Nichole Avery gave the University of Illinois Young Scholars Program (YSP) two-thumbs up. YSP jumpstarted her research career and kindled her newfound passion for oncology, a branch of medicine that studies tumors.
“Oncology is an extremely interesting and exciting field. I would not be involved in this field if it were not for YSP,” she said. “Through this program, I have gained valuable research experience that will be useful in my future career.”
This fall, she is attending the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine to follow her passion. Avery’s promising research career began with the YSP summer and year-long experience for incoming freshmen in the College of ACES.
She had the opportunity to work with Isaac Cann, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, studying origin recognition in archaea. At the end of the program, she wrote a 30-page research paper and presented her findings.
“I learned that research is challenging, tedious and demanding at times. But in the midst of it all it is still fun,” she said. “I also learned how research can impact the lives of everyone and how I can make an impact on society through research.”
Avery’s favorite YSP memory was her presentation at the close of the program.
“The presentation meant a lot to me because it validated the fact that I had learned valuable information and that I had accomplished something within a short amount of time,” she said. “It was exciting to stand before my peers and tell them about all I had done and experienced.”
To learn more about this exciting program, visit http://students.aces.illinois.edu/ysp.
As student in the Food Science Ph. D program at the University of Illinois, Sarah Scholl had the opportunity to put her skills to the test this past summer. She was able to work in the Space Food Systems Laboratory for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, working on a variety of projects.
Part of her responsibilities included verifying the shelf life of the food sent on the shuttle, creating a proposal on how to reduce the amount of food sent to space, and creating an experimental protocol on how to assess how astronauts’ taste changes on the International Space Station. Scholl said that she has “also had the opportunity to prepare food for tastings in the lab, using the same equipment available to the astronauts.”
One of the best opportunities Scholl was given through her internship with NASA was being able to travel to Cape Canaveral, FL, to see the last launch. She described it as “surreal and amazing to see the shuttle take off through the clouds, and know that my lab created all the food that was aboard.”
NASA, which utilizes a wide variety of different sciences, turned out to be a good fit for Scholl. This is something Scholl admires about her major at the university as well, with it including microbiology, engineering, chemistry, physics, etc. She says “I get to learn a little bit about everything, and there is always something new happening in the field.”
Sarah Herberger is on the way up in her chosen field. She recently became a restaurant manager in the wildly popular Wildfire chain, and as she reminisces about her career path, she traces her success to her decision to enroll in the hospitality management program in ACES’ Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN).
“My U of I experience did everything to prepare me for this job,” said the 2010 ACES grad. “FSHN does an amazing job of providing a curriculum that leads to success. It requires all the right courses, labs, internships, and networking opportunities that are needed for growth.”
Herberger profited enormously from the hands-on experience she gained in the Bevier kitchens with executive chef Jean-Louis Ledent, saying that some of her fondest college memories are of time spent with classmates there.
And her internship with Lettuce Entertainment You Restaurants led to her first post-college position at Wildfire Chicago, voted Chicago’s Best Restaurant in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
By now, the Mokena, Ill., native really knows her way around the restaurant business. At Wildfire, she has done everything from daily sales reports to creating the restaurant’s new Braille menus.
This small-town girl doesn’t hesitate to recommend U of I to prospective students who wonder if they’d thrive at a large university.
“The faculty welcome you with open arms, and you can never get lost. I had wonderful, well-known professors, teaching professionals, advisors, and deans who took the time to make sure I was learning to the best of my ability and that I was enjoying myself along the way.
“I love both food and science, so the U of I’s hospitality management program and the career I have now are the perfect fit for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience.”
If homework is not for you, consider studying abroad at Ireland’s University College Dublin (UCD).
Patricia Paulausky, a junior in agricultural engineering, studied at UCD in the spring of 2011. She said she did not have homework, only one or two projects throughout the semester, but the final exam counted for about 80 percent of her grade.
Despite the pressure to perform well on the final exams, Paulausky found the system was a better fit for her.
“Because I didn’t have the pressures of homework and midterm exams, I was better able to learn the material,” she said. “It’s a good system for people who are interested in their work and want to learn. It caters to people who are passionate about what they do.”
In Dublin, Paulausky worked with a Ph.D. student to develop a literature review on anaerobic digestion of food waste systems.
She also traveled extensively around the country and spent two weeks with the family of Eoin White, an Irish exchange student who studied in Paulausky’s home department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Paulausky said the semester she spent in Ireland was just what she needed. Before she left, Paulausky could be found in her lab at 11 p.m. on Friday. Her professors told her she needed to step away from her research and get away for a while.
“U of I is a top engineering school and it’s easy to get caught up in trying to compete,” she said. “I think Ireland helped me understand it’s really about learning. I know I can succeed and still maintain my sanity.”
Paulausky used an International Freshman Engineering Scholarship to fund the semester abroad.
Before attending college, Chicago native Naomi Harper participated in the Research Apprentice Program (RAP) in the College of ACES.
Harper learned about RAP from Jesse Thompson, Assistant Dean of Academic Programs in ACES, during an advisory board meeting at her high school.
“I have been involved in this program since my freshman year of high school. I started with RAP I-B during the summer after my freshman year. I’ve also participated in RAP II and the Young Scholars Program (YSP),” she said.
RAP II provided Harper with insight on what to expect as a food science and human nutrition major at the U of I before she was even in college.
“I utilized my experience to determine what I wanted to study at the University of Illinois,” Harper said.
Participating in RAP also aided Harper in adjusting to formal laboratory techniques and writing a scientific paper and constructing a poster. In addition, it improved her teamwork and social skills.
Harper recommends participating in RAP if you are in high school and considering attending the U of I.
For more information on the Research Assistant Program or Youth Scholars Program, visit http://summerprograms.aces.illinois.edu.
As an innovation scientist for McCain Foods, University of Illinois grad Landon Terry uses consumer insights and trend forecasting to develop new food products. He’s so good at it he’s won the Innovation Award two years running at a Chicagoland competition.
The scientist credits his University of Illinois experience for preparing him for his profession. “Being able to perform under pressure, provide a solid presentation to my company’s leadership team, and develop strategies to overcome obstacles—these all stem from my U of I education,” he said.
Terry praised the U of I’s well-rounded food science program. “Many of my colleagues didn’t have a sensory and food analysis course or a class that taught them to apply food science techniques in the kitchen as undergraduates. Because I did, my transition to R&D and later graduate studies was much easier,” he added.
Even when he travels internationally, the ACES grad meets people who are familiar with the U of I’s reputation for doing top-notch research.
“It’s certainly a benefit that I graduated from one of the top institutions in the country,” he said. “But two characteristics really set the U of I apart for me. First, I loved it that the ACES deans and my department head knew my name and always made time to meet with me. I wasn’t just another number to them.
“Second, the U of I works hard to support its alumni through free webinars, skills training seminars, and events that help us keep our skills relevant in these uncertain economic times,” he added.
Terry’s fondest memory of the U of I comes from the summer before he enrolled there. As a high-school student, he participated in ACES’ Research Apprentice and Young Scholars programs, and he and other students were doing some last-minute cramming that summer before finals.
“Suddenly we all looked at each other and realized that we were actually doing college work and felt confident about what we were doing. ACES gave us the support structure we needed to build our skills and self-esteem,” he said.
If a student wants a big-university experience with a small-college feel, Terry said you can’t do better than the U of I College of ACES.
“The friendly, supportive staff and the college’s focus on diversity domestically and abroad convinced me that ACES’ food science program was the place for me,” he said.
Few animal science internships have celebrity guest appearances. But Kyle Granger Jr. had the opportunity to see comedian Kevin James at his Midwest “Zookeeper” premier at the St. Louis Zoo.
Granger, an East Saint Louis native, conducted outreach programs through the zoo’s education department. He educated children and adults about worldwide conservation programs and the animals they protect.
“I enjoy reaching out to the community,” he said. “And when we teach the children and others about our animals, I educate myself as well.”
He believes that the University of Illinois provided him with the knowledge and interpersonal skills required to land this competitive internship as a freshman. The selection process is scrutinized by many people and to be selected as a freshman is an accomplishment, he said.
Granger majored in animal sciences to educate people about animals after witnessing mistreated and neglected animals in his neighborhood.
“People are not as informed about animals as they are about the latest electronics. Speaking with people about animals and how to care for them is important. It takes confidence and a will to talk with others,” he said.
He encouraged students to choose a major that keeps them interested rather than choosing one for its profitability.
“Always remember that no amount of wealth can compare to doing something you will always love and enjoy,” he said.
For Kelsey Sauder, a sophomore in human development and family studies from Roanoke, Ill., college is about trying new activities.
“Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, try something new, take risks and get out of your comfort zone,” Sauder said. “There are so many opportunities out there, and if you start trying some of them, you will have a better idea of where you fit the best.”
Being a JBT scholar has been quite an honor for Sauder.
“I have been impressed by how personal the program is,” she said. “I am really thankful that the scholarship program has given me so many opportunities at this school.”
The scholarship has also assisted Sauder with needed funding.
“I wasn’t able to receive much financial aid, so being able to receive a merit-based scholarship has helped me afford tuition,” she said.
Sauder says one of the greatest things about the education that the U of I provides is the global perspective it offers.
“In many of my classes, we discuss topics from various viewpoints that really empathize with people from different backgrounds,” Sauder said. “This type of inclusive worldview will help me to better serve those around me, regardless of commonalities.”
Sauder’s advice for JBT applicants is to relax during the interview process. She said it’s important to be yourself and avoid worry about impressing anyone.
She also encourages asking the judges questions because it will make the interview much more conversational and personal.
*Sauder is studying human development and family studies. She plans to graduate in May 2013.
James Karnia knew he wanted to be a veterinarian in grade school from the moment he saved a rabbit from a window well.
Today he is working towards becoming a veterinarian at the University of Illinois through animal sciences courses and his participation in the New Biology Fellows program, a mentor-guided research program for undergraduate students.
“This experience helps students discover career opportunities or work towards their career goals,” he said. “It turns students into much better candidates for graduate school and employment. It gives students an opportunity many don't receive.”
As a New Biology Fellow, Karnia will take part in a 12-week summer research immersion experience, an academic year of research and an optional second summer internship experience. In addition, he completed a graduate-level bioinformatics course and attends seminars to prepare him for graduate school.
“The New Biology Fellows program taught me the basic tools of bioinformatics to help me understand how to interpret research data,” he said. “The program also provided multiple workshops to improve my interview and leadership skills in addition to other skills that create successful candidates.”
Karnia studies the networks of genes related to inflammation. Inflammation is associated with many diseases and disorders such as depression, drug abuse and Alzheimer’s disease. Karnia hopes to help develop effective prognostic and therapeutic treatments for these ailments.
“I’ve learned a lot about the process of research and how much time and effort it takes,” he said. “We don’t magically find answers. It requires a great deal of patience, effort and commitment.”
Karnia said the program has provided him with confidence and a sense of importance.
“I am confident that I will be prepared for the future due to all of the skills and knowledge this fellowship has provided me,” he said. “My research gives me a sense of importance because the research being conducted is real and may someday produce groundbreaking advances in medicine.”