McNair Scholars

The University of Pennsylvania was the first Ivy League institution to host the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the program prepared eligible students for graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. by providing research training and scholarly experiences to high-achieving undergraduate Penn students.

McNair Scholars participated in research training and scholarly experiences through the four modules and other related activities, which included performing research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and attendance at professional meetings and national conferences.


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Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Publication
    Influence of Climate on Malaria in China
    (2011-12-16) An, Grace
    Malaria is the fifth leading cause of death from infectious diseases worldwide, after respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis. With half the world’s population living in areas at risk of malaria transmission, it remains a public health issue in many countries, including China. To understand the epidemiology of the disease, it is important to study the climate and environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, and altitude, because these factors influence the life cycles and development of both the malaria parasite and mosquito vector. Global warming and climate change can increase the areas at risk of malaria incidence and affect transmission rates. As temperatures get warmer, incubation periods for the parasite and mosquito development can shorten, and malaria transmission can occur at higher elevations, infecting populations that have not been exposed to the disease. While control measures and efforts have been undertaken to eliminate malaria in China, the disease still exists in concentrated areas. Changes in temperatures and rainfall could reverse control efforts if the disease spreads from the seven provinces in which it has been concentrated.
  • Publication
    Fast Rhythmic Bursting Cells: The Horizontal Fiber System in the Cat’s Primary Visual Cortex
    (2007-11-14) Lee, Jin
    One of the cellular mechanisms underlying the generation of gamma oscillations is a type of cortical pyramidal neuron named fast rhythmic bursting (FRB) cells. After 58 cells from 21 cats' primary visual cortices were filled with Neurobiotin, the brains were cut, and the cells were photographed. From all cells, 1 non-pyramidal and 4 pyramidal cell (3 regular spiking (RS) cells & 1 FRB cell) were confocaled, reconstructed with Neurolucida, and analyzed with NeuroExplorer. All 5 cells showed a linear correlation (>0.94) between length and number of intersections. Their polar histograms indicated that the FRB cell has triple dendritic length, twice the number of dendritic tree orders and mean length compared to the 4 other cells. We propose that FRB cells are key elements of the horizontal fiber system that links cell populations with similar feature selections throughout the primary visual cortex.
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    The Relationship between Parental Educational Attainment and Perceived Racial Discrimination among African-American Female Adolescents
    (2010-11-17) Medina, Sheyla P.; Lewis, Valerie; Pati, Susmita
    Background: Perceived racial discrimination acts as a considerable stressor for African- Americans and is associated with adverse health outcomes among adults and adolescents. The relationship between perceived discrimination and socioeconomic dimensions has been studied among adult African-American populations to assess the role of social patterning in reports of discrimination. However, less is known about the relationship between parental educational attainment and adolescents’ perceived discrimination. Methods: We explored the relationship between parental educational attainment and adolescents’ reports of racial discrimination using written surveys from 135 African-American female adolescents seeking family planning services at an urban hospital-based adolescent clinic in Pennsylvania. Dimensions of perceived discrimination that were captured in this study included personal experiences, vicarious racial discrimination, and perceived discrimination against African-Americans as a group. Parental educational attainment was categorized as “some or completed high school/GED” and “some or completed college.” To account for missing parental education data, a sensitivity analysis was performed in which missing data were recoded into parental education categories and used in chi-square cross tabulations. Results: Most of the sample (mean age = 17.04; SD = 1.33) had completed high school or were currently enrolled in school, and were living in single-parent homes. Close to half (41.5%) of respondents did not know their father’s educational attainment, and 17.8% did not know their mother’s educational attainment. To account for missing education data, a sensitivity analysis was performed, which revealed no significant association between parental educational attainment and adolescents’ perceived discrimination. However, although the respondents in our study do not appear to experience frequent discrimination, 85.9% reported at least one dimension of discrimination measured in this study. Conclusions: The large percentage of African-American female adolescents who reported at least one dimension of discrimination implies an added burden and vulnerability to social stressors in their life.
  • Publication
    The Ecological Sensibility of New Yorkers: A Survey Conducted July–August 2010 in New York’s Central Park
    (2011-12-16) Guerin, Ayasha
    New Yorkers are estimated to have some of the smallest ecological footprints in America, as the urban landscape of Manhattan has proven to be one of the best energy-saving devices for its overcrowded population. However, the ecological footprint index does not gather information about individuals’ ecological sensibility, which many eco-critics have argued has an important influence on an individual’s environmental impact. This study set out to investigate the ecological sensibility of Manhattan’s urban dwellers with a survey that questions participants’ consumption behavior, understanding of waste and resource sites, perceptions of environmental impact, and understanding of the word ―sustainability.‖ Results suggest the prevalence of some environmentally responsible behaviors versus others, ignorance as to the locations of waste and resource sites, and more individual concern than guilt about the current state of the environment. Finally, study results suggest that there is no generally understood definition of sustainability among New Yorkers.
  • Publication
    What Is a Good Friend: A Qualitative Analysis of Desired Friendship Qualities
    (2011-12-21) Roberts-Griffin, Christopher P
    Interpersonal attraction leads to friendships and romantic relationships. Research has focused on three specific factors that contribute to interpersonal attraction: the propinquity effect, similarity, and attractiveness. These factors have been found to have a significant effect on who we befriend; thus it was hypothesized that individuals should highlight these factors above others when describing what they desire in a close friend. The present study analyzes similarity, proximity, and attractiveness in regards to friendship selection examining qualitative data collected on the website Each participant provided data on what qualities they looked for in close friends, and each description was analyzed and coded. It was found that participants do consider these factors when analyzing their own attraction to individuals; however, qualities such as trust, honesty, and supportiveness were highlighted to a greater extent. Similarity, proximity, and attractiveness were not the most mentioned factors in the self-reported data, thus not supporting the hypothesis proposed. It is then suggested that similarity, proximity, and attractiveness can also work in negative ways: Individuals can come to dislike a person in the presence of these factors. Similarity, proximity, and attractiveness are important when selecting close friends, but other factors account for more.
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  • Publication
    Wind Power: Harnessing History to Meet the Energy Demand
    (2011-12-16) Sholler, Daniel
    Five miles from the shore of Mashpee, Cape Cod, rays of sun reflect off the rolling ocean back into the Massachusetts atmosphere. A powerful and quiet 25-knot wind ripples the small waves over Horseshoe Shoal, home to Nantucket Sound‘s most valuable wind resource site. For over 10 years, a battle has been waged by Cape Wind, a private company under New England energy developers Energy Management Inc., over the construction of America‘s first offshore wind farm on these waters. Strict environmental permitting, objections from individuals concerned about sound and visual pollution, and difficult financial conditions have each played a major role in preventing construction from getting under way.
  • Publication
    Searching for the Source: Determining NAD+ Concentrations in the Yeast Vacuole
    (2007-11-15) Hardiman, Camille
    The burgeoning field of bioremediation relies on the natural abilities of plants and fungi to accumulate certain toxic heavy metals. In heavy metal detoxification, plant and yeast vacuoles are responsible for the sequestration of toxins away from the cytoplasm. A yet-unpublished study done by the Rea group analyzed the protein profile of the vacuolar lumen in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Several NAD+-dependent dehydrogenases were found within this compartment, a surprising finding in light of the yeast vacuole's predominantly lytic function. Five of these enzymes were found to increase in level in the vacuole during heavy metal stress. Moreover, when vacuolar lysates were assayed in vitro, they were found to contain dehydrogenase activity when exogenous NAD+ or NADH was provided. If these enzymes are also active in this compartment in vivo, the question is raised: from where do the cofactors required for the reactions that these enzymes catalyze come? If these enzymes had a vacuolar source of NAD+, they could also potentially be active in vivo. Thus, in the present project, we are seeking to determine the concentration of NAD+ inside the vacuole of S. cerevisiae. Toward this end, high-purity "proteomics-grade" intact vacuoles were isolated from S. cerevisiae by a combination of differential, density, and floatation centrifugation. NAD+ was then extracted by acid precipitation and solvent extraction to separate vacuolar proteins from cofactor. NAD+ was quantified using a two-step redox-coupled reaction system containing phenazine methosulfate (PMS) as mediator and thiazoyl blue tetrazolium bromide (MTT) as terminal electron acceptor. The spectrophotometric measurement of reduced MTT at 570 nm is an indirect measure of the initial NAD+ concentration. To provide a basis for comparison, the estimated NAD+ content of isolated vacuoles was compared to that of spheroplasts lysates extracted and assayed identically. The results indicate that the intravacuolar concentration of NAD+ is two orders of magnitude lower than that of the spheroplast (5.2 vs. 202 μM), which may have implications for this redox-active cofactor’s function in the vacuole. These findings may necessitate the reconsideration of the role played by vacuolar dehydrogenases in yeast cell metabolism (and possibly the metabolism of other vacuolate cells). Our findings suggest that the vacuolar pool of NAD+ may be sufficient for utilization in the vacuole.
  • Publication
    Bilingual Education in California: Is It Working?
    (2007-11-16) Trujillo, Monica
    The topic of bilingual education has received heightened attention over the past few decades. How to educate children with limited English skills, or English learners (EL), is a highly controversial and debatable issue that deserves attention because of the vast numbers of English learners in the United States today. ELs are students for whom English is a second language and who come from homes in which a language other than English is spoken. Currently, there are about 5.5 million ELs in U.S. public schools (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Their numbers have been growing dramatically over the past few decades, making them one of the fastest-growing student populations in the United States (Slavin & Cheung, 2004, p. 52). For example, from 1980 to 2000 the EL population doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent in the United States (Morse, 2002). Of this population, the majority of students are Spanish speakers (79%). This makes bilingual education largely a Latino issue.