North Central College continues to garner prestigious honors

Apr 29, 2016

North Central College students’ scholarship continues to pay off with recognitions and awards. Kori Sye ’16 was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship, Hannah Kramer ’15 received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and Alicia Casacchia ’17 was recognized by the Goldwater Scholarship program as a 2016 Honorable Mention.

Sye, a chemistry major and mathematics minor, was awarded an NSF Fellowship—one of the highest honors for graduate students pursuing careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM). After graduation, Sye will begin a Ph.D. program in physical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also earned a Robert C. and Carolyn J. Springborn Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry. These fellowships will fund her five-year doctoral program.

Last summer, Sye engaged in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research paper, “Dodine as a transparent protein denaturant for circular dichroism and infrared studies,” was coauthored by two graduate students and a faculty member at the university. The paper was published in the journal Protein Science. She is using the research findings for her College Scholars honors thesis. Last year, Sye was recognized by the Goldwater Scholarship program.

“The NSF Fellowship means so much to me, because it will allow me to pursue the research I am passionate about and help me start my Ph.D. with confidence and credibility,” she says. “I hope that I can be an example to other first-generation students and women in the math and sciences.”

Kramer was awarded a Fulbright ETA for 2016-2017. She was named North Central College's Outstanding Major in German for two consecutive years and traveled to Germany for study abroad. There she taught English for a practicum and enjoyed sharing her American perspective with German students. At North Central, she completed research on how the Holocaust is taught in German schools and hopes to observe these practices during her Fulbright experience. Her position in Germany starts in September.

“I applied for a Fulbright Fellowship because I want to continue to disprove the ‘American’ stereotype, and I love to be fully immersed in German culture,” says Kramer.

Casacchia, a College Scholar, physics major and mathematics minor, has been recognized by the Goldwater Scholarship program as a 2016 Honorable Mention recipient. Last summer, Casacchia conducted research on the investigation of naval sonar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. She presented her research at the institute, to North Central’s physics department and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Casacchia will intern at Fermilab National Laboratory during summer 2016.

“I really value the foundational knowledge and skills that physics provides and hope to use these tools to study mechanical engineering in graduate school,” she says. “I am excited and honored to have been recognized by the Goldwater Foundation. I look forward to a long-term career in research and I am very passionate about conducting work in the field of physics and engineering.”

By Lauren Baltas ’16