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NIU salutes innovators

April 15, 2014

Innovation2 During a Tuesday morning brunch event, Northern Illinois University’s Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships recognized seven for their innovation in the development of novel ideas, technologies, processes, products and services in their application to address societal problems, meet the needs of society and expand human opportunities.

“At NIU, we define innovation as new knowledge put to new use and we focus on the many ways in which NIU faculty, staff, and students move ideas out into the world through the process of innovation,” said Lesley Rigg, acting vice president of research.


IMG_0577[1]NIU was among the inaugural 16 institutions nationwide designated as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University” by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). The designation, announced in October, acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and talent, workforce and community development.

Tuesday’s event included a poster presentation from candidates and a certificate presentation to the following students, staff and faculty for their contributions in the area of innovation:

CT Lin: “Molecular fan cooling: Heat dissipation for efficiency-enhanced Led module”

The “Molecular Fan (MF)” is an innovative thermal management technology to cool junction temperature and heat-sink, and enhance device performance. The baseline technology in research and product development of molecular cooling fan has generated two U.S. patents two Ph.D. dissertations, and four scientific publications.

Lichuan Liu: “BANM (bonding, attenuated noise, monitoring) system”

This is an electronic device which can attenuate noise, provide two-way communication bonding opportunity and monitor infant’s physical condition non-invasively for infant incubators/beds. This can provide a safe, quiet environment for newborns in incubators, non-invasive health monitoring, and bonding opportunities for infants and parents inside and outside the NICU.

Shannon Sohl: “Digital Financial Reporting Technology”

This technology can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government and non-profit financial reporting. DFR leverages existing automated technologies to collect, validate, share, and analyze large volumes of data in an open source environment. Shannon has been working with NIU and external partners to determine the feasibility of digitalizing financial information by governments and non-profits.

Sherrie Taylor: “”

In recent years the federal and state data have become more difficult to access, understand, and interpret. To help people find the information they need quickly, relate it to other useful information, and produce quality maps and tables, Sherrie has reimagined the website. Sherrie has created a data portal that uses a series of drop-down menus to help users quickly generate the needed information.

Nicholas Pohlman: “Development of CEET Honors Program”

Before the development of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology Honors Program, only 35 CEET students were enrolled in University Honors.  The result is more than 111 current CEET students in Honors, helping the college recruit high quality students.  The model is published in journal and could be emulated by other colleges at NIU.

Thanks to: Dr. Dan Kempton (honors director) offered first invitation for Honors Improvement Grant. Implementation was collaboration with Dr. Ghrayeb, Dr. Christopher Jones (Associate Vice Provost) and Dr. Jes Cesneros. Continued support for mini-section improvement from Dr. JD Bowers and Provost’s office.

Beth Towell: “Business Passport Program”

Through the Business Passport Program students engage in a variety of learning activities that are designed to contribute to their success: both while learning and also after graduating. The purpose of the Business Passport Program is to broaden students’ business perspective and enhance their success in the job market. The Business Passport Program allows students to gain meaningful hands-on experience, network and connect with professionals, create their own personal brand, enhance personal and professional development, build a stronger resume, and develop well-rounded interests and expertise.

Jodi Heitkamp and Philip Young: “NIU geovisual mapping laboratory”

The Geovisual Mapping Laboratory has had a major impact on NIU students and the surrounding communities based upon the variety of projects produced within the lab. The lab has procured site licenses for two of the major GIS software companies (ESRI & Intergraph), and was designated one of seven Centers of Excellence in Mapping, in the United States. Most importantly, the GML provides pedagogy for student involvement, including internships and assistantships.


NIU: Celebrating ExcellenceCelebrating Excellence highlights the accomplishments and contributions of NIU students, faculty, staff and alumni to the university’s mission of promoting excellence and engagement in teaching and learning, research and scholarship, creativity and artistry, and outreach and service during the academic year. For a comprehensive schedule of events, visit