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Blog

Dan Tembras

Marketing Communications

STAYING COMPOSED

There are certain things you can expect as a music major earning your degree or as a music instructor at a regional campus—one of these things may not necessarily be performing at Carnegie Hall.

For IPFW Director of Instrumental Studies and Director of Bands Daniel Tembras and his students, this fantastic opportunity became a reality last March.

“That trip was something that I think ended up surpassing our expectations for what it would do for the students and the university,” Tembras says. “I hope to partake in those experiences again with our students in the near future.”

THE PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME

Tembras came to IPFW four years ago after completing a doctorate of musical arts at the University of Texas at Austin—where he heard about an opening in Fort Wayne. Seeing as his family was a hop, skip, and a jump away in Michigan, the opportunity looked pretty enticing.

“The department also showed incredible potential,” he says. “Just coming in here, the facilities are top-notch. Most universities do not have facilities of this caliber. The students here were incredibly welcoming and open-minded when I came to interview. The faculty was very supportive and IPFW is an IU Mission School, so everything that pertains to Indiana University pertains here, too, in regards to the quality and expectations.”

In the four years that Tembras has been a part of IPFW’s faculty, he’s seen the university grow by leaps and bounds—particularly in the student body.

“The students are wonderful,” he says. “They come from all different walks of life and we see a lot of students that come from families where they’re the first to go to college, and some who’ll come here because of the IU name. We have a lot of different areas where our students are drawn from and there’s a variety of majors we have here—music education, music performance, music in an outside field, music technology, and music therapy are just some of the degrees we offer.”

The idea of stepping outside the classroom for learning experiences originated two years ago when Tembras took a group of students to Chicago to see the Chicago Symphony perform live—the group partook in an architectural boat tour and went to explore the Art Institute of Chicago.

“To see the students’ faces and to notice the need for our students to actually see these things more regularly than they do and to be exposed to great culture was a big tell for me,” he says. “Fort Wayne is a wonderful city, but we don’t have the resources that New York City or Boston have in regards to the arts. That’s how the Carnegie Hall trip started.”

Last summer, Tembras received a call from the New York Wind Band Festival—the department’s ensembles were recommended to come and participate in the annual spring festival at Carnegie Hall. Tembras approached Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts John O’Connell in hopes that he would be onboard.

“He thought about it for maybe three hours and then gave me a call and said, ‘Let’s do this’,” he recalls. “He’s been incredibly supportive in that regard. Once that started, the ball started rolling. The students were onboard from the get-go, with the idea of going to New York City and performing at Carnegie Hall. We traveled to the Museum of Modern Art and to the Metropolitan Opera to watch a production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.”

The group was comprised of approximately 50 students, a student photographer (also from the College of Visual and Performing Arts), and Tembras.

“What we set forth music-wise was a program about New York,” he says. “We performed the Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein—figured that was a good starter. I’m sure a New York program has been done a million times before, but we had a couple of extra special touches.”

Tembras’ ensemble also collaborated with Billy Hunter, principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, to perform Herbert L. Clarke’s “Bride of the Waves,” a famous cornet solo.

STRIKING A CHORD

“One of our duties as musicians is to spread great art or artists who are a reflection of their society—that’s the hope that all our students leave here with,” Tembras explains. “The opportunity to engage our community is a really important factor and an important aspect of the students’ education. We try to let the community know what we’re doing, which we do through free concerts that are open to the public.”

In just the last year, they collaborated with the Penn High School wind ensemble from Mishawaka, Ind., and the Dekalb High School band.

“We want everyone to come to our concerts,” he says. “We want them to see the quality of musicians that we’re educating here and the types of students that IPFW has.”

All of the department’s students participate in smaller ensembles. Many of these ensembles are tasked with traveling around the community and performing at city functions, senior centers, or local high schools. They also serve multiple missions—everything from recruitment to the standard outreach and taking great art into the community.

“The benefits of IPFW for a potential student are numerous,” Tembras says. “First of all, starting from the IU degree that you receive here—in that aspect, everything up from your course numbers are all the same in Bloomington. We have the luxury of students being able to get two degrees from two of the greatest institutions in the nation simultaneously while they’re studying.

“I feel my job is to provide others with great experiences via my past experiences. When I’m in a classroom, I try to open the eyes of a lot of students, but I also try to play devil’s advocate quite often in our conversations. I challenge them on a regular basis because the activity of day-to-day existence is different than the activity of making art or making music—you have to put a lot more of yourself into those things.”

CONDUCTING CHANGE

For the third year, Tembras has been invited to conduct during the Mid Europe Festival, based in Schladming, Austria, where university and professional ensembles from all over the world gather to perform.

“The university has been incredibly helpful in supporting me in my endeavors to partake in this,” he says. “A number of our students are traveling for the first time with us who have auditioned and have been accepted to perform. Not only am I a conductor, but there are probably three or four other conductors that will be there—world-renowned conductors. I think I just got lucky and slipped in.”

Tembras’ ensembles aren’t only making an impact in festivals outside the state and country—they’re making an impact on Fort Wayne, too.

“I think our department is not only trying to become engrossed in the cultural life of the city, but I also think it’s expanding it,” he says. “One of our goals here—probably an indirect goal as musicians—is to try to enlighten the lives of as many people as we can.”


Department of Music

A degree in music can take your passion for performance to new heights. In the Department of Music, explore the scholarship of performance, teaching, music therapy, and music production. Jam with one of our many ensembles, bare your soul on the acoustically superb Auer Performance Hall stage, or delight your audience with your own masterpiece. We graduate performance artists, teachers, music therapists, audio technicians, and more. Our program includes guitar performance, music therapy, instrumental performance, piano performance, music education, vocal performance, and music technology. Learn more.


Yanfei Liu

Marketing Communications

TRANSFORMATIVE TECH

It’s like something out of science fiction.

Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Yanfei Liu is at the forefront of a new era in automatons with her research into robots that can adapt to their environment by literally changing their shape to respond to different needs.

These advances could completely change how we use and employ robots in everything from sports and entertainment to rescue missions and crisis scenarios.

Robots in Disguise

Liu builds and researches robots—all kinds of robots.

Her research focuses specifically on two types: mobile robots, which use different physical methods to traverse and react to different types of terrain, and modular robots, which have changeable and reconfigurable structures. Liu is then able to test how different robotic builds respond to different environments and needs.

“In different scenarios, these robots can be reconfigured into different shapes,” Liu explains. “It could resemble a snake at first, but it could also use wheels.”

One of Liu’s current projects is a modular robot equipped with a sensor, used to perceive and adapt to its surroundings. Based on the intelligence it gathers, the robot can automatically change into different configurations.

Modular robots could have a dramatic impact in crisis situations like rescue missions.

“If the robot has to go through a tube and enter an open space, a typical wheeled robot would just be too big to fit. But you can break them and put them in a long, worm-like configuration to get through the tunnel, and then change it into a regular wheeled robot once they’re on the other side. They can move faster and get the job done easier.”

Liu is interested in finding ways to improve robotic mobility while boosting the quality of their interactions with their human counterparts—but she and her team of student researchers don’t quite stop there.

“One of the projects we’ve done was to try to develop a robotics pet for dogs, so they could have interactive toys to play with.”

Raised in the Lab

In addition to her research, Liu teaches engineering to students at every level in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science, ranging from introductory courses on the fundamentals of engineering to graduate-level courses in robotics.

She’s currently developing tech electives for seniors in the engineering program to learn more about robotics and automation.

Involving students, both graduate-level and undergraduate-level, in her research is important to Liu, because it’s all about connections—especially when you spend so much of your time poring over circuit boards in a lab.

“Students can apply to different projects, and a coordinator will put them in the right project for their background and interests,” Liu says.

This kind of hands-on experiential learning often leads to networking opportunities for students with regional and national industry partners, turning their work in the IPFW labs into real prospects for a career after graduation.

Closing the Loop

One of Liu’s favorite things about teaching at IPFW is her ability to connect with students.

“We have a small student body,” she says. “They have a close relationship with their professors. Most of the courses that we offer at the junior level and above have 15 students. You actually know them well enough to guide them through the important steps in their studies, and even their professional career.”

Because Liu and other professors have opportunities to get to know students so well, she is able to recommend them for experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom.

“Hiring companies usually will come to us if they have a project in mind,” she explains. “They want to have a group of senior students work on it, because it’s beneficial to us and to them. The company doesn’t have to hire professional engineers, which costs a lot of money, and our students get real industrial experience.”

Many of Liu’s students land internships in local industries, beginning in their sophomore or junior year. The projects they work on during their internships will also typically count toward their coursework.

Liu’s students have found internship and career opportunities with industry leaders like Franklin Electric, Regal-Beloit, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Exelis.

RoboCup

Among their many accomplishments, Liu and her students had an opportunity to compete in the RoboCup Project.

RoboCup is an organization that works to stimulate interest in robotics and artificial intelligence by staging competitions between soccer-playing robots.

“We worked together to build a team of robots to play in the RoboCup competition,” Liu recalls. “We spent three years developing robots capable of competing.”

“Our role is to provide the hardware aspect, like sensors,” she explains. “If they’re building a robot that doesn’t have any sensors, there’s no way they can give it artificial intelligence. The robot would be blind—you’re trying to have him go over unknown places without sensing any information. He wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Liu’s background in modular robotics capable of perceiving and adapting to their environment played a critical role in developing robots that were able to bend it like Beckham.


PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: DEPARTMENT OF ENGINEERING

Transform your future. The Department of Engineering finds new ways to solve everyday problems and offers you opportunities to learn hands-on with the latest advancements in design and industry. We graduate builders, designers, leaders, and more. Our programs include civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Learn more.


Sue Minke

Marketing Communications

ON THE JOB

When students set out to find a co-op or internship opportunity, sometimes the circumstances don’t add up—which can be discouraging to the student and leave a gap in their educational track. 

Continuing lecturer for the IPFW Department of Accounting and Finance Sue Minke does what she can—which is a lot—to help students build the bridge to the opportunities they seek through her classroom experience and affiliation with IPFW’s Office of Academic Internships, Cooperative Education, and Service Learning (OACS). 

“We work really hard to prepare our students,” Minke says. “I think that’s one of the great things our department has to offer—we have a small staff, but we have a strong connection to our students. We see our students frequently during office hours and we’re all there trying to encourage them to look for opportunities. We have a very working-based student population who are financing their own education—these opportunities to get that work and those dollars in a field that relates to what they’re doing is really helpful to them.”

PARTNERSHIP FORMATION

After Minke graduated from college, she started out on the corporate side of her field—though teaching had always been in the back of her mind. After exploring roles in several major corporations, she started teaching part-time in a few different locations. This transition ultimately led her to Fort Wayne and then to a full-time position at IPFW.

“I’ve been here for about 15 years,” Minke says. “Every class I teach every day is different, even if it’s the same subject matter across semesters. The students have changed; the technology has changed… The world has changed. My own work is always changing because of that. It’s hard to believe it when people ask me how I teach the same class all the time because it’s never the same. Personally, my goals are always to look at those new things and to get those continuing education credits.”

Minke is also responsible for assisting accounting and finance majors in finding co-op jobs and internships—in just this past spring, 27 of her students were able to get co-op positions.

“We have a fabulous student body,” she says. “IPFW is a gem in this part of the state, and I am amazed all the time at how many people need to know more about it. I’m continually trying to get them to think ahead of where they are today and to be prepared—accounting was once the ‘bean counter’ role and that’s not the way it is anymore. We have fantastic students—they come from all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of experiences, all kinds of ages. They work at different jobs. They bring so much to each class, but they’re here to find a path that works for them. They’re different every time and that’s what makes teaching so fun.”

ACCOUNTANTS’ REPORT

Minke mentions that mentoring students toward their future careers is one of the best parts of the job—her corporate experience allows her to see opportunities for her students that aren’t normally taught in the classroom. 

“At the beginning of every semester, I ask them for information about themselves to know what they’re working on in their lives, but I also ask them to write down what their dream is and what are they going to do about getting to that dream,” she says. “We talk about those halfway through the semester—it’s like checking to see where we are on that dream and how what they’re doing is going to connect them to where they really want to go.”

She’s often faced with students in other business majors who don’t want anything to do with accounting—in those cases, she tries to work with them and see how decisions get made in their field or personal life to see if she can approach the class material through their lens.

“I feel like my job is to dispel the myths of accounting,” Minke says. “People have this perception that accounting is dry and always the same and not useful, but many of my students aren’t even accounting majors. Accounting is relevant to everything a businessperson is going to do. I try to make it relevant, fun, and an exploration of the different sides of accounting that people just don’t think about.”

Minke’s approach includes looking at real-world companies and financial statements to view things from a decision-making standpoint. She asks her students how they would handle the transaction and what impact it will have on the financial statement in order to make the material connect for them.

“Accounting itself has been the same for hundreds of years, but how we communicate that information, how we prepare that information changes all the time,” she says. “The university is very aware of the new things that students need to have in order to stay current in the accounting and finance field. For many years, I think people have thought the role of accounting was to simply count the items. It’s so much more than that now—I think that surprises my students.” 

FUTURE VALUE

The Office of Academic Internships, Cooperative Education, and Service Learning (OACS) serves the faculty, students, and staff with scholarly and creative endeavors. OACS scouts out students with certain GPA levels and skills that employers are looking for—faculty members like Minke who work with OACS then have the students who qualify go to the office to register and look for open positions.

“My role in this—as the office handles all the logistics of the paperwork and so forth—is to be faculty advisor for the students,” she says. “I encourage students to get involved in the program and continue to encourage them while they’re waiting for that phone call for an interview. I visit the students once a semester during their employment time and that’s the best part of the whole experience for me because they get to show me things they’re working on.”

A lot of positive feedback rolls back in about the co-op and internship opportunities OACS is able to dole out. The students go to work every day like normal employees and employers have reported that they often forget the students are interns—that it feels more like they’re part of the team.

“It’s fun to watch them realize there are all these things that we can’t teach them in a classroom that they can learn with an employer,” Minke says. “They show me what they’re doing and I get to ask questions—they bring up spreadsheets and projects they’re working on, which often relate to my classes. Sometimes, I can then take some of the things they’re working on and bring those into my classroom so we can talk as a class about those projects and I can say, ‘See? I didn’t make any of this up. This is real stuff,’ which just makes it real for a lot of students.”

Minke keeps in contact with the employers that come back to continue their participation in OACS’ co-op and internship programs, and often tries to get them in to speak to her classes. She’s working on some projects with a few employers to enable some of the projects she gives her students in class to be based on real-world assignments. 

“We’ll change the names and numbers, but it’s a real assignment,” she says. “That connection is just really strong and I think it’s good for the students, good for the employers, and good for the university.” 

A high percentage of students who fill co-op or internship positions are then hired into the firm they work in—Minke ventures to guess in the ballpark of 70% or even higher.

“We have really seen an increase in demand in the last several years,” she says. “It’s always been a strong program for us. A few years ago when the economy wasn’t as strong, we had a decrease in the number of students working, but that was just one little decrease—it’s growing every semester and I think the reputation is strong. Fort Wayne is a small/big financial community, and the accounting firms and the other employers who know each other share the information about our program and its strength. We have a lot of connections.”


Department of Accounting and Finance

A program with as much variety as the industries it applies to? Money talks. Delve into the fast-paced world of accounting, a major that will open doors to just about any industry that interests you. Take advantage of what Career Services has to offer specifically to accounting students, get involved in a co-op program to practice your skills, or join the Accounting or Finance Societies to prepare for professional roles in the business world. We graduate financial managers, securities dealers, bankers, and more. Our program includes accounting, bank management, finance, business studies, and Post-Baccalaureate (PBA). Learn more.


Christopher Ganz

Marketing Communications

MAKING AN IMPRESSION

In the art world there are a few ways to experience relief. One of these is by observing someone working with the process of relief printing—when an artist carves a design into a block and inks the raised sections to stamp on a surface and create an image.

IPFW Associate Professor of Fine Arts Christopher Ganz is the expert on campus when it comes to this method of printmaking and makes enduring efforts to pass on an art form that dates back over a thousand years.

“I think the visual perception that I teach in all my classes makes the world a little bit more interesting,” Ganz says. “When I was a student and started learning all this, it made me really excited to learn more because I found that the more I looked around and tried to understand what I was looking at, the more interesting it became to me.”

LAYING THE MATRIX

Ganz went to the University of Missouri Columbia for his undergraduate schooling and originally intended to use his art requirement for a metalsmithing course. However, the metals professor was on sabbatical and printmaking was the only open class that met the requirement standards.

“I was also a work study student in the art building,” he shares. “I was just a janitor for the most part. I would go into the print shop and clean up and I didn’t even know what was going on. Then I eventually took a class in it and got it right away. Drawing was my main media—I love to draw—and when I went into printmaking, I realized it was basically drawing. It was a natural fit.”

He says he fell in love with the printmaking process as a whole—including the parts that were normally out of his control.

“I’d get results that were unexpected and it expanded my visions of how to create a piece of art,” Ganz says. “I didn’t come into things with preconceptions like I had before and I thought that was really important. The fact that I could make multiples and there were tests along the way also liberated me to take more risks making art, which is something I encourage in my students. That’s why I think it’s important for them to take printmaking, regardless of what type of artist they want to be.”

Since 2002, Ganz has been using his artistic skillset to teach others—all because he happened to see an ad for the position in the Indiana University printmaking studio in Bloomington, where he attended graduate school.

“I was teaching part time after I graduated,” he explains. “I didn’t plan on staying in Indiana necessarily, but I’m glad I found out about the position. I went out for an interview at a national conference for the College Art Association and met the chair and another professor who would eventually be my colleague. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

Part of what attracted Ganz to IPFW was the faculty—those he met at the conference were just the beginning of a professional and supportive network of individuals. It was also Ganz’s opportunity to create a space—he was able to take charge of his own printmaking facility.

I could tell everyone here was really passionate about teaching as well as being an artist.

“I could tell everyone here was really passionate about teaching as well as being an artist,” he says. “I felt that environment was just really positive. I enjoy how the students here come from all different types of backgrounds—because of my own personal background, I felt that I could relate to them well.”

MEET THE PRESS

Ganz teaches all levels of printmaking from beginning to advanced—he also teaches drawing, including foundations and figure drawing classes. In terms of printmaking, he primarily teaches etching, woodcut and relief, and monotype and lithography—recently he has been incorporating digital and photographic methods into his curriculum as well.

“Printmaking is really about graphic design,” he explains. “It has a lot to do with just blacks and whites, positives and negatives. One of the design teachers a few years ago said that printmaking was one of the best graphic design courses there is. I do have quite a few graphic designers that are encouraged to take my classes. For anyone who wants to do anything visual, printmaking’s going to really help with that sense of design, pattern, process, and order.”

Ganz shows his work annually at a national printmaking show situated in the Art Link Gallery in downtown Fort Wayne, which is a great opportunity for students to see work from artists all over the country.

“Generally, I give a talk before the opening and explain printmaking techniques to the students,” he says. “One thing I like to do as well is bring in visiting artists from other colleges or countries to show students how international the printmaking field is, because it goes on in every country and every nook and cranny of the world.”

Ganz’s art students come from all walks of life, but their connective factor is their curiosity about art and the art world. He says a lot of them come into the program not knowing too much about art, and then—once the gears start turning, so to speak—they really take off and do outstanding things.

“I’ve had some students go on to be really successful and open up their own businesses and go into graduate programs,” he says. “It’s exciting when that happens. I’ve also found that this school allows a real chance to build relationships with students—you’re with them a lot. Over the course of four or five years, you get to see a lot, see them grow and change, and that’s what I really enjoy—seeing the beginning and the end of at least their academic career here. They go on and do other things, obviously, but it’s exciting to have that chance to work so closely with them. I don’t think that’s typical of most universities.”

Ganz takes his students to national printmaking conferences so they can mingle with artists from all over the world—he also leads the study abroad trip to Italy, where he teaches drawing.

“Just for them to go and to see the greatest artwork ever made and to be in the presence of it and to realize that a whole culture of civilization is built around its art— that’s something that I think is very important in order to see how powerful art can be,” he says.

THE ARTIST’S PROOF

As he’s passing on what he knows to his students, Ganz remains aware that these students have a direct impact on the community at large.

“They’re the future of the community and the present, too,” he says. “They’re going to be the leaders of Fort Wayne. There’s a lot going on right now and I think students are more interested in making changes where they see changes that need to be made. They feel like the arts scene needs improvement and can get better. They want to be a part of it. They feel empowered now, more than I’ve ever seen, to take charge and feel like this is our town and our community. It’s important to support that.

“I also feel fortunate to be a part of that. It’s exciting to see where these students go. I can tell usually early on which students are going to be the ones who are going to really make a difference. There are more and more of them, and it feeds off of itself. The more that you can support the arts at IPFW, the more it’s going to blossom in Fort Wayne.”

Ganz has watched IPFW and his department grow in the years he’s been teaching at the university and believes that he and his colleagues have a better vision on how to make students become better artists because of that.

“Every year we get more and more of them out in the world doing amazing things,” he says. “I think I’m the proudest of the students and what they have done and how we’ve helped them to get to where they’re going. We’re a small department. We definitely have finite resources, but we do a lot with what we have. I’m excited about where things are headed.”

Ganz has experienced a lot of support from the department, college, and university levels—last summer he was able to spend two months in Venice, Italy, at a printmaking studio thanks to a summer research grant from the university. He was also awarded travel grants to go to conferences for smaller visiting artists, where he can travel and take his artwork with him. Grants from both the department and the university have been large supporting factors for his creative endeavor.

“I feel like we’re really lucky here,” he says. “I can’t say that I’ve ever been denied doing something just because someone didn’t feel it was worth it or there weren’t funds for it on campus. The dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts—John O’Connell—has been really supportive of faculty and their research, and so has the chair of our department, John Hrehov. Really, from Vice Chancellor Carl Drummond on down, the university been really supportive of faculty research and projects, and I just think there’s a lot of interest in the art program across campus.”

As an artist, Ganz wants to keep creating new work and developing his skills—as part of that, he hopes to continue his relationship with the Anne Nathan Gallery in Chicago, where he’s shown his work for the past five years. He would eventually like to show internationally and follow through with his plans to do a visiting artists residency in Venice again next year for his sabbatical.


PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: DEPARTMENT OF FINE ARTS

What shape does your art take? The Department of Fine Arts can help you hone your craft in modern studio spaces and connect your work with major regional galleries and organizations. We graduate painters, sculptors, printmakers, and more. Our program includes ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking, metalsmithing, and sculpture. Learn more.


Zafar Nazarov

Marketing Communications

HAVE SMARTS, WILL TRAVEL

Knowledge is known to take you places—and for one professor and his students, that phrase takes a turn to the literal.

Meet IPFW Assistant Professor of Economics Zafar Nazarov, who recently took a group of students to Cuba in order to get a firsthand look at the Central American country’s economy and how it might be changing now that their relations with the United States are also in the process of changing.

“Any theory can be hard to swallow,” Nazarov says, “but if you can make it more applied and reflect the importance of the theory on the individuals who are learning it, while understanding the constraints they’re facing, then you’re able to combine those problems with the theories you’re teaching. Then the students will be more engaged in the learning process.”

INSTITUTIONAL WORK

After receiving his doctorate from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Nazarov spent two years in a fellowship and then took a job at the disability institute in Cornell University. After three years of research, Nazarov turned his attention to teaching.

“I had the opportunity to teach at Cornell and then I learned about an open position at IPFW,” he says. “I applied and, in the end, I was lucky to be chosen and invited to this institution. I’ve found it to be an interesting experience.”

That was three years ago—Nazarov just finished up his sixth semester teaching everything from micro- and macroeconomics to public finance and health economics at IPFW. He also had the recent opportunity to take a class on a trip to Cuba.

“I agreed because Cuba is on the verge of transitioning from one system to another and I grew up in the Soviet Union, which had a similar system in the past as Cuba does today,” he explains. “I had a good understanding about Cuba’s initial position and, using the experience of other Soviet Union republics, I had this understanding where Cuba might go. It might end up in state capitalism, market capitalism, or something else—so I tried to teach students that this is how they start and that we could try to project where they will end, and what will change the path they’re on.”

The trip to Cuba allowed Nazarov’s students to understand the differences between institutions and systems they’re living in and the system just 90 miles from the U.S. coast—they interacted with Cuban residents and tried to understand the constraints they’re facing based on the differences in their country’s system.

“That’s a simulation type of approach,” Nazarov says, “while at the same time, engaging them in learning some theoretical aspect. I was very pleased with the trip. It was very educational and showed me a good example that happiness is not only about the formation of capital.”

After visiting three different regions of Cuba, he and his students were both impacted by both the system differences and the enduring happiness of the people who—despite their economic constraints—stayed positive. Nazarov mentions that the students all took turns in noticing and pointing out, “They look very happy.” 

Seeing the class material in a real-life setting made their studies come alive for the students, who tend to lean more toward the straightforward approach to education.

“The IPFW student body is different from the other institutions,” he says. “I was a graduate student at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and I had a little bit of teaching experience at Cornell—I see that the students at IPFW are more practical and looking for more practical answers. That makes it fun sometimes for a teacher—challenging, but fun.”


THE LEARNING EFFECT

“My main intellectual contribution is in the area of health economics and labor economics where the two intersect,” Nazarov explains. “I am very interested in topics such as disability and factors associated with the increase of participation in disability programs in the United States. I also have papers on hot topics such as childhood obesity.”

One of the classes Nazarov teaches is health economics, to which he takes a different approach than most instructors.

“When I was a student, I took a lot of health economics courses, but they were mostly theoretical,” he recalls. “The students lost interest at some point because if you only discuss theoretical aspects without backing your implications with empirical findings, most students have to be very motivated to continue and grasp all the theories from different models. What I’ve done differently in my class is I’ve introduced the empirical part.

I ask students to make their hands dirty with the data.

“I ask students to make their hands dirty with the data. I provide them with representative samples of Americans such as the health retirement survey, which gives them information about the random sample of Americans over the age of 50. I also give them the current population survey, which consists of some health-related questions. I ask them to empirically investigate these things using whatever theoretical relationship we’re studying at the time to see whether or not there’s an empirical basis for the theoretical implications.”

Nazarov normally has 10-15 students per class—sometimes as many as 20, as is the case with his health economics class this past semester. He’s constantly changing the structure of the class to meet student demand.

“If you see some students are actually taking that class because of their target—if they’re looking to apply for medical schools, for example, I add topics like why people want to be doctors or what the return investment is on being a doctor,” he says. “Then after the class, the students can ask themselves if they still want to take this career path based on what they studied.”

One aspect of teaching at IPFW that is important to Nazarov is to make the students see the value in the effort and time they’re spending in his class. He stays mindful of his students having lives outside his classroom and does his best to make what can sometimes be a struggle through higher education worth it to them.

“You try to engage them and show them the benefits of the education they’re getting,” he says. “Like, ‘Yes, this is theory.’ ‘Yes, it’s a bit flat in the book, but let me pitch this a different way for you and then maybe you’ll see the importance of it in your daily life.’ That’s what I’m always trying to do—bring the theory. They (theories) become interesting depending on the teacher’s ability to pitch them to the students.”

KNOWLEDGE SPILLOVER

Regardless of whether something is “only a theory” or is particular to Cuba’s economic system, the knowledge base has a definite impact on society at large and shapes communities around us—even our own.

“My kids are enrolled in sports, for example,” Nazarov says. “You meet with the parents, you socialize with them, and you discuss with them news about currency, tuition, the healthcare market, and you learn that people don’t really have a good understanding about the system. You can shape and then answer their questions. With neighbors, you engage in similar intellectual discussions. It would be good to reduce the gap between what is happening in reality and what people know. Then we could reduce the gap between getting informed about healthcare and making a decision.”

Locally, Nazarov receives a number of calls from different firms—including one conversation with a company that sells software for hospitals that had questions about an internal rate of return on their product. He’s also recently talked to a regional orthopedics company about an ongoing evaluation of their company’s system. Moving forward, Nazarov is planning to continue research, teaching, and his projects—and hopes there may be a similar class trip opportunity in the future.

I’m still learning.

“I’m proud of these past seven years—I’m still learning,” he says. “Every time I get acceptance from a peer review journal it feels like a productivity boost. At the same time, from a teaching perspective after your first two or three semesters, you get emails from students saying, ‘Thank you very much. I do remember how you taught us that concept and it turns out that it’s very useful.’ It turns out that students do see the importance of certain concepts through personal experience later on that they started in school. It makes you want to work harder in order to ultimately give them more.”


Department of Economics

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Jay Jackson

Marketing Communications

MIND OVER MATTER

In a world seemingly fueled by social prejudice and knee-jerk reactions, it’s reasonable to start asking why we act the way we do.

IPFW Professor of Psychology Jay Jackson has been asking this question for a long time—in relation to both global human-driven events and our day-to-day interactions.

“The work that I do and what others do in psychology is called basic research or theoretical research,” Jackson says. “What we’re doing is searching for new knowledge. Our job is to discover things that no one has ever discovered before. It’s testing abstract, theoretical principles and asking how different abstract constructs relate to one another.”

A CASE STUDY

Originally from Indianapolis, Jackson grew up in what’s now a suburbia—when he lived there, the area was relatively rural.

He started out at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) as an undergraduate. Jackson was initially a business major until he discovered that he wasn’t particularly interested in the field—what he really loved were his psychology classes.

“I switched majors to psychology after that,” Jackson says. “I also loved anthropology. I love learning about new cultures and the whole field of anthropology is still very exciting to me—so I minored in anthropology.”

Those experiences turned out to be crucial.

Jackson actually surprised himself during college—he hadn’t thought he would be very skilled in the academic world because he hadn’t been the best student in high school. That all changed for him in his new university environment, so much so that he continued on to graduate school.

“The Osgood Laboratory for Cross-Cultural Research was being run by Dr. Oliver Tzeng at that time and that was a really important experience for me,” he says. “I also got experience working on a volunteer basis in a psychiatric hospital because, at one point, I thought maybe I wanted to go into the clinical side of things. Those experiences turned out to be crucial because I ended up loving the lab work and not so much the clinical work.”

Jackson earned a master’s degree at IUPUI in applied social psychology with a focus on interethnic relationships, child neglect and abuse issues, and a few other related topics. He went on to Purdue West Lafayette to get his doctorate in experimental social psychology and then landed his first job in the field in Glenville, W. Va., where he primarily taught college classes. He also met his future wife there.

“She’s a developmental psychologist,” he shares. “We were the only two psychologists on campus, so we ended up striking up some conversations and one thing led to another—we ended up getting married. We ended up going to Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for a year after that.”

Ultimately, the couple wanted to get back to the Midwest to be situated closer to their families. Jackson applied for and received a position at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, as did his wife a year after. Jackson has now been at IPFW for 18 years.

“It’s been a real blessing and a great community to live in. It’s a great university,” he says. “I’ve seen it grow quite a bit along with our family—we have a couple of kids now. It’s just been really good.”

 POSSIBLE SELVES

“In psychology, there are two general domains,” Jackson says. “One is the basic theoretical domain and the other one is the applied domain.”

By training, Jackson is a social psychologist. His area of expertise is understanding how people behave, think, and react emotionally to social situations—primarily involving other people.

“I teach a variety of classes,” he says. “I teach the history of psychology. I teach introductory methods in personality in social psychology. I conduct research in a variety of areas, but I’m primarily interested in intergroup relations. That’s how people from different groups perceive each other, behave towards each other, and have thoughts about each other.”

One branch of Jackson’s research touches on intergroup bias, which is how group memberships influence our perceptions of other people and actions towards them. Intergroup contact theory indicates that as two people from two different groups (racial, religious, or otherwise) meet and get to know each other better in a positive way, the probability increases that their attitudes toward the group each person represents will be more favorable than they were before. 

Our job is to discover things that no one has ever discovered before.

During Jackson’s doctorate years at Purdue he got a lot of experience conducting lab research on scenarios like these—including those that focused on group dynamics, intergroup perceptions, and social dilemmas.

“This has been well-established in literally hundreds of studies now,” he says. “There have been three meta analyses conducted on the contact hypothesis. What we’re doing in our lab is trying to identify some of the conditions and attributes people have that lead them to have favorable intergroup contact experiences. For example, we’re looking particularly closely at the variables of openness and agreeableness in new experiences. People are high on this trait and tend to be naturally curious. They have a great tolerance for ambiguity and they’re culturally interested in trying new things.”

ACTION POTENTIAL

The Department of Psychology’s program for students who are interested in research is always expanding the experiences students can gain from multiple labs and projects during their academic career. Jackson’s research assistants came from that program and show a great deal of motivation when the right research project comes along.

“I guide them through the research project,” he explains. “They usually develop a proposal and I review the proposal and give them feedback. We work together on developing the rationale—you have to have a good theoretical rationale before developing the stimulus materials. Then once the stimulus materials are developed and the rationale is set, we’re able to run some pilot tests. They are very involved and have the opportunity to present their research at the IPFW Research Symposium every year.”

The university has been consistently supportive of the department—either through travel funding for professional conference trips, funds for laboratory space, or from a number of other outlets the department needs to do their best work. Moving forward, Jackson hopes to continue this level of research and start getting more answers to their questions.

 “I am most proud of my students,” Jackson says. “It’s a joy to work with them—especially the students who have become my research assistants and whom I get to know so well. We have some of the most fantastic students you can imagine. They’re hardworking and motivated. They’re bright and they keep me on my toes because they ask so many good questions and are so enthusiastic about it. They’re a joy to work with, and I’m proud of the way they represent my lab at conferences and how they represent the department and the university.”


Department of Psychology

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Cheryl Duncan

Marketing Communications

X-RAY VISION

Assuming that radiology and its associated technologies are as transparent as the X-rays they produce is far from accurate.

IPFW Chair of Medical Imaging and Radiologic Sciences and Clinical Assistant Professor Cheryl Duncan teaches students about radiological physics and image acquisition for the program—and has been for 20 years.

“With the challenge of instilling in students the idea that radiation protection is their responsibility, I am faced with the challenge of showing them how these invisible concepts of X-ray photo energy and the interactions of X-ray photons matter,” Duncan says. “How those invisible ideas impact what we’re going to end up with on the image and how they’re going to impact the radiation that a patient or anyone else in the room will receive—my challenge is trying to make those concepts visible for the students.”

LOCATING THE CAUSE

Duncan began her teaching career two decades ago at Parkview Hospital. Parkview transitioned the program to IPFW in 2010 and she opted to follow suit.

“The program has changed in a lot of ways and hasn’t changed a lot of other ways,” she says. “We have a bit of a different focus here on our development of faculty. We have more resources available for that. We are able to connect throughout the state and across the nation. It’s brought some different opportunities for faculty, which brings with it different opportunities for the students.”

IPFW supports its radiology program in a number of ways, but its largest contribution has been the lab space, according to Duncan. The resources and support the university has contributed to nurturing the program has allowed it to grow over the last few years—so much so that it’s now in the process of transitioning from an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree.

This transition will allow the program to grow even more. It will expand the opportunities for our graduates.

“This transition will allow the program to grow even more,” Duncan says. “It will expand the opportunities for our graduates. We’re a growing field and we’re already sort of an overgrown associate degree. We have all this technology and all these advancements and changes in our field that we keep adding to the curriculum without taking anything out. It will really help our students to have a little more breathing room as they go through the program and it will also allow them the opportunity to explore some of the specialty areas in greater depth.

“It will open some doors for them, career-wise. If they want to move into management or go on to pursue a master’s degree, they will already have that baccalaureate degree completed. The degree transition is one of the things I’m most looking forward to because I’ll get to work with students on my content area and some projects related to it. I’m really looking forward to that opportunity.”

BENEATH THE SURFACE

Duncan’s courses focus on radiation physics involved with image production and evaluation and quality of the images produced. They also focus on X-ray production and X-ray interaction with scanned matter.

Duncan’s courses focus on radiation physics involved with image production and evaluation and quality of the images produced. They also focus on X-ray production and X-ray interaction with scanned matter.

“We’re preparing students for a career in medical imaging, specifically radiography—to be the individuals who take all the X-ray images,” she explains. “They could go into CT or MRI or other imaging modalities as well. Our students work with a lot of different clinical sites—many of them at Parkview, which we have a close affiliation with. They also do clinical rotations through St. Joe, Fort Wayne Orthopedics, and other local out-patient clinics.”

As soon as students start their clinical rotations they begin working alongside the technologists and performing procedures on patients. They’re taught these procedures in the lab on campus and—while they’re not actually taking X-rays yet—the students practice the positioning techniques, which they carry directly into their clinical work. Having the lab equipment and space on campus allows Duncan to bring the technology students will eventually be using in their careers into the classroom.

“While I’m lecturing, I can walk into the lab that’s connected to our classroom and show our students how scatter radiation actually impacts the room and how it will impact an image,” she says. “We have the technology to take images on phantoms in our room, process and look at the images, and then compare the radiation that was scattered and absorbed to the radiation that was transmitted.”

LOWERING THE OPACITY

Duncan believes that her students prefer a hands-on approach to the course material—which can be difficult to provide with content based mostly on the nonconcrete aspects of the science.

When I can walk into the classroom and pull that technology in as well as allow the students some hands-on experience, it really makes the difference.

“I think our field is very hands-on to begin with, but the content that I teach—again—is a little more abstract,” she says. “The physics of atomic structure and what’s happening with the photons and with X-rays is harder to grasp. When I can walk into the classroom and pull that technology in as well as allow the students some hands-on experience, it really makes the difference.”

Students come in at all different levels, according to Duncan, but the application process for the program is thorough—regardless of their starting point, students are prepared and motivated. The department looks at GPA, math and science grades, and pre-admission tests when sifting through applications. Duncan spends a sizable amount of time reviewing atomic structure and other basics so those concepts can then be applied to what students will learn about radiation.

“My focus is on safety and quality,” she says. “I want to make sure that when students graduate from our program—when they leave my classes—that they really understand the concepts they learn. However, I’m most proud of my students’ success. Our students graduate from the program and sit for a national registry exam. On that exam, our students score on average higher than the national average—that helps me to know that my methods of teaching are effective.”

Medical Imaging and Radiologic Sciences graduates are in high demand with area employers and across the nation. While most of the department’s graduates stay in the Fort Wayne area or within the region, the field opens a huge selection of doors for students.

“I think this program impacts the community in several ways,” Duncan says. “When our students are able to be in the clinical setting it keeps the technologists who are working with them and their departments on their toes. They have to answer questions that students are bringing them and they have to remember the concepts they learned in school. We have to keep learning as we practice.”


Department of Medical Imaging and Radiologic Sciences

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Steven Stevenson

Marketing Communications

FINDING SOLUTIONS

It’s not rocket science—it’s chemistry. Which is arguably even more complex.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Steven Stevenson breaks down lessons as well as he breaks down chemical bonds—he’s well-known around campus for including students in his research projects and for being a great professor, too.

“I’m a new molecule chaser,” Stevenson says. “We like to make new molecules, which have possible application areas like medical agents, pharmaceuticals, and MRI contrast agents. If you take the structure of some of these new molecules and put other metal atoms inside this cage, you can ultimately make photovoltaic devices out of these molecules. There are uses.”

COMPONENTS OF THE JOB

Stevenson was hired by IPFW in 2011 to complete three types of duties—teaching, research, and service.

“My research area is the production, separation, and purification of new molecule structures so that we can investigate, publish, and write up grant proposals based on the findings,” he says. “In doing that, we can take our students to conferences, mentor undergrad students, and help build their careers and their curriculum vitae—then those who want to get into graduate, medical, or pharmacy school can have undergraduate research to supplement their degrees.”

For the service aspect of the position, Stevenson does internal and external service—the internal comes at the university, Department of Chemistry, and the College of Arts and Sciences levels, and the external extends to proposals for granting foundations such as the National Science Foundation and reviewing to-be-published journal articles sent from editors in the field. All of this makes IPFW more visible to the field and community at large.

“Back in 2010 and 2011, I applied for many different kinds of jobs,” he says. “I applied at some large Ph.D. schools. I applied to some smaller, historical teaching institutions. I applied for a department head position at another school, so I had covered small schools and big schools. I had several possibilities when I traveled to IPFW. I came up to Fort Wayne—and I’d never been to Indiana. I could really see myself being here during the interview. IPFW really impressed me.

“The reason why I chose this place—as corny as it sounds—is because I thought that I could make a difference here.”

ON A MOLECULAR LEVEL

“At IPFW, given the wider array of work that we do, we don’t have the infrastructure and the instruments and the postdocs and the graduate students,” Stevenson explains. “I collaborate with other scientists for application development. What I do is make new molecules. With instruments in the lab—the mass spectrometer, this high-performance liquid chromatograph—we are able to find new molecules.

“There are a hundred different kinds, different sizes of these cages—some are small, some are large, some have one atom inside, some have four atoms, some of them have three… You have at least a hundred different kinds of compounds. You might see a new peak or recognize a new molecule there that hasn’t been reported yet. Then you really need to isolate it, prove what the structure is—which usually means getting about a milligram or two of material purified—and then send it to a collaborator to get an x-ray crystal structure, which is a three-dimensional arrangement of atoms, and you can prove that what you think you have really is.”

Half of Stevenson’s work is separation science and half is making the material, itself. The research focus is a large draw for undergraduate students in need of research opportunities, who may not have even considered that their research work during college would involve constructing and detecting new molecular particles—and his students are not the only ones who are impressed.

We’re known as a predominant teaching institution, which is a type the National Science Foundation likes to have doing research.

“I’ve been blessed with multiple National Science Foundation grants based on the work of these undergraduate research students and the publications that they do,” he says. “They like to fund different types of universities. We’re known as a predominant teaching institution, which is a type the National Science Foundation likes to have doing research. If you do a lot of research and you mentor undergraduate students and they go on to graduate school, there is value in that.”

BRILLIANCE IN NUMBERS

Stevenson’s student researchers are not just recruited from his classes—they literally just show up at his door from time to time.

“One of my better research students who worked in my lab for two years met one of my undergraduate researchers in class. She came up to the fourth floor and said, ‘Hey, I hear about some stuff that you’re doing—I want in. Do you have a spot for me?’ I was like, ‘Let’s talk about it.’ Sometimes they just come unsolicited to the doorstep.”

Now that he teaches predominantly freshmen, most of the students he meets are 18 or 19—this can be good for him and for them as well, as they can get three or four years of research and experience in their academic career at IPFW alone.

“Other people also have a degree, so to make yourself different, you can do research and have some publications and research opportunities in addition to that degree,” Stevenson explains. “That being said, I can pay students or students can do things as volunteers—or they can sign up for an undergraduate research class. Most of my students are volunteers and they’re willing to see the value of résumé building.”

Stevenson admits that his team building strategy is different than many of his colleagues—most faculty will specifically select students who are majoring in their field. Only one out of his five student researchers is a chemistry major—the other four come from the geology, psychology, nursing, and engineering departments.

“I have opportunities to provide research experience beyond just a department,” Stevenson explains. “I try to build my research group around humble, nice, and intelligent people. It doesn’t matter to me what their major is because I can train them and teach them, and—if they’re humble and nice—then they’re more amenable toward training.

“People continue to say, ‘How in the world do you get all that research done?’ I say, ‘Well, we have some smart people at IPFW.’ We really do.”


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George Kalamaras

Marketing Communications

LARGER THAN THE SELF

It takes a certain perspective to put words to silence—and it takes a certain mind to craft creative and scholarly work. Not only separately at once, but in such a way that they coalesce.

Meet George Kalamaras—Professor of English at IPFW and former poet laureate of Indiana—who makes incredible things happen on campus and in the Fort Wayne community with words, research, and projects that bring writers and readers together.

“How do we engage in poetry so that it’s not simply expressing one’s thoughts and it’s not simply about one’s own person?” Kalamaras muses. “The basic idea—the core of the initiative that I took into the poet laureateship—was how can I serve the poetic community? How can I serve even people who are not poets and see that art is really everywhere?”

REACHING THE SUMMIT

Born in Chicago and raised in Indiana, Kalamaras found himself intrigued by the idea of returning to his Hoosier roots—which also meant nurturing his profession at IPFW amongst a faculty he admired.

“IPFW has supported me in a lot of ways,” he says. “They’ve supported my research through various grants and always acknowledging and seeing value in my work. I’ve always felt supported—not only as a teacher, but as a researcher, a writer, and a poet. There are some poets who have felt that academia is not the place for them—I have never felt that.”

He divulges that he often teaches his students lessons that he feels are good to review, himself—switching to “auto-pilot” can be easy to do unless one consciously slows down and reevaluates.

“If we slow ourselves down,” Kalamaras says, “and begin to translate out how to write a poem, how to look at the world, we can remind ourselves of what the process is.”

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

Kalamaras’ work doesn’t stop in the creative realm—he’s currently engaged in both scholarly research and creative endeavor at the university.

“My research is primarily on silence and my doctoral dissertation was on the rhetoric of silence—I was very involved in the ways that silence and language reciprocate and interact,” he says. “I’ve published many articles and a book on silence, particularly as it relates to the Hindu yogic meditative tradition.”

Kalamaras is also involved in composition studies and how writing can be made more accessible and available to students—on which he has published extensively as well.

And—of course—he is consistently active in the field of poetry with publication of his work and initiatives including the Wabash Watershed blog project, the Gray Barn Rising video series, and Project 411—a statewide collaborative poem for poets and non-poets alike.

“I know it has a funny name, but Project 411 is named such because the Wabash River runs untamed, un-dammed for 411 miles. What I did was I solicited lines of poetry and gathered 411 of these lines—from poets and non-poets—to emphasize that and bring others into this effort,” he says.

Kalamaras has published around 15 books of poetry—eight full-length books and seven chapbooks of poetry. His work focuses on the unconscious, perceiving it in a way that aligns with the conscious mind rather than as its rival.

“Surrealism as a literary and artistic movement is really delving into the intuition and our unconscious minds in deep ways so that we’re not simply intellectualizing about something,” he says. “This grows out of my interest in silence and how it reciprocates with language. I really am trying throughout my scholarly and poetic work to break down binaries and to not position things as ‘self’ and ‘other,’ but to see how they interact. The core of my poetry is built on breaking down distinctions.”

THE ROLE OF A POET

Poets come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t simply wear berets and dress in black and walk around and play bongos.

“I think that the poet laureate is extraordinarily relevant to the community at large because, if anything, the poet needs to break down the stereotypes that hem the poet into this idea or that idea of what a poet is,” Kalamaras explains. “Poets come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t simply wear berets and dress in black and walk around and play bongos. Some poets might do that and that’s perfectly fine, but—for example—the great William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician. Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive.

“The relevance of the poet is someone needing to speak deep inner truths. Someone needs to say that simply looking is of value. We often think that poets write about huge or extraordinary things—and sometimes we do—but the real importance of poetry is that it can be an attentiveness practice. It’s not the outcomes that I’m after so much; it’s the how and the why and in what ways?

“The practice of poetry changes my consciousness, and the yardstick for that is really, have I changed at all in writing a poem? Am I a better person? Am I kinder? Am I more open?”


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John Licato

Valerie Gough

THE AI EFFECT

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the idea of artificial intelligence—whether that familiarity comes from the Hollywood boom of science fiction films with an AI focus or the latest sassy response from Siri gone viral depends on your interests.

However, that’s what most of us have in relation to the integration of AI into our daily lives—interest. IPFW Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Licato has made it an integral part of his occupation.

“Humans, at their best, have this ability to simultaneously reason using concepts and reasoning about those concepts. This gives us sort of a flexibility of reasoning that we don’t see in any computer systems—even the most advanced,” Licato says. “I want to figure out how to get computers and robots to reason in that way.”

JohnLicato-1

FINDING THE BASE LINK

Licato started off as many computer science enthusiasts do—he wanted to be a video game programmer.

“I wanted to program the physics and then the AI, which is what got me involved in AI research—I just loved it,” he explains.

Now teaching courses primarily in AI machine learning, Licato spends a lot of his time building up his lab and researching AI and robotics with his students. He guides a team of 10–15 undergraduate and graduate students though research exercises, managing the workflow and ensuring that communication stays open so goals can be met.

“I was looking for a place that could really benefit from an AI program. If you think about the advances that we’ve seen in AI just in the past couple of years, manufacturing and food service industries are already benefiting from robots. We’ve have advances in fraud detection algorithms that can benefit insurance and healthcare industries.

Fort Wayne and this region are centers for all those industries, so this region is really poised to benefit from all these advances in AI.

“As it happens, Fort Wayne and this region are centers for all those industries, so this region is really poised to benefit from all these advances in AI. That makes IPFW, I think, an ideal place to do this research.”

A QUESTION OF SENTIENCE

Licato’s research is AI in general, but his specialty is what the experts refer to as cognitive robotics and human level reasoning. There are some things that humans can do that are still outside the realm of possibility for computers, such as the ability to reason from moral and ethical standpoints and to feel empathy. Licato strives to understand why that gap still exists and to see if he can bridge it in a practical way.

“If we think about the kinds of things that humans can do that robots still can’t—for example, I mentioned how we reason and have empathy for each other—we can come up with explanations and arguments for phenomena that we observe. I think—like it or not—we’re in an age where we’re starting to see things like the military deploying automated drones in combat situations. We’re seeing systems like Watson in healthcare environments. When these robots and systems are deployed—and a lot of them already have been—I think we wouldn’t want them to be completely amoral or unethical.

At minimum, we want them to to have at least some understanding of this human notion of common sense.

“At minimum, we want them to to have at least some understanding of this human notion of common sense.”

Licato approaches all of his courses in a similar way—with the belief that computer science is a very applied field, there is a lot of theory involved, and the learning becomes more concrete when the theory is applied to a hands-on project.

“What I tell the philosophers is, if you don’t know how to write it in code, then maybe you don’t understand the concept that well. I give [the students] a lot of chances to really implement things and use that in their learning experience. I try to get them involved in research as well, because I think that it really helps add to their overall understanding of what they’re dealing with.”

Licato tries to recruit some of his researchers from the classes he teaches and issued a general call for interest as well. The students selected—both from his class and who responded to the call—exhibited high motivation and, according to Licato, ended up being some of the best students to work with.

“They don’t say ‘no’ to challenges. They’re able to go a little farther, I think. We’ve already had three students within the past year that have gotten into internships—in part because of the research they were able to do here.”

FRAMING THE FUTURE

This year, Licato and his student researchers have been doing sizable foundational work for the road ahead.

“The question becomes how to do these things. It’s not an easy question to answer and that’s why I think this research is very important.”

Licato and his team have been in talks with some industries in conjunction with IPFW. Recently, they met with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to understand how they could help better satisfy training needs in the region.

“IPFW has been very helpful. I’ve been working with Information Technology Services and they set up a private network just for our lab so we could have our robot communicate by WiFi as it moves throughout the building. Just the fact that we’ve been given this lab space is something that’s been extremely helpful. Everything you see here—the lab, the programed robots—all of it is a direct result of how hardworking the students are and the freedom they’ve been given.

“This is something that the students do—not because they have to for course credit or anything like that—because they’re proud of their research and they want to be able to give back to the community. The fact that we have the opportunity to do all of this is something that I’m proud of.”


PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

Revolutionize how people and technology work and play together. Explore software design, programming languages, computer architecture, and more with a degree in computer science. We graduate programmers, hardware specialists, network administrators, and more. Our program includes software engineering, programming, computer graphics, and database systems. Learn more.


 

 

 

 

Joshua Pyburn

Marketing Communications

CARVING HIS OWN PATH

We tend to use the phrase “set in stone” to mean that something’s unchangeable, concrete, and stagnant. IPFW senior sculpting major Joshua Pyburn proves that this isn’t always the case—in life and in art.

“There’s that pride in working hard, and working hard with stone,” Pyburn says. “It’s heavy and it’s dusty, but when you’re done with it there is a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction.” 

JoshuaPyburn-1

BUILDING THE ARMATURE

Over the years, Pyburn has undergone as much formation as his pieces—he’s lived in at least eight different places and one of those was for his deployment. Pyburn was a diesel mechanic in the military and retains a love of cars—which he also considers an art form, particularly in the paint and bodywork.

“I was born in Nashville, Tennessee. My dad is a horse trainer, so we moved a lot in the South,” he explains. “I moved to California when I went into the military, and then went to Iraq for a year. Then I moved back to Tennessee, and then I moved to Fort Wayne in 2008.”

He attributes that last move to Fort Wayne as his main reason for starting at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW)—but he started as as a philosophy major.

“I acquired some basic classes, but then—when I realized that I actually wanted to just make art and go for it—I pretty much only had studio classes left to do. The good qualities I find with a smaller program is that your professors are aware of you—they are willing to talk to you and help you resolve issues as an artist, as a student, as a person, and help you navigate all of those,” Pyburn says. “In my first semester, the ceramics professor here—Nancy McCroskey—got to know me a little better, and I mentioned to her that I was interested in stone. 

I went down there for a week in 2013, slept in my car, and bought a bunch of chisels—and I met and learned from some really impressive, friendly people.

“I’d never carved stone or done anything artistically with it, but she mentioned a stonework symposium down in Ellettsville just outside of Bloomington. I didn’t have the money to go, so she referred me to the dean and student government to get money—and the dean was gracious enough to help me. I went down there for a week in 2013, slept in my car, and bought a bunch of chisels—and I met and learned from some really impressive, friendly people.”

Pyburn describes his experience at the symposium (and sleeping in his car) as humbling and decided that—if he really wanted to reach his goal—he would have to look past the trouble it took to get there. 

TRUTH TO MATERIALS

Pyburn’s medium of choice is Indiana limestone, which is usually used in construction—Fort Wayne is home to several official buildings majorly constructed out of the native material. Other famous structures such as the Empire State Building, the Pentagon, and the Washington National Cathedral also have incorporated elements of Indiana limestone.

I’m just a hard-working, blue collar kind of guy who’s trying to make it work.

“I think of limestone, in a way, as a blue collar stone because of its multi-use,” Pyburn says. “Sometimes it’s just a wall. Sometimes it’s used as a relief carving, and I like that because I feel that way too about myself—like I’m just a hard-working, blue collar kind of guy who’s trying to make it work.”

Sculpting, for Pyburn, becomes a meditative experience—and he hopes that his finished pieces will have that same meditative effect on viewers. 

JoshuaPyburn-2

“I realized that, when working with stone or working with any medium, I find a great value in that meditation—why not make pieces that people can meditate to, in a way? I make my pieces abstract enough to where they’re not obvious forms. One day you might see a face—and maybe another, you’d see a tree. But that perception is something that’s in them—that’s why I try to make my abstract work as vague as I can, but I’m also aware of what I’m possibly making the viewer see.”

What it really comes down to for Pyburn is what the viewer takes away from seeing his artwork. He often considers his work “completed” based on how someone reacts to it and the feeling it evokes.

“That’s what I’m really trying to do—I’m trying to create some kind of magical effect within them that I can’t experience. I want it to be their own experience.”

ROLEMODELING

Not only is Pyburn a college student, United States veteran, and a talented, thoughtful artist—he’s a husband and father, too. Balancing the two most important sides of his life can be tricky, but Pyburn is doing his best to nurture his family life and his art equally.

JoshuaPyburn-3

“I have to go to some strange or funky places within myself to bring something out that’s worth looking at. Then the kids need food. Suddenly, I have to snap out of it,” Pyburn explains. “Moving out of that and going back into my work is difficult. I feel like being a good father and a good husband is very important. I also feel like expressing myself honestly through art is just as important. As time goes on, I’m getting better at it.”

Pyburn hopes that traditional art makes a return to the community and society at large—to him, it’s a missing link in the way we live now.

“3,000 years ago, the process was the same,” Pyburn says. “A Michelangelo sculpture or a Van Gogh painting has an effect on people—how were our brains any different then? How should it be any different that art has an effect on an engineering student or a math major? Once you make the work, it’s almost out of your control. I don’t know what will happen, but hopefully it does something—lights a candle within them or gives them a mental stepping stone to another place.”


PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: DEPARTMENT OF FINE ARTS

What shape does your art take? The Department of Fine Arts can help you hone your craft in modern studio spaces and connect your work with major regional galleries and organizations. We graduate painters, sculptors, printmakers, and more. Our program includes ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking, metalsmithing, and sculpture. Learn more.


Rachel Rayburn

Marketing Communications

Turning the Corner

There’s a wealth of research available on what leads people to lose themselves in crime, drug addiction, and homelessness. IPFW Assistant Professor of Public Policy Rachel Rayburn wanted to know what motivates a person to come back.

“I’ve always wondered when you want to change your life, how do you do that? Why and how do people quit?” she asks.

Rayburn was inspired by a project launched in 1991 by Jim Wright of Tulane University in Louisiana. The project created a treatment program for homeless substance abusers.

She became fascinated by the opportunity for a “longitudinal study” of these individuals—to follow up with them over the course of their lives and their treatment.

At first, the task ahead of her seemed impossible. “’There’s no way you’re ever going to find any of them to re-interview them,’” she recalls being told. “They’re homeless, they’re drug and alcohol users, and Hurricane Katrina came and devastated the community and a lot of people left.”

Rayburn leads a class discussion on assistance for those who need it most.

Rayburn leads a class discussion on assistance for those who need it most.

I said, ‘Just let me try.
— Rachel Rayburn

Confronting the Realities

Rayburn received funding through Purdue University to continue her work in Louisiana, tracking down participants in the 1991–2001 study, learning their stories, and researching rates of desistance and recidivism from crime and deviant behavior.

She was able to hire students from the Department of Public Policy to work as research assistants. They learned how to use the tools and research methods out in the field.

“They’re getting to talk to people. They’re getting to learn all about it,” she says. “It’s been very rewarding.”

Rayburn notes that while the experience and learning opportunities are profound, the lessons don’t always come easy. Many students struggle with confronting the realities of homelessness, poverty, and substance abuse.

“They’ll say, ‘I want to be a lawyer.’ ‘I want to be a police officer.’ ‘I want to work as a U.S. marshal.’ And I say, ‘Have you ever been in a cop car? Have you ever been in a jail? Have you ever been in a homeless shelter?’ And a lot of times the answer is no.”

To which Rayburn responds, “I guess we’re going to juvenile corrections today.”

Positive Impact

I try to take something that angers me or is not satisfactory and I try to do something about it.
— Rachel Rayburn

These confrontations may be difficult, but they can also inspire. Rayburn pushes her students to turn their frustrations with complex social issues and injustices into opportunities for making a positive impact.

“Find something that’s a social problem that angers you,” Rayburn tells her students. “It could be anything you want. You’re going to find a social problem and you’re going to do something to make it better.”


Program Snapshot: Department of Public Policy

Be foundational to a more open, green, and just society. Whether you’re interested in protecting the peace, the planet, or the rule of law, the Department of Public Policy has programs to connect you to your calling. We graduate lawyers, administrators, officers, and more. Our program includes criminal justice, environmental policy, health services, administration, legal studies, and public management. Learn more.


Michelle Drouin

Marketing Communications

One Unread Notification

Snapchat. Yik Yak. Grindr. Tinder. Kik. And yes, even Facebook.

In the era of social media, where privacy is sometimes just an afterthought, how we choose to express ourselves is almost as important as what we’re actually saying. Countless new apps and communications platforms have sprung up to enable users to connect, share, and talk—and sometimes, do a lot more.

Associate Professor of Psychology Michelle Drouin is a leading expert on the ways new and emerging technologies impact, shape, and redefine communication within all kinds of interpersonal relationships. 

Drouin discusses research methods during a student research exhibit on campus.

Drouin discusses research methods during a student research exhibit on campus.

Her research into how sexting affects romantic relationships and the development of sexual identity in adolescents and young adults has caught national attention in recent years. Drouin and her research have been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Parenting magazine, and many others.

What is “Sexting”?

Sexting—a portmanteau of “sex” and “texting”—is when someone uses text messages, photos, videos, or other content sent from a mobile device to flirt with someone else.

Given the ubiquitous nature of smart phones capable of sending and receiving multimedia from anywhere at any time, a growing number of people—adolescents and young adults especially—have taken to flirting textually.

Drouin is a leading expert on how social media impacts relationships, especially among teens and adolescents.

Drouin is a leading expert on how social media impacts relationships, especially among teens and adolescents.

According to a 2014 study, 24 percent of high-school aged students and 33 percent of college students have, at some point in their lives, sent a nude or semi-nude photo of himself or herself to another person.

Its popularity has raised a number of concerns, especially among parents, about how to deal with privacy, exposure, and sexuality in an always-on, always-connected world.

What the Behavior Suggests 

Drouin is especially interested in the ways in which sexting behaviors may be indicative of psychological affectations, including insecurities and avoidant or anxious attachments among romantic couples.

Her research suggests that there may be a connection in an individual’s sexting behaviors and how they may approach a romantic or sexual relationship in a broader sense.

Drouin is also interested in using her research to explore the impact sexting has on identity and sexual development in adolescents and young adults. She believes that this research can help young people understand the role sexting plays in shaping their identities and also help them avoid the risks associated with sexting.

Helping Young People Make Responsible Choices

I think it’s our responsibility to start educating our children on responsible use of our technology and I would love to play a larger role in that.
— Michelle Drouin

One way Drouin has ensured her research is understood and actualized by younger audiences has been to get her students involved. She frequently invites IPFW psychology majors to help conduct research into the psychological correlates and behaviors associated with social media use in interpersonal relationships.

Student researchers join Drouin in analyzing and interpreting how technology shapes our relationships.

Student researchers join Drouin in analyzing and interpreting how technology shapes our relationships.

Along with understanding the behaviors of those who engage in sexting, Drouin is interested in capitalizing on that research to help young people make responsible choices—not only when it comes to sexting, but with regard to their “digital footprint” in a broader sense.

Helping teenagers and young adults understand how to responsibly use social media is a key goal for her future endeavors here at IPFW.


Program Snapshot: Department of Psychology

Be mindful. In the Department of Psychology, discover the study of behavior, thought, and intelligence. Join a research project, collaborate on a conference paper, or explore current issues in mental health and wellness. We graduate counselors, researchers, and more. Our programs include psychobiology, clinical research, social psychology, and research methods. Learn more.


Art Herbig

Marketing Communications

Making Sense of the Noise

The world is plugged in, even when it’s wireless. We’re constantly connected to the status updates, the Facebook likes, the viral videos, the retweets, the Buzzfeed lists, and the 24-hour news cycle. Every day, we encounter innumerable notifications, messages, alerts, chimes, bells, and whistles—and that’s just what’s confined to our smartphones and laptops.

How do we make sense of the noise?

For IPFW Associate Professor of Communication Art Herbig, to understand how we process all the voices competing for our attention, we must first recognize that meaning is made up of both content and form.

Herbig conducts an interview on location.

Herbig conducts an interview on location.

More than Words

Messages, particularly for a media scholar, aren’t just words.
— Art Herbig

Whether it’s an editorial in the local paper, an advertisement on the side of a website, or a conversation with a close friend, how a message is conveyed shapes its meaning for the audience.

“And when it comes to media,” Herbig explains, “this means that camera angles, lighting, and color—all of these things are part of the message.”

The way in which a conversation is framed, a news event is reported, or an ad is designed provides subtle cues in how we should interpret, process, and react to a piece of information.

“Being cognizant and aware of those things makes us more apt to understand the ways in which these messages now all connect, because they are all connected.”

In his classes, Herbig presses students to study the craft of communication critically—to look closely at not only what’s being said, but how.

The delivery or execution of a message provides context for the information we receive—and this, in turn, provides the audience with tools to evaluate the kinds of information we are receiving.

Talking with Your Hands

Herbig leads a classroom discussion on filmmaking.

Herbig leads a classroom discussion on filmmaking.

I teach a lot of hands-on skills.
— Art Herbig

In his classes, Herbig often moves his discussions of communication patterns out of the abstract and into tangible, application-based learning.

“I have smaller classes, but I have a lot of interpersonal interaction with students,” he says. “I’ll do a lecture maybe twice a week, but then we’ll have a three-hour lab where we’ll use light kits, move microphones around, and try to frame up camera shots.”

This practical application helps Herbig’s students apply what they’re learning and see first-hand how context and form shape the information they’re trying to communicate with an audience.

Just like moving the camera to the opposite side of the room creates an entirely new visual, adjusting the context of the shot creates a whole new perspective.

Capturing Memories in Content and Form

That critically engaged citizen needs to be distinctly aware of the ways in which the messages that they’re interacting with in their everyday lives impact their everyday lives.
— Art Herbig

As part of his ongoing scholarship of rhetoric, Herbig launched a project to study public memory through filmmaking, and how people choose to remember and commemorate events from their past.

On the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, he set out to create an academic inquiry into contextual rhetorical cues with an academic film created for non-academic audiences, titled Never Forget: Public Memory of 9/11.

Herbig and a student production assistant capture footage at Ground Zero in New York City.

Herbig and a student production assistant capture footage at Ground Zero in New York City.

“So we started by going to Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and we interviewed over 60 people there,” Herbig recalls. “The opening of the memorial was going on, but there was something about that moment that drew people to that physical space.”

In his interviews with memorial attendees, Herbig wanted to know: What brought you to Ground Zero on the anniversary of these attacks?

“We ended all of those interviews with one question: How should we remember 9/11? And to a person, every single person started with, ‘Huh.’ And it’s that moment that we were trying to capture, because memory is a process.”


Program Snapshot: Department of Communication

The ways in which we communicate have changed dramatically in recent years, but the fundamentals remain the same: the ability to communicate effectively underlies professional and personal success. Study the art of exchange with the Department of Communication. We graduate public advocates, media professionals, filmmakers, and more. Our program includes interpersonal and organizational communication, media and culture, multimedia newsgathering and reporting, rhetoric and public advocacy, and film and media studies. Learn more.


Beomjin Kim

Marketing Communications

The Art of Data

Understanding complex sets of data sometimes requires more than what numbers alone can demonstrate. To truly engage with vast and intricate amounts of data, we need to be able to visualize what it means—and in some cases, to reach out and touch it.

IPFW Professor of Computer Science Beomjin Kim’s game-changing research into information visualization and computer graphics is making that possible.

Kim and a student discuss the hardware necessary to render information in a 3-D space.

Kim and a student discuss the hardware necessary to render information in a 3-D space.

Computational Perception

Kim’s research is in part focused on how to process and visualize data for analytics, consumption, and manipulation.

By finding new ways to take a given set of data and render it through computer modeling and animation, Kim is helping researchers discover new ways to convert alphanumeric data across a wide variety of fields into something they can see with their own eyes.

By presenting that kind of information to the user through visualization, the user can easily evaluate or analyze huge amounts of data.
— Beomjin Kim

Visualization of data helps researchers parse, compartmentalize, and understand the data they are manipulating.

Kim hopes his research into the application of computer graphics and modeling in data manipulation will help fellow researchers grasp entire sets of data more easily, setting up for further breakthroughs in medical technologies, engineering, defense, gaming, and more.

Professor Kim and his students demonstrate the capabilities of medical imaging.

Professor Kim and his students demonstrate the capabilities of medical imaging.

Data in High Definition

Drilling down further into data visualization, Kim is also heavily invested in advancements of image quality.

Everyone—from top-level researchers to end-user consumers—benefits from these advances in visual fidelity, which allow for sharper and more detailed renderings of information.

The same advances in imaging quality that allow for better cameras in our smartphones and increasingly jaw-dropping graphics in computer games also create profound opportunities for industries vital to our wellbeing—including medical and surgical simulations and training.

National Recognition

Kim is also director of the Information Analytics and Visualization Center, one of IPFW’s renowned Centers of Excellence.

The center, which specializes in 3-D vision technology research, has received funding from the National Science Foundation in recognition of its groundbreaking work.

To receive funding, Kim and his researchers used computer imaging to generate the scene of an actual battlefield in a 3-D space down to the smallest details—including complex terrains, artillery locations, and resource allocation.

Kim's research has the potential to fundamentally alter how we view, create, and process information.

Kim's research has the potential to fundamentally alter how we view, create, and process information.

By projecting that information visually, a commander would be better equipped to assess and understand the situation on the ground and in the air more quickly.

The practical application of Kim’s research for defense technologies is almost limitless.

Sharing the Space

But while Kim’s research has garnered a great deal of attention from investors, partners, and industry leaders, he notes that one of his favorite things about teaching and researching at IPFW is his ability to involve students.

Some of our students need more challenge beyond the classroom. They are interested in doing research.
— Beomjin Kim

Kim finds motivation and inspiration in the eagerness of his students to get involved in his research, which can then evolve into career opportunities after graduation.


Program Snapshot: Department of Computer Science

Revolutionize how people and technology work and play together. Explore software design, programming languages, computer architecture, and more with a degree in computer science. We graduate programmers, hardware specialists, network administrators, and more. Our program includes software engineering, programming, computer graphics, and database systems. Learn more.


Abe Schwab

Marketing Communications

The Philosophy of Decision Making

How do we know what we know? How can we prove what we know and what we don’t? If we don’t know what we know, how can we possibly make the “right” decision in any given situation?

Associate Professor of Philosophy Abe Schwab wrestles with this philosophical conundrum on a daily basis. 

I’m looking at how people know what they know and what justifies them claiming to know what they know and how that then matches up with the decisions that they make.
— Abe Schwab

The Dilemma Unfolds

Schwab’s primary area of research focuses on the intersection of epistemology—that is, the philosophical theory of knowledge itself—and its application to medical ethics in real-world situations.

His inquiries help inform the decisions made by medical professionals in clinical environments that can seriously affect doctors and healthcare providers, as well as patients and their families.

Professor Schwab's research has been highly published and publicized.

Professor Schwab's research has been highly published and publicized.

I’m curious how decisions go wrong in medicine, both for the physician and for the patient, and even the policy maker.
— Abe Schwab

By better understanding how our own perceptions of knowledge influence (and potentially limit) our decision-making capabilities, Schwab’s research could provide opportunities for better risk assessment and informed judgment when it matters most.

The Ethics of Research

In addition to his research into the very concept of knowledge itself, Schwab also works with research ethics, asking, “What does it mean to do research in the right kind of way?”

With this research into the nature of research, Schwab hopes to better understand how one does research while respecting the patient or subject while still arriving at robust conclusions that can guide better future medical practices.

Professor Schwab opens up a classroom lecture to discussion with his students.

Professor Schwab opens up a classroom lecture to discussion with his students.

A Catch-22

In particular, Schwab is interested in the idea of conflicts of interest, especially those that appear unavoidable for one reason or another. He explains that—particularly in fields like healthcare—professionals will sometimes arrive at a conundrum where the “right” answer is not obvious.

Given the complexity of the field, it may not be practical—or even possible—to avoid these conflicts of interest entirely.

So now we have these unavoidable conflicts of interests … How should we handle those?
— Abe Schwab

Schwab has written extensively on this very subject, and while a definitive answer remains elusive, his thought-provoking research has thrown the door wide open for discussion and debate among philosophers, researchers, and healthcare providers.

Inviting Students to the Discussion

During his classes, Schwab often takes a seat to invite and encourage an open environment for intellectual debate. And while his students sometimes struggle with the difficult, provocative questions he poses—categorizing them as “unanswerable”—Schwab is quick to point out that the conclusion isn’t always the point.

The key difference is that I’m asking you unanswerable questions, but you assumed you knew the answer. Right?
— Abe Schwab

Schwab insists that the whole point of his ethics classes is to encourage his students to think critically about what they’ve always assumed. He presses his students to be good thinkers, to sort through information and recognize what’s important while discarding what is not.

In every situation, Schwab says, he wants his students to think about the decisions they make, and the how those decisions come with a question of ethics.


Program Snapshot: Department of Philosophy

Follow your curiosity. The Department of Philosophy offers courses in ethics and religious studies, in addition to both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions to deepen your understanding of the human experience. We graduate thinkers, lawyers, scientists, and more. Our program includes philosophy, ethics, and religious studies. Learn more.


Elizabeth Thompson

Marketing Communications

Reimagining Imaging

Imagine a new way to see your own mind.

Professor of Electrical Engineering Elizabeth Thompson is at the forefront of new imaging technologies used to analyze and interpret the electric and magnetic signals our brains produce.

These advances, Thompson hopes, can be used to understand, evaluate, and perhaps even treat disorders and afflictions of the brain—and potentially save countless lives.

Professor Thompson meets with a group of her students.

Professor Thompson meets with a group of her students.

Magnetism of the Mind

Thompson worked extensively in functional magnetic resonance before moving into magnetoenceophalography (MEG), a rapidly emerging technology that measures the magnetic field emitted by the brain.

MEG is similar to the more familiar electroencephalogram (EEG), which is a test that detects electrical activity in the brain. Analyzing magnetic brainwaves offers an entirely new perspective on the brain’s activities—and new ways for medical professionals to help their patients.

Of particular interest to Thompson is analyzing the brainwaves of those suffering from epilepsy. Currently, when an individual experiences an epileptic seizure, he or she may have to undergo an invasive surgical procedure so that doctors can pinpoint the source of the trouble.

Thompson hopes that her research into MEG scans can help medical professionals locate the source of the seizures before going through with dangerous medical procedures.

Sharing the Knowledge

Thompson’s research is breaking new ground in medical imaging and analysis, and she’s sharing that knowledge with the next generation of engineers and healthcare professionals—her students.

Students at IPFW have an advantage over students at a larger university in that we are very engaged with them—we know them.
— Elizabeth Thompson

Thompson works closely with her students to ensure they have access to hands-on research projects and experiences, as well as invaluable connections with regional and national industry leaders.

Professor Thompson reviews a student's work.

Professor Thompson reviews a student's work.

We’ve had some outstanding senior design projects and many of them are industry sponsored, industry proposed. They do such a good job on their senior design projects. Very, very impressive.
— Elizabeth Thompson

Cross-Discipline Advances

Thompson is using her extensive background in electrical engineering to outfit medical providers with new ways of helping and treating their patients.

There is so much you can do with engineering. So many different things, and so many areas you can pursue. You really can find something where you feel like you’re making an impact and a difference.
— Elizabeth Thompson

She also encourages her students to find new, innovative applications for their technical, industrial, and design knowledge. She believes in the real impact their discoveries and insights in engineering can make across professions and industries.


PROGRAM SNAPSHOT: Department of Engineering

Transform your future. The Department of Engineering finds new ways to solve everyday problems and offers you opportunities to learn hands-on with the latest advancements in design and industry. We graduate builders, designers, leaders, and more. Our programs include civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Learn more. 


Denise Jordan

Marketing Communications

Better Living through Better Knowledge

Health is proactive.

A healthier and more vital community starts with education, so that each individual is empowered to make better choices, recognize signs of distress, and understand how health impacts their everyday life.

The key is to put the necessary tools in the hands of those who need them.

IPFW Clinical Assistant Professor Denise Jordan is at the forefront of this push to educate citizens of northeast Indiana on how to take charge of their healthcare, and she’s training a new generation of nurses to keep up the good fight.

Jordan speaks with a patient during an examination.

Jordan speaks with a patient during an examination.

Empowering Those in Need

We focus on health promotion and disease prevention through education.
— Denise Jordan

Like any other discipline, education for Jordan’s students begins in the classroom.

But to accomplish their goal of empowering those in need, she and her students move beyond the classroom walls and into the community, where their expertise is needed most.

This direct interaction with citizens—from individuals with preexisting health conditions to those who simply want to make better, more informed decisions about their healthcare—is a real opportunity to put clinical theory into practice.

A Different Perspective on Healthcare

“When they come to Community Public Health Nursing, they’re using to being in a hospital at the bedside where they’re doing tasks,” explains Jordan.

Nursing students who are used to strictly clinical environments, or the classrooms where they are trained, may have too narrow of a perspective on what it means to be a healthcare provider. They expect hanging ID tags, distributing medication, and changing dressings to be the vast majority of their work in patient care.

Jordan speaks to volunteers during Focus on Health.

Jordan speaks to volunteers during Focus on Health.

All of which are important. But to Jordan and her students, these tasks are only part of the job description.

“It’s kind of a paradigm shift when I get them in the community to realize, well you know, education is our thing,” she says. “We can heal, and save, and we can do a lot more with preventative health than you can ever do on the opposite end.”

A More Proactive Education

They begin to think about how to provide health prevention strategies for a large number of people. They begin to think about the greater good.
— Denise Jordan

Jordan impresses upon her students the need to be well rounded, well informed, and able to adapt to the tasks at hand.

In addition to clinical knowledge and a push for community empowerment, she encourages her nurses-in-training to understand the less-obvious facets of their careers in healthcare. This might include how to organize a community health fair or other community events focused on promoting better health practices.

“I tell them that, at the senior level, you don’t just walk into an event and just walk out. It is important that you know what happened, what transpired to create this community health event, because as graduate, you may be asked to do this,” she says.

With this philosophy in mind, along with the education ideals outlined in IPFW’s baccalaureate framework, Jordan prepares her students for life after Commencement.

She trains her students on how to become better communicators—not only with their patients, but prospective employers as well.

Her students come away from her courses prepared not only to excel at the bedside or a public health information session, but also in a job interview.

“We say that when our students graduate from IPFW, they can walk into the boardroom at Parkview, at BAE, or wherever,” she explains.

This is Jordan’s philosophy of teaching: that with a better education comes empowerment—and with it, a healthier, better life.


Program Snapshot: Department of Nursing

Follow your calling to help others. IPFW nursing students enjoy access to the booming regional healthcare industry, professional expertise, and hands-on experiential learning opportunities. We graduate nurses, technicians, healthcare advocates, and more. Our program includes maternity nursing, transcultural healthcare, leadership in nursing, and medical ethics. Learn more. 


Abdullah Eroglu

Marketing Communications

The Challenge of Innovation

Amid stacks of transistors, looping knots of wires, and the hum of imagination at work, IPFW Professor of Electrical Engineering Abdullah Eroglu is reaching for a worthy goal: to innovate his field.

Gaining a leading edge in electrical engineering has never been so critical, when the smallest discovery could spark industry-changing advancements in telecommunications, informatics, medical imaging, and consumer electronics.

Innovation is happening, and it’s happening faster every year.

“Part of the challenge in this field for everyone is to be innovative,” Eroglu says. “What we need to do is come up with a method that is more efficient.”

More than the Sum of Its Parts

Eroglu’s research is grounded in applied electromagnetics, from component-level to system-level design. In particular, he is interested in how to integrate components into a better system—in other words, how to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.

As part of an applied electromagnetics research group, Eroglu established a research laboratory on campus, used to study applied electromagnetics in depth and provide access to hands-on experiential learning to engineering students.

“In that laboratory, we’re designing components that you’re using in your cell phones, television equipment, and any [other] electronic equipment, “he explains. “You’re seeing inductors, load capacitors, combiners.”

It is here that Eroglu, his fellow researchers, and his students create, design, and test new patented prototypes.

Professor Eroglu demonstrates the production of a prototype in his engineering laboratory.

Professor Eroglu demonstrates the production of a prototype in his engineering laboratory.

We have a laser prototyping machine that enables us to prototype very fine thicknesses, anywhere from 2 mils to maybe 150 mils, with no problem.
— Abdullah Eroglu

Handing Off the Tools

“I think one of the great advantages we have [at IPFW] is the small classroom environment, because [it] helps us engage students one-to-one,” says Eroglu. “That helps us to know our students better.”

Outfitting his engineering students with the tools they need to be successful in the industry is a primary concern for Eroglu. Because electrical engineering can be such a tactile, hands-on field, he focuses on applied, project-based teaching to give his students real experience before they graduate.

“I actually assign projects,” he says. “So I teach the theory in the class, and then I assign them the project that will enable them to use some of the analytical skills that they learned. The laboratory is a good tool for them.”

Students then gain experience using simulation tools in Eroglu’s lab, including 2-D and 3-D electromagnetic simulators, nonlinear circuit simulators, and simulators for the parasitics of electronic circuit boards.

Equipped for Success

When Eroglu’s students leave his classroom and laboratory, they are equipped to succeed in a challenging and dynamic industry.

Professor Eroglu reviews a student's work with a remote controlled car.

Professor Eroglu reviews a student's work with a remote controlled car.

“These companies, especially here, are looking for engineers who are really equipped, who know simulation, how to use these simulation tools to design the components or systems,” Eroglu explains.

Along with technical know-how, many of Eroglu’s students graduate with a patent to their name from their time working with their professor on innovations in the laboratory—certainly a jolt to their résumé.


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Curtis Crisler

Marketing Communications

The Liars and the Truth-tellers

IPFW Associate Professor of English Curtis Crisler is interested in the truth—and the lies we use to tell it. 

Seeing poetry as a reflection of who we are as individuals, Crisler writes and teaches in pursuit of our most fundamental truths. He’s quick to suggest that “poets are the most truthful of liars,” and his workshops are designed to help his students find their own truths through creative expression.

Tracing Migrations

Crisler, an accomplished author of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, has researched and written extensively on what he calls “Urban Midwestern Sensibility” and its origins in historical Southern migrations.

He often finds himself writing about the people who packed up their belongings—and their stories—and migrated north in search of prosperity, tolerance, freedom, and opportunity. 

He hopes to capture the voices of those intra-continental migrants who kept records of their journeys, their lives, their deaths, and how they lived and moved.

Crisler looks on as his students take up performance poetry in the classroom.

Crisler looks on as his students take up performance poetry in the classroom.

Beyond Genre

One of his best-known works, Tough Boy Sonatas, blurs nonfiction, poetry, and young adult fiction. Taking the lessons he learned from writing Sonatas during his MFA years, Crisler now encourages his students to bend genre and blur the distinction between poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

When it comes to the truth, such distinctions aren’t always useful.

We’re addressing how to perform poetry as well as how to find poetry.
— Curtis Crisler

He encourages his students to write creatively, but also read creatively—to go out in search of contemporary poets, poets of color, and those whose work lives beyond the convent