UMBC McNair Scholars Program

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Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Ronald E.McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement (McNair Scholars) Program provides experiences that prepare students for graduate education in all disciplines. The program involves students in research, mentoring, and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are from diverse backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the program is to increase the attainment of research-based doctoral degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society.

Annually, McNair Scholars are selected from among eligible UMBC students to participate in a variety of activities designed to prepare them to progress to earn doctoral degrees. Eligible participants are low-income, first-generation college students, or are members of groups underrepresented in graduate education.

The McNair Scholars Program at UMBC is one of many federally funded programs across the United States and Puerto Rico.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
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    Sex-specific mechanisms underlie long-term potentiation at hippocampus-nucleus 2 accumbens synapses
    (2024-01-24) Copenhaver, Ashley E.; LeGates, Tara
    Sex differences have complicated our understanding of the neurobiological basis of many behaviors that are key for survival. As such, continued elucidation of the similarities and differences between sexes is necessary in order to gain insight into brain function and vulnerability. The connection between the hippocampus (Hipp) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a crucial site where modulation of neuronal activity mediates reward-related behavior. Our previous work demonstrated that long-term potentiation (LTP) of Hipp-NAc synapses is rewarding, and that mice can make learned associations between LTP of these synapses and the contextual environment in which LTP occurred. Here, we investigate sex differences in the mechanisms underlying Hipp-NAc LTP using whole-cell electrophysiology and pharmacology. We found that males and females display similar magnitudes of Hipp-NAc LTP which occurs postsynaptically. However, LTP in females requires L-type voltage-gated Ca²⁺ channels (VGCC) for postsynaptic Ca²⁺ influx, while males rely on NMDA receptors (NMDAR). Additionally, females require estrogen receptor α (ERα) activity for LTP while males do not. These differential mechanisms converge as LTP in both sexes depends on CAMKII activity and occurs independently of dopamine-1 receptor (D1R) activation. Our results have elucidated sex-specific molecular mechanisms for LTP in an integral excitatory pathway that mediates reward-related behaviors, emphasizing the importance of considering sex as a variable in mechanistic studies. Continued characterization of sex-specific mechanisms underlying plasticity will offer novel insight into the neurophysiological basis of behavior, with significant implications for understanding how diverse processes mediate behavior and contribute to vulnerability to developing psychiatric disorders.
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    Slave Rebellions w/ Dr. Marjoleine Kars, Dr. Vincent Brown, and Dr. Sharika Crawford
    (UMBC Center for Social Science Research, 2022-03-07) Anson, Ian; Kars, Marjoleine; Brown, Vincent; Crawford, Sharika; Rivas, Jefferson; Possidente, Sophia; Maddox-Wingfield, Camee
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    The Time Is Now: Strategies to Address Racism, Equity, and the Retention of Black Faculty
    (2021-06-30) Griffin, Kimberly; Newsome, Antoinette
    After decades of “pipeline” programs that focus on preparing Black faculty to navigate racist and inequitable environments, institutions must take responsibility for developing programs, policies, and structures to make progress and create change. Given the persistent underrepresentation of Black faculty relative to their population in the U.S. and student body, as well as the unique ways anti-Black racism can manifest in academic departments and programs, leaders must develop strategies specific to the needs and experiences of Black professors. This document provides guidance to institutional leaders and policymakers, highlighting well documented challenges Black faculty face and offering actions to promote equity and justice.
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    Investigating Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Graduate School Enrollment Rates among McNair Scholars
    (The Pell Instittute, 2022) Breen, Stephanie M.; Newsome, Antoinette
    The McNair Scholars Program aims to increase graduate school enrollment for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students with the goal of Ph.D. attainment. This study explores graduate school enrollment rates among University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) McNair Scholars using Astin’s (1993) IEO Model. Utilizing UMBC McNair Program’s Annual Performance Reporting (APR) datasets from 2010-2020, we conduct crosstabulations and logistic regression to examine what input and environmental factors contribute to graduate school enrollment for 117 UMBC McNair Scholars. While findings reveal no statistical significance in input and environmental factors, we found differences in enrollment rates across some racial/ethnic and gender groups. Implications of this study suggest that provisions for data collection and self-reporting practices must become standardized to increase program and evaluation effectiveness.
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    Online Learning and Student Satisfaction During COVID-19
    (2021) Huang, Ting; Alonso, Diane; Psychology; McNair Scholars Program
    The COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020 interrupted the life of every person on this globe. For students taking in-person courses, it meant that traditional learning came to a halt and was replaced with involuntary distance learning instead. This sudden shift may have impacted students’ affective experience in education. In this unprecedented learning environment, it became imperative for educators to test different methods of instruction to restore positive student satisfaction and help maintain academic progress. This project used a two-phased research study that aimed to identify students’ perceptions of the new online learning environment and suggestions for course designs that improve student satisfaction. In Phase I, a survey was used to receive feedback from university students regarding their online learning experience during the pandemic. The survey results reflected that student participation was correlated with course satisfaction, but there was no clear relationship between course design and student satisfaction. The data informed the experimental study in Phase II, which varied course design and opportunities for student engagement to examine what factors may enhance student satisfaction. The findings of the experiment were inconclusive. However, future studies on the topic are expected to investigate ways to provide a richer online learning environment for students during COVID-19 and the general distance learning experience. Keywords: academic satisfaction, online learning, COVID-19