Friday, June 22, 2018

UIS senior honored with U.S. Department of Justice award for work on Human Trafficking Task Force

Michelle Norris, a senior communication major at the University of Illinois Springfield, was one of the many U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) employees recently honored with the Director's Award during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2018.

Norris, a Springfield resident, was honored for her work as the Interim Coordinator for the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of Illinois.

Norris was one of three DOJ employees from the Central District of Illinois recognized for their exceptional work in organizing and implementing the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office created the task force to bring together law enforcement, prosecutors, victim service providers, and other stakeholders to better identify victims, provide quality services, and effectively investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases,” said Norris.

Norris began working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office two years ago as a student clerk, a position she still holds in addition to serving as the Interim Coordinator for the Human Trafficking Task Force.

As a full-time employee, she’s completed most of her UIS coursework online and through blended learning (part online and part on campus) classes. She expects to graduate from UIS in December 2018.

“UIS has played a role in helping me grow as a student and a leader by pushing me to step outside of my box,” said Norris. “There are many professors I can remember who have encouraged me to be bold and not settle.”

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three UIS faculty members travel to Mexico to discuss research collaborations and academic exchanges

UIS faculty members Hinda Seif (left), Lucia Vazquez (second from left) and Adriana Crocker (far right) visit the University of Colima in June 2018.
Three faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield recently traveled to Colima, Mexico to discuss research collaborations and academic exchanges with faculty at the University of Colima.

Lucia Vazquez, associate dean of the UIS College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Adriana Crocker, professor of political science and U of I presidential fellow; and Hinda Seif, chair and associate professor of women and gender studies and sociology/anthropology, represented UIS during the early June visit.

The trip was made possible by a Discovery Partners Institute International Travel Grant aimed at building bridges with universities in Mexico and Israel.

“Faculty at University of Colima share many research interests with UIS faculty,” said Vazquez. “The administrators at the University of Colima are interested in developing collaborations with the University of Illinois Springfield including faculty and student exchanges, internships, dual degrees and co-teaching of courses.”

The UIS team also discussed possible research collaborations addressing the links between urban waste activities, agriculture, and tourism in Illinois and Mexico; gender and politics in Latin America; and increasing the transnational visibility of women in the arts in Colima and women of Mexican ancestry in the arts in Illinois.

“Given that three women faculty were selected to represent UIS, we were especially impressed by the dedication to their campus and profession, innovative teaching and research, and interest in collaboration of many women faculty who worked with us during our visit,” said Seif.

Although the University of Colima is more than twice the size of UIS, it also has many first-generation college students and is a public university focused on developing leaders to strengthen their state socially and economically.

“The University of Colima has also been working to strengthen international ties between its faculty, students, and the state of Colima,” said Seif.

During the visit, Professor Crocker was chosen to serve as keynote speaker for the University of Colima’s Model United Nations, which was held the week they visited. Crocker was invited to discuss her research on gender parity and the role of the UN and other international organizations in promoting gender equality in the world and more particularly, in Latin America.

“The hospitality of the people we met was unbounded,” said Crocker. “Academically, we had a very full agenda organized by our colleagues at the University of Colima, which was very much connected to the goals of this trip to re-energize our partnership.”

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is an interdisciplinary public-private research institute located in Chicago, and is a hub of the Illinois Innovation network (IIN), a set of virtually connected clusters across the state. Led by the University of Illinois System with partners across the state, the DPI and IIN are the foundation for new partnerships and approaches that catalyze economic growth. World-class faculty, students, and companies will work side-by-side at the DPI to develop solutions, promote entrepreneurship, and empower inventors of the future.