LAS students receive Beckman Institute awards

Eight students in the college are honored for research
Beckman Institute
Eight students from the College of LAS have received awards from the Beckman Institute.

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois named eight students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as recipients of the 2019 Beckman Institute student awards.

Beckman is an interdisciplinary research institute devoted to leading groundbreaking research in the physical sciences, computation, engineering, biology, behavior, cognition, and neuroscience. Each year, the institute honors outstanding work of undergraduate and graduate students with a variety of awards including the Beckman Institute Undergraduate Fellowship, the Carle Neuroscience Institute Undergraduate Research Award, and the Erik Haferkamp Memorial Award for Undergraduate Research.

The students will be honored for their achievements at a ceremony in May. A list and descriptions of the award winners follows:

Beckman Institute Undergraduate Fellowship
Supported by funding from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the fellowship offers University of Illinois undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the institute during the summer.

José González Abreu is a junior double majoring in psychology and molecular and cellular biology, with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. He plans to continue his research with psychology professor Justin Rhodes. He’s examining the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) on anemonefish, including how six months’ worth of exposure to the chemical will affect the fish’s behavior, sex hormones, brain gene expression, and gonads.

Douglas Chan is a junior studying chemistry and conducts research with Jefferson Chan, professor of chemistry. Douglas is pursuing research using photoacoustic imaging for early, non-invasive detection of prostate cancer. His plan is to develop a photoacoustic probe that can report on hypoxia, or the absence of adequate oxygen, specifically in prostate tumors by targeting a protein often over-expressed in prostate cancers.

Ilber Manavbasi is a sophomore majoring in molecular and cellular biology honors, and he conducts research with educational psychology Professor Elizabeth Stine-Morrow. His research could develop new methods to promote cognitive resilience and healthy brain aging. This summer, he will study the placebo effect and motivation within experiments on working memory and cognitive training.

Ewelina Nowak is a junior double majoring in psychology and molecular and cellular biology, and is pursuing a certificate in neuroscience. She’s leading a research project in psychology professor Justin Rhodes’ lab that is exploring how neuroendocrinology affects fathering behavior in anemonefish. Her work will study how male fish react to eggs that are not their own; which could help her better understand how neurobiology affects parental care in other species, including humans.

Masumi Prasad is a junior studying psychology, with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a minor in molecular and cellular biology. She works with molecular and integrative physiology professor Daniel Llano. She plans to study how different layers in the central auditory system help the brain process different sounds.

Carle Neuroscience Institute Undergraduate Research Award
These awards allow promising undergraduates to pursue research in neuroscience or psychology at the Beckman Institute in collaboration with clinicians in the Neuroscience Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital during the summer.

Grace Ikenberry is a junior studying psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a minor in communication. She’ll work with human development and family studies professor Nancy McElwain in the Interdisciplinary Lab for Social Development. Ikenberry will contribute specifically to the Infant Development Project with the goal of learning how parent-child interactions predict brain structures and functions at the end of the child’s first year.

Clementine Zimnicki is a junior studying psychology with a minor in gender and women’s studies. She works in the Attention and Perception Lab with psychology professor Diane Beck. She plans to study how occipitoparietal alpha oscillations are related to attention lapses, and whether the type of task being conducted during the task matters. Understanding such lapses could provide insight into disorders where |attention is compromised, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Erik Haferkamp Memorial Award for Undergraduate Research
In honor of Erik Haferkamp’s life and achievements, his family, friends, and colleagues established the Erik Haferkamp Memorial Fund, which provides awards to undergraduate students who are conducting research in neuroscience at the Beckman Institute.

Rana Youssef is a junior majoring in molecular and cellular biology honors, with minors in chemistry and Arabic studies. She conducts research with Catherine Christian, professor of molecular and integrative physiology. She will study the links between epilepsy and dysfunction of the reproductive endocrine system, and how differences in the structures of the brain relate to them both.


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The Beckman Institute