2018 Student Awards
KCH Graduate Awards
Benjamin H. Massey Memorial Award
Slav earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Kinesiology at Illinois and is now engaged in studies toward a PhD, which he will complete in 2020. He will seek a university faculty position but also hopes to do industrial research in biopharmaceuticals or nutrition. Working with Dr. Marni Boppart in the Molecular Muscle Physiology Laboratory, his research focuses on the response of stem cells to exercise. He showcased his research during an open house at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He also teaches the laboratory and discussion section of a course on the bioscience of human movement. Slav has been invited to give presentations by the Regenerative Rehabilitation Sixth Annual International Symposium, the Western Illinois Biochemistry Club, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology Graduate Student Seminar. In 2017, he received conference travel awards from the Graduate College, the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, and the Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research and Training.
Howard S. Hoyman Award
Liliana will complete a Master of Public Health and PhD in Community Health in July. She will go on to an American Heart Association post-doctoral fellowship in cardiovascular health and neurological development at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital. Liliana’s undergraduate degrees in International Studies and Political Science are from Loyola University in Chicago. A fellow in the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program, or I-TOPP, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Liliana is working with Dr. Andiara Schwingel to understand social and environmental factors that influence the risk of obesity among women and their preschool-aged children, either living in Mexico or of Mexican descent living in the United States. She is a two-time recipient of The Obesity Society’s Poster Award and also received the Mentored Poster/Platform Presenter Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Laura J. Huelster Award
After completing her PhD in Kinesiology in August, Brynn will remain at Illinois to teach courses in health behavior and promotion. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Working with Dr. Melissa Littlefield, Brynn studies the varied and contradictory roles ascribed to exercise by individuals with MS, and how this relates to navigating an identity as a person with a disability. Her goal is to develop alternative promotion paradigms that acknowledge the complexity involved in making use of exercise-related information, its impact on disability identity, and its relationship to depression. She has developed and delivered an exercise program for people with MS in partnership with a health and fitness center in Bloomington, Illinois, as well as a “crash course” of six exercise modalities, some of which are taught by certified instructors who have MS. In addition to her work with MS populations, she has taught high school students about biomechanics and elementary school students about exercise. Brynn received the 2018 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from both the College of Applied Health Sciences and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Yan graduated in May with a PhD in Kinesiology. She will pursue a career in measurement and statistical analysis. Yan earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Shandong University of Technology in Zibo, Shandong, China, and a master’s degree in Statistics here at Illinois. As a research assistant in Dr. Weimo Zhu’s Kinesmetrics Laboratory, Yan managed measurement projects and took part in health and physical activity data analysis. She also did statistical consulting with collaborating researchers throughout the campus. She authored or co-authored 14 papers published in refereed journals, a book chapter, and seven conference papers, presented at more than 10 national conferences, and served as a reviewer for nine journals. Over the last five years, she has grown from a teaching assistant to co-instructor of a 400-level course on measurement and evaluation in Kinesiology. Yan also has mentored three undergraduate students in the area of quantitative analysis and measurement theories.
Paul D. Doolen Graduate Scholarship for the Study of Aging
The objective of the Doolen Scholarship is to facilitate the study of aging. The scholarships are made possible by an endowment from the Retirement Research Foundation to honor the late Mr. Paul D. Doolen, a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the University of Illinois Foundation.
Yaejin completed her PhD in Kinesiology in May, with a focus on Motor Control. She has a post-doctoral position with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Her Yaejin’s research focuses on improving gait and balance among people with neurological diseases. She also is interested in teaching older adults how to fall safely to reduce the risk of injury. During her time at Illinois, she received a Chittenden Fellowship, Robert L. Sparague Thesis Award, and T.K. Cureton Physical Fitness Research Award. Yaejin has published scholarly articles in Human Movement Science, PloS one, and Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
T.K. Cureton Physical Fitness Research Award
Grace completed her PhD in Kinesiology in May. After completing a postdoctoral position, she plans to join the faculty of a research-intensive university to study the effects of diet and lifestyle on neuro-inflammation via the immune system. Her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry also is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focused on the role of the immune system in inflammation. Working with Dr. Naiman Khan, she investigated the response of stem and progenitor cell populations to acute and chronic endurance exercise and nutrition. She obtained a grant to study the acute effects of feeding on inflammation in children. During her doctoral studies, Grace was an author on ten scientific papers. In addition to Dr. Khan’s Body Composition and Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory, she also worked in a lab that focused on exercise and stem cells.
William H. Creswell Jr. Graduate Student Award
Crina plans to join the faculty of a research university after completing her Ph.D. in Community Health next year. She earned a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and a psychiatry observership at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Working with Dr. Chung-Yi Chiu and Dr. Hillary Klonoff-Cohen, she is investigating issues related to the prevention and treatment of cancer, as well as supportive care and survivorship. She is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic on a study of early stage breast cancer and was an invited presenter at the 2017 Masterclass in Oncology sponsored by the European Society for Medical Oncology. She has served as a teaching assistant or co-instructor for courses on health behavior, health administration, interdisciplinary health, community health organizations, drug use and abuse, and technology, health, and aging. Crina founded an Eastern European nonprofit organization for breast cancer survivors. She is a member of the American Public Health Association, Illinois Public Health Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and International Society of Paediatric Oncology.
RST Graduate Awards
Allen V. Sapora Research Award for Master's Student Research
Andrew will complete his master’s degree next year. He hopes to enter the field of fundraising for either athletics or higher education. He is working with Dr. Jon Welty Peachey on a study of the challenges faced by athletic fundraisers at NCAA Division II institutions. He worked as a media coordination staff member at the University of Nebraska, where he assisted with such events as the Division II Football Championship and the Cotton Bowl. He currently works as a graduate assistant for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics in Irwin Academic Services. Andrew received the 2016 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s Best Sports Talk Program Award. He was selected to attend the 2018 NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar.
Allen V. Sapora Research Award for PhD Student Research
Miry will complete her Ph.D. with a focus on Sport Management this summer. She will seek out a faculty position that will allow her to continue her research while teaching future sport administrators. She completed two degrees at Seoul National University in South Korea: a bachelor’s degree in Sport Science and a master’s degree in Sport Management. Her dissertation research seeks to understand volunteers’ motivations for working with nonprofit organizations that use sport as a means to promote social change at the individual and organizational level. Because the perception of volunteering varies from country to country, she is examining cultural influences on volunteering motives in South Korea and Argentina. Through her work, she hopes to help the nonprofit sport sector, which relies so heavily on volunteers, to improve their ability to attract and retain volunteer staff. Miry served as a teaching assistant for Foundations of Sport Management.
Charles K. Brightbill Memorial Scholarship
Edward will complete his Ph.D. with a Sport Management focus in 2019. He hopes to build bridges between academia and industry as a scholar in sport and athlete development, with a particular focus on addressing deficiencies within youth and collegiate sport systems. He completed his undergraduate degree in Business Management and a master’s in Sport and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina. During his time as a player, coach, and employee of the International Tennis Federation, he was a Division 2 All-American tennis player and British Tennis Tour competitor. Mentored by Dr. Chris Green, he is pursuing research about the negative consequences to youth of focusing too intensely on sports. Funded by a North American Society for Sport Management Doctoral Research Grant, he conducted a pilot study of the relationship between sports parents and coaches and how the relationship is impacted by the environment. While collecting his pilot study data in Orlando, he coached at the United States Tennis Association’s National Campus.
Christine Ziebarth Howe Graduate Student Award
After completing her PhD next year in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, Maggie will pursue an academic career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences at Emory University in Georgia, and a Master of Public Health degree at Illinois. Working with Dr. Monika Stodolska, Maggie is investigating issues related to food consumption, food preparation, and eating behaviors as key components of leisure behavior. She has been a teaching assistant for four courses in recreation, sport, and tourism. As a volunteer Community Aide with the University of Illinois Housing Division, she helps new graduate students adjust to life in Urbana-Champaign. Maggie has received an Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation Scholarship and a National Recreation and Park Association Best Research Abstract Award for the Social Equity Pillar.
Mary and Duke Regnier Scholarship
After completing her master’s degree next year, Racheal hopes to pursue a career in collegiate recreation, with a particular focus on developing aquatic programs. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Under the mentorship of Dr. Toni Liechty, Racheal is investigating the constraints encountered by university students when using campus recreation facilities, and how those restrictions impact students’ leisure satisfaction. She is a graduate assistant for aquatics with Campus Recreation. During her academic career, Racheal has received a Region III Scholarship from the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Foundation, a J. Michael Dunn Endowed Scholarship, also from NIRSA, and an NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar Scholarship. She also received the Phoenix Medal of Honor and Phoenix Scholar Athlete awards from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Outstanding Online Master's Award
Danny completed his degree in May. He hopes to become the director of a community parks and recreation department or similar recreational organization. He also attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Danny plans, promotes, and executes special events and family and youth programs for the City of Janesville Parks and Recreation. He also oversees the operations of the city’s aquatics facilities and programming for a community pool, a wading pool, a splash pad, and a beach. He has been lead event coordinator on such events as the city’s Enchanted Forest and Hollywood Hayride, an award-winning special event that was recognized by the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association. Before joining the Janesville organization, Danny worked with the Freeport Park District as a youth athletics coordinator and pool manager.
Amy completed her degree in May. Her ultimate career goal is to work for the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. She completed her bachelor’s degree in History at Flagier College in St. Augustine, Florida. As the Cultural Services Manager for the Town of Ponce Inlet, Florida, Amy oversees parks and recreation facilities, special events, historical preservation, the Ponce Inlet Historical Museum, and social media. Her true passion is outreach programming, and she develops and implements more than 30 programs and events a year within the community. She received the Rising Star Award from the Florida Recreation and Park Association for her current and future leadership in the field of parks and recreation. In February, she passed the Certified Parks and Recreational Professional exam.
SHS Graduate Awards
Bob Bilger Graduate Student Award
Kevin will complete his doctoral work in Neuroscience in August. He will continue doing research on the regions of the brain that detect changes in energy availability, molecularly and electrophysiologically, and how those regions modify the short- and long-term energy strategies and behaviors of the organism. As an Arnold O. Beckman Graduate Fellow, he worked with Dr. Daniel Llano, associate professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, to find consistent differences in the metabolic characteristics and susceptibilities of different brain areas in young and old mice. He also uses the PolG mouse model of mitochondrial aging to assess if markers of brain aging parallel body composition changes with age. He believes the auditory system may be particularly susceptible to metabolic aging because of the high energy usage in both peripheral and central auditory structures. His research may confirm this while further elucidating which auditory brain areas are the most susceptible and where disorders such as tinnitus originate.
Dean C. and Kathleen R. Garstecki Audiology Scholarship
Shraddha will seek a post-doctoral position in the area of neurocognitive hearing science after completing her PhD in 2021. Working with Dr. Raksha Mudar, she is investigating the impact of age-related hearing loss on cognitive and neural functions. Her preliminary findings suggest that individuals with unaided age-associated hearing loss experience some behavioral cognitive changes, as well as changes in neural functions, indicating that their difficulties go beyond routinely reported hearing problems. As an audiologist and speech-language pathologist in India, Shraddha worked with a variety of clinical populations in hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers. She also has been involved in volunteer activities for older adults, including giving talks in the community to build awareness of hearing loss. In 2016, Shraddha received the Lady Meherbai D. Tata Education Trust Scholarship, a competitive award given to Indian women to pursue higher education abroad.
Ehud and Janie Yairi International Graduate Student Award
Yihsin will complete her PhD in Speech and Hearing Science in 2020. She hopes to secure a faculty position at a research-intensive university and continue her work in cognitive hearing science, with a particular focus on tinnitus. Yihsin earned a Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After obtaining her AuD, she worked as a clinical audiologist in the United States and Taiwan. She is a research assistant in Dr. Fatima Husain’s Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. Her research on speech-in-noise recognition in tinnitus patients with normal hearing sensitivity resulted in a first-author publication in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. For her dissertation research, she is examining psychoacoustic tinnitus measures, brain structural changes, and neural alterations of cognitive control in people with tinnitus. Yihsin received the 2017 Dean C. and Kathleen R. Garstecki Audiology Scholarship.
Frances L. Johnson Student Award
Alice will complete her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2019. She hopes to work in schools or as an early intervention provider. She is especially interested in working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations as well as children with developmental delays. Her undergraduate degree in Education with a focus on Communication Sciences and Disorders is from the University of Georgia. She previously worked with children with physical and cognitive disabilities and communication disorders as a counselor at Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, Michigan. As a volunteer and counselor with Extra Special People, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Watkinsville, Georgia, that serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, she worked with clients who used augmentative and alternative communication and other nonverbal communication modalities. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked full time as a teacher in the infant classroom at Kids’ Work Chicago Too, an early childhood learning center.
After completing her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2019, Jodi hopes to work in schools. She also would like to work in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit to gain expertise in feeding and swallowing disorders, and plans to broaden her practice by becoming a lactation consultant. She has worked with children in a variety of settings, including a summer camp, early education daycare facility, and elementary school. Jodi completed her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, making the Dean’s List every semester and graduating with highest honors.
H. William Porterfield, MD, and Linda Obenauf Porterfield Speech and Hearing Graduate Fellowship
After earning her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science at Illinois, Nimra enrolled in the master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology. She hopes to work as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in a Chicago-area hospital after completing her degree in 2019. Motivated by her interest in the medical side of Speech-Language Pathology, Nimra hopes to conduct research on swallowing in patients with head and neck cancer and in pediatric patients with cranio-facial anomalies. As a graduate clinician in the University of Illinois Speech-Language Pathology Clinic, she has worked with individuals with problems related to stuttering and expressive and receptive language and soon will be working with individuals with Parkinson’s disease using cognitive stimulation therapy. She also works as an academic coach with the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services and is an education and outreach coordinator with the College of Education.
Joan Good Erickson Scholarship
Macarena will complete her PhD in 2021.Her previous degrees are from the Universidad de Chile in Santiago. She is investigating how toddlers’ single-word utterances influence parents’ use of contingent responsive behaviors as a graduate research assistant in the Applied Psycholinguistics Lab co-directed by Dr. Pamela Hadley and Dr. Matthew Rispoli. She also assists in the Department of Linguistics’ Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Laboratory, where she is working with Dr. Silvina Montrul on a study of the role of parental input in the syntactic achievement of school-age Latino bilingual children. Macarena worked with young children and preschoolers from low-income backgrounds who had speech and language difficulties as a speech-language pathologist in Chile. Macarena received the 2017 Ehud and Janie Yairi International Graduate Student Award and a 2016-2017 Block Grant from the Graduate College.
Nancy S. Hager Graduate Student Award in Speech and Hearing Science
Hannah graduated in May with her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. After completing an internship with the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria this summer, she will begin working in public schools as a speech-language pathologist. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science at Illinois as well, graduating as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. She has been a graduate research assistant in the Applied Psycholinguistics Laboratory of Dr. Pamela Hadley and Dr. Matthew Rispoli and is the co-author of an article titled “Simple Sentences Aren’t All the Same: Variation in Input and Acquisition,” which will be published in June in BUCLD 42: Proceedings of the 42nd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Hannah served an internship at Oakwood Grade School and gained clinical experience through positions with Carle Auditory Oral School, Urbana Head Start, and Meadowbrook Health Center, all in Urbana, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, and the University of Illinois Speech-Language Pathology Clinic.
Phyllis Ariens Burkhead Memorial Fellowship
Henry will complete his PhD in Speech and Hearing Science in 2020. He plans to become Costa Rica’s leading scholar on bilingualism, with a focus on foreign and second language learning among individuals on the autism spectrum and other clinical populations. He completed a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching and a master’s degree in Linguistics and is an associate professor in the School of Modern Languages at the Universidad de Costa Rica. He has been a teacher of English as a foreign language for 15 years at both the secondary school and university levels. Working with Dr. Laura DeThorne in the Child Language and Literacy Laboratory, Henry has conducted research on the clinical implications of working with non-mainstream dialect speakers. He also published an article on concerns among parents and professionals about bilingual upbringing of children on the autism spectrum. His work on the representation of autism among online video loggers on the spectrum was presented at both the 2017 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention and the 13th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.
Sylvia Wacker Herzog Scholarship
Monika will complete her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in August. She hopes to work as a bilingual Polish-English speech-language pathologist in the Chicago metropolitan area. Toward that end, she plans to network with Polish-speaking speech-language pathologists, create workshops for English-speaking speech-language pathologists, and conduct research on dialectical differences and variations between the two languages. Monika also earned her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Science at Illinois. She gained significant clinical experience through placements with Carle Outpatient Pediatric Center, Eastlawn Elementary School, Champaign County Head Start, and the University of Illinois Speech-Language Pathology Clinic. She also was an academic coach at the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services, working with students with disabilities that include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, depression, and anxiety, helping them with planning, goal-setting, prioritization, and motivation.