Saluki success

Everywhere I turn, I am hearing great stories about Salukis doing amazing things. Fostering student success is at the core of our mission, and our many student achievements demonstrate that we are achieving that goal.

Here are some recent examples.

Helping prevent a global food crisis

Student in a laboratory
Lindsey McKinzie working in a laboratory at SIU.

With the global demand for food higher than ever, Lindsey McKinzie knows that farmers don’t have time to struggle with plant diseases and crop failures. That’s why she is hard at work using drones to conduct cutting-edge research on plant diseases.

McKinzie, a first-year graduate student in plant, soil and agricultural systems, received her drone pilot license last year and is now set on making life easier for farmers. Working with SIU faculty members, she is using drones to fly over row crop plots and evaluate the rate of diseases in the plants.

While drones in agriculture are becoming more popular, this study is unique in its purpose and design. The Illinois Farm Bureau recently conducted a video recording of McKinzie and her work that will be aired at its annual meeting in December.

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker

Kelechi Agwuncha
Kelechi Agwuncha

Kelechi Agwuncha earned national recognition for a film she created as a class assignment.

Her film, “Super Predator: Preludes of the Black Fish,” was one of 25 independent short films featured in the 2018 PBS Online Film Festival. It was also a recent finalist in the Toronto International Film Festival’s TIFFXInstagram Short Film Festival.

The film, which was initially inspired by a photograph, explores prejudice in society.

Fishing revolutionized thanks to Saluki innovation

When Cain Hassim, an industrial design junior, first heard about the opportunity to design a product that would transform basic fishing practices, he was ready to jump in. Working with an idea from a local community member, Hassim experimented with 3D printing, metal casting and vacuum forming to perfect a light-up fishing line strike indicator.

The small device works rather simply. First, you strap the bite lite onto the rod, right under the first guide. After casting the line, you place the cast line in between the clamps. At this point, all you have to do is wait for the device to light up, and you will know you’ve got a fish.

Constantly striving for diversity and inclusion

Cynthia Sims and Eboni Moore
Cynthia Sims and Eboni Moore

Eboni Moore, a senior elementary education major, and recipient of the inaugural Dr. Cy

nthia Howard Sims Diversity and Inclusion Award, advocates for equality and social justice on campus and everywhere she goes.

Last summer, she taught math and reading to disadvantaged youth through the Memphis Teacher Residency Summer Internship program, and she’s currently completing her student teaching at Carbondale’s Lewis School. She plans to graduate in December.

Athletes of a higher caliber

Hanna Netisingha playing golf
Hanna Netisingha

Hanna Netisingha earned national recognition as a 2018 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. She was one of just 20 female semi-finalists from across the country, selected from about 1,000 nominated athletes.

She graduated magna cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, earning a 4.0 GPA while serving as co-captain of the women’s golf team and twice earning honors as MVC player of the week her senior season.

She was also chosen to attend the University of Oxford, where she participated in a 1:1 fellow tutorial, receiving a top mark for “Genetic Mutations within Animals” and she donated numerous hours of community service to Toys for Tots, the Women’s Crisis Center and St. Francis Animal Hospital, also earning the MVC State Farm Good Neighbor Award. She is currently continuing her education in veterinary school.

Researching cleaner, more efficient energy

Nelson Fernandes
Nelson Fernandes

Nelson Fernandes is a new student who built an impressive research portfolio in high school. and earned the university’s first Energy Boost Scholarship for energy engineering to attend SIU.

He earned a gold award at state science fair competitions for two of his projects and was the Top Student in Research at Niles North High School for his class. As a sophomore, Fernandes was also a founding member of RISE, a STEM program for underrepresented middle school students.

During Nelson’s senior year of high school, he worked with SIU’s mechanical engineering faculty member Kanchan Mondal on a project to remove oxygen from carbon dioxide to reduce pollution while creating an alternative fuel source.

Author: Carlo Montemagno

Carlo Montemagno is chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more about him at