Sheridan Road: Lake Forest Captures National Honors

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Lake Forest College students competed in several national academic contests this year — and brought home top honors.

Biology major Michael Fiske ’10 won the Best Undergraduate Poster Prize at the annual meeting of the American Society of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB), held in Anaheim, California, in April. Fiske’s research and the poster that illustrated it provides new insight into the biochemical and molecular regulation of the pathology that underlies Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease that still has no effective cure.

According to the judges, Fiske’s poster presented clear hypotheses, directly tested those hypotheses, and made clear conclusions based on the results.

Associate Professor of Biology Shubhik DebBurman, a longtime ASBMB member, considers the ASBMB undergraduate symposium “exceptionally competitive, since the biochemistry and molecular biology discipline traditionally attracts some of the top science undergraduates from the best colleges and universities, most of who attend top graduate and medical programs in the country.”

Fiske will begin his PhD studies at the University of Washington this fall.

In December, eight Lake Forest students competed in the annual Putnam Mathematical Competition. 

To speak to the difficult nature of this competition, of the more than 4,000 students from the U.S. and Canada who take the test, about half get zero points. This year, seven of the eight students got nonzero scores, an achievement in itself. Even better, two students — Spencer Sohn ’11 and Sarah Peluse ’13 — earned scores that ranked them in the top 17 percent, while two other students placed in the top 36 percent.

As a team, which consists of three pre-chosen contestants, the College placed 95th out of the 546 colleges and universities participating. This marks only the second time that a Lake Forest team has placed in the top 100.

In April, Lake Forest’s mock trial team placed 10th in its division, finishing among the top 20 teams in the American Mock Trial Association competition, held in Memphis, Tennessee.

Overall, the College finished the year among the top 20 teams out of the 650 that competed in the nation this year. Lake Forest finished with a 5 and 3 record going against Gonzaga University, Tufts University, Rochester University and University of California-Irvine.

Danielle Gonzalez ’11 finished as an All-American witness and Robert Erickson ’10 received an All-American attorney award.