Kaler Science Lecture to Feature Findings by PRECS Students

Kaler Science Lecture to Feature Findings by PRECS Students

Kaler Science Lecture to Feature Findings by PRECS Students October 6

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Parkland College students will present their summer research at the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.

Friday, October 6, at 7 p.m., Xiaoting "Hailie" Liu and Lauren Mobo will give a talk titled "Nature and Nurture: Examining How Diverse Organisms Adapt to Changes in their Everyday Environment," which includes their results in the 2023 Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS) program. Admission for all Kaler Lectures is $2 or free for members of the Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.  The PRECS program is a collaboration between Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The ten-week program brings community college students from across the country to Parkland and UIUC to conduct research over the summer. Phenotypic plasticity describes how environmental conditions produce responses in genes that affect physical appearance or behavior.

Xiaoting "Hailie" Liu is a current Parkland College student. During PRECS, she focused on finding ways to optimize the production of lactic acid in fermented foods, specifically yogurt and sauerkraut. Lactic acid has been shown to have beneficial probiotic properties and can improve gut health.

Lauren Mobo is a current Parkland College student, a Parkland Science Scholar, and a student trustee for the Parkland College Board of Trustees. During PRECS, Lauren measured stress hormone responses in poison dart frog tadpoles. She studied the expression of hormones across different developmental stages of the tadpoles and used water sampling, a new method for this type of frog.

After the talk, the planetarium will show The Stargazer at 8 p.m. This program features the late Jim Kaler, a UIUC astronomer who gave many lectures at the Staerkel Planetarium, and Nichelle Nichols, who appeared on the original "Star Trek." Tickets for the fulldome shows range from $7 to $8, with discounts offered for large groups. For a show schedule, call 217/351-2446 or visit

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