Background Image

News & Events


Clarkson University Researchers Have Young Benefactor

Keillor Dilger has already mastered the art of selling, so fundraising for a cause was her next logical step. That came easily to her as well, but the Potsdam native turned to her mother for help in deciding where to donate the $82.01 she raised for autism.

Keillor Dilger (front) with (left to right) Aviva Gold, Costel Darie, Alisa Woods, Kelly Wormwood, Devika Channaveerappa, and Roshanak Aslebagh.You see, Keillor is six years old. She opted to present her gift to Clarkson University to support autism research taking place there. That makes her the youngest donor anyone there can recall, but what really impressed the second-grader was the “very cool” tour she took of a research lab on campus.

“Since I was selling for a bunch of years, and I like it, I figured fundraising is kind of the same thing but it makes you feel good for helping someone,” says Keillor.

Keillor had set a goal to raise $50 by going door-to-door, notes her mom, Aviva Gold. When she exceeded that, they looked into options for where to donate the funds, which led them to Clarkson University Research Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Alisa Woods, who holds a joint position at Clarkson University and the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Neurobehavioral Health. She and doctoral student Kelly Wormwood work in the lab with Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Costel Darie.

“This was a nice opportunity for Keillor to see firsthand what philanthropy can accomplish and how it can impact people," says Woods. "By visiting the lab, she saw what researchers do, as opposed to simply sending funds to a foundation without direct knowledge of how the funds are used. I am very impressed by her dedication at such a young age."

Clarkson Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Patrick Roche was delighted to receive the donation, saying, “This is a family that put beliefs into action and Keillor's work is a nice reminder to the community as we head into the holidays. Her gift is a wonderful example of the impact we as individuals can have when we put our philanthropy into action for a good cause.”

As front-line researchers for autism, Woods and her fellow lab members appreciate Keillor's support and interest. Inspired by her example, they “will continue to work hard to try to positively impact the lives of people with autism through protein biomarker identification,” says Woods.

The Clarkson University researchers are trying to find a biological marker that defines the disorder. Using funding from funding from the T. Urling and Mabel Walker Research Fellowship Program, they're examining salivary proteins for clues that suggest autism. Their work is drawing much interest because an earlier diagnosis of autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can allow for earlier treatments, which in turn would help improve the lives of those diagnosed with autism.

Meanwhile, as she enjoys playing with her friends and her American Girl dolls, and reading the fourth Harry Potter book, Keillor is pondering her next philanthropic effort.

“I think I might fundraise for the homeless,” she says.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Six-year-old Keillor Dilger of Potsdam is one of the youngest donors anyone at Clarkson University can recall. She recently donated $82.01 for autism research at the University. Pictured, Keillor Dilger (front) with (left to right) Aviva Gold, Costel Darie, Alisa Woods, Kelly Wormwood, Devika Channaveerappa, and Roshanak Aslebagh.

[A photograph for media use is available at .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed