University News

Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day Held at Western Illinois University

April 18, 2013

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL - The 2013 Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Day - A Celebration of Research, Scholarship and Creativity was held Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17 in the University Union.

WIU President Jack Thomas and Provost Ken Hawkinson each spoke during the event and presented each participant with a certificate of merit.

This year's keynote speaker was Alex Heuer, an award-winning producer for St. Louis Public Radio.

Heuer graduated from Western with a degree in history/secondary education and was named Centennial Honors College Scholar in Fall 2008. He writes, edits and reports live programming, and his reports have been featured on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered." The title of Alex's URD speech was "Undergraduate Research: An Essential Public Service."

Podium presentations were held throughout the two days, and poster presentations were held on Wednesday. All entries were judged by panels of professors representing departments and schools throughout the University.

URD 2013 Poster Winners
First place - Marina Small, a junior biology major from Macomb, with Assistant Professor Andrea Porras-Alfaro, BIOLOGY— "Survey of Thermophilic Fungi In Western Illinois Grain Elevators."

Second Place - Brian Knecht, a senior geology major from Macomb, with Assistant Professor Thomas Hegna, GEOLOGY— "First CT-Scan Reconstruction of Graephonus, A Late Carboniferous Whip Spider (Arachnida: Ambliypygi) from Coseley, Staffordshire, UK."

Third Place - Jeremy Gianonnone, a senior chemistry major from Naperville, IL, with Assistant Professor Jin Jin and Instructor Shaozhong Zhang, CHEMISTRY— "Synthesis and Study of Novel Macrocycles."

URD 2013 Podium Winners
First Place - Jennifer Mitchell, a senior English major from Marietta, IL, with Assistant Professor Rebekah Buchanan, ENGLISH AND JOURNALISM— "Employing Media in Pre-Reading Strategies."

Second Place - Zachary Andrew, a senior biology major from East Moline, IL, with Professor Scott Holt, BIOLOGY— "Leuconostoc Bacteria on Defined Growth Media vs. Complex Growth Media."

Third Place--John Johnson, a junior political science major from Macomb, with Assistant Professor Greg Baldi, POLITICAL SCIENCE— "The German Pirate Party: Post-Materialist Politics in the 21st Century."

URD 2013 Performance Winner
First Place--Andrea Owens, a senior music major from Martinton, IL, with Professor Randall Faust, MUSIC— "Performing on Natural Horn and Modern Horn: How Music Was Written for Each Instrument and What Elements Both Instruments Bring to Performance."

The winners received awards supported by the WIU Foundation. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Services established the prizes, which are supported by the deans of the academic colleges: Arts and Sciences; Education and Human Services; Business and Technology; Fine Arts and Communication and the University Libraries.

To view the abstracts of the 2013 Undergraduate Research Day, visit and select "Honors Special Events."

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing