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First Place- ACCA Data Science Competition

Sixteen teams participated in the inaugural Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA) Data Science Competition on November 9th. The four-hour contest required students to predict the onset of sepsis in ICU patients, using demographic and physiological data. Benedictine University won first place by achieving the highest predictive accuracy in the shortest amount of time, showcasing the strength and quality of the university’s Computer Science program.


Rebecca Weber Honored

Rebecca Weber (‘20), Wendy Weber (proud mother), and Dr. Leigh Anne Harden (proud advisor) traveled to The Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL on Saturday, November 16, to attend the 2019 Student Lincoln Laureate Award Ceremony honoring Rebecca’s academic and leadership achievements at BenU. It was a beautiful day and heart-warming event celebrating our future leaders! Lincoln even made an appearance to give the Gettysburg Address (originally delivered 156 years ago tomorrow!).


CS StudentsComputer Science Students sweep programming competition

Outstanding student achievements help to reaffirm the quality of the Computer Science program at Benedictine University. In the 2019 Consortium for Computing Sciences and Colleges (CCSC) Midwest regional programming competition, the three teams from Benedictine swept both novice and advanced divisions, earning first and second place in the novice division and first place in the advanced division. The CCSC Midwest region consists primarily of Eastern Illinois, Southern Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Western Pennsylvania, and Northern Kentucky; the highly competitive annual programming competition draws a large crowd of students from these surrounding states.

COS undergraduate student researchers stand out!

At the Experimental Biology conference in Orlando summer research students presented their results from the lab of Dr. Jayashree Sarathy and competed for Section awards against primarily graduate and post-doctoral students.

Mohammed Haq received the highly competitive and prestigious Robert Gunn award in the Cell and Molecular Physiology section. Ugne Dinsmonaite competed in the Gastrointestinal and Liver diseases section poster competition received honorable mentions at the award ceremony.

Support for undergraduate research provides these wonderful opportunities for our students.


Faculty News

We are proud to announce that Dr. Leeann Smith, Chair of Biological Sciences, has been selected to serve as a fellow in the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE).

PULSE was launched by Program Directors from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH/NIGMS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to catalyze implementation of recommendations made in the 2011 report, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action.

Dr. Robert McCarthy published “Reevaluation of the body mass estimate for the KNM‐ER 5428 Homo erectus talus” in the July issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Dr. Matthew Wiesner published “Adaptive Grid Lens Modeling of the Cosmic Horseshoe Using Hubble Space Telescope Imaging” in January of 2019. This article was recently featured in Research Highlights of the American Astronomical Society. Read more here.

Dr. Cheryl Mascarenhas was honored with this year’s Founders’ Day Award for the Benedictine hallmark and value of Discipline. This was a result of peer nominations based on Dr. Mascarenhas’ exemplification of this Benedictine value. Congratulatons!

Dr. Timothy Marin was elected to be the next Chair for the Chicago section of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific professional society. The Chicago section is home to approximately 4500 members. Dr. Marin’s term of service began January 1, 2019.

Dr. Leigh Anne Hardin and co-authors published "Effects of temperature and salinity on body fluid dynamics and metabolism in the estuarine diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)" in J Exp Biol. Dr. Hardin also co-authored a book chapter, "Osmoregulation of Diamond-backed Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin)" in W. M. Roosenburg and V. S. Kennedy's Ecology and Conservation of the Diamond-backed Terrapin. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

College Kudos

More than 60 people attended the Mass Benedictine University’s (and Illinois’) first-ever Gold Mass on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 in St. Benedict Chapel, Kindlon Hall 4th floor. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. John Kartje, and was followed by a reception and a lecture, “The Mystery of Faith: From the Gold Mass to Gravity Waves.” Fr. John Kartje is Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary, and holds a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Chicago. The prayers and readings for Gold Masses come from the feast of St. Albert the Great, the patron saint of natural science and teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Gold Masses (the first ever was celebrated at MIT) are celebrated for professional scientists and science students. The Society of Catholic Scientists, boasting over 1,100 members, initiated the new practice in 2016. According to Dr. Matt Wiesner, professor of physics at Benedictine University, “When Catholic scientists and students gather together for worship we testify to our core conviction concerning the harmony of faith and reason.”

Dr. Philip Novack-Gottshall participated in a pedagogy workshop hosted by the Paleontological Society and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) on incorporating "big data" into paleobiology teaching. The workshop culminated in publication of two teaching activities as the Science Education Research Center.


The National Science Foundation awarded a grant of $395,490 for the “Louis Stokes New STEM Pathways Implementation-Only Alliance: Promotion of Underrepresented Minorities in Academic STEM (PUMA-STEM).” BenU’s College of Science is an Alliance member. Credit goes to Dr. Leeann Smith in Biology for spearheading and writing BenU’s contribution to this grant. This award is expected to total $1,748,109.


Benedictine University’s Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum is better able to serve the community and local schoolchildren, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant is part of the Inspire! Grants for Small Museums program, a highly competitive initiative that funds only 15 percent of submitted proposals. Read More!

Alumni Acts, Accolades and Achievements

On Tuesday, Nov 5, the College of Science hosted a special Careers in Science panel featuring Women in Science. Joining the panel was Jessica Tyrus Mackay, Patent attorney and Partner at Green, Griffith & Borg-Breen LLP (Chemistry; 2006), Vivian Sullivan, Program Manager at Argonne National Laboratory, Rebecca Robbins, Senior Principal Scientist Color Chemistry, Mars, and Eryn Pondo, Forensic Scientist with the DuPage County Forensic Science Center (Chemistry; 2015). Approximately 65 students attended to learn more about the variety of careers associated with the STEM disciplines.

The next Careers in Science panel is slated for Thursday, Nov. 21st from 12:20-1:20 PM in Birck-112.


Laurence Lissak attended Quigley Seminary North and received degrees in Physics from St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) and Washington University, St. Louis. In the 70's he taught at Benet Academy and then went on to develop medical software for Datacron and 3M before retiring in 2007. He was ordained a deacon for the Joliet Diocese in 1997. Besides being active in his parish and P.A.D.S. he is a docent and volunteer at the Oriental Institue of the University of Chicago. He has been on the 1998, 2000, and 2001 Bolivian missions and brought leadership to the Navajo Mission since its origin in 2002.

Scholarship Corner


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William R. Law, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Science

Tonia Rucker, Assistant to the Dean
Email: trucker@ben.edu
Phone: (630) 829-6187
Fax: (630) 829-6186

Dean's Office Hours:
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Dean's Office Location:
Birck Hall Room 119