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Sometimes figuring out what questions to ask is a lesson in itself.

That’s what more than a dozen University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students are discovering this spring as they learn about the research process through the McNair Scholars Program, which supports undergraduates interested in pursuing doctorates.

In its second year at UW Oshkosh, the federally funded program matches selected students with faculty mentors who help them design, implement and complete a significant research project. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase the number of students from first-generation, low-income and underrepresented groups who earn advanced degrees.

“Currently, 13 students are preparing their research proposals and bibliographies so that they will be up and ready for their summer research program,” said Mary Seaman, UW Oshkosh McNair Scholars Program director.

Jean Neal, a junior majoring in social work, has been working with assistant professor Cheryl Bates to define her research question. “After much consideration, I have narrowed my research down to focus on mental health courts and how they can best serve the mentally ill,” she said.

Meanwhile, Joseph Noreik, a senior majoring in international studies and religious studies, is planning to study patterns in Filipino nurses migrating to the Midwest. Noreik is collaborating with senior English lecturer Vivian Foss.

“I know that she has quite the background and can guide me in many different and progressive directions,” Noreik said.

In addition to getting assistance from their mentors, McNair scholars also take part in seminars about such topics as research methodology and writing and oral presentation skills.

The students are expected to attend a national research conference and participate by giving an oral or poster presentation.

Along with Neal and Noreik, the following students and their faculty mentors are taking part in the McNair Scholars Program:

  • Kathryn  Bender,  studio art, with Arthur Pontynen;
  • Seth Block,  supply chain and operations management, with Steven Dunn;
  • Kendra Casanova, biology, with Lisa Dorn;
  • Weston Fredenberg, microbiology, with Toivo Kallas;
  • Gerald Kaquatosh, economics and Spanish, with Marianne Johnson;
  • Philip Kouzes, physics. with Michael Briley;
  • Korey Lewis, psychology, with Anca Miron;
  • Jose Orona, biology, with Dana Vaughan;
  • Dayana Sanchez, economics and Spanish, with Kevin McGee;
  • May Thao, nursing, with Suzanne Marnocha;
  • LaNee Xiong, human resources management, with Margaret Knox.

For more information about the McNair Scholars Program or to find application requirements and materials, visit