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McNair Scholars 2018-2019 Cohort

Abigail Galvez is a sophomore in the college of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Her interests lie in the intersection of hormones and behavior, and how single life events can have lasting effects on brain structure and activity. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she is a Posse scholar, and conducts independent research in the Bass Laboratory. Her research involves tracking the hormonal activity in the brains of a fish species, based on vocalizations and interactions with other fish. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, which focuses on memory in trauma patients. Abigail wants to provide therapeutics to these victims from a neurobiological perspective, by manipulating the long-term memories that are encoded.

Isabel Izquierdo is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Biology with a concentration in Microbiology, and a minor in Infectious Disease. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, Isabel is also a Posse Scholar and Wentcher Scholar. Her main interest is looking at the cellular pathogenesis of particularly violent diseases. She also enjoys learning about phage-therapy, and genetically engineering microbes for different purposes. While certain diseases that pique her interests are quite dangerous, Isabel believes that the genetic makeup and cellular interactions which make them so violent are necessary to study for the greater good. After graduating Cornell, Isabel plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Virology and then research new outbreaks around the world.

Joseph Martinez studies Biology and Society in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. He is on a Pre-Med track and hopes to fill in the gaps in research regarding ethnic and racial minorities in regard to healthcare. He believes that everyone should have access to healthcare regardless of their identities. Joseph is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in health policy to help supplement his research later in life. Despite advancements made in medicine, marginalized communities continue to experience astronomical disparities and inequity in healthcare and other closely related intersectional fields. He hopes to use his Pre-Med background as a basis to enact change on the micro level in his community, and he will help supplement macro change in the form of policy reform through his research. Joseph will be studying marginalized communities in many facets and how the intersectionality of different identities plays a role in the type of healthcare they receive.

Katie Barajas studies Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, with concentrations in biomedical instrumentation and physics. The moment she completed her first summer research project, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in medical research. While gaining exposure to the field, she began to realize how interdisciplinary it really was. Medical research draws upon fields such as physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. Katie wants to use her education to learn more about biomedical instrumentation and microscopy. She believes that by developing tools to understand biological systems, scientists can synthesize more efficient targeted therapeutics or design portable diagnostic devices for low-resource areas. As a McNair scholar, Katie is able to dive deeper into her research interests and develop with a community of dedicated peers from similar backgrounds. In the future, Katie hopes to conduct research in the field of biophysics and be an archetype for underrepresented minorities pursuing STEM careers.

Stephen Ramirez is a Biological Sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a concentration in biochemistry. He is a McNair Scholar, LSAMP Scholar, and works in the Lin lab in the Department of Chemistry. Passionate about working in the interface of chemistry and biology, Stephen aspires to become a researcher to uncover the underlying mechanisms of diseases and then develop effective and safe therapeutics, especially for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Stephen has also recently become interested in science policy to ensure that work of scientists is properly supported and necessary medicines and health technologies are properly accessible to all populations.

Antonio Martinez is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology pursuing a major in Fiber Science. He recently just joined Professor Juan Hinestroza's Nanotechnology Textile Laboratory and his research will lie in the modification of fibrous materials using nanomaterials. He is also interested in high performance material innovation to further the potential of human performance. After graduation, Tony hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science or Textile Engineering.

Dalia Mota is an undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, currently transitioning into the school of Industrial and Labor Relations with a minor in Inequality Studies. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she is also an Educational Opportunity Program student. Her research interests include racial, ethnic, and class disparities in the education and criminal justice system, particularly how these inequalities affect the social mobility of people of color. After graduating from Cornell, Dalia plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Sociology in hopes of creating a positive impact on her community by mitigating inequalities in structurally discriminatory systems.

Jae Bucknor is a sophomore College of Arts and Sciences, studying Biological Sciences with a minor in Inequality Studies at Cornell University. She is interested in the intersection of genetics and biochemistry and how they both can be understood in the development of personalized and efficient pharmaceuticals. Her experience as a Belizean and Filipina woman is also a big part of her life and has shaped her interest in the social consequences of race in healthcare. She aspires to be a college professor and to conduct research. Jae hopes to combine her interests to better inform up-and-coming generations about biochemical mechanisms in the human body.

Atsutse (Tsetse) Kludze is a student in the College of Engineering at Cornell University pursuing a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering with an expected graduation date of May 2021. Atsutse is pursuing this discipline due to his desire to bring innovations to fruition. One of his goals is to create autonomous robots that are fully capable of self-repair in order to reduce the cost and risk to maintain/modify systems in hard-to-access locations. This desire has led him to take part in both the McNair and LSAMP program for future graduate school studies. Outside of his classes, Atsutse is a member of the Molnar’s Research Group and Cornell’s Solar Boat Project Team. He also works as an undergraduate administrative assistant for Cornell’s Diversity Programs in Engineering and a course assistant for Multi-variable Calculus.

KAR Robison studies Agricultural, Environmental & Sustainability Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Having an extensive career in Sustainable Development Marketing and as an experienced artist, she is interested in developing policy and certifications around the people side of sustainable development’s triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit) to progress climate adaptability through cultural resilience shifting human behavior within societies. Through multidisciplinary participatory art installations, she will share agricultural, environmental and sustainability sciences in culturally relevant ways to empower communities to find their own climate adaptation. She looks forward to working with farmers internationally on sustainable agriculture practices in a changing climate, as well as, empowering people to adapt to climate migration and celebrate cultural diversity and resilience as an advantage in societal climate adaptation. Additionally, KAR works on social justice issues in dismantling white supremacy in cultures, communities and institutions. She is an abolitionist seeking an end to mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline.

Raul Campo Lizama studies Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Raul’s interest in Plant Science comes from his desire to understand the primal relationship between plants and humans regarding health and medical systems. Raul’s main academic interest are in medicinal ethnobotany; traditional uses of regional plants as medicine through local and traditional knowledge, pharmacognosy; the creation of plant derived drugs, nutraceuticals; foods with medicinal value, and ethical bioprospecting; the search for new biochemical compounds with medical potential. Through research of culturally diverse of medical systems, Raul is interested in the accessibility and efficacy that herbal medicine can have to chronic illnesses and a holistic approach to medicine with these diseases. He hopes to promote the efficiency and autonomy of global medical systems in their perspective countries and to respectfully incorporate modern medicine within other medical systems to abolish healthcare inequality.

Renelle Mensah is a student of Government with a focus on international relations and critical languages College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University. She is a first generation American and a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her passion (to positively impact disadvantaged communities like her own) has inspired her continued work at Youthprise. A Minnesota based organization dedicated to ensuring Minnesota youth thrive inside and outside the classroom through Youth Initiatives, Nutrition Programs and YouthBanks. Renelle currently serves as the Co-President of the Board and Co-Chair of the Governance Committee where they work collaboratively to address social disparities through grant funding for initiatives focusing on emotional health, safety, and economic development. At Cornell, she is a member of the Institute for African Development, Coalition for Pan African Scholars, and Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. After Cornell, Renelle looks forward to a graduate education and career in academia in critical languages and public diplomacy.

Atsu Kludze studies Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Cornell University. After learning about the discipline of Electrochemistry from his first general chemistry lecture, he knew what he wanted to do. Currently, he has an interest in energy studies, specifically energy storage. By developing more efficient methods of energy storage, Atsu believes that there will be a continuation of technological advancement as current technology has begun to rely on portable and powerful energy sources. Currently, Atsu is an undergraduate researcher for an electrochemical research group that investigates nanomaterials and their application to electrochemical energy storage.

Estefania Perez is an undergraduate student College of Arts and Sciences studying Government and History at Cornell University. In addition to McNair, she is also a recipient of the Posse Foundation Scholarship. Her passion in the aforementioned disciplines specifically draws her to American politics and history. Her research interests lie in the areas of voter turnout, voting patterns, and public opinion in the Latino community. She is also interested in American political development and public policy. Through her research, Estefania hopes to increase voter turnout throughout marginalized communities in the United States. After Cornell, she plans to enroll in a J.D.-Ph.D. program and later pursue a career in politics.

Micah Benoit is a sophomore College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying environmental and sustainability sciences at Cornell University. From the Bronx, New York, her past research has involved energy justice. She loves sharing her passion for horticulture with people who don't have the opportunity to engage with nature and the environment, believing this is an essential part of human existence. Micah hopes to study how negative environmental factors will influence low-income communities of color and how they will be adapting to the future of climate change.

Kelsie Lopez is enrolled in College of Arts and Sciences and studies Biological Sciences with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell. She is involved in the Biology Scholars Program, Pre-Professional Programs, and she works at the Regent Lounge of the Statler Hotel. She has always loved biology, but has recently found an interest in animal behavior and ecology. Specifically, she would like to understand the genetic basis of different behaviors in animals. Some questions that she would like to answer are how can fitness of an individual be affected by genetics? How much change can one single genetic loci difference bring to a species? Are certain behaviors even caused by a genetic basis? She is currently working at the Lab of Ornithology to study the genetics of a hybrid population of Australian long tailed finches (Poephila acuticauda). Kelsie is always looking for more field research experiences in hopes of learning from the incredible diversity of animals.

Gloria Dawodu is an undergraduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, majoring in Biological Sciences. Her interests are in the areas of Cellular Biology and Microbiology, specifically their implications in the area of infectious disease. Her research involves the visualization and analysis of breast cancer in the female mouse model using tools such a two-photon imaging. She hopes to use these means to also establish an understanding of the interaction between tumor cells and surrounding immune cells such as macrophages. After the completion of her undergraduate degree, Gloria hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology and pursue a career in biodefense research.