CHARLESTON -- Eric Hendricks of Gillespie began his academic study at Eastern Illinois University in 2008 as an undergraduate student upon transferring college credit he earned during high school through Lewis and Clark Community College.
He is a second-year biological sciences master’s student who expects to graduate this summer. Hendricks has worked as a student alongside Dr. Michael Menze and said he has enjoyed a distinguished academic career while at EIU. His honors include being selected as the only master’s student from the United States to present his research at the Mitochondrial Physiology (MiP) Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, during the fall of 2013.
He traveled with his mentor, Menze, to the conference for a poster presentation of his research involving the impact of estrogen therapy on mice in regard to Alzheimer’s disease. He is studying the bioenergetics of Alzheimer’s especially in relation to a specific type of the disease for people who have a particular genotype called APO E, which is 14 percent of the population.
Using a mouse model, Hendricks’ research focuses on the bioenergetics of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Hendricks, the MiP Conference was attended by some of the greatest minds in this field of science, including Sir John Walker, who received a Nobel Prize in 1997 for his work on the mitochondrial ATP synthase. He said he was grateful to represent EIU and show the world its students' excellence in research by presenting his scientific work.
His additional honors while at EIU include: Provost Research Assistantship, Graduate School Research and Creativity Award, Graduate Student Investigator Award in 2013 and 2014, and Best Oral Presentation for the Illinois Academy of Science.
Most recently, Hendricks presented research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February. He, along with undergraduate Austin Tofte, received honorable mention in the category of Brain and Behavior at the 2014 AAAS Poster Competition, which will be announced in an upcoming issue of Science Magazine.
Hendricks' future goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience and ultimately become a professor. He is applying to schools in Illinois and California. He hopes the findings from his research may play a role in the treatment and prevention of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
When asked about the best part of the work he is doing, he said, “Research sets the infrastructure of society. I am excited to help advance the understanding of things we don’t know. “