Monthly archives: October, 2015

UIC Ranking Higher on U.S. News ‘Best Colleges’


UIC is ranked among the top 25 universities in the nation for student diversity, according to the latest ratings by U.S. News & World Report.

UIC jumped 20 spots in the 2016 U.S. News and World ReportBest College” rankings from last year.

UIC was also ranked second for its online bachelor’s degree programs, 80th for its undergraduate business program and among the top 25 most ethnically diverse colleges in the nation.

In the national rankings, released Wednesday, UIC moved to No. 129 on the list, compared to No. 149 in 2015.

“I predict that in the next few years, we will be in the top 100,” said Emanuel Pollack, interim vice provost for undergraduate affairs. “We have a great opportunity to increase our standings over the next couple of years.”

The campus is tied with five other universities for the 129th spot: Arizona State University-Tempe, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, University at Albany-SUNY, University of Arkansas and the University of Kentucky.

One factor that helped boost UIC’s ranking is its improved graduation rate, Pollack said. UIC’s six-year graduation rate was 60 percent based on 2014 data, up from 57 percent in 2013 and double the graduation rate of the late 1980s.

“UIC has been on an upward trajectory with regard to student performance over the last several years,” he said. “It’s indicative that the students who are being admitted to UIC are better prepared for college work, which of course leads to better graduation rates.”

The rankings — which include data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities — are based Carnegie classification, as well as other factors such as class size, freshman retention and acceptance rate.

“The rankings are used for all different purposes — in recruiting and by students when they are looking at colleges to attend,” Pollack said.

UIC’s online bachelor’s degree programs were tied with two others, Western Kentucky University and Daytona State College, for second in the nation and first in student engagement. UIC offers two bachelor’s degree programs online — health information management and a nursing degree completion program.

“It’s quite clear that they are considered in very high regard,” Pollack said.

The undergraduate business program tied for 80th place with 12 other universities, including DePaul and Loyola.

UIC’s place among the top 25 most ethnically diverse colleges in the nation indicates the campus commitment to diversity, Pollack said. “UIC welcomes students of all backgrounds, and students of all ethnicities and races can feel comfortable here.”

UIC also received a 3.0 on a 5-point scale in peer assessment, based on surveys taken in spring 2014 and 2015. “We are at or above many of the institutions that are ranked even higher than us,” Pollack said, adding that UIC’s peer assessment reflects its high level of faculty quality.

For more information on the rankings, visit


UIC Scholars Lead ‘lab’ on Great Lakes Issues

Kellen Marshall, UIC Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolution in the department of biological sciences, and Rachel Havrelock, UIC associate professor of English and Jewish studies. Photo: Joshua Clark

Kellen Marshall, UIC Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolution in the department of biological sciences, and Rachel Havrelock, UIC associate professor of English and Jewish studies. Photo: Joshua Clark

A University of Illinois at Chicago humanities scholar will lead a multi-site policy “lab” that links three Midwest universities in work that explores social and human issues related to water, energy and natural resources in the Great Lakes region.

The Freshwater Lab is supported by a $75,000 Global Midwest grant from the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The 15-member consortium, which includes the UIC Institute for the Humanities, is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The project’s principal investigator Rachel Havrelock, UIC associate professor of English and Jewish studies, will team with researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University to concurrently promote humanities and social science research on the history, policy and politics of Great Lakes resource distribution and prepare students for work on public policy recommendations and initiatives.

Havrelock has studied transnational water policy and is the author of a 2011 book, “River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line.” She says the Freshwater Lab aims to supplement and help articulate scientific findings to the public.

“With algae blooms compromising Lake Erie; Detroit residents at risk of losing water service; Chicago running almost entirely on heavy Alberta tar sands oil; tar sand and fracked-gas pipelines surrounding the shores of the lakes; and drought stricken regions near and far looking to Midwestern water stores — it is a necessary moment for a humanistic and social science-based approach to water issues,” Havrelock said.

The lab will host conferences, working groups and courses that explore creative approaches to the social, economic and political issues of water management in the Great Lakes region.

“This lab is centered in Chicago, where UIC, governmental offices and a range of organizations easily intersect,” she said. ”We’re trying to make this lab where Chicago, the region and UIC are seamless.”

Havrelock will collaborate with UIC doctoral student Kellen Marshall, who has been researching the impact of pollution on Chicago urban agriculture. Later this year, they will begin a research project examining transnational systems of water and energy sharing between the United States and Canada.

Next year, Havrelock will lead a course in which students will visit research sites, meet with public and corporate officials and develop policy papers, media campaigns, videos, an art exhibit or community-based restoration projects.

“It will be a humanities-driven take on how our resources might be used, managed, allocated, polluted and thought about in the future,” she said.
The lab will launch following a summit at UIC, “Water After Borders: Global Stakes, Local Politics,” that will bring together government officials, non-governmental organization leaders, researchers and students from the U.S., Canada and the Middle East to discuss trans-border water systems, with an emphasis on the Great Lakes and Jordan River.

The summit, sponsored by the UIC Institute for the Humanities and the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, is funded through the first Global Midwest competition from Humanities Without Walls.

Two UIC researchers are collaborating on other projects funded by Global Midwest grants from Humanities Without Walls: Kim Potowski, associate professor of Hispanic linguistics and director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program, is working with the Midwest Heritage Language Network, and Elise Archias, assistant professor of art and art history, is working on “There There: A Journal of Global Contemporary Art in the Midwest.”

Improving the Oral Health of Families and Children in Chicago


The University of Illinois at Chicago will develop and test an outreach program to reduce cavities in Chicago’s low-income and minority infants and toddlers under a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Community health workers will reach out to educate families about oral hygiene at health clinics and WIC centers and in their homes.

“We want to improve the oral health of the child by improving the oral health of the whole family,” said Dr. Molly Martin, associate professor of pediatrics in the UIC College of Medicine. “If the parents or caregivers aren’t practicing good oral hygiene themselves, the chance that the children will take good care of their own teeth is much lower.”

Her team also wants to look at whether a combination of settings has a greater effect.

“We might find that families are more likely to take action if they are reached in the clinic and at home,” she said, “than they are if they are just reached at a clinic.” The study, called Coordinated Oral Health Promotion Chicago, or CO-OP Chicago, includes UIC researchers in clinical pediatrics, dentistry, and health policy.

They will recruit and train six community health workers to talk with 1,500 families in Chicago that have children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Families will be followed for two years to evaluate their overall oral health and the incidence of cavities in the children.

Almost half of children 11 years and under have cavities, one of the most common chronic health conditions of childhood, particularly among low-income and minority children. In Chicago, 63 percent of third graders have cavities, and more than half of the cavities go untreated.
Pediatric dentists in the UIC College of Dentistry will develop the training curriculum for the community health workers.

The grant to UIC is one of 10 announced by the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) as part of the new national Multidisciplinary and Collaborative Research Consortium to Reduce Oral Health Disparities in Children. The CO-OP Chicago grant is administered by the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy, an all-campus home and incubator for multidisciplinary health research.

Co-investigators on the grant are Drs. William Frese, Usha Raj and Benjamin Van Voorhees of the UIC College of Medicine; Drs. Marcio da Fonseca, David Avenetti and Sheela Raja of the UIC College of Dentistry; Michael Berbaum and Oksana Pugach of the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy; and Jennie Pinkwater of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Medical Students Bring Healthy Learning to North Lawndale Kids

Northlawndale health kids

In the Young Doctors Club, UIC medical students teach North Lawndale elementary, middle and high school students about health sciences and careers in the health professions.

Medical students from UIC’s Urban Health Program are bringing health education and career information to North Lawndale, helping underserved youth — and their families.

“We’re watching kids discover their potential,” said Stephen Addington, fourth-year medical student and co-director of the Young Doctors Club.

Founded in 2009, the Young Doctors Club sprang from the Urban Medicine Program in partnership with the Lawndale Community Church. The club is sponsored by the Lawndale Christian Health Center, Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program, the Chicago Area Health Education Center and the Urban Health Program.

UIC medical students work with Lawndale elementary, middle and high school students, presenting a health science curriculum and introducing them to health science careers.

“We use a lot of the same outlines for the program as we use in medical school,” said Rebekah Harding, one of the club’s 12 leadership team members and a fourth-year med student. “It’s really neat because it’s kind of a mini medical school for them.”

This year’s focus is global health. In previous years, the curriculum has included the muscular, cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal and skeletal systems.

The program is held on Fridays throughout the school year. Lessons are supplemented with hands-on activities, real-life applications, educational field trips and guest lectures.

“Students learn valuable health and nutrition education like reading blood pressure, sugar levels and glucose screenings,” Harding said.

North Lawndale resident Toni Branch found out about the program through the Christian Lawndale Community Church. Both her daughters, one in high school and the other in grammar school, are YDC students.

“The best part about Young Doctors is that it really challenges children,” she said.

Her older daughter, Shantez Branch, already has long-term education and career goals because of the program. “We went on a field trip to UIC where a physical therapist talked about his career, and I thought, ‘Oh, that fits my personality,’ because I’m a big sports fan and I like to exercise,” she said.

She wants to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical therapy at Northern Illinois University, then get a Ph.D. at Howard University in Washington D.C.

The program inspired her mother, too. “I had no intentions of going on and continuing my education, but I sat in a couple of Young Doctors sessions and they motivated me,” Branch said. She is now working on an associate of science degree in nursing.

“Eventually I’ll get my bachelor’s, and my ultimate goal is to become an operating room nurse,” she said. “Every semester, the leaders of YDC check in with me, they even help me with my homework.”

“Whenever you’re dealing with kids, you’re dealing with the whole community, because everyone is invested,” said Addington, who has known the Branch family for four years (he taught Shantez how to parallel park). “It’s about the relationships and watching kids grow, not only in their talent and knowledge, but in their understanding of what they can do.”

The Young Doctors Club hosts an annual mini health fair every June, where students present their work to the community. The health fair also offers free health screenings.

“These are kids from the community that are talking to adults about their health and are educating the community around them. That has had so much more power than someone else helicoptering in and giving them health information,” Harding said.

“When your kids learn it, they make you practice it,” Branch said. “They make me health conscious, and if I’m not, they give me lectures about it.”

YDC leaders want to expand the program to offer ACT preparation classes, MCAT preparation materials and scholarships. “We want to make sure those doors are wide open for them,” Harding said.

For more information, or to donate to the Young Doctors Club, contact:


Chicken-dinosaur study wins top honors


“I’m very happy that people are paying attention, one way or another,” says Jose Iriarte-Diaz of his IgNobel Prize.

UIC researcher Jose Iriarte-Diaz traveled to Harvard University recently to be honored by Nobel Prize laureates — but it wasn’t exactly the Nobel Prize.

Iriarte-Diaz is among 10 national winners of the 2015 IgNobel Prize, given to researchers whose work makes you laugh, then think.

“Winning the prize was completely out of the blue,” said Iriarte-Diaz, assistant professor of oral biology in the College of Dentistry. “I’ve heard of the award and watched the ceremony on TV before so I was very happy and flattered.”

Iriarte-Diaz won the Biology Prize for his research on dinosaur movement, which involved attaching a fake tail to chickens to observe how it affected their gait.

“We don’t have dinosaurs, so this is one of the best things that we have,” he said. “Birds are derived from dinosaurs. There’s been many, many changes from dinosaurs to birds but one of the most important is that they lost their tails, which produced a change in the center of mass. It’s an interesting approach to a very difficult problem.”

Studying a group of 12 domestic chickens, Iriarte-Diaz used modeling clay to attach a tail — a wooden stick — to the chickens two days after hatching. He changed the tail every five days as the chickens grew, then compared their movements to his control subjects, chickens without tails.

His research suggests that dinosaurs walked more like humans, with a vertical stance and most of the movement in the hips. Chickens without the experimental tails showed more horizontal movements, with the knees doing most of the work.

Iriarte-Diaz conducted his research about 10 years ago in Chile, but didn’t publish it until 2014 in the journal PLOS One. His current research at UIC focuses on the biomechanics of feeding and the evolution of the craniofacial system in mammals.

He was happy to travel to the celebration at Harvard Sept. 17 to pick up his prize, which came with a $10 trillion banknote from Zimbabwe, worth about $0.04. The ceremony can be viewed online at (his award is presented at about 1:12).

“It was a very interesting night of science and funny things and people enjoying what they do and promoting their research,” he said. “I’m very happy that people are paying attention, one way or another


Street Closures for Bank of America Chicago Marathon


October 11th Street Closures for Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

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