Current Scholars

2021 McNair Scholars
Elza Brechbuhl

Elza Brechbuhl

University of New Hampshire

Major: Communication/Women's and Gender Studies
Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Harzewski
Research Title: Collegiate Hookup Culture and Monogamy: The Spectrum of Non-Platonic Relationships in Contemporary Popular Film

Abstract: Whereas the media has assumed a prominent role in shaping what social groups believe to be ideal behaviors and attitudes in relationships, understanding their underlying messages becomes a crucial step towards the expansion of general knowledge about sexual and romantic experiences of students across college campuses in the United States. This research is a content analysis of film. I have used existing academic information to develop a coding scheme and compare representations of collegiate hookup culture and monogamy in selected features. Ongoing studies suggest that these representations will portray a rigid dichotomy and distinct hierarchy between these two types of relationships.


Maria Chouinard

Maria Chouinard

University of New Hampshire

Major: Linguistics/French
Mentor: Dr. Judy Sharkey
Research Title: Supporting the Oral Language Development of Young Dual Language Learners: Perspectives of EL Teachers in NH
Abstract: Demographic shifts in the U.S. over the last two decades have increased the diversity gap between teachers and their students. The majority of multilingual children entering U.S. public schools face the challenge of learning academic content in not just one, but two languages. Despite many of the positive effects of being bilingual, Dual Language Learners (DLLs) often face more challenges in education achievement and opportunities than their monolingual English-speaking peers. A key factor of this challenge is the fact that DLLs tend to have monolingual English-speaking peers, and teachers have been shown to play a critical role in student learning.
Through surveys, interviews, and classroom observations, this study explores to what extent NH teachers of DLLs understand and enact research-based practices known to develop oral language. Preliminary results indicate that teachers in NH report use of research-based practices in teaching DLLs, but it is unclear if they use them effectively and extensively. Contextual factors, such as level of administrative support and availability of resources in students' first languages were also identified as affecting teachers' practices. Follow up interviews with teachers will illuminate these preliminary findings.
Research such as this aims to shed light on whether or how research-based practices are making their way into classroom practices. The implications will shed light on the needs for teacher and administrator preparation.

Samantha DiNatale

Samantha DiNatale

University of New Hampshire

Major: Environmental Conservation & Sustainability/History
Mentor: Dr. Kurk Dorsey
Research Title: A Battle Against "Ecology Nuts": An Examination of Olympic Oil Refinery Proponents

Abstract: In the early 1970s, the United States was facing an oil embargo that sparked concern in citizens across the nation. As the winter months were approaching in 1973, gasoline prices continued to skyrocket, and officials encouraged conservation of heating oil. Americans struggled to adjust to such abrupt changes after having essentially unrestricted access to petroleum supplies. During this crisis, Aristotle Onassis swooped in, like a savior, proposing to construct a rather massive oil refinery on the seacoast of New Hampshire. This plant, his team promised, would bring an abundance of fuel, jobs, and tax revenue to the area. To his surprise, a number of local residents fought the project due to its environmental and aesthetic implications. Through the grassroots activism of seacoast residents from towns such as Durham and Rye, the refinery construction was rejected. Much of the literature published today focuses on the triumphs of those who successfully fought off the industry, leaving the plant's many proponents out of the story. In order to understand how the proponents felt about the refinery, a thorough analysis of primary and secondary resources was conducted. Supporters of the refinery emphasized the economic benefits of building it, but they also made their case by attacking what they perceived to be the elitism of the project's opponents. Using terms like "ecology nuts" and "pseudo educated jackasses," they tried to persuade undecided citizens that the opponents were out of touch with the problems of ordinary people, reflecting larger cultural divisions of the 1970s.


Tu Anh Duong

Tu Anh Duong

University of New Hampshire

Major: History
Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Frenkiewich & Dr. Kurk Dorsey
Research Title: Competing Visions of Race in American History

Abstract: The teaching of race and racism in American social studies curriculum is a hot issue, right now at a crossroads, being scrutinized from every possible angle. Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, and The 1776 Project brought to the forefront arguments and controversy about how to appropriately be educated on these topics. In the United States, each state has its standards accompanied with acceptable textbooks to teach its students. This study will survey those instructional materials in secondary education. The central question in this research is how different states address race and racism in this course of study. By examining textbook chapters detailing the Civil War and the state standards, this project will show the differences in how five selected states from distinct regions of the country teach race and racism. For instance, coverage of the Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857 shows some emphasize the importance of this landmark decision while others downplay it. The author will come to conclusions about why these differences may exist. The results of this project are significant since what students are taught will make them who they are as adults, and it is vital they become good citizens.


Jessica Kristina

Jessica Kristina

University of New Hampshire

Major: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Nan Yi
Research Title: Photocatalytic Degradation of Phenol Using Heteropoly Acids Modified Titanium Dioxide
Abstract: Phenol is a hazardous chemical widely used in the chemical industries and even households. The toxicity that phenol has on humans and the environment makes it crucial to remove phenol from wastewater before being discharged to the environment. While different methods, including physical approach and biological treatment, have been previously studied, most current methods are not cost-effective in terms of time or scale. Comparatively, phenol removal through the photocatalytic process is an advanced chemical approach that is promising for its use of sunlight and mild operation conditions. This project aims to find an improvement in phenol conversion through photocatalysts by utilizing heteropoly acid-modified titanium dioxide. Since both heteropoly acids and titanium dioxide are photocatalysts, photocatalytic performance would likely benefit from the combination of the two. Moreover, because the photocatalysts respond to visible light, which accounts for most of the sunlight, industries could use heteropoly acid-modified titanium dioxide to remove phenol from wastewater, thus, benefiting humans and the environment. In sum, phenol treatment would become more affordable and implementable on an industrial scale.

Patricia Louis

Patricia Louis

University of New Hampshire

Major: Nursing
Mentor: Dr. Alyssa O'Brien
Research Title: Analyzing Family Stress in America: A Look at Maternal Experiences During Covid-19 Pandemic
Abstract: Every family undergoes and handles struggles and challenges differently. While there has been much research dedicated to family and maternal stress, there remains a gap in knowledge surrounding the experiences of mothers who are under the pressures of family stress and parenting stress within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study uses a narrative inquiry approach to examine and better understand the experiences of mothers who are caring for children under the age of four during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on previous narrative research, it is likely that data saturation will be reached with 10-15 mothers participating in semi-structured interviews. Expected findings include the understanding that mothers experience stress associated with 1) parenting responsibilities; 2) finances; 3) familial and partner relationships; 4) lack of resources; and 5) time demands. However, the impact of these stressors and mothers' coping mechanisms are predicted to change from previous research because of the pandemic.

Emmanuel Nkounkou

Emmanuel Nkounkou

University of New Hampshire

Major: Neuroscience & Behavior
Mentor: Dr. David Plachetzki
Research Title: Evolutionary Biology of Sensory Receptors and Pathway Component in Cnidaria

Abstract: Senses are systems within our body that help construct how we perceive the world. Phototransduction and sensory processes are important in all animals in the detection and reaction to certain stimuli such as light. Hydrae are members of an ancient group of organisms that possess key functions and proteins related to certain sensory pathways and receptor proteins in specialized cells called cnidocytes, which detect light and regulate behavioral functions of the animal. The specific model organism in this experiment is a freshwater Hydra magnipapillata. Through the process of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, the experiment will show which sensory receptors and pathway components are expressed in the cells of the hydra. I predict that Hydra will give us a better understanding of the evolutionary biology and history of senses and sensory systems. With this new information, advancements can be made about our knowledge of sensory pathways and sensory receptors' functions and evolutionary development. Leading to potential cutting-edge technology used to improve people with non-functional sensory receptors and neurons that are involved in vision and other senses. Through the process of fixing and permeabilizing Hydra samples and then incubating the hydra samples in the Stellaris RNA probe solution. These Stellaris RNA probes will hybridize to certain RNA transcripts of known sequences of sensory receptors and pathway components in hydra. The fluorescent dyes bonded to the RNA stellaris probes to make the target RNA transcripts of sensory receptors and pathway components fluorescent and visible through a confocal microscope. The proposed research will examine if Hydra sensory biology is prerequisite to the function of different senses and potentially learn more of the evolutionary biology of certain sensory pathways and their components.


Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts

University of New Hampshire

Major: Physics
Mentor: Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and Dr. Nathan Musoke
Research Title: Placing Constraints on Fuzzy Dark Matter Properties
Abstract: To understand the universe around us we must first know and understand its components. Our current understanding of the matter-energy composition of the universe is that it is about 5% baryonic (every day) matter, 68% dark energy, and about 27% dark matter. However, as of yet, we remain unsure how to define dark matter and understand its behavior. This research program focuses on a hypothetical particle candidate for the dark matter, the axion. This proposed dark matter evolves into unique physical structures, which we call solitons. Solitons may be described as a general area of center mass, a core, rather than a point. Our research will focus on the difference between axion-like fuzzy dark matter (FDM) and a more traditional dark matter paradigm, cold dark matter (CDM). We will use a publicly-available gravitational lensing code, deeplenstronomy, to simulate gravitational lensing data in the scenario where solitons are present. These datasets then - of the assumption of the Navarro-Frenk-White profile, and density profiles of the fuzzy dark matter - will be analyzed for their prediction of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time's (LSST) role in the search for fuzzy dark matter. We will examine how this gravitational lensing will differ from that of cold dark matter, and how the resulting data will compare to the data which will be found withi the Vera C. Rubin Observatory's Legacy LSST, and what this clarifies.

Tori Schofield

Tori Schofield

University of New Hampshire

Major: Psychology/Justice Studies
Mentor: Dr. Amy Michael
Research Title: New Hampshire Law Enforcement Response to Recovery of Skeletal Remains: A Survey Study
Abstract: Law enforcement officers are trained in a variety of skills, including public safety, law, and the justice system. However, they are often untrained when it comes to forensically significant cases that include bone, so they often recruit professionals like forensic anthropologists who specialize in skeletonized remains. Forensic cases involving skeletonized remains are difficult to resolve for personnel who are untrained in osteological analysis due to consideration of the lack of visual identification and the passage of time since the death event. Recruiting forensic anthropologists to work on cases involving bone (or suspected bone) will yield better results for case resolution in modern (forensic), historic, and archaeological cases.

The intention of this research is for law enforcement to recognize the following: 1) cases involving bone are solvable through consultation with forensic anthropologists; 2) when expert consultation is needed; and 3) that forensic anthropologists (and trained osteology students) exist in New Hampshire. If remains are determined to be of human origin, forensic anthropologists can (and should) consult with law enforcement in cases involving bone, and aid them in the identification process. Since New Hampshire is considered a rural state, they have smaller jurisdictions that may not be aware of forensic anthropology expertise and how it can be applied to difficult cases they may recover. To better understand the protocols that New Hampshire law enforcement take when encountering cases involving skeletonized remains, it is necessary to determine the steps they take in forensically significant cases. A comprehensive survey will be sent out to establish the methods used in skeletal identification. Along with the survey, an informational guide will be shown at the end of the survey. This document offers guidance about the work of forensic anthropologists and the steps that could be taken when encountering bone.  By understanding the protocols used at law enforcement agencies, it can create a working relationship with law enforcement and anthropologists who can help with identifying and assisting in closing cases.


Zakiya Scott

Zakiya Scott

University of New Hampshire

Major: Medical Microbiology
Mentor: Dr. David Plachetzki
Research Title: Phototransduction, Evolution, and Sensory Capabilities of Cnidaria
Abstract: Hydrozoans are organisms classified under the phylum Cnidaria. Historically, they have been known for their regenerative properties. In recent times research has shifted and they are being used to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of neural circuits. Hydra may serve as a good model organism in comparative studies for understanding the complex neural circuits of humans and other vertebrate animals. This is because cnidarians are the sister group to bilaterians in the phylogenetic tree and have one of the oldest nervous systems. In addition, the phototransduction cascade of invertebrates has not been studied as extensively as that of vertebrate organisms. It has been shown that opsin, and adenylate cyclase may play a role in the phototransduction cascade in Hydra. Analysis of the cnidocytes (stinging cells) of cnidaria, using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) can show the presence of opsin, adenylate cyclase and certain sensory proteins in these cells. This study targets the proteins opsin, adenylate cyclase, touch receptors such as piezo, taste receptors and phosphodiesterase, in order to seeif the sensory cells are housing each of these proteins. The colocalization of these proteins may signify a polymodal neuron in Hydra. With further research, evidence can be shown to support that the evolution of senses may have come from a singular polymodal neuron.

Katie Swenson

Katie Swenson

University of New Hampshire

Major: Ocean Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Thomas Weber
Research Title: A Platform to Analyze the Distribution and Abundance of Fish and Investigate the Relation to Seabirds
Abstract: The ecosystem among the ocean is not limited to fish and other marine species, as seabirds also play a vital role in the marine ecosystems. Observing seabirds and fish simultaneously will help understand how seabirds locate schools of fish and their role in the food chain. There is likely a correlation between diving seabirds and the location of fish. As consumers, fish are important to mankind, as it is a source of protein and nutrients. In order to explore the abundance and distribution of fish, a platform will be designed to assess fish. A sonar is a device that can be used to observe fish and will be incorporated into the developed platform. Rather than the sonar facing downward, the platform will be set to a specified depth and will detect the fish above the platform. With the sonar facing upward, this will allow a better examination of the upper water column. The device will be deployed in the Atlantic Ocean near the Marine Research Pier located in New Castle, NH. This platform could be used for other types of research in the future including, but not limited to oil plumes, exploration, and pollution in this portion of the ocean.

Joslyn Villavicencio

Joslyn Villavicencio

University of New Hampshire

Major: Undeclared (Peter T. Paul College)
Mentor: Dr. Thomas Gruen
Research Title: Examining the Effectiveness of Video Marketing Based on Consumer Attitudes: Differences between Generation Z and Baby Boomers
Abstract: Companies have been noticing the tremendous positive effects video marketing can have on consumer attitudes and behavior. Existing research shows that 87% of video marketers report that video has a good return on investment, and 54% of consumers want to see video content from businesses and brands they follow. Despite these statistics, there is scarce research on understanding the specific characteristics of video marketing that make them more effective in the eyes of the consumer. Equally important, research is limited in understanding the differences in consumer attitudes towards video marketing across different generations. Hence, the goal of this research is two-fold: 1) to understand characteristics of videos that lead to more effective decision-making for consumers, and 2) to understand whether and how these characteristics vary between "Baby Boomers" versus "Generation Z." Data will be collected from Gen Z and Baby Boomers through focus groups and online surveys, and analyzed using descriptive statistics and cluster analysis to better understand consumer attitudes towards video content. I anticipate from these results that we can use the findings and see what ways companies can use characteristics to make an efficient video to market their product and service. I would assume both Baby Boomers and Generation Z would be attracted to video content that is customizable, which most video content do not have and limit the consumer control of the content and decrease interaction with consumers. I believe this research will contribute to helping companies to more effectively target different generations in providing valuable video content of products and services.

2020  UNH McNair Scholars 

  Favour Alejo

   University of New Hampshire

   Major: Biomedical Science: Med Vet Sciences 
   Mentor: Dr. William Woodward
   Research Title: An Immigrant Woman Haunted By Her Authoritarian Homeland  

    Read abstract »

 


  Emily Baker

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Anthropology
    Mentor: Dr. Svetlana Peshkova
    Research Title: Indigenous New Hampshire Rising: Self-Identity in the 20th and 21st Centuries
​    Occurrence In Fields In Southern NH

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Khem Basnet

   University of New Hampshire

Major: Sustainable Agriculture &Food Systems 
Mentor: Dr. Iago Hale
Research Title: The Effect of Pollen Source on Fruit Quality: An Investigation of the Xenia Effect in         Kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta) 

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Mariaisabel Cedeno 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Psychology
    Mentor: Dr. Pablo Chavajay
    Research Title:Cultural Variations in Children’s Involvement in Household Work 

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  Tan Dao  

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Physics 
    Mentor: Dr. Jiadong Zang
    Research Title: TThe Topological Hall Effect in Magnet Systems with Broken Inversion Symmetry 
 

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   Bryan Landry

     University of New Hampshire

     Major: Genetics
     Mentor: Dr. Don Wojchowski  
     Research Title: The Effects of RHEX Suppression on the Formation of Megakaryocytes and Platelets

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  Curtis Linton 

  University of New Hampshire

  Major: Mechanical Engineering 
  Mentor: Dr. Todd Gross
  Research Title: Utilization of Computational Fluid Dynamics to Evaluate Strategies to Minimize           the Lateral Mixing of Potentially Virus-Containing Aerosols from Stationary Individuals in Enclosed Spaces

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  Julian Maduro 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: English 
    Mentor: Dr. Laura Smith 
    Research Title: Variations in High School Reading Lists and Student Reading Compliance

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  Caridad Reyes 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Neuroscience & Behavior
    Mentor: Dr. Daniel Howard
    Research Title: An Analysis of Signal Qualities of Acheta domesticus Calls Produced During Exposure to Noise Perceived Via Different Sensory Pathways

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  Nicole Sarette

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Sociology
    Mentor: Dr. Cliff Brown
    Research Title: The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Students’ Attitudes Toward Student Debt 
​                                     Steel Microstructure

​                                      Read abstract »

 


  Maria Seneres

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Dr. Harish Vashisth
    Research Title:Constructing Molecular Models of Tripeptides with Sequence-Encoded Properties 

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2019 UNH McNair Scholars 

  Simfora  Bangasimbo 

   University of New Hampshire

   Major: Political Science & International Affairs 
   Mentor: Dr. Alynna Lyon 
   Research Title: The United Nations Implementation of Resolution 1325 and  Its Impact on Female 
​   Peacekeepers 

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  Veronica Bodge 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Wildlife & Conservation Biology 
    Mentor: Dr. Matthew Tarr 
    Research Title: How Vegetation Composition & Timing Of Haying The  Previous Year Influence Bobolink
​    Occurrence In Fields In Southern NH

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Adrian Cea Cruz 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Neuroscience & Behavior  
    Mentor: Dr. Jack Mayer 
    Research Title: ​Is Personal Intelligence Related To Maladaptive Interpersonal Behavior? 

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  Jonathan Cooper  

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Bioengineering 
    Mentor: Dr. Edward Song 
    Research Title: Graphene Based Biosensor For The Selective Detection Of Lysozyme And Thrombin 

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  Tan Dao  

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Physics 
    Mentor: Dr. Shawna Hollen 
    Research Title: The Effects Of Strain  And Suspension On The Electronic Properties Of Molybdenum 
​    Disulfide 

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Alexis Efraimson  

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Equine Science 
    Mentor: Dr. Andrew Conroy 
    Research Title: The Prevalence Of Cryptosporidium Amongst Commercial Dairy Cattle Farms In 
​    New Hampshire And Farmer Perceptions Of Related Signs Of Illness 

​                                    Read abstract »


  Kimberly Gravlin 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Political Science & French  
    Mentor: Dr. Andrew Smith 
    Research Title: From White Majority To A Minority Majority: Analyzing The Changing Population
​    Demographics In California And Arizona 

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Peter Haber 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Earth Sciences 
    Mentor: Dr. William Clyde 
    Research Title: Using Magnetostratigraphy To Find The Cretaceous- Paleogene Boundary In La 
​    Colonia Formation, Patagonia, Argentina 

​                                            Read abstract »

 


  Curtis Linton 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Mechanical Engineering 
    Mentor: Dr. May-Win Thein 
    Research Title: Computerized Exercise Platform

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  Julian Maduro 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: English 
    Mentor: Dr. Laura Smith 
    Research Title: The Relationship Between Multicultural Representation In Children's Literature And 
​    Reading Practices Of Young Adults 

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  Anupreet Saini 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Accounting & Finance 
    Mentor: Dr. Stephen Ciccone  
    Research Title: Investigating The Relationship Between Background And Risk Immigrant Vs. Native-
​    Born CEOs 

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  David Temeng 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Mechanical Engineering 
    Mentor: Dr. Marko Knezevic   
    Research Title: An Investigation Into The Amount Of Springback From A B-Pillar Beam With Varying 
​                                     Steel Microstructure

​                                      Read abstract »

 


  Clio Walsh 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Philosophy  
    Mentor: Dr. Charlotte Witt
    Research Title: Essentializing Others 

​                                   Read abstract »

 


  Biyu Wang 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Marketing 
    Mentor: Dr. Michael Swack
    Research Title:An Investigation Of Risk Factors And Prevention Methods Of High School Dropouts: A
​    Case Study On Citizen Schools 

​                                    Read abstract »

 


  Kaylan Williams 

   University of New Hampshire

    Major: Neuroscience & Behavior 
    Mentor: Dr. Robert Ross 
    Research Title: The Effect Of Aerobic Exercise On Alpha And Beta Oscillations During Recognition 
​    Memory

​                                   Read abstract »