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UIS science programs receive Merck undergraduate research grant

March 9, 2006

SPRINGFIELD – Science programs at the University of Illinois at Springfield have received a $60,000 Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program grant to support summer student research projects. UIS is one of only 15 universities nationwide to receive these competitive grants, which will be paid out over three years and used to support four undergraduate students each summer.

The students, two biology majors and two chemistry majors, will be mentored in original research projects by faculty from UIS science programs, including Chemistry, Biology, and Clinical Laboratory Science. Faculty members who will serve as mentors are (from Chemistry) Keenan Dungey and Gary Trammell, assistant professor and professor, respectively; (from Biology) Michael Lemke, associate professor, and Amy McEuen and Lucia Vazquez, assistant professors; and (from Clinical Laboratory Science) Wayne Gade, assistant professor.

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Biology program at UIS
Chemistry program at UIS
Clinical Lab Science program at UIS
Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program

During the summer, the students will spend 10 weeks doing research full-time; in the fall, they will write a report summarizing their research. The reports will be presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research the following spring.

UIS students will work on two projects – “Chemical Characterization of Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Compounds from Selected Medicinal Plants” and “Microbial Community Diversity and Its Relationship to Water Quality at the Emiquon Preserve.”

The first project addresses the growing need to examine plants for potentially beneficial chemicals that may have medicinal value. Students will attempt to identify and isolate antimicrobial and antioxidant agents from three North American trees: black walnut, white oak, and red oak.

The other project builds on work in wetlands restoration already being conducted by UIS faculty and students in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.  Students will collect water samples from sites along the Illinois River and use various techniques to quantify microbial diversity, which will then be related to water quality tests.  This data will be used to help evaluate and monitor the health of the ecosystem.

Applications for student researchers are being accepted until March 20.  For more information or an application form, contact Dr. Keenan Dungey by phone at 217/206-7345, by fax at 217/206-6162, or by e-mail at KDung1@uis.edu.

Launched in 2000, the Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program is a national awards program administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The program is open to qualified institutions in the United States and Puerto Rico that offer an American Chemical Society-certified program in chemistry and confer 10 or fewer graduate degrees annually in biology and chemistry combined. The program goals are to enhance undergraduate education through research experiences that emphasize the interrelationship between chemistry and biology, encourage students to pursue graduate education in chemistry and life sciences, and foster undergraduate programs and activities that bridge chemistry and biology. For additional information, send an e-mail to merck@aaas.org or visit www.merckaaasusrp.org/.

The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based private, charitable foundation established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc. Key priorities are advancing biomedical science training and education and improving access to health care worldwide.

Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The organization fulfills its mission of “advancing science, serving society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, and science education.


    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.