Goodman: What to feature in NU’s next commercial

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Meredith Goodman, Columnist

My previous column on the need to change the University’s television commercial received a lot of supportive feedback. Apparently, many of my fellow Northwestern students and other Daily readers believe NU would be better off showcasing student and faculty accomplishments in our commercials rather than our mascot. One Weinberg lecturer and college adviser, Jeff Rice, even provided me with some great suggestions for this column, one of which is featured.

I decided to highlight, in no particular order, five of Northwestern’s most impressive student and faculty accomplishments:

1. Discovery of Lyrica

When I took my tour of Northwestern, I was pointed to a gorgeous glass building near Annenberg Hall called Silverman Hall, or, as my tour guide referred to it, “the building that Lyrica built.” Dr. Richard Silverman, a chemistry professor at NU, discovered the chemical pregabalin (which the drug company Pfizer markets as Lyrica) that treats neuropathic diseases like fibromyalgia and epilepsy. Now as a current student, I am proud that NU professors are so invested in medical research for diseases including cancer and multiple sclerosis.

2. Women’s Lacrosse

Our women’s lacrosse team won five national championships in a row from 2005-2009, with two undefeated seasons. Our coach, Kelly Amonte Hiller, is so awesome that she recruited two random freshmen that she saw running on campus and turned them into All-Americans.

Not only are our lacrosse players athletic, they are also charitable. They sponsored and befriended Jaclyn Murphy, who had a malignant brain tumor at age 10 in 2005. They visited her in the hospital, hosted her at games and called to cheer her up during treatment. Amonte Hiller has a team full of role models that serve as an inspiration to NU fans everywhere.

3. Jerry the Bear

Jerry is more than just an adorable, cuddly teddy bear. This toy has electronic sensors that teach children how to manage their diabetes. According to the Jerry the Bear website, Jerry can teach kids with diabetes essential skills, such as carb counting and responding to hypoglycemic events.

Northwestern alumni Hannah Chung and Aaron Horowitz developed the ingenious toy through the student organization Design for America, which started on campus. They have gone on to found a start-up tech company, Sproutel, and are working to develop toys for other chronic illnesses like asthma and obesity. Jerry the Bear is a perfect example of the amazing initiatives that NU students create.

4. Prof. Will Reno’s research  

When I looked up Reno based on Rice’s suggestions, I knew I had to write about this guy’s amazing political science research. My limited experience with political science at NU so far has involved reading some really weird graphs about the characteristics of governments. But Reno’s hands-on travels to war-torn areas like the Republic of Somaliland and the Niger Delta is a fascinating way to research armed conflicts and political structures. He also mentors several undergraduate and graduate students and goes on research trips with them. Reno’s work is a great example of the immersive research that NU faculty members and students conduct.

5. Undergraduate research

Okay, so I may have cheated by creating a general category instead of picking a specific student or research project. But with so many of my friends and classmates participating in innovative research, I just can’t pick one example. Though some NU students choose to study genetics and medicine on campus and at our medical school, others are going abroad and creating public health programs in countries like Uganda and Chile. From Medill’s Knight Lab to the gleaming laboratories in Technological Institute, amazing undergraduate research is everywhere we look on this campus. I challenge NU administrators to create marketing materials that feature the great research of my classmates.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg junior. She can be reached at [email protected]edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].