NIU leaders tout research to D.C. lawmakers

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (right) asks a question during Monday’s Research Roundtable. NIU President Doug Baker, along with Board of Trustees Chair John Butler (behind Kelly) and immediate past chair Cherilyn G. Murer (left) led the event.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (right) asks a question during Monday’s Research Roundtable. NIU President Doug Baker, along with Board of Trustees Chair John Butler (behind Kelly) and immediate past chair Cherilyn G. Murer (left) led the event.

Proton Computed Tomography. STEM education. Aerospace job creation.

NIU’s significant accomplishments in advancing the creation and application of knowledge will move into the spotlight today in Washington, D.C., where federal lawmakers and their representatives will participate in the university’s first Research Roundtable.

Led by President Doug Baker, Board of Trustees Chair John Butler and immediate past chair Cherilyn G. Murer, the NIU delegation will host Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, Congressman Bill Foster and Congresswoman Robin Kelly at a Research Roundtable at the Holland & Knight offices in Washington, D.C.

Other participants include staff members from the offices of Congressman Rodney Davis, Congressman Randy Hultgren, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Congressman Dan Lipinski, Congressman Mike Quigley, Congressman Aaron Schock and Congressman John Shimkus.

Also attending are Gary Timmins (a former NIU student who works for Foster) and Michael Spires (a former staff member of the NIU Office of Sponsored Projects who now works at the Smithsonian).

The Capitol Hill legislative delegation will leave the meeting with a clear understanding of four key principles:

  • NIU creates knowledge by performing world-class fundamental research in natural and social sciences;
  • NIU is committed to integrating and applying the knowledge created to address societal problems and advance the economic and social well-being of the region;
  • NIU is an effective collaborator and partners with public (i.e., national labs, public schools, municipal governments) and private (i.e., aerospace industry) partners; and
  • NIU provides students with opportunities to engage in these processes.
NIU President Doug Baker, Dean Promod Vohra and professor Lee Shumow speak with U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

NIU President Doug Baker, Dean Promod Vohra and professor Lee Shumow speak with U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

The discovery of knowledge is among Baker’s “six pillars,” one of which aspires to make NIU nationally known for recognizing and growing research programs.

Presentations will focus on how NIU has engaged Illinois, national and even international partners from the academic, government and business communities to exchange knowledge, resources and people, resulting in research and collaboration to promote economic development in Illinois.

President Baker chats with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

President Baker chats with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

NIU will showcase the productive collaborations among the Northern Illinois Center for Accelerator and Detector Development, Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory.

In addition, NIU will highlight the progress achieved during the first year of the Rockford Jobs Innovation and Accelerator Challenge and success enhancing opportunities for regional aerospace companies.

Helping to spread the word are NIU deans Chris McCord (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), LaVonne Neal (College of Education) and Promod Vohra (College of Engineering and Engineering Technology). Other speakers from NIU:

  • Jerry Blazey, a Distinguished Research Professor of physics and a senior policy adviser for the physical sciences in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • Rena Cotsones, assistant vice president of regional engagement.
  • Lee Shumow and Jennifer Schmidt, faculty members in the College of Education and National Science Foundation grant recipients; and graduate student Steve Stern.
  • Mansour Tahernezhadi, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

Lisa Freeman, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies, and Kathy Buettner, vice president of University Relations, collaborated to coordinate NIU’s two-day visit to Washington. Provost Ray Alden will join Baker for Tuesday visits to congressional offices.

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