2023-2024 McNair Scholars 


Graduating Scholars 



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Minh Bui


Major: Communicative Sciences and Disorders, College of Communications

Mentor: Dr. Minjung Kim, Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Thesis: Lexical development in Vietnamese monolingual and bilingual children

2023 Summer Research Program: Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), Purdue University

Minh's research interest includes vocabulary development in children. Specifically, he's interested in the role that meanings have in vocabulary learning. His McNair thesis compares the preference for nouns in lexical development of English-learning, Vietnamese-learning, and Vietnamese-English bilingual children. He's also involved in a research project comparing social and cognitive processes between children in the US and China. Minh is determined to complete in doctoral training where he can continue studying language acquisition and its related disorders.



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Monique Estrada


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Melinda Blackman, Psychology

Thesis: The Effects of COVID-19 on Frontline Workers, Childcare accessibility and Workplace Productivity

2023 Summer Research Program: Academic Research Consortium (ARC), University of California, Santa Barbara

Monique is dedicated to researching equity and inclusion in organizations, particularly focusing on nontraditional workers and students, such as minority populations, women, and parents. Currently, she is engaged in a research project at UCSB, examining psychological capital among migrant workers. Her undergraduate research project also investigates the relationship between frontline workers and childcare accessibility as a mediating factor in workplace outcomes. With a keen interest in the intersection of education and organizational behavior, Monique aspires to pursue a Ph.D., emphasizing policy and program evaluation. Her academic journey is driven by her commitment to promoting fairness and inclusivity in educational and organizational settings.



Lizbeth Gonzalez


Maddy Hernandez


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Veronica Herrera, Criminal Justice

Thesis: Why Sexual Abuse Victims Do Not Disclose

Maddy is interested in violence against women and the impact culture/community has on the victimization of young girls. Long-term, she would like to research the motivation and possible reasons that cause perpetrators to abuse. She aims to earn an MD-PhD and work on the development of a new treatment program for sexual abusers, which will hopefully become a preventative solution to sexual assault. 



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Samantha Hubbard


Major: Biology, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. William Hoese, Biological Science

Thesis: Investigating Species Interactions with Desert Tortoise Burrows at Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center

2023 Summer Research Program : Ecological and Evolutionary Response to Rapid Environmental Change (EERREC), University of California, Davis

Samantha has research interests that broadly cover animal behavior as it relates to species interactions with each other as well as their environment, and how this can be used to advance conservation efforts. Her current research focuses on tortoise burrow ecology, looking into which species are using the burrows and for what purpose. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she will eventually pursue a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology.



Mykayla Miller


Mykayla Miller


Major: African American Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Thesis: Novel Therapeutic Studies of Prostate Cancer Prevention

2023 Summer Research Program: Cancer Research Education Program ( CREP), University of California, Irvine



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Annabelle Recinos


Major: Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Mentor: Dr. Pratanu Ghosh, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thesis: Computation of Corrosion Initiation Time Using High-Performance Concrete (HPC) and High-Quality Rebars

2023 Summer Research Program: Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), Purdue University




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OScar Sosa Cordova


Major: Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Mentor: Dr. Pratanu Ghosh, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thesis: Overhead Highway Infrastructure Systems and Their Impact Towards Transportation

2023 Summer Research Program: Viterbi Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), University of Southern California










Current Scholars



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Georget Ammari


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Ella Ben Hagai, Psychology

Thesis: How Sexualized Representation Online Effects Self-Objectification Among Latina Students

My research interests aim to investigate how digital media and interactions on social networking sites can impact individual attitudes, online/offline behaviors, and overall mental health. I am additionally interested in how intersectional identities such as sexuality, gender identity, and ethnicity interact in digital spaces via online communities. Currently, I am designing and experimenting with my thesis under Dr. Ella Ben Hagai. I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in either Social Psychology or Communications to further my investigation into the psychosocial effects of digital media.






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Noah balderrama


Major: Sociology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Anthony Alvarez, Sociology

Thesis: Neighborhood Selection Processes and Housing Patterns of the LGBTQ Community in Southern California

2023 Summer Research Program Name : Summer Training Academy for Research Success, University of California, San Diego

My area of research revolves around LGBTQ residential migration, placemaking, social inequalities, and socio-spatial belongingness. I am currently conducting a qualitative research study in Southern California, under the guidance of Dr. Anthony Alvarez, to understand the neighborhood selection processes and housing patterns within the LGBTQ community. My aim is to gain insights into how LGBTQ individuals make choices about the place they move to with the decline of traditional gay neighborhoods. Additionally, I am also conducting research under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Gibson, using surveys to explore the connection between an area's political ideology and LGBTQ individuals' perceptions of safe neighborhoods while thinking of places to live. I am seeking a graduate program that will support my research in exploring the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals at the intersection of environmental exposure and social inequalities.



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Fatima Campos


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. James Garcia, Psychology 

Thesis: Immigration and Mental Health in Latina/o/e/x persons

2023 Summer Research Program Name: Summer Undergraduate Research Academy (SUReA), CSUF

I have an interest for researching mental health disparities and examining how discrimination impacts the well-being of immigrant populations, the Latinx community, and LGBTQ+ individuals. My goal is to advocate for increased inclusivity in mental and physical healthcare and to reduce the stigma within mental health. Currently, I am actively engaged in research at the Psychophysiology and Social Interactions Laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Garcia. Additionally, I serve as a student researcher at the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership (C-REAL) under programs such as North Orange County Allied and other Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP). In the future, I aspire to pursue a Ph.D. program in psychology, with a particular interest in the fields of social psychology, developmental psychology, or clinical psychology.


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Oscar Diaz


Major: Human Services with Mental Health concentration , College of Health and Human Development

Mentor: Dr. Joe Albert Garcia, Human Services

Thesis: How Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) affected the growth and development of Children of Deaf Adults (CODA’s)

My research will include how children born to Deaf parents deal with the extremity of adverse childhood experiences. This information will allow us to see how cognitive and physical development is vastly different than children in an ordinary household with hearing parents. I am looking to do my graduate work in either sociology or psychology. I currently have multiple research interests and all include working within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.





Liz Flores


R. Elizabeth Flores


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Susan Sy, Psychology

Thesis: There is Hope for First-Generation College Students

2021 Summer Research Program: Mentoring Summer Research Internship Program, UC Riverside Liz's research interests include Learning and Memory, specifically pertaining to student success in higher education. Her educational goals are to obtain a Ph.D. in Psychology and to become a professor. She hopes to uncover ways to improve equity and access for undeserved populations within higher education. Prior to attending CSUF, Liz attended Cerritos Community College where she graduated with Honors and two Associates degrees in her field.



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Thomas Fulkerson


Major: Philosophy and English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Matthew Calarco, Philosophy

Thesis: The Outrage Machine: How Cycles of Anger and Fear Grow, Reproduce, and Spread

I am a non-traditional transfer student here at CSUF, currently in my fourth year. I am interested in social philosophy, Queer theory, epistemology, ethics, media studies, and comparative literature. Right now, in addition to my McNair Thesis project, which focuses on social discourse and the forces that influence it, I will be working on a study of non-binary gender identity through the lens of the concept of no-self. Ideally, I would love to work in a graduate program that not only strengthens the foundational skills I need for philosophical scholarship, but which also facilitates the interdisciplinary approach I have been developing. Philosophy and English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences



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Kathy Lai


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor : Dr. Jessie Peissig, Psychology

Thesis: Research area focused on perception in cognitive psychology

My research interests lie in quantitative psychology and cognitive psychology, with a specific focus on statistical analysis. I am currently working as a research assistant in a cognitive psychology lab, focusing on a research project centered around predictive processing. My ultimate goal is to attend a Ph.D. program renowned for its expertise in statistical psychology, where I can further develop my skills and contribute significantly to the field.




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Jasmine Lars


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor : Dr. Laura Zettle-Watson, Psychology

Thesis: Black Maternal Health

Hello, I am interested in researching about Black Maternal Health. In specifically, how does racism and discrimination impact Black Women pre and post birth. I am deciding between going to a graduate program for Social Work or Psychology.



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Pauline Lim


Major: Public Health, College of Health and Human Development

Mentor: Dr. Bo Park, Public Health

Thesis:  Examine the relationship between mothers residing in areas with high numbers of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) is predictive of their pregnancy outcomes

2023 Summer Research Program: Leveraging Interdisciplinary Nutritional Knowledge (LINK), California State University, Long Beach - California State University, Fullerton

My research interests is in environmental exposure, occupational health, maternal health. I am currently doing research with Dr. Park in her PEEAS (Perinatal Environmental Exposure Awareness Study) lab that looks into concentrated animal feeding operations and its relationship on maternal health and pregnancy outcomes. I am looking into pursuing a Ph.D. in Epidemiology to better understand the impact of the different environmental exposure to workers and population's health specifically in mothers and children.


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Gildardo limon


Major: Biology (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Danielle Zacherl, Biological Science

Thesis: Least Tern Nesting Habits and Oyster Shell Use

2023 Summer Research Program Name : Summer Marine Ecology Research Fellowship (SMERF), California State University, Fullerton



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Sebastian Lopez-Padilla


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Ella Ben Hagai, Psychology 

Thesis: First-Generation Latinx College Students Formation of the American Dream

My research interests involve Latinx identity resulting from resource inequalities and group formation. Additionally I am interested in educational barriers widening the degree gap for Latinx college students and the impact of acculturation on first generation college students who have immigrant parents and were born in the United States. Currently I am assisting in a comparative study of Asian Americans and Latinx students critical consciousness in order to understand support for BLM. Other research I have assisted with involves American Jews who have lived in Israel and the dissonance they experience due to the bridged experiences of privilege and violence under Dr. Ella Ben Hagai. The ideal Social Psychology PhD program has researchers focused on social justice psychology specifically working on Latinx equity issues.



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Vanessa Monterrosa


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Lucia Alcala, Psychology

Thesis: Parenting Styles and Emotional Development

2023 Summer Research Program : Diet, Stress, and Health (DiSH) Lab, University of California, Los Angeles

I’m interested in researching parenting beliefs/ styles and children’s emotional development. I would like to get into a Ph.D program with a discipline in Developmental Psychology.




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Paulina Ortega


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Mentor: Dr. Ella Ben Hagai, Pyschology

Thesis: Understanding Emerging Adult Latina Women's Perceptions of Mental Health

2023 Summer Research Program: Inclusive Excellence Summer Research Experience, University of California, Berkeley

My research interests include examining coping strategies and resilience within the Latine community, with a focus on advancing culturally aware treatment and intervention approaches. I am also interested in research on anxiety and depression. Working under the direction of Dr. Sheri L. Johnson at UC Berkeley, I am currently a research assistant for the Calm Program's Healthy Lifestyles project. The project involves examining the impact of healthy eating and improving sleep for those with Bipolar Disorder and sleep problems. At CSUF, I am conducting interviews for my thesis project and working as a lab manager for Dr. Ella Ben Hagai. I aim to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.



Keyla Sanchez


Guadalupe Rodriguez


Major: Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

Mentor: Dr. Adam Roberts, Psychology

Thesis: Deformities in Zebrafish Exposed to Valproic Acid

2023 Summer Research Program Name : Summer Training Academy for Research Success, University of California, San Diego








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Liam Ryals


Major: Biochemistry, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Mentor: Dr. Andrew Petit, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Thesis: Photochemical Properties of Photobases






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Sandra Salas


Major: Child & Adolescent Development, College of Health and Human Development

Mentor: Dr. Katherine Bono, Child & Adolescent Studies

Thesis: Examining the Relationship between Major Family Life Events, and Children's Executive Functioning and Behavior.

2023 Summer Research Program : Academic Research Consortium (ARC), University of California, Santa Barbara

My area of research focuses on utilizing fundamental techniques in biology to investigate the neurobiology of addiction-related behaviors. Through this exploration, my objective is to pinpoint particular proteins that play a role in the development of addiction, and that may enhance addiction resiliency. As part of the Resilience Families Program at CSUF, I am researching the potential impact of major life events on children's executive functioning and behavior. My ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience, focusing on addiction and drug abuse research.