April 8, 2016 at 10:45am
Dane Lisser

Millikin biology majors sweep presentation awards at regional convention

Millikin Tri-Beta Chapter

Millikin University biology students enjoyed a successful day at the 2016 Tri-Beta National Biological Honor Society North Central District 1 Convention held April 2 at North Park University in Chicago. Students from Millikin's Tri-Beta Chapter, Iota Epsilon, were awarded for their research efforts and presentations.

The convention gave students and faculty members opportunities to share current research and discuss scientific topics. There are 30 colleges and universities from Illinois and Wisconsin in the district and six schools had student presenters at the convention, including eight biology majors from Millikin.

Millikin students swept the oral presentation awards as Kelsey Going, a senior from Butler, Ill., received 1st Place, Morgan Kincheloe, a senior from Lincoln, Ill., earned 2nd Place and Mackenzie Peck, a junior from Livermore, Calif., received 3rd Place. Nicole Koch, a junior from Morton, Ill., received Honorable Mention.

Millikin Tri-Beta ChapterKelsey Going's presentation examined the costs associated with cold temperatures in two frog species, while Morgan Kincheloe's project examined the admission and post-rehabilitation physiology of raptors at the Illinois Raptor Center. Mackenzie Peck presented her work on the effects of water acidification and disease on frog immune defenses, and Nicole Koch presented her work on the effects of injuries during development on frog performance as adults.

"A primary component of the mission of Beta Beta Beta is to promote scholarship and research in biology for undergraduate students," said Dr. Travis Wilcoxen, Millikin associate professor of biology. "The success of our students at this conference is strong evidence that we are a leader in this field and that our students not only take the opportunity to complete research projects, but that they also embrace Performance Learning."

Millikin also received two poster awards as Jessica Brinegar, a senior from Decatur, Ill., earned 2nd Place and T.J. Holmes, a senior from Decatur, received 3rd Place. Brinegar's work examined the early life stress and parasites in birds of prey. Holmes presented his work on foraging behavior in spiders.

"Presenting at the Tri-Beta Convention was an amazing experience for me. I have never participated in anything similar to it before, so it was new to me," said Kelsey Going. "It gave me the confidence to present in front of a crowd of individuals, and it will help with further research I complete in graduate school."

When faced with the challenges of public speaking and sharing their work with their peers and faculty from other institutions, our students demonstrate great command of biological knowledge.

Two other Millikin students also presented their work. Shelby Chesko, a junior from Wilmington, Ill., presented a poster on her study of lead poisoning in birds of prey. Emily Vana, a senior from Elmhurst, Ill., presented her poster on examining antibodies to disease in birds that use feeders.

"As a junior, this was a great opportunity to be able to present my research for the first time in front of an audience," said Nicole Koch. "I received good feedback, and I now know what to expect for the next convention. Performing and presenting my own research will also help me become a unique standout when applying for physical therapy school."

Millikin Tri-Beta Chapter

In addition to individual accomplishments, Millikin's Tri-Beta Chapter, Iota Epsilon, won three awards including Most Delegates, Spirit Award and the Best Chapter Award. Millikin's Tri-Beta Chapter was established in 2011.

"It was very helpful to receive constructive feedback from the judges so that I would have a better idea of how to improve in the future," said Mackenzie Peck. "I plan to attend graduate school after Millikin in the hopes of earning a Ph.D. and eventually pursuing a research career in marine biology, so I will likely be presenting research at conferences for a good part of my life. After attending this conference, it is clear to me that Millikin does a great job of preparing students for future schooling and careers."

Millikin Tri-Beta Chapter

Dr. Wilcoxen noted, "In these settings, when faced with the challenges of public speaking and sharing their work with their peers and faculty from other institutions, our students demonstrate great command of biological knowledge."  

Tri-Beta is a society for students, particularly undergraduates, dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study and extending boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research. Since its founding in 1922, more than 200,000 persons have been accepted into lifetime membership, and more than 670 chapters have been established throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. For more information on Tri-Beta, visit tri-beta.org.