Dr. Daniel Mullendore, an alumnus of the University of Wyoming McNair Scholars Program and the SBS graduate PhD program, recently received the TRIO Achiever Award at the Association of Special Programs in Region Eight (ASPIRE) conference.
TRIO programs are federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education that provides services and resources to promote access to higher education. The ASPIRE TRIO Achiever is awarded to three former TRIO participants each year in the Rocky Mountain region who have become leaders in their professions after graduation.
Mullendore grew up on a homestead near Jackson where he was taught the value of hard work. While pursuing his bull riding dream, he began gardening during recovery from one of his many injuries. His interest in gardening led to a passion for plants which, in turn, helped him complete his GED and enroll at UW to study botany in 2002.
During his time at UW, Mullendore was selected for the McNair Scholars Program.
“The McNair Program was crucial for teaching me how to successfully apply for post-baccalaureate education,” Mullendore says. “They provided the funds necessary for me to stay through the summer to do research. This was the first time that I could stay for the summer and not have to return to my seasonal construction job.”
The mentorship Mullendore received from Stephen Herbert, a UW professor at the time, was crucial to Mullendore’s success with furthering his education and the full funding he received to accomplish this.
Mullendore completed his doctoral program in botany from Washington State University (WSU) in 2012. Since his graduation, he has traveled internationally, including a trip to the Netherlands to use the only MRI machine in the world that measures sugar flow in plants. Mullendore also has published nine original research papers and one book chapter.
He currently is a staff scientist at the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center at WSU, where he guides students and faculty in advanced microscopy techniques. Mullendore also teaches courses at WSU.
“This teaching opportunity has allowed me to mentor students from diverse backgrounds. I often use what I learned through the McNair Program to help these students pursue their professional careers,” Mullendore says.
UW’s McNair Scholars Program encourages undergraduate students — from groups traditionally underrepresented — to pursue graduate studies by providing opportunities to define goals, engage in research, and develop the skills and student/faculty mentor relationships critical to success at the doctoral level.
“The McNair Scholars Program didn’t just open doors for me; the program revealed doors that were invisible to me as a first-generation student,” Mullendore states.