Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Leadership lived: Student gives back through volunteer work

When Marissa Farris was a junior in high school an admissions counselor from the University of Illinois Springfield paid her a visit. She loved what she heard and soon planned a trip to campus. Before long she was in love.

“From the start and I knew UIS was going to be the place for me for the next four years and that’s exactly what’s happening,” she said.

Three years later, Farris is now a business administration major at UIS. She’s president of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity, vice chair for finance and co-sponsorship for the Student Activities Committee, co-president of the Young Professional Marketers Association and mentors students in the Capital Scholars Honors Program.

On campus, she regularly volunteers with Alpha Phi Omega to clean up trash along 11th Street. She also gives back with the Leadership for Life Service Organization, helping to create fire prevention kits for the Red Cross and building a Habitat for Humanity home.

“It just makes me feel good,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m making a difference, being a better person because I’m fortunate enough to never really have to worry about a lot of stuff in my life.”

Farris credits UIS for helping her prepare for her future.

“UIS has just given me the opportunity to get involved with a lot of student organizations,” she said. “I’ve been able to take on leadership roles and executive board roles at an early time in my college career, even as a sophomore.”

Following graduation, she plans move back to her hometown of Roxana, Illinois and open her own small retail business.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Hannah Cave honored with Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Hannah Cave has been honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Cave, a Rochelle, Ill. native, is majoring in Global Studies at UIS with a teaching certification. She holds a 3.85 GPA while balancing a number of campus responsibilities, including being a resident assistant and serving as the student representative to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees during the 2014-15 academic year.

Her future plans include seeking a position as a high school social studies teacher, while pursuing a master’s degree, and eventually become a student affairs professional.

“I have always loved learning and want to continue doing so,” said Cave, who has made the Dean’s List for the past three and a half years.

Despite having “scarce” financial resources growing up, Cave said “The thought of not attending college never crossed my mind.” She lives by the motto, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Because of her love of learning, Cave said she choosing a major was a difficult process.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher, but my aspiration for traveling has kept me looking for more, hence my Global Studies major.” While attending UIS, Cave got the chance to study abroad in Finland last summer.

“With this plan, I will be able to continue to be a lifelong learner, while helping hundreds of others along the way,” she said.

Cave is involved on campus with the Capital Scholars Honors Program and intramural sports and has previously held positions on the Student Government Association.

In the community she is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Red Cross, the American Lung Association and Making the Grade, where she serves as a role model to high school students.

“I have had an amazing time at UIS developing my leadership skills and growing as a person and a scholar,” said Cave. “My commitment to UIS is something that will never end as this is where I found my home, honed my skills, met lifelong friends and found myself,” she said.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

Friday, November 06, 2015

UIS honors three alumni for achievement, service and humanitarian work

The University of Illinois Springfield honored the significant contributions of Wenguang Huang, Tim Randolph and Delinda Chapman during the university’s annual Alumni Gala on Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

The Alumni Achievement Award was given to Wenguang Huang, who earned a master’s degree in Political Affairs Reporting in 1991. Huang is considered the first international student to have enrolled in the program. Today, Huang is a writer, journalist and translator whose articles and translations have appeared in publications, such as The Wall Street Journal Asia, Chicago Tribune and The Christian Science Monitor.

Through his writing and personal experience, Huang is helping the West understand China’s complex society and the strict traditions embedded in it, which often lead to conflict, misunderstanding or even persecution.

Huang currently resides in the Chicago area and works for the University of Chicago. He has served as staff writer for the New York Times Beijing bureau, manager of media relations for Rotary International and speechwriter for the CEO of AON Corporation. He is best known for translating into English the books of noted Chinese dissident Liou Yiwu.

Huang’s own memoir, The Little Red Guard, was released in 2012. He also co-authored the book A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China.

Tim Randolph was honored with the Alumni Humanitarian Award for significant contributions of leadership or service to improve the lives of others and the welfare of humanity.

Randolph received a bachelor’s degree in medical technology 1983. He is a tenured associate professor and chairman of the department of Biomedical Laboratory Science, Doisy College of Health Sciences, at Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center. He is also founder and President of Randolph World Ministries, Inc., a medical mission ministry that establishes and develops medical services in existing clinics in Haiti.

Randolph World Ministries provides a full range of medical services to over 20 Haitian clinics by offering training, materials, consultation, and personal visits to each facility; conducting mobile clinics in remote areas of Haiti where healthcare is unavailable; developing and implementing small business start-up companies to elevate individual families and grow a local economy; providing emergency relief following natural disasters and other types of urgent needs.

Prior to his work with Randolph World Ministries, Randolph was employed as a medical technologist at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. While earning his doctorate degree from Warnborough University, he developed a new diagnostic test for sickle cell anemia to be used in developing countries – a test which earned a U.S. patent.

The Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois was awarded to Delinda Chapman. She earned a master’s degree in educational administration in 1974 and went on to earn a Doctorate of Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chapman, retired in 2003 as Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services after serving more than 20 years in state government and agencies which provide services to women and children. Prior to that, she spent much of her professional career in education, successively serving as a teacher, principal and superintendent.

Chapman has also served as a volunteer leader at UIS, having served six years on the UIS Campus Alumni Advisory Board, and was a member of the National Commission on the Future of UIS. She is also a former member of the UIS Education Advisory Board and has frequently donated her time, talent and expertise to many efforts at the University, such as being a guest speaker for the annual scholarship luncheon.

She has also volunteered as on air alumni talent for WUIS fundraisers. Her leadership throughout the community has raised the visibility and profile of the University and of higher education.

For more information on the awards, contact Chuck Schrage, association chancellor for alumni relations at 217/206-7395 or

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

UIS professors help contribute to new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

Michael Lemke, professor of biology at the University of Illinois Springfield, has helped to construct a new exhibit that will soon go on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He was assisted by Keenan Dungey, UIS associate professor of Chemistry, who helped build prototypes on the Springfield campus.

The exhibit, “The Secret World Inside You”, explores the rapidly evolving science that is revolutionizing how we view human health. It will open to the public on November 7, 2015 and end on August 14, 2016.

According to the museum, the exhibit will explore the human microbiome. Our bodies are home to many trillions of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other organisms. In any human, microbial genes outnumber the genes in human DNA by more than 100 to one. This new perspective leads us to look at our bodies not just as individuals but as entire ecosystems.

“Our work for the exhibit draws a comparison between the human microbiome of the digestive tract and microbial ecosystems in soil” said Lemke. “This can be demonstrated in a column of soil and microbes called a Winogradsky column.”

Lemke’s work with the New York scientists on the Winogradsky columns started as a teaching activity in 1999, led to a publication in a teaching journal, then to a time lapse video (published online) and finally to an invite in May to help with the exhibit.

“The challenge for us was to scale up these microbial columns to the size wanted by the museum,” said Dungey. “Few people have tried to make Winogradsky columns that were 6 feet tall, so we had to figure out how the chemical gradients would affect the microbial growth.”

Investigating the human microbiome is a very young science, and researchers are just beginning to understand what constitutes a “normal” microbiome, how it changes over time, and how it affects health and disease. But what is clear is that the effects of the microbiome on its human host are profound and multifaceted—and could play an important role in common health problems like allergies, asthma, obesity, and even anxiety and depression.

“The Secret World Inside You” will take visitors on a tour of the human body, making stops at places where microbes thrive: your skin—which, covering about 20 square feet, is your largest organ—and your mouth and your gastrointestinal tract, which is home to your body’s densest and most diverse microbial community, among others.

How do your interactions with microbes—from the type of environment where you grew up to the number of times you have taken an antibiotic, which destroys both bad and good bacteria—influence your health? In what ways can your microbiome be said to be its own organ? And is it possible that the state of the bacteria in your gut plays a role in your mental health?

“The Secret World Inside You” will explore these intriguing questions and more with interactive activities, videos, and a live theater where a presenter will show visitors how scientists are navigating this exciting new field of research.

This project is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).