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Current McNair Scholars


Gillian Bellman

Major: Pyschology 

Hometown: Appleton, WI

Graduation Date: May 2023

Mentor: Christopher Groves, PhD, Social Psychology

Gillian is excited to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and hopes to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist. She is conducting research on aspects of human aggression. 2023 cohort.

Sam Badije

Sam is a first-generation college student, majoring in pre-medicine. He is interested in pursuing a research career which focuses on global health and neurosurgery. Sam’s passion for research was ignited by his involvement in Regeneron’s COVID-19 monoclonal antibody research in 2021. 

Ramzy Baji

After completing his bachelor’s degree, Ramzy hopes to pursue a master’s in entomology. He would like to focus on agriculture or wildlife preservation. 2024 cohort.

Damon Braatz

Damon is a psychology major with a minor in computer and political science. He is interested in the field of Cognitive Psychology  


Kyra Cooper

Kyra is pursuing a BBA in accounting with a minor in Spanish. After graduating, she hopes to move into a graduate program. This summer, she hopes to research the cost and benefits of cleaning lake Winnebago. 2024 cohort.

Brittany Dupree

Major: Biology   

Hometown: Fond du Lac, WI

Graduation Date: December 2023 

Mentor: Laura Ladwig, PhD, Biology 

Brittany wishes to pursue a master’s degree in botany. She would like to research drought tolerance in plants and is deciding on a specialty within botany. 2023 cohort.

Diana Koehler

Diana is a first-generation college student, majoring in biology and minoring in forensics. She has strong foundations in various biological disciplines. She is dedicated to pursuing her career in biology. 2024 cohort.

Elijah Plonsky

Major: English   

Hometown: Fond du Lac, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2025

Mentor: Margaret Hostetler, PhD, English Weeden, Ph.D. 


Elijah is an English student with much more to offer than just analyzing the implications of literature; he loves to write, study communication, and has a passion to uproot the objective truth as a prospective Journalist. He wants to inform the public with his writing using his interdisciplinary skills in the English language to create inspirational pieces that have as much of a practical purpose as a fictional story’s insightful one. 2023 cohort.

Faith Lee

Major: Nursing   

Hometown: Wausau, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2023 

Mentor: Jeremiah Bohr, PhD 


After graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree, Faith is determined to receive her M.D. degree and one day become a Pediatric Oncologist. She hopes to get the chance to one day be apart of researching for better treatment and eventually a cure one day for cancer. 2023 cohort.

Dominic Laracuente

Major: Biology   

Hometown: Menasha, WI 

Graduation Date: December 2023 

Mentor: Robert Stelzer, PhD, Ecology  

Dominic would like to pursue a graduate degree in the field of biology. He hopes to be able to study cell biology and pharmacology. 2023 cohort.


Juan Padilla-Mendez

Major: Biomedical Science Minor: Spanish 

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2024 

Mentor: Maria Graf, PhD, Nursing 


After completing his bachelor’s degree, Juan plans to continue to medical school. He plans to become a physician and hopes to specialize in emergency medicine. Reading studies that have shown that Latino communities are the racial and ethnic group least likely to visit the doctor due to less trust in their doctors, lower incomes, less education, and not having health insurance. Witnessing firsthand how Hispanics and other races have developed a lack of trust and fidelity toward healthcare and the absence, yet deep need for minority physicians. Seeing the deep need in the medical community, he sees how as a physician, he can improve on the issues such as access to care, improve patient choice and satisfaction, enhance patient-clinician communication, and build new pillars in providing healthcare to a new band of people for racial and ethnic minorities. 2023 cohort.


Lydia Medina

Major: Social Work 

Minor: Music Industry/Anthropology

Hometown: Manitowoc, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2024 

Mentor: Paul Perales, MSW, LCSW 

Lydia Medina is a first-generation college student pursuing her bachelor’s in social work. Helping others, especially those who come from underrepresented and marginalized communities is something Lydia is very passionate about. She sees value in giving back to people and the community. Uplifting and empowering others, Lydia is determined to further her education in graduate school. 2023 cohort.

Fatima Muñiz

Major: Mathematics 

Hometown: Neenah, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2025 

Mentor: Linda Eroh, PhD, Mathematics  


Fatima Muniz has always been drawn to teaching and math, thus by combining the two the plan is to become a college professor by obtaining a Ph.D. in math. To go further into her interest in math, she intends to conduct research in the math field to find the various connections math has to offer to other subjects and within the subject itself. 2023 cohort.

Ariana Sotelo

Ariana is a criminal justice major, with a minor in Spanish and Forensic Investigation. Her career goal is to one day become an agent with the Division of Criminal Investigations


Makaylee Stewartart

Major: Psychology Minor: Criminal Justice 

Hometown: Menomonee Falls, WI 

Graduation Date: May 2023  

Mentor: D. Alper Camlibel, PhD, Political Science   

She would like to pursue a Ph.D in Psychology. She would love to focus her discipline on Forensic Psychology, and even more specifically Police and Criminal Psychology. She is very passionate about getting into mental health education, awareness and advocacy in communities of color, specifically African Americans. Additionally, criminal justice/prison reform, and lastly, the relationship and history between African Americans or people with mental illnesses, and the criminal justice system. She hopes to be able to tie all her interests together in her career. 2023 cohort.

Pa Nhia Thao

Pa Nhia is a sophomore studying economics and minoring in Japanese. Her goals involve furthering her education by obtaining my master’s and possibly a doctorate degree. She hopes to explore her interests and discover her passions on this journey. 2024 cohort.


Kailey Freund 

Major: Biology    

Hometown: Oshkosh, WI

Graduation Date: May 2024

Mentor: Shelly Michalski, PhD, Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis  

Kailey has loved science class ever since elementary school, and is excited to pursue a career and education that furthers this interest. She is passionate about endangered species, symbiotic relationships, neglected tropical diseases, and all things animal science. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Kailey foresees graduate school or a biology-related career in her future. 2023 cohort.

Alex Griep

Alex is a computer science major who is interested in leveraging his knowledge to make a name for himself and his friends while helping others. He has yet to identify his specific career goal but is determined to make the most of his McNair research experience. 2024 cohort.

Piper Novy

Piper Novy desires a position as a researcher and/or professor of petrology, the study of the composition, formation, and texture of rocks. Following their bachelor’s degree at UWO. They hope to pursue a Masters and Ph.D. in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary petrology. They are currently researching the metamorphic history of rocks in northern Wisconsin. 2024 cohort.

Jazmine Faith Peterson

2024 cohort.


Geryd Steffek

Major: Biology    

Hometown: New London, WI

Graduation Date: December 2023

Mentor: Robert Mitchell, PhD, Entomology 


After completing my Bachelors at UWO, Geryd plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive ecology, specializing in reptiles. By understanding the anthropogenic effects on the cognition of the reptiles, he hopes to assist in the conservation efforts of endangered reptiles. 2023 cohort

Anastasha Westbrook

Anastasha is currently enlisted in the Army National Guard while pursuing her bachelor’s in biology. She is fascinated by reptiles which she hopes to parlay into a career as a veterinarian. After finishing her bachelor’s degree she hopes to pursue a DVM degree out-of-state while interning at a zoo. 2024 cohort.

Danie Lodin

Major: Biomedical Sciences    

Hometown: Beaver Dam, WI

Graduation Date: May 2025

Mentor: Sabrina Mueller-Spitz, PhD, Biology


Danie wants to pursue a graduate degree in a field of biology to become a college professor. She wants to pursue research in biology and decide on a specialty. 2023 cohort.

Daisy Ann Wilson

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology, Daisy plans to attend medical school and hopes to specialize in emergency medicine. 2024 cohort.

Madison Wright

Madison would like to pursue a Masters in Psychology. She would love to focus her discipline on Counseling Psychology and even more specifically African American studies. She is very determined to pursue a career in marriage and family counseling. She is particularly interested in supporting families of color, specifically African Americans. Additionally, she hopes to identify solutions to problems such as toxic relationships. She hopes to be able to tie all her interests together in her career.