TRIO McNair Faculty Mentor Description

Being a McNair faculty mentor means supervising an undergraduate who will participate in your research during the ten-week summer research and graduate school preparation program (approximately May 31-August 5).  The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase the rate of doctoral program applications, degree attainment and participation in the professoriate by first-generation college students who are underrepresented in graduate programs.

The main focus of the Junior Year is the summer residential research component.  Faculty and Scholars are matched according to common research interests.  During Spring Semester, Scholars consult with their faculty mentor to plan the research experience including the timeline, tasks, and activities.  Faculty mentors supervise and monitor the research experience defining a meaningful role for the Scholar, mentor/advise the Scholar during and after the research experience, teach quality research methods, and evaluate student progress.  McNair Scholars Faculty mentors receive a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the summer research experience.

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Faculty Mentors Dr. Elisabeth Leer and Dr. Heather Campbell, in the Education department, with their mentees, Jackie Molina and Olivia Haines. Dr. Louis Epstein, Faculty Mentor in the St. Olaf Music department, poses with McNair Scholar Brea Olson (middle) and research team at the 2015 St. Olaf Summer Research Symposium.

McNair Faculty Mentor Expectations


  1. Provide outline of current research and ideas for scholar projects
  2. Meet with scholar to develop research proposal
  3. Direct student research
  4. Integrate scholar on research team
  5. Teach experimental design, research techniques, data analysis, academic writing
  6. Guide data analysis and technical report writing
  7. Evaluate student research/contribution to team
  8. Present results with student at conferences or poster sessions
  9. Provide feedback on symposia poster session
  10. Provide opportunities for scholarly publication


  1. Provide informal mentoring and role modeling
  2. Help build motivation for doctoral study
  3. Encourage doctoral study
  4. Engage students in informal study, department meetings. seminars, etc.
  5. Assist scholar in choosing graduate schools/programs
  6. Provide progress reports and contacts with McNair Scholars staff during the summer
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Jeffrey Riley, Mya Sarach, Dr. Jeremy Loebach and team conduct research during the summer of 2015 on “the Training and Rehabilitation Program for New Adult Cochlear Implant Users.” Dr. Epstein and team conducts research during the summer of 2015 in the Chemistry department on the “Synthesis of Novel Semiconducting Organic Polymers.”