AMARILLO, Texas(KAMR/KCIT) —More than a dozen of West Texas A&M University’s brightest students will show off the results of their research into social media, history, climate change, antibiotics, ticks, K-pop and more at an upcoming event.

The McNair Scholars Research Showcase will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 17 in the atrium of Cornette Library on WT’s Canyon campus.

During the showcase, 14 McNair students will display posters and discuss their research with WT students, faculty and staff, as well as community visitors.

“Few underrepresented and first-generation students have a clear plan to pursue doctoral studies or even undergraduate research when they enter college,” said Victoria Salas, WT McNair director. “Through their experience as a McNair Scholar, these opportunities can empower students and motivate them to pursue degrees beyond a bachelor’s. The variety of research among our 2023 cohort reinforces how vast the world of research can be in academia.”

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, or the McNair Scholars Program, at WT prepares underrepresented, low-income and first-generation undergraduate students for doctoral study through research and other scholarly activities.

In 2022, the program won a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, providing $275,000 in annual funding for five years.

The program has been offered at WT since 1999. In that time, 260 McNair Scholars have earned their bachelor’s degrees, and another 152 have earned graduate or professional degrees.

WT’s McNair Scholars program now serves 30 students per year, who receive the guidance of a mentor overseeing the research project; seminars on graduate school admission process, research methods and financial aid; a $2,800 research stipend; a $300 research supply allowance; tutoring, academic counseling and intense GRE preparation; admission and financial aid assistance; preparation for research conference preparations; fee waivers for graduate applications; and paid conference travel.

Participating students and their research topics include:

  • Yadhira “Yaya” Avalos, a junior biology / pre-med major from Hereford: “Ethical Issues with Social Media in Health Care”;
  • Raquel Chavez, a senior physical therapy major from Los Lunas, New Mexico: “Muscle Fiber Characteristic Comparison Among Long Jumpers, 1500-Meter Distance Runners and 100-Meter Sprinters”;
  • Castina Dobbins, a senior accounting and finance major from Amarillo: “Exploring the Financial Hardships and Emotional Impact on Lives that Faced Cancer”;
  • Stephanie Espinoza, a senior English major from Hart: “Unnatural Forces and Post-Colonial History: ‘La Llorona’”;
  • Annali Flores, a senior biology/pre-med major from Booker: “Effect of Antibiotics on Biofilm Formation in Staphylococcus Aureus and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa”;
  • Wendy “Nayeli” Galvan, a senior biochemistry/pre-med major from Booker: “Synthesis and Characterization of Epoxidized Limonene”;
  • Joeziv “Joe” Hernandez, a junior social sciences education major from Amarillo: “Mexican American in World War II: Patriotism and Civil Rights”;
  • Samuel Isaac, a junior animal science/pre-vet major from Rocksprings: “Investigating Multi-Decadal Patterns of Changing Temperature and Their Effects on the Growing Season Length in the Texas Panhandle”;
  • Marty Kacsh, a senior animal science/pre-vet major from Evergreen, Colorado: “Comparison of Fitness in University Horses over Six Weeks”;
  • JoLina Lopez, a junior digital journalism major from Abernathy: “‘You Feel Like You Belong in Safe Places’: Defining ‘Servingness’ in Hispanic Serving Institutions through a Photovoice Study”;
  • Alejandro Mata, a senior political science major from Hereford: “Code Switching in Collegiate Forensics”;
  • Kara Ramirez, a senior biology/pre-vet major from Andrews: “Epidemiological Study of the Diversity, Distribution and Abundance of Ticks within the Texas Panhandle”;
  • Nadia Reyna, a sophomore health science major from San Antonio: “Patterns of Surgical Care and Additional Treatments for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Post COVID-19”; and
  • Veronica Torres, a junior digital communication and media from Littlefield: “The K-pop Industry and Gender Discrimination Toward Female K-pop Idols.”

McNair was one of six crewmembers who died Jan. 28, 1986, when the Challenger exploded shortly after launching at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

After his death, Congress named a research program in his honor — the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, or the McNair Scholars Program. It is designed to prepare underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation undergraduate students for doctoral study through research and other scholarly activities.

McNair — who, in addition to his work as a physicist, also was a talented musician and decorated martial arts champion and instructor — was the second African American to fly in space.

McNair Scholars are an important component in WT’s goal of becoming a regional research university, as outlined in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised more than $150 million.

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.