McNair Scholars Newsletter

Augsburg University TRIO McNair Scholars Program

Issue 2, Spring/Summer 2022

A Year in Review

This was an especially significant year for both students and staff as we navigated the return to campus and the challenges of transitioning from Zoom to classroom. Scholars applied to graduate programs and completed research proposals while balancing school, work, and personal commitments amid a still-present pandemic. In this newsletter, we celebrate the accomplishments of our recent graduates, many of which will be starting grad programs in the Fall, and welcome the new cohort as they prepare for full-time research this summer.

This year also marks the end of our previous grant cycle (2017-2022) and in April we submitted the proposal for five-year renewal. It's a testament to the successes of our students that Augsburg's McNair program has received continuous funding since 2007. We look forward to another five years of supporting students as they pursue graduate education, and want to thank the faculty and staff that have advocated on our (and their) behalf.

Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. -- Ronald E. McNair

Tina, Cruz, Lara

Meet the 2022 McNair Summer Researchers!

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Scholars in Graduate School

The following Scholars recently graduated from Augsburg and are currently enrolled in graduate programs or were accepted for Fall 2022 admission.

Salma Ahmed, Clinical Psychology ('21)

Currently enrolled in the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program in Integrated Behavioral Health at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

Maslah Ali, Computer Science ('22)

Accepted to the Masters program in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota.

Nichelle Camden, Biochemistry ('21)

Currently enrolled in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Bridge program for Biochemistry at the University of California - San Diego. The ACS Bridge Program provides students the opportunity to earn a MS degree while participating in research and mentorship activities designed to make them more competitive PhD applicants.

Anahi Cantoran, Biology ('21)

Currently enrolled in the PhD program in Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Received the Creating Inclusive Cohorts (CIC) Fellowship to assist in funding graduate education.

Nou-Chee Chang, Communication Arts/Literature ('22)

Accepted to the PhD program in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Joseph Gaskill, Anthropology & American Indian Studies ('21)

Currently enrolled in the PhD program in Anthropology at the University of Texas - Austin. Awarded a $30,000 McNair Fellowship as a top applicant.

Kelly Lu, Chemistry ('22)

Accepted to the PhD program in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Quin Nelson, Sociology ('22)

Accepted to the Master in Public Health (MPH) program at University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. Received a full tuition scholarship as part of the Native American scholarship program.

Terrence Shambley Jr., English/Creative Writing ('21)

Currently enrolled in the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College.

Falak Tawakalna, Chemistry ('22)

Accepted to the PhD program in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Is planning to defer her admission for one year.

Daniella Vasquez, Biology ('21)

Currently enrolled in a Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Accepted to the PhD program in Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology at the University of Minnesota, beginning Fall 2022.

Catching up with alums...

Michael Alves ('17)

Michael Alves graduated from Augsburg in 2017 with a BS in Chemistry. He was admitted to the Chemistry doctoral program at the University of California - San Diego in 2017 and completed his PhD in November of 2021. Currently, Michael is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of California - Berkeley, where he was awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase the involvement of underrepresented groups in chemistry. Read more about this prestigious award.

Nana Owusu ('13)

Nana Owusu graduated from Augsburg in 2013 with a BS degree in Physics. He was admitted to the Biomedical Engineering doctoral program at the University of Iowa in 2013 and completed his PhD in August of 2021. Currently, Nana is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

The lab I work in focuses on magnetic resonance (MR) elastography (MRE). Elastography entails mechanically generating pressure waves (or equivalently sound waves) close to an organ of interest (like the liver) and then imaging the tissue as the pressure waves propagate through it. The images acquired show how much the tissue is displaced and this information is used to calculate its elastic and viscous properties. Healthy tissue will have different properties than scarred or diseased tissue. My current project is to develop a predictive model for diagnosing hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) in a clinical population of people with scarred livers. This population is affected by kidney inefficiency caused by the blood pressure imbalance initiated by scarring of the liver. I am to use MRE and other MR imaging data in development of the predictive model.

How did the McNair Scholars Program help you in achieving your academic and career goals?

My second research experience was conducted while in the McNair scholars program. During that summer I got to learn the aspects on which a good graduate school experience depends: the graduate program, research advisor, and research project. Additionally, I learned the benefits of taking ownership of my project and conducting it well. Both of these helped me when selecting my advisor and completing the project I picked.


2022 Zyzzogeton Student Research Symposium

Augsburg celebrates the creativity and scholarship of undergraduate students with its annual Zyzzogeton Student Research Poster symposium. The event falls at the end of each academic year and is a culmination of achievement featuring work across departments.

McNair President's Dinner

The McNair Presidents' Dinner is an annual event for graduating Scholars and an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to celebrate individual and collective achievements. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, we were thrilled to be back at Augsburg House, sharing good food and conversation, and congratulating our seniors in style!

2022 Summer Research

One component of the McNair Scholars Program is a 10-week summer research project. Each year students work with a faculty mentor on a specific topic, culminating in a final paper and presentation. In July students will be attending and presenting at the 2022 National McNair Conference at UCLA.