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UND’s 27th Annual McNair Forum features undergraduate research

The University of North Dakota will hold its 27th Annual McNair Forum, in which undergraduate research is presented by McNair Program Scholars, on Wednesday, April 28, over Zoom.

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, named after NASA astronaut Ronald McNair, who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, is funded by the United States Department of Education and is operated under the University’s Division of Student Affairs.

The McNair Program encourages students to prepare for graduate studies by providing opportunities to define goals, engage in research and to develop the skills and student-faculty mentor relationships vital to success at the doctoral level. Participants are low-income, first-generation juniors or senior students from a group underrepresented at the doctoral level of targeted departments.

The forum schedule, presenters, and topics follow.

  • 9:40-10 a.m.: Cecelia Castleberry, “Soil Health Metric of a Remnant Tall Grass Prairie and Agricultural Fields”
  • 10-10:20 a.m.: Hayley Qualley, “Illumina Dye Sequencing of Tiger Moths Digestive Microbiota DNA”
  • 10:20-10:40 a.m.: Amanda Saligumba, “Galenic Humors, Liminality, and Monstrous Bodies in ‘Bisclavret’”
  • 10:40-11 a.m.: Elizabeth Reed, “Perceived Experiences of Racial Discrimination in Maternal Healthcare of Black Women”
  • 11-11:20 a.m.: Heidi Deplazes, “Decision Making and Testing for COVID-19: A Pilot Study”
  • 11:20-11:40 a.m.: Julia Kochanowski, “Alzheimer’s Disease”
  • 11:40-12 p.m.: Jacob Nelson, “Physics Teaching Programs: Moving to HTML5”
  • 12-12:20 p.m.: Makayla Mather, “Impacts of the recent climatic fluctuations on the remotely sensed surface water storage in the Upper Edmore Coulee Basin”
  • 12:20-1 p.m.: BREAK
  • 1-1:20 p.m. Liam Young, “The Grand Forks Library: does it better serve the community to remodel or to have branches?”
  • 1:20-1:40 p.m.: Autumn Anderson, “Genetics of Temperature Sex Determination in Chelydra Serpentina”
  • 1:40-2 p.m.: Michelle Nguyen, “Intergenerational Mobility in North Dakota”
  • 2-2:20 p.m.: Emily Severinson, “The ‘Eating Disorder Voice’ as an Extension of Christ’s Control Over the Female Body in the Life of Dorothea von Montau”
  • 2:20-2:40 p.m.: Sydney Menne, “Supernovae Distributions and their Relationships to Classes of Stars”
  • 2:40-3 p.m.: Ashly Hanna, “Mentally Ill Offenders: What lacks in community transition programs”
  • 3-3:20 p.m.: Ronald Walking Eagle Jr, “Seven Council Fires of the Sioux (Očéti Šakówiŋ)”

The program is available here.

About Ronald McNair

Ronald Erwin McNair was born on Oct. 21, 1950, in Lake City, S.C., to Carl and Pearl McNair. He attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where, in 1971, he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics. In 1976 he earned his Ph.D. degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

McNair’s many distinctions include: Presidential Scholar (1967-71), Ford Foundation Fellow (1971-74), and National Fellowship Fund Fellow (1974-75). He was also named Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the Year (1975), was honored as the Distinguished National Scientist by the National Society of Black Professional Engineers (1979), and received the Friend of Freedom Award (1981).

Ronald E. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. In 1978, he was one of 35 applicants selected from a pool of ten thousand for NASA’s space shuttle program and assigned as a mission specialist aboard the 1984 flight of the shuttle Challenger. On his first space shuttle mission in February 1984, McNair orbited the earth 122 times aboard Challenger. He was the second African American to fly in space.

In addition to his academic achievements, he received three honorary doctorates and numerous fellowships and commendations. He was also a sixth-degree black belt in karate and an accomplished jazz saxophonist. He was married to Cheryl Moore and had two children, Reginald Ervin and Joy Cheray. On the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, McNair and his six crew members died in an explosion aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

For more information, contact Jill Teters, program coordinator, TRIO Programs, at 777.4931 or