Archive for the ‘Accomplishments’ category

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!

17th Annual California McNair Scholars Symposium: Building the New Academy

September 3, 2009

McNair Scholars have returned from the 17th Annual California McNair Scholars Symposium, which was aptly titled, “Building the New Academy.” Over 50 McNair Programs with budding future academics from across the United States were welcomed to the opening ceremony by Dr. Harold H. Campbell, director of the UC Berkeley McNair Scholars Program, which hosted the conference.

Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley Professor of Astronomy, Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, and world-renowned astronomer whose work on NASA’s Kepler Mission is currently making headlines, also welcomed McNair Scholars and emphasized one of the key reasons we had all made the trip to the UC Berkeley campus, “… honoring [students] accomplishments which are living testimonies to the aspirations of Challenger Astronaut, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.”

Throughout the conference, each scholar presented their original research, typically in a presentation that included two or three other McNair Scholars from around the country whose research was related thematically or generally within the discipline. One UNL McNair scholar, Andrea Rieger, had the opportunity to share her research during one of the six plenary sessions featured throughout the conference. Andrea performed fabulously (much like her fellow McNair Scholars), and presented her work in front of 200 audience members!

Andrea along with fellow plenary presenter, Isai Orozco from Cal State Polytechnic University.

Andrea along with fellow plenary presenter, Isai Orozco from Cal State Polytechnic University.

Another highlight of the conference was a workshop which featured internationally known author, Donald Asher. Mr. Asher specializes in higher education, career planning, and specifically for the Berkeley McNair conference, compiling a successful graduate application. Asher’s dynamic presentation on the elements of a successful graduate school application left audience members energized and inspired. As scholar Brian Shreck noted, Asher’s talk, “… helped me to begin thinking about how I want to frame my personal statement for graduate school applications. His advice and examples gave me some great ideas for how to include my unique life experiences, such as my military experience, into my personal statement in such a way that it helps explain why I want to go to graduate school.”

It wasn’t all work and no play, however. Arguably, the highlight of the trip was the evening boat cruise up the San Francisco Bay. Scholars had dinner, enjoyed the sunset and Golden Gate Bridge on the top deck, sang karaoke, and some even learned the finer points of the art of DJ’ing (right Jeanette?)

As Michael Harpster reflected, “I began to realize that the Berkeley conference represented the final step of the scientific research process. This sharing of ideas and perspectives [at the conference] created an incredible academic environment. Ultimately, the McNair conference at Berkeley allowed me to move from seeing the MSRE research process in isolation to seeing it as a part of a larger network of academic processes.”