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Millikin University undergrads were commended for their research efforts at the 2014 Sigma Zeta National Convention held March 27-29 at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. A national undergraduate honor society, Sigma Zeta, encourages and fosters scholarly activity and recognizes academic scholarship in the natural and computer sciences and mathematics.

The purpose of the convention was to allow students from a variety of institutions an outlet to exchange research and ideas.

Lindsey Baxter, a senior biology major from Rockton, Ill., received the Sigma Zeta Award for Best Overall Oral Presentation. Baxter presented her research on hollow gold nanoparticle-liposome-cantharidin composites and their effects on human breast cancer cells. Lindsey's results showed that canthardin solutions with concentrations between 1 and 100 micromolars killed three different breast cancer cell lines effectively, but cantharidin trapped in liposomes did not cause significant cell apoptosis.

"This was my first research oral presentation and I was thankful to have been able to give it in such a welcoming and friendly environment," said Baxter. "Winning the award for Best Oral Presentation was extremely exciting and was a wonderful surprise. The recognition has given me added confidence to present my research to audiences at future events."

Chelsea Hadsall, a senior applied mathematics major from Macomb, Ill., earned a 2014 Sigma Zeta Research Award for her research on the synthesis and analysis of high nitrogen content organic compounds that could be used to replace the black powder traditionally used in fireworks. Hadsall's results showed that known para-disubstituted tetrazines containing more nitrogen than carbon could be viable black powder replacements.

"The students that participated in the Sigma Zeta National Convention presented excellent examples of the Performance Learning experience that takes place in the sciences at Millikin University," said Dr. Paris Barnes, Millikin associate professor of chemistry. "All four works were praised by professors from other institutions who reviewed them."

Brian Kane, a senior chemistry major from Chatham, Ill., presented his work on the thermal and electrolytic stability of hollow gold nanoshells. Brian's research showed that hollow gold nanoshells were prone to melting at human physiological temperature within one day. Kane also showed the series of color changes associated with the collapse of the hollow gold nanoshells over a 26-hour period.

Ashley Flores, a junior chemistry major from Round Lake, Ill., gave a poster presentation outlining her collaborative work on octahedral tilting distortions in tellurium double perovskites. Flores, along with additional Millikin students, attempted to synthesize approximately 30 different compounds containing tellurium. Flores' presentation compared the crystal chemistry of six different compounds.

"Sigma Zeta was the first time that I ever presented my research," said Flores. "I realized how much I truly knew about my subject and I was glad that I was able to present. The convention was a great experience and I hope to continue to present my research in the future."

Dr. Barnes added, "Ashley, Brian, Chelsea, and Lindsey did excellent jobs communicating with other scientists about their research at the convention. Their engagement in Performance Learning is another example of the great things our students do at Millikin University."

For further information regarding Sigma Zeta and the 2014 National Convention, visit sigmazeta.org.
Millikin University's Percussion Ensemble will present its annual Masterworks Concert on Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Millikin's campus. The performance is free and open to the public.

The Percussion Ensemble's Masterworks Concert will showcase the depth and breadth of contemporary chamber music through a program featuring historically significant works for percussion. The Percussion Ensemble will premiere a new work by Avner Dorman entitled, "Consumed," a tour de force for keyboard percussion instruments.

Avner Dorman has quickly risen to become one of the leading composers of his generation. His unique approach to rhythm and timbre has attracted some of the world's most notable conductors including Zubin Mehta, Christoph Eschenbach, Riccardo Chailly, and David Robertson.

Conductors bring Dorman's music to international audiences with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony and many others. Dorman's works explore a diverse range of genre and stylistic parameters, including works for dance and film.

Millikin's Percussion Ensembles are under the direction of Brian Justison, Millikin professor of music.

Millikin University's percussion studio and ensembles represent one of the finest undergraduate programs of its kind. Through a diverse selection of degree programs and course offerings, they are committed to providing students with the facilities and training necessary to achieve success in the professional world. Percussion studies at Millikin are designed to develop the whole musician – artistically, intellectually, and technically through the integration of theory and practice. The goal is to develop the highest possible level of musicianship and an appropriate proficiency in performance, teaching, technology, or program administration depending on the curriculum of study chosen by the student.

For more information on Millikin's performing ensembles, visit millikin.edu/music.

For more information on Kirkland Fine Arts Center, please visit kirklandfinearts.com. Events at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the Midwest Arts Council.

Millikin University undergrads took top awards at the 2014 Information Systems Project and Case Competition held April 4-6 at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Five Millikin Information Systems students competed against nine other institutions for the best real-world Information Systems (IS) project, project presentation, and best IS case analysis. Millikin received First Place for Best Project and Best Project Presentation, and Second Place in the Overall Team category.

"This is a great example of Performance Learning where students not only build real-world solutions for external clients, but they are also evaluated by the professional community," said RJ Podeschi, Millikin assistant professor of information systems. "I'm extremely proud of the performance and accomplishments of this team as well as the seven other students who had a significant impact in building this project."

The Millikin students presented their client project from last semester's Database Development course. As part of the course, the students delivered a working database application for the Decatur-based law firm Bolen, Robinson, and Ellis to track debt collections. The students were evaluated by a panel of four judges consisting of Information Technology (IT) professionals or IT consultants.

"It was a fantastic experience as a whole and just being able to present something that we developed and being recognized for it was wonderful," said Boone McIntosh, a junior information systems major from Fenton, Mo. "It is also reassuring to know that things we are doing in the Tabor School of Business are on par or better with what other schools are doing."

The panel of judges commended the Millikin team for their ability to learn a business completely foreign to them while building a technical solution that met real business needs. The judges also commented that the Millikin team excelled with their presentation skills and teamwork, and said that they would hire members from the Millikin team without hesitation.

"The competition provided us a means to collaborate within our team and build off each other's strengths, while also relishing the opportunity to match our skills against students from much larger programs," said Jamie Rockhold, a senior accounting and information systems double major from Clinton, Ill. "It was a great experience to see our hard work pay off after spending months developing the Microsoft Access database for the client. We are proud of our end product and enjoyed sharing our process, finalized project, and lessons learned with the distinguished judges and our peers."

RJ Podeschi commended the students on their new technical skills. "The database application development course, where this project was born, incorporated not only technical fundamentals and skills, but also allowed students to connect their newly learned technical skills with their application in the business world. Seeing students connect those dots in a meaningful way is priceless."

The Information Systems Project and Case Competition serves as a venue for students to showcase projects that were completed earlier in their undergraduate careers as well as to utilize skills previously learned by solving a case study. Each project that is eligible must be student-driven and facilitated by a faculty that solved a real-world problem for a client. A client may be any individual, business, not-for-profit, club, association, or other organization.

"The competition team, in addition to the entire class, approached this project with a lot of determination," said Podeschi. "They spent many hours making sure the end product was perfect. The focus shifted from getting a good grade to meeting the needs of our client."

Other Millikin students who were part of the IS Competition team include Kishan Tailor, a senior information systems major from Forsyth, Ill., Brian Kane, a senior chemistry major and information systems minor from Chatham, Ill., and Matthew Schmitz, a senior information systems major from Pana, Ill.

Additional Millikin students from the course that helped build the database include Nick Builta, a senior accounting and information systems double major from Farmer City, Ill., Kristan Couri, a senior business management and information systems double major from Decatur, Ill., Sasha Roberts, a senior information systems major from Decatur, Ill., Faye Higbee, a senior information systems and accounting double major from Moweaqua, Ill., Kyle Davidson, a junior information systems major from Elburn, Ill., Justin Marshall, a December 2013 information systems and accounting graduate from Decatur, Ill., and Stardasha Brown, a senior information systems major from Berkeley, Mo.

Kishan Tailor added, "I learned a lot from the competition and our presentation. It gave me perspective to see what can be done in the vast field of information technology."
Millikin football team tackles community projects
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Millikin University today announced the selection of Dr. Jeffery P. Aper as Millikin University's provost. The appointment is effective July 1, 2014.

Dr. Aper is currently serving his 12th year as provost at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. During his tenure at Blackburn, Dr. Aper has had general oversight of academic, athletic, student life, and student-managed work programs. Additional areas of responsibility at Blackburn include institutional research, technology services, enrollment services, advising services, and retention initiatives. Dr. Aper also served as interim chief financial officer from 2007-2008.

"We are pleased to welcome Dr. Aper to Millikin to serve as Provost," said Millikin University President Dr. Patrick E. White. "Jeff Aper has long had a deep commitment to experiential learning, and he will be a great asset as we shape and articulate Millikin's Performance Learning to an ever wider audience. He brings to the opportunities and challenges Millikin faces at this time an engaging personality and an analytic mind as well as experience in assessment, budgeting, and leadership."

Prior to his work at Blackburn, Dr. Aper served as associate professor of education leadership and policy studies at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville from 1994 - 2002. There he taught graduate courses in higher education leadership, educational administration, and research methods. He also advised graduate students, including chairing master's thesis and doctoral committees. Dr. Aper also served as leader of the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Unit. As director of the University of Tennessee - Knoxville Graduate Center at UT-Chattanooga, he had overall responsibility for UT-Knoxville doctoral programs offered on the UT-Chattanooga campus.

"I'm very glad and excited at this opportunity to join Millikin University as Provost," said Dr. Aper. "Millikin has a proud history of high quality and innovative programs, and the long-standing commitment to Performance Learning adds extraordinary opportunities for student learning and development. I look forward to my work with President White and all of the members of the Millikin community in advancing the mission and purposes of the University in the years ahead."

Earlier in his career, Dr. Aper was assistant professor of educational administration and higher education at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale from 1990 – 1993. He taught graduate courses in higher education administration, educational administration, and research methods. Dr. Aper was also responsible for general oversight of the Organization and Administration Master's Program.

"Dr. Jeffery Aper is an excellent choice for Millikin's next Provost," said Dr. Deborah Slayton, dean of the College of Professional Studies, and Dr. Michael O'Conner, associate professor, Department of English, co-chairs of the Millikin University Provost Search Committee. "Jeff is astute in his analysis of data and has strong fiscal experience with oversight of diverse academic and non-academic areas. It is also apparent that Jeff has embraced our commitment to Performance Learning and clearly values the excellence of the academic enterprise at Millikin. We are excited to welcome him and his wife, Sandy, to campus and we look forward to the academic leadership that Dr. Aper will provide."

A 1978 graduate of Blackburn College, Dr. Aper received a Bachelor of Arts in social science. He earned a Master of Arts in environmental studies from the University of Illinois – Springfield in 1981, and a Ph.D. in educational research, evaluation, and policy studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., in 1989.

President White praised the work of the 12-member Provost Search Committee. "The Committee carefully reviewed over 60 applications. Then we conducted interviews with seven highly qualified semifinalists over two days in Chicago before bringing two finalists to campus for final interviews. The professionalism, wisdom, and commitment of the Committee directly shaped and led this successful search."

Millikin University is a private, comprehensive university with a diverse student population of approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students. A Millikin education features "Performance Learning," a unique learning approach offering students the chance to build the confidence to succeed before and after graduation. Millikin offers more than 50 majors in the College of Fine Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Professional Studies and Tabor School of Business, and is located on a 75-acre residential campus in Decatur, Ill. Last year, 99 percent of Millikin graduates gained employment or admission into professional/graduate school within six months of graduation. More information is available at millikin.edu.
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL