Thunderstruck? Not these guys!

Five WIU students were recently featured on WQAD News for their attempt to chase down a tornado—and they explained why storm spotters are helpful to the National Weather Service, too.

(More, below the image)

screen shot of WQAD news clip

Learn more the meteorology program at WIU, and what makes it one of the very few of its kind in the Midwest.

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Award-winning research: a family tradition

One of the high school students featured in a story on WSIL-TV yesterday (March 28) is pretty lucky when it comes to having a dad who can help with homework, so to speak.

WSIL, a TV station in southern Illinois, profiled some of best high school students in the state, who had gathered at Southern Illinois University over the past weekend for the 33rd Annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. One of those students was Macomb High School senior Prem Thottumkara. As the story explains, students delivered presentations based on their summer research projects and a written thesis, and one rule for the symposium was that “students must conduct their experiments and research under the watchful eye of a mentor.” This student didn’t have to look too far to find a scientist who could guide his work. Prem happens to be the son of WIU chemistry professor Vinod Thottumkara (who goes by T.K. Vinod). As the story says,

Thottumkara said he is glad that his mentor is his father because it makes asking questions an easy task, even if the answer is not what he wants to hear. “I can say, “hey dad, how does this work?” and he’s quick to give me a response and even when there’s something he knows I should know yet, he’ll say “this is advanced organic chemistry, you don’t need to know this yet” Thottumkara said.

And Prem’s participation in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is just another chapter in the family history of father-son collaboration. Professor T.K. Vinod even earned a patent on a project that was initially sparked by his elder son during a junior high school project. Learn more about Professor Vinod here.

picture of Professor T.K. Vinod with his son and other students

Professor T.K. Vinod with his son Arun and other students (2005)

 

Western alumna, ‘American Idol’ hopeful, wants you to pick her card!

Western Illinois University alumna Aly Jados, a 2008 music grad who got the thumbs-up sign from Steven Tyler himself after her audition for “American Idol,” has unfortunately been shut out of the running, as of this week.

But, she says, she’s not giving up.

Jados, who made a splash in the Minneapolis auditions for American Idol Season 10 by singing the Beatles’ “Come Together”—and an impromptu duet with Steven Tyler on the Aerosmith classic “Dream On” [watch the clip here]—says there’s still a chance that her journey on the “Road to Hollywood” isn’t over.

In fact, in a note to the Beyond the Bell Tower blog editor this week, she asked her friends, former professors, and fans at WIU for a little help:

Hey guys!! I need your support more than ever now. Yes, I got the boot from American Idol, but the journey has just begun. THERE’S STILL A CHANCE, and I’m gonna go for it all the way.

 Here’s how it works…American Idol has decided to bring back the “Wild Card” this season. The Wild Card is picked by the judges and can be anyone that has been previously eliminated from the show. I’m obviously hoping for Steven Tyler’s pick. So, if I can create enough buzz, I have a good shot at it, but like I said I really need your help! 

You can help by joining my fan page on Facebook, spreading the word by posting my fan page on your wall, or search my name, “Aly Jados,” on Youtube and give feedback on the music videos I have up.

This is my dream, always has been….WE can do this!!

picture of Aly Jados Wild Card Invite

And by the way, it’s safe to say she isn’t just “dreaming on” about the possibility of Steven Tyler picking her. After all, she certainly got his attention in her Minneapolis audition. Here’s how MTV News described it in its audition recap:

“Wow,” Tyler said wide-eyed while looking over the raven-haired beauty with the voluptuous mouth. “You look like you could be one of my … nope, I can’t say it. … One of my friends.”
She knew just what song to pick, too, growling out a cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together,” which Aerosmith famously covered in the disastrous 1978 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” movie, segueing into a duet with Tyler on Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”

And it shouldn’t be too surprising to any of her former professors at WIU that she’s got the tenacity to go for the Wild Card pick. Matthew Warnock, for one, remembers Jados quite well, since she was one of the first students he taught guitar at WIU, in addition to being one of his private-lesson students and playing in the guitar ensemble at WIU.

“She worked extremely hard while at WIU,” he said. “When she started with me she was playing basic rock stuff, but after three years she performed a great junior recital doing all jazz compositions, and improvising on all of them. She stands out as one of the hardest working and most determined students I’ve ever worked with. She’s very talented and has a great voice to go along with her guitar playing.”

Sing your heart out, Aly; Western wants you to rock on!

You can help Aly spread the word by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, and more!