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April 3, 2014 (Vol. 33 No. 18)
Michael S. Hopkins, who graduated from the U. of I. in 1991 with an aerospace engineering degree and from NASA’s astronaut candidate training program in 2011, will deliver the Urbana campus’s Commencement address May 17 at Memorial Stadium. Hopkins recently spent 166 days aboard the International Space Station.
Photo courtesy NASA

Going in circles
Michael S. Hopkins, who graduated from the U. of I. in 1991 with an aerospace engineering degree and from NASA’s astronaut candidate training program in 2011, will deliver the Urbana campus’s Commencement address May 17 at Memorial Stadium. Hopkins recently spent 166 days aboard the International Space Station.

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Campus leaders host town hall meeting April 9

Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida will discuss this year’s progress involving some of the initiatives outlined in the campus Strategic Plan and also will talk about what they believe are critical goals for the coming year and current budget and pension challenges.

Restored Alma Mater sculpture to return to U. of I. campus on April 9

The Alma Mater sculpture will make her long-awaited return to the Urbana campus April 9, where she will be put back on her pedestal to silently watch the next century of university progress.

On the Job: Michael Showerman

Like the astronomically large questions asked of the U. of I.-based Blue Waters supercomputer, Michael Showerman, a systems administrator for the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, is difficult to pin down.

Noted conductor Andrew Megill to lead choral activities at Illinois

Andrew Megill, considered one of the leading choral conductors of his generation, will join the University of Illinois in the fall as the director of choral activities and as a professor of conducting.

New website to minimize paperwork for researchers

The U. of I. is releasing a new online portal for researchers at its three campuses, that is intended to reduce the burden of administering grants and allow them to spend more time focusing on academic inquiry.

Expert on 'Global Hinduism' to deliver this year's Thulin Lecture at Illinois

The religious tradition that brought us yoga, meditation and the concepts of karma and reincarnation will be the topic of this year’s Marjorie Hall Thulin Lecture in Religion, an annual event sponsored by the University of Illinois department of religion. Vasudha Narayanan, the distinguished professor of religion at the University of Florida and author of “Hinduism” and “The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation and Ritual,” will deliver the lecture at 8 p.m. April 9 (Wednesday) at Spurlock Museum. Her topic, “Global Hinduism,” will touch on Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the United States.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Historical Papers

In this 1975 photograph, Godfrey “Budge” Sperling Jr., a U. of I. alumnus (journalism, 1937) and longtime Christian Science Monitor bureau chief and columnist, listens intently to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during one of Sperling’s breakfast meetings in Washington, D.C. (View the full series.)

Research »

Research shows link between states’ personalities and their politics

One state’s citizens are collectively more agreeable and another’s are more conscientious. Could that influence how each state is governed? A recently published study suggests it could.

Team finds a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

Researchers report they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed. The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Swing voters hold more sway over candidates on economic issues

New research from two U. of I. economics professors who study election trends analyzes how polarization on social issues affects competing candidates’ economic platforms.

Paper: Raise state minimum wage to stimulate Illinois economy

Raising the minimum wage in Illinois to $10 per hour would reduce income inequality, increase consumer demand and grow the state economy, according to a new study from a University of Illinois labor expert.

Most U.S. infant death rates not likely to fall enough to meet goal

The infant mortality rate set forth as a national goal in the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative is likely to be attained by only one demographic group – highly educated white mothers, the authors of a new study say.

Research: ‘Sourcing hub’ could help create more efficient supply chain

Firms can manage their sourcing better by developing relationships not only with their suppliers but also with their suppliers’ suppliers, according to two papers co-written by a University of Illinois expert in supply chain management.


Six academic professionals honored for excellence

Six academic professionals will be honored with 2014 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence awards at a reception April 8.


A MINUTE WITH™ ... Christopher Z. Mooney on the general election for governor

Christopher Z. Mooney is the director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the U. of I. and the W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics on the Springfield campus. Mooney studies comparative U.S. state politics, with a special focus on state legislatures. He spoke with News Bureau business and law editor Phil Ciciora about this fall’s race for governor of Illinois between Republican Bruce Rauner and the Democratic incumbent, Pat Quinn.

A MINUTE WITH™ ... Rob Olshansky, an expert on landslide hazards

Rob Olshansky, a professor of urban and regional planning at the U. of I., has published extensively on planning and policy for unstable ground, dating back to his 1987 dissertation, “Landslide Hazard in the United States: Case Studies in Planning and Policy Development,” and including law review and legal newsletter articles emphasizing the need for local governments to address landslide hazards. In the aftermath of the deadly Oso, Wash., landslide on March 22, Olshansky discussed the role of urban planning in safeguarding citizens from these unpredictable and potentially fatal events with Dusty Rhodes, arts and humanities editor at the News Bureau.