This summer, McNair Fellow Mohammed Ullah ’22, participated in a virtual McNair Bootcamp where he created a hypothetical study titled “One Drug for All RNA Viruses.” “My idea was to make a single drug for all RNA-based viruses, and based on my findings and all the online research I did on the drugs, techniques, etc., I was able to come up with a proposal based on my idea and expand it into something that can happen for several years,” Ullah said. “With the resources and knowledge from a biochemist and virologist, this idea/proposal is something that can happen in real life if people took an interest in it.”
This summer, 12 Wesleyan students who identify as first-generation/low-income learned more about research methods and proposal-writing through the first McNair Bootcamp.
Held in conjunction with Wesleyan’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program and the Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars (WesMaSS) Program, the bootcamp provided a solution for summer research students who were unable to transition their in person research projects into remote research during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You certainly don’t want students doing organic chemistry in their kitchens back home,” said bootcamp co-founder Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry. “Many types of research aren’t able to be translated to ‘virtual research’ in response to campus closing down, so we wanted to make sure these students didn’t have a ‘lost summer’ with respect to their growth as researchers.”
Taylor and Ronnie Hendrix, associate director of the McNair Program, focused their new program on teaching students how to conduct independent research. Students learned to brainstorm, build hypotheses, work collaboratively with peers, write a research proposal based on the criterion of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program application, peer-review a research proposal, edit and improve a research proposal, and ultimately craft and present a research poster.
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Wesleyan President Michael Roth participates in The Big Roll on Nov. 4.
On Nov. 4, in conjunction with Homecoming and Family Weekend, the Wesleyan Math and Science Scholars (WesMaSS) program hosted “The Big Roll” on Foss Hill.
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From Nov. 9-12, two faculty members and five students from the physics and chemistry departments, attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Fla.
Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, and Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, were joined by McNair Scholars Luz Mendez ’17, Tatianna Pryce ’17, Stacy Uchendu ’17 and Hanna Morales ’17; and Wesleyan Mathematics and Science (WesMaSS) Scholar Helen Karimi ’19.
Students observed other research being performed around the nation by students who are members of underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, the Wesleyan students presented their own research and Morales and Karimi were awarded Outstanding Poster Presentation Awards.
“Through the PIE Initiative, Wesleyan has a deliberate strategy to support underrepresented students and faculty in STEM fields by providing resources that increasing post-Wesleyan mentorship and exposure to research excellence, all of which were fulfilled through this conference,” said Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer. “It cannot go without saying that without Professor Taylor’s and Professor Etson’s holistic mentorship approach, these type of opportunities for our young scholars would not be possible.”
Wesleyan’s Posse Foundation Veteran Scholars Program offers a four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarship to military veterans.
The Ronald E. McNair Post Program assists students from under-represented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through postgraduate education.
This fall, the Office for Equity and Inclusion will coordinate five Wesleyan cohort programs: the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, the Wesleyan Math and Science Scholars Program (WesMaSS), the Upward Bound Math-Science Program, and the Posse Veteran Scholars Program. The initiative is called Pathways to Inclusive Excellence (PIE).
“It makes sense organizationally to place these programs under the same umbrella, in order to increase a sense of community amongst students, faculty and staff,” said Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer. “Our vision is to increase the flow of students in grades 9 through 16 from historically underrepresented backgrounds and to provide opportunities and access by way of pathway programs that require complex thinking but also a complex interdisciplinary understanding of belonging in the pursuit of excellence.
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Ten Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars participated in a weeklong program on campus this summer.
The Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars (WesMaSS) Program is a highly selective academic program designed to support students from traditionally underrepresented groups who are interested in pursuing study in mathematics and natural sciences. The program aims to foster community building and provides the scholars, who are all incoming first-year students, with mentoring and academic resources which encourage and facilitate their sustained involvement in these fields. Each scholar also receives a Wesleyan faculty mentor.
From July 26-31, 10 of the 32 WesMaSS scholars participated in an intensive introduction to studying science at Wesleyan. Students toured the science departments, became familiar with the range of resources available, and attended workshops focused on the expectations for academic work at Wesleyan. They also met with T. David Westmoreland, associate professor of chemistry, who is serving as director of the WesMaSS Program.
Students attended a mini-course in network analysis offered by Pavel Oleinikov, associate director of the Quantitative Analysis Center; a microscopy lab introduction by Jeff Gilarde, director of scientific imaging; and a tour of the Joe Webb Peoples Mineral Museum by James Gutmann, the Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology. The students also participated in many social activities. The program culminated with the Undergraduate Research in the Sciences Symposium, a day-long event that featured a keynote lecture by a prominent scientist and a poster session of the undergraduate scientific research projects.
Photos of the program are below: (Photos by Roslyn Carrier-Brault and Olivia Drake)
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