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2015

ADayWithNU Screencap.PNGA Day with Northwestern, an annual all-day seminar featuring prominent faculty and alumni speaking on a variety of relevant and current topics, will be held Saturday, April 18, at the Norris University Center on the Evanston campus.

 

The event — a highlight of the Northwestern Alumni Association’s educational programming for more than 40 years — draws approximately 500 alumni, parents, friends, and current and prospective students to campus every year.

 

Attendees can choose from more than a dozen keynote presentations and sessions. The featured speakers include experts in the fields of politics, medicine, art, economics, law, journalism, and more, with some sessions featuring current students as guest panelists.

 

A Day with Northwestern will be held on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston. The event is open to the Northwestern community and the general public. Registration closes April 10.

 

Register here. >>

 

Tweet and share photos from the event using #ADayWithNU.


For more information, including a list of speakers, please visit alumni.northwestern.edu/ADayWithNU.


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View the 2015 Brochure. >>


A Northwestern research team was dropped by helicopter in the desolate wilderness of Greenland with four weeks of provisions and the goal of collecting ancient specimens preserved in Arctic lake beds. This was not the plot of a reality TV show. It was how a group of rugged scientists, led by Northwestern geologist Yarrow Axford, began an Arctic field research expedition to investigate climate change near the rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet during the summer of 2014.


The samples they collected are of great interest to the scientific community concerned about global climate change and Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet the second largest in the world and the only contemporary ice sheet outside of the Antarctic. Covering three-quarters of Greenland, the ice sheet is now losing hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year.


“Lakes are libraries of information about the past,” said Axford, an assistant professor of earth and planetary science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who has traveled to the Arctic for research 16 times. “They are amazing at preserving things.”


Axford’s team is particularly interested in samples from the past 11,700 years, known as the Holocene Epoch.


Now under analysis in Axford’s lab at Northwestern, the samples the team collected range in age from modern day to an estimated 130,000 years old and show climate changes that occurred over multiple glacial and interglacial cycles. The mud and sediments contain layers of organic material such as insects, pollen and mineral grains that have accumulated year after year.


“These lake sediment cores provide geological records that reveal a picture of Greenland’s changing environment over thousands of years,” Axford said. “If we understand its past, we can better predict how the ice sheet will respond to climate change in the future.”


The trip is part of a larger collaborative climate change research project, supported by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, with scientists from Northwestern, Dartmouth College and the University of Maine. Axford also has support from the Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN) at Northwestern for her research in Greenland. The team will publish what they find in the samples over the next few years and combine what they’ve discovered with their research partners.


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


Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.

Two Northwestern chemistry professors, Danna Freedman and Toru Shiozaki, each has received a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2015 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

Danna14-290x290.jpgThe $50,000 fellowships are awarded in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.


Freedman (left) and Shiozaki (below) are among 126 outstanding early-career scientists and scholars being recognized for their achievements and potential to contribute substantially to their fields. The recipients were chosen from 57 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.


Freedman and Shiozaki are both assistant professors of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.


Freedman’s research group applies the approaches and tools of synthetic inorganic chemistry to fundamental challenges in physics, akin to the highly successful application of inorganic chemistry to challenges in biology. Within this framework, Freedman’s team is addressing three key challenges: developing synthetic guidelines to enable quantum information processing, synthesizing new permanent magnets and synthesizing new superconductors.

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Shiozaki develops novel electronic structure theories to realize quantitative modeling of molecules and materials. In particular, his team seeks to understand excitonic processes in organic semiconductors, predict magnetic properties of f-element complexes and give mechanistic insight into photochemical dynamics. The Shiozaki group implements these advanced theories into parallel programs in the BAGEL package, which is publicly available under the GNU Public License.


The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1955. Administered and funded by the Sloan Foundation, the fellowships are awarded in close cooperation with the scientific community. Potential fellows must be nominated for recognition by their peers and subsequently are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars.


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


Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.

Our hearing has a secret bodyguard, a newly discovered connection from the cochlea to the brain that warns of intense incoming noise that causes tissue damage and hearing loss, according to new research by Northwestern Medicine scientists.


Scientists believe they have discovered the ear’s own novel pain system that protects it from very loud or damaging noise. It may be the reason you jam your fingers in your ears when a fire engine or ambulance wails close by. The nerves that normally alert you to pain like touching a hot burner on a stove are not present in your inner ear. So, it needs its own private alert system.


The discovery may provide insight into the cause and treatment for such painful hearing conditions as hyperacusis, an oversensitivity and earache in response to everyday sounds, common in soldiers exposed to explosives in the military, and tinnitus, a persistent and uncomfortable ringing in the ears.


The pathway, which scientists named auditory nociception (pain), is different from the one that transfers information about sound to the brain and enables you to hear a bird singing or a friend gossiping. This pathway is populated by a single set of neurons activated only by noxious or dangerous levels of noise.


Scientists aren’t sure if the neurons are triggered by the death of hair cells (which detect normal level sound as part of hearing) or simply dangerous sound levels.


“It’s very important for your system to have protection from damaging sound,” said study senior author Jaime García-Añoveros, associate professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When sensory hair cells in the ear die, they are not repopulated. That’s why hearing loss is irreversible. You need to be able to detect dangerous sound the way your nerve cells alert you to the danger of putting your hand on a hot iron.”


García-Añoveros also is an investigator at Northwestern’s Knowles Hearing Center and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.


The discovery offers an entirely new way of looking at the painful and intractable hearing conditions hyperacusis and tinnitus.


“We do not know how to treat these debilitating conditions, and understanding what neuronal pathway might be involved is essential, ” García-Añoveros said. “If we find they are actually pain syndromes rather than hearing syndromes, perhaps they could be treated effectively with analgesic pain medication that acts on the brain.”


“We think the pain these patients feel may be from a dysfunction in this inner ear pain system and similar to neuropathic pain,” García-Añoveros said.


The pain system could trigger a protective autonomic reflex such as stiffening the inner ear muscles to reduce the level of sound entering the ear, García-Añoveros said. Or, it might cause a sensation of pain that causes you to plug your fingers in your ears when you’re exposed to a jackhammer on a street corner.


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

 

Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern’s Master of Science in Communication program

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For some students, starting a business means more than just having a clever idea. It’s a passion, a future career, and a chance to solve industry deficiencies or build a game-changing startup with lasting value.

 

With that in mind, the Kellogg School of Management unveiled the Zell Scholars program last year to provide support for students looking to turn their startups into market- and funding-ready businesses, said David Schonthal, program director and a clinical assistant professor of innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

Recently, 10 students were named to the 2014-15 class. (In photo, from left: Kieren Patel, Michael Jung, Lorena Arathoon, Tyler Wanke, Luciana Olivera, Jeremy Bolian, Priya Mathew, Gaurav Shenai, Stephen Lane and Jesse Chang. Photo by Sarah Aylward.) 

 

The application-only, two-quarter program — funded by Equity Group Investments LLC Chairman Sam Zell — launched in 2013 with nine students elected to its inaugural cohort. In addition to funding from the program, those Zell Scholars have raised more than $2.5 million independently to support their companies, Schonthal said.

 

But the advantages of becoming a Zell Scholar will last long after graduation, Schonthal added.

 

“It has more to do with helping people who are entrepreneurially-minded be successful founders at some point in their careers,” he said. “When they’re ready to take on the challenge and bring something new to market or start their own company, they have the confidence and experience to draw on.”

 

An MBA “on steroids”

 

The program does that by providing mentorship, coaching, networking opportunities and other business services to a set of students poised to create real change and lasting value.

 

This program builds upon existing resources for entrepreneurial students by offering further support and networking opportunities. As described by new Zell Scholar Stephen Lane ’16, the program is like an MBA “on steroids.”

 

Scholars scale up

 

Current Zell Scholar Tyler Wanke ’15 of medical device startup Innoblative has seen the program’s benefits first hand. When Innoblative teammate Jason Sandler ’15 was part of the program last year, the startup received program funding, which helped them compete in a number of case competitions last year.

 

Innoblative went on to win nearly $200,000 in cash and prizes. And last December, techonology blog ChicagoInno named the med tech company one of its “15 startups to watch in 2015.”

 

“The Zell program gave us so much while we didn't have much,” Wanke said. “When we rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ [last June], I damn sure remembered to thank Sam Zell.”


To learn more about this year's Zell Scholars, see the original story on Kellogg's website.


Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern’s Master of Science in Communication program.

20120114_Stock26.jpgAs job opportunities multiply for Web developers, graphic designers, communications professionals and other specialists in fields that rely on visual data, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies is launching a new part-time, online graduate degree, a Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy.

 

The program aims to help business leaders answer a critical question of the times: What’s the best way to deliver digital information?

 

Information design involves translating data and information into highly effective visual narratives and communication, often within an online or digital context.

 

Though similar to information architecture and Web development, information design is a broader, multidisciplinary field, one that also includes visual and written communication skills, data analytics and learning theory.

 

Designed for professionals, Northwestern’s pioneering online degree program fills a traditional educational gap in the field of information design. The training helps specialists learn to think broadly and targets creative communicators who want to improve leadership skills, fill multiple roles and bring together design, communication, development and technology teams.

 

“The incredibly comprehensive curriculum offers a deep dive into user-friendly design,” said Eric Patrick, an associate professor in Northwestern’s School of Communication and a member of the information design graduate program faculty.

 

“Students learn how to best translate information in virtual or actual environments and can hit the ground running in their careers,” he said. “In an era when the crafting of messages and meaning is so central to our lives, information design is not only important, it’s essential.”

 

Information design failures, such as chaotic, text-heavy websites, confusing “you are here” signs, or poorly written online tutorials, can be frustrating, inefficient and costly.

 

Northwestern, the only university of its caliber to offer an online graduate degree program in information design, is one of the first schools to define specific skills needed in the field.

 

Traditional information design programs follow two basic tracks: One emphasizes the design aspects; a second focuses on technical skills. Northwestern’s approach blends the technical/engineering aspect with programs that focus on communication and design theory.

 

“Right now people in the field may have a rigorous background in statistics, science or math, but they don’t understand the visual display of data,” said Patrick, a specialist in animation and experimental filmmaking. “Or they’re artists or graphic designers who don’t understand statistics. The idea is to try to draw from both of those crowds, to get a well-rounded person in the field.”

 

Northwestern’s program consists of 12 courses (nine required, three elective) carefully selected from the disciplines essential to information design, such as user-centered design, content strategy, visual and written communication and data management.

 

The advisory board that created the new design program consists of faculty from the School of Communication as well as leading experts in the field, including Josh Grau, director of brand strategy at Twitter Europe; Jake Setlak, vice president and planning director at Energy BBDO; and Samuel Tepper, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

 

Applications are currently being accepted and are due by July 15, 2015. Classes begin in fall 2015.

 

Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.


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

venture challenge.PNGEfforts made by Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC) to jumpstart the endeavors of the University’s most promising student entrepreneurs have been bolstered by a $100,000 Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant.

 

“We are excited to be a recipient of this highly competitive grant,” said Michael Krakaris, a junior in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and NUVC’s student director. “We truly appreciate being recognized.”

 

NUVC is a yearly business competition in which teams pitch innovative ideas from five different industry-specific tracks in hopes of winning prize money to help fund their startups. At least one team member must be affiliated with the University.

 

In six years, the challenge has attracted more than 100 competitors from a wide range of Northwestern undergraduate and graduate programs. Close to $175,000 in funding was awarded in the 2014 competition.

 

“The grant will help advance a thriving entrepreneurial scene at Northwestern,” Krakaris said. “By sponsoring NUVC, Wells Fargo is bolstering the ability of driven students to turn their ideas into reality.”

 

“Wells Fargo is proud to support Northwestern and its outstanding NUVC program,” said Ashley Grosh, vice president, Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs. “This program and its mission to foster innovation and bring technologies to the marketplace aligns with the goals of the Wells Fargo Cleantech and Innovation grant program to help solve critical challenges across our communities.”

 

The Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant supports environmentally-focused nonprofits, colleges and universities. Funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation, the innovation grant fosters economic development, especially in underserved communities, to accelerate the global “green” economy. The goal of the program is to inspire innovation from entrepreneurs and fund research entities working on critical environmental issues. Wells Fargo has committed to provide $100 million of funding for the grant by 2020.

 

One of NUVC’s industry tracks for the 2015 competition is “Green Energy and Sustainability.”

 

Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.


For more information about Northwestern University Venture Challenge, visit the Northwestern News Center.

nuqlaw638.jpgHamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), in strategic partnership with Northwestern University School of Law, is establishing a new graduate-level law school in Doha, Qatar, officials announced Feb. 22.

 

The school will open in the fall of 2015 in Education City, a 2,500-acre campus located on the western edge of Doha. The new law program will be the first of its kind in the Middle East.

 

The HBKU law school will offer a three-year Juris Doctor degree program with a comprehensive curriculum, enabling graduates to take important leadership positions in the public and private sectors throughout the region.

 

“As part of Qatar Foundation’s commitment to building human capacity, Hamad bin Khalifa University has a key role in establishing QF’s cycle of education and research for the benefit of Qatar’s community,” said Dr. Ahmad Hasnah, HBKU executive vice president and provost.

 

“We are committed to immersing students in a culture of learning that nurtures their creativity and innovation, prioritizes the development of research skills and prepares them not only for the next stage of their education, but also enables them to become the future leaders of Qatar,” he said. “As such, the launch of our first postgraduate degree program in our new law school is a prime example of this.”

 

Based in Chicago, Northwestern University School of Law serves a key advisory role.

 

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Hamad bin Khalifa University on this important initiative and appreciate the Qatar Foundation’s leadership in their ongoing development of Education City,” said Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern University School of Law. “We share their belief in the power of higher education to make a positive difference in the world.”

 

Clinton W. Francis, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, will serve as the interim dean and, with assistance from key members of the Northwestern Law faculty, will help to guide the development of the school’s curriculum, hiring staff and faculty and serving as an advisor to HBKU officials. Francis teaches and researches in the areas of corporate restructuring/bankruptcy, commercial law, intellectual property and intellectual capital management. He is a recognized expert in context-based teaching, using role-playing and entrepreneurial simulations.

 

“We are developing a leading-edge curriculum, instruction and scholarship with the goal of delivering the maximum knowledge and value to students and to domestic, regional and global partners,” Francis said. “We will achieve this value commitment through a unique pedagogical approach, emphasizing the structural linkage of students, faculty, employers and the larger community to build sustainable intellectual, legal and business best practices to support growth throughout the region.”

 

Since 2008 Northwestern has offered undergraduate degree programs in journalism and communication at Education City. Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) graduates have gone on to become reporters and editors at media outlets in the Middle East and communications professionals in government and private industry, as well as to create their own media production firms.

 

Northwestern faculty and academic leaders provided expertise and guidance in a similar strategic development partnership when the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad was established in 2001. Faculty from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business were instrumental in creating the new school in India.

 

Hamad bin Khalifa University, a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, offers graduate education in a variety of fields. The new law school will join the College of Science, Engineering and Technology; the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies at HBKU’s Education City campus.

 

Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.


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

randolph175.jpgAdrian Randolph, associate dean of the faculty for the arts and humanities at Dartmouth College, has been appointed dean of Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1. Mark Ratner will continue to serve as Weinberg's interim dean through June 30.

 

Randolph, the Leon E. Williams Professor of Art History at Dartmouth, is widely respected for his intellectual curiosity and commitment to excellence in faculty recruitment, hiring and retention. An art historian and prolific scholar, he will bring an impressive portfolio of building cross-campus and interdisciplinary initiatives to Northwestern.

 

“I am very pleased that Adrian Randolph will be the next dean of Weinberg College,” Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer said. “His scholarship, energy and vision for liberal arts and sciences will help continue building Weinberg’s central role in the intellectual vitality of the University.”

 

A teacher-scholar, Randolph specializes in medieval and Renaissance Italy. His scholarship places a special emphasis on blending visual analysis with other contextual information -- and from fields as varied as science, literature, social history and gender studies. In his work, he has successfully forged connections across disciplinary boundaries to build programming, lectures and conferences on topics as diverse as humor and race, Native American art and science and visualization.

 

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Weinberg at a time when there is so much excitement and opportunity,” Randolph said. “I look forward to working with the faculty, students, staff and alumni of the college.”

 

Northwestern offers a strong liberal arts education within a vibrant research environment -- “the lifeblood of a great, flexible and dynamic undergraduate education,” Randolph said, noting the University’s strong commitment to undergraduate learning and research.

 

The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, he said, is excellently placed to offer undergraduate and graduate students the type of education that theorists identify as most effective, within an environment that values transformative research. He is committed to maintaining premier academic experiences for undergraduates while supporting faculty research at the highest levels.

 

Having lived previously in the U.K., France, Italy and Germany, Randolph is a strong advocate of using academic research to create solutions to global challenges and fostering a knowledge of global issues in students.

 

Randolph believes a liberal education is not a luxury but a wise investment that provides the flexibility to explore fresh areas of intellectual inquiry, while crossing boundaries between traditional and new types of learning.

 

“Institutions like Weinberg produce thinkers and practitioners whose creative minds, working within and between disciplines, have been honed by the challenges of the liberal arts,” he said.

 

Randolph has authored, co-authored or edited eight books and numerous articles, essays and reviews. He also has served on the international advisory board of the journal Art History as well as the University Press of New England. Randolph completed his B.A. at Princeton University, his M.A. at the University of London and his Ph.D. in fine arts and the history of art and architecture at Harvard University.

 

“I am attracted to Northwestern’s clear mission, its palpable and confident sense of institutional identity, and also its exceptional relations among the colleges and schools comprising the University,” he said.

 

Edited by Andrea Nazarian, a student in Northwestern's Master of Science in Communication program.


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

nudm638.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- For the first time since 2010, dollars raised by students for the 41st annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) in March will not be used for research.

 

Instead, this year’s net proceeds will benefit a leading global charity that partners with experts to provide entertainment, education, activities and programs for seriously ill children and their families. As usual, an Evanston-based group that provides funding for local grants for the common good, also will benefit from the fundraising.

 

From March 6 to 8, NUDM will mark the culmination of a yearlong philanthropic effort supporting Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), NUDM 2015’s primary and secondary beneficiaries, respectively.

 

That weekend a dedicated group of more than 1,000 energetic Northwestern undergraduate students will dance for 30 nonstop hours to raise funds for both organizations in NUDM’s 41st annual fundraising event.

 

Starlight plans to use the funds they receive from this year’s dance marathon to build newly designed and welcoming pediatric treatment rooms, playrooms and teen lounges in up to 10 hospitals in the greater Chicago area that will provide a safe haven for chronically ill children undergoing treatment.

 

The group’s goal is to ensure that every child experiences a happy childhood. Currently reaching more than 60 million children worldwide, the 10 new Starlight Sites planned for Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan will help Starlight reach nearly two million more children and families. NUDM “heroes” include children with critical and chronic illnesses such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, pediatric cancer and congenital heart disease.

 

“Starlight stood out as special to us because it will help any child facing a chronic or critical illness, so everyone we’ve helped through NUDM in the past can benefit from Starlight’s work, now and for many years to come,” said Ander Aretakis, NUDM executive co-chair.

 

Aretakis is co-chairing this year’s event with David Ryan.

 

NUDM 2015 begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6, and concludes at 1 a.m. Sunday, March 8, at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. A live stream of the entire event can be viewed online at www.nudm.org.

 

Donations for this year’s event can be made online at www.nudm.org/donate. Other NUDM 2015 fundraising activities that are open to the public will include:

 

• A Silent Auction that will go live online a week before NUDM begins. Bids will be accepted through Saturday, March 7. All proceeds will go the primary and secondary beneficiaries. For more information, visit www.nudm.org.

 

• A 5K Run around the Northwestern’s lakefill begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7. The pre-registration fee is $20, or $25 on the day of the event, all benefiting NUDM. Check-in starts at 10 a.m. at Norris University Center. The 5-kilometer run ends at 1 p.m. Pre-registration will be available online.

 

• A Kids Fair, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, will take place at Norris University Center. Admission is $5 per family. Tickets can be purchased at Norris Center on the day of the event. The children’s fair will feature fun activities, including face painting, cookie decorating and beanbag tossing.

 

Other related NUDM 2015 fundraising events have included a series of trivia nights, a Battle of the Bands event, and “canning” for cash donations on Evanston, Skokie and Winnetka streets, as well as before and after basketball games at the University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

 

Starlight Children’s Foundation

 

 

Founded in 1982, Starlight Children’s Foundation provides family-centered programs and services from hospital to home to improve the experiences for millions of children and families. It currently partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and pediatric hospitals in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

Since 1990, Starlight has been transforming designated areas of sterile hospital environments. These cheerful playrooms, teen lounges and playgrounds offer a variety of diversions, including video games, computer, toys, crafts, music, as well as the company of other children. These Starlight Sites are designed to help ease young patients’ stress by stimulating the senses, providing an antidote to loneliness and an escape from the isolation of a hospital room. To learn more, visit www.starlight.org or follow Starlight on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Evanston Community Foundation (ECF)

 

 

The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) is NUDM’s secondary beneficiary for the 18th consecutive year. The foundation builds, connects and distributes resources and knowledge for the common good through local organizations. In March 2014, ECF received 10 percent of Dance Marathon’s net proceeds -- a check for $103,476.58 -- breaking the $100,000 mark for the first time. Last May, Dance Marathon dollars helped ECF to fund 28 local grants totaling more than $258,000. (ECF made total distributions of $1,987,421 in 2013-14.) For more information on the foundation, visit www.evanstonforever.org.

 

 

NUDM Fundraising History

 

In its 40-year history, Northwestern University Dance Marathon -- one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world – has raised more than $15 million for more than 30 different charities. Last year, NUDM broke the $1 million mark for the fourth consecutive year.

 

In 2014, NUDM celebrated its 40th anniversary, and also raised a record-breaking $1,385,273 in cash and in-kind donations, thanks to the efforts of 1,000 Northwestern undergraduate student dancers, 300-plus committee members, various fundraising events throughout the year, and thousands of generous local and national donors, including alumni who helped support the 2014 fundraiser. It was the first time that “cash” fundraising exceeded $1 million.

 

NUDM 2014 executive co-chairs Josh Parish and Anna Radoff presented a check for $931,289.21 to Marissa Penrod, the founder of Team Joseph, a non-profit organization that funds cutting-edge research to find a treatment or cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal degenerative genetic muscle disease affecting 1 in 3,500 boys. The life expectancy for those afflicted is in the early 20s. For more on NUDM, visit www.nudm.org

 

For more, visit Northwestern News

_ERR2898.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- More than 900 generous Northwestern University community members donated more than $300,000 to support the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago or the charity of their choice.

 

While the total amount in contributions and pledges exceeded the University’s goal for 2014, this year’s final amount resulted in a 3.8 percent decrease from last year’s total of $314,145.

 

“A major difference in this year’s campaign was that the number of United Way leadership givers -- those who gave $1,000 or more -- dropped by 10 percent, which is why the campaign brought in 3.8 percent less in total donations this year,” said Brian Peters, assistant vice-president for University Services.

 

However, there was more participation by non-leadership givers which is very encouraging.

 

All donations to the United Way support the most effective programs and strategies in education, income and health -- considered the building blocks of self-sufficiency and equality of life -- in 58 underserved communities in the Chicago region.

 

Peters said this was the first year that Northwestern had an electronic campaign that could accept payroll deductions, which many contributors found a convenient way to donate. “ Last year, we could only accept credit cards,” Peters said.

 

Campaign highlights included 42 campaign areas that increased their total contribution amount compared to 2013; 37 campaign areas that increased their team participation rate compared to last year; and 75 percent of all donations were submitted online.

 

Total pledges and contributions for 2014 are $302,156 (with $253,126 of that amount from Northwestern employees; $19,210 from contributed service faculty, local retirees and temporary employees; one $5,000 matching gift; and $24,820 from the Web-based silent auction).

 

The popular 2014 online auction set a record with proceeds split equally among the following five United Way-funded Evanston organizations: Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwestern Cook County; Housing Options for the Mentally Ill; Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Northwest CASA (Center Against Sexual Assault); and Peer Services, an organization that works to eliminate substance use and the problems it causes individuals, families and communities.

 

Auction items included gift cards of varying denominations to local businesses and restaurants; admission tickets for four to the Adler Planetarium; iPads; a 12-speed mountain bike; an autographed Dallas Beeler baseball, courtesy of the Chicago Cubs; two game tickets to a Chicago Wolves game; one-night stays at various Chicago area hotels; a VIP tour and gift package, courtesy of the Lagunitas Brewing Co.; a six-month membership to the McGaw YMCA; an annual membership to the Northwestern University Crown Sports and Aquatics Center; and more. To view a full list of silent auction donors and items, visit www.northwestern.edu/uservices/uw/prizes.html.

 

Campaign participation rate prizes were awarded to the following top four campaign areas:

 

• The $1,500 first place winner was Controller 1 – Student Accounts and Loans, with an 89.74 percent participation rate, which was led by campaign area manager Sabrina Flowers, assistant director, Office of Student Accounts.

 

• The $1,000 second place prize winner was the Office of Human Resources, with an 80 percent participation rate, led by campaign area managers Sarah Shepherd, administrative coordinator, and Steven Adams, compensation administrator.

 

• The $750 third place winner was Alumni Relations and Development, with a 70.70 percent participation rate, led by campaign area managers Sarah Yost, assistant director, gift planning, and Erini Kikilis, program assistant, Office of Alumni Relations and Development.

 

• The $500 fourth place winner was Facilities Management, FM -- D & C Planning, with a 54.20 percent participation rate, led by campaign area managers Steve Kindrick, manager of human resources, and Jennifer Sloane, executive assistant.

 

Facilities Management also won the “most improved” award of $250 for increasing their participation this year by 21.94 percentage points.

 

For more information on this year’s United Way campaign, visit www.northwestern.edu/unitedway and

 

See more in Northwestern News

_ERR0088.JPGEVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University is launching the first specialization in one of its existing MOOCs -- massive open online courses -- to enable people in organizations to pursue deeper immersion in a particular subject area that impacts the effectiveness of individuals and for-profit, nonprofit, volunteer and government enterprises around the world.

 

The specialization will build on the University’s existing MOOC, “Engaging Audiences for Your Organization,” which will begin March 30. The course will be followed by an all-new second MOOC on growing audiences for your content – “Expanding Your Content’s Impact and Reach” -- as well as a Final Specialization Project that ties all of the learning together.

 

The Content Strategy Specialization offers professionals the opportunity to develop high-demand skills and subject matter expertise -- while learning from Northwestern professors of journalism, strategy, management, integrated marketing communications and social media marketing. Participants in the Content Strategy Specialization will learn:

 

  • How to grow audiences with engaging content in a data-rich world that faces ever more challenging competition for people’s time and attention. 
  • Actionable insights and best practices to more effectively create and implement engaging content that will be valued by the most important targeted audiences.
  • Best practice examples of content strategy from large and small for-profit and nonprofit organizations across the globe.

 

Partnering with the online education platform Coursera, Northwestern’s new specialization joins 17 other specializations at universities around the world unveiled by Coursera Oct. 15. Each of them consists of a targeted sequence of courses with an applied special project.

 

“We created the first MOOC that anchored people with what content strategy is: how to tell engaging stories that are credible and trustable and, in the process, further the organization’s strategy,” observed John Lavine, the lead professor on the MOOC and director of Northwestern’s Media Management Center.


 

“MOOC 2 is a course on how to grow an audience,” he added. “People loved MOOC 1, and we have numbers across the board showing that it went way beyond other course offerings. We are repeating MOOC 1 starting March 30, followed by a June 1 start for MOOC 2. The second MOOC will concentrate on how to take that learning even further. If a participant completes Signature Track for both MOOCs 1 and 2, the way will be open for him or her to do a final project. And we will partner with organizations around the world to do that.”

 

Professor Candy Lee, co-leader of the content strategy MOOCs, noted that many of the faculty involved in the MOOC came from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, “which is known as a school that is differentiated by its pillars of content creation and strategy and its audience-centric approach to engaging people with content in new, innovative and measureable ways.

 

“Creating this specialization -- combining content that is aligned with an organization’s goals, with in-depth learning on engaging audiences -- utilizes the strengths of the faculty,” Lee observed. “The specialization also addresses the deep needs of organizations to use all forms of content and media to reach a desired audience.”

 

As the Coursera website explains, “From this work, you will have the knowledge and skills to advance your enterprise and your own career. In addition, the top specialization participants will be selected to have their final project recognized and awarded a prize by a real-world enterprise.”

 

The Coursera blog reported an explosion of interest in MOOC specializations, observing: “Over the past nine months, we have seen a surge in worldwide demand with more than 1.5 million learners participating in specializations. We’ve also seen the number of Verified Certificates (VCs) issued in 2014 double in volume due to specializations. Over 60 percent of all learners earning a Verified Certificate share it on LinkedIn to boost their profile.

 

“Coursera has also seen a great response from universities, professors and companies looking to join forces and be at the forefront in creating new pathways to career success. To bridge the gap, specializations offer a unique final project that allows learners to apply what they’ve learned to relevant, real-world scenarios.”

 

The first content strategy MOOC at Northwestern was offered last winter and drew interest from 21,728 professionals in 141 countries who took some or all of it. Its 12 percent completion rate was high for a MOOC. A subsequent special session of the MOOC was offered exclusively to University alumni and friends in the summer.

 

Professor Lee said that the people who took the Content Strategy for Professionals MOOC that was offered earlier in 2014 and who received a Verified Certificate will be eligible to enroll for the specialization without repeating the first MOOC. She emphasized that those who took the first MOOC but did not earn a Verified Signature Track Certificate can now go back and get the certificate by completing the case study embedded in the new offering of the MOOC 1 course.


 

“In this complex information age, forward-thinking people know that if they and their for-profit or nonprofit organizations are to thrive, they must master the most demanding communications frontier -- creating engaging, strategic, honest stories and information that are valued by their most important audiences,” Lavine said.

 

People in organizations who wish to enroll for the Content Strategy Specialization may sign up now for the first two MOOCs by going to the Coursera website and clicking on the Content Strategy Specialization for Professionals in Organizations. Here is the three-part program:

 

The first MOOC on “Engaging Audiences for your Organization” begins March 30 and will last six weeks. The course description reads: “To earn a Verified Certificate, learners must watch the MOOC's videos, answer the Learning Questions that accompany each video, participate in the discussion forums, develop and complete a case study, and evaluate the cases of three other MOOC participants.”

 

The second MOOC on “Expanding Your Content’s Impact and Reach” begins June 1 and runs for six weeks, as well. Its description notes: “Professionals at all levels of an organization will learn the best ways to grow an audience they want and need by smartly implementing their important, strategic stories and information.” The same metrics apply for earning a Verified Northwestern Certificate.

 

The final project will be offered in August. It will only be available to those who complete Content Strategy MOOCs 1 and 2. The Coursera website observes that this project “will enable MOOC participants to develop an exciting product that will demonstrate their skills to colleagues and current or potential employers.”

 

The two MOOCs and the final project will each cost $49. Participants who complete all three MOOCs will earn the Northwestern University Content Strategy Specialization Certificate.

 

Northwestern’s first MOOC offerings debuted in fall 2013 and drew interest from more than 68,000 students around the world. To do these new online courses, Northwestern partnered with Coursera to provide its MOOCs on Coursera’s digital platform to anyone, anywhere, for free. Coursera’s mission is to educate millions of people by offering a digital learning experience and classes and professors from top universities online.

 

Echoing that goal, Lavine said, “Content strategy is impacting organizations around the world. Northwestern created this field in MOOCs because it is essential if people everywhere are going to be informed to enable people in all facets of organizations to support their organizations’ goals and improve their effectiveness. It touches everybody. Now, with the specialization we are moving to take content strategy to the next level.”

 

See the original story in Northwestern News

eisenhower638.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has a rich history when it comes to hosting presidents of the United States. Three sitting presidents have visited campus, while many more have visited Northwestern either prior to assuming or after leaving office.

 

As Northwestern celebrates Presidents Day, its history with America’s chief executives dates back to not long after the University’s 1851 founding, when Abraham Lincoln visited Evanston prior to his election.

 

“He did not make it to campus, but he was supposedly serenaded by Northwestern students,” University Archivist Kevin Leonard said.

 

Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Barack Obama all have visited the University while occupying the White House. Roosevelt spoke from a platform erected just east of University Hall and also visited what was then called Lunt Library in April 1903. Eisenhower received an honorary law degree in August 1954 while addressing a large crowd at the World Council of Churches on campus. Obama spoke about economic policy to a packed Cahn Auditorium in October 2014.

 

Other presidential connections include:

 

  • Herbert Hoover visited campus several times after leaving office.
  • John F. Kennedy received some of his naval training on Northwestern’s Chicago campus during World War II.
  • Gerald Ford, a linebacker and center for the University of Michigan’s football team, visited campus in 1933 when the Wolverines took on the Wildcats.
  • Jimmy Carter made a campaign stop at Willard Hall in 1976. He also visited campus several times after leaving office.
  • Ronald Reagan visited the University long before embarking on a political career. He took part in a collegiate drama festival on campus in 1930 while he was attending Eureka College.
  • Bill Clinton spoke to an audience at the Kellogg School of Management in 2006.
  • Obama, in addition to his visit while in office, received an honorary degree from Northwestern in 2006 while serving as a U.S. Senator.
  • In addition to the presidents who have visited Northwestern, countless numbers of presidential candidates have come to the University over the years, including alumni George McGovern and Richard Gephardt, among others.

 

See more in Northwestern News

 

Varied and exciting destinations, expert faculty and local guides, like-minded companions — why would you travel any other way? Let the NAA make your next journey one to remember.

 

Enjoy exclusive perks as an NAA traveler, such as preferred access to popular attractions, specially arranged cultural experiences, and perspectives from knowledgeable local guides. Whenever possible, a Northwestern faculty member will host a trip and enrich your experience with insights on the culture, history, or landscape of your destination. Best of all, you’ll enjoy your adventure in the company of Northwestern alumni and friends.

 

The NAA is there from the moment you book, so let our staff and trusted travel partners handle all the details for a hassle-free experience. All you need to decide is: Where do you want to travel with Northwestern?


For more information about travel with the NAA, please visit the NAA's travel page. http://alumni.northwestern.edu/s/1479/02-naa/naa/naa-interior-2.aspx?sid=1479&gid=2&pgid=658

Scholars from diverse fields have long proposed that interlocking factors such as cognitive abilities, discrimination and interests may cause more women than men to leave the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pipeline after entering college.

 

Now a new Northwestern University analysis has poked holes in the much referenced “leaky pipeline” metaphor.


The research shows that the bachelor’s-to-Ph.D. pipeline in science and engineering fields no longer leaks more women than men as it did in the past.


The researchers used data from two large nationally representative research samples to reconstruct a 30-year portrait of how bachelor’s-to-Ph.D. persistence rates for men and women have changed in the United States since the 1970s. For this study, the term STEM persistence rate refers to the proportion of students who earned a Ph.D. in a particular STEM field (e.g. engineering) among students who had earlier received bachelor’s degrees in that same field.


They were particularly surprised that the gender persistence gap completely closed in pSTEM fields (physical science, technology, engineering and mathematics) — the fields in which women are most underrepresented.


Among students earning pSTEM bachelor’s degrees in the 1970s, men were 1.6 to 1.7 times as likely as women to later earn a pSTEM Ph.D. However, this gap completely closed by the 1990s.


Men still outnumber women by approximately three to one among pSTEM Ph.D. earners. But those differences in representation are not explained by differences in persistence from the bachelor’s to Ph.D. degree, said David Miller, an advanced doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern and lead author of the study.


“Our analysis shows that women are overcoming any potential gender biases that may exist in graduate school or undergraduate mentoring about pursing graduate school,” Miller said. “In fact, the percentage of women among pSTEM degree earners is now higher at the Ph.D. level than at the bachelor’s, 27 percent versus 25 percent.”


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.

Sands.jpegNorthwestern fencer Charlotte Sands (left) spent the morning of February 13 with students at River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect, Illinois, where she encouraged the children to exercise and eat healthy.

 

The event was part of a national initiative, Fuel Up to Play 60, that encourages children to develop healthy lifestyles.

 

"Keep trying to find something that you like, something that will keep you active," Sands told the children, who packed the school's gym.

 

Sands, a junior from New York City, discussed the importance of a balanced meal that should include protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. She also reminded the students to  "drink water and milk."

 

Sands, who has consistently won her events in foil and has helped the Wildcats to a No. 7 national ranking this season, inspired the kids to not be afraid to keep trying. "Keep doing things that make you comfortable," she told them. "I was not great at a lot of sports, but I kept trying and enjoying a lot of them."

 

After addressing the crowd of students, teachers, staff and representatives from the Midwest Dairy Council, Sands led by example as she danced, jumped and stretched with the children, even pounding sticks on an exercise ball atop a bucket. Sands excitedly beat on the improvised drum, exhibiting her agility as a fencer.

 

Fuel Up To Play 60 is an in-school wellness program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Illinois, local support comes from the Wildcats, the Midwest Dairy Council and the Chicago Bears.

 

To read the orginal story, visit nusports.com


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

 

February has been a memorable month for Northwestern sophomore forward Nia Coffey. The Minneapolis native posted double-doubles in road wins at Purdue and Michigan and added the game-winning layup with 4.9 seconds left against the Wolverines on Valentine's Day. In recognition of her outstanding play, Coffey has been named to the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll for the third consecutive week.


Coffey's average of 21 points and 11 rebounds in the last two games has made her a force for the Wildcats.


In their February 11 matchup at Purdue, the Wildcats fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half before storming back to win the game in overtime, 73-65. Coffey played a critical role, scoring 17 points and adding 11 rebounds, two assists and a steal in 36 minutes. She also converted all five of her attempts from the free-throw line, helping the Wildcats to a 94.4-percent mark from the charity stripe. The victory over Purdue was Northwestern's first win at Mackey Arena since December 29, 1996.


The Wildcats' February 14 matchup against Michigan in Ann Arbor was televised by the Big Ten Network. With the bright lights shining down, Coffey rose to the challenge and scored a game-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and an assist, but she was at her best during the game's closing seconds.


With Northwestern down by a point and only 10.4 seconds left to play, Coffey corralled a rebound of Michigan's missed free-throw attempt. Without a timeout, she calmly took the ball the length of the floor and scored with a soft left-handed layup to put the Wildcats ahead, 63-62, with 4.9 seconds left. Despite never leading the Wolverines until Coffey's shot went through, Northwestern hung on for its fifth consecutive win.


Coffey is averaging 19.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game over the past six games, in which Northwestern has posted a record of 5-1.


For more coverage of Northwestern women's basketball, visit nusports.com

 

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

Northwestern's Dinner with 12 Strangers program began in 2005, offering alumni who live in the Chicago area the opportunity to host a dozen students, faculty and trustees for dinner at their home or a restaurant.

 

The program has been such an overwhelming success that the NAA is now giving passionate alumni in cities across the country the chance to host an alumni-only dinner at their home or a restaurant. (Alumni are also welcome to co-host a dinner with a fellow Northwestern graduate.)


Hosting an alumni-only dinner is easy, and the NAA will support you every step of the way to help you plan the evening. The dinners will be held the weekend of May 1, on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, and typically last two to three hours. The dinners will offer Wildcats in your region the opportunity to meet other alumni who live in the area.


If you're interested in hosting a dinner, please fill out this registration form. We're aiming to fill all host positions by March 6.


If you have any questions, please contact Bobby Dunlap, Northwestern's associate director of recent alumni engagement.


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

Thompson_Leigh_NMAN1801.jpgDid you know the Kellogg School of Management offers non-degree programs ranging from three days to four weeks on topics from leadership to finance? Take advantage of your 30 percent Northwestern alumni discount and learn from Kellogg’s world-renowned faculty, surrounded by a network of peers from around the world.


To learn effective negotiation skills in under an hour, watch the free Negotiation Tactics 101 video series by Leigh Thompson (right), J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at Kellogg.


  • Strengthen your negotiation skills with four short video sessions. Negotiation Tactics 101 is designed to improve the skills and confidence of anyone who sits at the negotiation table — large- and small-business people, managers who deal in both professional and personal settings and in internal/external negotiations. Each of the “negotiation toolboxes” provides step-by-step best practices and clear strategies alongside real examples, stories and management science research. Course participants are given suggestions for follow-up readings.

 

To truly maximize the outcomes of your negotiations, join us on the Evanston campus for an immersive four-day program led by Thompson and Jeanne Brett, DeWitt W. Buchanan Jr. Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at Kellogg.

 

  • Led by senior Kellogg faculty, both global thought leaders in their field, this immersive, highly interactive program opens your eyes to a new way of thinking about and conducting negotiation. You'll learn how to develop and implement the right strategy, manage a negotiating team and remain agile and focused in a dynamic, evolving situation.

 

  • You’ll identify your negotiating strengths and the areas where you can improve. You’ll learn one-on-one and team-on-team negotiation skills, apply them in simulations and receive individualized feedback on your performance. You’ll also master the essentials of deal making within and between organizations, dispute resolution and negotiating in a global environment.

 

For more information about executive education at Kellogg, visit kellogg.northwestern.edu/execed

 

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

NUBAA_gala.JPG

More than 45 people attended the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association's inaugural Summit January 23 and 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


The Northwestern University Black Alumni Association (NUBAA) Summit and Salute to Excellence Gala, held January 23 and 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offered black alumni of Northwestern and their guests the opportunity to participate in a wide range of intellectual and social offerings.


More than 45 alumni and guests attended the inaugural Summit, which was organized by NUBAA President Jeffrey Sterling '85 and Vice President and Summit Chair Sonia Waiters '89 to provide alumni with opportunities to learn about issues of interest and engage in new business opportunities, networking and procurement.


The weekend concluded with the Salute to Excellence Gala, which drew more than 80 alumni and friends and celebrated the success of black alumni, including honorees Willard S. Evans Jr. ’77, ’81 MBA; Gail D. Hasbrouck ‘74 JD; Warren E. Lawson '76; Harry Lennix '86; Renetta E. McCann ’78; and Charles S. Modlin ’83, ’87 MD.


For more information about the NUBAA, visit the club's website at nubaa.wordpress.com


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

Career-development webinars


The Northwestern Alumni Association began offering weekly career-development webinars at the beginning of the year. For a schedule of upcoming webinars, visit the NAA's website.


 

Select upcoming alumni club events


 

For a complete list of upcoming alumni club events in your area, visit alumni.northwestern.edu/clubs



Reunions Challenge runs through March 2


To celebrate Reunion 2015, a generous alumna who is celebrating her Reunion this year has issued a challenge to all Reunion classes: If 300 alumni make a gift of any amount by March 2, this anonymous donor will contribute $100,000 to Northwestern!


For more information, read the full story on Our Northwestern.

womens-basketball.jpegDoha, QATAR -- Led by volunteer coaches and united by a love for the sport, the women’s basketball team at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) claimed the intercollegiate league championship.

 

The team excelled despite the sport’s relative newness in Qatar and the cultural challenges facing female athletes in the Middle East. Women’s sports participation is increasing, albeit incrementally, as females work to balance tradition with modernity in the face of sweeping social change in the region.

 

“Sports competition and athletic activity have not been commonly encouraged for girls and women in the Middle East, so this brave basketball team is doing more than engaging in competitive activity,” said Everette E. Dennis, the dean and CEO of NU-Q. “They’re making a larger and important statement at the same time.”

 

NU-Q’s squad, led by Qatari co-captain Maha Al-Ansari, included a wide variety of nationalities, including Jordanian, Palestinian, Bulgarian, Filipino, Canadian, Lebanese and Pakistani.

 

The Wildcats were mentored and coached by Dana Atrach, an NU-Q alumna and league Most Valuable Player in 2013, and Emily Wilson, an alumna of the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and manager for community relations at NU-Q.

 

“We focused on what unites us,” Wilson said. “We're Wildcats and athletes, and our unity as a team eclipses any nationality or cultural differences we might have.”

 

Female sports participation in the Middle East is on the rise, but women and girls in the region often face a unique set of challenges not seen by their Western counterparts, including religion, family and changing gender dynamics, according to published research conducted at NU-Q.

 

In some ways, “college campuses provide institutional legitimacy for women playing sports,” said sociologist Geoff Harkness, lead author of the NU-Q study, “Out of Bounds: Cultural Barriers to Female Sports Participation in Qatar.”

 

“They might not be able to play street corner basketball, but if they do it under the umbrella of the university, families have easier times supporting it,” said Harkness, now an associate professor at Morningside College in Iowa.

 

Harkness suspects that sport participation both reflects and drives cultural change. “To some degree, sports are a form of social movement in the Middle East,” he said.

 

Though students at NU-Q tend to come from more liberal families, “there are a few women on the team for whom this is a big deal because they are stepping outside boundaries and their comfort zone,” Harkness said.

 

Co-captain Al-Ansari was born in Doha and raised in Tokyo. She returned to Qatar for high school, where she played basketball, volleyball and soccer.  As a Qatari national with a passion for sports, she loves encouraging other women to join the sports community.  In 2012, Al-Ansari helped start the NU-Q women’s soccer team.

 

The basketball team lacked a superstar -- and that was the key to their success, she said.  “We played exceptionally well as a team,” said Al-Ansari, a senior at the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications. “Opponents had trouble beating us because we didn’t have the one player to stop. Everyone brought something different but important.”

 

NU-Q, the newest addition to the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Basketball League in Education City, joined during the 2009-10 school year and has finished among the top three each season.

 

“We weren’t taken seriously our first season,” said Wilson. “But once we placed in the tournament (the first year), we were immediately one of the teams to beat.”

 

This year, the NU-Q women defeated teams from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, all located within Education City, which houses satellite campuses of some of the world’s leading universities.

 

For Al-Ansari, the season highlight was beating Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, since Weill handed the Wildcats their only defeat of the regular season.  The teams were evenly matched, but with about three minutes to go, Al-Ansari was confident they’d pull it out.

 

“Being a part of the Wildcats’ basketball team has been one of the greatest learning experiences in my four years at NU-Q,” she said. “We have worked hard since day one, and having your hard work pay off is probably one of the best feelings in the world.”

 

For more, visit Northwestern News

uptous638.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Ask most college students about the United States’ $18 trillion national debt, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. One group of Northwestern University undergraduates has joined a nationwide campus competition to do something about that.

 

The team is one of 44 from colleges throughout the country participating in “Up to Us,” a competition in which students educate peers on long-term national debt, how it could affect their economic opportunities and what they can do to raise awareness of fiscal challenges.

 

In addition to a $10,000 cash prize, the winning team will receive a trip to Clinton Global Initiative University 2015 and be recognized by former President Bill Clinton.

 

“When President Obama came to talk at our University, he told us that we had to be the ones to do something and change things,” said Nikita Ramanujam, a team member and senior in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. “I would hope students who heard him speak would care about what their role is going to be in tackling big issues like the national debt, because, essentially, we are going be the ones facing the repercussions, whether we want to admit it or not.”

 

Team members have a variety of events planned to educate peers about the debt.

 

On Feb. 12, Northwestern will join with teams from schools throughout the country to participate in “Two Cents Day.” That day students will gather at Norris University Center where they will find a photo booth and a graffiti wall and have an opportunity to sign a Facebook pledge committing to caring about the nation’s economic future.

 

The Northwestern team also will visit with a variety of student groups, residential communities and classes for short discussions tailored to particular audiences. Numbers will not be the sole focus of the discussions, but, team members stressed, the fiscal facts related to them will likely have a powerful effect on students.

 

“It’s pretty astonishing to see that if you are in our generation, you could be expected to possibly pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in net taxes towards the national debt over the course of your lifetime,” Ramamujam said.

 

“It used to be that Social Security for one American was paid by five people. Today, it’s three people, and it will be two people in 2030,” said Devashish Singal, another team member and a senior economics major in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “Anyone born after 1994 should expect to pay more towards Social Security than they receive back from Social Security.”

 

Capitalizing on Northwestern’s focus on entrepreneurship, the team also will host a Feb. 4 forum where entrepreneurs from around the country will explain how the national debt has and will continue to impact them.

 

“We decided that our main goal is not necessarily to win but just to raise awareness on this campus,” Ramanujam said. ”If we can walk away knowing that more students are aware of what we’re up against and are thinking about what they can do differently on a personal level, we’ll feel like we’ve been pretty successful.”

 

Besides Ramanujam and Singal, the Northwestern team includes Priyanka Mangtani, Rusheel Nayak and Alexander Olivo, all students in Weinberg.

 

The campaign, sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and Net Impact, officially ends Feb. 20. For more information on the team’s efforts, visit their Facebook page.

 

See more in Northwestern News

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New season ticket packages for Northwestern football's 2015 campaign are on sale now at nusports.com or by phone at 888-GO-PURPLE.

 

Season ticket prices remain unchanged from 2014, and fans can save up to 40 percent off select single-game prices for the Wildcats' seven home dates at historic Ryan Field.

 

Northwestern’s home games this season include Big Ten rivals Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue, as well as non-conference tilts against Pac-12 foe Stanford and Ball State.

 

Season ticket holders for Chicago's Big Ten Team receive exclusive benefits such as the opportunity to request additional single-game tickets for games at Ryan Field and for away contests (while supplies last). The 2015 road schedule features trips to Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and a non-conference visit to Durham, North Carolina, to take on Duke. Season ticket holders also receive access to bowl game tickets in advance of the public on-sale date, plus personalized service throughout the year from a dedicated account executive committed to meeting their needs.

 

Existing season-ticket holders began receiving their 2015 renewal documents on February 4, National Signing Day.

 

For additional information, contact the Northwestern Ticket Office at 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).

 

2015 Northwestern Football Schedule

Home games listed in bold
Kickoff times TBA

 

Sat., Sept. 5 vs. Stanford
Sat., Sept. 12 vs. Eastern Illinois
Sat., Sept. 19 at Duke
Sat., Sept. 26 vs. Ball State
Sat., Oct. 3 vs. Minnesota
Sat., Oct. 10 at Michigan
Sat., Oct. 17 vs. Iowa
Sat., Oct. 24 at Nebraska
Sat., Nov. 7 vs. Penn State
Sat. Nov. 14 vs. Purdue
Sat., Nov. 21 at Wisconsin
Sat., Nov. 28 at Illinois


For more coverage of Northwestern football, visit nusports.com.


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


_DSC4194.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. -- If you’ve ever been told that you’re “tone deaf” or “can’t carry a tune,” don’t give up.

 

New research out of Northwestern University suggests that singing accurately is not so much a talent as a learned skill that can decline over time if not used.

 

The ability to sing on key may have more in common with the kind of practice that goes into playing an instrument than people realize, said lead researcher Steven Demorest, a professor of music education at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music.

 

“No one expects a beginner on violin to sound good right away, it takes practice, but everyone is supposed to be able to sing,” Demorest said. “When people are unsuccessful they take it very personally, but we think if you sing more, you’ll get better.”

 

Published in a special February issue of the journal Music Perception, the study compared the singing accuracy of three groups: kindergarteners, sixth graders and college-aged adults. One test asked the volunteers to listen to four repetitions of a single pitch and then sing back the sequence. Another asked them to sing back at intervals.

 

The three groups were scored using similar procedures for measuring singing accuracy.

 

The study showed considerable improvement in accuracy from kindergarten to late elementary school, when most children are receiving regular music instruction. But in the adult group, the gains were reversed -- to the point that college students performed at the level of the kindergarteners on two of the three tasks, suggesting the “use it or lose it” effect.

 

Singing on key is likely easier for some people than others. “But it’s also a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly,” Demorest said. “Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing.”

 

By eighth grade, only 34 percent of children in the United States participate in elective music instruction, Demorest said. That number declines as they move toward high school graduation.

 

Children who have been told they can’t sing well are even less likely to engage with music in the future and often vividly remember the negative experience well into adulthood. Being called “tone deaf” can have devastating effects on a child’s self-image, the researchers wrote in the study.

 

In general, older children sing more accurately than younger ones. But there’s little or no data on children between 12 and 18 years old, an especially formative period, when voices change and there’s high interest in concerts and other forms of musical expression. Also, researchers cannot rely on a universal definition of what constitutes accurate singing; no reliable measure exists.

 

To overcome this problem, Demorest and study co-author, Peter Pfordresher, director of the Auditory Perception and Action Lab at the University at Buffalo in New York, have spearheaded an effort to create an online measure of singing accuracy. Music teachers will be able to use the tool to help struggling children, and adults can test their singing ability.

 

Called the Seattle Singing Accuracy Profile (SSAP), the tool would standardize the way singing is measured so that researchers can compare their results across multiple studies and build a clearer picture of the causes of inaccurate singing, Demorest said.

 

“We first need to understand what is ‘normal’ in terms of age-related singing development,” Demorest said. “What can we expect from a 5-year-old? A 10-year-old? Once we know that, we can identify areas where children are struggling and provide them with resources.”

 

Better data could also be used to determine whether an inability to imitate certain pitches is linked to communication deficits or language impairments. Only a tiny subset of the population is truly tone deaf (a condition known as amusia), which means they can’t hear most changes in pitch. For these people, singing becomes difficult.

 

Ironically, Demorest worries that singing can serve as a barrier to other musical activities.

 

“So much of elementary school music revolves around singing, but that’s only one way to measure musicality,” he said. “Everyone should be able to have music as a part of their life. It’s OK to select out of it, but it should be by choice, rather than because you think you don’t have ‘talent.’ And if at any point in life you decide to become more engaged, you can be.”

 

Teens and adults need to have low-stakes opportunities in music that don’t require the commitment of time that playing in a band or an orchestra does, something similar to the Can’t Sing Choirs that have sprung up in the U.K., Demorest said.

 

“People need a place to sing and have fun without worrying about how good they are,” he said. “You see it in college all the time; a class about the history of rock or jazz is packed. It’s not that people aren’t interested in music; it’s what we offer them.”

 

The work is funded by a grant from the Society for Research in Music Education and the National Association for Music Education.

 

Visit Northwestern News for more

_DSC3441.JPGEVANSTON, Ill. --- For the ninth consecutive year, Northwestern University ranks among the 10 top research institutions that produce Fulbright U.S. Student award winners, according to data published in the Feb. 12 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

A near-record 27 Northwestern students or alumni accepted the prestigious award and currently pursue teaching, research or other projects, which are funded by the nation’s premier international exchange program. An additional two grants were offered but declined.

 

The high number of Fulbright scholars ranks Northwestern third out of all the research institutions nationwide that submit applications.

 

Northwestern Fulbrighters for the 2014-15 academic year hail from a variety of academic backgrounds, ranging from biomedical engineering and mathematics to journalism and political science. They have been dispatched to 18 different countries, including Brazil, Israel, India, South Korea and Germany.

 

One Fulbright recipient, Emil Leon Klosowiak, is now researching new materials that can be used in spinal cord regeneration at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.

 

“Besides the exciting research I’ve been engaged in, I’ve submerged myself in Krakow student life, exploring the city and hiking and skiing in the nearby Tatra mountains," said Klosowiak, who graduated from Northwestern in 2014 with a degree in biomedical engineering and plans to attend medical school upon his return.

 

Two Northwestern students secured Fulbrights to the United Kingdom, one of the most competitive placements, said Northwestern’s Sara Anson Vaux, the director of the Office of Fellowships and the Fulbright Faculty Adviser.

 

Northwestern’s largest class was 2008-09, when it led all research institutions with 32 grant winners. In 2011-12, Northwestern also had 27 recipients.

“Bringing the Wildcat sprit to New Zealand, Tanzania, Poland, Uruguay and all points in between, Northwestern students will once again be in the field pushing forward their intellectual agendas,” said Stephen Hill, senior associate director in the Office of Fellowships.

 

Northwestern’s winners, their hometowns and their projects include:

 

Anthony Battle (Dolton, Ill.), a former defensive lineman for the Northwestern football team, won an award to teach English in the Ivory Coast.

 

Scott Coughlin (Burnsville, Minn.), a math major, planned to investigate a major unsolved problem in astrophysics -- how and why large stars explode –with Cardiff University professor Patrick Sutton in Wales.  The award will allow him to research the detection of gravitational waves, which he began studying as an undergraduate.

 

Jeremy Halpern (Silver Spring, Md.), proposed studying sustainable urban mobility by interviewing “choice riders” in Haifa, Israel, or those who have access to a car but choose public transit. Halpern’s research plan involves designing and conducting two in-depth surveys.

 

Emil Klosowiak (Glenview, Ill.), is the second Wildcat member of his family to receive a Fulbright. A biomedical engineering major, Klosowiak proposed research on the use of hydrogels to help promote nerve regeneration in paralysis patients at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.

 

Amisha Patel (Jackson, Miss.), a fellow at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, proposed studying pre-hospital care of patients with heart attacks in India by using focus groups, analyzing documents and conducting in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals and patients.

 

Nora Richter (Chicago, Ill.), an Integrated Sciences Program major, proposed collecting and analyzing lake sediments from Sachsler Seefeld in the Swiss Alps to reconstruct climate changes and natural hazards during the Holocene epoch. She hopes understanding past climate patterns will help predict future changes in environmental conditions within and near the lake, and potential risks to local communities.

 

Mark Specht’s (Evanston, Ill.), project explores the ethical considerations associated with the “pest-free” plan on Stewart Island in New Zealand, which entails eradicating many invasive species. Ultimately, he hopes his research will address the question of how predator eradication should be carried out on the island.

 

Christina Walker (Oakland, Tenn.), films and conducts ethnography with 22 dairy farmers in Rotorua, New Zealand who formed a collective effort to meet new environmental requirements back in 2010. Her project will document how communal efforts among farmers evolve to influence decision-making and balance risk.

 

Michael Witek (South Elgin, Ill.), a Ph.D. student in the department of earth and planetary science, proposed to implement a new technique to assessing seismic hazards in the southern Korean peninsula, which is susceptible to earthquakes. He hopes it will help produce accurate models of the amount of shaking and damage caused by an arbitrary earthquake.

 

The complete list of Northwestern 2014-15 Fulbright recipients follows:

 

Nicholas Boffi (Avon, Conn.), Israel, physics; Nicole Bronnimann (Tucson, Ariz.), Germany, teaching English; Iman Childs (Queens Village, N.Y.), Rome, journalism; Sofia Falzoni (Key Biscayne, Fla.), Brazil, teaching English; Hannah Green (Madison, Wisc.), United Kingdom, journalism; Nadia Hlebowitsch (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Uruguay, teaching English; Christopher Hoffman (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Germany, teaching English; Candace Kohli, (Dundee, Ohio), Germany, theology and religion; Neel Lalkiya (Binghamton, N.Y.), Taiwan, teaching English; Rachel Markon (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.), South Africa, teaching English; Tracy Navichoque (Los Angeles, Calif.), Uruguay, teaching English; Joel Penning (Valley Center, Kansas), Italy, history; Janesh Rahlan (Aurora, Ill.), Turkey, teaching English; Julie Santella (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Tanzania, political science; Rachel Scholes (Olympia, Wash.), New Zealand, chemistry; Kia Sosa (Highland Park, Ill.), Croatia, teaching English; Jacob Wunsh (Homer Glen, Ill.), Germany, teaching English; Kali Zhou (Irvine, Calif.), China, public health.

 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program was designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the citizens of other countries and provide support for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant programs. Candidates succeed based upon their academic merit and leadership potential.

 

It is one of several Fulbright programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education.

 

In addition to Vaux and Hill, Associate Director Amy Kehoe and Senior Associate Director Beth Pardoe provide managerial supprt.

 

More information is available on the Fulbright Scholar Program and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

 

For more information on opportunities at Northwestern, visit the Office of Fellowships.

 

See more in Northwestern News

Jim_phillips.jpegJim Phillips, Northwestern's vice president for athletics and recreation, has been elected to chair the NCAA's new Division I Council and to serve as the representative athletic director on the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors.

 

In the NCAA's newly redesigned Division I governance structure, the Council is intended to conduct the day-to-day business of the division, comprised of 345 colleges and universities. As chair, Phillips will guide the group in its duties, including building much of the substructure and creating an effective relationship with the Board of Directors as well as addressing issues including championships, budgeting and student-athlete well-being.


“I’m humbled to serve the Division I Council, the NCAA and, most importantly, student-athletes across the nation in this role,” said Phillips. “The landscape of college athletics has dramatically been reshaped, and will continue to adapt with the care and development of our young men and women as the paramount priority.”


A native of the Portage Park neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side, Phillips returned home to become Northwestern’s athletics director in 2008. He currently serves as the president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). Under his leadership, Wildcats student-athletes have accomplished historic success in the classroom, in the community and in competition.


Before coming to Northwestern, Phillips served as athletics director at Northern Illinois University. He also spent time as an administrator at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Arizona State University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, his alma mater.


Phillips will serve a two-year term as chair.


To read the original story, and for more coverage of Northwestern athletics, visit nusports.com.


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

TEDx NU-9.jpgDo you think you have what it takes to speak at TEDx NorthwesternU 2015? If so, apply now speaker applications are due February 26.

 

The theme for this year’s event, which will be held May 9 on the Evanston campus, is “beautiful chaos.” The event will feature speakers from the Northwestern community including students, faculty and alumni who will present 15-minute talks on a range of topics.

 

Last year’s TEDx NorthwesternU event drew capacity crowds for three sessions of talks from different speakers.

 

TED, a nonprofit devoted to Technology, Entertainment and Design, operates national conferences covering a wide scope of issues. The organization also encourages and licenses independent self-organized “TEDx” events around the country, combining video and live speakers to spark discussion and connection.

 

For more information about TEDx NorthwesternU 2015, and to apply to be a speaker, visit the event’s website.


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

kullman175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Two high-profile Northwestern University alumnae -- Virginia M. Rometty, CEO of IBM, and Ellen J. Kullman, CEO of DuPont -- have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

 

Rometty, a 1979 graduate of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Kullman, a 1983 graduate of the Kellogg School of Management, are two of 67 new members and 12 foreign associates announced by the NAE today (Feb. 5).

 

“Membership in the NAE is among the highest honors for both engineering researchers and leaders,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School. “To have two alumnae leading some of the largest engineering corporations in the world speaks to Northwestern’s ability to educate leaders equipped to have substantial impact on their fields.”

 

“In today’s complex global marketplace, the most successful leaders possess deep analytical and leadership skills that enable them to drive growth in people, organizations and markets,” said Sally Blount, dean of Kellogg. “I’m thrilled to see these two great women recognized by the NAE.”

 

Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. The NAE acts as the federal government’s chief advisory agency on engineering and technology issues.

 

Rometty is cited for strategic applications of systems engineering and leadership in development of services science and its application to business processes.

 

She has worked at IBM for 33 years and was named president and CEO of the company in 2012. Previously, Rometty served as IBM’s senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing and strategy, where she oversaw IBM’s business results in 170 global markets.rometty175.jpg

 

Kullman is cited for leadership in the business growth and transformation of a global science and engineering company.

 

She became DuPont’s CEO and chair of the board of directors in January 2009. Prior to that, Kullman served as president, executive vice president and a member of the company’s office of the chief executive. She began her career at DuPont in 1988 as a marketing manager for the DuPont medical imaging business.

 

Both Rometty and Kullman are named on Forbes magazine’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women” and Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business.”

 

Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. It has more than 2,000 peer-elected members and foreign associates, senior professionals in business, academia and government, who are among the world’s most accomplished engineers.

 

See more in Our Northwestern

Join the Northwestern Connects group in Our Northwestern.


Check out #GlobalCats Connect on Storify. >>


From Beijing to Brussels and Paris to Philly, cities around the world have been added to the Global 'Cats Connect lineup.

 

The Northwestern Alumni Association invites you to join fellow alumni for Global 'Cats Connect on Thursday, March 12. Global 'Cats Connect is a great opportunity to expand your Northwestern network regardless of school, campus or program locally and around the world.

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Open to all Northwestern alumni, Global 'Cats Connect is a series of networking events held on the same night in cities across the globe. These events represent a great chance for you to meet fellow alumni, expand your network and show your purple pride. Connect with NU alumni where you live or where your business takes you! Find your city and register today.

 

Attendance is free, and food and beverages may be available for purchase. Locations around the world will continue to be added and event listings will be updated throughout February and early March. Contact the NAA if you have questions about event locations.

 

Interested in hosting or coordinating a Global ‘Cats Connect event in your area? Contact us so we can add your event to the list. Locations around the world will continue to be added.


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


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McCormick School senior Edward Pang, whose goal is to create a more sustainable world using materials, is one of only 14 students nationwide to receive a Churchill Scholarship this year. He credits hands-on experience, including four years with the Northwestern Formula Racing team, as key to his success. (Photo by Sally Ryan)

 


Edward Pang, a senior engineering student at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received the prestigious Churchill Scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation, allowing him to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.


Pang, the eighth Churchill Scholar from Northwestern since 2003, was selected from among 90 nominees nationwide for the 14 scholarships awarded this year. The foundation’s competitive scholarship program offers American citizens of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics or the sciences at Cambridge.


MSC graduate student Andrea Nazarian had a chance to chat with Edward to learn more about his time at Northwestern and his plans for the future.



Why did you choose Northwestern over other schools?

The main reason I chose Northwestern was because of the individualized attention and opportunities offered to students as well as the unique engineering curriculum.


Because of the small student body at Northwestern, everyone has an opportunity to interact with the world-famous faculty both inside and outside the classroom. This has allowed me to gain invaluable research experience and build a close relationship with many professors who were instrumental to my success. I was also able to work individually with our fabulous Office of Fellowships. I know that I would not have been able to win the Churchill Scholarship without their help.


Being a builder and tinkerer since childhood, I was drawn to the engineering design and communication (now called design thinking and communication) curriculum. While many other engineering programs offered a wonderful technical education, Northwestern is unique in that it allows freshmen to immediately gain hands-on engineering and manufacturing experience while building soft skills to complement the classroom experience. This program, as well my four years on the Northwestern Formula Racing team, has given me a diverse set of practical skills that I would not necessarily have gained somewhere else.


It also didn’t hurt that the campus is located on Lake Michigan just a short train ride from the wonderful city of Chicago!



What is your fondest memory of your time at Northwestern?

It’s hard to pick favorites. But I’ll always cherish the late nights spent with friends, whether it be cramming for tests, building the racecar for the Northwestern Formula Racing team, hanging out in Chicago or chatting on the rocks.


 

What attracted you to the field of sustainability?

I have been fascinated by airplanes since I was a small child. I continued to follow the aviation industry as I grew older and learned about environmental issues. This period of my life coincided with rising fuel prices and increasing awareness over growing carbon emissions, which led manufacturers like Boeing to face pressure for more fuel-efficient aircraft. As I looked around me to appreciate how technologies such as airplanes have transformed our lives, I did not want to leave future generations with a planet unable to support such ubiquitous innovations.

 

Motivated by a desire to improve the efficiency of future aircraft, I wanted to learn more about sustainable living. During my first two years of college, I lived in GREEN House, a small dorm of fifty undergraduates with a shared devotion to the environment. Believing that change occurs when people with different skills and experiences come together over a common goal, I hoped that GREEN House would challenge me to think more broadly about ways to preserve our planet’s ability to sustain us. Here, I became friends with a group of passionate upperclassmen who also recognized the urgent need for change. As I watched them guide environmental policy in Evanston and create nonprofits to support sustainable innovation, I wished to leave my mark as a materials scientist as we pooled our talents to support the greater goal of sustainability.


 

Have you ever traveled to the UK before? If not, what most excites you about traveling there?

No, I have never been to the UK or Europe. I am most excited to be immersed in British culture. Hopefully, I will be able to pick up a British accent!


 

What are you most looking forward to at Cambridge?

I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning from them. Cambridge, and especially Churchill College, attracts a plethora of amazing people from around the world. But beyond this network and the members of my research group, I also hope to get involved in music, soccer and sustainability groups. Maybe I’ll even get into rowing!

 

 

What would you like to do after school?

I plan to pursue a PhD in materials science and engineering and obtain a faculty position at a research university. As a professor, I hope to teach and mentor the next generation of scientists and engineers and pursue my research interests in energy-efficient alloys. I plan to combine the use of experimental and computational techniques to accelerate the discovery of novel engineering alloys, including lightweight structural alloys, high-temperature alloys, and shape-memory alloys, to accommodate more energy-efficient technologies. This is part of the greater goal to expand the boundaries of energy-efficiency to preserve and expand availability of basic technologies for everyone and minimize irreversible climate change.

 

For more information on fellowship opportunities, contact Sara Anson Vaux, director of the Northwestern University Office of Fellowships, at 847-491-2617 or scv@northwestern.edu.


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

To celebrate Reunion 2015, a generous alumna, who is also celebrating her Reunion this year, has issued a challenge to all Reunion classes: if 300 alumni make a gift of any amount by March 2, this anonymous donor will contribute $100,000 to Northwestern!

 

This donor was so inspired by the outpouring of support and pride for Northwestern over the past few months that she felt compelled to ask her fellow Reunion alumni to join her in making a meaningful impact through giving. With all classes collectively working together, we can make 2015 the best Reunion year ever—raising more contributions than any previous year.

 

Join your classmates in making a gift to reach the goal of 300 donors by March 2, so that Reunion 2015 alumni can raise an additional $100,000 through this generous challenge!

 

Reunion 2014 had 2,854 donors by March 2 of last year. Reunion 2015 can do even better!

 

Make your gift today. >>

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The women's basketball team at Northwestern University in Qatar.

 

Led by volunteer coaches and united by a love for the sport, the women’s basketball team at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) claimed the intercollegiate league championship this year.


The team excelled despite the sport’s relative newness in Qatar and the cultural challenges facing female athletes in the Middle East. Women’s sports participation is increasing in the region, albeit incrementally, as females work to balance tradition with modernity in the face of sweeping social change.


“Sports competition and athletic activity have not been commonly encouraged for girls and women in the Middle East, so this brave basketball team is doing more than engaging in competitive activity,” said Everette E. Dennis, the dean and CEO of NU-Q. “They’re making a larger and important statement at the same time.”


NU-Q’s squad, led by Qatari co-captain Maha Al-Ansari, included a wide variety of nationalities, including Jordanian, Palestinian, Bulgarian, Filipino, Canadian, Lebanese and Pakistani.

Female sports participation in the Middle East is on the rise, but women and girls in the region often face a unique set of challenges not seen by their Western counterparts, including religion, family and changing gender dynamics, according to published research conducted at NU-Q.


In some ways, “college campuses provide institutional legitimacy for women playing sports,” said sociologist Geoff Harkness, lead author of the NU-Q study, Out of Bounds: Cultural Barriers to Female Sports Participation in Qatar.”


Harkness suspects that sport participation both reflects and drives cultural change. “To some degree, sports are a form of social movement in the Middle East,” he said.


Though students at NU-Q tend to come from more liberal families, “there are a few women on the team for whom this is a big deal because they are stepping outside boundaries and their comfort zone,” Harkness said.


Co-captain Al-Ansari was born in Doha and raised in Tokyo. She returned to Qatar for high school, where she played basketball, volleyball and soccer. As a Qatari national with a passion for sports, she loves encouraging other women to join the sports community. In 2012, Al-Ansari helped start the NU-Q women’s soccer team.


The basketball team lacked a superstar and that was the key to their success, she said. “We played exceptionally well as a team,” said Al-Ansari, a senior at the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications. “Opponents had trouble beating us because we didn’t have the one player to stop. Everyone brought something different but important.”


NU-Q, the newest addition to the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Basketball League in Education City, joined during the 2009-10 school year and has finished among the top three each season.


This year, the NU-Q women defeated teams from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, all located within Education City, which houses satellite campuses of some of the world’s leading universities.


For Al-Ansari, the season highlight was beating Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, since Weill handed the Wildcats their only defeat of the regular season. The teams were evenly matched, but with about three minutes to go, Al-Ansari was confident they’d pull it out.


“Being a part of the Wildcats’ basketball team has been one of the greatest learning experiences in my four years at NU-Q,” she said. “We have worked hard since day one, and having your hard work pay off is probably one of the best feelings in the world.”


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.

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Colleen Fant '08, a graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, during her study abroad experience with the Public Health in Mexico City program.


A second-year resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, Colleen Fant '08 continues to draw on her Northwestern study abroad experience in Mexico City seven years after the fact.

 

Fant, a graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said addressing the health needs of patient populations both in Boston and Mexico requires more than a top-notch classroom education.


“A huge part of my education at Northwestern was learning about health beyond science and math, and Northwestern is really good at teaching science and math,” Fant said. “But there is much more to it. My training in Mexico provided cultural and historical context and background in addition to the practical experience.”


After a six-year hiatus, the program that gave Fant her first taste of health care from a global perspective is back on the study abroad roster with a $25,000 boost from one of President Barack Obama’s signature education initiatives.


The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative created to increase study abroad within the Western Hemisphere is funding a collaboration between Northwestern and Universidad Panamericana (UP) to allow students from both universities to study obesity and nutrition in Chicago and Mexico City.


“The grant will allow us to enhance the program so that students learn about public health in our local community right here in Chicago as well as in Mexico City,” said Kim Rapp, associate director of International Program Development (IPD). “The opportunity to learn about obesity in the Americas generally, by using these cities as case studies, will help students approach the epidemic as a shared crisis to be addressed across borders, rather than a problem to be solved outside the U.S.”


The grant will enable Northwestern to provide round-trip airfare for NU students going on the Public Health in Mexico program, as well as for UP students traveling to Northwestern to attend workshops on obesity, nutrition and physical activity, before the two groups join forces to undertake the research phase in Mexico. 


“The grant will allow us to make the program even more robust than it otherwise would be, with both sets of students learning that our communities face many of the same challenges in the areas of obesity and nutrition,” Rapp said.


Those attributes make the program a key opportunity to foster intercultural understanding by emphasizing the intersection of issues abroad and at home. 


The 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant, along with a number of new, need-based, summer scholarships administered by IPD, will also make it possible for more Northwestern students to participate in study abroad programs.


“We are hoping to break any financial barriers students may face in their quest to study abroad,” Rapp said. Study abroad, which is often touted as “life-changing,” should be an option for more students, she said.


For Fant, the Public Health in Mexico program cemented her interest in global health, which later took her to Ghana to develop a sexual and reproductive health education project at a health center through a Northwestern student organization called GlobeMed.


Fant was among the last NU students to participate in the Public Health in Mexico program.


Northwestern put the program on hold in 2009 following an outbreak of the influenza strain commonly referred to as “swine flu” in Mexico. The program was subsequently delayed further by travel warnings related to safety concerns.


Now, with the $25,000 grant and the green light from University safety and security officials, the program is back in full swing.


Students have until March 1 to apply for summer session study abroad programs and financial aid.


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.

For the ninth consecutive year, Northwestern ranks among the top 10 research institutions that produce Fulbright U.S. Student awards, according to data published in the February 12 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.


A near-record 27 Northwestern students or alumni accepted the prestigious award and currently pursue teaching, research or other projects, which are funded by the nation’s premier international exchange program. An additional two grants were offered but declined.


The high number of Fulbright scholars ranks Northwestern third out of all the research institutions nationwide that submit applications.


Northwestern Fulbrighters for the 2014-15 academic year hail from a variety of academic backgrounds, ranging from biomedical engineering and mathematics to journalism and political science. They have been dispatched to 18 different countries, including Brazil, Israel, India, South Korea and Germany.


One Fulbright recipient, Emil Leon Klosowiak '14, is now researching new materials that can be used in spinal cord regeneration at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.


“Besides the exciting research I’ve been engaged in, I’ve submerged myself in Krakow student life, exploring the city and hiking and skiing in the nearby Tatra mountains," said Klosowiak, who graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering and plans to attend medical school upon his return.


Two Northwestern students secured Fulbrights to the United Kingdom, one of the most competitive placements, said Northwestern’s Sara Anson Vaux, the director of the Office of Fellowships and the Fulbright Faculty Adviser.


Northwestern’s largest class was 2008-09, when it led all research institutions with 32 grant winners. In 2011-12, Northwestern also had 27 recipients.


“Bringing the Wildcat sprit to New Zealand, Tanzania, Poland, Uruguay and all points in between, Northwestern students will once again be in the field pushing forward their intellectual agendas,” said Stephen Hill, senior associate director in the Office of Fellowships.


For a complete list of this year's Northwestern Fullbright recipients, 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 undergo its decennial review for institutional re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission this spring, culminating with a campus visit April 27 and 28 by an evaluation team representing the commission.


Northwestern has been accredited by the commission since 1913.


Preparations for the review by a seven-member evaluation team from the commission continue to move forward under the direction of the office of Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer.


As part of the review, members of the public—including alumni—may submit comments regarding Northwestern on the commission’s website, or by writing to:


Third Party Comment on Northwestern University

The Higher Learning Commission

230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500

Chicago, IL 60604-1411


Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. All comments must be received by March 27.


For more information about the accreditation process, visit the Northwestern News Center.

_DSC3354.JPGWhat if the touchscreen of your smartphone or tablet could touch you back? What if touch was as integrated into our ubiquitous technology as sight and sound?

 

Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon University researchers now report a fascinating discovery that provides insight into how the brain makes sense of data from fingers.

 

In a study of people drawing their fingers over a flat surface that has two “virtual bumps,” the research team is the first to find that, under certain circumstances, the subjects feel only one bump when there really are two. Better yet, the researchers can explain why the brain comes to this conclusion.

 

Their new mathematical model and experimental results on “haptic illusions” could one day lead to flat-screen displays featuring active touch-back technology, such as making your touchscreen’s keyboard actually feel like a keyboard. Tactile information also could benefit the blind, users of dashboard technology in cars, players of video games and more.

 

“Touch is so important in our real world, but it is neglected in the digital world,” said J. Edward Colgate, an expert in touch-based (haptic) systems. He is the Allen and Johnnie Breed University Professor of Design at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “We want to create something that will make touch a reality for people interacting with their screens, and this work is a step in that direction.”

 

Forces felt by the fingers as they travel along a flat surface can lead to the illusion that the surface actually contains bumps. This so-called “virtual bump illusion” is well known in the haptics field, Colgate said, and the researchers were able to make use of it.

 

“By leveraging the virtual bump illusion, we were able to design a meaningful experiment that shed light on the way the brain integrates information from multiple fingers,” Colgate said. “Our big finding was ‘collapse' the idea that separate bumps felt in separate fingers are nonetheless experienced as one bump if their separation happens to match that of the fingers.”

 

The study was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


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.

Crain's Chicago Business featured six Northwestern alumni in their annual 20 in their 20s list. The list includes young, millennial, Chicago-area professionals making significant impacts in their respective fields. Here's a look at the 'Cats that made Crain's Class of 2014:

 


Mert Iseri '11 & Yuri Malina '11

Chief Executive Officer & Chief Operating Officer, SwipeSense, Inc.

 

At best, hospital equipment design is unremarkable. At worst, it can be unhelpful. Yuri Malina and Mert Iseri set out to change that in 2011 with SwipeSense, a portable hand sanitizer that clips to a doctor's or nurse's clothing like an iPod. Read Mert Iseri and Yuri Malina's full spotlight.>>

 


Tristan Meline '07

Associate Marketing Manager, MillerCoors LLC

 

Craft beer may be trending among millennial males, but this 29-year-old beverage marketer believes hard cider will be the Next Big Thing. Tristan Meline has persuaded his bosses to put MillerCoors LLC's multimillion-dollar muscle behind Smith & Forge Hard Cider, the company's first in-house cider brand. It made its debut in March in one of the larger hard cider launches since Prohibition in terms of advertising spending and distribution. Read Tristan Meline's full spotlight.>>



Luke Tanen '07

Executive Director, Chicago Innovation Awards


It was enough of a challenge to arrange for Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appear on the same stage for the Chicago Innovation Awards two years ago. But when protesters converged upon the Harris Theater before showtime, Luke Tanen, a former concert promoter, had to carve out a path for the mayor and governor that didn't cross the picketers. Read Luke Tanen's full spotlight.>>



Matthew John Bogusz '09

Mayor, Des Plaines, Illinois


It used to take eight weeks to get a new business license in Des Plaines. Now it takes two, thanks to this young mayor. Shortly after taking office last year, Matthew Bogusz "threw down the gauntlet," he says, and pushed for the change in this suburb of about 59,000 just north of O'Hare International Airport. Read Matthew Bogusz's full spotlight.>>



 

Zoe Damacela '14

President, Zoe Damacela Apparel Inc.


At 22, this budding fashion entrepreneur already has held court at three TEDx talks; designed lingerie for American Eagle Outfitters Inc.; landed the cover of Seventeen magazine; and been a guest of the White House, twice. All while maintaining a 3.8 GPA in history and political science at Northwestern University, where she is a senior. Read Zoe Damacela's full spotlight.>>

Schapiro.jpgNorthwestern President Morton Schapiro has been named the recipient of a national award for university presidents.

 

President Schapiro will receive the 2015 NASPA President's Award award from NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, at the organization's annual conference in New Orleans in March.

 

Each year, the organization recognizes members who are doing outstanding work in the student affairs profession. The award to President Schapiro gives special recognition to a college or university president who has, over a sustained period of time, advanced the quality of student life on campus by supporting student affairs staff and programs.

 

“I am honored to receive this award,” President Schapiro said, ”especially because I have made it an absolute priority for University leadership to work intentionally to improve opportunities and access for all our students. My goal is for Northwestern students to pursue their passions and dreams here and to thrive in an educational environment that is welcoming, inspiring and inclusive.”

 

In recognizing President Schapiro for the award, NASPA summarized his accomplishments and impact as follows:

 

President Schapiro, Northwestern’s 16th president, is a leading economist and expert on the economics of higher education. In addition to his responsibilities as president, he teaches economics with great passion to undergraduate students every year. President Schapiro is a prolific author of seven books and more than 100 articles primarily focused on access to higher education and financial aid.

 

Access is a major priority for President Schapiro. He has raised considerable funds for financial aid and has dedicated additional institutional funds toward that purpose. Since his arrival, the amount of available funds has increased from just over $90 million to more than $150 million. This substantial increase has changed the demographics of the Northwestern student body.

 

In addition, President Schapiro is accessible to the students at Northwestern. Each year more than 700 students dine at his home, along with 1,500 faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Northwestern family. He is a regular participant at fireside chats in the dorms, fraternities and sororities and meets with students on a daily basis.

 

His colleagues in the office of student affairs say they have a true partner in President Schapiro.

 

“Parents of students trust him and relate to his genuine and informal style, and our students feel as if ‘Morty’ is not just their president but their advocate and champion,” according to a statement from Northwestern’s student affairs leadership team.

 

“It is this accessibility to and advocacy for the student experience that helps define President Schapiro’s philosophy and approach with our students. In short, he cares about our students and is beloved by them.”

 

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.

SuperAgers — people age 80 and above — have brains that look distinctly different than those of normal older people, according to new Northwestern Medicine® research that is beginning to reveal why the memories of these cognitively elite elders don’t suffer the usual ravages of time.

 

SuperAgers have memories that are as sharp as those of healthy persons decades younger.

 

Understanding their unique “brain signature” will enable scientists to decipher the genetic or molecular source and may foster the development of strategies to protect the memories of normal aging persons as well as treat dementia.

 

Published January 28 in the Journal of Neuroscience, the study is the first to quantify brain differences of SuperAgers and normal older people.

 

Cognitive SuperAgers were first identified in 2007 by scientists at Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

 

Their unusual brain signature has three common components when compared with normal persons of similar ages: a thicker region of the cortex; significantly fewer tangles (a primary marker of Alzheimer’s disease) and a whopping supply of a specific neuron von Economo linked to higher social intelligence.

 

“The brains of the SuperAgers are either wired differently or have structural differences when compared to normal individuals of the same age,” said Changiz Geula, study senior author and a research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “It may be one factor, such as expression of a specific gene, or a combination of factors that offers protection.”

 

The Center has a new NIH grant to continue the research.

 

“Identifying the factors that contribute to the SuperAgers’ unusual memory capacity may allow us to offer strategies to help the growing population of ‘normal’ elderly maintain their cognitive function and guide future therapies to treat certain dementias,” said Tamar Gefen, the first study author and a clinical neuropsychology doctoral candidate at Feinberg.


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.

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The 2015 Super Bowl commercial winners

 

On Sunday, February 1, 2015, in real time, a panel of Kellogg MBA students evaluated the Super Bowl XLIX advertisements against rigorous, business-focused criteria to determine which ads are the most effective in building the brand. Here are the final results, including an analysis of the clear winners and the also-rans. Comment below to tell us which commercials were your favorite, as well as which ones missed the mark.

 

 

2015 Results:

 

Grade A

Always (P&G)

P&G ran an unusual spot for the Always brand. The ad featured interviews with adults and kids about the phrase “like a girl” and asked people to consider why “like a girl” isn't positive. The ad, which also featured a longer version posted earlier on You Tube, broke through the Super Bowl clutter. It was exceptionally distinctive and engaging. This pulled people in. Despite the limited and late branding the spot worked.

 

Budweiser

AB InBev ran three very strong spots this year.

 

The Budweiser Clydesdale spot was a classic. The ad told a sweet story about a puppy and his relationship with the horses. As in the past, branding, linkage and distinction were all strong.

 

Budweiser also ran an ad attacking craft beers, mocking aspects such as their fruity flavors. This is classic defensive strategy, which takes ample finesse to pull off, but Bud presented a credible message.

 

Bud Light send another unsuspecting fellow on a remarkable trip in this year’s “up for whatever” spot. The ad was also marked by clear branding.

AB InBev knows how to create great Super Bowl ads, especially when it comes to the art of making sure the branding comes across.

 

Clash of Clans

It isn’t easy to advertise a video game on TV. Clash of Clans pulled it off with a terrific spot featuring Liam Neeson. The ad captured his fascination with the game and did it in an engaging fashion. The positioning also really came through.

 

Coca-Cola

Coke did a terrific job connecting its brand promise of happiness with a significant issue in the world: negative on-line comments. The spot had exceptionally strong branding, built upon earlier campaigns on happiness, and broke through the clutter on the Super Bowl.

 

McDonald's

McDonalds has struggled in recent years, but this year the brand delivered a very strong spot. The ad, featuring a promotion that let people to pay with love instead of cash, was heart-warming. Brand linkage was particularly strong; it was impossible to miss that this was an ad for McDonalds.

 

Fixing McDonalds is more difficult than creating a strong Super Bowl spot but this is a good first step.

 

FIAT


Grade B

Avocados from Mexico

BMW

Discover

Dodge

Doritos

Dove Men+Care

Kia

Mercedes-Benz

Microsoft

Mophie

Skittles

T-Mobile

TurboTax

Victoria's Secret

Wix


Grade C

Carnival

Ecuador

Esurance

Game of War: Fire Age

GoDaddy

Jeep

JUBLIA

Loctite

Nationwide

NO MORE

REDD's Apple Ale

Sprint

Snickers

Toyota

WeatherTech

Weight Watchers


Grade D

GEICO

Nissan

Skechers

Lexus

Heroes Charge


Grade F

Squarespace


Visit Kellogg for the complete list and results

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With performances, panel discussions, films, social gatherings and more, Northwestern is celebrating African, African American and Caribbean peoples, cultures, and histories during Black History Month. Organized annually by African American Student Affairs (AASA), Black History Month celebrations at Northwestern began in January with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and will continue through February. Below is a list of just a few of the upcoming events that AASA is providing as part of its yearly programming.

 

 

Upcoming Events:

 

  • Dining with Dynamos February 18, 6 to 8 p.m. at The Celtic Knot, 626 Church Street, Evanston
    • Students will join CBS 2 reporter Dorothy Tucker '77 to hear about her career success and expand their professional networks.
  • Jabulani: The African Students Association's Annual Culture Show February 21, 6 p.m., Louis Room in Norris University Center
    • A celebration of cultures featuring fashion, music and free food.
  • Hollywood Shuffle: A Critical Discussion on the Representation of Women of Color in Film and Television February 23, 7 to 9 p.m., Wildcat Room in Norris University Center
    • Graduate students and Chicago-area performers take part in a panel discussion about this important issue from an academic and critical standpoint.
  • Whistling Vivaldi Book Talk
    • February 24, noon to 1:30 p.m. on the Chicago campus (exact location TBD)
    • February 25, 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the Evanston campus (exact location TBD)
      • Author Claude Steele will discuss his research on the negative impact of stereotype threat and active ways that stereotype threat can be diminished at Northwestern.

 

For a complete list of Black History Month events at Northwestern, visit African American Student Affairs.


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

Artists and engineers typically have different ways of viewing a problem: artists want to explore it, while engineers want to solve it.

 

At Northwestern, faculty are working to break down this type of conventional thinking to help students look at problems in new ways. A new course offered this fall called Artists and Engineers Collaborate brought together students from both the McCormick School of Engineering and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences to collaborate and learn each other’s cognitive styles.

 

new-course-mixes-art-and-engineering-bable.jpgSponsored by the Barry and Mary Ann MacLean Fund for Art & Engineering, the course was co-taught by Malcolm MacIver, associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering in McCormick, and Jeanne Dunning, artist and professor of art theory and practice in Weinberg.

 

“Engineers at McCormick are trained for problem solving,” MacIver said. “They are given a problem by a client, and they solve that problem. Artists are taught to find a problem. So the artist’s problems are often interior in source, while the engineer’s are often exterior.”

 

MacIver and Dunning asked the class to study social practice art, a medium that combines practicality and usefulness with aesthetics for the purpose of social engagement.

 

“There is a vast diversity of kinds of art,” MacIver said. “We wanted to choose something that was most appropriate for a collaboration with engineers. The useful component of social practice art brings to mind engineering and design.”

 

During the first classes, MacIver and Dunning exposed students to several examples of social practice artists, including art by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and a presentation by Michael Rakowitz, artist and professor of art theory and practice at Northwestern. Then students brainstormed together to come up with a pool of ideas that were local and meaningful.

 

“We asked them to truly solve a real problem in an unusual way,” Dunning said. “Their projects should change how people think about things.”

 

Interdisciplinary groups converged and collaborated to design and implement four projects:

 

  • ShuttleTalk, a smartphone app that facilitates social interaction among riders on the Northwestern intercampus shuttle.
  • Spectrum, a collaborative, pattern-building game that helps non-autistic workers better understand their autistic colleagues.
  • Speak Up!, public interventions that promote awareness of street harassment and empower bystanders to speak up when they witness it.
  • Bable, a bench/table hybrid that allows students to work outside while giving a sense of personal space.


The Spectrum project hit home for group member Laura McGinn, a graduate student in art theory and practice. Growing up with an older brother on the autism spectrum, she understood the frustration of communication. “You want to be able to connect, but it’s tricky to bridge that gap,” she said.

 

While working on the project, McGinn and her group realized that many games already existed to help autistic people improve communication skills. But nothing was available to help those who are not autistic learn how to facilitate interactions in the workplace. Throughout the course of its research, the team continually shifted focus, which impressed Dunning and MacIver.

 

“You can’t solve a problem based on preconceived notions,” Dunning said. “When they really worked on their project, their opinions changed based on research.”

 

Even though the class has ended, some of the projects will continue to live on outside of the classroom. Have Dreams, a Chicago-area autism resource, has expressed interest in implementing the game into its program. The ShuttleTalk team has an upcoming meeting with developers on campus to explore potential implementation of the application. And the Bable team may install a prototype on campus for a trial run later this year.

 

“I recognized that a solution to a problem can solve more than you would expect,” said McCormick undergraduate Bryan Berger, a member of the ShuttleTalk team. “It could create an emotional response, provide a new perspective, or spread awareness—possibly without the user even realizing they are being educated.”

 

The class is the latest effort in a series of initiatives to connect engineering and other disciplines. Another course at the art/engineering interface runs in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

“These courses are difficult and expensive to offer. They require many faculty members and do not scale well, but they provide a tremendous experience for our students and, more and more, are a part of who we are,” said McCormick Dean Julio M. Ottino. “The output justifies the effort. Students learn that other disciplines share much in common. These initiatives provide the opportunity for our students to learn to work at the intersection.”

Ozdinler-uppermotorneurons_400.jpgFor the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology. 

 

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a fatal neuromuscular disorder marked by the degeneration of motor neurons, which causes muscle weakness and impaired speaking, swallowing and breathing that leads to paralysis and death. Defects in upper motor neurons, which send messages from the brain to the spinal cord to activate voluntary movement, may be a starting point for the disease.

 

In a new study supported by the Les Turner Foundation, published January 16 in Cerebral Cortex, Northwestern Medicine scientists begin to explain why upper motor neurons are vulnerable to degeneration. They developed a new mouse model for studying these cells, and found that increased stress in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is one culprit of upper motor neuron death.

 

“Now that we appreciate the importance of upper motor neurons, we need to develop therapies that improve their survival,” said principal investigator Hande Ozdinler, PhD, assistant professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology. “This study gives us a target to go after, bringing us one step closer to building effective treatment strategies.”

 

The new model features mice without UCHL1 protein function – mutations in UCHL1 gene have previously been implicated in motor defects in human patients. Using in vitro and in vivo methods, the scientists discovered that loss of UCHL1 protein function affects protein regulation pathways, ER stress and upper motor neuron survival.

 

“In this model, the timing and extent of upper motor neuron degeneration is unprecedented,” Ozdinler said. “All the other neurons in the brain remain healthy, which means that this model will be very useful for studying the health of the upper motor neurons.” 

 

Upper motor neurons make up only about 150,000 of the 2 billion cells in the brain.

 

“In mathematical terms, they’re insignificant, but their function is so important. They act as the spokesperson of the brain by collecting, integrating, translating and transmitting brain’s message to the spinal cord targets, and by doing so they initiate and modulate voluntary movement,” Ozdinler said.

 

The lab of Hande Ozdinler, PhD, assistant professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, has spearheaded research establishing that upper motor neurons are essential to ALS pathology.

 

Ozdinler’s lab has spearheaded research establishing that upper motor neurons are essential to ALS pathology. Previously, scientists thought that spinal motor neurons were more important in ALS pathology – that upper motor neuron death was a mere secondary effect. In 2012, her group showed that an early event in ALS is spine loss in the apical dendrites of upper motor neurons, where they make connections with other neurons in the brain. In 2013, the lab generated the first reporter line for upper motor neurons, to help scientists visualize them with a green fluorescent protein.

 

“Now that we have a model and reporter line, we have the tools to develop therapies directed at the upper motor neurons,” Ozdinler said. “Survival requirements of these neurons cannot be ignored in ALS and in other diseases in which voluntary movement is impaired.”

 

The findings of the study could have applications to other neurodegenerative diseases that may share ER stress as an underlying cause.

 

“Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS are different branches of the same tree,” Ozdinler said. “Subpopulations of patients may be developing these diseases due to the same dysfunctional cellular pathways. Finding a therapy for the pathway could help all of these patients.”

 

Ozdinler is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, and the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

 

Javier Jara, PhD and Barış Genç, PhD were co-first authors of the study. Additional authors include Gregory Cox, PhD, Martha Bohn, PhD, professor emeritus in Pediatrics-Neurobiology, Raymond Roos, MD, Jeffrey Macklis, MD, and Emel Ulupınar, MD, PhD, adjunct instructor in Neurology.

 

This study was funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant R01NS085161-01, the Les Turner ALS Foundation, Wenske Foundation, NUCATS, NIH/ National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grants NS49553, NS49553 and NS41590, NIH Mechanisms of Aging and Dementia Postdoctoral Training Program and ALSA Safenowitz fellowship.

 

Image: Scientific illustration depicting upper motor neurons, which send messages from the brain to the spinal cord to activate voluntary movement and play a major role in ALS pathology.

 

Visit Northwestern Medicine for more

_DSC1870.JPGEVANSTON, Ill. --- If you want to lose pounds using an online weight management program, don’t be a wallflower. A new Northwestern University study shows that online dieters with high social embeddedness -- who logged in regularly, recorded their weigh-ins and ‘friended’ other members -- lost more than 8 percent of their body weight in six months.

 

The less users interacted in the community, the less weight they lost, the study found.

 

“Our findings suggest that people can do very well at losing weight with minimal professional help when they become centrally connected to others on the same weight loss journey,” said Bonnie Spring, an author of the study and professor in preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

 

The study, published Jan. 28 in the Royal Society journal Interface, is the first to use data from an online weight management program to investigate social network variables and reveal which aspects of online social connectedness most strongly promote weight loss.

 

The scientists found that users who did not connect with others lost about 5 percent of their body weight over six months, those with a few friends (two to nine) lost almost 7 percent and those with more than ten friends lost more than 8 percent.

 

“There is an almost Facebook-like social network system in this program where people can friend each other and build cliques,” said Luís A. Nunes Amaral, senior author of the study. “In this case, we found the larger your clique, the better your outcomes.”

 

Amaral is a professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a leading researcher in the areas of big data and complex systems. His also is co-director of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO).

 

Spring, who also is the director at the Center for Behavior and Health in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Feinberg, and Amaral met through a common interest in the science of teamwork and collaborated on this research.

 

Spring had access to a large dataset from CalorieKing.com’s online weight-loss community. Users of CalorieKing’s program pay a membership fee for access to weight-loss tools and an online community. Amaral’s lab had the expertise to analyze user data and uncover trends in this complex network.

 

The data provided did not include the identities of users, but it provided their sign-up date, age, height, gender and initial weight and time-stamped activities within the online community for nearly a year. Engagement, such as recorded weigh-ins, friendship requests and online communication, was analyzed. The scientists didn’t have access to any of the text that was exchanged between users.

 

“We found that the frequency with which you report your weight is a good indictor of positive outcomes,” Amaral said. “If you monitor your weight, you are engaged.f you communicate online with other people you are even more engaged, and when you need support you might be able to get it. There are some nice characteristics about this social network.”

 

The gold standard for weight loss is intensive lifestyle treatment involving a minimum of 16 60-to-90 minute individual or group treatment sessions covering diet, physical activity,and behavior change, Spring said. Those who regularly track their progress, known as self-monitoring, lose more weight in clinical studies.

 

This study found that self-monitoring was associated with greater weight loss, too, but Spring was surprised that even greater weight loss was associated with being highly embedded in a network of other people trying to lose weight.

 

“In the clinic, we don’t have the ability to connect people with such a large network of others on the same journey to lose weight,” Spring said. “I was very surprised by how lawfully each step-up in social connectedness translated into greater weight loss. We could clearly see the benefit of the online social network for weight-loss success.”

 

For those lacking time or geographic proximity to attend in-person weight loss treatment, an online weight loss program seems to be a good alternative, Spring said, particularly if you take advantage of the self-monitoring and social networking features.

 

Amaral said this online social support community approach could work in other areas of behavioral medicine -- such as depression and alcoholism -- where in-person meetings are recommended.

 

“Modern life is so complex and stressful, to go somewhere for a meeting is often not practical,” Amaral said. “It is hopeful that this alternative approach, of going online for support, could work.”

 

The National Institutes of Health (grants R01HL075451, RC1DK087126 and 3UL1RR025741–02S4) supported this research.

 

Other authors include Julia Poncela-Casasnovas from Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain, Arlen C. Moller of the Illinois Institute of Technology and Daniel McClary, Rufaro Mukogo, Christine A. Pellegrini, Michael J. Coons, Miriam Davidson and Satyam Mukherjee of Northwestern University.

 

Read the original story in Northwestern News