Past McNair Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight's From The Past

Did you miss one of our previous McNair student's being spotlighted? Check them out here!


Brittany Schryvers

Emily Perdue


Brittany Schryvers is a senior psychology major who is graduating in May 2013. After graduation she will be taking a year off before applying to graduate school. Brittany is currently planning a poster presentation for the Michigan Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference in April.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: “Participation in the McNair program has given me the opportunity to have an incredible amount of help in preparing for graduate school. The McNair program has taught me about all the important things that are necessary in applying and preparing yourself for graduate school work. The McNair program has provided me with opportunities for GRE prep, writing my CV and practicing writing personal statements for graduate school applications. I have gained a lot of confidence in my ability to apply to graduate school. Before I was in the McNair program, I had no idea what applying and attending graduate school really entails and the McNair program has helped me prepare so much.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Francella Quinnell

McNair Research Project: “My research project was studying Jealousy in Friendships. Dr. Quinnell and I put together a questionnaire that the introductory level psychology students were able to fill out. My hypothesis for the study was that the higher quality of a friend, the more jealousy would be reported and that the longer two people are friends, the more jealousy would be reported. The results from the research were not what we expected and we think that our data replicated previous research in jealousy in romantic relationships. This research project has definitely taught me what sort of work is expected when working on your thesis in graduate school.”


Emily Perdue

Emily Perdue is a senior political science and sociology major who will be graduating in May 2013 and will be doing an internship during a year she is taking off before applying to graduate programs. Emily has undertaken a variety of different research projects while at NMU, including working with Dr. Tim Hilton while completing her McNair researching during the summer of 2012, and recently saw her work published.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: “McNair has helped me to achieve a level of education, experience, and success that I never could have imagined.  My years at Northern could not have been more fruitful, or more rewarding- and McNair has been a huge part of that.  I am forever grateful to this program.  I love and respect research, and McNair has given me so many opportunities to develop the skills, to build the strong foundation, that I will need for graduate-level training in research and teaching.  McNair is the reason I'll be ready to walk that path, to actively engage in that process."

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tim Hilton

McNair Research Project:  "My current McNair research is an exploratory look at the relationship between poverty and client involvement in the child welfare system, particularly with regard to cases of alleged or substantiated physical neglect (because that specific type of case seems to be most closely connected to circumstances of poverty.  I'm conducting in-depth interviews with both workers and clients of the child welfare system. We're examining how these people conceive of poverty and client involvement, what they think about the relation between the two, if they think there is one, and we're getting some really diverse and helpful responses.  I think it's an important exploration to make, and it's been an incredibly fascinating and worthwhile experience."

Karla Kopp

Karla Kopp

Karla Kopp is a senior biology major who will be graduating in December 2012 and is currently applying to graduate programs. Karla has undertaken a variety of different research projects while at NMU, including working with Dr. Patrick Brown while completing her McNair researching during the summerr of 2011.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: “Being part of McNair has been extremely helpful and motivating for me. I have been able to really understand my own interests and become more familiar with the types of work being done in my area of interest. The conference opportunities have been a wonderful resource for me. I am looking forward to graduate school more than even now and I really have McNair to thank for that.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Patrick Brown

McNair Research Project: “I was given the unique opportunity to build up a project from ground zero. With Dr. Brown, we developed a study that would be helpful to analyze the current timber management practices established for State Forest land. For my project, I sampled insect species richness in clear cut, select cut and uncut forests in the UP. The research gave me an opportunity to become better experienced in both field and lab research techniques.”

Ashley Schmeling

Ashley Schmeling

Ashley Schmeling is a Psychology graduate school prep. major who will be graduating in May 2013 and will be applying to PhD programs this upcoming fall. Ashley has been working in Dr. Prus’s Neuropsychopharmacology lab for two years, where her research focus is on improving cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. Upon receiving her PhD, Ashley hopes to become a professor.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: “The McNair program really gives students the essential tools needed to get into a PhD program. McNair has given me the opportunity to present my research, attend extraordinarily helpful graduate school fairs, visit prospective graduate schools, gain materials to prep. for the GRE, and the list goes on! I can’t express how fortunate I am to be a part of this team. Both the McNair program and my mentor Dr. Prus have been there to help me with any questions I have along the way and have helped set me up for what I need to be successful in graduate school; because of the experience that they have given me, I know that I have what it takes to excel, I can’t thank them enough!”

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Adam Prus

McNair Research Project: "I have been fortunate to work in the Neuropsychopharmacology lab with Dr. Adam Prus for the past two years. Before beginning my own research project this year, I have assisted graduate students in various other studies of which I have presented at both the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington, DC and the McNair conference in Denton, Texas.  My current project focuses on using a delayed non-match to position radial arm maze task to better understand cognition/cognitive deficits of the Brown Norway rat compared with the Long Evans rat as a possible model for testing antipsychotic drugs.  The aims of my study are to evaluate preclinical memory models and potential cognitive-enhancing drugs for schizophrenia.  The objectives of my study are first to evaluate short term memory in Brown Norway rats and second to test the effects of neurotensin receptor agonists on memory in Brown Norway rats.”

Future Goals: Upon receiving her PhD, Ashley hopes to become a professor in Psychology.

Matthew Cowling

Matt Cowling

Matt Cowling is a junior sports science/ pre-med  major who will be graduating in May 2013 and hopes to apply to medical school this upcoming summer. Matt has been working in Dr. Robert Belton's lab for the last year and plans to continue this work until graduation.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: "The Mcnair program has been extraordinarily helpful in giving me the tools needed to achieve my goals. Several of the workshops are goal oriented and have helped me to develop skills in areas where I may have previously been weak. The workshops have taught me to create a CV, resume, and a personal statement that is strong and competitive with others who may be applying for similar positions in my field. Since beginning research and becoming a bit more involved in the program, I have received countless letters and e-mails from graduate schools who are in interested in students experienced in research and particularly McNair scholars. Overall I am most thankful for the countless opportunities that the program provides to ensure that I am getting the best education possible.

Faculty Mentor :  Dr. Robert Belton

McNair Research Project: "I am doing continuing research with Dr. Belton in the field of Cancer Biology. To this point Dr. Belton has worked with me to better understand various topics in his field, and to develop some of the basic skills needed to work successfully in a research oriented setting. I hope to work with Dr. Belton through the summer of 2012 and further develop my skills in the Lab."

Future Goals: "It is my goal to further my skills in the field of research and Cancer biology during my time spent at Northern Michigan University. I would also like to further develop my skills as a student and work to create a very strong application for medical school. After graduation from Northern Michigan University I hope to attend Medical school with hopes of becoming an Osteopathic Physician."

Michael Michalek

Mike M

Mike will be graduating with a Bachelor in Science in Geographic Information Science, with minors in Physical Geography and Outdoor Recreation in May 2012. He intends to pursue a M.S. or Ph.D. in Geography emphasizing on Glacial Geomorphology. 

McNair Research Project: "My research was focused in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula investigating a widely unknown period in time. I spent the summer collecting data and information trying to validate a proposed channel connecting the present day Tahquamenon and Manistique Rivers. The experience was great, and I gained not only knowledge but important connections within the field of geography."     

Faculty Mentor/Mentor: John Anderton, Ph.D & Walter Loope, Ph.D

Thoughts on the McNair Program: "The McNair program is great! Without this program I would not be in the position I am in today. Not only has the program provided me with great research experience, but they have given me the drive and determination needed to pursue graduates study. The McNair program has given me encouragement to excel in my current studies and the tools needed to succeed in graduate studies. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is even contemplating going further with their education.

Andrea Selmser

Andrea Selmser

Andrea Selmser will be graduating in December 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Andrea intends to pursue a doctorate in Speech Pathology and become a professor.

McNair Research Project: "I was very fortunate to work with Dr. Morley, a neurologist, as my faculty mentor. Together, we did research on traumatic brain injury in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Specifically, Dr. Morley and I studied the effects of IED (improvised explosive device) blasts and traumatic brain injury. When these soldiers return home, they are required to fill out a traumatic brain injury screening survey. The soldiers rated their symptoms on a scale of 1 to 5. The symptoms we analyzed included headache severity and frequency, light sensitivity, irritability, and frequency of blast exposure. Our study showed that the severity of symptoms is most directly associated with the number of blasts encountered. Our study demonstrates the need for a more comprehensive examination of returning blast-injured veterans and suggests blast exposure number deserves further detailed study. Our findings suggest that limiting exposure could reduce the incidence and severity of the neurological symptoms we studied."

Faculty Mentor: Debra Morely, M.D., Ph.D.

Thoughts on the McNair Program: "The McNair program was the first to tell me that I could go to grad school and SUCCEED. I really needed that support and encouragement. I have absolutely loved working with the McNair program. I was learning about the research process not on my own, but with the knowledge and resources of my faculty mentor and the McNair program. My understanding of the research process and the field of neurology has grown so much. I love that I researched an area that was slightly out of my comfort zone because I realized that I have an interest in neurology! Now, I know a lot about veterans affairs, traumatic brain injury, and headache. I feel very grateful to have worked with such wonderful people and now I feel much more prepared and confident to enter grad school. Before that McNair program, I was considering going for my masters. Now, not only do I want to do research and get my doctorate, but I want to be a professor so that I can pass on my and my field’s knowledge to the next generation."

Eva Statler


Eva Statler

McNair senior Eva Statler is a true Yooper! Eva will be graduating in May 2011 with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in health and nutrition. Eva intends to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

McNair Research Project: "I do research with both the McNair scholars and the psychology lab with Dr. Adam Prus. The psychology lab studies schizophrenia. The McNair program has supported all of my research, even outside of the program. I presented my research done in the psychology lab, using the radial arm maze, at the National McNair Conference. McNair also helped me fund my trip to San Diego, California with the psychology lab to present our research at the Neuroscience conference. The conference held 32,000 people; most with Ph.D.’s or in a graduate program, so I was very fortunate to be able to participate as an undergraduate. I met brilliant people, learned a lot, and enjoyed the beautiful city.

"My research with Mohey Mowafy for the McNair Program is still in progress. It has been amazing getting a whole different view on how to conduct research compared to what I do in the lab. I built and distributed a survey to assess eating behaviors in Northern Michigan students. I plan to do my research as a graduate student on eating disorders. Getting undergraduate experience in the area has been extremely helpful, especially with a mentor who is an expert in the field. My hard work with the McNair Program has given me a glimpse at what graduate school work will be like."

Faculty Mentor: Mohey Mowafy, Ph.D., RD, CNS, CEDS

Thoughts on the McNair Program: "It’s amazing to be surrounded by McNair Scholars who are all going through the same process as me. The staff is very supportive and always available. I joined the McNair program because I needed to build my resume to make me more marketable. I have chosen a very competitive graduate program, and McNair has taught me how to stand out from the hundreds of applicants. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the McNair Program has done for me."

Linda Sirois

Linda Sirois

McNair Scholars Senior Linda Sirois is a self-described Air Force brat who grew up all over the world, but has adopted the UP as her home. Linda will be graduating in May 2011 with her degree in English writing and a minor in Art and Design, and intends to pursue a graduate degree in English. When she's not busy with her classes or McNair research, Linda stays busy at her hobby farm in Trenary, which she shares with her husband, two children and numerous chickens, ducks, dogs and cats!

McNair Research Project: "My research has been a real learning experience. Anytime an attempt is made to combine the disciplines of science/research and English/literature, it’s an interesting evolution as they spring from two different thought processes: the objective and the subjective.  The end result of my research project will speak for itself, as to how successful I’ve been in the blending of the two.  Regardless of the outcome of my project, I’ve learned layer upon layer about my subject area and about the whole research process, so I feel that it’s been very worthwhile."

Faculty Mentor: Lesley Larkin, Ph.D.

Random Fact about Linda: "I did lots of homework this summer out on my back porch, looking over the hay fields.  The porch is my favorite place to be when the weather is nice—the hay blowing in the wind reminds me of waves on a lake, and the neighboring eagles glide above."

Linda's Thoughts on the McNair Program: "I’m grateful to have the opportunity to participate in all the learning that is offered in the McNair program.  The workshops and informal meetings have been enormously helpful in teaching me about the graduate school process, and I’m much more comfortable and confident about continuing in my education.  I feel as if I have many resources available to help me through the transition from undergrad to graduate—especially the one-on-one advising from the McNair staff and Dr. Larkin.  The stipend that was available while I worked on my research project was invaluable.  It freed me to spend time this summer learning the research process instead of doing work that had no connection to my education.  Thank you!"

Nancy Kenok

Nancy Kenok

McNair Scholars student Nancy Kenok is from Homewood, Illinois and is an International Studies major at NMU, with minors in Latin American Studies, History and Psychology. She will be graduating from NMU in May 2011 and intends to pursue a graduate degree in international education or anthropology.

McNair Research Project: "My research was focused on a comparative study of tourism in Machu Picchu & the Cahokia Mounds. I was able to spend a week at the Cahokia Mounds this summer collecting ethnographic data from tourists and the local population. The whole experience was amazing, but the most fascinating aspect of my research was meeting people from diverse backgrounds and listening to what brought them to the Cahokia Mounds."

Faculty Mentor: Alex Ruuska, Ph.D.

Random Fact about Nancy: "I am heading to Ocotepeque, Honduras in August to teach English at a bilingual school for the 2010-2011 school year. I plan on visiting other countries in Central America, and exploring the archeological sites there! However, I'm going to miss the U.P.!"

Why Nancy joined the McNair program: "There are several aspects that I love about the McNair Program.The McNair program has given me the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research. If it weren't for the McNair program, I would not have the essential research skills needed for graduate school. The mentor aspect of our research is both enriching and inspiring. My mentor, Dr. Alex Ruuska was always able to offer me insight and advice that I might not have received elsewhere. Before the McNair program, I was unprepared and unsure of graduate school. After participating in the McNair Program, I am much more confident and knowledgeable about Grad school."