Thursday, August 17, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student finds passion for public service at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield political science major Yaw Kesse of Chicago has a passion for public service.

Kesse has spent the summer interning at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Springfield where he works in the Bureau of Collections. He credits UIS for the internship opportunity saying it has helped prepare him for his future career.

“I’ve learned how to better present myself,” he said. “I’ve learned communication skills and how to interact with the public. I had an advanced training where I learned about customer service.”

At UIS, Kesse is a member of the Upsilon Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was previously involved in Student Activities Committee (SAC) and served as host for the 2016 UIS Homecoming Pep Rally.

“UIS has taught me that leadership is very important,” he said. “Coming into UIS, I really wasn’t engaged too much in high school.”

He recommends that future UIS students get involved on campus in order to gain valuable leadership experience.

“For any student who is coming to UIS, I feel like you should just really get yourself acclimated and join student organizations and do as much as possible,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Kesse plans to continue his career in public service and hopes to find a job with the State of Illinois. He says he’s grateful for the opportunities he’d had at UIS.

“I’m very satisfied that I came to UIS,” he said. “These past four years have been quite remarkable for me. I’ve grown as a person and as an individual and learned a lot.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UIS Chancellor wins bid on Illinois State Fair Grand Champion ice cream made in Eureka

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch was the winning bidder of 3 pounds of Uncle Bob’s Homemade Ice Cream at the Governor’s Sale of Champions at the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

The ice cream, which is manufactured in Eureka, Illinois, was named the Illinois State Fair Grand Champion in the ice cream category. Koch bid $600 to win the grand prize-winning blackberry ice cream.

According to their website, Uncle Bob's Homemade Ice Cream opened on July 10, 1980, at the Heart of Illinois Fair. Uncle Bob's now has a permanent location in Eureka where fresh ice cream is made year round.

Koch plans to donate the champion ice cream to the University of Illinois Springfield to be served at a special event on campus.

The Governor’s Sale of Champions is held each year at the Illinois State Fair on Agriculture Day.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Future doctor loves mentoring new UIS students

University of Illinois Springfield senior Ashley Osuma loves to share the knowledge she’s gained from her four years on campus with incoming freshmen.

Osuma is a peer mentor for the Summer Bridge Program, a two-week on-campus living-learning experience for first-year students who need additional academic support and college preparation.

“As a peer mentor, we counsel students through things they might be going through, help them with their homework and answer any questions they may have,” she said.

During the Summer Bridge Program, Osuma, an O’Fallon, Illinois native, spends several hours each day socializing with the students and helping them prepare for college.

“I love getting the chance to interact with students and pass on wisdom that I may have not had at the time I was a freshman and just give them a different perspective,” she said.

During Fall Semester 2017, Osuma will continue to mentor the Summer Bridge students as a resident assistant (RA) in Lincoln Residence Hall and as a peer mentor for Students Transitioning for Academic Retention (STARS).

“My main important advice for the students is to stay focused on your school work,” she said. “Remember your ultimate goal and what you want to do for yourself and get involved with things that will help you with that goal and keep you focused on it.”

On campus, Osuma is also president of the Tau Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the historian for the Pre-Health Society. She says she’s learned many important lessons from her leadership roles on campus.

“All my experiences have taught me that everyone has different backgrounds and we all see the world through different eyes,” she said. “I also feel to be a good leader you have to know how to be led.”

As a biology major, Osuma is concentrating her studies in the pre-medicine field. Following graduation from UIS, she plans to go to medical school and become a dermatologist.

“I’m glad I chose UIS for all of the great people I’ve met,” she said. “I’ve had a great experience with the campus and love the small class sizes.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

UIS professor part of a research study that finds new biological sequencing method less effective

Michael Lemke, professor of biology at the University of Illinois Springfield, is part of an international research team led by the American Museum of Natural History that has found that a next-generation DNA sequencing method is less effective at microbial diversity description than originally thought.

Next-generation sequencing has given biological scientists the ability to sequence millions to billions of small fragments of DNA in parallel, revolutionizing the field.

In a study, published this week in the Nature research journal “Scientific Reports”, scientists compared two next-generation sequencing techniques – called amplicon and shotgun – on water samples from four of Brazil’s major river floodplain systems. Less than 50 percent of phyla—a category for a very broad group of related organisms—identified via amplicon sequencing were recovered from shotgun sequencing, challenging the belief that shotgun recovers more diversity than amplicon-based approaches. Amplicon sequencing also revealed about 27 percent more families.

“It is not a matter of setting back sequencing research,” said Lemke. “Sequencing is an amazingly effective tool for understanding what exists in the microbial world, but every tool does not fit the need for every job, and here, we really have a variation on the same tool. Many parts of microbial world remain unknown, and the unknown portions are even more mysterious when there are less studies, for there are less data that has been contributed to building a database.”

Lemke, through a collaboration with the Universidade Estadual de Maringá in Brazil, helped collect samples and extract DNA used for the data in the present study. He was on site to collect water samples from the Amazon and Paraguay Rivers during two trips in 2011 and 2012. These samples, along with those from the other river systems, were sequenced using both amplicon and shotgun methods.

“In the case with the Brazil large rivers study, the study that came out represents evidence for a ‘better’ way to use the sequencing tool in this case,” said Lemke. “You can think of the work led by Michael Tessler and Mercer Brugler as having two different (sequencing) flashlights used to look into the microbial black boxes we retrieved from Brazil. It turns out that the amplicon flashlight shed double the light into the box than the shotgun flashlight.”

Lemke’s work continues as a research associate for the American Museum of Natural History with the DeSalle Lab, part of the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics.

“I’m preparing the last samples from a nine-year study on The Nature Conservancy’s restoration project at Thompson Lake (located near the Emiquon Preserve in Fulton County) to take to the Museum for sequencing yet this summer,” he said. “Application of sequence technology is a big issue in our work.”

Other researcher partners included in the American Museum of Natural History study are the City University of New York (CUNY), Weill Cornell Medicine and Instituto Cesumar de Ciȇncia, Tecnologia e Inovação.

This study was supported in part by the Korein Foundation, the Gerstner Family Foundation, the Irma T. Hirschl and Minque Weill-Caulier Charitable Trusts, the Bert L. and N. Kuggie Vallee Foundation, the WorldQuant Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant #OPP1151054), and the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development.

For more information, contact Michael Lemke, UIS professor of biology, at 217/206-7339 or

Leadership lived: Student helps manage UIS Brookens Library

As a student manager at Brookens Library, Andrew Koontz, a senior University of Illinois Springfield computer science major, makes sure that patrons find the resources they need. He also trains new student workers and is responsible for special projects.

“The most rewarding part about working at the library is the feeling you get after helping someone, whether it be a patron that comes in, a student or a fellow worker,” he said. “It’s just a really great feeling helping someone achieve what they want to do.”

Koontz, who is from Belleville, Illinois, has worked at the library for the past year and a half and worked his way up to the student manager position. It’s the first time he’s ever held a management position.

“If a student worker needs help with a patron or gets asked something they don’t know they’ll come to me or another supervisor for help,” he said.

As a computer science major, Koontz likes to point out that Brookens Library not only offers books, but online databases for students to take advantage of while doing research.

After he graduates from UIS, Koontz wants to continue to work with computers and possibly become a software engineer.

“As long as it involves my major and I get to work with computers I’ll be happy,” he said.

Koontz chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of the right-sized supportive community. He says he came from a smaller higher school and didn’t want to attend a large university.

“UIS has many services and opportunities for students that really helps them feel welcomed into the school. I think this is a great school,” he said.