Valia Allori

Professor, Department of Philosophy

Valia Allori

What year did you start working at NIU? 

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
I was born in Milano, Italy; now I live in Naperville, Illinois.

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I have an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Milano, a Ph.D. in physics from University of Genova, and another Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers University.

In which department(s) do you teach?

What do you like about working at NIU? 
I like that there is such a diverse student population, with many international students and students at large. I find older students and student workers particularly stimulating and eager to taken on philosophical problems. The graduate students in our department also deserve a mention for being so hard-working, dedicated and smart!

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
I would tell them to listen to others. Be open to new possibilities and new perspectives. At the same time, be critical of what you hear. Never trust authority just because it is the authority; think for yourself.

Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
I am working on the connection between physics and philosophy. One of the questions I am interested in is: How can counterintuitive theories such as quantum mechanics tell us anything about the world around us?

What do you hope students take away from your class?
I would like them to be less dogmatic and more open-minded, and to start doubting beliefs that they took for granted when they originally enrolled in the class. Critical thinkers are the best problem-solvers: You see the solution others cannot see if you can think differently.

What is your favorite campus event?
I like Homecoming.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I remember one winter it was so cold that all the trees on campus transformed into giant icicles that generated thousands of little rainbows. It was kind of magical.

Who has influenced your professional path?
The biggest influence on me was my high school philosophy teacher. She taught me to be curious and not to be afraid of what you do not know.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
Before going to high school, I wanted to be a graphic novel author and illustrator. I love to draw and to express myself with images. But later I came to think that if I did that as a job, I would not enjoy drawing anymore. Also, beginning the third year of high school, I started reading philosophy and I could not stop asking questions after that. I started asking questions about the world, which led me to study physics. Then, after taking quantum theory, I started questioning physics itself. And this led me to philosophy.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I am an active member of various professional societies and associations, such as the PSA (Philosophy of Science Association), the APA (American Philosophical Association) and the SILFS (Italian Society for Logic and Philosophy of Science). These organizations for philosophers promote exchanges among faculty and students both about teaching and research by organizing conferences and workshops. Participating in these kinds of activities helps expose our research to professional peers.

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am involved in the activities at the school district where my kids are enrolled.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I like to travel, read, play with my kids and go to the movies.

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