McNair 2021 Research Symposium

The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program invites you to join us for the 2021 Summer Research Institute Symposium and Awards Ceremony. This symposium features oral presentations given by our current scholars who performed research in a diverse range of fields. This is a free event; light refreshments will be served.


Thursday, August 5th Schedule: 

9:30 am - Continental Breakfast 

9:55 am to 10:00 am - Welcome

Peter Beyan-Wu Jeffy, Project Director

10:00 am to 10:20 am 

Zoe Sims : Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Theresa Walton-Fisette

The Experiences of Collegiate Athletes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This study examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of collegiate athletes. This research will address the help-seeking behaviors of collegiate athletes in order to destigmatize mental health concerns within athletics. The purpose of this qualitative case study is to acknowledge the mental health challenges that athletes face and are currently facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This case study will consist of the researcher asking several open ended questions to the student athletes and recording their responses. A total of five student athletes will be interviewed for this study, varying in gender, race, and sport. The interview questions will address their experiences at the beginning, middle, and present day of the pandemic. After getting the participants' responses, the results and findings of the study will be recorded. The researchers expect to find that student athletes experienced higher levels of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also expect to see athletes report higher stress levels during the academic semester since they are balancing COVID testing, their sport, and their academics. Finally, they expect to find that the mental wellbeing of athletes overall was worse when they were sent home abruptly at the beginning of the pandemic.

10:20 am to 10:40 am 

De'Asia Benjamin : Public Health
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Clare L. Stacey

Covid-19 Affecting the Mental Health of Pregnant African American Women

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused mental health stress for many Americans (Ye, B. et al. 2020).2020). Based on prior research, we know that mental health stressors do not impact all social groups equally. As we know, underrepresented women, particularly African American women face higher rates of stressors.This study considers how Covid-19 impacts the mental health of pregnant African American women. In depth interviews with 7-10 pregnant African American women living in Northeast Ohio were conducted in March and April of 2021 via Zoom. Interviews explored the kinds of stressors impacting pregnant African-American women during COVID and the social support they receive from family,friends, and employers to cope with these stressors. The study uses a stress process model approach to interpret findings (Pearlin 1981). These findings help us to understand how African American women are coping with the pandemic.

10:40 am to 11:00 am 

Sarah Robinson : Sociology; Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jenny L. Cureton

Suicide Training and Counselor Education

The purpose of this study is to understand the attitudes toward the topic of suicide in the counselor education and supervision (CES) community. This research expands upon prior research by exploring the perceived attitudes toward suicide among counseling faculty, supervisors, leaders, and students. The research question is: What are the perceived attitudes in CES toward the topic of suicide? The study involved 45-90 minute phone interviews with 15 participants, including counseling faculty, supervisors, and/or administrators. The majority of participants identified as White and female. Applying interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology guides the researchers in two phases: 1) developing a descriptive account of phenomena through the perspective of the participant and 2) interpreting underlying meaning about perceived attitudes toward suicide. The steps of IPA include reading and rereading, developing emergent themes, searching for connections across emergent themes, moving to the next case, looking for patterns, and making interpretations to deeper levels. The present study utilizes the talents of a McNair scholar, their McNair Mentor, Dr. Jenny Cureton, and a research team of counseling doctoral students and faculty members. Findings will inform counselor training on suicide, training program functions, and leadership and policy impacting counselors and counselor preparation.

11:00 am to 11:20 am 

Brook Lyn Mercado : Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. J. Derek Kingsley

How Caffeine Affects Vagal Tone and Arterial Stiffness with Resistance Exercise

In order to begin the research process, one must first gather previous findings, and gain knowledge on what has already been completed. The topic at hand is the effects of caffeine on autonomic modulation and vagal tone activity during, or after resistance exercise is completed. The importance of these studies is to see if caffeine enhances performance and reduces fatigue after and during resistance exercise. A common way to organize your sources is by using a reference management software. In this case, Zotero is used. 20 articles were found that explore how different caffeinated drinks and pills can affect different groups of people. After reviewing the articles, they were organized into categories. Those categories were articles that focused on: women and men vs arterial stiffness and vagal tone, A literature table was then created in order to organize the more important information from each article, This included the title, date and authors, subjects, methods, results, and conclusions. Each article was critically evaluated using specific criteria.

11:20 am to 11:30 am - Break 

11:30 am to 11:50 am 

Robyn Robinson : Education
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristen Marcussen

Criminal Justice & Mental Illness

Mental Illness and Crime People with mental illness have been mishandled for many years and have been treated like lab rats. Prisons are overly crowded with mentally ill persons and they have now become a threat to society (Vogel, 2014). One’s Mental illness cannot determine whether someone will break the law, but it is one of many criminogenic, causing or likely to cause criminal behavior, risk factors that interact in complex ways influencing individual behavior (Vogel, 2014). This statement represents the stereotypical barriers that researchers have been fighting. In the public eye the mentally ill are often viewed as ,”Dangerous” and or “Incompetent” (Phelan, 2013). The problem is that people with mental illness are often labeled and associated with negative stigmas. These negative labels have become embedded in the community, causing numerouc misconceptions surrounding people with mental illness. Another prominent concern is that theyl are not receiving proper care while being incarcerated (Vogel, 2014). Inmates with mental illness are physically victimized 1.6 more times than inmates who do not suffer from mental illness. Their conditions are also likely to become worse depending on the correctional facility. To prevent this from happening researchers have been trying to collect a wider range of data in order to connect specific mental disorders to criminogenic behaviors. Researchers are also continue to search for intervention methods to decrease the incarceration rates of those with mental illness. People who experience mental illness are overrepresented in prisons and that is because they simply don’t belong there.

11:50 am to 12:10 am 

Kiara James : Public Health
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristina N. Knight

Assessing the Youth Development Workforce – Realities, Readiness, & Re-engagement Post-2020

Youth Development Professionals (YDP) are: (1) individuals who work for organizations that support after school (AS) and out-of-school time (OST) programs; (2) important and trusted adults in the lives of young people; and (3) engage with youth from all walks of life. Within Cuyahoga County there are approximately 534 AS/OST programs and over the past 20 years there has been a systematic investment in the training and preparation of YDP within the County. The emergence of COVID-19 and efforts to promote racial equity have significantly shifted the structure, focus, and processes associated with this YDP and AS/OST programs. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is: to explore the experiences, perceptions of competence, and readiness of YDP; and, to identify strategies to support re-engagement with youth as a part of AS/OST programming. This will involve developing and implementing a web-based assessment among YDP in Cuyahoga County which includes a series of questions related to: demographic characteristics; competencies; equity; and engagement strategies. Participants will be recruited from the Cuyahoga County Youth Work Institute (CCYWI) database. The survey will be administered in July of 2021 over a period of 3-4 weeks using the Dillman method of web-based research. Results will be shared with local YDP, AS/OST programs, and CCYWI participants in the fall of 2021 in addition to being submitted for publication in the Journal of Youth Development. Newman, J. (Year). Supporting the Out-of-School Time Workforce in Fostering Intentional Social and Emotional Learning. Journal of Youth Development, Volume 15 (Issue 1), 239-265. doi:10.5195/jyd.2020.807

12:10 am to 12:30 am 

Ruby Greenwood : Nutrition
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Na'Tasha Evans 

Assessing the Needs of Congolese Refugee Women

Refugees are people who have been forced out of their home countries to get away from war, persecution, or natural disasters. In 2016, many Congolese refugees came to America to escape war in their home country. Many of these refugees are women who come with their children. Transitioning to life in America for these Congolese refugee women was not easy. Many of them experienced language difficulties, acculturation, assimilation, poverty, depression, etc. This study explored the needs of Congolese refugee women after transitioning to living in America. Using a qualitative research design, 20 participants were interviewed. 20 semi-structured were conducted. The interviews were coded and analyzed thematically. Major findings and themes within the answers were many refugee women needed bus tickets to get back and forth to places, money for things food stamps did not cover (soap, shampoo,etc), help finding a job that will accept their health conditions ( back problems, swollen feet, swollen legs, etc), money for rent and buying houses, and help bringing relatives over to America.

12:30 am to 12:50 am 

Mario Coachman : Architecture
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Diane Davis-Sikora

Solving Gentrifcation: Renovation Without Displacement

Gentrification has been a topic of some time, especially in recent decades. In this research, I will be exploring how this phenomenon affects the community itself. Although, the process of gentrification is intended to renovate neighborhoods with long histories of disinvestment, it often displaced minority residents and shifts the culture of the area. Ultimately, my goal is to research policies and initiatives that have been put in place to reduce displacement in gentrified areas. From this research I aim to create a solution kit that would help to tackle the issue of displacement and cultural influx in terms of gentrification. Furthermore, the main area of focus includes gentrification in Hingetown of Ohio City, Cleveland, during the past decade (2010-2020). I plan to examine past case studies on gentrification in Hingetown of Ohio City to gain some knowledge on procedures that work best in evaluating the issue. In addition, I will be conducting interviews with practitioners engaged in the community and local residents. Information from these interviews surrounding procedures to tackle displacement will be collected and interpreted for the utilization in the solution kit. Expected solutions include initiatives that increase the access to capital and space so that minorities have control over their own displacement. As well as, local reinvestment in the area to keep property and living conditions affordable for previous residents.

12:50 am to 1:10 Pm 

Delonte Goodman : Mechatronics Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bjorn Lussem

Impacts of Organic Semiconductor Thickness in Organic Field-Effect Transistors

Organic electronics is a field that has had many new developments over the years. Organic electronics allow for the creation of flexible and even stretchy electronics. They also have many applications in fields such as medicine and materials. For example, an organic semiconductor can detect chemical changes in a person's body from the charges molecules produce. The research will focus on learning the fundamental mechanics of organic semiconductors and organic field-effect transistors (OFETs). Different concepts related to electricity and the flow of current will be reviewed and similar experiments and research done by other scientists in the same field will be summarized. After gaining a better understanding of how organic semiconductors work, new OFETs will be designed based on the semiconductor pentacene. The influence of the thickness of the pentacene layer on the device performance will also be analyzed. A paper detailing the results and lessons learned throughout the summer will be prepared. Expected results of the research is gaining experience working with organic semiconductors and performing scientific analysis on them. In conclusion, a better understanding of organic semiconductors and OFETs will be gained.

1:10 Pm to 1:20 Pm - Break 

1:20 Pm to 1:40 Pm 

Chazzlyn Jackson : Pan- African Studies 
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carla Goar and Dr. Bobbi Reidinger

Social Media, Social Movements, and Race

With the current racial climate and the continual growth of online presence, strong interest has gravitated to social media usage and its causes and effects. Its connection with social movements had been taking a big liking as well. A heightened awareness of social problems has been achieved through media coverage and in this realm specifically, social media by multiple platforms including but limited to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Thus social media usage will be analyzed to study race relations within different social movement organizations (SMOs) and their social media accounts. These organizations being Free Ohio Now, Black Lives Matter Cleveland Chapter, and Showing Up for Racial Justice. The qualitative research method being used to conduct this examination is content analysis. We will be collecting data from the aforementioned SMOs from January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 from the accounts online. Coding will be done to organize important themes and central patterns for the ultimate findings of how social media is used within these organizations’ social movements in their surrounding communities and beyond regarding race relations.

1:40 Pm to 2:00 Pm 

Jaela Perkins : Communication Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Maureen Blankemeyer

Maintaining Relationships through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on college students. Since society largely shut down due to the pandemic, students had to adjust to no longer seeing their friends and romantic partners in person. Research has found that college students' friendships are an important factor in their academic success and psychological well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess college students’ social media use to maintain friendships and romantic relationships during the pandemic. This will be measured using an adapted version of Pfeifer’s (2020) online survey, Adolescent Social Connection and Coping During COVID-19 Questionnaire. The survey will be administered via the snowball technique through social media outlets. It is expected that participants will report increased social media contacts with friends and romantic partners compared to pre-pandemic. Also, their reported level of social connectedness will be lower than it was pre-pandemic due to fewer in-person interactions and limited social activities. The findings are expected to have implications for future research related to in-person interactions in friendships and romantic relationships of college students. Also, future researchers should look at mental health as related to the pandemic’s effects on friendships and romantic relationships.

2:00 Pm to 2:20 Pm 

Aidan Taylor : Digital Media Productions; Pan-African Studies 
Faculty Mentor: Dr.Felix Kumah-Abiwu

Black Art, Aesthetics, and Imagination as Identity

Black Americans have created one of the most specific, complex, subtle, and multifaceted cultures in the world. The originality, potency, and value of Black American culture is reflected in the art, aesthetics, and imagination which can be found in that culture. The music, literature, performance and visual art of Black Americans has been a major foundation for what is considered popular art and culture today. What’s more, Black American art and aesthetics have been critical to the formation of the Black American identity. There are also crucial connections between Black political/social movements and Black art/aesthetics, one of them being the fact that many of the major movements in both Black politics and Black Arts acted as sister movements, each contributing to the other in major ways. This research project will employ both the Literary Pan-Africanism framework as well as the Kawaida Paradigm in order to effectively explore the phenomena of Black American art, aesthetics, and imagination as identity. These theoretical frameworks will help to effectively analyze the Black American individual and the larger, communal Black American experience by placing the individual, the community, and the art, aesthetics, and folklore which come out of both at the center of the project. In essence, this project seeks to understand, critique, explore, and analyze Black art, aesthetics, and imagination by centralizing the experience, voice and insularity of Black American culture.

2:20 Pm to 2:40 Pm 

Tayjua Hines : Pan- African Studies
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kizzy Albritton

Social Justice for Black Children Within Early Childhood Education

Most early childhood education programs were originally designed to help close the school readiness gap between children from more affluent backgrounds and those from low-income and economically marginalized backgrounds. Early childhood education is a program that serves young children between 3-5 years old. Targeting children’s most critical learning years may assist in advancing later academic and social-emotional skills. Unfortunately, high-quality early childhood education in the U.S. is minimally accessible for Black children, when accessible more than half of those preschools only offer part-day schooling while less than 50% offer full day and less than 20% offer both. Sixteen percent of preschools serve children from marginalized backgrounds and another 25% align their services with low-income families. Access to early childhood education programs is impacted by racial disparities in out-of-school discipline that start in the very early stages and trickle throughout the formal years of education. For example, Black children in the preschool system, only make up 18% of enrollment yet represent 48% of preschools who are suspended multiple times. Eleven percent of Black students are suspended 3 times more than their white counterparts yet they make up less of preschool enrollment and Black girls are suspended at higher rates than any of their other racial counterparts. Data states that students who are in the juvenile justice system more than likely have been suspended or expelled and students who experience out-of-school suspension and expulsion are up to 10 times more likely to drop out of high school than their counterparts.

2:40 Pm to 2:50 Pm - Closing

3:00 PM TO 4:00 PM - Awards Ceremony