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Fifty-seven WIU students participated in the recent Biology Research Symposium.
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WIU Biology Research Symposium Winners Announced

April 8, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – The 13th annual Biology Research Symposium at Western Illinois University was held Friday, April 3 in Waggoner Hall.

A total of 54 graduate and undergraduate students participated in poster and oral presentations. A dessert completion was also held as part of the event.

Students who were honored as part of the event include:

Graduate Oral Presentations

1. Tad Locher, a graduate student in biology from Springfield, IL, for "Analysis of Blue Catfish (lctalurus Furcatus) Gut Contents: An Assessment of Feeding Adaptation in Response to Asian Carp Invasion in the Mississippi River Basin."

2. Rebekah Haun, a graduate student in biology from McNabb, IL, for "Comparison of Fish Community Composition and Structure Among River Researchers of the Upper Mississippi River: Determining the Effects of Lock and Dam 19 in Structuring Fish Assemblages."

3. Terry Torres Cruz, a graduate student in biology from Costa Rica for "Isolation and Molecular Characterization of Heavy Metal Tolerant Fungi."

Graduate Posters

1. Jay Vonbank, a graduate student in biology from Jordan, MN, for "An Assessment of Aquatic Invasive Plants in the Illinois River: Water Hyacinth Surveillance, Mapping, Persistence and Potential Seed Dispersal Vectors."

2. Jeff Woodyatt, a graduate student in biology from Tampico, IL, for "Effects of Prescribed Burning and White-Tailed Deer Browsing on the Structure and Diversity of Woodland Plant Communities of Prairie Glen, IL."

3. Eli Lampo, a graduate student in biology from Crystal Lake, IL, for "A Comparison of Fish Communities in Contiguous Backwater and Vegetated, Impounded Areas of Pool 19, Upper Mississippi River."

Undergraduate Posters

1. Sophia Caban, a senior biology major from Chicago, IL, for "Active Surveillance of Aedes Mosquitoes in West-Central Illinois: Detection of Invasive Species and Disease Vectors."

2. Sarah Wilcer, a senior biology major from Lombard, IL, for "Invasive Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio) Population Dynamics in Spring Lake."

3. Brittany Havener, a senior biology major from Springfield, IL, for "Dissecting the Signaling Pathways Associated with WT-MV/SLAM – Mediated Binding and Entry in Human Antigen Presenting Cells."

The dessert competition was won by biology graduate student Maha Alzaben, of Saudi Arabia, with her cupcakes.

For more information about the WIU Department of Biology, visit

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