Two Northern Illinois University music professors just received news that is music to their ears: They have been awarded prestigious grants to create distinctive new works for the small ensemble projects they lead.
Greg Beyer and Geof Bradfield, both associate professors at NIU’s School of Music, have been awarded Chamber Music America grants: Beyer received a Classical Commissioning grant and Bradfield a New Jazz Works grant. Both will use the funds to create and promote new pieces.
Bradfield will use his $33,000 grant to compose a concert-length work for a jazz ensemble of nine musicians (a nonet), to be performed multiple times as well as recorded commercially. The funds will help to promote the performances and recording as well.
“The grant will enable me to compose for a larger ensemble than would otherwise be practical from a financial standpoint. It allows me to bring together a dream group of my favorite musicians, write music specifically for those unique individuals, and present the music in Chicago and beyond,” said Bradfield.
Part of that dream group will include NIU alumni Greg Ward, who will perform as a guest artist. The nonet expands the quintet of his last record, “Our Roots,” for Origin records. Bradfield said he anticipates debuting the new work in fall 2017, and will perform it at NIU that fall or following spring.
“I’m very grateful to have received this grant from CMA and am looking forward to getting down to work,” said Bradfield.
Beyer’s $19,000 grant will support Projecto Arcomusical to commission music by New York City-based composer, Elliot Cole. Projeto Arcomusical is the professional performing sextet of Arcomusical, an organization that promotes the Afro-Brazilian berimbau musical bow. The organization is built upon pillars of research, composition, publishing, performing and community building.
“Arcomusical has been for nearly two decades the central focus of my scholarly and artistic work,” said Beyer. “Its path has been generously fostered at NIU, especially through small grant programs such as the Undergraduate Artistry and Research Apprenticeship Program (UARAP).”
Projeto Arcomusical’s debut album, MeiaMeia, has its official release in October. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Dan Nichols, the head of recording services at NIU.
“We took MeiaMeia to Brazil last July and the music consistently received standing ovations. We knew this music had impact in Brazil, a country that intimately understands the berimbau,” Beyer said. “This grant award is incredibly meaningful, therefore, as a sign of impact and validation here in the United States for this unique music we’ve been pursuing right here at NIU,” Beyer said. “We set about writing MeiaMeia to build a repertoire that could lead to bigger commissions in the future. This grant is helping us to realize that vision.”
Date posted: August 10, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on $52K in grants sounds great to two NIU music professors
Sarah Boyd, Rebecca Prtichard and Jasmine Young install a sign to identify the new location of the School of Health Studies offices in Wirtz Hall.
NIU’s College of Health and Human Sciencesis heading back to school with a roster of changes aimed at bringing synergies and coordination to several programs. Those changes add two new names to the roll call this year: the School of Nursing, and the School of Health Studies.
The important changes include:
The School of Nursing contains only the nursing majors (both undergraduate and graduate).
Participating faculty, staff and students did the homework for many months to reconfigure the academic programs in CHHS. This past spring, NIU President Doug Baker, the NIU Board of Trustees, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education gave the plan the appropriate approvals.
These changes improve efficiencies in resource management and offer course and program synergies, said College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Derryl Block.
“The alignment of content areas in the School of Health Studies programs will lead to increased student and faculty collaboration, as well as additional research opportunities. Putting the nursing program in its own school mirrors what is a common model at other universities,” Block said.
Janice Strom, chair of the School of Nursing, noted high expectations for her school’s changes.
“The changes will offer enhanced research and practice opportunities for faculty and students, while allowing growth in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs,” she said.
Even with these changes, many things will stay the same. The reorganization does not affect the following:
Graduation requirements for students in each major;
Course content for the major classes;
Resource allocation for academic programs; and
Location for the School of Nursing and Medical Laboratory Science program offices, they remain in their current buildings and offices
In class meetings during the spring semester, students in medical laboratory science, and nutrition were reassured their majors are intact, and they will be able to continue on their present course toward graduation, CHHS Associate Dean Beverly Henry said.
Henry also spoke of the advantages the new structure will bring.
“The students were interested in how their options of elective classes could increase with common areas of interest. There are many ways in which laboratory and dietetics professionals work together,” Henry said.
Jeanne Isabel, program director and associate professor for Medical Laboratory Sciences, agreed.
“Careers in any of the health professions encompass communication and teamwork across multiple disciplines. Undecided students in the College of Health and Human Sciences have the advantage of finding the right major with similar prerequisite requirements,” Isabel said.
Future students will experience the most changes, as faculty look at recommendations to streamline courses and requirements
“We had conversations about whether a student really needed to take a particular course if they are taking a similar course. We considered some reductions in requirements while ensuring students remain equipped for long-term career success,” Sarah Geiger, an assistant professor of public health, and member of the group that developed the proposal for college changes, said.
For example, every program may not necessarily need to have its own course in research methods – perhaps public health and nutrition students can take the same course. The committee also took into account relevance in the career world by offering industry-specific courses that would be valuable in the workplace, such as biostatistics, Geiger said.
Josephine Umoren, an associate professor and area coordinator for the Nutrition and Dietetics programs, agreed this has the potential to enhance innovative career options for students in the three programs. “This is especially true for dietetics students as we enter a new era of new education standards set by our accrediting body,” she added.
Though there will be new education opportunities, the core programs and values remain.
“While the college’s structure for its schools has changed, students will find that their academic experience at NIU will be unchanged,” Strom said. “Students will register for courses as they have in the past, highly qualified faculty will continue to teach the courses, and students will continue to be prepared for career success.”
Judith Lukaszuk conducts a webinar on her research.
NIU nutrition and dietetics professor Judith Lukaszuk wanted to find out if eliminating certain foods from a diet could affect chronic inflammation – the kind related to diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The results were dramatic. At the study’s beginning, one participant reported his whole body ached, and he also had lung nodules. After following the study’s list of foods he should avoid, he began to feel better. He soon learned from his surgeon that his lung nodules were reduced by 50 percent, Lukaszuk said.
“The surgeon told him told to keep doing what he was doing,” Lukaszuk said.
That he did. He had a list of the more than 25 foods to avoid. He laminated the list and carried it everywhere – to grocery stores and restaurants. With 100 percent compliance, his disease symptom score, taken before the study began, went from 156 to 11, Lukaszuk said.
“At the end of the study, people felt better. They had less joint pain. Stomach aches and rashes went away,” Lukaszuk reported.
Her study was funded by Cell Science Systems Corp., makers of the Alcat Test that measures cellular reactions to more than 450 substances. The test could help uncover which foods and other substances trigger chronic inflammation and its relation to health issues such diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more.
Lukaszuk’s research shows the correlation.
“In this double-blind study, we found that those individuals avoiding foods they had intolerances to had less inflammation at the end of the study,” Lukaszuk said.
Her study involved 150 test subjects who scored high on a questionnaire asking about symptoms such as fatigue after eating, skin rashes, lethargy and stomach aches after eating – symptoms indicative of food intolerances. (A food intolerance differs from a food allergy: Allergies produce an immediate reaction after ingesting. With an intolerance, a reaction can take days to show.)
Participants also answered a disease symptom inventory, reporting ear, nose and throat issues, overall well-being, energy level and joint pain. These symptoms can indicate inflammation. The subjects took the Alcat Test to determine food sensitivities.
There were 200 foods on the test list, including foods containing gluten, casein and dairy, and more specific items such as corn, duck, chicken and fish.
The test group was split in half, with one group getting a correct list of foods to avoid for one month, and the other half a placebo group who received a sham list of foods to avoid for a month. Blood samples, body composition measurements and medical symptom questionnaires (MSQ) were taken at the beginning and the end of the study.
The results revealed individuals who avoided foods they tested sensitive to did have less inflammation. Their body mass index (BMI) and MSQ scores decreased, and a decrease in serum amyloid A levels – a test marker for inflammation.
Plus, participants felt better overall after staying away from the offending foods.
The food intolerance and inflammation research will be used by Cell Science Systems to educate its patients about the importance of using the Alcat Test for food intolerance.
“Her research demonstrates a direct link between cellular responses measured by the test and inflammation, body composition and well-being,” said Roger Deutsch, founder and CEO of Cell Science Systems Corp.
Lukaszuk presented her research in a webinar at Cell Science Systems in April.
Date posted: August 5, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on Professor’s research shows link between food intolerance, inflammation
A group of 10- to 13-year-olds spent a week at NIU’s Digital Convergence Lab creating Pokémon-like games into a Minecraft – an online video game – world.
Campers learned how to use OpenSim, a 3D multi-user virtual environment, to build graphics with coordinates to create action characters, objects and adventures.
If it all sounds complex, it is. But by week’s end, the campers’ results were impressive.
“What’s amazing is the talent of students. It’s nuts to see them catch on so quickly and push the boundaries of what I thought possible,” said Michael Swope, instructional support/analyst with NIU’s DCL and a camp instructor.
In just one week, campers powered up from zero experience programming – some never having played Pokémon Go – to creating giant pixel art characters based on Pokémon who could have snowball fights with other players or launch fireworks in a simulated world.
“I did enjoy it. It is fun,” said Tessa, 10, who didn’t know anything about game design when she began the camp.
Throughout the camp, kids play games and then discuss what makes them good as well as how they are built. Each game camp week features a different aspect of design, using a specific platform such as Kodu, Unreal Engine or OpenSim. When the Pokémon Go phenomenon evolved this summer, camp organizers captured the craze and added it to the existing classes.
A screen capture from this summer’s 3D Video Game Design camp.
Some campers find the first day difficult or, as Aline Click, co-director of the DCL, calls it, “hard fun.” Some kids aren’t expecting they will actually learn something and not just play video games all day. But after a day or two, they start to get it – and the fun begins.
Click said she wanted to develop these programs to appeal a specific type camper.
“There are camps for musicians and athletes, but what about the rest of the kids? I wanted to create something for them,” Click said.
She especially wanted to appeal to girls, and it’s working: This year’s Just for Girls camp was the biggest session this year. Remaining games camps this year include the STEM Career Camp, a residence camp for high schoolers; and Advanced Video Game Design Camp.
Another important element of the program is getting kids interested in coming to NIU. Studies show kids make up their minds about what they want to do when they grow up while they are still in middle school.
“We want to capture their interest and show them what it’s like on a college campus,” Click said.
Consider Ethan a success: The 13-year-old camper is excited about a future in gaming. “I want to become a game designer,” he said, “and decided I have to come here to do it.”
She graduated from the College of DuPage with an Associate of Applied Science in nursing. While at COD, she was the student member on the board of trustees, as well as being elected student body president. Celis also served on the Illinois Community College Board during 2015-2016.
The mission of the IBHE-SAC is to represent higher education students from public universities, community colleges and private institutions on state-level issues concerning higher education, including providing input to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Illinois college students interested in getting involved in IBHE-SAC for the upcoming year should email [email protected].
Date posted: July 25, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on NIU student elected to Illinois Board of Higher Education
This award will enable her to carry out a research project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Wang will spend 10 months studying traditional Javanese children’s singing games, dolanan anak, an important part of Javanese children’s early lives in the past that allowed them to explore and make sense of their world when there was no formal education.
“I’ve always been interested in learning children’s singing games around the world. I was looking for some teaching materials from the Southeast Asia Special Collection books in Founders Library. I accidentally discovered a series of song books from Indonesia and found this interesting singing game tradition in Yogyakarta,” Wang said.
Wang plans to study the songs that accompany these singing games, tembang dolanan anak, to transcribe and analyze the melodies, interpret the texts and translate them into English, and define the changing educational functions.
She will study with faculty at Universitas Gadjah Mada and a local elementary school that still teaches dolanan anak in Yogyakarta.
“In my (Fulbright) proposal, I try to look at this singing game tradition from the perspectives of history, child development, education, children’s literature, music and cultural studies,” said Wang.
This will be a return trip for Wang. She received funds from NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies in 2013 to travel to Yogyakarta, where she visited faculty who taught Javanese children’s literature at University Gadjah Mada. It sparked a quest to learn more.
“I’ve kept in mind that if one day I could put together a proposal to study everything there is, I’d be so happy. When I learned about Fulbright’s calling for proposals, I put together what I have dreamed about to study, and I was very fortunate to receive the award,” she said.
Another important reason to study dolanan anak is because the tradition is rarely discussed in ethnomusicology and music education in the English-speaking world. “I think I will be able to contribute to enriching the scholarship in both fields,” she said.
A strong voice in the relatively young field of world music pedagogy, Wang organized the first Teaching World Music Symposium, held at NIU in April 2015, attracting presenters and guest artists from several countries and states. She teaches world music courses and oversees various world music ensembles, and she has taught a summer study abroad course on the arts in Bali. She initiated a Master of Music specialization in world music. Her students come from the United States, Taiwan, China, Zambia, Syria, Malaysia and Inner Mongolia.
Wang hopes her Fulbright experience will motivate her students here at NIU to explore the interdisciplinary possibilities in music research.
“I am also hoping more students will be taking advantage of the strong Southeast Asian Studies program we have at NIU,” Wang said. “After all, it is through the special Southeast Asian collection in the library, and the financial support from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies that the seeds in me started to bloom.”
Date posted: July 20, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on Fulbright scholarship music to NIU professor’s ears
Recent national unrest due to gun violence continues to remind the community of the need to understand differing perspectives and the necessity to work together toward social justice, equity and open dialogue about racial issues.
“Given the 24/7 nature of social media and the immediacy of news, it was important to create ongoing opportunities for the NIU community to have a safe space to discuss their feelings on these issues and join efforts to explore solutions,” said Vernese Edghill-Walden, senior associate vice president for academic diversity and chief diversity officer in the Division of Academic Affairs.
In addition to the Diversity Dialogues and other campus-wide conversations, NIU’s Center for Black Studies will host a Fellowship and Dialogue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Wednesday starting July 20 at the center’s classroom, 621 W. Lincoln Hwy.
“Solutions begin at the community level,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “This opportunity builds on the work we’ve been doing to encourage dialogue and create an inclusive environment.”
As part of its role as a place where students, staff and faculty members can engage in a culturally conscious manner, the CBS is offering a safe and respectful space for anyone who needs to reflect, or connect with others, around social justice and equity issues, said Gena Flynn, new director of the CBS.
Flynn added that visitors can use the space for creative expression or active dialogue. The format is flexible and facilitated dialogues or other events might be added as current events dictate. While it might not be a structured environment, she said, it’s a space to form a sense of community.
“It is important to be civil and respectful while having brave conversations about societal inequities and what NIU can do to challenge these practices,” Edghill-Walden said.
A retirement party is planned for Norm Jenkins, who has had an indelible impact on countless students and staff in his over 25 years at NIU. The celebration will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 29.
NIU’s Gender & Sexuality Resource Centerwill continue to offer a Creative Reflection Space. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to stop by the conference room at the GSRC from noon to 2 p.m. June 20-24. Visitors will have opportunities to color and write and reflect in a calm environment.
“Our hearts are with the victims and survivors of the Orlando tragedy,” says Molly Holmes, director for the GSRC. “While words are not enough to ease the pain, hurt and anger that result, we will try because we must. Today and each day, the GSRC supports those most marginalized, those whose identities place them at the intersections of inequity. We are here for you.”
Award-winning children’s book author Carolyn Crimi will present a lively program from 11-11:45 a.m. It promises to engage young readers (and young writers, too), and get everyone excited about summer reading.
With over 20 exhibitors, there will be something for all young reading lovers and their parents. Planned activities include stuffed bunny science adventures, vegetable literacy, improvisation workshop, guess the seed game, MyPlate toss, Boy Scout skills training, American Sign Language, the Hmong Story Cloth, Beanie Babies labeling in multiple languages.
NIU’s Huskie mascot Mission will stop by from 10:15-11:15 a.m., and character mascot Victor E. Huskie will be on hand as well. The Harambee African Percussion ensemble is set to perform too.
Attendees have a chance to win free raffle prizes including gift certificates at local businesses, Ice Hogs and Rockford Rivets tickets, an autographed Chicago Bears flag, and a grand prize that includes a life-size stuffed husky dog, two fiction and two non-fiction books in a Huskies tote bag. Students of DeKalb and Sycamore elementary schools be sure to bring in your coloring sheets to enter a special raffle.
Each child will receive a take-home bag with literacy information for parents, children’s reading activities, and a new book to add to their home library.
Literacy on the Lawn is still looking for donations and volunteers. For more information contact Suzi Hinrichs, assistant director of the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic, at (815) 753-8187 or [email protected]. For DeKalb residents who need a ride, there is a bus that will make stops in some areas. Call the Literacy Clinic for details.
Date posted: May 9, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on Set kids up for summer reading with Literacy on the Lawn
Masih Shokrani is congratulated by NIU President Doug Baker.
Masih Shokrani, associate professor of the Medical Laboratory Sciences program in the College of Health and Human Sciences is the 2016 recipient of University Honors Great Professor Award.
The University Great Professor Award is an annual and university-wide recognition that honors those NIU members who have made sustained contributions to the enhancement of honors education at NIU through a combination of teaching, advising, research or artistry, and service.
The Great Professor Award was presented to Shokrani by President Doug Baker at the University Honors Program Recognition Ceremony for Graduating Seniors held on April 17,2016 in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. The selection committee for this award noted Shokrani’s outstanding service to the University Honors Program through committee work, guidance of honor students’ capstone projects, and overall strong support of the program. Honors students nominating Masih Shokrani noted his strong dedication to teaching and research.
Date posted: May 5, 2016 | Author: Lori Botterman | Comments Off on Masih Shokrani earns University Honors Great Professor Award
Daniel King pairs up with senior special education major Caroline McGuiness senior health sciences major Taylor Vinhal, while they dance during the Best Buddies Buddy Ball.
It was an epic night of super-hero proportions at the Buddy Ball NIU’s Holmes Student Center recently.
Teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their college student buddies, celebrated at the super-hero-themed dance for the Best Buddies program at NIU.
“I thought the evening was perfect. My buddy and I were so excited to celebrate our third ball together. We had a blast,” said Mollie Wang, a Peer Buddy and a junior studying rehabilitation services.
Best Buddies is an international organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through integrated employment, leadership development, and one-to-one friendships, Best Buddies aims to make a difference. Students at NIU serve as peer buddies, getting matched with a community member who has intellectual or developmental disabilities. NIU’s Best Buddies chapter serves 30 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program is so popular with NIU volunteers that some buddies have more than one peer buddy.
Junior in child development Kelsey Lyle, strikes a pose with Buddy Laura Bosshardt after they entertained attendees of the Best Buddy Talent Show.
Peer buddies develop friendships with their buddies, hanging out a few times a month and doing the typical things friends do, like got out to eat, shopping or to a movie. About twice a month there is an organized chapter event such as bowling at the Huskie Den, a casino night, attending an NIU soccer game, and a talent show.
Over 70 buddies and their peer mentors attended the Buddy Ball, the group’s biggest event of the year. Wang said everyone eagerly looks forward to the Ball for the opportunity to dress up, dance and have one last hurrah before the summer.
“I loved looking around at everyone dancing and having a great time. It is so amazing to see all the friendships that have developed over this year and to know that they were made possible by Best Buddies,” Wang said. “That’s what makes me love this organization so much.”