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Students show off research at forum


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DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Art history graduate Luis Salas presents research he performed at the Summer Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Yale University yesterday during an undergraduate research forum in the Chicano/Hispano Resource Center.
By Monica Warren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
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Undergraduate students who spent the summer doing research across the country and around the world presented their work yesterday at the Undergraduate Research Forum.

Eight students, all participants in the McNair Achievement Program, traveled to Australia, Africa and throughout the United States to conduct research in fields such as chemistry, immunology, anthropology and plant sciences.

Andrew Huerta, assistant program director for the McNair Program, said research performed as an undergraduate is important for students interested in going to graduate school.

"We're hoping to make [the students] well-rounded applicants," Huerta said. "We're providing them with a hands-on experience."

The McNair Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is open to students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. The program is named for Ronald McNair, one of seven astronauts killed by the explosion of the USS Challenger Space Shuttle in January 1986. The program allocated more than $41 million to participating universities in 2003, according to the Department of Education Web site. First generation, low income and minority students are all eligible to participate.

In addition to research opportunities, students who participate in the program are paired with a faculty mentor, receive tutoring and GRE preparation workshops and are eligible for stipends to fund their research. Juniors and seniors who plan to pursue graduate studies in science, engineering, social sciences, humanities or fine arts are eligible to apply.

Chemistry senior Bongi Bishop has been part of the McNair Program for a year and a half. She was one of 55 students from across the country chosen to perform research with the FBI in Virginia this summer. Her research focused on how the superglue used to lift fingerprints during investigations might affect the fingerprint quality.

"I got to know the ins and outs of every aspect of the FBI," she said.

Melba Jaramillo, a senior majoring in Spanish, spent her summer in Victoria, Australia. She worked with scientists to investigate chicken anemia, a disease that leads to chicken mortality and has potentially serious effects for the $2.9 billion Australian poultry industry.

At the UA, 30 students are in the McNair Program, Huerta said. He said the program tries to maintain a group of at least 25 active members at all times.

He said that the program's greatest challenge is recruiting qualified students to apply every year.

Huerta said the McNair Program is ideal for students interested in receiving a doctorate degree. He said about 40 percent of the program's alumni are in Ph.D. programs around the country at universities such as Duke, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley.



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