International Summer Immersion Program celebrates nine years
By Leslie Myrick
August 17, 2018
  • /Office of International Programs

Twenty-three students from China and Mexico successfully completed the 2018 International Summer Immersion Program (ISIP) on August 10.  

During this annual program coordinated by the ACES Office of International Programs, the students completed a research apprenticeship with an ACES faculty member and participated in a series of educational seminars and cultural field trips. The experience culminates with a poster session, where the students had the opportunity to showcase their research.  

Before presenting each of the students with a certificate for completing the summer program, Alex Winter-Nelson, director of the Office of International Programs, noted, “This is an intensive program of work and study. As the posters in this room show, you’ve done a lot in a short period of time.” 

He also paid tribute to the ACES faculty mentors, some of whom have served in this role for several years.  

“Our mentors’ expertise along with their graduate students and lab resources provide an exceptional experience for these students,” he said.

The program also serves as a bridge for cultural understanding, for both the students and their hosts at Illinois. 

“It is important to have an international perspectives to recognize that we are all working on issues important to everyone around the world. Knowledge needs to transcend borders,” Winter-Nelson added.

In the past nine years, 202 students have graduated from this unique program. Each year’s students have appreciated the relationships they were able to cultivate as well as the knowledge they gained.

Some of the students find their way into graduate programs in the U.S. so the program helps ACES faculty identify students to recruit into our own graduate programs. Since 2011, at least 29 ISIP participants have entered graduate programs at the University of Illinois.

Additionally, ISIP continues to facilitate strategic partnerships with other universities. This year’s program included students from China’s Zhejiang University, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, and Mexico’s Autonomous University-Queretaro. Past programs have included students from South Korea’s Chungnam National University, and future programs may expand to include students from additional countries. 

As in years past, the students left thankful for their new skills and friendships and with a lifelong tie to Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois.

Reflections from participants

“Everyone is so nice here in Illinois. I learned so much and developed my confidence to achieve more for the rest of my academic career. Thanks again for this excellent and unforgettable experience,” said Chenhao Shao who was mentored by Rabin Bhattarai.

“This experience stimulated my interest in food science and will impel me to work harder in the future. I will miss the cornfields and the nice people, agreeable climate, and hard-working laboratory here,” said Tianyi Tao who was mentored by Elvira de Mejia.

“What I gained is not only academic knowledge, but also friendship, and a more comprehensive understanding of the world. All of this gives me the opportunity to re-plan my life, my future studies, and career,” said Yihang Zhu who was mentored by Girish Chowdhary.

“The program gave me the opportunity to interact with amazing people from different countries and overcome cultural barriers. I learned a lot from it, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity. The people I worked with are amazing and they made me feel like I was part of a team. I truly believe this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Cristina Reséndiz Moctezuma who was mentored by Matt Stasiewicz.

ACES Faculty Mentors

The Office of International Programs would like to especially thank our ACES faculty mentors and their graduate students without whom this program would not be possible:

Agricultural & Biological Engineering: Rabin Bhattarai, Girish Chowdhary

Animal Sciences: Juan Loor, Rex Gaskins, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas

Crop Sciences: Matthew Hudson, Mohammad Babadoost

Food Science and Human Nutrition: Yuan-Xiang Pan, Elivra de Mejia, Keith Cadwallader, Nicki Engeseth, Hong Chen, Matthew Stasiewicz

Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences: Michelle Wander, Jeffrey Matthews, Jennifer Fraterrigo, Carena van Riper


For more information about the ISIP, visit: