Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Leadership lived: International student helps improve UIS’ web presence

Graduate computer science major Bhavyanshu Parasher says he chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of its outstanding cyber security courses.

At UIS, Parasher works as a student web associate for the UIS Office of Web Services, is vice president of the UIS Computer Science Club and recently helped to redesign the UIS Computer Science Department website.

“UIS has provided me with a lot of opportunities to grow as a full-stack engineer,” he said. “It has certainly prepared me for the professional field and the projects I’ve worked on at UIS will certainly help me stand out in the job market.”

One of the projects he recently worked on for UIS Web Services was developing the skill that allows Amazon’s Alexa, an intelligent personal assistant, to answer questions about UIS. Alexa can now answer admissions questions or tell you today’s lunch menu.

As part of the Computer Science Club, Parasher recently finished in the top one percent of competitors in the United States in the National Cyber League (NCL) competitions. He finished 37th against more than 2,400 competitors. The UIS team finished 18th out of 182 teams nationally.

“There was log analysis, there was network security analysis. Basically, we just had to go in and solve a number of challenges that were given to us,” said Parasher.

Parasher, a native of Gurgaon, Haryana, India, says he feels that he made the right decision in attending the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I would recommend to students that they go and look at the cyber security-related courses that are offered at UIS,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Parasher plans to begin his career as a full-stack engineer, someone who works on both the front-end and back-end of developing applications.

“My experience at UIS has been amazing and it has offered me a lot of opportunities to grow in my field,” he said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Leadership lived: Psychology major becomes student leader at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield senior psychology major Danielle Gibbs admits that she’s a “very busy person.” She is actively involved with several student organizations on campus and works for UIS Campus Recreation at The Recreation and Athletic Center (TRAC).

In her role at TRAC, she is a facility lead. She supervises student shifts, helps plans special events, such as the Prairie Star 5K, and works with students, faculty and staff to help improve their health and overall experience at TRAC.

“On a day-to-day basis, I do a lot of one-on-one giving information to people, whether it be fitness or health related,” she said. “I also do a lot of advertising for the health-related and fitness-related events that we host.”

At UIS, Gibbs is the secretary, historian and a founding member of the Chi Chapter of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc. She is also the chapter founder of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and a member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology and the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program. She is a Student Employee Leadership Program book study coordinator and a member of the Student Affairs Leadership Program.

“I’m very engaged on campus and I think that’s done a lot for me. It’s been a very positive aspect of my life and I like to see others realized that and take part in that.”

Gibbs did not anticipated joining a sorority when she came to UIS, however she says becoming a member of Gamma Phi Omega has been one of the best decisions she has made.

“Being a part of Gamma Phi Omega has taught me a multitude of different things,” she said. “I’ve gained so much that I never thought I’d be able to gain from here, especially in this tight-knit community that Greek Life on this campus presents.”

Gibbs says she’s learned many lessons about leadership from her involvement at UIS.

“I’ve learned to work with so many different people,” she said. “I’ve learned really who I’m able to be. That’s helped me branch out, that’s helped me be comfortable in any type of situation.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to earn her master’s degree in child life and become certified as a child life specialist, who works with children in the hospital.

“UIS has been a home away from home for me,” she said. “On this small campus, I can stand out and being involved like I am, I’m able to do that and I’m able to make a big difference in what I do here.”

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Leadership lived: Business Administration major wins award for overall excellence

As Regina Bolin puts it, “you don’t always have to be the loudest person in the room” to be a leader. Bolin, a senior business administration major at the University of Illinois Springfield, has often played the role of a behind the scenes leader, however now she’s in the spotlight.

Bolin was recently honored for her overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities when she was presented with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. She was the only student at UIS who received the award, which was presented by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol.

“It’s really cool to be here and be able to get this award because there are so many people who could have gotten it at the University of Illinois Springfield,” she said. “I just feel so honored that my achievements have been recognized. It’s awesome.”

Bolin is vice president of the Alternative Spring Break student organization, a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is also on a marketing committee that gives UIS student feedback about social media and advertising.

However, she’s spent most of her time on campus as a student-athlete. Bolin played for the UIS Prairie Stars Women’s Soccer team for four years, being named to the Athletics Academic Honor Roll three times.

“I loved everyone that I got to play with and just being able to have a role on a team and getting to continue playing the sport that I loved is awesome,” she said.

Bolin, a Kansas City, Missouri native, has participating in the past three Alternative Spring Break trips, starting with New York City in 2016 where she helped feed the homeless. This year, she’s planning to go to Texas with the group to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

“Leadership is what you make out of it,” she said. “There’s always opportunities to be a leader and I think anyone could be a leader and it just depends how much effort you put into it.”

Following graduation, Bolin plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the business marketing field. She looks back at her experience at UIS with fond memories.

“I’ve met a lot of great people, I’ve been able to learn a lot while I’ve been there too,” she said. “There’s just a lot of opportunities at UIS that I’ve been glad to be a part of and I think the school has been a really good fit for me.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

UIS students earn first place category win during National Cyber League competitions

University of Illinois Springfield Computer Science and Information Systems Security majors earned a first place win the Log Analysis category and finished in the top 10 percent of teams nationwide during the annual National Cyber League (NCL) competitions.

During the regular season, several UIS students ranked highly in the national challenge where they faced more than 2,400 competitors. Steve Berryman of Louisville, Kentucky finished 31st and Bhavyanshu Parasher of Gurgaon, Haryana, India finished 37th placing them both in the top one percent of competitors in the United States.

Team captain Austin Bransky of Marengo, Illinois finished 79th and in the top three percent nationwide.

Overall, the UIS team finished 18th out of 182 teams nationally during the NCL’s postseason tournament. This is the second year that a UIS team has competed in the competition.

“This NCL Season was a huge success and there was improvement across the board for most of our returning members,” said team captain Austin Bransky. “It seems like the competition got a lot tougher compared to past years, which is great as it will force us to improve and innovate the way we compete both as individuals and as a team.”

The NCL was founded in May 2011 to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments.

The competition utilizes certified ethical hacker objectives, such as open source intelligence, traffic and log analysis and wireless security.

For more information, contact Brian-Thomas Rogers at 217/206-8165 or

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Leadership lived: Student makes service part of her life and future career

University of Illinois Springfield sophomore business administration and accountancy major Abbie Varble loves to give back to her community. She enjoys helping others who are in need and has made volunteering a big part of her life.

At UIS, Varble is co-president of the Habitat for Humanity Club, a resident assistant and member of the Leadership for Life Service Program. She is also a peer mentor for the Capital Scholars Honors Program, a member of the Christian Student Fellowship and plays in the UIS Concert Band.

“I have such a passion for service and doing things for other people, so Habitat and Leadership for Life are a way of showing that to my community,” she said. “Not only talking about it, but actually doing something. It’s just great. I love it.”

The Habitat for Humanity Club recently spent a Saturday volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County ReStore where they helped move donated items to the floor and sold items to the back, so people could pick them up.

“The ReStore is great because people donate items and when those donated items are sold, that money goes towards building a home for someone who can’t necessarily afford it,” she said. “It’s just a great mission that all comes together.”

Varble grew up in the small town of Marengo, Illinois. She says she chose UIS because she loved the environment and it felt like home.

“I think that being able to go to UIS, where it’s a small environment, you get to know everybody and I love that,” she said. “I love that community we can build with each other.”

Following graduation from UIS, she would like to become an accountant or executive director of a non-profit organization.

“UIS taught me that leadership is something you should not take for granted,” she said. “You have these amazing opportunities in such a small school, that you can reach out to somebody by doing something small. That makes a really big impact, a really big difference.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Leadership lived: Psychology major helps fellow students succeed in the classroom

University of Illinois Springfield psychology major Patricia Mubirigi is using her personal experience to help fellow students make better decisions when choosing classes.

Mubirigi started taking classes in nursing at a community college, but wasn’t finding the coursework rewarding. An academic adviser suggested she try psychology classes, which she loved. Mubirigi transferred to UIS and now wants to become a college academic adviser.

“I definitely see this as my future career,” she said. “With counseling and advising, that kind of goes hand-in-hand, having that background and being like, I know how you feel. I was in that same situation. I can help you.”

At UIS, Mubirigi is a peer adviser and intern for the Office of Advising Services, Information, and Support (OASIS). In that role, she holds peer advising workshops where she helps students pick the right classes for them and makes sure they’re on track towards graduation.

Mubirigi is also a member of the University Bible Fellowship and a peer educator for InQueery, where she speaks to students about combating homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism through innovative activities and workshops.

“UIS has been such a blessing to me with the mentorship program, me getting mentorship from other faculty and staff here at UIS, with me mentoring others, my peers,” she said. “That is a great thing to have on your resume when employers look for that.”

Mubirigi, who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, but is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, says she’s learned many lessons about leadership by being involved at UIS.

“You have to be your own leader, kind of take a hand in it,” she said. “Without you taking a hand in in, you can’t be a leader. Without you stepping out and being involved in something that’s uncomfortable or being in a group. You have to take ownership of that.”

Mubirigi says she’s glad she chose to transfer to UIS and encourages other students to attend the school. She says she enjoys the right-sized supportive community at UIS.

“It’s a small community, teachers appreciate who you are and get to know you. Not only do they get to know you, they know your name, they know your face, they know this is what this person wants to be,” she said. “UIS is a great place for growing in leadership.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

UIS online leader Vickie Cook named a 2017 Online Learning Consortium Fellow

Vickie Cook, executive director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield has been named to the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) 2017 class of fellows. She was recognized during the OLC Accelerate Conference in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 15-17.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Online Learning Consortium as a 2017 OLC Fellow,” said Cook. “This award represents recognition of my service to the field of online learning and commitment to excellence in online teaching and learning. I am also honored to be included among other UIS recipients who have received this award in past years including Karen Swan, Ray Schroeder and Burks Oakley.”

Recognition as an OLC Fellow is conferred by the OLC Board of Directors on those who have contributed to advancing quality, effectiveness and breadth in online and blended education in areas represented by the OLC Pillars: learning effectiveness, access, faculty and student satisfaction and scale.

"Members of the OLC community continually strive to develop and deliver quality digital learning experiences," said Kathleen S. Ives, D.M., CEO and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium. "This year's class of Fellows and award recipients represent extraordinary examples of the innovation happening in digital teaching and learning today.”

Cook has been actively engaged providing consulting and faculty development with educational leaders across the U.S. and in Mexico. Her work has been published in a variety of national educational publications. She worked as part of a team that authored the University Professionals & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Hallmarks of Excellence. She teaches online in the Teaching English as a Second Language concentration of the Masters of Arts in Education program at UIS.

Cook has served on several regional and national committees, as well as having been a long time member of Illinois Council on Continuing Higher Education (ICCHE) serving in multiple roles on the Executive Board; serves as a board member of UPCEA; serves as a mentor for the Association for Continuing and Higher Education (ACHE); is a member of OLC and serves on the Online Learning Journal Review Board.

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. Additional information can be found at

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Professor Adriana Crocker named the first U of I System Presidential Fellow at UIS

University of Illinois President Timothy L. Killeen has announced that Adriana Crocker, University of Illinois Springfield professor of political science, will serve as the newest Presidential Fellow. Crocker is the first faculty member at UIS to be named a Presidential Fellow.

“Professor Crocker is an award-winning teacher who specializes in Latin American politics, with a strong background in international law and women’s rights, and will work to help the U of I System expand its global reach,” said Killeen.

As a Presidential Fellow, Crocker will work with faculty across the System to promote international student exchanges and research partnerships. She is particularly interested in forging new alliances with global universities that will help reimagine student-focused teaching and learning and make the U of I System one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for both students and scholars.

Crocker joined the UIS faculty in 2006 and teaches comparative politics and international relations courses with an emphasis on Latin American politics. In 2016, she received the distinguished Pearson Faculty Award, which that recognizes a faculty member whose performance exemplifies UIS’s commitment to excellence in teaching and who stands among the very best teachers on campus. Her research focuses on the role of gender quotas and other institutional mechanisms in serving the interests of women in Latin America. She has a law degree from the University of La Plata Argentina and a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.

“The Presidential Fellows Program was created to tap into the deep pool of faculty talent at our three universities to help foster initiatives that guide us toward the goals of our Strategic Framework and expand our system-wide service to students and the public good. I am grateful to Professor Crocker for sharing her talents, and hope you will join me in welcoming her to this new, important role,” said Killeen.

The Presidential Fellowship was started in 2015 by President Killeen as a way to stimulate and facilitate projects by faculty members from across the System to help realize institutional goals. The Presidential Fellowship is funded by the Office of the President with appointments typically lasting 12 months.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Leadership lived: Public Health major plans to use theatre passion to educate others

Christopher Vemagiri Marbaniang, a graduate student at the University of Illinois Springfield, hopes to combine his two passions, public health and theatre, to educate people about important health issues.

“I plan to use my skills as an actor and education in public health from UIS to promote health through theatre and TV shows, such as documentaries or film after I graduate from UIS. I believe the best way to communicate health is through entertainment,” he said.

Vemagiri Marbaniang was recently part of the UIS Theatre production of “Machinal” and has appeared in three other productions at UIS. He says theatre and acting have always been a passion for him.

“What I love about theatre is that you can invoke emotion in people and you convey a message when you use your body, your face and your words to inspire people or tell a story through a character that you play,” he said.

At UIS, Vemagiri Marbaniang is treasurer of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Organization Funding Association, a senator on the UIS Campus Senate, vice president of the UIS Public Health Club, a worship leader for the University Bible Fellowship, member of the UIS Mock Trial team and has served as a host for the International Festival since 2015.

Vemagiri Marbaniang also interns with the Office of Health Care Regulation at the Illinois Department of Public Health through the UIS Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI).

“What brought me to UIS is the Graduate Public Service Internship Program, which is a very unique program,” he said. “This program has given me the opportunity to work with a state agency downtown and it is in sync with my major.”

Outside of UIS, Vemagiri Marbaniang has worked as a motivational speaker campaigning for healthy living and has rallied against drug and sexual abuse in children, teenagers and young adults. He also has a YouTube Channel where he posts motivational talks about life lessons. He also blogs about beauty pageants and has mentored contestants in public speaking and confidence.

Vemagiri Marbaniang, who was born in India and calls Alabama home, says he’s glad he chose UIS and encourages other students from around the world to consider the university.

“UIS is a small campus, however it is the small campus that gives you a great opportunity to learn more because of the focus that people have on you. You can focus more on your skills and on your instructors and professors can help you hone your skills to become a better professional,” he said.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Regina Bolin honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Regina Bolin was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on November 11, 2017, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Bolin, a Kansas City, Missouri native, holds a 3.95 GPA and is majoring in business administration with a minor in communication and computer science. She is a member of the UIS Prairie Stars Women’s Soccer team and has been on the Athletics Academic Honor Roll for the past three years.

“I was really surprised when I received the email that explained the award,” she said. “I could not believe that I was picked out of so many students. It really is an honor to receive this award.”

At UIS, Bolin is vice president of the Alternative Spring Break student organization, a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is also on a marketing committee that gives UIS student feedback about social media and advertising.

As a student-athlete, Bolin was nominated for the UIS Athletic Department Newcomer of the Year award and two years ago received the Coaches’ Award for the women’s soccer team.

“I love being on the team because my teammates are awesome and getting to continue to play the sport that I love is great. Luckily, I have had quite a bit of personal success on the team.”

Bolin has gotten the chance to do community service as part of the soccer team and with other organizations. In 2013, she traveled to Washington, Illinois to help clean up tornado damage with the soccer team. She has also volunteered with The Boys and Girls Club and went on the Alternative Spring Break trips to New York City in 2015 where she helped feed the homeless and to the Florida Gulf Coast in 2016 where she helped with environmental restoration projects.

Most recently, she spent a summer studying abroad in Italy where she took classes at the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore. She got a chance to explore the country, learn about the culture and meet new friends.

“Getting to study abroad in Milan was a really great experience,” she said. “I learned a lot of new information about sustainability and business, while also gaining different perspectives on topics that I was already introduced to here at UIS. The memories and friends that I made will stick with me forever.”

Following graduation from UIS, Bolin would like to attend graduate school and eventually work in the marketing department of a well-established business. Her ultimate career goal is to work for the Disney Corporation.

“Thankfully, UIS has prepared me for whatever lies ahead,” she said. “No matter what graduate school I go to, what job I have, or how my future family will end up, I will be ready for it all. My experiences, classes, and interactions at the University of Illinois Springfield will help set the base for my goals and aspirations that are to come.”

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 10, 2017

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch and other leaders honored for their work in support of military veterans

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch and two other campus leaders were presented with Seven Seals Awards from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a program of the U.S. Department of Defense, for their efforts to support military/veteran students and staff during a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 10, 2017.

The other staff members presented with the award were Clarice Ford, UIS vice chancellor for student affairs, and Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The awards are in recognition of UIS’ work to increase support for veterans and active duty service members over the past year. Some of the new UIS initiatives include creating graduation cords for veterans, working to reduce/eliminate fees and holds for students taking advantage of military benefits, revitalizing the Military and Veterans Club and establishing the Student Veterans Advisory Committee.

Dochterman also participated in the ESGR Boss Lift in August where he had the opportunity to attend an employer/supporter recognition event and ride in an Illinois Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter in order to better understand what service members do while on duty.

“We do all we can to make the educational experience at UIS smooth and productive for veterans and active duty service members,” said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch. “We are grateful for their service and for the perspective they bring to the classroom at UIS.”

The UIS staff were nominated for the awards by Stan Zielinski, the long-time Illinois ESGR Committee Central West Area Chair who earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from UIS in December 2016. Zielinski passed away in September.

Attending for the Illinois ESGR Committee were volunteers Dr. Allan Woodson, Col (Ret) Tom Murgatroyd, and Dave MacDonna along with MAJ Loren Easter, Illinois ESGR Program Coordinator and Tom Korth, Program Support Specialist. MacDonna serves as Public Information Officer for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

This semester, there are more than 300 students who attend UIS who are in the military or have veterans’ status.

The ESGR Seven Seals Award recognizes significant individual initiative and support for National Guard and Reserve Component members.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns how to protect the environment at UIS

Growing up in the small town of Altamont, Illinois, Jake Seidel spent a lot of time working outdoors. He brought his passion for the outdoors to the University of Illinois Springfield where he’s now learning how to protect the environment as a biology major.

At UIS, Seidel is president of the Biology Club, a member of the UIS Cross Country and Track and Field teams, the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and Students Allied for a Greener Earth (SAGE). He is also a voting member on the Green Fee Committee and has worked as a lab assistant and a science tutor.

“Restoring and keeping our environment preserved has always been a focal point for me and my studies,” he said. “Hopefully, if I can get paid to go outside and have fun, that’s the end goal for me. I hope to get my master’s degree and go into the wildlife management field.”

Seidel has conducted wetland research at the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon with UIS Biology Professor Michael Lemke and Associate Professor of Chemistry Keenan Dungey. He also completed summer internships with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

“I’ve had a couple of internship opportunities already through UIS and being out here and doing actual work, you get to learn about what you’re getting into,” he said. “You get to show employers you’re actually able to go out there and do the work.”

As part of the Biology Club, Seidel regularly volunteers to help with environmental restoration projects. He’s currently leading UIS students in restoring Jubilee Farm, an ecology and spirituality center located west of Springfield. Students are working to remove bush honeysuckle, a plant not natively found in Illinois, so that native Illinois plants can grow on the site.

“Coming out here at eight in the morning and getting scratched, getting thorns in you, it is hard work, but it is valuable work,” he said. “This is our third service project this year so far. We’ve got three more work days out here.”

Seidel says he’s glad he chose UIS because of the opportunities he’s gotten to work with faculty, intern with professionals in the field and volunteer with environmental service projects.

“There are so many networking opportunities as well as service opportunities where I can go out and get some actual real-world experience,” he said. “That translates directly into getting a job later on in life. It’s been an extremely valuable opportunity for me here at UIS.”

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Krystal Wilson wins 2017 CARE Award

Krystal Wilson, catering supervisor in UIS Food Service, has been awarded the 2017 Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE).

The award is the highest honor annually awarded to a Civil Service staff member at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Chancellor Susan J. Koch announced the winner of the award during a breakfast on November 2, 2017. She also thanked all civil service staff members for their dedication to UIS.

Wilson has worked for food service for 26 years. She credits her former supervisor, Brian Patton, and her student workers for serving as her inspiration.

“They make me all want to excel every day,” said Wilson.

“Hospitality is her job and she makes the extra effort to be excellent,” said one nominator. “Her wonderful attitude makes every event wonderful.”

If you have attended a catered event on campus, chances are you’ve experienced Krystal Wilson’s exceptional service.

“We have all attended events where the rush of hungry people sometimes causes stress and the crisis of a dropped water glass or plate,” wrote a nominator. “Despite the press of service, Krystal is armed with an excellent attitude and sense of humor. Her calm demeanor minimizes any crisis. She makes it all fun.”

“Although hospitality is part of Krystal’s job, she makes the extra effort to exemplify and demonstrate the highest standards of the industry,” said a nominator.

“Krystal consistently chooses to extend herself and services at every opportunity, she is Leadership Lived in action.”

Krystal listed out 12 qualities she believes are important for a UIS employee to embody.

1. To be ambitious and go the extra mile.
2. To be confident, take risks and seek the challenges.
3. To be culturally fit.
4. To be a good communicator.
5. To have leadership skills.
6. To be committed and reliable.
7. To be honest.
8. To be a team player.
9. To stay positive.
10. To be enthusiastic.
11. To be self-driven.
12. To be humble.

“We can all learn from Krystal,” said a nominator.” “It’s a choice. The choice is up to you and me. Let’s choose to be leaders, like Krystal.”

Other Civil Service employees nominated for the award include: Julie Atwell, office support specialist for AAS/English/History/Modern Languages; Marlena Constant, child care associate at UIS Cox Children's Center; Gwen Cribbett, admissions and records officer for UIS Admissions; John Freml, IT tech association for the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service; Elizabeth Huffines, administrative aide for the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Pamela McGowan, staff clerk for the Graduate Public Service Internship Program; Jeff Sudduth, IT tech associate for Information Technology Services; Candy Tucker, culinary worker II for UIS Food Service; Michelle Vinson, housing administrator for UIS Residence Life; and Patti Young, office support specialist for the UIS Biology Department.

The winner of the CARE award receives $500, plus a $500 donation made to the campus organization of his or her choice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Leadership lived: Sophomore becomes an advocate for undocumented immigrants

The University of Illinois Springfield has empowered Briana Rodriguez to become an advocate for issues she believes are important. The sophomore legal studies major recently participated a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at the Illinois State Capitol.

Helping undocumented immigrants is an issue that Rodriguez is passionate about for personal reasons. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico without documentation. They were given amnesty by President Ronald Reagan, which allowed them to raise their family in the United States.

“This is really important to me because I could have easily been in this position,” she said. “If my grandparents weren’t given amnesty, they would have been undocumented and so would my mother and I.”

On campus, Rodriguez is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, marketing director for the Organization of Latin American Students, a member the Hispanic/Latinx Mentorship Program and Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority, Inc.

“One of our sorority goals is community service and our chapter philanthropy is with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities, which provides homes for women who are escaping domestic violence or homelessness,” she said.

Rodriguez, a Streamwood, Illinois native, is glad she chose the University of Illinois Springfield.

“I decided to come to UIS because I saw how many opportunities there would be for me,” she said. “As an incoming freshman, I actually watched all of the Leadership lived videos and just seeing how many opportunities all of these students got, I realized ‘that could be me.’”

Following graduation from UIS, Rodriguez would like to attend law school and become an immigration lawyer.

“I think there’s a need for not only more Spanish speaking lawyers, but people who understand the background, the struggle,” she said. “I feel like having that relationship, being able to build that trust with your clients is so important.”

She says the education and experiences she’s gaining at UIS are giving her the tools she needs for her future career.

“I think that UIS really does prepare you and give you that real-life experience you need after college.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Associate Professor of Management Benjamin Walsh named the 2017 University Scholar at UIS

Benjamin Walsh, associate professor of management at the University of Illinois Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2017. The award, considered the university system’s highest faculty honor, recognizes outstanding teaching and scholarship. Only one faculty member receives the annual award at UIS.

“Dr. Walsh’s achievements in both scholarship and teaching are impressive,” said one of his nominators. “In the six years since completing his doctorate, he has shown documented promise of becoming the very best in his field.”

The majority of Walsh’s research focuses on interpersonal relationships in the workplace, with a particular focus on civility and mistreatment in the workplace. His research examines how work places have treated cases of incivility, with a focus on understanding the history and outcomes of incivility and sexual harassment, as well as the effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent workplace mistreatment.

As a published researcher, Walsh has had 17 peer-reviewed journal articles in applied psychology and management journals, such as the Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Applied Psychology: An International Review, Stress and Health, and Journal of Business and Psychology. His scale measuring incivility in the workplace has also been published.

“The impact of Dr. Walsh’s work is reflected in the 300+ citations his published research has obtained thus far,” said a nominator.

In the classroom, Walsh is known as a true teacher-scholar who incorporates his own research interests, where appropriate, into his classes, encouraging students to develop critical thinking skills and an understanding of the research process.

Walsh teaches courses in organizational behavior and human resource management, teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and via face-to-face and online modes of delivery. Walsh has been successful in motivating and engaging students in his research projects, including two collaborative community projects.

“Student perceptions of Professor Walsh’s teaching demonstrate that he is highly regarded, exceeding university, college, and department averages in every category,” said a nominator.

Walsch received his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2011. In 2015, Walsh was named the 2015 Outstanding Faculty Member at the UIS Peoria Center.

As University Scholar, Walsh will receive $15,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.

Leadership lived: Student jumpstarts her marketing career at UIS

Melissa Van is getting a jumpstart on her future career at the University of Illinois Springfield where she helps promote student events on campus as the marketing chair for the Student Activities Committee (SAC).

“I make flyers, distribute flyers, do word of mouth and social media advertising,” she said. “This year, since we have more people, I actually created a marketing team.”

The business administration major is also the marketing coordinator for the Asian Student Organization, the vice president of the UIS Community Garden Club and a Capital Scholars Honors Program peer mentor. She says her involvement on campus has taught her many lessons about leadership.

“If there’s anything you ever want to try, you can’t just wait and expect someone to give it to you,” she said. “You need to go out there and say at least you tried, even if you do fail, but in the end you’ll find your people, you’ll find your place.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans to use the knowledge she’s obtained in the classroom and by marketing events at UIS to launch her career.

“I really want to do something with marketing. I’m not sure yet, but I’m thinking advertisements, maybe something with movies.”

The Lincoln, Illinois native says she chose UIS because “it wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big either.” She says she’s glad she made the decision to come to UIS.

“If you’re the type of student who needs one-on-one time to actually find yourself, I would come to a place like UIS,” she said. “It’s a great place to learn.” 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Leadership lived: Student Government Association president serves as voice for his fellow students

Garrett Nimmo enjoys being a voice for his fellow students. He was recently elected president of the University of Illinois Springfield Student Government Association (SGA) in a campus-wide race.

As SGA president, Nimmo often meets with university leaders to express student positions on important issues. He also runs SGA meetings, making sure that senators have reports ready and are listening to student concerns.

“I think the SGA is important because it gives students a certain level of reassurance when they can come to students, opposed to going to their teachers,” he said. “Knowing they can rely on fellow students or come to fellow students with their issues can sometimes seem less intimidating than going directly to an administrator.”

Nimmo, a sophomore economics major, was first elected to the SGA as a senator-at-large his freshman year. He found it easy to get quickly involved on campus.

“From the moment you set foot on campus with the Kick Start Orientation, you’re actively given roles to participate in,” he said.

One of Nimmo’s other leadership roles is a mentor for Leadership for Life, a service and leadership program where students complete 40 hours of service each semester.

As part of Leadership for Life, he traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to clean up flood damage in 2016. He also went on the 2017 Alternative Spring Break trip and helped with outdoor eco-restoration projects along the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast.

Following graduation from UIS, Nimmo would like to attend law school and become a public servant or tax lawyer.

“I’m very happy that I chose UIS. It’s been very fruitful,” he said. “I think one of the unique opportunities at UIS is that you can get a lot of one-on-one help from your professors. Here you’re in a classroom with 30 people and it makes getting help very accessible.”

Nimmo says he’s grateful for the confidence students have placed in him and hopes to represent them to the best of his ability.

“I’m honored to be in the role that I am,” he said. “I definitely look forward to this upcoming year and seeing what all we can get done.”

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS women’s soccer player gets involved on and off the field

Jasmin Lisowski has been playing soccer since she was in kindergarten. Now, she’s living her dream playing NCAA Division II women’s soccer at the University of Illinois Springfield, while majoring in social work and psychology.

“My favorite part about playing soccer at UIS is that fact that I can be a student and be dedicated to my studies, as well as be part of a soccer team, which isn’t the case at every university,” she said. “I love the team so much, we bond so well together and I love spending time with them all of the time.”

On the UIS women’s soccer team, Lisowski has taken on an unofficial leadership role, helping to mentor new players. She admits that she wasn’t always a vocal member of the team, but says UIS helped her step up and become a leader.

“My freshman year coming in, I wasn’t as vocal as I am now,” she said. “I’m very vocal on the field now. I like talking to the younger players and tell them what they need to work on or what they did well and just guiding them in that way.”

On campus, Lisowski is part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, the Capital Scholars Honors Program and the Psi Chi National Honor Society in psychology. She also traveled to the Florida Gulf Coast in March 2017 to volunteer with the Alternative Spring Break Program.

Most recently, Lisowski completed a study abroad trip to Malta and Rome in May 2017. As a student-athlete, she says it can be hard to travel during the summer months. However, she arranged her schedule so she could take part in the trip.

“It was an amazing experience. I was so excited to be able to do that,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Lisowski plans to earn her master’s degree and become a counselor or social worker in an emergency room.

Lisowski says she is glad that she chose UIS because she enjoys being part of a growing campus that is part of the University of Illinois System. She has also enjoyed the positive student-athlete experience and recommends UIS to others interested in playing sports.

“We just had an ID camp here last weekend and a lot of the parents asked us if we would have changed anything. I definitely would not have changed anything about my experience. I’m so glad I chose UIS.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

UIS faculty chosen to participate in inaugural Teaching Fellows Program

Ten faculty members at the University of Illinois Springfield have been chosen as the inaugural class of Excellence in Teaching and Learning Fellows.

The program, which began this year, is an effort to encourage faculty to engage with high impact teaching practices that can transform their teaching.

The group will meet monthly to discuss educational psychology and research-based practices.

Participating faculty will read and discuss literature that has been shown to improve student learning, as well as engagement practices from fellow UIS professors.

Fellows that participate in seven or more of the ten sessions will be eligible to apply for competitive implementation grants and travel grants to a conference targeted at improving teaching practices.

Faculty chosen to participate include: Angela Doehring, Carlee Beth Hawkins, Elizabeth Kosmetatou, Andrea Scarpino and Richard Stokes from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Carol Jessup and Sudeep Sharma from the College of Business and Management; Tiffany Nielson, Denise Bockmier-Sommers and Cynthia Wilson from the College of Education and Human Services.

The fellows were chosen by a committee made up of faculty and administrators representing each college.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student helps start Downtown Discounts program

University of Illinois Springfield political science and economics major Kaelan Smith is passionate about helping people in his community. He recently helped to start the Downtown Discounts program, which saves UIS students money at downtown businesses.

On campus, Smith is the vice president of the UIS College Republicans and is a member of the Capital Scholars Honors Program, where he volunteers as a peer mentor. He is also currently interning at U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood’s Springfield District Office.

“The internship has taught me the professional organizational skills to make a government office work for the people and the kind of leadership skills it takes to be a successful public servant,” he said.

Smith helped start the Downtown Discounts program in his role as co-chair of State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s Higher Education Student Advisory Committee. Deals for UIS students vary, but often include a 10 percent discount at stores and eateries when students show their i-card.

“I had a lot of communication with business owners trying to get an idea of what kind of offers were best for their business strategy, but also I also talked to students to see what kind of program would really attract them to the downtown area,” he said.

Smith, who is from Clinton, Illinois, says he chose UIS because of its location in the state capital. Being in the seat of state government has given him many advantages when it comes to making connections and obtaining internships.

“UIS is just great for proximity. It’s right here in the heart of the state capital,” he said. “You meet so many professionals in state government and state politics and it’s an easy way to meet these people, get mentors and get opportunities.”

Thanks to his opportunities both on and off campus and the knowledgeable professors in the classroom, Smith says he’s learned many lessons about leadership.

“UIS has taught me that leadership requires a lot of thought, a lot of work and also thinking about the values you really want to impact in your community. The work and the measurement of what kind of leader you are is about the kind of values you leave in your community and whether or not you’ve made it a better place for everybody.”

Following graduation from UIS, Smith plans to work in state government before pursuing either a master's degree in public policy or attending law school. Afterwards, he hopes to work in a state’s attorney's office or in the public sector working on public policy or legislation.

Smith encourages other students who are interested in government and politics to attend the University of Illinois Springfield.

“If I could rethink it all over again, I would come back to UIS. UIS is a great place if you want to learn how to be a public servant, but also learn how to make your community a better place,” he said.

Lan Dong named the Schewe Endowed Professor at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield faculty member Lan Dong has been named the Louise Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences. The endowed professorship will give Dong additional support to conduct research and other scholarly activities.

“Lan Dong has established a reputation as a ground breaking and prolific researcher in Asian American literature,” said James Ermatinger, dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “She has emerged as an expert in comparative literature and has become a recognized scholar in studies of comics and graphic narratives.”

As part of the professorship, Dong looks forward to completing several projects, enhancing the reputation of Department of English and Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and further integrating research into teaching and mentoring students at UIS.

“It is a great honor,” Dong said, “and brings added responsibilities as well.”

Dong came to UIS in 2006 as an assistant professor of English. In 2012, she was named a University Scholar by the University of Illinois for her excellence in teaching and scholarship. She also received the Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2011 and the Pearson Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence at UIS in 2012.

In her teaching, Dong specializes in world literature and graphic narratives, which use sequential art to tell stories. “The juxtaposition of textual and visual elements provides a sense of immediacy and helps shorten the difference between the characters and readers,” Dong said. “The reader’s experience of being a ‘witness’ makes the books and topics particularly relevant.”

As a result, students develop more interests in world culture, tradition and events and what they can do personally to help others, thus becoming engaged citizens.

Dong also teaches Asian American literature and children’s and young adult literature at UIS.

Dong’s research focuses on Asian American literature and more specifically on women. She has published a book on Mulan entitled “Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States.” She has also written “Reading Amy Tan,” part of the Pop Lit Book Club series published by Libraries Unlimited, and edited the multi-contributor books “Transnationalism and the Asian American Heroine: Essays on Literature, Film, Myth and Media” and “Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives: Essays on Theory, Strategy and Practice.” Most recently, she edited “Asian American Culture: From Anime to Tiger Moms,” a two-volume comprehensive study of Asian American cultural forms.

Dong came from China to the United States in 2000 for graduate school. After earning a master’s degree in comparative literature from Dartmouth College, she earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, also in comparative literature.

A bequest from Louise Hartman Schewe created the Louis Hartman Schewe and Karl Schewe Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Louise was a teacher and active civic leader in Springfield and Karl was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and A.G. Edwards and Sons, Springfield.

Endowed professorships at UIS create a lasting tribute to the donors who create them and are crucial for recruiting and retaining the high quality of faculty who are a hallmark of the University of Illinois Springfield.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student trustee plans future career in public service

Edwin Robles has always been interested in politics and hopes to one day run for office. At the University of Illinois Springfield, he was elected by the student body to serve as their voice on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

As the student trustee, Robles has a seat at the table at all of the board of trustees meetings. He regularly travels to the other U of I System campuses for meetings and helps cast the student vote on important issues.

“On the board, I represent UIS students at the university-level,” he said. “I try to make sure the university is making wise decisions, not only on the university-level, but for UIS students as well.”

At UIS, Robles is a political science and public policy major. He founded the UIS Football Club, a club soccer team which travels to play other colleges and universities. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and previously served as vice president for alumni relations. He has traveled with Model United Nations to New York City twice to participate in the annual simulation and will participate for a third time this spring.

“UIS has taught me a lot about leadership,” he said. “It has given me the insight on what it means to be a leader and a good leader. Often you have to put in a lot of work, sometimes a lot more than others, but it’s alright because at the end of the day the outcomes are worth it.”

As an elected student leader, Robles wants UIS students to know he’s here to listen to issues that students might be facing. He has an office on campus where students can come by and speak to him about issues that are important to them.

“The reason I decided to run for office was because I really cared about the university, I really cared about UIS students,” he said. “I wanted to make sure the community was growing and that students had leadership that cared about them.”

Following graduation from UIS, Robles wants to join the United States Navy as an officer. He plans to earn his master’s degree in political science and eventually a Ph.D.

“I do want to run for office,” he said. “That’s one of the things that I do want to do in the future and making sure I can be a public servant for the people.”

Robles encourages prospective students to consider UIS because of the right-sized supportive community and the abundance of opportunities for students.

“The community here is amazing,” he said. “Everyone kind of knows each other and at the end of the day, I’m really glad to call myself a Prairie Star.”

Friday, September 08, 2017

UIS and SIU researchers to collaborate on mapping asthma and COPD healthcare in Springfield

Five faculty and staff from the University of Illinois Springfield, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have been awarded grants from the Caryl Towsley Moy, Ph.D., Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research to study asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Sangamon County has among the highest number of emergency department visits related to asthma and COPD in the state. Wiley Jenkins, Ph.D., associate professor in the Office of Population Science and Policy at the SIU School of Medicine and Egbe Egiebor, Ph.D., UIS assistant professor of public health, are employing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to discover patterns and correlations that might aid in the treatment of adults with asthma and/or COPD.

By mapping these incidents and correlating with environmental factors, geographically targeted interventions will be developed to increase health and decrease costs. Maithili Deshpande, Ph.D., SIU Edwardsville assistant professor of pharmacy, Kristin Osiecki, Ph.D., UIS assistant professor of public health, and Amanda Fogelman, SIU School of Medicine Population Science and Policy senior research development coordinator, will also will join the team.

Richard Moy, M.D. (1931-2013), founding dean of the SIU School of Medicine, and his sons Philip and Eric Moy created the $250,000 endowed fund at UIS in honor of their wife and mother, former professor Caryl Moy (1932-2010). The fund supports faculty from UIS and the SIU School of Medicine who do team-based research. Caryl Moy taught for 21 years at UIS (then Sangamon State University) beginning in 1970. She also served as a clinical professor at the SIU School of Medicine.

For more information, contact Keenan Dungey, UIS associate vice chancellor for research and institutional effectiveness, at 217/206-8112 or

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Leadership lived: Transfer student takes full advantage of all UIS has to offer

Garrad Straube transferred to the University of Illinois Springfield to be part of the men’s cross country and track and field teams. The criminology and criminal justice major has taken full advantage of all that UIS has to offer and is currently completing an internship at the Illinois State Police Academy.

On campus, Straube works as a student ambassador for UIS Admissions where he gives prospective students and parents campus tours. He is also the treasurer for the Tau Sigma National Honor Society chapter at UIS, a member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Straube started his career as a runner while attending Quincy High School. He ran at a junior college before transferring to UIS where he is now a leader on the team. He enjoys mentoring younger students on the team and helping them grow.

“Being a team captain for the cross country team has just been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s hard to say you’re a team captain when you’re with a bunch of guys who invest as much as you are, but being a team captain, being a leader, on the cross country team, being able to bring them along has been just awesome.”

As an intern at the Illinois State Police Academy, Straube completes administrative tasks and has also been able to ride along with troopers on the ground and in the air. He’s also interned with the SWAT team and other departments within the state police.

Following graduation from UIS, Straube would like to become a police officer and hopes to work for the Illinois State Police.

“I think in law enforcement you can’t be afraid to do the right thing,” he said. “That’s kind of my emphasis that I want to do the right thing. I want to be a pillar in the community and I want to be a person that people can say ‘yeah, he’s a good cop or a good person’. That’s my goal.”

As a UIS student ambassador, Straube says it’s often his job to “sell” UIS to prospective students and parents. He says that’s an easy job.

“I came here my junior year and I’ve been able to find my own home within UIS. I love it here,” he said. “It’s so easy to sell a school where they invest in you as much as you invest in them.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student finds passion for public service at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield political science major Yaw Kesse of Chicago has a passion for public service.

Kesse has spent the summer interning at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Springfield where he works in the Bureau of Collections. He credits UIS for the internship opportunity saying it has helped prepare him for his future career.

“I’ve learned how to better present myself,” he said. “I’ve learned communication skills and how to interact with the public. I had an advanced training where I learned about customer service.”

At UIS, Kesse is a member of the Upsilon Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was previously involved in Student Activities Committee (SAC) and served as host for the 2016 UIS Homecoming Pep Rally.

“UIS has taught me that leadership is very important,” he said. “Coming into UIS, I really wasn’t engaged too much in high school.”

He recommends that future UIS students get involved on campus in order to gain valuable leadership experience.

“For any student who is coming to UIS, I feel like you should just really get yourself acclimated and join student organizations and do as much as possible,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Kesse plans to continue his career in public service and hopes to find a job with the State of Illinois. He says he’s grateful for the opportunities he’d had at UIS.

“I’m very satisfied that I came to UIS,” he said. “These past four years have been quite remarkable for me. I’ve grown as a person and as an individual and learned a lot.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UIS Chancellor wins bid on Illinois State Fair Grand Champion ice cream made in Eureka

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch was the winning bidder of 3 pounds of Uncle Bob’s Homemade Ice Cream at the Governor’s Sale of Champions at the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

The ice cream, which is manufactured in Eureka, Illinois, was named the Illinois State Fair Grand Champion in the ice cream category. Koch bid $600 to win the grand prize-winning blackberry ice cream.

According to their website, Uncle Bob's Homemade Ice Cream opened on July 10, 1980, at the Heart of Illinois Fair. Uncle Bob's now has a permanent location in Eureka where fresh ice cream is made year round.

Koch plans to donate the champion ice cream to the University of Illinois Springfield to be served at a special event on campus.

The Governor’s Sale of Champions is held each year at the Illinois State Fair on Agriculture Day.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Leadership lived: Future doctor loves mentoring new UIS students

University of Illinois Springfield senior Ashley Osuma loves to share the knowledge she’s gained from her four years on campus with incoming freshmen.

Osuma is a peer mentor for the Summer Bridge Program, a two-week on-campus living-learning experience for first-year students who need additional academic support and college preparation.

“As a peer mentor, we counsel students through things they might be going through, help them with their homework and answer any questions they may have,” she said.

During the Summer Bridge Program, Osuma, an O’Fallon, Illinois native, spends several hours each day socializing with the students and helping them prepare for college.

“I love getting the chance to interact with students and pass on wisdom that I may have not had at the time I was a freshman and just give them a different perspective,” she said.

During Fall Semester 2017, Osuma will continue to mentor the Summer Bridge students as a resident assistant (RA) in Lincoln Residence Hall and as a peer mentor for Students Transitioning for Academic Retention (STARS).

“My main important advice for the students is to stay focused on your school work,” she said. “Remember your ultimate goal and what you want to do for yourself and get involved with things that will help you with that goal and keep you focused on it.”

On campus, Osuma is also president of the Tau Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the historian for the Pre-Health Society. She says she’s learned many important lessons from her leadership roles on campus.

“All my experiences have taught me that everyone has different backgrounds and we all see the world through different eyes,” she said. “I also feel to be a good leader you have to know how to be led.”

As a biology major, Osuma is concentrating her studies in the pre-medicine field. Following graduation from UIS, she plans to go to medical school and become a dermatologist.

“I’m glad I chose UIS for all of the great people I’ve met,” she said. “I’ve had a great experience with the campus and love the small class sizes.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

UIS professor part of a research study that finds new biological sequencing method less effective

Michael Lemke, professor of biology at the University of Illinois Springfield, is part of an international research team led by the American Museum of Natural History that has found that a next-generation DNA sequencing method is less effective at microbial diversity description than originally thought.

Next-generation sequencing has given biological scientists the ability to sequence millions to billions of small fragments of DNA in parallel, revolutionizing the field.

In a study, published this week in the Nature research journal “Scientific Reports”, scientists compared two next-generation sequencing techniques – called amplicon and shotgun – on water samples from four of Brazil’s major river floodplain systems. Less than 50 percent of phyla—a category for a very broad group of related organisms—identified via amplicon sequencing were recovered from shotgun sequencing, challenging the belief that shotgun recovers more diversity than amplicon-based approaches. Amplicon sequencing also revealed about 27 percent more families.

“It is not a matter of setting back sequencing research,” said Lemke. “Sequencing is an amazingly effective tool for understanding what exists in the microbial world, but every tool does not fit the need for every job, and here, we really have a variation on the same tool. Many parts of microbial world remain unknown, and the unknown portions are even more mysterious when there are less studies, for there are less data that has been contributed to building a database.”

Lemke, through a collaboration with the Universidade Estadual de Maringá in Brazil, helped collect samples and extract DNA used for the data in the present study. He was on site to collect water samples from the Amazon and Paraguay Rivers during two trips in 2011 and 2012. These samples, along with those from the other river systems, were sequenced using both amplicon and shotgun methods.

“In the case with the Brazil large rivers study, the study that came out represents evidence for a ‘better’ way to use the sequencing tool in this case,” said Lemke. “You can think of the work led by Michael Tessler and Mercer Brugler as having two different (sequencing) flashlights used to look into the microbial black boxes we retrieved from Brazil. It turns out that the amplicon flashlight shed double the light into the box than the shotgun flashlight.”

Lemke’s work continues as a research associate for the American Museum of Natural History with the DeSalle Lab, part of the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics.

“I’m preparing the last samples from a nine-year study on The Nature Conservancy’s restoration project at Thompson Lake (located near the Emiquon Preserve in Fulton County) to take to the Museum for sequencing yet this summer,” he said. “Application of sequence technology is a big issue in our work.”

Other researcher partners included in the American Museum of Natural History study are the City University of New York (CUNY), Weill Cornell Medicine and Instituto Cesumar de Ciȇncia, Tecnologia e Inovação.

This study was supported in part by the Korein Foundation, the Gerstner Family Foundation, the Irma T. Hirschl and Minque Weill-Caulier Charitable Trusts, the Bert L. and N. Kuggie Vallee Foundation, the WorldQuant Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant #OPP1151054), and the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development.

For more information, contact Michael Lemke, UIS professor of biology, at 217/206-7339 or

Leadership lived: Student helps manage UIS Brookens Library

As a student manager at Brookens Library, Andrew Koontz, a senior University of Illinois Springfield computer science major, makes sure that patrons find the resources they need. He also trains new student workers and is responsible for special projects.

“The most rewarding part about working at the library is the feeling you get after helping someone, whether it be a patron that comes in, a student or a fellow worker,” he said. “It’s just a really great feeling helping someone achieve what they want to do.”

Koontz, who is from Belleville, Illinois, has worked at the library for the past year and a half and worked his way up to the student manager position. It’s the first time he’s ever held a management position.

“If a student worker needs help with a patron or gets asked something they don’t know they’ll come to me or another supervisor for help,” he said.

As a computer science major, Koontz likes to point out that Brookens Library not only offers books, but online databases for students to take advantage of while doing research.

After he graduates from UIS, Koontz wants to continue to work with computers and possibly become a software engineer.

“As long as it involves my major and I get to work with computers I’ll be happy,” he said.

Koontz chose the University of Illinois Springfield because of the right-sized supportive community. He says he came from a smaller higher school and didn’t want to attend a large university.

“UIS has many services and opportunities for students that really helps them feel welcomed into the school. I think this is a great school,” he said.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Leadership lived: Resident assistant helps students feel at home

Da Zhane' Sinclair says the University of Illinois Springfield “feels like home” and the friends she’s made on campus are like family.

Sinclair, a senior accountancy major, is a resident assistant (RA) on campus and mentors fellow first-generation college students as part of the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program.

“I enjoy being an RA because I am a people person, so communicating with people and helping them is why I became an RA,” she said.

As an RA, Sinclair regularly plans social events to help her fellow students feel welcome. She recently hosted the “Sip and Craft” event where students living on campus over the summer and Summer Bridge Program students came together to make crafts using boards, nails and yarn.

Sinclair, who is from Chicago, attended a charter high school where she got individual attention from teachers on a smaller campus. At UIS, she feels she’s getting the same level attention.

“Like my charter school, I can communicate with my professors here and build relationships. It’s like a family,” she said.

Being an RA has taught her many lessons about communicating with others, crisis mediation, event planning and budgeting for events.

“UIS taught me that you have to jump outside the box,” she said. “You have to stand out and be the first person to raise your hand, even if at times you don’t want to.”

Following graduation from UIS, Sinclair would like to open her own non-profit that helps women and children. She feels well-prepared by her UIS education.

“I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do,” she said. “I never pictured myself being an RA. I never pictured myself actually doing things that I’ve done so far.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

UIS professor co-edits new book exploring gender quotas in three major South American countries

Adriana Crocker, professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, has co-edited a new book titled “Gender Quotas in South America’s Big Three: National and Subnational Impacts” with Gregory Schmidt, professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso and Clara Araújo, professor and researcher at the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The book focuses on gender quotas in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. Since the return of democracy to Latin America, policies intended to promote the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups have been increasingly adopted in the region. In particular, gender quotas have been one of the most popular and effective mechanisms employed in elections and other contexts in Latin America.

“Gender quotas provide women with a means to secure their participation in legislatures and have been employed worldwide,” said Crocker. “Their adoption in Latin America was influenced by both domestic and international phenomena.”

In the book, Crocker and her co-editors explore quotas at both national and subnational levels, and compares and contrasts the experiences of gender quotas in these Big Three countries of South America (by area) with respect to their adoption and their impacts in terms of both descriptive and substantive representation. This book also deals with current trends in quotas, including parity systems in Latin America, and explores the prospects for parity adoption in Latin America.

“Overall, this book presents three South American case studies of quota systems, expands on the literature regarding the impacts of gender quotas, and examines the prospects for the political representation of women in the national and subnational legislatures of Argentina, Brazil, and Peru,” said Crocker.

The book was published by Lexington Books and can be purchased as either a hardcover or an electronic book from various retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Google.

For more information, contact Adriana Crocker, UIS professor of political science, at 217/206-8329 or

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

UIS Legal Studies professor writes a new book about the dangers of for-profit law schools

Riaz Tejani, an assistant professor of legal studies at University of Illinois Springfield, has written a new book called “Law Mart”. The book was published by Stanford University Press and released on July 18, 2017.

In the book, based on extensive field research and interviews, Tejani argues that the rise of for profit law schools shows the limits of a market-based solution to American access to justice. Building on theories in law, political economy, and moral anthropology, Tejani reveals how for-profit law schools marketed themselves directly to ethnoracial and socioeconomic "minority" communities, relaxed admission standards, increased diversity, shook up established curricula, and saw student success rates plummet.

“They contributed to a dramatic rise in U.S. law student debt burdens while charging premium tuition financed up-front through federal loans over time,” said Tejani. “If economic theories have so influenced legal scholarship, what happens when they come to shape law school transactions, governance, and oversight?”

Tejani explores whether there is a need for protections that better uphold institutional quality and sustainability, while offering an unprecedented, in-depth glimpse of this landscape.

The book is available for purchase from Stanford University Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other websites.

For more information, contact Riaz Tejani at 217/206-6561 or

Friday, June 30, 2017

Leadership lived: Love of music brings international student to UIS

Music has been a part of Yu Shao’s life since she was six-years-old. That’s when she first started playing the Guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument with thousands of years of history.

“I love the voice, I love the tune so much,” she said. “It’s a 21 string instrument. It gives you a lot of flexibility to create your own music or focus on the composer’s music to express yourself.”

Shao says it was her love of music that brought her to the University of Illinois Springfield where she is majoring in accountancy and is a Camerata Music Scholar. She regularly sings with the UIS Chorus and plays in small ensembles.

Shao is vice president of the Student Accounting Society and helps other international students adjust to campus life as a student worker for the Office of International Student Services. She answers student questions over the phone and by email and helps plan important events.

“I highly recommend UIS to the international students because our campus is super fun,” she said. “We have a lot of traditional activities that are fun for the international student to get involved in, such as Springfest and the International Student Festival.”

Shao admits that it was a challenging transition to leave China and come to the United States. However, she says she now feels at home at UIS.

“My English was poor when I came here, but I got enrolled in Intensive English Program classes for one semester and it really helped me to get involved in American culture and to get to know more about English,” she said.

Following graduation from UIS, Shao would like to stay in the United States and pursue her master’s degree and find a job in the business field.

“I think the biggest things I’ve learned from UIS is take advantage of any challenges,” she said. “I believe that if a thing doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you at all.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leadership lived: UIS student helps future Prairie Stars transition to college

The first time Marquiera Harris visited the University of Illinois Springfield she felt so welcomed that she instantly knew that UIS was her perfect fit. Now, the social work major is helping other students make the transition to UIS as an orientation coordinator.

“I love this campus,” she said. “It’s beautiful and definitely feels like home away from home. The professor’s care, they want you to get involved and I try my best to be involved.”

As a student orientation coordinator, Harris supervises 18 student orientation employees and helps to coordinate social media operations. On the day of orientation, she is responsible for supervising the help desk for new students and their parents.

“I make sure everything is going smoothly at the help desk in the mornings and make sure that students get to where they need to be,” she said.

UIS holds a total of six orientations for new students in June, July and August, which often means that Harris is working 50 to 60 hours a week to make sure everything goes as planned.

“We always get comments that ‘everything ran so smoothly’ and I’m always amazed because they don’t see the stuff that goes on behind the scenes, the little hiccups, but we make sure they don’t see it,” she said.

Harris says she has learned many lessons about leadership by supervising fellow student employees, many of whom she is friends with after hours.

“It’s been an amazing experience, stepping out of my comfort zone and taking the initiative to be a leader,” she said.

On campus, Harris also serves as the organizational liaison for the Research Society at UIS where she helps to plan events. She recently presented her academic research at the Midwestern Psychological Association meeting in Chicago and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Memphis, Tennessee.

“UIS has been an amazing fit for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great pay off in the end.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Leadership lived: Student learns hands-on lessons from summer internship

University of Illinois Springfield senior Information Systems Security major Justin Brown is making the most out of his summer by interning at Horace Mann’s Security Operations Center in Springfield. He helps monitor, review and take action on abnormal web or email traffic that might be coming through the network.

“This internship is providing a lot of hands-on experience,” he said. “I’m taking a lot of the theories and practices I’ve learned in my courses at UIS and actually putting them into application here at the company.”

Brown says he enjoys working in the cyber security field because of the challenge.

“It’s really a big challenge, especially because you have to stay on top of all of the new attacks that happen almost daily,” he said. “I really enjoy stepping up to the challenge.”

On campus, Brown is a member of the Computer Science Club and the Christian Student Fellowship (CSF). He’s also part of the UIS Prairie Stars cross country and track and field teams. He was one of the first students to join the cross country team when it started in 2015.

“I really enjoy being a part of a new team and really being able to step up into a leadership role for the new members that may come on throughout the years and really kind of show them the ropes of what it means to be a collegiate runner,” he said.

Following graduation from UIS, Brown plans to find a full-time job in the information systems security field.

“Overall, my UIS experience has been pretty great,” he said. “Being able to be a part of the student-athlete body as well as part of the overall campus in general is just great. It’s definitely been everything I wanted in a campus.” 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Leadership lived: Future lawyer finds passion for volunteering at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield legal studies and political science major Payton Roberts loves volunteering with children on and off campus.

At UIS, she is the volunteer coordinator for the Lee Elementary Homework Club. She and other UIS students travel to the school weekly to help kids with their homework and teach them about different cultures from around the world.

“I love getting to walk into the classroom every week and just seeing the kids’ faces light up and know that you’re making a difference, no matter how little it may seem,” she said. “One hour a week or an hour and a half a week to us, it means the world to these kids.”

Roberts has also spent the past two summers volunteering with kids in Israel. She’s also spent a summer interning in Washington, D.C.

As a legal studies major, she serves as the vice president of the Pre-Law Society and works in the Pre-Law Center. She is also the undergraduate student representative for the UIS Legal Studies Department. She is also a member of the UIS Capital Scholars Honors Program.

Roberts said UIS has taught her that leadership “starts from the bottom” and that everyone can be a leader, no matter their role.

“The volunteers and people making a difference behind closed doors, those are the true leaders,” she said. “The people who don’t get recognized. I think those are the people that UIS really values the most.”

Roberts recently accepted a new internship with the Illinois Legislative Research Unit at the Illinois State Capitol. Following that internship, she plans to attend law school.

“I feel like I’ve been really blessed,” she said. “I came to a really good school that’s helped me find things that I’m passionate about and work those into the career that I want to have some day.”

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Leadership lived: Student leads effort to maintain UIS Community Garden

The first time biology major Daniel Rodriguez volunteered at the University of Illinois Springfield Community Garden he wasn’t sure what to expect. However, he soon found himself having fun tending to the garden and watching it grow.

Rodriguez is now leading the effort to maintain the garden over the summer as the project coordinator. It’s a paid student position where he works 20 hours a week.

“My daily responsibilities include watering the plants, making sure no animals get inside, pulling weeds and organizing volunteers,” he said.

The UIS Community Garden was started by a group of students and Assistant Professor Megan Styles in 2016. It is located just north of the historic Strawbridge-Shepherd House on the UIS campus. The garden provides locally grown food to the campus community.

“Harvesting is not stealing here, so as long as you’re helping out with the garden and want to stop by and take a few plants after everything is grown you’re more than welcome,” said Rodriguez.

During the school year, Rodriguez is also active as a member of the TARA Meditation Club, the Biology Club and plays on the dodge ball team.

When he’s not tending to the garden, Rodriguez works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a Springfield nursing home. Following graduation from UIS, he plans to continue his education in the medical field and become a physician assistant.

However, he says he’ll never forget the lessons he’s learned about leadership at UIS.

“UIS taught me that leadership is not only a one man job,” he said. “You definitely need help from others in order to have a leadership role. You’re taking on the responsibility, but you’re also giving them the responsibility and you’re here for them as well.”

Rodriguez, a Joliet, Illinois native, says he would recommend UIS to others because of the academic quality and the opportunities available to students on campus.

“It may not be the biggest campus, but it’s where we all get together and make long-lasting bonds. It’s just a heck of a time to be at UIS.”