Beak-Pines Organic Area Allerton Conference — History of Seemon Pines Award

The Seemon Pines Award. The Seemon Pines Award is sponsored by Dr. Seemon Pines, alumnus of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois who went on to establish an illustrious career at Merck after receiving his PhD with Prof. Nelson Leonard. At Merck he helped develop a large number of life-enhancing therapeutic drugs, such as cortisone, easing the suffering of millions. He served as Vice President of Pharmaceutical Process R&D and was awarded Merck's highest scientific honor, the Director's Scientific Award. Dr. Pines used this cash prize to establish the Seemon Pines Award and the Pines Travel Award to foster student development at the University of Illinois. The Seemon Pines award is granted each year for the most outstanding research presentation at the Annual Beak-Pines Organic Area Allerton Conference.

Past Seemon Pines Award recipients:

1996 - Jim Nelson

1997 - Ryan Prince

1998 - Ewa Fredette

1999 - David Anderson

2000 - Matthew Epperson (D. Gin)

2001 - Anobel Tamrazi (Katzenellenbogen)

2002 - Gregory Beutner (Denmark)

2003 - Joseph Rule (Moore)

2004 - Rebecca Coppins (Silverman)

2005 - Benjamin Leslie (Hergenrother)

2006 - Kenneth Fraunhoffer (White)

2007 - Douglas Davis (Moore)

2008 - John Whitteck (van der Donk)

2009 - Diana West (Hergenrother)

2010 - Eric Woerly (Burke)

2011 - Joseph Bair (Hergenrother)

2012 - Kyle Dunbar (Mitchell)

2013 - Spencer Peck (van der Donk)

2014 - Anthony Grillo (Burke)

2015 - Michelle Richter (Hergenrother)

2016 - Lucas Hernandez (Sarlah)

2017 - Kenton Hetrick (van der Donk)

2018 - Soumitra Athavale (Denmark)

2019 - Chris Huck (Sarlah)

2022 - Marya Ornelas (Mehta)

2023 - Yunyan Sun (Moore)

Seemon Pines Travel Award recipients

Each year a number of students receive a travel grant to present their PhD research in the form of a seminar at the institution from which they received their undergraduate degree in chemistry. This award is made possible by the generous donation of Dr. Seemon Pines. Recent awardees and their undergraduate institutions are:


Matt Bock - Saint Olaf College (Denmark)

Brett Cain - University of Hawaii (Hergenrother)

Joe Forzano - Colby College (Chan)


Nicholas Angello - College of William & Mary (Burke)

Susanna Barrett - Scripps College (Mitchell)

Amanda East - DePaul University (Chan)

Rebecca Ulrich - High Point University (Hergenrother)


Catherine Brady - Fairfield University (Chan)

Vincent Kassel - Clemsen University (Denmark)

Sarah Krueger - Mount St. Mary's University (Zimmerman)

Kristen Muñoz - Claremont McKenna College (Hergenrother)

Raundi Quevedo - Swarthmore College (White)


David Dennis - University of South Carolina (Sarlah)

Melissa Lucero - University of Maryland (Chan)

Brennan Rose - New Mexico State University (Denmark)

Claire Simons - Washington University in St. Louis (Burke)


Rajeev Chorghade - Carnegie Mellon University (Burke)

Riley Svec - University of Iowa (Hergenrother)

Chad Ungarean - Allegheny College (Sarlah)

Andrew Zahart - Aquinas College (Denmark)


Chris Bemis - Franklin & Marshall College (Sarlah)

Lauren Hagler - The University of Alabama (Zimmerman)

Chris Reinhardt - SUNY at Buffalo (Chan)

Kevin Robb - Truman State University (Denmark)


Bryon Drown - Wheaton College (Hergenrother)

Tony Grillo - University of Michigan (Burke)

Emma Southgate - Carleton College (Sarlah)


Stephan Ammann - College of William & Mary (White)

Graham Hudson - St. Louis University (Mitchell)

Michelle Richter - Union College (Hergenrother)

Emily Ulrich - Macalester College (van der Donk)

2015 Brandon Burkhart - Calvin College (Mitchell)

Hannah Haley - Macalester College (Burke)

Andy Thomas - University of North Carolina, Charlotte (Denmark)
2014 Marshall Brennan (Fout) - Northeastern University

Chris Schwalen (Douglas Mitchell) - Cooper Union

Matt Endo (Burke) - Seattle University
2013 Lindsey Cullen (Denmark) - University of Detroit Mercy

Iulia Strambeanu (White) - Lake Forest College

Betsy Parkinson (Hergenrother) - Rhodes College
2012 Noah Bindman (van der Donk) - Grinnell College

Benjamin Brandsen (Silverman) - Calvin College

Seiko Fujii (Burke) - Smith College

Claire Knezevic (Hergenrother) - Scripps College

David Kornfilt (Denmark) - Swarthmore College

Joel Melby (Mitchell) - University of Evansville

Shauna Paradine (White) - Albion College
2011 Ian Dailey (Burke) - Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Patrick Knerr (van der Donk) - University of Delaware

Karen Morrison (Hergenrother) - Harvey Mudd College
2010 Joseph Bair (Hergenrother) - Brigham Young University

Eric Woerly (Burke) - Indiana University/ Purdue University
2009 Mary Caruso (Moore) - Elon College

Douglas Davis (Moore) - University of Tennessee

Giang Vo (Hartwig) - Illinois Institute of Technology

Diana West (Hergenrother) - College of William and Mary

John Whitteck (van der Donk) - University of Missouri
2008 Brad Carrow (Hartwig) - University of Missouri

Mirth Hoyt (Hergenrother) - College of William and Mary

Nathan Duncan-Gould (Denmark) - College of Charleston

Leigh Anne Ihnken (van der Donk) - Lake Forest College

Dan Palacious (Burke) - University of California- San Diego

Darrel Kuykendall (Zimmerman) - California State University
2007 Erin Elliott (Moore) - University of Alberta

Eric Gillis (Burke) - Grinnell College

Jackie Murphy (Hartwig) - University of Massachusetts

Matthew Levengood (van der Donk) - Elizabethtown College

Amanda Nottbohm (Hergenrother) - Albion College

Stephanie Potisek (Moore) - Cornell University

Chris Regens (Denmark) - Lake Forest College
2006 Bill Collins (Denmark) - New Mexico Institute of Technology

Charles Hickenboth (Moore) - University of Richmond

Benjamin Leslie (Hergenrother) - Colgate University

Greg Patton (van der Donk) - Miami University at Ohio
2005 John Baird (Denmark) - Allegheny University

Brandon Miles (Coates) - University of Texas, Dallas

Dinty Musk (Hergenrother) - Taylor University

Ephraim Parent (Katzenellenbogen) - Brigham Young University
2004 Ramil Baiazitov (Denmark) - University of Minnesota, Duluth

David Goode (Hergenrother) - Mercer University

Jennifer Heemstra (Moore) - University of California, Irvine
2003 Kim Deaton (M. Gin) - Carthage College

Shinji Fujimori (Denmark) - Lake Forest College

Justin Montgomery (Denmark) - Miami University

Mary Smalley (Silverman) - University of Northern Iowa

Matthew Stone (Moore) - Michigan State University

Gregory Beutner (Denmark) - Tufts University

Margaret Collins (Katzenellenbogen) - Hope College


Jeremy Cottell (Denmark) - University of Richmond

Stephen Jarboe (Beak) - Transylvania University

Kevin McCauley (van der Donk) - Southeast Missouri State

Laura Schultz (Zimmerman) - University of Evansville

The Terry Balthazor Award

The Terry Balthazor Award was established in 2016 through the generous sponsorship of Dr. Terry M. Balthazor, an alumnus of the Department of Chemistry at Illinois. After obtaining his Ph.D. with Prof. J. C. Martin in 1975, he joined Monsanto as a bench scientist. Over his long and distinguished career at Monsanto, he excelled in both scientific and leadership positions, ultimately rising to Vice President and Director of Research. The research he performed and oversaw led to the commercialization of glyphosate (Roundup®), the most widely used agricultural chemical in the history of the world. He also isolated the first microbes capable of degrading glyphosate, leading to the development of the first herbicide-resistant transgenic crops (Roundup Ready®). The Terry Balthazor Award is granted each year for the two most outstanding poster presentations at the Annual Beak-Pines Organic Area Allerton Conference. Recent awardees are:


Morgan Gugger (Hergenrother)

Jake Weaver (White)


Brett Cain (Hergenrother)

Emily Desormeaux (van der Donk)


Page Daniels (van der Donk)

Jesse Panger (Denmark)


Martin Garcia Chavez (Hergenrother)

Rajeev Chorghade (Burke)

2017 Chris Bemis (Sarlah)

Joseph Clark (White)
2016 Kaibo Feng (White)

Mikiko Okumura (Sarlah)


The Verbanac Award

The fund that provides these awards is made possible by a generous gift from the Verbanac’s two daughters, Kathryn and Patricia. Frank Verbanac was born near Zagreb, Yugoslavia, on Jan. 20, 1920. He came to the United States in May 1928. He received his elementary and high school education in Detroit, Michigan, graduating in January 1936. In June 1937, he entered Wayne University and received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1941. From 1942 to 1946, he worked in the Gelatin Products Company in Detroit, and later, entered the Graduate College of the University of Illinois. He received his Master's degree in 1947 and his PhD in 1949, working with Professor Harold Snyder on the topic, “Studies on the Chemistry of N-Arylpyrrazolines." His entire professional career was spent at the A. E. Staley Manufacturing Company in Decatur, Illinois. 


Sven Kaster (White)

Rebecca Ulrich (Hergenrother)


Kristen Muñoz (Hergenrother)

Marko Nesic (Sarlah)

2019 Matthew Boudreau (Hergenrother)

Soumitra Athavale (Denmark)

Riley Svec (Hergenrother)

2017 Bryon Drown (Hergenrother)

Hailey Knox (Chan)