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Cancer Scholars share motivation for research and advocacy

Olivia Fleming and Caroline Kwiecinski, Cancer Center at Illinois Communications Interns
10/8/2020 10:35:22 AM

As a large research institution, the University of Illinois offers its students the opportunity to work within faculty labs as well as spread awareness for the research happening blocks away from their dorms. The Cancer Center at Illinois Ambassador program enables students with an early-rising passion for cancer research to make an impact during their four years.

Cancer Scholars and bioengineering undergraduates Courtney Ketchum and Ege Onal recently shared their motivations for joining the CCIL Ambassador program and their dedication to the grander mission of the CCIL.

Bioengineering '22, Ege Onal
Bioengineering '22, Ege Onal
Onal has experience working in CCIL research program leader, Brian Cunningham’s, lab using new technologies to develop devices and treatments for cancer. He was also previously involved in Shuming Nie’s lab where he worked on nanoparticle contrast agents for intraoperative cancer detection and image-guided surgery.

Bioengineering '21, Courtney Ketchum
Bioengineering '21, Courtney Ketchum
 Ketchum has worked in CCIL researcher King Li’s lab where she focused on cell culture and the potential to harness the properties of ultrasound to release free radicals in brain tumors. In addition, she gained experience in Michael Oelze’s research lab where she conducted research on using bioacoustics for tumor treatment. In addition to their hands-on lab projects, they are working to further involve the undergraduate community in the CCIL’s impactful research.

The ambassadors take part in promoting cancer research efforts, educating fellow students about the CCIL’s mission, encouraging students to explore cancer research as a career path, and volunteer at events. 

“It is extremely rewarding to know that the work we do in spreading awareness is vital to the research process,” Ketchum said. As voices for cancer research, the ambassadors play important roles in communicating novel therapies, technologies, and methodologies developed by the members of the Cancer Center at Illinois.