North Central College - Naperville, IL

Heather Carlson ’91 delivers keynote address at Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research

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Heather Carlson '91
Heather Carlson '91

May 15, 2012—If you want to succeed at scientific research, you’ve got to be able to work well with others.

That was the advice North Central College students and others heard May 15 during the keynote address at the College’s 15th annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research from professor, pharmaceutical researcher and North Central alumna Heather Carlson ’91.

“What you learn in a textbook is only the beginning,” she told the audience of several hundred in Wentz Concert Hall, during the kickoff to the College’s annual Honors Day celebration. “Established knowledge is not what people do in science today … Science is incredibly multi-disciplinary—you’re going to work on a team.”

Carlson is professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Michigan’s College of Pharmacy and professor of chemistry in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. She is also principal investigator at the Heather A. Carlson Laboratory at the university. Her laboratory specializes in method development for drug companies, which includes creating technologies and databases for use in drug design.

She stressed to North Central students the importance of developing good writing and communications skills, as she did during her undergraduate studies as part of North Central’s liberal arts curriculum.

“You have to be able to write well, and know how to structure an argument,” she said. “Research is a business, and you’ve got something to sell … You’ll be hired on your skills set, not on the work you’ve done.”

At North Central College, she carried a triple major in mathematics, physics and chemistry and was recognized as the Outstanding Major in Chemistry in her graduating class. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University and to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California in San Diego.

The Rall Symposium is a forum for North Central College undergraduate students to present their independent scholarly research projects, spanning all academic areas, and is part of a daylong Honors Day event that recognizes top student scholars and their academic achievements. The keynote address was followed by oral and poster presentations and an Honors Convocation.

Awards presented during 2012 Honors Convocation:

Division of Arts and Letters
Diane Duvigneaud Senior Art Award: Jessica Brewster
Outstanding Major in Art: Giuseppe Pellicano
Outstanding Major in Interactive Media Studies: Aiste Kairys
Outstanding Major in English: Emily Schmidt
Outstanding Major in Journalism: Jenna Markowski
Outstanding Major in Literature: Elizabeth Burrow
Outstanding Major in Writing: Amy Olson
Outstanding Major in French: Natalie Cummins
Outstanding Major in German: Emily Rademaker
Outstanding Major in Japanese: Ereka Funkhouser
Outstanding Major in Spanish: Alexandra Cook
Clarence Juhnke Award: Lucas Steidinger
Outstanding Major in Music Education: Kateri Tumminello
Outstanding Major in Broadcast Communication: Daniel Falconer
Outstanding Major in Speech Communication: Derrick Wynn
Outstanding Student in Forensics: David Depino
Outstanding Major in Organizational Communication: Mary Caron
Outstanding Major in Theatre: Lauren Smith
Outstanding Student in Division of Arts and Letters: Ereka Funkhouser

Division of Economics and Business
Outstanding Major in Accounting: Jessica Andersen
Outstanding Major in Economics: Sam Jaros
Outstanding Major in Finance: Eric McKee
Outstanding Major in Marketing: Kelsey Brummel
Outstanding Major in Management: Amanda Marek
Outstanding Student in Division of Economics and Business, The Wall Street Journal Award: Peter Bulandr Jr.

Division of Human Thought and Behavior
Outstanding Major in East Asian Studies: Kelly Cox
Outstanding Major in Elementary Education: Veronica Blue
Outstanding Student in Secondary Education: Alicia Zimmerman
Outstanding Major in Athletic Training: Megan Postema
Outstanding Major in Exercise Science: Amy Frazzini
Outstanding Major in Physical Education: Michael Giaquinto
Outstanding Major in Sport Management: Timothy Brandes
Outstanding Major in Social Science/History: Raymond Treonis
James Henry Breasted 1890 Outstanding Major in History: Alexis Smith
Outstanding Major in Global Studies: Elizabeth Hasseld
Outstanding Major in Political Science: Meghan Steinbeiss
Outstanding Major in Philosophy: Szymon Kesek
Outstanding Major in Religious Studies: Luke Kinney
Outstanding Major in Sociology & Anthropology: Douglas Engelman
Outstanding Student in Division of Human Thought and Behavior: Veronica Blue

Division of Science
Outstanding Major in Biochemistry: Grace Muganda
Outstanding Major in Biology: Rebecca Tran
Outstanding Major in Chemistry: Anna Laky
Outstanding Major in Computer Science: Jonathan Rascher
Outstanding Major in Physics: Michael McEvoy
Outstanding Major in Psychology: Rachel Garthe
Outstanding Major in Mathematics: Jonathan Rascher
Outstanding Major in Actuarial Science: Eric McKee
Outstanding Student in Division of Science: Kirsten Coffman
Outstanding Student in Interdisciplinary Studies: Andrea Hehn

Scholar-Athlete Awards
Freshman: Thomas Andrews
Sophomore: Peter Mann
Junior: Daniel Kerley
Senior: Kirsten Coffman

Other Awards
The Mark A. Reid Freshman Leadership Award: Heidi Nelson
The Carleen Verstraete Outstanding Resident Student Award: Ashley Domonkos
Outstanding Service to Student Life Award: Patrick Anderson and Emily Rademaker
Megan Sweeney Award: Rachel Garthe
Outstanding Senior Man: Peter Bulandr Jr.
Outstanding Senior Woman: Mary Caron