Heather Anderson said that she likes to do research.
So when an opportunity to apply for the Research Apprentice Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came along in 2013 at the end of her sophomore year at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, she jumped at the chance.
The end results for both that summer and the summer of 2014, when she returned for a second round in the UIUC program as one of 20 students chosen for the program, were awards from the UIUC College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences for Outstanding Distinguished Scholarship. The awards came as a result of a project paper and poster that she completed.
"I thought it would be a good experience to get a taste of college and you have to do a lot of research," said Heather, now a senior at PMSA. "I love science and it was pretty interesting."
In 2013, she learned about marketing and development in the food industries as she worked on developing a product for Kraft and Oscar Mayer. Using research done with a UIUC student and in field trips to Kraft and Oscar Mayer facilities in Glenview and Madison, Wisconsin, as well as to Pepsico in Barrington, she developed a product that kept in mind the costs of marketing and development as well as nutritional information. In 2014, she returned to research amino acids, studying polymers in sampled human and rat cells that contained colon cancer during the course of seven weeks.
Heather said that the experience as well as what she has learned at PMSA has prepared her for a possible career in chemistry.
"Learning how to research, it taught me how to research things better and stay on track because there is so much to do," she said. "It did push me because there were things that I didn’t learn until the summer."
Heather said that she plans to attend Triton College before transferring to a larger school such as UIUC for a possible chemistry major.
Dr. Bessie Karvelas, principal at PMSA, said that Heather is an example of the high caliber of students who attend PMSA.
"Our students show an outstanding commitment to furthering their education, and Heather is a prime example of that," Dr. Karvelas said. "She has embraced the rigor of our curricula and the opportunity to find all opportunities to broaden her education, and I commend her for her dedication and achievements."