Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Northern Today - October 22, 2007

Orbitals really do matter

Scientists discover potential new path
for designing novel nanomaterials

NIU physicist Michel van Veenendaal is a member of a team of scientists who have uncovered a potential path for manipulating superconductivity at the atomic scale, opening up a new area of investigation into ways of designing nanoscale superconductors.

The team of scientists, led by Jacques Chakalian of the University of Arkansas, presented its finding recently on the Science Express Web site, published by the journal Science.

The scientists conducted their research at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source, a facility that produces the most powerful X-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere, allowing scientists to observe behavior of atoms and particles at the quantum level.

The researchers used a novel way to “look” at atomic orbitals, and for the first time directly showed that the orbitals of electrons change substantially when interacting at the interface of a ferromagnetic material and high-temperature superconductor. In bulk quantities, the two phenomena are incompatible.

“An unpredicted reconstruction of electronic orbitals and covalent bonding occurred at the interface of the two materials,” said van Veenendaal, who serves as deputy director of NIU’s Institute of Nanoscience & Engineering Technology.

A theoretical physicist, van Veenendaal performed complex mathematical calculations to describe the phenomenon. Atomic orbitals are the intricately shaped wave functions that the electrons of an atom occupy.

“The orbitals and their occupations are entirely different from what scientists would expect, although the effect only occurs in the layers closest to the surface of the interface,” he added.

Many in the scientific community believed that only electron spin and atomic charge – not atomic orbitals – influence the properties of superconducting nanostructures. The interest in particle spin, in fact, led to the emerging field of spintronics, which looks to develop devices that exploit the up-or-down spin property of electrons.

“Our research seems to indicate that manipulation of electron orbitals also could lead to new properties in nanomaterials,” van Veenendaal said. “Instead of electronics or spintronics, we might someday think in terms of ‘orbitronics.’ ”

The team of scientists worked with synchrotron radiation to examine the interface between a high-temperature superconducting material containing copper oxide and a ferromagnetic material containing manganese oxide.

“The goal is to induce some of the properties from one system into the other, thereby achieving two different quantum phenomena at once,” van Veenendaal said. “Our work provides some hope that this might be achieved on the quantum level.”

The discovery might be a step toward the creation of room-temperature nanoscale superconductors. Superconductivity is the phenomenon of almost perfect conductivity shown by certain substances at temperatures approaching absolute zero.

If the phenomenon could be achieved at or near room temperature, it could lead to a wide array of technological innovations. Once set in motion, an electrical current in a closed loop could flow without resistance in near perpetual motion.

“We’re a long way off from creating room-temperature superconductors, but this does open a new path to investigate,” van Veenendaal said. “Growing these layered structures is already a technical feat unto itself.”

He added that the research points to the success of the joint NIU and Argonne theory program.

In 2002, NIU President John Peters and then-Argonne Director Hermann Grunder signed a memorandum of understanding leading to the creation of an alliance between the two institutions to carry out basic research in nanoscience. The agreement established a long-term research program that includes four joint appointments, of which three are in theory. At the APS, the Theory Group collaborates with experimental groups at several beam lines.

“This clearly demonstrates the advantages of joint programs which benefit Argonne, NIU and other universities,” van Veenendaal said. “Without this joint program, there would be no theory support at the Advanced Photon Source.”

NIU study finds soy milk as effective
as skim milk in promoting weight loss

Soy milk is as effective as skim milk in promoting weight loss, according to an NIU study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

That’s good news for healthy-minded people with casein allergies or lactose intolerance who want the calcium and protein milk adds to a balanced diet.

Lead author Judith M. Lukaszuk, an assistant professor and the didactic program director in dietetics in the NIU School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, said the findings also should please vegans and others striving to avoid growth hormones and pesticides found in non-organic milk.

Paul Luebbers, an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Emporia State University, and Beth A. Gordon, a registered dietitian at Kindred Hospital in Sycamore, are co-authors. Luebbers is a former member of the faculty in NIU’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education; Gordon was an FCNS graduate student at the time of the study.

The work was funded by the Office of the President and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies at NIU. The School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences is part of the NIU College of Health and Human Sciences.

Lukaszuk conducted the research – the first study of its kind – in the summer of 2006 in response to a well-publicized encouragement to “drink three cups of milk a day (to) watch your pounds melt away.”

“I wondered, ‘Is it the milk protein, or any source of protein which is fortified with calcium?’ The only difference between skim milk and soy milk is the whey,” Lukaszuk said.

Fourteen healthy, premenopausal women between the ages of 18 and 45 who were overweight or obese participated in the eight-week study after seeing flyers posted on campus. Four other women dropped out either for scheduling problems or allergies.

Participants were randomly assigned to 24 ounces of light soy milk or an equivalent amount of skim milk. At the study’s inception, there were no statistical differences in demographics or daily intake of calcium and vitamin D between the subjects.

Everyone followed a lower-calorie diet (500 calories less than what they expended per day), avoided other sources of dairy or soy such as cheese or tofu and maintained whatever level of exercise they had before starting the study.

The soy milk definitely has a different taste than cow’s milk, Lukaszuk said, but the participants had no complaints.

Lukaszuk met weekly with the participants to provide them with complimentary skim and soy milk and to measure their fat mass, muscle mass and total body weight on a Tanita scale as well as to measure their abdominal waist circumference. Research assistants collected their three-day food records (two weekdays and one weekend day) as well as their exercise logs and counseled and encouraged individuals to continue compliance with their set calorie restriction.

Both groups also received the same level of encouragement from Lukaszuk, a registered dietitian.

Afterward, both groups lost equivalent amounts of weight and lowered total body fat percentage and abdominal circumference. In other words, one can consume 24 ounces of either skim milk or light soy milk daily to optimize the weight-loss effects of calcium.

“They all were so thrilled. One woman was pre-hypertensive when she came in to the study,” Lukaszuk said. “She lost 15 pounds and 8 inches off her waist on the soy milk.”

The two vegans have continued to drink the light soy milk, she added.

“Soy is a great source of protein for people who don’t eat meat,” she said, “and soy milk, if fortified, is a great source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12.”

Lukaszuk hopes to expand the study in the future with a larger sample of participants and continue it for a longer duration.

Minor to promote student-professor
connections during PTP seminar

Carole Minor was working on her doctorate at the University of Maryland when a column in the student newspaper caught her attention.

As the author complained about his professors of criminology, Minor saw beyond the criticism to recognize the theoretical implications of the student’s comments.

“What he said was, ‘The professors won’t give us the right answers. They present us with all these different kinds of theories, but they won’t tell us which one is right,’ ” Minor says.

“It was an illustration of dualism in the classroom and on campus. The student wanted the right and wrong answers, and he wanted the authority – the instructor – to give him the answers,” she adds. “The instructors were operating at a different level. They weren’t really connecting with the students.”

Minor believes a familiarity with late Harvard professor William G. Perry’s theory of intellectual and ethical development and teaching methods associated with it would have bridged that gap. The Distinguished Teaching Professor from the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education has employed that thinking in NIU classrooms since her arrival in 1981.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, she will share Perry’s ideas and their implications for developmental instruction in “Connecting with Students in the Classroom: Enhancing Cognitive Development,” a Presidential Teaching Seminar in Graham Hall 420.

The seminar is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m. All are invited. Call (815) 753-1085 for more information.

“We want the people who receive the Presidential Teaching Professorships to share their experiences with other faculty. These people have been identified as our most outstanding teachers, and we’re always looking for how we can improve our teaching and our engagement with students,” says Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver. “My experience with the seminars is that I always learn something valuable and interesting that I can incorporate into my own teaching.”

Those who attend Minor’s seminar will come away with a better grasp of how to communicate with students by recognizing and understanding the level of students’ intellectual development, the professor says.

Perry defined nine “positions” that can be collapsed into four “super positions,” including dualism, multiplicity, relativism and commitment within relativism.

The first, of course, is the Maryland student’s level: Black and white. Right and wrong. The instructor knows the two sides and should supply that information.

At the second level, students begin to accept that conflicting perspectives are legitimate, but only on the way to discovering “the truth.” In the third, they are ready to compare and relate ideas and put them into context. In the fourth, they recognize that context is important in understanding thoughts and theories but that they must make a choice of which to commit themselves.

“The theory suggests that students can only understand one position higher than where they are,” Minor says.

At the same time, she says, research has identified four variables that professors and teachers must consider in creating a positive learning environment: personalism, vicarious vs. direct learning experiences, structure and diversity of thought, which includes “learning about different ideas that you didn’t know about before, such as other cultures and religions.”

“You use those four variables to both support the students where they are and to challenge them to move beyond,” she says. “To increase their development, they have to have support and challenge. Too much support makes them stagnant. Too much challenge is overwhelming. You have to achieve a good balance.”

Amy Levin leading national discussion
on the discipline of women’s studies

NIU’s Amy Levin will lead a National Women’s Studies Association audio conference for the purpose of discussing her new report on the discipline of women’s studies at universities across the country.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the audio conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Room 305 of the Holmes Student Center.

Levin is director of the NIU Women’s Studies Program and former chair of the NWSA strategic planning committee. She performed the assessment – the first of its kind since the mid-1990s – at the request of the organization’s executive director.

The report, titled “Questions for a New Century: Women’s Studies and Integrated Learning,” is available online.

“I examined what students are learning in women’s studies courses and programs and identified common elements of programs throughout the country,” Levin says.

“The report also poses new questions for women’s studies practitioners to consider in the next decade,” she adds. “For instance, what’s the relationship between women’s studies and learning in science, technology and mathematics? And how can women’s studies be involved in promoting digital literacy among women?”

Levin says her research turned up several surprises.

“The general belief has been that programs such as women’s studies are expensive for universities to run because they’re small,” Levin says. “In fact, I found that because women’s studies programs now offer large general education courses that serve the entire university, often their credit-hour costs are very low.”

Levin also found that women’s studies courses and programs already are accomplishing many of the goals that large national associations are recommending, such as connected and real-world learning.

She suggests in the report that students should play a larger role in assessments of women’s studies programs to teach them critical assessment and evaluation skills required in the workplace. “When I teach feminist research methods, I have students design the course evaluation themselves,” Levin says. “That in itself is a research method.”

Major contributors to the field of women’s studies will be among the participants in this week’s audio conference. They include:

  • Caryn McTighe Musil, vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Global Initiatives for the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall, founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College
  • Kristine Blair, chair of the Department of English at Bowling Green State University and co-editor of the book, “Feminist Cyberscapes: Mapping Gendered Academic Spaces.”

GPS-powered system enables students
to track Huskie Buses, reduce wait time

NIU students now can easily track the near-real-time location, speed and direction of Huskie Buses.

Research scientists Phil Young and Rick Schwantes in the Department of Geography’s Advanced Geospatial Laboratory, working in collaboration with the Student Association and Huskie Bus Line, recently launched the new Huskie Tracks system. It utilizes a Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the movement of the buses along their routes.

Huskie Tracks can be accessed online at via a personal computer, the Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch. It also is expected to work on some Web-based cellular phones equipped with a browser and Windows CE operating system.

Students also can keep tabs on bus locations along each of seven routes using any one of three 50-inch monitors located on campus, two in the Holmes Student Center (near the Coffee Corner and Subway) and a third at DuSable Hall.

Young said the hope is to eventually install monitors at other locations on campus, including residence halls, and expand the system to include Late Night Ride services and FreedomMobile, a service for persons with disabilities.

“Our primary intent was to help students reduce their wait time at the bus stops,” Young said. “We think it will be especially useful during cold, rainy or snowy weather, when students don’t want to wait longer periods for the bus. This tool will help them arrive right before the bus arrives, or will alert them if they’ve just missed the bus.”

The Huskie Bus Line provides a free service to all active NIU students with a valid NIU OneCard. It also serves members of the general public, who pay 75 cents per ride.

Bus routes serve the main NIU campus, including classroom buildings, parking lots, offices and residence halls as well as routes heading off campus to local apartments, shopping centers and food establishments. One route serves the Sycamore shopping areas as well.

“We’re hoping as this system is used more that some of the bus-monitoring screens will be placed out at shopping destinations, such as Wal-Mart or Target, so students know exactly when the buses are coming,” Young said.

All of the Huskie Buses are equipped with transponders, which emit signals to the tracking system every 30 seconds. The Huskie Tracks Web site is automatically updated every 15 seconds. 

The NIU Student Association manages the Huskie Bus Line, owned by Veolia Transportation.

“I’m exceedingly pleased with the results I’ve seen,” said Brent Keller, director of mass transit for the NIU Student Association. “So far, the system has been used moderately by students, but we’re hoping usage will increase as time goes by and more students learn about it.”

The Student Association spent $19,500 on the system, taking advantage of in-house expertise at NIU. Huskie Tracks is an extension of the NIU Virtual Campus Web Map system launched in 2005.

Huskie Bus Line General Manager Al Davis said complaints about late buses have gone down since the Huskie Tracks system launched in late September.

“I can only assume students are using Huskie Tracks because there has been a change in number of calls we get asking where a bus is at,” Davis said. “There also seems to be a lot less congestion on the buses. At certain times, everyone used to try to jam on one bus, which would slow down our drivers. That’s not so much of an issue this year. Riders can see when another bus is coming.”

NIU basks in bright lights of Hollywood

University contributions cited when credits roll on new film

The NIU students who worked on the Anthony Hopkins independent film project last year have all graduated, but they are still earning extra credit of sorts.

The former students, their professor and Northern Illinois University are listed among the credits for “Slipstream,” a movie directed by and starring Hopkins. Michael Gentile and Becca Berry – two of the NIU alums who worked as interns – also appear in the movie as extras.

In the summer of 2006, Communication Professor Laura Vazquez took six of her top students to Hollywood, where they worked as interns on the movie set. Last week, Vazquez and a group of her current students attended a screening of “Slipstream” during the 43rd Chicago International Film Festival. Gentile and Berry also were among the audience members at the Music Box Theatre.

“I was so amazed by the whole thing,” Vazquez said. “I never saw the finished movie, and for me it was like reliving the five weeks we spent working on the movie sets in California. It was a great experience to see Hopkins arrive in a limousine and walk the red carpet. It was the end of the cycle. We were able to see the fruits of our labors.”

Four of the six students who worked on the film are now working in the film industry in Los Angeles. Gentile is working as a technical support specialist in the NIU Department of Communication.

NIU Department of Communication alumnus Robert Katz, co-producer of “Slipstream,” also was at the Chicago screening. He worked with Vazquez to develop the course for NIU students. A veteran Hollywood producer, Katz’s film credits also include “Seabiscuit,” “One Hour Photo” and “Crash,” winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Picture.

Katz provided tickets to the screening for 15 of Vazquez’s current students and met with them afterward to discuss the film.

“It was my first red-carpet experience, and it was great to see a real celebrity (Hopkins) just 10 feet away from you,” said senior Joe Giorgi, who is taking a short-video production course taught by Vazquez. “It was awe-inspiring, to say the least.”

Internship gives aspiring doctor of audiology
career confirmation, comforting shoulder

During a weeklong summer internship at the Illinois School for the Deaf, it was the eyes of NIU doctoral student Shawna Jackson that were opened.

Jackson, who will graduate from the College of Health and Human Sciences in the spring of 2009 as a doctor of audiology, served as the first-ever (and only) audiology intern during the school’s Institute for Parents of Preschool Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Parents with children ages birth to 3 who recently were diagnosed with severe or profound hearing loss come to learn about the new lives they must lead while their children receive complete multi-disciplinary diagnostics.

Jackson conducted hearing tests on the children, met with parents and attended and assisted at evening seminars.

She saw that her chosen profession deals with much more than ears: It requires good counseling skills. Many of the parents are working their way through the stages of grief, coping with denial, anger, bargaining and depression on their way to acceptance. Most are confused. Some blame themselves. They all need education and moral support.

“The emotionality of a child’s diagnosis with severe to profound hearing impairment is itself profound,” says Danica Billingsly, audiology clinical faculty member with NIU’s School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders. “We hold a lot of expectations of what life will be like with a new child, and most of those expectations presume that we’re able to communicate orally with our children. Discovering a hearing loss that will significantly impact communication is shocking.”

Jackson also realized that pediatric audiologists are desperately needed – and that she truly loves the comforting-shoulder aspect of the job.

“I’ve always wanted to work with kids. Now I know I love working with parents,” Jackson says. “It really reinforced to me the need to work with parents – to be someone who sits down to answer their questions and calm their fears. They really told us about their complaints and their problems. They were so new to the idea of deafness and hearing loss.”

A variety of professionals from across Illinois, some of them the heads of state agencies, attend the institute in Jacksonville. Teams include audiologists, deafness educators, ear-nose-throat doctors, early intervention specialists, parent educators, psychologists, social workers and speech therapists.

The families, meanwhile, came from various economic and cultural backgrounds. The institute has no criteria for income.

Jackson hails from near Omaha, Neb. It’s the home of Boys Town, America’s largest privately funded organization serving severely at-risk, abused, abandoned and neglected children. Boys Town National Research Hospital provides research programs focusing on childhood deafness, visual impairment and related communication disorders.

She also grew up with plenty of siblings, she says, “and incorporating an entire family has always been impressed on me.”

“Most of the parents said there are just not enough audiologists who specialize in children. I heard it over and over,” she says. “Some of it was challenging. There were parents who were angry. We talked with parents who were crying. You have to have empathy, not sympathy.”

Jackson, who earned her bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from Truman State University, says the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders provides “a stellar clinical experience” through its hearing clinical facilities.

The experience offered in pediatric audiology “sets our college apart,” she adds.

“NIU has a strong program in pediatrics, from newborn hearing screenings at the hospital to follow-up diagnostics and rehabilitation,” Billingsly says.

“Shawna got a first-person, hands-on experience with a deeper level of counseling than we’re typically able to see during our appointments at the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. She was able to see parents working through that from start to finish in some cases,” she adds. “Shawna is energetic in everything she does, and she came back from the internship completely energized – and very confirmed in her choice of career and in her choice of direction.”

NIU research associate to be featured again
on upcoming special episode of ‘Dirty Jobs’

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe is rolling out the “stinky carpet” for NIU research associate Kristin Stanford.

Many might recall that Stanford’s work was featured a year ago on Discovery Channel’s popular “Dirty Jobs” program. As part of her work toward a Ph.D. in biology at NIU, Stanford lives in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, serving as recovery plan coordinator for the endangered Lake Erie Water Snake – a dirty, smelly creature that has a tendency to bite.

In fact, millions of Discovery Channel viewers watched as one of the snakes took a chomp out of Rowe when he stepped into Stanford’s work boots for a day.

Viewers later voted the episode among their all-time favorites. And Stanford was invited to San Francisco for taping of the program’s “150th Dirty Job Extravaganza,” which will air at 8 p.m. (Central Standard Time) Tuesday on Discovery Channel.

The program also will be re-broadcast several times during the week.

While the nature of her job makes for good prime-time TV, Stanford’s work is really all about conservation. She has worked in Put-in-Bay for eight years under the tutelage of NIU Biology Professor Rich King, who began monitoring the snake population more than 25 years ago.

Over the years, more than a dozen NIU students have worked with King, and their research ultimately contributed to a decision in 1999 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the snake as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Since that time, King’s work has been supported by more than $600,000 in grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. And the recovery efforts are making astounding gains.

By King’s estimates, the snake population has grown from as few as 1,000 in the early 1980s to 7,000 today.

“The ‘Dirty Jobs’ episode was a great way to have some fun while casting the snake in a more positive light,” King says. “Outreach and education have been key components of the Lake Erie Water Snake recovery. It’s important to create an open attitude toward organisms that aren’t necessarily popular or warm and fuzzy.”

Provost’s Office unveils new online publication

“The Multiculturalist,” a new online publicaton of the Office of the Provost, is availalbe online.

Published twice yearly, “The Multiculturalist” welcomes submissions of multicultural methodology or success story to editor-in-chief Donna Askins. Interviews can be arranged. For all questions related to the Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, contact or call (815) 753.8557.

National Chemistry Week boasts night of demonstrations

NIU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry invites the public to celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Chemistry Week (Oct. 21 to Oct. 27) with an evening of spectacular chemistry demonstrations.

The demonstrations will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Faraday Hall 143. This year’s theme of National Chemistry Week is “The Many Faces of Chemistry,” celebrating the diversity of the discipline and of its practitioners.

Featured experiments will include a demonstration of kinetics, showing how things burn explosively when particle sizes are very small. Another demonstration will illustrate how nitrate cellulose burns without residue. The evening will conclude with the ever-popular making of ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

Some of the experiments planned for the evening could involve loud noises and produce some smoke and/or unpleasant smells and might not be appropriate for small children.

To ensure the safety of the audience and the presenters, flash photography will not be permitted. For some experiments, members of the audience may be asked to move away from the demonstration area, again for safety precautions.

Parking will be available in the NIU Parking Deck.

What’s cooking at Ellington’s?

On the menu at Ellington’s this week: Fuego, a spicy infusion of international cuisine, is scheduled for Tuesday. California Grill takes over Thursday.

Fuego features spicy corn chowder and cayenne stuffed mushrooms for starters, vegetarian stuffed tomatoes and pork tenderloin medallions with apricot salsa for entrees and chocolate tort and mini fruit goblet for desserts.

California Grill features California chilled vegetable soup and panzanella for starters, roast salmon with lemon and herbs and campanelle pasta with mozzarella cheese for entrees and California gingered fruit salsa and flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze for desserts. Each table also will receive complimentary pita points with a red pepper hummus.

Seating is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with service until 1 p.m. The cost is $8 per person. Ellington’s is located on the main floor of the Holmes Student Center. Call (815) 753-1763 or visit to make reservations.

Business Enterprise Program to host MAFBE networking fair

NIU’s second annual Minority, Female and/or Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise Program Networking Fair is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Faculty and staff responsible for selecting and purchasing goods, supplies and services for NIU are encouraged to attend the free fair in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center. A buffet brunch will be served.

More than 60 business owners who are minority, female and/or persons with disabilities will exhibit their commodities, supplies and services. Some might provide a more competitive price for products and services than those currently purchased.

Procurement Services buyers also will attend to answer questions and provide assistance with NIU procurement processes.

NIU is committed to supporting the economic development of minority and diverse businesses. As part of the Business Enterprise Program, NIU has established a goal of increasing the level of procurement activity with MAFBE-certified business enterprises.

To register, e-mail the number of those attending from your department to

For more information on the fair, call Roselyn Snell at (815) 753-6038. For more information on NIU’s Business Enterprise Program, call Al Mueller at (815) 753-6045.

‘Depression Screening Day’ scheduled for Thursday

NIU’s Counseling and Student Development Center will host a “Depression Screening Day” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Holmes Student Center’s Lincoln Room. Students, faculty and staff are invited.

The goal is to raise awareness about depression, to share information about mental health resources and to help people who might not typically see a counselor. 

Those interested will complete a brief written survey, which will take about five minutes. After the survey, there will be a brief meeting with a counselor who will review the survey with the participant. The entire process is free and confidential.

Call (815) 753-1206 for more information.

PCSOGI invites campus to ‘Creating Community’

All members of the university community are invited to the Creating Community Fall Reception, sponsored by the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History Month.

The event with dessert reception takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, in the Gallery Lounge on the main floor of the Holmes Student Center.

Costumes are encouraged. Winners of the “Color It Queer!” coloring contest will be announced at 12:45 p.m.

Call (815) 753-LGBT (5428) for more information.

Art Museum to host speaker series
For School of Art Faculty Biennial

NIU’s Art Museum will host several faculty lectures in conjunction with the NIU School of Art Faculty Biennial exhibition, which runs from Tuesday, Oct. 30, through Saturday, Dec. 8. The public is invited to an opening reception from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The speaker series and exhibition gives the public an opportunity to share in the research, ideas and artwork of NIU School of Art faculty. All lectures will be held at 5 p.m. in Altgeld Hall 315 unless otherwise noted. 

  • Thursday, Nov. 1: “Hybrid Journeys: Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, London, Tokyo” by Michael Salmond.
  • Monday, Nov. 5: Christine LoFaso and other faculty will give informal gallery talks on studio practice from 6 to 9 p.m. in the museum galleries on the first floor, west end, of Altgeld Hall.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 6: “Life as an Artist and Designer” by Harry Wirth.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7: “Hot Rocks and Cool Blocks” by Nina Rizzo.
  • Thursday, Nov. 8: “Twin Tollans: Some New Interpretations of the Relationship between Chichen Itza, Tula and Greater Mesoamerica during the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Periods” by Jeff Kowalski.
  • Thursday, Nov. 15: “The Other Emerald Buddha Temple: Interpreting the Architectural History of the Ho Phrakeo Museum in Vientiane, Laos, and the Iconography of Its Superb Collection” by Catherine Raymond.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 20: “Sacred Transitions” by Cynthia Hellyer-Heinz.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 27: “National/International Consciousness in Japan: Self, Place, and Society During the Nineteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries” by Helen Nagata.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall. The galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.

Exhibitions are free; donations are appreciated. The exhibitions of the NIU Art Museum are funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum, and the Arts Fund 21.

For more information, visit or call (815) 753-1936.

University Women’s Club to hold fall potluck dinner

The University’s Women's Club will host its second annual potluck dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in the American National Bank Community Room, 1985 DeKalb Avenue, in Sycamore. The event is free, but attendees are asked to bring a dish to pass.

The University Women’s Club is open to all women associated with the university: current or retired faculty or staff member, or wife of a current, retired or deceased faculty or staff member.

The club offers social and cultural events as well as fundraising opportunities to support scholarships to deserving NIU women students.

Call Dorothy Razniewski at (815) 895-8046 by Thursday, Oct. 18, to RSVP for the potluck dinner.

Specialist in science education to lecture on professional identity

April Lynn Luehmann, a professor at the University of Rochester and specialist in science education, will visit NIU to present a public lecture titled, “Nurturing the Development of a Professional Identity.”

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center.

Luehmann teaches in the science teacher preparation and doctoral programs at the University of Rochester. She completed graduate degrees in science education and industrial and operations engineering, and previously taught mathematics and science to secondary school students in Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.

Luehmann also instructed science and math teachers in the Chicago Public Schools in a special professional development initiative at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and she served on the Board of Trustees for Girls, Inc., a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

Luehmann joined the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester in 2002.

Her research focuses on the use of new media literacies to support the work and development of secondary science teachers, learning in rich out-of-school contexts to complement classroom-based learning for both science students and teachers, and the development of innovative teacher education programs. She also has designed and worked with graduate students to teach science summer camps and school-year programs to develop or capitalize on girls’ interest in science.

The colloquium is presented by the STEM Education Research Group and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.

Unity in Diversity seeks theme

NIU’s Unity in Diversity Steering Committee selects a theme each year that is used during the following academic year to promote diversity awareness on campus. The theme must be 10 words or less and reflect the idea of Unity in Diversity.

Applicants (faculty, staff and students) may submit more than one entry; forms are available in Campus Life 150. Themes must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, to Angela Dreessen, Student Involvement and Leadership Development, Campus Life 150. Entries will be judged by UID Steering Committee.

The winner receives a $100 prize, which may be subject to taxes.

The winning theme will be used in the design of the Unity in Diversity poster, which will be professionally printed and distributed throughout campus, and will also be framed and mounted as part of the permanent UID poster collection display in the Holmes Student Center. The theme contest winner will be recognized at the Unity in Diversity Award Ceremony.

Examples of past winning themes include “Experience the University through Unity in Diversity,” “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Differences that Make us One” and “Unlocking Doors, Opening Minds, Conquering Our Fears.”

Faculty Development invites proposals for SPS grants

NIU’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and Human Resource Services are offering grants up to $1,000 each to Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) pursuing professional development activities that benefit the individuals as well as their academic units.

Proposal guidelines and other information are available at Five copies of each proposal, including other relevant documents, must be submitted to the SPS Awards Committee, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, 319 Adams Hall, by Friday, Nov. 16, for activities proposed between Jan. 1 and June 2008.

SPS who plan to submit a proposal by the Nov. 16 deadline and need more information are encouraged to register to attend the grant writing seminar from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. Register online at or e-mail to

Financial system to go offline
for required maintenance, updates

NIU’s financial system for accounting, asset management, budgets, commercial receivables, procurement and receiving will be down Friday, Oct. 26, through Monday, Oct. 29, for the application of required maintenance and tax and regulatory updates.

Central Office staff will not be able to complete data entry, and checks, purchase orders and commercial invoices will not be produced during the shutdown. The shutdown also applies to the NIU Foundation.

Campus financial queries will be unavailable beginning at noon Friday, Oct. 26, but will be available when the system is restored.

Access to distributed financial, budgetary and increment reports should be unaffected by the shutdown.

Normal operations should resume Tuesday, Oct. 30.