NIU junior Linnea Scherer hopes to change the way women are portrayed in video games, and she already has developed an impressive game concept thanks to the McKearn Summer Fellows program she participated in last year.
“The McKearn Fellows Program was amazing. It was what got me to this point,” says Scherer of Elburn, a talented artist majoring in accountancy.
“Before (the fellowship program), it was just an idea,” she says. “This program gave me the chance to network, design my ideas and work with a team.”
Scherer was one of more than 300 NIU students displaying and discussing their original research Tuesday during Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day (URAD) in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.
The ballroom was abuzz with activity, as were #uradniu Twitter feeds. Nearly 200 student projects and exhibits were on display, from research on cancer, to tornadoes to robot design. The projects represented the culmination of work in independent studies, capstone projects and numerous other research-oriented programs across campus, including the McKearn Fellows.
A project by Illustration major Patrick Price captured the beauty around us at NIU.
“Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day is seriously my absolute favorite day at NIU,” said Lisa Freeman, NIU interim executive vice president and provost. “I get so excited to see our students who have worked with faculty mentors to create knowledge, integrate processes and take the things they’ve learned in the classroom outside and beyond their wildest dreams.
“Undergraduate research was probably the transformational event in my own life,” Freeman added. “I wouldn’t have the job I have today at a university if I had not had a great faculty mentor and a really cool research project when I was a junior in college, and I think about that a lot when I walk around here.”
Freshman Ashley Sands, a psychology of major from Chicago who was mentored by Professor Laura Pittman, presented a study she conducted through the Research Rookies program. It examined the factors that influence the development of a positive grandchild-grandfather relationship.
“I think (URAD) is amazing, seeing all the different projects that other people are doing,” Sands said. “It’s really just a great experience being here. I feel like this opens doors to more opportunities in the future, and it also looks really good on applications. I feel I can get further along in life just by starting so early on.”
University Honors student and Research Rookie Ashley Sands presented “Grandfather-Young Adult Relationships.”
Joshua Ott of DeKalb, a senior mechanical engineering major, hopes to bring his research project to market someday. Ott and senior Derek Seaton, an electrical engineering major, are developing a twin chamber valve-less pulsejet engine for aviation use.
“The technology has been around a long time but has never really made it as a propulsion system for aviation,” Ott said.
He and Seaton put some new twists on it, including two combustion chambers and the addition of completely computerized controls that they hope will make it more attractive for use in contemporary aircraft. It’s already built to fit several types of airplanes. “My partner Derek also has a pilot license, so he might be the test pilot,” Ott said with a smile. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun. It’s great working with another student from a different department.”
More than 150 faculty mentors supervised and guided students through their projects.
“This is just an amazing opportunity to showcase the talents of our students, faculty and departments,” said Julia Spears, assistant vice provost for engaged learning and director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, which hosts the annual event.
“The art of research and just the experience itself helps the students to gain the soft skills and academic skills necessary to be successful here at NIU,” Spears added. “All of the students deserve some recognition for the hard work that they’ve done.”
A number of students, however, also walked away with impressive prizes. A panel of more than 80 judges reviewed all 196 projects and selected the following URAD winners. Project descriptions can be found in the 2014 URAD program.
Arts, Education, Health, Humanities, and Social Sciences
The fellowship will be offered to SEAYLP alumni who attend a degree program, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, at NIU. Two hundred and six students from 10 Southeast Asian countries have gone through the program’s seven sessions. Students attending the 2015 or 2016 programs also will be eligible.
“It is our hope that a number of these SEAYLP alumni will join us here at Global NIU, and with an NIU degree return to the region to create the kind of positive change they have spent their time in SEAYLP imagining and planning,” Baker said during a farewell reception for program participants.
Participants hail from 10 Southeast Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodian, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They are chosen by the U.S. embassies in their home countries through rigorous screenings.
Highly praised by the U.S. State Department, SEAYLP aims to:
develop leadership skills,
increase appreciation for cultural similarities and differences,
gain increased awareness of and appreciation for ethnic, religious and national diversity,
instill a drive for civic participation, community service and coalition building, and
increase understanding of global and regional challenges and opportunities.
Upon their return to their home countries, many of the young students have embarked on community service projects ranging from garbage clean-up campaigns, to volunteering at a pediatric cancer hospital, to founding a library, to starting a reading room at an orphanage. They have gone on to start NGOs, work for their respective governments and pursue academic careers.
“We believe this new scholarship program will further strengthen our relationships in Southeast Asia, an area of specialization at NIU over the past five decades, and also strengthen U.S. relationships with this important region of the world,” he added.
“I am excited about the future of SEAYLP,” Ledgerwood said. “We look forward to hosting two more groups in 2015 and 2016, and to welcoming back SEAYLP alumni from across the region to complete their studies here at Northern.”
Date posted: April 22, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on NIU to offer fellowships to Southeast Asia youth program alumni
Feeling the pressure of upcoming finals? You might just want to take a break at the NIU Anthropology Museum, which will be transformed into a “no-stress zone” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 30.
The day’s events at the museum, organized entirely by students for students, is being dubbed “De-Stress Fest 2014.”
Relaxation stations will be located inside the museum and throughout busy Cole Hall. Students can sip a cup of calming tea, play board games, participate in art activities, get free massages and enjoy yoga, guided meditation, gardening lessons and Japanese Reiki.
De-Stress Fest is designed to give students a place to relax in Cole Hall while experiencing how cultures around the world manage stress. The program was organized by the Anthropology Museum Student Advisory Board, a group of students whose mission is to increase student awareness and engagement with the museum.
“The day’s schedule of free activities was designed to give students a break from studying for finals,” says Student Advisory Board President Sara Fitzpatrick. “Even if you only have 15 minutes between classes, you can still build a Lego sculpture, get a quick massage, try a new kind of tea or play a game. We hope students will use what they learn to stay calm during finals week.”
Art, tea, game and Lego-building stations will be offered throughout the day. Free yoga will be offered from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and noon to 12:30 p.m. Guided meditation will be held from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. and from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.
Student Advisory Board members gained real-world museum experience by identifying local businesses and approaching them to be program partners. Partners include Duck Soup Coop, The Gaming Goat, NIU Communiversity Gardens, NIU Health Enhancement, Sycamore Integrated Health, Sycamore Meditation, Wise Owl Wellness and Yoga by Danielle Hill.
Organized in 2013, the Museum Student Advisory Board serves to boost campus awareness of the Anthropology Museum. Its members work closely with museum staff on outreach and publicity and completed more than 100 surveys of NIU students this winter to better understand how the museum can be more relevant to their lives.
“The Anthropology Museum celebrates cultural diversity in everything it does, from preserving rare and wonderful objects from cultures around the world to curating exhibits for visitors and teaching students with hands-on experiences,” says museum Director Jennifer Kirker Priest.
“Since educational exhibits don’t necessarily bring students into the museum by themselves, the Student Advisory Board helps to envision bold new ways the museum can reach out to NIU students as a place where they can come to learn about things like how activist anthropology can empower local communities from Haiti to the Philippines. It’s also a place where they can come for free, fun programs.”
Students interested in applying to become a member of the 2014-2015 Anthropology Museum Student Advisory Board can contact Museum Curator Laura McDowell Hopper at [email protected].
Date posted: April 21, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on Feeling tense before finals? Come to De-Stress Fest 2014
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.
Open to the public, URAD will treat visitors to a plethora of original student research projects and exhibits. They include research into cancer, eye disease, nanotechnology, tornadoes, women in post-Nazi Germany, child abuse, bullying, robot design, musical performance anxiety, the impact of technology use on sleep and the usefulness of an automated outdoor grill.
Students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts are involved as well. One project from the college, for example, uses illustration and photography to show the beauty of NIU through the eyes of an art major.
“This event continues to grow because we’ve seen the number of undergraduate research programs expand across campus,” Zobac says.
“There has also been an increased awareness of available programs and the value of undergraduate research. More and more departments across campus want to see their students present at URAD as a capstone-culminating experience,” she adds. “And students themselves understand they can use their research experiences to help give them a leg up in their studies, during job interviews, on resumes or when they’re applying for graduate schools.”
A Community Engagement Showcase also will take place from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the Glass Gallery Lounge of the Holmes Student Center. Students who have participated in community service work or service learning will highlight their efforts and projects, which demonstrate the meaningful service students provide to the NIU campus and community.
The URAD Awards Ceremony will be held from 2:30 to 3 p.m. the day of the event, with cash prizes to be awarded in two categories: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); and Arts, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, Professor Katharina Barbe will present an award for the outstanding Humanities project from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and one research adviser or mentor will be honored with the Faculty Mentor of the Year award.
McKearn, who funded the McKearn Summer Research Fellows Program at NIU, is an accomplished drug developer in the prescription industry with experience “from the trenches to the top.” He has served as a board member of seven biotech companies and an adviser to several biotech investor groups, and he has founded several companies.
He currently is a general partner and managing director of RiverVest Venture Partners, one of the world’s most successful venture capital firms.
For more information on the day’s events, call (815) 753-8154 or email [email protected].
Date posted: April 18, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on More than 300 undergrads to show off research, artistry chops
Okeanos Explorer boasts a deep-water multi-beam sonar mapping system that can survey wide swaths of the seafloor through water depths of more than four miles. It also is loaded with other high-tech instrumentation, including underwater cameras and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) known as Deep Discoverer (D2), employed to further investigate interesting seafloor features. Telepresence technology, which uses real-time broadband satellite communications, connects the ship and its discoveries live with audiences ashore.
Internships aboard the Okeanos Explorer are highly sought after, and Hodson was selected as “one of the few from a candidate pool that was unprecedented in both its size and in the high quality of applicants,” according to the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.
Hodson couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming adventure.
“For a flatlander like me, it’s thrilling,” says Hodson, a native of Champaign, Ill. “It’s exciting to think we’ll be exploring this hidden environment of octopi, crabs and other strange creatures that live in the ocean depths.
“I’m also looking forward to working with people who make a living as explorers,” he adds. “They are extremely proficient at what they do, and it’s difficult to get a great hands-on experience like this.”
Hodson has conducted mapping work in Washington’s Puget Sound and in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Last year, he helped test a new NIU robotic submarine in Lake Tahoe and traveled to the Antarctic with a research team that collected the first intact samples from an Antarctic subglacial lake.
Tim Hodson in the Antarctic.
Hodson will be returning to the icy continent late this year for a research expedition led by Powell.
“Tim is up for any adventure and rises to meet any challenge,” Powell says. “As a result, he has gained a wide range of field experiences that gave him a leg up when competing against students nationwide for this internship. He’ll be working alongside some of NOAA’s top scientists, and that experience will be extremely useful in the robotic submarine mapping work we hope to eventually accomplish in the Antarctic.”
Since the Okeanos Explorer was commissioned in 2008, ithas traveled the globe, exploring the Indonesian “Coral Triangle Region;” benthic environments in the Galápagos; the geology, marine life and hydrothermal systems of the Mid-Cayman Rise within the Caribbean Sea; and deep-sea habitats and marine life in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Hodson will depart from the Rhode Island coast and help map North Atlantic seafloor mounds, which are thought to be extinct volcanoes that still generate thermal activity.
“Beyond the thrill of exploration, there’s a clear benefit to humanity from seafloor mapping,” Hodson says. “Throughout history, humans have depended upon the bounty of the sea. However, we’ve become so proficient at exploiting the ocean that the effects are devastating many of our natural fisheries.
“Information provided by the Okeanos Explorer will enable us to understand seafloor habitats in ways we never could before,” Hodson adds. “Hopefully, it will lead to better and more holistic management of our oceans.”
Date posted: April 17, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on NIU student lands coveted internship aboard exploration ship
The event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commons on the NIU campus.
It aims to raise funds for construction of a library and community resource center in Nyegina, Tanzania, and give students and NIU community members the opportunity to better understand the hardships faced by people in countries where water is in short supply.
”The clean, safe tap water we take for granted is unimaginable to millions of Tanzanians,” Thurmaier said. “Educating girls and boys is the best investment to help them escape poverty and be able to afford clean drinking water and lead productive lives.”
In some countries, people spend their entire days walking miles to get water. The task is typically assigned to children, most often girls, who walk for water instead of going to school.
TDS volunteers have seen this in Nyegina, where girls, sometimes barefoot, walk along the roadside carrying their yellow containers, large enough to hold four or five gallons. Once the containers are full, the girls balance them on their heads or strap them to their backs. The water is often dirty and contaminated with bacteria, but it’s all that is available.
Participants in the Walk with Water fundraiser will carry clean water, walk on flat terrain and wear shoes. They are asked to complete as many laps around the Commons as possible while carrying up to five gallons of water. Tanzanian men’s shirts and women’s kangas (wrap-around skirts) will be available to all participants to wear while walking.
Similar events (see photos) last year on the NIU campus raised several thousand dollars. The money helped purchase materials to start construction of the library and community resource center, which will serve about 2,000 students and village residents in a rural community in northwest Tanzania.
This year’s event at NIU also will feature a bake sale that will take place during the water walk. For more information on upcoming events, visit TDS on Facebook or contact Tricia DeBoo at [email protected] or 815-899-7043
Date posted: April 14, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on ‘Walk with Water’
Gyant is the fourth NIU faculty member to win the annual national award in recent years. Former political science professor Christopher Jones won the honor in 2013, history professor J.D. Bowers in 2012 and anthropology professor Susan Russell in 2009.
After leading the program in 2011, she is now working with history professorIsmael Montanato lead the program again this coming summer: It will address the history of U.S. slavery as seen from Ghana, from which so many slave-trading ships departed.
“In part due to Dr. Gyant’s continued championing of this program in Ghana, NIU demonstrates a high rate of participation in study abroad by students of color,” said Deborah Pierce, associate vice president for International Affairs. Pierce nominated Gyant for the award.
“Her desire to see African-American and other minority students increase their participation in international education is inspiring.”
As director of the Center for Black Studies, Gyant holds a permanent appointment to the U.S. Student Fulbright Committee at NIU, where she helps review students’ essays and proposals each year. She serves as a facilitator for various international training programs at NIU and regularly presents talks during the annual Philippine Youth Leadership Program on campus.
Gyant is increasingly interested in the understanding of African and African-American Studies in the global context.
She has considered black studies from the Latino and Latin American perspective, an issue of growing importance in the Chicago suburban region. She also volunteered in rural Kenya at the Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS) for Girls, founded by NIU professor Teresa Wasonga, and has presented on the experience in a professional research conference.
“Dr. Gyant demands that all international educators at NIU achieve excellence and that we maintain inclusive perspectives and practices,” Pierce said, “because all of our students and colleagues deserve the opportunity to acquire and benefit from global understanding.”
Date posted: April 9, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on LaVerne Gyant wins national award for international education
NIU psychology professor Alecia M. Santuzzi and several of her students have posted a new blog entry in Psychology Today, examining research on whether some women in the workplace might be inclined to pull up the ladder after breaking the glass ceiling.
Some research studies indicate that might indeed be the case, Santuzzi says.
Experience seemed to be a strong factor in the recent 2014 Northern Illinois University Mathematics Contest, as the top two places went to returning participants who improved on their results from last year.
The $100 first prize was won by Taylor Brysiewicz of Bartlett, while Robert Marks of Crystal Lake took home $75 for finishing second.
Both are seniors majoring in mathematical sciences. Taylor and Marks also placed second and third, respectively, in the 2013 contest.
The 2014 competition saw a tie for third place between Greg Sassi, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Island Lake, and Daniel Trout, a freshman mathematical sciences major from Batavia. Each was awarded $50.
The winners will be recognized Sunday, April 13, at the Department of Mathematical Sciences’ Awards Ceremony and Reception.
The annual Northern Illinois University Mathematics Contest is open to all full-time undergraduates at NIU and has a format that gives freshmen and sophomores a fair chance to compete with juniors and seniors.
Each contestant turns in solutions to a choice of six out of 11 problems. The underclassmen have fewer restrictions on their choice of problems to attempt.
Topics this year ranged from high school-level algebra, number theory and geometry problems to calculus, linear algebra and differential equations. Professors Harvey Blau, Deepak Naidu and Gleb Sirotkin supervised the competition.
One of the elementary-level problems was the following: Let A, B, C and D be placed consecutively on a circle. Let W, X, Y and Z be the midpoints of the arcs AB, BC, CD and DA, respectively. Show that the chords WY and XZ are perpendicular.
Here is a more sophisticated calculus problem: Prove that the sequence generated by iterating the sin function n times, and beginning at a value of 1 radian, converges as n goes to infinity.
For more information on the contest, contact Blau at (815) 753-6772 or [email protected].
Date posted: April 7, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on Seniors Taylor Brysiewicz, Robert Marks take top honors in math contest
The Basic Physical Defense class is offered from 1 to 4 p.m. on three consecutive Thursdays, beginning April 17, in Group Fitness Room 1 at the Student Recreation Center.
Female participants will learn risk-reducing strategies as well as physical defense techniques to avoid abduction.
“I hope my students will never need them, but it is important to give women the tools to fight, escape and survive in case they do need them one day,” says Jennifer Kirker-Priest, director of the Anthropology Museum and certified RAD instructor.
The statistics are troubling.
One in three women is the victim of a sexual assault. One in five women is the victim of attempted or completed sexual assault while in college. These numbers demonstrate the importance of educating and training women to avoid situations when possible and defend themselves when necessary.
Course instruction gradually advances women through the practice of awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance. It concludes with hands-on self-defense training.
All women are eligible to participate in this free program. Each RAD student is provided with workbooks and manuals. After completing the class, students receive lifetime free admission to any R.A.D. Basic Program.
One is a documentary filmmaker whose works have screened internationally, the other a physicist who has made his mark on some of the world’s most ambitious experiments.
Their disciplines couldn’t seem more different. But what Laura Vazquez and David Hedin share is an uncommon drive, along with a passion for immersing students in their work and creating opportunities for them to shine.
Northern Illinois University has selected Vazquez, a professor of communication, and Hedin, a professor of physics, as its 2014 Board of Trustees Professors, a top university honor that recognizes faculty members for international renown in their research and excellence in all facets of teaching.
“Since coming to NIU less than a year ago, I’ve met many extraordinary faculty members, and Laura Vazquez and David Hedin certainly are among the best of the best,” NIU President Doug Baker said.
“Throughout their careers, their work in and out of the classroom has been exemplary, always integrating NIU students. We could use both Laura and Dave as case studies in how faculty can nurture student career success.”
Established in 2007, the Board of Trustees Professorships honor faculty members who have consistently demonstrated excellence in teaching, academic leadership, scholarship or artistry, and service and outreach.
Each BOT Professorship is accompanied by a $10,000 stipend, renewable annually during a five-year term. The BOT Professorship awards will be presented during the annual Faculty Awards Ceremony and Reception, which begins at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium, with a reception. The ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m.
Click on the names below for closer looks at the 2014 BOT Professors:
Celebrating Excellence at NIU, scheduled from April 12 to May 1, 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.
Date posted: April 3, 2014 | Author: Thomas Parisi | Comments Off on Best of the best
Malya Villard-Appolon, named the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year for her work combating sexual violence against women in Haiti, will visit and speak at NIU this month.
Villard-Appolon is associate director of KOFAVIV, an organization that helps victims of sexual violence in Haiti. Her advocacy work has taken her to the courtroom, internally displaced persons camps, the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and around the world.
She will speak at NIU at noon Tuesday, April 22, in the Regency Room at the Holmes Student Center. The talk is open to the public.
Like elsewhere, rape has long been an issue in Haiti, and historically it has been under-reported because of social stigma, retaliation from perpetrators and a lack of legal support. Since Villard-Appolon and Marie Eramithe Delva started KOFAVIV in 2004, the organization has helped more than 4,000 rape survivors find safety, psychological support and/or legal aid.
The Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti rates among the deadliest disasters in history.
While precise figures remain elusive, the seismic event claimed as many as 316,000 lives. The disaster was also one of the most widely covered events in modern history. International media attention helped raise $2 billion in private donations and $5.6 billion in official funds for the two years following the earthquake.
Four years later, media attention on Haiti has significantly diminished. And living conditions remain among the worst in the world; 280,000 people are still living under tents in scores of camps.
Visitors to the Anthropology Museum’s exhibitcan enter a tent provided for people displaced from their homes by the earthquake and view artifacts of tent life. Reproductions of a dwelling in one of Port-au-Prince’s shantytowns, a school room and a cot invite all visitors to experience life as a Haitian today. The exhibit runs through June 2014.