McKearn Fellows

Northern Illinois University

2015 McKearn Fellows

Jessica Cox

Jessica Cox

Major: Biological Sciences

Minor: Chemistry

Hometown: Fox Lake, Illinois

Bio: Jessica is working towards both University Honors and Biological Sciences Departmental Honors. She is a research assistant to Dr. Linda Yasui of the biology department and conducts research dedicated to improving the radiation treatment of human brain cancer. Jessica has presented her research at numerous conferences including NIU Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day, Phi Sigma Biology Research Conference, and the Louis Stokes Midwest Center for Excellence Annual Conference. She has done research as a Research Rookie, McKearn Fellow, and was recently awarded the Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research Grant to study cancer stem cells. She has also served as a peer mentor to students inexperienced in conducting research because she enjoys helping acclimate other students to the process of undergraduate research. After graduation from NIU, Jessica plans to study Autophagy in graduate school and become a professor after earning a PhD. When she is not in class or trying to cure cancer, she keeps herself busy being an officer for Pre-Professional Association, spending time with friends, and being a proud member of her sorority, Alpha Phi.

Katie Denius

Katie Denius

Major: Biological Sciences

Minors: Chemistry and Public Health

Hometown: Sycamore, Illinois

Bio: Katie is majoring in Biological Sciences and plans to enroll in optometry school after completing her undergraduate degree. On campus she is involved in her sorority Alpha Phi as the Vice President of Programming and Education, and as a Northern Lights Ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has served on two boards during her college career including the Honors Committee and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Board. She has also been heavily involved in research on campus as an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Elizabeth Gaillard of the Department Chemistry and Biochemistry. The projects she has worked on involve research on the longitudinal disorder, Age Related Macular Degeneration. During the past few summers, she has gone on two NIU Study Abroad experiences including Discovering Montreal and Exploring Ireland’s Healthcare. Her goal to attend optometry school came from her own personal experience pertaining to a vision therapy and an eye condition she has had since she was very young. Her main objective is to help people, whether that be in her community or across the globe; she wants to make a difference in the level of optometric care that is provided to the population. 

Wataru Hashimoto

Wataru Hashimoto

Major: Physics (with an emphasis in Education)

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Bio: Wataru was born in Japan, where he lived until fifteen years old. After his junior high school graduation ceremony, he moved to New Zealand to learn English. A year later, he transferred to an American high school as a sophomore and there discovered his passion for physics in a senior-level physics class. He notes, “My physics teacher showed me the fascinating elements of physics through interesting demonstrations and unique explanation. It was eye opening to see how physics is at work in daily life, such as why the sky is blue and how airplanes fly." He has attended and presented at various conferences, such as National Conference for undergraduate research and American Association of Physics Teachers Summer Meeting. He also experienced a hands-on collaborative research project at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The focus of this project was directed at understanding the performance of physics students based on the teaching approaches of physics educators. He plans on attending graduate school after he receives his undergraduate degree not only to prepare himself to become a better physics teacher, but also to spread the effective teaching methods through research and professional development.  

Margaret (Maggie) Miller

Margaret (Maggie) Miller

Majors: Psychology and Biology

Hometown: Rockton, Illinois

Bio: In her three years at Northern Illinois University, Maggie has had a variety of experiences. During her freshman year she studied international justice in The Hague with her History of Genocide Class, produced a rodent model for Alzheimer's Disease, and compared the responses of women groups to genocide in Argentina, the former Yugoslavia, and Cyprus in addition to her academic work. In her sophomore year, Maggie has worked as a tutor and student worker for the study abroad office. She also began conducting research on why women stay with partners who sexually assault them under the guidance of Jennifer Milliken and Dr. Michelle Lilly. She spent her sophomore summer studying Indonesian language in Jogjakarta as well. This year, she has continued to participate in research with Jennifer Milliken and to study Indonesian. She hopes to initiate a research project comparing and contrasting Indonesian and American views and treatments of mental illness, as well as collaborate on a secondary project with another student to analyze the motivations of perpetrators of genocide. She also hopes to explore a side writing career in addition to her academic pursuits. Next year, she plans to continue her research, gain more international experience, and prepare for medical school. She eventually hopes to graduate medical school with an emphasis in psychiatry and open her own practice.

John (Jack) Sauter

John (Jack) Sauter

Major: Political Science and Spanish

Hometown: DeKalb, Illinois

Bio: Jack is interested in social justice and domestic and global initiatives that seek to make the world a better place to live. He spent the spring 2016 semester studying in Madrid, Spain, where he achieved fluency in Spanish, learned a great deal about Spanish culture, and was able to travel to other countries in Europe in order to gain a more global perspective. This led him to want to work internationally in order to continue learning about the diversity of the world. In addition to enjoying reading on a variety of topics, Jack is a movement enthusiast who loves training unconventionally and learning new ways to use his body. He is potentially interested in combining his interest in politics and world affairs with his interest physical health in order to promote global health initiative. In particular, he is interested in what he calls “movement literacy”, or teaching people how to move well and maintain their bodies, because he believes this to be a fundamental part of human flourishing. At the end of the day, Jack wants to leave the world a better place than he found it and help initiate positive change.

Jayson Shiau

Jayson Shiau

Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Bio: Jayson has his sights set on making a positive impact in the world through engineering. Throughout his time here at NIU, he has supported his goals through his involvement in NIU Robotics, undergraduate research, and internship experience. The projects that he has worked on at NIU so far include digital design with FPGAs and modeling and simulating a pumped-heat electricity storage system. During the summer of 2016, he was fortunate enough to participate in the prestigious Lee Teng Fellowship sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Illinois Accelerator Institute. This fellowship allowed Jayson to gain hands-on experience through an internship at Argonne National Laboratory following an intensive course on the fundamentals of particle accelerators and the technology behind them. Eventually, Jayson hopes to use these amazing experiences to accelerate him on the path of robotics in application towards space exploration research. He believes that robots will be the first step towards safely exploring unknown territories.

Andrew Waite

Andrew Waite

Major: Business Management: Human Resources

Minor: Southeast Asian Studies, Global Studies: Global Commerce

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

Bio: Andrew is originally from Zion, Illinois but was raised in Elmhurst, Illinois. He is the third of four children, enjoys travelling, playing sports, collecting vinyl records, and writing poetry in his free time. His love for adventure and the international community grew as a result of having a long line of travelers in the family, as well as participating in a student exchange program in Semarang, Indonesia for one year. His experience in Indonesia cultivated a strong desire to continue studying Bahasa Indonesia at NIU and to stay connected with the Southeast Asian region. He has since returned to Indonesia to participate in an intensive language program and further his cultural understanding. After graduation, he aspires to work for the Federal government with an agency or in international business. According to Andrew, the most important challenge for his generation today is “…becoming a global citizen. Being able to understand and empathize with other cultures is an invaluable skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life -- both in your professional and personal lives”.

Christine Wang

Brittany Warner

Major: Accountancy

Minor: Political Science

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Bio: Christine is the youngest child of two Taiwanese immigrants and was born and raised in Naperville, IL. She loves to read, play and listen to music, and spending time with her friends in her free time. Currently, Christine is a Presidential Scholar, serves on the executive board of Honors Student Association, and serves as the Speaker of the NIU Student Association Senate. She also works for the Office of Admissions as a Northern Ambassador and performs as part of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra as a violinist. During her time at NIU, Christine was the recipient of the 2016 Richard J. Doherty and Jon F. Erickson Chicago Law Scholarship and Internship, where she served as a law clerk extern for Judge James E. Snyder at the Cook County Circuit Court. Her time during this internship solidified her decision to become a contract lawyer. Christine has also served as an Honors Peer Mentor for incoming honors students as well as a UNIV 101 Peer Instructor. She has served and competed on the executive board of the NIU Forensics Team, which is the NIU speech and debate team. With the support of the McKearn Fellows Program, Christine conducted research into fraud within the not-for-profit sector under the direction of Dr. Chih-Chen Lee of the NIU Department of Accountancy. She was also able to study abroad in Europe through International Business Seminars program, traveling to London, Paris, Geneva, Heidelberg, and Amsterdam, also through support of the McKearn Fellows Program.

Upon graduation, Christine hopes to attend graduate school to obtain her Masters of Accounting Science degree and CPA certificate before attending law school. Once her MAS, CPA, and JD are obtained, Christine hopes to become a contract lawyer. 


Theodore Weiner

Theodore “Tripp” Weiner

Major: Computer Science and Computational Mathematics

Certificate: Mobile Programming

Hometown: Mundelein, IL

Bio: Tripp Weiner is the eldest of two, loves to read every chance he gets, and takes advantage of every programming opportunity presented to him. Quite often, Tripp can be found at hackathons across Illinois or participating in global game design competitions. At the age of 11, Tripp started to teach himself to program and applied his skills in the real world by joining his high school’s robotics team. He continues to offer leadership to the team as a volunteer mentor while continuing his love of robots with NIU’s robotics team. He currently serves as the Director of Technology for the Student Association and continues to aid others through tutoring Computer Science and Mathematics.