McNair Scholars Program Renewed

McNair Scholars Program Renewed
The most recent cohort of McNair Scholars gather at Kellogg West for their symposium.
Vilma Deras explains her research on the rat olfactory bulb during a symposium.

Cal Poly Pomona's McNair Scholars Program recently learned that it not only scored in the top 10 percent of programs nationally, but that its funding will also be renewed for another five years. Most grants are renewed for four-year periods.

The federal funding amounts to about $1.3 million over five years, according to Frank Torres, director of the program.

“This is a very prestigious award because so many universities who receive this funding are research-based institutions,” Torres said. “We do a lot of research here at Cal Poly Pomona but not as much as other McNair institutions like UC Berkeley. This is quite a moral victory.”

The McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded TRIO program that helps prepare students for doctoral study and careers in college teaching through a research internship.

McNair Scholars team with faculty members to conduct a variety of research projects. Their projects may vary greatly, but the scholars share a common bond working and supporting each other during the challenging three-quarter process. Each summer the students present their research projects at a symposium.

The university began the McNair Scholars Program during the 1999-2000 academic year. Four scholars have since earned doctoral degrees. They are Bridgette Cheeks, Shakira Ferguson, Sopheap Tang and Raffi Kaprielian.

The McNair Scholars Program is named for Ronald E. McNair, best known as one of the astronauts aboard the 1986 Challenger shuttle. Program staff members and faculty mentors encourage first-generation and low-income students, or those who are under-represented, to earn doctoral degrees through involvement with research, mentors, seminars and financial aid.

Cal Poly Pomona's McNair Scholars have presented their research at conferences such as the American and Western Psychological Association conferences, the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Annual  McNair Scholars Symposium at UC Berkeley, among others.