and is currently collaborating on research assessing the needs and services available to siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities in the state of New York. On campus, Teresa pursues her passion for the disability community and for service in her work with the NY State Partners in Policymaking program with the Employment and Disability Institute and in her roles as the President of the Cornell Disabilities Service Troop, Vice President of the Cornell Union for Disabilities Awareness, Philanthropy Co-Chair of the Class of 2015 Council, and an active member of Cru Cornell. In her free time, Teresa volunteers with the Franziska Racker Center residential program for people with disabilities and also serves as an English as a Second Language tutor. When not working, Teresa can be found reading, knitting, creating DIY crafts, learning about different cultures, and playing soccer.

Juliana Garcia is a senior at Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations. She is hoping to go to graduate school to study Clinical Psychology. She is currently working as a research assistant in Dr. Nathan Spreng's Laboratory of Brain and Cognition. After graduation, Juliana will take a gap year and continue working at the Lab of Brain and Cognition assisting with behavioral and MRI testing.

Alexis Gibson graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University with a major in Animal Science and minors in Business Biomedical Science in May 2015. In addition to her involvement with McNair, Alexis was also a member of the Pre-Professional Programs (P3) and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP). She is currently pursuing her PhD at The University of Georgia through the Integrated Life Sciences program and intends to join the Department of Infectious Disease. Additionally, Alexis plans to earn a DVM so that she may conduct research on pathogens of zoonotic origin.

Patricia Gonzalez is enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her academic interests revolve around cultural differences, mental health in underrepresented and underprivileged populations, and cultural competency in psychological research and practice. She has been an active scholar in the McNair program for 3 years. Having now graduated from Cornell, Patricia will pursue a PhD in Counseling Psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. In the future, Patricia hopes to apply her own research to practice by opening a clinic catered to minority populations.

Jamie Freeman is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and majoring in Entomology. She is currently working in the Cornell University Insect Collection, where she is curating the family Cicadellidae.  Her past work has centered on biological control, most recently on the invasive black swallowort Cynanchum louiseae and pale swallowwort Cynanchum rossicum this past summer at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Ithaca. She is currently serving as the vice-president of the Cornell Undergraduate Entomology Club, Snodgrass and Wigglesworth. Jaime intends to complete a PhD program in entomology and hopes to pursue a career in academia to explore her interests in coevolution.

Rachel Lee is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Neurobiology and a minor in Global Health. She is currently working in the Biomedical Engineering department with the Schaffer-Nishimura lab on glioblastoma multiforme (malignant brain tumor) in mice models that label bone marflex-3 derived cells with green fluorescent protein. Rachel will be continuing this research project throughout the year and is hoping to conduct health policy-based research while completing her global health minor field experience in the summer of 2014.

Jeffrey Li is a junior Bioengineering major in the College of Engineering at Cornell University. His research involves working out the intricacies of a bacterial enzyme pathway which can degrade ibuprofen. Jeffrey expects to continue this research into next year and write an undergraduate thesis on this work. He has attended undergraduate conferences at the University of Maryland, SUNY Buffalo, and Cornell University.

Maya Mundell is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University majoring in Near Eastern Studies with a concentration in Arabic and Africana Studies. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Maya will begin a PhD program in Africana Studies and/or Anthropology. She plans to pursue a career in academia, research, human rights advocacy, and international development.

Melanie Netter is a senior in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University with a major in Human Development and a minor in Education. She is interested in researching how to use purpose in life as a mechanism for promoting achievement among adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds. Melanie plans to pursue a PhD in Psychology and develop a set of evidence-based practices that teachers and schools can adopt to motivate their students to discover their path in life.

Sheretta Noel is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University with minor concentrations in Inequality Studies & Africana Studies. Through her coursework and professional experiences, she has developed her research interests in workplace climate, diversity initiatives and practices, and individual experiences of inclusion, exclusion and fairness. Under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Nishii, Sheretta is currently completing her senior honors thesis project entitled "The Impact of Student Engagement on Career Success: the moderating role of ethnicity and gender," which seeks to determine whether career outcomes and workplace experiences are influenced by the level of engagement and types of activities students were involved in during collegiate studies. With a commitment to high academic achievement and service, Sheretta looks forward to continuing her studies in graduate school and enrolling in a doctoral program upon graduation.

Casey Paton is a recent graduate of the College of Human Ecology with a major in Human Biology, Health, and Society.  Casey is from Hereford, Maryland.  After graduation, Casey will be pursuing a Master's Degree in Neurobiology from Vanderbilt University; she will then apply to MD-PhD programs.  At Cornell, Casey conducted research in Dr. Gu's Lab studying the genetic transmission levels of mtDNA heteroplasmy.  Casey hopes to continue research on mitochondrial genetics to further elucidate mechanisms of neurodegeneration.  In her spare time, Casey is an avid runner and powerlifter, a personal trainer, a Swing dance enthusiast, and a backpacking aficionado.

Ivette Planell-Mendez is a junior in the College of Engineering at Cornell University, majoring in Applied & Engineering Physics with minors in Astronomy and Latino Studies.  During her time at Cornell, she has been conducting research with a group in High Energy Physics. In particular, her research is carried out at Cornell’s NanoScale Science & Technology Facility (CNF) and focuses on developing new sensor technology for a pending luminosity upgrade at the Large Hadron Collider.  In addition to being a McNair Scholar, Ivette is also an LSAMP and McMullen Scholar. Outside of academics Ivette is involved with the Women of Color Coalition, La Asociación Latina, and Sabor Latino. Upon graduation, Ivette plans to pursue a PhD program in Physics and work towards a career in academia where she can follow her passions of teaching and research.

Kemar Prussien is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, majoring in Psychology who is particularly interested in translational research focused on the family experiences of a child with a chronic illness, mental disorder, or maladaptive behavior (such as self-injury). She currently works with the Cornell Research Program for Self-Injury and Recovery, and her research project mainly focuses on the parental experience of a child’s self-injurious behavior and how their experiences can aid other caregivers through a child’s recovery. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Kemar plans to enter a PhD program in Clinical Psychology and intends to continue researching the effect youth and adolescent behavioral and health problems have on parents and even siblings.

Jessica Ramadhin is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University majoring in Biology, with a concentration in Microbiology, and minoring in Business. She will spend this summer at the University of Georgia researching the competitive interactions between parasites in the gastrointestinal tract and assessing how these interactions affect individual parasites and disease dynamics. Upon her return to Ithaca, Jessica will begin researching the serum antibody response to Campylobacter jejuni cytolethal distending toxin in health and disease under Dr. Gerald Duhamel in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Jessica has also earned the honor of being a Gates Millennium Scholar. After graduating from Cornell, Jessica plans to pursue a PhD in Infectious Disease and Immunology or Microbiology. Ultimately, she plans to carry out a research career in an industrial setting.

Gaelle Sop is a sophomore in the College of Engineering at Cornell University, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular engineering. She is interested in applying her degree to the research of therapeutic drugs for the treatment and prevention of cancers, and genetic and metabolic diseases. This summer, she will be conducting research on cell metabolism and glycosilation at Cornell University. Along with being a McNair Scholar, Gaelle is also honored to be a Ryan Scholar, a McMullen Dean Scholar, a peer mentor in CU Empower, a class representative on Cornell AIChE executive board, and a Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar, where she also holds an executive board position. Dedicated to fostering Christian community and faith throughout her entire life, Gaelle co-founded Triumphant Praise Dance Troupe, leads a Bible discussion group in the fellowship Cornell Cru, and serves in the Cru praise team and outreach ministry.

Deluxsika Vimalesvaran is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University with a major in Biological Sciences. She is involved in the Biology Scholar's Program and in the Sri Lankan Students' Association. She is currently an undergraduate researcher at the Perry Laboratory, where she is collecting data for an honors thesis on the function of the V2 protein in geminiviruses using sub-cellular localization. After graduation, Deluxsika plans to work for a few years prior to attending graduate school.

Masrai Williams is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University majoring in Human Biology Health and Society in the Human Ecology. He is currently conducting research In Dr. Brainerd's Neuroscience and Memory Lab with a focus on memory in older adult populations. Aside from serving the older members of the Ithacan community, Masrai also aids the next generation through mentoring and tutoring initiatives including but not limited to, the KIPP School districts in NYC.

Roberto Villalba is enrolled in the College of Engineering. He became fascinated in computer science by the way in which microcontrollers, actuators, and sensors could breathe life into a few lines of code. His interest in robotics has led him to pursue several projects and to conduct research at the Autonomous Systems Laboratory, where he has worked on expanding the LTLMoP framework as well as generating algorithms for grasping objects with multiple degree of freedom manipulators.

Joseph Vokt majored in Computer Science at Cornell University’s College of Engineering, concentrating in Scientific Computing and Computer Graphics. His research experience has been in systems biology and ab initio molecular simulation and will be developing numerical methods for symmetric tensor problems, which arise in genomics and quantum chemistry. He is passionate about research with impact and is committed to outreach and education in Computer Science and Mathematics. He is pursuing graduate school in Computer Science at USC.