Wednesday, May 11, 2011

McNair Scholars Students Receive Awards and Visit from Program Founder Carl McNair

McNair Scholars Class of 2011 with Director Cathi Eagan (right), Dean of the University Graduate School James C. Wimbush (center, back), and Program Founder Carl McNair (center, front).
Graduating seniors in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program were honored at the Annual Graduate Student Awards Reception on April 28, 2011. Many received awards for not only their participation in this nationally recognized program, but also for their stellar academic achievements.

“It was a wonderful year,” Director Cathi Eagan said. “All of our graduating students were accepted into graduate programs, and many have received amazing funding opportunities to further their studies.”

This year graduate students Esther Uduehi and Isak Nti Asare received the McNair Scholar of the Year Award. Esther will be studying at Oxford University in England next year on a Rhodes Scholarship and Isak recently received the Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Award, funded by the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation.

The McNair Director’s Award, an award for a student who went above and beyond the guidelines of the McNair Scholars Program, went to Jaycee Bingham. Jaycee applied for the most large, external fellowships this year.

“Applying for grants like with the Ford Foundation is a huge amount of work,” Eagan said, “and Jaycee applied for five of these.”

Also attending was Carl McNair, brother of Ronald E. McNair, namesake of the program, and President of the McNair Foundation, who flew in just for the event.
“This was the same day he was supposed to fly down to see the NASA space shuttle lift off the next day. He told NASA that he had a prior commitment, so they arranged to have him fly back out the next morning at 6am so he could make it in time for the launch,” Eagan said. “That’s how dedicated he is to these students and this program.”

The goal of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program is to prepare low-income, first-generation, and minority undergraduates for graduate study at the doctoral level. The program began with 14 programs in 1987, and it now comprises 200 programs across the country and in Puerto Rico, including four McNair Programs in Indiana. McNair Scholars is part of TRIO, a group of federally-funded college opportunity programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

McNair Scholars Class of 2011

Adrienne Anderson, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology. Accepted to graduate program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Dayton with funding.

Jaycee Bigham, graduating with B.A. in Spanish and Anthropology; certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Accepted to doctoral program in Cultural Perspective and Comparative Education at the University of California Santa Barbara with funding.

Gregory Ryan Briles, graduating with a B.A. in American Studies and History minor. Plans to apply for doctoral programs in American Studies and American Culture this fall. Working with Americorp the coming year.

Robin Coleman, graduating with B.A. in African American and African Diaspora Studies and a minor in Fine Arts (Studio art with concentration in ceramics). Accepted to graduate program in Africana Studies at Cornell University with funding.

Desiree Cossyleon, Graduating with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Spanish with minors in Linguistics and Chemistry. Desiree is a Wells Scholar and a Lugar Scholar Recipient. Desiree applied and was accepted into several neuroscience graduate programs, but she decided to accept a teaching post with Teach for America. After Teach for America, Desiree will be pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience.

Magortu Emmanuel, graduating with a B.A. in Biology and African American and African Diaspora Studies with minors in Public Health and Chemistry. Accepted to the graduate program in public health at Tulane University in Louisiana.

Shannon Utam Moses, graduating with B.S. in Kinesiology and Dance with a focus in the Anthropology of Dance. Accepted into the one-year graduate program of Performance Studies , with $40,000 funding, at New York University’s Tisch School, the #1 ranked school in the world for performance studies.

Isak Nti Asare, a Wells Scholar, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and Linguistics and a minor in African Languages. Accepted to graduate program in Development Studies at the University of Oxford in England. 2011 Elvis J. Stahr Distinguished Senior Award. Finalist for the 2011 Rhodes Fellowship. Named the 2011 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship recipient (The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation), a fellowship worth $44,000/year for graduate study.

Kimberly Sanders, an Adam Herbert Presidential Scholar, is graduating with a B.A. in Sociology and African American and African Diaspora Studies. Accepted to the graduate program in African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University with funding.

Kayla Scroggins, graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in History. Accepted to the graduate program in History at the University of North Carolina Wilmington with funding.

Nathaniel Shannon, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Accepted to the doctoral program in the Cognitive Division of the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago with funding.

Nathen Steininger, graduating with a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Religious Studies, and Sociology and a minor in Psychology. Accepted to the graduate program in the School of Social Work at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Esther Uduehi, Wells Scholar, graduating with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Mathematics. Accepted to the graduate program in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford in England. While at IUB, Esther has been named a Richard G. Lugar Scholar, received the Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis Scholarship and the Elvis J. Stahr Distinguished Senior Award, and has served as Vice President of IU’s Board of Aeons. Named a 2011 Rhodes Fellow.

Alexandria White, graduating with a B.A. in Sociology. Accepted to the graduate program in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at Ball State University with funding.

Ariana Zarate, graduating with a B.S. in Public Health. Accepted to the graduate programs in public health at Indiana University Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis with funding.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

IDS: Graduate applicants level off as economy recovers

The recent economic recession increased the number of students who applied to IU graduate schools, but the continued recovery is beginning to reverse that trend.

Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2011 at 8.8 percent; down from a high of 10.1 percent in October 2009.

Some of IU’s graduate programs are beginning to show a leveling off of applicants for this year as a result.

“With the economy of 2008 and 2009, nationally more people applied — to law school — because they couldn’t get jobs and maybe if they had thought about going to law school, they accelerated their decision and applied,” Ken Turchi, assistant dean for communications and marketing for the Maurer School of Law said. “We could be seeing a reversal of that.”

To date, Maurer School of Law is on track to receive fewer applications for admission than in years past, he said.

The assistant dean of admissions at the Maurer School of Law, Frank Motley, said that while the quantity of applications went down in 2011, the quality went up. Many of the applicants had higher LSAT scores and GPAs.

A poor job market usually encourages people to return to or stay in school, Erika Lee, director of communications for the IU Graduate School said.

Because of the economic recovery currently underway, students will often return to school in order to qualify for more specialized employment, Lee said.

-- J. Edward Calabro

IU senior Isak Osagyefo Nti Asare selected for Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship

Isak Osagyefo Nti Asare

May 9, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- At just 22, recent Indiana University graduate Isak Osagyefo Nti Asare already has lived and studied in more countries than most people visit in a lifetime.

He graduated with highest distinction from IU's College of Arts and Sciences on Saturday with a Bachelor of Arts degree and majors in political science and linguistics, a minor in African languages (Swahili and Akan) and an undergraduate certificate in African Studies.

Nti Asare learned last week that he also has been selected for a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which provides funding to participants as they prepare academically and professionally to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. He will receive $40,000 for each of the two years of his graduate program, as well as stipends for participation in domestic summer internships that follow each academic year.

"Isak's biography and record of accomplishments already read like that of a distinguished ambassador, so it is fitting he has won a Pickering Fellowship," said IU Bloomington Hutton Honors College Dean Matt Auer. "Everyone at the Hutton Honors College is ecstatic for Isak."

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Nti Asare has lived and studied in Dubai and Sharjah (both in the United Arab Emirates), Estonia, Mexico, Azerbaijan and Ghana. He also speaks five languages -- one of the reasons IU has been such an ideal fit.

"I knew I wanted to do African studies, and the strength of the African languages program here was a definite plus -- the foreign languages in general at IU are impressive," Nti Asare said. "I don't know of any other school that offers as many languages, and at such a high level, as IU."

Nti Asare attended high school in Laramie, Wyo., and fell in love with the IU Bloomington campus on a senior year swimming recruiting trip.

"It was the first recruiting trip I went on, and then all the others just didn't seem right," he said. "I think Herman B Wells once said that Indiana was always a place where you could 'feel imaginative,' and that was very much the case. I came here and felt at home. I felt imaginative, like I could do anything I wanted to do here."

One of Nti Asare's mentors is Professor A.B. Assensoh, director of graduate studies and admissions for IU Bloomington's Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies. Assensoh said that along with many other faculty members, he and his wife, Office for Women's Affairs Dean Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, are very proud of "young Isak."

A.B. Assensoh impressed upon his mentee the importance of having work published.

"He took that advice so seriously that, even as an undergraduate student at Indiana University, Isak already has published no less than two review essays in refereed journals (produced by IU Press and Brill Academic Press of Europe)," Assensoh said. "(Dean Assensoh) and I expect young Isak Osagyefo Nti Asare to excel and blossom intellectually-cum-academically anywhere that he ends up for graduate or professional studies."

Within the span of this past academic year, Nti Asare acted as treasurer of the African Languages Club (he was previously the president) and was undergraduate outreach coordinator for the African Studies Program. He received the Elvis J. Stahr Distinguished Senior Award; the Outstanding Senior Award and Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement Award (both from the Department of Linguistics) and the Wendell L. Willkie Scholarship for graduating seniors in political science.

He was also named McNair Scholar of the Year, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received departmental honors from the political science and linguistics departments for his two distinct thesis projects (one for each major). He is working on A Dictionary of the Susu Language of Guinea along with recently named Beinecke Scholar Kip Hutchins and Professor Samuel G. Obeng, director of the African Studies Program.

"He's really a terrific student, leader and person who will undoubtedly go on to do many significant things beyond IU," said Assistant Professor of Political Science Lauren MacLean."Isak is not only intellectually engaged and academically serious, but he also always has a big smile for everyone he meets."

When people talk about Nti Asare, they usually mention his characteristic humility. True to form, the accomplished student said he only agreed to be interviewed to honor his faculty and fellow student mentors.

"I think a seed is only as good as the soil in which it's planted, and I guess a seed is only as good as the tree from which it came, right? Even the best of seeds and the best of soil need a really good gardener," he said.

Nti Asare said that he can look back and clearly see his growth since freshman year. Two overseas trips -- one to Ghana the summer after his freshman year at IU, and one to Tanzania last summer -- were incredible learning experiences. In Tanzania, he worked for a brief time with an NGO that helped AIDS victims.

"They were talking a lot about research and studies, which was impactful to me, because it showed that academic research and the things we're doing at universities make a big difference in the world," he said. "Our studies, our travel, our work, can have an impact. I think that's what ultimately motivated me to want to do a career in international development and international affairs."

Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law Kevin Brown said he expects that one day, Nti Asare's natural leadership abilities and his talent for inspiring confidence in others will make him a significant player in the international scene.

"Isak is more prepared than any student I have ever known to pursue academic interests in issues pertaining to indigenous politics, globalization, processes of democratization, poverty alleviation and the international political economy," Brown said. "He has lived in eight different countries on four different continents. When you talk to Isak, you know that you have met someone who is truly special and destined for future greatness.

"Frankly, in my 24 years as a professor, I have never met a student that I am more confident will play a huge part on the world's stage in tackling the world's most significant problems than Isak," he added.

Next up for Nti Asare: His June wedding to Maria Moore, whom he's known since his sophomore year of high school in Wyoming, and then deciding where to attend graduate school.

IU will always hold a special place in his heart.

"IU is an awesome place," he said. "It is the soil that brings the gardeners -- professors -- and the seeds -- students -- together. When the seed grows, he can only look back and be thankful to the environment which attributed to his growth."

Informatics student awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing Ph.D. candidate Katie O'Donnell will receive $90,000 in support over three years from the National Science Foundation toward her research on domestic technology design.
May 10, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Katie O'Donnell, a Ph.D. candidate in the human computer interaction design program at Indiana University Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship worth $90,000 over three years.

O'Donnell will research cross-cultural domestic technology design and will begin her Ph.D. program at the School of Informatics and Computing (SOIC) in the fall. O'Donnell holds a Bachelor of Science in informatics with a minor in psychology and a master's degree in Human Computer Interaction/Design from IU Bloomington.

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing Ph.D. candidate Katie O'Donnell will receive $90,000 in support over three years from the National Science Foundation toward her research on domestic technology design.

The purpose of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF's mission.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity for Katie," said IU professor Shaowen Bardzell, a faculty member in SOIC's human computer interaction design program and O'Donnell's advisor. "Even at the undergraduate and master's levels she had amassed an impressive record, and now as she enters our Ph.D. program, the sky's the limit for her."

The NSF's graduate fellowship program provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research. The competitive fellowship was awarded to 2,000 students nationwide this year, eight of them to Indiana University.

O'Donnell's research emphasis is domestic technology design. A recipient of the Computing Research Association's Multidisciplinary Research Opportunities for Women award, O'Donnell used the grant to complete her undergraduate thesis on fostering physical engagement for seniors. She has been a member of Women in Informatics and Computing for six years and has served as the communication chair for the organization for two years. She is also the Institutional Voice Chair for the Graduate Informatics Student Association and last summer O'Donnell successfully completed an internship at Oracle, researching and designing collaborative applications.

To speak with O'Donnell or for more information please contact Steve Chaplin, Office of University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or, or Lisa Herrmann, School of Informatics and Computing, at 812-855-4125 or