Montana State University

McNair Scholars Program

Montana State University
240 Gaines Hall
P.O. Box 172560
Bozeman, MT 59717

Director and Co-P.I.

Shelly Hogan, Ph.D.

Administrative Associate

Kate Delaney

For more information:

Tel: (406) 994-5072
Fax: (406) 994-7989

Current McNair Scholars

Blaine Berrington

Major: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Mary Cloninger


Celina Brownotter

Major: Architecture
Mentor: Thomas McNab, M.A.

I am from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Currently, I am a junior majoring in Architecture here at Montana State University. I am working with my mentor, Thomas McNab, on analyzing how culture, beliefs, and traditions positively affected early Sioux housing. After graduating from Montana State I plan to attend graduate school on the west coast and obtain my masters degree. The McNair Scholars program has helped me prepare for my future of continuing onto graduate school.

Jacob Corpron

Major: Cell Biology & Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Doug Kominsky

Sabrina Dinkel

Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Dr. Ron June

Lauren Dupuis

Major: Chemical & Biological Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Connie Chang


Phillip Eaton

Major: Nursing
Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Rink



Melissa Emery

Major: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Charles (Bill) McLaughlin

am currently studying Chemistry teaching at Montana State University.  In the Summer of 2013 I worked with Dr. Bill McLaughlin to implement components of the TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) classroom in the second semester general chemistry course, CHMY 143.  I actively planned and delivered lessons through this project and learned invaluable skills such as classroom management and best grading practices.  I am also the treasurer of the Undergraduate Chemistry Society and throughout the year participate in outreach events where I perform chemical demonstrations to local youth organizations.  Currently a junior, I desire to student teach overseas.  She eventually would aspire to obtain my Ph.D. so I can become a professor at a university. I am from Georgetown, CA and currently live in Bozeman with my husband Thomas and our 3-yr old daughter, Molly. 

Amy Fiel

Major: Psychology
Mentor: J. Mitchell Vaterlaus, Ph.D.

I am studying Family & Consumer Sciences as a thirdyear
student in the Department of Health
and Human Development. As a McNair Scholar, I am working on conducting an independent
research project looking at the Utilization of Interactive Technology in the MENA region, under
the guidance of my faculty mentor, Dr. Mitch Vaterlaus. Some of my academic interests include
family systems, the impact of early childhood trauma on identity formation, and public policy.
After graduation, I plan to pursue a Master's Degree in Global Social Work or Marriage and
Family Therapy before going on to earn a PhD in Family Systems.

Brooke Filanoski

Major: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Adreienne Philips, Ph.D.


Kevin Jones

Major: Biology
Mentor: Jack Fisher, Ph.D. and Chris Organ, Ph.D.

I live in Bozeman, Montana and I’m a junior at Montana State University. My major is in Organismal Biology, with a minor in Astrobiology. I’m also a first generation university student. I am currently conducting research in hominin evolution, under the guidance of my McNair mentors, Dr. Chris Organ and Dr. Jack Fisher.  We are creating a hominin super matrix and we plan on applying advanced techniques to create a parsimonious phylogenetic tree. This includes adding new taxa to the tree, using a stratigraphy model during inference, making a time tree, and going deeper into the tree. This will allow us to establish a relationship among early hominins, given all new hominin DNA and fossil discoveries.  After building a phylogenetic tree and completing this first paper, we plan on using the data from this tree in order to conduct additional research in human evolution. It is my hope that this research contributes in some small way to our understanding of human evolution. After graduation, I hope to enter into a doctoral program in Evolutionary Biology at U.C. Berkeley in California.


Kayla Keepseagle

Major: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Joseph Seymour


Trisheena Kills Pretty Enemy

Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Seth Walk, Ph.D.

My name is Trisheena Kills Pretty Enemy. I am part Crow and Sioux, from Pryor MT. I am currently a junior majoring in microbiology. My mentor is Dr. Seth walk an assistant professor from the Microbiology and Immunology department. We collect specimens from the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital that are associated with Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI.) We then use PCR based methods to identify CDI toxins, PCR ribotyping, and PCR to detect the diversity within ribotypes through multi-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA). After I get my Bachelors in Science I plan to go on to get my doctorates in either Microbiology or Medical school. My overall goal is to help people, and someday go back to my reservation, through biomedical research, academia, or medicine.

Michelle Knerr

Major: Animval Science
Mentor: James Berardinelli, Ph.D.

Growing up on her family ranch in Lewistown, Montana, Michelle Knerr learned the importance of animal health care.  Pursing a Pre-vet Microbiology undergraduate degree from Montana State University, Michelle takes advantage of first hand opportunities that allow her to explore animal health research and medicine. With the help of her McNair mentor, Dr. Jim Berardinelli, she is focused on a research project which will determine if it is possible to use NMR spectroscopy to predict metabolic pathways that would indicate pregnancy in free range high altitude Ungulates. Michelle is an avid member of the community. She has volunteered over 1,800 hours in her community. Michelle takes pride knowing that with the pursuit of her education she is showing her daughter it is possible to accomplish your dreams.  Michelle plans to continue to work towards receiving a DVM or PhD in immunology and infectious disease.


Savanah Leidholt

Majora: Biology
Mentor: David Willey, Ph.D.

I was born and raised in Miles City, MT. Growing up my family had a farm and cattle ranch which helped me fall in love with the outdoors. I am currently enrolled in my junior year at MSU and am majoring in Organismal Biology.  My McNair research focus is to better understand threatened species and in particular the Mexican Spotted owl in Utah and how precipitation effects their diet. I hope to gain a better understanding of how changing climate and amounts of precipitation will have on this particular species and propose conservation methods to better accommodate changes that are occurring in the owls environment. My faculty mentor Dr. David Willey has been researching these owls for over the past two decades and is one of the primary researchers on this particular species of spotted owl. After graduation I hope to attend graduate school and earn my Ph. D in wildlife biology and conservation. My ideal school for this type of program would be Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Oscar Machado

Major: Cell Biology & Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Christa Merzdorf



Dani Morrison

Major: Secondary Education (Social Studies Broadfield)
Mentor: Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa

My hometown is Helena, MT.   My roots are with South Dakota as a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation.  I am a proud mother of two amazing little girls, Ava (7) and Arlee (6), that keep me fueled for our future.   I am in the Social Studies Broad-field and secondary education program with a minor in Native American Studies.  I have been working the last few years with my mentor Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa in learning Indian Education For All(IEFA) and the large importance it plays to us educators.  I am also a Hopa Mountain Native Non-Profit Fellow, and have been working diligently on a workshop called “Strengthening the Circle” which is focused for all specific lead, Native non-profit organizations within a regional area.  My goal is to be able to contribute new ideas in seeking positive and effective ways of implementing IEFA to future educators in higher education.  After I graduate I plan on attending graduate school for Native American Studies with the hopes of continuing my education in Federal Indian Law.

Justin O'Dea

Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Dr. Britney Fasy

Megan Peterson

Major: Family Consumer Science
Mentor: Dr. Kallie Decker



Jamie Ritter

Majora: Cell Biology & Neuroscience AND Exercise Science
Mentor: Dr. Mary Miles


Wade Robinson

Major: Biology
Mentor: Robert Wilson, Ph.D.

Being from Kalispell, MT, Wade has always been on the move whether it be 
hiking, swimming, or running outdoors.  He followed his passion for activity and fitness to MSU to get his degree in Exercise Science.  Wade's research project is focused on examining the differences on the changes of heart rates between frequent and infrequent video game players.  Wade is being assisted by mentor, Dr. Robert Wilson, who has a dual specialization in Exercise Physiology and Exercise and Sport Psychology.  In his free time, Wade enjoys helping various LGBTQ nonprofit organizations around the state.  In addition to being a McNair scholar, Wade also is the vice president of the MSU Exercise Science Club, is a student teaching assistant for Human Anatomy and Physiology II, and also has been CTR certified as a rapid HIV tester.  Wade is currently involved with an internship with the Kalispell Regional Medical Center shadowing occupational therapy and physical therapy and plans on using this experience to guide his decision while applying to graduate school next year.

Kristie Russette

Major: Art
Mentor: Dr. Melissa Ragain



Erin Steorts

Major: Elementary Education
Mentor: Dr. Funqjen Luo



Julie Theis

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Matthew Vess

Julie is a junior in Psychology from Sidney, Montana. Julie has been conducting research with Dr. Matt Vess to better understand how human’s impulses guide their health choices when their self-control has been depleted. Julie will graduate from Montana State in May 2016. As a highly passionate person, Julie achieves leadership by applying her skills in many places. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, Julie is also a member of the Student Alumni Association, part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and a student athlete representing the Montana State Dance Team. Julie has dedicated much of her time at MSU helping others by volunteering as a crisis advocate at the Voice Center on campus. She works primarily with survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. Her goal is to continue her education and to eventual attain a PhD or a PsyD in clinical Psychology.

Kelly Walls

Major: Mechanical Engeineering
Mentor: Paul Gannon, Ph.D.

I was born and raised in Redmond, WA where I graduated from Redmond High School. I decided that I wanted to join the Air Force at a young age, which led to my current enrollment in the Air Force ROTC program here at MSU. I am a first year senior in Mechanical Engineering and I work for Dr. Paul Gannon and PhD. candidate Josh Aller in the High Temperature Materials Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. My research focus is on characterizing a high temperature chlorosilane corrosion environment in order to help improve polysilicon production and therefore help lower the cost of solar panels.

Daniela Weber

Major: Microbiology
Mentor:Dr. Raina Plowright