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McNair Scholars Program

2019 Scholar Profiles

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Juantario Badon

Juantario Badon is from Summit, Mississippi. Currently, he is working towards a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is also involved in Dr. Don Sacco’s lab. He was involved in data collection of two experiments so far and is in preparations for running his own experiments in Dr. Sacco's lab. Further, he is experienced working as an assistant to Chairman Dr. Olmi in the psychology department at the University of Southern Mississippi. 


Chandler Bell

Noel "Chandler" Bell was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He received an associate of science degree in engineering from Jones College in 2017 and is now a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi. He has worked as a research assistant in the Azoulay Research Group at the University of Southern Mississippi since February of 2018. He is a McNair Scholar and a coauthor on two research papers, “Practical Approach to Functionalized Conjugated Polymers and Polyelectrolytes via Thiol-ene “Click” Chemistry” and “Synthesis and Characterization of Functionalized Conjugated Polymers via Thiol-ene “Click” Post Modification for Teaching Laboratories,” which are both currently in the publishing process.

"With a Ph.D., I will be able to make an impact on science by being at the forefront of scientific research on controlled drug delivery."   

Nakita Davis 

Nakita Davis is from Meridian, Mississippi and graduated from Meridian High School. At The University of Southern Mississippi, Nakita is a junior Psychology major with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is currently the assistant treasurer, fundraising chair, and graphic designer for the Iota Kappa Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Nakita is also an active member of I.D.E.A.L Women, Student Alumni Association, and the Psychology Club. She is also a 2018-2019 McNair Scholars recipient and a new member of the Behavior and Alcohol Research Lab. After graduation, Nakita plans to obtain her Masters in Counseling Psychology and then working towards her doctoral degree. 

"I wish to bring contributions to my field by providing ideas and research from areas that people have not thought about but are concerning issues that need addressing in the legal system."


Clara Ellis

Clara Ellis was born in Washington in 1998 and has lived in Germany, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Mississippi where she currently resides. She is a sophomore working towards a BS degree in ACS Certified Chemistry at The University of Southern Mississippi while performing research in an organic synthesis lab. Ellis currently has a scientific publication in The Journal of Physical Chemistry and is helping perform research and write manuscripts for publications in organic chemistry journals.

"I wish to make contributions in the field of organic drug synthesis which will make pharmaceutical drugs easier, cheaper, and less time consuming to make. This will enable those who are less well off or who do not have drug treatments to combat their illnesses at the present time able to stand a fighting chance against the diseases that they face."


YaVonna Norris

YaVonna Norris is from Meridian, Mississippi. She is currently a junior pursuing a BS in Psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi. She is interested in doing research on what factors can help parents improve their skills for better behavioral outcomes in their children. Norris is a recent graduate from East Central Community College. She is a member of Psychology Club and Transfer Student Association. She also intends to earn a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and plans to become a Pediatric Psychologist.

"I am set on being able to make a difference in a student's life."

Victoria O’Quin

Victoria O’Quin is an undergraduate music education major attending The University of Southern Mississippi. She graduated Enterprise High School with high honors in 2014 and graduated with her Associates from Jones College in 2016, where she was a Phi Theta Kappa and high honors student. After receiving her bachelor's, Victoria plans on attending either Florida State University or Colorado Boulder where she will pursue a double master’s in flute performance and conducting.

Every obstacle becomes an opportunity."




Markelia Roberson

Markelia Roberson

Markelia Roberson is a native of Moss Point, Mississippi, majoring in Mass Communication. During her time in the McNair Scholars Program, she researched Images and Portrayals of African Americans on Social Media and News Outlets with the guidance of her mentor Dr. Lindsey Maxwell. During Markelia’s spare time, she enjoys cooking, exercising, shopping and going to the spa.

Rachel Shambry

Rachel Shambry is a twenty-year-old undergraduate from Pheba, Mississippi. She attends The University of Southern Mississippi where she pursues a bachelor’s in Biological Science with a Pre-Medical emphasis and a minor in Chemistry. Along with her studies, she recently shadowed Dr. Josh Blair, a cardiologist from Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and has been accepted into the McNair Scholars Program. Her current research interests include cardiovascular anatomy, physiology, and the study of disease prognosis.

"My motivation for pursuing a doctoral degree is to completely understand the research behind cardiac disease and what methods are used to treat cardiac patients. The contributions I wish to make to pediatric cardiology is to increase the lifespan of cardiac patients by researching cardiac devices, such as pacemakers, and expanding their battery life, so patients can have fewer surgeries."


Roshanna Stallings

Roshanna Stallings

Roshanna Stallings is a native of Columbus, Mississippi, majoring in Biological Science with an emphasis in Biomedical Science and minor in Chemistry. As she reflects on her journey, she gives credit to the university and the people who have supported her along her journey and have helped mold her into the person she is today. In the fall, Roshanna plans to attend University of Southern Mississippi’s Master of Public Heath (Health Policy and Administration). One of her future endeavors includes working as a Health Executive for a federal government agency.

 Alec Weary

Alec Weary

Alec is a twenty-one-year-old undergraduate from Tylertown, MS. She is currently a senior at The University of Southern Mississippi, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in General Biology. Alec will also be the first out of her parents and sibling to graduate with her bachelor’s degree. Once Alec graduates in the Spring of 2020, she is interested in becoming a Physician Assistant. She also has the desire to work under an obstetrics-gynecologist.


“I am a firm believer that faith without works is dead.”


 Michael  Wilson

Michael Wilson

Michael Isaiah Wilson is the son of Letizia Conerly and Michael Guy Wilson. He enjoys singing, acting, hanging out with his friends, and helping others that are in need. In May 2016, he graduated from North Pike High School. Michael received his Associate’s Degree in General Studies in May 2018 from Southwest Mississippi Community College. Upon graduating from SMCC, Michael attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earns his Bachelor of Science emphasizing in Microbiology. Michael plans to attend graduate school to earn his master’s and then attend Medical School at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He is an active member of Southern Miss Men, Housing and Residence Life Student Conduct Board, and recently got accepted for a Resident Assistant position for Residence Life. On Fridays, he volunteers at Forrest General Hospital in the ambassador program.

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