School of
Integrative Biology

All of our alumni mentors are available for conversations, informational interviews, advice, and mentorship, depending on what is most beneficial to you.

It's easy to connect with professionals in your fields of interest - email Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu and she will match you to the right person for you! After a short conversation we can identify the person who will be most helpful for you and make an introduction. Christina can help you figure out what to say in that initial email, what kinds of questions to ask, and how to maintain a strong professional network.


Expand the categories below to see what IB alumni are doing with their degrees!

 

Steve Caldwell

Title: Senior Manager, Quality Assurance
Employer: Illumina

Steve is a tried and true Illini - he got both his B.S. and M.S. here, and is excited to share his experiences as a Biology student and in the biotech workforce.

Steve is pointing to a new enzyme manufacturing building initiative in Madison, WI. He is leading portions of the project involving facility, utility, equipment, and enzyme processing areas. His responsibilities include defining the overall approach in a master plan, building teams to perform the work identified in the master plan, and relocation of an existing manufacturing facility into the new facility shown in the picture. This project is one of his main responsibilities for the next 2 years.

Steve is a great person to talk to about the MANY skills you need besides technical knowledge in the workforce. He is also a wonderful person to ask about careers in science, engineering, management, and quality assurance. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Steve.

 

Sally Feng

Title: Educator
Employer: Salvadori Center
Previous Role: Environmental Educator, Student Conservation Association & AmeriCorps Member

Sally was incredibly involved in Integrative Biology and service as an undergraduate, balancing research, field courses, study abroad, service trips, and leadership positions. After graduating she spent nine months in the Philippines as a Fulbright Research Scholar. She translated those passions for people, travel, and nature into Environmental Educator positions across the States. She has educated well over 5,000 people in her many positions across the States and the globe.

She currently teaches STEAM project-based programs focused on the built environment to K-12 students at NYC public schools, public housing communities, temporary housings and after-school sites through the Salvadori Center.

Sally is a great person to talk to about how to translate your experiences and passions into a career, and how to balance your coursework with enrichment experiences. If you love both people and nature, she is also a great person to talk to about career options! Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Sally.

 

Christina Andersen

Title: Analyst
Employer: Siemens Healthineers

Christina got her degree in Integrative Biology, and immediately worked for Eli Lilly and Company as a Scientist. Her interests in public health and business further developed while at Lilly and she eventually went to graduate school at Johns Hopkins for a Masters of Public Health and MBA. She puts her unique blend of skills to good use in her position as an Analyst for Siemens Healthineers. She works in corporate strategy, and spends a lot of time looking at various healthcare markets to understand trends to determine how they affect Siemens Healthineers. Additionally, she supports M&A and venture capital pipeline development for the six business areas at Siemens Healthineers.

Her IB degree gave her a strong foundation in biochemistry and robust analytical skills that help her vet emerging health technologies aimed at improving patient health.

Siemens is a German company with offices all over the world. Christina is in a rotational leadership program with three 8-month long rotations that must be in different geographic locations and business areas. This is a photo of her on the roof of Siemens' D.C. office, which hosts a team specializing in health policy and advocacy, which is a great match for her background in public health and health policy. Her first rotation is in the New York City area and the second one starts in January 2018 and she has yet to decide her next one!

Christina is a great person to talk to about working in the industry, including pharma and med device companies. If you're interested in graduate school or how to create and leverage a strong network, she'd love to share some insights as well. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Christina.

 

Mark DiMartino

Title: Director of Quality Engineering
Employer: Amgen

Mark graduated from UIUC in 1998 with a BS in Cellular and Structural Biology. He began and ended college thinking he would go to Med school, but after being waitlisted he took a job for the EPA. The skills and experience learned there helped him gain employment at Abbott Laboratories supporting the manufacture of immunodiagnostic assays as a technical support scientist. In this role, he learned that analyzing data was more enjoyable than generating data in the lab, which led to an MS in applied statistics.

Mark's career eventually took to Southern California working as a Quality Engineer for Amgen Inc, a biotechnology company. His roles utilize his unique understanding of biology and statistics to help scientists solve problems in manufacturing, development, quality, and even business operations.

Mark is a great person to talk to about how the skills you learn in your IB degree can be used in many different careers, even those you never anticipated! If you are dead set on one career that can be a great way to plan your next steps, but talk to Mark about how to plan for different options, just in case you want or need to pursue another path.

"None of your experiences are wasted, you just have to know how they can be applied"

Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Mark.

 

Clint Kowalik

Clint Kowalik Title: Learn to Fish Coordinator
Employer: Indiana DNR

Clint loves to fish! He got a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Fish and Wildlife Ecology here at UIUC, and then went on to work for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He has been an intern, Fisheries Aide, Assistant Fisheries Biologist, and currently is the coordinator of the state's sport fishing education program. He gets to teach the public how to fish, and share his love of nature, and gets paid for it!

Clint learned how to be an educator (and administrator) on the job, and is a great person to talk to about how to learn a skill without a formal degree (which most of us have to do!). Clint is also a great person to talk to if you love wildlife, or if you want to know what it’s like to be an environmental educator.

You can contact Clint directly at ckowalik@dnr.in.gov. Learn more about Clint at https://www.linkedin.com/in/clint-kowalik-b9881332/

 

Grant Hansen

Title: Founder
Employer: Consensus LLC
Prior Position: Market Reseach Analyst

After finishing his undergraduate biology degree, Grant stayed at Illinois to complete his Professional Science Master’s degree. He balanced his diverse interests, especially for science and business, by taking advantage of opportunities that made him stand out, such as becoming proficient in statistics and engaging in the community. He participated in student-lead business consulting groups, gained work experience in sales, and connected with people in the industry.

He has worked as a marketing analyst, in product development, as a market research analyst, and is now the founder of his own company, Consensus LLC. Grant currently helps businesses, typically in biotech and agriculture, identify best possible approaches in entering new markets. His service scope is broad and even spans into implementation and training.

Grant would be a great person to talk to about balancing and fostering diverse interests, launching your own company, and how to be proactive in gaining experience and skills for the job market. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Grant.

 

Leslie Geibel

Title: Genetic Counselor
Employer: North Shore University Health System

Leslie Geibel graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Biology, and went on to receive her MS in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern. She has been able to provide genetic counseling to underserved populations and to the greater public in hospital settings.

Leslie is currently a prenatal genetic counselor at North Shore University Health System Evanston Hospital. She is part of a team of genetic counselors who meet with women and couples before or during pregnancy, identifying potential heritable diseases and serving as a resource and counselor for her patients. She explains complex genetic concepts to patients and to help them make informed decisions regarding genetic screening and testing. Leslie is a Certified Genetic Counselor through the American Board of Genetic Counseling and is on Faculty at Northwestern University through the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling.

If you love genetics, problem solving, applied medicine, or helping those in need, Leslie is a great person to talk to! She would also be a great person to talk to about health-related professions that aren’t traditional practitioner roles. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Leslie.

 

Gail Kampmeier

Gail Kampmeier Title: Affiliate
Employer: University of Illinois, Prairie Research Institute, Illinois Natural History Survey

Although her B.A. was in French, after arriving in Illinois, Gail would discover that she could combine newly found interests in insects and plant pathology by studying their ability to vector plant diseases. Thus began a 30+ year career during which she obtained a graduate degree at Illinois in Entomology, which helped prepare her for this profession, giving her the confidence and foundations on which to build. She worked at the Illinois Natural History Survey as a Senior Research Entomologist, doing team research on aphids as vectors of plant viruses and all scales of movement of these vectors. She also worked with biodiversity informatics and standards for sharing information about specimens, taxonomic history, literature, and images. Retired since 2010, Gail has remained active in both the biodiversity information standards and entomology communities. She has been a proponent of diversity in the sciences, especially of fostering and retaining women.

Gail would be an excellent person to talk to about non-teaching research options, transitioning to a new field, or working with diverse audiences. See also https://blogs.illinois.edu/view/7283/480922 and her ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5178-4170. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Gail.

 

Mark Tiritilli, M.D.

Title: Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Employer: Indiana University School of Medicine, Eskenazi Health Medical Group

Mark got his bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution here at Illinois. This provided him with a great foundation in the biological sciences which he now uses as a primary care physician. He is the Associate Medical Director of his clinic, which is a federally qualified community health center. He sees primary care patients and is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. He also teaches medical students and residents as an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

Mark would be a great person to talk to if you are interested in medical school, internal medicine, pediatrics, or community health. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Mark.

 

Caroline Martorano

Title: Botanist and Project Manager
Employer: Harris Environmental Group
Prior Position: Botanist, Quinault Indian Nation; Fire Ecology Graduate Assistant, Humboldt State University

Caroline studied plant biology during her time as an IB major – she was involved with the Pollen Lab and worked with Grand Prairie Friends managing invasive species and collecting native seeds as an intern. As an IB major, was able to find her passion in plant biology, ecology and conservation by experiencing a breadth of fields and research methods. She had several internships after graduation that allowed her to gain valuable conservation and plant biology experiences, and travel across the States.

She is currently a Botanist and Project Manager for an environmental consulting firm where she works with government, tribes, and companies to manage invasive species, delineate wetlands, collect forestry data, and provide expertise to help protect the land and environment. At her firm she works with wildlife biologists, GIS specialists, archeologists, and NEPA planners. Half of her job is managing projects, including collecting data, developing a plan, and hiring and managing field crews. The other half is writing proposals, marketing, and networking to find new projects. Because those projects could be anywhere in the States, she often travels to new locations, rather than managing one single land like when she was a Lead Botanist.

During her time as a Botanist for the Quinault Indian Nation, Caroline managed restoration projects on the 200,000+ acre Quinault Indian Reservation involving invasive species control, native planting, and prairie burns. The most exciting part of her job was being the project manager for the first prairie burn the tribe has had in 150 years, since the use of fire was suppressed by settlers.

As a Fire Ecology graduate student at Humboldt, Caroline researched the long-term effectiveness of different fuel reduction treatments in reducing the potential for severe wildfires and the impact on the native plant community.

She is a great person to talk to if you are interested in conservation, restoration ecology, plant biology, or land management. She would also be an excellent resource for questions or concerns about internships, and what kinds of skills you can develop from these experiences. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Caroline.

 

James Caruso, M.D.

Jim Caruso Title: Chief Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathologist
Employer: City and County of Denver
Prior Positions: Medical Officer, US Navy (for 30 years)

After finishing his undergraduate degree in Biology, Jim stayed at Illinois for his MD from the College of Medicine. Jim was on a Navy Health Professions Scholarship for medical school so upon graduation he headed off to an internship at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. During a 30-year career in the Navy Jim practiced shipboard medicine, diving and submarine medicine, aviation medicine, hospital based pathology, and forensic pathology. He was a Diving Medical Officer with the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit for three years and cared for Navy Divers and SEALs. Jim completed a residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology along with a fellowship in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine at Duke University Medical Center and his Forensic Pathology training was at the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore. He is board certified in all of these medical specialties.

Jim has performed autopsies all over the world including hostile environments like Iraq. He also served in administrative medicine roles, supervising numerous departments and groups of departments in military hospitals, including overseas facilities. He has dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers to his credit as well as numerous book chapters. Upon retirement from the Navy, Jim was appointed Chief Medical Examiner and Coroner for Denver, Colorado where he runs a medical examiner office for a large city and is faculty for the local medical schools. He has personally performed over 3,000 autopsies and supervised an equal or greater number.

Jim is also a rabid hockey fan, particularly when it comes to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jim would be a great person to talk to about non-traditional health care paths, forensics, pathology, or serving with the Navy. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Jim.

 

Kimberly McAllister, Ph.D.

Kimberly McAllister Title: Program Director
Employer: NIH, Genes, Environment, and Health Branch (NIH-GEH)
Prior Positions: Staff Scientist, NIEHS

Kimberly McAllister, Ph.D., received a B.S. in Honors Biology at the University of Illinois, which provided her with a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences that allowed her to enter graduate school with a strong foundation. She received a Ph.D. in Human Genetics at the University of Michigan. Her Ph.D. dissertation involved identifying the first gene known to cause the disease Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia. She completed her postdoctoral training and worked for many years as a staff scientist at NIEHS, which is a NIH Institute focused on studying environmental risk factors related to many diseases. Her research focused on the development of BRCA2-deficient mice as a model for breast cancer and Fanconi Anemia.

Dr. McAllister is presently a program administrator at NIEHS, where she manages a portfolio of grants in genetic epidemiology and gene-environment interaction studies; human genetics; statistical and bioinformatics methods; and animal models of human disease. She represents NIEHS on multiple trans-NIH committees relating to genetics and is currently involved in a large trans-NIH effort focused on gene and environment interaction studies in African countries.

Kimberly would be a great person to talk to about careers in the government, graduate school in the sciences, environmental science, or human genetics. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Kim.

 

Douglas Hinrichs

Douglas Hinrichs Title: Global Practice Leader, International Development - Sustainable Cities
Employer: Mott MacDonald
Prior Positions: Senior Energy Manager & Chief of Party, Low- Emission Development Strategies, Eastern Europe & Eurasia

As a biology undergrad, Doug was able to get a deeper understanding of how our society influences nature. He found his way after realizing that he did not like med school, and now works with cities and countries to help them meet their climate change mitigation (or decarbonization) goals through, for example, renewable energy; as well as climate change adaptation (or helping cities prepare for and respond to extreme climate trends) through, for example, coastal protection, zoning laws, etc. All of his work in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation is built on principles of physics and chemistry, from a solid scientific foundation in integrative biology.

In his current role at the international engineering/management/development firm Mott MacDonald, he supports sustainable city planning initiatives and projects in clean energy, safe water & sanitation, and efficient built environments.

Doug would be a great person to talk to about climate change, sustainable city planning, or environmental impacts. He is also well versed in technology, economics, and policy. He's also found that people skills and good work ethics go a long way toward creating a challenging, meaningful and fulfilling career, too. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Doug.

 

Daniel Bruzzini, M.D.

Daniel Bruzzini Title: Neonatologist
Employer: Onsite Neonatal Partners Inc.
Prior Positions: Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Daniel got his undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology in the Honors Program here at Illinois. IBH helped him on his path to becoming a doctor; he knew if he could do well in Honors Biology, he had the ability and will have received the knowledge needed to do well for the people who trusted him to be their doctor. He learned how to learn in depth, conduct experiments of doctoral quality, and to think critically and use information to make the right decision and/or choose the most appropriate course of action in ambiguous situations.

After his time at Illinois, he attended the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) which prepared him well for his first assignment at the age of 26 as a family physician and aviation medicine specialist for fighter pilots. After several tours to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, he returned to the academic world, completing his pediatric residency at Wright-Patterson AFB/Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton Ohio and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. After training, he was sent to Okinawa Japan and Landstuhl Germany, to care for military families and to transport their babies with critical care needs such as heart surgery across the ocean for care in the United States.

Throughout his career, he has participated in humanitarian missions to Haiti, Oman, Indonesia, and Afghanistan caring for children and training local healthcare providers in pediatric and neonatal care. He served honorably for 25 years retiring at the rank of Colonel. He continues to practice neonatology as the medical director for a private practice group. He and his wife enjoy the theater, in particular, Shakespearean plays possibly due to the undergraduate research project “Motley” he did with Professor Michael Mullin while at the University of Illinois. He enjoys reading history and playing the Clarinet. He and his wife are blessed with two college age children for which no course at the University could have prepared him.

Daniel would love to talk to anyone interested in a career in the military, and would be a great contact for those interested in the health care fields. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Daniel.

 

Matt (Grobis) Sosna

Matt Sosna Title: Data Scientist
Employer: Aquicore

Matt graduated from the IB Honors program in 2012. After a Fulbright year at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, he completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton. He's now a data scientist for Aquicore, an IoT (Internet of Things) energy monitoring company, where he helps buildings cut their carbon emissions by optimizing their energy use. His work involves a fun blend of programming, statistics, and business logic to create statistical models to identify inefficiencies and ensure data quality, engineer data pipelines to translate ideas into products, and visualize data in dashboards to communicate its patterns. IB gave Matt a deep appreciation for the nuances and complexities of ecosystems, as well as the urgency through which we need to act on climate change. His senior thesis was pivotal in him becoming an independent thinker.

If you would like to talk with Matt about graduate school, data science, sustainability, programming, or statistics, send an email to alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu. You can learn more about most of these topics at Matt's site https://mattsosna.com, including the posts Getting into grad school for bio, Writing the self contained universe, and Advice nine months out of the college bubble.

 

Courtney Cech

Courtney Cech Title: Senior Auditor, Good Clinical Practice
Employer: AbbVie

Courtney began her IB degree with her heart set on vet school. After getting first-hand experience working with veterinarians she realized that this was not the path for her, and started exploring other options. After graduation she began working for AbbVie as a Toxicology Technician performing pre-clinical trials. Getting her foot in the door opened up endless opportunities for her, and she has since moved into quality positions and then to her current position as Senior Auditor.

Courtney audits the conduct of clinical trials to ensure they are following standard operating procedures, complying with FDA regulations, and following the protocol. Her background in Integrative Biology gives her a leg up in understanding the medical jargon and the technical details of the clinical trials she monitors.

She is currently also pursuing a Master’s in Public Health, and is interested in contributing to the epidemiological aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, working for the CDC, or assisting in implementing a public health program in an underdeveloped country.

Courtney would be a fantastic person to talk to about clinical research, pharmaceuticals, epidemiology, or health care. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Courtney. You can also contact her directly at chcech2@gmail.com.

“You don’t need an MD or PhD to participate in the health prevention world"

 

DaTeng Lin

DaTeng Lin Title: Research Associate
Employer: Illumina

DaTeng is an alum of both IB and the IB292 Career Course! He graduated in 2016, and took a year after graduation to explore what he wanted to do and build his skills. He began his degree interested in medical school, but after taking the MCAT decided that it wasn’t right for him. He worked in a Medical Entomology lab to build his skills, and this is where he learned the skills he is now using in the Biotech industry.

How did he get his job? He attributes all of his success to networking! Through the Career Course DaTeng got to know Steve Caldwell, who was able to put a good word in for him at Illumina. He stresses the importance of taking initiative and talking to individuals in your field of interest. Success in the job search process is mostly about developing and maintaining relationships, and taking the initiative to follow up and utilize these opportunities to be referred into positions – even if it seems scary.

DaTeng works in the Enzyme Process Development and Characterization group at Illumina. The purpose of his group to improve upon legacy purification processes of various proteins and enzymes to meet future business needs. Looking for areas that could be optimized and scaled up could save the operator several days of work which equates to millions of dollars saved for the company! The overarching company goal is to be able to sequence a human genome for $100. To meet that goal, new innovations in protein engineering are constantly happening. His main responsibility is to take that new enzyme and design a purification process around its properties. His time in the lab is spent looking at what changes can be made and how it affects the proteins.

DaTeng would be a great person to talk to if you want to know more about how to network, how to take initiative on the job market, or what it takes to get into the biotech field. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with DaTeng.

 

Andrea Baldwin

Andrea Baldwin Title: Research Associate, RUO Assay Development
Employer: Illumina
Previous Role: QC Analyst, QA Validation Engineer Intern, Illumina

Andrea graduated in May of 2018 and is now a Research Associate at Illumina, with Steve Caldwell and DaTeng Lin! She worked in several labs during her time at Illinois, as well as for the prep staff, building her research skills.

Andrea began as an intern and became a full time employee in September of 2018. She is part of a team that develops methods for new genetic sequencing technologies and products. She is currently working on a project involving the sequencing of cell-free DNA for cancer detection. To do this, Andrea is testing the reagents used in a new sequencing workflow to replace the technology that is currently on the market. This requires performing lots of experiments in the lab, data analysis, and collaborating with multiple teams to achieve goals. In the end, her team hopes to create an optimized product that is easier to use, requires less hands-on time, and produces more robust results than the current product.

Previously, Andrea worked as a QC Analyst where she performed final testing on a variety of enzymes produced at the site, and participates in a variety of projects related to enzyme development and optimization. Most recently, she worked as part of a team to rebuild an assay used to determine enzyme activity. This required a lot of troubleshooting to develop and establish new testing specifications. Prior to this fix results were inconsistent, which made for a stressful time releasing products! Now, we are able to trust our results with confidence and send our enzymes out the door on-time!

In her internship she worked on a variety of quality assurance and quality control projects involving enzymes used in genetic sequencing technologies. More specifically, she studied a new technology that can be used to test the stability of enzymes at different temperatures. This technology was used to reduce the turn-around time for stability experiments from 12 weeks to 3 days.

Her IB degree provided her with the tools and networking opportunities that introduced her to Steve Caldwell, the biotechnology industry, and her current position at Illumina. Her degree demonstrated her ability to think about science from a larger perspective and solve problems with critical thinking.

As a recent addition to the workforce, Andrea would be a great person to talk to about the interview process, the biotech industry, or research. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Andrea

 

Frank Dohleman

Frank Dohleman Title: Founder, Managing Member
Employer: Climate, Agriculture and Partnership Solutions Consulting, LLC
Previous Role: Open Innovation Lead, Science at Climate Corporation

Frank did his undergraduate, doctorate, and post-doc right here at Illinois. He started in general biology, and then found his passion in plant biology after doing research in Evan DeLucia’s lab.

He has done research both in and outside of academia, working in Steve Long's lab as a technician, and Ph.D. student as well as the Crop Physiology Lead at Monsanto. He also has extensive experience in developing partnerships through his time at Climate Corporation where he helped drive strategic partnerships with Universities, and other public institutions, to accelerate the science in the cutting-edge field of digital agriculture.

He is now the Founder, and Managing Member of Climate, Agriculture and Partnership Solutions Consulting, LLC, where he aims to work with clients to drive solutions at the interface of agriculture and the environment.

The integrated curriculum at Illinois, between the Plant Biology and Crop Science, departments enabled a unique perspective on practical ways to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of modern agriculture.

If you want to learn more about research, agriculture, or plant biology, Frank would be a great person to connect with! Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Frank.

 

Juniper Simonis

Title: Owner & Lead Scientist; Data Analyst
Employer: DAPPER Stats; Weecology Lab at the University of Florida
Prior Position: Biometrician, Cramer Fish Sciences

Juniper Simonis

Juniper (they/them) Simonis has over a decade of quantitative biology experience, with particular foci in population ecology and conservation biology. Juniper's science is unified by a desire to integrate data and theory to answer conservation-relevant questions.

After their Integrative Biology degree in 2006, Juniper received their PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University in 2013, where they studied the impact of habitat fragmentation on predator-prey dynamics in freshwater rock pools on coastal New England islands. A big fan of integrating approaches, Juniper conducted extensive field surveys, ran manipulative experiments, and developed novel statistical and dynamic models as part of their thesis. While in graduate school, Juniper also developed and taught a graduate-level course and multiple workshops on statistical programming, as well as running a weekly stats lunch.

From 2013-2015, Juniper was a research scientist at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, where they developed population models to guide cooperative management of highly endangered species from a diversity of taxonomic groups. Working directly with population managers gave Juniper an immense appreciation for integrating realistic human dimensions into population models.

From 2015-2016, Juniper was a Biometrician at Cramer Fish Sciences, a fisheries consulting company. While at Cramer, Juniper provided quantitative support to a variety of applied conservation research projects aimed at endangered fish species.

In 2015, Juniper founded DAPPER Stats, a consulting company that focuses on providing quantitative answers to pressing conservation issues. Juniper currently splits their time between DAPPER and working as a Data Analyst in the Weecology Lab at the University of Florida.

Personal: While not at work, Juniper spends their time playing sports, drumming, cooking, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors. Juniper’s sport of focus right now is roller derby and they skate for the Rose City Rollers, two-time world champions of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.

Juniper would be a great person to talk to about starting your own business, consulting, or quantitative biology. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Juniper.

 

Eric Berdahl

Eric Berdahl Title: Group Engineering Manager for Premiere Pro
Employer: Adobe

Eric earned his degree in Honors Biology here at Illinois, and used his background in scientific thinking and methodologies to break into the technology industry.

At Adobe, he manages an organization with ~45 engineers worldwide that develops and delivers Premiere Pro, Adobe's flagship video editing product and the backbone of television, film, and video products for millions of people.

His team is part of a larger organization of ~300 engineers worldwide, along with product management, customer support, sales, and other functions of the Digital Video and Audio business unit at Adobe.

His job requires a strong understanding of software and software development, excellent communication and problem solving skills, and the ability to connect with individuals sufficiently to direct them, develop them, and help them through their problems (technical and interpersonal).

It's an incredibly fun, challenging, and rewarding mix of requirements, skills, and opportunities.

How does his Biology degree help him in this role? “Long story short… it's less about the degree and more about what went into earning it. Although I'm not actively studying the biological sciences, the application of scientific thinking, insight, and method have proven to be both critical and foundational for my career.

Even so, I believe the Honor Biology curriculum was an excellent preparation for the technology field. At its roots, I see biology as the study of complex, self-organizing systems. The technology industry is also composed mostly of complex (and often self-organizing) systems. As such, I often find the application of fundamental biological principles to be useful tools in the technology development and analysis.

Eric would be a great person to talk to about how to translate your IB skills and experiences to a variety of professions, or if you are interested in software development or the technology industry. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Eric. You can also learn more at www.linkedin.com/in/ericberdahl.

 

Grace Pixton

Grace Pixton Title: Scientist 1
Employer: AbbVie Biotherapeutics
Prior Position: Research Associate, Amunix Operating Inc.

Grace is passionate about both biology and chemistry, and puts both of these to good use in her career in pharmaceutical research. During her time in Integrative Biology, she worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Caceres lab working on Daphnia and in the Fuller lab doing molecular work. Since graduating in 2011 she has worked in the pharmaceutical industry, at both Amunix Operating Inc. and most recently AbbVie Bioteherapeutics.

In her current position at AbbVie, Grace gets to work with cutting-edge robotics, software, and technology such as CAR-T engineering and CRISPR. She works at the edge of innovation, developing techniques to aid in oncology target discovery. Some of her duties include purifying and characterizing mAbs, bispecific antibodies, and antigens for early stage immuno-oncology discovery research. She conducts experiments to increase the purity and yield of antigen / antibody purification and utilizes statistical software such as R to analyze historical data and interpret trends to expose critical elements of their process and improve them accordingly.

Her undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology set the foundation for her career in immuno-oncology research. Not only did she learn from leaders in this field, but she also had the opportunity to conduct her own undergraduate research. This taught her how to organize a lab, collaborate across disciplines, and present her data in a meaningful way.

Grace would be a great person to talk to about jobs in industry, non-academic research, and pharmaceuticals. She has a lot of fun working at a large biotech company, working at the edge of innovation, and she would love to tell you more about what she gets to do!

“The best part of my job is knowing that there is always a solution and a path to improvement; I need only to find it.”

Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Grace.

 

Laura Klein

Laura Klein Title: Research Fellow, Milk
Employer: Australian Red Cross Lifeblood
Prior Position: Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois Chicago

Laura did her bachelor’s degree here at Illinois in Integrative Biology in the Honors Program, and received her PhD in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in Spring 2018. After that she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is currently a Research Fellow at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, where she leads a translationally-focused human milk research program.

Laura would be a great person to talk to about academic research opportunities, graduate school applications, and public health research. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Laura. You can learn more about Laura on her LinkedIn Profile as well: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-klein-80510774/

 

John Heiligenstein

Title: Medical Advisor, Retired
Employer: Eli Lilly and Company
Prior Position: Faculty, Medical University of South Carolina

A 1967 graduate of Illinois, John received his B.S. in Zoology and was an Edmund J. James Scholar. Following medical school (Loyola), John completed residencies in pediatrics (Northwestern), child psychiatry (U of Virginia), and general psychiatry (Cornell) and is boarded in the three specialities. John served as Chief, Pediatrics, at Ft. Sheridan Army Health Center and was on the pediatric and psychiatry faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina. He joined Eli Lilly and Company in 1986 where he was involved in the development of psychiatric medications. He worked extensively on the development of Prozac and is the inventor of Strattera for its use in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the first non-stimulant approved for that disorder. While at Lilly, John had the opportunity to be involved in many interesting and innovative clinical trials. After retiring from Lilly, John consulted at the ADHD Clinic, Children’s and Women’s Hospital of British Columbia (UBC) and also to pharmaceutical companies looking to develop other non stimulants for ADHD.

John remains a proud Illini and is grateful for the outstanding professors, teaching assistants and fellow students he encountered at Illinois during his undergraduate years. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with John.

 

Cameron Schwing

Cameron Schwing Title: MS Student, Research Assistant; Curriculum Developer
Employer: UIUC Integrative Biology, Caceres Lab
Prior Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Caceres Lab; Lab Prep Staff, School of Integrative Biology

Cameron graduated in 2017 with his degree in Integrative Biology and is continuing his education here at Illinois as a graduate student in the Caceres Lab. He is working both as a Research Assistant in Integrative Biology and a Curriculum Developer in the College of Education.

As a Curriculum Developer he is leading the development of a high school science unit about mosquitoes and the diseases they vector, strongly focusing on: the central dogma (DNA to RNA to protein), how climate change is affecting the spread of mosquitoes and disease, and searching for and discussing potential solutions to this spread.

As a Research Assistant he is studying the effects of resource manipulation on the development of mosquitoes, continuing research he conducted as an undergraduate in the same lab. His work often includes rearing mosquitoes from eggs to adulthood, extracting DNA, sampling from field sites, and identifying mosquitoes to species.

Studying Integrative Biology here at UIUC prepared Cameron for these and other roles by constantly presenting him with opportunities to improve the skills he commonly needs and uses, such as critical thinking, communication, time management, and collaboration.

Cameron would love to connect with students who would like to learn more about research, classes, jobs, or graduate life. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Cameron.

“I have had some amazing mentors throughout my life, and I believe that I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for them. Because of this, I truly hope to be on the other side of that relationship for as many people as I can.”

 

Rose Keane

Rose Keane Title: Communications Coordinator
Employer: School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois
Prior Position: Communications and Outreach Specialist at the Soybean Innovation Lab, USAID

Rose works in the intersection between science and communication, engaging the public in the science we all love!

After graduating with her IB degree in 2010, Rose went on to get an M.A. in Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University and then an M.S. in Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. She first worked as a Communications and Outreach Specialist at the Soybean Innovation Lab (USAID) before joining us back at the School of Integrative Biology in 2018 as the Communications Coordinator.

As a Communications Coordinator, she is constantly trying to find new and exciting ways to showcase the research coming out of Integrative Biology, both in terms of what we can learn about the natural world, and in terms of what Illinois can offer its students and researchers. This can encompass anything and everything from social media to press releases, web content to multimedia materials, and all around public relations for the School.

How did her degree help prepare her for these roles?

“My IB degree really helped me to gain a better appreciation for different perspectives, different ways of looking at an issue, and different solutions. All the things I learned and all the research I got to see helped me appreciate the range of things we still don't know about the natural world, and all the ways we can impact it, mitigate our impacts, and learn more about its complexity.”

Rose would be a great person to talk to if you are interested in #scicomm, outreach, or public engagement with science. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Rose.

 

Kendall Langsten

Kendall Langsten Title: PhD Student, Molecular Medicine
Employer: Wake Forest School of Medicine
Previous Role: Veterinary Anatomic Pathology Resident, University of Minnesota

Kendall started out on the pre-vet track in Animal Science, but wanted to complement the focus on farm animals with the wide range of wildlife and other organisms available in Integrative Biology. During her time here she completed a James Scholar research project and found a love for research. After graduating with her double major in IB and Animal Sciences in 2012, she started veterinary school at the University of Missouri. She added on a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences after working with one of her class professors, and this solidified her desire to integrate research into her career. In 2017 she graduated from both programs and began her current residency position at the University of Minnesota. Currently, she is working towards a PhD in Molecular Medicine and Translational Science at the Wake Forest School of Medicine with a focus on novel diagnostics for human bladder cancer.

Anatomic pathology is a branch of medicine focused on diagnostics. As such, she does not treat animals, but instead diagnoses diseases by performing autopsies, examining histologic sections of tissue, and ordering appropriate genetic/infectious disease testing. A fair number of autopsies that she does are forensic so this is a very similar career path to forensics.

Her interests lie in cancer biology, and animal models of human disease. She hopes to help develop new cancer treatments for humans using veterinary species as models of human neoplasia once she is done with school.

How did her degree help prepare her for these roles?

“Without my degrees at the University of Illinois I never would have been able to get accepted to veterinary school. IB did a nice job of supplying me with a well-rounded education. I can't even tell you the number of times information from ornithology, mammalogy, and ecology have helped me in my career!”

Kendall would be a great person to talk to if you are interested in cancer biology, forensics, animal biology, or veterinary medicine. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Kendall.

 

Patrick Madigan

Patrick Madigan Title: Science Teacher
Employer: Notre Dame College Prep High School
Previous Role: 8th Grade Science Teacher, Geneva Middle School South

Patrick is an Illini through and through. He did both his undergraduate and graduate work at Illinois, and was a member of the Illinois Marching Band! Even after he transitioned to the College of Education for his Master’s Degree he remained an integral part of the IB community, teaching IB100 and IB150. “Serving as a T.A. and learning from other colleagues reaffirmed my love and dream for teaching”.

He is now entering his 5th year of teaching. Patrick will be teaching Chemistry, Forensic Science, and Biology at Notre Dame College Prep High School, and sponsor the Sci-Fi Club! Patrick previously taught 8th grade Chemistry and Physics at Geneva Middle School South in the suburbs of Chicago. Patrick chose that school because of the autonomy it afforded him to implement many of the skills he gained from his time at UIUC. He has secured grants and worked with collaborators and mentors to develop a new science curriculum that integrates innovative and engaging inquiry learning. He is also known for his educational rap videos. He presented at the ChemEd 2019 conference on technology.

Patrick would be a great person to talk with if you are interested in engaging the public in the science you love, or if you want to know what it’s like to work in formal education. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Patrick.

“I am most proud of the relationships I built with students and families. Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

 

Jessica Hoffelder

Jessica Hoffelder Title: Graduate Student, Master of Public Health
Employer: University of Illinois in Chicago
Previous Roles: Pathways Intern, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Jessica graduated in 2019 with her Bachelor’s in Integrative Biology. She worked hard to figure out what career path was right for her. She started in Animal Science, and then transferred to IB her Junior year after realizing that it more closely aligned with her interests. She was still unsure of what she wanted to do after graduation, so she took Translating your IB Degree into Career Success at the start of her Senior year to figure out her options. She used the career options she learned about to explore what careers would be right for her, and the following semester started thinking about public health, which she heard about from an alumnus that spoke in the course. She used her course connections to reach out to that alumni, and after doing more research decided to pursue a public health degree.

She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health program at the University of Illinois in Chicago, with a focus on Environmental and Occupational Health, and will graduate in May 2020. The courses she took in IB - specifically Genomics and Human Health, Genetics, Marine Biology, and Conservation Biology – along with her Sustainability minor, lead her to choose environmental health to focus on with her Public Health degree. Jessica would highly recommend the Sustainability minor to anyone interested in learning how they can integrate sustainability principles into their future careers. She was also a Pathways intern for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 5 from July 2020 to September 2020.

Jessica would be a great person to talk to if you’re also on a winding career journey and want to talk to someone who has just gone through the same thing. She would also be a great person to talk with if you are interested in Public Health or want to learn more about graduate programs in Public Health. Finally, if you're exploring a potential career in the federal government, she'd be happy to talk to you about what it's like to find and apply for federal government internships and jobs because that's what she's doing right now.

Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Jessica. You can also view her LinkedIn Profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-hoffelder

 

Izabella Redlinski

Izabella Redlinski Title: Conservation Ecologist
Employer: The Field Museum
Prior Position: Restoration Ecologist at The Wetlands Initiative

Iza is a Conservation Ecologist working in the greater Chicago Wilderness area and concentrating many of her efforts in the Calumet Region and the City of Chicago itself. She works to conserve high quality remnant habitats and species that reside within them, as well as bring back the health and resilience to those areas that have heavily been affected by urban sprawl and industrial development. She spends a lot of time thinking about restoration efforts, what is nature in an urban setting, what specific techniques can be used to pre-adapt conservation efforts to climate change and what collective and individual actions we can take to ameliorate the effects of it.

Her degree in Integrative Biology gave her the groundwork and theory of ecology, as well as implanted some ideas that work on the ground is as important as research. After she graduated with a double major in Integrative Biology and German Iza got both an M.S. in Environmental Science and M.P.A. at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs to get hands-on training in field of restoration on the policy side of conservation.

What should you do if you are interested in conservation or restoration careers? Get as much hands-on experience as you can! Volunteer, visit restoration areas and nature conservatory sites, participate in conferences and other events (e.g. Wild Things Conference held every 2 years inChicago) and take field-based courses that put emphasis on natural history and identification skills. Take advantage of the resources around you, such as the INHS, collections, prairies and other natural habitats, and volunteering opportunities. If you want to get a job like hers at the Field Museum, some years of experience, volunteering or going through their internship programs will be key, since it’s a competitive area. This will also help to build the practical skills you will need such as identification and learning how to set up an assay or cut a transect.

Iza is a wealth of information and insight into conservation careers, so she would be a great contact if you are interested in conserving habitats and species in urban or other environments. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Iza.

 

Nathan Martin

Nathan Martin Title: Coral Health and Disease Intern
Employer: Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Nathan graduated in 2018 from Integrative Biology, and started working at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida.

As a Coral Health and Disease Intern he assists in day-to-day water quality checks for coral tanks as well as exposure experiments of corals including elements such as: ocean acidification, warming waters, sunscreen, microplastics, and disease, especially the Stoney Coral Tissue Loss Disease that has been devastating the Florida Reef Tract. He also performs a decent amount of microbiology work including PCR of coral samples to find clonality.

If you are also interested in marine biology, conservation, or applied research Nathan would be a great person to talk to! Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Nathan.

 

Angela Cruz

Angela Cruz Title: Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellow / Independent Consultant, Fisheries & Conservation International Development
Previous Roles: Washington Sea Grant Hershman Fellow / Program Coordinator, Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group

Both during and after her undergraduate degree in IB, Angela has worked hard to get experiences across a variety of disciplines. During undergrad she took advantage of classes both in and outside of IB. One of the most helpful classes she took was a career development course. She also did an independent project in Dr. Chris Cheng’s lab.

Since graduating from Illinois IB in 2016 Angela has worked across the globe and in multiple different fields such as conservation, policy, and marine biology.

“The IB program has allowed me to float between the biology and environmental policy world seamlessly by providing me a solid foundation of scientific understanding. During my time in undergraduate at U of I, I took advantage of classes from different disciplines, and I don't think any of them have gone unused.”

During her Master’s of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington, she worked in Indonesia with a United States Agency for International Development Project and had a Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship to learn Indonesian at the University of Wisconsin.

She has worked as an intern at Shedd Aquarium, in the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Program for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and recently completed a fellowship with Washington Sea Grant and a Dungeness crab research group. Angela received a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellowship and is awaiting departure in the 2021-2022 year. In the meantime, she is taking on independent consulting positions with fisheries and conservation international development projects.

The Washington Sea Grant Hershman Fellowship is a program that provides professional development in the marine and ocean policy sector with organizations in Washington state. In her current role with WSG, she acted as the program coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group (PCRG). The PCRG is a group of researchers focused on Dungeness crab in the Pacific Northwest. Her role was to coordinate their activities and research projects, standardize methods for collaborative efforts, manage data, and organize meetings with over 40 attendants.

Angela would be a great person to talk with if you are interested in conservation, policy, marine biology, or environmental issues in general. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Angela.

 

Joseph Frumkin

Joseph Frumkin Title: Afterschool Program Manager for Edison Elementary School
Employer: Youth and Opportunity United
Previous Role: Engagement Specialist, Shedd Aquarium

Joseph graduated from the Integrative Biology program in 2013. One of his first professors here was Dr. Carol Augspurger, who became his greatest mentor. She encouraged him to focus on going into an educational field. After getting his Master’s of Science at DePaul University he got a position as an Engagement Specialist at Shedd Aquarium doing just that – teaching the public about the animals he loves! He now works at Youth and Opportunity United as an Afterschool Program Manager to prepare at-risk kids for success.

As a Program Manager with Y.O.U., Joseph leads a team of instructors and collaborates closely with programming experts to design and implement curriculum grounded in STEM, Literacy, and Movement. Y.O.U.s instructional design process uses social emotional learning strategies that are focused through an anti-racist lens to holistically reach the needs of youth and build a stronger foundation for academic excellence within our communities.

As an Engagement Specialist Joseph designed and implemented public education programming for the guests at Shedd. Their programs are designed using interpretive techniques to engage their audience in experiential learning focused on their animals' biology, care, and conservation.

“IB helped me establish a solid foundation of natural history knowledge that I use and apply every day into my programming.”

Joseph would be a great person to talk with if you are interested in public education or want to work with animals at places like the Shedd Aquarium. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Joseph.

“I know from experience that finding a career in this field can be a long and exhausting path, but if I can just inspire one student to push through it and find that perfect niche, then it will all be worth it”

 

Carolyn Kelly, DPM

Carolyn Kelly, DPM Title: Podiatrist and Foot/Ankle Surgeon
Employer: Midwest Podiatry

Carolyn is a 2007 graduate of U of I, receiving her undergraduate degree in IB. She was in one of the first classes for whom IB was an option versus MCB. She loved following the IB track throughout her time at U of I, including her time working in Hugh Robertson’s entomology lab.

“My IB degree helped me to appreciate all aspects of biological science. I liked taking a different approach to obtaining my healthcare degree and I found this through IB.”

Carolyn got her Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago, IL) in 2011. Currently, she works as a podiatrist/foot and ankle surgeon in the western suburbs of Chicago. She treats all ailments of the foot and ankle and is board certified in podiatric medicine and wound care.

“I still fondly remember the field studies we would partake in for my Ecology class. Although I am now doing something a bit different from that, I feel that IB definitely gave me some of the tools I needed to excel in my current field.”

https://midwest-podiatry.com/

Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Carolyn.

 

Alison Kirby, M.D.

Alison Kirby, M.D. Title: (retired) Pediatrician / Medical Director
Employer: Walla Walla Clinic / Lincoln Health Center

Alison’s career was spent helping people and her community. As a pediatrician at the Walla Walla Clinic in Washington she would often treat low-income and at-risk youth free of charge. Through that and volunteering at a clinic after graduating from SIU School of Medicine she saw that there were children in her own community who were suffering from an escalation of simple ailments because they were not able to get treatment. Once she saw the extent of the need she worked to co-found the Lincoln Health Center to provide free services to high risk teens. She volunteered there on her days off from her full-time job and helped to build a successful model of school-based health centers.

Her undergraduate degree in Biology here at Illinois allowed her to pursue a career she loved. It allowed her to be a respected female in a traditionally male field.

Alison would be a great person to talk with if you are also interested in making a difference in your community through improving the health of children and families Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Alison.

You can read more about Alison’s background in this story about her 2019 LAS Humanitarian Award.

 

Alessa Laserna

Alessa Laserna Title: Graduate Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Employer: Integrative Biology, UIUC

Alessa graduated from Integrative Biology in 2019 and is now a graduate student in Dr. Ken Paige’s lab here at UIUC. Alessa is also an alum of IB292 and is still actively involved in the course while she is on campus working on her Master’s project in wildlife conservation.

She met her current advisor, Dr. Paige, in a class she took with him. One of the most impactful things about her IB degree was the opportunity to take classes in which professors are open to having undergraduates become a part of their labs.

Alessa’s thesis project focuses on population genetics and how it can be used to aid in conservation efforts. She works with a state-threatened species of salamander named Silvery salamander. Information gathered during her project will help management agencies in the improvement of man-made and natural ponds. She has also been a TA of Ecology and Physiology her first year as a graduate student, getting a unique perspective of the classes she took just a few years ago. So far she has really enjoyed interacting with her students and teaching them all the things that she loved learning when she was an undergrad.

“IB might be a broad degree but that is exactly what I loved so much about it, you can really make it your own by taking classes and getting involved in research that you are interested in.”

Talk to Alessa if you are interested in wildlife conservation or going to graduate school. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Alessa.

 

Victoria Wallace

Victoria Wallace Title: Graduate Student, Environmental Science and Management
Employer: Bren School at University of California, Santa Barbara

Victoria graduated in 2018 with degrees in Integrative Biology and Global Studies. She had a strong interest in the environment during undergrad and after working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for a year after graduating she decided she wanted to get more training in environmental science to widen her career options.

Victoria is currently at the Bren School at UCSB in a 2 year Professional Science Master’s program focused on Environmental Science and Management. The program focuses on building both technical and professional skills and gaining experiences and knowledge necessary for jobs in private, public, or non-profit sectors. Within the program she is specializing in Energy & Climate and Environmental Communication but because of the breadth of classes and training – everything from policy to business – she will be qualified for any number of jobs in environmental fields. “This kind of a program is great for someone who could see themselves in a lot of roles or are interested in a lot of different things, and would give them the flexibility and training they needed”

While in grad school Victoria is working as a student assistant for the Bren Development Team, helping to foster alumni engagement and improve outreach strategies. She is also working in a TA positions (Introductory Sociology), which will cover her tuition and provide a stipend.

“The coursework in ecology, evolution, and genetics has been useful in ways that I would have never anticipated. Environmental issues are inherently interdisciplinary, and having a biological perspective is valuable. I also apply my knowledge of evolution and genetics to understand human behavior and neurology, which helps me create more effective communication products.”

If you are interested in environmental careers and would like to learn more about what jobs and training are available Victoria would be a great person to talk with! Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Victoria.

“You don’t just have to work for the government if you are interested in working in an environmental field”

 

David Stickel

David Stickel Title: Campus Minister and Finance Professional
Employer: Cru at U of I

David graduated with a degree in IB in 2009. His favorite classes were Ecology with Dr. Augspurger and Limnology with Dr. Caceres as well as classes specific to the Environmental Fellows Program. He still lives in Champaign and currently serves as a campus minister with Cru at U of I, getting the chance to mentor students, lead them in Bible study, and connect them to opportunities to grow spiritually. His ministry has taken him around the world, getting to lead mission trips to Croatia and East Asia. Some highlights related to IB from these trips are leading a student trip to Plitvice National Park in Croatia, and studying at an agricultural and forestry university in East Asia.

He’s also been able to continue his education through seminary opportunities with Cru with a focus on ethics which enabled him to continue some of the work with Environmental Ethics he began as an undergrad.

Before joining staff with Cru, he interned with the Illinois Department of National Resources at Starved Rock State Park. It was a great opportunity to learn about conservation, park maintenance, and education.

He would love to talk to students interested in Environmental ethics, the intersection of faith and science, and students interested in working with the DNR. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with David.

 

Colleen Stoyas, PhD

Colleen Stoyas Title: Medical Science Liaison
Employer: Reata Pharmaceuticals

Colleen is actively involved in both healthcare and research. After graduating from the Integrative Biology Honors program in 2011 she went on to get her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California San Diego (2017) and then became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. She is currently a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) at Reata Pharmaceuticals.

As a MSL, Colleen is the bridge between a pharmaceutical company and physicians. She supports a program for a rare neurogenetic disorder and her role involves interacting with health care providers to understand how this disease is currently treated and identify the unique needs of this patient population. She sits at the intersection of the latest science and health care, simultaneously learning from physicians as well as providing them a deep scientific resource on a specific rare disease.

Every step she has taken in her career has been targeted towards translating research and development into meaningful progress for patients with neurodegenerative disorders and their families. This requires both deeply understanding intricate details and identifying larger patterns and trends. “IB cultivated within me the keen ability of astuteness- the capacity to understand not just what is happening in front of me but merging it with measured data and understanding how that may influence a variety of outcomes.”

Her time in IB included conducting genetics research in model organisms including yeast and C. elegans, isolating hemolymph from crabs to measure salt buffering, identifying fungal growth on fallen trees, observing a single plant on campus for an entire semester, learning practical coral reef ecology off the coast of Belize, many courses in molecular biology and neuroscience, and much more. All these experiences directly influenced her capacity to observe, learn, integrate, and translate novel scientific findings. “It has also been a ton of fun along the way!”

Colleen is happy to discuss questions on graduate school, scientific careers in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, genetics in healthcare, and more. She has expertise in genetic disorders, specifically repeat expansion diseases and the movement disorder ataxia. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Colleen.

 

Megan Ladd, DO

Megan Ladd Title: Surgical Intern
Employer: St. Joseph’s Hospital

After completing her BS in Integrative Biology in 2016 Megan began an Osteopathic program at Touro University in California where she rotated through hospital services like medicine, surgery, OBGYN, pediatrics, and emergency medicine. She received her DO degree in May 2020 and has matched at St. Joseph's hospital in Chicago as a surgery intern.

Megan will be starting her intern year as a surgical intern, which means she will be doing general surgery such as cholecystectomies, appendectomies, etc. She will also draw stat labs, put in orders for nurses, talk to patients' families, round with social workers to discuss patient placement upon discharge, accompany patients to tests, and obtain patients' signatures on consent-to-surgery forms.

“IB gave me the foundations for a medical degree and helped me work with big picture science.”

Megan would love to help any student applying to medical school. She has just been through the application process so can provide insights on personal statements, interviews, and the application process in general. She can also provide advice for current undergraduates who are planning to attend medical school. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Megan.

 

Brandon Cohen

Brandon Cohen Title: Dental Student
Employer: LECOM School of Dental Medicine

Brandon graduated with a degree in IB Honors in 2017 and is now a 4th year dental student at LECOM School of Dental Medicine

At LECOM Brandon spent the first two years taking didactic courses and sharpening his hand skills in the sim lab. He spent the 3rd and 4th year treating patients in the clinic. He is currently a fourth-year student working at the outpatient clinic in Erie, PA. In the last year-plus of working in the clinic he has completed simple and complex restorations, root canals, extractions, crown and bridge, dentures, pediatric procedures and emergencies. There is always more to learn in the dental field, such as implant procedures and treating the medically compromised, which is why Brandon is hoping to get into a general practice residency after graduation.

“The most important tip I would have for getting into dental school is to build a strong, well rounded resume. Shadowing, volunteering, and research are very important. I was fortunate enough to find an evolutionary/developmental biology lab to perform research in as an undergrad. I also volunteered at Carle Hospital which was a great way gain exposure to the health care field in general.”

Connect with Brandon if you are interested in learning more about dentistry or what it takes to succeed in the field. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Brandon. You can also contact him directly at brandonmylescohen@gmail.com

 

Julie Thole, PhD

Julie Thole Title: Associate Professor
Employer: Saint Louis University

Julie received her BS in 2003 from University of Illinois in Plant Biology. She then went on to get her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008.

Currently, Julie is a non-tenure track teaching professor. She teaches a range of courses, including intro bio, genetics, a molecular biology techniques lab, and a plants and fungi course with a lab. Although she doesn’t have a research position, she has been involved in collaborating in research with another plant biologist in her department and advises undergrads every year on independent research projects.

“My plant biology professors were all engaging and led me to graduate school! My experience with my undergrad advisor, Dr. Cheeseman, has really influenced how I try to interact with the students I advise.”

Julie would be a great person to talk to if you’re interested in learning what academia and higher education could look like in a teaching-focused position. If you are interested in becoming a faculty member but would like to focus on teaching, with or without research, Julie can help you figure out what that could look like and how to be successful.

Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Julie.

 

Royce Ellen Clifford, M.D., MPH

Title: Research Scientist – otolaryngologist
Employer: VA Hospitals, University of California, San Diego
Prior Position: Otolaryngologist/Aerospace Medicine Specialist, US Navy

Dr. Royce Clifford, CDR, MC (FS), USN (ret.), obtained a BS in Honors Biology in 1971 at Urbana, an MD from University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago in 1976, and an MPH at Harvard School of Public Health in 2006. Her ENT residency was in San Francisco, and the MD degree and board-certification opened innumerable doors to engage in the practice of medicine and surgery. She engaged in private practice in Southern California for 16 years, subsequent to which she joined the Navy, obtaining a second board certification in Aerospace Medicine and Preventive Medicine. Her time at Harvard as well as the background in Honors Biology opened her eyes to the possibilities of research and helping populations versus individual patients. Since retirement from the Navy in 2015, she has engaged in research at the VA and University of California San Diego, combining her education in otolaryngology with preventive medicine to study the combined effects of military noise and aging on hearing, tinnitus, and balance.

As an otolaryngologist, Royce conducts research on noise, hearing loss, tinnitus, and the balance system. She is engaged in genomics research focusing on the population causes of tinnitus in the brain and brainstem. With a grant for research into the Million Veteran Program at the VA, she is engaged in identification of genes involved in tinnitus and hearing loss.

Royce would be a great person to talk to if you are interested in clinical research, medicine, or opportunities in the Navy. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Dr. Clifford.

 

Patrick Withrow, DPT

Patrick Withrow Title: Director of Clinical Education
Employer: Rosalind Franklin University
Prior Position: Physical Therapist, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center

After graduating with his degree in Biology from UIUC in 2002, Patrick went on to get his degree as a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Rosalind Franklin University in 2008. He worked as a Physical Therapist at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and is currently the Director of Clinical Education at Rosalind Franklin University.

As the Director of Clinical Education, Patrick is an academic faculty member responsible for planning, directing, and evaluating the clinical education program, including facilitating clinical site and clinical faculty development. He also teaches in the areas of clinical skills, geriatrics, and ethics. While a practicing physical therapist, his patients were hospitalized individuals, some in the ICU, who had acute illnesses and injuries, or just had surgery.

Patrick is currently the Vice President of the Illinois Physical Therapy Association (IPTA) and President of the Illinois Physical Therapy Foundation. He is also a past chair of the IPTA Ethics Committee, and has represented the IPTA at the American Physical Therapy Association House of Delegates. Patrick is Board-Certified in Geriatric Physical Therapy.

If you are interested in PT as a career path, or want to learn more about working with patients in a hospital setting, Patrick would be a great person to talk with. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Patrick. You can also contact him directly at patrick.withrow@rosalindfranklin.edu. You can find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-withrow or Twitter at @pwithrow

 

Jemima Elsherbini

Jemima Elsherbini Title: Graduate Student, Environmental Science
Employer: University of Virginia

Jemima graduated with her degree in Integrative Biology in 2020. You may have seen her in our IB advising office if you came in to visit us from 2018-2020, since she was one of our receptionists!

During undergrad Jemima also did undergraduate research Tan lab and Ainsworth labs. While working in the Tan lab, Jemima worked on developing a phylogeny for the catfish superfamily Aspredinoidea and is publishing a paper on the findings of analyzing the modularity and morphology of the superfamily. In the Ainsworth lab, Jemima investigated the effect of air pollution on crops such as soybeans and maize.

She is currently a graduate student working with plant-pollinator interactions, specifically the monkeyflowers and bees, in the Carr lab. She will also be working as a Teaching Assistant for Ecology in the Fall.

Jemima would be a great person to talk to if you’re interested in going to graduate school or want to pursue undergraduate research. Learn more on Jemima’s LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jemima-elsherbini-3a5055193/ . Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Jemima. You can also contact her directly at jem3198@gmail.com.

 

Jake Gold, M.D.

Title: Resident Physician in Emergency Medicine
Employer: DMC - Sinai-Grace Hospital

Jake graduated from Illinois Integrative Biology in 2014 and then completed his MD at St. Louis University School of Medicine in 2019.

He is currently completing a 3 year residency in Emergency Medicine at Sinai-Grace Hospital, which is part of Detroit Medical Center. Sinai-Grace is located in the most densely populated area of Detroit. His hospital treats the most penetrating trauma, and receives more level 1 ambulance runs than any hospital in Michigan. Their program is affiliated with Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Jake’s degree in Integrative Biology allowed him to pursue medical school. “It gave me a more well-rounded view of human physiology by explaining things in evolutionary and ecological terms.”

Having just completed medical school Jake will be able to provide a unique perspective on what it takes to get into medical school and succeed in emergency medicine. He is very interested in providing advice and perspective whenever he is able. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Jake. You can also contact him directly at jakergold@gmail.com

 

Riley Donohoe

Riley Donohoe Title: Dental Student
Employer: SIUE
Previous Role: Research Analyst, Baxter Healthcare

Riley graduated in 2017 with degrees in Integrative Biology and Chemistry. He was involved in undergraduate research at Illinois, including May Berenbaum’s entomology lab and Satish Nair’s biochemistry lab. After graduating he entered the workforce for a year, working in drug discovery at Baxter Healthcare as a Research Analyst. He is currently a dental student at SIUE’s School of Dental Medicine, class of 2022.

His advice for students applying to dental schools is: “Do not put off gaining a diverse set of experiences to display yourself as a well-rounded candidate; grades alone will not cut it, take advantage of the fantastic variety of research and extracurricular opportunities that UIUC can provide. Additionally, look to the community for more opportunities like shadowing and volunteering."

Riley would be a great person to talk with if you are considering dental medicine as a career or if you’re interested in what it’s like working in the research side of the pharmaceutical industry. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Riley. You can also contact him directly at rjdonohoe@sbcglobal.net.

 

Gabriela Murillo

Gabriela Murillo Title: Master's student in Business Analytics
Employer: University of Illinois at Chicago; AmeriCorps
Previous Role: Field Coordinator – MAPSCorps; Saga Education teacher

Gaby enjoys helping others by communicating and distilling complex ideas. She has done this through leadership positions, as a teacher for Saga Education, by tutoring and mentoring students from marginalized communities, and most currently she is learning how to help non-profit organizations utilize large-scale data to have a larger impact on the community.

Gaby graduated with her BS in Integrative Biology in 2019. During undergrad she was active in volunteer, mentor, and leadership positions such as a LAS 101 section leader and the Vice President of Minorities in Health Sciences. After graduating she taught Algebra and Geometry to high school freshmen through Saga Education, which is an organization under AmeriCorps. As a Saga Education fellow she was responsible for mentoring and tutoring high school students in marginalized communities. A large part of her work consisted of bonding with my students and encouraging them to do better. She enjoyed the mentorship and helping the students improve more than the content, so her next position focused on how to help her community. She worked as a Field Coordinator for MAPSCorps, surveying neighborhoods to figure out why employment was so low. Her job was to gather data but then they didn’t know what to do with it. She decided to go to grad school to learn more about business analytics to help non-profit better utilize the data they collect to make a larger impact on their community.

Gaby also worked for MAPSCorps part time throughout the school year on an after school program for high school students. Here she taught them how to use R-studio to analyze community data and then they each did their own research project on how the economic wellness of the community affects people's overall health.

“Personally, my IB degree has given me the ability to think more critically about the world around me. I'm more inclined to research topics I'm unaware about and educate myself on the subject matter. Professionally, my IB degree has given me a lot more confidence than I had before. After completing such a challenging STEM degree I am positive that I can excel at any project that comes my way.”

If you also want to make an impact on your community, are interested in teaching or mentoring after undergrad, or enjoy the analytical thinking components of your IB degree Gaby would be a great person to talk with. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Gaby. You can also contact her directly at murillogabriela24@gmail.com or through LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/gabriela-murillo-90aba4159.

 

Thorsten Hansen

Thorsten Hansen Title: PhD Student, Entomology
Employer: Purdue University, College of Agriculture

After graduating with his BS in Integrative Biology in 2015, Thor went directly to graduate school in Entomology. As a kid he was fixated on insects and has intentionally expanded on his interest in insects to understand how they impact the natural world.

“The knowledge gained through my IB degree made me much more conscious of how my actions, and society’s as a whole, affect the natural world. And from a professional standpoint, while I still do work with insects, I have pushed outside my comfort zone. I am much more interested in the questions I can ask and research I can do in a system instead of the organisms I can work with.”

Thor got his master’s degree in Entomology in 2017 at the University of Kentucky at Lexington working with Dr. Jennifer White on insect ecology. He is currently a PhD student at Purdue University under Dr. Laramy Enders. His research focuses on the microbiomes of monarch butterflies and different milkweed species. More specifically, he employs molecular techniques to understand if the toxic chemicals of milkweeds have an effect on the microbiomes associated with the plant and the insect.

“My PhD, so far, has been hard but rewarding! One really large benefit in joining a brand-new lab is that there are no ongoing projects or open grants when you start. I have largely determined and developed my own research project.”

“It was through networking at a meeting during my masters that I got in touch with my current advisor. Meeting her was the rare case of actually getting to talk with the scientists you admire while reading manuscripts. She had just received a position as an assistant professor at Purdue University and was looking for her first PhD student. It was a perfect opportunity for me as our research interests aligned really well and I personally wanted to experience what it was like running a brand-new lab as I am interested in pursuing research as a career myself.”

If you are interested in pursuing graduate school, a career in research, or an entomology career Thor would be a great person to talk to. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Thor.

 

Ethan Kessler

Ethan Kessler Title: Postdoctoral Researcher
Employer: Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois
Previous Role: Ph.D. Student

Ethan graduated with his degree in Integrative Biology in 2011. He began working with reptiles and amphibians as a museum assistant during an undergraduate research internship with Dr. Chris Phillips and quickly transitioned to field research. Upon graduation he went on to work as a field technician on a variety of projects at the Illinois Natural History Survey, including Illinois pond-breeding amphibian surveys, nationwide chytrid fungus surveys, and riverine turtle telemetry.

He began graduate school in 2014 studying a reintroduction of Alligator Snapping Turtles in southern Illinois. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois in Spring 2020 and now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey. His current research includes remote detection of ephemeral wetlands, population modeling of reintroduced Alligator Snapping Turtles, species distribution models of Odonates, and environmental DNA surveys for Alligator Snapping Turtles.

If you are interested in working with wildlife, conservation, or going to graduate school, Ethan would be a great person to talk with. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Ethan. You can contact him directly at ekessle2@illinois.edu

 

Georgia Arvanitis

Georgia Arvanitis Title: Scientific Recruitment Advisor
Employer: Medix

Georgia graduated in 2020 with her Integrative Biology degree and is now a Scientific Recruitment Advisor for Medix. As a recruiter she works with a team to match talent with Medix clients across a variety of industries. Their team supports scientific clients within Clinical Research, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Device, Food & Beverage, Nutraceutical and more. This includes companies like Medline, Abbott, Baxter, Luminex, Blistex, ATI Therapeutics, Charles River Laboratories, Exicure, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Vital Proteins, and many more.

“I am able to use my IB degree to find talents with the correct background and skill-sets for our clients”

If you are interested in mixing business with science, want to know more about how to become a recruiter, or would like to connect with any of the companies Medix works with you can contact Georgia directly at georgia.arvanitis@medixteam.com. You can learn more about Medix at https://www.medixteam.com

 

T.C.

Title: Forensic Scientist Senior
Employer: County-Level Forensic Science Center
Previous Role: Forensic Scientist, Police Crime Laboratory

I am a DNA analyst and the casework CODIS Administrator for the lab. I analyze evidence that is suspected of containing body fluids, characterize those fluids, and obtain DNA profiles from them. I report my findings in written form, and occasionally in court. As the CODIS Administrator, I manage the lab's DNA database and upload and search DNA profiles through the state and federal DNA database.

My degree and experiences at Illinois gave me a solid foundation of knowledge and lab skills. The reputation that accompanied the Illinois degree opened doors into grad school and subsequent jobs.

If you are interested in a career in forensic science T.C. would be a great person to talk with. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with T.C.

 

Eric Giesing

Eric Giesing Title: Director, Centrifuge and Particle Characterization Biotechnology Business Unit
Employer: Beckman Coulter Life Sciences/Danaher
Previous Role: Senior Manager, Global Strategic Accounts Commercial Team

Eric graduated with his Integrative Biology degree in 2008 and then stayed at Illinois to get his MS in ACES under IB faculty Alison Bell. During his career he also got a Business Certificate from Harvard. He has worked in a range of careers including wildlife biology and pharmaceutical sales and is currently a Director at Beckman Coulter/Danaher.

“IB taught me many life lessons that carry over into my daily life on a consistent basis. SIB provided me with the tools I needed to be successful in an array of career transitions, ranging from academia to wildlife biology to pharmaceutical sales to life science instrumentation sales, even as I climbed the corporate ladder to being an executive in a fortune 150 company.”

Eric manages a $430M portfolio of life science research instrumentation products serving academia, government , biotech, biopharma and clinical customers. He manages product portfolio and strategy as well as complementary processes related to research and development, supply chain, logistics, operations, manufacturing, business development and lifecycle management.

If you are interested in the intersection of business and science, pharmaceuticals, or how to achieve an executive or leadership position Eric is a great person to talk with. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Eric.

 

Savannah Donovan

Savannah Donovan Title: Environmental Program Manager
Employer: Urbana Parks District

Savannah Donovan is the Environmental Program Manager at the Urbana Park District (UPD) and serves as President-Elect of the Environmental Education Association of Illinois (EEAI). She has a BS in Integrative Biology from UIUC and an MS in Environmental Education & Interpretation from UW-Stevens Point. She has been working to coordinate and lead environmental public programs since 2009. In the past year, she has co-founded and leads the Champaign County Climate Coalition (C4) and has co-authored the UPD's CARES (Climate Action, Resilience, Education & Sustainability) Plan. She began in the UPD as an Environmental Public Program Coordinator, which includes both administrative work and public-facing education. As a manager she will be focusing more on the strategic administration work, but she will still try to do some of the public education she loves.

Before working for the UPD, Savannah worked for the Champaign County Forest Preserve District as an Environmental Public Program Specialist at Homer Lake. She also served meals on an Alaskan train, worked as a field tech and lab tech, and volunteered in a wildlife medical clinic to gain experience in the field.

Learn more about Savannah’s role at Anita Purves Nature Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GltzAL2GQ3o

One tip that Savannah has for anyone interested in environmental education: as a student, you can get involved with environmental organizations. The EEAI has student-level memberships, you can serve as a volunteer or even on the board, and they have scholarships to attend conferences.

Savannah is incredibly knowledgeable about and experienced in environmental education careers. She is a great person to talk with if you’re interested in learning how to succeed in the competitive field of environmental education. Contact Christina Swanson at alumnimentor@sib.illinois.edu if you would like to connect with Savannah.

Join the Nature Center team! https://www.applitrack.com/urbanaparks/onlineapp/jobpostings/view.asp?internaltransferform.Url=&category=Environmental

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