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NIU students journeying to Washington, D.C., to promote science, engineering, technology

April 19, 2012

U.S. CapitolA trio of NIU students is headed to Capitol Hill for Congressional Visit Days.

The annual two-day event brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators and technology executives to Washington, D.C., to raise visibility and support for science, engineering and technology.

Congressional Visit Days are scheduled Tuesday, April 24, and Wednesday, April 25.

They are coordinated annually by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group (SETWG), an informal network of professional scientific and engineering societies, higher-education associations, institutions of higher learning companies and trade associations.

“The events aim to promote a specific theme to our legislators,” said NIU chemistry and biochemistry professor Petr Vanýsek, who is affiliated with SETWG and invited students to participate. “The theme this year is economic recovery through science and engineering research.”

NIU student participants in Congressional Visit Days are undergraduate Mischelle Nelson of Oswego and graduate students Lauren Grabstanowicz of Bolingbrook and Megan Murtaugh of Geneva. All of the students are studying chemistry and biochemistry.

“They were all selected for their genuine ability to conduct scientific research and present it to others in a comprehensive and enthusiastic manner,” Vanýsek said.

Petr Vanýsek

Petr Vanýsek

The trip is being supported by the NIU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.

The event’s first day will start with briefings by the budget panel from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A technology exhibit and awards presentation will be held in the evening in the Rayburn House Office Building. The George E. Brown Jr. SET Leadership Awards will be given to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, whose 14th District includes NIU. Vanýsek , who serves as president of the Federation of Materials Societies, will have the honor of presenting the award to Hultgren.

During the second day of events, the NIU students will meet with staff members of their districts. Appointments are scheduled with the offices of Sens. Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk and Reps. Hultgren and Judy Biggert.

During the visits, the students will share their research experience with the office staff. Hultgren also has arranged for the NIU students to receive a special tour of the U.S. Capitol.