Wednesday, November 20, 2019

UIS Professor Jason Pierceson publishes encyclopedia on LGBTQ Politics

University of Illinois Springfield Professor of Political Science Jason Pierceson recently published the encyclopedia “LGBTQ Americans in the U.S. Political System: An Encyclopedia of Activists, Voters, Candidates, and Officeholders” with academic publishing company ABC-CLIO.

The two-volume work includes introductory essays on LGBTQ candidates, elected officials and voters, as well as more than 250 entries on important events, issues, organizations and people in the LGBTQ rights movement. It also includes a timeline of important events in addition to noteworthy government documents, court cases and speeches by LGBTQ candidates and activists. The encyclopedia covers people and events from the early-twentieth century through the 2018 elections.

Among the politicians profiled in the work are pathbreaking candidates and officials such as José Sarria, Kathy Kozachenko, Elaine Noble, Harvey Milk, Danica Roem, Kate Brown, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Kyrsten Sinema, Sharice Davids and Pete Buttigieg. Activists profiled include Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, Marsha P. Johnson, Cleve Jones, Larry Kramer and Bayard Rustin.

Pierceson is the author or co-author of several books on same-sex marriage and sexuality and politics, including “Same-Sex Marriage in the Americas: Policy Innovation for Same-Sex Relationships,” “Courts, Liberalism and Rights: Gay Law and Politics in the United States and Canada,” “Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The Road to the Supreme Court” and “Sexual Minorities in Politics: An Introduction.”

Pierceson’s commentary and writings have appeared in such media outlets as The New York Times, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. He has also served as an expert witness in federal civil rights litigation.

For more information, contact Pierceson at 217-206-7842 or

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Melissa Van honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

University of Illinois Springfield senior Melissa Van was honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois on Nov. 16 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Van, a Lincoln, Illinois native and graduate of Lincoln Community High School, is majoring in business administration at UIS with a concentration in marketing and minoring in management. She plans to graduate from UIS in December.

She is a first-generation Vietnamese-American student whose parents immigrated to the United States seeking freedom. Growing up, she learned a lot about the customs and cultures of Vietnam, while learning to speak two different languages.

“I believe those experiences in my early years and throughout my young adulthood have helped me become more open-minded to everything and everyone around me,” she said. “My parents work hard to support my two sisters and me. When I can, I try to reduce the stress my parents may feel by working hard to achieve my potential.”

Van says her primary goal has always been to earn a college degree, something her parents weren’t able to do, and further her education.

“Even as a small child, I would finish all of my homework correctly so my parents would not have to help me after a long day at work,” she said. “I had to become independent at a very young age.”

In high school, Van worked in a field tending to blueberries the summer, worked as an assistant nail technician at her family’s business and worked at several restaurants in order to support her goal of obtaining a college degree.

“My jobs allowed me to experience first-hand the challenges that come with communicating with customers, whether face-to-face or through a fast food speaker,” she said.

At UIS, Van has worked as an orientation leader, served as a peer mentor for the Capital Scholars Honors Program and treasurer for the Legacy Dance team. She has also worked as a Research Student Interviewer for the UIS Survey Research Office collecting social science data.

“During my time at UIS, I have joined many groups and clubs to find out what all I enjoy,” she said.

Van has also served as the marketing coordinator for the Student Activities Committee and the Asian Student Organization and the vice president of the Community Garden Club. She has also been a member of the Vietnamese Student Association, Students Allied for a Greener Earth, the Social Media Advisory Committee, Sigma Alpha Phi (the National Society of Leadership and Success), Beta Gamma Sigma (The International Business Honor Society) and the Student Organization Funding Association.

She recently completed an internship with Aflac and had her artwork published in Dave Kinzer’s book “The 60s Music Compendium.”

“UIS offers a comfortable environment where I can focus on my studies,” she said. “The campus is large enough to meet new people every day, but not so small that I would know everyone.”

Following graduation from UIS, she plans move to Arizona and further her education while applying for jobs.

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.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

UIS student Natalie Kerr presents her research at the international Falling Walls Lab competition in Berlin, Germany

Natalie Kerr, a senior majoring in chemistry at the University of Illinois Springfield from Washington, Illinois, recently presented her research at the international Falling Walls Lab competition in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 8, 2019.

She earned the all-expenses-paid trip after winning the Falling Walls Lab Illinois competition to earn the title of Illinois Young Innovator of the Year.

In Berlin, Kerr presented her research on “Breaking the wall of nutrient pollution,” where she proposed an environmentally friendly solution to curb the problems created by excess nitrates carried via agricultural and urban runoff.

“The people that I met throughout the whole conference were all there to better the world and support current research and innovation,” said Kerr. “My fellow competitors taught me so much. The compassion, support, and lifelong bonds that we built despite being each other’s ‘competition’ said a lot about the international and interdisciplary collaboration that is being advocated for and that is becoming more and more necessary in our world.”

The Illinois Falling Walls Lab competition was presented by the Illinois Innovation Network, a group of 15 university-based hubs across the state that aims to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research and workforce development.

Kerr won the Illinois Young Innovator of the Year title against a field of 12 finalists, young researchers and entrepreneurs who represented five of the state’s public universities.

Falling Walls Lab is a fast-paced contest where competitors have just three minutes to propose and answer questions on a research-based solution to a global problem. A total of 100 students from all around the world presented at the international Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin.

Before the competition, participants got to talk with editors from the academic publishing company Springer Nature, the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD and prominent German research institutions.

Watch Kerr's presentation at the 2:55 mark
Direct Link

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford honored with Community Leadership Award

Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and The Outlet Director Michael Phelon present UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford with the award.
University of Illinois Springfield Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford was honored with the 2019 Community Leadership Award from The Outlet, a Springfield-based non-profit young men’s mentoring initiative, during their gala on Nov. 2, 2019 at the Wyndham Springfield City Centre.

According to the organization, Ford was honored with the award for her senior leadership stewarding programs and services that contribute to student development and success both inside the classroom and beyond. At UIS, she created a first-generation student credit bearing class and mentoring program called the Black Male Collegiate Society.

The Outlet is a young men’s mentoring initiative (501c3) committed to providing members with support to ease their emotional, educational, and spiritual passage from boyhood to manhood. The organization aims to help young fatherless youth ages (8-22) develop the ability and skill to be capable of making responsible life decisions, holding real and meaningful spiritual values, explore their gifts, talents and realizing their dreams and aspirations.