Meet Cornell's McNair Scholars
McNair Scholars 2022-2023
Emilia Ceniceros is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Animal Science on the Pre-PhD track with a potential minor in Infectious Diseases or Education. In addition, to being a McNair Scholar, she is a first-generation college student. She is currently an undergraduate research assistant in the Lau Lab studying a spectrum of immune memory, more specifically, the unique abilities that natural killer cells possess and contribute to immune memory responses. After Cornell, she hopes to attend a Ph.D. program centered around immunology, microbiology, or virology studying the intersection of cellular immunotherapies and adaptive immunity in both animals and people. She hopes to eventually enter a career in research and university-level academia.
Cannon Cline is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) studying Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a specific interest in coastal geomorphology and coastal hazards. He is currently working in the Srikrishna Lab where he is researching the modeling of coastal hazards associated with sea level rise. Cannon plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Earth Science and hopes to work with vulnerable communities in assessing and managing.
Vashti Claybrook Vashtí Claybrook studies Human Biology, Health, and Society on a pre-medical track at Cornell University. She is an undergraduate researcher in the Baskin Lab studying the effect of lipids on cell signaling events using synthetic chemistry and protein engineering. After Cornell University, she plans to pursue a dual MD-PhD degree. As a future medical scientist, Vashtí is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatric medicine and researching the connections between genetic, environmental, and social impacts on mental and behavioral health to improve mental health care within Black and African American communities.
Anya English is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Health Equity. Anya is currently researching at SUNY Upstate Medical University, investigating ADHD and cardiometabolic disorders. Anya is also a research assistant in the Krosch Lab, which focuses on the social-cognitive processes behind inter-group bias. In the lab, her research currently focuses on the biases behind intergroup pain perception and Black maternal experiences. Anya is passionate about health equity for Black women and plans to become a doula. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with the goals of providing community mental health care with a focus on women’s health, preventative care, and public health policy.
Santiago Tabares Erices is a Junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Science majoring in Environment & Sustainability with a concentration in Evolutionary Biology and Applied Ecology. His research interests lie in physiology and chemical ecology especially in birds, reptiles, and amphibians. He has volunteered as a bird bander and hawk counter and is currently researching avian and mammalian torpor and spend the summer researching lyrebird vocalizations in Australia in the Lovette lab. After graduating, he hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology and continue researching wildlife biology.
Amaya Garnenez is a current Junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is pursuing a major in Chemistry with a concentration in Organic Chemistry. Amaya is a former member of the Stache Lab who focuses their research on advancing synthetic organic chemistry, photochemistry, inorganic materials, and polymer chemistry. Her research interests focus on improving the sustainability of chemical products and services that are used to meet human necessities. She aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in Chemistry to bridge the gap of knowledge in chemistry while inspiring and helping underrepresented voices in her field.
Chandra Jebodh is a junior at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management with a concentration in accounting. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she is also a Cooke scholar, a member of the P3 program, and a proud member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Chandra wants to study forensic accounting and fraud to prevent corporate fraud from happening. She is very interested in researching how large-scale corporate frauds begin and how they are allowed to continue without interference. In her personal life, Chandra volunteers in animal rescue and is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. After graduating from Cornell, she plans to pursue a master’s and Ph.D. in accounting and hopes to become a higher-education professor someday.
Melanie Lantigua is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Biology and Society. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she is also a part of the Biology Scholars Program. Her research interests revolve around degenerative diseases. She is currently performing research in the Delco lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine studying how joint injury leads to arthritis. After graduating, Melanie plans on pursuing an MD-Ph.D. in Neuroscience.
Nuzhat Mukul is a current sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering. She was born and raised in the Bronx. She plans to concentrate in biomechanics and is currently a part of the Lewis Lab. The Lewis Lab focuses on musculoskeletal mechanobiology through mechanics and imaging. She is interested in developing tools to understand biological systems and focusing on accessibility. She wants her research to directly benefit her community and have a direct impact on those who need it. Nuzhat is also a Ryan Scholar and an HEOP Ambassador.
Amirath Norton is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Psychology, focusing on Social Psychology, and minoring in LGBT Studies. Along with the McNair Scholars, she completed the OADI Research Scholars Program and is a member of the CornellAstronomical Society. Previously, they worked with Dr. Yuichi Shoda of the University of Washington on a study covering how race is represented and referred to in academic psychology articles. Currently, she is working with Dr. Tom Gilovich in the Gilovich lab researching the traits and common actions displayed by good conversationalists. She is interested in researching the environmental, social, and societal factors that impact expression of LGBTQ+ identity and participation in the community. They wish to contribute to filling the gap in empirical research that is present regarding social psychology within the LGBTQ+ community and combat misinformation on the topic. After graduation, they wish to pursue their Ph.D. in Social Psychology with intent to become a researcher.
Joely Ventura Reyes is a sophomore in the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences pursuing a major in Biological Sciences with a concentration in microbiology and a potential minor in Education. Born in the Dominican Republic, Joely moved to New York at the age of seven. In addition to being a McNair scholar, she is a first-generation college student and an EOP scholar. She is currently an undergraduate research assistant in the Cerione lab researching the molecular mechanisms of KRAS inhibitors using room temperature crystallography. After her time at Cornell, she hopes to participate in a PhD program in virology and research cellular genes that promote and inhibit viral infection.
Yahir-Huerta Salas is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences pursuing a Biological Sciences major. He was born and raised in the Bronx by parents who immigrated from Mexico and enjoys participating in family gatherings. Yahir is an active member of the Abbasov Lab and currently conducts experiments to synthesize and scale toward an intermediate product key for terpene synthesis. He spent this past summer at Washington University in St. Louis studying the relationship between murine norovirus and interferon signaling. He is interested in further exploring the field of chemistry and biology in order to obtain a Ph.D. in a related discipline after Cornell. Outside of academics, he enjoys watching European football, listening to music, and hanging out with friends!
Laila Salih is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Biometry and Statistics. She is currently conducting breast cancer genetics research at the Schimenti Lab and is planning to pursue an MD-PhD. Laila is very passionate about providing equal access to clinical cancer treatments to underrepresented groups and minorities, especially in the areas of breast cancer and blood cancer. She aims to advance the field of cancer research by combining her future expertise in cellular biology, oncology, and a surgical specialty to teach and encourage the involvement of future students of color.
Saleha Tahseen I am a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Biological Sciences with a concentration in Molecular Biology on a pre-med track with a minor in biochemistry and ethics. I am currently on the MD-PhD path to bridge the intersection between the world of chemical drugs and the intricate systems of biotechnology and molecular pathways. I am also involved in as the Student Advisor for the Office of Undergraduate Biology and a Resident Advisor at Risley.
Peter Thais is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe on the Akwesasne Indian Reservation. He is currently pursuing a degree in Biological Engineering with potential minors in Environment & Sustainability and American Indian & Indigenous Studies. His research interests include community-based research, specifically with Indigenous Peoples in the context of climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability. Peter is an active member of the Indigenous community at Cornell.
Cristina Torres is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying biological sciences with a concentration in genetics, genomics, and development. She is currently working in the Feschotte lab working with zebrafish studying transposable elements and regeneration. Her goal is to continue onto grad school and receive her PhD in genetics. She is interested in developing a better understanding of the genome and all the aspects of it that remained unexplored.
Jada Vail is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a double major in Mathematics and Physics, concentrating in Astronomy. I am passionate about spreading my passion for learning more about the universe we live in, especially to young women interested in STEM disciplines. After obtaining a Ph.D., I intend to teach physics at the college level. Dynamical systems and the early universe interest me.
Jada Vyphius is a junior in the College of Human Ecology studying Nutritional Science with a specific interest in community nutrition. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she is a first-generation college student, a peer mentor to first year and transfer students in Human Ecology, and an EOP scholar. Currently, she is an undergraduate research assistant in the Leak Research Group focusing on designing innovative and culturally relevant interventions that aim to improve dietary behaviors among minority adolescents who reside in urban, low-income communities. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Nutrition, she seeks to empower her community in the South Bronx by making food and nutrition education more accessible to all via programming and public health policy efforts.
Nigel Williams is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Science pursuing a major in Biological Sciences with a concentration on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Marine Biology. He is a current Jackie Robinson Scholar, Doris Duke Scholar, HSF Scholar and part of the E-Board for the Biology Scholars Program and S.W.A.G. Club. Over the summer, Nigel continued researching in freshwater bioacoustics of the Adirondack Lakes to understand what soundscapes can tell us about freshwater community dynamics in the Flecker Lab and researched the implications of human-leopard interaction on food security and public health in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, specifically within indigenous communities, with the Fuller Lab. His future plans are to pursue his PhD in wildlife conservation and become an international wildlife conservationist with a focus on intersectionality.