MACOMB/Moline, IL – The Centennial Honors College at Western Illinois University will host the annual Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Conference, which will be held in a virtual format Monday-Friday, April 19-23, with a special live session from 3-5

Western Illinois Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Conference Set For April 19-23

WIU alumnus Kirsten Dillender

p.m. Thursday, April 22, concluding with the keynote presentation at 5 p.m. by distinguished WIU alumna Kirsten Dillender.

The Undergraduate Research Conference was initiated by the Centennial Honors College in 2003, and was named in honor of Thomas E. Helm in 2009. It is a celebration of research, scholarship and creative activities undertaken by WIU undergraduate students.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, many participating students on the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses will upload recorded scholarly presentations and performances to a Western Online course page, which can be viewed and commented on throughout the week of April 19-23. Anyone with a email account can self-register for the conference course page by clicking on Communication>Self Register from their WesternOnline home page.

The live session will be held from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, April 22 at the Zoom link, where students will present their posters, talks and performances in separate breakout rooms. From 5-6 p.m., Dillender will deliver the keynote address, “Contact Zones and the Chthulucene: Making Connections.”

Dillender received her bachelor’s degree in English from WIU in 2016 and her master’s degree in English from WIU in 2018. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in English at the University of Illinois and is the managing editor of American Literary History.

For additional information on the conference, visit


Western Illinois Thomas E. Helm Undergraduate Research Conference Set For April 19-23
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.