2012 Distinguished Alumni

Dr. Melissa Thal, Wheeling Class of '98

alumnithaiDr. Melissa Thal graduated from Wheeling High School in 1998. While a student at WHS she was a member of the Girls Varsity Basketball and Volleyball teams as well as the captain of the Color Guard. She attended Indiana University and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry with a minor in mathematics. Melissa continued on to graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and obtained a PhD in microbiology with a focus on stem cell biology and their differentiation into B cells (immune cells that make antibodies). There she discovered breakthroughs in the molecular mechanisms driving and regulating B cell differentiation. 

Melissa moved back to Wheeling to be close to her family and to start a new position at Northwestern University’s Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, where she continued to research adult stem cells that can promote regeneration of the heart. She currently holds the position of Research Scientist at Baxter Healthcare working on their phase III clinical trial using bone marrow-derived adult stem cells to improve blood flow in hearts of patients with chronic myocardial ischemia.

Melissa has authored and co-authored several scientific articles in leading journals in her field. She also recently won the Melvin L. Marcus Young Investigator Award in Basic Cardiovascular Sciences from the American Heart Association on her research entitled, "In Vivo Differentiation of Epigenetically Reprogrammed Mouse and Human Endothelial Progenitor Cells Into Cardiomyocytes Enhances Functional and Anatomical Post-Infarct Myocardial Repair." 


David Tuber, Wheeling Class of '00

alumniTuberAs a student at Wheeling, Tuber's peers voted him Most Artistic and Most Creative. Tuber went on to become a television animator whose best-known work appears on the Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim shows. He is also a writer and director of stop motion cartoons.

While at WHS Tuber was a member of the Student Council, where he was responsible for the design of their posters, banners and T-shirts. After graduating David attended Harper College and Collins College in Phoenix, Arizona, and then continued his college experience at Columbia College in Chicago, where he majored in Film and Television with a concentration in Traditional Animation. After graduating from Columbia he moved to Los Angeles with hopes of landing a job in stop motion animation. After interning at Shadowmachine Films on the popular stop motion show "Robot Chicken," he started drawing storyboards for another stop motion animated show "Moral Orel." In the show’s third season, he co-wrote and directed the series finale. He was also the director and occasional writer for the series "Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole." 

Today Tuber remains involved with multiple projects that keep him actively storyboarding, writing, directing, animating, illustrating, and character designing in 2D stopmotion, CG and live action. He is currently near wrapping up preproduction on the upcoming Lego feature that will release in February 2014. David is the owner of Chi-Town Toons LLC and is in the process of expanding his studio with the hope to someday create animated cartoons back in Chicago.