McNair Scholars

Symposium Schedule & Session Descriptions

The Symposium will commence on Monday, April 18 at 11:30 am and end on Wednesday, April 20 at 4 pm. Tuesday, April 19 is dedicated to research presentations.

Our schedule features keynote speakers, social networking events, concurrent workshops and sessions, panel discussions amongst faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate leaders, and TWO graduate fairs! Concurrent sessions are aligned along three tracks:

Track A: Exploring Research & Graduate School – Concurrent sessions for those who are early in their exploration of research and graduate school and want basic primers about what the value of research and graduate study and how to get involved.

Track B: Committed to Research & Graduate School – Concurrent sessions for those who know they love research and are applying / going to graduate school and want more detailed info about how to expand their research and prepare for being a graduate student.

Track C: Leadership & Advocacy – Concurrent sessions for those who are leaders and activists and want to know how they can grow and develop their advocacy and its impact.

Download the PDF of our program here or click through below to explore our symposium offerings.

Day 1 – Monday, April 18, 2022

11:30 am - 1 pm - Denny Room, Oak Hall

Welcome Lunch & Keynote Address: Dr. Megan Ybarra

11:30 am – Lunch

Chicken Picatta, Penne alla Vodka, Antipasto, Salad, Rolls, and Tiramisu. For those who are vegan and gluten free, the meal will be Roasted Zucchini Stuffed With Chickpeas and Chia Pudding.

11:50 am – Welcome: Rickey Hall, VP Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, University Diversity Office, University of Washington

Welcome to the first day of the Gabriel E. Gallardo Research, Student Leadership & Advocacy Symposium! In our Welcome Lunch Proceedings, Rickey Hall, Vice President of the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity and University Diversity Officer, kicks us off and gives tribute to the namesake of our Symposium, Dr. Gabriel E. Gallardo.

12 pm – Keynote Address: Megan Ybarra, Phd

Join our Keynote Megan Ybarra, PhD, as she gives our first keynote address drawing from her scholarship and professional endeavors to promote environmental justice and abolition. See her keynote speaker biography to find out more!

1 - 4 pm - Alder Hall Commons

National Graduate School Fair

Session Description:

Come to our graduate school fair featuring recruiters from 17 graduate programs and institutions across the country: Arizona State University; Boston University; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; George Washington University, Georgia Institute of Technology; Northwestern University; NYU; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rush University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Boulder, University of Pittsburgh, USC, and UT Austin. See the program for more details!

1:30 - 2:20 pm - Alder Hall

1A Building Mentoring Relationships - Alder 106

Workshop Facilitator:

Nate Panelo, Assistant Director, Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Community Center

Session Description:

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and as a student, you want to fill your village up with as many mentors as possible. Join this session to learn how you can build positive mentoring relationships with your teachers, your bosses, and really anyone you meet who you think you can learn from. How do you ask someone to be your mentor, what can you expect from a mentor, and what might they expect from you as a mentee? Find out in this workshop!

1B Funding Graduate School - Alder 107

Workshop Facilitator:

Robin Chang, Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Session Description:

Grad school doesn’t have to mean enormous debt! Find out how to find that $$$ to pay for grad school and move you toward your career goals. Learn about various funding sources, from fellowships that fund you and your research projects to scholarships that support you in extending your studies/research/other work internationally (and more).

1C Self-Care & Community-Care: Compassion Fatigue & Trauma Stewardship - Alder 103

Workshop Facilitator:

Dr. Natacha Foo Kune, Director, Counseling Center

Session Description:

This session is to explore how first-gen and other marginalized communities cope when facing additional challenges in a higher education setting. At times, it can be hard to stay compassionate towards others and towards ourselves. In a white supremacist system, the answer has been to focus on self-care, and we will talk about ways to do that. We also will dream a bit about ways to draw on collectivistic values to start envisioning what community care can look like.

2:30 - 3:20 pm - Alder Hall

2A CV / Resume Writing - Alder 106

Workshop Facilitator:

Meaghan Wood, Career Coach, Career & Internship Center

Session Description:

How do you highlight your relevant strengths and experiences in a resume and/or CV? Come to this writing workshop to find out how to write, structure, and format your resume and/or CV, and get feedback on your resume and/or CV draft.

2B Communication Tool Kit for Grad School & Beyond - Alder 107

Workshop Facilitator:

Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo, Public Speaking Consultant & Instructor, American Ethnic Studies

Session Description:

Learn the 3 most important skills for professional communication: 1. Addressing speech anxiety, 2. Introducing yourself, 3. Building your network. This interactive workshop will arm participants with the tools needed to communicate effectively in graduate school and beyond. Topics include projection, the perfect handshake, using business cards, and LinkedIn. Attendees will be prepared for tough questions like “Tell us about yourself,” and receive advice on cultivating and embracing your professional personae in person and online.

2C How to Feel Good as Hell: I Am My Own Inspiration - Alder 103

Workshop Facilitators:

Mellanie Rhae Tanada, Assistant Director of Career Services, UW Evans School of Public Policy

Carol Dinh, Associate Director of Recruitment & Outreach, School of Social Work

Session Description:

How do you view yourself? How does society, your peers, or your community view you? Does it even matter? How do expectations influence your self-understanding, your passions, your purpose? Join us for an interactive leadership workshop grounded in reflection, manifestation, abundance, and fulfillment. This workshop is best for those who are ready and willing to cultivate their self-awareness.

3:30 - 4:45 pm - Alder Hall

3A The Research Journey: A Conversation With Undergraduate Research Leaders - Alder 106

Panelists & Moderator:

Joia Zhang, Statistics NSF-REU, UNC Greensboro; Isabelle Young, Maves Lab, Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Abigail Heath, American Ethnic Studies; Brandon Sim, Gordon Lab, Biophysics & Wiggins Lab, Physics; Rodrigo Gallardo, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Tracy Nyerges, Moderator, Acting Associate Director, Undergraduate Research Program

Session Description:

Join the UW Undergraduate Research Program (URP) and Undergraduate Research Leaders (URLs) to hear about the undergraduate researcher experience. URLs are UW undergraduate researchers that lead student outreach activities across campus to help other students learn how and why to get involved in undergraduate research. The highlight of this session will be a panel of URLs from a variety of fields, who will share their journeys into research and reveal how undergraduate research has impacted their undergraduate careers and beyond. URLs and URP staff will also answer your questions about undergraduate research involvement and how to begin and advance in undergraduate research. Students from all years, majors, and institutions are welcome and encouraged to attend this interactive undergraduate researcher panel!

3B Unlocking Your Winning Combination: Not Your Typical Imposter Syndrome Session - Alder 107

Panelists & Moderator:

Dr. Alexander R. Paredez, Associate Professor, Biology; Dr. Alina R. Méndez, Assistant Professor, American Ethnic Studies; Jelani I. Ince, Assistant Professor, Sociology; Dr. Tam’ra-Kay Francis (moderator), Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry

Session Description:

Feeling excited or anxious about taking the next step? Are you still wondering how you are going to put it all together? Join us for this interactive session as we discuss the many ways imposter syndrome can manifest in your grad school journey (application, interviews, research experiences, fellowships, etc.) and professional life. Come and hear from our wonderful faculty as they share their experiences with imposter syndrome (past and present) and the ways they’ve confronted and reframed that negative self-talk. More importantly, we want to share strategies and resources for continued professional growth so that you can leave this symposium with the right combination of tools for your success.

3C Student Leadership Panel - Alder 103

Panelists & Moderator:

Vicente Arroyos, Co-Founder, AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access); Kyle Johnson, Co-Founder, AVELA (A Vision for Electronic Literacy & Access) & Co-Founder, Black Graduate Student Association; Tori Satterfield, Community Accountability Council, Solid Ground; Kiana Reynolds, President, Black Student Union; Najma Abdi, Students of Color for Public Health & UW Mutual Aid; Cicero Delfin (Moderator), Associate Director of the UW Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Community Center

Session Description:

Students are often underestimated because of their positionality within power structures, and yet many institutions and norms have fallen or changed in response to student-led activism. Join this panel discussion to hear from undergraduate leaders about their experiences in leadership, advocacy, and marshalling community power, and how that work aligns with their academic interests and purpose.

5 - 7:30 pm - Burke Museum

Night at the Museum!


Enjoy incredible natural history exhibits and light food and refreshment while you network with graduate students and your fellow GEG Symposium attendees!

Day 2 – Tuesday, April 19, 2022

8:30 - 10 am - Denny Room, Oak Hall

Breakfast & Keynote Address: Jude Tunyi

8:30 am – Waffle Breakfast

We will be having waffles with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and chicken-apple sausages for breakfast. There will be vegan / gluten-free options available.

8:45 am – Welcome: Kristian Wiles, Associate VP of Student Success, University of Washington

9 am: Keynote Address: Jude Tunyi, MD-DPhil Student

Join us on the second day of the GEG Symposium for a brief breakfast welcome by Kristian Wiles, Associate VP of Student Success at the UW. He will be followed by our second keynote speaker, Jude Tunyi, as he shares with us his experiences pursuing an MD-DPhil, studying and research abroad as a Fulbright Scholar, and advocating for educational access and equity within STEM. See his keynote speaker biography for more information!

10:30 am - 12 pm - Alder Hall

Session 1 Oral Presentations

1A: COVID-19 Studies – Alder 103

1B: Life & Physical Sciences – Alder 105

1C: Public Health – Alder 106

1D: Psychology I – Alder 107

Check out Oral Presentation Abstracts & Schedule for the full breakdown of presentations within each session.

12 - 1 pm - Local Point, Lander Hall or any UW Dining Establishment

Lunch on Your Own

Use your meal card at the various eateries at Local Point in Lander Hall, right next door to Alder, or at any UW dining establishment for lunch on your own or with new friends that you have made at the GEG Symposium. Check out the Dining Locations page for details of what’s available!

1 - 3 pm - Alder Hall Commons

Poster Presentation Session

Check out our 40 poster presentations spanning the following categories:

Education, Humanities & Legal Studies

Social & Behavioral Sciences


Environmental Science & Ecology

Biomedical Sciences, Bioengineering & Biophysics

Microbiology & Molecular & Cellular Biology

Engineering & Computer Science

Check out the Poster Presentation Abstracts & Schedule for the full breakdown of presentations within each category.

3:30 - 5 pm - Alder Hall

Session 2 Oral Presentations

2A: COVID-19 & Education – Alder 103

2B: Biomedical Sciences – Alder 105

2C: Humanities & Linguistics – Alder 106

2D: Psychology II – Alder 107

Check out Oral Presentation Abstracts & Schedule for the full breakdown of presentations within each session.

5:30 - 7 pm - Husky Union Building Games Room

Pizza & Games Night

Unwind after all the hard work you put into your research presentations! Eat pizza, bowl, shoot pool, and play board and video games with your fellow GEG Symposium attendees.

Day 3 – Wednesday, April 20, 2022

8:30 - 10 am - Denny Room, Oak Hall

Welcome Breakfast & Keynote Address: Dr. Theresa Rocha Beardall

8:30 am – Breakfast

Scrambled Eggs, Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage Links, Bacon, Greek Yogurt and Fruit. There will be vegan / gluten-free options available.

9 am – Keynote Address: Theresa Rocha Beardall, JD, PhD

Join us for breakfast in closing out the last day of the GEG Symposium with our third and final keynote speaker, Theresa Rocha Beardall, JD, PhD. Dr. Rocha Beardall will be speaking on her work and research to critique and dismantle systems of state violence and their disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities, particularly American Indians. See her keynote speaker biography for more information!

10:30 am - 1 pm - Alder Hall Commons

UW Graduate School Fair

Session Description:

Come to our graduate school fair featuring recruiters from 28 UW graduate programs: Applied Mathematics; Bioengineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering; College of Education; College of the Environment; Construction Management; Electrical & Computer Engineering; Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences; Foster School of Business; Health Systems & Population Health; Human Centered Design & Engineering; iSchool Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access & Sovereignty; Materials Science & Engineering; MEDEX Northwest; Mechanical Engineering; Microbiology; Molecular & Cellular Biology; Molecular Engineering; Molecular Medicine & Mechanisms of Disease; Neuroscience; Nursing School; Physics; Public Health; Pharmacy; Social Work; STEM Graduate Programs, UW Bothell; Education, UW Tacoma; and Urban Studies, UW Tacoma.

See the program for more details!

10:30 - 11:20 am - Alder Hall

4A What is Graduate School? - Alder 106

Workshop Facilitators:

Ashley R. Townes, Fisheries Ecologist, International Environmental Researcher and Environmental Justice Advocate with ART & Eco Research Collab LLC & McNair Graduate Student Advisor

Session Description:

Thinking about grad school might inspire many questions: What is graduate school and why might I want to do it? What is the difference between a PhD, a Master’s degree, and a professional degree? How can grad school help me meet my career goals and aspirations? Is grad school always $$$ ? Do you have to want to be a professor to get a graduate degree? Come to this session to get introduced to the idea of grad school and see if it’s a pathway you want to explore!

4B Graduate Student Panel - Alder 107


Jordan Drew, PhD Candidate, Electrical Engineering & GO-MAP Ronald E. McNair Fellow; Nicole Kuhn, PhD Student, iSchool, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow & NSF Graduate Research Fellow; Quynh Do, PhD Candidate, Medicinal Chemistry; Meshell Sturgis, PhD Candidate, Communications & VP of Equity and Inclusion for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate; Cristian Ovadiuc, MS Student, Genetic Epidemiology

Session Description:

Learn from current graduate students about what it’s like to be in graduate school. How is it different academically from undergraduate studies? How do you pay for grad school? What are some of the challenges to being in graduate school, and how do you manage or face those challenges, whether that is Imposter Syndrome and academic stresses or moving and trying to build new communities of support? What are the unique opportunities or experiences available in graduate studies that they’re grateful to have had? There will also be an opportunity for an open forum for you to ask whatever questions you might want to know from our panelists!

4C Leadership & Resilience - Alder 103

Workshop Facilitator:

Sasha Duttchoudhury, Graduate Student Assistant at the Resilience Lab, MSW Student with the School of Social Work & Intern Therapist at MEND Seattle

Session Description:

Equitable and sustainable leadership requires compassion and mindfulness, directed toward yourself and those you lead. Join us for a discussion with the UW Resilience Lab focused on how leaders can cultivate compassion and mindfulness as part of leadership practice and the role of well-being in leadership.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Alder Hall

5A Planning for Graduate School - Alder 106

Workshop Facilitators:

Michele Cadigan, PhD Candidate in Sociology & McNair Graduate Student Advisor

Session Description:

How do you become a competitive graduate program applicant? This workshop will cover some of the basics including how to find a program that fits with your goals and research interests, common pitfalls of applications, and how to keep track of everything.

5B The Nature of Research & Normalizing Failure - Alder 107

Panelists & Moderator:

Dr. Ayokunle Olanrewaju, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering & Bioengineering; Alexandria Gabrielle Rios, BS in Biomedical Sciences; Chardonnay Beaver, Interrupting Privilege Research Group; Tiara Schwarze-Taufiq, Young Lab, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine; and Dr. Janice DeCosmo (Moderator), Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research & Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Session Description:

As researchers strive to do new things and solve problems, they often encounter setbacks. Whether designing a new experimental method, writing a proposal, or testing a hypothesis, research doesn’t always go as planned! Faculty and students share how they “failed forward” to turn failure into the development of new ideas, approaches and questions
to advance their research.

5C Self-Care & Reflection as a Means of Resistance - Alder 103

Workshop Facilitator:

Dylan Tran, Community Impact Fellow, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation

Workshop Description:

Organizing work can be challenging, chaotic, and complex. In a time of significant uncertainty and pain in our communities, how can we prioritize self-care and reflection as a means of resistance? How can we inspire others and dream of a new world if we are still seeking inspiration ourselves? As Audre Lorde says, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” This workshop is a time to honor that teaching, reflect on our individual stories, and remind ourselves about what keeps us rooted in the work to better our communities and each other.

12:30 - 1:30 pm - Local Point, Lander Hall or any UW Dining Establishment

Lunch on Your Own

Use your meal card at the various eateries at Local Point in Lander Hall, right next door to Alder, or at any UW dining establishment for lunch on your own or with new friends that you have made at the GEG Symposium. Check out the Dining Locations page for details of what’s available!

1:30 - 2:45 pm - Alder Hall

6A Professionals Panel - Alder 107

Panelists & Moderator:

Dalya Perez, PhD, Senior Program Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality; Tracy Hilliard, PhD, MPH, Director, MPHI Center for Culturally Responsive Engagement & the MPHI Seattle Office; Michelle O’Brien, PhD, Research Scientist, Family Planning Gates Foundation; Anthony Gasca, Structural Engineer Parsons; Jon Olivera (Moderator), Assistant Director Educational Opportunity Program

Panel Description:

Interested in grad school, but no interest in teaching? No problem! Many other careers are available to those with a graduate degree besides being a professor. Learn from our panelists how they apply their education to work outside academia.

6B Application Essay Writing - Alder 106

Workshop Facilitators

Dr. Leah Spence, Writing Instructor, TRIO-SSS

Mariela Galvan, Academic Advisor, TRIO-SSS

Session Description:

How does the grad school personal statement differ from undergrad? How can you appeal to application readers? What content should you focus on and what should you avoid? How can you use stories to demonstrate your fitness for graduate study in your desired field? Join us for a focused and interactive session where you can share ideas, ask questions, and take away valuable writing inspiration.

6C Elevate Your Impact Via Social Media - Alder 103

Workshop Facilitators:

Ashley R. Townes, Fisheries Ecologist, International Environmental Researcher and Environmental Justice Advocate with ART & Eco Research Collab LLC & McNair Graduate Student Advisor

Michele Cadigan, PhD Candidate in Sociology & McNair Graduate Student Advisor

Session Description:

Professional activities are increasingly transitioning to virtual platforms, making your virtual presence even as a student more important than ever. It’s easy—and often routine—for students, professors, educators, scientists, and, most importantly, future employers to check out a student’s social media activity to get information about them. Although social media was once reserved solely for “socializing” and “connecting” with friends, it’s now become a platform for professional networking and communicating your professional identity to external audiences. Therefore, it’s crucial that you consider your ability to navigate social media from the viewpoint of a pre-professional and ask yourself, “What’s my current digital footprint?” and “How should I begin navigating social media purposefully and professionally?” Come to this session to 1) get introduced to a variety of social media platforms; 2) start developing a clean social media presence; 3) elevate your impact via social media; and 4) leverage the power of social media outlets to find professional opportunities in your field.

3 - 4 pm - Alder Auditorium

Symposium Closing & Awards Ceremony

Session Description:

Join us as we close out our second Gabriel E. Gallardo Research, Student Leadership & Advocacy Symposium and award prizes to the best oral and poster research presentations! Raffle prizes will also be drawn!