Duane Bonifer  |  Published November 19, 2020

Springboard to a Doctorate

For biochemistry senior Logan Evans, the College has given him multiple research opportunities on his road toward earning a doctorate.

Biochemistry major Logan Evans '21 has presented his research at undergraduate conferences, a... Biochemistry major Logan Evans '21 has presented his research at undergraduate conferences, and he's served as an editor of the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, a national journal published at the College.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College biochemistry major Logan Evans ’21 has had an eventful fall semester, even if a lot of it has been virtual while he attended classes and conducted research in person on campus.

Evans was one of seven Monmouth science students who presented at the Illinois-Iowa Section of the American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Conference, held virtually Nov. 7. The annual event is usually held at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it into cyberspace.

A biochemistry senior from Farmington, Illinois, Evans presented his research, which focuses on acids in hops. The acid he has studied helps give beer its bitter taste.

Evans said that presenting research virtually had several benefits.

“It was a really cool opportunity to be able to practice my communication skills within the sciences and understand how to present and speak about my research, and also have that opportunity to grow as a presenter,” he said. “Plus, it’s a good way to build my resume and show graduate schools and employers that I have the proficiency to speak about my research in a professional manner.

“The pandemic has simply altered the platform that we are presenting with. With this new Zoom world, we’ve opened the doors to much easier communication in this form. So I very much appreciate the opportunity to present my work in a professional manner on Zoom because I can totally see this moving forward, even after the pandemic. It’s a lot easier to bring meetings together on this platform. If it continues like this, having this experience of being able to communicate professionally over my laptop is a very valuable skill to have.”

On November 21, Evans and four of his fellow Monmouth students from the editorial board of the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research will take part in the virtual National Undergraduate Conference on Scientific Journalism. Evans serves as coordinator editor of the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, a national undergraduate research journal published at Monmouth.

Hosted by the Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal, the Nov. 21 conference will bring together hundreds of student-scientists and multiple undergraduate research journals from across the nation to discuss research ethics and practice, the publication process and the role of student journals.

The Monmouth students will serve as discussion leaders at the event, which will include talks by chemistry Nobel laureate Martin Chalfie, New York Times science columnists Carl Zimmer and Apoorva Mandavill, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Amy Ellis Nutt.

“It’s going to be a really awesome opportunity,” Evans said. “This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to grow their scientific communication skills, whether or not they want to go into journalism. This is an opportunity to see other careers in the field and grow as a person, regardless whether you want to go to graduate school, medical school or writing.”

“The pandemic has simply altered the platform that we are presenting with. With this new Zoom world, we’ve opened the doors to much easier communication in this form.”
– Logan Evans ’21

Evans’ Monmouth career was bolstered when he was named a Kieft Scholar, a summer research program that gives the College’s science students an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research under faculty supervision. Since its inception in 2010, the program has grown steadily in scope and complexity of research. The program is named in honor of the late Richard “Doc” Kieft, a 30-year chemistry professor who donated his estate to the the College’s chemistry program.

“This is exactly what Doc wanted the endowment to do,” said chemistry professor Brad Sturgeon, who is also chair of the local section of the American Chemical Society. “Doc said, ‘Give them scholarships to get high-quality students here; when they’re here give them a summer research experience; and then allow them the opportunity to present that research in a national meeting.’”

After he graduates from Monmouth in the spring, Evans plans to earn a doctorate in chemistry and then possibly attend law school because he’s interested in becoming a lawyer who specializes in pharmaceutical patents.

“But I also acknowledge that’s a lot of schooling, so right now I’m just going to see where the road takes me and see what comes next after the PhD,” he said.

Listen Up ...

Logan Evans talks about his experience at Monmouth on the 1853 Podcast.

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