The Student Spotlight highlights University Honors Program students for their hardwork, dedication, and passion to Southern Illinois University and the University Honors Program. The students are nominated by mentors, faculty, and/or other students for displaying impressive qualities during their time in the University Honors Program. These students particiapte in various activities including RSO's, research, volunteer opportunities, internships, and many more while doing great work in the classroom.
Maryam Makhdoom is SIU’s 2020 Lincoln Academy Student Laureate
The public health major from Carbondale is among the seniors from the state’s four-year colleges and universities honored for excellence in academic, curricular and extracurricular activities. She and other students were recognized Tuesday, Nov. 10, with the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award during the 46th annual Student Laureate ceremony, which was virtual this year. Read more:
Amanda Leppert Gomes, Haley Hostetter, and Allison McMinn are winners of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Award
From left to right: Amanda Leppert Gomes, a senior in Anthropology; Haley Hostetter, a senior in civil engineering; and Allison McMinn, a senior in electrical engineering.
"The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.”
We are so proud of the accomplishments of these students!
Read more about their accomplishments here.
- Fall 2020 - Student Spotlights
- Fall 2019 - Spring 2020 Student Spotlights
- Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 Student Spotlights
This is Amanda Leppert-Gomes, a Senior Anthropology major with minors in Chemistry and Latino and Latin American Studies. She is currently the VP of the Undergraduate Student Anthropology Club and was the PMEL lead for Engineers without Borders' project for bringing clean water to a community in Jancko Marca Bolivia until this semester. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, taking ZUMBA classes, and hanging out with the wonderful people she has met at SIU.
This past summer Amanda conducted ethnographic fieldwork under the advisement of Dr. Roberto E. Barrios, the McNairs Scholars Program, and with funding from the REACH award and the Anthropology Department where she had student visitor status at CIESAS-Pacifico Sur. Her research in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico looked at the assumptions and social implications of green energy wind farm megadevelopment projects, and how inequity was produced through the way the negotiation process ensued. She also conducted field work as a research assistant for Dr. Roberto E. Barrios for his project with Dr. Antoinette Jackson from USF and their work for the University of the Virgin Islands for FEMA and VITEMA's 5 year hazard mitigation plan in the Virgin Islands this winter break. This project had applied objectives, and it hopes to work on confronting issues of community, resilience, and hazard mitigation among various groups on the islands.
She is looking forward to continue to work on these projects, presenting at the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting this semester in Albuquerque, the CSAS Annual Meeting, and presentations on campus as she continues to analyze data. After SIU, Amanda wants to go to graduate school studying medical anthropology, although her work intersects various subfields such as anthropology of environment, energy, and development. Her goal is to become an activist scholar and continue to confront issues of inequity in society. Keep fighting the good fight, Amanda! Best of luck with grad school!
Owen is a freshman majoring in Aviation Management and hoping to minor in French. Ever since he was a little kid, he has always wanted to be a pilot. Owen's dad, who was a former helicopter crew chief in the Army and Air force, has always inspired him to become a pilot himself. Along with his family and friends, his grandpa is one of his biggest motivators as he always tells Owen to “fly high.” Owen has always been motivated by the thought of being able to travel the world and experience different cultures while getting to do the thing he loves, fly. In the next ten years Owen strives to be flying for a major airline, or serving our country in the Air Force and flying fighter jets.
Throughout his short time here at SIU so far, he has had the opportunity to create a Veterans Day Lunch, something that he hopes to continue each year. After having a long line of family members who have served our country, it is very important for him to give back to those who serve. Twice a year, he also helps out with family friends at Farmers Insurance to hold an event allowing soldiers/veterans to pick up a brand new free suit or tux. Along with giving back to veterans, Owen enjoys volunteering with his local Jr. PGA in order to help grow the game of golf. Aside from volunteering, he Asian Executive for Kappa Alpha Order, the Vice President of Operations for the Honors Assembly, a part of Aviation Management Society, and the Director of the Veterans Day lunch. Congrats Owen, the University Honors Program is very proud of you!
Cassidy Lounsbury is a third-year student majoring in Microbiology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She is studying to pursue a career in medicine with the goal of becoming a surgeon.
She is a member of SIUs NCAA Division 1 Swimming and Diving Team, where she spends the majority of her time in the pool and in the weight room training for her sport. She races mostly sprint events, with the 100-yard butterfly and the 50- and 100-yard freestyle being her favored events. She was awarded Most Valuable Womens Swimming and Diving Student-Athlete three times for maintaining the highest GPA on the Womens Swim and Dive Team. Being a student-athlete has given her the opportunity to push her limits, enhance her time management skills, and conquer adversity.
During her sophomore year, she was granted the REACH Award which funded her independent research project under the supervision of a Principal Investigator. She chose to join Dr. Derek Fishers lab within the microbiology department. Her project focuses on developing a new mutagenesis system for bacteria by utilizing an Eci5 intron from Escherichia coli to interrupt gene sequences, thus inactivating the gene. She will present her findings at the Student Creative Activities Research Forum later this spring.
Cassidy is also a two-year member of Conversation Partners, which is a volunteer organization that pairs a native English-speaking student with a student whose native language is one other than English with the purpose of practicing one anothers language. Being a member of this program has not only given her an opportunity to practice her Spanish, but also helped her to make life-long friends and gain cultural experiences that she otherwise would not have had. She hopes that her acquisition of the language and her appreciation of the culture will help broaden her ability to impact the lives of a greater range of people as a physician.
Cassidy has found her time at SIU invaluable. She looks forward to applying all she has gained from her undergraduate experiences to her future in medicine. Great job, Cassidy! The UHP is so proud of you!
Sarah Seymour is junior studying Linguistics with a specialization in ESL/Bilingual Education. She is the secretary of SLing, SIUs linguistics club, a member of climbing club, and a regular at the Wesley Foundation. Sarah works both in Undergraduate Admissions as a telecounselor and on the side as an English language tutor, and in her free time, she enjoys volunteering as a reading partner at the library, exploring Giant City State Park, learning to salsa dance, and reading every romance novel she can get her hands on. After she graduates, she plans on earning a masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) before teaching abroad wherever life takes her.
Sarah applied for the Boren major scholarship this week, which allows a student to study and live abroad. This scholarship focuses on building language skills, immersing in a different culture, and doing service! Best of luck with everything and we are so proud of you, Sarah!
This is Lana Sawar, a third-year majoring in microbiology. She is currently secretary of the Microbiology Student Organization. Their main volunteering project is to perform a mix of STEM activities for kids at the Carbondale Science Center. She is also in Pre-Professional Health Associations and is a conversation partner for the Center for English as a Second Language. Lana studied abroad in Cuba in June 2018, where her class spoke to Cuban physicians and learned from a healthcare clinic that bases their work around prevention of diseases and cancer. Lana and another Honors student created a comparative analysis of the Cuba and U.S healthcare systems and plan on presenting this research at the Honors Symposium this April.
Lana strives to make at least one person smile or laugh every day. She has an instinctual comprehension of children because they organically show their emotions. This fascination led to her two-year internship at For Kids Sake, a local non-profit that raises money for orphans and students in Bangladesh. Through her time at FKS, she has learned how non-profits organize and manage large fundraising events (Superhero 5K, Art Auction). She also had the chance to make stained-glass artworks with kids that will be sold to raise money for the kids in Bangladesh.
To gain research experience, she joined Dr. Scott Hamilton-Brehms lab in the Microbiology Department last summer. This lab focuses on microbial diversity in geothermal and ancient environments. Lana just applied to the REACH scholarship and is waiting for a response to start a new project next year, as well! She plans on taking the MCAT this semester and will start applying to medical schools this summer. She would like to return to her hometown (Saint Louis) and go to medical school somewhere there. Keep up the great work Lana!
Keegan Shults is a senior majoring in plant biology and minoring in environmental studies. He has been gardening since he was really young and has always loved working with plants, so that was the reason he chose his major. During his second semester of his freshman year, he met with who would be his faculty advisor: Dr. Kurt Neubig. Keegan got involved in the Students United in Preserving, Exploring and Researching Biodiversity (SUPERB) Scholarship Program, which provides students the opportunity to do research using natural history collections. He is currently studying interactions between parasitic plants and their plant hosts. More specifically, Keegan is studying the host range of the parasitic plant Agalinis tenuifolia by identifying hosts from DNA sequences.
Keegan had the opportunity to study abroad last summer in Costa Rica by taking a course in Tropical Botany. In addition to his research experience, this caused a career shift for him towards restoration ecology. He believes that earth's ecosystems provide invaluable services and resources to humans, and they need to be protected and restored. Keegan plans on pursuing a master's degree so that he may be better prepared for the field he wants to go into. He has applied to Florida Institute of Technology for this coming fall semester and is taking another study abroad course in Paleoecology this July, where he will be traveling to Ecuador for two weeks. Eventually, he would like to do conservation/restoration work in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Keegan has been an active member of the Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity (Beta Psi chapter) for two and a half years, and currently serves as treasurer. This semester, he is doing an internship at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge where he will be documenting the wildflowers that are found within the park. Great work, Keegan! You make the University Honors Program and SIU very proud! Keep up the great work!
Emma Johns is a senior studying Physiology with minors in Chemistry and American Sign Language. Some of her more notable experiences involve giving campus tours with Saluki Ambassadors and helping start the campus RSO, Timmy Global Health of SIU. This afforded Emma her first international experience and helped develop her interest in working with medically under-served areas and medical relief efforts.
She served as former president of the SIU United Nations Association, where she was awarded the Build a Better World Grant and Stand Up for Human Rights Grant on the club’s behalf. In 2018, she was honored as a UNA-USA Emerging Leader and later as a UNA-USA Global Health Fellow.
Emma studied abroad in Ecuador studying health climates of indigenous jungle communities, in England studying J.R. Tolkien’s literature and the clinical variants of Alzheimer’s Disease, and in southern Spain to further learn Spanish. She is also a University Innovation Fellow and created the SIU Global Ambassadors program.
Emma previously served as SIU's representative to the Illinois Board of Higher Education to improve the quality and experience of public and private higher-ed institutions across Illinois. She was appointed by the Illinois State Senate to serve as the sole student commissioner on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Emma works with eight other commissioners and the ISAC team to allocate over $425 million worth of aid every fiscal year.
After graduation, she will be starting medical school in the fall. She would like to thank the Honors Program for their continued support and guidance and urges younger students to pursue opportunities that give them fulfillment. She said, "Make the most of your time at SIU! You won’t regret it!"
This is Makayla Smothers, a transfer junior at Southern Illinois University. She is majoring in Exercise Science and was accepted on the Deans list for Fall 2019. Attending SIU has allowed her new opportunities in life including RSOs, The University Honors Program, and being a part of the Americorps program. The RSOs Makayla is currently in are: The Organization of Sports and Exercise Science (OSES) and the Pre-Health Professions Association (PPA). Both organizations have allowed her to branch out and meet new people who are hardworking and self-driven. Attending SIU has also given her many hours of volunteer work, as well. Her favorite volunteer work and job that she has been doing throughout the 2019-2020 school year is being an Americorps leader.
Her Americorps leader position allows her to volunteer at a local grade school and work with kids of all ages. She helps in the reading room and focuses on helping kids (ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade) to learn and adapt to new techniques with reading, writing, and spelling. Americorps has definitely helped shape Makayla for her future career. Her goal after SIU is to get accepted into a graduate physical therapy program and eventually start a career as a physical therapist. Makayla truly believes what helps motivate her each and every day is knowing how much knowledge she is gaining at SIU and that she will be using it in her future occupations! Great work and we are so lucky to have you here, Makayla!
Gage Mofield is a Senior here at SIU majoring in Zoology with a specialization in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and double minoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability.; Gage has been involved with avariety of activities since he began his journey here, including being the Public Relations officer for the Spoken Word RSO, volunteering as a Saluki Ambassador, working as a student caller for the SIU Foundation, working as a lab technician in the Meksem lab through the Plant & Soil Science department, and being a field technician in Dr. Marjorie Brooks Aquatic Ecology & Biogeochemistry lab, working under the Sustainable Eco-Recreation project on Campus Lake.
He completed an internship at Giant City State Park, as well as a Sustainability Fellowship through the Sustainability Hub here at SIU. He was also awarded an Environmental Ambassador award in the Spring of 2019, was inducted into Gamma Theta Upsilon, SIUs Geography and Environmental Studies Honor Society chapter, and was the recipient of the Michael W. Wolff Scholarship for the College of Science this Fall of 2019 for his interest and involvement relating to Environmental Studies and Wildlife Habitat Conservation.
Currently, Gage works as an Adoption Counselor for Wright-Way Rescue in Murphysboro, Illinois, and will hope to continue to work with all kinds of animals and wildlife as he continues on into the future.; He currently plans on serving in Americorps before going to obtain his Masters, and would like to work in the Nonprofit Sector after achieving these goals. He would like to thank UHP for all of their services they have provided him during his duration at SIU, as he becomes the only person other than his Mom (an SIU alum!) on either side of his families to obtain their Bachelors degree. Congrats Gage, and best of luck!
Yasmin Ibrahim is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Biomedical Studies and minors in Chemistry and Microbiology. She has been involved in a few different organizations on campus, notably Saluki Ambassadors, Chancellor's Scholar Program, Ronald E. McNair's program, and doing research in the College of Science under multiple faculty members.
Yasmin has done research at SIUC since she was a junior at Carbondale Community High School. Since then, she has worked with Dr. Sukesh Bhaumik in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. James A. MacLean III with the School of Medicine, and currently with Dr. Derek J. Fisher in the Microbiology Program.
In Spring 2019, Yasmin had the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana. She was gone for about 5 months and had an absolutely amazing time! She was able to go through a direct program so she interacted directly with Ghanaian students and faculty members at the university. Yasmin ate great food and made great friends that she continues to stay in touch with. Yasmin was able to travel all over Ghana as well as travel to two other African countries (Togo and South Africa)! If she could, she would stay an extra semester just to do it all over again.
Yasmin plans on graduating in May 2020 and continuing her education. She is in the process of applying and interviewing for PhD programs in Molecular and Developmental Biology with a focus in Reproductive Sciences. From there she would like to work at a university like SIU where she is able to teach and conduct her own research.
University Honors Program student sophomore, Brooke DiGiacomo, wants to share her experience volunteering with the Touch of nature Center for the Saluki Service Day and the Saluki Food Pantry!
The University Honors Program recognizes the hundreds of other students who are actively involved in the community here at SIU and in Carbondale. If you would like to see your service opportunities be featured, for more information and ways to get involved yourself, or to see what other great things UHP students are doing in the community, visit the University Honors Program office in Morris Library!
Josie Arnettis a senior going for a dual degree with majors in Advertising and Spanish, and minors in Marketing and American Sign Language. She is the President of Saluki Ambassadors, which is the group that is in charge of giving campus tours to prospective students; she also works in the Undergraduate Admissions office and help students schedule their visits. As a Resident Assistant on campus at Wall and Grand, Josie gets to work with friends and get to create events and pun-filled bulletin boards for her floor.
Throughout her time at SIU, she has really enjoyed the opportunities she had to study abroad. Josie was able to go on the Costa Rica trip through the honors program, as well as spend a summer in Spain where she was able to immerse herself in the language and culture.
Josie truly enjoys being a part of the University Honors Program. It has provided her with so many great opportunities and she has been able to meet some amazing people through it. Great job, Josie! The Honors Program is very proud of you!
This is Bella Weymer, a senior with double majors in Math and Physiology and minors in chemistry and Italian. She is pre-med, and currently going through the interview process for med school! Bella has been involved in a plethora of activities. Some of them include including working as a tutor, volunteering as a Saluki Ambassador, participating in the Chancellor's Scholar Program, and doing research in the Department of Physiology in SIU's School of Medicine, to name a few.
She has been conducting research in an endocrine lab under Dr. Buffy Ellsworth for four yearsand has presented her poster titled "Expression of the Sodium Channel Subunit, Scn4a, is Reduced in the Absence of FOXO1" at the Illinois Symposium for Reproductive Sciences in October, 2018. She also presented"PROX1 Plays a Role in the Development of the Anterior Pituitary Gland" at the Undergraduate Research Forum in Spring2018. Their research focuses on how the pituitary gland develops in terms of forkhead transcription factors in an effect to better understand pituitary disorders and how they come about in humans.
Last semester (Spring 2019), Bella had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy. One of the most rewarding parts of her time abroad included an internship working at a pediatric hospital where she served as a translator between patients and physicians/nurses. Many of them had travelled to Italy to receive medical care from places like Spain, and many of them had little interaction with anyone besides their family as nobody else spoke their language. Bella reminisces, "It was so rewarding seeing their faces light up with joy when Iwas able to communicate with them at least a little!".
Good luck, Bella!
Congratulations Allison McMinn, from the College of Engineering, for being SIUs 45thAnnual Lincoln Laureate awardee. Each fall, an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Allison has impressive academic achievements, strong leadership skills (on and off campus), partakes in meaningful community involvement, and has a commitment to creating a supportive environment for women engineers and motivating young girls to pursue careers in the STEM fields. She will be honored on November 16thin the Hall of Representatives at the Old State Capitol in Springfield at the 45th Award Ceremony. Congratulations, Allison! We are so proud of you!
We also wanted to take the time to mention Paige Metz, who is an Honors student and was a nominee for the College of Science. We were impressed by her outstanding academic record and her nature as an introvert who leads by reason and knowledge as well as her publication and presentation record.Congratulations to you, Paige!
This is Anne Preston, a Transfer Junior majoring in Marketing and minoring in Recreation. For the past 6 summers she worked as a summer camp counselor at a few different locations across the U.S. including YMCA Camp Erdman in Oahu, Hawaii, YMCA Camp Chief Ouray in Colorado, and YMCA Camp Greenville in South Carolina. While in community college, she studied abroad for fifteen days in Italy with culinary students. Richland Community College lacked any sports clubs, so after twenty-nine years, she made sure to start up intramural sports and even coached the volleyball team.She also previously interned for Richland Community College as their marketing department intern.
Anne is involved with two different RSOs at SIU including the Womens Business Association and Student Recreation Society. She is also part of AORE (Association of Outdoor Recreation Education) and the 2019 Campus Challenge. Most recently, she has volunteered for the Sustainability Office and for the campus Comic-Con. Ideally, She would like to do any volunteering that benefits the school, community, or environment.Currently, Anne is working at Touch of Nature as a Marketing Assistants well as an Underway Adventures Trip Assistant.
In the future, Anne would like to market for an outdoor recreation company like, Patagonia, REI, Columbia or the YMCA. She plans to move outside of Illinois and start her life elsewhere.
Great work and thank you for your adventure and inspiration, Anne!
Blake Ann Clark is a freshman here at SIUC majoring in Dental Hygiene. One of the main things that has motivated herin the past is herdesire to make a difference and help others. In addition, some people that have motivated herthroughout herlife are herfamily, friends, and faith. These things and people continue to motivate her every day. Sheiscurrently a member of the Student Leadership Honors Society, as well as the first inaugural womens soccer team at SIUC. Blake is honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to make history with this amazing first year program. A few places sheenjoys volunteering at are the Marion Lighthouse Homeless Shelter, St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, Herrin House of Hope, and tutoring at local elementary schools. This year, Blakealso got to be a part of the amazing NubAbility camp in Duquoin, Illinois. NubAbility Athletics Foundations mission is to encourage, inspire, and teach limb different youth various different sports. The entire SIUC womens soccer team attended this event and were able to teach many different children how to play the sport her team loves, soccer. She said, "It was so awesome to be able to be a part of such an astonishing organization."A few of hershort-term goals are to keep up hergrades, succeed on the soccer field, and in the spring, apply for an on-campus job. Blake'slong-term goals are to graduate college with a meaningful degree, search for a job locally andbe hired somewhere where shecan truly make a difference! Keep up the great work Blake and good luck!
Kira is a junior pursuing a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Sciences. She works on campus as a tutor to student-athletes in the Troutt-Wittmann Academic Center. Kirais the President of Tau Beta Pi, which is the universally recognized engineering honor society. Sheis also the treasurer of the Society of Physics Students. Sheenjoys hertime with all herRSOs; however, herheart lies with the first RSO shejoined as a freshman, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) of which she is the Vice President. SWE has surrounded Kirawith a supportive group of like-minded women and men who volunteer, go to social events, and attend professional conferences together. She islooking forward to a great time at the SWE National this year in Anaheim, California. Kira isvery thankful that SIU has such a wide variety of groups where shecould find friends for not just these four years, but for life. Kiraplans to pursue a graduate degree for Biomedical Engineering and then go into a career which helps improve peoples lives who need affordable biomedical equipment like prosthetics or joint replacements, pacemakers, hearing aids, etc. Shewants to be a part of the process that genuinely helps those in medical need. Kira would like to thank herfriends and family for always being so encouraging throughout heracademic career.Way to go Kira! You make SIU and the UHP proud!
Haley Hostetter is a civil engineering major with minors in mathematics and history. She has had several internships in the past, but most recently worked under the National Science Foundations Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure REU program at the University of California, Berkeley. This is a highly competitive undergraduate research program that focuses on natural hazards engineering and includes a network of 10 universities. Within this program, Haley was afforded the opportunity to research earthquake simulation models and even publish a paper! In addition, she was able to present her research at UC Boulders Natural Hazards Workshop and UT Austins Research Symposium. This experience in the San Francisco Bay Area has prompted Haley to pursue a graduate degree in structural engineering with an emphasis on seismic design, and she will be applying to graduate programs this fall.
On campus, Haley is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers where she has served as the fundraising chair and vice president, and currently is the secretary. Haley is also a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honors Society. Outside of the engineering field, Haley actively volunteers with SIT Service Dogs, a local service dog training and breeding program that has placed dogs across the United States. Haley has documented over 300 volunteer hours with the program, and has learned an immense amount about people with disabilities community and herself. Haley is extremely grateful for all of the opportunities presented to her at SIU, including the diverse academics and RSOs she am a part of. The UHP is proud of you, Haley! Keep up the great work!
Elyse Hickey is a senior at SIUC, pursuing a Zoology - Philosophy double major, with a minor in Art Education. She is also a certified yoga instructor. During the school year, Elyse volunteers as an educator for the Saturday Young Artist Workshop program, which offers art classes on weekends to local youth. She spends her summers working as an Art's and Earth camp counselor at Camp Orkila, on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington State. Here she leads lessons and activities in various forms of art, archery, yoga, forest ecology, and marine biology. In her free time Elyse likes to explore the outdoors and to artistically manifest the energies she encounters.
Sarah Dintelmann is currentlya senior double majoring in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Management and AgriBusiness Economics. Sarahisinvolved in numerous organizations including Agronomy Society, Alpha Gamma Delta, and iscurrently serving on Agricultural Student Council and the Agbassador team.
Sarah isan Undergraduate Researcher in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems under Weed Scientist, Dr. Karla Gage. They are working on a 50-year study that looks at the interactive effects of tillage and fertility practices on weed communities and the weed seedbank. Most of Sarah'swork has been conducted in the greenhouse to evaluate the weed seedbank. She hashad the opportunity to present this work at various poster contests as well as extension events to share this work with farmers across Southern Illinois.
Sarah hashad 3 internships over the course of hercollege career. Herfirst internship was at the SIU Belleville Research Center. Hersecond internship was with Syngenta Golden Harvest as a Developmental Sales Intern in Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana. This past summer, Sarah relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, where shewas a Sales Development Associate with BASF Agricultural Solutions. She got to learn about new crops such as cotton, peanuts, potatoes, and even clary sage (pictured).
After graduation, Sarahhopes to enter a trainee position with a large chemical/seed company and learn how to manage an effective sales territory, where shecan help growers make the best financial and agronomic decisions for their operations. Great work! SIU and the UHP are proud to have you!
Justin Grady is currently a senior in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. Justin spent his summer working for Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana as a flight system avionics intern. At Boeing, Justin was working on the NASA Space Launch System Rocket which will be used to return humans to the moon by 2024 and eventually take the first humans to Mars. While in New Orleans, Justin was able to assist in the installation and testing of electrical systems on what will be the largest single-stage rocket component in history.
At SIU, Justin has been involved with the Saluki Formula Racing team that designs and builds an F1 style race car from scratch. He looks forward to taking the vehicle to competition this spring. He is also serving this year as the Engineering Student Council President. Justin looks forward to pursuing a career in the aerospace industry. He would like to thank all of the friends and faculty at SIU that have supported him over the past three years. Amazing work, Justin! SIU is proud to have you!
Connor Eigelberger is a high achieving mechanical engineering major, with a minor in mathematics. In his future, he desires to lead his own engineering firm. In both the classroom and off campus, Connor has been very busy. Currently, he is in Jacksonville, Florida working as the Brewery Engineering Co-Op, for Anheuser Busch where he will remain throughout the fall semester. Previously, he has interned for Architectural and Industrial Project Management firms in St. Louis, Missouri and Aspen, Colorado. The vast variety of skills he was able to develop through these opportunities have guided him in becoming a well-rounded engineer. On campus, Connor is an active member of the Leadership Development Program, a nationally recognized organization that strives to create the next generation of S.T.E.M. leaders. Aside from this, he also routinely volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club in Carbondale and T.A.S.K.S. in his home town of Fenton, Missouri.
Luis Prado is spending his summer updating GIS data for the Williamson County 911, with the goal of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of local first responders. Read more
Jacob is a Physiology major with aspirations to go to medical school. He is very active around campus. Jacob is the president of the Student Leadership Honors Society, secretary of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the VP of Outreach in the Honors Assembly. He is also a research laboratory assistant under Dr. Kyle Plunkett, where they work on improving longevity of materials in solar energy storage. Jacob also volunteers at different homeless shelters and animal shelters, such as the Wright Way Animal shelter, and he is a volunteer youth basketball coach. Recently, he has turned his passion to teach basketball into his own small business called The Swish Factory. Jacob will also shadow abroad on a medical fellowship in Italy this summer.
Kenzie Krei is a junior majoring in Political Science-Pre Law with minors in Philosophy and Psychology. She is from Metamora, IL (just outside of Peoria). She is the Vice President of Academics and Research for the Honors Executive Board; an active member of the Paul Simon Ambassadors/Exec. Board; Political Science Ambassadors; TheHonors Assembly; and the Student Leadership Honors Society. Furthermore, she has participated in the Professional Development Leadership Association, Students Today Leaders Forever, Conversation Partners through CESL, and the Pre-Law Scholars Program. In addition, Kenzie works at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on campus, as a referee for youth basketball back home, and as a waitress at Steak ‘n Shake during breaks from school.
Sterling Blonigen is a senior majoring in chemistry, and is considering a minor in psychology. She plans to graduate with a bachelors in chemistry before going to pharmacy school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Sterling studied in a dual credit program at Southwestern Illinois College, and graduated high school with two associate degrees. She played three instruments in high school, was the first chair tuba, and did volunteer work in her community. She decided to continue volunteering by joining SIU’s University Honors Program. During fall of 2018, she was elected Vice President of Cultural Experiences and Diversity in the Honors Assembly.
Lauren Waitt is a Psychology major in her third year at SIU. She has thoroughly enjoyed being in the University Honors Program since her freshman year and currently serves as the Vice President of Operations of the Honors Assembly. She is also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, in which she currently serves as Director of Communication and has served as Director of Membership.
Garrett Watts is a senior studying civil engineering with a minor in mathematics. During his time at SIU, he has served as secretary, president, and vice president of Engineers Without Borders – SIUC, an RSO that is working on a project to supply a small community in Bolivia with clean drinking water. He has also served as president of Circle K of SIUC, a youth-centered service organization dedicated to helping people in the local community. For the past three years, he has been involved
Jessica Jurak is a junior studying physics with a biomedical specialization for a pre-medical track with minors in Spanish, mathematics, and chemistry. Her end goal is to one day be a surgeon,
In the physics department, Jessica has been doing volunteer research in the Laser Physics and Optical Spectroscopy Lab with Dr. P. Sivakumar since October
This is Isabel Yunker, a Sophomore here at SIU studying Microbiology, with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. Isabel has tried to get as involved as she can during her short time here at SIU, and it has really paid off! She founded the RSO Pause for Paws during her first semester on campus, with the intention to provide a form of stress relief for students while also helping out the homeless pets of the community
Clair Bammann is a senior studying Civil Engineering with an Environmental Specialization and an Environmental Studies minor. Throughout her time at SIU, she has been dedicated to Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and the Southern Illinois Dance Company (SIDC). She served as the President of SIDC for one year and through that experience gained confidence in being a leader while also doing something she has done since she was a little girl. She was also given the opportunity to serve as Project Lead for EWB during 2018 where she got to plan and lead a trip of 6 engineers and engineering students to Janco Marca, Bolivia.
Kate Forer is a sophomore studying Painting, Sculpture, and Art History. Kate is fascinated with contemporary art and aspires to make a place for herself and her work in the current art world. Kate's work is often obsessive and meditative in nature, focused on the repeated production of similar units and how these units can be arranged. She considers this process a commentary on both chemical/biological structures (replicating cells, molecules, organisms) and also social structures (mimicking the behavior of people in large groups). Currently, Kate is spending the most time working with post-consumer cardboard and cast metal. She received a REACH grant and Tedrick Fellowship for this school year to explore modular construction in a variety of materials with her faculty mentor, Carey Netherton. Other activities Kate has enjoyed this year are volunteering with the Murphysboro Food Pantry and framing art for the For Kids' Sake Art Auction. Kate's work has been accepted into shows in New York City, Cleveland, and Cape Girardeau as well as art shows at SIU, and one of her pieces will be exhibited at a paper-themed art show in Maryland this spring.
Riley Wagner is a Junior studying Computer Engineering with minors in Mathematics and Computer Science. While his majors definitely suggest that he is passionate about very technical fields, his true passions outside the classroom lie in his love for music. As someone who has played music for as long as he can remember, Riley always seemed to find himself playing the euphonium or trumpet in some sort of ensemble, or jamming with some friends on his bass guitar. Riley has played in almost all of the bands on campus including the Wind Ensemble, the Pep Band, and Marching Salukis. In the summer of 2017, he spent the summer traveling the country and performing with the World Class Drum and Bugle Corps, The Phantom Regiment. Since Riley's freshman year, he has also been an active member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national men’s music fraternity with a chapter here on campus. Last summer, Riley interned at Cummins Inc., a diesel engine manufacturer, as an Electronic Controls Engineer. Currently, Riley is preparing for an internship for Summer 2019 in St. Louis with The Boeing Company. On campus, he has been actively involved with the Saluki Ambassadors program and works as a student worker in the Undergraduate Admissions. Riley has also been involved in research with a professor of his, Dr. Iraklis Anagnostopoulos, in his multi-core processing lab researching the benefits of more complex computing architectures.
Alliyah Bridges is a senior studying Cinema with a focus in screenwriting and a French minor. She has always been curious about the hero's journey in storytelling and what secrets that come out of them. Alliyah develops scripts that lean towards revealing human nature and what keeps us from revealing our true potential. She served as the Executive Director for the Student Programming Council last year (Spring 18-Fall 18). She is also the vice-president for the Zeta Chi chapter for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Alliyah is a part of the Saluki ambassadors and the Mass Communications and Media Arts Ambassador program. In 2017, she was the social media intern for the SIU Student Center as well. This past January, she studied abroad in an intensive French language program with CEA in Paris.
Amanda Blocker, senior in microbiology, and Scott Hamilton-Brehm, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, look at a sample in a laboratory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Working under the guidance of Hamilton-Brehm, Blocker is studying a microbe that he isolated from a 900-meter-deep borehole located on the border between California and Nevada. The novel anaerobic microorganism, designated “SIUC-1,” loves hot temperatures, thriving at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Blocker’s successful characterization of SIUC-1 would make her one of the few researchers in the world who will have named the first novel bacterium of a phylum. Read more.
Andrea Storey is SIUC’s nominee for the 44th Annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award. Andrea is a senior majoring in both Spanish Education and Linguistics with a specialization in English as a New Language. She joined SIUC as a Chancellor’s Scholar recipient, and served as the Vice President for Standards and Risk Reduction Inter-Greek Council in the 2017-2018 academic year, and as the Vice President of Student Life in the University Honors Program in 2016. After graduation, Andrea plans to move up to the Chicagoland area and work as a bilingual teacher, commitment to improving the lives of language minority and bilingual students. She is truly an embodiment of the best of Illinois. Congratulations Andrea
Emily Buice is a senior majoring in History and Communication Studies-Public Relations with a Political Science minor. She is motivated by making a positive impact in her community and helping empower those around her. Emily is the current Student Board Member for the Illinois Board of Higher Education. In the past, she has served as President of Undergraduate Student Government, Executive Vice President of the College Panhellenic Association, Vice President of Campus Relations for Alpha Gamma Delta, and the Vice President of Communication and Engagement for the Saluki Ambassadors. She currently volunteers with the Saluki Service Dawgs RSO, which partners with SIT to train service dogs on campus. She also volunteers at Gumdrops with my sorority and have been a member of the 2018 Alpha Gamma Delta Service Immersion Trip to New Orleans. This past summer Emily interned with the U.S. Mission to the E.U. in Brussels, where she helped with a presidential visit, including a meet-and-greet. The previous summer she interned with New Europe in Brussels where she wrote and published over 15 articles. Currently, Emily works at the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce as the Public Relations Intern. She is also currently doing research with Dr. Hurlburt on the history of macaroni and cheese and how it relates to the evolution of America.
Jackson Wood is a senior majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and a minor in psychology. Jackson has been interested in science, especially biochemistry, since early high school. Having the opportunity to attend a research university was one of the deciding factors for him coming to SIU! Jackson worked with SIU Alum Curt Jones, the founder of Dippin’ Dots, researching method development and quality control for Curt Jones' new business called 40 Below Joe. Currently, Jackson works in the Kinsel research lab with Drs. Mary and Gary Kinsel analyzing the chemical components of coffee as well as how they correlate with coffee flavor and quality. While at SIU, Jackson spent four years with the Marching Salukis, two of which he served as a section leader. He has also worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, which was something he thoroughly enjoyed. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Jackson would like to pursue a Ph.D. and an M.D., with the long-term goal of doing clinical biochemical research on neurological disorders. Good luck with everything and thank you for your awesome work, Jackson!
Holly Piepenburg is a senior studying Radio, Television & Digital Media with a minor in political science. Holly is a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Student Fellow and has published work regarding education on Native American reservations. Currently, she is working on another project funded by the Pulitzer Center under the guidance of journalism professor William Freivogel. Holly is also the News Director of River Region Evening Edition, a television news program broadcast on WSIU-TV. Previously, Holly worked at WSIL-TV 3 – an ABC affiliate in Crainville – as a producer. Prior to her senior year, she was also a member of the Marching Salukis. After graduation, Holly hopes to continue shedding light on underreported social issues around the world, then pursue a law degree. Thank you for your wonderful work, Holly!!
Nathaniel Jordan is a Junior studying Plant Biology with a specialization in Molecular and Biochemical Physiology. He is motivated by the unlimited potential we have as young adults, as we all have an opportunity to make an impact on the world. He is the founder and CEO of SPREKK Technology Services, LLC (Sprekk for short), an on-demand phone repair service in Carbondale. It serves as a small start-up that specializes in delivery iPhone screen repairs. He is the vice president of Saluki Entrepreneur Core, a University Innovation Fellow and a McNair Scholar. He is also currently working in the Geisler- Heisler-Lee Plant Genomics Lab under Dr. Matthew Geisler where their focus is on computational biology and experimentation to understand gene regulatory networks, plant biotic and abiotic stresses, and competition in Arabidopsis thaliana. His post graduation goal is to create a biotechnology startup that genetically alters plants to grow in otherwise arid conditions. He believes that combining computational biology and molecular biology to allow for the expansion of the agriculture industry will be critical in solving many of the worlds current issues.
Carly Kasicki is a junior majoring in Biomedical Science, German, and French with minors in Political Science and Chemistry. She has lived in Germany twice, backpacked through Italy and Switzerland for two months, and completed an independent study this past summer in Paris for a month. As a Demuzio intern, she is working in the Attorney General’s office helping the lawyers with their cases including prison litigation and worker compensation. Her dedication to Public Policy has developed into becoming Vice President of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Ambassadors and an institute job helping to develop events that educate the public on politics and citizenship. She is currently involved in setting up a student-led conference looking at solving Illinois issues. On top of that, she is presently a Stanford Innovation Fellow for a Stanford Think Tank called University Innovation Fellows. She is working on creating an Honors Innovation Course focused on looking at issues in sustainability. Along with her co-fellows, she will be attending the Stanford Conference this Spring to present their ventures. In regards to science, she has been working in Dr. Warne’s biology lab since Spring 2018 researching the role of the gut microbiome on larval amphibian development and susceptibility to infection by Ranaviruses. For the future, she is looking at research programs such as the Fulbright Scholars Program before she attends graduate school, where she is looking at MD/PhD programs.
Alysa Cook is a Senior that will be graduating this Fall. She is majoring in Animal Science with a minor in Chemistry. She has received a Companion Animal Nutrition Certificate and has received the Dean’s Scholarship every semester. For her final semester here at SIU, she was awarded the Pioneer Hi-Bred Scholarship. During the summer of 2018, she had the opportunity to work on a pheasant farm, helping raise 27,000 pheasants. In her free time she enjoys reading and playing the guitar, as well as volunteering at St. Francis Care, the Humane Society of Southern Illinois, and the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale. She was recently accepted into Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, and has upcoming interviews at University of Missouri and University of Tennessee. She plans on becoming a mixed practice veterinarian.
Meadow Drollinger is a junior majoring in Psychology and double-minoring in Economics and Communication Studies. While Meadow was attending Ivy Tech Community College in Southern Indiana before transferring to SIUC, she was motivated by the idea of coming to SIU to pursue her bachelor's degree as a Chancellor's Scholar. Meadow obtained her associate's degree at 18 years old and is currently on track to obtain her bachelor's degree when she is only 20 years old. In addition to being part of the University Honors Program, Meadow is a Saluki Ambassador, a member of the Student Leadership Honors Society, a Saluki Cheerleader, and outside of SIUC, she holds the title of Miss Southern Heartland in the Miss America Organization. Meadow enjoys giving back to the Carbondale and her home community in Indiana through Music with a Meaning, a service organization she founded several years ago which raises funds and awareness for worthy causes through charity concerts. In the Spring semester Meadow will study abroad in Costa Rica with the University Honors Program course "The Earth Around Us." In the future, Meadow hopes to obtain a doctorate degree in Educational Psychology to eventually pursue a career as a Psychology Professor.
Gannon Druessel is a Junior majoring in physiology with a minor in chemistry. On campus he is a very involved member of the Leadership Development Program, is Vice President of the Saluki Science Ambassadors, and is the Captain of the rugby team. He has been doing research in Dr. Kanako Hayashi’s reproductive physiology lab since freshman year and just recently earned a REACH/Tedrick Undergraduate Fellowship to conduct his research for the next year. This research focuses on the trans-generational reproductive effects of a BPA substituent, BPS, on male mice. He enjoys giving back to the community by volunteering at the Carbondale New School, Women’s Center, and Science Center. He is on a pre-med track and is an aspiring orthopedic surgeon. In this field he hopes to continue giving back to the community by improving the lives of the people within.
Angel Galeana, a Bertrand Scholar, is a senior majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in software engineering & application development and a second concentration in Business Administration. He wants to become a software engineer and later go on to be the CEO of his own company. He has been actively involved with RSO’s on campus including The National Society of Collegiate Scholars where he serves as Chapter President, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers where he serves as Vice President, Minorities in Computer Science, and Association of Computing Machinery. He recently volunteered with the Student Alumni Council hosting high school students during the homecoming parade and homecoming football game. Galeana had the opportunity to work for Boeing this summer as an IT intern in St. Louis, MO where he was as a User Experience Specialist. Upon completing his summer internship, he was offered a full-time position with Boeing that will begin after he graduates in May 2019. Thus, he will work with them because he enjoys the company and their dedication to helping employees further their education. Galeana aspires to get a master’s in computer science and an MBA.
Erin Woolard is a senior at SIU graduating in December with degrees in anthropology and international studies, and minors in Spanish, geography, environmental studies, and Latino and Latin American studies. She is a member of the Undergraduate Student Anthropology Association, Student Leadership Honors Society, and Students Today Leaders Forever. She volunteers for the Humane Society of Southern Illinois, the Rolling Hills Manor nursing home, and the Kenosha Public Museums. She is also a conversation partner for the Center for English as a Second Language. She received the Jeanne Hurley Simon Memorial Scholarship in April 2018. She is an intern with SIU’s Sustainability Office. Erin studied abroad in Malta during Spring Semester 2017, she studied abroad in Spain in July 2017, and finally studied abroad in Cuba in June 2018. Erin hopes to continue the tradition of constant learning and service to others that has characterized her life so far. After graduation she plans to attend graduate school, possibly after a stint in the Peace Corps. If Erin could tell her younger self one thing it would be that success comes in many forms, and there is no single right path to take. Your life may not look like you once thought it would, but we are always changing and growing, and our goals and dreams should grow with us.
Lincoln is a second-year student at SIU majoring in physics and mechanical engineering with minors in Spanish and mathematics. Primarily, his focus is on experimental condensed matter physics research. He works in Dr. Saikat Talapatra’s lab on projects involving the optoelectronic characterization of semiconducting nanomaterials (at the moment two-dimensional materials such as MoS2, InSe, and ReSe2). Last summer, Lincoln had the opportunity to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan to do research with terahertz emissions from single-wall carbon nanotubes at Osaka University. He has presented this research at two conferences since then and he will return to Japan next summer (this time to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology) to do related research. Lincoln hopes to work at a national laboratory as a researcher after completing his Ph.D. Lincoln is also involved in organizations like the concrete canoe team (of which he is a co-captain), the Dawg Pound (of which he is the president), the Society of Physics Students, and the Saluki Ambassadors. Lincoln volunteers around the community, most notably at the Good Samaritan food pantry.
Oneida Vargas, a Chancellor Scholar, is a senior majoring in Political Science with a focus in pre-law and a minor in Spanish. Last semester, Vargas was selected as the inaugural Latino Heritage Intern for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. At the state capitol, she worked during the spring legislative session with the Illinois Senate Democrats in the communications staff. Prior to this internship, Vargas also interned for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office Juvenile Division. Thanks to both of these internships, Vargas decided she wants to go to law school. Since she is also a DACA recipient, Vargas wants to pursue a career as an immigration attorney to help out the undocumented community. On campus and in the Carbondale community, she is a strong advocate for immigrant rights and raising awareness about DACA recipients. Last fall, she was featured in the short documentary I, TOO, DREAMERICAN created by a fellow SIU student. Due to her dedication and activism, Vargas received an award from the Illinois Department of Human Rights last week at an event where she was also the keynote speaker.
John Lindt is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in microbiology and chemistry. He is an Eagle Scout, the president in the SIUC chapter of Circle K International, and the community service chair for the Student Alumni Council. He is pursuing undergraduate research under David A. Lightfoot in the department of plant, soil, and agricultural systems. Within his research, John sequences and annotates genomes and has worked in crossbreeding crops. He is pursuing a career in consumer analytics and hopes to create a subscription service for businesses in Southern Illinois to analyze and interpret current consumer trends, predict future trends, all while using proprietary software. He hopes to help modernize the region further and keep individuals within Southern Illinois both driven and entrepreneurial.
Luis Prado is a Junior majoring in Geography and Environmental Resources with a focus in Geographic Information Systems and minors in Biology and Environmental Studies. He is a Chancellor’s Scholar, McNair Scholar, and participant of multiple Honors Societies. He proudly serves as the Vice President of Cultural Experiences and Diversity for the Honors Assembly, Co-President and Co-Founder of our campus’s brand new registered student organization named Spoken Word, President of the Wall and Grand Area Council, Public Relations Officer for Saluki Service Dawgs, Chair Head and participant of multiple committees for my Fraternity- Phi Mu Alpha, member of the Chancellor's Scholars Programming and Advising Council, Ambassador for our University, and as an Ambassador for our Honors Program. This past summer of 2018 he participated in research in the Plant Biology Department assisting in the building of a catalog for the pollinators of Southern Illinois, next semester and this upcoming summer of 2019 he will be conducting research through the McNair Scholar Program under the mentorship of a professor in the Geography Department, and this upcoming summer of 2019 he will also aim to participate in an Internship with the City of Carbondale concerning GIS. Following my 2020 graduation he wishes to continue my education with a Master’s Degree in Remote Sensing or Statistics, followed by his entry into the United States Air Force.
Allison McMinn is a Junior in Electrical Engineering. This summer she was selected to participate in the Frontiers in Biomedical Engineering REU program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at UIUC she conducted research in their Experimental Molecular Imaging Laboratory in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Engineering under the guidance Dr. Wawrzyniec Dobrucki. The project she worked on was titled “Multiscale Multi-Modal Imaging of Ischemic Tissue after Therapy.” The goal of this research was to investigate the therapeutic response of patterned stem cells versus non-patterned stem cells in the treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease. This Fall, she is continuing her passion for research under a REACH grant with her mentor Dr. Ying Chen. Her research through SIU focuses on improving early detection of breast cancer through Digital Breast Tomosynthesis reconstruction algorithms. I have also recently started the Biomedical Engineering Society SIUC chapter.
Madison McMinn, a senior majoring in Chemistry, was selected for the highly competitive Harvard-Amgen Scholars Program this summer. The Amgen Scholars Program hosts approximately 350 students each year at 17 institutions in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. Only about the top 7% of students are accepted each year. As an Amgen Scholar, Madison conducted a project at Harvard Medical School under the guidance of Dr. Nathalie Agar titled "Mass Spectrometry Imaging using Cerium (IV) Oxide for Rapid Bacterial Detection in Tissue." This project has the capacity to decrease the time it takes for pathologists to detect a bacterial infection within a patient, which is a significant problem for immunocompromised individuals such as cancer patients. Her work is currently being drafted for publication in a scientific journal. This Fall, she is planning to continue this research project under the guidance of Dr. Gary Kinsel in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Thanks for all of your hard work, Madison!