Monthly archives: April, 2016

Preventing Hearing Loss From Chemotherapy

Student Research Forum Showcases Top Talent

Student Research Forum

Jasmine Lopez, an undergraduate in biological sciences, presents her research on reversing retinal ischemic injuries. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Students’ hard work came to fruition April 12 as they presented their projects at the Student Research Forum.

Nearly 300 students showed off their work at the UIC Forum, judged by 300 faculty and alumni judges.

Students from all disciplines were invited to present their work individually to judges and others during a three-hour presentation session, which was followed by an awards ceremony.

Senior Jeff Harvey, a physics major, enjoyed discussing his project, which uses physics to try and understand what’s happening on a molecular scale when an ion is extracted from the water into the oil phase.

“It was a great opportunity to get to talk to people that are outside of physics and try to show them why this work is interesting,” he said. “Presenting work in this kind of forum is also a really good test of how well I understand the material myself. Being able to explain things in an accessible manner takes a lot of work, and forces you to really identify the key points of the concepts in order to paint a cohesive and logical picture.”

Ruxandra Griza presented her work on the relationship between food waste and energy and the impact of smart food packaging.

“I’m really into environmental things, especially when it’s considering wasteful behavior not only with food but with plastic waste and water waste,” said Griza, a freshman in earth and environmental sciences.

Dimitra Papadakis, a senior in psychology, focused her research on juror motivation by gender. She conducted a mock jury study that showed that contrary to previous research, women didn’t change their minds more frequently than men.

“All the studies that say that women change their minds were done before the year 2000, so maybe that means that women do not struggle to uphold a position. Maybe there has been a cultural change. Maybe women are more motivated to speak up, so I think that’s pretty cool,” she said.

Sarah Lee, a senior in neuroscience, was happy to fulfill a dream she’s had since freshman year of presenting at the research forum.

“Now since I’m a senior, I feel like I’ve got my nostalgia goggles on, and I just want to enjoy everything as it’s happening,” she said.

View a complete list of award winners online.

By Libby Goldrick


Using Music To Move Through Pain

Music and Pain

College of Nursing faculty Eileen Collins and Ulf Bronas study peripheral artery disease, which makes movement painful. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Music motivates people to get up and move, but does it have the power to encourage people to move even when moving is painful?

UIC researchers from the east and west sides of campus are collaborating on a pilot study to see if music can help patients with peripheral artery disease — which makes movement painful — stick with an exercise regimen.

“We’re trying to find a way to use music to promote exercise and distract from the pain,” said Eileen Collins, professor of the biobehavioral health science in the College of Nursing.

Collins is collaborating on the project with Ulf Bronas, associate professor in the biobehavioral health science department, and Steve Everett, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts.

Everett, a noted composer, will manipulate the music so that it encourages patients to get moving.

“He’s able to take the artistic part of music and play with it a little and turn it into science to make the brain and the muscles work together in ways that we don’t think about,” Collins said.

Music Pain 2

Steve Everett, dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Participants in the pilot study will be patients from the University of Illinois Hospital and the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital who suffer from peripheral artery disease, a condition that causes claudication — a cramping, painful feeling in the legs.


“These patients are limited to walking half a block to a block before they experience significant leg pain,” Bronas said. “They have to stop and rest three to five minutes, then the pain goes away and they can walk again.”

Age, diabetes and smoking are the major risk factors for the disease, which is improved most effectively through walking. Supervised exercise programs help relieve pain, Collins said, but these programs often are not reimbursed by insurance.

“Patients essentially are told to go home and walk, and they don’t do it because it’s painful,” Collins said.

Researchers aim to create a home-based exercise regimen that participants can stick with on their own.

“We are encouraging walking at home to see if the music makes a difference in how far people walk without pain,” Collins said.

“We want to really empower individuals to take charge of their own health care,” Bronas added.

Everett will create playlists based on musical genres that the participants enjoy and manipulate songs to encourage them to walk.

“We can use music as a way to lessen the pain in certain patients,” Everett said.

The researchers plan to complete the pilot study this summer and submit grant proposals in the fall for a larger study.

Their collaboration was formed by chance when Collins met Everett at a committee meeting. Collins was filling in for a colleague who couldn’t attend the meeting and started talking to Everett about his work, then later realized his expertise could be helpful as she and Bronas discussed research ideas.

“His experience in music as motivation was perfect,” Bronas said. “Meeting new people throughout campus is really important.”

Music also has medical applications beyond peripheral artery disease, Everett said, such as helping patients with Alzheimer’s recall songs they enjoyed in their childhood.

“There are so many areas where people are trying to understand how music has this ability to work with certain medical conditions,” he said. “There are underlying tones that music is not just something for pleasure; it’s something that’s maybe much more critical for our own psychological health.”

The opportunities for students studying music and sound design are expanding far beyond the traditional prospects of composing concert music and designing sound for theater, Everett said. His students are finding jobs using their musical skills in fields such as computational informatics and sonification, which involves using audio to express data.

“Students are finding work in industries now that really 20 years ago weren’t there,” he said.

Collaborations across disciplines are critical for solving problems, Everett said.

“Ideas are no longer formed in silos,” he said. “Great universities have a way to build conversations across silos.”

By Christy Levy

UIC Community Lends A Helping Hand

UIC Day of Service

Students from Alpha Psi Lambda help clean Oak Street Beach. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

More than 300 students, faculty and alumni came together Saturday to give back to the community during the 7th annual UIC Day of Service.

Volunteers worked at 30 sites across the Chicago area, cleaning up beaches, framing a house, walking homeless animals and more.

At the El Paseo Community Garden in the Pilsen neighborhood, volunteers spread fertilizer, piled woodchips and pulled weeds to transform the unused railroad space into a garden.

Freshman Anne Zheng volunteered at the site to take a break from studying.

“My favorite part was looking at everyone work together to help the community,” she said.

Gingko Garden-- DOS

Students from Campus Housing volunteer at Gingko Organic Gardens. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Celina Diaz, a senior in biochemistry, also volunteered at the garden.

“Since I’m approaching graduation soon, I thought that it’s time to do something,” she said. “There are a lot of good people here. It was nice interacting with the community and the people around here.”

Antonio and Paula Acevedo are the garden leads at the El Paseo Garden. Antonio Acevedo said having UIC students participate on the project was beneficial.

“We got so much done in four hours that would have taken us multiple days to do. [The students] are very helpful,” he said.

Diaz plans to continue to serve her community. “It felt good to do something and give back to the community and the people who are actually going to enjoy this place,” she said.

By Pearl Shin

Pellegrino Joins American Academy of Arts & Sciences


James Pellegrino, co-director of the UIC Learning Sciences Research Institute and distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, psychology and education

Learning sciences researcher James Pellegrino of the University of Illinois at Chicago has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and research centers.

Pellegrino, co-director of the UIC Learning Sciences Research Institute and distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences, psychology, and education, is among 213 new members who join some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers and artists, as well as civic, business and philanthropic leaders.

For more than three decades, Pellegrino has produced influential research related to student learning, instruction and assessment. Combining knowledge of cognitive science, assessment, educational technology, instructional practice and educational policy, his work aims to design and deliver new, improved and equitable learning environments.

Throughout his career, he has led large-scale research and development projects for the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Naval Research.

Pellegrino’s current research is focused on assessment of student learning in multiple areas of mathematics and science that span kindergarten through college. He was the principal investigator for a NSF grant to the College Board to redesign and improve the Advanced Placement science courses and assessments.

Pellegrino, who came to UIC from Vanderbilt University in 2001, is an American Educational Research Association fellow, a lifetime national associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and a past member of the board on testing and assessment of the National Research Council. In 2007, he was elected to lifetime membership in the National Academy of Education.

The new academy members will be inducted at an Oct. 8 ceremony, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Members of the 2016 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships; the Fields Medal; and the Grammy Award and National Book Award. Founded in 1780, the academy is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world.

By Brian Flood

UIC Student Helps Bring Clean Water to Flint, MI

University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry Student Uvoh Onoriobe, a second-year student in the DMD Advanced Standing program, spent several weeks in February and March organizing free water distribution in Flint, MI.

“I take water to local groups in Flint and help in the distribution,” he said. “I do this through the auspices of Healing Hands Inc., a non-profit group I founded in 2008.” Healing Hands is a faith-based organization that helps provide dental and medical care throughout the world. It is based in Raleigh, NC, and Lagos, Nigeria. For more about Healing Hands, go to

Onoriobe formerly lived in nearby Plymouth, MI.

“For many years I have responded to crises in other countries,” he explained. “One hour from my home town a looming crisis exists. High levels of lead have been found in kids after the city switched water sources. The water is no longer safe to drink or cook with. This is a serious crisis, especially amongst the underserved. Many inhabitants in Flint live at the poverty line or below.”

Healing Hands is working with a local Pentecostal church, RCCG Flint, to distribute the water and water filters to needy families in Flint.
The group plans to distribute a total of 50,000 bottles, and is “facilitating blood tests for many who have not been able to check if lead is in their system,” he said.

Onoriobe noted that Healing Hands’ activities “serve as instruments with which we show Christ’s love to the hurting.”
For those who want to support Onoriobe in his work, a GoFundMe account is available at

State Approves College Stop-Gap Funding, But Legislature Still Needs To Approve Full Appropriation

UI President killeen

University of Illinois President Tim Killeen

The University of Illinois system appreciates the bipartisan effort in Springfield to provide partial, stop-gap funding for the state’s public universities, who have been forced to manage through the first 10 months of fiscal 2016 with no state appropriation.

The action Friday recognizes the importance of public higher education in Illinois and the critical role that universities throughout the state play in the well-being and prosperity of our citizens.

It is imperative that the public universities in Illinois receive responsible, sustainable levels of financial support from the state. The legislation avoided a catastrophe of no state funding for higher education for fiscal 2016 and it will help public universities continue to operate through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

However, the measure is insufficient as a total funding commitment for fiscal 2016, providing only $180 million for the U of I – compared with $647 million for fiscal year 2015. The U of I may be forced to make additional drastic reductions in faculty, staff, academic offerings, student programs, economic development initiatives and public service if it does not receive more than the 27.8 percent of last year’s appropriation that is provided in the stop-gap bill.

The stop-gap appropriation also includes greatly reduced funding for the University of Illinois Hospital – about $11 million, or a quarter of fiscal year 2015 levels– which will put medical care at risk for thousands of patients – many from underserved communities.

Funding for Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grants is also partially restored, but would provide only about $170 million statewide – about 45 percent of the fiscal year 2015 appropriation and short of the needs to serve deserving students across the state.

The U of I is the state’s largest educator, with a statewide presence and 80,000 students, and state funding for our operations accounts for 54 percent of the state’s appropriation for public universities. Ninety-five percent of the appropriation is dedicated to personnel costs. Our fiscal year 2015 appropriation covered the salaries of roughly 6,000 employees and funding at the levels proposed in the stop-gap measure would cover only 2,000.

We strongly urge the governor, legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties to continue to work on a comprehensive budget for fiscal 2016 that includes levels for higher education closer to the level seen in fiscal 2015, along with adequate funding for fiscal year 2017.

Tim Killeen
University of Illinois President

UIC College of Dentistry Helps “Give Kids a Smile”

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry held two Give Kids a Smile Days recently.

Fifty youngsters from Children of Peace School and 50 from St. Malachy School came to the College on Feb. 4 and received oral health education and screenings at the Department of Pediatric Dentistry’s Delta Dental of Illinois Predoctoral Pediatric Dentistry Clinic and its Dale C. Nickelsen and Caren C. Nickelsen Pediatric Dentistry Postgraduate Clinic.

Dr. Sahar Alrayyes, Clinical Associate Professor, Pediatric Dentistry, and Dr. Larry Salzmann, Clinical Professor and Predoctoral Program Clinic Director, were in charge of a team of predoctoral students who provided care. The day also featured face painting and a visit from Sparky D. Dragon, the UIC mascot.

“Some of the Children of Peace students were deaf or hard of hearing,” explained Khatijia Noorullah, Clinical Community Academic Manager. “This added breadth to our students’ experience as they worked with sign language experts with the youngsters.”

On Feb. 11, a team of predoctoral students led by Dr. Robert Rada, Clinical Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, and Dr. Alrayyes and Dr. Salzmann, visited the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt at 1950 W. Roosevelt Road to provide oral health education, screenings, and cleanings for the institute’s client roster of children and young adults.

“Youngsters who needed additional oral healthcare were referred to the College,” Noorullah explained.

The Chicago Dental Society Foundation’s Grants Committee gave the College $5,000 provided by the Wrigley Co. Foundation through its Oral Care Community Service Grant Program for the ICRE-R event.

Wrigley works with the CDS Foundation and other dental professional organizations by providing funding for those organizations to give out grants for those interested in community service.

UIC Goes Green with Campus Environmental Commitments

Green Campus sustainability

“Today’s announcement officially establishes UIC as a thought leader in sustainability and higher education,” says UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. — Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Chancellor Michael Amiridis and the UIC Office of Sustainability announced four climate commitments during a ceremony Tuesday that aim to confront the challenges of climate change and sustainability on campus.

“Today’s announcement officially establishes UIC as a thought leader in sustainability and higher education, though we have been engaged in the sustainability movement for years,” Amiridis said.

Last summer, Amiridis tasked the Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy with creating climate commitment action items.

The committee, led by UIC registrar Rob Dixon and physics professor George Crabtree, developed four major goals:

  • Carbon neutral campus: reduce carbon emissions
  • Zero waste campus: reduce, reuse and recycle to divert 90 percent of waste now sent to landfills
  • Net zero water campus: increase water efficiency to use no more water than the amount that falls within UIC’s boundaries
  • Biodiverse campus: create a resilient campus landscape that supports plants and animals to increase biodiversity on campus

“I’m glad that the committee set the bar high,” Amiridis said. “If you set the bar high, then we will work to met these commitments.”

The Climate Commitment document, available online at, includes aspirational goals and short-term action items that the campus can implement to meet the commitments.

“UIC is a wonderful place where these kinds of aspirations can be reached,” Dixon said.

UIC is at the forefront of “a movement that will lay the foundation for a much healthier campus, for a much healthier city and eventually for a much healthier planet for the future,” Amiridis said.

The goals enhance the 2009 UIC Climate Action plan, which pledges to reduce the university’s carbon emissions 40 percent below 2004 levels by 2030, and 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050.

UIC has been a leader of the sustainability movement in higher education since becoming an inaugural signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. UIC was among the first of a group of universities to sign Second Nature’s newly Climate Commitment expanded action plan in 2015, which includes taking steps toward helping the Chicago region become more resilient to a changing climate.

Cindy Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability, noted that the announcement ceremony itself followed the commitments. Only natural light from the windows in the East Terrace of Student Center East provided lighting, refreshments were locally sourced, composting was available and reusable servicewear was provided.

“Everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing depends directly or indirectly on our environment,” she said. “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to sustainability. With these climate commitments, we are taking on a role in working toward the solution.”

The Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy is also addressing teaching and learning opportunities in sustainability, Klein-Banai said.

“We are missing a key opportunity if we are not educating our students in the area of climate change,” she said.

By Christy Levy

Pre-Health at UIC: A Life-Changing Education

Learn about the pre-health tracks (including pre-med, pre-nursing, pre-dentistry, and pre-pharmacy, among others) at UIC’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.