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


Maurisa Bell

Major: History
Mentor: Dave Swingle M.A.

I was born in Riverton, Wyoming but attended high school in Worland, Wyoming.  I am currently a junior majoring in History with a double minor in Native American Studies and Political Science.  My research interest is in Federal Indian Law and Policy, specifically on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Along with participating in the McNair Scholars Program I am also the secretary for Phi Alpha Theta, (History Honors Society).  My aspirations are to attend Law School to pursue Federal Indian Law and Policy.

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.


Isaac Christensen

Major: Animal Science
Mentor: Dr. Ed Schmidt

I attended high school in Glendive, MT. I am currently attending Montana State University and a senior majoring in Biotechnology- Animal Systems. I have intentions in becoming an MD/ PHD and would like to return to a rural area in order to practice medicine. I have been involved in research at the Schmidt lab for the past three years. My research project involved creating a procedure for the purification of three Thioredoxin like proteins that will be used as an identifier tool with the antibodies from the previously purified protein. Some of my favorite hobbies are: fishing, hunting, and cooking.

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.


Heidi Hanson

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Wendy Biachini-Morrison, M.S.

Heidi Hanson is a senior in Psychology and Community Health at Montana State University, and will graduate in May 2016.  Heidi’s mentor is Wendy Bianchini-Morrison.  She and Heidi have traveled to Zambia to learn about non-government organizations and their impact on improving health for Zambians and hopefully expand to other countries.  Heidi is also a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron honor society for HHD college majors.  After graduation, Heidi would like to enter into graduate school for either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. in Clinical or Counseling psychology, and would like to work with teens who may be at-risk for social and mental health disorders.


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.


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.


Erica Latorre

Major: Exercise Science
Mentor: Mary Miles, Ph.D.

I am originally from Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho where I graduated from Coeur d’ Alene High
school. I’m currently a senior at MSU majoring in Exercise Science as well as studying Pre-
Medicine. My aspirations are to become a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon as well as
continue researching new ways to treat sports injuries. Along with my scholastic studies I enjoy
paint and sketching, exercising, volunteering at the local Community Cafe here in Bozeman,
playing indoor and sand volleyball, as well as traveling and road tripping with good friends.
My McNair Research is being conducted under Dr. Mary Miles in the Nutrition Research
Laboratory. The main focus of my research is to further examine how antioxidants impact muscle
recovery after exercise. Looking specifically at reactive oxygen species and metabolic flexibility.


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.

Rebekah Lindsey

Major: Elementary Education
Mentor: Rebecca Brooker, Ph.D.

I am originally from Martinez California and Graduated from Alhambra High School. I am currently a senior at Montana State University pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration on Early Childhood Development. My research interest the connection between developmental child psychology and education. In particular, under the guidance of my McNair Mentor Dr. Rebecca Brooker we are researching the question: are neural measures of cognitive control in children linked to academic competency? After graduating from MSU I plan to go on to my PHD in cognitive and developmental education.  


Tanner Lineberrry

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Julie Wieseler and Dr. Rebecca Brooker

I am a senior majoring in psychology.  I am interested in research in developmental and social psychology.  Most recently I presented my McNair Scholars research that I have been conducting under the guidance of my McNair Mentors Drs. Julie Wieseler & Dr. Rebecca Brooker, titled: Child-Driven Effects on Parenting at the University of Berkeley, CA McNair Scholar’s Research Symposium. After graduation I am planning to attend graduate school and the University of Montana to obtain a graduate degree in social work, and eventually clinical social work.  I hope to eventually work with addiction therapy.


Jenna Lipscomb

Major: Computer Science
Mentor: Dr. Rocky Ross

Jenna Lipscomb is originally from St. Ignatius, Montana, but spent the majority of her childhood in La Grande, Oregon where she graduated high school in 2011. She is a Gates Millennium Scholar and Honors student currently studying Computer Science at Montana State University. She is proud to be a First Generation Descendant of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and serves as the MSU Chapter President of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Jenna is working with Dr. Rocky Ross's team as a student contributor and researcher on the Department of Computer Science's "Flipping Out Classrooms," a project focused on finding more effective ways of teaching programming classes and increasing student retention. As a McNair Scholar, she is researching the relationships between extended programming practice, student test scores, and teaching styles in the lower level programming classes. She is hoping to continue her education in graduate school after receiving her Bachelor of Science in May 2016.

Jaycie Loney

Major: Exercise Science
Mentor: Lynn Owens, Ph.D.

I am from Belgrade Montana. Currently a senior at Montana State University pursuing a degree in Exercise Science. My research interest is the connection between cancer patient’s personalities and their motivation to stay physically active during and post treatment. In particular, under the guidance of my McNair Mentor Dr. Lynn Olson we are research the question: Can healthcare professionals use a test of strengths of personality to better prescribe exercise in a way that fits each patient’s specific personality? After graduating from MSU I plan to go on to physical therapy school and attain my doctorate and I will hopefully continue my education with a heavy emphasis in the field of rehabilitation research. 

Marissa Miller

Major: Architecture
Mentor: Fatih Rifki, Ph.D.

I attended high school in Hot Springs, South Dakota and am currently in my last undergraduate semester in the architecture program. I spent the summer in Europe with Dr. Fatih Rifki studying various adaptive reuse buildings, which are buildings that have been repurposed to be used as something else without disregarding the integrity of the buildings’ heritage.  I intend to apply my experiences and analysis of these buildings to the buildings in Hot Springs that inspired me to do this research. Between graduation and graduate school, the plan is to work as an intern and gain some experience in a firm before returning to school.  I’m applying to graduate school here at Montana State University and eventually get licensed as an architect.


Sarah Miller

Majora: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Trevor Rainey

I was born in Denver, Colorado but spent most of my life in Roundup, Montana. I am currently a junior majoring in Chemistry. I have been conducting undergraduate research under the guidance of Dr. Trevor Rainey over the past year in the area of natural product synthesis. I plan to graduate in the spring of 2016 and further my education in a graduate program with the goal of eventually obtaining a Ph.D. The McNair Scholars Program has helped me and continues to help me prepare for success in graduate school.

Jessica Monte

Major: Plant Science
Mentor: Casey Delphi, Ph.D.

I am a senior in the Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology department at Montana State University. My primary interests are plant insect interactions as well as symbiotic relationships between plants, fungi, and insects. The research I am working on for the McNair Scholars program focuses more specifically on the relationship between native wildflowers and native bees in Gallatin County, MT. I have been working on a Western SARE funded research initiative for native bee conservation under my mentor Dr. Casey Delphia for two years. I spend most of my time working in the lab and our four field sites around Gallatin County, MT. I am an advocate for the VOICE center on campus as well as a member of SASA (students against sexual assault). After I finish my B.S. I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in the plant sciences and hope to continue doing research on plant insect interactions and conservation.


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.


Amanda Parsons

Major: Boradview, MT
Mentor: Joseph Seymour, Ph.D.

I grew up in Montana, northwest of Billings, and went to school in Broadview, MT. Presently, at Montana State University – Bozeman, I am entering my senior year as an undergraduate studying chemical engineering. I have been conducting my McNair Scholars research project during the summer working in the Magnetic Resonance Laboratory (MRL) under the guidance of Dr. Joe Seymour learning the techniques and methodologies that the MRL conducts with a specific focus on better understanding the properties of alginate gels. Outside of studying and doing research, I am actively involved with the Country Dance Club, the campus ministry group Tuesday Nights Together, and serve as current president of the Generation Ministries Collegiate Group on campus. My future plans include continuing on to earn my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering.


Dietrich Perchy

Major: Biology
Mentor: Nicholas Lux, Ed.D.

Dietrich Perchy is a senior at Montana State University and is currently pursuing a degree in Secondary Education- General Broadfield Science as well as a minor in Biology teaching. While at MSU, Dietrich has worked in a variety of research labs stemming from plant bio-science laboratories to education based learning programs. Dietrich has been conducting research with Dr. Nicholas Lux for the past year on developing an educational Minecraft curriculum with an emphasis on STEM education. Dietrich is eager to pursue a graduate degree in education to become an even better educator for his future students.


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.

Michael Ruiz

Major: Anthropology
Mentors: Dr. Jack Fisher and Dr. Ron June

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I am an Anthropology major considering a minor in General Chemistry. Upon graduation I plan on entering a joint degree program pursuing a PhD/JD. My career goals include becoming a Diplomate of The American Board of Forensic Anthropology. My current research involves maceration practices for the efficient defleshing of human remains to expose, analyze and interpret skeletal trauma. I intend to continue to pursue my education both inside and outside of the classroom wholeheartedly with the help of the McNair Program because I am going to be the change that I want to see in the world as I am the first person in my family to go to college.
Navigating the Waves of Forensics, 2013 (Providence, RI)

Ty Show

Major: Industrial Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Laura M. Stanley

Ty Show is a junior majoring in Industrial & Management Engineering.  He is from Browning, MT, which is located within the boundaries of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.  As a current McNair Scholar, Ty has been working with Dr. Laura Stanley on a research project that delves into the peer-to-peer affects at Browning High School.  The research is utilizing the Teens in the Driver Seat Program that started in Texas.  The program is meant to promote safe driving tips and techniques through the use of peers, student groups, and presentations.  Ty is also eager to pursue a graduate degree in engineering after he completes his bachelor’s degree in May of 2016.


Kendra Teague

Major: Land Resources & Environmental Science
Mentor: Dr. Alison Harmon

I am originally from southeast New Mexico, but have since made a home in Wolf Point, Montana, where I have family and spend most of my summers. My major is Sustainable Foods and Bioenergy Systems. I currently work with Professor Alison Harmon, who is the Program Leader in Health and Human Nutrition. Our research focuses on the relational aspects of grains and grain production within indigenous populations. We are interested in understanding indigenous approaches to the life cycle and cultivation of grains, with an emphasis on maize, wild rice and barley. We also study rapid changes that have occurred in the use and demand of grains over a short period of time. My interest in this topic stems from my concern for family and the health of our living systems. My professional background in social work and advocacy and my passion for a healthy environment, healthy food systems and clean water has guided me to where I am now.


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.

Coleen Trottier

Major: Psychology
Mentor: Suzanne Christopher, Ph.D.

I am majoring in Psychology and in Latin American & Latino/a Studies and Hispanic Studies in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department. I am from Great Falls, Montana and am an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and am also from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.  My research mentors are Suzanne Christopher from MSU's Department of Health and Human Development and Alma Knows His Gun McCormick from the Apsaalooke-based Messengers for Health program. Our research uses a community-based participatory approach to addressing chronic illness self-management with members of the Apsaalooke Nation. My specific research project entails developing an intervention component to improve self-advocacy among individuals with chronic illness. My future plans include applying for the MSU Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate Program and attending medical school. 

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.