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Check out the stories you read the most, shared the most, and watched the most in 2014.


Below are the most-read Our Northwestern stories of 2014. Tell us what Northwestern story impacted you in 2014 by commenting below.James_Foley.png

  1. Remembering journalist, NU alumnus James Foley (August 2014)
  2. Want proof of NU’s growing reputation? We’ve got 33,200 apps for that (January 2014)
  3. Commencement speaker, honorary degree recipients announced (April 2014)
  4. TEDx coming to Northwestern  (February 2014)
  5. Henry Crown Sports Pavilion celebrates major renovations (November 2014)
  6. ‘Whistling Vivaldi’ is next One Book selection (April 2014)
  7. Top Research Story: NU study shows adults can undo heart disease risk (July 2014)
  8. President's visit captivates campus (October 2014)
  9. Former 'SNL' star to lead Homecoming parade (October 2014)
  10. Football unveils 'Northwestern Gothic' uniforms (October 2014)




Below are the 2014 NAA videos with the most views. Comment below to let us know your favorite.

  1. We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern Centerpiece Video
  2. We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern Athletics and Recreation
  3. Northwestern University Celebrates Purple Pride
  4. Happy Holidays from the Northwestern Alumni Association
  5. Northwestern Student ALS Ice Bucket Challenge




Wildcats_Beat_ND.pngThese are some of the most liked, clicked, and shared Northwestern Alumni Association Facebook posts. Which 2014 social media moment did you 'like' the most? Tell us by commenting below!

  1. November 15, 2014: Northwestern beats Notre Dame in overtime! Wildcats, tell us where you were watching from!
  2. October 10, 2014: Willie Misses You – Come back for Homecoming
  3. November 20, 2014: Nice Day for a … Purple Wedding: Tiffanie Wong celebrates the Wildcats’ victory in South Bend during her wedding.
  4. November 10, 2014: Wildcats, it’s time to crown the ULTIMATE Flat Willie photo.


Check out Northwestern University's year in review >>

Brandon Brooks had just returned to his residence hall room after his first day of classes as a Northwestern freshman in 2000 when his cousin called and told him that his mother, who lived in Memphis, had died unexpectedly.


“I was obviously very distraught,” Brooks says. “A lot of things started rushing through my head.”

Brandon_Brooks.jpgWhile resident assistants made sure Brooks (left) was OK, Student Affairs administrators used emergency funds to buy a plane ticket so Brooks could return to Memphis for his mother’s funeral.

“At the time, I didn’t even think about where the ticket was coming from,” says Brooks ’04, who had never flown before. “There is no way I could have afforded it. It was such a nice thing that Northwestern did for me, in such a difficult time.”

Greg Crouch ’85 wants to make sure that no students ever have to worry about being unable to manage unexpected financial crises while they’re at Northwestern.

That’s why Crouch established the Margo Brown Northwestern Student Emergency Fund, which will provide low-income students with emergency financial assistance. Support from the fund will help cover the unpredictable costs of attending college, such as buying unanticipated textbooks, replacing a worn-out winter coat or flying home to visit an ill family member.

Like Brooks, Crouch faced an emotional and financial crisis during his first year at Northwestern. By spring quarter of that year, Crouch could no longer afford his basic living expenses despite receiving financial aid and having a work-study job. He feared he would have to drop out.

However, at a professor’s recommendation, Crouch met with Margo Clark Brown ’59, ’80 MA/MS, Northwestern’s longtime assistant dean of students and assistant to the vice president for student affairs.

Margo_and_Greg_Dec_AlumniNews.jpgBrown (left, with Crouch) secured funds that allowed Crouch to remain at Northwestern, and she served as his mentor as he worked toward his journalism degree. Crouch dedicated the new student emergency fund to Brown, who retired in 2001, as a symbol of his gratitude. The fund’s success depends on donations from other alumni, he says.

“Without Margo, I would have had to leave Northwestern,” says Crouch, who worked in journalism for nearly 30 years before joining a Los Angeles-based investment firm as a vice president responsible for investigative research.

Brooks says the existence of a fund dedicated to helping students facing unexpected financial challenges will provide peace of mind to students throughout the University.

“I know that I would not have been able to graduate without the support I got outside the classroom from my first day at Northwestern,” says Brooks, who majored in political science and sociology and now works in human resources at The Chicago Community Trust, a nonprofit.

“I have a lot of gratitude to a lot of people at Northwestern,” Brooks says. “They really helped me come into my own and realize my potential.”

To make a gift in support of the Margo Brown Northwestern Student Emergency Fund, visit or call 847-467-5426.

To learn more about the relationship between Greg Crouch and Margo Brown, and Crouch’s decision to establish the fund, please read “Helping students in need” in the winter 2014 edition of Northwestern magazine.

For more stories from this month’s Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University’s online community.

The Northwestern Alumni Association will begin offering weekly career webinars in January. These expert-led online seminars will help you maintain your professional edge by covering topics such as crafting your story, changing industries or functions, managing employees, taking the entrepreneurial plunge and more.


Please see below for a list of webinars that will be offered in January. Please visit for more information about the program and to learn the dates and topics of webinars that will be scheduled later in 2015.

January career webinars


For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

Would you like to be an inspiration to a current Northwestern student? Are you willing to share a day on the job with one or more students and provide them with a job shadowing experience that could shape their future careers? If so, the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) may be for you!

If you are interested in hosting one or more students for one day at your place of work, please visit to learn more or to register as a host. Registration closes Jan. 9, 2015.

Questions? Email or call 847-491-5648.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

11-14 ev-station.jpgNorthwestern began installing four free charging stations on the Evanston campus in November for commuters and visitors who drive electric hybrid vehicles (EVs).

The stations are part of a partnership with Schneider Electric. Two of the stations are on the first parking level of the new North Campus Parking Structure, and the other two are in the parking facility within the new Segal Visitors Center at the south end of campus. The stations should be operational by early 2015 and will be easily identifiable by wall signage.

“The initiative to support EVs at Northwestern is a no-brainer," said Rob Whittier, Northwestern's director of sustainability. "It’s a logical step in our commitment to sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction and is aligned with our faculty’s pioneering research on batteries and energy storage.”

To read the original story, visit Northwestern's Office of Sustainability.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

James_Foley.pngNorthwestern held an emotional memorial service for intrepid reporter James Foley last month, and the Medill School honored its slain alumnus by presenting him posthumously with its prestigious 2014 Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism.

Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, his grandmother, Olga Wright, several close friends and nearly 200 students, faculty, staff and others attended the moving memorial Nov. 20, marked by haunting music from a string quartet, at Alice Millar Chapel on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

“Jim was so proud to be admitted to Medill School here at Northwestern,” said Diane Foley. “It finally was a place for him to combine his passion for writing with his passion for people who didn’t have a voice, which began with Teach for America. So I am very grateful to Medill.”

She noted that Medill and its people “have walked with us for the last two years.”


Foley, who earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in 2008, was killed Aug. 19 by extremists in the Middle East after being held hostage and imprisoned for nearly two years. He was captured in November 2012 in Syria, near the Turkish border, while reporting for the online publication

“I’m very proud of Jim. There’s no way we can replace him,” Diane Foley declared in a strong, stoic voice, “but I pray that other young journalists will be inspired by his life—to be people of courage and people who dare to report the truth. Because our democracy depends on it.

“It was something so important to Jim,” she said. “I hope people will come to value courageous journalists like him the way we value our servicemen and women.”

Diane and her husband, John Foley, have created the James W. Foley Legacy Fund to “honor what Jim stood for by focusing on three areas he was passionate about.” The Fund aims to build a resource center for families of American hostages and foster a global dialogue on governmental policies in hostage crises, to support American journalists reporting from conflict zones and to promote quality educational opportunities for urban youth.

Speakers at the services talked about their remembrances of Foley, his commitment to teaching, his passion for the story and how he rarely turned down an opportunity to visit Medill or Skype with students, no matter where in the world he was at the time.

Richard Stolley '52, '53 MS, a member of the Medill Board of Advisers and senior editorial advisor of Time Inc., also spoke at the service and made a surprise announcement, revealing that Foley would be awarded the 2014 Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism.

The award is given to the individual or team of journalists, working for a U.S.-based media outlet, who best displayed moral, ethical or physical courage in the pursuit of a story or series of stories.

Stolley said Foley met all three of those criteria and especially deserved the honor because—after he was held hostage once before in Libya—he chose to return to the Middle East to cover conflict there. Foley’s “compulsion to tell the truth,” Stolley observed, demonstrated his extraordinary “ethical courage.” He said future honorees would have to measure up to the standard Foley set for “bravery, integrity and truth.”

A few days later, Medill changed the name of the award to The James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism. 

A New Hampshire native, Foley worked as a teacher after attending Marquette University. He was in his 30s when he came to Medill to pursue his master’s degree. Foley is remembered by friends, family and colleagues as a fearless journalist who made friends easily and cared deeply about the marginalized in society. While studying at Northwestern, Foley worked as a language arts teacher at the Cook County’s sheriff’s boot camp, an alternative to prison.


Foley’s 2012 disappearance marked the second time he had been kidnapped. The previous year, he had been captured in Libya and held for 44 days in a Libyan prison. Just two weeks after his release, Foley visited Medill and spoke to students about his experiences in captivity and his previous reporting in Afghanistan.


“Every day I want to go back,” he told the students. “I’m drawn to the front lines.”

To read the entire story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.


Northwestern senior safety Ibraheim Campbell and junior cornerback Nick VanHoose earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from league coaches and media, respectively.


Northwestern's talented tandem in the secondary headlined a group of seven Wildcats who appeared on the 2014 All-Big Ten report. Earning honorable mention for Northwestern were linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, running back Justin Jackson, defensive lineman Dean Lowry, offensive lineman Brandon Vitabile and superback Dan Vitale.

Already a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, Campbell nabbed his first second-team honor, tying for the Big Ten lead with four forced fumbles despite missing four games to injury this season. He also recorded three interceptions, moving into a tie for third all-time at Northwestern with 11 career interceptions for his career. Campbell finished his career with 316 tackles and is tied for fifth in school history with 24 career pass breakups.

Campbell's fellow starter in the secondary, VanHoose, earned second-team honors from the media voters after ranking second in the conference with 1.2 pass breakups per game in 2014. VanHoose notched two interceptions while also shining on special teams with a blocked field goal and two blocked point-after attempts, one of which he returned the length of the field for a defensive two-point conversion.

To read the rest of the story, visit

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

Seven former student-athletes will be inducted into Northwestern's Athletics Hall of Fame in January.

The honorees are:






These elite Wildcats will be inducted during a ceremony and dinner Jan. 3 at the Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston. The event, which is open to the public, will begin with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Christian Williams in Northwestern's Athletic Development office at or 847-467-1039.


The Northwestern Athletics Hall of Fame was created in 1984 to honor former athletes, coaches and administrators who have helped establish a proud tradition in intercollegiate competition at Northwestern. Individuals are eligible for Hall of Fame recognition beginning five years after their final competition at Northwestern. For more information and to view the Hall of Fame's complete membership, visit the Hall of Fame page on


For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

Single-game tickets for Big Ten men's basketball games at Welsh-Ryan Arena are available now at or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE (888-467-8775).

The Wildcats opened the non-conference portion of their schedule at 6-3 through Dec. 15, including a 101-49 blowout of Mississippi Valley State at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Dec. 14. (See highlights above.) The victory marked the first time the Wildcats hit the 100-point mark in a game since a 100-89 win over Wisconsin on March 6, 1993.

Northwestern's 101 points were the most by the Wildcats since a 103-94 double-overtime victory over Dartmouth on Dec. 29, 1991. The Wildcats' 52-point margin of victory was the program's largest since a 101-45 win over the University of Chicago on Nov. 26, 1988.

Northwestern opens Big Ten play Dec. 30 at Rutgers. The Wildcats' first Big Ten home game is Jan. 4 against Wisconsin.

For more coverage of Northwestern men's basketball, visit

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

womens_bball_coach.jpegNorthwestern women's basketball head coach Joe McKeown (left) achieved a memorable career milestone Nov. 21 when his Wildcats knocked off his alma mater, Kent State, at Welsh-Ryan Arena to secure his 600th career victory as a head coach.

McKeown, who is in his seventh season at Northwestern, previously coached at New Mexico State and George Washington University.

After the Wildcats' victory over Kent State, a video tribute to McKeown featuring Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and several of McKeown's friends and colleagues from his time in college basketball was shown on Welsh-Ryan Arena's videoboards. Check out the heartfelt tribute below.


For more coverage of Northwestern women's basketball, visit


For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.


An interdisciplinary team from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science discovered that using the data storage pattern from a Blu-ray disc improves solar cell performance. Pictured from left to right are study authors Dongning Guo, Cheng Sun, Chen Wang, Alexander Smith and Jiaxing Huang.

Who knew Blu-ray discs were so useful? Already one of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells, according to new research from Northwestern.


An interdisciplinary research team discovered that the pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc improves light absorption across the solar spectrum. And better yet, the researchers know why.


“We had a hunch that Blu-ray discs might work for improving solar cells, and, to our delight, we found the existing patterns are already very good,” said Jiaxing Huang, a materials chemist and an associate professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “It’s as if electrical engineers and computer scientists developing the Blu-ray technology have been subconsciously doing our jobs, too.”

Blu-ray discs contain a higher density of data than DVDs or CDs. The discs' quasi-random data-storage pattern, perfected over decades by engineers, also provides the right texture to improve the solar cells’ light absorption and performance.

Working with Cheng Sun, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at McCormick, Huang and his team tested a wide range of movies and television shows stored on Blu-ray discs, including action movies, dramas, documentaries, cartoons and black-and-white content, and found the video content did not matter. All worked equally well for enhancing light absorption in solar cells.

The findings were published Nov. 25 in the journal Nature Communications.

To read the rest of the story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

Northwestern will soon begin a national search for an associate provost for diversity and inclusion.

A committee including representatives from the administration, faculty, staff and the student body will undertake the search and will convene regularly beginning in January. The committee will seek significant input from the University community, and it will work with a search firm to help identify the best candidates. The committee also will conduct significant outreach to the Northwestern community during the initial phases of the search to ensure that a wide array of perspectives is considered.

Search committee members are:


  • P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, associate provost for faculty; Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy; co-chair
  • Dwight A. McBride, dean of The Graduate School; Daniel Hale Williams Professor of African American Studies and professor of English, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; professor of performance studies, School of Communication; co-chair
  • Pamela Beemer, vice president for human resources
  • Pablo Boczkowski, professor of communication studies, School of Communication
  • Cecilio Cooper, doctoral student, Department of African American Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Richard D’Aquila, professor of medicine, Infectious Diseases Division, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Henry Godinez, associate professor of theatre, School of Communication
  • Sean Harte '87, alumnus
  • Jeanne Herrick, assistant professor of instruction, Writing Program, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jennifer Hobbs, senior director, Training Grant Support and Postdoctoral Affairs, The Graduate School
  • Mei-Ling Hopgood, associate professor, Medill
  • Jinah Kim, assistant professor of instruction, Asian American Studies, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bruce Lewis, associate vice president of public safety, chief of police
  • Austin Romero, undergraduate student, Associated Student Government vice president for diversity and inclusion
  • Kimberly Yuracko, Clinton Research Professor of Law, School of Law


The committee will be staffed by Theresa Bratanch, program assistant in the Office of the Provost.

To read the original story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

Dorothy D. Dunlop, professor of medicine-rheumatology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, was honored last month for advancing knowledge concerning persons with or at higher risk for osteoarthritis.

dunlop.jpgDunlop (left) was awarded the ARHP Distinguished Scholar Award at the joint meetings of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) Nov. 15.

“I am honored and greatly value what the award represents,” said Dunlop, who, with Rowland Chang, co-directs the Physical Activity in Rheumatology Research Group at Feinberg. “But this is a case in which I am recognized for work done by my research team. So, I would say that the true credit goes to this amazing group of people with whom I work each day.”

Dunlop is a health services scientist whose applied research interests include the investigation of physical activity to promote independence among adults living with arthritis. Her research group pursues the goal of identifying strategies and designing interventions to improve the quality of life for persons with arthritis, a massive segment of the U.S. and world populations.

Dunlop is also affiliated with the Center for Healthcare Studies in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Feinberg.

Throughout her 20-year career, Dunlop has focused her scientific work on promoting independence for people living with rheumatic diseases. By evaluating population data from government studies and assessing clinical information from the patients themselves, clinicians in partnership with methodologists can improve quality of life for people affected by chronic illness, she said.

Dunlop joined Northwestern in 1989 as a lecturer at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and became an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg in 2009. Among her many achievements, she is principal investigator of a national study that objectively measures physical activity via state-of-the-art accelerometers on more than 2,000 participants in the Osteoarthritis Initiative. In 2010, she became the director of the Chronic Disease Care and Outcomes Center, which aims to assess, understand and improve the systems of health care delivery and health outcomes for persons with chronic conditions, including both adults and children.

Dunlop earned a master of health science from Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Northwestern.

To read the original story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University online community.


The Segal Visitors Center, along the Lake Michigan shore at the southeast corner of campus, opened in October. (Photo by Steve Anzaldi)

Gordon '60 and Carole Segal '60, co-founders of Crate & Barrel and longtime supporters of Northwestern, have committed approximately $10 million to the University through a planned gift.

Northwestern has recognized the Segals’ generosity by naming the University’s new visitors center the Segal Visitors Center. Northwestern opened the state-of-the-art, 170,000-square-foot facility this fall for prospective students and their families.

“We are extremely appreciative of this visionary gift and of Gordon and Carole’s continuing support of Northwestern, both financially and through their service,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said. “This generous planned gift will extend their legacy at the University in a way that will benefit the Northwestern community for many years to come.”

Situated on the southeast corner of the Evanston campus at 1841 Sheridan Road, the Segal Visitors Center features broad views of Lake Michigan and the University’s new Sailing Center. Designed by Chicago architectural firm Perkins+Will, the facility includes an auditorium with approximately 160 seats, meeting rooms, offices for admission staff, waiting areas for visitors and an indoor parking structure for more than 400 cars. The new building is home to the Office of Undergraduate Admission and the Parking Services Office.

The Segals’ gift will benefit several areas of the University, including the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, the Kellogg School of Management, University Library, the President’s Fund, the Segal Design Institute and student scholarships.


Gordon Segal, who retired as CEO of Crate & Barrel in 2008, is a life member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees and chair of the Educational Properties Committee. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from Northwestern in 1960. Carole Browe Segal graduated from Northwestern in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in English. In addition to co-founding Crate & Barrel, Carole is also founder and former CEO of Foodstuffs Inc. She is on the Board of Visitors of Weinberg, is past president of the Northwestern Women’s Board and received the Alumni Medal in 2008. The couple met at Northwestern and co-founded Crate & Barrel in 1962.

In his role as chair of the Educational Properties Committee, Gordon Segal has helped lead the University in its planning of new buildings critical to keeping the University competitive. These include the new Music and Communication Building, opening in 2015; Kellogg’s new global hub, under construction on the Evanston lakefront; and the new Biomedical Research Building, to be built on the Chicago campus.

Gordon and Carole Segal co-chaired their 50th reunion at Northwestern in 2010, and Carole has been a member of the Northwestern University Women’s Board since 1981.

The Segals were honored last month as the 2014 Entrepreneurial Champions by 1871, Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub for digital startups.

Gordon and Carole Segal have given annually to Northwestern since 1986. In 2007, they made a significant gift to establish the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Kellogg School of Management. Other gifts have supported various parts of the University, including Kellogg, University Library, Weinberg College and athletics.

The Segals’ most recent gift will count toward We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, a $3.75 billion University-wide fundraising effort announced in March. The money raised will help realize the transformational vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities. More information on We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, as well as planned giving vehicles, is available at

To read the original story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.


The Northwestern Alumni Association is proud to announce a new opportunity for our global alumni. One of the highest priorities of the NAA is to broaden and deepen our reach to Northwestern alumni living and working around the world as we aspire to become a Global Alumni Association. To accomplish this ambitious goal, we need to engage and empower our alumni to assist us in these efforts.


This year, the NAA is expanding our focus on global engagement by launching our Global Ambassadors program as a way to better connect alumni across the world with each other and with Northwestern.


A Global Alumni Ambassador is a volunteer who serves as a liaison for the University and the Northwestern Alumni Association in his/her particular geographical region, city or country.  Our goal is to have at least one ambassador in each country that Wildcat alumni may call home, so as to further our efforts towards creating a Global Alumni Association.


If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity and would like to apply to be a Global Ambassador for the NAA, we invite you to visit


We encourage you to become an active member of the Northwestern Alumni Association and to continue your lifelong engagement with Northwestern University by serving as a Global Ambassador and assisting us in expanding our network around the globe.

Northwestern reached new heights this year. The University dedicated breathtaking new campus buildings, extended its reach into the world and launched a historic fundraising campaign. Researchers led pathbreaking discoveries, a sitting US president visited campus for the first time in 60 years and we all took notice when Northwestern alumni changed the landscape of late night TV. Watch the video below to look back on the news stories that had us talking in 2014. Then share your favorite memory from 2014 by commenting below.



University News


Northwestern announces $3.75 billion fundraising campaign


John Evans Study Committee issues report


New graduates celebrate commencement


Research funding continues to grow in tough climate


President Obama speaks to future business leaders at Northwestern


Native American Outreach and Inclusion Task Force recommendations unveiled


Northwestern names visitors center in honor of Segals




New risk for those who sit all day? Disability after 60


Synthetic biology: Breaking new ground in medicine


New fathers at risk for depression


Casual marijuana use linked to brain abnormalities


Electric current to brain boosts memory



Northwestern in the World


Northwestern helps Chicago secure multimillion-dollar lab


Dance Marathon raises $1.3 million to support Duchenne muscular dystrophy research


Human skeleton is one of the oldest found in North America


Students tackle global health issues around the world



Campus Life


New sailing center opens on Lake Michigan


Meet Northwestern's Class of 2018


Afrofuturist artist Wangechi Mutu transforms Block Museum of Art


New visitors center a welcoming space for prospective students, families


Renovations create new and improved Henry Crown Sports Pavilion





Dale Mortensen, Nobel Laureate, dies at 74


Wrestler Jason Tsirtsis first freshman to win NCAA title


Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers: Northwestern's Comedy 'Cats


Softball player Marisa Bast first finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year


Remembering alumnus, journalist James Foley


To read the original "Year in Review" story, visit the Northwestern News Center.


For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

2014-12-14 Year-In-Review_Video.png

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new Northwestern University website, with a dynamic searchable database, allows students, faculty and administrators to easily locate learning, research and collaboration opportunities both within Northwestern and around the world.


Recently launched by the Office of the Provost, the Global and Research Opportunities website is a database with more than 400 opportunities (with data added and updated regularly) and customizable features that can zero in on programs that match users’ interests.


For instance, advisers can identify opportunities to match their students’ research and travel interests, administrators can gain an overview picture of existing collaborations with other institutions around the globe, and faculty can easily pinpoint opportunities to foster partnerships across shared interests at the University. Students can use the database to find undergraduate research positions in Northwestern labs, travel grants, study abroad programs, internships, fellowships and volunteer service programs.


Faculty and administrators who create profiles can detail the work that takes place in their labs, centers or programs and list any opportunities. The faculty profiles link up with NU Scholars, another searchable Northwestern database that contains information about faculty academic appointments, publications, grants, patents and additional scholarly accomplishments.


“By linking this website to the NU Scholars tool, users are able to gain a very rich picture of how faculty research across the University is fostering greater student engagement in research projects of their own and other engaged learning opportunities both at home and around the globe,” said Celina Flowers, director of academic administration in the Office of the Provost._DSC4507.JPG


In recent years, the number of experiential learning programs at Northwestern has grown dramatically, with more educational and research opportunities for students and faculty than ever.


“For students, winter break is the ideal time to start thinking about summer plans and future academic experiences, and the new website will help them navigate our robust database of opportunities,” said Peter Civetta, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.


“Whether its research experience in a lab, studying abroad in a foreign country or taking on an internship in Chicago, the website will help them see all Northwestern offers.”


The website goes beyond just keyword searches. Users are able to interact with the data through visualization tools that represent opportunities pinned to a 3D globe or grouped by language, school or other keyword tag clouds. The database also is accessible to student computer developers who want to access the information to create apps or other useful tools with the data.


By logging in with their Net IDs, users can create a profile, bookmark favorite opportunities and reach out directly to people who run programs. They can search for programs based at individual schools at Northwestern or explore the website according to geographical region or language used. When programs bookmarked or favored are updated with new information, users are notified by email.


"We want everyone to take advantage of this website and play with the interactive features and see all of the opportunities available,” Civetta said. “They can access it from their phone, laptop or tablet and start exploring the amazing diversity of what Northwestern has to offer. This database is also a work-in-progress, and we will be looking for feedback from people on how to improve and expand it moving forward.”


The website was designed by a team from Northwestern University Information Technology Academic & Research Technologies.


Visit the website:


See Northwestern News for this story and more

EVANSTON, Ill. --- John P. Paynter -- the second of only three band directors in Northwestern University’s history -- lives on in the hearts and minds of many.


Almost 19 years after Paynter’s death, the life of the legendary leader of bands is the subject both of a new book and a talk that will take place Dec. 17 at the 68th annual Midwest Clinic at McCormick Place in Chicago.


Mark Camphouse, composer, conductor and lead author of the new book, will lead the talk, titled “The Life and Legacy of John P. Paynter: His Impact on Music and the World,” at 10:30 a.m. in Room W185 at The Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference.


wave638.jpgThe presentation will be followed by a book signing of “Whatsoever Things: The Life and Teachings of John P. Paynter,” a collection of writings by Paynter’s family members, friends and former students who knew him best.


“Mr. Paynter set an extremely high standard of performance and musicianship which we continue to build upon and develop,” said Mallory Thompson, the third director of bands at Northwestern and a former student of Paynter’s.


Appointed as director of bands at Northwestern in 1953, Paynter became a leading authority on marching and concert bands. Named for John Philip Sousa, he also was a beloved professor at Northwestern's Bienen School of Music, where he taught band music arranging and conducting to thousands of students, including Camphouse.


During his tenure as director of bands, the Northwestern University Marching Band (NUMB) developed most of the traditions and culture that exist today.


“The band program at Northwestern has been and continues to be one of the most prominent in the country,” said Thompson, also a professor of music at the University.


A double Northwestern alumnus, Paynter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950 -- the year after he, as a student member of the University’s marching band, traveled with his clarinet to the 1949 Rose Bowl and witnessed the football squad’s memorable march to victory. He earned his master’s degree in theory and composition at Northwestern in 1951.


Paynter, whose blood was said to “run purple,” remained at Northwestern and led the bands from 1953 to 1996.


“I always say that I have the best job in the world, and I assume from the length of their tenure that my predecessors felt the same way,” said Thompson. “I live in a world-class city, am affiliated with a world-class institution, work with exceptional colleagues and teach intelligent and incredibly talented students. It’s exciting to teach in an environment that supports both tradition and innovation.”


In 1996, as director of bands, Paynter had the rare thrill of once again accompanying the Northwestern football team to another Rose Bowl game, but, alas, this time, victory was illusive.


For many years, Paynter also served as president of The Midwest Clinic. He also led the celebrated Northshore Concert Band, which he directed in a repertory that ranged from standard polkas to modern composers like Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud.


“His avocation was proselytizing for an American tradition, community bands of music teachers, dentists, bankers, sales clerks and other adults, and he helped organize dozens of such bands around the country,” according to a February 1996 obituary in The New York Times.


Read original story in Northwestern News

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Celebrated civil rights attorney, advocate and legal scholar Michelle Alexander -- who wrote that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs -- and Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate (in 1992), will be the featured keynote speakers at Northwestern University’s 2015 commemoration of the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.


The 10-day 2015 celebration will begin Jan. 17 with a Day of Service. Northwestern students will engage in various service projects throughout Evanston and the Chicago area and reflect on their experiences.


Northwestern has suspended classes Monday, Jan. 19 on the Evanston and Chicago campuses for a University-wide, full-day observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That evening Moseley Braun will speak at 7 p.m. at the Alpha Phi Alpha Candlelight Vigil at Alice Millar Chapel. An Eva Jefferson Day event will be held that day from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. for Chicago Public School students and will include arts, crafts and a discussion about the legacy of Martin Luther King.


Evanston campus observances will conclude Jan. 26 with an evening program at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall featuring a keynote address by Michelle Alexander and music and performances from Northwestern student groups. All events are free and open to the public, unless noted.


A Jan. 19 Student Oratorical contest will take place at Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium.


A Jan. 30 Harambee (Swahili for “pull together”), from 7 to 10 p.m., in Norris University Center’s Louis Room, will feature free food, performances and presentations. For Evanston campus event details, visit


Michelle Alexander holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Alexander was an associate professor of law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the civil rights clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of her highly-lauded first book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” For more, visit


Carol Moseley Braun is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. She served her country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States Senator from Illinois, Cook County Executive Officer, Illinois State Representative and United States Attorney. She also was the first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee. A women’s and civil rights activist, she transitioned to the private sector in 2001 after nearly 30 years in public service. In 2005, she founded Good Foods Organics, a premium, Certified USDA Organic and Biodynamic products company. For more, visit


Chicago campus events


The following events will take place on or near Northwestern’s Chicago campus.  For more information, visit


Tuesday, Jan. 20: Evening at the Movies, featuring “Selma” at the AMC River East movie theater. The DREAM Committee will subsidize the full ticket price for the movie and host a discussion afterward. (This event is for Northwestern community members only.)

Wednesday, Jan. 21: DREAM Week Reception/Crime Scene Chicago: “Let Hope Rise,” a theatrical production by Collaboraction theater group. A reception will precede the evening event, and a facilitated discussion will follow the play.

Thursday, Jan. 22: A lunchtime panel discussion on Institutional Mistrust begins at noon. Panelists will discuss disenfranchised communities’ distrust of legal and health care systems and strategies to better connect those communities to needed legal and health care services.

Saturday, Jan. 24: Service Activity. (Various times and locations)


See original post in Northwestern News

CHICAGO --- The longer the duration of surgery, the higher the risk of a life-threatening blood clot, according to the first large-scale, quantitative national study of the risk across all surgical procedures.


The Northwestern Medicineâ study was published Dec. 3 in JAMA Surgery, the Journal of the American Medical Association.


The finding will help guide surgical decision-making by enabling surgeons and patients to better understand the potential risk of procedures. These findings may also spur surgeons to take more aggressive preventative measures such as giving a patient blood thinner to reduce the risk of clots and limiting longer surgeries by splitting up procedures.


The association between longer surgical procedures and blood clots, or venous thromboembolism, has been widely accepted but it is largely based on anecdotal evidence and had not been rigorously quantified.


More than 500,000 hospitalizations and 100,000 deaths are associated each year with blood clots.  IMG_9520.jpg


“Minute by minute, hour by hour, the trend is much more pervasive and consistent than any of us believed it could be,” said senior study author Dr. John Kim, associate professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “It was true across all procedures, specialties and hospitals.”


Blood clots in surgery are a risk for the same reason they are on long plane rides. “If you’re not moving, your blood flow slows down, and your blood cells are more prone to clumping and forming a clot,” said Nima Khavanin, a study co-author and Feinberg student. “This can cause a fatal pulmonary embolism.”


Kim and colleagues analyzed data from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program to look at the association between surgical duration and the incidence of clots. The study included more than 1.4 million patients who had surgery under general anesthesia at 315 U.S. hospitals from 2005 to 2011.


In the most common surgeries -- including gall bladder removal, appendix removal and gastric bypass for weight loss -- every additional hour of surgery duration resulted in an 18 to 26 percent increase of developing a clot, the study found.


Patients that underwent the longest surgeries had a 50 percent increase in the odds of developing a blood clot compared to the shortest, regardless of the surgical procedure.


The overall impact is greatest in longer, more invasive operations such as heart surgery, but the relationship between operative time and blood clots exists regardless of the procedure or surgical specialty and even applies to shorter procedures such as laparoscopic gall bladder or appendix removal.

The findings may affect how surgeons plan procedures.


“There may be times when we have the option of cobbling together a couple of surgeries,” Kim said. “If you know longer surgeries have a higher risk, depending on the variables, splitting up those surgeries may be the best option."

Venous thromboembolism is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a “never event,” because it is considered an unacceptable outcome of surgery.  

Other Northwestern authors include Aksharananda Rambachan, Robert J. McCarthy, Alexei S. Mlodinow, Dr. Gildasio S. De Oliviera Jr., Dr. M. Christine Stock, Dr. Madeleine J. Gust and Dr. David M. Mahvi.


For more, see Northwestern News

EVANSTON, Ill. --- As part of a global effort to spark interest in computer programming, Northwestern University has partnered with Evanston elementary schools for the second annual “Hour of Code” initiative.


Billed as the “largest learning event in history,” Hour of Code kicks off Computer Science Education Week, held Dec. 8 through Dec. 12. The activities are designed to introduce youngsters to computer science, demystify coding and demonstrate that anyone can learn the basics.


The Hour of Code doesn't occur at a specific time. Rather, during science, library and media arts classes, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 students will participate in one-hour coding activities -- ranging from apps and games development to introductory lessons in JavaScript or other programming languages. (Anyone can try coding on their own at


_DSC4469.JPGNorthwestern graduate student volunteers from various departments, including chemistry, engineering and computer science, will facilitate the activities by assisting teachers and working with students.


“Virtually every field these days involves computing, so introducing students to coding at a young age is a great way to get them excited about pursuing this skill both in and out of school,” said Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) and professor of learning sciences and computer science at Northwestern.


The Kits and 'Cats Code event is also supported by Professor Larry Birnbaum, head of Northwestern’s Computer Science program and by Professor Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


“Our graduate student volunteers -- including many women -- serve as role models and sources of inspiration to youngsters who might not otherwise pursue STEM fields like computer science,” Jona said.


The international event is organized by, a nonprofit which works to get more children interested in computer sciences and is backed by technology giants, including Apple and Microsoft.


Computer science drives innovation in the U.S. and demand for jobs in the field is growing. More than 26,513 computing jobs are open in Illinois. The growth rate is 4.6 times the state average, according to


Yet the field “remains marginalized throughout the K-12 education system,” according to the website. Illinois is one of just 25 states where students can count computer science for credit toward graduation.


Last year, an estimated 15 million students participated in the inaugural "Hour of Code"; this year's goal is 100 million children worldwide.  In Evanston, nearly 2,000 middle grade students are expected to participate in an Hour of Code during December.


“The coding activities will engage students through creativity and problem solving and will infuse the science and engineering practices that are a critical part of the Next Generation Science Standards, the new Illinois learning standards for science,” said District 65 STEM Director Jesch Reyes.


Northwestern’s Jona, Birnbaum and District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren will join students in an “Hour of Code” at 10:45 a.m. Friday, Dec. 12 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, 2424 Lake St., Evanston. To attend the event, contact District 65 Communications Coordinator Melissa Messinger at 847-859-8100 or


See original story in Northwestern News

Three seniors whose summer work exemplifies the wide range of undergraduate research supported by Northwestern were honored by the University in December.


Alex Benjamin, Joseph Hurley and Alexander Nitkin were honored with Fletcher Undergraduate Research Grant prizes, administered annually by Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research.


In their research, Benjamin explored the human aspects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster to craft an original play, Hurley investigated how copper enters the cells of "methane-eating" bacteria and Nitkin examined the effects of Chicago Public School closures in 2013.


Provost Dan Linzer, Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education, and Neal Blair, chair of the Undergraduate Research Grant review committee, presented the students with award certificates.


“These students show the incredible range of projects that are getting funding by the Office of Undergraduate Research,” said Peter Civetta, director of the office.


Funded by the Fletcher Family Foundation, the $250 Fletcher prizes were presented to the three undergraduates for research they conducted last summer with support from Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grants. The students’ faculty advisers also received the Karl Rosengren Faculty Mentoring Award, including $250, in recognition of their work with the students. The mentoring award is named for the long-time Undergraduate Research Grants review committee chair, who left Northwestern last summer.


“These experiences help students transition out of school and into the skills they need to succeed in the rest of their lives,” Civetta said.


“It is experiential learning at its best because it pairs faculty wisdom with student ingenuity,” he said. “Students learn to take ownership of their education and can begin to achieve their own goals.”

To read the original story, including biographies of the three seniors who were honored, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.

NEXT - City of San Diego_600x367.jpgBecome one of the hundreds of industry-leading alumni throughout the country who host a Northwestern student for a premiere one-day job shadowing experience. Register now for the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT). Alumni Host registration will run from December 8, 2014 through January 9, 2015.


Co-sponsored by the Northwestern Alumni Association and Northwestern Career Advancement, NEXT is a one-day job shadowing program that offers current NU students the opportunity to accompany alumni at their place of employment in order to learn about a specific career field.


As a NEXT host you will:

  • Host one or more students at your place of work for one day.
  • Provide insight into your career field.
  • Serve as a valuable resource for students interested in your industry.


Externships should occur between March 23 and April 24, 2015, though most are held during Northwestern’s spring break (March 23 – March 27). The alumni host and student extern(s) will determine an exact date within this time frame, though if scheduling prevents, both parties are also welcome to agree on another time outside of this schedule.


Find out more at


Check out the Career space in Our Northwestern.

Foley_Aikins_Medal.jpgMedill presented on Dec. 3 its Medal for Courage in Journalism to journalists Matthieu Aikins and the late James Foley.


The ceremony marked the first time the award had been presented since the board of advisers for the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications voted Nov. 24 to rename it to the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism, said Dick Stolley, a member of Medill’s board of advisers.


“The awards we have given in the past have in almost every case been for physical courage, and most certainly in Jim’s case, his bravery stands out,” Stolley (Medill ’52, ’53) told the packed audience in the McCormick Foundation Center Forum. “But there was an ethical courage, too … He felt a compulsion to report the truth.”


Foley (Medill ‘08), who was captured nearly two years ago while reporting in Syria, was killed in August by the Islamic State group.


Aikins said during his acceptance speech that he ran into one of Foley’s good friends in Baghdad last week and asked her what the slain journalist would have thought about the medal.


“She thought that he would be, of course, deeply honored because Medill is a special place for him,” Aikins said. “But at the same time he would have felt uncomfortable with the notion that this was about him rather than the stories and the people that he cared so deeply about.”


Last month, Medill announced at a memorial service for Foley that the journalist would receive the award, which has been given by the school since 2003.


Aikins received the medal for his reporting for Rolling Stone magazine on the U.S. Army’s killing of 10 villagers in Afghanistan. Medill awarded him the medal in May. However, he was unable to travel to Evanston to accept the award at the time because he was reporting in Afghanistan, said Belinda Clarke (Communication ’91, Medill ’94), Medill’s director of alumni relations and engagement.


Aikins’ reporting for Rolling Stone exposed potential war crimes perpetrated by a team of U.S. Army Special Forces in Afghanistan. Out of all the dangerous situations he faced while reporting in Afghanistan, Aikins said he is most proud of the courage he displayed in taking the risk to “go against” the U.S. government in writing his story.


He said both he and Foley were familiar with the “thrill” of reporting in war zones. But he added that the most admirable courage Foley displayed was in his reporting.


“What redeemed you from being just another boy trying to be a man in a war zone were the stories you told because they were about people desperately in need of our empathy,” he said. “It’s important to remember our importance is derivative. It’s based on the stories we tell.”


This story was shared from The Daily Northwestern.>>


More coverage from Medill.>>

The holidays are coming, and your Northwestern classmates may be looking for you!


NU alumni are using Our Northwestern to find friends and gather addresses as they prepare to send holiday greetings via mail and email. Make sure your friends can find you by updating your profile in Our Northwestern, which is the only place you’ll find Northwestern’s comprehensive alumni directory.


We have resources to help you update your profile. Once your profile is current, take time to search the directory for classmates and make connections within the NU network.


If you have more questions about updating your profile or searching the directory, check out the resources in the Help Center.

Crain's Chicago Business featured five Northwestern alumni in their annual 40 Under 40 list. The list includes Chicago-area 'trailblazers and wavemakers' -- previous 40 Under 40 alum include President Barack Obama (1993), Oprah Winfrey (1989), and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (1990). Here's a look at the 'Cats that made Crain's Class of 2014:



Ellen-Blair Chube '02

Vice President, Ariel Investments


Ellen-Blair Chube grew up one of nine children in Gary, so when she says her upbringing prepared her for politics, she speaks from the heart. “You deal with a lot of personalities” in a big family, says the Northwestern University grad, who has a law degree from Georgetown University. “You learn how to be strategic about your 'asks' of your parents and quickly learn the art of negotiation.” Read Ellen-Blair Chube's full spotlight.>>




Keating Crown '11 JD, MBA

Principal, Sterling Bay

Few Chicagoans are as connected as Keating Crown, or as lucky. Thirteen years ago, during the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the grandson of industrialist Lester Crown escaped his office in Manhattan's World Trade Center with a broken leg. Since returning to Chicago in 2008, [Keating] has been helping shape the city's fastest-changing neighborhood: the West Loop. He joined development firm Sterling Bay in 2012 as it pursued and eventually landed Google as a tenant for the 10-story Fulton Market Cold Storage building. Read Keating Crown's Full Spotlight.>>


Cristina Henriquez '99

Author of The Book of Unknown Americans, The World in Half and Come Together, Fall Apart


Cristina Henriquez avoids reviews of her novel “The Book of Unknown Americans,” which in November landed a coveted spot on's Top 10 Books of 2014 list. She doesn't ask her publisher for sales numbers. And in June, when Amazon singled it out as the Best Book of the Year So Far in Literature and Fiction, Henriquez found out from her husband. “He called, and I said, 'That's nice,' ” she recalls. “He was like, 'You're not grasping this. It's a big deal!' ” Read Cristina Henriquez's Full Spotlight.>>




David Schonthal '09 MBA

Co-Founder, Matter

The idea for stitching together Chicago's health-tech community was hatched on a plane to San Diego. David Schonthal had moved here so he and his wife could be closer to family. Working in health care venture capital, he was frustrated to find the Midwest scene so disjointed that he had to continually return to California for business. The four-hour commute allowed plenty of time for pondering such questions as “Why can't we do cool stuff in Chicago?” Read David Schonthal's Full Spotlight.>>




Ramille Shah '00

Principal investigator, Northwestern University Tissue Lab


As head of the Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing Lab at Northwestern University, Ramille Shah uses a 3-D printer to develop implantable biodegradable materials—”scaffolds,” in medical parlance—so humans can be like salamanders, growing back parts that are damaged. In the near future, instead of harvesting cadaver tissue or using implants, doctors will insert a scaffold into a patient that will turn into whatever stem cells surround it—bone, cartilage or ligament. Read Ramille Shah's Full Spotlight.>>


Read the full 40 Under 40 List.>>

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Who knew Blu-ray discs were so useful? Already one of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells — suggesting a second use for unwanted discs — according to new research from Northwestern University.


An interdisciplinary research team has discovered that the pattern of information written on a Blu-ray disc -- and it doesn’t matter if it’s Jackie Chan’s “Police Story 3: Supercop” or the cartoon “Family Guy” -- works very well for improving light absorption across the solar spectrum. And better yet, the researchers know why.


“We had a hunch that Blu-ray discs might work for improving solar cells, and, to our delight, we found the existing patterns are already very good,” said Jiaxing Huang, a materials chemist and an associate professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “It’s as if electrical engineers and computer scientists developing the Blu-ray technology have been subconsciously doing our jobs, too.”


Blu-ray discs contain a higher density of data than DVDs or CDs, and it is this quasi-random pattern, perfected by engineers over decades for data storage, that, when transferred to the surface of solar cells, provides the right texture to improve the cells’ light absorption and performance.


Working with Cheng Sun, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at McCormick, Huang and his team tested a wide range of movies and television shows stored on Blu-ray discs, including action movies, dramas, documentaries, cartoons and black-and-white content, and found the video content did not matter. All worked equally well for enhancing light absorption in solar cells.


The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.


In the field of solar cells, it is known that if texture is placed on the surface of a solar cell, light is scattered more effectively, increasing a cell’s efficiency. Scientists have long been searching for the most effective texture with a reasonable manufacturing cost.


The Northwestern researchers have demonstrated that a Blu-ray disc’s strings of binary code 0s and 1s, embedded as islands and pits to store video information, give solar cells the near-optimal surface texture to improve their absorption over the broad spectrum of sunlight.


In their study, the researchers first selected the Jackie Chan movie “Police Story 3: Supercop.” They replicated the pattern on the active layer of a polymer solar cell and found the cell was more efficient than a control solar cell with a random pattern on its surface.


“We found a random pattern or texture does work better than no pattern, but a Blu-ray disc pattern is best of all,” Huang said. “Then I wondered, why did it work? If you don’t understand why, it’s not good science.”


Huang puzzled over the question of why for some time. One day, his wife, Shaorong Liu, a database engineer at IBM, suggested it likely had something to do with data compression. That was the insight Huang needed.


Huang and Sun then turned to McCormick colleague Dongning Guo, an expert in information theory, to investigate this idea. Guo is an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.


The researchers looked closely at the data processing algorithms in the Blu-ray standard and noted the algorithms serve two major purposes:


  • Achieving as high a degree of compression as possible by converting the video signals into a seemingly random sequence of 0s and 1s; and


  • Increasing error tolerance by adding controlled redundancy into the data sequence, which also limits the number of consecutive 0s and 1s.


These two purposes, the researchers said, have resulted in a quasi-random array of islands and pits (0s and 1s) with feature sizes between 150 and 525 nanometers. And this range, it turns out, works quite well for light-trapping applications over the entire solar spectrum.


The overall broadband absorption enhancement of a Blu-ray patterned solar cell was measured to be 21.8 percent, the researchers report.


“In addition to improving polymer solar cells, our simulation suggests the Blu-ray patterns could be broadly applied for light trapping in other kinds of solar cells,” Sun said.


“It has been quite unexpected and truly thrilling to see new science coming out of the intersection of information theory, nanophotonics and materials science,” Huang said.


The National Science Foundation supported the research.


The paper is titled “Repurposing Blu-ray Movie Discs as Quasi-random Nanoimprinting Templates for Photon Management.”


In addition to Huang, Guo and Sun, other authors of the paper are Alexander J. Smith (co-first author) and Chen Wang (co-first author), both of Northwestern.


See more in Northwestern News.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s One Book One Northwestern selection committee is seeking recommendations for the 2015-2016 academic year.


Book suggestions should include: title, author, a short summary and a brief description of why this book would make a good common read.


Email proposals and questions to One Book One Northwestern at The deadline for submittals is Dec. 12.



The committee will review initial proposals and invite a smaller number of full proposals for more detailed consideration before making recommendations to President Morton Schapiro.


This year’s selection is “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do,” penned by one of the nation’s leading social psychologists, Claude M. Steele.


Please note: the selected book should be available in paperback and digital formats by May 1, 2015. The book will be distributed to incoming students next summer in preparation for the fall quarter.


The One Book One Northwestern program is sponsored by the Office of the President. The selection committee, chaired by Eugene Lowe, assistant to the president, includes students, faculty and staff.


Visit Northwestern News for more.



THANK YOU to the Wildcats around the world who showed their support for #CATSGiveBack on Tuesday, Dec. 2your gifts made it a record-setting #GivingTuesday for Northwestern!


#CATSGiveBack highlights:

  • Raised nearly $320,000
  • More than 700 donors participated
  • Nearly 1,000,000 #CATSGiveBack impressions on Twitter and Instagram

#CATSGiveBack Digital Recap



Birth weight makes a difference to a child’s future academic performance, according to new Northwestern research that found heavier newborns do better in elementary and middle school than infants with lower birth weights.


Led by a multidisciplinary team of Northwestern researchers, the study raises an intriguing question: Does a fetus benefit from a longer stay in the mother’s womb?


“A child who is born healthy doesn’t necessarily have a fully formed brain,” said David Figlio, one of the study's authors and director of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research (IPR).


_ERR9583.jpg“Our study speaks to the idea that longer gestation and accompanying weight gain is good,” he said. “We want to know: What does that mean for public policy?”


The research suggests that babies who weigh more at birth have higher test scores from third through eighth grade. The relationship is apparent even among twins; heavier-born twins have higher average test scores in third through eighth grade than their lighter-born twin.


Even the advantage of attending a higher quality school was not enough to compensate for the disadvantage of a lower birth rate, according to the study. The low birth-rate advantage held up across the board for all childrenregardless of race, socioeconomic status, enrichment experiences provided by parents, maternal education and a host of other factors.


The study, which was published online Dec. 14 in the journal American Economic Review, was the first to explore the interaction between school quality and the relationship between birth weight and children’s cognitive development.


“The results strongly point to the notion that the effects of poor neonatal health on adult outcomes are largely determined earlyin early childhood and the first years of elementary school,” the researchers wrote in the study.


Birth weight is a common indicator of a baby’s health. Using a major new data sourcemerged birth and school records for all children born in Florida from 1992 to 2002the researchers studied the relationships between birth weight and cognitive development by following more than 1.3 million children and nearly 15,000 pairs of twins from birth through middle school.


“It will be valuable to learn whether improvements in earnings by families with pregnant women, improved maternal nutrition or reduced maternal stressall factors associated with higher birth weightalso translate to better cognitive outcomes in childhood,” said Figlio, IPR faculty fellow and Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.


Still, birth weight doesn’t seal a child’s fate, said study coauthor Jonathan Guryan, an associate professor of human development and social policy at the School of Education and Social Policy and IPR faculty fellow.


Children with low birth rates canand doperform better in school than their heavier peers. Other factors, such as whether a mother graduated from college, can be a larger predictor of academic achievement.


“You’d rather be a low birth-weight baby with a mother who has a college degree, than a heavier baby, born to a high school dropout,” Guryan said.


In addition to Figlio and Guyran, the study was co-authored by Krzysztof Karbownik, a visiting scholar at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research and Jeffrey Roth, a research professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.


To read the original story, visit the Northwestern News Center.

For more stories from this month's Alumni News, visit the NAA on Our Northwestern, the University's online community.


#CATSGiveBack has begun -- Join fellow Wildcats across the world to make a gift to NU that will make an impact. And check back here for live updates throughout the day! | #NUWeWill | |


Full list of today's challenges and giveaways.>>


Live Updates

9:00 p.m.: Today has been a truly incredible show of purple pride. Thank you, Wildcats around the world, for participating in #CATSGiveBack and supporting Northwestern. Be sure to check back here tomorrow for a full recap!


7:00 p.m.: #CATSGiveBack is coming to an end in two hours, but that's still plenty of time to make a gift! Thank you to all who made a gift to the Adam Karr '93 dollar-for-dollar challenge, and of course, a BIG thank you to Adam! When you make a gift this hour, you will be entered to win a pair of tickets to this year's Waa-Mu show. And if you're still interested in a challenge, a generous, anonymous alum will make a gift of $5,000 if 100 people give by 9 p.m. Let's bring it home, 'Cats!

5:20 p.m.: Calling all Wildcat football fans! Make a gift this hour and you will be entered to win a Gator Bowl football signed by Coach Fitz and the coach of Mississippi State!

4:00 p.m.: Still lots going on for #CATSGiveBack: Northwestern's Chemistry department is #4 in the world, and if you make a gift this hour, you can enter to win a tour of Dean Mark Ratner's chemistry lab! Be sure to check out a video of alum Brian Posner '83 talking about his passion for NU. And don't forget about the dollar-for-dollar matching challenge issued by Adam Karr '93!


3:30 p.m.: Wow! Another incredible challenge! We Will Campaign Co-Chair Adam Karr ’93 has been so inspired by the amazing show of support today that he challenges alumni to make their gifts now. He will match your gift dollar-for-dollar up to $1000 toward any area of NU! This challenge will run until he matches $25,000. Step it up ‘Cats!

2:30 p.m.: We're just past the halfway mark 'Cats! We've raised $169,800 from 320 donors so far, but there is still plenty of time to join the #CATSGiveBack movement! If you make a gift in the next 30 minutes, you will be entered to win 4 courtside tickets to the NU vs. Western Michigan basketball game. Other giveaways throughout the rest of the day include a behind-the-scenes tour of the NU basketball facility, tickets to Waa-Mu, a Young Alumni Ski Trip, and Reunion Weekend Tailgate Tickets! Plenty of excitement, so stay tuned and make your gift now!

1:30 p.m.: A BIG thank you to NAA Past President Dan Jones '60! His matching gift of $50,000 inspired over 200 gifts in just five hours! Way to show the purple pride Wildcats!

12:40 p.m.: Northwestern has made an incredible impact across the world. Check out this #CATSGiveBack Giving Tuesday video

12:00 p.m.: Way to show the world how #CATSGiveBack! As of now, we've raised a total of $134,448 from 222 donors! Thank you to NAA Past President Dan Jones '60 for his generous matching gift of $50,000. Congratulations to Sarah Legge '06 who won the PTI ticket giveaway by making her gift to Project Wildcat. There are still plenty of giveaways and challenges throughout the day; make your gift between now and 1:00 p.m. and you will be entered to win a hard-hat tour of the beautiful new Music and Communications building. And be sure to watch the video showing the incredible impact that Northwestern has made this year at

11:00 a.m.: Happy Birthday Coach Fitz! If you love NU athletics (or any part of Northwestern!), make your gift this hour to enter to win a football signed by @coachfitz51.

10:35 a.m.: We're off to a great start for #CATSGiveBack! As of now, we've raised $36,324 from 127 gifts! Let's keep going strong, Wildcats! Join the movement and make your gift now at

10:00 a.m.: It's The Daily Hour during #CATSGiveBack! Make your gift this hour and you'll be entered to win a pair of tickets to a live taping of @ESPN's Emmy-award winning Pardon the Interruption (@PTI), thanks to generous alum @RealMikeWilbon #CATSGiveBack


Many incredible journalists began their careers reporting at The Daily Northwestern. Check out why they support NU's student newspaper, and join in their efforts to keep The Daily going for future generations of Wildcats!

9:30 a.m.: A generous donor has made a gift of $10,000 to @NU_LIBRARY for #CATSGiveBack. Whether it's Deering, Special Collections, or the Music Library, whether it's rare books, digital collections, or archives, tweet @NUAlumni on why you love the Northwestern Library! Or show your library love!


8:30 a.m.: Make a gift by noon at for the #CATSGiveBack $50K Challenge issued by NAA leader Dan Jones '60.