NIU representatives traveled this week to Washington, D.C., where they made a strong case for the importance of federal funding for research universities and national laboratories.
“We made a lot of face-to-face contacts with our congressmen and their staffs and were able to drive home the point of how vital federal funding for research is to our university, society, technological innovation and the economy of our state,” NIU Vice President for Research Lisa Freeman said.
Freeman, along with NIU Director of State and Federal Relations Lori Clark and chemistry and biochemistry Professor Timothy Hagen, participated in a full day of events for Illinois Research, Development and Innovation Day.
U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert, Jan Schakowsky, Randy Hultgren and Daniel Lipinski personally took part in the day’s activities, and the NIU representatives also visited the offices of Sens. Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk and met with Reps. Danny Davis and Bob Dold.
“NIU President John Peters and the Board of Trustees have long recognized the importance of having Northern Illinois University widely acknowledged by our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., as a true asset to not only the northern Illinois region, but also to the entire State of Illinois,” Clark said.
“By exposing members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation and staff to the excellent faculty, research and development and innovation at NIU, we can advance a strong higher education agenda in Congress, something that becomes increasingly important as Congress considers deep cuts to federal programs. Our voice is even stronger when we join with other institutions of higher education, national laboratories and private-sector companies based in Illinois.”
Professor Hagen served as a member of a panel discussion on the topic of collaboration in Illinois.
Hagen, who has a diverse set of experiences in private industry and academia, previously worked for Pfizer Inc., as well as a startup biotech company.
He currently consults with private industry and collaborates with other universities and federal laboratories, conducting research on the development of enzyme inhibitors for potential use in fighting bacterial diseases, including MRSA infection and biological warfare agents such as anthrax.
“During the panel discussion, audience members seemed very interested and supportive of our message,” Hagen said.
He stayed in Washington, D.C., an extra day to present a seminar on his research experiences to representatives of the National Institutes of Health. He also was interviewed by a reporter from Chemical and Engineering News for a possible story on making the transition from industry to academia.
“Overall, I thought the trip was a very positive experience,” Hagen said. “Lori and Lisa reminded me that change isn’t going to happen overnight, but we have to keep working at this and keep reminding our representatives of the significance of our work.”
Illinois Research, Development and Innovation Day was sponsored by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC), the only organization representing the full range of science and technology activity in Illinois.