Graduating UW–Madison McNair Scholars celebrated

Editor’s note: As of Oct. 1, 2018, the UW–Madison McNair Scholars Program is now part of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement. Find out more at

By Meghan Chua


Graduating McNair Scholars and McNair Program staff
Graduating McNair Scholars celebrated their accomplishments with program staff at the May 1 graduation reception. Pictured here: (front row, left to right) Scholars Marquise Mays, Anthony Gomez, Chetachukwu Agwoeme, Jesus Hinojosa-Paiz; (back row) McNair Scholars Program Advisor Dana María Baldwin, McNair Scholars Gabriele Negrete-Garcia, Genesis Rodriguez, Liliana Lule, Faith Bowman, and Graduate School Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Funding LaRuth McAfee. (Photo by Mary Ladoni)

Seven graduating UW–Madison McNair Scholars and one recent McNair graduate shared their research and celebrated their achievements at a reception May 1.

The scholars are part of the UW–Madison Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, supported by the Graduate School. The program creates a bridge between undergraduate and graduate education by helping students pursue research and learn the skills necessary for success in a PhD program.

“The UW–Madison McNair Scholars Program is guided by four values: scholarship, the power of communities, a vision of excellence, and the McNair legacy,” said McNair Program Advisor Dana-María Baldwin. “We strive for our work with these students to not only reflect these values through student outcomes, but this program is also intentional in building a curriculum that engages our students to understand these values as meaningful in the development of their McNair identity and to support them with the knowledge and confidence needed to thrive within their graduate studies.”

McNair Scholars in the Class of 2018, listed with the title of their research presentation and their faculty mentor, are:

  • Students present in a poster session
    UW-Madison McNair Scholars held a poster session before the graduation reception May 1, sharing their research with members of the community. (Photo by Mary Ladoni)

    Chetachukwu Agwoeme, “It Takes a Village: Evidence Based Interventions for Suspensions of Black and Latino Students in K-12 Institutions”, mentored by Dr. Aydin Bal, Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. Will attend: University of Maryland, College Park

  • Faith Bowman, “Expression of Slit Proteins in the Endocrine Pancreas”, mentored by Dr. Barak Blum, Cell and Regenerative Biology. Will attend: University of Utah
  • Anthony Gomez, “Functionalization of Au-Catalyzed Cyclopentenes to Bilobalide Analogues”, mentored by Dr. Jennifer Schomaker, Chemistry. Will continue research in chemistry.
  • Jesus Hinojosa-Paiz, “Elucidating Structural and Molecular Phenotype of Roundabout Receptor Knockout Mice by CLARITY”, mentored by Dr. Barak Blum, Cell and Regenerative Biology. Will attend: San Francisco State University
  • Liliana Lule, “The Latinx Immigrant Experience in Fiction: the Link between Legality and Identity”, mentored by Dr. Revel Sims, Planning and Landscape Architecture, and by Dr. Ruben Medina, Spanish and Portuguese. Will attend: University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
  • Marquise Mays, “Shifting Black: Transvaluing Blackness and Complicating Modes of Spectatorship”, mentored by Dr. Sue Robinson, Journalism and Mass Communication. Will attend: University of Southern California
  • Genesis Rodriguez, “Investigation of EZH2 as a Cell Survival Marker after Kainic Acid Induced Status Epilepticus”, mentored by Dr. Avtar Roopra, Neuroscience. Will attend: University of Michigan

Also presenting research at the May 1 reception was UW–Madison McNair Program alumna Gabriele Negrete-Garcia, who graduated in December 2017. Negrete-Garcia was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation for her work in geoscience and chemical oceanography.

McNair Scholar Genesis Rodriguez
McNair Scholar Genesis Rodriguez listens to a speech at the reception. (Photo by Mary Ladoni)

She plans to attend the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego to continue researching how chemical changes affect organisms in the ocean, and said she has enjoyed her research experience at UW–Madison.

“Being able to learn about these things and seeing that you can use chemistry to learn something completely different, and how research can be used in that kind of sense, that’s one of the things I really enjoyed,” she said.

Gomez, a McNair scholar who studies organic chemistry, said the McNair program helped him find his place in research.

“The McNair Program really helped me find my self-efficacy and be able to understand that I do belong in a lot of these places, because personally when I joined a research lab at first, I dealt with a lot of impostor syndrome where I felt like I didn’t belong in the spaces,” Gomez said. He plans to continue to a PhD program in organic chemistry.

The McNair program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant and accepts applications from first-generation college students from low-income and underrepresented minority backgrounds.

“The McNair Program is of great value to UW-Madison and our students here, and we greatly appreciate it. The Graduate School is extremely happy to play a role in the McNair program and celebrating [students’] achievements,” said Graduate School Associate Dean Lisa Martin.

Photos from the 2018 McNair Program graduation reception