Anything worth taking
seriously is worth
making fun of

Collaboration Imagination

Illinois Alumni August 2009

A high school boy teaching computer skills in Africa. An inner city administrator fulfilling her vision of a playground. A rural chemistry teacher linking to a professional community. What is the connection of these people - and hundreds of others - to the University of Illinois?

Sailing: Another way to enjoy Illinois lakes

Outdoor Illinois July 2009

From Horatio Hornblower to Pirates of the Caribbean, sailing has always held a certain romance; with no engine, the sailor becomes adept at sailing in every kind of condition, from light to heavy wind, from smooth to choppy water, and, ultimately, to master or harness Mother Nature in all her moods.

Promises to Keep

Illinois Alumni April 2009

Lhea Randle dreamed since she was 8 years old that she would go to college, but when her mom died, it looked like her plans might go up in smoke. Mauriell Amechi, commuting one hour each way to high school and being raised by his grandmother, felt that college was his “destiny.” Silvia Gonzalez, for whom English was her second language, was determined as a child to graduate from college, better herself and help her family in the process.

Myriad rules and regulations challenge emergent biofuels industry

Institute of Genomic Biology April 2009

Bryan Endres’s exploration of the legal issues surrounding biofuels and genetically modified plants is tightly integrated with the efforts of IGB scientists to unlock the key to commercial production of cellulosic ethanol.

Teacher Advocacy

NCTE Council Chronicle March 2009

Teachers typically do not enter the profession intent on becoming political advocates. Their focus is how best to help individual students, leaving others to look out for students’ and teachers’ interests in the wider world. However, many teachers are recognizing that their classroom efforts are being hampered by forces outside the classroom. In order to counteract those forces, some teachers have become advocates for their profession and their students in the public arena.

The Friends of Dick Russell club

Illinois Alumni March 2009

How do you tell the story of a man whose career with the CIA is classified information? A man who subsequently suffered from locked-in syndrome, a condition in which the patient retains all cognitive function but cannot move most of his muscles, not even to speak?

You tell the story of his friends.

Microbes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Biomarker: Institute for Genomic Biology December 2008

People don’t always like to be reminded of it, but microbes are everywhere. There are more microbes on one human hand than there are humans in the world. The vast majority of these organisms are benign, and many are even beneficial: they help us breathe and digest our food; they contribute to the development of our immune systems and impact the effectiveness of drugs we take.

Broken by the Blacklist

Illinois Alumni December 2008

“‘Ma, … how do you really feel about the blacklist? Angry? Frustrated? How?’”

“That needed to be answered, and I thought about it a lot. Angry? No. To me, anger is a futile emotion. I think I can sum it up in two words: deep sorrow. Not for myself - I’ve survived, and my life is full of joy - but a deep sorrow for [my husband] Larry that will be with me in my heart for the rest of my life.”

Stories of Us:

NCTE Council Chronicle September 2008

Jackson walks by Adam in the cafeteria and purposely spills his food on Adam. Later Jackson grabs Adam’s book and, despite Adam’s protests, throws it out the window. A teacher asks what is going on and Adam says “Nothing.”

Language of Love

Illinois Alumni May 2008

Eyamba Bokamba joined the University of Illinois Department of Linguistics 34 years ago, and since then he’s made it resound with the intonations of a continent.

Bokamba has grown the African languages program from one language to five and developed more than 35 African language courses, as well as more than half a dozen African linguistics ones. By the mid-1980s, the UI program in African languages had become the most comprehensive of its kind in the country.

Pages

Read more writings in my features, essays or books