McNair, CSTEP Students Attend National Conference

Meagan Gadzuk-Shea '15 of Plattsburgh Delivers Plenary Session

Four St. Lawrence University McNair Scholars and one CSTEP student participated in the 22nd Annual University of California at Berkeley McNair Scholars Symposium in Berkeley, California. The Symposium celebrated the academic accomplishments of undergraduate scholars representing 59 colleges and universities from across the country.

The four-day event afforded McNair Scholars an opportunity to present the results of their faculty-mentored research. Sylvie Choiniere '16, Nyima Dejesus '16, Meagan Gadzuk-Shea '15, Arnold Olali '15 and Jessica Tyree '15 were among the 350 students giving presentations. Scholars also met with graduate program representatives, faculty and graduate students in their fields of study, and attended panel sessions about the graduate school admissions process.

Meagan Gadzuk-Shea highlighted St. Lawrence’s participation at the Symposium, with her plenary session presentation titled "Analysis of Charge Transfer States in Heterobimetallic Complexes by Resonance Raman Spectroscopy." (View an abstract of her research) Meagan, who is majoring in chemistry, was one of only 10 scholars nationwide selected to present the results of her research in a plenary session for all Symposium attendees.

“It was the first time I had ever presented or even been to a conference like that, and it was really exciting to get that opportunity,” she said. “This has been the best summer of my life. I was really scared going into it. But the mentors I worked with (Adam Hill, assistant professor of chemistry and Catherine Jahncke, associate professor of physics) were amazing. I think it’s great that St. Lawrence has these programs. They were so beyond my expectations. I loved it.”

Meagan, who is an Augsbury/North Country Scholar from Plattsburgh, New York, is most interested in physical chemistry and said her summer research showed her how much she enjoyed working with lasers.

“It’s what I hope to research in grad school now,” she said. “I had been feeling uneasy about what I was going to do after graduation. But, the McNair program has really helped point me in the right direction.”

If accepted, Meagan plans to jump straight into a Ph.D. program, bypassing a master’s degree. She is currently looking at graduate programs on the West Coast.

"Meagan has been working hard all summer, learning to align lasers and write data-processing code," said Adam Hill, assistant professor of chemistry. "I'm so proud of the all she accomplished, and I can't wait to see what she accomplishes this fall in her (senior-year experience)."

The McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded TRIO program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. It is named in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, a pioneer African American astronaut who died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. The McNair program is designed to motivate and support students who are underrepresented in graduate education, who meet economic eligibility requirements, and who may be the first in their families to attend college. The program is also meant to increase the attainment of the Ph.D. by students from underrepresented groups.

CSTEP, a program funded by the New York State Department of Education, is designed to increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students who complete pre-professional or professional education programs that lead to professional licensure and to careers in mathematics, science, technology and health-related fields.

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