Beyond expectations: Astronomy students honoredfor service to community
By Diana Steele
The Astronomy & Astrophysics
Department has presented its
inaugural Donn MacMinn Award for service beyond the walls of the University to graduate students Luisa Rebull and Jeffrey Jewell.
The award, presented to the students in a ceremony on April 22, honors the life of Donald (Donn) Lee MacMinn, a graduate student in the department who died in an accident last August while riding his bicycle near Geneseo, Ill. In addition to his studies in the department, MacMinn shared his teaching skills and love of learning by tutoring South Side elementary and high school students in math and science.
"Our students are our greatest asset," said Michael Turner, Professor and Chairman of Astronomy & Astrophysics. "We have really wonderful students in our department, and some of our student teachers go far beyond what is expected of them. It's truly an honor to be able to recognize their excellence and commitment, and it was a very difficult job to choose between the many candidates who were nominated for this award."
Rebull helped organize a University-wide outreach program called "Science Partners," which pairs graduate students with teachers in public schools to bring the excitement of current scientific research into the classroom.
"Science Partners has become a wonderful outreach effort that has helped make the University a friend to many school teachers and, at the same time, has provided a unique opportunity for University students to learn about the challenges of presenting science to young people," said Duel Richardson, Director of Neighborhood Relations, who nominated Rebull for the award. "Luisa's efforts have helped make the University an approachable, responsive and friendly presence to an audience that had often viewed it as an outstanding but austere, cerebral, self-absorbed institution." Rebull is also a founding member of the Chicago Public Schools/University of Chicago Internet Project, known as CUIP, which is helping 24 neighborhood schools acquire access to and learn to use the Internet. Jewell was honored for his work in a youth program at Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project, mentoring 10- to 14-year-old boys. Jewell played basketball with the boys and every other Saturday took field trips in and around the city, visiting local museums, going bowling and skating.
"He clearly regards this experience as an essential, motivating activity for his life," said Donald York, the Horace B. Horton Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, who nominated Jewell. "He is starry-eyed when he mentions the work."
Jewell said he was honored to receive the award and is glad the department places outreach activities in such high regard. "I especially want to thank Don York, who has been an inspiration by the role he has played in educational outreach. He clearly lives by the motto 'Let your enthusiasm be your motivating factor.' "
The MacMinn Award will be awarded annually by the department. Honorees receive a certificate and $500.