An Illinois Sampler:

Talking about Teaching and Research on the Prairie

Edited by

Antoinette Burton, Department of History
Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Campus Programs on Teaching and Learning, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

An Illinois Sampler offers a range of examples of how faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign bring their research questions and insights to students in a variety of classroom settings. With contributors from the humanities, the arts, the social and natural sciences, engineering and beyond, this Sampler showcases the best, the most ambitious and the most effective teaching practices developed and nurtured at Illinois. Aimed at a non-specialist audience, this collection  explores how world-class research across the disciplines makes its way into lecture halls and seminar rooms and blended classrooms, offering readers a rare glimpse into the impact of cutting-edge research on undergraduate education in a rapidly changing world.

Author Biographies

Nancy Abelmann, an Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, is the Harry E. Preble Professor in the Departments of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures. Abelmann is an anthropologist specializing on the Koreas and Asian America with interests in class, education, family, migration, mental health, and gender. For the Sampler collection, she writes about the relationship between her classrooms and her own ethnographic studies of South Korean, South Korean educational migrants, and Korean America.

Flavia C. D. Andrade is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology & Community Health whose interdisciplinary research focuses on the social, behavioral, economic, and biological determinants of population health over the life course, with a focus on Latin American and Caribbean populations. For the Sampler, she writes about how statistics can be empowering and exciting by connecting it to students’ daily experiences and various research and life interests.

Jayadev Athreya is an assistant professor in the Mathematics Department, whose research focuses on geometry, dynamical systems, and connections to number theory. His contribution to the Sampler discusses the process of growth teachers go through as they move forward in a career, particularly in the context of being comfortable with experimenting with new forms and techniques of instruction.

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Thomas J. Bassett is Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science and a faculty affiliate of the Center for African Studies. He specializes in the political ecology of agrarian change in the West Africa savanna with interests in cotton growing, food security, land tenure systems, and environmental change. For the Sampler, he describes how mapping the origins of their clothing connects students in a personal way to seemingly distant global social, economic, and political processes.

Lauren A. Denofrio-Corrales is the Assistant Director of the Honors Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and former instructor in the Department of Chemistry. Denofrio-Corrales is pursuing a doctorate in Education, with specific emphasis on socialization and professional development of scientists and engineers. Yi Lu is the Jay and Ann Schenck Professor of Chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering. He is also a member of the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. His research interests lie at the interface between chemistry and biology and in entrepreneurship and innovation in undergraduate science education. Investigating students' development as practicing scientists, Lu and Denofrio-Corrales write for the Sampler collection about the development of a chemistry course that links students' scientific interests to cutting-edge research opportunities and models the workings of a scientific research group.

Karen Flynn is an Associate professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of African-American Studies. Her research interests include migration, travel, women, work and family, health, feminist and critical anti-racist theory, and post-colonial studies. For the Sampler, she demonstrates her use of several methods, including analysis of dancehall and rap music, to explore connections among Black women’s lives across various geographical locations. Her book, Moving Beyond Borders: Black Canadian and Caribbean women in the African Canadian Diaspora, which addresses the themes covered in her course, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2011.

Bruce Fouke is a professor in the Departments of Geology and Microbiology, and the Biocomplexity Theme in the Institute for Genomic Biology. He also serves as Director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center. Bruce specializes in integrated geological and biological studies of: (1) the control of sea surface temperature on coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean and the global emergence of infectious marine diseases; (2) the response of heat-loving (thermophilic) bacteria in Yellowstone and Turkey to changes in hot-spring water flow rate, chemistry and temperature; (3) microbially enhanced hydrocarbon recovery in deep subsurface oil and gas rock reservoirs of Canada, Alaska and Ireland; and (4) the timing and cause of the last flow of water in the aqueducts of ancient Rome and Pompeii. He also serves on science panels and steering committees at the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy. Bruce’s essay makes the case that there is no substitute for educational experiences in the field, which uniquely meld science and humanity to provide the type of holistic integration needed to approach the most vexing issues facing our society.

Julie Jordan Gunn is an associate professor in the School of Music.  She is a pianist who is drawn to collaboration.  This has led her into the fields of art song recitals, cabaret, opera, European languages, song arranging, conducting, and chamber music.  Although she loves teaching young adults, she has become increasingly interested in building programs for younger students which connect musical teenagers to mentors in the arts. For the Sampler collection, she writes about how performance and collaboration are intertwined and her conviction that they are powerful teaching tools.

Laurie Johnson is Associate Professor of German with affiliations in Comparative and World Literature and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. Her specialties are German Romanticism and Idealism, with interests in the history of psychology and psychiatry and in psychoanalysis. She is the author of Aesthetic Anxiety (2010) and The Art of Recollection in Jena Romanticism (2002). Her contribution to the Sampler describes the ways in which her experiences teaching a large humanities lecture course have informed and changed her research. She makes the case for the continued life of the lecture, even as methods of teaching and knowledge production inevitably change.

Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Professor of Dance, is a teacher, choreographer, and author, specializing in the integration of Somatic Studies in the teaching of dance technique and performance. She is the co-author of two books: Dance and the Alexander Technique: Exploring the Missing Link and The Body Eclectic: Evolving Practices in Dance Training, both published by University of Illinois Press. Her contribution to the Sampler discusses the writing process for her most recent book, revealing the symbiotic relationship that was developed by the co-authors between teaching and research.

Luisa-Maria Rosu is a Research Associate at I-STEM; she is participating in the evaluation of the iFoundry curriculum in the College of Engineering. Her Sampler essay indicates how principles of engineering research apply to iFoundry curriculum design. Geoffrey Herman is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; he is part of iFoundry Intrinsic Motivation Course Conversion. Betty Jo Barrett works in the area of Socio-Technical Systems in the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations; she taught the Leading Sustainable Change Course. Bryan Wilcox is an iFoundry Postdoctoral Fellow and Interdisciplinary Senior Design Coordinator; he is the instructor of IEFX Projects course; Professor Raymond Price is the William H. Severns Chair of Human Behavior in the College of Engineering and iFoundry Co-Director; Lizanne DeStefano is the director of the I-STEM Educational Initiative.

D. Fairchild Ruggles is a professor of art, architecture, and landscape history in the Department of Landscape Architecture. She sits on the Education Justice Project (EJP) Advisory Board and has taught two classes through the program. Hugh Bishop is a lecturer in Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education as well as Linguistics, and directs EJP’s Language Partners Program. Rebecca Ginsburg, architectural historian and Associate Professor in the College of Education, founded, directs and teaches in the Education Justice Program. Anke Pinkert, Associate Professor in Germanic Languages and Literatures as well as Media and Cinema Studies, has taught for EJP and led a series of meditation workshops. Agniezska Tuszynska, who will be awarded her doctorate in American literature in May 2013, taught a literature class for EJP. Together, they reflect on the unexpected challenges and rewards of teaching at a medium-security state prison.

Carol Spindel, a Lecturer in the Department of English, has taught nonfiction writing to Illinois undergraduates for over twenty years through the Campus Honors Program and Unit One/Allen Hall Living Learning Center. She has written books about living in a rural community in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, and the controversy over American Indian-themed sports mascots, as well as radio commentaries and essays on many other topics. She is currently collecting the life stories of Ivoirians she knew as children. In her Sampler essay, she talks about how, in the process of guiding her Illinois students toward their subjects, she found an unlikely one of her own.

Mark Steinberg, Professor of History, researches, teaches, and writes about Russia and the city, modernity, revolution, religion, emotions, and the development of ideas and values. He is also co-author of a widely used textbook, A History of Russia, and is writing a new history of the Russian Revolution, which also seeks to combine newest research with value for the classroom. For the Sampler, he explores his experience of bringing together his research, teaching, and writing about the urban experience—a story of connections and surprises.

William Sullivan is Professor in the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Human and Community Development. He examines the health benefits of having everyday contact with green places and citizen participation in environmental design. Sullivan teaches on campus and at the Danville Correctional Center – a medium and high security State of Illinois prison – and is an active member of the University’s Education Justice Project. For the Sampler collection, he considers the challenge of infusing research into the design studio and the rewards of doing so.

Richard Tapping is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Medicine. His laboratory studies mechanisms which underlie regulation of the host immune response and how loss of this regulation drives autoimmune disease. Over the last 10 years, he has taught the discipline of immunology to medical students as both lecturer and discipline coordinator for the course. His Sampler essay explores how his transition from researcher in the basic sciences to that of educator in medicine has broadened and enriched both endeavors.

Brad Tober is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the School of Art and Design. His research explores the potential of emerging code-based and interactive visual communication technologies, with the objective of developing (often speculative) applications of them to design practice and pedagogy. He is particularly interested in examining the designer's role as a mediator between technologies and their users. Brad's contribution to the Sampler discusses how his roles as design practitioner/industry professional, researcher, and educator coincide to foster student engagement with the intersections of design and technology.

Kate Williams is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  Her research focuses on community informatics, which is the study of how local communities use information technology (IT).  This includes studying IT use by Champaign Urbana’s non-profit and government agencies during the local area broadband installation, as well as learning about digital divides and public libraries in Beijing.  Her work prioritizes social capital and local agency in the
information revolution.  For the Sampler, she explains how she implements the university's land grant mission by rooting her teaching in service and research, both on campus and in her school's award-winning distance program.