Our Students

2019 Illinois Young Innovator of the Year

The Department of Chemistry is very proud of senior Chemistry major Natalie Kerr who won the Falling Walls Illinois competition. She will compete in November at the Falling Walls Lab global finale in Berlin, Germany.

News release of Kerr award

2019 Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of Department of Chemistry awards:

  • Chemistry Program Marshal– Craig Meredith (not pictured)
  • Biochemistry Program Marshal and Department of Chemistry Honors Recipient– Chantz Pinder

  • Chemistry Outstanding Senior– Rebecca Smith (not pictured)
  • Biochemistry Outstanding Senior, and Department of Chemistry Honors Recipient– Sasha Glickfield

  • Outstanding First Year Chemistry Student– Rory Carlson

  • Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student– Kelsey Hall

  • Department of Chemistry Honors Recipient– Christian Timm

  • Department of Chemistry Honors Recipient– Kevin Wilkerson (not pictured)

Students Present Research

The 2019 Student Technology Arts and Research Symposium included four oral presentations and three posters presented by chemistry and biochemistry majors. Congratulations to all 11 students on their hard work and quality presentations.

chemistry students and their advisors that presented at UIS STARS 2019
Chemistry majors that presented their research accomplishments at UIS STARS 2019
Chemistry students presented posters of their research at UIS STARS 2019

STARS 2019 Chemistry students with research poster

Student Visits US Senator



Student Laureate Award

2018 Biennial Conference on Chemical Education

Combined research team from UIS, MRU and UCD
UIS Undergraduate Biochemistry student Chantz Pinder presented his research along with colleagues from Mount Royal University and the University of California – Davis

 Alumni Spotlight!

Jayson Coble BS Chemistry 2001 is now an Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant at St. John’s Hospital. Read more here! 

 2017 Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of Department of Chemistry awards:

  • Chemistry Program Marshal – Carolyn Mazzuca

  • Biochemistry Program Marshal – Jarrett Lindsay

Dr. Morsch handing award to 2017 Biochemistry program marshal

  • Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student – Chantz Pinder

Dr. Morsch handing award to 2017 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student

  • Outstanding First Year Chemistry Student – Hailey Hollinshead

Dr. Morsch handing award to 2017 Outstanding First Year Chemistry Student

Ian Tinsley ‘15

Major: Chemistry
Ian in front of research poster

Ian Tinsley graduated from UIS in Spring of 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. He decided to pursue a Master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University where he has worked with Dr. Kraig Wheeler on molecular recognition with quasiracemic systems. He has presented his work at the American Crystallographic Association and American Chemical Society Meetings. Ian will graduate from EIU this spring and was selected for the Distinguished Graduate Student Award and the Graduate Student Investigator Award. He will carry on his studies in the PhD program at Syracuse University in Fall of 2017.

Ashley Hollinshead ‘17

Hometown: Rochester, IL
Major: Chemistry
Future Plans: Become a doctor

Ashley Hollinshead

Learn more about Ashley

As an undergraduate student, Chemistry major and Capital Scholars Honors Program member Ashley Hollinshead is getting to do hands-on research at the University of Illinois Springfield. She was recently chosen, along with ten other UIS students, to present her research at the University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day at the Illinois State Capitol. Her love of science has led her to apply for medical school. She’s not sure what type of doctor she wants to be yet, but she knows she’ll be working in a field she loves. Hollinshead fell in love with UIS during a campus visit in high school. “I would choose UIS again in a heartbeat,” she said.

Leadership is lived at UIS. Every day.

Daniell Bennett ’16

Hometown: Pekin, IL
Major: Chemistry
Accepted to Medical school Fall 2016

Daniell Bennett

The University of Illinois Springfield was a top choice for Daniell Bennett. Between the location, small class sizes, and opportunities for involvement and networking, she says she knew it would provide everything necessary to prepare her for medical school. Chemistry plays a large role in her everyday life. She does research on water quality at the UIS Emiquon Research Station and in 2015 she travelled to New York with two professors to contribute to their research. The exhibit, titled “The Secret World Inside You,” was displayed at the American Museum of Natural History. Bennett has also held leadership positions in the Alternative Spring Break volunteer organization.

Leadership is lived at UIS. Every day.

Ashley Bowers ’16

Hometown: Elgin, IL
Major: Chemistry
Accepted to a PhD program in Chemistry Fall 2016

Ashley Bowers

Ashley loves to volunteer! At the University of Illinois Springfield, she’s a member of the Leadership for Life service organization, which gives back to the Springfield community. She’s also the Chemistry Club Treasurer, and a math lab tutor. She recently spent a summer interning with the U.S. Department of Energy at the Argonne National Laboratory. She chose to come to UIS because of its friendly atmosphere and small class sizes.

Leadership is lived at UIS. Every day.

Ritesh Uppuluri ‘14

Accepted to a PhD program in Chemistry Fall 2014

Ritesh Uppuluri undergraduate research student in chemistry

UIS Graduate Mark Frakes ’12 Named James Scholar Fall 2013

Completed Medical School and currently a medical resident – Fall 2016


Mark Frakes, a 2012 graduate in Chemistry from UIS, has been named as a James Scholar at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford.  This is an honors research program for outstanding students to expand their intellectual curiosity and pursue a research project in medicine.  Scholars are required to meet stringent application criteria and demonstrate increased academic rigor.  Completion of the James Scholar program is a significant achievement that is recognized at graduation.

Mark’s research project will attempt to further understand the properties and mechanisms of a novel anti-cancer compound, T-oligo. Previous in vitro and in vivo studies have shown t-oligo to be an effective anti-cancer compound against malignant melanoma cell lines. Currently, faculty and students with in the Medical Biotechnology(MBT) department at the Rockford campus are looking into the structure of t-oligo as well as peptides that can be used to stabilize the molecule in vivo. He will collaborate with the MBT faculty and students, including UIS Chemistry alumnus Luke Wojdyla, to further the understanding of t-oligo and its use an anti-cancer agent.

2013 ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis

2013 Dungey Uppuluri Tiburzi poster Klingshirn and Kramer poster UIS Chemistry students and faculty at ACS


3 UIS Chemistry majors presented their research at the 246th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Indianapolis September 2013.  Ritesh Uppuluri presented a poster with Dr. Dungey titled Enhancing bacterial denitrification rates by using zero valent iron nanoparticles(nZVI).  Dyllan Tiburzi discusses his poster Greening the Wittig and other reactions for the undergraduate organic teaching laboratory of research he conducted with Dr. Morsch.  Troy Kramer presented work with Dr. Klinhshirn titled Greener analogs of the bis-(pyridine)iodine(I) nitrate salt.

2012 Outstanding Student Research Thesis Award for Hillary Rikli ’12

In 2012, senior chemistry major Hillary G. Rikli received the inaugural Outstanding Student Research Thesis Award for her work with Dr. Stephen R. Johnson, a neuropharmacologist. Gifts to chemistry helped fund this award.

Hillary first contacted Dr. Johnson in the summer after her junior year. She knew from a previous class that his research involved venom and their potential for therapeutic drug development.

“He talked about his research often,” Hillary says. “He was very, very passionate about it, so I knew I wanted to work with him. Now I’m so glad I did.”

Dr. Johnson decided to involve Hillary on his bullet ant research. The notorious bullet ant’s painful sting causes pain comparable to being shot.  According to the Schmidt Pain Index, the bullet ant’s sting ranks as the most painful in the insect world. Hillary also worked with the venom from wasps, scorpions, and spiders.

Hillary’s work in research has sparked her to continue her education in graduate school as she hopes to further develop her skills and knowledge for pharmaceutical development.

More than a job, however, Hillary’s research with Dr. Johnson elevated her ability to lead.  “Every student has responsibilities,” she says, “but they fulfill those to reach their personal goals. Doing undergraduate research, I had to be responsible for Dr. Johnson. This was his research, and I had to be independent and responsible for his sake.  I’m a better leader because of that.”


Dyllan Tiburzi ’14 and Dr. Morsch presentation at BCCE 2012

Dyllan Tiburzi and Layne Morsch BCCE 2012

Dyllan Tiburzi, a junior in the chemistry department presented the results of his research project, “Using Aqueous Wittig Reactions to Teach Green Organic Chemistry ” at the 22nd Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at Penn State University July 30, 2012 with Dr. Layne Morsch. His coauthors included past chemistry majors Brittney Meyer (’12) and Harrison Schuster (’12) as well as current junior Leanne Deak. Dr. Morsch is an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Aubrey Watson presentation at ACS 2012

Watson ACS presentation

Senior chemistry major Aubrey Watson presented the results of her research project, “Zero Valent Iron Nanoparticle (nZVI) Preparation by a Sustainable Method and Application in Bacterial Denitrification” at the 243rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego on March 27. Her coauthors included chemistry senior James R. Johnson, and alumni Stephanie Gorsuch (’10) and Nicole Vanderpool (’10) . Ms. Watson and Mr. Johnson also presented their results at UIS StARS on April 13. Their faculty mentor is Dr. Keenan E. Dungey, associate professor and chair of chemistry.


Congratulations to the 2011 Chemistry Graduates!

2011 UIS Chemistry Graduates 2011 UIS Chemistry Commencement

Kimberly Bartosiak, a senior majoring in chemistry at UIS, has received the Student Laureate Award for 2010 from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.


The Lincoln Academy’s Student Laureate Awards are presented for excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities to seniors from each of the four-year, degree granting colleges and universities in Illinois.

“These students have exhibited a personal commitment to excel as seen by their remarkable academic accomplishments,” said Thomas S. Johnson, Chancellor of the Lincoln Academy, who added, “They serve as role models to other Illinois students. With hard-working and dedicated young leaders such as these, Illinois and the rest of the nation can look forward to a bright future.”

Kimberly was one of 48 students to be honored in a ceremony in the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield on Nov 6. Each winner received a Student Laureate Medallion, an honorarium and a certificate of achievement. The event marked the 36th year that students have been honored by the academy.

Kimberly got involved in research as a Merck Scholar working on a collaborative project with biology and chemistry at the Emiquon Field Station and various other lakes throughout central Illinois. She presented this work at the AAAS conference and UIS Science Symposium in 2009.  Since then, she has continued in research in a Neuropharmacology lab at the Southern Illinois University Medical School, working on determining the composition of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors within a specific nucleus of the brain.  She received the Hemal Vakharia Memorial Award for this work.  She is currently focusing on determining the morphology of neurons in a region of the brainstem.

Kimberly was a two time recipient of the Avery Brundage student athlete scholarship, while she played volleyball at UIS.   Kimberly has also been involved with community service.  While at UIS she has spent time serving at St. John’s Breadline and mentored underprivileged junior-high and high school girls.  She currently volunteers regularly as a Samaritan at St. John’s Hospital.

Ms. Bartosiak is currently applying to medical schools and plans to specialize in either neurology or neurosurgery.