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, which furthered my desire to continue on the road to a chemistry-oriented career. Ultimately, I 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 another striking benefit, because they helped me obtain my first research position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This internship made me realize that I wanted to pursue a research-oriented career.”

Spending two summers in Oak Ridge, Ivancevic helped to develop two different water purification processes using a recycled carbon black derived from waste tires. The first is a low-energy water desalination process, which his team has published and patented. The second is a magnetic carbon composite geared toward the removal of heavy metal toxins, which has also been published and is in the process of being patented.

After earning his Associate in Engineering Science degree at COD, Ivancevic transferred to UIUC. While there, he conducted independent organic chemistry research in the Sarlah Group on the total synthesis of biologically active natural products with sesquiterpene tropolone structures. He was on the Dean’s List, a teaching assistant and graduated with the highest distinction in the degree.

Ivancevic is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Princeton University under the advisement of Dr. Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo. He is studying the synthesis and chemical behavior of bowl-conformation polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their application in organic electronic devices. 

His goal is to become faculty at a national lab, researching either in chemistry or chemical engineering, and continue working at the interface of materials chemistry and application. 

“Technology plays a remarkable role in our daily lives, and there is a lot of profound and beautiful chemistry that underlies those applications,” he said. “No matter the nature of the study, this is a field with serious potential for budding chemists and chemical engineers.”

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. “Personally, 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 the real world infrequently has nice, homework-type problems that need solving. To figure out the problem, one just has to keep working at it in every way until it is solved. My time in research showed me that innovation comes from asking the right questions and having a strong 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 opportunities I was granted. All I have done was made possible because of COD.”