McNair Program Offers Faculty, Student Research Talks

Olivia DrakeApril 13, 20116min

The Wesleyan McNair Program assists students from underrepresented groups in preparing for, entering, and progressing successfully through post-graduate education. The program provides guidance, research opportunities, and academic and financial support to students planning to go on to Ph.Ds. All fields of research leading to a Ph.D. are eligible.

In efforts to prepare undergraduates from diverse backgrounds for graduate studies, the McNair Program hosts a series of research talks. These talks are designed for interested, non-expert, students. They are free and open to all students.

The next McNair Research Talk will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Friday, April 15 in Exley Science Center room 121. Christian Hoyos ’11 will speak on “Direction-of-transfer effects in Children’s map use” with his mentor, Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology; Matthew Narkaus ’11 will speak on “Race Language in Psychological Experiments” with his advisor, Jill Morawski, professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Humanities; and Jessica Bowen ’11 will speak on “Breaking Habit (U.S.) Diversifying the Elite at……” with her mentor, Sarah Wiliarty, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies. More information is online here.

On March 25, the McNair Program hosted a talk by Francis Starr, associate professor of physics.  Pictures of his talk are below:

On March 25, the Wesleyan McNair Program presented “Some Assembly Required: DNA-based Nanomaterials,” with Associate Professor of Physics Francis Starr. While DNA has long been known as the chemical foundation of genetics, Starr is exploring new ways to take advantage of the special features of DNA.

The same molecular recognition of A-T and C-G base pairs that encodes biological information in the body can be used instead to encode the assembly of nanoparticle-based materials, Starr explained. In these new bio-materials, DNA strands act as specialized bridges that link nanoparticles into specific structures. The resulting systems have unusual properties that may be applicable to energy storage, drug delivery, optical materials, and nano-electronic devices. Starr's group has developed an efficient computational model that enables the prediction of new structures to guide future experiments and applications.
The McNair Program offers a series of research talks in their efforts to prepare undergraduates from diverse backgrounds for graduate studies. The talks are designed to foster students’ growth and knowledge in their areas of research.

The Wesleyan McNair Program is funded by the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program through the U.S. Department of Education. It serves students who are first generation college students from low-income families, or who are from African-American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Native American decent.