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Strong showing for NIU student researchers

March 17, 2014
Lauren Grabstanowicz

Lauren Grabstanowicz

NIU students fared quite well, thank you very much, in the recent poster competitions held during the prestigious annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

Lauren Grabstanowicz, who is pursuing her pursuing Ph.D. in nanochemistry, and Robert Rickard, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, won first place for their poster in the Physical Sciences category. The poster depicted their research on photocatalysis in the purification process of wastewater.

Both Grabstanowicz and Rickard are associated with the research group led by NIU chemistry and biochemistry professor Tao Xu.

“Presenting at a major conference is a little nerve-racking in knowing that you are competing against elite students within your profession,” says Grabstanowicz, a native of Bolingbrook who is supported by a fellowship through NIU’s Institute for Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology.

She says the advising of Professor Xu and her education in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry made her well prepared to present research before an audience of top scientists and the general public.

Shannon Boi

Shannon Boi

“After an hour or so, you forget that you are at a major conference and start to feed on the excitement that your research is generating from the audience,” Grabstanowicz says. “The best aspect of presenting is the wide variety of scientists you encounter and realizing the potential impact we have as scientists.”

Grabstanowicz and Rickard will receive a cash prize from AAAS, along with certificates of recognition. They will also be recognized in a spring issue of Science and receive a one-year AAAS membership, which includes a subscription to the journal.

The AAAS Student Poster Competition recognizes the individual research efforts of students who are actively working toward an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree. Posters were judged at the meeting.

Several other NIU students also were recognized for their work.

Graduate student Shannon Boi and two undergraduates, Joel Dennison and Bailey Rhoads, were awarded honorable mention in the category of Developmental Biology, Physiology and Immunology. They are researching ways to identify and characterize novel mediators of the inflammatory response in the human body. The trio works under the supervision of Sherine Elsawa, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Disa Patel with her adviser, profesor Tomoyuki Shibata

Disa Patel with her adviser, profesor Tomoyuki Shibata

Additionally, Disa Patel, an NIU graduate student in public health, received an honorable mention award in the category of Medicine and Public Health.

Patel’s research, conducted in Indonesia last summer, assesses traffic-related exposure to air pollution. Patel is advised by Tomoyuki Shibata, a professor of public health and an associate of the university’s Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, & Energy.

Students receiving honorable mention awards also will be recognized with an award certificate and a mention in a spring issue of Science, as well as on the AAAS Annual Meeting website.