Beckman Institute Celebrates 30th Anniversary With ‘Science Showcase’ Event

Courtesy of University of Illinois

The University of Illinois’ Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Urbana is hosting a series of events this week to celebrate its 30th anniversary. 

One of the events includes a Science Showcase event by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Beckman Atrium. 

The event provides an opportunity for the local community to learn about the work being done at the Institute from the researchers themselves.

“We want to get away from the old stereotype of the ‘ivory tower,’ where the University people do research and are not interested in connecting with the public,” said Patricia Jones, Beckman’s Associate Director for Research.

Last year and in the spring, graduate students received training on how to talk about their research to the public from Sandra Tsing Loh, host of the NPR public radio show “The Loh Down On Science.” Some of those students will share their work at the science showcase event.

Jones said that communicating research to the public is about getting to the bottom line about why the research is important, unlike writing a scientific paper, which includes more layers of background information and procedures.

She added that since the Institute does a large amount of biomedical research, the showcase event can help increase the public’s understanding of health-related topics. 

“We really enjoy the opportunity to let our Champaign-Urbana local community know more in-depth, up-close and in-person what we are doing here on this campus, and how the research that’s happening can eventually have an impact on people’s lives and their future,” Jones said.

The Institute was founded after the Beckman Foundation gave a $40 million gift to the U of I in 1985. 

Today, the Institute helps foster interdisciplinary research at the U of I by providing lab space and technology, including the only human MRI scanners on campus. 

“In the mid-1980s, this campus decided that the strategy for research would include interdisciplinary collaborative research and wants it to actually build a place where people could come together to work on problems across various departmental and disciple boundaries,” Jones said.

This week’s celebrations at Beckman not only celebrate the Institute's prior accomplishments but also look ahead to the Institute’s next 30 years in advancing technology.

“Beckman will evolve in many different ways,” Jones said. “As part of the campus, we’re interested in doing new, interesting things that build on and leverage the strengths of the campus, too.”

Story source: WILL