Tuesday, August 11, 2009

UIS faculty members receive MicrobeLibrary Editor's Choice Awards

Two University of Illinois Springfield professors are the recipients of a 2009 Editor’s Choice Award from MicrobeLibrary as announced by the American Society for Microbiology. The Editor’s Choice Awards were created to spotlight learning resources that demonstrate excellence in teaching and learning in microbiology and biology education.

Dr. Michael Lemke, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Keith Miller, professor of computer science, received the 2009 Visual Collection Award for Video for their work on a video called “Mud and Microbes: A Time-Lapse Photographic Exploration of a Sediment Bacterial Community,” created in collaboration with Roza George of the University of Georgia and former UIS undergraduate.

Lemke and George photographed a window pane of mud each day for one and a half months, and Miller condensed the shots into a 90-second video. Noticeable changes can be seen in the mud during that time due to the growth of microorganisms with a variety of different colors.

“Even though most people know that microorganisms are all around and in us, we often don’t have a good appreciation for them because they are so small,” noted Lemke. “Once students see the changes and start to understand how relatively quickly the microbes are changing their environment, you have a chance to teach the chemistry and biology behind the changing colors.”

The simple experiment shown in the video highlights the fact that tiny microbes are vital to earth even though they go unnoticed by most people, Miller added.

“The video is short, and we hope it is engaging and entertaining. But we also hope it gets people interested in what is going on inside the mud that makes all those strange colors appear,” Miller said.

MicrobeLibrary is a founding partner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s BiosciEdNet Collaborative, a portal sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library.

The American Society for Microbiology is the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world, composed of more than 43,000 scientists and health professionals.

For more information, contact Dr. Lemke at 217/206-7339 or Dr. Miller at 217/206-7327.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Honors received by UIS faculty, alumnus at national CLS meeting

Paula Garrott, interim director of the Science Division and Emeritus Associate Professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at the University of Illinois Springfield, received the Robin H. Mendelson Memorial Award at the recent national convention of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS).

Garrott was nominated for the award by the Board of Directors for her continuing advocacy for clinical laboratory science and her work as chair of the Coordinating Council on the Clinical Laboratory Workforce (CCCLW) over the past three years. As chair of CCCLW, Garrott led the cooperative effort of medical laboratory stakeholders to ensure an adequate supply of laboratory professionals.

The Robin H. Mendelson Memorial Award was established in 1971 to honor the memory of a young man who struggled for five years to survive kidney dialysis and two transplants during the infancy of the technology. The award honors outstanding service and contributions to clinical laboratory science, and Garrott is one of few people who have received this award multiple times.

Only the president, officers and representatives of ASCLS are eligible for the Mendelson Award. The award was presented at the national meeting held July 21 to 25 in Chicago.

Also at the national meeting, Dr. Timothy Randolph, a 1983 graduate the UIS Clinical Laboratory Science program, was elected to be Region VI Director and to serve on the Board of Directors of ASCLS. He was also awarded the Grant-in-Aid, Unrestricted, for research in clinical laboratory science. Randolph is currently an associate professor at St. Louis University.

ASCLS is the preeminent organization for clinical laboratory science practitioners, providing dynamic leadership and vigorous promotion of all aspects of clinical laboratory science practice, education and management to ensure excellent, accessible cost-effective laboratory services for the consumers of health care.

For more information, contact Linda McCown, director of the Clinical Laboratory Sciences program at UIS, at 217/206-7550, or Paula Garrott at 217/206-7348.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

UIS designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education

The University of Illinois at Springfield has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) for academic years 2009 through 2014. The award was made by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security, joint sponsors of the CAEIAE program.

The program is designed to help reduce the vulnerability of the nation’s information infrastructure, according to Dr. Ted Mims, Chair of UIS’ Computer Science Department and Director of The Center of Systems Security and Information Assurance within the department.

“This award gives UIS the prestige of having a role in securing our nation’s information systems,” Mims said. “The Department of Computer Science applied for the designation on behalf of UIS in January. The application was reviewed against nine stringent criteria, which are intended to measure the depth and maturity of UIS programs in Information Assurance at the graduate and undergraduate levels.”

Mims said the department has developed and offered courses in Systems Security and Information Assurance during the last six years. In September 2003, UIS became a partner with seven community colleges in a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that was used to create The Center of Systems Security and Information Assurance at UIS.

Mims noted that a prerequisite for being considered for the academic excellence designation was certification of all Information Assurance educational programming and courseware. UIS’ courseware, evaluated in 2006, was found to meet the national training standards of the Committee on National Security Systems.

To date, Mims said 19 students have earned bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science with an emphasis in Systems Security and Information Assurance. And a total of 11 graduate certificates in Systems Security and 12 graduate certificates in Information Assurance have been awarded.

Following the five-year period, UIS must reapply for the designation. Mims said the criteria are reviewed annually and strengthened as appropriate to keep pace with the evolving nature of Information Assurance. Students who attend UIS and participate in programs affiliated with the CAE are eligible to apply for scholarships and grants from the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for Service Program.

A ceremony recognizing UIS’ achievement will be held on June 1-3 at the 13th Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education in Seattle, Washington.

The Center of Systems Security and Information Assurance at UIS is dedicated to promoting research and education in information security, assurance, and privacy. The Center’s website, designed by Sviatoslav Braynov, assistant professor of Computer Science, can be viewed at http://csc.uis.edu/center/.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

UIS celebrates Health Awareness Day

The University of Illinois’ Masters in Public Health Student Association and Campus Health Services held the 11th annual Health Awareness Day on Wednesday, April 8, to educate the campus and Springfield community about positive health practices.

Representatives from area organizations like the local hospitals and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health were on hand to provide health screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density and more, as well as staff from UIS' Recreation and Athletic Cent.er

Keynote speaker Dr. John K. Lee, a first-year resident in Family Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, kicked off the day with his program titled “The secret of supplements: do they really work?”

Lee touched on several popular supplements, including amino acids, anabolic steroids, caffeine and more, and discussed effects of the supplements on athletic performance and on the body itself.

"There are a large number of Americans using supplements, and it's a huge business," he said. "But you have to be careful when you're buying them about what they claim. There are no regulations with supplements like there are with medications, so you should take them with a grain of salt and take into consideration the benefits opposed to the adverse effects."

One example he gave was ephedrine, which is used commonly in products like Hydroxycut touted for muscle gain and fat loss, but also many other products.

"It's really important when looking at all of these supplements to read the labels," Lee said. "A lot of supplements are being sold over and over again under different product names."

UIS’ Health Awareness Day is held in coordination with National Public Health Week, which is organized by the American Public Health Association. The theme of this year’s National Public Health Week is “Building the Foundation for a Healthy America.”

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Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 Expanding Your Horizons conference helps girls explore careers in math, science and technology

By Courtney Westlake

Kelly Cochran, flight director for the Challenger Learning Center in Bloomington, was so thrilled with her experience while attending the Expanding Your Horizons conference when she was young that she decided to come back and teach a program during the 2009 conference.

"I love what I do, and I'm so pleased to be able to share it with other people," she said. "I've had a lot of people in my lifetime that have pushed me and helped me grow, and I like to share those tools and toys I've gained from other people. It's fun for me to be able to return and be one of those presenters who was so cool when I was a student."

Cochran was one of 45 professional women in fields of math, science or technology who led a program during the 22nd annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math, Science and Technology on Saturday, March 14, at UIS to give girls in 6th, 7th and 8th grades the opportunity to learn about various topics and careers within math, technology and science.

Participants chose to attend three interactive and hands-on workshops from more than 20 offered. The workshops focused on topics such as computer animation, bone engineering, photography, crime investigation, architecture, astronomy and much more.

Many cutting-edge careers of the future will involve science, math and technology and will be wide open to well-prepared young women. The workshops for the girls allowed participants to interact with successful local women who are scientists, physicians, engineers, architects and professionals in many other careers traditionally held by men.

Hundreds of local junior high school girls attended the conference, along with their parents who were able to attend workshops about planning for college and helping teens cope with stress.

"Twenty-two years ago, Expanding Your Horizons began on this campus with 50 girls participating; now we have 350 present today," said Sue Garland, co-president of the American Association of University Women- Springfield branch. The AAUW presents the conference each year, and it is co-sponsored by UIS and the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois.

"This is an introduction to some of the many career possibilities that will be open to you," Garland told the participants. "There are 45 professional women here to share their knowledge and experience with you. Each has worked hard and overcome obstacles to get to their career of choice. They have helped open doors for you, the women of the future."

Carolyn Ringeisen, wife of UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen, reminded the attendees that the most important thing they can do in life is to get an education.

"Women are desperately needed in the sciences," she said. "I'm always impressed at this event by the areas of sciences represented, so I hope you will find something that sparks your interest."

Presenters used a variety of materials and projects to give attendees an idea about what they do on a day-to-day basis in their careers in math, science and technology. Dr. Rachel Boyce, an equine veterinarian with O'Keefe Equine Health Service, even brought a furry, four-legged friend to campus.

"Becoming a vet is certainly one choice in order to spend your career with horses if you have slant toward biology," Boyce told the young girls in her workshop. "There are about 7 million horses in the U.S., and they all need veterinary care. So if it's something you're interested in, it's extremely rewarding, and I enjoy it very much."

Participants in Boyce's program, called "Horsin' Around," were able to listen to a horse's heartbeat, which beats at about half the rate as a human heart, she said, as well as feed him treats and brush him.

During Cochran's workshop, called "Building Strong Structures for Space - And Earth Too!", participants learned how to create modular polyhedrons as if they were building a structure for the moon. She used paper, clay and popsicle sticks for her projects to create the moon structures.

"And then of course, one thing you have to contend with on the moon is moonquakes, so we actually shake their structures to see what would happen to the structure in that situation," she said with a smile.

To view video, photo and written coverage from the 2008 conference, go here.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Board of Trustees approves new MIS bachelor's degree at UIS

Establishment of a new bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) at the University of Illinois at Springfield was approved today by the U of I Board of Trustees. The degree, within the College of Business and Management, will now be reviewed for approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

The undergraduate major in MIS will provide students with a business and information systems background that can be used to analyze, design, manage and implement complex information and decision-support systems and communication networks.

“The MIS major will give students a foundation in business and skills in management information systems,” said MIS Professor Rassule Hadidi. “The degree will have a business focus with a systems application set of skills, thereby bridging the gap between technical and business specialists.”

Hadidi noted that the degree will foster a collaborative learning environment to prepare graduates for positions in the private and public sectors capable of successfully responding to the business and organizational environment in a knowledge-based economy. “The current global economy relies heavily on global network infrastructure and information processing. Therefore, the demand for graduates of the program exists at local, national and international levels,” he said.

Following approval by the IBHE, the degree will be offered beginning in the fall of 2010. However, certain courses within the degree will be offered as soon as this fall.

The degree will be offered in a blended format whereby the number of on-campus sessions is reduced by half over the completion of the degree. Half of the sessions among the courses required are held online, reducing the need to commute to campus.

UIS already offers a Master of Science degree in MIS and graduate certificates in IT Project Management, Business Process Management, and Digital Organizations. Other degrees offered in the College of Business and Management are Accountancy (B.A., M.A.), Business Administration (B.B.A., M.B.A.), Economics (B.A.), and Management (B.A.)

At the UIS Peoria Center, the B.A. in Accountancy and in Management are offered as well as academic minors in Accountancy and Management Information Systems. Also, the Master of Business Administration is offered by cohort in an accelerated weekend format. The degree, designed to be completed in two years, is geared toward students who are working fulltime.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Brazilian professor visits UIS and Emiquon for research

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Luiz Felipe Machado Velho decided he couldn't pass up an opportunity to travel to the United States to participate in scientific research, so he gave up his "summer vacation" to work and learn at UIS and the Emiquon Project this winter. Velho is currently visiting UIS from the State University of Maringa, located in southern Brazil.

UIS has been connected with scientists from the University of Maringa for many years. Dr. Mike Lemke, professor of biology at UIS, traveled to Brazil several years ago and even co-wrote a published paper with Velho's colleagues in Brazil.

"Dr. Lemke came to Brazil and started a collaborative project with our group, who has also been working on big rivers," Velho said.

Velho said this is his first visit to the United States, and he thinks it is a "really great" area. He has been living in UIS campus housing, and his family is also visiting with him since it is summer in Brazil, and they are on break. Being from Brazil, this is the first time he and his family have seen snow, ice and winter.

Velho said he especially loves the Emiquon Field Station and surrounding area, including Thompson Lake. Emiquon, located about an hour northwest of Springfield, is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the country, and the field station, which was dedicated in spring 2008, is directed by Lemke.

"It's a beautiful, amazing place," Velho said. "It was very fun to be there during this ice period. I've been used to taking samples in a boat in Brazil. Here, we walked on the ice and cut the ice to take samples."

While Velho and Lemke both work on microbes in freshwater systems, Lemke specializes in work on bacteria, and Velho works on protozoa, which are simple-celled organisms only slightly more complex than bacteria. The two brought their expertises together to work on a project at Emiquon.

From March to November in 2008, Lemke and his crews collected water samples from Thompson Lake and Lake Chautauqua. They are currently discovering information about the water quality conditions and how the microbes respond.

"Felipe's work complements mine, helping me to bridge the ecological links from nutrients to bacteria to protozoa," Lemke said. "The picture that is developing is fascinating. The bacteria community definitely is responding to the weekly changes in the water. We are just now uncovering the protozoa patterns."

There is a second aspect to Velho's work at Emiquon as well. He is also trying to find new molecular techniques to identify the very small and complex protozoa, he said.

Lemke said he was honored to collaborate with Velho on this project.

"The group from U of Maringa, Brazil, are experts in floodplain studies; it is a privilege to have him working with us," Lemke said. "We hope to describe the microbial community in floodplain lakes like Thompson. A better understanding will allow us to understand linkages between nutrients, lake conditions, and links to other parts of the food web."

Velho said he hopes to return to UIS and Emiquon in the near future and looks forward to working together with Lemke on future endeavors.

"Our intention is to get a real collaborative project together and bring UIS students to Brazil and of course bring students from the U of Maringa here," he said.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

UIS faculty-student team publishes videos in national science collection

Two UIS faculty members and a former UIS student have published videos in the American Society for Microbiology's MicrobeLibrary Visual Collection.

"Mud and Microbes: a Time-Lapse Photographic Exploration of a Sediment Bacterial Community" is the work of Michael Lemke, associate professor of Biology; Keith Miller, professor of Computer Science; and Roza George, a former Capital Scholar at UIS now at the University of Georgia.

Lemke explained that the video is a time-lapse series that examines 40 days of experimental change of light using microbes that live in mud.

The ASM Visual Collection is a clearinghouse of high-quality, peer-reviewed images, animations, and videos about the microbial world for educators, primarily at the undergraduate level. The collection is part of the MicrobeLibrary, an online, searchable collection of more than 2,000 resources.

Susan Bagley, editor-in-chief of the Visual Collection, notes that the UIS videos are "important additions. We owe the success of the MicrobeLibrary to the high quality resources submitted by authors who are committed to sharing their scholarship of teaching and learning with a broader community of educators."

The American Society for Microbiology, the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world, has as its mission the promotion of research and training in the microbiological sciences and the facilitation of communication between scientists, policy makers, and the public.

MicrobeLibrary is a founding partner of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences BiosciEdNet Collaborative, a portal sponsored by the National Science Foundation's National Science Digital Library.

Access the UIS video.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

UIS receives grant to purchase elemental analyzer

New equipment will boost research capabilities in several areas

The University of Illinois at Springfield has received a grant from the National Science Foundation for the addition of an instrument that will improve the quality of research, teaching and outreach in many of the university's science departments, including at UIS' Emiquon Field Station.

The instrument, called a Carbon-Hydrogen-Nitrogen (CHN) Elemental Analyzer, was obtained thanks to a grant proposal written by Drs. Hua Chen and Michael Lemke, assistant and associate professors, respectively, of Biology at UIS.

"It is very beneficial for our teaching and research to have this equipment," said Dr. Chen. "The departments of Biology and Chemistry can potentially use this instrument in several of their courses. Students will learn how carbon and nitrogen analysis is conducted, and they can then generate datasets."

Chen said that hands-on training on the CHN Elemental Analyzer will help students develop an appreciation of carbon and nutrient cycling, as well as enhance their skills in advanced environmental instrumentation analysis, all of which has implications for research in such fields as the effects of global warming and species change on ecosystems.

Faculty at UIS are currently conducting three state or federally funded research projects that require measurement of carbon and nitrogen content of soil and plant samples. Having direct access to the CHN Elemental Analyzer will mean that they will no longer need to send samples away for analysis.

"This will allow us to do analysis on additional samples for more comprehensive results," Dr. Lemke said. "We will also be able to use the equipment for outreach and train others to use it."

The equipment will benefit research going on at UIS’ field station at the Emiquon Preserve, one of the country’s largest river floodplain restoration sites located near Lewistown and Havana.

"One key topic here is restoration ecology," said Chen. "As Emiquon is transformed from a cropland back into a wetland, there will be many changes over time, and with our new piece of equipment, we will be able to examine the changes of carbon and nitrogen storage."

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Monday, May 05, 2008

UIS will offer basic GIS skills workshop

The Geographic Information Systems Laboratory at UIS will present "Using GIS to Explore Your Community: A Fundamental GIS Applications Workshop," a daylong program, on Friday, May 16. The workshop is designed for anyone with a beginning interest in spatial visualization and mapping. Basic computer skills and familiarity with Microsoft Office are the only prerequisites. Advance registration is required and space is limited. Read more>>

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