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IC science students honored at statewide meeting


Several Illinois College students presented their student-faculty research and were recognized with awards at the Illinois State Academy of Science Annual Meeting held on April 13 at Millikin University.

The research I have done at IC will no doubt give me the confidence I need when I get to the next stage of my life.
Nicholas Roth '18, biochemistry major

Seven IC faculty along with 14 students attended, with three students making oral presentations and nine presenting posters in various areas of science including anthropology, archeology, botany, biology, chemistry and zoology.

Nicholas Roth ’18, of New Berlin, Illinois, was honored with the Illinois State Academy of Sciences Student Research Award to support his ongoing research examining cornea-lens regeneration by studying African-clawed frogs. Roth began his work entitled “Dikkopf (dkk) Expression in Xenopus laevis Ocular Tissues During Cornea-Lens Regeneration” with funding from the Billhartz Summer Research Program in the summer of 2017. His work was completed in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Biology Paul Hamilton. 

The biochemistry major says he has learned numerous lessons working on student-faculty research including the ability to have patience for results that may turn out differently than expected. He also mastered valuable lab techniques and gained critical thinking skills that will help him in medical school as he pursues a future career as a surgeon. 

“Dr. Hamilton constantly challenged us to think about the research we conducted in a critical way,” said Roth. “He really drove our lab group to apply critical thinking in our research and not to be just satisfied with understanding what we were doing on a basic level. I really believe this has made me a better student.”

News that he had been awarded the competitive grant by the selective ISAS committee along with only three other students in the state, left Roth feeling honored and grateful for the guidance he received at IC. 

“I couldn’t have been happier to receive this award. With Dr. Hamilton’s guidance, I was able to construct a really well written proposal and ultimately win this exclusive grant,” said Roth. “The research I have done at IC will no doubt give me the confidence I need when I get to the next  stage of my life.” 

In addition to his student-faculty research, Roth participated in the Medical School Preparation Program last summer, has held various leadership positions in Sigma Pi literary society and worked to promote healthy lifestyle choices on IC’s campus as a peer health educator. He is currently awaiting acceptance to medical school. 

Additional awards went to two IC students who were each given first place awards for their oral presentations. Students honored were Jerome Thomas ’18, of Rock Island, Illinois, for his work collaborating with Assistant Professor of Biology Miranda Carbon entitled “Assessing Occipital Bone Morphology and Brain Growth in a Developmental Study of Extant Humans,” in the category of anthropology and archeology, and Rachel Helmich ’18, of Virginia, Illinois, for her study collaborating with Eve Bahler ’19 and  Professor of Biology Lawrence Zettler, “Viability of Orchid Endophytes in Prolonged Cool (4-6° C) Storage for Conservation Purposes,” in the category of botany. 

Sean Kisch ’18, of Elgin, Illinois, also worked with Hamilton on a study that earned an honorable mention on his poster presentation entitled “Generation of Transgenic Xenopus laevis Expressing Constitutively Active BetaCatenin.” Kisch will attend his top choice for medical school, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, in fall 2018. 

Many of the research projects presented at the ISAS meeting will also be presented on Illinois College’s campus on Friday, April 27 as part of the Celebration of Excellence. A full listing of events for the day is available at

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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