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Brief Notes

Engineering Open House

Unlocking Potential’ is focus March 13-14

To demonstrate the best of engineering at Illinois, the Engineering Council presents the 89th annual Engineering Open House, “Unlocking Potential,” March 13-14. From the four-story Concrete Crusher to Eye Mouse to a presentation by “MythBuster’s” host Grant Imahara, there’s something for everyone. 

The event will be held on the engineering campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 13, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 14.

The free event offers simple hands-on experiments demonstrating the latest advanced technologies from research labs and classrooms.

Imahara, host of the Science Channel’s “MythBusters,” will talk at 7:30 p.m. March 13 in Foellinger Auditorium. Once an animatronics engineer and model-maker for George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, Imahara has credits on movies such as “Star Wars,” “Terminator 3” and most recently, “Van Helsing.” His book, “Kickin’ Bot: An Illustrated Guide to Building Combat Robots” is a highly regarded guide for combat robot-building enthusiasts. Free tickets may be picked up from the ticket booth near Grainger Engineering Library during open house.

The open house again will feature design contests for middle-school, high-school and college-level students. The visitor’s booth tent (west of Grainger) will provide visitor’s guides and student-guided tours. Prospective college students or interested parents also may attend a presentation by Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the college, followed by a question-and-answer panel in Everitt Laboratory on both days. 

Area 51, located between the Everitt Laboratory and Engineering Hall, will provide live music and food for the public. Free parking will be available in Lot E-14 at Kirby Avenue and First Street in Champaign, west of the Assembly Hall, with free shuttle bus service throughout the day.

Beckman Open House

Insight into innovation explored March 13-14

A chance to journey through the molecular world of photosynthesis, look on as atoms are formed into letters, and watch the unrehearsed reactions of friends and family to strange objects are just some of the extraordinary experiences awaiting visitors March 13-14 at Beckman Institute Open House 2009. 

The event will be held at the institute from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 13, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 14. Metered parking is available in the parking deck across from the institute.

The open house will feature more than 30 exhibits highlighting the work taking place at one of the nation’s leading centers for interdisciplinary research. Interactive displays, demonstrations of scientific projects, and firsthand looks at some of the innovative technologies being developed at the institute will bring visitors into the interesting and important world of Beckman research. 

Many exhibits will demonstrate the birth of technologies at the institute, such as an inexpensive dipstick sensor that could revolutionize chemical testing and medical diagnostics.

The Beckman Café will be open for meals, snacks and beverages.

Elder Law Lecture

Retirement risk management discussed

Olivia S. Mitchell will present the 2009 Ann F. Baum Memorial Elder Law Lecture at 12:30 p.m. March 9 in the Max Rowe Auditorium at the UI College of Law. A reception will follow.

Mitchell’s lecture, “New Challenges for Retirement Risk Management,” will review key findings from recent research on accumulation and decumulation for retirement, as well as products that will help make retirement more secure.

At the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Mitchell is the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor, chair of the insurance and risk management department, and director of the Pension Research Council. She also is director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement at the university. She is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and has consulted for the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Treasury and the World Bank. Mitchell received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and holds a M.A. degree from Wisconsin, as well as a B.A. from Harvard University.

The lecture is hosted by the Elder Law Journal.

‘How Do Fat Cells Communicate?’

Guest talks about obesity and diabetes

Obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, affecting children and adults. An estimated 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and an estimated 7 percent of the population has diabetes.

Dr. Barbara B. Kahn, one of the leading diabetes investigators in the U.S., will summarize her research findings and suggest interventions that can be developed to address the problem of obesity in the U.S. Her talk, “How Do Our Fat Cells Communicate With Other Organs and the Brain? The Adipocyte as a Master Regulator,” is the inaugural Dr. Willard J. and Priscilla F. Visek Lecture. The lecture begins at 4 p.m. March 9 in the Alice Campbell Alumni Center Ballroom.

Kahn, the George R. Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, also is  chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

She will provide an overview of novel advances in understanding the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes and highlight her research on intertissue communication in the regulation of food intake, body weight and glucose homeostasis.

Because of the broad appeal of the topic, the College of Medicine is partnering with Center for Advanced Study/MillerComm in sponsoring Kahn’s address.

Five  professors will present short presentations preceding Kahn’s address beginning at 1 p.m. Presentations will focus on obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Civil service employees and dependents

Scholarship applications due April 3

Applications for Civil Service Employees and Dependent Scholarships are now available electronically through the Staff Human Resources home page at www.pso.uiuc.edu. Printed copies can be obtained from civil service representatives Barney Bryson (bdbryson@illinois.edu), Gary Fry (glfry@illinois.edu), Janet Davis (jmdavid@illinois.edu) or Debra Hilligoss (hilligos@illinois.edu).

The application deadline is April 3. Typically recipients are selected the second week in May with an award ceremony held in early June. The committee tries to award about eight scholarships each year to qualified individuals pursuing degrees at an accredited college or university.

Food and entertainment

Annual International Dinner is March 15

The 26th Annual International Dinner and Performance Night will be from 6 to 8 p.m. March 15 at the University YMCA.

The dinner is held each spring in partnership with the Cosmopolitan Club, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, and the University YMCA. Each year, international performers entertain the audience with dancing, singing and other forms of performance art as diners enjoy a buffet of dishes from more than 30 countries.

Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the University YMCA. Seats are limited. More information is available at www.universityymca.org or 337-1500.

If you are interested in cooking a dish for the dinner, e-mail Andrea Shields: cosmo307@gmail.com.

Wellness Center/UI Extension

Do you want to ‘Walk to the Moon’

UI Wellness Center and UI Extension of Champaign County are sponsoring the Moon Walk, a 10-week “race to the moon” to encourage people to walk more and reap the related health benefits.

Registration is $5 and $2 for children 12 and under. Families, businesses, organizations, churches or neighborhoods can create a team, which is a minimum of five people. To register or find out more, go to www.campusrec.uiuc.edu/wellnesscenter or call 333-7672.


‘Chili, Soups and Stews’ featured

What’s appealing about comfort foods like chili, soup and stew? Taste is part of the attraction, but following tradition and connecting with friends and family also play a role, according to people who submitted recipes for WILL-TV’s newest cooking show. “Chili, Soups and Stews” will be broadcast at 7 p.m. March 9.

Jodi Francis, of Champaign, upholds the tradition of making Hazel’s chili from her mother-in-law’s recipe every winter, while Ericka Crist, of Atwood, feeds her own family with the same minestrone soup with herb garlic garnish she created as a teenager. Ephie Crain, of Tilton, knows that her vegetable beef soup is considered a staple of her family’s annual wienie roast. Lisa Braddock, of Fisher, received a great white chicken chili recipe from a family of campers last summer.

For a list of cooks and recipes featured on the show, go to http://illinois.edu/goto/chili_soups_stews.

Doyle Moore, who co-hosts the program with WILL’s David Inge, will prepare old-style brick chili. Viewers who make a gift of $60 to WILL during the program will receive the “Chili, Soups and Stews” cookbook of all the recipes submitted by Central Illinois cooks.

Icko Iben Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series

Astronomer to speak March 16

Alex Filippenko, a professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, will lecture March 16 at the UI on the mysterious “dark energy” that permeates all of space and increases the rate of cosmic expansion.

Filippenko will present the 2009 talk in the UI department of astronomy’s Icko Iben Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture, “Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in Foellinger Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public.

Observations of distant exploding stars, called supernovae, show that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as a result of gravity as expected. Other, independent data also strongly support this startling conclusion. Over the largest distances, the universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive dark energy, an idea Einstein suggested in 1917, but renounced in 1929 as his “biggest blunder.”

Dark energy stretches the fabric of space itself, faster and faster with time. But the physical origin of dark energy is unknown, and is considered one of the most important unsolved problems in physics and astronomy.

Filippenko’s primary areas of research are supernovae, active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts and the expansion of the universe.

He is one of the world’s most highly cited astronomers.

Thulin Lecture in Religion

Yale professor to speak March 10 

Jon Butler, the Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History and Religious Studies at Yale University, will deliver the 2009 Marjorie Hall Thulin Lecture in Religion at the UI.

Butler’s lecture, “The Surprise of Religion in Modern America,” will begin at 8 p.m. March 10 in the Knight Auditorium of Spurlock Museum. The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the department of religion.

Butler will discuss the decidedly bleak future that religion appeared to have in late 19th-century America and question why the forecasts and concerns about America’s religious future were so wrong.

“Intellectuals often saw religion as an artifact of a primitive past unlikely to survive modernity,” Butler said. “Science seemed to deny traditional creation accounts of most religious scriptures.”

Butler will discuss these issues and address the appeal, transformations and success of religion in 20th-century America.

Thulin, who graduated from the UI in 1931, plans to attend this year’s lecture. A reception in the Spurlock Auditorium will follow the lecture.

More information about the lecture is available from Robert McKim, the head of the department of religion and a professor of religious studies and of philosophy, at 244-5832; rmckim@illinois.edu.

Learning, science, the arts and sports

Summer youth programs on the Web

Each year, thousands of children and youth learn, explore and have fun at summer camps and in educational programs provided by the UI. Now, a Web page is available for those who want information about the many programs focused on learning, science, the arts and sports that the UI offers for children ages pre-kindergarten through 18.

The Youth Programming Web site contains contact information for and links to Web pages about workshops, internships, summer camps, after-school music and arts programs, family-adventure trips, contests and other programs. Some of the activities take place on the UI campus; others, such as the Physics Van, travel to the participants’ schools or are held at public libraries or other locations in the community.

The Youth Programs Web page can be found at: http://engagement.illinois.edu/youth/youth.html.

‘Creating a World of Opportunities’

International Education Week is March 9-15

The UI will celebrate International Education Week March 9-15, hosting events that highlight the importance of international and multicultural education. 

Although International Education Week has been celebrated at the UI for many years, “IEW 2009: Creating a World of Opportunities” promises even more educational and cultural events for the campus and Champaign-Urbana community to enjoy. 

P. Rudy Mattai, a professor of education at the State University of New York-College at Buffalo, will give the keynote address March 13. His address, “Unlocking the Artificial Borders in Global Relations,” will focus on the ways in which people can build cross-cultural relationships through understanding one another’s background.

Mattai has won many awards for his work in international education and serves as the president of the Global Federation of the Associations for Teacher Education.

Other events scheduled for International Education Week:

  •  “Children Just Like Me,” March 10-15, hours vary daily, Spurlock Museum; an interactive exhibit exploring the lives of children around the globe.

  •  Badminton tournament, March 9, 5-9 p.m., Activities and Recreation Center; a doubles tournament for all students and Campus Recreation members.

  •  Drum circle improv, March 13, 7 p.m., Allen Hall; professionals will lead participants through an interactive experience of music and rhythm.

  •  International luncheon, March 9-10, noon, Bevier Café; guests may sample cuisine from around the world.

  •  International film series, March 9-12, 7 p.m. (locations vary).

  •  International Women’s Day “Women and Hmong Culture,” March 9, noon, Women’s Resource Center; a discussion of women’s roles in Hmong daily life.

For more information, go to www.ilint.uiuc.edu/iew/.

Graduate School of Library and Information Science

2009 Windsor Lecture is March 11

G. Sayeed Choudhury, associate dean for library digital programs at Johns Hopkins University, will present the Spring 2009 Windsor Lecture in Room 126 in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science building at 1 p.m. March 11. A reception will follow.

His lecture, “The Perfect Storm,” will address the opportunities and challenges presented by current economic, educational and technological trends in today’s information age.

The convergence of the current economic crisis, lowering of transaction costs, democratization of higher education, and advent of data infrastructure represents a perfect storm that will present significant challenges and opportunities. The resulting decisions and infrastructure developments by communities and institutions will have profound implications for the future.

Choudhury contends that emerging developments in data-intensive scholarship across a range of disciplines might represent the “inflection point” in terms of transformation. While much of the attention in this regard has focused on science and engineering, notable developments in the social sciences and humanities highlight a shift from a collection-centric view to a data-centric view. History shows that previous transformative changes, such as the introduction of the automobile, included a time of hybrid environments when both automobiles and horse-drawn carriages shared the roads. Eventually, for societies that experienced tremendous gains in productivity, new systems developed and merged into a new, cohesive infrastructure.

Choudhury serves as director of operations for the Institute of Data Intensive Engineering and Science based at Johns Hopkins. He also is a lecturer in the department of computer science at Johns Hopkins, a research fellow at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the UI and a senior presidential fellow with the Council on Library and Information Resources.

College of Engineering

How to balance work, self and relationships

David Whyte, poet, speaker and author, will give a talk about his latest book at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center at 5 p.m. March 19.  His talk, titled the same as his book, “The Three Marriages: Re-imagining Work, Self and Relationship,” is free and open to the public.

His visit is sponsored by the College of Engineering.

Whyte’s book suggests that people sustain three marriages in their lives – with partners, with work and with themselves. Whyte argues that the current understanding of “work/life” balance is too simplistic, and is “a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working harder in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion, we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life. … People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance.  Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them against one another.  We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way.”

INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre

March play addresses anxiety

“Café Estresso: the place where wayfaring strangers congregate,” put on by the INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre, will look at issues involving anxiety. 

Scheduled performances:

  •  March 10 at 8 p.m. (Armory Free Theatre, Room 160 the Armory)

  •  March 11 at 8 p.m. (Armory Free Theatre, Room 160 the Armory)

  •  March 12 at 8 p.m. (Armory Free Theatre, Room 160 the Armory)

  •  March 17 at 8 p.m. at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall

  •  March 18 at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Café in the Union

  •  March 19 at 8 p.m. at the Peabody Private Dining Hall

Since 1995, the theater program has produced challenging and timely pieces that address social and health issues. All events are free and open to the public. A discussion with the audience will take place after the performance.

For more information, visit: www.innervoices.uiuc.edu

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