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NIU Research Rookies team with top professors

December 6, 2010

A select group of NIU freshman is being granted unprecedented access to the world of academic research with the launch of Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Research Rookies program. 

The undertaking matches the students with faculty who will guide them through a semester-long research project. It will immerse participants in an intellectual undertaking that many students never experience. 

“This is the type of opportunity that people associate only with small liberal arts colleges – the chance to walk in and begin doing significant research as a freshman,” Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver said. 

Participants in the program come from across the academic spectrum, with students from accountancy, physical therapy, psychology, biochemistry, physics, biology, political science, speech and language pathology, nursing, history, information systems and finance.

2010 Huskie Research Rookies

Front row: Lauren Boddy, Iwetta Maciejczyk, Chris Potocki, Rodrigo Sebastian, Danielle Cerve. Middle row: Kate Abell, Julie Steichen, Judith Montero, Katie Janssen, Sarah Stuebing, Katie Finlon. Back row: Evan Wittke, Antwan Hampton, Mike Theodore, Daihee Cho, Chason Zacher, Mary Kate Banks.

The program allows participants to delve more deeply into areas of interest and to apply classroom learning in a lab, said Juia Spears, coordinator for Engaged Learning at NIU. 

Sometimes it will confirm for a student that their choice of major was a good one; for others, it might set them on a new path. Either way, she said, the experience is priceless. 

Many of the Research Rookies said that they viewed the program as great preparation for graduate school and future careers. The faculty mentors, however, said that they expect students will get far more from the experience than just an impressive line on their resumes. 

“This is an opportunity for students to see first-hand the process through which new knowledge is created. They will help unlock questions to which we don’t yet have answers, and that is a very exciting prospect,” said Chuck Downing, a 2010 recipient of an NIU Presidential Teaching Professorship who teaches Operations Management and Information Systems. 

Downing will mentor business student Kate Abell, who plans to investigate ways to increase the efficiency of class registration systems for NIU students. 

Physicist David Hedin, who currently serves as a Board of Trustees Professor, the highest distinction awarded for teaching and scholarship at NIU, envisions the program as a way to not only introduce top students to research but to also groom future collaborators. 

“It’s nice to start working with a freshman whom you could potentially have around for four years. This program will teach them skills that will help them become effective researchers,” said Hedin, whose mentee, Chason Zacher, will participate in the study of sub-atomic particles known as muons. 

As part of that work, Zacher will collaborate not only with Hedin but also with scientists at Fermi National Laboratory. 

The Research Rookies will present their projects April 10, 2011, as part of the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day.  Research Rookies is one of several initiatives to enhance engaged learning at NIU. 

Participants in the program are: 

Research Rookie: Kate Abell, OMIS
Mentor: Chuck Downing, OMIS
Project: Studying methods for improving student class scheduling systems 

Research Rookie: Mary Kate Banks, Pre-Physical Therapy
Mentor: Hamid Bateni, Physical Therapy
Project: Investigating the effects of noise on balance 

Research Rookie: Lauren Boddy, Psychology
Mentor: David Bridgett, Psychology
Project: Investigating the effect of depression on interactions between college students and agitated infants 

Research Rookie: Danielle Cerve, Psychology
Mentor: Kathryn Bell, Psychology
Project: Studying dating violence amongst college students  

Research Rookie: Daihee Cho, Accounting
Mentor: David Sinison, Accountancy
Project: Investigating the impact on post-Enron accounting laws on the economy 

Research Rookie: Katie Finlon, English
Mentor: Amy Newman, English
Project: Analysis of the elements of literary non-ficiton 

Research Rookie: Antwan Hampton, Psychology
Mentor: Alecia Santuzzi, Pyschology
Project: Study of  behavioral response to facial cues 

Research Rookie: Katie Janssen, Speech-Language Pathology
Mentor: Sherrill Morris, Speech-Language Pathology
Project: Assessing language development skills in toddlers 

Research Rookie: Iwetta Maciejczyk, Nursing
Mentor: Mary Koren, Nursing
Project: Investigating spirituality amongst nursing students 

Research Rookie: Judith Montero, Psychology
Mentor: Nina Mounts, Psychology
Project: Studying the link between ethnic identity and loneliness 

Research Rookie: Chris Potocki, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Mentor: Narayan Hosmone, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Project: Investigating the use of boron-neutron therapy to treat cancer 

 Research Rookie: Rodrigo Sebastian, Biology
Mentor: Chris Hubbard, Biological Sciences
Project: Analyzing differences in fetal anatomy versus adult and embryonic anatomy 

Research Rookie: Julia Steichen, Political Science
Mentor: Scot Schraufnagel, Political Science
Project: Analyzing voter turnout in Southeast Asia 

Research Rookie: Sarah Stuebing, Biology
Mentor: Moira Jenkins and Pamela Macfarlane
Project: Assessing the benefits of equine massage therapy 

 Research Rookie: Mike Theodore, History
Mentor: J.D. Bowers, History
Project: Analyzing the impact of Cyprus embargo on U.S. Corporations 

Research Rookie: Evan Wittke, Biology
Mentor: Barrie Bode, Biological Sciences
Project: Studying the effect of various treatments on liver cancer cells 

 Research Rookie: Chason Zacher, Physics
Mentor: David Hedin, Physics
Project: Studying sub-atomic particles known as muons