News - Matthew Ellis Wins Poster Presentation Competition at Illinois State Academy of Science (ISAS) Annual Meeting

Matthew Ellis Wins Poster Presentation Competition at Illinois State Academy of Science (ISAS) Annual Meeting

Matthew Ellis Wins Poster Presentation Competition at Illinois State Academy of Science (ISAS) Annual Meeting

Matthew Ellis '11, a senior chemistry student, was awarded the best research poster presentation in the Chemistry Division of the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Illinois State Academy of Science (ISAS), which was held at Eastern Illinois University April 8-9, 2011. Ellis competed against more than 30 students from institutions across the state. Large universities like the University of Illinois, Bradley, and Northwestern typically dominate the competition. This was the first year that Greenville College has attended and competed during the ISAS meeting.

Ellis completed his award-winning research project, entitled "Numerical Analysis of the Free Radical Addition Polymerization Model," during the 2010 Greenville College Summer Research Experience (GC-SRE). Professor of Chemistry Darrell Iler served as Ellis' research advisor and challenged him to read from an extensive list of books and magazine articles on polymerization. Iler told him, "I want you to be an expert."

During the summer research experience, Ellis spent more than 10 hours per day reading and listening to Iler lecture on polymerization. This intensive studying paid off when it came time to present his research. Ellis says, "I was able to explain it any way they wanted me to. I knew every aspect of it."

Ellis used the Mathcad program to develop a computer model to analyze free radical addition polymerization. Mathematical equations are typically used to study polymerization, but they fail to take into account every component of a reaction. Ellis essentially produced the first model of free radical addition polymerization that can be successfully analyzed by a computer program.

Even so, it came as a surprise to Ellis when he learned that he had won the poster presentation. He said, "I was speechless because it was so unexpected. It was pretty exciting. The larger universities have a lot of funding for their programs and their students are able to produce very professional looking posters. They're always the ones that win."

Ellis visited several larger universities during his college search. When he visited the University of Illinois he was told that there would be over 300 students in his general chemistry class, which would likely be taught by a graduate student. He was attracted to the smaller class sizes at Greenville College. Ellis says that he has appreciated the close-knit community and the ability to interact with and receive personal attention from his professors.

Ellis will marry fellow Greenville College graduate Stephanie Hoffmann '11 this June. He plans to work in a lab position for a year before attending graduate school in the field of physical chemistry.


This story was published on June 09, 2011

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