Monthly archives: November, 2015

UIC Fan Letter to Bill Nye the Science Guy

Check out this UIC fan letter to Bill Nye the Science Guy

Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Inducts UIC Nursing Professor

Phoenix Mathews

Phoenix Mathews

Phoenix Matthews, professor of health systems science in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, is one of 11 individuals, along with one organization, to be recently inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

Matthews, a clinical psychologist, is known nationally and internationally for their (the nongendered pronoun Matthews prefers) research on health disparities in underserved populations. Their work is focused primarily on the development and evaluation of culturally targeted cancer risk reduction interventions in the African American and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations.

“It is a real honor to be recognized by the Hall of Fame committee for my work with and on behalf of the LGBT communities,” Matthews said. “I will be joining other UIC faculty and alumni who have been inducted over the years, and I am thrilled to be part of a larger campus community that is committed to social justice and equality.”

During their career, Matthews has received more than $5 million to support their research from federal, state, foundation and departmental funds. Matthews has served as principal investigator on four federally funded research projects and co-investigator on several others, and published more than 70 peer reviewed articles and an additional five book chapters stemming from their research on cancer prevention and control.

Matthews is currently conducting a randomized clinical trial of a culturally targeted smoking cessation intervention for LGBT smokers. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health.

The Hall of Fame inducts individuals, organizations, and “friends of the community.” Nominees represent all of Chicago’s sexual-minority communities, including LGBT Chicagoans past and present, living and dead, as well as those who have supported or assisted them.

“This year’s inductees, like our rosters since 1991, represent LGBT achievements in a variety of fields,” said Gary Chichester, who along with Mary Morten co-chairs the event. “Each year, the Hall of Fame spotlights some of the many who have made contributions to their own communities and to the city as a whole.”

Matthews has won numerous awards throughout their career, including a Healthy Chicago Award from the Chicago Department of Public Health for their work on tobacco cessation.


Healthy Babies Are Worth The Wait

Healthy Babies Worth WaitThe March of Dimes has selected the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System as the Illinois site to implement its new program to reduce premature delivery. UI Health will receive $40,000 a year for three years from the March of Dimes to support the pilot program.

March of Dimes has implemented the program, called “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait,” at more than 30 sites in Kentucky, Texas, Kansas, New Jersey and New York.

A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Premature delivery — defined as before 37 weeks of gestation — and extreme prematurity, before 32 weeks, add significant risk for a host of immediate and lifelong health problems, including developmental delays and heart and lung problems. Costs of caring for a premature infant can reach half a million dollars if longterm care in a neonatal intensive care unit is needed.

Nearly 10 percent of births in the U.S. are premature, but among UI Health’s largely disadvantaged patient population, the rate is about 15 percent — half again the national rate.

“The patients we see at UI Health have higher rates of medical and obstetrical complications and so are at higher risk for having their babies prematurely,” says Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, director of maternal-fetal medicine at UI Health and a co-principal investigator on the grant.

“Several socioeconomic factors contribute to premature birth in our patient population,” Mastrogiannis said. African Americans are at the highest risk and account for about half of UI Health’s patient population.

UI Health has already adopted state-of-the-art screening methods for all pregnant patients to identify those at risk for preterm delivery. Screening includes careful analysis of medical history combined with measuring the length of the cervix. A shortened cervix at 24 weeks has been linked to a higher risk for premature delivery.

For patients at high risk, “administration of progesterone compounds can decrease the risk of pre-term birth by more than 40 percent,” said Mastrogiannis.

Under the the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait program, all women who call for prenatal care appointments at UI Health and its Mile Square Health Centers — about 2,500 patients annually — will be interviewed to determine their risk for preterm delivery. Women at higher risk will be matched with an advanced practice OB-GYN nurse and a community health worker specializing in coordinating and removing barriers to care. All women will be offered classes to learn about healthy pregnancy.

“Providing extra follow up and specialized care to high-risk women can bring premature birth rates down,” said Beena Peters, associate director of nursing for women and children’s health services at UI Health and co-principal investigator on the grant. Proper prenatal care can help prevent about half of all premature births, she said.

Apple Executive and Field Museum CEO Named UIC Commencement Speakers

Richard Lariviere

Richard Lariviere

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch

The University of Illinois at Chicago will celebrate the Class of 2016 at its December commencement ceremony at the UIC Pavilion on Dec. 11. Two ceremonies will honor UIC students who graduate after summer and fall semesters.

Field Museum president and CEO Richard Lariviere will deliver the Graduate College address in the afternoon, and Apple’s vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch, will speak at the evening ceremony to award undergraduate degrees.

The Graduate College commencement begins at 2 p.m.  The undergraduate ceremony follows at 7:30 p.m. for the colleges of Applied Health Sciences; Architecture, Design, and the Arts; Business Administration; Liberal Arts and Sciences; Urban Planning and Public Affairs; Education; and Engineering.

About 1,200 undergraduates and 850 graduate students will receive degrees.

Lariviere has led the Field Museum since 2012. His career in academia and business is grounded in his expertise on India. Among the companies Lariviere has worked with are Deluxe Corporation, General Instrument Corporation (now part of Motorola), Cisco Systems, and others.

An expert on the Indian legal system and an award-winning author of books and articles on Indian law and culture, Lariviere is fluent in French, Hindi and Sanskrit. He was formerly dean of liberal arts at the University of Texas at Austin, provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas, and president of the University of Oregon. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kevin Lynch is currently the vice president of technology at Apple, focused on the innovative software of the Apple Watch and the company’s health software effort. Before he joined Apple in 2013, he was chief technology officer at Adobe. He joined Macromedia in 1996 and led its move to web publishing, including the creation of Dreamweaver. Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005. In 1984, Lynch helped establish one of the first Mac software startups, and later helped pioneer handheld personal communicators.

Lynch studied interactive computer graphics at UIC; working with artists and engineers in UIC’s famed Electronic Visualization Laboratory.

With 29,000 students, UIC is Chicago’s largest university and is home to the nation’s largest medical school. UIC has one of the most diverse student bodies in the U.S. and is among the nation’s leading universities in federal research funding.

Designing Landfills That Clean Themselves

Landfill Professor Reddy

”Landfills are eyesores, but they’re unavoidable,” says engineering professor Krishna Reddy.

A UIC engineering professor is designing state-of-the-art landfills that will really stand out from those that are just — well, dumps.

“Landfills are eyesores,” said Krishna Reddy, professor of civil and materials engineering. “But they’re unavoidable. Even with the best waste management — prevention and recycling — we still will have waste that has to be disposed of.

“We don’t want to create these indestructible pyramids, and have future generations look at them and think, ‘what the heck have they done?’”

When a landfill dries out, the waste degrades so slowly it can take decades for the area to stabilize and become safe for other uses. Such nonperforming landfills are called “dry tombs,” Reddy explained. He was awarded a three-year, $280,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a model to transform dry tomb landfills into efficient waste treatment systems.

Reddy and his students want to make landfills that perform their own in-ground treatment, produce gas to recapture energy, allow the recovery of usable materials and re-stabilize themselves for eventual reuse. To engineer landfills that can do all this, Reddy must find the best way to capture the moisture that naturally leaches out and recycle it back in, along with helpful bacteria that break down the organic waste into energy-rich burnable gas.

Once the organic waste has decomposed and the landfill is stable, operators can mine the inorganic waste for valuable metals like iron, copper and aluminum. The controlled but rapid transformation of the landfill will make it easier to plan for the site’s eventual reuse.

Reddy has years of field data and experimental results that he and his colleagues will study to find effective ways to support these recovery processes. His goal is to create a tool for designing stable and effective engineered landfills or for optimizing existing ones. He and his group take a multidisciplinary approach, including geo-environmental engineering, sustainable engineering, biology and computational mechanics.

The field, he says, is ripe for change. “Operators and regulators of landfills are interested in improving, but the current leachate-recycling programs are not designed on a rational basis,” he said.

UIC Students Awarded Study Abroad Scholarships




Elise Sosa


Jeremy Taluzek


John Stachelski


Lauren Jones


Marcelina Zawislak



Urielle Blanchard










Pawel Makuch



Nine UIC students have been awarded U.S. State Department Benjamin A. Gilman scholarships to study abroad this fall.

The UIC recipients are among over 800 American undergraduate students from more than 350 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected for the honor.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program, sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, aims to diversify the group of students who study abroad and their destinations. To be eligible for the award, students must demonstrate financial need by receiving a federal Pell Grant for their studies.

Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study-abroad program costs. Since 2006, UIC students have won more than 130 Gilman scholarships totaling $515,000.

The latest UIC recipients, representing the colleges of architecture, design, and the arts; business administration; and liberal arts and sciences; and their destinations include:

Urielle Blanchard, sophomore in art from Davie, Florida, studying in Tokyo

Bridget Hansen, an Honors College senior in anthropology from McHenry, Illinois, studying in Amman, Jordan

Asya Hill, junior in art history from Chicago (Bronzeville), studying in Valparaiso, Chile

Lauren Jones, junior in psychology from Chicago (Bronzeville), studying in Aix-en-Provence, France

Pawel Makuch, a junior in accounting from Bensenville, Illinois, studying in Seoul, South Korea

Elise Sosa, a senior in sociology from Chicago (Oriole Park), studying in Istanbul

John Stachelski, a senior in Russian from Joliet, Illinois, studying in St. Petersburg, Russia

Jeremy Taluzek, a senior in Russian from Lemont, Illinois, studying in St. Petersburg, Russia

Marcelina Zawislak, a senior in English from Schiller Park, Illinois, studying in Bilbao, Spain.

The program is funded through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 and is administered by the Institute of International Education’s Southern Regional Center in Houston. The program honors former U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman of New York, a former chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Sign Up for a STEM National Roadtrip Experience

STEM RoadtripThis summer Roadtrip Nation is partnering with AT&T through their signature education initiative AT&T Aspire to send three young women on a life-changing road trip across the U.S. to talk to the people who are shaping the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). It’s your chance to have basically the best four weeks of your life as you drive coast to coast in our bright-green RV asking people who are doing awesome stuff for a living the questions you really want answered: How did you know what you wanted to do? Did you ever feel nervous or scared? What were you doing when you were my age? Full detals on the project & application on their website

Reasons to Give Thanks


Children’s Hospital University of Illinois will host a Thanksgiving party for more than 120 pediatric cancer patients and their families.

Patients, their siblings, parents and other loved ones will enjoy face painting, photos, games, food and activities at this unconventional pre-holiday party scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21st at the UIC Student Center West, 828 S. Wolcott Ave., Second floor.

Cancer support organizations such as Gilda’s Club, Girl Scouts, Make-A-Wish, Bounce Children’s Foundation, Children’s Oncology Services, 12 Oaks Foundation, American Cancer Society and Bear Necessities will provide activities for kids and information for parents.

UIC’s Benefit to Illinois: $4 Billion Per Year

Economic Impact StudyThe University of Illinois at Chicago —  Chicago’s largest university with nearly 28,000 students – added $4 billion to the Illinois economy in fiscal 2013, according to a report prepared by the UIC Center for Urban Economic Development.

The center’s researchers measured UIC’s broad impact due to UIC’s educating Illinois residents; its direct contribution through employment and to the tax base; and other campus endeavors that advance economic development or equity.

‘Economic impact’ refers to the added economic value made possible by virtue of UIC’s existence – the number of jobs it created, the value of the goods and services it generated, the amount by which its employees were compensated, and the amount of state and local taxes those employees paid in fiscal 2013.

Economic impact through education

Nearly $3 billion of UIC’s annual economic impact consists of higher earnings by UIC graduates who work in Illinois and earn higher incomes than they would without a degree. In fiscal 2013, UIC granted degrees to more than 3,800 undergraduates, 2,500 graduates and 600 professional students.

Economic contribution through employees’ compensation and taxes

In 2013, UIC employed 13,361 in full-time jobs, from support staff to brain surgeons and nuclear physicists. The university paid $1.2 billion in wages and benefits.

Other economic benefits

UIC provided $139 million in grants and scholarships to students. Much of this aid is need-based, as half of UIC students are eligible for Pell grants and 43 percent are eligible for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants.

The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System provided $28 million in charity care.

Improving Care For Older Adults


Valerie Gruss, PhD, APN, CNP-BC Clinical Assistant Professor

University of Illinois at Chicago faculty nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists and social workers will collaborate to develop a web-based training program for primary care physicians to help them provide better care for older adults.

The project is funded by a three-year, $2.5 million federal grant, one of 44 given in 2015 by the Health Resources and Services Administration totaling $35.7 million under the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program to integrate geriatrics into primary care.

The online training will include assessing for cognitive impairment, prescribing home assistive devices, identifying social and environmental issues, coordinating hospice care, navigating the health care system, and educating older patients and their caregivers on their conditions and treatments.

The number of adults over 65 in the U.S., currently approximately 40 million, is increasing rapidly and is projected to reach 72.1 million by 2030. Most older adults have at least one chronic condition, and many have several, requiring comprehensive care. The healthcare workforce has not grown or adapted to keep pace.

“The number of clinicians trained in geriatrics has been steadily declining,” says Valerie Gruss, assistant professor in the UIC College of Nursing and co-primary investigator on the grant. “If this trend continues, there will be a severe shortage of geriatricians available to treat an ever-increasing number of older adults.”

Treating older patients is very different from treating younger ones, Gruss said.

“You need to take into consideration the environment of older patients,” said Gruss. “Do they live alone? If so, having them go for multiple imaging procedures might be really difficult. These are things most doctors don’t think about when treating young, mobile patients.”

Gruss and co-principal investigator Dr. Memoona Hasnain, associate professor of family medicine and medical education in the UIC College of Medicine, decided to develop the course as an online certificate program, so that all training materials will be widely accessible. The researchers also plan to create apps that caregivers, including family members, can use to learn about common conditions like dementia and mobility issues.

“This grant will help us create lasting tools that can help prepare a workforce that is able to address the health issues facing a growing aging population,” said Hasnain.