From AU to Springfield: Professor promotes science across the state

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Associate Professor of Biology Mark Zelman has been elected  secretary of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences.

Science research and education continues to be a core initiative at Aurora University, and faculty member Mark Zelman is leading the way both in the classroom and in the state. Zelman, Associate Professor of Biology, was recently elected secretary of the Illinois State Academy of Sciences. In his new role, he will help lead the 107-year-old Springfield-based academy in promoting scientific research, facilitating the communication of scientific knowledge and advocating for the interests of scientists and science students in Illinois.

Zelman’s involvement with the academy has been beneficial to the Aurora University community. “My participation has enabled approximately a dozen undergraduates to present or publish their research, meet with scientists from across the state and network with fellow students,” said Zelman. “These meetings have sparked a lasting and keen interest in research among several students. For example, one is completing a PhD in microbiology at Loyola University, and another is working in public health, having completed a master’s at Columbia University.”

As secretary, Zelman will work closely with the academy’s president. They will help organize annual meetings, edit the journal, plan educational programs and administer undergraduate scholarships.

“The ISAS annual meeting facilitates sharing and peer review of research,” said Zelman. “Many national organizations have enormous meetings that can intimidate undergraduates. However, the ISAS meeting is an ideal setting for undergraduates to present their research. Faculty members tend to be invested in the importance of teaching and they lend meetings a supportive, collegial atmosphere. At this April’s meeting, my colleague Dr. Chetna Patel and I are sponsoring presentations by four AU chemistry students.”

Zelman has enjoyed his activities with the academy, especially working with science faculty from across the state. “Many members don’t know as much about smaller colleges and universities,” he said “Most conversations begin with ‘I didn’t know…’  However, people are impressed by our students’ work and they enjoy learning about AU STEM education programs. I have learned though the academy that in spite of obvious institutional differences, science faculty around Illinois share a passion for science education and research.”