Thursday, November 20, 2008

History graduate wins UIS outstanding master's thesis award

Heather Wickens has won the University of Illinois at Springfield's Chapin Outstanding Master's Thesis award for the 2007-08 academic year. Her thesis – titled "The Lasting Legacy of Eliza Lucas Pinckney" – was chosen from among 11 theses and projects nominated by graduate departments at the university.

Wickens' work describes the major influences that shaped American agriculturist Eliza Pinckney into a figure of historical significance and her key role in the development of her sons -- Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Thomas Pinckney, military and political leaders during the Revolutionary period.

Dr. Deborah McGregor, associate professor of History who chaired Wickens' thesis committee, noted, "Heather's thesis is carefully articulated and thematically developed. It establishes historical context for Pinckney's notable achievements and presents a history of a strong woman whose life as a scientist and a parent significantly contributed to the creation and preservation of the South Carolina elite during the Revolutionary period."

Wickens received the master of arts degree in History in May 2008 and currently lives and works in Boston.

Michael Rossetto, who earned a master of arts degree in Biology, received a Special Merit Award. Rossetto's thesis was titled "The Effectiveness of Cryogenic Practices to Preserve a Sediment Bacterial Assemblage from Central Park, New York." Dr. Michael Lemke, associate professor of Biology, served as his committee chair.

Rossetto's work focused on the identification and recovery of culturable bacteria from a representative sediment community. The first part of his study used a traditional, nutritionally rich clinical media for growing bacteria, while the second part used a technique that suggested that trace minerals and simple organic molecules represent the partially "starved" state of a bacteria in nature and thus favored culturing of both common and novel strains.

Noted Lemke, "I am proud of Mike's accomplishments and his significant contributions to the field. His thinking went from having a fundamental understanding of the biological world to commanding an exceptionally insightful line of investigation that embraced advanced molecular techniques as well as the appropriate application of traditional methods."

The UIS Research Board reviews nominated theses and projects and makes the final selection. Lynn Pardie, UIS associate vice chancellor for graduate education and research, said that the board was impressed by the high quality of each of the nominated reports. "Determining which among them should be singled out for special recognition was a challenging task," she said.

Other students who were nominated, their theses or projects, and their programs, are: Karina Kazintseva (Communication), "Scrutinizing the Process of Second Language Acquisition Through a Lens of the Cultural Capital Theory"; Sheldon Linker (Computer Science), "A Knowledge Base and Question Answering System Based on Loglan and English"; John Barrett (Educational Leadership), "Cross-Curricular Vocabulary Instruction Utilizing Brain Based Treatment"; Meghan Harmon (English), "And to Her Astonishment, There Was No Blood: Comprehending the (Fictional) Suicides of Quentin Compson and Milkman Dead"; Kris McDonald (Environmental Studies), "Program Evaluation of the Eco-U Summer Nature Camp"; Paula Dal Canton (Human Development Counseling), "An End to Bullying Begins with Teachers: An Informational Workshop for Middle School Teachers"; Julia Ramirez (Human Services), "Lit from Within: Insights into Successful Aging from the Dominican Sisters of Sacred Heart Convent"; Brent Judd (Liberal and Integrative Studies), "William Faulkner and the Symbolist Movement: Absalom, Absalom as a Reflection of Mallerme's L'Apres-mide"; and Stephen Newell (Management Information Systems), "An Information System Architecture and Maturity Model to Support State and Local Government Homeland Security."

All 11 students will be honored at a reception to be held in February 2009.

Research Board members are Pardie, who serves as chair; UIS faculty members Jason Barker, Thomas Clausen, Denise Somers, and Chris Mooney; and Lenore Killam, staff in UIS' College of Public Affairs and Administration.

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