Archive for the ‘Accomplishments’ category

Alumni Spotlight: Adrienne Ricker

February 21, 2018
Adrienne Ricker (McNair Scholars 2013-2016) earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and biological sciences in May 2016. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She was awarded the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship. Adrienne describes how the McNair Scholars Program helped her develop a positive working relationship with her research mentor and provided her with the support and tools necessary to navigate the graduate application process.

The McNair Scholars Program presented the opportunity to engage in research at an early point in my undergraduate career. Through McNair, I developed a one-on-one relationship with a faculty advisor in order to design and complete a research project. He provided mentoring and instruction on how to develop a research project and communicate with others effectively. That experience helped greatly in my first year as a graduate student, where active engagement in research is expected of students in my program.

As a low-income first-generation student, McNair helped me navigate the graduate application process–something I would have been lost in otherwise. I am now in the second year of my PhD and more certain than ever that the McNair program prepared me for this experience! Additionally, my McNair faculty mentor was imperative in my graduate school search and application process. He helped me navigate the application process and prepared me for the demands of life as a graduate student.

My background experiences and participation in the McNair Scholars Program helped me receive the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robels Fellowship, which has given me the freedom to develop a thesis project I am truly passionate about. Otherwise, I would have probably taken on a project previously funded by my advisor’s existing grants. This freedom has been rewarding and a great opportunity to learn the full process of a developing a research project through to the end product.

Being involved in exciting research is one of the best parts of graduate school, but you shouldn’t let your research consume you. My advice to McNair Scholars would be to look for something outside of your research to be involved in—whether that is a campus organization or a volunteer experience—find something you enjoy that is relevant to your goals and gives you a break from the rigors of graduate school. Moreover, I’d also recommend you establish expectations for work/life balance with your advisor early on. If expectations are clear right away at the beginning, then it will help relieve concerns about whether you are filling those expectations or not!





McNair Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Norberg, Ph.D.

June 7, 2017

I grew up in a small, rural town in Nebraska. Few people, myself included, thought I was smart. Rather than taking physics and geometry classes during high school, I opted for remedial math, home economics, and making the high school yearbook. Through what seemed like luck, rather than intellect, I became the high school yearbook editor.

Becoming editor of the yearbook encouraged me to obtain a university degree. While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I took a “Careers in Psychology” class that put me on the path to becoming an academic clinical psychologist. That class taught me that it would be a long and competitive path. So, I followed its advice. I maintained a high GPA,  volunteered, and obtained research experience. However, that research experience was in the field of perception, which while highly useful in teaching me about research methodology, it taught me little about conducting clinical research.

During the final year of my undergraduate degree, I was accepted into the McNair program. The McNair program linked me up with Dr. Debra Hope, an academic clinical psychologist. Under Dr. Hope’s supervision, I completed an Honors project that examined the role that clients’ expectations have on therapy outcomes. Conducting research in Dr. Hope’s lab allowed me to gain the exact type of clinical research experience I needed to be accepted into a doctoral program for clinical psychology. During graduate school, I led a team of students in developing an empirically-based instrument to measure clients’ expectations about treatment. This measure was published and has been translated into a handful of different languages by other researchers. Thus, the influence of the McNair Program and Dr. Hope did not end with my undergraduate degree.

Melissa Norberg conducting research into hoarding with Julia Irwin.Photo courtesy of Chris Stacey

I am now an Associate Professor and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University. Macquarie University’s psychology department is ranked within the top 100 psychology departments in the world and the Centre for Emotional Health is one of the premier research centers on anxiety in the world.


McNair Scholars in the News

February 29, 2012

It’s been a busy news week for McNair scholars!

Nathan Palmer, a former McNair scholar here at UNL (now he’s at Georgia Southern University), began researching images of the natural world in children’s fiction during his McNair Summer Research Experience. This week, an article that includes the research, was published in Sociological Inquiry. USA Today covered the research in a recent article, as did UNL Today.

McNair Mentors in the News

February 24, 2012

McNair Mentor Dr. Ross Secord’s work on Sifrhippus, the earliest known horse, has been published in the February 24 edition of Science. The paper has received wide-spread international attention, with articles published in the New York Times, US News & World Report, and the Omaha World-Herald.

Dr. Secord is also mentor to McNair Scholar Nathan Lilienthal. Nathan’s McNair Summer Research Experience project explored why the body size of horses declined during the Pleistocene Epoch. (You read more about his project, Body Size Trends in Ice Age (Pleistocene) Horses from the Great Plains.) Nathan will continue working with Dr. Secord next year, expanding on his research.

Nathan at work in Dr. Secord’s lab

Nathan Palmer, Featured Blogger

October 1, 2010

Nathan Palmer, a former UNL McNair Scholar is now a featured blogger on the American Sociological Association website Teaching the Social World. Nathan is currently a faculty member at Georgia Southern University, in the department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Nathan also has his own website that features ideas and resources for educators who teach sociology. Check it out here.

McNair Scholars in the News: Sherri Sklenar, Archaeologist

July 2, 2010

As we here at the UNL McNair Scholars program are always proud to report, our McNair Scholars continue to make headlines throughout the UNL academic community and beyond.

As evidence of this, UNL McNair Scholar Sherri Sklenar is spending part of her summer doing field work here in Lincoln on the future site of the planned arena. Sherri was featured on the KLKN evening news describing the importance of this project to Lincoln residents.

Check it out here!

McNair Scholars Give Back Over Fall Break

October 26, 2009


McNair Scholars joined together over Fall Break (October 19th & 20th) to give back to the Lincoln community through their volunteer services. Scholars spent over 12 hours during the two day period lending their time and energy to two very worthy charities benefitting the Lincoln community at large.

Scholars Jeff Lopez, Brittany Sznajder-Murray, and Graduate Assistant Leslie Martinez at Matt Talbot Kitchen

Scholars Jeff Lopez, Brittany Sznajder-Murray, and Graduate Assistant Leslie Martinez at Matt Talbot Kitchen

A number of McNair Scholars worked at the Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach to serve hot evening meals to individuals on Monday and Tuesday evening. Scholars Melissa Garfield, Jeff Lopez, and Brittany Sznajder-Murray worked alongside volunteers from St. David’s Episcopal Church and the group A Place at the Table to serve over 200 individuals, families, and children from the Lincoln community.

Scholar Melissa Garfield, Leslie Martinez, and other volunteers at Matt Talbot Kitchen

Scholar Melissa Garfield, Graduate Assistant Leslie Martinez, and other volunteers at Matt Talbot Kitchen

A second group of McNair Scholars and staff lent their time to the charity Habitat for Humanity. Scholars spent eight hours working on Tuesday at of the newest Habitat for Humanity house at 1221 N. 44th street. Junior and Senior McNair Scholars worked alongside  McNair staff to prime and paint the rooms inside the first floor and basement of the house.

Scholars Zach Garfield, Jeanette Samuels, Sherri Skelenar and Kaitlin Leslie prime walls at the Habitat for Humanity House.

Scholars Zach Garfield, Jeanette Samuels, Sherri Sklenar and Kaitlin Leslie prime walls at the Habitat for Humanity House.

McNair Scholars once again have demonstrated their dedication not only to academics, but their commitment to making the community at large a better place. Kudos to you!

Tyler Scherr and Michael Harpster work on painting the future kitchen!

Scholars Tyler Scherr and Michael Harpster work on painting the future kitchen!

Also, many thanks to Sydne Knox at Matt Talbot Kitchen, and Michelle Williamson at Habitat for Humanity for allowing the McNair Program to participate in such worthy causes!

Scholar Khoa Chu and Dr. Lombardo having fun on the work site!

Scholar Khoa Chu and Dr. Lombardo having fun on the work site!