Department of Chemistry at Illinois State University

Alumni Profiles

Jim Alstrum-Acevedo

Jim Alstrum-AcevedoJim H. Alstrum-Acevedo (B.S. ’98) is a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA. After working for Prof. Doug West as an undergraduate at ISU, Jim went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his Ph.D. Jim finished at UNC in 2005 and has been with the USPTO ever since. In his spare time, Jim is pursuing his law degree at George Washington University. At the April 2010 Senior and Awards Banquet, Jim discussed his career path and possible career opportunities in intellectual property for those with a science degree.


Dave Atkinson

Dave AtkinsonDave Atkinson (B.S. ’85) recently returned to Illinois from the West Coast and is helping run his wife's family business, Tow-Pac, Inc., which manufactures motorcycle conversion kits that transform large touring bikes like Harleys and Honda Goldwings into trikes. He recently updated us on the circuitous trip that returned him to Illinois. Being a Bloomington native, Dave claims "going to ISU was not a life-transforming experience in terms of moving out on my own and establishing myself in a distant town surrounded by strange people. However, my time earning my BS in the Chem department was extremely rewarding and served as the pivot point between youth, and adulthood. I have used the things I learned there every day since, and will continue to do so." After graduation, Dave joined the Navy and received his Commission in May of '87 and earned his wings from flight school in October of '88. He then received more training, was deployed twice, and then entered the biotech field in Seattle, WA. He began at ZymoGenetics in their new Pilot Plant, taking bench-scale processes and making them work at larger scales After the Pilot Plant at Zymo closed, Dave worked in Quality Assurance through a variety of corporate mergers, spin-offs etc. As Dave commented, "That would have made the fifth company I had worked for without ever getting up out of my chair." Dave and his wife now live in the Kankakee/Bradley/Bourbonnais area and "are re-adjusting to changing seasons. Seattle only has two. The Long Wet, and the Short Dry. My days in the motorcycle accessory manufacturing world no longer directly involve science. As close as I get is measuring the gel time for a test shot of our fiberglass resin at the beginning of the day. And explaining to my father-in-law that the reaction is exothermic, which is why the cup gets so hot. Oh, and discussing why steel drill bits can cut steel bar stock. However, in a twelve-person company, my days are very full."


Paul Bloom

Paul BloomDr. Paul Bloom (B.S. ’96) is the Director of Chemical Technology Strategy at Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, IL.  Paul returned to visit the Department as part of the Alumni Day festivities in October, 2009.  He joined ADM in 2001 as a research chemist and previously served as manager, New Industrial Chemical Research. Since joining ADM, he has focused on synthesis and development of chemicals and fuels derived from carbohydrates, proteins and vegetable oils. His areas of research include organic synthesis, catalysis and formulations development. In 2005, Dr. Bloom and several ADM colleagues received the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award for designing safer chemicals and the Pollution Prevention (P2) Award.  In addition to his degree from ISU, Paul holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Iowa State University.  Paul currently resides in Decatur with his wife Beth and two children Sarah and Joshua. 


Denise Colby

Denise ColbyDenise Colby (B.S. ’04) is currently an NIH post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Timothy Jamison at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At ISU, Denise worked in the laboratory of Prof. Timothy Lash to design novel porphyrin syntheses. Denise was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship during her senior year. After leaving ISU, Denise attended the University of California-Berkeley, where she earned her Ph.D. in 2008. Denise remarks: The extensive research that I had the opportunity to pursue at Illinois State provided me with the experience and tools I needed to be successful in my future academic pursuits. The chemistry department at Illinois State University provides undergraduate students with amazing opportunities for success in academic coursework, research, and teaching. The education that I received while I was there left me better prepared for my future academic career than most of my peers, many of whom attended much larger undergraduate institutions. I am grateful to all of my advisors and educators at Illinois State for the daily dedication they demonstrated in the classroom and beyond.


Michelle L. D. Etheridge

Michelle (Derry) Etheridge (B.S. ’92) is currently working as a forensic scientist in the drug chemistry division of the Illinois State Police. While at ISU, Michelle did undergraduate research with Prof. Karen Goldberg. Originally from the Peoria area, Michelle returned there after graduation to do environmental testing. Michelle joined the Illinois State Police in April 1995 and is currently located in the Westchester, IL laboratory. Michelle also serves as a model for balance as a member of the ISP’s "job share" program, which allows her to work part time while she and husband Gary raise their three children. Michelle was the Alumni Guest of the Chemistry Department for 2008 Homecoming at ISU.


Beth Helmink

Beth HelminkBeth Helmink (B.S. ’04) is a M.D./Ph.D. student at Washington University in St. Louis. Beth worked with Prof. Jon Friesen for three years as an undergraduate doing biochemical research. Beth's experiences helped her win a Goldwater Scholarship her senior year. While at ISU, Beth also worked as a nursing technician in the emergency room at BroMenn hospital. Beth comments: These two particular experiences at ISU (undergrad research and working at BroMenn) were critical in convincing me that I wanted to commit to the MD/PhD program and also helped make that possible. Beth successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in May 2010.


Mary Anne Marovich

Mary Anne Marovich (B.S. ’83) is Chief of the Department of Vaccine Research and Development Walter Reed Medical Center.  Mary Anne earned her M.D. from Loyola-Chicago after leaving ISU and later earned her DTM&H from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  She is now working to help develop a vaccine for HIV/AIDS.


Kristy Moore

Kristy MooreKristy (Wolf) Moore (B.S. ’93), is Director of Technical Services for the Renewable Fuels Association, the national trade association for the U.S. Ethanol Industry.  As Technical Director, Kristy is the industry contact for fuel ethanol quality, regulatory, safety and environmental aspects.  She visited the Department in November 2009 to speak with students about renewable fuels.   She believes her ISU experience prepared her well and enjoyed the opportunity to return to visit with students and discuss the renewable fuels industry.  Kristy had previously worked for Archer Daniels Midland for 14 years, which included experience with both wet and dry milling ethanol production and, she believes, prepared her well for her current work on the national level.  Kristy has been recognized for her excellent service to the industry and serves as an expert on numerous committees, including as co-chair of the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition, a diverse group of interested parties dedicated to the development of ethanol safety information for the first response community. 


Steven J. Peters

Steven PetersSteven J. Peters (B.S. ’89, M.S. ’90) is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Illinois State University. After leaving ISU, Steve obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Indiana University and then pursued a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Post-doctoral Fellowship at ISU with mentor Cheryl Stevenson. After successfully balancing the teaching and research associated with that Fellowship, Steve began as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at California State University-Sacramento. Steve returned to ISU to accept his current post in 2005. Steve has felt that his ISU education prepared him well for his current endeavors.


Mark Rutherford

Mark RutherfordMark Rutherford (B.S. ’81, M.S. ’85) is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Mark did his M.S. work at ISU in the lab of Prof. Arlan Richardson. Dr. Rutherford obtained a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and did postdoctoral work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. He joined Minnesota's staff in 1994. He has an active research program in the fields of molecular immunology and host-pathogen interactions. Mark and his wife Mary (also an ISU alum) returned to Normal in October 2010 as part of Alumni Day festivities.