North Central recognizes Wade Hicks, Ph.D., with alumni award

Oct 10, 2014

North Central College is honoring scientist Wade Hicks of Framingham, Mass., with an Alumni Recognition Award during Homecoming.

Hicks and four others will be honored during the College’s Homecoming Reunion Celebration from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at the College’s Residence Hall/Recreation Center, 440 S. Brainard St.

North Central College’s Alumni Recognition Award is given to a recent graduate who has excelled in his or her field in a leadership capacity.

Hicks is a 2002 graduate of North Central College who is pursuing a research career in molecular biology at one of the world’s most prestigious research organizations: the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University in Boston. He was named a senior research fellow in Systems Biology after completing a four-year postdoctoral research fellowship, also at the Wyss Institute.

Hicks raised the bar in North Central’s science department for student research. He was among the first to publish and present his results at the national level and the first student to partner with Jonathan Visick, professor of biology, investigating damaged protein in bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Hicks discovered a passion for research that ignited his academic career and earned a Richter Independent Study Fellowship for conducting research at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Upon graduation, Hicks began his science career as a research assistant at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. In 2004, he was accepted into the doctoral program at Brandeis University, where he pursued his passion for molecular biology and authored research articles for prestigious publications like Molecular and Cellular Biology and Science.  
In 2010, he began his postdoctoral work at Wyss, focusing on metabolic engineering to develop novel bacteria to address sustainability issues related to industrial chemicals. Now as a senior research fellow, his main focus in his group is to design genetic tools that would aid the development of “designer” medications, for example, and be devoid of adverse side effects. He is also helping to pursue a U.S. Department of Defense grant to fund the design of an infrastructure to enable rapid engineering of new biological technologies.

Others being honored during North Central’s Homecoming are Outstanding Alumni Award recipients Becky Anderson of Naperville, Jeff Swallow of Naperville, and William Gossell of Farmers Branch, Texas. The Rev. Tom Babler of Naperville will receive a Wall of Witness honor.