Six awards for research funded by the Council on Faculty Research


Luke Taylor, News Editor

The Council on Faculty Research has announced the faculty members who received an award to fund a proposed project.

Twelve faculty members applied for the award and the council was able to fund six of their projects.

The FY2022 award winners are Michael Beck, John Bickford, Danelle Larson, Radu Semeniuc, Zhiwei Liu and Elliot Zieman.

Zhiwei Liu, a professor of biological sciences, titled his proposed project “Haplotype Diversity of Asian Honeybee Populations in Nepal and Neighboring Chinese Regions over the Himalayas.”

Michael Beck, an assistant professor of biochemistry, titled his proposed project “Development and optimization of chemical tools for measuring the effect of genetic differences in drug metabolism.”

Beck said that his study could help determine how effective certain drugs are to certain people with an increased understanding of how quickly their bodies metabolized the chemicals in those drugs.

Metabolism enzymes in the human body called carboxylesterase enzymes metabolize esters, a common ingredient used to improve absorption of certain types of drugs.

Carboxylesterase 1 is one form which varies greatly between different individuals and thus changes how they absorb drugs.

Beck said that the enzyme is understudied, possibly due to technological limitations.

“This idea leverages experience I have from my postdoctoral studies to address a need I saw in the literature,” Beck said. “My research group recently wrote a review article covering existing tools to study carboxylesterases and their limitations; this project is aims to address these issues.”

Beck’s current research group includes three undergraduate students and one graduate student who will work together in the lab to study the enzymes and effects.

Radu Semeniuc, a professor of inorganic chemistry, titled his proposed project “Smaller is better: synthesis and characterization of molecules with logic gate behavior.”

John Bickford, a professor of history and social studies education, titled his proposed project “Examining Students’ Close Reading, Disciplinary Thinking, and Text-Based Writing.”

Bickford said that his focus is on figuring out the best ways to teach and learn history.

“I look at the sources and strategies, or texts and tasks, that best spark students’ historical thinking,” Bickford said. “These students and I developed units for teachers to implement, which we published.”

Bickford said that he and the students in his research group have published guides for teachers to use so that they could learn how to teach topics that aren’t often covered like the history of disability rights, or how to teach controversial topics like banned books or LGBTQ+ themes to younger grades.

“Seeing all these exciting areas of history taught in such boring ways is usually the catalyst for a project. Usually, an undergraduate says something like, ‘I’ve never heard of this,’” Bickford said. “And, then we begin learning all we can about it so that we can help teachers spark students’ interest.”

Bickford said that he plans to break down the projects into small chunks to help the students work through them quickly without getting overwhelmed.

Elliot Zieman, an associate professor of life sciences, titled his proposed project “Assessing the threat of a tick-borne protozoan parasite in domestic dogs, wildlife reservoirs, and tick vectors in Illinois.”

Danelle Larson, a professor of instrumental music education, titled her proposed project, which will be an edited book, “A History of Music in American Normal Schools.”

Larson is co-editing this book with a professor from Arizona State University, as well as other authors from across the country who will be contributing chapters to the book.

The topic tying the book together will be the role that music played in normal school institutions. Eastern was originally called Eastern Illinois State Normal School, which means that it was a school aimed specifically for teachers.

“My co-editor and I have done previous historical research together and she invited me to work on this book project with her, as it’s a topic we are both passionate about,” Larson said. “I am especially interested in this topic because EIU began as a normal school, so a chapter dedicated to music in EIU’s normal school history will be included in the book.”

Larson and her co-editor will review and edit each individual chapter before working with an editor to complete the book.

Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].