In memoriam

As the SIU community mourns the passing of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, the university would like to provide a forum for people to share their best memories of Carlo and kind thoughts about his tenure at our great institution.

Please comment on this post with your favorite story about a positive encounter with the late chancellor, condolences for his family or uplifting message for the community in this difficult time.

A Family Atmosphere

Each year at Family Weekend, we honor the family of an SIU student selected from entries at new student orientation. I like this tradition because it highlights what SIU is all about – celebrating our connections as a Saluki family.

It also reminds us that there are many people behind every student who enrolls at SIU. They, too, are an extension of our Saluki family, and we welcome their engagement in our campus.

Meeting SIU’s 2018 Family of the Weekend: Student Anuj Pawar (right) and his mother, Geetanjali Maru.

Family of the Weekend

I had the pleasure of meeting Anuj Pawar, and his mother, Geetanjali Maru, when they were on campus last Saturday for Family Weekend. As the 2018 Family of the Weekend, they received complementary football tickets, meals and more for the honor.

Anju is a freshman zoology/pre-veterinary major from Mundelein, Illinois, who says he already feels at home at SIU. He got engaged right away as a member of the Marching Salukis and SIU’s Epsilon Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national professional musical fraternity.

His mother agrees that SIU is the right place for her son, praising the “campus ambiance” and crediting the engaging nature of students and faculty for his decision to attend.

Extending the family theme, Anuj invited his roommate, freshman plant biology major Derek Hartmann, and Derek’s parents as his guests for the weekend.

Nurturing the Atmosphere

SIU’s helpful, supportive family atmosphere is one of our trademarks. As we further nurture it by engaging and serving our students in the fulfillment our academic mission, word will spread. And as students and families connect with us, we will continue to build loyal alumni and friends who will remain committed to our future.

The definition of family is what we choose to make of it. At SIU, it includes everyone who has benefitted from what we do and has a stake in our future. Thanks to all who make sure make sure we continue to provide a welcoming environment to all members of our extended Saluki family.

Saluki success

Everywhere I turn, I am hearing great stories about Salukis doing amazing things. Fostering student success is at the core of our mission, and our many student achievements demonstrate that we are achieving that goal.

Here are some recent examples.

Helping prevent a global food crisis

Student in a laboratory
Lindsey McKinzie working in a laboratory at SIU.

With the global demand for food higher than ever, Lindsey McKinzie knows that farmers don’t have time to struggle with plant diseases and crop failures. That’s why she is hard at work using drones to conduct cutting-edge research on plant diseases.

McKinzie, a first-year graduate student in plant, soil and agricultural systems, received her drone pilot license last year and is now set on making life easier for farmers. Working with SIU faculty members, she is using drones to fly over row crop plots and evaluate the rate of diseases in the plants.

While drones in agriculture are becoming more popular, this study is unique in its purpose and design. The Illinois Farm Bureau recently conducted a video recording of McKinzie and her work that will be aired at its annual meeting in December.

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker

Kelechi Agwuncha
Kelechi Agwuncha

Kelechi Agwuncha earned national recognition for a film she created as a class assignment.

Her film, “Super Predator: Preludes of the Black Fish,” was one of 25 independent short films featured in the 2018 PBS Online Film Festival. It was also a recent finalist in the Toronto International Film Festival’s TIFFXInstagram Short Film Festival.

The film, which was initially inspired by a photograph, explores prejudice in society.

Fishing revolutionized thanks to Saluki innovation

When Cain Hassim, an industrial design junior, first heard about the opportunity to design a product that would transform basic fishing practices, he was ready to jump in. Working with an idea from a local community member, Hassim experimented with 3D printing, metal casting and vacuum forming to perfect a light-up fishing line strike indicator.

The small device works rather simply. First, you strap the bite lite onto the rod, right under the first guide. After casting the line, you place the cast line in between the clamps. At this point, all you have to do is wait for the device to light up, and you will know you’ve got a fish.

Constantly striving for diversity and inclusion

Cynthia Sims and Eboni Moore
Cynthia Sims and Eboni Moore

Eboni Moore, a senior elementary education major, and recipient of the inaugural Dr. Cy

nthia Howard Sims Diversity and Inclusion Award, advocates for equality and social justice on campus and everywhere she goes.

Last summer, she taught math and reading to disadvantaged youth through the Memphis Teacher Residency Summer Internship program, and she’s currently completing her student teaching at Carbondale’s Lewis School. She plans to graduate in December.

Athletes of a higher caliber

Hanna Netisingha playing golf
Hanna Netisingha

Hanna Netisingha earned national recognition as a 2018 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. She was one of just 20 female semi-finalists from across the country, selected from about 1,000 nominated athletes.

She graduated magna cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, earning a 4.0 GPA while serving as co-captain of the women’s golf team and twice earning honors as MVC player of the week her senior season.

She was also chosen to attend the University of Oxford, where she participated in a 1:1 fellow tutorial, receiving a top mark for “Genetic Mutations within Animals” and she donated numerous hours of community service to Toys for Tots, the Women’s Crisis Center and St. Francis Animal Hospital, also earning the MVC State Farm Good Neighbor Award. She is currently continuing her education in veterinary school.

Researching cleaner, more efficient energy

Nelson Fernandes
Nelson Fernandes

Nelson Fernandes is a new student who built an impressive research portfolio in high school. and earned the university’s first Energy Boost Scholarship for energy engineering to attend SIU.

He earned a gold award at state science fair competitions for two of his projects and was the Top Student in Research at Niles North High School for his class. As a sophomore, Fernandes was also a founding member of RISE, a STEM program for underrepresented middle school students.

During Nelson’s senior year of high school, he worked with SIU’s mechanical engineering faculty member Kanchan Mondal on a project to remove oxygen from carbon dioxide to reduce pollution while creating an alternative fuel source.