Cybersecurity program booming

SIU Cyber Security Dawgs

A growing number of attacks on computer networks worldwide has increased demand for university graduates with expertise in cyberdefense and cybersecurity, areas that barely existed just a decade ago.

This call comes as no surprise, as cyber criminals now show increasing new levels of ambition and sophistication – from multimillion-dollar bank heists to overt attempts at disrupting large networks that support production efforts for critical utilities.

SIU has responded to this demand by offering a specialization in cybersecurity through its School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, and students typically have jobs lined up before they graduate because of high demand.

A point of pride for the program is the Security Dawgs cyberdefense team, a student organization that gives students hands-on experience through participation in cyberdefense and cybersecurity competitions. The team consistently earns first- or second-place honors in the state’s annual college cyberdefense competitions.

Despite these strengths, the program is in need of financial support to help educate tomorrow’s cybersecurity experts and industry leaders, according to Tom Imboden, associate professor of information systems technologies.

“Investments in equipment and opportunities will keep SIU students in the forefront of the industry,” he said. “For example, we received a grant a few years ago to acquire a remote-access solution that allows SIU to host virtual machines with curriculum content. This gives our students all of the software needed to provide an environment where students can complete lab exercises for the information technology courses they are enrolled in.”

Upkeep to the servers is essential, but costly.

“Our servers are now five years old and need to be upgraded,” Imboden said. “New servers cost around $6,000 each, and they come with an annual fee of $3,000.”

The Security Dawgs also need support getting to, and participating in, competitions.

“Typically, the team has only three weeks’ notice informing them they are invited to compete in the state or regional competitions,” Imboden said. “Ensuring that we have transportation and lodging for 10 students is a challenge. These competitions help put SIU, the program and our students on the map.”

To learn more about the information technologies program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit

Scholarships nurture healthy appetite for success

SIU College of Agriculture student Lindsey Eigsti

By Jeff Wilson

Lindsey Eigsti has a plan.

The senior from Shelbyville is majoring in human nutrition and dietetics. She’s applying to graduate school. She’s wants to become a dietitian and work to improve people’s health.

“Preventative health care is so important,” Eigsti said. “I want to tackle huge health problems and promote positive change.”

Eigsti is a legacy student. A handful of her family members attended SIU. So, when she received a full-tuition scholarship to become a Saluki, she was ecstatic.

“(The scholarship) opened a lot of doors for me. It made coming to SIU more feasible,” she said “I fell in love with campus.”

Before receiving her scholarship, junior college was a likely route. She expressed her gratitude toward the philanthropists who are willing to lend students a helping hand.

“Donations change people’s lives,” she said. “It’s so nice to have people out there who make education more accessible. Any amount can help.”

She has also received three other scholarships, which have allowed her to focus on academics and other opportunities. She works as an undergraduate intern with University Housing’s nutrition team. The group offers counseling to students with dietary issues and focuses on promoting healthy eating habits on campus.

When she’s not studying or working, she prefers to be outdoors. As someone who enjoys hiking, fishing and camping, Eigsti said she’s enjoyed her time in Southern Illinois.

Human nutrition and dietetics is a growing program within the College of Agricultural Sciences. It lends itself to careers in a number of fields, including public health, business, education, marketing, restaurants, fitness and more.

SIU’s program has been a near perfect fit for Eigsti.

“The professors are awesome. I’ve really been able to build relationships with them,” she said. “They make the program feel like it’s tailored to me.”

For more information about College of Agricultural Sciences fundraising goals, visit

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SIU graduate thankful for unique opportunities

Shaka Mitchell - Paul Simon Public Policy Instituteby Rebecca Renshaw

If Shaka Mitchell, a 2011 SIU Carbondale graduate, could sum up his experience with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in one word, it would be “exposure.”

“The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute opened doors of opportunity for me. It gave me an avenue to meet a lot of influential people in business and politics. It also introduced me to the world of networking,” he said. “Had I not had that exposure, I would certainly not be where I am today.”

Today, Mitchell lives in Chicago and is making plans to open a fitness gym, but his path to owning his own business has been far from ordinary.

Upon graduating from O’Fallon Township High School, in O’Fallon, Illinois, Mitchell received a full SIU Presidential Scholarship. Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance from SIU Carbondale in May 2011.

“Getting a good foundation in business has really helped me with opening my gym, but it was something completely outside of the world of business that ignited my passion,” Mitchell said.

While at SIU, Mitchell discovered an interest that would reshape his future. As a sophomore, he took a martial arts class with a Korean instructor and found he excelled at the sport. After graduating from SIU, Mitchell took his passion for martial arts to a new level. He enrolled at Yong-In University in South Korea and earned a master’s degree in Taekwondo.

“I was the only American to ever attend Yong-In University,” Mitchell shared. “I did not know any of the language and I knew no one there. But, that didn’t stop me from fulfilling my dream. Because of what I learned in South Korea and placing second in the Taekwondo National Championships, I can confidently say I am the best at what I do and what I can offer others. As for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, it gave me the confidence to go fulfill my dreams.

As a student, Mitchell served the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute as an ambassador and a student worker. In those roles, he received opportunities to meet prominent people in both business and politics.

“One of my highlights was getting to meet businessman Chris Gardner. The motion picture, “The Pursuit of Happyness” is based on a book about Gardner’s life,” Mitchell said. “I was also influenced by the Vince Demuzio internship program were I worked at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“I would encourage SIU alumni and donors to support the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute by helping fund any of the existing endowed student scholarships. Having personally worked with Mike Lawrence, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and knowing what a tremendous impact he had on my life, I would like to see monetary donations go to further his cause.”

To learn more about the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit To learn more about the needs of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit

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Student Spotlight: Alyssa Allison shares how the School of Law broadens horizons

SIU School of Law student Alyssa Allison

By Rebecca Renshaw

Alyssa Allison says she became interested in SIU’s School of Law when a former SIU track and field teammate told her about the program and how inspiring it is to learn about the law.

“Attending law school has changed my life and broadened my horizons. As I learn about legal issues, I have a greater understanding of how to help people who are having problems in life. Helping others is why I’m in this profession. On top of that, the faculty are truly concerned about the students here. I have come to know them as both mentors and friends,” Allison said.

Upon graduation, Allison plans to enter the Army JAG Corps to become a Judge Advocate.

“A Judge Advocate is a licensed attorney qualified to represent the Army and its soldiers in military legal matters,” she said. “I have several family members who are in the military, so it just makes sense for me to follow in their footsteps,” Allison said.

A third-year law student who works in the law library, Allison says her work has opened her eyes to the many services the law school library provides to both students and the public.

“This library is not just used by law students. It’s a federal repository that provides services far beyond Jackson County. It’s just a great resource to the community and the staff here is dedicated to helping provide the best legal research resources possible,” Allison said.

“If someone were to donate to the law school today, I would ask them to help students with scholarships. As an undergraduate, I received an athletic scholarship that made all the difference for me. Because of the scholarship, I was able to keep my costs down and focus on schoolwork,” she said. “I would also ask donors to help us purchase more library resources and computers. You’d be surprised at how much our resources and computers are used each day. We would definitely appreciate any donations made to help support SIU’s School of Law,” she said.

To learn more about the SIU School of Law, visit To learn more about the needs of the School of Law, visit

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Student Spotlight: Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

Student Spotlight: SIU Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

by Rebecca Renshaw

Sean Gloss is a teaching assistant in exercise physiology. He will receive a master’s degree in exercise science in May 2018 and plans on getting a Ph.D. in exercise science upon graduation.

Sean Gloss originally wanted to be a physical therapist but when he enrolled in a motor behavior research class led by Dr. Porter, he quickly changed his direction of study.

“I had this idea that research was boring, but Dr. Porter made the research really interesting and challenging all at the same time,” Gloss said.

The research, coupled with the program’s community outreach, is what ignited Gloss’ passion for the program.

“Everything in the kinesiology program has vastly broadened my scope of how I can help my community. The professors are my role models on how to conduct myself as an adult. Furthermore, I see the positive impact the Strong Survivor program makes on people who have cancer,” Gloss said. “The program also hosts the men and women’s health expos each year to educate the community about healthy lifestyle choices – all of these programs makes me want to be a better person and to give back to others.”

Gloss recognizes the program has many financial needs, but he says the biggest need is to have more exercise testing equipment. “Our students need more testing equipment so they could do more research. We also need to be working on the same equipment as what is found out there in the real world,” he said. “There are so many upgrades we could use – from a new hydrostatic weighing tub to treadmills – students would greatly benefit from new equipment.”

To learn more about the Department of Kinesiology, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Education and Human Services, visit

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Mortuary Science planning the next step

CASA Mortuary Class and Lab

By Jeff Wilson

At SIU, students studying in studying mortuary science are preparing for a profession that requires compassion for others as well as expertise in psychology, anatomy, policy and management.

The university’s mortuary science program is one of only seven in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree, and it’s the only one of its kind in Illinois. With about 100 on-campus students and a growing online presence, the mortuary science program is thriving.

Through the Forever SIU fundraising campaign, those in charge of the program hope to take it to the next level and add more value by building an on-site crematorium.

“We would be one of the few schools in the country to offer one,” said Anthony Fleege, associate professor of mortuary science.

There would be many benefits, she added.

Students would receive hands-on training and be able to become Certified Crematory Operators, which currently comes at the extra cost of a two-day course at another location. Certification is required to continue in the profession after one year.

An on-site crematorium would also give the university a place to handle the removal of medical cadavers.

Plus, community and local coroners would benefit. More and more often, the cost of cremating the bodies of indigent people is falling on local government. The university could become the place to send those remains, providing valuable services as well as learning opportunities for students.

While the idea of a crematorium built onto the College of Applied Science and Arts building may not sound appealing, no one but those inside would even know it was there.

“There would be no smoke, no ash,” Fleege said. “It would be designed to fit in with the current building.”

All the planning is done, and building could begin once the funds are raised, Fleege said. The $250,000 sought by the college would cover building costs, equipment and long-term maintenance.

To learn more about the Mortuary Science program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit

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Law clinics add value for students, community

SIU School of Law student Nathan Davis

By Jeff Wilson

Nathan Davis is doing more than earning a degree from the SIU School of Law, he’s gaining valuable, real-world experience.

A third-year law student, Davis is working on dozens of cases for the school’s Civil Practice/Elderly Clinic.

“This is easily the best practical experience,” he said. “There are not many law schools that offer elder law clinics.”

Working with the law clinic allows Davis to go out and meet clients. It’s something that will allow him to hit the ground running after graduation.

“You can walk out the door and drop into a role at a law firm,” he said. “You’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing. It makes you more marketable, in-demand.”

The clinic offers a variety of services, including estate planning, debt collection and powers of attorney for health care and property. It’s especially vital in the rural communities of Southern Illinois. All of his clients are older than 60 and most are very low-income.

“It’s important. They have nowhere else to turn” Davis said.

Helping those that need it most is rewarding, and Davis said he appreciates the experience.

“It makes you feel good and brings a smile to your face,” he said. “I say it’s good for the soul.”

Supporting the School of Law through the Forever SIU campaign ensures students are able to continue receiving such important training. It also helps ensure the community has access to law clinics that offer assistance to the elderly, veterans, juvenile, immigrants and victims of domestic violence.

For more information about the SIU School of Law clinics, visit For more information about the school’s fundraising goals, visit

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Student Spotlight: Meet College of Agricultural Sciences Major Paxton Morse

Paxton Morse, freshman at SIU College of Agricultural Sciences

The College of Agricultural Sciences will gain a young leader as Paxton Morse joins the ranks of SIU’s freshman class. A 2016 graduate of Eldorado High School, Morse took a gap year to serve as a FFA officer section president for the state of Illinois. During the past year, Morse traveled to all 332 FFA chapters across the state to advocate for Illinois agriculture. He also traveled to Springfield and presented to the Illinois Senate.

Morse’s goal is to become a high school agriculture teacher. “I am committed to teaching others about the importance of agriculture and its mission to feed the world.”

Coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale was an easy choice for Morse.

“SIU plays such a big part in FFA by supporting its activities and giving the program needed supplies. Plus, the College of Agricultural Sciences has really made me feel at home. The professors and staff all know my name, they are friendly, and just make me feel like family. There is really no other college and university I’d rather be attending.”

To learn more about supporting the College of Agricultural Sciences through Forever SIU: The Campaign for Students, visit, or contact the foundation at 618/453-4900 or

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Student Spotlight: Kinesiology offers unique path, perspective

SIU graduate student Robert J. Jerry Lewis in Davies Hall small gymnasium.

SIU graduate student Robert J. Jerry Lewis is determined to dedicate his career to teaching the game of basketball. That wasn’t always the goal, though.

A Des Plaines native, Lewis came to SIU with hopes of walking onto the Saluki basketball team. Then he injured both of his knees. Instead of letting go of his dream, he simply amended it.

“For as long as I can remember, basketball has been my sport,” he said. “Since my injuries dashed my hopes of being able to play the sport, I decided I wanted to teach young people about the game of basketball and the game of life.”

While earning his bachelor’s degree from the College of Business, Lewis came across a brochure featuring the sports administration graduate program within the Department of Kinesiology. That moment marked the beginning of his new journey.

“The kinesiology department helped me view sports from a different perspective,” Lewis said. “I have learned about the human body, exercise science, health, sociology, neurology – this program has opened up an entire new world.”

To fulfill the program’s internship requirement, Lewis became a manager for the SIU men’s basketball team. In August, he was chosen for an internship with the Charlotte Hornets.

Once his stint with the NBA franchise is over, he’ll return to SIU to complete his master’s degree in sports administration. Lewis hopes his story can highlight the importance of kinesiology and encourage others to get involved.

SIU graduate student Robert J. Jerry Lewis manages equipment and supplies.

“We could really use funds to repair equipment and purchase needed items,” he said. “We need a wide array of items – from replacement bulbs for projectors to soccer nets to office supplies and beyond.”

To learn more about the Department of Kinesiology, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Education and Human Services, visit

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Family Helping Family

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences

When alumni and supporters think of SIU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the word “family” often springs to mind.

Seburn Pense, professor of agricultural education, recently was quoted in the College of Agricultural Sciences’ spring e-newsletter as saying, “Students come here and they see the campus and the facilities. They see that this college is like a family.”

Karen Midden, associate dean and professor for the college, agrees.

“The College of Ag really is just an excellent college with so much to offer its students,” Midden says. “We are very much like a family. The university farms provide hands-on experience for the students. It’s a backbone of the animal science teaching program, (and) it’s critical for agronomy and horticulture as well. The leading research at the farms provides experiential learning and prepares students for jobs in industry and academia, or to pursue graduate degrees.”

Right now, University Farms is in need of some assistance in several areas. The 2,000-acre farm system has significant upkeep needs – and, with the budget cuts and restricted spending in place across campus, the college hopes alumni will step forward and help.

After all, that’s what families do.

The following are areas that need assistance:

Research Greenhouse

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences Research Greenhouse

When visiting the research greenhouses where students do significant research on soybeans and tomato plants, the need for updates is evident. As Midden explains: “The SIU research greenhouses were built sometime in the 1950s and are extremely outdated. What they need is to update their systems.”

The soil in all research greenhouses must first be sterilized before any planting can begin. To sterilize the soil, SIU greenhouse employees use a soil steamer. Unfortunately, the steamer no longer works, so employees must borrow one, which is inconvenient in scheduling and transporting.

The heating and cooling systems are in need of modernization, which would include the replacement of pipes, thermostats and vent motors. The propane boiler, which heats the greenhouse, also needs to be repaired or replaced.

Swine and Beef Centers

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences sanitation truck

At the farm’s swine and beef centers, a sanitation truck is used to transport the manure from the livestock areas. This truck, which is between 25 and 30 years old, has a faulty engine in need of repair. The centers also have several tractors more than 50 years old that require constant repairs and upgrades.

Perhaps one of the biggest needs is for an automated hog feeder. Currently, an SIU employee must hand-feed the hogs each day, hauling between 50 and 60 buckets every morning, seven days a week.

Colten Collier, senior agricultural research technician, also points out fencing that needs repair at the beef center.

Colten Collier, senior agricultural research technician, also points out fencing that needs repair at the beef center.

“Bulls often break through these fences to get to the cows, and we don’t have the lumber to replace it,” Collier says. “So we patch it as best we can.”

But Collier says the fences are not the only issue.

“One of the challenges we face is that we can’t put the cows in several of the pens, because the watering system is so old that it can’t hold water any longer,” he says. “If there’s no water, then the space can’t be used for the cattle.”

Service Center

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences Service Center

In the farm’s service center sits the farm’s only combine, used to service 700 acres of corn and beans. The motor for the combine is more than 25 years old and is in constant need of repair.

“Our herbicide sprayer burned out six years ago, so now we contract that service out,” Midden says. “The problem with contracting is that we can’t control when we get the spraying done. That’s critical, because there is such a small window of when to spray and when to plant. It would be nice if we could control the timing to suit our needs.”

University Farms is more than a working farm system. It’s also a classroom, a laboratory and a social scene for students who learn and work at SIU. Students conduct feed efficiency research projects and learn animal husbandry at the beef and swine centers, and they conduct soil fertility and plant growth research projects in the research greenhouse. Some of these projects are faculty-mentored student studies, while others are faculty research with student assistants, but everything at the farms contributes to the hands-on learning community the College of Agricultural Sciences created.

Monetary donations to support these areas of the farm or donating actual items is the best way to ensure University Farms continues its success.

To learn more about the College of Agricultural Sciences’ University Farms program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Agricultural Sciences, visit

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