The Parkland College Blog

Kaler Science Lecture Puts Bacterial Viruses Under Microscope

Staerkel Planetarium to host microbiologist Dr. Asma Hatoum-Aslan

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will host a presentation on microbiology for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 4.
 
Dr. Asma Hatoum-Aslan, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at UIUC, will give a talk titled, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Enlisting bacterial viruses to combat drug-resistant infections". The lecture is available to the public for free through Zoom.
 
The rising tide of drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, coupled with the sharp decline in the discovery of new antibiotics, underscores a pressing need to find alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Bacterial viruses, also known as phages, are major causes of bacterial mortality in nature, and can be harnessed as powerful weapons to combat pathogenic bacteria. Dr. Hatoum-Aslan's talk will highlight the ongoing efforts to discover and characterize new phages that are lethal to Staphylococcus bacteria, and the immune systems that these bacteria use to fight back. These efforts are adding to the arsenal of alternative antimicrobials with potential for therapeutic use.
 
Dr. Hatoum-Aslan earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, her M.S. in Biochemistry from the American University of Beirut, and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cornell University. Before joining the University of Illinois in August, she completed her postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University, where she investigated mechanisms of the bacterial immune system called CRISPR-Cas. Her research program investigates CRISPR-Cas and other immune systems that bacteria use to defend against their viruses (phages). Synergistically, knowledge gained from bacterial immune systems is applied to discover and engineer new phages as a basis for novel antimicrobials. Her work is currently supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award and a PATH award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
 
The Staerkel Planetarium is presenting programs virtually to the public, to schools, and to private groups. Public shows are rebroadcast on the planetarium's YouTube page. The planetarium staff will present a special edition of Fall Prairie Skies on the same Zoom meeting after the conclusion of the Kaler lecture at 8 p.m. This show is an interactive tour of the night sky, including a focus on the closest conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky in almost 400 years. For a full show schedule and for links to the Zoom meetings, visit the planetarium website or email planetarium@parkland.edu. 

Parkland College's Giertz Gallery to Host Virtual Architecture Tour

Join Giertz Gallery on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. on Zoom

Parkland College's Giertz Gallery will be offering an exciting and informative virtual Chicago River Architecture Tour on November 19, at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

The tour, hosted by Hillary Marzec, founder of top-ranked tour company Inside Chicago Walking Tours, will offer supplemental information for those who have been on the Boat Tour in previous years, and an enticing introduction to Chicago architecture for those who have not been on the tour before.

The trip will start on the Chicago River from the point of view tourists experience when boarding the cruise ship, but the virtual tour will allow extension past street-level details to the interiors of well-known buildings, with historical context provided by Marzec. 

This event is sponsored by Ford City. Admission is free, but registration is required. To sign up for the Chicago River Architecture Tour, click here. Donations welcome. All proceeds will go to the Giertz Gallery.

Parkland SWFT Program Receives Funding for Second Year

The Support for Workforce Training program will be funded for a second year, supported by State Rep. Carol Ammons

Parkland College announced today that the Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program has been refunded for a second year. In collaboration with the Illinois Community College Board and State Rep. Carol Ammons, SWFT will be able to continue to provide free, short-term training to underserved populations in the college's district.
 
Backed by a over $1 million Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant, Parkland's SWFT program aims to help more than 150 district residents move into high-demand careers with family-sustaining wages within a year or less. The WEI grant aims address historic underrepresentation of African Americans in high-demand, high-wage careers, thus requiring African Americans to comprise 60 percent of the population served by the SWFT program. 

The initiative was spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus with strong support from State Rep. Carol Ammons. 

“As Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, my most fervent goal is to increase access to education. Knowing that I contribute to tearing down the inequitable barrier of cost for so many looking to build a better future is what makes this work worth it," she said. "I have very much enjoyed watching Parkland implement its Workforce Equity Initiative put forth by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and I am proud to know they will be receiving financial support to continue this life-changing program. The Black Caucus remains committed to expanding access to education across the state and we thank Parkland for their partnership.”

Along with providing tuition, fee, and book waivers for training and stipends to help tackle higher education-access barriers, the initiative will address local workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to prepare skilled workers to move into employment upon program completion. Participants who are eligible and awarded funding will receive wraparound support services, such as academic counseling, career advising and workshops, and new this year is the incorporation of essential skills training.

Students may select from 14 Parkland College degree or certificate programs in four technical career categories: construction and manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and distribution, and business and IT services. Career options vary widely and include general construction and welding; office assistant, CompTIA A+, and Google IT professionals; sterile processing technician and CNA; and truck driver CDL and forklift, among others. Programs can be completed in a year or less.

Spring enrollment is underway. To begin the process, interested individuals should visit www.parkland.edu/swft.  

Those eligible for the incentives may include incumbent workers, unemployed persons, members of underrepresented minority groups, those receiving SNAP benefits and other need-based aid, recently incarcerated persons and ex-offenders, those receiving housing assistance, and others demonstrating financial need. 

The grant period began November 2020 and extends through October 2021.

For more information, please visit www.parkland.edu/swft or contact the SWFT program office at 217/353-2150.

CobraVenture Pitch Showcase, November 16

Parkland to host CobraVenture Pitch Showcase on November 16

Aspiring student entrepreneurs from Parkland College will soon pitch their ideas before local venture capitalists and startup experts as they vie for more than $7,000 in monetary awards and the title of Parkland Student Entrepreneur of the Year. 
 
Parkland College's Entrepreneurial Network (PEN) will hold its second CobraVenture Pitch Showcase at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 16, live-streamed on the college's YouTube account. The contest will highlight students from the CobraVenture program's student accelerator lab, which launched in January 2020.

Viewers can visit parkland.edu/cobrapitch for program details and the streaming link. Entrepreneurship Facilitator Marc Changnon will serve as emcee. CobraVenture's cohort includes students from a variety of academic programs who want to start their own businesses while still enrolled in college. A list of the students and their businesses can also be found at parkland.edu/cobrapitch.
 
Judging their capstone competition will be Dan Marker of Hickory Point Bank, Carly McCrory of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland’s Fine and Applied Arts department, Joan Dixon of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, and Marissa Siero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business.
 
The CobraVenture accelerator provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. It features a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors. Participants in the 2020 have had the added challenge of navigating the complexities of the pandemic while still working hard to complete their business plans to become their own boss.
 
CobraVenture is funded through existing funds from the Parkland Foundation Entrepreneurial Founders Program, Murray Wise Associates PEN Program, and those raised through its annual Entrepreneur of the Year event. Parkland Community Education, the college's noncredit arm, is helping to plan and administer the workshops. The program is operating with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Parkland College faculty and staff, spearheaded by Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs. 

Parkland College to Honor Veterans with Virtual Ceremony

Veterans Day is Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020

Parkland College honors the men and women who serve in the US military. The college will hold a 2020 Veterans Day virtual ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the celebration will be held virtually this year. Parkland's virtual ceremony includes a PowerPoint tribute to student, staff, and faculty veterans on the Parkland College Facebook page, posted on Veteran's Day.

The 2020 Veterans Day observance is sponsored by the Student Veterans Association at Parkland (SVAP).
 

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