Sonoma State’s McNair Scholars launched into competitive academic programs

Underrepresented student acceptances into postgraduate studies, summer research and institutes announced
May 21, 2024
Group at conference
McNair Scholars group

McNair Scholars Group (click to see entire photo)

Students with poster and certificate
McNair Scholar Serena Chan
Group at conference
McNair Scholars group
Students with poster and certificate
McNair Scholar Serena Chan

Sonoma State McNair Scholars earning bachelor’s degrees this month are heading to doctoral programs at Columbia University and the University of Texas at Austin, among others, and to master’s programs across the country.

Placements for SSU juniors in the program include the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) at Brown University, the Amgen Scholars Program with Stanford’s Summer Research Program, and a variety of field-related research initiatives. 

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society. At Sonoma State, 27 students per academic year are given opportunities to conduct faculty-mentored research, travel, and get support in applying to graduate schools. 

“I’ve started to learn what it means to be a scholar,” said Ismael Lopez, a first-generation student who will be studying for a Ph.D. in sociology at UT Austin. He said he’s been able to conduct his own research project and contribute to others, and was asked to present at regional sociological conferences in Washington, D.C. and San Diego.

“We are so proud of what these students have been able to achieve, and commend the faculty who have mentored and connected them to opportunities all along the way,” said Daniel Malpica, Director of the McNair Scholars Program at Sonoma State.

“The drive and outstanding performance of these scholars has led to their acceptances to extremely competitive graduate and research programs,” he said.

McNair Scholars have chosen the following programs for graduate study and undergraduate research experiences: 

Doctoral Studies

  • Lily Harmon, Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Ismael Lopez, Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

  • Serena Pen, Biological Sciences, Columbia University

  • Christian Quintero, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Davis

  • Alexa Rayas, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Master’s Studies

  • Matthew Bivens-Sommerville, Master of Arts in Gender, Race, and Identity, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Bryan Carreto Colorado, Master of Arts in Industrial Organizational Psychology, San Jose State University

  • Jordan David, Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri

  • Shane Vistalli-Alvarado, Master of Science in Biological Sciences, Dominican University

  • Daniel Voisine, Master of Education in Urban Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Research Experiences for McNair Scholar Juniors

  • Amgen Scholars Program, Stanford Summer Research Program
    Alejandra Johnson
  • Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) at Brown University 
    Andres Castellanos and Bryce Iverson 
  • Summer Opportunities in Agriculture Research and the Environment: Strategic Work in Applied Geosciences at the University of Maryland 
    Edgar Munoz Corona 
  • MESA Fellows Summer Undergraduate Research
    Jared Iverson and Faviola Sanchez
  • SSU McNair Summer Research Initiative
    Joselyn Serrano Gutierrez
    Vanessa Sanchez 
    Nicolina Sandoval
  • SSU Social Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative
    Vivian Miramontes
    Fernando Pimentel
    T.J. Sims

McNair Scholar Faculty Mentors

Dr. Emily Asencio

Dr. Sandra Ayala

Dr. Alexis Boutin

Dr. Matthew Callahan

Dr. Kyla Doughty

Dr. Steven Farmer

Dr. Ben Ford

Dr. Lisa Hua

Dr. Joseph Lin

Dr. Andy Martinez

Dr. James Mestaz

Dr. Bogdan Negru

Dr. Teresa Nguyen

Dr. Omayra Ortega

Dr. Nathan Rank

Dr. Heather Smith

Dr. Elisa Velasquez

Dr. Natalia Villanueva-Nieves


Media Contact

Janet Durkin