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Stories about...Faculty/Staff Features

Wai-Tat Fu's Lab Partners with STEAM Studio To Make STEM, Spatial Reasoning Fun

February 21, 2017

Hundreds of local adults and children converged on Altgeld Hall on Saturday, January 28th for Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner. As they participated in the numerous puzzles, games, riddles, magic tricks, and other hands-on activities, they discovered that math is more than just figures and formulas.According to Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, organized this year’s event, “Math is play!” So numerous volunteers from Illinois’ Department of Mathematics, Illinois Geometry Lab, and Association for Women in Mathematics spent the afternoon showing members of the community that play can indeed be math—and that it’s fun.


Rosado Continues to Improve Engineering Camps, Grow the STEM Pipeline to Illinois

July 27, 2016

Sahid Rosado is a STEM outreach force to be reckoned with on the University of Illinois campus. After starting out as just an instructor for an Environmental Engineering G.A.M.E.S. camp session a few years ago, she is now the Outreach Coordinator for the College of Engineering and is in the process of not just improving but revolutionizing Illinois’ Engineering camps via the addition of middle school students as she seeks to grow the STEM pipeline to the University.

Akono Exposes Intrinsic High Students to the Mechanical Properties of Materials

March 8, 2016

“How are we going to fuel our civilization in the next decades, especially knowing that we’re kind of running out of fossil reserves? It really boils down to having a fundamental understanding of the mechanical properties of materials.”  – Ange-Therese Akono

Ange-Therese Akono, an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, is passionate about building innovative, strong, durable buildings. That’s why her research involves understanding the mechanical properties of materials used to construct them. Akono is also passionate about passing on her enthusiasm for materials to the next generation, particularly underserved students. So on January 18, 2016, Akono and eight of her graduate and undergraduate students hosted a Structural Mechanics Workshop for 28 juniors and seniors from Chicago’s Intrinsic High School.


Entomology Ph.D. student Tanya Josek Suarez & Josek Use Insects & Robots to Teach Bioinspiration at STEAM Studio

October 14, 2015

Taking a short break from their entomology research, Illinois Professor Andy Suarez and Ph.D. student Tanya Josek visited Next Generation School’s STEAM Studio, an after-school program that incorporates art into its STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math). There they taught the students about bioinspiration— how biology can inspire engineering. The two incorporated a variety of hands-on activities guaranteed to engage the youngsters, teaching them about a couple of their favorite subjects: insects and insect-inspired robots.


Sahid RosadoRosado's Summer 2015 Camps Expose Young People to Engineering...and Illinois

July 1, 2015

Sahid Rosado never dreamed when she signed on to teach an Environmental Engineering G.A.M.E.S. camp session a few years ago that she would end up where she is today—the reigning Queen of Illinois’ Engineering camps. As Outreach Coordinator for the College of Engineering, Rosado is ultimately responsible for 356 campers this summer—and she loves it.


Marty BurkeBurke Hopes to Cure Disease, "Hook" Students, Via Molecule-Making Machine

May 21, 2015

Marty Burke’s life-long dream was to become a doctor. Then one day, while chatting with a 22-year-old patient with cystic fibrosis whom he was helping to care for, he had an epiphany:

“We had this big conversation about her disease,” recalls Burke, “and I was telling her—because I had just learned about it—down to the molecular level, exactly what was wrong with her. And she said to me, ‘If you know exactly what’s wrong with me, why can’t you fix it?’ It was one of those totally life-changing conversations.”


Cliff GulyashGulyash, MechSE Machine Shop Solve Problems, Save Money…and Recruit

January 20, 2015

What I have is a lifetime of solving problems by building anything and everything that’s been given to me.” – Clifford Gulyash

Clifford Gulyash, who heads up MechSE’s Machine Shop, doesn’t have an engineering degree. “What I do have is a basic understanding of how to make things,” he modestly explains. And he’s been making things since he was a six-year-old.

He shares an anecdote about his early proclivity for making things: “I started building as soon as I could pick up a hammer, and when I was five or six, I built my first go-cart, put a sail on it, and ended up getting into trouble going down the street. That’s a true story.”

Sung Woo NamSungWoo Nam Creates Virtual Lab, Promotes Undergraduate Research

November 19, 2014

SungWoo Nam, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering, appreciates the little things—the really little things—like on the nanoscale or the atomic level. However, when it comes to STEM education, he likes to work with students across the entire spectrum: graduate students, undergraduates, and even high school students. But his passion is exposing a sometimes overlooked group—college sophomores—to the wonders and the rewards of research, like his own research on nanoscale devices and materials, particularly graphene.

left to right: Gaurav Bahl, Benjamin Sohn, and Uni High School seniorMechSE's Gaurav Bahl Promotes Outreach and Undergrad Research

October 14, 2014

While MechSE Assistant Professor Gaurav Bahl is passionate about his research—opto-mechanics —he also believes university folk should get outside the four walls of their labs and impact the community. Plus, he's passionate about mentoring students, especially undergrads. So when he recently shared his expertise with some seniors at Uni High, he invited a couple of his students to tag along to share what they know and to experience outreach for themselves.

Randy EwoldtMechSE's Ewoldt Brings Rheology Down to a Level Learners of All Ages Can Grasp

October 6, 2014

"If you really understand something, you can explain it to somebody else in a simple enough way to bring it down to their level, wherever that level might be." – Randy Ewoldt

And what Assistant Professor Randy Ewoldt of Illinois' Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering understands really well is fluid mechanics, particularly rheology. Bringing it down to a level most folks could understand, he defines it as: "the study of how things squish and deform when you push on them."

Daniel WassermanECE's Daniel Wasserman Does "Whatever It Takes to Get Students to Learn"

September 25, 2014

Assistant Professor Daniel Wasserman of Illinois' Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) has never met a STEM education challenge he hasn't liked. While he enjoys working with Illinois engineering students (whom he says "are, of course, top, top students, and they're fantastic"), for a change of pace—and maybe a challenge—he likes to work with non-engineering college students, high school students, even grade-schoolers.

Donna CoxPopcorn Anyone? Cox's Advanced Visualization Lab Makes Science Data As Much Fun as the Movies

March 31, 2014

"At my heart and soul, I am really a graphic information designer, and that's primarily what I do—it's like being an engineer of information, only visually putting it out there." Donna Cox, Advanced Visualization Lab

There's an old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." However, comparing a picture to the visualizations that Donna Cox, the Director of the Advanced Visualization Lab, and her team produce is like comparing Alexander Graham Bell's original invention to an i-phone: while they might perform the same basic function, the latter, with its bells and whistles, is a whole lot more fun. But while one picture can tell a story, Cox's multi-sensory, 3-D, high-def motion picture experiences present the essence of copious amounts of technical data in an unforgettable, yet totally accurate, manner. While entertaining, these visualizations are highly useful to help scientists and decision-makers understand large data sets, as well as for both formal and informal teaching and learning.

Mats SelenMats Selen—Changing the Way Physics is Taught

October 8, 2013

"Well I have to confess, I was always in the closet about teaching. I did all my research, but I secretly always loved teaching as much as I did research, probably more…so suddenly, if they could be the same things, what could be better?" – Mats Selen, Physics Professor

Mats Selen loves teaching physics, and he's not ashamed to admit it. After 20 years doing particle physics research, which he found to be both exciting and rewarding, when a successful experiment of his ended, he figured, "This might not be a bad time to switch what I am doing. So I thought to turn over a new leaf and come out of the closet and be a real-life teacher all the way around."

Martha GilletteMartha Gillette's Favorite Dish? Interdisciplinary Research

February 5, 2013

Martha Gillette has always been a maverick. For years, she has been a pioneer in interdisciplinary research—comfortably rubbing shoulders with chemists and engineers and, for a biologist, thinking outside the box.

Gillette calls herself a neuroscientist and biologist; in many of the collaborative projects in which she's been involved, such as the NSF-funded EBICS (Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems) project, she's the "token biologist." However, based on her current research—emerging technologies for studying neurons—which uses engineering approaches to study neuro-development, she appears to be veering over into neuroengineering...

Carrie KouadioNano-CEMMS' Carrie Kouadio Finds Teaching Nanotechnology Rewarding

November 6, 2012

The Nano-CEMMS education program seems to have a pattern of offering top-notch educators stimulating science programs as bait, getting them hooked, then reeling them in. For example, the story of how Carrie Kouadio, an integral part of the Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (Nano-CEMMS) education team ended up there is similar to those of several other members of the team: She was a science teacher who came to Nano-CEMMS to participate in teacher development to improve her skills and liked it so much that she stayed.

Sua Myong works with Allegra Amos during lesson on plasmids.Myong, BioE Undergrads Expose Middle Schoolers to DNA/Cell Measurement

October 31, 2012

On Wednesday afternoons, a number of Illinois bioengineering undergrads can be found at Jefferson Middle School teaching seventh and eighth graders about science. The brain child of Bioengineering professor Sua Myong, this year-long, after-school outreach program funded by the Center for the Physics of Living Cells meets once a week to expose students to techniques used to measure things in cell biology.

Irfan AhmadThe Face of Nanotechnology at Illinois, CNST Promotes Interdisciplinary Collaboration

September 14, 2012

Illinois' Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) works to provide training and to foster collaboration in nanotechnology at the intersection of engineering and biology. Why should engineers need to learn about biology? According to Irfan Ahmad, Executive Director of CNST, the national academies have identified the 21st century as the century of biology.

Jennifer DocktorSTEM Pipeline Alive and Well as Science Olympiad Impacts
Former Contestant's STEM Career Choice

May 25, 2011

GET YOUNGSTERS HOOKED ON STEM when they're young, and when they're old, they'll choose STEM careers! Theoretically, that's how the STEM (science, engineering, technology and/or mathematics) pipeline is supposed to work, and Dr. Jennifer Docktor's journey along the pipeline is a perfect example. She began her voyage by getting involved in Science Olympiad at the age of 12 and credits her years in the science competition as playing a big part in her decision to enter the field of physics education.

Michael LouiRobots and Real-World Problems:
Michael Loui Tackles Engineering Education

October 24, 2011

Building robots and designing machines that solve real-world problems—it doesn't sound like the work of college freshmen, but professors in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois have found that first-year engineering students are up to the challenge. Problem-based learning is a teaching method that gives students a specific problem to solve and leaves it up to them to come up with the solution. Engineering faculty have been using problem-based learning, or as engineers call it, design laboratory, for years. They have seen the benefits of the technique first-hand: it promotes problem-solving skills, develops creative skills, increases student retention, and promotes students' confidence in the subject area.

Jennifer Amos demonstrating Atomic Force Microscope to igert grad students.Amos's Atomic Microscope Gives Students Close-Up Look at Cells

August 26, 2011

A few adventurous young bioengineers are taking cell research to a whole new level—the atomic level. University of Illinois bioengineering students now have access to a new tool for looking at cells called an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). In March, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust provided the $290,000 machine, in the form of a grant, to the university and to bioengineering lecturer Jennifer Amos. Amos will lead a new class this fall called “The Bioreactor Lab” that will focus on teaching students about the use Atomic Force Microscopy in bioengineering.

Anne Baranger
Chancellor's Fellow Anne Baranger to Study evaluation methods for STEM departments

September 2, 2009

Dr. Anne Baranger, Associate Professor in Chemistry, has recently been named an I-STEM Chancellors Fellow for fiscal year 2010. Her mission is to develop a method to evaluate teaching and instruction in STEM departments and to establish a campus STEM education task force.