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

Emily Bermel

Major: Biological Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Christine Foreman

I attended high school in Bigfork, Montana and I am currently a senior in Biological Engineering. I am the current President of the MSU Chapter of the Society of Biological Engineering. I intend to get my Ph. D. in Biomedical Engineering after I graduate from MSU. My current research has been conducted under the guidance of Dr. Christine Foreman, and I am studying the effects of ultraviolet light on the biofilm formation and pigment production of a Janthinobacterium sp. that was isolated from a supraglacial stream in Antarctica.

James Cwick

Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Dr. Jovanka Voyich and Dr. Michele Hardy

I come from San Joaquin County in Ripon, CA.  I am currently a junior in the microbiology department (general option) and a minor in music performance.  I plan on becoming an MD-PhD in internal medicine (infectious diseases) and researching either viruses or antibiotic resistance in bacteria.  In addition to being an active McNair scholar at MSU, I participate in officer positions within the Alpha Epsilon Delta club, Health professions club, and the percussion club.  For hobbies, I enjoy cooking, reading, and watching sci-fi television shows.  Currently, my research is being conducted under the guidance of Dr. Michele Hardy, which entails the effect of glycyrrhizin (and its derivative glycyrrhetinic acid) as an antibiotic alternative for treating clinically important bacteria.  My summer research will determine the scope of glycyrrhizin on many bacteria species.  

Dominique David

Major: Earth Science (Geography)
Mentor: Dr. Wayne Stein and Lisa Lone Fight

In Spring of 2014 I will represent the first generation in my family to earn a Bachelors degree! I am currently studying Geography through the Earth Science department and minoring in Native American Studies. My undergraduate research will explore the Indigenous science knowledge that is inherent in our Native language place names. Coming from a multicultural Caribbean-American background (Native Taino, European, & African), I grew up valuing diverse ways of knowing. During my undergraduate & postgraduate studies I plan to learn how to use geospatial science technology (GIS & remote sensing) to study our natural environment and resources. When I graduate with my PhD I intend to integrate our Indigenous science knowledge with Western science in the ways that we teach about and manage our natural resources. I am grateful to have the support and guidance of my mentors Lisa Lone Fight & Dr. Wayne Stein here at Montana State University.

Steven Davis

Major: Chemical & Biological Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Ross Carlson

Graduated from Billings Skyview High Shool in 2009 and looking forward to graduating with a dual degree in both Chemical and Biological Engineering along with Highest Distinction from the Honors College in 2014. I am proud to represent the Fighting Bobcats as a RS sophomore on the Men's Basketball team. As an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Lakota Nation and descendant of the Blackfeet Nation of MT, my brothers and I spend a great deal of time working through and representing the American Indian Council here at MSU. Working in Dr. Carlson's lab in the Center for Biofilm Engineering, I spent the summer engineering microbial growth colonies with applications potentially impacting the fields of medicine, bioplastics, and alternative energy development.  

Alisha Downs

Major: Liberal Studies (Quaternity)
Mentor: Dr. Patricia Catoira


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. 

Michael Fast Buffalo Horse

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

I am from Browning Montana, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, and a student in the Department of Education. After completing my undergraduate degree I plan to pursue a doctorate in history or education. My ultimate goal is to attain a faculty position in higher education.  I have been working under the guidance of my McNair mentor Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa. The focus of my research is to better understand and investigate tribal language revitalization efforts amongst the Native American populations of Montana.

Angie Ford

Major: English (Writing)
Mentor: Dr. Doug Downs

My career goal is to become a professor of rhetoric and composition, but that is just a name for my real goal: to have a chance to make the kind of difference in students’ lives that my First Year Composition professor made in mine.

Kenneth Gaskill

Majora: Animal Science
Mentor: Dr. Tom Geary

I grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana. I continuously tested the best methods to execute the work that needed to be done; my interest for research began then. In high school I completed a research project, with the help of Rachel Endecott, who is Montana State Universities’ Beef Extension Specialist. The McNair Scholarship program caught my eye and now I conduct research. My research project is “Bovine in vitro fertilization and embryo development with nano particle depleted spermatozoa.” This research is conducted at USDA LAARL Fort Koegh in Miles City, Montana under the supervision of Dr. Tom Geary, Bovine Reproductive Physiology Scientist.  

Josh Gosney

Majora: Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Jeff Heys

Joshua Gosney received his A.S. degree in economics from Flathead Valley Community College in 2010. In 2012, Mr. Gosney began his academic pursuits at Montana State University, where he is currently seeking his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. Mr. Gosney is conducting research in the computational bio-fluids laboratory under the advisement of Dr. Jeffrey Heys, and their work objective is focused around developing a targeted drug delivery system with use of Microbubble conjugates.  More specifically, Mr. Gosney is developing a computational model to predict the adhesion of microbubbles to biological targets, including biofilms on implanted devices. Mr. Gosney is a proud Native American and an Active member of the AICHE, USGBC, Sustainability committee, Leadership Institute and the Undergraduate Scholars Program. Joshua’s ultimate goal is to obtain his ph. D in chemical engineering, with a focus in Bio-medical research.

Halley Heintz

Major: Art History
Mentor: Dr. David Swingle and Deborah Taylor

I graduated in 2008 from Pine Bluffs High School in Wyoming and decided to attend Montana State University for the diversity and its prestigious Art program. I am now in my fourth year and am eager to continue towards attaining a Ph.D in Art History and eventually becoming a university professor. Deborah and Dr. Todd Larkin have been serving as my McNair mentors and guiding the direction of my summer research project. My research is focused on the 17th Century Spanish Baroque paintings of Francisco de Zurbaran and Esteban Murrilo. The goal of my research is to reveal an understanding of everyday life and religious rituals in the common household.  The conclusion will answer religious gender roles. I will be attending a National McNair research conference in Kansas City, MO in September were I will be presenting this research as part of my participation in the McNair Scholars Program at MSU.

Courtney Holland

Major: Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Phillip Sullivan

I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana. I am a senior in Cell Biology and Neuroscience with a concentration in biomedical sciences. I have a minor in Anthropology, and I am a sophomore in the Nursing degree. Before pursuing my masters, I plan to work two years as a nurse in the E.R. I aspire to get my PhD in Nursing after getting a masters in Anesethia Nursing. My current research is dealing with photoisomerizing dyes, and their use in treating Retinitis pigmentosa, a disease resulting in blindness. My research deals with testing how dyes, specifically azobenzenes, isomerize when hit with a specific wavelengths. I study how different end groups change the speed at which they isomerize and how the differing end groups affect the dyes binding ability to BSA.

Sydney Jaramillo

Major: English (Literature)
Mentor: Dr. David Swingle

My hometown is El Paso, Texas. I am a junior studying English Literature, and have minors in German Studies, History, and Museum Studies. I have always loved the work Non-Profit Organizations do and have often volunteered my time towards their efforts. After my freshman year, I learned that MSU offered a Museum Studies minor. I joined the program and now realize that my passion lies with working with museums. I am currently working with Dr. David Swingle of the Museum of the Rockies. My goal is to obtain an internship for the summer of 2014 in which I will be able to actively engage with a museum. In my free time, I enjoy reading, and relaxing with my friends. After I graduate in the spring of 2015, I intend to attend graduate school to study Museum Studies.

Jordan Kennedy

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Brown


  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society National Conference
  • 2011 MSU Student Research Celebration

I’m a sophomore in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. My McNair research is focused upon the rheological characterization of thermally reversible gels.  Specifically, I am interested with the pharmaceutical applications of these gels.  My research is a two-step process where I spent the first part of it, during the summer of 2010, focusing on developing a process for obtaining repeatable data.  The second part, which will be conducted during the summer of 2011, will be characterizing these gels with the addition of nanoparticles.  My research is conducted in the Chemical Engineering Department under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Brown. 


Arrika LaSalle

Major: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Ed Dratz

I grew up in Kalispell, and still love nothing more than trekking the beautiful landscapes that only Montanans are lucky enough to know. I am interested in engineering applications in bioremediation, biomimetics, and biomedical engineering, and I am treasurer of the Society of Women in Engineering at MSU. I research in the Biochemistry department under the guidance of Dr. Edward Dratz. His lab develops fluorescent dyes that pinpoint posttranslational modifications in proteins. These modifications result in different protein isoforms — some of which are potential disease markers. While they may be separated and visualized by 2D-PAGE, they are often present in low-abundance and samples are prone to contamination, making them difficult to recover for analysis.  My research involves the instrumentation of a device capable of repeatable and high-throughput extractions of proteins present in low-nanogram quantities.  The goal of the project is to design an automated system for enhanced protein isoform isolation and in-line analysis.

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 currently a junior 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.  While also maintaining a relationship with my fellow Native non-profit organizations with deepest acknowledgement of the hard work they put forth to their communities, so that I can better understand and address needs of Native people.    After I graduate I plan on attending graduate school for Native American Studies with the hopes of continuing my education in Federal Indian Law.

Allison Nesseth

Major: Nursing
Mentor: Dr. Laura Larsson

II was born in Michigan but have called Bozeman, Montana home for the past 15 years.  I will graduate from the College of Nursing in Spring 2014 with plans of working as a registered nurse in the ER and medical unit to build my knowledge base.  Being a strong advocate for continuing the development of the nursing profession, I plan on pursuing an advanced practice nursing degree or PhD. after two years.  My current research project is being conducted with my mentor, Dr. Laura Larsson.   We are investigating health disparities and industry thoughts on radon resistant construction practices in residential housing.  I feel nursing has a vital role in bridging the gap of many health disparities that exist in our country.  I aspire to continue with practice and research that will provide support to our rural communities here in Montana.

Molly Reed

Major: Anthropology and English (Writing)
Mentor: Dr. Laurence Carucci

I was originally raised on the western coast of Florida, but at a young age retreated out of the cancerous UV rays to the Big Sky state. It was in Montana when I was 10-years-old that I saw snow for the first time and began practicing my writing skills by attempting to describe the scenery to my Floridian family and friends. Now, as a senior at MSU in English Writing and Anthropology, I have since evolved out of juvenile nature writing into my intended career of news journalism. My current research on the effects of women in Rwanda post-genocide has allowed me to combine both of my majors into a cohesive blend of academic research and story-telling journalism. Upon graduation at MSU in the spring of 2014, I hope to attend graduate school to continue my research and writing in the professional world.

Ryan Ricci

Major: Modern Languages (Spanish)
Mentor: Dr. John Thompson and Josh Mori



Arielle Richards

Major: Exercise Science
Mentor: Dr. John Seifert

I was born and raised in Great Falls, MT.  I am proud of my Native American heritage, and couldn’t be happier to represent the first generation in my family to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in the Spring of 2014!  I am majoring in Exercise Science and am in the process of applying to physical therapy school this fall.  My research through the McNair Scholar’s Program focuses on the kinematics (i.e. velocities, spin rates, muscle movements) associated with generating a 360° rotational spin off of a terrain park jump.  During the 2012-2013 winter season, I had the opportunity to work on this research at Bridger Bowl with Dr. John Seifert, Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance at Montana State University.  The main purpose of the research was to explore the differences amongst professional, advanced, and intermediate level athletes, and to further consider differences in these factors in the athlete’s dominant and non-dominant directions of rotation.  It is important because the sport of free style skiing is growing rapidly, with children as young as 9-years old entering the scene at a professional level.  This research, then, is very important to all aspiring free style skiers, as well as coaches.

Michael Ruiz

Major: Anthropology
Mentor: Dr. Jack Fisher

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 recently traveled to the Boston-Providence metro area where I received training and certifications in Blood Stain Pattern Analysis, Distinguishing Between Human vs. Non-Human Remains, and Crime Scene Investigation involving skeletal remains. 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)

Alyssa Sandner

Major: Biotech. of Animal Systems
Mentor: Janelle Rasmussen & Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa & Dr. Michele Hardy

I was born and raised in Corte Madera, CA and I am currently a Junior majoring in Biology with a teaching option. Upon graduating from Montana State University in 2014, I hope to earn my doctorate in education with an emphasis in teaching STEM courses at the university level.  My first McNair summer project was conducted in the laboratory of my mentor Dr. Michele Hardy. We investigated the site directed mutagenesis of rotavirus NSP1 strains OSU (porcine) and W161 (human). This experiment was designed to help further understand viral interactions with immune pathways through a series of mutations.

Cheyenne Stevens

Major: Anthropology
Mentor: Dr. Tomomi Yamaguchi

I was born in Minnesota, but raised for the most part in both Red Lodge, Montana and SE Minnesota. I like to call myself a Montasotan or Minnetanan. I am a junior Anthropology major, double-minoring in Native American Studies and Museum Studies. I currently work in the Education Department of the Museum of the Rockies, where I completed my McNair internship this past summer. I was involved in a variety of museum activities from working with the Events Manager on the 2011 Wine Classic to helping in the Education Department as a camp counselor for Dino Camp for 1st and 2nd-graders. Some of my passions lie in cultural and archaeological anthropology, and I hope to continue research specifically in Native American cultures and applying that to a museum setting. I feel honored to represent McNair as a first-generation college student and plan to continue my education to inspire others to pursue education as a means of bettering themselves, their communities, and their world.

Tesha Tavary

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentors: Dr. David Dickensheets and Dr. Brock Lameres

After serving in the US Navy for six years I moved to Montana to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical engineering with a minor in electrical engineering. Currently I am working under the guidance of Dr. David Dickensheets on the viability of MEMS mirrors in the advancement of Confocal microscopy.  This process involved the fabrication of an interfacing system between the MEMS mirrors and the confocal microscope. After completing My bachelors degree I plan to work toward my masters with the ultimate goal of working in the field of renewable energy.

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 Associate 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. These changes not only impact indigenous people today, but will continue to significantly impact the health of all people and ecological systems. 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.

Martina VanHoy

Major: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Joan Broderick and Dr. Abigail Richards

I was raised in Eureka, Montana but after attending college it was Bozeman that stole my heart. It was only after returning to this valley from a semester in Kenya that I understood my true passion, to save and preserve human life. After earning my dual degree in Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering at MSU, I plan to pursue a PhD in the area of Biomedical Engineering with a focus on regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. My ambition is to conduct research that encompasses engineering human organs and contribute to the triumph of this life-saving research area. Currently, under the guidance of my laboratory mentor Dr. Joan Broderick I am studying the interactions between PFL and the Radical SAM enzyme PFL-AE. Through the study of an array of mutants we hope to elucidate the specific mechanism and residues important to the novel chemistry related to this protein-protein interaction.

Thomas Wurtz

Major: Biotechnology (Animal Systems)
Mentor: Dr. Glenn Duff

Growing up on a Hutterite colony in northern Montana provided me alot of food animal husbandry exposure. However, I was always interested in the sciences behind the husbandry methods. In 2010, I came to Montana State to study Biotechnology with a focus in Animal Systems. For my internship I studied basal metabolic rates of cattle with Dr. Duff. Currently, I am planning to obtain a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition. I would like to combine the synergy of these two degrees. My long-term focus is to use nutrition to reduce incidence of disease.