SHSU Chemistry Professor Ilona Petrikovics is investigating a better way to deliver life-saving antidotes to those exposed to cyanide—important work that, if successful, could save the lives of military personnel and civilians alike.
Petrikovics, who moved to the United States from Hungary 20 years ago, began her toxicology-related research at Texas A&M University. She received a call from SHSU as she was preparing to return to a prestigious job in Maryland as a National Research Council senior fellow to research cyanide antidotes through the Army Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Anxious to return to Texas—which she calls her “home”—she accepted the job.
“Within the U.S., I have had the opportunity to compare SHSU with a huge university—Texas A&M,” she says. “SHSU has a family-like atmosphere where students have direct contact with their teachers. Besides the research, at SHSU the focus is on quality teaching. Those who get admitted to this school are very fortunate to have the opportunity to study in this pleasant environment.”
Because of her research, the majority of her students are able to get involved assisting her, thus helping them with their future careers. “I send my students to participate in national and international meetings,” she says. “Since I have the funding, I can cover their expenses for the meetings. By attending these meetings, my students have the opportunity to meet other scientists in the field and they can begin to build personal contacts.”
She’s seen her students go on to doctoral programs at institutions like Rice University. Another advantage they have: because she vigorously publishes in scientific journals, her students are included for their contributions.
Says one of Dr. Petrikovics’ students, Katelyn Stafford: “At SHSU, I am doing research in my field. This is rare at the undergraduate level, but Sam Houston State University and Dr. Petrikovics give students the opportunity. The fact that I can perform important research and present my findings at multiple national meetings will be a vital part of my future endeavors.”