McKearn Fellows

Northern Illinois University

2016 McKearn Fellows

Emily Fiala

John (Jack) Sauter

Major: Biochemistry

Minors: Math

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Franklin Park, Illinois

Bio: Emily is a Biochemistry major, and plans on pursuing a minor in Math as well. She is passionate about researching stem cells, viruses, bacteria and genetics and is excited to research these topics during the McKearn Fellows Program. Fascinated with other cultures, she is teaching herself to speak, read and write Polish. In addition to her fascination with other cultures, Emily is also a member of NIU’s club travel tennis team. After she receives her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Emily plans on obtaining her Ph.D. in the Biological Sciences. She aspires to possibly work with the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, or Doctors without Borders one day. It is with pride and gratitude that Emily would like to take what she learned, both at NIU and through the McKearn fellowship, and give back by helping individuals with disabilities and curing diseases.

Nicole Hoffmann

Nicole Hoffman

Majors: Engineering

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Antioch, IL

Bio: Nicole is an Engineering major and is passionate about decreasing the detrimental effects astronauts experience. As a biomedical engineer, she wants to design a device to counteract bone and muscle degradation in zero gravity conditions. As a Research Rookie, she conducted a literature review on proton computed tomography and is excited to continue to conduct research during the McKearn Fellows Program. On campus, she is involved in NIU Robotics Club, Engineers without Borders, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Huskie Marching Band. In addition to her love for math and science, she is passionate about music and plays several instruments. She is also a recipient of the NIU Presidential Scholarship and spends her free time volunteering at the TAILS Humane Society. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Engineering, she plans to attend graduate school at NIU. Nicole's ultimate goal is to better the human condition.

Zohra Sattar

Zohra Sattar

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: History

Year: Freshman

Hometown: West Chicago, IL

Bio: Zohra is a Biochemistry major, and plans on pursuing a minor in History as well. Zohra is a Presidential Scholar and is involved in a number of organizations such as NIU AXS Chemistry Professional Fraternity and NIU’s Chemistry Club. As a Research Rookie, she worked on a protein-related project aimed at improving patient’s life through minimizing enzyme inhibitor’s harmful side effects by designing IspF enzyme inhibitors using molecular docking software. She has also expressed a great passion for giving back to her community. In an endeavor to make a difference in society, she started The Purple Crayon Project, an organization that donates school and art supplies to children living in domestic violence shelters. After she obtains her bachelor’s degree at NIU, she plans to develop drugs that minimize harmful side effects, taking a holistic approach to medicine that allows patients to enjoy fulfilling lives while receiving treatment.

Sarah Shapley

Sarah Shapley

Major: Geology

Minors: Environmental Science and Spanish

Year: Freshman

Hometown: 

Bio: Sarah is a Geology major, and plans on pursuing minors in both Environmental Science and Spanish as well. She is passionate about creating solutions for our societies’ ever growing problems, especially where human’s interests conflict with those of the environment. Sarah is also a Presidential Scholar and is currently in Research Rookies studying the movement of gas in landfills. She also hopes to study abroad in South America to improve her communication skills in Spanish and obtain a broader understanding of the global community. She obtained her third degree black belt in Taekwondo and was a member of Civil Air Patrol. Here at Northern she has continued with her love of martial arts by being part of the Jiu-jitsu club and her love of music by joining Wind Symphony. After she completes her bachelor’s degree at NIU she plans on going to graduate school to obtain a Masters in Geology.

Peyton Whiston

Peyton Whiston

Major: Biological Sciences

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Coal City, Illinois

Bio: Peyton is a Biological Science major, and is extremely passionate about wildlife management, land use change and climate change. As a Research Rookie, he conducted research related to the restoration of a tallgrass prairie at the Nachusa Grasslands. Specifically, Peyton’s research focused on the differences of invertebrate communities in and out of bison wallows. He plans on expanding his previous research this summer as a McKearn Fellow. He is also a Presidential Scholar who is involved in multiple organizations on campus such as Pre-Professional Association, Lambda Sigma Honor Society and Best Buddies. In addition, Peyton also has a passion for giving back to his community. Currently, Peyton is involved in coaching a Special Olympics soccer team through the Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association. After he receives his bachelor’s degree at NIU, Peyton plans on continuing his education as a graduate student in a biology related discipline.