Patrick Combs '22
For Patrick Combs ’22, his Illinois College experience was all about the connections he made with professors and the hands-on learning he gained in and out of the classroom.
“It was great being able to build personal relationships with my professors. There’s not so much of a barrier there because of the small classes and that makes it really fun.”
As a chemistry major, Patrick had many opportunities for research and field trips, such as a day spent at Springfield Plastics, Inc., which helped him find an interest in plastic production and environmental issues caused by microplastics. With assistance from Associate Professor of Chemistry Jocelyn Lanorio, he focused his senior capstone project on the photodegradation of microplastics in an oceanic environment and, more specifically, how those microplastics affect the development of zooplankton.
“Dr. Lanorio was my professor for my first semester in organic chemistry and she really pushed me to do my best. She is a really good teacher, so she’s been very influential throughout my entire college career.”
As he pursued this interest, he also got involved with extracurricular activities like baseball, the intramural men’s volleyball team, and the IC Scholars Honors program, while also working as a resident assistant. Combs was also the recipient of the 2021 Arthur Hart Prize award, which is given to an outstanding chemistry major entering their junior year who shows promise of academic achievement in the field.
After graduation, Patrick spent the summer at Southern Illinois University Carbondale taking part in a research experience for undergraduates. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in chemistry at Oklahoma State University and working in the Mohanty Lab. He has a graduate teaching assistantship and continues researching the topics he’s most interested in — 3D modeling of proteins to produce more environmentally-friendly pesticides.
“Doing things during my undergraduate education that are similar to what I’m doing in the next step of my career, such as research and writing proposals in my classes, has given me the confidence to take that next step with the knowledge that I’m at the same level as my peers.”