James F. Jakobsen Award Winner Spotlights, 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Conference Winners!

At the 13th Annual James F. Jakobsen Conference, the following University of Iowa Graduate and Professional Students won awards for their graduate work. Please browse their profiles and get to know winners a little better.

Laurie L. Eckert

Laurie L. Eckert
Grand Rapids
Home State: 
Home Country: 
What are some of your interests outside of school?: 
Family, Friends, Fencing, Concerts, Crocheting, Cardmaking, Music and Movies (not necessarily in that order!)
Who is your most significant mentor?: 
Dr. Marilyn Moehlenkamp, my first Chemistry professor and undergraduate academic advisor, is one of my most significant mentors. She has always encouraged and pushed me further academically. I had not seriously considered graduate school until Dr. Moehlenkamp strongly encouraged me to pursue a PhD. She supported me through the decision process, always willing to listen and offer advice, and continues to encourage me as I pursue my graduate degree. My current mentor, Dr. Jonathan Doorn, is also very supportive and has helped me mature as a scientist.
What is your favorite Iowa City/Coralville Restaurant?: 
Mama's Deli
Are there any challenges you have faced as a graduate student at Iowa?: 
Adapting to the differences in being a graduate student at such a large university after attending a small liberal arts university as an undergraduate was challenging. I would not trade my college experience; but learning how to function in a completely different environment, both in graduate school and at such a large school was a challenge to overcome. Learning how to multi-task with classwork and lab work/research also proved interesting at times.
Previous Degrees Earned
Previous Degree [1]: 
B. S.
Degree [1] Area of Study: 
Degree [1] Institution Name: 
Concordia University Chicago
Previous Degree [2]: 
B. A.
Degree [2] Area of Study: 
Degree [2] Institution Name: 
Concordia University Chicago
What degree are you currently seeking?: 
Ph. D.
Area of Specialty: 
Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry
Brief thesis project description: 
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating movement disorder, characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain which are responsible for movement. My research seeks to identify the interaction between the immune cells of the brain (i.e. microglia), DOPAL (a dopamine-derived neurotoxin), and Parkinson’s disease.
Who is your Thesis Advisor?: 
Dr. Jonathan A. Doorn
Why did you decide to go to graduate school?: 
I was strongly encouraged to consider graduate school by my undergraduate advisor (see above!) and looked forward to the academic challenges and learning I could pursue in a focused area at the graduate level.
Why did you choose The University of Iowa for your graduate studies?: 
I decided I wanted to pursue a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry, and the Division of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry here at The University of Iowa was best suited to my needs. This is a very small division, but that setting was appealing to me, as I was coming from a very small university. All of our faculty are accessible and willing to provide assistance at any time. I appreciate the opportunities (both scientific and extra-curricular) I have as a student and researcher at The University of Iowa.
What are your long term goals beyond your graduate degree at Iowa?: 
I intend to pursue a post-doctoral position following completion of my PhD. After completion of my post-doc, I look forward to pursuing a faculty position at a university with a research component.
How has your experience at Iowa allowed you to achieve your goals?: 
There are so many opportunities available to us as graduate students at Iowa. We have access to a wealth of instrumentation and resources to further our research and our training as researchers. My advisor, Dr. Jonathan Doorn, encourages and supports his students’ participation in on- and off-campus conferences, where we are able to present our research and interact with both graduate and scientific communities. All of these experiences allow us a chance to receive feedback and mature as scientists.
Significant Honors and Achievements
Significant Honors [1]: 
2010-Present, Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education
Significant Honors [2]: 
2010, Usha Balakrishnan Prize for Best Poster, Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing Conference
Significant Honors [3]: 
2009-2010, NIH Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant
Significant Honors [4]: 
2009, Best Poster Award - College of Pharmacy, The University of Iowa Research Week for Health Sciences
Significant Honors [5]: 
2003-2011, Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Science Scholarship
What year did you win an award at the Jakobsen Conference?: 
What do you enjoy most about the Conference?: 
The Jakobsen Conference provided a great opportunity to find out about all of the diverse learning and research going on across campus all at once.