BLACKSBURG, Va., May 26, 2004 – Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) welcomes nine undergraduate students who will be working with researchers at the Institute this summer in conjunction with two Virginia Tech programs – the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) and the Robert E. McNair Scholars Program.

The students participating in MAOP are: under the advisement of VBI researcher Karen Duca – Nikkida Bundrant (Virginia Tech) and Terrence Hill (Virginia Tech); under the advisement of VBI researcher Brett Tyler – Joyce Curry (Hampton University), Carmine Leggett (Spelman College), Stephanie McBurrough (Fort Valle State University), and Andrew McKinley (Hampton University); and under the advisement of VBI researcher Vladimir Shulaev – Beth Henry (Bluefield State College) and Erica Mason (Virginia Tech). Duca will also be advising Bathsheba Jackson (Virginia Tech), who comes to VBI through the McNair Scholars program.

The mission of the MAOP program is to encourage and support the academic achievement of a diverse student body from Virginia Tech and other institutions across the nation. The program has expanded since its founding more than a decade ago from a focus on recruiting and retaining African American students in Agriculture and Natural Resources, to serving students of every background. Programs and activities serve students from the pre-college through the doctorate level with a continuum of financial, academic, emotional, and social support, and research opportunities. Students participating in MAOP programs have an excellent record of retention, graduation, and enrollment in graduate school.

The Virginia Tech Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (commonly known as the McNair Scholars Program) is one of 166 programs across the country designed to prepare first-generation college students and students from ethnic groups underrepresented in higher education to pursue post-baccalaureate degrees. Established and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and named in honor of Challenger space shuttle astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the McNair Scholars Program encourages graduate study by providing participants with a mentored research experience, seminars, and workshops on topics relevant to the pursuit of the doctoral degree.

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Published by Public Relations, May 25, 2004