Student Stories: Marko Ivancevic

Student Stories: Marko Ivancevic

Major: Chemical Engineering

Marko Ivancevic became interested in chemistry after taking his first chemistry honors course as a sophomore in high school. 

“I realized I was good at it and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “Then I moved on to AP Chemistry, and that furthered my desire to continue on the road to a chemistry-oriented career. I ultimately picked chemical engineering as a major.”

Ivancevic was named a Presidential Scholar at College of DuPage, an honor that includes a full-tuition scholarship and enrollment in COD’s Honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. This allowed him to focus on his studies rather than worry about amassing debt.

“COD also has the Engineering Pathways program that helps students move toward transferring to engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), which saved me a significant amount of money,” he said. “COD provided me an education on par with UIUC and gave me time to mature before going away to college on my own. 

“The faculty at COD was a huge benefit, too, because they helped me obtain my first research position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This internship helped me realize that I wanted to pursue a research-oriented career and ideally become a professor.”   

At Oak Ridge, Ivancevic helped to develop a water desalination process using recycled carbon. His team is filing a patent and drafting a paper for publication. 

After earning his Associate in Engineering Science at COD, Ivancevic transferred to UIUC, where he conducted independent organic chemistry research with the Sarlah Group on the total synthesis of biologically active complex natural products with sesquiterpene tropolone structures. He was on the Dean’s List, a teaching assistant and the recipient of a Heerdt Scholarship for chemical engineering students.

He was asked to return to Oak Ridge the next summer to work on commercialization of the desalination process and was offered a research position at Cornell University. Although a tough decision, he selected to go to Oak Ridge.

Ivancevic is now starting his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Princeton University. His goals are to be a professor and continue doing research, either in chemistry or chemical engineering. His research interests are with separations, energy storage and organic synthesis.  

“I see these as topics of major growth for budding chemists or chemical engineers, and I am leaning toward the energy storage route right now,” he said. “I think that greener energy is vital to a stable future, and I aspire to be a key figure in this research as time goes on.”  

For students entering the Chemistry program at COD, Ivancevic encourages them to take advantage of direct contact with the professors. 

“Ask questions, be curious, and apply to internships and research positions geared toward those who started at community college,” he said. “I think everyone should try research at least once because it provides a different perspective than what is taught in classes. My classes provided me with a strong conceptual basis, but it was so different from facing a problem that had no direct solution. In order to figure out the problem, you just had to keep working at it in every way until you solved it. Research showed me that innovation comes from asking the right questions and having a good work ethic. So take those risks, ask those questions and be persistent because you never know when a good idea might come.  

“College of DuPage was a great choice for me. I learned so much and am extremely grateful for the chances I was granted. All I have done was made possible because of COD.”

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